I don't think that the Wood Wife or the satyr are bestiality (and Greta only barely). Humans and fae are a classic fairy tale trope, as are humans and shape-shifted animals: "Beauty and the Beast," "The Swan Prince," "The Frog Prince," "The Crow Brothers," "Midsummer Night's Dream," the story of the selkie, the kitsune, and on and on. This whole adventure path seems to follow fairy tale themes, and this one is so common in the source material that I'm surprised it hasn't come up more. That's just the transformed animals. That's not even considering the animals that fall in love with humans (and vise versa).
Satyrs and huldra aren't animals. They're fae. Even Greta, in the context of the Howlings, isn't an animal - she's as smart and self-determined as any human.
If you're not interested in the fairy tale stuff, I don't see what the attraction of this AP would be.
You could adapt the system, though, to give each NPC an action every round, but limited to the ones on the card. That way, the person who has the tightest relationship with the NPC controls their actions, but doesn't have to learn to read a whole new sheet.
Personally, I found that trying to realize the NPCs during combat led to making my players watch me play with myself: "Shalelu rapid-shots the yeti for 25 damage, then moves, so the yeti gets an AoO, which she dodges. Ameiko keeps singing, and moves past the yeti to get into flanking position for Sandru. Sandru attacks with his rapier, deftly power attacking for 30 points. Nobody needs healing yet, so Koya casts 'Bless." Ulf charges, but he misses. Now, it's... hey, where did everybody go?"
Alternatively, the players all got an NPC to play... then spent an extra fifteen minutes on every turn because they weren't familiar with the character sheet and had to look up every little rule. Half of my players can barely keep the rules for their own characters in their hards, little say a whole new character they didn't create.
I made the decision early on to let the PCs be the stars of the combats and work on making the NPCs more important outside of combat. YMMV.
NPC actions, spoilered because I can't remember if I've mentioned it before, or where I stole the idea from.:
I give out "NPC Action Cards" at the beginning of every session/ encounter. If a player declares that an NPC is with them, and they have a relationship above acquaintance, they get a card. When they get to "devotion," they'll get two cards (except Ulf, who is always with them, and so always has a card). The cards have the NPCs picture on one side, to help the players remember who's with them. Once per encounter, the player can hand in the card to have the NPC perform one of the actions on the back. For example:
Koya’s NPC actions may be used to:
If an NPC card is not spent the NPC can be used to flank or Aid Another. NPC actions must be declared at the start of your turn.
End result: the NPCs take up almost no time in the combat, their presence is felt, they have a small effect (Shalelu sacrificed herself to save a PC, at one point), and I never have to play an NPC in combat. It's a great replacement for hero points.
About giving experience for a single die roll: this is yet another reason why I level at story appropriate moments, instead. Beat Kimandatsu? Get a level! Because how anti-climactic is it to beat the big boss in the middle of a level? *yawn* I couldn't even tell you how many xp most encounters are supposed to give. I never even read that line.
I love those, Siduri. I wish I'd read the Sandru one a long time ago, because that would have been an excellent way to link him in. He's actually the one I have the hardest time with, at this point.
One of my players went for Shalelu (it was going to be two, but the second one had was already set up to be her half-step-sister, in my background, and that got weird). I tied her in before that, thanks to some good advice here on the board, by making her protective of Ameiko (her "heart-sister"). In particular, she didn't know what happened with Ameiko and Sandru, since they agreed never to speak of it, and only knew than Ameiko came back from adventuring with him with a broken heart. This meant a lot of tension on the road between Shalelu and Sandru. (In my backstory, he left Sandpoint for the Varisian life because Shalelu told him to stay away from Ameiko, because of the confusion, and threatened his life. The first time she caught them alone together, she tried to make good on the threat until the party stopped her.) This tied into Koya, as well, because she had decided that Ameiko and Sandru should be together, and blamed Shalelu for keeping them apart. Some nice soap-opera drama, there.
Remember that the "relationship scores" don't have to be romantic. It's possible to have a close tie to Shalelu as an apprentice, and for that to be the relationship that gets built up.
One of my PCs is engaged to Sandru and apprenticed to Koya, so I expect to kill Koya off at some point, for drama's sake (and because there's no one left who would be mechanically affected by it). That said, your Koya write-up is great. Really useful stuff, there.
I'm having some trouble deciphering the "Fording the Taraksa" event. The first paragraph says that if the caravan follows the Kluani "they automatically locate the ford," but that if they try to find it they have to "try to find an alternate ford," which requires one Security check. Then the next paragraph describes how to find the ford, which takes four security checks.
It seems to me that the four Security check paragraph is a clarification of the "strike out to find their own," since "automatically finding the ford" implies that no Security checks are necessary.
If that's true, that Security checks are not necessary to cross the Taraksa ford, then there's no advice on how long that should take.
As an added bonus, I rolled a Heatwave for that day, after days and days of freezing weather, which should melt the ice just enough to make crossing potentially deadly.
I'm not sure what to do, though. Four Security checks? One, but at a higher difficulty? Greater penalties for failure (including potentially losing wagons)? Fight the glacier toads, with a 50% chance to break the ice and trigger the giant pikes?
Am I misreading the second paragraph? What have others done, here?
I always try to plan for my players to use crisis entry, because it's my SOP as a player. Give me a cathedral to breach, and I'll come in from the bell tower every time. Even if it leads to a TPK and ends a Shackled City campaign prematurely.
Crisis entry: not always a good idea, but always awesome.
I wish my group had battled across rooftops, instead of one-shotting the sniper. (Magus crit fml.) Sounds epic.
Some of it is memory, too. I gave out "clue cards," every time they triggered an event, that summed up the info they had gathered. The players held onto the business cards in between sessions and started every session by comparing notes again (as the party talked over dinner). This way, they never lost track in between sessions, and they could help each other finish up missions. (As an added bonus, the cards had the skills and DCs for me, to make it easier to nudge them towards the check.)
It also helps to throw in extra npc contacts. My group had Fynn, but also had a helpful tengu acrobat that dropped hits about the thieves guild.
I'm glad you did this. I'd been worried that my party had too much wealth, especially since they want to craft over the Crown. I'm adding in four PFS modules, "Baleful Coven," "Under Frozen Stars," "The Harrowing" and the "Ruby Phoenix Tournament," as well, so mine will be well over.
My wealth problem is a little different. I have a gunslinger, a bladebound magus, a ninja and two casters. The ninja gets all the cool early-game weapons, and the gunslinger and magus don't want any besides the one they have. My party, in other words, is not that interested in magic item drops. They're selling almost everything, which means that I have to add in the extra adventures, or else they'll be even farther behind, I think.
Uthak: I'd love to see what you did with the caravan. I'm planning to keep the caravan rules in place through the Crown (since one of my players doesn't keep a journal or paint minis but wants the extra hero point that comes with doing out-of-game work), but giving them a modified Nigh Monarch Vardo at the pole, which should help to shift the caravan to the background. Then, in Minkai, I'd like to turn the caravan into an encampment until the adventure is over. If we could make it a mobile town in the meantime, that could be fun.
