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And now I'm prepping for when the group hits 17th level. They'll be fighting against several military units as they support the home team. With that, I'm stating out members of various strike teams.

Hellfire Sorcerer CR11

A political enemy representing a clan of dragons, who the PC's will finally have to deal with soon.

Dragons' Ambassador CR16

Here is the leader of the latest party of giants who are hunting the PCs.

Giant Cavalier CR19

Another member of my giant raiding party.

Giant Archer CR17

Here is a giant ranger who is part of a group hunting the PCs and their allies.

Giant Ranger CR16

Bane Wraith wrote:
Pity that. Still sounds like an awesome campaign.

Thank you!


On a side note, I think you may have miscalculated your Master Spy's actual disguise check...

Assuming 20 ranks to start, it looks like your modifier would be...

+10 (Master Spy bonus)
+6 (Skill focus)
+4 (Deceitful)
+3 (Class Skill)
+3 (Charisma)

There's 46.

Ah, I see that I missed the class skill bonus.

Here is how I came up with disguise check.

20 Ranks
6 Skill Focus
4 Deceitful
10 Master of Disguise Advance Rogue Talent
10 Art of Deception (part of Master Rogue PRC)
3 Cha

So I should have had 56, but I didn't want it too high either, or my group wouldn't really have a chance.

Bane Wraith wrote:
I hope you find some means to rescue him from the players' grip, or have him rescued by some nemesis who recognises their talent for giving the players a hard time. Simply having the players paranoid of every new NPC they meet can be a treat in itself, and now that the Spy has a grudge, life could get difficult...

Unfortunately, my master spy is done. At this point in the campaign, the PC's will be busy gathering their allies, trying to stop an enemy army from uniting, while fending off intrusions from various 3rd party countries who are trying to take advantage of the situation. They've also learned to keep the chain of command tighter, just in case another spy comes along.

In the interest of time, I really didn't give much background on what the spy has really been doing for the entire campaign. But maybe you'd be interested in this short summary of some key campaign points.

* From the very beginning, the spy's reported on troop movements, and watch changes along watch towers across the frontier. The PCs never really figured out how so many enemy troops were able to sneak across the border undetected. Their commanders did have a suspicion.
* Low level soldiers were paid to do seemingly small acts of sabotage for a man who the PCs couldn't find.
* A significant hate group exists in the area and within the legion (anti-any race except human). Communications from brethren in the south (faked) and planted propaganda among legionnaires helped fuel dissent and lack of cooperation.
* The party ranger took some serious damage, and needed to recoup. The group decided to leave the PC in the safe hands of the fortress temple while they completed a time sensitive mission. They were surprised to find that the ranger disappeared without a trace along with her equipment. (The player couldn't continue with the campaign and the situation was just too convenient. At the time a high level assassin was also in the keep.)
* When a southern ambassador arrived rumors circulated (by the spy) that he was strongly tied to the pro-human movement and wanted to take the current general's position.
* When the general of the legion took a risk (a quick march from a recent battle back to the fortress with limited guards), intel from the spy led to the general's assassination.
* In the turmoil after the general's assassination, a certain high ranking officer was led to believe that many other officers and centurions supported his forceful taking of command. He was surprised when few joined in his violent attempt to take command. Letters found in his rooms touted devotion to him, and his leadership, but most were found to be fake, or written by men who had suddenly disappeared or were found dead.

*A high ranking priest found that his loved ones were captured by the enemy, and secretly told that if he didn't do as they wished his loved ones would die. Knowing the man's magical prowess and pride, the spy correctly guessed that he would try to secretly handle the matter himself.
* The traitor priest unwittingly lets a team of assassins into the fortress, who succeed in taking out a lead official (before falling to the PCs). The PCs didn't realize that they killed a lesser spy in this fight along with the lead assassin. The spy never went near the fight.
* The traitor cleric flees realizing his family is dead, and is eventually hunted down by the PCs. He never met the spy personally, so had nothing to reveal.

