A Celestial Pain in the Monk wrote:
A... a crocodile? Really? Where did you people... no, I don't even want to know. Stepping away? No, I don't think so. Look at me I'm a Monk wooopeeee, no I'm a prom queen.
Okay, no more well developed, complex antagonists with personalities and strategies. Orcs, baby. Gary was right.
Here's a thing about a summony character, whether cleric or wizard: since summoning spells don't care about your casting stat, focusing on summoning lets you be more MAD-y.
Put another way: if you're playing an enchantment specialist or a fireballing evoker, you need to crank those save DCs as high as possible. So you want a really high casting stat. But if you're throwing summons all day long, it doesn't matter if your stat is 20 or 12. (Okay, yes, bonus spells. But otherwise not.) So if you're tired of playing clumsy clerics, weak ugly wizards, or sorcerors who are too dumb to be allowed to cross the street alone, focusing on summoning is a fun, playable workaround.
Also I'm in love with the idea for the Worms lair.
Let me expand a bit, then. I'll try to keep this campaign-neutral.
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.
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 also some monks. Monks? Yes -- there's an order of monks in the town that has two branches. One is 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. Throwing a few monks into the mix is always good for confusing PCs who thought they'd just be wading through endless ghouls. (Though of course there should be ghouls. Lots and lots of ghouls.)
There are bloatmages, of course. Can't have a City of Gluttony without bloatmages.
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 it. 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.)
These sorts of things?
Okay, question. Do they have to be liches? Because I think you could throw an interesting change-up by having /most/ of them be liches, but one or two of them be something else.
For instance, consider the Worm That Walks template. A Worm is CR+2, the same as a lich, and most Worms are spellcasters just as liches are. But it has dramatically different abilities and weaknesses. If your PCs encounter a couple of the BBEGs and start thinking "okay, liches, everybody optimize for undead" then throwing one of these oozing horrors at them could make for a fun encounter. And thematically, a Worm That Walks would seem a nearly perfect match for Gluttony, and a pretty good one for Greed as well.
A lot of the cantrips are left over from 3.x, which in turn inherited them from earlier editions. So, they vary quite a bit -- from "pretty cool" and/or "occasionally quite useful" to "this is ridiculous" and "why would anyone ever...?"
Incidentally, spammable Dancing Lights + Paizo handing out darkvision to every new PC race = nobody cares about lighting any more. While I'm not particularly nostalgic for 1e, I'm old school enough to enjoy having lighting be an issue sometimes. Yes, mucking around with "who carries the torch?" and "are we running out of lamp oil?" could get faintly tedious. But OTOH, some of my best gaming moments have come when a lantern broke, a wind blew out the torches, or otherwise *someone turned out the lights*. No lights! Something coming! Can you get a torch lit in time?
Between "darkvision for everybody!" and putting a bunch of light-generating spells on the infinitely spammable 0 level list, Paizo has pretty much eliminated this from the game, even in low level play. Oh, well.
Lars was a dog. Well, he still is a dog. But that druid cast a spell on him... and now Lars is different. His head is full of thoughts, sharp and strange. He can understand what the people are saying. He can reason and plan.
And most of all, he understands now that there is Good and there is Bad. When Lars was awakened, that was the very first thing he understood. And in that moment Lars knew, with absolute certainty, what kind of dog he would try to be.
AC 14, touch 13, flat-footed 13 (+2 Dex, +1 natural, +1 size)
Str 15, Dex 15, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 12
SQ Smite, lay on hands 2x/day, 1d6. (Strictly speaking, it's lay on tongue.)
Build: The Awaken spell gave Lars 3d6 Int (average 10). PC class levels gave him +4/+4/+2/+2/0/-2 on stats. His Paladin levels replace the animal hit dice he got from the Awaken spell. He keeps his racial bonuses.
Lars is pretty much a normal looking dog, and could easily be mistaken for a stray. The Awaken spell did not give him the power to speak, and he doesn't have hands, so he's limited in what he can do. He understands spoken Common just fine, though, and is both patient and very observant. Other dogs instinctively realize that he's something special, and will either avoid him or obey him (depending, of course, on whether they're good or bad dogs). He can use his Handle Animal skill to communicate simple commands.
