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Douglas Muir 406's page

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber. 9,948 posts (10,450 including aliases). 5 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The whole Guide question probably deserves a thread of its own. I will note that Paizo does publish a lot of... trap options? Well, let's say, stuff that is clearly suboptimal in actual play. That's a thing.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dreikaiserbund wrote:
I suspect it will never be particularly optimal, but a Cleric (Elder Mythos Cultist) / Sorcerer (Aberrant, Impossible, or Ghoul Bloodline) / Mystic Theurge would be thematic as hell.

Oh, heck yes. A Bad Touch Cleric with a 10' reach? SAD everything on Cha, go Aberrant. Yeah, you have to wait until 8th level before you get your Theurge on, but you get oh, so many spells to play with. Even if weakish as a PC, you'd have an awesome NPC cult leader or something.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Idle thought: being Cha-based does open up some new possibilities for multiclassing. Dipping bard is still suboptimal, of course -- but it's thematic for a cleric of Azathoth, and does open up some nice synergies. If you're a bad touch cleric, dipping Mesmerist may hardly be suboptimal at all, if you're hitting people with a lot of save-or-suck Will saves.

Doug M.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I have to disagree about the racial Favored Class bonuses for humans and tieflings. +1/level against Spell Resistance is flat-out amazing. As a very general rule, outsiders have SR that's around your level +10, so that you have around a 50% chance of getting through. So once you hit +10, you can _pretty much ignore SR_. This is totally worth 10 hp or 10 skill ranks! Think of it this way -- you can get +1 hp/level from Toughness, but you'll only get +2 against SR from a feat (Spell Penetration). So this Favored Class bonus is like getting Spell Penetration over and over again every two rounds.

It's great for any cleric, but it's *even more* great for you. Evil outsiders are like your whole thing! You'll be probably be going against them even more than normal clerics. So anything that gives you an edge is solid gold.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

IIUC this is a failed port from earlier editions. (It used to be nastier.) There aren't a lot of these, but a few crept in.

In its current form, it would be a good solid 3rd level spell or a very weak 4th level spell. As a 5th level spell... yeah, no. It's thematic and cool, but mechanically it's just too pathetic to ever be worth the bother. Using the spell DC as the swarm save moves it from ridiculous to just very weak.

If you could move the swarms, now. But no, it's RAW that they're stationary. Which is annoying, because the darn things normally have a 40' Fly speed. And the swarms called by Summon Swarm -- 2nd level spell -- can move, albeit automatically and not under your control. And they also must be contiguous, which nerfs this even further. About the only thing to work with here is that it's long range, meaning you could cast it from so far away that nobody knows you're casting. But, meh, by the time you're throwing 5th level spells that's not usually much of an issue.

Quick comparison: Summon Swarm gives you a choice of three swarms, two of which are CR 2. So to be balanced, this should give you a swarm that's around CR 5. A naive analysis might say "well it gives three CR 3 swarms, that's at least CR 5". But if the swarms don't move, then no, it's not. It's like comparing three orcs standing immobile, so you never have to fight more than one at a time, to three orcs who can dogpile you.

Comparison #2: Summon Monster V lets you call stuff like the CR 5 bearded devil, the CR 6 babau or the CR 6 salamander -- mobile, intelligent melee brutes with a bunch of useful abilities and SLAs. (And you get to choose from a list.) There's pretty much no situation where you're going to prefer the wasp swarms to casting SM V.

TLDR, your initial assessment unfortunately correct.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Devilkiller wrote:
Having the devil report back to Hell definitely seems like a good idea. If the players find some other form of "scry and fry" to use it might not be hard to lure them into a trap or two. Maybe when they Teleport in to murder the boss they find that the boss in the bed is actually just a simulacrum/doppelganger/etc, but he's protected by a bunch of murderous bodyguards who hop out from behind curtains/pillars/secret panels. Alternately or in addition, perhaps the whole room is a trap, like a magic Roach Motel - PCs check in, but they don't check out...

I'd hesitate to do this unless (1) the boss is high level, or (2) s/he is already aware that invisible magical stalkers and/or Dimension Door-ing assassins are a thing. Personally, I would let the PCs have some successes with their "invisible flying scout + Dimension Door" tactics before hitting them with something like this. Behavior that's rewarded, tends to be repeated... until it isn't.

Also, I'm wondering how Dim Door got them in? They're, what, 7th or 8th level? Each casting of Dim Door lets you bring one medium creature / three levels along, so at 6th through 8th levels the wizard can bring himself and maximum two friends. Is it a small party?

Also, note that unless you're holding another 4th level slot in reserve, Dim Door might get you *out* again so easily. And even if you do have the slot, if things get unexpectedly lively, then casting may require a Concentration check.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Quote:

@Douglas, check this link: summoned creatures are not real.

The ruling is intentionally vague so you can easily adapt to your setting. In golarion summoned creatures are made of magic, conjured creatures are real.

I'm aware the James Jacobs has said so. But that's not /quite/ the same as an official ruling.

I'm actually fine with this being the rule. I'll usually accept a designer statement _faute de mieux_, and it's the version of the rule I go with in my Guide to Planar Binding and Guide to the Diabolist. That said, AFAIK Paizo has never quite clarified this. I had hoped they would in the Summoner's Guide -- you'd think, right? -- but, nope.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
shadowkras wrote:
A summoned accuser devil is not an actual, existing, accuser devil, but a construct of magic. So this accuser devil ceases to exist once the spell's duration is over.

IMS this was true in 3.0 / 3.5, but I'm not sure Pathfinder has a canonical ruling on this point. (Anyone?)

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It's a well designed feat. It makes dipping Spiritualist a lot more intriguing, and opens up a lot of interesting character concepts both thematically and mechanically. However, the four-level limit means it's not munchkin bait.

In this particular case, if you're going to take more than one more level of Bloodrager, you probably want the feat -- it'll be worth it.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Okay, so I've just been made aware of the new feats (from Paths of the Righteous) that return casting levels lost from taking a PrC. First there's Favored Prestige Class, which lets you treat one PrC as a favored class. That's obviously suboptimal -- you'd be better off taking toughness -- but not completely useless. Then there's Prestigious Caster, which has Favored Prestige Class as a prerequisite. This feat restores one lost level of casting! And you can take it multiple times to restore multiple levels.

