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I'm running an all-dwarf campaign in which I've featured the remnants of a prehistoric pre-diefic dwarven mystery cult which venerated the earth and celebrated their race's ties to that elemental plane. During their adventures, the group has found a giant geode-like series of caverns hidden beneath the First World in which dwarves, dwarf-oreads and earth elementals members used magic to record memories into the countless crystals lining the walls; a great archive of sorts.
The PCs are using these crystals to learn the cult's lost secrets. I'm wondering what sorts of things they might be able to glean from perusing the archive. Earth-based spells are a given, but I'm wondering if there are any feats, archetypes, prestige classes or other things that the players themselves may consider desirable. I'm open to 3rd party and even 3.X material if it's somehow earth-based and appropriate. The PCs are a Stonelord Paladin, a Warpriest, a Skald, an Invulnerable Rager Barbarian and a Conjuration Wizard.
As the title, I'm wondering if Goblin Skull Bombs require a successful ranged attack or a touch attack. In the original RPG Superstar entry, it was clearly a ranged touch, but the SRD entry is a little vague:
A skull bomb can be used as a thrown weapon with a range increment of 10 feet. If the attacker hits, the skull shatters, immolating the target as described above.
Regular Thrown weapons require a normal ranged attack roll, while Thrown *splash* weapons only require a ranged touch attack. So which is the Goblin Skull Bomb?
I've always believed this was in the core rules; that in lieu of rolling one could accept the average of a die roll for a hit die, rounded down. So instead of rolling 1d10, a player could simply take 5 for example.
But, now that I'm looking for that option, I can't find any mention of it in the core rules. I even checked my old 3.X books to see if it was something we'd held over from previous editions, but I don't see it anywhere. Did my group simply imagine this? Was this ever a core rule?
As per the title, I'm just wondering whether this spell's effect might include big rocks thrown by giants or munitions fired from siege engines.
A magical field appears around you, glowing with a chaotic blast of multicolored hues. This field deflects incoming arrows, rays, and other ranged attacks. Each ranged attack directed at you for which the attacker must make an attack roll has a 20% miss chance (similar to the effects of concealment). Other attacks that simply work at a distance are not affected.
So, they could get this by selling the half-plate for half price and then buying the full-plate for full price. That difference should be the cost of doing it.
I'd crunched the numbers in different ways, but your solution seems the simplest, fairest and most in keeping with the rules. Thanks MeanMutton. :)
I'm actually the GM. One of my players has asked whether it'd be feasible to upgrade an archaic suit dwarven half-plate the party found in a tomb. I was curious whether there was some system introduced that'd make this possible. My first instinct was to say no, for largely the same reasons Oxylepy stated. On the other hand, if it makes the player happy, why not?
I'm currently playing a treant-like eidolon synthesist and have the party's bag discretely tucked inside a knothole at the crux of my back branches.
It'd only make sense for such an iconic item to have been made with straps for ease of carrying, and yet the item's description seems to preclude any of the sort. Since carrying a loose bag that can weigh dozens of pounds would quickly grow tiresome. Sowing straps onto an existing bag wouldn't seem to be an option since piercing the bag with a sowing needle would destroy it instantly. The easiest solution would likely be to carry the bag inside of a conventional backpack or rucksack.
A player of a wizard PC in a game I run has asked to take this 1st level spell. I'm trying to decide whether to allow it or not. It's clearly modeled after magic missile, with identical range and number of missiles, but requiring ranged touch attack rolls in exchange for more damage of a selected energy type.
With up to five missiles, the choice of all five energy types and medium range, is it too good for a 1st level spell?
Last session, my players defeated Crusher. Now I'm trying to award XP for the fight but am not sure about the proper amount based on the encounter's variable CR. Crusher's XP award is listed as 2,400, though should it be reduced if the PCs' Resolve Points reduced his CR to 5 or 4? Does the Story Award for this encounter (3,200 XP) add to Crusher's XP or does it represent the total XP earned?
So did anyone have a different experience than this?
I guess my group simply got lucky though, being mostly beefy dwarven warrior types, they had no trouble making the Fortitude saves. Half the party had stayed outside the house (out of the smoke) and so were perfectly positioned to intercept the orcs before they could meddle with the rescue effort inside. Two full rounds later, the two rescuers exited with the the couple.
Thinking about it now though, wouldn't it be feasible for the PCs to simply hold their breath while carrying out the rescue to avoid the saving throws? Even with only a 10 Con, a PC can hold his breath for up to 2 minutes before needing to make any checks for suffocation; plenty of time to enter the house, find the couple and execute the rescue. It'd certainly seem far easier than contending with the chocking smoke.
I'm running the Giantslayer AP in which all the PCs are dwarves. As such, I'm trying to tie as many elements of the campaign as I can into dwarven history and tradition of Golarion. One notion I had was to replace the swamp-dwelling Council of Thorns' druidic order with a stone & crystal mystery-cult centered around the dwarves' ancient subterranean origins and their mystical ties to the element of earth. Instead of having reincarnated as Will-o'-wisps, the dwarves of the mystery cult instead transformed themselves into earth elementals to safeguard their vualt. I'm going to change the interior of the Vault of Thorns in the second module from a lush woodland-themed pocket plane to a giant hollow crystal geode with with a giant fungi forest inside.
I was thinking that the lone surviver of the "Council of Thorns", now a venerable dwarf known only as Silverbeard, may try to initiate the PCs into his largely extinct order. To that end, I'd like to hear some suggestions for fleshing out the possible lore and doctrine of an elemental earth based cult as well as giving it an appropriate name which the party could adopt as their own if they're so inclined. Suggestions welcome.
