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Douglas Muir 406's page

8,403 posts. 5 reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


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Vod Canockers wrote:

If your players have a brain, be prepared to have to adlib a LOT of the adventures.

I agree -- it's definitely possible for the PCs to derail things.


I haven't found Grumblejack to be that big a deal. He's a big help with the Captain, but by the time you get to Ballentyne he's not that big a deal -- a CR 3 ogre isn't adding much to a group of 4th level PCs, and while Ballentyne involves a lot of role-playing and social stuff he's not useful for anything but combat. YMMV.


Unfortunately the authors wrote the adventure with a set story, and things happen that make no sense.


I can't speak for any other DM, but IMC if you'd really come up with a brilliant plan to sneak your army into the Vale, I would let you get away with it. Of course, you'd have to face and deal with all those good guys at *some* point...

Doug M.

And slow posting for me recently. On the road! More anon.

Rynjin wrote:

There is honestly no benefit for the characters in this AP as individuals. You sign a contract binding yourself to Asmodeus, to carry out his will.

For anyone but a fanatic, that's a bad idea you're probably desperately trying to search for a way out of.

Again, firm disagreement. [Some spoilers for this AP now follow.]

In the first half of the AP you get various sorts of support from Cardinal Thorn -- your magical disguises, the introduction to the Baron and the evil priest, yadda yadda. You can argue how useful these benefits are, but they're definitely benefits.

You do have to accept the assignments you're given, sure. Gary does an excellent job of balancing this by filling the AP with sandboxes where your goals may be fixed (open Branderscar to invasion; get the Tears of Achlys) but you have a huge amount of flexibility in how you pursue them. Meanwhile, the Cardinal is a pretty good boss for those first three modules. He's supportive and he's mostly hands-off. He gives you your assignments and a bit of help, you do the rest. Honestly, it's pretty much the bog-standard "powerful NPC is your patron and sends you on quests" thing that's as much a part of classic D&D as hooded strangers in taverns.

Now, in the fourth module, when the Cardinal's paranoia kicks in, he does become a bit more troublesome. But in the fifth he morphs from being /your/ boss to being /a/ boss, and you kill him and take his stuff.

You'll notice that in the final module, Asmodeus isn't giving you a lot of direction about how to run the kingdom. Quite the opposite! That's the biggest sandbox of them all. Once you're in charge, you can do pretty much whatever you like with Talingarde. So the contract isn't really holding you back there, either.

TLDR: signing that contract isn't actually that big a deal. Mechanically, it's there to (1) keep you guys on track through the AP, and (2) inhibit PVP, at least until the last module. That's really all it does. Sure, in roleplaying terms it's reasonable for non-Asmodean and non-lawful characters to not love the contract. But in mechanical terms, it's not doing much of anything one way or another.

Doug M.

Rynjin wrote:

General advice from playing in it (we're in book 4 now): Encourage your casters to get Spell Penetration/Greater, and maybe even Piercing Spell above all else before book 3 at the latest if they plan on using any offensive spells ever.

Everybody and their grandmother has spell resistance after that level, often with a Globe of Invulnerability effect tacked on to boot, since Celestials are on the whole MUCH tougher than their Fiendish counterparts.

Add my voice. Book 3 is full of good-aligned outsiders, and they make repeated appearances after that.


Oh, and make sure everybody is fanatically devoted to Asmodeus. Like, 100% completely ready to follow orders no matter what the orders might be.

Here I firmly disagree. I've several modules of this AP (and one module twice) and while fanatical devotion to Asmodeus adds a pleasant frisson, it is definitely not necessary. If players are playing in this module in the first place, it's probably because they want to try playing evil for a change. So, not that much in-game prodding seems to be required. It's nice if it's there, sure. But don't lie awake nights worrying about your PCs having the right backstory to motivate them. All you'll have to do -- at most -- is make the Mitrans a bit arrogant and/or annoying goody-two-shoes types. Trust me, most players will take that ball and run with it.

Doug M.

It seems to be very, very easy to get PCs to hate the Mitrans and the kingdom. Backstory is nice but not strictly required. IME most players are absolutely delighted to jump in and start doing Evil Stuff.