This isn't amazing, but it does make the Blackfire Adept slightly less miserable. Burn these two feats and you're still pretty weak from sixth to eighth levels, but at ninth you start using Lesser Planar Binding to call 12 HD creatures.

One slight complication: since it already costs two feats to become a Blackfire Adept, if you want to enter this class immediately but not lose a level of casting at 6th level, then you'll have to play either a human (bonus feat) or a wizard (bonus magic feat at 5th). Otherwise you'll have to take your two prerequisite feats at 1st and 3rd levels, then Favored Prestige Class at 5th, and Prestigious Caster at 7th.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hey, Crimson Cadaver! Welcome to the wonderful world of guides. And you've done a good one, so congratulations! Here are a few comments.

-- Trivia: this class was formerly the Demonic Initiate back in 3.5.

-- Your demonic mark lets you recast any spell once/day, but this time with the chaos and evil descriptor. Note that there are a number of traits, feats and items that build on this. For instance, there's the Maleficium feat chain from Champions of Corruption:

Quote:

Maleficium (Damnation)

You are a master of dark magic.

Benefit: You cast spells with the evil descriptor with increased potency.

One Damnation Feat: Add 1 to the DCs of all saving throws against spells with the evil descriptor that you cast.

Two Damnation Feats: When you apply a metamagic feat to a spell with the evil descriptor, that spell takes up a spell slot 1 level lower than normal (to a minimum of 1 level above the spell’s actual level).

Three Damnation Feats: Add 1 to the DCs of all saving throws against spells with the evil descriptor that you cast. This bonus stacks with the earlier benefits of this feat.

Four Damnation Feats: Treat your caster level as being 2 higher for all level-dependent effects of spells with the evil descriptor that you cast.

There's also the Dark Magic Affinity trait (tieflings only, +1 ECL on evil spells), the Orb of Foul Abaddon (same), and so forth.

-- So the succubus and the babaus.

Digression -- short rant about PrC design:
Paizo had this annoying thing they did with most of their early PrCs: at level X of the PrC, they would give you a fixed ability (like summoning a particular creature) that would not scale with level. This was doubly annoying because (1) it forced characters towards a rigid "you MUST enter this PrC as soon as possible or you won't get the full benefits" build, and (2) the ability would usually become useless after a couple of levels. To add insult to injury, a few years back one of the Paizo designers stood up at a con and delivered a talk where he used this as one of the justifications for PrCs being a bad/outdated feature of the game. No, dude -- that doesn't mean PrCs are bad design concept, it means you're bad at designing PrCs. Paizo has gotten somewhat better at this, but there's still an ambivalence about PrCs in the design team, and this annoying non-scaling class ability thing still pops up all too often.

Anyway! Don't mind me. The succubus and the babaus, right. A thing that's unclear is whether you can use metamagic (specifically, Extend Spell) on these. That's relevant because succubi and babaus both get better if they can hang around longer. Babaus are scouts and assassins. Succubi are spies and manipulators. If you only have 12 rounds or whatever, that's not a lot of time for them to work. Still, the babaus do make fine flank buddies, even at high levels, and the succubus' ability to fly plus her suite of high-DC SLAs will keep her useful for a while. If you're going to be doing a lot of summoning, consider Academae Graduate or the Sacred Summons feat. (SS is normally kinda useless, but it'll work with your demons. Acadamae Graduate can leave you fatigued until you're able to acquire a Cord of Stubborn Resolve.)

-- So Energumen. This encourages save-or-suck spell builds, and also investing in Spell Penetration (because nothing is more annoying than throwing a great SOS with a high DC and then watching it bounce off SR). It also has other uses, including a barbarian-like temporary boost to Str in melee, temporary hit points (bump your Con as a free action) and emergency AC bonus.

The big negative is the Confusion effect. DC 25 is pretty brutal even for classes with strong Will. Annoyingly, the Demoniac class itself emphasizes Fort and has a weak Will save. Well, okay: your base class is going to be strong Will, meaning that at 7th level you'll have +5 and another +2 for Iron Will plus probably a cloak of resistance or something. If you're not a Wis-based caster, keep your Will at minimum 12 anyway (it's just good to have good Will and Perception), so you'll start at +8 to +10. Seriously consider throwing a feat at Improved Iron Will -- it's a decent feat anyway and this really improves your chances of making the save. Invest in Wis- and save-boosting items. Note that it's never a bad thing to have one PC in the party who has a sky-high Will save -- when everyone else is following the siren's song off a cliff or whatever, it's good to have one guy who resists the enchantment and sees through the illusion. Even if that one guy is a chaotic evil maniac sworn to the service of the Abyss.

Anyway: yeah, a wand of Protection from Evil is an important early investment. Give it to another party member who can use it, and have them zap you on the initiative after Energumen wears off. (Doing it yourself is less good, because it means you lose the last round of Energumen.) If you don't trust your fellow PCs -- and, um, if they're chaotic evil too, then maybe not -- consider investing in an improved familiar or Leadership. Worst case scenario, I believe there's a trait somewhere that gives you +10 on your d100 Confusion roll.

-- Note that this is a somewhat feat-hungry PrC. You need Demoniac Obedience and Iron Will to enter, then you really should take Favored Prestige Class and Prestigious Caster. Add any one of Improved Iron Will or Leadership or Spell Penetration and bam, that's your first five feat slots gone. Not necessarily a bad thing, but players who love fiddling with elaborate feat chains should be warned off. If you're going for the Maleficium damnation feat chain, start as early as you can.

-- Just for fun, here's a demoniac NPC from an old campaign of mine. Good times, Father Joe. Good times.

Anyway, a fine Guide. Congratulations on the good work!

cheers,

Doug M.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Heretic_CrossbowmaN wrote:
Oh, and here is another question! How can contract devil go onto Material Plane to contact party?

Contract devils have Plane Shift plus Greater Teleport as SLAs. In fact, this devil has a lot of SLAs that are designed to help it find people. Behind the scenes, it can work like this:

-- Contract devil gets a notice from Hell's bureaucracy that someone is abusing the Summon Accuser Devil spell in [location of PC]. The notice includes whatever the accuser devil knows about the PC, which presumably would include a name and basic description.

-- Devil plane-shifts to Golarion (or wherever), then use its Locate Creature SLA to get the PC's precise location. Then it uses Teleport to move close to PC.

