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Belzken Monk

Dreaming Psion's page

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber. 788 posts (816 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 4 aliases.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think the first (and maybe simplest) step I'd do is is give them some kind of thing akin to bardic knowledge but applies to all skill rolls relating to war, combat, military, and tactics. Bonuses for finding the best place for tactics favoring you, choke-points, that sort of thing.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hmm, good point; PR is the big deal here. Going straight rogue then may be your best option. To maximize your parasitism, put max ranks in Use Magic Device so you can fake casting spells.

The rumormonger and Convincing Lie rogue talents might be worth looking at. These are controversial because there's an implication you need to have these talents to spread rumors or for people to believe lies other people spread unwittingly by proxy. However, I'm of the opinion these talents just make it vastly easier. The Rumormonger makes spreading a rumor a single Bluff check and lets you avoid having to find the best places to begin spreading rumors. And without the Convincing Lie, it may be up in the air if the parties your pawn talks to believe your story, but this gives you an up front ability to lie to people by proxy, allowing you to roll a Bluff even while absent. Judicious use of both of these could have you spreading a lie like a contagion.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'd be careful with this, as you'll want to make sure your ruthlessless and hunger for power doesn't rub the other players the wrong way. Jerk companions can work in fiction and folklore, but in gaming it needs a lot of finesse. You might want to temper your ruthlessness with any of the following (whatever is suitable to your preferences and game setup):
1) aim your wrath and greed primarily at jerk targets who deserve it. (I.E>, enemies of the party)
2) give your evil/search for power a bit of doomed/morbid humor (should be highly possible if you have a guy trying to compensate for incompetence.)
3)The individual is a component of the self, but not the only one. The people you hang out with is also an element of the self and can be viewed as a reflection upon you. Look out for how you can empower the other guys too. If nothing else, they'll owe you one for it instead of the other way around.

Now the question is, how will you go about making a dramatic transformation from a lowly mundane to something greater? Going into wizard/arcane trickster might make for a good way to play up your character wanting to become better, because then you wouldn't just be able to hoard treasure but also magical knowledge. Not the most magical option, but seems to fit your character concept. If you wanted to start with Fighter instead of rogue, you could multiclass into Eldtrich Knight. (Several races/classes with spell-like abilities will permit earlier entry into these classes.)


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BBEG lookalikes/Doom bots- there's a lot of options for shenanigans pull on a group who prefers to go right for the jugular. (At least until they get scrying)

rogues in disguise
wax golems
doppelgangers
shapeshifting fiends like succubi
Simulacrums


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

How much of an opportunity did they get to solve/avoid/circumvent the encounter without fighting it (at least not under conditions that don't favor them?) How much did they capitalize on these opportunities?

Stuff like foreshadowing about a critter of this kind's power and such should can be important, even for a random encounter.


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The adventurers stumble into a dungeon timeshare presentation and get locked inside.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I always thought alchemists and rogues should get Knowledge (Engineering). The former because he's the closest to a gadgeteer/craftsman class we have, and the latter because I conceptualize the rogue as essentially like Rocket Raccoon from the Guardians of the Galaxy movie: the quintessential spanner in the works, Murphy's Law incarnate. Basically he can take anything apart, man or machine, and subvert it to his own purposes.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Malwing wrote:
I'd like to ask. When people say "low magic" do they mean Low caster power or low magic items? Do full casters make magic mundane or the abundance of magic items?

I would say that to have low magic items you'd sure as shootin' better bring down the casters with them, considering how much less casters depend on gear than everybody else.

As for why there is a desire for low magic, there's a few possible things one can think of:
1)Variety is the spice of life. Some worlds and campaigns might call for a lower realm of magic.

2)With magic as prevalent as it is, it's a lot of bookwork to keep up. Every majr NPC enemy carrying around several potions or other expendables, as well as once you get up there 2-4 minor magic items can be a lot to keep track of.

3)Some might want players to depend less on having the right spell (or scroll) at the right time and more on thinking of weird and unusual ways of solving problems in subomptimal conditions. Being able to go to a store and having a 75% chance of finding whatever scroll or some such you're looking for is a bit galling.

4)They want more things for martials and the other mundanes to do. As it is, magic is a fairly go-to solution to handling problems. You can look at some of the stuff the ancient and medieval people did without magic and wonder how nice that would be to translate into a game. But that would require considerably more logistics and technical finesse than plopping down some items and saying they function because they're magic.

5) Some people have commented on the Christmas tree effect and expressed how characters rely too much on their gear instead of their own character's innate abilities.

6)Somewhat related to #6, it's not necessarily that they want low magic so much as they want rarer but more powerful/concentrated magic. Instead of half a dozen cloaks of resistance and a quarter dozen nameless +1 items. The "Big Six" weighs on the mind of a lot of people, how much players look for it, and how much it can eat out of WBL. I could see from a GM's perspective that it would be fun to give the players the weird stuff and see how they put it to work solving problems, and as a player I can see how finding a few fairly significant magic items with unusual abilities etc.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Put an anomalous very attractive man/woman in the dungeon who fawns one (or more) of the PCs. He/she could be a prisoners or just appear wandering around with no memory. Make the would be paramour's affections seem pretty fishy, especially when he/she asks for a kiss. Hopefully you can play up the possibility of the evil trickster/tempter incubus/succubus. Now just make the person a normal person (albeit a little bit flaky.)