Doug M.

xavier c wrote:
Planar Binding spells are what i'm talking about, character's alignment will be N,CN or CG and they will be a worshiper of Bastet

Okay. Will you be playing the character from 1st level? And, have you decided on a class?

Doug M.

I assume the OP was talking about binding with the Planar Binding spells, which is an entirely different thing from Summoning.

-- Thinking about this, in mechanical terms you'd probably want to play a NG character (gives you access to two classes of good celestial). If you can theorycraft a high level character from scratch, you want a sorceror for the high Cha. But if you were playing this up from low levels, you'd want a wizard... binding needs a lot of utility spells, and the sorceror isn't really competitive until after 15th level.

DMDM's Guide to the Diabolist has much of relevance here, though of course it's aimed at devils rather than celestials.

Doug M.

ginganinja wrote:
Just want to point out that there is an aasimar oracle archtype called the Purifier that pretty much does the whole 'compel good outsiders" thing (eventually).

Yeah, I don't love that archetype. You can compel good outsiders by... channeling? In the same manner that evil clerics can compel undead? Um.

Darkness Rising wrote:
What about Protection from Law/Chaos instead? Does it absolutely have to be Protection from Good?

No, fair point -- it doesn't. So you could be a CG character and use Protection from Law to trap an archon. (It does have to be Protection from Good if you're trapping a NG angel, mind.)


Without getting into alignment debates, I can envisage a certain type of LG wizard deciding that those lazy Azatas need to be pressed into more useful, productive, service; while CG works on a maverick level: "hey, Archon, you were gonna be ordered around anyway, amirite? I'm just bypassing the chain of command"

Just my 2c.

I like this! It's creative, but it's not inconsistent with the alignment system. It does leave you at a mechanical disadvantage in that your character can only bind good celestials of one alignment, but that still leaves you a lot of options. (There are a lot of published celestials out there.)

Also, presumably you could still go after LN, CN, and lower level NN outsiders. (Higher level NN outsiders, you run into the problem that you need a circle to contain them, and there's no Magic Circle Against Neutrality.) That gives you really quite a lot to work with.

Doug M.

There's nothing right now. I'm working on a Guide to Planar Binding, but it probably won't be done before the holidays.

I can tell you some of my thoughts. If you're a good-aligned character, this is morally kinda dubious. Mechanically, you probably need to cast Magic Circle against Good to keep your conjured creatures in the circle, and that's an evil-aligned spell: just casting it is a blight upon your soul. In alignment terms, is it really a good act to compel good celestials to work for you under threat of punishment and without conpensation? If you're chaotic good, what the heck are you doing enslaving a good creature? If you're lawful good, how do you justify jumping the chain of command like this and taking an angel away from its duties?

Yes, yes, arguing about alignment is a mug's game -- and 10X yes, players are endlessly creative in coming up with justifications as to why it's ENTIRELY appropriate for the angel to be forced into helping the player's PC kill the monsters and take their stuff! But, really, it's kinda sketchy.

Now if you're not good-aligned... well, the good news is you don't have those ethical or mechanical concerns. The less good news is, you're ticking off a bunch of powerful outsiders who have no reason to look kindly upon you. How bad this is depends on a bunch of different factors, but at a minimum they're going to be legitimately annoyed. And if you're trying to make them do stuff that's against their alignment -- which, since you're nongood, you probably are -- pretty soon you're going to have the heavens kinda pissed at you. My personal take is that chaotic outsiders are more likely to hold lingering, bitter personal grudges about being forced to serve against their will (bad) while lawful outsiders are more likely to tell their bosses and organizations, who may then mount some sort of organized counterattack against you (worse). But either way, it seems like asking for trouble.

Anyway. If you're still interested in trying this, say more, tell how. What kind of caster are you talking about here, and what exactly do you want to accomplish? Is this theorycrafting, an NPC, or something you might actually want to play?

Doug M.

The first coffin (trap already activated, Ulp saved) contained a bell. This was the real prize here: it's Master's Perfect Golden Bell.

The second coffin (Ulp disabled the trap) has a +1 Courageous elven curved blade made of living steel (+1 against fear and +1 to all morale effects; special material, repairs itself).

As to the third, a less kindly DM might note that the Judge's hasty greed came before Ulp's warning... but I'll allow you to dispel the trap. Your check succeeds. Inside the coffin are more elven bones, and a gleaming ring on one finger of the elven skeleton. It is a Scholar's Ring.