-- Devil can now use Arcane Eye to spy on PC, or Vision to get information about PC's needs, desires, and vulnerabilities. If you really want to twist the knife, have the devil bring an accuser devil along with it -- this bends the rules slightly, but you could IMO justify it, and now the contract devil has a little invisible flying scout. This is not strictly necessary, but you want to see the look on the player's face when the accuser devil that it's been summoning materializes on the contract devil's shoulder, or crawls into its lap to be petted like a cat...

-- When the devil is ready, it uses its at-will dimension door, i.e. to PC's room a few moments before PC walks in.

-- Once negotiations begin, don't forget the contract devil has Detect Thoughts at will and +26 Sense Motive (but is itself completely immune to enchantments, suggestions, and all other mind-affecting effects).

-- If the PCs attack, remember this is a CR 10 creature with a lot of useful SLAs, including a 50% chance to summon a bone devil. In fact, if the PCs seem likely to challenge the accuser, it might use its summons ability in advance, and then have the bone devil lurking invisibly nearby -- bone devils have good Stealth and quickened invisibility as a SLA. Alternately, it could use the bone devil as part of a "good cop, bad cop" act -- bone devils are vicious torturers and inquisitors, after all. If negotiations go very badly, the devil can just shrug, drop a delayed blast fireball (13d6 damage, DC 23 save, and the devil itself is immune to fire) or a bestow curse, and teleport away.

Some of the Paizo fiends are kind of goofy, but the contract devil is actually pretty well designed -- its SLAs work neatly with its game function. Also, they have Int 24 and Wis 23, so you're justified in playing them as smug know-it-all bastards who always have a backup plan. They're a lot of fun IMO. Good luck!

cheers,

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

1) Pets are a good, cheap, "low-tech" way to protect against invisible creatures. However, anything with the Scent ability will work just as well. Give your kidnap victims a couple of wererat bodyguards: voila. Or several large, vicious dogs. The devil can fly above them but they'll go crazy with barking and howling, possibly scaring it off.

2) Invisible or not, Little Buzzy has no way to get through a locked door.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Agree on Erylium: she's not super deadly, but she is annoying and non-fun.

WRT Strange Aeons, nothing is perfect and most APs require at least a bit of work, even if it's just to adapt it to your particular party. I think the first module is overall really good, so I'm willing to invest a little time.

Also, note that the Tatterman as written is not *that* tough. The main problem with him is his Frightful Presence, which can eliminate some party members in Round One. If you can get past that -- and paladins, fighters with Bravery, and high-Will save types like clerics should have a good chance -- then he's not actually that deadly a boss. He's a CR 5 monster with mediocre AC and not that many hp. He doesn't even get surprise -- you have a d4 of rounds to prepare for him once Zandalus falls. Against four well-played third level PCs, he should go down pretty fast. Even if you lose one PC, it's still a fair fight as long as you have either a heavy melee hitter (smiting paladin or raging barbarian) or have picked up on the silver weapon thing.

If you want to make an adjustment, here's a quick-and-dirty idea that Spastic Puma came up with back in November: if you fail the Frightful Presence save, then instead of panicking you're forced into the Dreamlands for 10 rounds. You can return to the combat sooner, but in order to do that, you must either solve a riddle or puzzle (could be an actual riddle or a couple of skill checks) presented by a dream creature -- a hookah-smoking caterpillar or whatever -- or, you must defeat something. For an individual 3rd level PC, a CR 2 encounter would be about right here; for two 3rd level PCs, CR 4. That way, the players have something to do besides sitting around while their character runs away for ten rounds.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Oh, and also this:

Quote:
When you use a summoning spell to summon a creature with an alignment or elemental subtype, it is a spell of that type.

So this is an evil spell. Which makes sense, right? It's bringing creatures of pure evil to the mortal plane. Nonevil PCs will of course try to use ends-justify-means arguments ("we needed the devil's help to save the orphanage!") but in this case you have RAW on your side: it's an evil spell, full stop.

Now if the PC is evil, no big deal -- though it's all the more reason for Hell to take an interest. To, you know, cultivate this promising young person. But if the PC is nonevil, then they're putting themselves in peril. Point out that they're repeatedly casting a spell with the evil descriptor. If it doesn't make them thoughtful (or if, as is more likely, they start going into save-the-orphanage contortions about how this isn't really so bad), shrug and don't argue it... but start thinking about how Hell is going to respond to someone who's not even properly evil daring to play with Hell's toys.

cheers,

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Kaladin_Stormblessed wrote:
BUT, there's no reason they'd generally be bound to confidentiality, for example, and I'd absolutely assume that as soon as the spell ends and they go back home to Hell, they're reporting everything to superior devils, too. And how they use that information is a lot more up to you.

This.

The accuser will certainly be reporting to someone higher up in Hell's hierarchy. Exactly who or what is up to you, but you're totally justified in having Hell take an interest in the PC's activities. The gentlest thing you could do would be to have a Contract Devil appear in the PC's quarters one evening, politely offering to open a negotiation. (And as it sits down, the accuser devil appears, buzzing happily, and settles on its shoulder...) The intervention could of course be a lot less gentle than that. Note that Hell has plenty of agents on the mortal plane -- diabolists, followers of the church of Asmodeus and cultists of the other top devils, pretty much the entire nation of Cheliax. So there are lots of things you could throw at the PC.

Quote:
Also - it's 10 minutes per level. For, say, a level 7 character... that's still barely more than an hour. Which means they have to be close enough to wherever the target is that the accuser can get there in time, AND they're still only getting that much time per casting.

Third on No Teleportation.

That said, yeah, the accuser devil is still a pretty powerful scout and spy. But note that it's a devil, and pretty cunning -- Int 9 but Wis 15. So unless the PC is giving it very careful instructions, it's perfectly capable of giving skewed or incomplete information, or doing stuff like going off mission and talking to NPCs. If the PC is being vague -- like, "scout ahead and tell us what's in the dungeon" -- you're perfectly justified in having the accuser tell the PCs about some traps or monsters but not others, or having it warn some monsters to run away, or whatever.

Mind, you shouldn't do this sort of thing randomly just to screw the PCs and/or nerf the spell. Roleplay the devil. It's an intelligent, lawful evil creature; it's bound to obey the PC, but it serves Hell's interests, not his. In an ordinary dungeon crawl it might serve more or less faithfully. But if you're playing through (let's say) Curse of the Crimson Throne, it might decide that it prefers the Lawful Evil ruler of the city to the PCs, and act accordingly.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
'Sani wrote:
I am massively confused by people saying Strange Aeons is just a dungeon crawl.

