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Douglas Muir 406's page

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber. 9,837 posts (9,953 including aliases). 5 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
UnArcaneElection wrote:
^FOUR feats to get three levels back? That sounds like a really expensive trade, and it's 80% of a VMC in feat cost.

VMC? -- But anyway: if the first feat does something for you and isn't just a feat tax, then maybe.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Spastic Puma wrote:
Almost finished running this. I'll drop a recap later for anyone who's interested. This book was incredible :)

Color me interested. Looking forward!

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
CBDunkerson wrote:
When your physical copy of the book ships they charge your account and add the PDFs to your downloads... so yes, people get access to the PDFs at different times depending on the shipping order. When you get the e-mail telling you that the book has shipped you should then be able to find the PDF.

Ah ha. Okay, good to know. Thanks!

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
UnArcaneElection wrote:
If you do go all the way through Blackfire Adept, you get a chance to penetrate not only anti-teleportation effects with your summoning/calling, but also Anti-Magic Fields, Prismatic Wall/Sphere, extradimensional shelters...

This is pretty rad, but in most campaigns it really won't be an issue. I mean, how many Anti-Magic Fields does one typically encounter? Incredibly cool when it happens, but there's no way this can justify losing three levels of casting.

Mind, it /does/ provide an in-game rationale for Anti-Magic Fields and whatnot being not quite invulnerable: sure, you can set something like this up, but there just might be a Blackfire Adept out there who can crack into it.

Quote:
Blackfire Eruption also disintegrates anything that it reduces below 0 hit points, which means that they're not coming back without Miracle, True Resurrection, or Wish.

Well, Disintegrate does that too. As do low-tech methods like burning the body, cutting the thing's head off and taking it away, etc. What makes Blackfire Eruption mildly interesting (IMO) is that it ignores hardness. This would be awesome, except that the damage against nongood creatures (and, presumably, objects) is frustratingly feeble -- d8/2 levels, halved. That means that at 12th level you'll do an underwhelming 14 points of damage on average. So, nice if you encounter an adamantite door with Hardness 40, but otherwise not really a thing. Basically this is your go-to mid-level spell for zapping good-aligned enemies, especially good outsiders. It's decent for that -- not great (it still allows SR) but decent. But overall, nothing to get excited about.

Quote:
Magical Knack for a trait (worth getting it with Additional Traits if you need other traits first) -- at least this reduces the total caster level delay to 1 level.

[thumps head] Duhhh, OF COURSE anyone who takes this PrC should take Magical Knack. You still lose a level of spells, but at least your ECL isn't trashed. Very good catch!

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Heine Stick wrote:
MMCJawa wrote:
So uh...did anyone else's volume show up in their downloads under "Taldor, inc", and not in the Strange Aeons AP section of their downloads?
Yup.

As of 1:00 AM EST Friday 2 December, mine hasn't appeared at all. Should it download to everyone at the same time, or do some get their downloads before others?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dastis wrote:
Think I would just try to early entry Diabolist for 3 levels, go back to wizard for 1 level to grab 5th level spells, then go into Blackfire Adept.

The Diabolist doesn't drop any caster levels, so there'd be no reason to dip back into Wizard. Also, if you start Diabolist at level 6? You want to blast straight through to Diabolist 5 as fast as possible, because you want to grab Hellish Soul before somthing perma-kills you.

But anyway: the advantage of your strategy is that you avoid the four underpowered levels 6 through 9. Also, you can start casting Lesser Planar Binding at Level 9 instead of 10. That's pretty good! The disadvantages are smaller but multiple. (1) Entering Diabolist at 6th level, while possible by using a scroll, is hard -- you have a significant chance of failing and wasting a pile of money; (2) you're underpowered at levels 10 and 11 instead, and (3) you're waiting until 12th level before you can get those extra two dice on your bindings. Of course, you can just take Augment Calling at 9th level, which partiall compensates. Finally (4) in this build you're waiting a long, long time -- seven levels -- until you can get Hellish Soul and no longer have to worry about permanently dying. So overall I think your build is definitely a strong alternative, but it does come with some drawbacks.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
the Diviner wrote:
But with the belt that fatigue will just turn into 1d6 nonlethal damage because of the belt.

Sure, there are several different ways around the fatigue imposed by that feat. A Wand of Lesser Restoration is probably the cheapest, though it does require a UMD roll and a standard action. But then, when you're a Diabolist, you just have your imp companion invest some ranks in UMD, and then fly around with a "golf bag" of low-level but useful wands.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

One last thought on the Blackfire Adept as a player character class: one of the least bad ways to go is be a Lawful Evil wizard. Take five levels of wizard, then three levels of BA, then go Diabolist. One you hit 10th level you'll be able to use Lesser Planar Binding to call devils with up to 8 HD. You'll get +1 on the Will save to catch them and +3 on the contested Charisma check to bind them (+1 from BA and +2 from Diabolist). Then when you turn them loose, your devils will have an additiona +10 hp and +1 profane bonus on saves. That's not too bad. At 11th level add Augment Calling and you can really turn up the heat, calling devils of up to 10 HD.

If you decide to go this route, build with Cha at least 12, go to 14 if you can manage it. Then make sure you take the following feats:

Spell Focus: Conjuration
Augment Summoning
Superior Summons
Augment Calling

Optional but recommended: Evolved Summons, because it gives you unparalleled flexibility -- you can call up a creature with gills in water, add 5 resistance to some energy type, increase its damage output, or simply give it +2 to AC.

Optional: Summon Evil Monster. Gives you several more creatures you can get the benefit of Sacred Summons from.

This is a slow-burn build: you're underpowered for four whole levels, six through nine. But starting at 10th level you should be both competitive and flavorful. Exactly how competitive depends on how your DM handles the Planar Binding spells, but under RAW you should be quite strong. And at 16th level, woo, you can call and bind a Pit Fiend. Did they laugh at you back at the Academy. Well now you'll show them. You'll show them ALL AH HA HA HAAAA.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Bump. I think there's only the one half-completed guide, plus the MiniGuide to Bold Stares. But surely other people have builds?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yeah, the second module left me a bit flat, but the third one really made me sit up and take notice. Fingers crossed.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
the Diviner wrote:


You do know that Sacred Summons only allows you to summon creatures quicker whose subtype matches your aura right? And not creatures whose alignment matches your aura?

(Say your aura is CE you can summon Demons and other creatures with Chaotic and Evil in their subtype description. Like this:
CE Medium outsider (chaotic, demon, evil, extraplanar))

"to summon creatures whose alignment subtype or subtypes exactly
match your aura" - UM p. 155.

Pretty sure you know this. Just making sure there is no confusion on this subject.

No, I was actually thinking alignment not subtype. -- Okay, that moves this feat from being finicky to being almost completely crap. There are only a handful of creatures on the Summon lists that have any alignment subtypes at all. If you're CE or LE, you can summon demons and devils, which there's an average of about one per level, with more of them at higher levels. If you're CE or LE and 9th level or higher, you'll be able to use this feat intermittently -- but you're trading away the flexibility of using Summon Monster to bring in different creatures, which is one of the spell's main appeals. You're Chaotic Evil and you want to use this feat on Summon Monster V? You get a babau, because that's your only option.

And if you're anything else but LE or CE, you're SOL, because all the other alignments are even worse. Neutral Good? Three creatures, two agathions and an angel. Chaotic Good? You get exactly one -- the Lillend Azata. Chaotic Neutral? Hope you like that Chaos Beast, because it's the only thing on the list for you. Lawful Neutral? Gosh, whoops -- there isn't a single LN creature on the list.

So Sacred Summons is actually a very limited feat to begin with -- it's pretty close to worthless unless you're LE or CE. (I suppose you could make a case for LG, because Lantern Archons are so great, but only from levels 5-10 or so.) Yet for some reason the designers decided to make it a major class feature of the unfortunate Blackfire Adept. Oh dear, oh dear.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Already billed for this, but the .pdf hasn't appeared yet. How long does that usually take?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Oh, and this is also THE MINIGUIDE TO THE DARKFIRE ADEPT

for for people who use the pfsrd.

