I had 3 PCs, Gestalt, with two Cohorts, also gestalt, and Majenko as an NPC.
I made Ileosa a level 20 Court Bard/ Destined Sorceress, with a ridiculous stat block to challenge my group. We have slightly modified meta magic rules, but she had a bunch, as well as access to Time Stop.
I had her utilize a projected image and deemed she could cast from within the blood pool due to the attunement process. This left them ferreting around with a gaggle of fake queens and Mavrokeras, who they hadn't encountered in the castle and came here. The wraiths went for the paladin, but he was wearing the scarab.
We got in at least 6 rounds and had at least two hero point usages to avoid certain death before they used a Wish from the deck of many things to change the table on Ileosa. Then she had to face them more directly, still gave it her all, then ignanimously got cleaved by the sword.
All in all that build was pretty hardy. Get rid of aristocrat. Gestalt her. Make her stats better than the players'. She is omniscient in the Sunken Queen so buff the crap out of her. Spam the minions. It's worth giving them a tough last run.
I'm kinda reticent of having everyone in town against them. Adding the rats as well is going to start piling up all the bad stuff and they may start wondering if this town is worth saving.
Going against the maidens now though, I would play it up as they've now 'defied authority of the crown' and are now considered outlaws.
Having a price on their heads a little early isn't all that bad. They will just have to really lay low. I'm wondering how that will work out for them in Chapter 3. Though with the Quarantine it wouldn't be hard for them to hide out there to let things cool down, they'd just have a harder time collecting any reward money for saving the citizens during the plague.
Unless Cressidia, maybe through Ishani, contacts them on the DL and offers aid if they ask for it, in return for checking on a couple things she can't do with the Maidens in her face. Common enemy always promotes cooperation?
Were there any ideas in the (sticky) thread for Seven Days? I think a few groups figured out the coin thing early, so there may be some suggestions as to what to do. My group didn't figure out the coins, but wanted to hit the ship early for clues and I had to really keep them off it. They were all about following the rules though.
What you don't exactly want to happen is have them directly confronting the Grey Maidens as a whole. Even the lower level ones currently will pose a challenge to them in force. The PCs would be seen as inhibiting the lawful actions of the crown and get annihilated, especially since they hate your city's government currently.
Perhaps you could play it off as some citizens wish to riot, but others who know the PCs have helped out in the past beg the PCs to diplomacize the riotous citizens down or the Grey Maidens will begin to slaughter needlessly to keep Order. Play them up as similar to the Order of the Nail in that Law and Order are the end-all be-all and anyone against the Law is bad. Have it so the PCs encounter the angry mob and have to calm and scatter them before the Maidens arrive. Maybe they have to do it a few places. Then, the last place turns out to be Eries Yellow-Eyes asking them to talk down Girrigz since they're so good at it? Perhaps instead of telling them about the weird ship (since they've already deduced it) maybe the rats saw someone in a robe onboard the ship right before it sank, and they think there may be clues to helping them determine who was responsible for the plague there...kinda throwing them bigger crumbs to be interested in investigating it.
I tied the Mirukovas into my PCs backgrounds so she was easy for my group. If your group has an NPC they check in with vs Cressidia, I'd have her begging for their aid next time they show up. Or have her wandering the streets begging for anyone to help her. Then when they emerge from there or from the sewers thing, they can find out about the Quarantine. It should happen in the background.
I'm a little worried my group won't have any planar travel memorized, and they wouldn't know where to go to find their friends. They likely would have a high enough save to counter (depending on the PC) but like I said before, a fail could jettison them from the rest of the session, or at least derail them for the rest of the session while they go searching for said PC.
Good suggestions though. I will try to play it more on the hilarity side. My PCs love See Invisibility, so I will have to have Yzahnum use stealth with his invisibility so he gets a couple rounds of taunting in before his reveal.
Then I completely expect one of them to duel him. I'm just not sure if the Paladin will allow the Rogue to do it in his stead.