Pallius: I like a lot of parts of that idea. I think it's especially important to shed light on how Minkai is interacting with its neighbors. I think I'd avoid the "rebels" angle, because it shows up in Book 5, though. I like the idea of fake rebels, because it would make the players more suspicious of the actual rebels, later.
I've been looking for a way to get a Kuwa oni in, though, and that would be a perfect opportunity. I like the suicide bomber, but it might be good to give the PCs a chance to stop it. Players like to have agency in these things.
Since my players don't know there's a mechanical benefit, even the power gamer is focusing on his one relationship for the fun of it. Having a gift every level or so works to keep the relationships in mind, and it's especially nice to hear players say things like, "that's really nice sake, I think Sandru would like it, so I'll take it as part of my share of the loot," when it's already been established that this character and Sandru have a nightly nightcap, sampling different alcohols from different regions or countries.
The thing that the relationship system does nicely, I think, is provide me as GM a quantifiable level for the relationship. I'd be tempted to jump too quickly to intimate friendship, so the system has slowed me down, and forced the relationships to build over time. As a result, the speeches that the NPCs gave on the Ritual of Stardust could be focused specifically towards the PCs they were closest to, deliberately snubbing the PCs that they had bad relationships with (for example). Sure, I could have done all that on my own, but the system made it much, much easier to quantify. Koya and L. are friends, almost fellows, so she'll talk about how L has become like a daughter to her, while K is only barely a friend, so Koya will talk about their "growing friendship."
In a system where Charisma is measured in numbers, regardless of how you role-play it, it is actually useful to have a mechanic to track the progress of a relationship.
Is it perfect? Nope. Have I made some changes? Sure, but they've been minor. I know there has been a lot of criticism of the system, and of the caravan system, but I'd recommend that anyone playing JR give both systems a try, for the first couple of books. If they're not working, you can adapt them and/or chuck them, but they do a lot to make the adventure path feel different, and to integrate two potentially peripheral elements (the NPCs and the caravan), which has made it feel, at least for my group, like a more immersive experience (because they have to actually think about their travel arrangements, and they think about the NPCs even when they're not around).
I just realized why I thought it would be wielder-only:
"If a new person wields Suishen, that person must learn the sword's additional powers all over again."
I take this to mean that if the ninja had possession when Kimandatsu was killed, the ninja can access the protection from cold, but as soon as it is handed off, the power goes away, unless the samurai then uses it to kill an oni, in which case both can use the protection, but neither gets the next ability.
An argument could be made that the wielder could cast it on others, using the sword. I think that would have to take the form of kneeling in front of the wielder and swearing fealty, as though being knighted. Every day. The sword is the soul of an emperor, after all. NG or not, no Ego 25 artifact is going to be the party's cold-protection machine for nothing.
The 3/day spells can be cast on anyone, as a spell caster, I guess. I'm with you, Jeff, about the speech. I play it as telepathic by contact, just like Helgarval.
That would completely change how I was going to handle the Crown Run. Is there any reason not to make all of Suishen's powers "wielder-only?" If it's an inherent limitation of the artifact (which some people have argued is too powerful, anyway), then it's consistent. That's a change I'm comfortable making, to give my players a little more challenge over the Crown.
They went to the trouble to get a crafter, and making wands will keep her busy enough that the trip won't be too item-heavy.
gamer-printer: From the OP: "As I have 6 players in my game I had a side quest take them into Riddleport, where he tried once again to press the issue of taking a ship instead of going over land."
Seems to me it's one player who actually likes being a little disruptive and contrary. I get it, because I'm often that guy. That's why you have to increase buy-in. An old sailor who knew a guy who told of surviving the trip, and of the dangers probably won't do it.
Heck, one of my players is actually playing a sometime sea captain, and even that character was convinced to give up the sea route by the "it's more than 10,000 miles through uncharted water, past the hole in the world created by the death of a god, through the territories of dozens of hostile countries, and no one you know or know of has done it and lived. There are no maps for much of the journey. The alternative is a well-known path of 3000 miles with an experienced guide."
It's really unfair to base advice on the assumption that someone is using their own world. I suspect that the OP is like me: I have a job that already takes up 50 hours of my week. I don't have the time or interest to build a world, or completely rewrite two chapters of an AP. I do enough re-writing as it is. I told my players up front: "this isn't an Eastern adventure: it's Journey into the West. It's The Last Samurai, not House of Flying Daggers." If they wanted to play House of Flying Daggers, I'd be sad for them, because that's not what I'm running.
I get that you wrote a three-part AP set in the East, but people running this AP don't want just that. The journey is the destination, for some of us. If you don't run the Varisia part, you don't get to play the out-of-his-element Viking warrior, or the returning descendent of a family that left in disgrace, or the witch fleeing her past to a new continent. For those archetypes, you have to play the journey, because it's how they build character and connections, before taking over a new country.
As an added bonus, the adventure path looks like this:
Levels 1-6 (gritty realism): Varisia and Vikings
In other words, the power-level of the character levels are appropriate for the geography, thematically. Some people might think that's awesome.
Why not cater to one's whims? Players need to have fun too.
"If five players are appreciating your hard work and not trying to derail you for their own amusement, or are really interested in seeing what life on the pole looks like..."
By "players need to have fun," I assume you would also consider the fun of the other players, who may not want a seasickness-and-scurvy adventure, and might be looking forward to yetis and blizzards.
Just for asking for a different way, doesn't mean he's a problem player.
"If he's got a reason ... then you can deal with the reason..."
By "deal with the reason" I mean "talk to the player about it and figure out if he can be dissuaded, or if not going by sea is a dealbreaker for him. If he doesn't like Sandru, get rid of Sandru and let this character take over the caravan (maybe he just wants more control over his own travel). If he thinks travel by sea is faster and easier, check out the other "players wanting to take a ship" thread to see why it's actually not, and give him the chance to try to hire a captain who can tell him all about it.
Personally, I'm looking forward to running the arctic stuff, and it's possible that the OP is, as well, in which case it's worth exploring ways to change the player's mind.
People rarely come to the boards asking for help dealing with an awesome player.
The ship goes south, straight out of Jade Regent and into Skull and Shackles...
That said, it sounds like you don't have buy-in from this player. Why not? Is he being obstructionist for a reason, due to personality-type or because he built a naval character and really wants to play Skull and Shackles? If it's personality-type, then no amount of appeasement will work: he will find a way to throw a wrench into any plan you have. In which case, adventure paths run just fine with five people, so he can be downsized.
If he's got a reason (doesn't understand the geography, hates Sandru, wants to play Skull and Shackles), then you can deal with the reason, but if five players are appreciating your hard work and not trying to derail you for their own amusement, or are really interested in seeing what life on the pole looks like (as mine are), then why cater to this one's whims?