Lars patrols a particular area -- a small town, or perhaps the harbor neighborhood of a city. He's always watching out for Bad. (Because the Bad is out there, and it's a good dog's job to protect against it.) He's perfectly capable of dealing with minor threats and wickednesses by himself -- goblins, dire rats, skeletons and the like. If he encounters more serious evils, though, he'll watch carefully -- because who's going to cast Detect Good on a stray dog? -- until he understands what's going on. And then he'll go looking for help.
A couple of points on playing evil at the table.
1) Try to avoid PvP (unless the GM and the other players are cool with it). Don't steal from other PCs or betray or backstab them.
Does this mean you're not evil? Hell no. If you're Lawful Evil, it's totally consistent -- you're a natural team player. If you're Neutral Evil, still consistent -- the other PCs are useful tools. Chaotic Evil can be a bit trickier, but hell, CE characters can work together with others. Belkar Bitterleaf is still part of the Order of the Stick. Season Two Spike was CE, but didn't kill allies and subordinates at random, and usually kept his word. Castle Heterodyne is a loyal servant, even if it does strain at the leash to have "fun" sometimes. Even the Joker, who's pretty much the ultimate purely chaotic loner character, does the occasional team-up.
There are plenty of NPCs out there to rob and murder. You don't have to be excessively loyal to your fellow PCs, but don't backstab them, pick their pockets, or sell them to the royal bounty hunters for the reward. That'll just piss off the players and lead to non-fun gaming.
2) Evil doesn't mean gross-out. Most of us don't come to the gaming table looking for graphic descriptions of rape, torture and atrocity. (Yes, there are exceptions. Move along, nothing to see here.) Playing an evil character means you may do horrible things. It doesn't mean you *must* do horrible things, and if you do, it doesn't mean you have to describe them in loving detail.
You have two useful tools here: "Even Evil Has Standards" and "The Pulp Cutscene". EEHS (it's a TV Trope) means that there are things you won't do... either because they're beneath your dignity, or they conflict with your goals, your code, or your personal style. The con man who doesn't kill; the hit man who doesn't do kids; the tyrant who brutally suppresses demon cultists; the chaotic evil character who particularly hates slavers. (And note that EEHS is rich, rich in roleplaying potential.)
The Pulp Cutscene is when Princess Leia is about to be tortured, the camera zooms in slowly on the floating drone with the hypodermic... and then it cuts away to another scene. We all know what's going to happen, but nothing gets described. It's a strong technique, and it works at the gaming table too.
Is this the sort of thing you're looking for?
I think it's proving your point, though. The fact that a bunch of people jumped forward to say "well just add this rule / change this rule / ignore the rules" is pretty strong support for the thesis that it's hard to build a powerful rogue within the rules-as-written.
This is in part a legacy problem from 3.0/3.5; rogues have been weakish since 1999. But you could argue with a straight face that Paizo made it worse by giving other classes all sorts of new goodies -- rage powers, bloodlines, what have you -- while giving the rogue nothing but a rather underwhelming collection of rogue talents. -- Yes, some rogue talents are cool! But with a few exceptions, they tend to be isolated benefits that don't synergize well with feats or with each other.
Anyway: the rogue is underpowered, and your challenge is a good one.
The Magister may be naive and poorly socialized, but his mind is a well-oiled machine. Not easily will it be bent or broken by another's magic.
Okay, that was the surprise round. Now begins round 1. Zimu rolled a 19 on initiative. To speed things up, I'll roll for everyone else.
Lady Dragville-North 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
Concept: an elite squad of orcs, built to take out much more powerful opponents. There are eight of them altogether. Six are 2nd level barbarians with identical stats. Each has the Amplified Rage teamwork feat. Check that one out:
They have character levels, so they can use the elite stat array. That means they start with Str 18, so when not raging they swing at +6 for d12+6 damage. When raging as a group, though they swing at +11 for d12+12. (Alas, they don't have Power Attack. Yet.) They're bright enough to flank. Otherwise, their tactics are pretty straightforward: mass rage, charge, and bring the massive damage pain.
The other two are an orc bard drummer and an orc cleric. In combat, the bard drums to Inspire Courage (which, let's note, brings the barbs up to a +12 attack for d12+13) while the cleric throws low level buffs and cures.
Eight second level characters should be CL 7, but I think that these guys could be rather worse than that. They'd be useless at range, and a caster with the right mix of spells could mess them up pretty fast. But if they close to melee? They can dish out an astonishing amount of damage very, very quickly.
