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I've been destroying loot when a reasonable chance arrives.
The first time it occurred was when a PC with a bag of holding and all of the loot from a recently killed PC was swallowed by Malerix (The PC took about 190 damage stomach damage before Malerix was killed.)
The second time was during our last game where the PC's corpse was flame struck (or is it striked?) fireballed and hit with a cone of cold. The PC had a lot of soft wonderous items that didn't fair too well.
I'd hit the camp with a couple of random encounters, or let the party know that they'd been repulsed. The wandering monster table from the dead fields is pretty nasty.
If one of your clerics is of the appropriate alignment a lesser planar ally might be gifted to them to emphasize the good vs evil and add some more parrallels to the army of light.
If Kirash Dirgaut is cleared out I could see one of the groups from G5 moving in. Most likely the hobgoblins or the Ogres. They might even send out invites to kin. How they will figure out that it is empty is another question.
The Blood Mage is the NPC that I would consider the most likely to move against the party. Although I would expect him to do it through intermediaries. After him I'd consider the Vrocks and the Harpies. Beyond the Stalker I don't see too many possibilities for alliance with the loners or the lesser denizens as they seem too squabble prone and focused on their immediate areas.
PS - just remembered the Gnolls. They don't seem very alliance friendly but I could certainly see them moving into Kirah Dirgaut.
Who were you thinking would group together?
brvheart - depends on the paladins' perspectives. He's summoning devils to be the first through the door and chopped up by undead or alien egg things. Is it really better that he impose that pain on good creatures?
As for being conflicted, they've been waiting for an opporunity for force him into the tomb - more interested in rehabilitation than judgment when the evil is an affliction and not a life style (some west coast flavour for you).
My group has been working their way down through Kirash Dirgaut having entered through the tower.
After a couple of rough surprises (juju's in armor, floating eggs etc.) the Sumonner sent his Eidelon away and summoned bearded devils to be the first through every door. This worked out especially well for the encounter with the thief in the armoury. He did get the drop on the invisible Summoner but the chopping up of his the thief's devils and the "May I help you?" reaction from the Summoner rattled him. He's now sitting at the top of the tower waiting for them to exit and figuring stealth is the way to go with this group.
The last encounter of the night was the succubus and she proved to be the Summoner's undoing. Dominated, he had his bearded devils keep the rest of the party out while he went into discuss a gift from the sucubus. This left the two paladins somewhat conflicted as the Summoner was still evil, having refused to sleep in the tomb. After a few draining rounds of discussion the Witch dimenstion doored into the room with the Cleric, the Barbarian (who was instantly charmed)and the Ranger who was not charmed and smoked the succubus with a whack of arrows.
The resulting Nefalshnee was furious and shredded the Summoner then went to work on everyone else. It was a nasty fight and I should have used the Nimbus of Light ability sooner but even when I did use it only one PC was dazed and with the Paladin's help the Defalshnee went down. (I rolled a 1 four times during the fight and they were well recieved.)
The group is no just 7,000 xp away from leveling up and their in full meta-game mode, trying to decide if they have enough umph to go for thos e last XP.
That type of worst-case thinking is the way to proceed.
The issues being discussed here are not unique to gaming by any means. I work in project management for an industrial controls company and we have to guard against similar issues with people who are working 40 hours a week, not doing something as a side project.
Little Red Goblin Games seems like they have it right - minimize the variables and then go. That one post should be the bible for small independent publishers preparing a KS.
We have two paladins as well - as suggested I think I'll put the onus on them to ensure that 'the right thing' is done. It will give them an opportunity to up their role play skills.
I gave the cleric the XP bonus for going against the party (most of whom were suffering from sleeping in Tsar at the time) and agree with brvheart that giving out XP for destruction of evil items in general isn't the way to go.
I'm also going to steal KaiserDM's idea of some sort of credit/recognition from the churches. My group is a bit slow on the information gathering so I might have the churches give them details on Tsar's history.