Doug M.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The Blackfire Adept is a weakish PrC in terms of power; if you're any sort of optimizer, you'll never play this. However, it is moderately flavorful, and it does make for some decent NPC builds. So here's a miniguide.

Class requirements. First, the good news: the BA is a pretty easy prestige class to enter. Two useful feats, two useful skills, and a single language, and you're in. And you can start at sixth level. It's one of the easiest PrCs to enter. If you want to play this as a PC, building towards it is easy: play a full caster class with access to Summon Monster and the Planar Binding/Planar Ally spells. Don't even try this with a partial caster, and don't try it with a full caster that is heavily dependent on level advancement in its original class. Classic wizard, sorceror and cleric are probably the best here.

Blackfire 1. Now the bad news. There's no way around this: the Blackfire Adept makes a weak player character. You give up an entire level of casting when you enter this PrC, and if you stay with it you give up two more. You know what you call a 15th level character who can't cast 7th or 8th level spells? That's right -- a bard.

To add insult to injury, what you get in return is (with one exception) not that great. Sacred Summons is a fine feat, but it's just one feat. And the aura restriction means that you only get the benefit when you summon creatures that are NE. That's okay if you yourself are NE, because of this quirk in the Summon Monster spell: "Creatures marked with an "*" [which is most of them] always have an alignment that matches yours, regardless of their usual alignment." But if you're any other alignment, then the summoned creature's alignment will match yours, which means it won't "exactly" match your NE aura.

Personally, I think this is nonsense and I'd allow my players to use this feat freely for any nongood creatures that they summon. But your DM may not agree. Check in advance.

Blackfire 2. At second level, you get the weird Blackfire taint. Check this out:

Quote:

At 2nd level, as a standard action, a darkfire adept can corrupt the planar substrate into strands of darkfire that create a destructive resonance between herself and a target within 30 feet. She gains a +1 profane bonus on attack rolls and caster level checks against the target, and the target takes a –1 penalty on saving throws against the adept's attacks (or –2 if the attack is a conjuration effect). The taint lasts a number of rounds equal to her class level, though a successful Will save (DC 10 + the Darkfire Adept's class level + the Darkfire Adept's Charisma modifier) reduces this to 1 round. The effect immediately ends if the target moves more than 30 feet away from the Darkfire Adept.

The profane bonus and penalty become +2 and –2 (–3 against conjuration effects) at 6th level. They become +3 and –3 (–4 against conjuration effects) at 10th level.

This is classic Paizo PrC design: we're going to give this PrC a cool-seeming ability, but design gods forbid it should actually be all that powerful, so let's nerf it like three different ways. In this case, we have a debuff that would be pretty good except that it (1) requires a standard action, (2) only affects one target, (3) has a 30' range, (4) allows a Will save to reduce its effect to one round, which (4a) is probably have a low DC save given that (4b) it works off your Adept level, not your caster level, and (4c) uses Cha, which is probably not your strongest stat, and finally (5) allows the target to completely negate the effect by strolling a few feet away.

Your buddy the Court Bard has a debuff that's as good as yours, except it's an area effect, allows no save, and can be done as a move action. Your other buddy the Mesmerist has a debuff that allows no save, can be done as a free action, and has all sorts of cool side effects. You have a debuff that looks cool as hell -- corrupt the planar substrate into strands of darkfire! -- but in practice is so situational as to be almost worthless. About the only time you'll get to use this is (1) in a surprise round, or (2) if you're casting on a captive creature, either a prisoner or something that's bound in a conjuring circle.

Is there any way to leverage this? Well, basically anything that allows you to sneak up on a foe and get a surprise round. Invisibility, Improved invisibility, stealth stuff, improved initiative, yadda yadda. If you can throw this in the surprise round and then win initiative, you can get a debuff + Save Or Suck one-two punch. But honestly, +1 to overcome SR and -1 on saves is hardly worth burning a surprise round. When it's +2/-2 it's getting okay, but at that point you're at least 11th level and you *really* have better things to do with a surprise round.

So far, the Blackfire Adept is looking pretty crap -- you've given up a full level of casting for one feat and a mediocre, super-situational debuff power. Does the next level help?

Blackfire 3.

Quote:

At 3rd level, a darkfire adept may choose one evil outsider subtype from among the following: asura, daemon, demodand, demon, devil, div, kyton, oni, qlippoth, or rakshasa. Against outsiders with that subtype, she gains a +1 profane bonus on saving throws, caster level checks, Charisma checks, and Charisma-based skill checks. When using the planar ally or planar binding spells, she can call 2 additional Hit Dice of outsiders with the chosen subtype, and those creatures gain temporary hit points equal to her class level, a +1 profane bonus on saving throws, and a +1 profane bonus to the caster level DC for effects that would banish, dismiss, or dispel them.

At 6th level and 9th level, the darkfire adept may select an additional evil outsider subtype for her darkfire pact. In addition, the bonus against any one of her selected subtypes (including the one just selected, if so desired) increases by +1.

Let's sort out the dross first: +1, as noted above, is not that great. And since it's a profane bonus, it doesn't even stack with your taint power.

What's intriguing here is the "2 additional hit dice". Okay, that's solid. Giving the creature a bonus on saves and more hit points is just gravy -- and let's note here that the extra hp are based on your total level, not your adept class level. So at 10th level you're giving your called creature 20 more hp.

That said, you can get exactly this effect with the Augment Calling feat. And there's even a magic item that does the same thing: the Caller's Feather. It's 2,000 gp per use, but at high levels that's not really an issue. So one could reasonably ask, why would I play (let's say) a Wizard 6/Blackfire Adept 3 when I could just play a Wizard 9 who has taken Augment Calling? The Blackfire Adept gets Sacred Summons and a crap situational debuff; the straight Wizard gets to cast fifth level spells. Heck, the Adept doesn't even get to call up planar creatures until 10th level!

Fair enough. The answer, I would say, is that the Adept should always take Augment Calling. Boom: now you're at +4 HD. You can't cast Lesser Planar Binding until 10th level, but once you do, you can call up creatures with up to 10! hit dice! That's very powerful. I wouldn't call it OP, and I honestly can't say it makes up for that lost level of casting, but it moves this PrC from "why would anyone ever" to "okay, I could see it". And it stacks with level -- at 14th level you can use Planar Binding to grab creatures with up to 16 HD, and at 16th level Greater Planar Binding is, woo, bringing in the pit fiend.

Blackfire 4. At this level you get spontaneous casting of a slightly improved Unholy Blight. (There's a bit of rules confusion here -- you can't normally use Unholy Blight to attack objects -- but the intent is clear that you can, so I'd just say objects are neutral.) Unusually for Paizo, it uses a slot system to scale with level. This is actually okay -- not great, but okay. Improves to pretty good if you're playing Way of the Wicked or some other campaign where you're regularly fighting good-aligned opponents.

Okay, so this is where you STOP. Your 5th level of Blackfire Adept costs you another level of casting, which is... no. Just, no. There's nothing in this class that is remotely worth that. The 5th level power (Breaching) is super situational unless you have a DM who insists on throwing weird anti-teleportation effects at you (and the lost levels mean you couldn't use Teleport until 11th level anyway). The 6th level power (Breaching Legion) is a cool concept, but effectively nerfed by your lost caster levels. At 11th level you're casting like a 9th level caster, so you can cast Summon Monster V and summon a CR 6 babau demon that has a 40% chance of summoning a second CR 6 babau. That's a 40% chance of a CR 8 encounter. Your buddy the wizard can cast Summon Monster VI and get a CR 8 creature like an erinyes, straight up. You do also get your Darkfire Pact going up to +2, but still... no. Just not worth it.

Okay, so TLDR and conclusion: the Blackfire Adept is a very weak prestige class. The only reason to ever play it is if you want to call a lot of monsters with Planar Ally and Planar Binding. If you're going to do that, then (1) get a DM ruling on how you can use Sacred Summons, (2) invest in Augment Calling, and (3) grit your teeth and realize that you're going to be pretty weak for four levels (from sixth to tenth). Once you hit 10th level, draw your conjuring circle and start calling creatures: now this PrC becomes okay. If you're in a campaign where you fight a lot of good-aligned creatures, maybe take one more level of Adept. Otherwise, walk away and never look back.