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Oh,since this thread was about Chaos and Evil, I will want to include my idea as to the "archetype" of Chaotic Evil
To me, Chaotic Evil shows the following:
1) an aversion to order and structure/preference for being unfettered or a dedication to disorder, entropy, or freedom (more specifically, one's own freedom)
2) pursuing 1 to the point that other considerations are tossed by the wayside.

To this degree, I identify the following characteristics as among some of the possible elements of Chaotic Evil:
a) a dedication to some cause that undermines or takes apart order (classic example: the bomb-chucking anarchist.) and either replace it with no system of governance or one that only benefits the chaotic character him/herself. Basically, the abolishing of rules, codes, and institutions that fetter or restrict the character's own whims
b) methodology that is less defined by written rules. formally crafted techniques, centralized authority, or the like. Basically, the way of Chaotic Evil tends to be more erratic but also more spontaneous than Lawful Evil. Randomness can sometimes be a big element here too.
c) more of a focus on the self rather than a group identity. Holding one self as apart from the environment/world or opposed to it
d)The character's own personal ambitions, whims, emotions, or feelings tend to be more important than some preset agenda.
e) Chaos, being inherently unstable/influx, often implies change and conflict. As such, when coupled with Evil, this can manifest as harmful and destructive change to the status quo, as opposed to the stagnation of Lawful Evil.

In my view, since every person or thing that is slapped with an alignment label represent an instance of a descriptive archetype, one single component is usually not so essential as having the right combinations of elements to represent an example of that archetype. As such, all of these traits above are trends or generalizations.

Often times you will have a character, group, race, or organization of a given alignment that seems to have a trait or two of the other side that seems to contradict its nature. For example, lawful characters are generally more group oriented and chaotic characters are generally more individually oriented. However, this is not one hundred percent true down the board. The gibberling race (from D&D) are thoroughly chaotic in that they represent random marauding governed entirely by whimsy and chance. However, they are also a very group-oriented race in that they have a near lemming-like "follow the leader" M.O. (Basically a more feral embodiment of how fickle groupthink or mob mentality can be.) The 2e Monstrous Manual describes them as thus: "There is no sense, no organization, and no individuality." True individuality requires a level of stability and cohesiveness that some forms of Chaos might not embody. A more human example of group-oriented chaos would be Galt in Golarion, a place that is perpetually tearing itself apart and ever changing with faction turning against faction and ironically allowing for very little individual liberty.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Westerner wrote:
Why would a lawful good person insist on a fair fight? That means that it is more likely that evil will prevail and, by extension, other good people will suffer thereby. It seems to be another argument in favor of the concept of "lawful stupid".

For certain brands of Lawful Good, "fair play" or "chivalry" are forms of honor so intrinsic they are to be upheld as an end in and of themselves. They may also want to avoid the "ends justify the means" concept that defines the Lawful Evil character, their darker cousins. OTOH, other forms of Lawful Good may find such codes of intrinsic honor to be frivolous and distracting them from fulfilling the duties they owe to their causes. (Personal honor often does have a very individualistic element in defining the code, drawing one as separate from his environment.) For those Lawful Good types who eschew personal honor in favor of serving the cause, they will likely focus what they can to get the job done without compromising their beliefs or tainting the honor or goodness of their cause.


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Oly wrote:
Dreaming Psion wrote:
Just as there is a spectrum of characterizations across any alignment, so is there one of Chaotic Evil. All lawful evil characters are not by necessity more benevolent than all chaotic evil characters.

However, LE characters can somewhat be trusted, because while if they make a deal with you, it'll have been made for their own benefit or at least they'll see it as such, but they almost definitely will follow it to the letter, even if they may look for loopholes. So they are more ethical, in some senses, than CE characters, even if the ethics have nothing to do with benevolence: Keeping their word, usually following the law, often opposing you "honorably" if they oppose you.

The "Personal Honor" type of evil a frequent trope of Lawful Evil, but it is by no means necessarily a must have or even a majority occurrence. I mean, devils lie ALL THE TIME. There's nothing forcing a lawful evil character from keeping his word, especially if she think you're scum doesn't deserve to have her word fulfilled. In fact, if she believes that throwing you to the wolves will serve her master plan, he might be MORE likely to stab you in the back, as sacrifices often need to be maintained in order for the order to be upheld, and better you to have to be sacrificed than me.

Law, especially lawful evil, often downplays the worth of individual people. Further, they will often be more systematic in closing up all the loose ends (meaning offing any associate he no longer has any use for in fulfilling his vision.) A chaotic evil guy might just let it go once he was done with you after everything's done because he liked the cut of your jib or because his whims carry him elsewhere. A lawful evil character may not feel like they have the luxury for personal connections or other irrelevant emotions.