At one point I had a flow chart of who knew who and who the spy was manipulating. Over the course of levels 10 to 16, the PCs slowly chipped away at these. This sub plot was always rather secondary to other events that kept taking the PC's attention, so they were never really able to investigate these mysteries at length.

Bane Wraith wrote:
Well done to your players! Pity the Spy took such a chance...

Yes. I was agonizing over the; Would he go for it? Is that bait really good enough? This guy's been patiently under cover for years. Is this worth him taking the risk?

At the end of the day, he knew the circle was getting smaller. Less secrets were escaping, and he knew they were hunting for him. He visited the target twice before and didn't notice anything that seemed out of place. He couldn't really flee since his masters could potentially kill him for abandoning the mission. In game terms too, the PCs are getting close to hitting 17th. He was quickly getting outclassed.

In hindsight, I should have also given him a Sense Motive check, which if he succeeded and sensed something was up with the cleric, he would have resumed a role as a minor peasant or low ranking soldier, maybe waiting for years to take another attempt. But either way, he was out of the game.

RubioB wrote:
Also, as an aside. I noticed your write up for the Master Spy shows he has no ranks in Spellcraft. Meaning he would have no idea about what spells or magic could be used to find him. He should maybe hit the books.

Thanks for that catch. I'll need to update that.

So we started the game this afternoon and the PC's had four outstanding missions. The first they decided to tackle was a plan to find the spy. The high general had already tightened the chain of command and deduced that he could trust 5 top leaders and the PCs.

The PC's themselves had just returned from a diplomatic missions which turned violent. After debriefing with their general, they agreed that they would let it slip that they recovered a document written in some form of code from another nation and that the group's scholarly cleric would spend time decoding the encryptions. Essentially, the encoded information belonged to a leader of the 3rd party that both the PCs and the spy's country wanted to win as an ally. Very interesting information for the spy, potentially.

The rest of the PC's pretended to disembark on another mission. In reality they were taking shifts keeping an eye on their friend as he read through some fake documents, keeping them always on his person. He kept guards at the door and only allowed a servant to come to him for food.

On day three, one of the guards was the spy. The cleric actually chatted with him a bit, but did not see through the disguise or sense anything was wrong with his motives. The spy for his part didn't get a look at the documents.

Day four was similar. On day five, the spy took a chance and chatted with the cleric again, attempted a death attack, and failed. The PC's were watching at the time, and teleported to the hall (very familiar place for teleporting). The spy tried to flee, but was tackled and taken prisoner. A brain drain from the oracle revealed enough information, and the prisoner was sent off for a quick military trial.

Thanks again. This was very helpful as it helps me get my mind around some of the things they may try and how the spy might react.

I'm secretly hoping they come up with a good plan.

Now to get ready. Game is on in 2 hours.

Vatras wrote:
If you forbid divinations, which is kinda unfair...especially if they still work for the NPCs...

Just to be clear, features specific to the Master Spy prestige class are blocking divinations. If the PCs had a Master Spy I would give them the same toys.

No, sorry, to be clear, the PC's only know that there is a spy somewhere in an army that is occupying a massive castle. The legion consists of about 1,000 and the support is probably just as much. The castle's population rotates frequently as the army patrols a very large area, so at any given time there's probably 1,000 in the castle complex. They know the enemy has been gaining access to some important information, troop movements especially. They're sure that the spy is not in their inner circle of commanders (yet). They do know the enemy has a secret organization skilled in the ability to assume any disguise, even that of close friends. They also suspect that this enemy could be changing identities fairly often, so today's chambermaid may be the spy, but tomorrow it could be the legionnaire guarding the gate.

Well, there's also the fact that killing all your support staff isn't going to be helpful either. :)

Thanks for all the feedback. This is helpful.

Part of their challenge is that their also dealing with:
* Several unfriendly armies which need to be kept at bay
* Political enemies who are undermining some efforts
* Shoring up support from allies
* the fact that the legion has 1000 soldiers, and almost as much in support staff. Interviews, combats, or individual tests aren't really feasible.