This PrC could conceivably be balanced a bit better if the campaign involved some strong in-game incentives -- like, join the secret society of Blackfire Adepts and gain access to their Library of True Names, or some such. But AFAIK there's no such incentive in canon; if anyone knows otherwise, I welcome correction.

[The Adept is better as an NPC class, allowing some flavorful and interesting NPCs. When/if time allows, I'll do a post on that.]

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yeah, that's a thing that 5e got right -- Lair and Legendary actions really make a difference in action economy for bosses.

It's especially an issue in PBP, where teams of six are much more common.

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Flying Grayson wrote:
Oh sweet, thanks guys. So that makes the max dice 26 then? Also Douglas, thank you so much for those guides! I'm playing a Diabolist right now and they will help immeasurably!

Ahh, then you probably want this thread right here.

If you use any of the suggestions from that Guide -- or if you have any other tips on playing a Diabolist, based on actual game experience -- please feel free to drop me a PM and tell me. I'm always looking for actual player input for future editions.

cheers,

Doug M.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The Augment Calling feat gives you another 2 HD.

You might find these threads of interest. (Warning: long, lots of reading.)

DMDM's Guide to Planar Binding, Part 1

DMDM's Guide to Planar Binding, Part 2

Things You Can Call With Greater Planar Binding, and Why

DMDM's MiniGuide to the Gate Spell

cheers,

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I have one so far: one of the smiling doppelgangers will say "Down here we all float...". Any other suggestions?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't get the impression he's producing a lot of PC kills. He's tough enough to be interesting, but against a party of four well-played 3rd level PCs, he'll probably go down fairly quickly -- especially given that the PCs have d4 rounds to prepare once Zandalus dies.

So, does he need beefing up? And if so, how to make him more alarming and memorable while still keeping things balanced?

One thought: swap out his Combat Casting (which is unlikely to be very useful) for something else. The Gruesome Shapechanger monster feat, below, could be a good replacement. Another thought: he's a doppelganger, right? So have him take the form of... Ulver Zandalus. "Zandalus" seems simple and confused; in a halting voice, he asks questions like "Can I go back to my room now?" or "Where are my paints... it's almost therapy hour and I need my paints..." If threatened, he cowers. Of course, the Tatterman is just waiting for the PCs to lower their guards...

Thoughts?

Gruesome Shapechanger (Monster):

When you change shape, it is a violent and bloody affair.

Prerequisite: Shapechanger subtype.

Benefit: When you change shape, your previous form
sloughs off your body in a spray of blood and viscera that
congeals into a thick, disgusting slime that dissolves within
24 hours. Until the slime dissolves or is cleaned in some way,
the space where you stood when you changed (or the space
below if you changed in mid-air) becomes slippery, counting
as difficult terrain and increasing the DC of Acrobatics
checks made in that area by 5. Any foe witnessing this
gruesome shape change must succeed at a Fortitude save
(DC = 10 + 1/2 your Hit Dice + your Constitution modifier) or
be sickened for 1 minute.

Special: The gruesome way you change shape is tiring.
Once you’ve used your change shape ability, you must wait
1d4 rounds before you can use it again. If you take this feat,
it changes the way your shapechanging ability works; you
cannot choose to avoid this feat’s effects.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The Perilous Puzzle Box is one of the niftier magic items from Paizo in recent years. It's basically a Rubik's Cube that guards a secret magic storage space, and if you don't solve it you get a curse or something. Very Vancian. Here are the details:

Perilous Puzzle Box:

Brass latticework decorates the faces of this cubical mahogany
puzzle box. While in its solved configuration, the puzzle box
is safe to open and close, and the user can access an extradimensional
compartment that can store up to 10 pounds of objects. The user
can store a single touch spell of 4th level or lower in the box by
casting the spell and touching the box. This spell has no effect

until the box is changed to an unsolved state and someone
subsequently tries and fails to solve it.

Any creature can close the box and twist its segments, at
which point the puzzle box becomes unsolved and requires
a successful DC 20 Intelligence check to solve and open. Each
subsequent consecutive round spent randomly twisting the
segments increases the number of Intelligence checks needed
to solve the puzzle, to a maximum of three checks after 3
rounds of scrambling. As soon as the creature ceases twisting
the segments, it is no longer safe to change the configuration.

Thereafter, twisting any segment triggers a 1-minute timer,
during which the holder can safely attempt to solve the puzzle
with a series of Intelligence checks. This requires two hands
and a full-round action for each Intelligence check. If the timer
runs out before the puzzle is solved or the creature pauses for
1 round in the middle of attempting to solve the puzzle, the
touch spell stored in the perilous puzzle box (if any) discharges,
automatically hitting any creature holding the box.

Unless the attempt to solve the puzzle succeeds, after
1 minute, the box automatically reverts to the configuration it
had before the attempt to solve the puzzle and locks itself for 24
hours. If a perilous puzzle box is destroyed (hardness 10, 20 hp),
any contents stored in the extradimensional space are lost on
the Ethereal Plane.

A found puzzle box has a 75% chance of having a touch
spell stored within it, usually bestow curse, contagion, or inflict
critical wounds.

Okay, so the math question. The would-be opener gets ten chances to solve the puzzle, and must make three successful DC 20 Int checks in a row. If the opener has a +5 Int bonus, then her chance of making any one check is 30%; her chance of making three checks in a row is a fairly dismal (30% x 30% x 30%) = 2.7%. However, his chance of getting three success in a row *over the course of ten attempts* is obviously going to be higher.

So then: if the opener's chance of making the check on any given round is P, then what is the general formula that gives her chance of solving the puzzle (three successful checks in a row, exactly ten attempts?)

Many thanks in advance,

Doug M.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

[Mild spoiler for the very first scene of ISoS]
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.
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PCs running from the Splatterman may attempt to escape or hide by using spells. I'd allow this, but I'd also make every spell go wrong ironically and catastropically. It's a dream sequence, so balance is out the window -- just use dream logic. Some possible options:

Mage Armor -- Forms full plate mail, but made of solid gold and immensely heavy. Unless the character has a Str of 14 or higher, he falls to the ground helpless. Next round, the Tatterman comes along and cuts his throat.

Summon Monster I -- Summons a Huge, grotesquely deformed, tentacled version of the creature. It immediately attacks the caster, swallowing him whole.

Expeditious Retreat -- Caster is paralyzed as per Hold Person, while any remaining goods and possessions fly away from him at fantastic speed, disappearing into the distance.

Grease -- Caster is glued in place for one round; treat him as entangled. He can break free next round with a Str check equal to the spell's DC, but the Tatterman will probably arrive before that.

Vanish -- The entire city becomes transparent, leaving nothing visible but the caster. Interestingly, the effect lasts for an hour/level instead of a round/level. The caster will probably not have time to appreciate this, as in a round or two he is spotted by a roving Hound of Tindalos, which immediately attacks. The caster can voluntarily cancel the spell; this causes the Hound to disappear, the city to become visible again, and the caster to appear immediately adjacent to the Tatterman.

cheers,

Doug M.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Porridge, your points are well taken. I'm shifting things around a bit, and taking some of your suggestions.

Stuff:
No changes to Stuff.

Stuff 3: You find all your starting equipment in the first room. Since your character used to be a favored servant of Lowls, I will add a useful item of up to 2,000 gp value into your stuff... a magic weapon, minor magic item, a spellbook with extra spells up to fourth level, or the like. Your stuff will also contain a clue to your past (embroidered initials on fine clothing, or some such.)

Stuff 2: You find all your starting equipment in the first room. It's the normal equipment for a 1st level PC, with no clues.

Stuff 1: The DM determines one item that is definitely present -- a weapon, spellbook, or holy symbol, whatever the character most needs. Everything else, have the player go down his character sheet and roll: 50% chance it's there, otherwise it's marked "missing". Missing items will be found with Winter and the refugees, and can be claimed as soon as they trust the PC (attitude friendly or better).

Stuff 0: You got nothin'. You'll find one critical item (as above, weapon or spellbook) in the possession of the first ghoul or doppelganger you encounter in area B. After that, the refugees may have some of your stuff: roll for everything else, 50% there, 50% lost forever.