Judge Tohram Quasangi wrote:
I am confused, what CMB is he using? Grapple? Sunder? Steal will not work since I am holding the statuette.
I'd say to grab the statuette. Actually getting it out of your hands will require an opposed Str check. So at the moment, the two of you are struggling over it like a couple of kids in a schoolyard fighting over a Pokemon deck or something.
For low level casters, no, it's not that great. But at midlevels it can really shine. You're safe inside the mist. You can still cast spells that don't require you to see (like, say, summoning monsters). You can use the Message cantrip to communicate with party members, so under the RAW you can probably use allies outside the mist to give you targeting information -- "cast your Fireball there", type of thing.
Even if your DM forbids that, the spell still has lots of uses. Say your party turns a corner and you're facing half a dozen ogres. There's no surprise round, but you win initiative. You cast this. Your party members will probably have a free round to buff and prepare while the ogres poke at the mysterious cloud; even if the ogres rush in, they can't charge without making an Acrobatics check (good luck with that) and they'll still have either a 20% or a 50% miss chance.
There are also some interesting synergies possible with this. For instance, consider a spellcaster allied with a fighter who has the Blind-Fight feat. He casts this spell. The fighter is still going to hit most of the time (he rolls his concealment percentile dice twice, taking the better one). In fact, for best effects give the fighter a reach weapon -- make him an ogre, say, or a humanoid with the Polearm mastery archetype. Attacking at 10' range, now he'll be making his miss check 75% of the time, while the PCs are only making it 50%. Effectively, his damage output relative to the PCs is increased by 50%. Pretty sweet -- especially since the evil druid can stroll out of the back of the cloud while you're fighting his mooks, summon something, and wait to ambush any PC who comes through.
A first level caster won't want to spend a precious slot on this, and a 16th level caster will have lots of better ways to burn a standard. But between 5th and 10th level, it's a battlefield control spell that can give you all kinds of interesting options.
Thinking about the bonus spells, I'd go with these:
Bonus Spells: Charm Person (3rd), Detect Thoughts (5th), Suggestion (7th), Charm Monster (9th), Dominate (11th), Summon Monster VI (13th), Limited Wish (15th), Greater Planar Binding (17th), Overwhelming Presence (19th).
Like most bloodline spell lists, this is a thematic mix. Charm Person, Suggestion, Charm Monster and Dominate all fit the succubus-as-controller aspect. Detect Thoughts is something a succubus naturally has, too -- so that's the first five levels covered. Summon Monster VI fits the general demonic pattern of summoning (and allows you to summon a succubus, particularly), as does Greater Planar Binding. Limited Wish fits the theme of demons granting wishes, while Overwhelming Presence seems like a very nice capstone for a bloodline that's all about awe, captivation, and power.
Well, how about we start with the existing Abyssal bloodline and see if we can modify it to be more Succubus-y? Let's go through it step by step.
That seems pretty reasonable. I could see Diplomacy or Sense Motive here as well, but note that giving Diplomacy to a Cha-based character is more powerful than a plain old Knowledge skill.
Obviously a major workover is called for here. I would suggest starting with Charm Person (3rd), Detect Thoughts (5th), Suggestion (7th), Charm Monster (9th) and Dominate (11th). We can return to this in a bit.
Again, a lot of work to be done here. I'd suggest Agile Maneuvers, Combat Reflexes, Iron Will, Weapon Finesse (these are the feats that succubi naturally get), Skill Focus (Knowledge [planes]), and three others.
Bloodline arcana tend to be pretty feeble, very situational, or both. Possibilities might include:
-- Enchantment spells that you cast have 50% greater duration.
Yeah, definitely not the claws. I'd say the succubus bloodline would get a voice- or touch-based power instead. Instead of making one up from scratch, you could cut-and-paste an appropriate one from another bloodline here, I think. The first level power from the Maestro bloodline, for instance, is this: "Beguiling Voice (Ex): At 1st level, you can use the sound of your voice to lull a target creature into taking no action. This ability acts as the daze spell, except it is language-dependent, has a duration of 1 round, and affects a living creature whose Hit Dice do not exceed your sorcerer level. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier."
Or borrow from the Infernal bloodline: "Corrupting Touch (Sp): At 1st level, you can cause a creature to become shaken as a melee touch attack. This effect persists for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 your sorcerer level (minimum 1). Creatures shaken by this ability radiate an aura of evil, as if they were an evil outsider (see detect evil). Multiple touches do not stack, but they do add to the duration. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier."