If we're keeping it Original Core Hardcover, I nominate the Barbarian rage powers that gave you bonuses to Str skills -- Raging Swimmer, Raging Climb, and the like. Later they tried to fix these by making them gateways to better powers (Raging Swimmer is now a prerequisite for another power that lets you swim at your walking speed) but... no.

Doug M.

To be fair to Paizo, they've done a pretty good job of balancing the game overall. In particular, none of the core races are painfully meh -- some are a bit better, but none are really weak. This is in sharp contrast to 3.0 and 3.5, where the half-orc was useless for anything but martials and the half-elf was useless, period.

The core classes as imagined back in 2009 were also IMO pretty balanced. I agree with those who say the rogue is currently underpowered, but I think that's at least in part because class-feat-spell-archetype-whatever bloat since then has tended to favor other classes at the rogue's expense.

That said, crossbows and thrown weapons. Thrown weapons! WTH, guys?

Doug M.

How is it possible that we've reached 25 posts and nobody has mentioned the Universalist wizard? Literally the only time I've seen someone play a Uniwiz was one time when an experienced player was bored and wanted to try a challenge.

Doug M.

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Angry Wiggles wrote:

Slings. I have played a fighter dedicated exclusively to slings, so far to level 10. It is quite challenging and I have managed to avoid being dead weight, but I am regularly out-classed by other martials.

Another vote for slings. Historically a very dangerous weapon; in PFRPG, pretty worthless. You have to burn a bunch of feats to be as good as a plain vanilla archer. Even halflings have trouble making this a good option, and for everyone else... bleh.

Doug M.

Do you guys have anything that can get at these ladies? Spells that move or dissolve stone, or Disintegrate, or like that?

Woot, finally. Okay, Edmin, mark off the effects of Hero's Feast, AND take 14d6 ⇒ (5, 3, 5, 4, 3, 6, 6, 2, 5, 5, 4, 1, 1, 6) = 56 points of negative energy damage.

At the end of her move, Blue takes a 5' step... straight down; she's now melded with the floor. So both she and her surviving sister are hiding intangibly inside the solid rock wall.

Round 3!

Blue Dress appears out of nowhere. "You dare to strike my sister, mortal! You shall pay!" Still trying with that touch attack:1d20 ⇒ 14

Okay, that hits easily. But Hero's Feast still protects you, so she still has to dispel it. Can she? 1d20 ⇒ 16

Ulp seems to go off like a fireworks display, bombs everywhere, boom boom boom crackle! You can't hit White #1 (she's in the ceiling) and you can't see Blue, so all that destruction goes on White Dress #2. 3 out of 4 bombs hit, half damage for intangible, so #2 takes 41/2 + 38/2 + 35/2 = 56 damage.

Then Edmin.Edmin critted on that charge, doing 43 damage + 75 crit damage. -2 for being sickened and 1/2 for intangible... no, wait, you did the think that makes you hit intangible creatures with full power. So, 114 points of damage there on White Dress #2.

That's enough to destroy her. Her intangible form, already frayed, is simply sliced into pieces by the dark power of the Branderscar axe. Her shriek is quite abruptly cut off, and she dissolves into motes of floating light that one by one wink out.

Fair question. They really want to capture the assassin -- but if he dies, she's gone.

Of course, if they capture her, *then* they can kill him.

Doug M.

I guess so. What difference does it make if it's inactive?

[sfx: crickets]

This isn't statted out in detail because it's a sketch upon which you can hang your own details, with CRs suitable to any APL between 3 and, I don't know, 16 or so. Does anyone find this sort of thing interesting?

Doug M.

Oh right, my bad -- you already rolled. Sorry!

It's a possible metaphor. And yes -- Donna's end was probably a worse answer to the Companion Problem than just killing her.

Extending the metaphor, we would have "familiar ends up on another plane", "familiar voluntarily departs", "familiar follows heart and departs", and "familiar and caster part ways, each thinking it's for the other's own good".

Doug M.

Claxon wrote:

They revert to being normal animals. The time frame in which this happens has never been clarified, only that it happens.

Do you have a cite for this?


Same thing happens if the familiar is dismissed for a new familiar.