Last week's game covered 16 days of game time which brought the party into the last week of July and the weather is becoming overbearingly hot (but it's a dry ash & bone dust choking hot) and the prevailing light has changed it's tint from grey to sepia. Now I need to remember to roll the weather and apply the effects.
A number of the group travelled to Bagdan (substitute for Bard's Gate) and sorted out business with the Medecinne (The benefactors who bankrolled the group's exploration of The Desolation & Tsar.) The experience was similar to teleporting to Acapulco from the near artic in the middle of February. The light became clear and healthy but instead of a temperature difference there was an absence of malice in the air. They've now offloaded a ton of loot and have a safe place for their gold.
After some 'because I say so' diplomacy from the cleric everyone except the summoner spent a night in a tomb located in the Ashen Waste. This undid the effects of the dreams experienced while sleeping in Tsar. It also was an opportunity for them to remember the Chain of Beguiling that they had been carrying. They used it on the earth elemental as they were afraid of killing it a leaving the tomb unprotected.
The wizard's familiar (a fairy dragon) managed the deed and was able to learn that the elemental was resummoned daily. This brought on worries of the chain disappearing with the earth elemental but some flying and invisibility and the powers of the chain allowed them to retrieve it and dash back into the tomb safely.
The next day saw the fairy dragon being killed when attempting to leave the tomb. They had been warned to fly high but 25 feet didn't count as high when the elemental's reach is included so the fairy dragon ended up being grappled by the earth elemental. An empowered lightning bolt that was intended to frighten the elemental off (or kill it) did enough damage to turn the fairy dragon into a dry-fried wonton.
The group then returned to Kirash Dirgaut and began exploring the lower levels. My favourite part was when they encountered an obvious door trap, looked at it for a bit and then opened the door without trying to disable the trap. (Woosh 10d6 fire). The group's favourite part was probably finding the secret door and associated loot.
On a side note I've always disliked the idea of there being magic shops where you could pick up a +1 sword or some wonderous items. Partly I don't like having magic be that easily available (it cheapens it) and the goods are so valuable that they are bound to attact thieves of the nastiest sort. (It doesn't matter what magical protections you have on your display case when they have your wife and children for ransom.) What I did for Bagdan (substitue for Bard's Gate) is arrange for there to be dealers in magic whom the party was able to talk to because they had a benefactor providing introductions and vouching for them. This moved the experience to the back rooms of power and gave the party access to magic that is not guaranteed.
If anyone can think of ways to improve this system or add flavour your suggestions would be appreciated.
Think about giving him anti-life shell and blessing of fervor to improve his combat abilities and defences
Wind walk makes him more mobile.
Has the Battle Hulk been destroyed? He may be able to lead it to them if it still exists.
Has he gained a level from all his dealings with the party?
- leave a symbol of pain / slumber etc outside the door to the hut MS II to have a Lemure knock on the door.
- He has access to Greater Glyph. Use it to store Plane Shift on a weapon given to a MS VI demon which then attacks the party in the middle of the night. They'll likely not be buffed at that point in time. This can also be put on the false phylactery.
- MS VI: Shadow Demon & it's magic jar ability attacking in the middle of the night. Kroma may be able to direct it against fighters etc.
- MS VI: Succubus: Has the ability to stalk the party etherially and pick a likely guard for domination. A Succubus can also be sent to steal weapons or other items. Locating them while ethereal, grabbing them from sleeping characters while material and then teleporting away.
- MS V : Xill same theiving ploy as the Succubus but with the option of pulling a paralyzed character to the Ethereal plan and leaving them there. (more work for you though)
Dispel Magic on their Hut/Secure Shelter and then Flame Strike and scram hoping for random monsters. (Not super effective but very annoying)
I'm not able to locate the rules on bonuses for Wonderous Items.
For example: a Headband of Vast Intelligence can provde a bonus of +2, +4 or +6 but the item's CL is only listed as 8. Is it simply the amount of gold that is spent in creation of the item which determines the resulting bonus?