As another example, a lawful evil type whose existence focuses on a maintained order may be more likely to hold a grudge when that order is disturbed. Especially for a bureaucratic type, their identity can become ingrained in their order such that they can't let a disruption of their order go. They can pursue vengeance with a single-minded, methodological and cold sort of resentment. (Think of Temple Fugate, aka the Clock King from Batman:the Animated Series) A chaotic character, by contrast may often have an identity that more fluid and less attached to specific social arrangements than the lawful character. Therefore, they may not be so inclined to carry a grudge for so long or so methodologically, especially if something more lucrative comes along in the meantime.

A chaotic character may also be more likely to entertain vastly different points of view since their identity is often less fixed than the lawful character's is. Dealing with them is no necessarily harder than it is with the lawful character because what you have to do is align your interests with theirs. You are more often appealing to their emotions than their agenda, so if it seems interesting for them to go along with you in just this once, they may be inclined to do so. Indeed, in folklore there seem to be more tales to my knowledge of normally evil creatures (such as fey beings hags) helping out a hero/heroine more out of personal whim than any grand design a lawful character may have.

So I guess when I said continuum for each alignment, I really should have said "archetype" or "prototype" because an alignment is really a general label for a category of traits that come together to define that label in our mind's eye. Different examples will vary in these characteristics from the "Platonic Ideal" of an alignment (if such a critter exists), but as long as they have enough traits to fall under the banner, they're still examples of the "archetype" of Lawful Evil.
Lawful evil is about maintaining an order that tends to be self-serving and taking it far enough to be past the realm of neutrality. So, a dedication to order that is perverse enough to be considered evil. Having a code of personal honor is one form of order or lawfulness. Some other forms include:
a) a dedication to some greater cause that serves order. Ironically, this may cause the adherents to abandon personal codes of honor because the mission comes as a priority over individual sentiments.
b) Being methodological and following procedure to get things done (sometimes in an almost mathematical or scientific fashion.)
c) More of a group-identity orientation/less self identity orientation than chaotic characters.
d) tend to be driven more by larger schemes or agendas rather than personal feels/whims/drivees
E) because it's about maintaining order and order often implies slowly of change, evil seeping into order often comes in the form of stagnation and maintaining that rotting order at all costs.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Just as there is a spectrum of characterizations across any alignment, so is there one of Chaotic Evil. All lawful evil characters are not by necessity more benevolent than all chaotic evil characters. (Certainl lawful evil characters may have the follow through with personal grudges whereas chaotic evil characters might just as soon shrug it off and find some other horrible shenanigan to pull off.)

I think that a Chaotic Evil character can be just as much of a dark reflection of his Good counter part as a Lawful Evil character can be. Let's take the villain group from FR the Eldreth Veluthra, a primarily CE group of elven supremacists who want to wipe out humanity because of all the horrible evils it has inflicted. Now, these guys are reflections of their more more good aligned peers in that they love the wildness of nature, hate restrictions on (their) basic freedoms (that happens to coincide with humanity and its nature destroying civilization), and are somewhat fey-like in their actions like elves are. They fight in cells largely independent of each other without much central authority. In these ways, they can be said to be chaotic.

They are also extremely brutal and very often petty in what they do. They often torture their prey and leave violently desecrated bodies for people to see. However, this is more a function of them being evil rather than being chaotic. A lawful evil group might exhibit some of these behaviors too, though it would likely do it for different reasons or in more systematic ways.

Being chaotic doesn't keep the Eldreth Veluthra from thinking they are doing "the right thing" or at least "what needs to be done." Vile, CE people don't HAVE to be without an ideology that drives them. (In fact, many evil people will adopt some sort of twisted ideology to justify their actions as a further form of self deception.) The thing is that their dedication to a cause (whether lawful or chaotic) is tainted by the loss of perspective on what is right and what is wrong. In the Eldreth Veluthra's case, they happen to be dedicated to a cause and employ a methodology that is more classically chaotic then lawful, and they also happen to be evil.

The Survival of the Fittest guy who takes things too far might be another CE archetype that I would find to be at least superficially "honorable" (in that it has a superficial ideological justification beyond being either completely self-serving or completely bonkers.) In his eyes, the dogma of good are but lies to coddle the weak. Humanity's (or whatever race he happens to belong to) true potential, it's true glory only comes from constant savage competition. Order is a tool made by the weak to weight down their superiors. So this guy tells himself he does the world a favor by showing the chattel the truth of the slaughterhouse they live in. He is about destruction, but destruction for a cause- that is finding the strong and bringing them above the lower people. His view of strength just happens to lie with ruthlessness and the removal of inhibitions.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Regarding skills (or spells or anything else, really), if the power level of stuff gets out of control at a certain level (or simply beyond the level you're comfortable with), there is also simply the option of not going there and ending the campaign early. Plenty of campaigns have run their course by then. Another option would be switching to a narrower power curve like E6.