My bad. I should have said, the *first* module in that AP is a big dungeon crawl. After that, yeah, it mixes things up a lot and there are a lot more NPCs and interaction. Point.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

What Tony said. He needs mooks. He's a half-fiend, so some lesser demons would be thematically appropriate, but minor undead work too (and stack with his desecrate power and death-variant channelling).

Paladin vs. anti-paladin is tricky, because they can smite each other, which can make even mid-level melee combat kinda rocket tag-y. You've given him Power Attack, which is reasonable but makes the rocket tag even worse -- when smiting, he's hitting for d10+16, which means that against most of your PCs he needs either two hits or one crit to drop them.

He can fly, which helps. Work out ways to use that.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It would IMO be totally legit to have the Tatterman toy with the PCs like a cat with mice. Suboptimal, yes, but legitimate. He enjoys instilling fear just as much as he does killing.

I agree that his fear aura means that it's possible for half the party to fail their saves, leaving the others in a very sticky situation. If you like, you could replace this with some weird/creepy terrain effects -- undulating surfaces, time slowing down (maybe instead of fleeing, PCs get hit with a Slow spell), bizarre sensory effects, you name it. That's the good thing about being on the borders of the Dreamlands: you really have carte blanche to get weird and creative.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yeah, Emerald Spire is just a mega-dungeon without a lot of roleplaying. If that's really what you're after, bam -- there you go.

If you want to stick with an AP...

1) Giantslayer is pretty solid hack-and-slash. There are some problems with the first module (assassin encounter, waves of orcs) but most of these can be solved by appropriate character design. No subsystems, pretty simple. In fact, the biggest complaint about Giantslayer is that it's TOO straightforward and "old school". So, could be a good fit for you!

2) Strange Aeons is basically one big dungeon crawl but fair warning: it's a horror-themed module and a Lovecraft-themed AP. As noted, you wake up with no memories (and locked up in the basement of an insane asylum gone bad), so if your players want to develop RPing, they can do so organically. I think this could either work amazingly well for your group or not at all. No subsystems.

3) Carrion Crown, same same: it's the other horror-themed AP, and most of the first module is a dungeon. That module has some roleplaying but it can easily be skipped without affecting play much. (It's MAW that almost everyone in town is suspicious of strangers and disinclined to talk, so just run with that.) No subsystem except for the Trust Point mechanic in volume 1, which the designers acknowledge is broken, which works behind the scenes anyway, and which can and should be ignored. I guess Trial of the Beast and the werewolf one have some roleplaying. The werewolf one has a game of Werewolf with actual werewolves, which is cute.

4) I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Serpent's Skull. Yes, it gets super grindy in the back half. But that might be good here! Also, it starts with the PCs shipwrecked on a tropical island that has every tropical island trope in the book, from pterodactyls to diseases to a cannibal tribe. Very little roleplaying in the first book, because you don't meet a lot of NPCs and most of the ones you do meet are evil and trying to kill you. Also, while it's sandboxy like Kingmaker it's *not* lather-rinse-repeat. You wander around the island picking up plot tokens and hooks, but you have a plot thread pulling you along (find the SOB who got you marooned) and stuff happens that has consequences. Book two is a race across wilderness to a lost city, very Indiana Jones. Again, not much roleplaying. Best of all, the first module is unusually standalone -- you're just trying to get off that darn island. So if it's not working for your players, then at the end of part one you can switch to something else altogether.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

An exciter spiritualist should indeed stack with Fractured Mind, which seems like a bit of an oversight. If a Mesmerist dips one level of this and then throws a feat at Phantom Ally, he gets a scout / meat shield / flank buddy that'll be useful for many levels, plus the ability to surge his spell DCs. I wouldn't call this OP -- you're giving up a level of casting and a feat, and after a few levels the phantom becomes less useful -- but for a while, it's pretty amazing; you stack this with your Stare and watch foes try to make their Will saves at (effectively) -4 or -5.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Awesome.

Suggestion: blow the ten bucks on MinionQuest, and play it as a palate-cleanser between Part Two and Part Three.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Well, since we're in necro mode, I will respond to this two year old post!

FatR wrote:


WotW has its problems.

Yes it does. I was editor for the last four volumes -- I think I'm credited on 3 through 6 IMS -- and Gary McBride and I went over some of these exact issues. On most he talked me around, with one or two notable exceptions.

Quote:
It is places more demands on players. You cannot run it for a party that expects to be railroaded, you cannot run it for a party with murderhobo tendencies, and it has a very specific premise that requires player buy-in or else it doesn't work (PCs must lack conscience or be driven by revenge, but remain reasonably loyal to each other, and willing to work for a boss who doesn't take "no" for an answer until it is the plot time to get their Sith promotion).

I would argue that most of these are features, not bugs. In an evil campaign, you need buffers against PvP, and then more buffers against players just going random LOOK AT ME I AM EVIL murderhobo. (Not all players want to do that, of course, but IME it only takes one.) I've run WotW three times, twice FtF and once PbP, and I think the setup makes a lot of sense. Designing an evil campaign is harder than it looks!

Quote:
At some points it is possible to pretty much fail the whole plot without dying. The end of the first adventure comes to mind.

Fail, and under the AP as written the Cardinal hunts you down and kills you horribly. In WotW, you're on notice from first level on: Failure Is Death. Personally I like the raw, brutal do-or-die atmosphere this adds. It feels different from the usual "well, we failed... I guess someone else will have to save the village from the goblins... or even if they don't, meh, one village." Normally you don't get players really worried about the consequence of failure until they're 15th level and confronting the Runelord or the core of the Worldwound or whatever.

Quote:
Extensive adaptations for specific player groups are needed more in WotW more than usual.

True; fair point.

Quote:
And it still disregards certain basic properties of DnD. Like, a part of Part 3's premise doesn't seem to take into account that most of the angels that the targer of your attack is filled with can bloody teleport, therefore hunting for runaways and stragglers is entirely pointless and the enemy relief force should invariably be expected as soon as the road is physically passable.

This is one of the exceptions I mentioned above. I went back and forth with Gary on this. He did add a number of justifications for why particular angels wouldn't just blink away, but in the end I wasn't really convinced, and clearly I'm not alone.