Nobodyshome: Gotta finish Crimson Throne First! Then we have to go back and finish the last 2 chapters of Serpent's Skull! Oh the APs!
I went trolling back through the posts and didn't see this mentioned, so sorry if it actually was and point me to the right thread.
Ok, so the tactic of the Trifaccia battle is for Yzahnum to hide out and wait a few rounds for the Sczarni to throw insults and make 'wishes' that he can then make come true. The book has three examples.
1) How did GMs play this out? If you haven't, what do you plan to do?
2) I want to come up with more 'wishes' to throw at them. Did anyone here come up with some good ones? Maybe a few more...innocuous ones before hitting the "I Wish You'd Die" kind?
I'm trying to figure out how I can roleplay them yelling all kinds of stuff, and not make it obvious they're linked to the 'strange occurences'. I also would hate to have one of them fail a save and get jettisoned from the rest of the chapter.
Check out chapter 3: Escape from Old Korvosa. There are actually several paintings of Salvator's depicted in Pilts' Palace as well as the Arkona House. That should give you a few ideas.
The color Blue is a big theme in Salvator's art (blue dragon, go figure). Piercing blue eyes, scenes of gruesome depravity, etc.
Second on NobodysHome. The fact that Tsuto wasn't Lonjiku's son caused a lot of tension in the household, and Lonjiku had Tsuto sent to the local orphanage in Sandpoint. Ameiko would sneak over there to hang out with him without her father knowing, and they were actually fairly close.
After the reconciliation attempt, they didn't really see eye to eye anymore, and shortly after their mother's death Tsuto left town anyway (after his argument at the funeral with Lonjiku which ended with him beating Tsuto with his cane).
Now I'm going to spoilerize this next part, because its actually big backstory reveal that I read in the original Runelords, but sounds like may not be right there in the AE.
In the original printing backstory, one of the things it reveals is that during the 'Late Unpleasantness' when the Runewell was actually first activated, the night everyone wakes with nightmares, Lonjiku wakes in a rage. Prompted by the Runewell of Wrath, he finally snaps at being cuckolded. He calls his wife downstairs, goes out back with her, and throws her off the cliff himself. The fight at the funeral was because Tsuto insinuated Atsuii didn't fall/jump and Lonjiku was involved. My assumption has been that Ameiko had never truly believed her father capable of such things, and was another thing she didn't agree with her 1/2 brother on.
Now as for the second part, I don't think its mentioned officially anywhere who she cheated with. I do know (and possibly it has something in Jade Regent #1) that Lonjiku was traveling a lot early in their marriage, and Atsuii was lonely. Also, Lonjiku perhaps was sleeping with Chelaxian noblewomen. We won't get into morality or anything, but she eventually sought solace somewhere. She never reveals who it was. Heck, she could have slept with the Mierani diplomat who lives in Korvosa. Perishial I think. Otherwise, I guess you could make it up.
The Order or the Nail actually wasn't there strictly to help Korvosa. The Order was only called in occasionally, when they were paid to by the current Monarch to help maintain Law (Law is all they care about, oh and more Law, no matter the morality). Ileosa called them in to help quell the riots and keep order during the plague, but afterward they lost so many of their own, much like the Sable Company and Korvosan Guard, that they simply went back to Citadel Vraid to lick their wounds. That and Ileosa wasn't coughing up any more cash from her coffers for them to stay, because she had her own order of Grey Maidens now handling things. That's about all I put into it. They were really more of an afterthought in my campaign.
The doctors were definitely alchemists in my campaign, but I made the maidens Spellbreaker Inquisitors (with Ileosa as their 'diety') and multiclassed in Armor Master Fighter. Makes it somewhat ironic since they're all mind-controlled by Ileosa that they fight other casters but are unwholesomely loyal to that evil brat. Keep in mind it isn't Law the Maidens favor, its an utter devotion to their Queen via charm magic and geas. Anyone read the short web-story on paizo Shattered Steel? Its about a maiden post-AP, gives an interesting depth to them.