Honestly, I'd consider keeping this one. Remember, bloodlines are supposed to be a grab-bag of benefits linked thematically; none of them are entirely about one thing. Also making all of them about enchantment would be somewhat unbalanced. Succubi are demons, so it would make sense to have a generic demon-themed bloodline power in there.
This one is easy: just replace it with the Wings of the Abyss from the Brutal bloodline. "Wings of the Abyss (Su): At 9th level, you can sprout leathery wings and fly for a number of minutes per day equal to your sorcerer level, with a speed of 60 feet and good maneuverability. This duration does not need to be consecutive, but it must be used in 1-minute increments." This bloodline power replaces strength of the abyss.
Is this the sort of thing you're looking for?
reccomend any specific issues of dungeon?
Both the "Shackled City" and "Age of Worms" adventure paths can be collected complete by purchasing back issues of Dungeon. Shackled City ran across 12 issues; you can find the issue numbers here:
At $3.50 an issue, you'd be able to collect the entire AP for $42 -- and you'd also pick up something like 500 pages of other content, including about 30 other adventures, ranging from brief encounters to fairly elaborate dungeons, plus columns, comics, "Critical Threat" NPCs, and all sorts of other stuff. Again, you'd have to upgrade from 3.5, but that's really pretty minor.
Personally I didn't love the Shackled City; it starts with an overlong dungeon crawl, and the plot is kind of wacky. It was the first AP done by the guys that would become the Paizo team, and it's kind of a beta version. That said, it does contain some brilliant bits -- I'm particularly fond of "Test of the Smoking Eye", which can be found in Dungeon #103.
Then there's Age of Worms -- two years later, also 12 issues. Here's the link to the issues:
Personally I think Age of Worms is clearly superior to Shackled City, but YMMV. Again, for $42 you could pick up the whole AP along with a ridiculous amount of other stuff. Note that unlike the Paizo APs, these guys take you all the way to 20th level. (And note also that you don't have to drop all that money at once; since this sale runs a few more days, you can buy the first two or three installments, see if you like them, and then buy the whole thing if you do.)
There was a third AP that ran in Dungeon magazine -- Savage Tide. Unfortunately, you can't get it in this sale, because Paizo never got the rights to sell the last year of Dungeon magazine. As a result, issues #140-#150, which include most of the AP, are unavailable through Paizo. (In fact they have become something of collectors' items.)
Still, Age of Worms is a fine AP, every bit as good at the later Paizo APs. And since it's over a decade old and never got reprinted, it's pleasantly obscure. So unless your players are old-school gamers who were collecting Dungeon back in the early 2000s, they'll never know what hit them.
Oh, and back issues of Dungeon. At $3.50 a pop, you get between three and five adventures. It's basically a grab bag -- level varies (from 1 to 20) as does tone (from comically silly through classic to grimdark). But the quality is usually quite high -- there are few clunkers, most are quite good, and some are really excellent. They're all 3.0 or 3.5, so you have to adjust, but that's not usually a big deal. And no matter how many Pathfinder modules your players have read, very few of them are going to be ready for that crazy thing Skip Williams wrote back in 2002... Seriously, if you have a few bucks left over, take a flyer on a couple of these.
Okay, well: Hangman's Noose for six bucks is a steal. That's one of the best 3.x modules ever. It's 3.5, which means you'll have to tweak it a little, but who cares? And it would be perfect for Halloween.
What else? Well, the three Books of the Damned are good, though I think the one for demons is probably the best. The various "revisited" monster and treasure books are all pretty solid -- you can't really go wrong with any of these. The Rival Guide is a fine resource, with pretty well thought out groups of NPCs. The Great Beyond is Paizo's version of the multiverse, and it's a lot of fun.
As for APs, woo. I guess I'd note that $30 for the Rise of the Runelords Deluxe Edition is pretty darn sweet -- that's $30 for a revised and expanded version of a complete AP. It was, what, $90 in hardcover?
So, as a nabasu demon kills more victims with its gaze attack, it gains "growth points" and gets more powerful. Just for the heck of it, here's a 10 growth point nabasu constructed according to the rules.