That said, I won't criticize him too hard for failing to solve a problem that's hardwired into the system. There kinda had to be at least one angel-themed module in the AP. I mean, if you're capital-E Evil, you're going to have to go up against angels at some point. He wisely chose to get most of the angel stuff out of the way as early as possible in the AP. But since almost every angel with more than 6 HD has teleport (and so do most non-angel good outsiders), he was really fighting the system here.

Quote:
Early parts also retroactively get a bit silly after you see what all the overleveled enemies from the later parts, this is perhaps more grievous than usual in WotW than in most adventure paths, which often feature the endgame baddies only just making their reappearance in the world after long dormancy or whatever.

This came up, but note that the PCs aren't on anyone's radar until, at the earliest, Book Three. And you can come up with plausible reasons why any single BBGG is staying out of action -- the copper dragon is having fun with planar travel and his wives, the princess is a semi-recluse, and so forth. Whether it's plausible that they *all* are is a separate question, but I think Gary made the good faith effort.

Quote:
I'd hesitate to call WotW the best adventure path ever.

Obviously I am biased here! That said, a couple of points.

1) Do keep in mind that Gary was writing the first evil AP ever. And he didn't have a whole development team behind him... he wrote all seven adventures almost entirely by himself. (Jason Buhlman gets co-credit on a couple of the modules, but IMS Jason was mostly writing backmatter, not adventure.) He had to work a lot of this stuff out for himself, from scratch. I think on the whole he really excelled, but it was no small task. The game allows an evil campaign, yes, but really isn't set up to make writing one easy. I had a close-up view of how the sausage was made.

Say what you like about Gary's actions / inaction in the last couple of years, but he sweated blood over WotW, and I can't really think of anyone who would have done a better job on WotW.

2) Deciding who's "best" is a mug's game. But I think you can make a strong case for WotW as the single most ambitious AP to date. Not only is it an evil path, but it

Spoiler:

-- has the PCs running a "reverse dungeon" for most of a module
-- not only lets PCs become vampires or liches, but positively encourages it
-- ends with the PCs as Evil Overlords, and lets them indulge themselves in sandbox mode running a kingdom for an entire module; and,
-- adds a seventh bonus module, MinionQuest, which is very well done and funny as hell.

Is it perfect? No. Is it for everyone? Surely not. But it's crazy damn ambitious, and I think it succeeds really well. Again, I had a hand in it, so I'm not a neutral observer, but... yeah, I think it's pretty good.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Shackled City does include one of my personal all-time favorite adventures from Dungeon Magazine: Test of the Smoking Eye. That one is nuts, in a good way. Without spoilers... (1) it takes you to a place you wouldn't normally visit at this point in your career; (2) it makes that place really atmospheric and interesting; and (3) it can take the campaign in a really interesting direction (albeit one that may require a bit of work on the part of the DM and/or players).

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Thomas Seitz wrote:
So let it be written, so let it be done. Daigle is sent by the Chosen One.

or he's one of the MASKS OF NYARLATHOTEP!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Bump?

I can't be the only person who's contemplated this?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

True, fair enough.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
I do kinda wonder what they should do about Second Darkness though if they were to update it. Would they focus more on the path set by first two books or the latter four? Or would they split the ap into two different ones? Would they just rewrite the entire thing? Or would they just rewrite the middle books to make it less bait and switch?

Spoilers for Second Darkness:

There's general agreement on what's wrong with SD.

1) Do something to fix the weird right-angle turn between "urban adventure where you're running a casino" and "you're in the underdark saving the world from the drow". Some groups adjust to this smoothly but many report a sense of whiplash. This is worsened by the Player's Guide, which encourages you to roll up a bunch of sketchy urban rascals, not spelunking drow-fighters.

2) The elves are treacherous and, worse, annoying. There are multiple posts in the Second Darkness forum with people saying stuff like "and then the elves screwed us over and we said, forget this, we're going home. And that was the end of this AP." This is consistent with the survey I linked to above, which shows a very high number of groups quitting the AP because of "loss of interest". Fix the elves.

3) Completely rewrite Book Five, more or less from scratch. At this point someone will pop up and say "but I *loved* Book Five" because that always happens. Dude, I am sorry, but: you are in a minority. Most people find Book Five a hot mess at best, a disaster at worst. And based on the forums, probably a plurality would call it the single worst AP module ever.

So, totally fixable. But it would be a fair amount of work.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Would there ever be a reason to do this?

The drawbacks are obvious: you're combining two 3/4 BAB partial-spellcasting classes, which means you're going to gank both combat and casting. On the other hand, there are some synergies. For instance, a 3rd level Mesmerist / 7th level Spiritualist with the Nightmare Stare and a Fear phantom = a lot of foes running away in terror; the phantom's slam attack plus the stare forces the target to save twice at -2, taking the worse save, or be shaken, and then do it again immediately or be frightened and flee. That's pretty sweet. Or: dipping a single level of Spiritualist gives a Mesmerist a +4 Shield bonus to AC, two Skill focuses, and one or two cool special abilities i.e. a Dutiful phantom also gives you Iron Will. Even a first level phantom is useful through midlevels as a scout and ectoplasmic meat shield.

Given the number of different phantoms, stares, and archetypes, there should be lots of interesting possibilities here, even if the overall package ends up being somewhat underpowered.

Has anyone played around with this?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Here's Vic's most recent, from November 2016:

Quote:
Just as Runelords was when we compiled it, Crimson Throne is now almost sold out in its original form (as of our last low inventory blog in November, the first three volumes were completely sold out, volumes 4 and 5 were under 1000 copies, and volume 6 was under 500), and it benefits from being updated to the current ruleset. While a couple other APs meet one or the other of those, there are no other APs that meet both.

So there's no AP that's both 3.5 and sold well. That means their options are (1) Never do another AP collection -- possible; or (2) Do one that's PFRPG, but that has sold well and that promises to sell well -- possible; or (3) do either Second Darkness or Legacy of Fire, because those are the two remaining 3.5 APs.

Second Darkness can't be considered a promising candidate for collection and republication. It's one of the weakest selling of the first dozen APs, so they still have a pile of unsold modules in the warehouse. Also, it consistently scores low on surveys of which APs were most popular / well liked. Here's a link to the most recent survey I'm aware of. As you can see, Second Darkness scores the lowest of the first dozen APs in terms of things like "how did you rate the roleplaying/combats/plot" and "how likely would you be to recommend this AP to someone".