Also, the Grey Maidens living in the castle are all fully controlled by Ileosa (read evil murderesses), and the ones in Longacre building are actually 'rejects' who were too headstrong to be made into loyal guardswomen and whom Sabina convinced Ileosa should be imprisoned vs executed. They aren't true maidens. Doesn't mean they aren't a little messed up, or disfigured, but they owe their lives and loyalty to Sabina. There's more on this dynamic in Chapter 6.
Well, I think it would fit quite nicely, and make for some interesting roleplay. He may not know about her order, and she may or may not know about his, so they play this game of "Oh yeah, you want to get the Fangs away from the Queen? That sounds like a good idea!" (Stupid Kuthites there's no way I'm letting you get your grubby hands on them). (Stupid adventurer, there's no way I'm letting them get away from me.)
Chapter 2, Page 25:
"At night, only one of Vendra’s guards keeps watch
Straight out of the book, the wand only has 7 charges, but if they're really hurting you could cautiously bump that number, or add another encounter with someone hoarding a wand or stash of potions.
Hope this helps!
It is true that the Fangs were guarded by a Shoanti Shaman, but an elf received the responsibility to guard another artifact. Remember Mandraivus' group was separated afterwards and split the pieces of Kazavon up to prevent Kazavon's return to life. It could be that a secret order rose up somewhere as a counter to the Brotherhood of Bones, with the mission opposite of them: to keep them hidden and unknown and as far apart from each other as possible. And to ensure the Brotherhood doesn't get their evil, grubby hands on them.
She could be approached for something of the like, and have an interesting connection then to the campaign as a whole. Her mission would then be to complete the campaign then make the fangs 'dissapear' into anonymity again. Fun post-campaign mission possibility.
It could be Ishani is so grateful for their help investigating, that he'll give them free cures, and you just assume their family members stay safe. Or, swap around the encounters so they hit the Lavender quest first - she has a wand of cure disease. Just two ideas.
The people of Korvosa don't hate their government. They just didn't like that Eodred was spending money on his vices, but overall he was actually a fair/just king. He was ok on the popularity charts, probably more so than our current presidential candidates.
The city itself is LN and more than anything, the people of Korvosa are strongly geared toward LAW and ORDER and ROUTINE. They are rioting because Ileosa married a man more than twice her age and was known to refer to their wonderful city as a backwater hovel. They don't trust her to run their government well, and the death of Eodred breaks up their routine.
Just as a side question, what are your players' alignments?
A few exerpts from page 33:
"If asked about his fingers, Vencarlo pauses for a moment, then admits that he lost them a while back in an unfortunate duel and that he’d rather speak no more on the subject."
"Vencarlo admits that Grau was once one of his most promising students, at which point a PC can attempt a DC 20 Knowledge (local) check to recall hearing something about some scandal involving Grau, Vencarlo, and Sabina."
"He has little more to say about his ex-students at this time, instead trying to shift the topic of the conversation back to the PCs, using flattery and compliments as his primary weapons."
The sorceress in my group was trying to land a 'wealthy husband' and therefore began flirting with him, and made friends with Grau enough to hear a bit of the tale involving the scandal. Then again, she'd also heard Sabina liked women, and flirted with her to see if it was true. ;-)
Figuring that Cressida and Vencarlo are friends, and the scandal was probably something she would've heard about and possibly was there to console a friend for(in a friend type manner), she probably knows about what happened at least in part, but just isn't very open about it as it is her friend's business not everyone elses. So if the party was friendly with Cressida, she'd probably let them know that Vencarlo had 'some trouble' awhile back with two of his more promising students, or something of the like. Similarly, if they befriended Grau, he could give a side of it as well. They likely won't have a lot of interaction with Sabina, as she is busy.
Vencarlo tries dodging the questions with flattery, as it is a sore subject for him. It specifically says he'd rather not talk, not that he stays completely tight-lipped. I assume if they pushed him, he would say so and ask them to drop it, as they aren't good friends yet. If they really want the dirt, like I suggested they could go snooping and likely hear a few truths and falsehoods regarding a scandal, as the aforementioned Knowledge (Local) check says. The details they acquire could be left up to you.