Nabasu CR 13
CE Medium outsider (chaotic, demon, evil, native)
AC 27, touch 14, flat-footed 23 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge, +13 natural)
Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft. (average)
At will—deeper darkness, greater teleport (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only), telekinesis (DC 19)
Str 22, Dex 17, Con 22, Int 15, Wis 16, Cha 19
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.
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.
This guy makes an interesting opponent. Note his respectable SR and sky-high saves; if facing seriously dangerous foes, his best tactic is to stand off at a little distance, send in waves of ghouls and other mooks, and use its gaze attack and SLAs.
10 point nabasus should be pretty rare, because statistically speaking they should pop off to the Abyss long before that. Every time they gain a growth point, they make a DC 30 caster level check; if they succeed, they plane shift to complete their growth cycle. Since they start as an 8th level caster with a +4 stat, they initially need an 18. So, the first time they kill someone, they have a 15% chance of poofing away; they second time, a 20% chance, and so forth. If you run the numbers, 93% of all nabasus will have bamfed out before they hit 10 growth points.
Demons Revisited gives this interesting feat option for nabasus:
Your death-stealing gaze creates more powerful undead. Prerequisites: Nabasu, Ability Focus (death-stealing gaze)
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 raises a thought: say you have a nabasu that 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.
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? It's a CR 13 monster, and it's probably ruling over a whole village or dungeon full of ghouls, ghasts and wights. Throw in some cultists and maybe an allied/terrorized tribe of orcs or something, -- or a few surviving, utterly traumatized villagers -- and voila, instant Halloween encounter.
pfft. what the /hell/.
Okay, well... Xen, congratulations! First it was the alchemist. Now it's kindly Father Dunnigan. As far as he's concerned, you are his *new best friend*. Ask him anything!
(Hours later, attending the play and seeing Commander Havelyn for the first time, Xen realizes that Captain Mott is trying to copy the Commander's style in facial hair. It's not a success. Somehow Lord Havelyn makes long drooping mustaches look badass. Captain Mott just looks like a walrus.)
Judge Tohram Quasangi wrote:
All eidolons have Darkvision. I think he is the only one with Darkvision.
No, Paizo hands out darkvision like bad weed at a Phish concert. Tieflings have it, Aasimars have it, Dhampirs have it, eidolons have it. Pretty much every new race gets it. And Dren has it as one of his Oracle powers.
Not that I'm cranky at losing the power to turn out the lights, or anything.
1) Landlord Barhold is the younger brother of Sergeant Barhold. However, while the good Sergeant is loyal, brave, reverent, honest, lawful and good, Landlord Barhold is kind of an a!!%*!&.
2) Landlord Barhold is sneaking into the Tower, using the hidden tunnel, and carefully pilfering high-value supplies. The wine bottles are there because the Commander got them as a gift, and he's a teetotaler. The Landlord replaced them with cheap wine, figuring that nobody will check for years, and then they'll assume there was an error in the records. Landlord Barhold is aided in this by the fact that his brother is the senior record-keeper and purchaser, so he can always find out just what's moving in and out of Balentyne Tower. (Of course, if the pilferage is ever discovered, it's his brother's neck on the line. But, as noted, Landlord Barhold is kind of an a%%*%%@.)
3) Landlord Barhold is also using his position to spy on various members of the town, and is blackmailing a couple of them. Most of them are pretty small fish, frankly. This is not a large town, and most of the people are lawful good. So it's a few cases of adultery, one small-time smuggler, and a tax evader. However:
4) Mrs. Kaitlyn Mott, wife of Captain Franz Mott, is regularly using a room at the Dalliance to meet with Captain Eddarly, her husband's junior colleague. Landlord Barhold has this very well documented. He's not quite sure what to do about it, though; he's afraid of Captain Eddarly (dashing and handsome, but also viciously competent with a sword) and even more afraid of Captain Mott (big guy with a nasty temper). Also, attracting attention at that level could be bad news for a petty criminal like himself. But there must be some way to profit from this...
Meanwhile, belowdecks: Captain Odenkirk's cabin, at last.
There are no traps; the Captain guarded his treasures and secrets by fear and by his own strength. There's a locked box but given time the lock can be picked or smashed. Nothing is particularly hidden, either; again, the Captain feared nobody and nothing while on board his ship.
So we can do a pretty straightforward listing of what's in here.
In the original module, Captain Odenkirk was a relatively minor obstacle. I liked the character so I built him into a boss. This involved some design choices, which I'll put down here for those who are interested. I don't think the mechanics are going to affect the final combat -- you have a pretty good idea what you're facing, at this point -- but I'll put them beneath a spoiler anyway.