To me, good and evil are less interesting than law and chaos. A good character could use an evil spell for good ends, but by definition of being "good" wouldn't want to (though the player playing her might). To combine Jiggy's theory with the OP's example: technically, a good necromancer could raise an army of zombie defenders of righteousness, but the act of doing so would corrupt him so fully that he wouldn't be good at the end of it, because genuinely good people don't create meat-puppets. He might be neutral, but his essential attitude towards the sanctity of life has been compromised.
Now, law vs. chaos, that's interesting. If a carriage has stopped and the driver is on break, a lawful character will wait until the driver gets on and pay her fare, even if no one else is (even a lawful evil character). A lawful character will never cut in line in a cafeteria. A lawful good character will let other people cut, if they have a pressing need (an appointment, hypoglycemia, a crying baby, etc.). A lawful neutral character will not, ever, let someone else cut, no matter how pressing their need (the rules must be maintained, or else society will descend into chaos). A lawful evil character will find some way (within existing laws) to exact revenge on someone who cuts (say, by flipping their tray when they've ordered their food).
A serial killer, by definition, has to be chaotic evil, right? He's flouting the norms of society and does not respect the sanctity of life. However, a chaotic evil serial killer who directs his attentions towards goblins, orcs and bugbears? We call him an adventurer. Likewise, a lawful good person who does not take life, any life, and does not wear a weapon in public is likely to be an unsuccessful adventurer. A lawful neutral rogue would never steal anything, unless she worked for the government and was legally granted the right to do so.
A chaotic good rogue would make an excellent firefighter: he would get to help people and do good in the world, and when the fire was out he could help himself to a few household objects. A lawful druid might work for a logging company, as long as they agreed to replace what they cut down. A chaotic evil druid might kill loggers. A chaotic good druid might work in the Greenpeace recruiting department.
What would a good gunslinger or ninja look like? They are classes that are built, more than any other, to kill. Guns don't do non-lethal damage, and ninjas poison. Could a good ninja work as a pharmacist? Would a good gunslinger look like Roy Rogers, only ever shooting to disarm?
According to the SRD: "A remove disease or heal spell cast by a cleric of 12th level or higher cures the affliction, provided the character receives the spell within 3 days of the infecting lycanthrope's attack. Alternatively, consuming a dose of wolfsbane gives an afflicted lycanthrope a new Fortitude save to recover from lycanthropy."
A paladin with remove curse won't work (although if it were a sufficiently high-level paladin - 15th or higher - I might let it slide, because at that level, who cares), and if those three days pass there is no in-game way to remove the curse, short of a major artifact or quest. That's how I read it, anyway.
The caravan requires one casting of endure elements per point of consumption, every week (Hungry Storm, page 36). When camped, the sashimono of comfort takes care of the caravan. If the horses are really a problem, that could be fun to play out. As the horses get sick and die, the caravan can encounter herds of yaks or woolly rhinos, which they can train and hitch to replace the horses. (That's my plan, personally.)
Horses are a bad idea, though. Just ask Robert Falcon Scott...
Picking up Ameiko, the warding box, the seal and Suishen and meeting some of the early oni are the only things that you absolutely need (especially if you dump the caravan rules), I think. There is another option: if Ameiko was brought across the Crown by a group of adventurers who kept a diary, your group could pick her up in Ordu-Aganhi after the initial escorts are killed.
Alternately, the initial escort isn't a caravan, but a single person (which would let one of your players play the Tom Cruise in Last Samurai role, if he or she wanted), so you have Ameiko, one NPC, maybe Shalelu and Ulf as a guide. You still get the benefit of the NPCs, but without all the baggage, and you can write up the first couple of chapters as a diary, so that the players can pick up hints about the oni.
Already picked them up, and I'm definitely putting them both in.
My confusion was all about the map. 800 miles is a lot of space to not exist on any Paizo map, and since I'm doing the "Indiana Jones" red line of travel, drawing on the maps, it will be weird to have that big empty space.
I like the centaur idea, and I'll probably add in a tribe of adlets, as well, using the 800 miles as an opportunity to emphasize what an amazing guide Ulf is (something that I think is missing from the module). Whenever possible, I want the players to feel like having Ulf along is making the passage much, much easier.
What's between the Stormspear and Rimethirst Mountains? Have I really read correctly that there are supposed to be 1000 miles from Kalsgard to the Rimethirst Mountains, which should pass entirely without incident?
If my math is right, that's 800 miles between the two mountain ranges which doesn't appear on any Paizo map. The Inner Sea maps all stop at the Stormspear Mountains, and the Crown maps all start at the Rimethirst. If that's true, that's a lot of space to leave off of all the maps. What's there? A lot of nothing? Erutaki villages?
Given how prolific people are about settling every available piece of land, it seems like there would be something there, but I can't find any official information on it. I'm tempted to use it as evidence of what a good guide Ulf is: there would be a lot of attacks, but he knows how to avoid them. Except that I know my players are going to ask about the geopolitical situation in a space the size of Varisia, especially if it is completely unsettled. ("Why are there no people here," they will ask. "Is it haunted? Are there things we can kill? Why not?")
Finished Night of Frozen Shadows this weekend, and made some pretty serious changes to Ravenscraeg, as suggested upthread (or maybe in the main NoFS thread).
My party is five players and scary-effective, so the "fight the Frozen Shadows a couple at a time plan" was never going to work, but the players didn't have the foresight to get them all out of the fortress. Rather than have the whole dungeon consist of "witch sleeps enemy, gunslinger, ninja and mangos kill it in its sleep," I had a NPC (Ameiko's brother's lover) let it be known that she was pregnant and well protected, after the party had already killed Jorgan (PC Kelda's father) and Omoyani. That was enough to get Kimandatsu to move against her, for fear of another heir being born before she could dispense with the two she had captured.
So the party made their way through Ravenscraeg very, very quickly, since one of them has Scent. Triggering the ravenswarms, though, brought Kimandatsu back, along with all of the thugs and ninjas. As a result, the party fought 8 thugs, 7 ninjas, 2 trolls and Kimandatsu in her bedchamber, after they rescued Ameiko and company (and made friends with Skygni, thanks to a well-played Plot Twist card). The ensuing fight was epic, ending with one dead PC, and a PC, Skygni and Shalelu at negative HP. Both the of the last two characters standing and Kimandatsu were one hit away from going down, so it could have gone either way in the last round. The party squeaked out a win, but they really knew how close it was.
Not only was the last battle more interesting because it included (just about) everyone, the rest of the dungeon was more creepy because it was empty but could have had ninjas around every corner.
Other changes: a massive (literal) witch-hunt in Kalsgard, thanks to a poison-happy witch PC and a lot of other murder going on in town (all of the Frozen Shadows murders were pinned on her). Luckily, she died during the final battle, so the party will be collecting the reward offered for her: dead or alive. The witch-finder offering the reward? Another PC's father.