Furthermore, the Paizo staff themselves acknowledge that Second Darkness is seriously flawed. It was early days, and they were still figuring things out. (They've also acknowledged serious design flaws in a couple of other APs, most notably Serpent's Skull, so this isn't to pick on poor Second Darkness.) This is not to say it's horrible. There are things to like in that AP. If the stars were right, and my players were looking for something Underdarky, I might run it someday. (There's a definite shortage of proper Underdark stuff in the current set of APs.) But from a business POV, Second Darkness is pretty clearly the least promising candidate of the early APs.

So what does that leave? Either they don't do another collection at all (in which case all this is moot) or they do one that's already PFRPG, or they do Legacy of Fire. Well, Legacy doesn't fall as flat as Second Darkness. AFAWCT it's a respectable midlister, with decent survey scores and pretty good sales. However, if you set it against the other eight APs from that first dozen, there are several that have pretty clearly outranked and outsold it. And of those, the top performer seems to be Kingmaker.

So, if they're going to do another one, then we'd reasonably expect it either to be Legacy (because 3.5) or Kingmaker (because AFAWCT it's the most popular and best selling of the first group of Pathfinder-rules APs). I think business logic would strongly suggest Kingmaker. Also, although Kingmaker is PFRPG, it could certainly benefit from what Vic calls "reinvention". While it's a very popular AP, there's room for improvement; there are (as many people have pointed out) holes in the plot, and the kingdom-building rules have a couple of loopholes that are very exploitable. And of course, adding later rulesets (thinking Ultimate Intrigue here, but there are several other that could apply) means that reinvention is possible for pretty much everything.

YMMV, but that's my reasoning: expect nothing for at least a couple of years, then either more nothing or Kingmaker.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Well, that makes sense. When you get to the 5th and 6th volumes of an adventure, the enemy stat blocks start getting pretty long. So, being able to refer to the module's Bestiary could save a page or two of space.

Three words: Anomalocaris... in... spaaaaaaace.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Er... why would it not qualify?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Same. Scroll down a bit, or use the search function.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It's a huge amount of work for them, and they have Starfinder coming out now.

I doubt they've even decided whether to do another one. If they do, my money would be on Kingmaker. By all accounts it's the next most popular of the first dozen or so adventure paths. But who knows? Anyway, I wouldn't expect this until at least 2019, more likely 2020 (if ever).

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Wannabe Demon Lord wrote:
What are a Kudimmu and a Shrike Worm?

The Kudimmu:
The kudimmu is a large CR 16 plant, a giant evil tree-thing with interesting undead-related powers. It's loosely inspired by Mesopotamian legend. It's used as an encounter in the module, but would actually make a pretty interesting and unusual boss foe for a group of 12th-13th level PCs.

The Shrike Worm:
Large CR 15 aberrations, the shrike worms are based on the Cambrian creature Hallucigenia, only big and evil. They have a suite of illusion and hallucination related powers, and also will impale you on their back spikes.

I'm less enthusiastic about these guys, if only because I wanted Hallucigenia to evolve into a race of gentle, brilliant poets and philosophers. Surely Anomalocaris is all the Cambrian monster you could ever want!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Here's a multi-blast evoker Admixture wizard using the alchemical reagent rules. There are some options for an evil caster here -- cyphermage / diabolist actually works pretty well. Only goes up to Level 10, but I think you can proceed from there.

Blaster wizard with Alchemical Reagents

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

groooaaan crossblooded orc/dragon sorceror groooaan. Yes, it's RAW-legal. It's also so, so cheesy.

A souldrinker blaster with Merciful Spell, on the other hand, just made me sit up and take notice. That's clever!

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I invented Jarvis way back in 2012. His name was Pilkington then. If you want to stat him out, he's a Wiz 3 (Diviner) / Exp 10. ("I studied wizardry for a time in my youth, before I discovered the beauty and power of accounting.") The wizard levels don't have much effect on anything -- Pilkington is firmly a non-combatant, and any spells he has will be utilities or divinations. However, the levels do inoculate him against being charmed or mind-read by some clever-clever PC: he now has a very respectable Will save plus some Spellcraft to know what a PC is up to. By the time a PC is high enough level to work around this, they'll probably have other concerns.

My backstory was, he's a Lawful Neutral type who was a rising star in the government bureaucracy of Talingarde. Then, during a famine, he ordered the grain stores kept closed because the King was overseas on a diplomatic mission and couldn't be contacted. This was technically the correct decision according to the rules, but dozens of people died in the ensuing Grain Riots, and he was cashiered in disgrace.

What becomes of him: he's a super useful servant, so the Cardinal will indeed find a way to keep him alive. I like Kevin's vest idea. Once the PCs take over, of course, Pilkington will promptly switch sides and serve them loyally. He doesn't care who runs Talingarde, as long as there are RULES and they are FOLLOWED.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If it's PBP, don't draw out the starting dream too long -- it doesn't work so well in the e-mail format.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
avr wrote:
I wonder how many perception checks you'd get to recognise that someone was casting a spell over 10 minutes? Would people around effectively be able to take 20 on those checks?

Under RAW, no. It's a single Bluff vs. Perception, no matter how long the casting takes. And yes, I agree, that gets kind of weird when we're talking about ten minute casting times, but that's RAW.

Note that combining this with the "pick your target on the final round" rule makes it way more powerful. You stroll around the party for ten minutes murmuring to yourself, and then in the last 15 seconds you walk across the room to where the Prince is standing...

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
quibblemuch wrote:
I usually have the evil imagination to think of every possible abuse. This seems like a major over-investment in a very situationally specific ability...

I would disagree. Bluff is useful to everyone, always. And Cunning Caster is a good-to-excellent feat that has proven quite popular; judging from these boards, it's being used regularly by both players and GMs. Being able to disguise the fact that you're casting something is really solid. CC goes particularly well with illusion and enchantment specialists, and of course it's better for Cha-based casters, but it's a worthwhile feat for pretty much everyone.

Quote:
...a wizard is going to specialize in bluffing for 11 levels, spend two of their precious limited feats, blow a trait (or two) and 11 skill points, so they can find someone with a low Perception

Throwing one of your seven or eight ranks/level at Bluff is not exactly "specializing in Bluffing". And, really, what else are you going to throw skill ranks at? Once you've maxed out Spellcraft, Arcana, and maybe Perception, most wizards just spray skills at Knowledges. Throwing two feats is about the only thing that matters here. And while that's no small thing, neither is being able to cast, right out in the open, without anyone realizing you're casting. That's just huge.