Physical:
Physical 3: You were dosed with a powerful stimulant that will temporarily increase either your Con or your Dex by +4. The stimulant wears off four hours after you wake up.

Physical 2: You're fine.

Physical 1: You have an injury (half your hp) that also affects your movement: either one arm isn't working, or you're at -10' on your move. The latter effect will disappear once you have healed the hp AND have a night's good rest (i.e., in the chapel... there's no good rest anywhere else).

Physical 0: You have the Sickened condition, and will have it until you have a night's good rest AND someone makes a DC 15 Heal check on you. You also have either a disease or an addiction (DM's choice); if a disease, you're already past the incubation period.

Mental:
Mental 3: You awake with your mind strangely clear and strong. You are immune to San damage for the next four hours. If not using the Sanity system, then you gain +4 on Will saves for the next four hours.

Mental 2: You're fine.

Mental 1: You're disoriented and distracted. You are at -4 to either Wis or Cha,and whenever confronted with a stressful situation (such as combat) you must make a DC 15 Will save in order to place yourself in danger. (If you fail the Will save by 5 or more, you can do nothing but cower.) You can retry the Will save each round; once it's made, you can act normally for the rest of that encounter or situation.

Mental 0: You seem fine at first, but in fact you have gained a madness as per the DMG -- either paranoia, mania, or phobia (DM's choice). The madness DC is 15. The madness passes if you can get a good night's rest and then make the Will save, OR you get a good night's rest after someone has made a DC 20 Heal check on you. The Heal check DC is reduced by 1 for every ten minutes the healer spends sitting with you and speaking calmly.

Fugue:
Fugue 3: You still get occasional flickers of memory from your past life. The DM may use this to give you hints or clues at any time during the first two modules. Additionally, during the first week after waking, you may reroll up to three attacks, saves, or skill checks, as the fading memories of your past self briefly inspire you to greater competence. These rerolls are a limited resource; once you've used them, they're gone.

Fugue 2: As per normal.

Fugue 1: You no longer remember your name. The DM or the other players will give you a name based on some characteristic ("Scarface", "Twitchy", or the like). Also, some of your memories are slow to recover. Whenever you attempt to attack with a weapon, use a skill, or cast a spell, there is a 20% chance you are unable to bring those memories to the fore. For a weapon or a skill, you are treated as non-proficient (-4 to attack rolls, no +3 bonus on skill checks). For a spell, you are unable to cast it, but you do not lose the spell or slot. Once you have used a particular weapon or skill, or cast a particular spell, you no longer have to make this roll. You can try to reroll a failed roll after at least ten minutes have passed. This condition passes after a good night's rest.

Fugue 0: As above, except the failure chance is now 50%, and you don't remember how to read or how to speak any languages but Common. The condition persists until you can get a good night's rest and then make a DC 15 save, OR you get a good night's rest after someone has made a DC 20 Heal check on you. The Heal check DC is reduced by 1 for every ten minutes the healer spends sitting with you and speaking calmly.

I'm just about to try these on my PCs in our PBP campaign, so we'll hae a chance to see how it goes!

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

1) Giving all the dopps the same number of hit points makes them slightly predictable, especially for metagame-y players. I would consider rolling hp for the first one, and also for any that are not "named" encounters like the two doctors. (Ghouls, even more so.)

2) The dopps don't really get a chance to use their mimicking power. (Most players will be crazy suspicious of the "injured old lady" in area B, and careful/stealthy players will catch her in her true form anyway.) If your campaign isn't disturbing enough, let a dopp slip through into the chapel refuge. It'll start quietly killing people, at first in ways that look plausible -- an overdose of medication -- then in ways that are increasingly horrific. And, of course, it'll look like a PC while it's doing it...

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Porridge wrote:
I think this is an AWESOME idea.

Thank you!

Quote:
--It seems 3 is given as the status quo option for physical and mental, and 2 is the status quo option for stuff and fugue. Maybe consistently go one way or the other? (For example, maybe add benefits to physical 3 and mental 3, or add further penalties to stuff 2 and fugue 2?)

Thinking about it. Right now, the inconsistency is deliberate. The players are picking blind-ish, and the results they get may be unexpected and/or uneven. That stab-in-the-dark aspect seems consistent to me with the whole starting setup.

Quote:

But overall, I love these suggestions. A great way to add to the terror feelings of helplessness and vulnerability!

That's what I'm aiming for. I want the players to feel that they're in trouble right from the start.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

There's not really a deity in Golarion who focuses on fighting aberrations or the machinations of the Great Old Ones. The closest is maybe the Black Butterfly, I guess.

Are there any other deities suitable for a paladin -- LG, NG, or LN -- that might be good for a paladin running through this AP?

Thanks,

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I like the cut of your jib, Alice. I'm not going to use these myself, but I like where you're going.

Pillars: This one really depends on how the PCs are related to their former lives. My approach is that the PCs used to be thugs and monsters, but now they have a second chance to start over with a clean slate. So, encounters with their former lives are likely to be awkward at best, and sometimes downright dangerous. It sounds like you're going the other way -- the PCs are STILL thugs and monsters, so they'll be fine with getting their lives back. That's fine too!

Dreamlands corruption: Actually, I kinda like this one and maybe I will use it. Need to look at those Horror rules again...

Insanity: I'm doing something a little bit like this. See here for details: http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2u18c?In-Search-of-Sanity-Starting-handicap-sys tem.

cheers,

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I love the amnesia aspect of ISoS. What I don't like so much: that the PCs, after the opening encounter, immediately find all their stuff and start off pretty much unscathed. I think the horror aspect is likely to be ramped up if the PCs have a more realistic "wake up naked in an asylum" experience. Yes, ISoS is a pretty tough module. But I have a party of six, so I'm okay with handicapping them a little. I think this system would also work with four 20-point characters (since the module assumes 15 points).

Before starting, I'm going to tell the players that they have six Starting Points, which they can distribute among four categories: Stuff, Physical, Mental, and Fugue. They can spend up to three points in each category -- so, for instance, a PC might start with Stuff 2, Physical 3, Mental 1, and Fugue 0. What I'll tell the PCs: "Stuff 3 means you start with all your stuff. Physical 3 means you're in great physical shape, Mental 3 same. Fugue 3, you have the least possible effects from the fugue." No details beyond that.

So what will these mean? Well:

Stuff 3: You find all your starting equipment in the first room. Since your character used to be a favored servant of Lowls, I will add a useful item of up to 2,000 gp value into your stuff... a magic weapon, minor magic item, a spellbook with extra spells up to fourth level, or the like. Your stuff will also contain a clue to your past (embroidered initials on fine clothing, or some such.)

Stuff 2: You find all your starting equipment in the first room. It's the normal equipment for a 1st level PC, with no clues.

Stuff 1: The DM determines one item that is definitely present -- a weapon, spellbook, or holy symbol, whatever the character most needs. Everything else, have the player go down his character sheet and roll: 50% chance it's there, otherwise it's marked "missing". Missing items will be found with Winter and the refugees, and can be claimed as soon as they trust the PC (attitude friendly or better).

Stuff 0: You got nothin'. You'll find one critical item (as above, weapon or spellbook) in the possession of the first ghoul or doppelganger you encounter in area B. After that, the refugees may have some of your stuff: roll for everything else, 50% there, 50% lost forever.

Physical 3: You're fine.

Physical 2: You have scrapes and bruises, or a minor injury: start at -2 hp.

Physical 1: You have a more serious injury (half your hp) that also affects your movement: either one arm isn't working, or you're at -10' on your move. The latter effect will disappear once you have healed the hp AND have a night's good rest (i.e., in the chapel... there's no good rest anywhere else).

Physical 0: You have the Sickened condition, and will have it until you have a night's good rest AND someone makes a DC 15 Heal check on you. You also have either a disease or an addiction (DM's choice); if a disease, you're already past the incubation period.

Mental 3: You're fine.

Mental 2: You're a little disoriented and distracted: -4 Wisdom until you get a good night's rest. (Unless you're a Wis-based character, in which case you're withdrawn and have a slight stutter and are at -4 Cha.)