Designing Captain Odenkirk (Mechanics):
The original Captain Odenkirk was a Neutral Evil barbarian. No change there. But he needed a significant power-up and redesign to give him a chance to face this party. With eidolon, dog and ogre you have a total of nine characters who can act every round. That tips the action economy far in your favor. So I knew that mechanically I'd have to build him carefully if I wanted him to last past the first round.
I made him a Bbn 8 / Expert 1. The Expert level was to reflect his captaining skills and long experience at sea, and also to nudge up his skills and Will save. His feats started with the usual barbarian trio Toughness, Power Attack and Cleave. I gave him Iron Will because I knew he'd be facing a lot of spells targeting his Will save, and also because it was thematically appropriate.
After some consideration, I gave him Improved Sunder. The Sunder CM doesn't get a lot of play because it's so cruel -- it targets your beloved weapons, and leaves the fighter types standing helplessly with nothing. But the Captain *is* a cruel bastard, and I felt it would be totally consistent for him to smash your weapon, render you helpless, laugh at you, and then kill you. I gave him an adamantite axe so that he could sunder all day long and, well, you can see how that's worked out.
For barbarian powers I gave him Defensive stance to nudge his AC from bad to mediocre, followed by Spirit Totem and Superstition. If you're following along, this meant that his Will save would gain up to +2 expert +2 Iron Will +3 Superstition +2 rage in addition to the normal +2 for a barbarian and whatever his Wis bonus is. His other saves would also be respectable. Very important when facing four spellcasters at once! (I don't love Superstition for the same reason I don't love Haste -- it's so good that almost everyone takes it. But, hell, you guys took Haste. What's a DM to do? It's an arms race, you gotta keep up.)
He got some special powers from his connection with the Kraken. After some consideration, I decided that (1) he would get regeneration like a troll as long as he was near salt water, and (2) he'd get a better version of Spirit Totem -- among other things, it has a 10' reach and does 2d4 instead of d4.
There was no way to make his AC better than so-so without redesigning the whole character. Ultimately I shrugged and decided that he'd rely on Toughness and raging to bring him through.
He has a 10 Int and only put a single rank in Sense Motive, which meant that -- up until the final boss fight -- you guys were able to scam him pretty effectively. This was deliberate. If I'd made him smarter or cranked his Sense Motive up to the max, he might have seen through you, and that could have been lethal. Putting you on a boat with a powerful hair-trigger paranoiac who was *also* incredibly sensitive and perceptive would have been unfair.
Now, Bag'o'Bones had a high Sense Motive. Luckily for you, you decided to kill him as fast as possible, and his lizard too. (Yeah, the lizard could have been trouble.)
Designing Captain Odenkirk (Roleplaying):
One thing about running an evil campaign is that you guys get to spend a lot more time in the company of evil NPCs. In a standard campaign, you'd just be killing them. Here you get to hang out with them first. So, I've been trying to present different kinds of villainy for your consideration. The Cardinal, Tiadora, Irin, Zargo, and now the Captain... they're all evil, but they're evil in very different ways.
The Captain was mostly straightforward, but there were subtleties. I made him cruel, domineering, paranoid, violent and greedy. Not randomly or recklessly so -- he'll keep his oath to deliver the weapons, and you, to your destinations -- but he's ultimately too selfish and greedy to be trustworthy. In other words, pretty much pure Neutral Evil. Displaying his character to you was a mix of "show" (his constant brutality towards his sailors) and "tell" (the kraken backstory with him sacrificing a shipload of refugees, Nimpy's story, the first mate).
Does the Captain have positive aspects? Well, he's utterly fearless (as seen in the encounter with the Mountain That Swims). And I did give him a faint hint of a softer side: his melancholic yearning for Homeland. He loves his cruel, savage native land. But his brutality and violence got him exiled, and his greed means he'll never pay the blood-prices that would let him go home. So he's really a man trapped by his own character. You could almost feel a tiny bit sorry for him. Of course, this just makes him more violent and cruel. So, maybe not so much.
The Captain's drinking was almost a throwaway line -- he goes onshore sometimes and drinks, but not on the ship because it makes him ill tempered. (As opposed to his normal kindly mild-mannered self.) You guys somehow got the idea of a drinking contest. That's a common fantasy trope, it's true, but not in this case. The Captain is not a social drinker! Quite the opposite.