Thanks in advance.
The party finished their exploration of the Tower of Kirash Dirgaut on Friday. They worked their way up methodicallly, searching every crevis but not rolling so well so some loot was missed.
Three items of interest in the tower:
1) Evil aligned weapons set of a fair bit of an argument. The cleric of Saranrae did destroy the slaying arrows but he's not impressed with the survival of the swords.
2) The party was not considering stealth when they made the final level. As a result they faced the General at the top of the stairs and the Senechal sent an incendiary cloud down into them. If the barbarian hadn't succeeded in a bull rush those at the back would have had a couple of painful rounds.
3) The party has no idea as to what the statue is for. They've done there best to destroy it with no luck. It might be that I've missed giving them some hints but I don't think so.
Is there anything before the Crooked Tower that would help them clue into needing the statues?
Another question for the Frog God guys:
The Pall over Tsar moves you one step towards evil if a will save is failed when you rest over night in the city. When you were writing this were you thinking that someone who was Lawful Good would move to Lawful Neutral in one step or did you have the 9 point gradient in mind? (As described at the bottom of the link below).
I think one of the reasons my players are sticking with it is that it is more difficult and it doesn't apologize for killing you. They've also started to suspect that Orcus has a purpose for Tsar and it won't be easy to sort out but I think, at this point, it's still more a matter of the deadly nature of the place.
How about some "My friends went to Tsar and all that survived is this t-shirt." t-shirts?
Our group also decided to stay in Tsar over night after dividing up the loot from the hobgoblins. Some skeletons and Yesh for random encounters but the skeletons just wandered on past while the Yesh hovered out of site and then left before dawn.
Its a big group with nine players and everyone suffered the dreams (including familiars) with 2/3 of the party failing their saving throws. We were running this portion via email to increase the amount of action during the actual game so I emailed dreams to the players based on their saves:
Those who failed their save:
Further on you encounter an crowd of demons and damned souls, their voices raised in exultation of Orcus and you see him: powerful, terrible and awful. The worship goes on and on and you start to understand the power that Orcus represents and how intoxicating it can be.
You wake with a start and a better understanding of his alure.
Those who made their save:
Further on you encounter an crowd of demons and damned souls, their voices raised in exultation of Orcus and you see him: powerful, terrible and awful. The worship goes on and on and you feel compelled to stay and watch but through force of will you turn away and wake up in a cold sweat.
(Jah Way is a druid PC who was plane shifted to the abyss by King Korma)
For those that failed I let them know of their alignment change and explained that they consider their old world view the result of sloppy thinking and a lack of will. The biggest loser so far has been the paladin who failed. He'd focused on charisma, wisdom, extra channel etc and is now a rather lame fighter.
The party was convinced to stay over night in Tsar by a character who was suspicious of the Midnight Peddler. They are very suprised by result. While they recognize the possibilty of total party doom they are also intrigued by the roleplay opportunities and the difficult problem to solve. No one has complained or suggested that the result is in any way unfair.
Because so many of the party fell to the dreams and because they had not found the tomb with 'Tranquilty's face' in the Ashen Wastes the paladin and cleric who made their saves were given dreams where they were shown the tomb and its surroundings but not told where it was. The paladin hasn't figured it out but the cleric went back over the Midnight Peddler's hints and figured it out. Now he is puzzling out how to get the rest of the party there.
The actual game involved a second assault on Kirash Dirgaut with things going fairly well until someone forgot about the symbol of fear from the first assault and made for the double doors thinking that they would get in and get away from the flailing dreadnought. Two familiars, a ranger, a paladin and a fallen paladin failed thier saves and sprinted away. Fortunately for the party the flailing dreadnought failed versus a retrubution hex (after 3 previous attempts - why can a witch cast this hex on something multiple times?) while in spinning death mode. The summoner summoned a number of rhinos into the zone of death and the retributive damage took it out.