Mental 1: As above, but you're at -4 to both Wis and Cha, and whenever confronted with a stressful situation (such as combat) you must make a DC 15 Will save in order to take an action other than cowering. You can retry the Will save each round; once it's made, you can act normally for the rest of that situation.

Mental 0: You seem fine at first, but in fact you have gained a madness as per the DMG -- either paranoia, mania, or phobia (DM's choice). The madness DC is 15. The madness passes if you can get a good night's rest and then make the Will save, OR you get a good night's rest after someone has made a DC 20 Heal check on you. The Heal check DC is reduced by 1 for every ten minutes the healer spends sitting with you and speaking calmly.

Fugue 3: You still get occasional flickers of memory from your past life. The DM may use this to give you hints or clues at any time during the first two modules. Additionally, during the first week after waking, you may reroll up to three attacks, saves, or skill checks, as the fading memories of your past self briefly inspire you to greater competence. These rerolls are a limited resource; once you've used them, they're gone.

Fugue 2: As per normal.

Fugue 1: You no longer remember your name. The DM or the other players will give you a name based on some characteristic ("Scarface", "Twitchy", or the like). Also, some of your memories are slow to recover. Whenever you attempt to attack with a weapon, use a skill, or cast a spell, there is a 20% chance you are unable to bring those memories to the fore. Once you have used a particular weapon or skill, or cast a particular spell, you no longer have to make this roll. You can try to reroll a failed roll after at least ten minutes have passed. This condition passes after a good night's rest.

Fugue 0: As above, except the failure chance is now 50%, and you don't remember how to read or how to speak any languages but Common. The condition persists until you can get a good night's rest and then make a DC 15 save, OR you get a good night's rest after someone has made a DC 20 Heal check on you. The Heal check DC is reduced by 1 for every ten minutes the healer spends sitting with you and speaking calmly.

Obviously this can result in some fairly challenging outcomes. Interestingly flavorful, or just way too hard? What do you think?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Planning to run this as PBP, and I think most of it will work just fine. However, I'm not sure about the opening scene. In FTF, it will be disturbing in part because it's so *fast* -- the players are thrown in and have no idea what's going on and little time to stop and think. In PBP, though, that scene will stretch over days, and I think a lot of the impact will be diminished.

Anybody have any thoughts on how to deal with this? I'm thinking maybe ending it after *one* character is killed, but that might be trading speed for impact. Other suggestions, perhaps? Has anyone tried alternate opening scenes?

Thanks in advance,

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

About to start running this. There are six PCs and I want to establish their relationships to Lowls, so that I can drop hints and clues here and there. My thinking here is that Lowls sacrificed the people who were closest and most useful to him, not just random minions. I have a pretty good notion what three of the PCs were:

Paladin -- I think he used to be Lowls' muscle, chief of the thugs he sent out to enforce instructions and terrorize the locals. The high Cha might suggest some sort of caster, though? Or maybe he was just optimized for high Intimidate checks.

Wizard -- The wizard was a wizard, and he's going to find a spellbook with spells going up to 4th level. I think he was Lowls' companion in investigating the Great Old Ones.

Oracle -- The Oracle starts at middle age. He was Lowls' servant -- a valet, or perhaps an accountant.

That leaves three more: a Sczarni swindler rogue, a mesmerist, and a bard. Possible options might include lover, sibling, child, best friend, overseer, drinking buddy... but ideally, I'd like something that relates in some way to the build, and/or that will be interesting for the player to discover over time.

Thoughts?

Doug M.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yeah, nobody thinks they "owe" WotC anything. But they probably have an interest in increasing traffic to this site. -- Okay, any increase from renaming the forums would probably be pretty modest at this point. But there's no reason *not* to.

Also, housekeeping. '4e and beyond' when we're now 2+ years into 5e is just odd. (And glancing at that forum, there isn't a single 4e thread on the front page. It's 5e all the way down.)

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Idle thought: is there anything to stop a reckless PC from using the Vorpal Sword against one of the very high level creatures that you're not supposed to fight? Against the Mad Poet, or even Bokrug?

Sure, you'd get just a single chance to hit, and then you'd be curb-stomped good and hard. But getting killed in the Dreamlands is just an inconvenience! And if you *did* roll that 20, you'd gain so much xp that you'd level up on the spot... not to mention the story you'd have to tell.

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:


Yeah, I think the suggestion is just to rename it, not move all the 4E threads elsewhere.

That's right. The discussion forum and I guess the PBP one, too -- it's named the same way.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Coming late to this: did you find a GM? Because I'm a PBP GM who's been away for a while, now looking to get back into running a campaign.

If y'all are still looking, PM me.

cheers,

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I retconned that Talingarde has been so good about eliminating crime that in the last few years Branderscar has almost become unnecessary. So they've appointed a Warden who has no interest in anything but his studies, thereby allowing Blackerly to gut the place from within.

That said, I definitely de-emphasized the whole "unescapable prison" thing. IMC, it was just a prison.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
kevin_video wrote:
I had a bit of a laugh tonight while going through the Villains Codex. There's a magic branding iron called the branding iron of tracking. Just imagine how short this campaign would have been if Branderscar had been using this the entire time on all their prisoners.

IMC, I justified a shortage of many magic items by pointing to Talingarde's ambivalent attitude towards arcane casters -- towards all casters, really, except for priests of Mitra.

But yes -- the magical equivalent of a RFID chip or an ankle monitor would seem pretty obvious!

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In general, you want to keep a tight grip on Mystic Past Life. There was a lot of discussion of it when it came out -- search around on these boards -- and the general consensus is that it's pretty abusable.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Necro.

Since their first appearance in the Inner Sea Bestiary back in 2012, have the Veiled Masters ever shown up in any other PF product?

Also, have we been presented with any new powerful NPCs who might be candidates? Personally I think Korran Goss of Galt is a pretty strong candidate -- supposedly he's a mesmerist, but I notice he's all about mind control and manipulation.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
ohako wrote:
I just got finished reading The Farthest Shore again, and one thing is obvious, at least in that universe: wizard < dragon

Earthsea is like Asimov's Foundation books: viz., the author went back 30 years later and wrote more stuff in that universe, but really shouldn't have. Stick with the original trilogy plus the stories in _The Wind's Twelve Quarters_, and all will be well.

Anyway.

Quote:
I already know how to explore a dungeon. Not really sure what to do if it came to a fight with a dragon, however.

It's an interesting exercise, because dragons are designed to be boss monsters that can fight a whole party -- lots of attacks, spells, special abilities, you name it.

For a party, once battle is joined the general tactic is to spread out and smother it with action economy. Insofar as dragons have a weak spot it's their touch AC, which is almost always very bad... for instance, an ancient green dragon is CR 17, but has a touch AC of 5. So, they're really vulnerable to ranged touch attacks. Their spell resistance gives them some protection there, but if you know in advance that a dragon is on the menu, there are a lot of items you can pick up to help with that.

For casters, the classic anti-dragon tactic is to spam it with Enervations and Disintegrates. The way the math works, you'll kill pretty much any equal-CR dragon if you can lay two unsaved Disintegrates on it. (If you're an Order of the Stick fan, you'll recall that Varsuvius kills the young black dragon in exactly this way.) Enervations won't kill it quite as fast, but they don't allow saves either -- overcome the thing's SR, make your to-hit roll (pretty much automatic) and pow, d4 negative levels. A dragon that has taken a couple of Enervations to the face is a dragon that's probably -5 or worse on all attacks and saves, which is to say a dragon that's probably in a world of trouble.

Against a single PC, now... yeah, that gets interesting. I'm inclined to agree with most of the other posters: specialized ranged-melee guy, paladin with ranged smite or ranger, is probably the way to go here.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I mean, 4th edition was a while ago. It's a bit like having a forum for iPhones that is "The iPhone 3 (and beyond)".