Ok, so I'm currently running Crimson Throne, going to knock out Chapter Six here by end of December, then we'll jump back to completing Ch5-6 of Serpent's Skull. We alternate GMs and campaigns - has worked well for GM fatigue, my fiance is running Jade Regent as well.
After I finish Crimson Throne, I want to start planning my next AP before SSk is finished so we can transition smoothly to the next. I have the Runelords minis set, will have the Shattered Star minis set, and our third choice looks to be Skull & Shackles, but lets just focus on Runelords/Shattered Star for the purposes of this thread.
For those who have played/GM'd Runelords, and are currently playing/GM'ing Shattered Star, how similar are these paths? I'm speaking in terms of gameplay: amount of dungeons, roleplay opportunities, interest of story, etc. I get the basic concepts of each, have played through the first chapter and a half of Runelords, and have read parts of the first 3 chapters of Shattered Star.
I'm looking for a strong opinion on either side of whether we should 'definitely' play Runelords, then Shattered Star, i.e. if we'll really be missing out on something epic by not playing Runelords at all, OR if it would be OK to just do Shattered Star and skip Runelords in favor of completing some of the newer, non-Varisia based APs, and just catch them up on the Runelords backstory and what they 'should know' about 'current' events.
Yeah, they really assume the PCs do certain things, leaving it open to GM creativity if they go off the beaten path.
1) Vencarlo isn't secretive about his missing fingers, he just doesn't like to talk about it. If they have a good enough gather information, even through Cressida, they can hear the story of how Vencarlo and Grau were in love with the same woman, and Grau engineered a duel between Vencarlo and Sabina, where he lost a few fingers and his two best students in the deal. He hedges the story, because he's really sore over it still.
2) If there's any way to save the mission, either by hearing rumors of what the anarchy is doing and what an embargo on goods would do to the city itself, then try to do it. Otherwise, I'd maybe find a way to go around it, like you have already mentioned. Really the missions are there to help them earn xp. If its not for them, you'll have to find another side-mission they'd be more amicable to as a party. If they really hated Lamm, maybe you could drop the hint that Devargo was one of his suppliers for goods? (he was in on the shiver trade in my game)
3) I would say that the embargo likely wouldn't happen this chapter, but would be a real clincher come chapter 2, when it appears during the first parts of the outbreak with Korvosa rushing to get in healing supplies for the sick, and the embargo prevents it. You can show in Ch2 how their apathy to that particular mission is now costing lives, and you should threaten their loved ones (if they have any) or friends with the plague. Just a thought.
They already mentioned it above: there would be a possible embargo on the city from Cheliax. One of their characters is part of the darklight sisterhood and therefore more partial toward cheliax vs korvosa.
This poses an issue as, as it was said, the party needs a love for the city of Korvosa, not a stronger affiliation elsewhere. When the crap hits the fan, they need a strong motivation to continue to help the city.
Cressidia is going to continue throughout chapter 2, 3, and 6 to help move them along the path of leveling, so if they are already tired of hearing from her, do they have another npc they like better? Is there someone else you can give them hints from? Would they prefer to just hear 'rumors of injustices' and go vigilante on their butts instead of 'orders from the guard'?
If they are this bad in chapter 1 about it, I would seriously consider re-vamping the entirety of Chapter 4 now. There are suggestions in the book and I think other paths mentioned in these boards. Start thinking early.
I believe the way most monsters in the APs work now is if they are in Bestiary 1-3, they will mention the monster name and what book it can be found in, including page #s. If it is in a companion/3rd party book (like Tome of Horrors) they will print the entire stat block in the AP so you don't have to go searching for it. Or if it is a special, or has class levels, the whole stat block will be included.
But if the srd has all the monsters listed, then yes you could just have the AP, the Core book, and the srd and be golden.