Regarding commune, the results on that spell have been unclear so far. Campaign wise, the gods of this world don't intervene too much without consequences from opposing gods. Now, one more level and their clerics will have access to Gate. If they use that spell correctly, I'd say they will have their spy.

I'm hoping they come up with a creative bait. So far they have been having secret meetings, feeding false information, and doing something completely different from the plans they've let slip.

Regarding scent, would that be a complete give away or just a penalty to the disguise check? I'm leaning toward a penalty. If someone can create a disguise that is good enough to fool intimate relationships, they should know how to counter scent.

So here is the situation.

I’m the DM.

My homebrew campaign is at 16th level.

The PCs are operatives of an isolated legion under siege from several hostile groups. They know beyond a doubt that there is at least one spy in their midst. Their problem is that every strategy they’ve used to find him has led nowhere.

This spy has been in their midst somewhere between 5 to 10 years. His primary mission is to observe and report when he can. He is disguised as a servant to a high level officer. Even with being disguised as a different race, his disguise check has given him access to almost every area, though he cannot attend secret planning meetings.

He’s a Rogue 10/ Master Spy 10. I’ve ruled that divination spells are not locating him due to his abilities.

How would you locate him? I’m thinking that they need to bait him with a trap, but want to see if I’m missing something more obvious.

Here’s a link to his stats.

Master Spy, CR19

After another long gap in playing, our group is back. They've been having a very hard time locating this spy who is located somewhere within their own legion.

The Mster Spy, CR19

Are you playing adventure paths? A home brew?

I'd play an unchained rogue, maybe a ranger. As a solo PC, you don't have a prayer with most adventures and encounters. You need to max out stealth, maybe disguise, and investigate everything prior to ever committing to combat. Only enter combat when you know you have an absolute chance of success.

Officially, I'm guessing at 13 or 14 with the red box set. I'd had it for quite a while and really thought I somehow was missing the game board. It took me a some time to wrap my mind around how it all worked, and then invite some friends over.

And the leader of my evil half-giant faction.

Perfection's Path Elder

Here is a half-giant psychic. I should point out that I was never a fan of half-giants with psionics, whenever that was introduced. However, in this world, half-giants are kind of a down-trodden race. Most believe they were artificially created by another race for use as slaves and war. Some free half-giants embrace the good of both their human and giant heritage. However, there are some who rebel against everything of the world that insults their pride; giants, humans, and even the gods. A growing political power is a group that seeks to establish half-giants as the dominant power, the next step in perfection if you will.

I planned on having this group be run by anti-clerical wizards, but then Occult Adventures came out, and well, this just seemed to fit for one of the villainous groups.

Perfection's Pupil, CR15

JosMartigan wrote:
Yup, right out of Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed. Interesting conversions.

Thanks. Yes, I like a lot of things in Arcana Unearthed. Many concepts fit rather well with character and race ideas that I'd had for years, and the crunch made more sense.

A half-giant champion, and chief body guard to the upcoming BBEG.

Half-giant Champion, CR17

A half-giant soldier, actually part of an elite guard. 16 of these guys will make up the personal bodyguard of a half-giant villain.

Half-Giant Soldier CR10

Just some things I might do if it were my game.