Re: perform checks gaining the attention of outsiders, deities, and extraplanar beings, that's possibly a whole other kettle of fish. Such attention doesn't necessarily always have to be beneficial and could very well come with complications. Sometimes the thing is not determining whether you succeed or fail at something as determining what it is you want to do/what is the best thing to do in the first place.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
The 8th Dwarf wrote:
Discworld

I did do a pretty fun 2e D&D campaign in Ankh-Morpork for a bit back in high school. It was pretty fun. So yeah I'll add that to my list.


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Trap the door. But that's just a decoy. The REAL trap is when they first step through the door into the next room.


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Bardarok wrote:
Expert. Max ranks in profession(banker), profession(lawyer), and profession(polotician).

(Shudders) I believe Paizo has certain rules of decorum to follow. Some forms of evil are beyond even the darkest of their modules.


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Give them something nice and irresistible with no strings attached but make it seem shady. Throughout the campaign throw out several circumstances where their boon will seem to finally bite them in the butt. Always hint that maybe something more is going on, but never act directly on it. The curse will be the players forever looking over their shoulders for a threat that doesn't exist.


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The PCs meet turn down the corridor and find a hideous monster that is likely to kill them all in a single blow. The first time it is struck in combat, it flashes and sparks and goes tumbling backwards. It runs into the wall and then wall falls down, collapsing the rest of the dungeon around them like a cascade of cardboard thin scenery. After the dust settles, the characters find themselves in a funny room with all sorts of weird gadgets pointing at them. A harried mob of humans scurry around, trying to pick up the mess.

A strange man in a funny hat yells through some kind of voice-magnifying tube, "CUT, CUT! It's not your scene yet! We're gonna have to do another take!" He proceeds to verbally accost "the amateurs" for not following the script. "NO MORE ADLIBBING!"


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Dead canaries. And then something funny smelling in the air.


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Wizards can be problematic for a villain standpoint because of the paperwork involved. You have to worry about all of the spells you have to put in their spellbooks, and you have to judge how much the spellbook is worth and what spells you can afford the player characters learning. And on top of that, there's calculating how many will fit in a spellbook, and deciding what spells the guy has prepared. It's usually easier for me to just go with a sorcerer with the sage wildbloodline and favored levels in spells.

In general, casters are more versatile than noncasters, so they make better villains. However, due to the unpredictability of the game and the action economy issue, I find that single BBEGs don't really do it for me most of the time. Organizations, groups, cults, ideologies, or abstract forces are usually better because it's harder to cut off the head of the snake.


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Liranys wrote:


4. Mislabeled Potions (But it says Potion of invisibility... why am I not invisible? Why am I growing rabbit ears?)

A very mean and nasty variant on this would be to have them find some potions labeled "Potion of Healing" with the twist that the potions were healing intended for a person with negative energy affinity...

What would be meaner and nastier is to rule that that, since the PC who drinks the potion drank it himself thinking there'd be no negative effects, he would be foregoing his saving throw against the potion...


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Dragon78 wrote:
I wonder what kind of monsters we will get.

Other than the ones in the Lumber Consortium? Yeah, I'm curious too. ;)

On a similar note, I'm curious as to how they'll expand the opportunities for trouble and strife in Andoran. Beyond Darkmoon Vale, there are a few bits and pieces briefly alluded to (such as the possibility of hidden Azlanti tomes of forbidden lore held within the trade halls), but it will be interesting to see how/if these are expanded upon to further flesh out Andoran beyond its general concept as the "birthplace of freedom."


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Sounds like you've got a solid, well developed group of rivals, and good point on the caster thing if it's a smaller party. The Rasputin-esque inquisitor guy is very intriguing; it would definitely be interesting to see how things go with him if he has his own agenda. (The cavalier being a puppet for two parties at once could make for some interesting plots for the PCs to interact with/investigate/exploit to their advantage.)

It's always a joy for me conferring people with ideas about their campaigns. It can be very thought provoking (as it has been here) and gives me lots of ideas for campaigns of my own later on down the line. Let me know if there's anything else you'd like to discuss relating to this.


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Sigil, because it's both a metropolis with gateways to everywhere but also a frontier in a sense. There's no central good or bad guys (but there's still room for certifiable Good and Evil). The factions provide lot of room for character options (motivations, goals, philosophies) that aren't necessarily tied to discrete mechanics. There's also a certain atmosphere that comes from the mystery around it (the Lady of Pain, Undersigil, what happens if you go off the edge, the mazes, the various bit players and what their true goals might be, etc.)

More recently, I've gotten a lot of use from is Darkmoon Vale. (I consider this distinct from much of the rest of Andoran because it's actually a fairly troubled place with lots to do.) The average everyday people are generally good, but perhaps riddled with misconceptions and generally troubled by forces beyond their control. But on the other hand, they're survivors, they don't just buckle under like pathetic kittens so many other fantasy commoners do. (Just look at the woodsmen defense in the undead siege in Hungry are the Dead. Whereas the PCs are still the central heroes, they're not alone in the fight.)

The Guide to the Darkmoon Vale is filled with hooks. Ancient dwarven ruins, dark druids/twisted fey, werewolves, the depredations of man, and general intrigue provide for a lot of options for things to do. (Having a great series of tie modules helps build this stuff up, of course.)