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

...for the Mesmerist, throw in some tricks. Above all, Cursed Sanction (dragon gets -4 on attack rolls and saves as soon as it hits the mesmerist). Also Astounding Avoidance (greater evasion, once) and Compel Alacrity (5' step turns into a 20' or more step), but it's that first one that really counts. At that point the dragon is effectively -7 on Will saves, and the Mesmerist's chance of nailing it with a Dominate get pretty good.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Mesmerist with the Sapped Magic, Disorientation and Timidity stares plus Spell Focus: Enchantment and Spell Penetration. The dragon is at -3 to hit and takes another -3 hp off every damage roll against you. Meanwhile you get +5 to overcome its SR, and it gets an effective -4 against your enchantments. If you have wealth, you throw everything into Cha boosting items and stuff that helps punch through SR.

Turns into a contest based on a few rolls: can the dragon deliver enough damage to kill you before it fails a save against a Dominate or some such? If you're facing a dragon whose CR is equal to your level, the odds are probably well in your favor.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Running a FTF version of Way of the Wicked. Am approaching the point where they graduate from Cardinal Thorn's training course and leave the mansion. At this point, I want the Cardinal to give them gifts to help them along their way. I'd like a gift that's roughly appropriate to each PC. I've made one up from scratch, but for the others it'll be easier to pick something from the DMG. I'm just not sure what.

Pact Warlock of Asmodeus -- I already have this one. He's going to get a fiendish tattoo which will allow him to cast, once/day, an extra spell at his highest spell slot. (It causes him agony, reducing his Con by -2 until his next long rest.)

Dwarf priest of Bhaal -- No idea. He mixes casting and combat. He's kind of a serial killer dwarf, NE alignment. Something death-themed would seem appropriate?

Half-orc Eldritch Knight -- This guy is your classic belligerent half-orc with little self-control. He's the tank. Something that helps him with combat would be good. (But not AC -- his AC is like 21 already.)

Evil clown (bard) -- He's a creepy mime. Mostly casts and throws inspiration dice around. No idea.

Suggestions very welcome!

Doug M.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The current forum is "4h edition (and beyond)", which (1) is a bit confusing, and (2) if you're googling for a 5th edition forum, impossible to find. It's not a terribly active forum, and possibly this is why?

I can understand if Paizo doesn't care to emphasize 5e on its own home site. But I think there are a lot of players on the forums who go both ways. I'm one of them -- I've been steadily buying Paizo proucts for almost a decade now, I prefer PF to 5e, but my players want to play 5e so I'm running a D&D campaign right now. It would be nice to have a more active forum to discuss 5e issues here at paizo -- I don't really want to go off to enworld or giantitp for those conversations.

Could we please have a dedicated 5e forum? Or, at a minimum, rename the current forum so that it's easier for people to find?

Many thanks,

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Since the Worm is the BBEG and the Ghoul is a potential ally -- okay, a very self-interested, not terribly trustworthy potential ally -- I'd give more treasure to the Worm. Also, note that the Worm is (1) leaving soon anyway, and (2) not actually evil (Leng Ghouls are allowed to vary their alignment, so he's CN). Good-aligned PCs who pause to talk before hacking should realize that even if they don't want to ally, there's no compelling reason to fight this creature. But all that is entirely up to the DM.

If you like, you could leave some papers in the Ghoul's study indicating that the REALLY good stuff -- a big shipment of spell books and magic items -- got shipped off to "Sesquiritia", a tomb-palace-library on the borders of Leng. I'm imagining this as a complex where several Leng Ghouls have cooperated to build a joint collection with lending rights, under the care of some monstrously evil and powerful Librarian. Finding Sesquiritia, getting there, and then dealing with the various terrifying guardians of the Ghouls' horde... yah, that could keep the PCs busy for a while.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Glutton Town, part 2: the dungeon.

What's down in that dungeon?

The BBEG is the Worm That Walks, and the PCs may encounter him more than once. That's because his lair has a lot of little holes in the floor everywhere, leading into a drainage system. Let the PCs spot this and wonder about it. Clever players may conclude they're up against a vampire or someone with Gaseous Form, which is close. (Too-clever players may try gaseous form or shrinking. They'll meet various glyphs and magical traps, and also Squeaky and his friends.) If the Worm is every seriously threatened or badly injured, he discorporates and crawls away under the floor. Remember, his fast healing means that he'll recover any hp damage in less than a turn.

If they meet him outside his lair, he should be surrounded by some low or medium level undead, with the Worm bolstering them with desecrate and buffs. So the PCs carve their way through, attack the mysterious robed figure... and the Worm collapses at the first touch, leaving nothing but a black robe and a nasty smell. Lather, rinse, repeat. Eventually, the PCs corner the Worm... but this time, it's wearing all its gear, and has its most powerful servants at hand. So there's a proper boss fight.

Now, say you start with a bunch of lower level undead... bleeding skeletons, zombies, ghouls and wights, CRs 1-3 (though, lots of them). The PCs should wade right through these guys without too much trouble, and it should get them thinking "okay undead, that's what this is about".

Then you can bring in the worm's allies. There are several. First, he's keeping company with a nabasu demon with 10 growth points. I statted this bad boy out a while ago, and he looks like this:

Nabasu CR 13:

CE Medium outsider (chaotic, demon, evil, native)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +23
DEFENSE

AC 27, touch 14, flat-footed 23 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge, +13 natural)
hp 203 (9d10+54+100 from growth points)
Fort +19, Ref +19, Will +19
DR 10/cold iron or good; Immune death effects, electricity, paralysis, poison; Resist acid 10, cold 10, fire 10; SR 24

OFFENSE

Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft. (average)
Melee 2 claws +25 (1d6+6), bite +25 (1d8+6)
Special Attacks consume life, death-stealing gaze, sneak attack +2d6
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 18th)

At will—deeper darkness, greater teleport (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only), telekinesis (DC 19)
3/day—enervation, silence (DC 16), vampiric touch
1/day—mass hold person (DC 21), regenerate, summon (level 4, 1 nabasu 30% or 1d4 babaus 30%)

STATISTICS

Str 22, Dex 17, Con 22, Int 15, Wis 16, Cha 19
Base Atk +9; CMB +25; CMD 29
Feats Cleave, Combat Expertise, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Power Attack
Skills Acrobatics +25, Fly +25, Knowledge (arcana) +24, Knowledge (planes) +24, Perception +33, Sense Motive +25, Stealth +25 (+33 in shadowy areas), Survival +25; Racial Modifiers +8 Perception, +8 Stealth in shadowy areas; growth point modifier +10 on all skill checks
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Draconic; telepathy 100 ft.

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Consume Life (Su)

When a nabasu creates a ghoul with its gaze attack, it gains a growth point. It gains a bonus equal to its growth point total on attack rolls, CMB rolls, saving throws, caster level checks, and skill checks. Its maximum hit points increase by 10 for each growth point, and its caster level for spell-like abilities increases by 1. For every 2 growth points, its natural armor bonus, SR, and CR increase by 1. Every time it gains a growth point it makes a DC 30 caster level check—success indicates it matures (gaining both the advanced and the giant simple templates) and plane shifts to the Abyss in a burst of smoke. A nabasu can have a maximum of 20 growth points—it automatically matures if it has not done so already when it reaches 20 growth points.
Death-Stealing Gaze (Su)

As a free action once per day per growth point (minimum of 1/day), a nabasu can activate its death-stealing gaze for a full round. All living creatures within 30 feet must succeed on a DC 18 Fortitude save or gain a negative level. A humanoid slain in this manner immediately transforms into a ghoul under the nabasu's control. A nabasu's gaze can only create one ghoul per round—if multiple humans perish from the gaze in a round, the nabasu picks which human becomes a ghoul. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Demons Revisited gives this interesting feat option for nabasus:

Improved Death-Stealing:

Benefit: When you would normally create a ghoul with your death-stealing gaze, you instead create a ghast. As a free action, you may also spend a number of growth points in order to even further augment your new undead minion as it is created. If you spend 1 growth point, you create a wight instead of a ghast. If you spend 3 growth points, you create a wraith instead of a ghast. And if you spend 5 growth points, you transform the target into a juju zombie instead of a ghast. Note that spending growth in this manner reduces your statistics as appropriate.