A Magnificent Mansion is tough to adjudicate since it's both a spell effect and its own plane (more or less). Unless there's some explicit top-down ruling, pretty much any plan you concoct will depend on how your GM interprets the combination of spells involved.
I'm not sure a Gate would function since, as per the spell description, a Gate can be prevented from opening by "beings who rule a planar realm"; which the MM's caster pretty much is.
There doesn't appear to be anything preventing the use of A Plane Shift to get inside except for perhaps the material component. Since it has no listed cost, any spell component pouch should have whatever attuned fork you might need to cast the spell. Seems to me that a successful spellcraft check would allow the caster to pick an appropriate fork. The GM might very well veto that however.
Since there appears to be some viable lower level spells, using a wish or miracle would certainly seem sufficient to get inside.
A successful Dispel Magic would also seem sufficient to end the MM spell effect. I don't see any reason it shouldn't work if cast on the door's location.
That'd really depends on how the party intends to make use of these PCs, their role-playing or tactical cleverness and the proclivities of the GM. Passing themselves off as new giant recruits hoping to join the growing army or possibly assassinating/impersonating/replacing a higher-up could wield amazing results with some successful die rolls as long as the GM likes the notion. The giant PCs could possibly end up with free-reign of most areas, invaluable tactical insight and possibly even giant allies working for them if really lucky.
After recoinoitering an area, making contact, winning over giant NPCs, the PC giants could possibly lead NPCs into carefully orchestrated ambushes or assassinations with minimal risks to the party; leading to huge tactical benefits as they gradually work their way through the giants' ranks. Silence spells, illusions and other means could be employed to keep the army's forces in the dark for quite awhile as the party slowly whittles away at it. The giant PCs could further mislead and confuse efforts to stop what's happening by spreading disinformation; throwing blame on one faction or another, weaving conspiracy theories and prodding the giants to either mutiny or disband. If truly daring, they could go so far as to try and seize control of the army for themselves; leading their giant forces against other giant enclaves in the following modules. The sky is the limit.
It really all depends on the play style of the group and especially the GM. Some GMs would encourage the guile of the players and reward their cleverness and good role-playing and see the PCs efforts as fun. Others would see it as a silly and unwelcome distraction from the tradional and straightforward kick-in-the-door style of gameplay; perhaps playing along for an encounter or two before bringing it to an unglorious end as the PCs' ruse is revealed and thwarted. It also depends on how much the other PCs are into it. If the non-giant PCs are unwisely sidelined while the half-giant and disguised wizard are out and about chatting up every giant in the valley, they'll quickly grow frustrated and less cooperative. To be successful and fun, everyone has to be on board and involved somehow.
As a GM I don't particularly care for the odd grab bag of spells wizards tend to have and so was thinking to change some of the fluff in spell descriptions so they adhere better to a theme. One of my players is playing a dwarven wizard and I thought it'd be more thematic to have his spells be earth based. To that end, I was thinking some of his damage dealing spells could have their energy component substituted with a spray of battering rocks or slashing obsidian shards; dealing blunt or slashing damage instead.
So my question is, if I take a cold-based ranged touch spell like Snowball and replace it with a ranged touch attack that deals blunt damage will game balance be preserved or is the notion too powerful?
Honestly, I have no end of questions regarding the Burnt Church, let alone the whole module.
Taking into account the distances and elevations involved, the half-orcs were were digging their tunnel in an open-air pit 70-ft from the nearest buildings in upper Trunau and only 140-ft from the southern-most watchtower and Halgra's residence. Why didn't anyone hear or see the dozen half-orcs carrying out heavy labour under their noses?
Why hasn't Othdan's family raised a fuss in town about his disappearance after several days of his being missing?
Why do Daktani and the flood trolls continue using the church as a nightly rendezvous locale after having been spotted there by a militiaman and considering that the church is infested with monsters and haunts? Surely there's some other discrete landmark outside of town they could use.
It's been noted by others before in the Battle of Bloodmarch Hill thread. As has been suggested...
The giant spiders, centipedes, rats and undead rats all poured out of the excavated tunnel shortly after the half-orc saboteurs accidentally broke through into their warrens and subsequently spread out to occupy their respective niches throughout the Plague House. So the vermin simply weren't around back when Brinya and Rodrick (or any other trysting couples) were meeting up inside.
As for the haunts, they're limited to a single room and remain at rest as long as no one happens to walk down the isle between the rows of bed frames. Knowing that the big room behind the double doors was the hospital ward where all the patients burnt to death, I imagine those visiting the Plague House have wisely kept out of it over the years. Also, it's possible that the dark energies which initially created the shadow rats also spilled out of the warrens to somehow empower the haunts to manifest as described in the module; meaning that they weren't previously an issue.
So, take away the monstrous vermin and haunts and visitors who entered through the front doors to walk down the central hall were treated to a quietly peaceful old church bathed in bright colour from the remaining stained-glass windows and with shafts of sunlight shinning down through holes in the roof. Looking at it in that respect, I can see how the large back room might make a serene and inviting love nest for those seeking privacy. ;)
Honestly, there are other aspects of the Burnt Church which baffle me more; such as why a big obvious lock box, various treasure stashes, sacred statuary and holy texts have never been reclaimed by the Sanctuary's clergy in the past fifty years...
The Numerator wrote:
Lastly, I had a brief conversation w/ the group about their thoughts with the plot, story setup, and overall experience. To a one, they said it's been great, and haven't really picked up on many of the "problems" people have been mentioning here.