I've found in play the Lumber Consortium adds a general dystopian feel because it's an insitutional evil that couldn't (at least as far as my players reacted) be dealt with by simple bloody violence. Kreed is an insufferable thorn in the players' side, yet he provides a structure and organization to the land that makes getting rid of him problematic in finding a replacement to fill the void his death (and the dismantling of the Consortium) would provide. Although my players seemed to love to hate him (loving the opportunity to bewilder, humiliate, and insult him [the latter behind his back]). They even went so far as to several times talk about assassinating him, but even when encouraged, they never quite followed through with it. Instead they always used indirect means of striking at him (like encouraging popular opinion to get him to pay for the costs associated with paying for a plague cure to be freely dispersed to the public).

Of course, not all that is good about the Vale is darkness. There's also useful/intersting NPCs (such as the frumpy and nerdy but wise alchemist Laurel, the troubled fey queen Syntira, the magic item crafter and pragmatic advisor Karlae Siegefrost, and the whimsical Mayor Amring of Olfden). Even the little things about Darkmoon Vale have added to our experience. (You wouldn't imagine how attached my players got to Jak Crimmy's cinnamon crusted flapjacks.)

Finally, Darkmoon Vale is specific and detailed enough to be highly unique and enjoyable, yet modular enough to be portable into widely different settings. (I easily adapted it into my homebrew, post-apoc steampunk world, a far cry from Golarion)


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I'd point those looking for depraved darkness to the PF module Broken Chains . There's some seriously disturbing stuff in there (somewhat along the lines of Hook Mountain massacre levels of depravity but with different subjects).

For a more philosophical, subtle take on darkness, I'd point people to the early 3.5 module S1, Clash of the Kinslayers
Spoilers follow

Spoiler:

Clash of the Kinslayers is subtle in its darkness because it explores how even the best, most well-intentioned of us (that is, the dwarven god Torag) may from time to time do possibly very horrible things (that is, laying waste to an entire city, dominated by sinful/wicked people but also having a few innocent downtrodden beneath them.) Although controversial because if its seeming OOCness (in regard to good vs. evil actions), I like it because it represents a blemish on a paragon of good's record. Although I've heard this depiction of Torag is entirely due to miscommunications between the staff and the earliness of it in Golarion's development history, I find it in keeping with two concepts
1)the ancient/medieval wrathfulness of justice and good
2)the fallibility of deities in a polytheistic world
3)the differences of what a god might see as just vs. the differences in what mortals might see as just (the god being very detached from mortal reality vs. the mortal's direct connection to it)

I like this module because it representation of assumptions we (or at least, many of us) taken as a given. Nowhere else have I seen divine wrath questioned in an rpg product, and relatively rarely do I see good(ish), well-intentioned people motivated to do very questionable acts because of emotional turmoil or desperation.

So in a lot of ways, Clash of the Kinslayers to me comes across as dark in different ways from the others because it's not just objectively horrible people doing horrible things. It doesn't beat you over the head with the darkness or how one should exactly react to it.


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Balance is a continuum. I have a respect for balance for classes/character options to be in the general ballpark for each other, especially in a mechanics heavy game like PF where success can be tied so much to how characters are made. In games where mechanics are lighter and more freeform and where player skill is aimed towards improvisation and adaptiveness in play (as opposed to player skill in making characters and dealing with the mechanics), then balance is less of an issue because more depends on how the player interacts with the situation independently of level.

For a mechanics heavy game like PF (that emphasizes use of special character abilities first and foremost) and has challenges in terms of character level, then yeah balance is relatively important to me. (Because if it's all over the place, then the tools they give you to guestimate stuff is inaccurate and just gets in the way.) The worst kind of imbalance is the kind that isn't obvious (the kind that often seeps into PF as a result of coming from a legacy system where intentional Timmy imbalances were part of the design goals.) If the imbalances weren't so hidden but instead clearly labeled so the rules could be more easily used as a tool-set to filter out which options were appropriate for a given power dynamic, then it would be less of an issue.

Basically, I condone neither an obsession with balance nor an avoidance of it. For me, balance isn't simply a categorical yes/no but rather something more complex. Whereas not all characters will be equal in everything all the time, having characters on roughly the same playing field overall is a good thing to strive for as one of the design goals.


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Kind of off topic/a tangent, but Rocket Raccoon always struck me as a good example of what a PF rogue should be (but isn't necessarily), basically Murphy's Law incarnate, acting as a monkey wrench to subvert everybody else's toys/plans/schemes and use them for himself.


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I know this sounds paradoxical, but there is something to be said about finding self-perfection through submission (in this case, the submission to a divine will). This is because it requires a person to change themselves internally (setting aside their wordly attachments and desires for pleasure) rather than externally changing the world. Further, the individual self (or soul) can be seen as just one measure of the self; an element of self can be found in the collective self, in the relations one has with the world and other people. Remember that in many societies, an individual doesn't have identity merely in a vacuum, but in how he relates with others. The ability to relate and connect (whether it be to one's deity or other people) is a worthy skill all in and of itself. Gaining levels in cleric (that is, the ability to draw from a divine wellspring of power) requires the same amount of XP as anything else.