Once all the runners returned the party assaulted the entrance and made their way past the doors with a chime of opening. They were impressed with the defenses and one of them mentioned that they will have trouble finding a nastier defence than this one. I told them not to bet on that. They're now heading up the stairs (area 69) and that's were we'll start up next game.
@brvheart - be sure to read the events section of the Citadel before you do too much tweaking of the Midnight Peddler.
YouTube videos from the sixties and seventies? Sounds like there is some alternate universe stuff happening. :)
The party had a number of players come close to going down but some good team play and some wise running away meant that they avoided any deaths.
We managed to get a game in last Friday - 9 PC's vs the hobgolins. They had decided to make a concerted effort to wipe them out after using Treasure Map on one of the wandering hobgolins they'd defeated. It was an all night slug fest that went through quite a lot of the party's resources and culminated with the hobgoblins singing their Noble Death
I'd thinned out the hobgoblins because of previous random encounters but at the end of the night there was still over 130,000 gp worth of loot weighing 1,150 lbs. This does not include mundane items.
The party's next challenge will be dragging all of thier loot back to camp.
To add to the possible difficulties one of the players is suspicious of the Midnight Peddler's clues and is advocating to spend a night in Tsar to see what happes. Could be interesting.
I've had two players suffer plane-shifts. One from prismatic spray and one from plane shift. Prismatic spray is the more awkward to deal with because it's a random plane. The plane shift came about from a Lich and he sent the player (Druid) to the Abyss.
We role-played the first one off-line and agreed 'he don't come back' for the second.
I've also had the party lose ALL of their loot @ 9th level when captured by troglodytes. They escaped with nothing, not even the hair on their heads (shaved in preparation for sacrifice, it was especially bad for the intelligent ape character)and that escape plus the capers they pulled to retrieve a portion of their loot were the highlight of the campaign.
Moral of the rambling - there are no spells off limits for everyone. Know your players and make certain that they know you and play accordingly.
I took the ability stats and used it to build a sword & shield ranger. I'm just curious to see how the style does. I've also pulled the two barbarian hobgoblins and replaced them with one 10th level shaman. That was more a matter of cutting down on the different varieties I'm going to have to deal with in the upcoming fight.
On a side note I'm also replacing the Triceratops with an advanced mimic or a lurker above. That's just for nostalgia's sake. Can anyone suggest some other places where some 2e monsters might fit well?
Last Friday our group made a quick raid onto the roof of Kirash Dirgaut in hopes of finding a sword (+1 holy two-handed thing)that was dropped when the fear symbol went off. No luck finding it but they did run into the Flailing Dreadnought.
It was an insteresting lesson in Challenge Ratings. King Thraestos is CR 17 and the Dreadnought is CR 12. With some good roles from me and a couple of bad roles from them the Dreadnought ended up causing significantly more damage than the King. A significant part of the issue is the party could not figure out what the dreadnought was and waisted positive channels, smites, improved invisibilities and other resources while holding back with attacks that would have been more effective. The 30' radius attack also caught them off guard and resulted in the death of one of the paladins who had thought he was at a safe distance.
One thing to note is area 50 lists the stats for the Dreadnought as being in area 12 whereas they are in area 37.
The party then moved on to investigate the hobgoblin caves. These are left to the GM and I've set them up with what I'd thought were some obvious traps but the party seems to have hobgoblins stuck in their minds as 1st level creatures so they've gone in with very little care and succeeded in generating a comedy of errors. If they continue as they have been I expect the result will be a badly bloodied party.
Note that the hobgoblin leader's stat block is not correct. 11th level ranger with 61 hitpoints and some other issues. You'll want to make your own stat block if your party heads in that direction.
We play magic in a manner similar to yours and the rareity of magic in The Desolation worked out well. There are a couple of loot caches and finding them is a big thrill.