I'm not surprised that, for the right groups, the adventure is perfectly fine as written. If the GM keeps a steady forward pace and the players take the scripted clues at face value and generally follow the flow of the adventure without pause, they may very well not perceive any issues or simply ignore them as trivial. If they're able to do that, more power to them; in many ways the points we're going on about are fairly trivial.
Mary Yamato wrote:
My player is a stickler for logic--he likes to analyze situations and try to understand what is happening--so I had to change a lot of things.
These are the kinds of players for whom this adventure can be problematic. I'm the same way when I play and I find it rather off-putting when a mysterious development I'm trying to make sense of turns out to simply be a design flaw for which the GM has no explanation. It collapses the game's illusion and leaves me wondering not how my PC would deal with the situation in character but rather how I as a player must deal with his scenario if I want to progress. It's a rude awakening that sucks the fun out of it for me; like a glitch in a video game.
As a GM I've learnt that PCs have all manner of creative ways to dig up background information one might assume they'd have no way of uncovering; unusually lucky skill checks, carefully directed divination spells, special insight gained from their backgrounds, canny deductions or just dumb luck. Using those resources to the group's benefit is fun for them. The best way to preserve that fun is to provide them with accurate results to their inquiries. But an adventure that provides few explanations of how, when or why things are happening behind the scenes leads to the GM being unprepared to answer such inquiries; and that sucks for everyone. A GM can try and make something up on the spot at the table, but it risks being lame or, if ill considered, leading the PCs astray. That's why I prefer thinking things through and filling in the plot holes beforehand if at all possible.
Mary Yamato wrote:
where did the barricades at the lower gate to the Inner Quarter, manned by Omast and no one else, come from? It strains plausibility that one drunk soldier set up over 100 feet of barricades, including salvaging fences from nearby homes and *sharpening* them, in the amount of time it took hustling PCs to get down there from the pyre.
I'd noticed this issue myself. I was thinking of adding some ready-made barricade segment near the town's three gates, perhaps out of the way and leaning up against nearby buildings when not in use. That way defenders could simply grab them and drag them into position in a matter of a few rounds if a gate looks to be near to being lost.
Mary Yamato wrote:
I could not see how the orc raiders got into the Inner Quarter in the amount of time available, and through a closed gate:
I'd been pondering that myself. I was thinking that it's likely due to the saboteurs' efforts before the battle began, and it centers around area L7, the Eastern Lookout. It's clearly a key location for the attackers because their leader, Kagak of the Rolling Thunder along with his six guards are already in position there when the battle begins. Why is it important? Because unlike every other tower in the Inner Quarter, it's well isolated, abuts the cliff face and commands a good view of both the Lower and Inner Quarters. Seizing it and using it as a command center from which to direct and launch attacks is strategically sound. Kagak and the saboteurs would have chosen it as their initial objective because of this.
I imagine each of the city's towers has a rope ladder stored inside which defenders can anchor and lower down to the cliff's base to allow townsfolk to climb up to safety if caught outside the walls during a siege or for defenders to climb down to launch counterattacks. All that was needed was for one or two saboteurs to infiltrate L7 (perhaps by joining the militia and volunteering to take a night-shift there), subduing any other guards, lowering the rope ladder and then signaling the raiders to approach and ascend. Because of its positioning, the same rope ladder could allow attackers to climb over the wooden palisade and enter the Lower Quarter as well just behind the Sanctuary.
By flooding into the Inner Quarter, the orcs effectively split the town's defenders between the vulnerable Lower Quarter and the fortified Upper Quarter; allowing the orcs who infiltrated the Lower Quarter to focus on breaching the Main Gate from the inside and so allow reinforcements to flood in. Since the defenders were taken by surprise, that happens rather quickly and the orcs then move on to assault the Inner Quarter's western gate with Kagak directing the action from up high. That's pretty much how things stand once the PCs join the fray.
It's important to note that the orcs' goal isn't really to conquer the whole town; they only need to seize control of the Lower Quarter and to block the Inner Quarter long enough for Crusher to enter and excavate a handful of marked sites; all of which are in those locations except for the one outside of town at the Barterstones (which he likely took care of first) and the one in the Commons (which Kagak must only concern himself with if all others fail to pan out first).
Mary Yamato wrote:
In retrospect I also wish I had reversed the order of Crusher and the catapult. Having the PCs run back and forth emphasized the absence of the town militia too much.
I made a lot more changes than this, but I liked some of the things you did.
I myself made more changes than just what I listed. When I initially read the AP, the first thing that came to mind was that this could have been Paizo's quintessential dwarf campaign; dwarves are the traditional PC enemy of giants, they have great bonuses for fighting them and the campaign is set largely in a mountainous area that was a major dwarven homeland in ages past. I pitched the notion to my players and they all got onboard and made dwarf characters.
My players keep out!
I was rather disappointed by how few dwarven elements were incorporated into the AP's set pieces though; seemed like a real missed opportunity. The third book for instance has the PCs questing with a god's smithing hammer to relight an ancient forge up in the mountains and it was built by... giants? Uhm... What?! The whole hidden valley in the 'Forge of the Giant God' screams DWARVES! So I'm changing the entire valley into an ancient hidden dwarven mountain religious site akin Machu Picchu.