I'm adding in The Baleful coven, in between Turvik and the Rimehurst mountains, tied into that same witch's backstory (involving her grandmother).
This I've learned: if all of your PCs are from The Inner Sea, you need to dispense with the links to their backstories in the first two books. After that, it's much more difficulty for a "long lost father" to show up.
In this way, parenting and DMing are similar (I say this as a parent and a DM): if you make up rules and your only reasoning for them is "because I say so," then your rules are worthless, and your kids and your players know it. In players, this leads to finding new groups, or acting out. In kids, this leads to sneaking out and lying. If you're the kind of parent who doesn't explain their rules, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want my kid being around that kind of influence.
Even if it were okay for parents to make up arbitrary rules, your players aren't children, and deserve to be treated like adults.
Returning to the danish example, I think a good parent would have said, "why a danish," in case the response was "I'm allergic to chocolate'" or at least "you can't have the danish because I need it for breakfast tomorrow." Likewise, "you can't playba ninja" is bad DMing, whereas "I'm not big on ninjas because there is no Asia in my world and they don't exist," or "the ki mechanic doesn't fit my game," because the player can say "look, there's a ninja archetype that doesn't use ki, can I play that?"
Because talking to your players is good Gming, and talking to your kids is good parenting, whereas stamping your foot, putting your fingers in your ears and saying, "these are my rules because I am in charge here," is simply not. The latter results in GMing for your cats, while your players (or your kids) resent you.
In your example, as a kid in that brownie-party, I would have left, even if I didn't want the danish, because I object to weird, arbitrary rules on principle. In fact, I probably would have taken the danish-wanting kid with me and gone to a pastry-shop, where I could have had professionally-baked brownies.
My friends' parents didn't like me very much, because I always made them justify their rules. On the other hand, I never broke rules that had logical justifications.
In other words, if you want to run an undead game, players who don't want that should leave. That happened to me, a few years ago. The GM really wanted to run an undead game, and the players didn't want to play in one. So all the players left, and the GM had no players, but had his brownies. Meanwhile, I stole all of his players and ran a game in which everyone had fun. Last time I checked, that GM still didn't have a gaming group, and I'm still playing with all of his players. If the players hadn't come with me, I still would have left.
That's how it should be. GM the game you want, even if it means you have no players. Play the game you want, even if it means you have no GM.
In that case, he could borrow from my Sandru and be a lovable womanizer (meaning that he flirts with everyone, maybe has a few one-night stands in towns the caravan passes through, but isn't terribly serious about it, until he meets and falls in love with one of the PCs).
I borrowed some of the names from Richard Pett's _Your Whispering Homunculus_, which I highly recommend to GMs who like to include random world elements in their games.
Spoiler-tagged for my players, and length:
On the way north, the party picked up six passengers. A family who had been scarred in a goblin attack (a child who had a goblin phobia; his mother, who had been facially scarred; and his father, who had lost his voice), a father and his almost-adult daughter, and a single man. The last two, Cessily and Fat Ferris (who is not fat, nor is his name Ferris) wound up staying with the party after Losthome. Cessily flirts with every male in the caravan, although she has an order of priority that goes, roughly: rich, handsome, single. If a male PC hits the trifecta, bonus. She gradually learns to be the cook, and just wants to get out of the LLK and find a place where the men are better looking, and more wealthy. Fat Ferris is wanted by the law, although he doesn't tell the party that, and it will catch up with him eventually.
In Kalsgard, the party looked for a magewright. The problem is, any wizard high enough level to craft the kind of items a 6th-level party wants is too high level to go with them. So they found Ortsdotter. Ort is an armorer with five daughters, all of whom are involved in the family business. Ortsdotter has a first name, but no one calls her by it. She's a 1st level Wizard, 4th level expert, with all of the crafting feats. If you've ever seen _A Knight's Tale_, she's a bit like the blacksmith: brilliant, experimental, and very much wants to get out of the LLK, where, as a woman, her contributions are less recognized. By hitching her wagon to the party's star, she hopes to become a better wizard, and found her own smithy.
In other news, they rescued a huldra as a spellcaster, because one of them is a kitsune and I thought it would be fun.
Those are some of my NPCs, anyway. I hope that helps!
In my game, Bevelek is superstitious. He knows every urban legend in Varisia, and belIeves them all. He knows all the Varisian superstitions (like spitting over your shoulder whenever you see a black dog).
Vankor is married to a woman who stays in Varisia, and talks about her constantly. He tells stories incessantly about his "crazy wife," and says that she is the reason he spends so much time away from Sandpoint. If anyone sy pathizes, however, he curses them for insulting the love of his life. Recently, the party was attacked by a Hodag, which reminded Vankor, yet again, of his wife.
Both brothers are inveterate gamblers, and are always on the lookout for games of cards. When they find one (in Ravenmoor, for example), they work together to fleece the locals.
I also have character slugs for a magewright, a cook, some guards and a couple passengers, if you're interested.
Dead Shot adds a damage die to the attack for each secondary attack. The wording of the power leads me to believe that the damage is added to the base damage, not precision damage, meaning that a 7th level gunslinger's Dead Shot attack would do 2d8 if it hit, x4 (or 8d8) if it crits. That's nasty, but is balanced out by the -5 on the confirmation roll.
As someone who both plays and GMs for a gunslinger, that's how I'd rule it, anyway.
Checking the thread out while planning for NotFS, and I was reminded of this tidbit:
Greg mentioned that Kimandatsu is distracted, having "other irons in the fire," and the PCs weren't her main priority. Now, my group has investigated the hell out of Kalsgard and made a bunch of contacts. So, what exactly might K. be up to?
My group met Lute Haggersly before Brinewall, on some business in Varisia. It seems reasonable that he was gathering information on Kim to try and move against her within the guilds. If that's the plan, and it seems as though a political struggle might be the kind of distraction the PCs need, how would that play out? Who would the major players be? How would you hint at it for your group?
I have ideas, but I'm always eager to hear others GMs' thoughts.
This might be one of the hardest APs to pull off (followed by CoT). RotR might be fun with an all-goblin party (just play part one from the other side).
If you wanted to do Jade Regent, I'd recomment this: one of the goblins should be A) able to read and B) extremely ambitious. They have to kill Ameiko and all the other NPCs and take their caravan, then head North.
To make the AP work, they pretty much have to kill everyone they meet, unless their eventual goal is to ally with the BBEGs.
Your biggest problem::
The seal will never make them scions. It's totally out of character for the artifact. The only option that makes sense, at that point, is "We find box, give to other guys." Then the = goes from "kill all the oni" to "convince all the oni not to kill you."
If you want to do JR, I'd recommend having one goblin in the party, tops. If your players want to do an all-goblin AP, I'd recommend, in order, Skull and Shackles, Kingmaker, RotR. These will, in that order, require the least amount of rewriting (IMHO).