Now I'm imagining a rejected familiar following its master around like a stalker...

Doug M.


The PCs are hired to capture an assassin. Flavor to taste, but the assassin is a level or two higher than the PCs, very intelligent, and firmly does not want to be captured. She's the daughter of an old friend or patron of the PCs, and an accomplished adventurer in her own right. The friend or patron is convinced that something -- enchantment, some alignment-changing magical effect -- caused her to change and become evil. It's up to you whether this is in fact the case, but in any event the friend/patron is willing to go to great lengths to have her captures so that an atonement can be attempted.

The PCs discover that the assassin's next target is an alchemist who is a classic mad scientist type. He's chaotic evil. He's got oppressed Minions, who love and fear him, and who he abuses terribly. He's got various monsters and horrors locked up in and around his lab -- not locked up very well, of course; they're going to break loose once things start shaking. He's got an Ultimate Monster he's working on. And he tends to snarl, cackle, and say "FOOLS!" a lot. Roleplay him so that the PCs dislike him and will not be unhappy in the least if he gets it in the neck. Except that's not why they're here...

The Captive Horrors have CRs ranging from low to, ohhh, APL +2. Some are aberrations, some are extraplanar, some are just horrid experiments. There should be at least one swarm-in-a-jar. The laboratory should be a ghastly tangle of things that are flammable, fragile glassware, dangling flasks of acid, mysterious machines that spit sparks, and other stuff that will cause potentially deadly complications once combat breaks out. The Minions... think My Life With Master, if you ever played that. They're monstrous but not evil, and they're very oppressed; the alchemist is relentless cruel to them. The Ultimate Monster is an Arcane Ooze.

Arcane Ooze:
If you don't have the 3.5 Monster Manual III, take an ordinary ooze of whatever CR you please, and then add this to it:


Spell Siphon (Su): An arcane ooze exerts a strange pull

on arcane spell energy. Any time an arcane spellcaster begins his turn within 60 feet of an arcane ooze, he must make a DC 25 Fortitude save or lose a random spell of the highest spell level that he has available. For every spell lost by a victim in this manner, the arcane ooze gains temporary hit points equal to 5 × the level of the lost spell. These temporary hit points are lost after 1 hour. Line of effect between the spellcaster and the arcane ooze
is necessary in order for this ability to work. The save DC is

Plot outline: PCs visit the Mad Scientist's stronghold, to warn him that an assassin is after him and/or to try setting a trap. They meet and have a chance to interact with the oppressed Minions (who are actually nice enough, in their monstrous way) and to tour the lab a little. The alchemist of course sneers at them: "FOOLS! No pathetic sneak-thief can POSSIBLY interfere with my great etc. etc."

Then the assassin attacks... not directly! She's too smart for that. No, she sneaks in and starts letting the captive horrors loose. Wackiness ensues, as PCs, minions, and alchemist scramble to react. The captive horrors should attack indiscriminately; the minions may panic. The alchemist should be an active hindrance, screaming at the PCs to do exactly the opposite of whatever they're trying to do. viz., if they're trying to kill the escaped monsters, he'll bark at the PCs that they must capture it alive! Unharmed! Because it's precious and unique! Contrariwise, if they start trying to capture something unharmed, the alchemist will shriek in terror -- it's deadly dangerous, if it escapes it will reproduce, kill it kill it! And, of course, anything the PCs do is likely to cause damage to the lab, which will drive the alchemist further into hysterics. Once chaos is well under way, the assassin will of course attempt to release the Ultimate Monster. She has (correctly) deduced that it hates the alchemist, and will do her job for her.

Victory: PCs capture assassin. This should be hard but not impossible. They should get lots of xp and a nice reward.

Marginal victory: Assassin escapes, but PCs prevent release of Ultimate Monster. They will get little gratitude from the alchemist, but a tidy story bonus.

More likely, the UM is released. It will promptly devour the alchemist, whole and howling, then ooze out into the night. (It will drop into the nearest canal, where it will become a recurring menace.) The lab catches fire (oh, come on... the lab has to catch fire), and surviving horrors flee off into the night, and the PCs are left to rescue the Minions and salvage what they can.