There can be an abundance of generic magical supplies in Tsar (if the characters take a certain route) but you can always taint them with symbols of Orcus if the group's collection gets to be too cumbersome. (Your group may enjoy roleplaying the desctruction of such items.)
Re role/rollplaying it all comes down to the characters. There were a number of encounteres where my group chose role over roll and I didn't have any trouble adapting to it on the fly with the material at hand.
I'd add some Inquisitors of Thyr who harass the party and extort alms from them when they first arrive at camp. Play them as serious bullies who try to intimidate the players into whiping out the camp but only after the players have gained enough levels to whip the inquisitors.
I think your idea for Thyr is excellent and I'm going to modifiy it to fit my campaign.
Agreed and yes there are quite a lot more. For creatures with animal intelligence I'm assuming that they are not affected. Likewise for creatures who are evil when they enter Tsar. I haven't been able to think of a satisfying game mechanic to explain why so I'm leaving the reason as 'unkownable'.
I'm thinking that the occupants of the Crooked tower are likewise immune to the Pall because of room 82. Alternatively the occupant of room 82 may be wearing symbols of another god and be clearly devoted to Orcus to give the party a glimpse of the types of changes that can take place.
It sounds like the basics are all covered.
Take a look at at the 50+1 as it might provide you with additional hooks (player character ancestors?).
I'm trying to increase the degree to which the gods are playing a part in our campaign. Each of the characters was granted a boon (equivalent to a Hero Point in the APG with the cheat death option removed) by their god for taking on the quest. There are also a number of points in the campaign where it is appropriate for character actions to result in a boon for good deeds.
Definitely the skill survival. (Just read about a bone storm.)
I started my group at 7th level (6 players) they came up with backstories and had all been hired and equipped by a rich family in exchange for information and a share of the loot. Your group looks like it may have been hired by one or more Churches. There are two dieties from Frog God games that are prevalent in the adventure and these would work well (Muir and....can't recall). I've didn't want to deal with introducing deities that are different from previous campaigns so I've substituted Saranrae and Iomedae.
I'd recommend having each of them role up a 2nd character c/w backstory. It's a worthwhile exercise for keeping the game moving and setting the tone for the level of lethality.
Looking at your post it seems like your players are starting at 20th level. Is that correct or are those their anticipated outcomes?
Re levels of difficulty: It's more dangerous in Tsar than out in The Desolation but there are no zones that are stacked with encounters that are safer than other zones.
Bill warned about the need for a cleric - I concur. I add and strongly emphasize that survival skills can also be critical in the desolation. Read bone storms and acid rain.
Finally, the biggest difference between this and one of the Paizo AP's is that the difficulty level is not tailored to the expected character level and players need to be prepared to run away when they encounter something nasty.
@ James - sounds like your group is getting caught between Kormu and whatever they stir up in Tsar. Could be nasty.
Below is the standard teleport error table (for reference) and what I'm planning on using if they do try to teleport in. My group has missed a number of the encounters in The Desolation (mostly in the boiling lands) so I'm going to take messed up teleports as an opportunity to run them.
(Edit - sorry the tables below are so garbled. I didn't realize that Paizo's board would strip out all the extra spaces I put in for formatting.)
Teleporting into or within Tsar
Familiarity On Target Elsewhere* Mishap
* 50% random location in Tsar 50% dangerous, unexplored encounter in The Desolation (GM's choice).
I couldn't figure out the 9 square thing either. It's probably a change to the map that didn't get updated in the text.
I agree with James' take on disabling the trigger mechanism for the trap.
I will probably allow two saves:
First save is half damage from the spikes and also clear of the crushing damage. If you fail the first it's full damage from the spikes and save again to try and take half crushing damage.
The group I'm running made their first assault on Kirash Dirgaut on Saturday. They approached from the south and went in through door at the top of the stairs to the western tower. It was a tough grind.
While approaching the stairs they were attacked by the group from the rear gate. meatmen went down easily but the Marrow Knights did some damage with their ride by attacks (trample would also have been good).