If you're all dead-set on doing both, here's what I'd do: give all the goblins <i>hats of disguise</i> at the beginning and plan to rewrite everything as you go.
There seems to be a little power-tripping going on. Thing in, in the AP, that shack has rats in it, and there are monsters waiting beyod that portcullis. The rats have disease, but not bleed. Auto-crit is only for unconscious characters. Your DM is lying about things being evil (most enemies in Brinewall are), or thinks that smite only works on creatures with the evil subtype (which they don't have).
Those don't sound like grudge monsters, just the AP as written and a DM who doesn't know the rules. Talk to him about it and see if he has misread smite and such. If so, get a rules lawyer with a searchable SRD. If he's just lying, get a new DM.
Are you using the caravan mini-game? If so, the troll encounter should just be hard. If your group threw out the caravan rules, your DM should throw out the caravan encounter table, as well.
Also, some nights the dice are just against you. JR shouldn't be a meat grinder. If you finished Brinewall, though, you shouldn't *have* to roll up a new character.
If the character doesn't have strone reasons to go to Minkai, say a Paladin from Mendev, maybe he doesn't belong in this AP. There are thousands of character ideas that would be less annoying for both you and your GM; why go with one tailor-made to cause headaches?
Other ideas: a Tian paladin of (insert Tian god here), looking to make a pilgrimage home. A crusader from Mendev who killed a man in a bar fight and wantsbt get as far from the Mendevian authorities as possible. A paladin of Shelyn who saw one of the PCs or NPCs on the street and fell passionately in live with them, as though though divine intervention. A paladin of Iomedae who owes Koya his life, and ahe's calling in the favor.
In my game, I have a paladin of Iomedae who just learned that his goddess visited Tian Xia, so he is retracing her steps, and eventually he may lead an order of Iomedaean crusaders against the oni. He also owes Sandru his life (you could talk to you GM and have your character's life saved by the party is Kalsgard, though you'd have to figure out why this very out of place character was there to begin with - why are you making work for yourself?).
In general, though, this AP has a very specific goal and plot. Maybe it's a good idea to save this character for the next AP?
I had the opposite problem: most of my players didn't see what the big deal was, about any of the NPCs, and didn't listen to them at all. I actually had to run a cut-away where my players played the NPCs rescuing a kidnapped PC, so that they could see how good they really were.
In fact, my players see Ameiko as overprotective of her little sister, obsessed with her family legacy, too forgiving of her little brother, and unreasonably afraid of snakes. In the end, they swore to save the people of Minkai _with_ her, not _for_ her. That's a big difference, and makes for a more participatory campaign all around. If the other players in your group treated her like a perfect font of knowledge, that's on them, because it's not in the adventure as written.
Your GM probably should have had her say "no," and "I don't know," and "why are you guys asking me all these questions" more. On the other hand, I see no reason you couldn't have played a character who just wanted to leave Sandpoint and explore the world. S/he doesn't have to care what happens to Ameiko - she's just a ticket out of town. You could even build a character that didn't like Ameiko, and you'd really enjoy the AP once the PCs are higher level than her, and Ameiko starts to depend on them, rather than the other way around.
If your fellow players have an over-estimation of Ameiko's value and importance, so do you, in a different way, whether that comes from your GM or a misreading of the Player's Guide. The NPCs _are_ important, but not more important than the PCs. In the end, it's an ensemble piece, like Firefly. (I would argue that in that analogy, Ameiko is River: mostly a plot device, and kind of crazy and damaged.)
Belle Mythix wrote:
This can end up with players having one person doing everything while they watch the scenery.
IMG, while the exp rewards would be shared, the boons would not. The relationship-monkey might help the party get exp, but those high-level benefits would be reserved for people who invested in the relationships.
Those CHA-dumpers have another way to succeed, though, in that high rolls early on will net bigger increases in scores, which will negate the CHA advantage pretty quickly.
I'm surprised that they don't think Suishen is important. They had a vision of it, specifically, and at the end of the vision they know that Suishen was Rokuro's sword, and that it can give them information. If they knew that and don't remember, I'd remind them. That's a pretty major piece to be blowing off.
It sounds like the play schedule is making it hard for players to keep clues in mind, especially if they happened many months (real time) ago. I play in one investigation-heavy game where we often miss sessions due to scheduling, and we have instituted a "read aloud" of the notes, to mark the beginning of each session. That way, we know exactly where we ended, last time, and the GM tends to slip clues into the notes to make sure that we haven't ignored anything or forgotten anything (if the notes say, for example, "the party found a black feather, but did not think that it was important," four times, then we might start putting it together). This way, even if it has been two months of work and kids and parties and travel for us, we are reminded that it has just been a few minutes for our characters. This has the added bonus of making sure that there are notes to be read.
Have you talked to your players about it, to let them know that you can tell they're frustrated, but that they seem to be missing clues and leaving a lot of clues on the table? I bet that if one of them started taking notes, the way an investigator would, they will start to make connections.
Sure, you wash your hands, but what about your gaming buddy's table? Or the table at the convention? Or the floor that your dice fell onto? Or the inside of your dice bag (dust, lint, strep, lots of things could get in there). And that's assuming that no one ever borrows your dice, even for one roll. Did you roll on the combat mat, the one that is written on with dry/wet erase and then cleaned off with a dirty rag or the same paper towel all nght? Rolling dice on that and then putting chips into your mouth is basically licking the battlemat, and we've all done it.
Con is not a dump stat, even for gamers. It's how we make our saving throws vs. gross. I'm going to go wash my dice in hydrogen peroxide, now. And disinfect my battlemat.
I play or run both editions on alternating weekends, and PFS on the occasional Wednesday, and I enjoy both immensely. Both can involve min-maxing. Both can be flashy. Both can have a lot of RP and character-based choices for abilities, feats and powers, and both can have the opposite.
Every class in Pathfinder has lots of options, and the ones in the APG have far, far more (in general) than the Core classes. In either case, it helps to have cards. I use Perram's spellbook for my spell/extract cards, but I also tend to make cards for my martial characters. 4E has taught me how incredibly useful it is to have hit/damage information on cards, even for fighters, especially if they use multiple weapons at different levels of proficiency. If a fighter uses Power Attack sometimes, it's nice to have a card. Dazzling Display? Ditto. Multi-class? Hell yeah.
One of core differences seems to be that 4E's basic design is permission oriented: you can't do something unless a power/ability specifically allows it. Thus, you can't disarm, trip, grapple, etc, unless you have a relevant power. PF is exclusion-based: you can try to do anything, unless a rule or power specifically says you can't.
The mechanic that PF uses for a lot of this is the "Combat Maneuver." Get to know the maneuver rules and options, especially dirty trick, reposition, trip and grapple. These will come up a lot. You might even want to make cards for them. If you're ever in doubt when I player says "I want to do X," look at the skills and maneuvers. There's probably a mechanism for it. Then you set a difficulty or make an opposed roll. That's probably the hardest thing to get used to, saying "make a roll for it" and setting a number to beat.