Anyway. I wanted him to be a fairly well realized NPC; and then I wanted you guys to be wary of him, if not outright frightened by him. You can tell me how well that worked or not.
Here's a recent example. I'm running a PBEM Way of the Wicked campaign. The PCs have been temporarily allied with Captain Odenkirk, but are now about to betray and kill him. They're all going for a stroll together, but not all of them are coming back!
Now, I had built up the Captain as a major boss, and -- most particularly -- a paranoid, cruel, domineering, and thoroughly unlikable character. And on this final walk, I cranked those attributes up to 11. One PC tried to slip away and sneak off into the woods; the Captain spotted him and snarled at him, in a very insulting manner, to get back with the group. Another PC wanted to cast a spell; the Captain ordered no spellcasting. Everyone stay with the group! Nobody do anything unless I tell you to!
Now, roleplaying is all about agency and choice. (Or at least the illusion of it.) So, PCs tend to really hate being bossed around in-game. So I knew that emphasizing the obnoxious authoritarian character of the NPC would subliminally irritate the players and encourage hair-trigger aggressiveness.
And sure enough. Before long, one of the PCs tried lying to the Captain and rolled a nat 1 on his Bluff check. This caused the Captain to bark, "What are you up to? Nobody move!" The Captain was still not starting the fight, mind you. And the party has a couple of PCs with crazy high Bluff and Diplomacy skills, so they could totally have talked him down. But instead, two different players promptly launched into melee attacks on the Captain -- thus precipitating a full-blown boss fight in which none of the PCs are buffed, and several don't even have weapons drawn.
Note that this is /not/ because my guys are stupid or bad players. They're good players! Most are quite experienced, and a couple of them are viciously effective optimizers. But even very experienced and competent players can be surprisingly vulnerable to this sort of manipulation.
Cуровую зиму wrote:
Slipping behind for a moment to cast something... let's see. [roll roll] Okay, you get away with it this time; while the Captain is alert and will promptly spot obvious anomalies like an absent party member, he doesn't have eyes in the back of his head.
It's a real shame Bag o'Bones didn't make it to this party. Now /he/ had a Perception score, plus Spellcraft and all kinds of useful spells.
Sadly, I just had to cancel my PFAP subscription -- it can't be delivered in Kosovo. Doubly annoying since the Worldwound AP looks like it could potentially be the most interesting since Kingmaker.
The last four APs:
IMO the last four APs have been kinda meh, albeit with some brilliant individual bits. Baba Yaga, five modules of cold-themed monsters is kind of a lot, and also you're once again fighting the organ grinder's monkey instead of the boss herself. (This has been a theme in a lot of APs, and I wish they'd stop. Like, in Carrion Crown, you want to fight the Whispering Tyrant, not some loser who's trying to become the Whispering Tyrant. One reason everyone loves Rise of the Runelords, despite its many flaws, is that if you make it to the end you get to throw down with friggin' Special K. And either you kill the Runelord of Greed or he kills you. For a truly memorable boss fight, you need a truly memorable boss.)
Where was I... The Numeria one was, well, the Rod of Seven Parts. The pirate one was two, maybe three good modules worth of arrrgh spread out over six. And Jade Regent had a great high concept -- and it included "The Hungry Storm", which is the single best module of the last two or three years -- but IMO failed to spike the dismount.
In a sane world, they'd get Nicolas Logue to write a fair chunk of the new AP, but I don't know if he's been sufficiently rehabilitated yet.
Anyway, "could be great" != "will be great", but I would have spent $16 plus postage at least to check out the first installment. Oh, well.
I'm guessing that 17 Cha is in the form of astonishingly even white teeth.
Okay, so it's back aboard the dear old Frosthamar for the final leg of your pleasure cruise. Captain Odenkirk greets you with a scowl. "Filthy creatures," he says. "No good will come of dealing with the night stalkers. Well, let us end this ill-starred journey." He spits over the rail and stalks away.
evening: new Elephant and Piggie book at bedtime
It's a swift action to activate the style, and you can't do that until a combat has started. But -- once you activate the style. it persists forever. So you only have to spend that swift action once. In fact, if you're really going by RAW, it's once in your entire career, ever -- the RAW says it persists until you switch to another style.