Someone with a low Perception: no, anyone with a perception under +15 or so is vulnerable to this. (That's at 11th level. It'll get much worse as you level up.) That's pretty much everyone except the occasional rare Perception monkey. Said occasional monkey may roll well and notice that you're casting, but then they probably won't have Spellcraft and so won't have any idea what you're actually trying to do.

Quote:
check who will stand still and be talked at for 10 minutes straight so they can make them do stuff or waste away--and this person will somehow be worth the effort?

In an urban or social campaign? Hell yes. Try playing through CotCT or Hell's Rebels or Hell's Vengeance with this. You'll be able to geas pretty much every NPC in the last couple of modules. "Get someone to chat with you for ten minutes" is not a very high bar.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Matthew Downie wrote:
Also, it refers to 'penalties' to stats, not attribute damage, so wands of lesser restoration wouldn't help.

From the PFSRD:

The PFSRD wrote:

Ability Score Penalties

Some spells and abilities cause you to take an ability penalty for a limited amount of time. While in effect, these penalties function just like ability damage, but they cannot cause you to fall unconscious or die. In essence, penalties cannot decrease your ability score to less than 1.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yeah, they have to be awake.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Geas + Cunning Caster = cheese.

Geas is pretty OP to begin with, if not outright broken. It's a sixth level curse / compulsion that can make a target do or abstain from doing almost anything. It has no HD limit, no expensive components, and ***no saving throw***. Depending on how tightly you interpret it (it's vaguely written and not in the FAQ), it's either kinda OP or potentially game-breaking.

The only thing that limits it is its casting time: 10 minutes. (Okay, its casting time and the fact that it's language-dependent. At 11th level or higher that's unlikely to be a serious problem.) This prevents it from being a combat spell, and mostly restricts it to situations where the target is a captive or otherwise unable to flee.

But! Cunning Caster lets you get around that.

Now, CC is one of my favorite feats -- it's useful, plugs an important hole in the game system, and is mostly balanced. But in this case, it combines with a bad spell to make it even worse. The Bluff penalty on Geas is a feeble -4 (verbal only), or at most -8 (if the geas will cause an immediate and obvious effect on the target). An 11th level wizard who has thrown a trait at Bluff will get (+1 trait +4 Deceitful +3 class +11 ranks) +19, and that's before adding Cha bonuses, items, or buffs. With a very modest investment in spells and items, the wizard should have no trouble getting his Bluff up around +25 or so. Unless the target is a high-level Perception monkey, the wizard's casting is very unlikely to be detected.

So, ten minutes of casual conversation --> NPC is zapped with a geas. And since geases do not allow saving throws, cost nothing, and last days/level, you can spam them until pretty much everyone in town with a Perception under +10 is walking around doing your bidding without anyone ever having any clear idea just what happened.

I think this can be easily house-ruled away by saying that Cunning Caster only applies to spells with a casting time of less than 1 minute. I mean, it's not going to apply to Planar Binding, right? Ten minutes of chanting, weird circles drawn on the ground, knife raised over the sacrifice... "Oh, it's this cool new party game" no I don't think so. But: that would be a house rule. Under strict RAW, there's no time limit, so you can apply CC to any spell. And that means that with a very little bit of effort, you can geas people all day long.

Am I missing something?

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Thelemic_Noun wrote:
Actually, I'm wondering why people even bother negotiating with outsiders at all when you can simply cast geas/quest on them. There is no save, and since they are going to be stuck in the circle for a while, the 10-minute casting time is not a problem. If you fail to penetrate their spell resistance, just try again.

1) There's nothing to stop the creature from teleporting or plane shifting away and finding a suitably powerful caster with Remove Curse. Yes, it'll have to pay that caster, or owe it a favor, but that's probably preferable to being compelled by you.

2) There's also nothing to stop the creature from teleporting etc. to the nearest Magic Shoppe and picking up a couple of wands of lesser restoration. At 4500 gp each they're not cheap, but they'll fend off the effects of the geas until its duration expires.

3) If it comes to that, there's nothing to stop the creature from teleporting etc. to a safe quiet place and then just gritting its teeth and eating the ability score damage. -12 to all stats is pretty brutal, but the damage can't reduce its stats below 1 or kill it, and the spell only lasts day/level, and after the end of that period it will heal the damage normally. For an immortal outsider that's probably the equivalent of a couple of work days lost to a really nasty flu.

Now, here we may go down the still-unresolved rabbit hole of whether a creature under a geas MAY choose to refuse and eat the ability score damage, or whether it MUST try to comply, only taking the damage if it is prevented from compliance. AFAIK this has never been FAQed or otherwise resolved. Someone asked James Jacobs and he replied, "Perhaps". So it's a more or less official area of doubt and uncertainty!

Speaking for myself, I think geas is pretty OP to begin with. Yes, it has a ten minute casting time, which means it's not a combat spell. But extremely powerful effects + no hit dice limit + no component costs or other limiting factors + ***no saving throw*** = cheese with a side order of extra cheese, IMO. So in the absence of an official ruling, I think the course of wisdom would be to go with the interpretation that makes this spell slightly less fromage-tastic.

Quote:
Sure, it wouldn't necessarily prevent them from murdering you, but you can also put in a backup geas saying "You will not intentionally harm me or [list of allies] until [task] is complete" and "You will report to me, then depart to your home plane when [task] is complete."

It's an open question whether you can lay multiple geases on a single target. The RAW doesn't seem to forbid it, but at high levels it can lead to pretty absurd results, and then of course there's the contradicting-geases problem: I geas you to save the princess, and then geas you a second time to absolutely refrain from saving the princess! Bam, no matter what you do you're going to end up with -12 on all your stats, no save. Even for a sixth level spell that seems a bit much. Again, there's no formal ruling on this AFAIK. I'd say that brings us to the "when in doubt, don't make the cheese cheesier" principle cited above.

Still, let's say okay, sure, you can multi-geas. You'll want to lay at least three geases -- don't hurt me or my friends (gotta do that one first), do this task, and then report-and-depart. That's three slots burned and three rolls to overcome SR, so success at one go is by no means assured. Remember that a called creature gets a chance to break loose from your circle once/day, and has a flat minimum 5% chance of success. So, unless you have Fast Study or are willing to burn a bunch of scrolls, you're running a small but real risk of it busting loose and ruining all your careful preparation.