I however am one of those completionists like NobodysHome and have pretty much every Paizo book published thus far. Gaming is an addiction, and I readily admit it.
The trick comes in how to mention it in such a casual manner that their trained adventuring noses don't point straight for it. I felt I really had to reel them back when I tried to do this (their noses went ping!) and I immediately regretted mentioning it. Then later, when they do go investigate it, they're like, "Wow we could've saved a lot of time going straight here....". *grumble*
I actually laid out a flight path ahead of time, with alternate routes and at least two ways to get past each obstacle. I will see if I can attach it, but its in Visio....maybe I can make it just a word doc and copy/paste. Knowing what the shingles looked like, I don't think I added any garden parties, but we did have a pseudodragon nest and a choker attack that was interesting. Our Paladin did have a hard time of it though.
..of course my group caught her fairly easily, but oh well.
Yeah, mentioning the sunken ship at all in the beginning was a huge mistake in my campaign. For those who haven't gotten there yet, DON'T MENTION IT! It's a huge hook that drives the PCs straight there before they're ready. They actually mention making sure the PCs can't reach it until you're ready for them.
I had Cressidia tell them she needed more solid evidence before she could act on what they had. That or have the other side quests come up quickly, needing more immediate attention than investigating the temple.
I also had the Mirukovas as old friends of one of the PCs, and her 'future' cohort went with him and was subsequently kidnapped. In order to get use of him, they had to go find him! (I'm so mean, but it worked out just about right since they were 7th about that time, and gave them a sense of personal involvement in figuring the whole thing out).
Wow, that sounds really cool. You should let us know how it went, and if you're feeling generous, maybe share the sweet fruits of your labor?
I did something similar only by hand and stacked the deck ahead of time.
Well, if you make him hang out there, he's likely going to be observed as he dies. Which isn't cool. That and he can't participate in the other happenings from a bed.
If you make him suspicious of the activity going on in the hospice, that will take the group straight to the endgame which is over their heads at this point. The group should get the idea that the doctors are doing everything possible to help the city.
I would maybe have someone intervene on his behalf to provide him with healing (like Cressidia or Ishani) as they are helping the city, or boosts to his saves so he can overcome the disease himself and prevent its spread to others (all the players need are two consecutive saves).
It could be interesting/funny to have him take the perfumer's miracle cure to see if it will work on the disease. Put an interesting twist on that sidequest. Then give him the proper healing afterward as a reward.
I do have to agree with Tels. There's quite a bit the player's shouldn't know about the campaign going in, especially about Serithtial as well as many other events, houses, connections etc.
That being said, I have a Paladin of Iomedae in my group, and he seems connected just fine.
I drew out the first two floors and the main part of the heights to actual scale, and then we roll it out so if fits on our gaming table to the parts we need. It saves A LOT of re-draws. And the mini model really helped the group and myself understand what they could see from a distance, and decide how they wanted to approach/land, etc.
For example, I couldn't have told you what the tallest tower was without the model. Or the shortest. And the book maps aren't all the same size or orientation. :-)
They have defeated all four spirit anchors and cleared all the upper levels as well as the main keep and kennels. They still have the hexagonal tower, guest wing, and a certain chained spirit they met already before entering the star tower.
Shoot....I plan on boosting her badness because my party is too awesome for words and they'll likely one-round her flying butt.
I also thought about (less seriously) allowing the dragon to come back so they could get a 'real' challenge, but that may be too mean. ;-)
Ok, let's see if I remember how to do this! Let's see some Scarwall pics!
First I have to preface that because I'm lazy and didn't want to keep re-drawing such an extensive den of evil, I decided to buy Gaming Paper and hand-draw the entire thing using markers. This way wherever they went, there the map would be! Yes it took some time, but it was worth it. No, I didn't have the properly sized printer or the ink to print the monstrosity. So we'll deal with my three rolls of wrapping-paper-like maps on the dining room table.