For books: what books do you want to show your players? I have a hard copy of the Core Rulebook and the Inner Sea World Guide, because I want to pass them around. The Bestiaries, the APG the Ultimate books, those I have on PDF. If you have an IPad or similar device then PDF is all you really need, at first.
TOZ is right about Rise of the Runelords - it's a great introduction. I would also surf the PFwiki for a while, read about the gods and the different countries. If you've played 4E, you'll likely appreciate the PF is a setting as much as a system. Read some of the web-fiction.
Must run? The Harrowing. We Be Goblins. Avoid? Second Darkness. Beyond that it's all subjective and depends on the preferences of your group. Paizo has been god about putting out a variety of paths and modules to appeal to a variety of tastes. I'd recommend reading the reviews and messageboard threads for the top rated modules and buying PDFs of a couple. If you want to get your feet wet slowly, buy a couple of Pathfinder Society modules, since you can run them in a game session and give your players a feel for different parts of the world, quickly. At $4 a pop, pick up the four highest rated and you have a couple months of adventuring before you commit to a whole adventure path.
By the time you're done with that the Rise of the Runelords hardcover should be out and you can dive in.
My group finally finished Brinewall Castle, and I wanted to share the visions. I liked the visions in the book, but I wanted more character-specific ties. I'm posting them here in case they are useful as a jumping-off point for other GMs.
I wrote them in the first person and gave them as player handouts. Looking back, I wish that I had done it a little differently, and had talked them through it as well as giving a handout. The handout had a nice effect, though, as the entire room became as silent as the vaults must have been.
The Magus's vision:
Vision 1: I shake my head, as if leaving behind a daydream, and stare out again from the parapets of Trollheim, watching for invasion. My father is, once again, at Blackraven Hall and it is up to me to defend the city from invasion. Thuridr strides up to me, and I know that he is about to chide me for nodding off, but he knows as well as I do: I will sleep when my father returns. Until then, our people are my responsibility. “I had the strangest dream,” I tell him. “I was adventuring with the most unstable, incompetent buffoons, and you were…” My voice trails off as I turn to look at him. He is still next to me, gazing out over the river, but his body has wasted away, weeks of starvation in seconds. “I know,” he says, ruefully. “It was supposed to be me.” He looks at me with hollow eyes. “The gods had a plan, but prophecy isn’t what it used to be. Now, it is up to you and those unstable, incompetent buffoons. If you do not stop the Jade Regent, Minkai will fall and, in a generation, the rest of the East. What will the Blackravens do when an army of immortal oni marches over the Crown of the World? They will die. You, and those others, prophecy says now that only you can stop it, if you can avoid getting yourself killed, first. It should have been me, but you are stuck with my destiny. Work with them. Save the world. Make the gods owe you a favor. If you’re living my life, you owe me that much, at least.” I recognize the day, then, but it is too late and the raiders have already landed, already started shooting the arrow that will kill him. I wake up in Brinewall, screaming and swinging my cutlass at the air.
This player obliged me by swinging his arms and making noise as others were looking up from their visions.
The Ninja's vision:
Vision 2: I have just stepped through a sliding curtain into a large parlor, decorated with ornate paintings of dragons in frames of jade, and I have daydreamed the strangest adventures in a foreign land, full of rain. There is an old man kneeling on a mat in the center of the room, with a beautiful tea set laid out in front of him. The man looks familiar, but I’m sure that I have never met him. He motions for me to remove my shoes and join him on the floor, then pours tea for both of us in silence. Only when we have both finished our first cup does he start to speak. “I was never the kind of man who expressed my emotions,” he says. “I never told my wife that she was the reason the sun shone, or my son how good a man I thought he was becoming. But I can tell you this, granddaughter: I never imagined that an Amatatsu would become ninja, but you have an even greater destiny. An Amatatsu will sit on the Jade Throne again. Together, you and your sister will save Minkai and return our name to greatness. There is a price to be paid, however. The dark work that must be done to protect the throne from greater evil would, I fear, be too much for Ameiko. That must fall to you, though it means that you can never sit on the very throne you protect. You must make our return to power possible. You must do things that no Empress can be seen doing. You are ninja, and I know you know what I mean. Still, it makes my cold heart swell with pride to have two such strong granddaughters. I wish that I had lived to know you.” The rest of the tea is taken in silence, and the vision fades, leaving me with the taste of rose petals on my tongue.
The Inquisitor's vision:
Vision 3: There is the sound of war drums and pipes, far off in the distance, and I realize that I have been standing all this time on the parapets of Lastwall, looking out over the Worldwound. I swore an oath to hold the demons at bay, to stop their advance onto Golarion with my sword or my life. The horns are blowing louder, now, and I know with perfect certainty that this is the final charge. Either the demons will be driven back, or the defenders of Lastwall will fall and the Inner Sea will be overrun. As I reach for my sword, I realize that all of Iomede’s warriors are looking to me for guidance. Then, everything stops, and a tall woman in full plate strides towards me. It takes a moment before I realize that she is not walking out of the sun, but rather glowing like it. Her voice echoes through me: “Abbaddon the Pensive, this is not your battle. Destiny has another task for you, in a distant land, far from your sword-brothers. You must follow the trail of Aganhei and find my lost tribe. You may not share the unswerving nobility of my paladins, but where you must go your flexibility will serve you better. Give them a leader, again, and finish my crusade. This, you will do. First, however, you must travel to Shizuru’s house and fulfill your destiny there. Only then will you be ready to lead my people in the East out of the shadows.” The horns sound again, and I awake in the castle.
The Sorcerer's vision:
Vision 4: I have always been running through the woods in the form of a fox, ducking under fallen trees and over clear, shallow streams, playing tag with another fox who I only catch sight of for a moment at a time. Then, all of a sudden, we break into a clearing and I can see her fully: she is tall and beautiful, with silver-white fur and nine flowly, bushy tails. In the center of the clearing is a tea set, and as she nears it her form flows like water into that of a tall, beautiful woman. Her tails sweep out behind her, brushing the ground as she kneels and motions for me to join her. By the time I kneel, she has poured me a cup of tea, and there is a bowl of rice in front of each of us. The silver-fox woman smiles gently and motions for me to eat, and the rice is sweet and sticky and wonderful. The tea is barley, the recipe that my mother has always used. Finally, the woman speaks. “Miyu, my daughter. It is delightful to see you so well, so full of joy, but sad that you are so far from home. Come home, now. Your people need you. You have a serious task ahead, and your friends will need to be reminded that even the most serious tasks can be done with a light heart. You must be the light heart, musume, that makes even the most deadly path a joy to walk. Where you are going, it will be dark, and your destiny will take you to places where our people never go. You are an unconventional savior, my child, and that makes you perfect for the people without a country.” When the tea and the rice are gone, she turns again into a fox, and beckons me to run with her in the forest, nipping at my shoulder. I give chase, playing until I am tired. As night falls, I curl up with her, she is the size of a wolf, now, and fall asleep. When I do, I wake up here, rested and happy. (Treat as a full night’s sleep for the purposes of refreshing your spells and healing remaining damage.)