How this plays out becomes a minigame depending on the intelligence, temperament and resources of the called creature. If you're 15th level and you're calling up a couple of barbed devils to keep an eye on your penthouse while you're out of town I'd say, sure, go for it. If you're calling something right around your own CR? I can think of three or four different ways to make this potentially problematic for a PC (and I'm sure you can too).

Doug M.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Thelemic_Noun wrote:

I also find it weird that a good-aligned arcane caster that wants long-term aid from an angel has to yank them from the Upper Planes against their will and trap them in a circle smaller than your average solitary confinement cell to do so.

"Haziel the Unbowed, will you protect Lanna's orphanage from the depredations of Belphegor's infernal legions?"
"Yes, I shall. But only because I choose to. You colossal ass."

Heh.

But yeah, good-aligned casters summoning angels is an odd case. You can argue that a good-aligned caster shouldn't do that, because (1) compelling creatures to serve against their will is pretty close to slavery, (2) it's even worse when you're compelling an *angel*, for goodness' sake, and (3) there's a perfectly good spell (Planar Ally) whereby you pay the angel to serve, no compulsion required.

But if you want to game it out, then (1) Planar Ally is only available to clerics, and hey -- only rich people are allowed to ask the Higher Heavens to help them? and (2) arguably it's cool if you're calling a creature that's on the opposite corner from you on the law-chaos axis. I mean, you're a lawful good caster? Get that azata to stop fluttering around babbling about poetry and do something useful for a change. You're CG? Hey, that uptight archon needs to be pulled out of its comfort zone.

And, as always, repeated use (and abuse) of this spell is likely to attract attention. YMMV, but if you're calling angels to save the orphanage, perhaps Heaven may be willing to accept it as an unusually loud and insistent call for help. But if your justification is "we need more firepower for this level of the Emerald Spire -- a CR 11 angel should do nicely", then your DM would IMO be perfectly justified to say something like "the night after leaving the Emerald Spire, you wake up find three beings standing by your bed. Tall, winged, glowing and gorgeous, they are gazing at you more in sorrow than in anger. One of them holds out a shining parchment towards you. You see that it is a summons to explain your actions before the Merciful But Very Lawful Celestial Court of High Justice. 'Will you come peacefully?' asks the one in the center, while the one on the left hefts a sword whose blade dances with silver flames, and the one on the right raises its slender hands in a gesture of perfect grace and beauty, ready to cast..."

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

SPOILERS for an encounter in In Search of Sanity. If you're going to play through this module, stop here.

*

*

*

*

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The Argus Wall is written as having hardness 10, 40 hit points, and a break DC of 23. The surface heals 2 hit points every round. If any part of the wall is attacked, the eye’s pupil sprouts fangs and immediately attempts to attack any creature within 5 feet (+2 attack, 1d8 damage).

Okay, even granted that it's an object with AC 5, a group of second level PCs are gong to have a hell of a time with this. If they try hacking, they'll need to dish out attacks doing 13+ points of damage to even dent this thing. (Not dpr! Individual attacks.) Unless they have a raging power-attacking barbarian, that won't be easy; and then they'll have to keep it up for probably 10 rounds or more, while the eye screams in agony. Good for SAN checks, I guess, but...

Holy water I guess would bypass the Hardness? So if you had a dozen flasks, you could probably kill it that way.

A Strength check is a bit more promising; a character with 16 STR and an assist has a 15% chance of doing it. If you have a bard, that's 20%; a raging barbarian, 25% or 30%. Have two or three different PCs try, with assists, and it's not inconceivable. Still not great odds.

The other way past it is to use the mirror. I get that the creature's single line of speech is a clue, but it's not an incredibly obvious clue, and there's no check the PCs can roll (Arcana?) to give them a hint.

If you've played or run this: how have you seen people deal with this haunt?

Doug M.


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

Oh, I like that. In that case, yes, mission accomplished indeed.

I'm thinking of describing the zoog as "like a raccoon crossed with a squid". And, as everyone knows, raccoons were not meant to be, and adding cephalopods to the picture makes things even worse.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The single Zoog in _In Search of Sanity_ doesn't do much. It's a a CR 1 Lovecraft-themed monster, and... that's about it. It's not much good in combat (Bleed 1 is only an issue if the PCs are already weakened and/or don't have anyone with the Heal skill) and it doesn't have any magic, so its role is basically to creep the PCs out a bit and then die. Can we improve on this?

-- Give the Zoog a level of Rogue. This lets it be stealthy and raises the possibility of a recurring foe. It still faces the problem of low Str -- even with SA, it just doesn't do much damage. Might consider this against a smaller or weaker party.

-- Give the Zoog a level of caster. Zoogs have 5 Int and 5 Cha, but 12 Wis, so it would have to be a Wis based caster. Leaving out goofy stuff like warpriest or empyreal sorceror, your options are cleric, druid, shaman or (if you're really feeling frisky) spiritualist.

I think a cleric is really strong and interesting -- spells like Cause Fear and Murderous Command can hit pretty hard if PCs fail their saves. I'd use this against a larger or stronger group. A druid is slightly less powerful, but makes a lot of thematic sense; zoogs are magical beasts, not outsiders or aberrations, and when they're at home they live in forests. Creepy haunted Dreamlands forests, but forests. A shaman is (in this context) basically a weaker druid, with a familiar (a rat, presumably) replacing the animal companion. Spiritualist... I guess it'd be the ghost of some poor victim, somehow bound to the zoog?

Thoughts?

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
gustavo iglesias wrote:
Personally, I think the biggest issue might be stop allowing players to spam magic against NPCs... I mean: will they frisk every NPC they meet, to search for hidden blades too?

Gotta disagree. Throwing a DM is a harmless, non-intrusive way to check someone out. It may be rude, but -- unless the NPC is very paranoid or has a hair-trigger temper -- it's unlikely, by itself, to start a fight. "NPC's attitude immediately drops one level" would be a more appropriate default response IMO.

-- Also, I note that with Cunning Caster PF finally has a balanced, playable way of disguising spellcasting. Not everyone takes CC (the Deceptive feat tax is annoying and the high Bluff requirement is a limitation) but from what I see on the boards, it's become a reasonably popular feat for casters who are sneaky or social.

Doug M.

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