Now, being too big to have rolled out all at once, it was still very difficult for even myself to imagine what the dimensions of the castle actually looked like. So I used graph paper and made a mini version of the entire castle, as shown here and here .
Hopefully, you can see why this was necessary with my scale comparison .
Now on to the minis!
Second Floor broad view .
Closeup of their first encounter with the Chained Spirit .
I'm excited that Runelords has become such a popular AP, and especially to post gameplay logs on. I think I've mentioned I'm running the Anniversary Edition after we complete the Crimson Throne AP, and I get a lot of great ideas reading these campaign logs. I think it really helps me get into the setting, as well as plan ahead for all the crazy things a player may get into or do out of order.
Is there a way to tie them in to Zellara as a NPC they knew when she was alive? Maybe they knew, backstory-wise that her son was killed by Lamm (he could've been a friend), and they haven't heard from her for awhile until she sends them a strange message to meet with her and explains to them that she found the guy that stole her deck and killed her son, and she asks you to help her avenge him, for old time's sake.
Then everything else goes mostly as planned, with them heading in, making the grisly discovery, and her owning up to the subterfuge, unsure how they would react had they known the truth going in. Then she tells them about her current spiritual ties to the city and asks them to help her defend Korvosa?
Man, I could've used this for my group when they all started knowing each other! Two of them were Varisian, too and could've been good friends. Darnit!
If you want to track my party's progress, you can go to this Community Thread and the link to my Obsidian Portal site is currently the last entry. Sorry for the link chain but I can't open the OP site from my work computer. XD
We're currently about halfway through Scarwall. ;-)
Oh, and on the whole counting coins thing, I let the group use that new sift spell to get a count. Majenko did offer to sit and watch their stuff though.
For the prior battle, may I suggest something if it works out for your group this way: They went into that first area where the two barbed devils were, neither got away alive. But they can communicate telepathically with their mistress, Nihil. So by the time the group went into the lord's tower, she and the bone devils and imps were all invisible, and she had summoned a chain devil to hide in the corner (no invisibility for her). The group walks in cautiously, sees the chain devil, surrounds and beats on her, then *bam* comes the Blasphemy from Nihil. Was so cool.
Of course, she lasted long enough to cast Horrid Wilting, but not Chain Lightning. I did enjoy at least getting the drop on the party though.
The room description mentions a skull and chain headed statue and an altar covered in ash and bone with a gem studded skull. As soon as I read the room description, two of the players were like "Aw fu**, really? Crap we're all gonna die." And started buffing right then and there, because they figured they needed to roll initiative as soon as they opened the door.
In-character though, part of Zellara's song is "on a stone mid ash and bone the final dreams of death" they knew was one of the spirit anchors, so they rolled knowledge religions and got enough to know it was likely a demilich, just not much about it. I think they got enough to know one thing, asked for resistances, and I replied, "Everything". Which was nearly true! Except smiting, it wasn't immune to smiting. ;-)
My group just encountered the demilich tonight. Needless to say, I went ahead and let them beat on it for the entire round before declaring it a lost cause. As they hadn't disturbed the ashes, they got in flanking positions around it (go Outflank), cast Haste and Silence then the paladin activated his group smite ability. End result? They did 912 damage in the first round. The paladin near killed it himself. Zev didn't even get to wake up, poor guy.
Moral of the story? If I could do it again, I'd probably consider anyone getting within 10' as 'disturbing' him, so he can try to get into the initiative lineup. Then no 1-rd formation thing. Oh well, they had a lot of fun creaming it 2x over his maxed advanced hp.
We had started out with the fast xp track (it is closest to the original 3.5 progression). They seemed to have been leveling at the right points in the story. We did that up through Chapter 2.
Then, based on some group discussions, we moved all our games over to leveling at certain points in the story. It seemed to work well and it kept us from killing everything for xp. We initiated that at the start of Chapter 3 and it seems to be working well. I still have the 'anticipated' xp progression if they were earning it, and am kinda using that to gauge when to level them up as well as where it makes sense in the story.