Meditation doesn't just have to be about sitting on a mountaintop somewhere in exclusion. I get the feeling that the path to self-perfection isn't about isolation or self-separation; it's about existing in the world but not becoming mired in it. A person can become mired in the world even if he faithfully performs his monastic rituals in isolation (for example, if he becomes weighed down by an irrational desire/attachment to achieve enlightenment.) I don't see why there couldn't be certain spiritual practices that emphasize a way of to enlightenment through action (performing one's role in society without attachment or the accumulation of karma) and ways of enlightenment through devotion (achieving liberation through connection with a deity or even collective divine soul.)


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Wars in fantasy gaming can be big world changers, so a lot of the time you'll see things simmering to a boil and then left for individual groups to explore on their own. (Or in the case of Paizo and Golarion, to explore in Adventure Paths, such as Kingmaker and now in Hell's Rebels.) I see a lot of POTENTIAL for war, such as:
Molthune/Nirmathas
Taldor/Absalom
Taldor/Qadira
Geb/Nex
Cheliax/Andoran, Cheliax/Shackles (or Cheliax/anybody really)
Irrisen/Linnorm Kings

Basically, the campaign setting books are at best a snapshot of the status quo but with a roadmap of potential developments you can make to break that status quo. I don't get the feeling the borders are exactly stable or anything, but a lot of the war stuff might make for AP fodder or as bigtime campaign events for a homebrew/Do-It-Yourself campaign.

Basically, on-going war events tend to define a majority of the plots hooks of the land they're occurring in and thus defining what the land is like (such as the Worldwound/Mendev conflict that is more or less eternally going on, or the eternal civil war of Galt.) If the potential events are hinted at or implied rather than the setting books saying "okay here's how this war is and what's happening/happened in it."


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I like all of your ideas. The turning Karzavon into Karzoug is a good idea, and Karzoug going with the silver thing is a work of genius. (The similarity in color of silver to gray [as in the Gray Maidens] is an interesting coincidence and a possible point for Karzoug's agents to play up to throw off the players as to a red herring to his advantage.)

I was also just about to suggest Sorshen's return to further enhancing Shattered Star, so it seems like we're having similar thoughts here on what can work. Sorshen's whispers to Oriana, the Gray Maidens, and the rival adventuring party serves you in two ways. First, it fits her nature as a enchanter (subtle influence.) Second, the vagueness and subtlety of her influence is easy to downplay later in the campaign if you so choose. Using Oriana as a path into Korvosa sounds like great way to connect her more fully into the game and rewarding players with something very tangible for helping to break Sorshen's hold over her.

it also sounds like you've got a good solid core for a rival adventuring party with many of the iconic enemies (Red Mantis, Asmodean inquisition, Hellknights). I might suggest making one of the Hellknights a Signifier to boost the rival party's caster potential (seems a bit high on the Martials.) Signifiers are in Paths of Prestige, or check here:
Hellknight Signifier

The inclusion of a Red Mantis assassin going rogue has interesting implications for Seven Days considering the Red Mantis involvement in the plot. Taking down one of their rogue number might be a good way for the PCs to get off their hit list for interfering with their plans (and thus wrapping up their grudge from Seven Days.) Or perhaps the Red Mantis Assassin in the rival party has gone rogue to go after the PCs' disruption of the events in Seven Days. (if you are keeping the Red Mantis involved as an element in that plot and not replacing them with the Skin Saw Cult serving Karzoug from the Skinsaw Massacre.)

My main question for you to consider is what role you'd like the rival adventuring party to play. Are they going to be personal rivals to the PCs, or will they be more of a random, unknown wild card to keep the players on their toes? (if the former, you may want to build in reasons for the rival party to hold personal grudges against the PCs from some of their prior actions in the campaign.) Will the rival party try to snatch the glory from the PCs by beating them to the punch, or will they wait for the PCs to retrieve the prize themselves? (This will affect the timing of their appearances.)

In general, it sounds like you've got a good solid plan for augmenting your Shattered Star campaign. It makes me excited just hearing about it, so I can only imagine what it will be like playing in it!


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Mimics in shapes you wouldn't think of. (Example from an official AP: a boat that the characters ostensibly have to take in order to progress through the adventure.)

Unintelligent or completely evil seeming monsters that stop and talk or surprisingly beg for mercy, dispelling the adventurers' comfortable assumptions that given monsters are merely dumb beasts. (Example- conversational otuyghs.)

Positive energy aligned undead. (More than one way for you to freak out your players here I've used/seen.)

Casting the magic aura spell on magic traps to throw off players who think detect magic will nail everything 100% of the time. Also place magic aura on nonmagical things and disguise some of your traps but not others for real insidious mind games.


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216. The topics of sex, religion, and/or politics are brought up. These things and plentiful drink do not always make for good conversations.