Plot complication: the Ultimate Monster's development is being financed by a radical splinter group within the local Wizard's Guild, which wants a Final Solution to the Sorceror Problem. Unfortunately, the beast is unfinished, and can't yet distinguish between the different sorts of arcane spellcaster. The wizards
will not be happy... I digress.

So, depending on how things go, this could end up anywhere from "tearful reconciliation followed by true repentance" to "monster on the loose, everyone is ticked at the PCs".

Season to taste.


Doug M.

What happens to familiars when their wizards are killed? Do they revert to being ordinary animals? That seems a bit unsatisfying both out of game and in. (And a bit hard for the creature with an IQ of 10 and 20 hit points suddenly turned into an ordinary, animal-intelligence, 2-hp tiny beast.) On the other hand, if note, then the ex-familiar of a high-level wizard would be rather formidable... a CR 2 or 3 creature in its own right. Could be an interesting encounter for low level parties.

I sort of like the idea of feral ex-familiars, but does it have any support in canon? Is there an "official" rule on this at all?

Doug M.

Round Two

Blue 21 (invisible)
White #1 142 (but she has now floated up into the ceiling)
White #2 38

Blue Dress, Dren, Judge, Jax, Drax and Zoren, White Dresses, Ulp, Edmin.

That was pretty nifty, actually.

And yes -- I agree on the other stuff. I hate losing various DM tricks, near-universal flight is kind of a PITA. And my opinion of buffs is a matter of public record.

That said, this is interesting.

The PCs want to enter a large town or a city. In some cases, that'll be easy -- just walk in! But many cities have walls and gates... Here's a statted-out encounter for a city gate, suitable for PCs wanting to enter someplace like Magnimar or Korvosa.

* * * * *

The guards at the gate are tasked with watching for contraband and suspicious characters and collecting gate tolls (on large carts and certain sorts of expensive imports). The gate-watch consists of four 2nd level warriors with chain mail and masterwork weapons, plus a young guard who serves as a runner (War 1 with light armor and the Run feat), plus a corporal who's a War 1/Rog 3. The warriors have +1 Will save, +1 Sense Motive, and +3 Perception. The corporal has a masterwork weapon and a +1 save item. He also has the Alertness feat, which gives him a +2 Will and +9 Perception and Sense Motive.

(Note that these guys have stuff that's above standard NPC WBL gear. That's because they're city property. Their weapons and items all very clearly marked with the city's arms.)

The guards' alignment matches the alignment of the city. If they're lawful, they're not bribable; if they're evil, they may have sidelines in extortion, smuggling, or simple humiliation. Their weapons are appropriate to the city's culture; the default is 50% longsword, 50% longspear, chain mail, light metal shield, and heavy crossbow. Their attitude starts as Indifferent. However, Diplomacy checks to change their attitude are always made at -2 -- they're not here to make friends. The guards change every eight hours; the gate is closed from an hour after sunset until dawn.

The guard station has one magic item: a stone, fixed in the arch of the gate, that casts a permanent Zone of Truth (DC 16) in a 20' radius. Suspicious-looking strangers will be interrogated within the Zone. Some of the locals know about it too; a DC 22 Knowledge [Local] check will tell the PCs about the stone. (Some locals use the stone to play pranks; this is formally frowned upon but the guards will often allow it.)

The guard post also has two dogs. The dogs have the Scent ability and are trained to bark at invisible creatures (and various sorts of
contraband, for what that's worth). Otherwise they are ordinary dogs, and will not fight unless attacked.

If something's a bit odd, the guards call for their sergeant. Sarge is an Exp 1/Ftr 5 with a masterwork weapon and armor, Iron Will and a +1 protection item. He has +6 Will, +6 Perception and Sense Motive, and +8 Intimidate. Absent a problem, though, Sarge stays in the gatehouse doing paperwork.

If there's a question or a non-violent situation that the guards can't handle, they'll send the runner to get an officer or a city official; it will take d6+2 minutes to get a response. If something's seriously wrong, the guards blow a horn for help. Within a minute or two, troublemakers will be facing a great many guards and a CR 10+ encounter.

If you want to turn this into a challenge: The guards are on watch for the PCs, having been warned that these are false adventurers -- evil, armed, and dangerous. They haven't seen the PCs, but have descriptions of them. In this case they will be Hostile to the PCs, and will demand that they lay down arms and surrender. If the PCs manage to get past the alert guards (by Disguise, invisibility, enchantment, Bluff or whatever) award them for having overcome a CR 5 encounter.