So, Round 1, yes, a swift action to identify. But since it's a swift, you can do other stuff -- throw a buff, toss a fireball, whatever. You're not burning one of your precious standards.
Yeah, upon consideration I think you're right. You're inflicting the extra damage as a swift action, which means you can only do it once per round. So, 2xInt points of damage -- but only once per round.
Well, that drops this from "really very good" to "meh". It's still not horrible -- you're getting +14 on one ray, which is a 50% increase in damage. But you could do just as well with Empower Spell, and that's just a single feat. If you could access this feat at lower levels, it would be more attractive. But at 9th level, adding double your Int bonus to damage once/round... well, it's nice, but it's questionable whether it's worth investing four feats.
Oh, and as for the Grey Maidens: IMC I made them clones, Star Wars style -- magical copies. There are only a handful of "originals", young women who had the necessary combination of physical toughness and psychic vulnerability. They became the templates for the clones.
When my PCs met the Grey Maidens, they noticed that each one had a badge and a number -- like, G-17, G-43, and so forth. A bit later, they met some Maidens on patrol; one of these was M-7, and she was noticeably tougher (a mounted variant, Fighter 2/Cavalier 3 IMS). In the final adventure, there are a bunch of 10th level Maidens; I ruled that these are the O-series, officers. But when they passed through the Queen's private quarters, they met some horribly deformed young women with some strange powers -- the D-series. D was for 'Damaged' or 'Dross', and these unfortunate young women had suffered some combination of physical scarring, forced deformity, or serious mental damage. The Queen kept some of them around as menials, because it amuses her to do so. No real game effect, but one more bit of chrome to drive home that she's really quite evil.
IMC I gave Zelara a daughter, who was one such template. The PCs met and "killed" her in module 2, not realizing that they were killing a clone... and then met her again... and again... and finally were able to rescue the original (who was floating in a tank unconscious somewhere, being copied again and again.)
This also explained why Lamm had the Queen's brooch. It wasn't stolen; she gave it to him, as a reward. He had been kidnapping young women for her for a while: it was a natural spinoff from his work of buying and selling children.
Characters who make a sufficiently high Knowledge (History) or (Arcana) check may know that Kazavon had some gruesome techniques for turning free-willed soldiers into utterly obedient construct-like creatures. I think these guys were called the Faceless Ones, because the final ritual involved grafting a metal or ceramic mask permanently onto the victim's face. (If you're a Batman fan, think of Doctor Pyg and his Dollotrons.) The Grey Maidens are the Queen's attempt to copy this.
Just some thoughts, YMMV.
I like this too. Rakshasas should be cunning lying manipulative bastards. Well done.
As to bringing Lamm back... the problem with Reincarnate and such is that he's still going to be the same level. So unless you level him up a lot, he's not going to be more than a speed bump to a group of ~7th level PCs. You could perhaps set up a situation where he's briefly a threat anyway (PCs trust him, not knowing who he is, and he leads them into an ambush; PCs are down in a pit and he appears above them to gloat) but it won't last.
You could bring him back as a ghost, I suppose.
Or: some DMs have ruled that Pilts is Lamm's son. This doesn't require much handwaving, actually. Have PCs who were children in Lamm's factory remember that Lamm had a son: a sullen, pudgy young man who consider himself an "artist", and who constantly fought with his father over money.
Pilts himself hardly cares about the death of his father -- he hated the old man and hadn't talked to him in years. But if he discovers that the PCs are his father's killers, he might play it up just for the sheer drama of the thing. Personally, I'd have it be obvious that he's overacting: "OHHH, and now the LOYAL SON confronts the MURDERERS of his LONG-ESTRANGED PARENT!" But season to taste.
Cуровую зиму wrote:
True story: there's an episode in an Icelandic saga where a blind guy hears the enemy of his family walking past. Like, the guy had killed his father... blood feud, totally standard in 10th century Iceland.
So Iceland was juuuust starting to go Christian then. So blind guy, he prays to Jesus to give him his sight back. And lo! His sight is restored. And he whips out his axe and splits his enemy's head in two. And lo! The people wondered, and many of them turned to Jesus.
This is often cited as an example of how Viking-era Scandinavians were a little slow to grasp what Christianity was supposed to be about. But what I find interesting about the story is that *the blind dude was walking around carrying a battleaxe*. Because it was just part of normal male attire, you see, like a necktie or something.
Anyway. No lockpicks.