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Another thing to think about are the Gray Maidens in volume 2 of Shattered Star. As written in Curse of the Lady's Light, this group has left Korvosa following the destruction of the Queen, who in a sense horribly brainwashed them all. Like the death of a cult leader, they've been left adrift and seek another new leader to believe in from what I recall. If you wanted to keep in the possibility of defeating the queen later, the effect on their morale could be very much the same if this group of the Gray Maidens were a rogue faction- breaking off after having figured out the queen's horrible plans. And now they're similarly set adrift as if she had died. Or maybe they came to the ruins of Magnimar to find some kind of counter to their former queen's descent into evil. Either way, this might be a way to link Curse with Seven Days to the Grave- the characters find out about one from the other.


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OK, Curse of the Crimson throne, Rise of the Runelords, and SPOILERS (and perhaps PFS spoilers too) below, you have been warned.

The most challenging thing about the Seven Days to the Grave is possibly coming up with a central villain behind it without diverting all the attention from your already busy setup. As written, the queen's responsible simply because she wants to mold the city into her image and that means getting rid of the "undesirables." Of course, much later in the Adventure Path we learn that things may be arguably much worse, as much of this plague business was but a ruse to get a sample of every Korvosan's citizens' blood. Through the sympathetic link their blood gives her, Ileosa Arabasti, will sacrifice their life force to a dread artifact of Sorshen's called the Everdawn Pool (as related in the final AP installment Crown of Fangs- which also features the characters going toe to toe with the Gray Maiden's most elite forces.). The sacrifices to the Everdawn Pool will allow Ileosa to achieve youthful immortality and a great boost in power, maybe even become a reincarnation of Sorshen. (This might be an interesting development if the characters succumb to a certain trap in the Shattered Star AP...)

Now, this is not so different from Karzoug's soul sacrificing of the greedy thing. However, the challenge here is that the people being targeted at least initially by the plague is those who don't have much to be greedy about, the disadvantaged who have to worry about merely being making it from day to day. And later (in the last module of the AP) it turns out that ALL the citizens of Korvosa are being targeted to fulfilled her rise to power.

Obviously, Korvosa's evil queen is a very evil and masterful villain in her right, and her inclusion could potentially overshadow the quest against the Runelords. So providing an alternate source of the plague might be in order. Davalus could be working for Karzoug in trying to discover a quicker way of making people die (and harvest their souls) that seems more "natural" for example. Alternatively, the Arkonas (a mob family of rakshasas from Escape from Old Korvosa- the following adventure in the Curse of the Crimson Throne) could be trying to do what the queen is doing in the default AP. Or even more out there, if you were willing to dig into some of the Pathfinder society scenarios there were a few associated with the cult of Lissala and the waking of the Runelord of Sloth- he could make for an easily inserted villain. High level and a possible preview with the showdown with Karzoug.

Yet more intriguingly is exploring the option of Karzavon, the very powerful, immortal, and ancient (CR 25 I think was the estimate?) that had been "killed" (though not really destroyed) and dismembered into several artifacts. It was contact with these artifacts that warped and transformed Ileosa Arabasti from petty, opportunistic poisoner into full blown villainous psychopathic mastermind. She feels the voice of Karzavon whispering in her ears, and may become, or leave behind in her wake, a reincarnation of Karzavon.

Now, the existence of Karzavon makes for an interesting coincidence in Rise of the Runelords. In the final battle, there is an unnamed adult blue dragon assisting Karzoug. What if this nameless blue dragon was a relative of Karzavon that had, like Ileosa Arabasti, fallen under the influence of the whispering immortal dragon? (We see in Escape from Old Korvosa the queen hasn't been the dragon's only pet project of resurrection- he has tried to inspire a cult through talking in dreams to various mad artists.) Karzavon could be spying on Karzoug to learn his secrets of power/transmutation/etc., and this might set you up for a follow up adventure or sequel campaign with Curse of the Crimson Throne as your main backdrop.
[/spoiler]


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...really SLOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW traffic!


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...the Little Ol' Lady from Pasadena.


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...White Mage and her band of clerics, priests, shamans and so forth who bust in at the last moment and anti-climatically slay the BBEG. There's a reason why CoDzilla is a thing...


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...the Spanish Inquisition! Nobody could've expected them!


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467. Praying very fervently at a statue that looks remarkably like one of the PCs!!
Comic version: the statue looks remarkably like one of the PCs' familiars or bonded mounts.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

What if they don't hate magic, it's magic USERs they have issues with (speaking in the general sense, not the class name of earlier editions.) The character seems from outward appearances to HATE magic because he's going after all these high level casters, but really that is just an misperception the killer doesn't bother to dispel.

In actuality, the killer kills because of his LOVE for magic. Specifically, he doesn't want to see it frittered away. (Perhaps he's under the conclusion that magic is a limited resource that will run out if it's all used up. If the world is filled with magic, then it is safe to say that perhaps magic use is common too? Then perhaps this notion might not be too far out there. Perhaps killing high level spellcasters allows the killer to drain their magical energy and leak it back out into the world to replenish its supplies (or so the killer thinks.)