I've also changed the demographics of Trunau; having it be a modest dwarven settlement initially established sometime after the defeat of the Whispering Tyrant which graciously granted sanctuary to the area's human settlers once Lastwall pulled out following the fall of the Hordeline. Nowadays the dwarves are actually a minority in their own settlement with only 230 dwarves to the humans' 420. I've created a dozen dwarven clans from ancient Koldukar whose proud descendants yet remain in or around Trunau from which the PCs could originate. Shinnerman's Fortune is a purely dwarven minning community. I've modified the Trunau map with all manner of additions including a half dozen dwarven halls and a temple-forge of Torag. I've also changed a few key NPCs including Rodrik his brother and father who are all dwarves now along with the druid at the Hopespring Silverbeard.
I've also changed the identify and background of the tomb's occupant beneath Trunau; pushing its origin back to the fall of Koldukar 9,000 years ago. At the moment, I'm thinking that he'll be the brother of the last king of Koldukar who hatched a scheme to use Torag's sacred hammer to subjugate the highland giants and turn them into a tool of the dwarven people to crush Belkzen's orcs. His brother the king rejected this idea so the brother set out for the ancient forge-temple up in the Mindspin Mountains on his own to pitch his plan directly to the high-priest who guarded the hammer. But the priest in turn rejected the brother's plan, as enslaving another race was against Torag's ideals. In rage the brother took the hammer and slew the high-priest with it before fleeing the temple. Outcast for what he'd done, he used the hammer's magic to enlarge himself; making him look like an giant-sized dwarf (albeit a small one). A bit of additional disguise effectively gave him the appearance of a small fire giant. In this guise he set out to find and unite the giants of the mountains under his command. He was making good progress until the dwarves of Koldukar took notice and started to mobilize against this new threat. So the accursed betrayer found himself inadvertently leading an army of giants against the dwarves he'd been seeking to save; thinking that he could claim the kingship if he only slew his brother. He and his giants were eventually defeated in a great battle at Bloodmarch Hill, where his giant soldiers entombed him with the hammer. Unfortunately, the cursed brother's betrayal sufficiently weakened and split the dwarven forces sufficiently for Belkzen to take advantage of the opening to breach and overrun Koldukar. All of this is largely unrecorded in dwarven history since neither side knew the true identity of the small fire giant chieftain at the time. The PCs will be able to piece this together themselves once they find the tomb.
I'm further thinking of changing the Order of Thorns' vault into a dwarven earth-cult's sanctuary instead. I also have a notion of modifying the background of Ironcloud Keep to have it be of dwarven construction; the idea being that it was once the royal palace and the highest tier of ancient Koldukar. The dwarves had been in the last stages of engineering it when Koldukar fell; it being the final culmination of the dwarves' incomplete 'Quest for Sky'. It's launch was meant to herald the dwarven peoples' first step into the heavens proper, but it was launched prematurely in the fog of war as Koldukar fell during the battle of Nine Stones. It had been lost in the clouds ever since, until some cloud giants stumbled across it awhile back and took it over. Just an idea.
I'm curious to hear more about your own plans to "dwarf up" the AP. :)
I've picked up the AP and so far run my players through their first session; they just finished talking to Brinya and are on their way to see Sara. Although the adventure has some good ideas and thrilling action sequences, as is evident after reading through this thread, it needs some significant work to fix its various plot holes, oversights and potentially deadly miscalculations. To that effect, I figured I'd post some of my early observations and proposed fixes as I go to add my own 2¢ to all the great work that's been done so far in this thread.
As I see it, a big failing of the adventure is that a vaguely described group of saboteurs is actively moving around town doing all manner of things through undefined means with little chance of the PCs (or anyone else) catching sight of them before it's too late. It's frustrating for players intent on tracking down and catching bad guys and problematic for a GM who can't explain to inquisitive PCs how these events are coming about. So who are the known saboteurs exactly? We've got:
• Skreed Gorewillow (CE male half-orc alchemist 4)
They also started out with a half-orc cleric named Akrish whom Skreed killed in the Burnt Church. How many more, if any, are there? That's unknown since they're only ever referred to as a "group". To the above list, I'd add the following who's presence is either implied or can be inferred from what's presented:
• 2 Freedom Town thugs (NE human warrior 1)
The thugs start off the raid alongside Rishka in the Inner Quarter, so it can be deduced that all three were together in town beforehand. Skreed had the assassins at the ready to attack the PCs shortly after they begin their investigation. Even if they don't know it, they're in town uniquely to help the saboteurs so can be counted in their ranks. Melira's presence in or near town is inferred by how quickly she'll manage to single out the PCs for revenge, learn of their plans to ride a boat and then beat them to the boat in the second adventure. It doesn't make any sense that she manages to do all that if she starts the second adventure in Freedom Town 150 miles away. Her presence also lends the saboteurs something they are sorely lacking: spell casting.
So what are the saboteur's implied goals while in town?
• search for entrances to Uskroth's tomb
The sticking point for me is how the saboteurs are meant to be doing the first at all. It seems the existence of the tomb is unknown to everyone in town, so there's no way to learn it via gather information or by researching town records. The saboteurs have no divinatory abilities (except for perhaps the deceased cleric), and none of the detailed saboteurs has ranks in such skills as Knowledge (Dungeoneering), Knowledge (Nature), Knowledge (Geography), Profession (Miner) or Profession (Prospector); the skills I'd associate with attempting to discern the likely location of cave formations. Whatever means it is that the NPCs are using to find the tomb I think it should likewise be available to any PCs who have similar skills if they seek to try. Either way, the saboteurs have to be given some means to gauge where tunnels may be located. Suggestion: Either create a new saboteur with appropriate abilities or swap one of Melira's feats for the Psychic Sensitivity feat and equip her with dowsing rods to use her Survival skill to search for the largest grave beneath Trunau. While all other saboteurs have been busy fruitlessly wasting their time gathering information, checking out basements beneath buildings or otherwise poking around, this saboteur has been responsible for searching and marking likely spots to dig.