Doug M.


Okay, so a complete dead round for the two sisters in white. The dice are favoring you, wicked ones. On to Edmin and the end of Round 2.

Pretty sure it is. So, #2's attack works as a Dispel attempt against your HF. Here's the Dispel check: 1d20 ⇒ 1

Having taken damage, she gets a ST to continue her wail (it's a FRA): 1d20 ⇒ 7

Hmph. Okay, #2 got in a touch attack. Jax, I assume your Heroes Feast is still on?

Half damage for intangibility. Still -- nice.

While we're waiting for Jax to roll his AoO -- White Dress #2 will fly forward to attack Jax directly. (Since he's the only one in melee with them at the moment.)

Intangible touch attack: 1d20 ⇒ 18

Okay, White Dress #1 is going Total Defense and floating away from Jax up into the ceiling. As she floats away, she begins to wail -- that same horrible keening as her sister's, though in a different key.

Jax, she's leaving your threatened area, so you get a single AoO. However, she has the Mobility feat, so that plus Total Defense means +8 to her AC.

The big issue is not number of players but experience level of players. If you have players who know the game backwards and forwards, and who build optimized characters and are cunning at tactics, they will slash through most of the AP without difficulty. If your players are noobs or nearly so, they'll be challenged.

Otherwise, my only advice is "read the first two modules in advance, and then go back and read RotRL thoroughly". Knowing the material well really helps.

Oh, and foreshadow Nualia -- have her appear as a mysterious cloaked woman down an alley in the first goblin fight, or something like that.

Doug M.

Bigdaddyjug wrote:

He can't use all 3 at once because he has to be holding a focus or material component when you cast the spell, and I'm guessing his elven wizard only has 2 hands.

I'm not aware of a rule stating that you have to hold a focus component in one hand. It would seem to make sense, but a quick skim of the relevant sections doesn't show it as RAW -- simply possessing the focus and having it on your person seems to be enough. If I'm missing something, I welcome correction.

Also, if you want to cast acid splash in consecutive rounds, you will need to take out another flask of acid, which will cost you an action.

? Whipping out a spell component does not normally consume an action.

Doug M.

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Whatever you do, advance the story with it. Or at least, don't *retard* the story. If it were my campaign, I'd consider something like the following:

1) Have him apologize and then promise to repay the merchant -- double! 1500 gp should be enough to make him think twice about doing this again.

2) Have him spend one, single night in jail as a token punishment. (And have everyone be clear that it WOULD be a month or more, except that he's a hero and they understand he was desperate, blah blah blah).

Now, as to advancing the story: you can either use this as an adventure hook or as a RP hook. "Adventure hook" means this leads the PC into combat, like the Night of the Ghouls mentioned above. I don't think that's a perfect fit, myself, but you know what suits your campaign.

RP hook means a chance for roleplaying. Have a couple of townspeople be sympathetic, while others condemn the PC. You can even stage an argument between two of them -- "They're heroes! They're protecting us!" "Oh, so HEROES don't have to obey the law like us mere mortals?" "He really needed it!" "Well, he could have asked!" etc. etc. This can establish that certain personalities are lawful (and/or like the PCs a lot) while others are more neutral or chaotic (and/or don't like the PCs).

Similarly, if the PC spends a night in jail, you could have ghouls attack... or you could just have him meet Otis, the town drunk. Maybe Otis will eventually have significance (he wanders around outside the town and knows about the mysterious ruins). Or maybe he can tell some rumors (wild alcoholic ravings about pink elephants mixed in with an absolutely true story of seeing the Sandpoint Devil or Nualia). Or maybe Otis is just comic relief, and now every time the PC is in town good old Otis will show up, staggering and slurring his speech, wanting "my good buddy, my man, my man" to come and drink with him. Because "We went through Hell together, man... prison... living hell... brings out the steel in a man... brings real men together... a bond that lasts a lifetime... you can't understand if you weren't there, maaaaan."

Doug M.

Well, Zoren adds 10 points of fire damage. That's not going to do much.

Okay, over to the two White Dresses...