Alternate notions "for the sake of magic" might relate to how magic is taught or hoarded. High level characters (especially high level spellcasters) have a tendency to hoard their wealth and more importantly their magical knowledge. Perhaps the character is more of a populist/egalitarian who wants the current crop of the elite to die so that low-level spellcasting can spread to the people. Maybe the killer wants to change a Forgotten Realms type of infrastructure into more of an Eberron one. (That is, replacing the presence of high level magic in the hands of a class of all powerful people set-up with the relatively common, low-level pseudo-tech but rare high level magic set-up).


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Let's here about this queen you have to kill. What's she like? What are her strengths and weaknesses? What about her guards and personal minions?


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Umbral Reaver wrote:
Bring your own wall with you, set it down, then bust through it!

Might be possible if somebody conjures up a Wall of Stone for you.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

439. Animating some skeletons
Comic version: Animating Mr. Skullhead.
(The first would probably be a Good Idea, the latter a Bad Idea. In fact, that's kinda how I imagine this thread- with the narrator of the Good Idea/Bad Idea Animaniacs segment saying "Serious Version", "Comic Version"


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Shub-Niggurath's cousin Al wrote:
Now that I think about it, a dragon disciple could be a subordinate to the lich, rather than the lich itself. Sort of a penultimate baddie to make the final battle that much harder.

In Ravenloft, they had the concept of the "vassallich" a vastly lesser powered version of a lich bound to a lich's service. They lost they ability to gain levels/experience, but the lich lord they were bound to could grant XP to them at his whim. Might make for an interesting option if you wanted to make a dragon disciple subordinate.


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Ideas

1) Don't make the BBEG be a single person . Make it a cult, an organization, a guild, hell even a family. That way, if one tentacle of the beast is lost, there will be plenty more.

2) Have the BBEG be an impossibly strong and despicable Evil Sealed in a Can, that can only free itself in limited ways by possessing hosts, that serve as its avatars. That way you can fight numerous incarnations that are each different, but some essence of the central villain will always return. (Of course, your players don't have to know this from the start- let them figure out the dread truth for themselves, a little creepy hint at a time.

3) Offer the group a choice, go after the sweet lewt or whatever mcguffin they're going after, or take down the fleeing bad guy- they've probably got time for one, but not necessarily the other. (This one has worked for me several times.)

4) Give the bad guy a useful role, making them potentially more useful alive than dead. Or let them grow sentimentally attached to the villain (that is, a love/hate view of the villain.) Of course, this will come at a cost- your villain will sometimes need to be useful/beneficial to the party. This strategy may be the most difficult to pull off a-priori, but on the other hand, it allows for the most spontaneity (that is, if things go a certain way, you can just play it up as things go on and let them evolve.) It can also be one of the most enriching things from a player perspective- I've had this one used on me. It can be really great to have an ongoing fre-nemy that evolves more or less naturally through game play


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Another idea for a unlikely lich:
Nature's Wrath: a blight druid driven by bitterness at losing his grove and everything else he holds dear, now plays a war of "scorched earth" tactics against those who ruined his home. He has sworn eternal vengeance. (Formerly a normal druid but retrained his levels.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

438. Throwing darts at a picture of his most hated enemy, one of the PCs
Comic version: Throwing darts at a picture of his most hated enemy, the PCs hireling torchboy (first level commoner).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Paris Crenshaw wrote:

Check out some of the early Pathfinder modules:

Revenge of the Kobold King is a sequel to Crown of the Kobold King. Although Crown is not very undead heavy, Revenge has lots of undead, and it was a Free RPG Day adventure, so you can get the PDF for free.
The follow-up to Revenge is Hungry are the Dead, which is almost entirely undead-focused.

Although not very undead heavy, Crown of the Kobold King does have its moments of undead goodness, such as the encounters with the

Spoiler:
forgespurned, a fairly unique CR 5 Droskarite dwarven undead monster that pounds the souls of its victims in a metal chain it uses to sustain its existence. Also, on the random encounter table, IIRC there's a a few possible encounters with some allips and a good "fake out" encounter with a gelatinous cube (!) that your players might mistake for a ghost or other spectral entity of some kind!

Finally, Crown sets up some background for Revenge that makes the villain of Revenge more meaningful in that

Spoiler:
the kobold king villain slain in Crown returns in Revenge as an undead abomination. Now, he's not the BBEG here but merely a pawn of the villain who shows up in Hungry are the Dead .

Incidentally, when I ran these modules, I also threw in Bogged Down (Dungeon 91, 3.0 and might require some conversion/adjustment for levels.)

Spoiler:
I had the bog mummy that washed up be the first source of the plagues in Hollow's Last Hope [i] (the module that starts off the Darkmoon Vale trilogy) and the Pathfinder Society Scenario [i] the Pallid Plague , the latter of which features plague ridden undead that threaten the fey of the Darkmoon woods.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
I didn't think outsiders could become a lich. Not sure where I got that, but I could have sworn I read it someplace.

It might be in some later book, I dunno. It USED to be in 3.5 only humanoids could become liches. HOWEVER, in PF core the template can be added to "any living creature" (a qualification that excludes constructs and undead but includes outsiders.)

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