Next up are the white crosses. What exactly are they for? They're big, obvious, hard to apply in such hard-to-reach areas and a liability to the saboteurs' clandestine activities. So they must be really important to the attackers somehow, but in what way? Are they really intended to mark possible entrances to the tomb? Is Crusher or some other giant intended to go from cross to cross to excavate each area in turn until the tomb is found? It isn't specified in the adventure. If so, wouldn't Crusher have started the battle at the Barterstones, tearing them up before heading in through the main gate to tear up the next closest cross behind the sanctuary followed by the one at the Hopespring? Suggestion: It would be good to describe the above activity in the background of the battle to make it clear to the PCs the purpose of the crosses. If the PCs feel inclined to go challenge the giant early, have the cleric and paladin defenders of the Sanctuary slay the initial giant in a pitched battle first; before later having a second giant, Crusher, move in to follow up the effort at the Hopespring.
If Crusher is seen to go straight to the Hopespring then it implies that the attackers already knew full well the correct location of the tomb entrance before the start of the battle; rendering the need for the crosses largely moot; which is itself a good point. Is there any reason to have the crosses in the adventure? The adventure itself describes the crosses and a red herring of sorts. Suggestion: The saboteurs could have checked each location discreetly and communicated their findings to the waiting attackers via their flood troll go-betweens. Removing the white crosses entirely from the adventure makes the saboteurs more canny and changes absolutely nothing else except what Omast Frum is found doing while drunk. When the PCs go looking for him, have Frum be at the Killing Ground raising hell because Rabus is trying to cut off his alcohol supply.
If the white crosses are kept however then some thought needs to given as to how they got there. Take the giant cross on of the side of a guard tower for instance; the adventure gives the difficulty for climbing a town wall as DC 25. Amongst all of the detailed saboteurs, Daktani has the best combination of climb (+7) and stealth (+9). To make it up there, he'd need to roll 18 or better. Doing so with watchful guards above and while holding a paint brush & can and while remaining undetected sounds ridiculous. Suggestion: Have Melira be the secret painter; with her Stealth bonus of +12 (+14 at the Hopespring) she's the ideal candidate. Simply swap one of her cantrips for Mage Hand. She moves into position using stealth and uses Mage Hand to telekinetically apply the paint to large vertical surfaces quickly. Later, fearing that she'd be attacked by overzealous orcs for being human, Skreed insists that she vacate the town before the fighting starts. Only after the fighting ends does she renter town discreetly to discover what's occurred and to plan her revenge on the PCs.
Another fuzzy area is how the saboteurs have remained undetected so successfully. According to the adventure they started off in the basement of the burnt church, using mining equipment bought in town to excavate a sizable tunnel. That's a problem right there. Room H12 is open to sky above and, looking at the town map and taking note of the elevations involved, some simple math shows that this sizable group of half-orcs were performing heavy labor no more than 140-ft straight away from the top of the town's southernmost guard-tower as well as the southwest-facing wall of the Ivory Hall and no more than 70-ft from the closest building. If mining can be equated with the sound of battle, then the DC of a guard atop the tower to have heard them working was merely DC 4, maybe DC 2 if it's a still night with no wind. Even sleeping folk behind closed windows in the Ivory Hall had a decent chance of hearing the work going on not far below. Maybe the saboteurs only worked during thunderstorms at night, but that seems impractical. Suggestion: Forget the mining equipment. Skreed excavated the tunnel in only a few nights by placing some alchemical explosives in the wall at H12 and masked the detonation sound with silence spells cast by the now deceased cleric Akrish. Maybe the ceiling above was actually blown out by the explosion. Why use explosives instead of digging? Because Akrish's Silence spells were simply too brief to make it a viable prospect. Describe in detail the destruction brought about by the explosions and how Akrish was accidentally killed in one rather than by being murdered pointlessly by Skreed. The saboteurs vacated H12 due to the emergence of giant spiders, centipedes and rats as well as fears of structural instability, leaving Akrish where he lay.
After the Burnt Church, the saboteurs moved into Trunau proper; a big group of thuggish half-orcs renting most of the rooms at the Ramblehouse according to the adventure. Much later Skreed would return to the Ramblehouse to murder Rodrik. Cham didn't recognize his human guise the second time around, so he was likely in his half-orc guise the first time he checked in; just one more half-orc in the crowd. An issue arises due to Cham's ledger and Skreed's insistence on not providing a name when he checked in to kill Rodrik. Why draw attention to himself and waste a handful of gold to bribe Cham when he could simply have offered her a false name? For that matter, why did Cham require either a name or a bribe in the first place? Skreed had no reason to resort to subterfuge at all unless Cham's ledger carried the risk of leading authorities to him somehow. Suggestion: All strangers entering town through the main gate are asked for a name and are given a small wooden chit or token which, by law, they must carry with them at all times and present when asked. The token has a number which must be recorded by anyone selling the bearer wares or offering a service. The tokens are changed periodically to avoid forgery or fraud. That way, town officials have some (limited) means of tracking unfamiliar foreigners inside the walls. It's crude, but the town is isolated and doesn't get so many visitors, so it's an easy system to manage over all. Skreed presented the token he'd been given the first time he checked into the Ramblehouse as a half-orc and is still carrying it in case he's stopped and asked to present one. That's why he didn't want to present it to Cham when he rented a room to kill Rodrik; anyone looking into it the token's number would have made the connection between his human and half-orc guises. All of the saboteurs originally recorded their tokens and (false) names into Cham's ledger, so inquisitive PCs can at least get a list and confirm at the main gate that, according to their records, all of the half-orcs (and humans) from the group are still in town somewhere.