The Witch's vision:
Vision 5: I am walking down a hallway made of mirrors, and in each one my reflection is myself at some future time. They are contradictory, though: in one, I look no older than I am now, and I have been eviscerated by a great white dragon, while the image across the passageway shows me as an old woman, in a cottage in an ancient pine forest, surrounded by friendly spirits. Some of them feel like warnings about events that make no sense: a pale king courts me gently, but brutalizes me when I am his queen. Or, he lies dead at my feet, and I hold a poison apple in my hands. One of my images sees me, and motions for me to follow her. No other doorway seems to present itself, so I step through the mirror, and it seems as though I have entered a land populated by creatures from the Harrow cards. The Bear and The Unicorn step out of the woods nearby; The Cricket rides The Bear’s shoulders, and the Courtesan sits atop The Unicorn, her legs crossed delicately. The four of them lead me to The Keep, and immediately on walking through the great, welcoming doors, I feel safe and protected. A centaur has joined us, The Wanderer. All five of them leave me in the courtyard, however, and I see that three owls have always been there: a small snowy owl sits on a perch, a great giant owl rests on the ground and an enormous owlbear glares at me.
The small owl speaks first, her voice a spring breeze: “L. the Wise, the Keeper of Confidences. There is a path before you, and all of your futures begin on that path. There is no destiny for you that does not lead down that road, my love.” The giant owl speaks next, her voice a summer storm: “L. the Devious, the Foreign Trader. You must know that all prophecies are lies, yet your destiny lies in Minkai. There are answers for you there, to questions you do not yet know enough to ask.” The owlbear speaks last, her voice a great hurricane, so loud that I have to close my eyes: “L. the Treacherous, Betrayer of Confidences. The clouded hand seeks to hide its treachery from the gods themselves. What could someone like you gain from learning those secrets?”
When I open my eyes, I am standing again in the vaults of Castle Brinewall.
(This player is thinking hard about going Harrower, and has a family Harrow deck. Her familiar is an owl, and eventually she's going to stumble into a Serpentine Owl figurine of wondrous power. She's also going to figure out pretty soon that the Bear, Unicorn, Cricket, Courtesan and Wanderer are the cards that keep coming up for the other party members.)
The Barbarian's vision:
Vision 6: I wake from a deep, peaceful sleep to find a beautiful elven woman with butterfly wings standing over me. When she speaks, it is with a Shoanti accent. “Oh, my dear, sweet boy. You’ve been asleep for so long and I’ve been trying to reach you. I have a task for you, and I’m afraid that it will take you farther from hearth and home than you ever dreamed possible. In Minkai, my people cry out for a Protector, but the Jade Regent will not let them breathe. There is no one else. You have been destined for this great deed since long before you were born, and your reluctance only makes its necessity more tragic. You must set down your childhood dreams, now. Fulfill your destiny: protect my people, my gentle giant, through five storms and the forest of ghosts. When you are done, you have my word: you will find a place where you belong more truly than any you have ever known.” I am about to argue when I realize that there is no woman there at all, just a butterfly on my finger. The beautiful insect flies away as soon as I notice it and I am standing again in the Castle, and home seems to be getting farther and farther away.
Sadly, this character is probably leaving the group, since his player isn't enjoying playing him. He'll reject his destiny and go back to Sandpoint. I like this, since rejecting destiny is always an option, in a post-Aroden world. It also means that there is someone to send a rescue party if there is a TPK.
It seems like the player will take over (and rebuild) Kelda, though. This works, since Kelda was in the room with them when they opened the box, so she's an Amatatsu scion, as well. When that happens, I'll have to write a vision for her, too. Hopefully, I'll talk to that player a little more before that happens, to get a sense for what she wants to do with Kelda.
So, that's my party and their visions. Did anyone else build party-specific visions? I'd love to see what other people did.
I've been waiting to post this until my party made it through the vault. They finally did it, so here is the custom treasure that I gave them. Two notes: 1) I borrowed the basic idea and some of the text from Clark Peterson's (far too brief) thread, downboard. 2) The value of these is way, way over 9000gp. I don't care. Every book reflects the life of the character for whom it is intended, in some way, giving the sense that the life of the person about whom they are reading is a mirror of their own.
There was only one piece of "treasure" in the traditional sense: two pieces of silk that, when combined with one character's Heirloom Item (a broken brooch that occasionally functions as a Hat of Disguise), fuse into the "Amatatsu Burochi”: This brooch bears the likeness of an imperial dragon, and is meant to clasp a cloak, though it can take other forms, such as a hatpin, armband or necklace. No matter where it is worn, it takes up the neck slot. It functions as a Hat of Disguise, but posing as a person from a specific region (such as an Ulfen warrior or a Tian merchant) grants a +10 bonus to Knowledge (local) rolls while the wearer is in that region, and the bonus to Disguise increases by +5 (to +15) while in the region. If the wearer speaks the language of the region, the brooch grants a +5 to Bluff checks. The first time it is clasped with the sash, the wearer has a flash-vision of a trek through forests, tundra, blinding snow and mountains. The vision ends with you being handed off to (character name)'s grandmother in exchange for a bag of gold.
There were three books in each chest, which of which bore the Amatatsu dragon on the front, with the title etched in beautiful calligraphy. The benefits of each book can only be gained by one person per generation. Once they have been gained, even the same practice or prayers cannot achieve the same result until that person has died.
For the Inquisitor:
“The Journey of Iomedae into the East, as told to Amatatsu Matsuro”: This book may well be a missing twelfth “Act of Iomede.” An undiscovered chronicle of a pilgrimage Iomedae took into lands that had never heard Aroden’s name, where he had no worshippers. There, she fought a demi-god Oni warlord who was crushing the Kaoling nation under his heel. In battle with him, her longsword was broken and while it was eventually reforged through her holy power, she finished the battle using a katana thrown to her by Matsuro himself. Raising the unfamiliar weapon, she smote the oni with a blow so powerful that all of his followers fled the nation, and no oni was seen in Kaoling for a generation. After slaying the fiend, she studied the culture, weapons and fighting styles of Tian Xia. Though she returned home to her duties in the Inner Sea, she left behind a band of warriors, led by Matsuro, who travelled the countryside, righting wrongs and battling demons. After spending one month reading and practicing the lessons therein, a cleric, paladin or inquisitor of Iomedae can use her holy blessing to treat a katana as a longsword for the purposes of feats and class abilities. In addition, a non-paladin worshipper of Iomedae gains the ability to smite evil as a paladin of their level-2.