-- Note that since growth points don't give the demon more feats, you'd have to swap out two of its feats to get this. Personally, I'd consider house-ruling that it gets a feat for every 5 growth points, but if you want to play strictly by the RAW I'd throw out Dodge (AC is not its strength anyway) and Combat Expertise (ibid).

This particular nabasu has a bad case of arrested development. It likes the Prime Material Plane and doesn't really *want* to become a vrolikai. So, it takes the above feat -- and whenever it creates an undead, it burns the growth point to create a wight. That way, it never has to make the level check. (And after a while, there may be quite a few wights around.) Other demons might view this creature askance -- it's like the kid who never wants to go through puberty, but would rather be an eternal 10 year old, playing with Pokemons and Legos. But what does it care what other demons think? The Worm called up the nabasu a while ago as a hedge against the Leng Ghoul, who it (correctly) suspects of becoming unreliable as an ally. Now the demon has a very cosy relationship with the Worm -- they're both gluttons, and they're both all about undead.

Another ally for the Worm is, of course, a worm. A purple worm, to be precise. Normal purple worms are CR 12; sticking the advanced template on it makes it CR 13. Again, having an enormous eating machine that's threatening the PCs with being swallowed whole seems a nice thematic fit for Gluttony. If you're feeling cruel, you can have it join the Worm That Walks in the final boss fight.

There are some humans in the Worm's lair. Some of these are pathetic helpless slaves, drawn from the poor above. Their lives are horrible and short, and they will end up food for the Worm's undead minions. (The Worm always keeps one close at hand to charge up his Death Knell spell.) Some, OTOH, are nobles or priests from the town above who are in on the secret and working with the Worm. There should be a few low-level priests around, to cast Darkness for the worm if nothing else.

There are at least a couple of monks. The leader of the evil monks knows of the Worm, and he's fine with it -- by its mere existence, this creature generates an environment conducive to correct thought and focused study. He's assigned some midlevel monks as liasons. Say, a couple of 9th level monks... hungry ghost monks, of course. If you're ready for undead, monks can be a very interesting surprise.

The Worm has a couple of friends and allies down in his lair. One is an Arcane Trickster. It's a ratling witch/rogue with a quasit as its improved familiar. (If you missed it, ratlings are the horrible little ratlike dudes with half-human faces, little handlike paws, and evil intelligence. They're Lovecraftian too, so that fits.) I'd make the ratling something like a Rog 3/Witch 3/Arcane Trickster 5. That only makes it CR 10 or so... but it runs around under the floor, constantly going invisible, throwing spells and launching sneak attacks and summoning rat swarms and stealing small useful items from the PCs and giggling horribly (witch's cackle). Trust me, it won't take long before the PCs utterly hate this guy.

Squeaky is old friends with the Worm. They get along great, actually.

Finally, there are three powerful creatures who might interact with the PCs in more complex ways. First, there's a bloatmage. He's not As noted above, the city is full of them, but this one is particularly powerful and a close ally of the Worm. He's a truly vile character who delights in every form of gluttony. I'd say he's 12th or 13th level, and based on a sorceror build -- though he didn't dump Int, and is nobody's fool. Rakshasa bloodline comes to mind, though daemon could work too. He uses a simple Extended Disguise Self to appear as an older man with a cane and dark glasses, tapping his way along a bit uncertainly. The cane is to explain his low movement, and the dark glasses are a bit of misdirection -- the PCs will encounter him in the Worm's lair, where everything is always dark anyway. (In fact, he has perfectly good darkvision.) He'll explain that he's a humble worshipper of some NG deity, who some years ago was afflicted simultaneously with clouded vision and strange powers granted from the god. (This should have canny PCs immediately thinking "oracle", which is exactly what he intends.) The cruel masters of this wicked city have kept him imprisoned down here in these catacombs, hoping that he'll use his strange mystical visions in their service... are you bold adventurers here to stop them? (This is where the Rakshasa bloodline's +5 to bluff really shines, along with the SR against divination spells.) If the PCs trust him, they're setting themselves up for a world of hurt.

He specializes in illusions and transmutation spells, which might prove troublesome if the PCs have come specialized for undead. Like most high level bloatmages, he starts every day with Overland Flight so that he can bob along like Baron Harkonnen. He has various magic items, one of which will surely be a jar of fortifying leeches, just because they're great.

Second, there's a vampire. A /captive/ vampire, surrounded by holy symbols and a Magic Circle. The creature saw this city full of well-fed people, their blood so thick with rich sauces and high living, and foolishly thought it had found an ideal hunting ground. But the Worm brooks no rivals, and it quickly sniffed out the vampire and captured her. The vampire is a 12th level Dirge Bard, which would normally make it CR 13 or so, but the effects of hunger have greatly weakened it. (The rules for that can be found on the vampire page, right here -- scroll down a couple of screens.) Depending on how weak from hunger it is, its CR may be down by as much as 3.

The vampire begs the PCs to free it, offering to tell all it knows and help them against the Worm. Will it really? You tell me. A Dirge Bard could be pretty useful as an ally. On the other hand, possibly the vampire will fly off at once. Or maybe it will ally with the PCs until the end, then turn on them, hoping to replace the Worm. Season to taste! Regardless, it'll be desperate for a blood meal before anything else.

Oh, and: in a cell down the hall from the vampire? Is a flumph. A party of several flumphs arrived in Glutton Town a while ago, after their divinations detected the presence of an otherworldly abomination. They tried to warn the townsfolk... and quickly ended up here, in the Worm's jail and larder. The rest of the flumph's party has been converted to stir-fried flumph, flumph nuggets, and flumph-on-a-stick. This one is only alive because the Worm is saving him for a special occasion. He's a third level cleric, which means he'll be of some small use to the party but will also have to be protected. Like most flumphs, he's Lawful Good, kind-hearted, and painfully earnest. If released, he'll help the PCs in any way he can, but will object to allying with the vampire, and will very loudly object to any dealings with Leng Ghoul.

Finally, there's the Leng Ghoul. Urbane, erudite, green and hooved, this strange creature has been an ally of the Worm for years. The Worm called him from Leng to help with constructing the dungeon and establishing his rule over the city. In return, he offered the Ghoul any magic items, books, scrolls or occult lore to be found. That worked for years, but now the alliance is fraying: the Ghoul has found all the interesting stuff that this single mortal city contains, and it's ready to move on. (It's chaotic neutral rather than chaotic evil, so simply tormenting a city of mortals isn't a major motivator.) However, the Ghoul would really like to acquire some of the Worm's loot before it goes. The creature will be encountered in its study, a room full of books and scrolls. If the PCs stop to talk, the Ghoul will offer to ally with them in return for the Worm's stuff. Its opening bid will be the Worm's staff and its spellbook; the staff is negotiable, the spellbook is not. Failing that, it may also offer to trade information for items in the PCs' possession. A sufficiently high Knowledge check can also allow a PC to entertain the Ghoul for an hour of conversation, after which it will answer a single question. The Ghoul helped build the dungeon and it has worked with the Worm for years, so it's very well informed.

Picking a fight with the Ghoul is not a great idea; it's as powerful as the Worm, its best treasures have already been shipped to Leng, and if severely pressed it will simply pull out a scroll and Plane Shift away. I see it as a CR 13 creature, either a Wizard 1 / Cyphermage 5, or a sixth level Mesmerist.

Boss: The Worm That Walks

The Worm's lair was once a richly appointed room with carpets, silk hangings, lovely furniture. Now the furniture is decaying and collapsing, the carpets are a mass of mold, and everything is lightly coated with slime.

The Worm himself? Start with a daemonspawn tiefling (+2 Int and Dex, -2 Wis, gets Death Knell instead of Darkness as a SLA). Assuming APL 8-10 or so, make him a necromancer 11/gravemaster 3. The gravemaster PrC is kinda so-so -- you give up a level of casting, so he'll only have spells like a 13th level necromancer. But it does give him the Undead Manipulator and Negative Energy Conduit powers, both of which are nice if you want him to be standing in the middle of a horde of attacking undead.