But the saboteurs nevertheless spent a significant amount of time together in the Ramblehouse trashing their rooms and marking the walls with graffiti. Shouldn't that somehow play a bigger role in the PCs' investigation? They're certainly going to look into it if Cham tells them about it or if they check further back in her ledger, especially if they find hidden clues in other rooms. The PCs are collecting Story Awards to gain much needed XP; as others have pointed out, there simply isn't enough XP available for them to meet up with the challenges ahead. Suggestion: In addition to crude or offensive markings, have some of the graffiti be discernible as a very rough map of Trunau with a Perception skill check DC 18 or a Knowledge (local) DC 15, indicating that the room's vandals appear to have been searching the town systematically for something, even if it's unclear what. Award 600 XP for this discovery. When the halflings started making a fuss about the noise and damage being done to the premises, Skreed grew nervous and quickly pulled his crew out of the Ramblehouse leaving the suspicious graffiti behind in his haste. After they left, Cham lodged a complaint against the now missing half-orcs and it was Rodrik who came to check out the damage they'd caused. He recognized the map for what it was, made a copy in his journal and started secretly investigating it as a possible case of espionage. This is what initially put him on the saboteurs' trail. Cham is able to convey what Rodrik did, if not his private suspicions (which he kept to himself) if she's made to be cooperative. All of this helps tie disparate elements of the plot together in the PCs' minds without tipping them off too much.
Other clues lie hidden in the Ramblehouse for the PCs to find; Skreed's note to Melira as well as Rodrik's receipt. While a helpful clue, their exact locations are somewhat problematic and potentially misleading. According to the background description, Skreed checked in sometime during Ruby's hopeknife ceremony, went to his room and then ducked into Rodrik's room to hide under the bed until he appeared. Since he didn't know when exactly Rodrik would show up, he couldn't dawdle in his own room overlong. The idea that he sat down, penned a letter, then hid it in a secret compartment in the room before quickly ducking out and then subsequently forgetting about it seems odd. Why put it in the compartment instead of his own pocket to finish later? Having it be found in a secret compartment further gives the incorrect impression that it was left there on purpose for someone else to collect later. This could lead the PCs to waste time staking out the Ramblehouse for the letter's intended recipient, who will never show up. Suggestion: Locate Skreed's letter under the bed in Rodrik's room, where it unknowingly slipped out of his pocket when he crawled out to kill Rodrik. Finding it requires a DC 17 Perception check and provides 400 XP as normal. To avoid having both the letter and receipt be found in the same location, move the receipt to the secret compartment in Rodrik's desk; where he placed it to avoid being reminded of his having foolishly lost his lover's hopeknife. Finding it in the compartment requires a DC 19 check and provides 600 XP as normal. Consequently, there are no clues to be found in the room Skreed rented. Why should there be? He was only in there for a few minutes before ducking out.
There's one last clue and opportunity for much-needed XP missing from Rodrik's room; the means by which Skreed fed Rodrik the oil of taggit to knock him unconscious. Suggestion: Include a washstand with a porcelain bowl, water jug and empty drinking glass in the room's description. Skreed laced the water in the jug with the oil before hiding under the bed in hopes Rodrik would drink some; which he did. A successful DC 20 Craft (alchemy) or Profession (Herbalist) skill check upon the water reveals that it was dosed, as does casting a detect poison spell or simply consuming the water. Award 600 XP for the poison's discovery by any means.
Personally, I find the initial meeting with Kurst following the murder rather odd. Even though he's justifiably upset about his brother's death, some of what he conveys to the party doesn't make much sense. He suspects the death wasn't a suicide and has the bloody hopeknife in hand, knows that his brother and Brinya were engaged and yet doesn't make the connection that the knife he's holding is hers. He was close to his brother, had been around him since they both came of age and received their hopeknives and yet doesn't know what Rodrik's knife looks like? He himself supposedly has a hopeknife which is likely pretty similar to his late brother's and yet he doesn't seem to recognize that the fanciful blade with the leaf-shaped cross-guard and rosebud pommel is obviously not his brother's? Suggestion: Have the PCs either be already in the Ramblehouse when the body is initially discovered or drawn there by the commotion before Kurst or his father arrives on the scene. Allow the PCs to initially study the scene and body to reach their own conclusions. Role-play Jargrin's and Kurst's subsequent arrival. Have Jagrin break down at the sight of his eldest son lying dead as he's drawn back to the moment he lost his wife. Role-play Kurst as bewildered and lost as he tries to fathom life without his best friend. Play though Jagrin's abrupt departure as he storms out leaving an equally distraught Kurst in charge. Let the PCs lead a dazed Kurst through the questioning, If they ask Kurst whether the knife was his brother's, have him pull his own hopeknife out of his shirt to show how different the two blades are from each other. Award them the normal 400 XP reward for asking the right questions and making the connection that the knife wasn't Rodrik's. Then have Kurst confess about his brother's engagement to a half-orc and his now absent father's outrage upon learning of it. This is a great role-playing opportunity and helps to illustrate the family's dynamic.
Thanks for the feedback. :)
Been reading a bit more on the subject; I figured a good place to start would be in seeing what the average length of a generation has been historically for humans in the real world. According to this article, it would seem the human average is around 31.7 years in recent centuries and likely a little younger in centuries past. Using that as a benchmark the dwarven equivalent would be around 111 years or so.