My goal here is to have him ready to wield Suishen by the time the party is in Kalsgard. He's an extremely taciturn character, and tends not to share information with the party, so having a more talkative sword that he's telepathically linked with will let his player be more communicative.
For the Witch:
“The Spellbooks of Amatatsu Naiobi”: Not actual spellbooks, these appear to be the diaries of a hedge witch, containing remedies, potions and recipes, stories and a daily planting and activity log. Amatatsu Naiobi was a witch who left her family in Kasai to live a simple existence in the forest. In addition to delicious recipes, her diaries contain crude maps of Minkai, particularly the “Forest of Spirits,” and descriptions of the kami that live there. In addition, after reading and practicing the charms in the “spellbooks” daily for a month, during which time she must cook all of her own meals using the recipes from the book, the witch gains the “Cauldron,” “Poison Steep,” and “Child Scent” hexes as though she had taken the “Extra Hex” feat. (Cauldron sold separately.)
I realize that this is the equivalent of three feats, but two of them are feats that no PC is likely to take, and with Koya in the party even Cauldron seems pointless. However, the PC in question is wavering between "Good Witch" and "Bad Witch," and I want to help her feel more like a "fairytale witch," without forcing her to sacrifice playability.
For the Ninja:
“The Way of the Spinning Blossom, Vol. 1 by Sensei Amatatsu Hideyoshi”: This first volume of the Way of the Spinning Blossom gives an introduction to the fighting style Sensei Amatatsu Toshiko created centuries ago (as recorded by her nephew and student). Her first lessons are upon the combined use of katana and wakizashi with grace, rather than brute strength. After spending two weeks reading and practicing the lessons in the book, a reader, who has the Two-Weapon Fighting feat and proficiency with both katana and wakizashi learns to apply her Dexterity bonus to attacks and damage with those weapons, instead of her Strength. This bonus does not apply to any other weapons, and only applies when both weapons are in hand (though they do not both have to be used in the same round). It is hinted that further volumes continue a warrior’s training in pairing these two weapons in a manner that borders on the mystical. Sadly, the other volumes seem to have been lost to time.
This is specifically meant to add a little combat power to the ninja, who insists on being a two-weapon fighter with a katana and no Strength bonus. This is a player who actively de-optimizes in favor of cool concepts, so the idea is to help her balance out a little.
For the kitsune Sorcerer:
“The Most Enlightening Tale of the Celestial Fox Woman,” by Amatatsu Miyu. Miyu, a foundling who was adopted into the Amatatsu family, was a great trickster, and used her wiles to fight injustice (and redistribute wealth) in Minkai, during the reign of her cousin, the evil, devil-worshipping Empress Amatatsu Maemi. Many of the stories involve Miyu meeting a person deserving of either help of punishment while in her fox form, and speaking to them. Sometimes, she posed as Daikitsu, rewarding generous folk who gave her shelter or rice. Other times, she took the form of a beautiful woman and tempted men to be unfaithful to their wives. Those who remained true were rewarded with the blessings of her magic. With a little practice (a week of daily study in human form and a week of practice in fox form), following the example of Amatatsu Miyu, you learn to cast spells while in fox form as though you possessed the “Natural Spell” feat. In addition, you can, as a swift action, grant yourself a +10-foot bonus to your base speed for 1 round. This bonus increases by 5 feet for every 5 levels you possess. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier, and you grow an additional tail as though you had taken a Kitsune feat.
Her player has been feeling a little overshadowed since the magus and the witch joined the party, so I wanted to help her stand out a little, get deeper into her kitsune heritage and feel different from either of those classes.
For the Barbarian:
“The Fortunate History of Amatatsu Cheiko”: The humorous story of Amatatsu Cheiko, a follower of Desna who travelled the countryside helping peasants who were being oppressed by cruel overlords. Cheiko was a large man of powerful build, but who was surprisingly gentle. The stories tell that he often overpowered his foes accidentally and that he was blessed by Desna with overwhelming fortune. The book includes a number of prayers and rituals invoking the luck aspect of Desna. When performed daily for a month, the rituals grant the ability to reroll a d20 as an immediate action, adding your Wisdom modifier to the result, before the result of the roll is revealed. You may reroll a number of dice per day equal to your Wisdom modifier, but no more than one per combat. The reroll is a conscious action, requiring a brief invocation of Desna’s blessing, and cannot be attempted when you are prevented from making actions requiring concentration (such as when using the Barbarian’s rage ability or when unconscious).
The Barbarian has been talking about multi-classing Inquisitor, and I wanted to give the "favored of Desna" feeling.
For the Magus:
“The Dark Curse of Amatatsu Shinjuro”: The journals of Amatatsu Shinjuro begin as a set of fighting manuals, written by an accomplished martial arts instructor. After the first dozen entries, however, the tone changes. Shinjuro’s advice becomes interspersed with cryptic notes about hearing voices and seeing terrifying visions. Instead of acting as his legacy, carrying his fighting style down through the ages, the journal is a record of the descent of the grandmaster of Minkai into madness. In his writing, he becomes more and more convinced that the gods mean to destroy him. He claims, in great detail, that they conspired to kill his companion, a wild-man he had befriended in the Forest of Spirits. His visions become more and more specific, including one of being eaten alive by yetis. To defend himself, from the gods and the yetis, he created a fighting style that called on his internal energies to defend himself from attack. The creation of the Shinjuro defensive style seems to have distracted him from his visions, and most of the rest of the book is devoted to practice exercises and mystical meditations. After a month of reading and practice, a devoted practitioner who has access to a source of mystical energy (ki, an arcane pool or similar) can, as long as there is at least one point left in the his arcane pool, project an aura of protection around himself, gaining a +1 dodge bonus to AC. (At 8th and 14th level, this bonus increases by +1. If the user is killed, paralyzed, stunned, or knocked unconscious, this aura is disrupted for the rest of the day.) The user can spend a point from his arcane or ki pool to transfer his dodge bonus to AC to an ally for one minute. In addition, the user can use his arcane or ki pool to grant an enhancement bonus to his armor as well as to his shield, paying the pool cost separately for each. At 5th level and above, he can also add any armor or shield special properties. The maximum bonus possible is equal to half his class level.
The magus's player really wanted to take the War Warder Magus archetype, but I generally don't allow non-core material. Instead, I figured I'd let him take the part of it that he really wanted, since it's not overpowered for that character.
So, there you go. Character-specific bonuses that add up to... I don't know, about a billion gp. (A single feat is usually valued at 5k, so these are actually anywhere between 10k and 25k, each.) What matters to me is that each one is only useful to one character, and each makes perfect sense for their history. No other character in the party would want the others' books (except, maybe, for the Barbarian's - but the rest of the party dumped Wis anyway), and the benefits will be usable for the rest of the AP, and beyond.
I hope these are useful to others in thinking about the treasure!