So, 41 damage so far. Now we add the following:


Not content with that, the tiefling laughs and lashes out again and again.
Spell-combat for full attack
1d20 + 22 ⇒ (16) + 22 = 38 for 1d6 + 21 ⇒ (1) + 21 = 22 damage, 3d6 ⇒ (5, 6, 1) = 12 sneak attack.
Possible Crit: 1d20 + 22 ⇒ (7) + 22 = 29 for an extra 1d6 + 21 ⇒ (2) + 21 = 23
1d20 + 17 ⇒ (1) + 17 = 18 for 1d6 + 21 ⇒ (4) + 21 = 25 damage, 3d6 ⇒ (5, 3, 4) = 12 sneak attack.
1d20 + 12 ⇒ (6) + 12 = 18 for 1d6 + 21 ⇒ (1) + 21 = 22 damage, 3d6 ⇒ (2, 6, 1) = 9 sneak attack.

If the targets are not easily in line of sight, Jax casts Intensified Empowered Shocking Grasp and holds the charge, then moves to where he can see the enemy and does the above but adds in the shocking grasp attack
1d20 + 22 ⇒ (7) + 22 = 29 for 1d6 + 21 ⇒ (2) + 21 = 23, 3d6 ⇒ (5, 3, 1) = 9 sneak attack and 15d6 ⇒ (5, 4, 4, 6, 3, 1, 3, 1, 1, 4, 6, 1, 6, 5, 4) = 54 electricity damage.

With adjustments for being sickened (-2 damage) and insubstantiality (half), we get

-- first attack (critical) 59/2 = 29
-- second two attacks miss
-- shocking grasp 21/2 + 54/2 = 37

Total damage is 107 (and, damn, high level magi get complicated). Who takes it? 1d2 ⇒ 1 White Dress #1, who had only taken 17 damage so far. 124 damage total? She's fine. Annoyed, mind you.

But wait: Zoren strikes!

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Question for Richard Pett: do you remember the old (like, 1981) module _The Duke's Dress Ball_? It was for Thieves Guild, a 3PP first edition knockoff that only lasted a year or two. Their stuff was pretty high quality, though, and TDDB? was just astonishing.

The setup: you're thieves, you acquire invitations to the Duke's fancy dress ball celebrating his son's (highly political) engagement. Your options include picking pockets and filching jewelry; looting rooms; running a con; acquiring blackmail-worthy secrets; and picking up some (potentially explosive) political information. The ball is of course a seething mass of intrigue, with the occasional comic relief character stumbling distractingly across your path. There is of course One Suspicious Guy who is pretty sure you're not who you claim to be. There is of course a rival gang whose efforts will complicate yours.

It was almost entirely a long, non-combat role-playing encounter, of a sort that would seem rather indy even today. (If you start a fight, the ball is crawling with high-level characters who can smack you down hard, and that's before security shows up.) It was possible to get in a drunken duel out back, or to have a silent wrestle in the rafters with a foreign spy, or a quick cosh to the One Suspicious Guy's head around a corner, but 95% of it was what we'd call skill checks today, plus lots and lots of role-playing.

Today _The Duke's Dress Ball_ is a bit of an obscure classic -- there weren't that many ever printed, and it used a not-quite-1st Edition system that never really caught on. But if you're familiar with it, this gamer would be very happy to hear that it might cast some influence on the dress ball that is to come, or at least get an Easter egg or two. (And if you're not, the last time I looked it could still be acquired for $15 or so. Totally worth it.)

Doug M.

Jax and Zoren get to act, and then the White Dresses. Both already announced their actions in Round 1, and we're keeping those, so let's see here.

Jax doesn't get to flank, so no sneak attack damage. However, he does get the following:

-- 25 electricity damage, reflex save for half. 1d20 ⇒ 16 Save is made, damage is halved and then halved again for insubstantial = 6 damage.

-- swift action Mage Strike = 38-2 for sickened /2 for insubstantial = 18 + 35/2 electricity = 35 damage

(more anon)

Dren of the Dark Tapestry wrote:

Dren begins to move towards the combat, surrounded by the field of impenetrable darkness. 20' move forward, 5' off the ground.

He then summons the powers of the beings from beyond the stars to destroy the creatures mind.