Maybe the easiest thing to do would be to simply round it down to an even 100 and call it a day. ;)
Since dwarves are such a traditional people, I'd like include elements of dwarven ancestry to highlight the passage of time and to tie the dwarven PCs to their people's history. I figured a simple way to do that would be to refer to dwarven generations as a rough unit of time such "One hundred generations ago". I just need to figure out the overall average amount of time between a dwarf being born and the age at which he/she is most likely to produce offspring.
Naturally dwarves can marry and produce offspring and different times in their lives. But being a generally traditional people, I imagine there is a period of life in which it is considered most appropriate to marry. There are likely outliers who marry young or old but, given enough generations, such anomalies tend to iron themselves out over time.
According to the aging charts dwarves reach young adulthood at 40, proper adulthood somewhere between 50 and 64 (depending on vocation), reach midlife at 125 and the end of their reproductive years (if they're anything like humans) maybe somewhere around 150.
Liz Courts wrote:
I found a useful Reddit thread on that topic.
Thanks Liz. That's pretty insightful, if a bit wordy. It's a shame the later APs are missing.
Liz Courts wrote:
We also have this page, but that's not as useful to your purposes.
Interesting, though rather spoilerish and lacking in insight as to how the various APs are actually structured and what problems they may have.
You could also skim the free Player's guides to get a feel for the different APs...
I'm aware of the Players Guides; I'd just like to narrow the field down to one or two options before asking the group to read through the appropriate Players Guides.
As per the title, I'd like a brief, spoiler free description for each of the Adventure Paths that I can send to the players in my group so together we can discuss which APs to examine more closely for eventual play.
One or two sentences with the key themes, common environments and monsters types as well as any weak points would be greatly appreciated. Adding a 1-5 star rating for each would be frosting on the cake.
I myself don't familiarize myself overmuch with the various APs outside of those I've run or played in case I eventually get the opportunity to play through them myself. I know such description lists exist, but they usually lack the newest APs, so I thought a more current list would be generally helpful for those shopping around for their next AP.
What, if anything, is providing the vampire with concealment or cover up on the ceiling? If she's just standing there directly overhead and well within the range of everyone's darkvision, she's in plain sight and technically doesn't meet the criteria for making stealth checks.
If she somehow does qualify for stealth, it becomes a matter of what she's casting. She can't cast anything with an attack roll and remain Stealthy afterwards. Forgoing that, I'd say she'd only have to make a new stealth check after every spell with a somantic component since she's largely giving her position away. If the spells she's casting meets neither of those criteria, then I'd say she can keep her initial stealth check result since she isn't doing anything to draw attention directly to her. That doesn't stop the PCs from continuing to try spotting her round to round while searching for the hidden caster in hopes of beating her check result. 2¢
Crimlock NL wrote:
This ancient maze is like a lock in which the correct path is the key, the wrong path however equals (pum pum pum pum) death. And like all things worth locking it holds great value. Small locks for simple things, but huge maze locks for... whispers say immortality... others say untold riches... only one way, in this case very literal, to find out....
Interesting notion. When presented that way, my first thought is that it sounds like something beyond the ability of mere mortals to have constructed; like something built by one or more primordial gods...
Maybe the maze merely appears to mortals as a puzzle meant to be solved. In reality the true significance of the maze is beyond mortal comprehension. Perhaps it is an early "rough sketch" created by a primordial being before he/she/it finally settled on the final configuration of the universe he/she/it would later create. Or maybe the maze is a physical manifestation of that same primordial being's mind; reflecting its convoluted though processes as well as compartmentalizing its various memories and ideas into physical rooms, locked away in the depths of the maze. Walking the maze is akin to exploring the primordial being's mind.
Either way, the maze was never meant to be found and explored by mortals. At some point in the past however that primordial being's creations discovered the maze and began exploring it; maybe they were angelic/demonic servitors or mortal beings. Whoever they were, navigating the maze allowed them to unlock the hidden workings of the universe and so gain profound insight into the nature of reality. Some used that insight to grow in physical might, others to develop arcane magic, others still to uncovered the secret to eternal life (or undeath), while a few persevered and succeeded in ascending to true divinity. This is how the earliest dragons, wizards, undead and gods, respectively, came into being.
Explorers must be careful while inside the maze however for destroying or removing the things they find inside risks changing the primordial being's mind; which in turn could change the nature of reality outside the maze in unpredictable ways. For instance, what happens if you kill the idea of a creature you encounter within the maze? Does it's entire race disappear or somehow change outside in the real world? Or what happens if an explorer purposefully adds an idea-thing to the maze? Might that addition be reflected in the outside world? Once you enter the maze, you may never find your way back to the world you entered from...
So what initially appears to be a physical maze or a puzzle to be solved is really just a hidden back door to the universe's secret "cheat codes"; something that was never meant to be exploited by mortals.
okay okay new idea, a maze that is actually a giant rubix cube that is operated by levers inside, you have to pull levers to make the rooms change to get the colors to match which opens the exit.
I played through a GM's home-brewed extradimensional library/dungeon modeled after a Rubik's Cube back in the 90s. He got the idea to make a sequel to the classic Dungeon Magazine's "Ex Libris" adventure; which featured a 16 room 2D slide-puzzle layout for its library/dungeon.
Ratcheting it up to a 3D Rubik's Cube was a clever notion on the GM's part, but trying to unravel a 54 room shifting dungeon from the inside proved to be rather tedious enterprise for the players.