In terms of stats, a 20 point build with racial adjustments and level bumps gives Str 9 Con 16 Dex 18 Int 22 Wis 10 Cha 12. (He doesn't dump Cha because he needs it for Command Undead.) 14d8+42 gives 105 hp, which isn't a lot for a CR 15 creature but keep in mind that he has DR 15/- and fast healing 15. If you want to bump him up a little but don't want to add more caster levels, consider a couple of levels of rogue -- that gives Evasion, a few more hp, and the 15 rank Bluff skill unlock (blocks alignment detection and mindreading).

Any encounter should take place in deep darkness -- ideally, with a minor caster somewhere throwing Darkness to attack PC light sources. The worm has both darkvision and blindsight, so he doesn't care. For those PCs with darkvision, you want this guy in heavy, shrouding robes so that the PCs can't see what they're actually facing. Depending on APL, they may face him alone, or with a bunch of low to medium level mooks and undead surrounding him... you decide.

What does his gear include? That's up to you, but I'd consider giving him a Staff of Hungry Shadows -- nicely thematic -- and having him open negotiations by using it to summon a devourer. (He's no dummy, so if the PCs are carving a swath through his servants, he'll summon it in advance -- it works like Planar Binding, so it lasts up to 13 days.)

Actually killing the Worm will require delivering a lot of damage very fast, since he'll just discorporate and slither away if seriously threatened. However, if he has to leave his stuff behind, he'll be weakened. He won't want to leave town, though; this is his food source. So if the PCs don't kill him straight off, he'll gather allies and come back for a rematch.

Phew. Thoughts?

Doug M.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(H.P. Lovecraft invented the Worm That Walks):
"Cursed the ground where dead thoughts live new and oddly bodied, and evil the mind that is held by no head. Wisely did Ibn Schacabao say, that happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes. For it is of old rumour that the soul of the devil-bought hastes not from his charnel clay, but fats and instructs the very worm that gnaws; till out of corruption horrid life springs, and the dull scavengers of earth wax crafty to vex it and swell monstrous to plague it. Great holes secretly are digged where earth's pores ought to suffice, and things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl."

Consolidating some stuff from an old thread. This is a set of seeds for a short campaign set in an evil city that is dedicated to the sin of Gluttony. This post assumes that PCs are level 8-10, but it's easily tweaked for other levels. The BBEG is a Worm That Walks who lives beneath the city.

Welcome to Glutton Town

The Worm lives in a city whose culture is big on conspicuous consumption. The wealthy enjoy lives of ostentatious splendor, while the poor groan in misery. And the absolutely best way to show off wealth in this town is a fifteen-course, six hour long, absolute gut buster of a banquet. The Worm loves this, of course, and makes occasional quiet interventions to make sure that public gorging and mass gluttony continue to be central to the local culture.

The Worm's lair is, of course, beneath the great Banquet Hall in the center of town. This is the center of civic life, where the notables gather to eat the finest dishes and decide the town's affairs over replete stomachs and tight waistcoats. The Worm -- which in time will eat all, eat them all -- lurks directly below.

Glutton Town's alignment is firmly Neutral Evil If you want to keep things simple, you can have Urgathoa be the patron deity. However, if you want to change it up a bit, have the usual pantheon of your campaign, but with the local temples being evil. If they're good gods, the local priests may be perverted or heretical. If they're neutral, well, you get a Temple of Pharasma with NE priests who speak of the goddess as the Great Devourer. A temple of Calistria that's CE, with worshippers commingling gluttony and lust in some really creepy and disturbing ways. A temple of Abadar with plump LE priests who guard the city's bulging granaries, and who enforce the rule against charity with merciless severity. And so forth.

One peculiarity of Glutton Town: there are no magic items or scrolls for sale of greater than 500 gp value. This is because the Worm's ally the Leng Ghoul has grabbed them all for itself. Trying to sell more magical items, or simply brandishing them publicly, is likely to attract the Ghoul's attention.

Encounters in Glutton Town

As soon as the PCs arrive in Glutton Town, they should notice that it's not a very nice place. Most of the people are obviously poor, and many of the poor are visibly scrawny or even emaciated. A few wealthy people walk around, obviously dominant; they are richly dressed in fine fabrics and jewels and are usually quite plump. (And also generally well guarded, if the PCs start getting ideas.)

Fairly early on, the PCs should encounter some monks. There's an order of monks in the town that has two branches. One is a group of simple, humble men and women who meditate, pray, and try to help and protect the oppressed poor. The other consists of gluttons. How does a monk become a glutton? By absolute, fanatical focus on eating, of course... not quantity, but quality. "Exactly sixty-two grains of rice, four slices of sweet potato, and half a cup of water. So begins the path to perfection!" The humble monks are LG, the diet fanatic monks are LE. Later on, the PCs may encounter the evil monks as foes. As to the humble monks... have one of them help the PCs in some small way when they arrive in Glutton Town. Then let them see him being arrested (maybe for violating the law against, I don't know, giving food to the poor. Giving food to people who can't pay for it is against the law!) Later he can reappear down in the Worm's lair, with something awful about to happen to him...

There are bloatmages, of course. Can't have a City of Gluttony without bloatmages. They're grotesquely obese and usually carried in palanquins. Arcane PCs may recognize what they are; others will just wonder why the palanquins have magical symbols all over them. The wealthiest and most powerful bloatmages have palanquins that are actually magical, borne by matched sets of slaves of rare and unusual races.

There aren't a lot of guards or watchmen. This is because the authorities have other means of enforcing order. One is a meladaemon. It might seem strange to find a daemon of famine in a city devoted to conspicuous consumption, but the meladaemon views this city as a ripe, fat fruit just waiting to fall into the hungry jaws of the lower planes. It is there as part of a deal struck between the Worm and a powerful daemon lord. The city uses it as an enforcer: after all, what could be more terrifying to a city of gluttons than an incarnation of emaciation and hunger come ravening to their very door? Also, the daemon's Reduce Plants SLA is very handy for punishing peasants who don't pay their taxes. It makes their fields less productive, but only temporarily, thus ensuring that they can be sold into slavery to pay their tax debts and their lands given to people who will take the lesson and work harder to provide taxes and food for the masters. (This is "Management for Productivity", Neutral Evil style.)

A basic meladaemon is CR 11. If this isn't challenging enough, give him the Advanced template or a couple of fighter levels. He spends a lot of time polymorphed into human form, but he doesn't bother disguising his daemonic aura or the fact that he's not what he seems -- he wants people to be terrified of him, and so do the city fathers. PCs who make trouble in town can expect a visit from this creature pretty quickly.

Entering the dungeon

There are several options for this. The simplest is that the PCs are contacted by the Resistance. (Because of course there's a Resistance.) These plucky rebels don't know about the Worm, exactly, but they've come to realize that the real source of the evil in their town is not the fat Council (selfish and venal though they are), but something deeper and much, much worse. They know there's a complex under the Banquet Hall, and they know there's something bad down there, and they can direct the PCs to the entrance. Use this hook if you want something fairly heroic and straightforward. If the PCs get really interested, you can have them join the Resistance for a while (using the rules from Book One of the Hells Rebels AP). But eventually, someone has to go down that hole...

Second possibility: once the PCs have done something noteworthy in town, have them be recruited by a powerful local nobleman. Lord Jowly sits on the Council, but he's come to realize that the Council is being manipulated by some deeper power... and also that members who pry too closely tend to disappear. He knows of the Worm's existence, but thinks it is just a powerful evil spellcaster. Use this hook if the PCs aren't particularly heroic, or you want to turn up the moral ambiguity a bit. After all, if the Worm is eliminated, Lord Jowly isn't going to embark on a program of radical reform. He thinks Glutton Town is fine the way it is. He just wants to be in charge.

More in a moment...

Doug M.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
Just to note, just because its cool doesn't mean it makes sense or is a good idea.

I have a player who gets carried away with his own cleverness sometimes. Which is fine -- but he can carry the rest of the party off too!

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

No worries! And I confess there are times when I dither between this forum and General.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I actually didn't know that. Do you have a cite? Because people have been offering unsolicited advice on this forum -- everything from tactical tips on monsters, to character builds, to how-to guides -- pretty much since day one.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In other news, I'm informed that the maenad has appeared in one PFS scenario -- something from Season 7. Does anyone know which one? How was it used?

Doug M.

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