Knowledge [Religion] check for Dren: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (4) + 12 = 16

In the heat of battle, it has slipped Dren's mind that these creatures are undead, and thus unlikely to be affected by this sort of magic. The psychic blast from beyond the stars is designed to destroy living minds, not the complex net of negative-energy reflexes that passes for a "mind" in these malevolent spirits.

No effect.

Brimstone / Sulfur: Spells with the acid descriptor deal +1 damage.

Acid flask: Various uses, but when used as a material focus [F] for Acid Splash, it is not consumed and the spell does +1 damage. When it's used as a material *component* [M], then it is consumed -- but the spell lasts two rounds, doing damage on both.

If you use all three things (one flask material focus, second flask material component, and sulfur) then youmove Acid Splash from d3 damage to d3+2 damage/round for two ronds, which means you're increasing your average damage from 2 hp to 8 hp. At low levels, that's very respectable for a ranged touch attack -- and if you're an evoker, you can add another +1 round for being an evoker. D3+3 damage /round for two rounds will drop most of the enemies you're going to meet at first level.

The only drawback is that the acid flask is 10 gp/dose, and the sulfur is I think 3 gp/dose. So this is a bit pricey for a first level character. What you want to do is buy several flasks and doses of sulfur, and keep them handy for when you run out of spells -- throwing this every round will be too expensive, but occasionally being able to whip out 10 points of acid damage could be a life saver.

Doug M.

Yeah, easy on the damage. And maybe consider shifting Bruthazmus out of the final fight, or at least bringing him in a round or two late.

The Yeth Hound targets Will, and you've got a bunch of strong-Willed PCs. Of course, at low levels you can always get zapped, but don't be surprised if it doesn't panic anyone.

Lyrie is Chaotic Evil and not particularly brave -- if the PCs are clearly winning, she should bolt, accompanied by Nualia's curses. Note that if you keep Lyrie alive, that gives you a chance to run The Lyrie Scenario a few sessions later when the PCs are ~6th level and bopping around Magnimar.

Let us know how it goes!

Doug M.

One of the challenges of running high level play is that monsters won't always realize they're up against high level characters. So, in all fairness, I have to occasionally make them waste an action doing something like turning invisible, even though you guys are now powerful enough that invisible opponents are barely a speed bump.

Yes, you can see her. She's drifting invisibly along towards Sir Edmin -- she can't detect Ulp, and realizes the Judge isn't vulnerable. So she's going after the big armored target first, since he should be most vulnerable to her touch attacks.

Ulp, you didn't say who you were attacking, so 1d3 ⇒ 3 it's White Dress #2. Being intangible, she takes half damage, or 12 points. The other two 1d20 ⇒ 11d20 ⇒ 7 take 8 (Blue Dress) and 4 (White Dress #1).

Round Two

Blue 21
White #1 17
White #2 38

Blue Dress, Dren, Judge, Jax, Drax and Zoren, White Dresses, Ulp, Edmin. I believe Zoren already said he'll cast scorching ray. Jax and Edmin have already stated their Round 2 actions as well -- they will both charge and make melee attacks, keeping the rolls they've already made, modified by -2 on attacks and damage.

Blue Dress's action this round is to shriek in rage, move 5', and then cast. She disappears from view.

Dren can act now, and the Judge.

Okay, you all made your saves. Great! Unfortunately, this effect is suck-or-suck. So, all three of you are Sickened -- –2 penalty on all attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks. (Mind, you're still very glad to have made those saves.)

Edmin 1d6 ⇒ 5
Jax1d6 ⇒ 3
Ulp1d6 ⇒ 6

1) Really hard to judge without knowing how good your PCs are tactically. That said, at a glance this seems reasonable.

2) Ironbriar's buffing is going to make him damn tough if he gets it all done. Nothing wrong with that! PCs need to learn the basic lesson -- don't give enemies time to buff.

3) Introducing them to dispel and silence is a great idea. Be ready for them to adopt these tactics and forever use them against your guys, of course.

4) Finally, as to Lyrie, I did a 5th level version of her a while back as part of the Lyrie Scenario. Feel free to use it. This version is more of a lone wolf than a team player, and is built accordingly, but a 6d6 Fireball or a Suggestion spell will work just as well regardless.

Doug M.

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