There are different ways to gauge success in combat. If you're aiming for a black and white successful or unsuccessful delineation, I'd say that success occurs when all opponents are defeated while all PCs survive. Rather simplistic, but there it is.
Anything else is a matter of degrees—how successful was your group in a particular fight? Looking at it that way, I'd say it's a matter of tracking resources: how many combat rounds, hit points, spells, expendable magic items, charges, daily use racial or class abilities, etc were expended to achieve that victory? If a fight is a long drawn out affair in which multiple characters end up badly hurt with the casters almost out of spells and the ground littered with emptied potion bottles and broken weapon; all of which necessitates an immediate rest period, I'd say that your victory was a rather poor one.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, I'd say that the absolute most successful victory possible is one in which all opponents are neutralized before they have a chance to act, no hit points are lost amongst the PCs and very few if any resources are expended. This kind of victory usually requires good reconnaissance, proper planning and coordination, gaining surprise over the opponents and then winning initiative; all combined with devastating attacks for a proper coup-de-grace. Personally, I find these sorts of flawless victories to be the most rewarding to achieve. It isn't everyone's cup of tea however, as some consider them to be rather one sided and anticlimactic. Each his own.
As a Planescape fan, I also have to give a shout out to the Lady of Pain's mazes. The Lady of Pain is a mysterious being who never speaks but merely appears periodically within Sigil; the torus-shaped city at the center of the Outer Planes. Although she's generally believed to have power on par with a minor deity, nobody dares worships her for she appears suddenly before those who offer her prayers; cutting them to ribbons as the shadow of her bladed headdress passes over them.
Those who somehow threaten the peace or safety of the city itself eventually take a wrong turn down an alleyway or corridor. They attempt to backtrack only to discover that they can't find their way to where they were. Although the environs appear familiar, additional exploration only leads them further and further astray. That's when the horror of their situation becomes clear; they've angered the Lady of Pain and so she has cast them into their own personal extra-dimensional maze from which they are unlikely to ever escape.
They race around in desperation through areas that seem superficially similar to the city they know so well; offering them a false hope that they're close to escaping. Finally, gaunt from hunger and standing upon teetering legs, they loose themselves either in death or madness, but always with the certainty that the way out lay just beyond the next corner...
It's a racial stronhold.
While expanding the borders of his kingdom, a human monarch ran into a tribe of kobolds who, through devious traps, guerrilla tactics and rapid breeding, managed to forestall the annexation of their traditional territory. Finally, the monarch had had enough of wasting time and resources and signed a treaty with the kobold chieftan; allocating the kobold's a modest territory reserved for them alone.
Both sides being content to leave each other alone for the time being, the human monarch continued his kingdom's expansion—conquering all the lands surrounding the kobold's reservation and beyond; effectively boxing in the kobolds. Eventually, the kingdom's settlers began settling the surrounding lands and encroaching more and more on the kobold reservation. The kobolds set out to defend their land; digging tunnels below ground and piling the quarried stone above ground into defensive walls surrounding important sites like wells, gardens, residences and hatcheries. The fortifications grew outward as additional walls were raised and joined together into confusing configurations; all of them festooned with devious traps to keep the human settlers out.
The kobold's tactic worked; human settlers grew ever more reluctant to enter the reservation lest they lose their way, stumble into a trap or fall prey to a kobold ambush. Soon social status among the kobolds became tied to the building of their fortifications and families began competing; seeing who could build higher & thicker walls, more confusing layouts, or concoct the most devious traps. The fortifications slowly transformed into a mulit-layered maze of above ground corridors and subterranean passages; all of it trapped with arrow slits, murder holes, pits, deadfalls, choke points and dead ends.
As the years passed and the kobold population grew the maze came to cover the entirety of the reservation and actually began encroaching on the humans' land. Kobold families would band together, make their plans, stockpile building materials and then suddenly erupt out of the maze under cover darkness. A farmer who's land bordered the Reservation might awaken to find his livestock gone, his crops pilfered and half his fields now enclosed by a hastily erected wall. By the time the king's guard would arrive to investigate, the entirety of the farm may lay within a network of walls festooned with deadly traps. If the walls were knocked down during the day, they would be rebuilt by a veritable army of kobold masons the following night.
In successive years, the kingsdom's army has occasionally declared war and set out on crusades to overrun the maze, rout out the kobolds and topple the walls with force. They occasionally meet with some success after suffering substantial losses; only to discover that while they labored in one part of the maze, it has spread out twice as much on its opposite side. And so it continues to this day; the maze slowly spreads outwards, climbs higher and grows deeper as the humans either retreat out of its way, loose their lives inside or beat futilely against its walls.
Maze building has grown into the kobolds' entire culture. They use the maze itself as their primary means of offense and defense. When invaders enter a part of the maze, the kobolds evacuate and let the maze itself fight the invaders. Although some key killing zone choke-points may be manned by kobold warriors, it's the kobolds' combat engineers who are the real threat. They generally keep out of sight, maneuvering around invaders along secret tunnels and corridors and using their prodigious maze-building skills to quickly move walls sections mounted upon hidden tracks or using carried bricks and alchemical quick-setting mortar to erect new walls; seeking to enclose and trap invaders.
Other races could easily be substituted for the kobolds, such as goblins, dwarves or gnomes. The maze could even have been built by multiple races who've banded together for mutual protection from humans; giving different parts of the maze a race-specific flavor. Magical qualities could have been added to the maze by the builders layering spells over a period of years; perhaps resulting in the maze growing into sentience. If it's desired that the maze be uninhabited, the builders could have been wiped out by famine, infighting, pestilence or even by their newly sentient maze having turned on them. 2¢