Once they were on the ramparts it was a matter of battling through a huge number of arrows as they advanced door to door. Illusions put a stop to attacks from the other side but not from the tower. (The illusion was a higher wall and they didn't think to add a roof.)
The summoner went after the tower - summoning creatures inside it while invisible - but the 37 perception check made it past his invisibility and he gave up after a couple of arrow hits. Flying across to the other side of the bailey he continued summoning and made excellent use of creatures with the trample ability: 24 squished meatmen.
The rest of the party had made it to the fortress roof by then and made a dash for the door to the tower. They made a loud noise as they ran into the door and amazingly only one of them failed their save when the symbol of fear appeared. That character dropped everything and fled back the way he came, eventually being dropped below zero by arrows from the tower.
The rest of the group were attacked by 4 marrow knights and despite losing some hit points kept giving worse than they got. One of the marrow knights took off around behind the tower (a sure sign of impending victory) and two characters (paladin & cleric) went after it once the last of the other marrow knights went down.
They found it coming back with 4 cloud giant skeletons in hot pursuit. The cleric was sent to -20 something and the paladin survived only because I rolled a 1 to confirm a crit. The rest of the party joined in and the knight and skeletons went down fairly quickly but the survivors were at the point where they needed to avoid kobolds.
The dead and the wounded were grabbed and teleported back to camp (just in time for the character who had been hit by fear). They did not remember to grab the +1 holy falchion that was dropped. Will they teleport back and make a grab for it? Hard to say - they did see demons reaching for them as they teleported away and one magic user has experienced issues teleporting around the crossroads.
DM Pendin Fust makes what I think is the most important point - there should be good tactics on both sides of the table. (Roleplayed accordingly - goblin good looks different than high level mage good.) It makes things much more interesting for the players.
I think it's much more satisfying for players to beat an opponent who didn't hold anything back.
@ Jonathon Quinn
I'm finding it very helpful to have the PDF. The book is huge and if you're needing to flip back and forth it can be quite awkward. I've pulled maps from the PDF and annotated them as well as making a small book with all the random encounter tables and associated monsters.
Warn your party or hint that they should research the environmental dangers of The Desolation. There are some storm affects which could easily result in a TPK.
I'll second brvheart's comments.
As for item 2 the group is given some quests by locals if they spend some time interacting in the camp and those help with the why for exploring the desolation. After that I found that my group was curious to find out what is out there because it was very different from what the player's had previously experienced. There was some definite metagaming (we need more XP) after they saw the dragon footprints on the way into Tsar.
You may also want to add some hooks into a couple of player's backstories. We have one tracking a vampire as part of their family's multi-century quest for vengance.
Clerics or Paladins can be given quests from their religious orders or their dieties. There are some shrine like sites that they could be required to find. Two of the players had this added to their backstories.
For the less holy you can have the party be contracted to investigate the road and the desolation by a mercantile group interested in trade routes. (This was the impetus that brought our group together)
For all of the above you can be fairly confident that the party will eventually turn their focus to Tsar.
Our group has a Paladin with a strength of 12 who will be able to make great use of the sword as written. I think that this is an unusual state of affairs (His Dex is 9 and his Charmisma is 22) and would also alter the sword in most circumstances. Perhaps a +3 that casts Banish on a confirmed critical.
I also agree about the concealment. It sounds like it's being used to conceal something.
10 hours! We never manage more than 5 a sitting. You'll excuse the jealousy.
@ in general
The group has still not managed to make it to Kirash Durgaut. Wandering monsters took too long to deal with. One encouner was a party of 8 Hobgoblins who made great use of terrain by firing from a distance over the rubble. Some of the party was able to move quickly but the difficult terrain meant that they arrived piecemeal, burned through a lot of resources and took more damage than they would expect from some hobgoblins.
Has anyone entered Kirash Durgaut yet? I'm curious to know how the barred doors were handled.