1. Make that final Boss at CR24. In my experience, CR at higher levels gets odd and favors the PCs enough that you want to go +4 on an epic fight. Add in the fact that you have 5 PCs rather than 4 and I’d add another to the APL. A Black Great Wyrm Ravener is CR21 if I figure correctly, so either add some class levels or another template to bring that up.
2. Do not end the campaign with just your BBEG alone. Solo monsters against a group of 5 18th PCs will be done in 1, maybe 2 rounds. Action economy is against you.
3. With #2 in mind, I’d structure something like the following as the total complex defense.
a. Great Wyrm Black Dragon Ravener +, CR24
b. Lizardman Scion, CR19
c. Lizardman Sorcerer, Level 17, CR18, (This guy is dragonblooded, but at the cap of power that the dragon will allow, lest the sorcerer get ideas of being the bog ruler)
d. Lizardman Sorcerer Followers, CR14 (x5), these are the top disciples, equal to a CR19 encounter.
e. Lizardman Warriors, CR15 each (x10), these are the elite warriors guarding the king, equals a CR20 if they are all present at once.
f. Lizardman Druid, CR18. This guy is a wildcard. He’s there to support, but my abandon ship as he’s not too loyal to the dragon.
4. You’ll notice this combination is way beyond a level 18 party. However, these forces will be spread out, and if the party does a good job scouting, they should deplete these resources with a few tactical strikes. If they just stumble in and start swinging, well then we’ll see if that bard/barbarian combo breaks the scene.
5. The great well: The final lair is this chamber with an immense pool of water stretching hundreds of feet down. This is a huge underwater battle field where the dragon will retreat if his minions are destroyed. Make the party spend resources to fight here.
6. Add in some megalanias at the well. They’re just giant lizards, and won’t do much, except soak up damage if the PC’s think they are a threat, and you may as well put the dragons’ Charm Reptiles ability to use.
7. Someone on these boards wrote that the best way to play a dragon is as if it were just a sorcerer. Use the same tactics. Keep at a distance and blast. When the melee guys get full attacks, you’re in trouble.
8. With that said, this guy should have some scrying ability set on his minions. He should be watching the PCs in the early battles and may be familiar with some tactics before the final confrontation.

Cuup wrote:

I'll be running an 18th level one-off, and the bulk of it will take place in a bog. The bog is notorious for being dense and hard to traverse. I was wondering how I could simply portray that through gameplay. What sort of natural obstacles could I include?

Be prepared for the group to simply ignore any natural obstacles you place there. Even with limited system mastery, if they look at the spells available to them, they will be flying, windwalking, or scouting out your bog from the ethereal plane. They won't be stepping in mud, or worrying about thickets, unless you completely nerf their abilities.

Immunity to poison and disease should also be easy for them.

Natural animals and predators aren't going to be a challenge either.

If it were me, I'd start with who the enemy is and how long you want this one shot to last (one four hour session? a couple weeks of game play?) With the BBEG in mind, you then figure out how he/she/it would defend it's lair from high level opponents. You have 5 18th level PCs, so I'd probably be looking at a final enemy at CR22 to 23.

When this spell activates, how quickly does the new form take place? The PRD says this.

PRD wrote:
If at any point within the duration of the spell you are reduced to fewer than 0 hit points or are slain by a death effect that is not mind-affecting, you can immediately let your current physical body die and assume the record of your physical body on your next turn.

Does "immediately" indicate that it is a swift action, and thus the caster can act normally for the rest of his/her round? In other words, the caster gets wacked by Mr. Fighter and sent into negative hit points, upon his round, Mr. Psychic, reappears and . . .

A: Twiddles his thumbs because his reappearance takes up his turn.
B: He takes a five foot step back and casts Telekinetic Storm, sending his enemies into oblivion.

I'm leaning towards option B.

I enjoy the entertainment that I give to my friends and family.

Sometimes there’s not much reward. Other times, I can see the excitement on their faces and it is worth all the effort.

I’ve been DMing for about 30 years now. I’ve been running the same homebrew world for almost 20. I love it when I hear people telling stories about my games or how intricate the setting is.

About two years ago, I somewhat reluctantly started a game for my daughter and her friends who were then juniors in high school. They enjoyed the first game and more showed up after hearing about it. When graduation came, I assumed we’d be done since most were going off to college. I was surprised that they wanted to keep going and some would play via skype when they could.

I enjoy seeing my players encounter interesting situations, conflicts, and characters.

I also love tactics and strategy. Since I usually have a good idea on what my PCs can do, and survive, I like to create epic battles.

And some of the best enjoyment is when a few players hang out after the game to talk about the game, what happened, and what might happen next.

Create Mr. Pitt wrote:

This is not a problem if castle and dungeons are properly defended against teleportation (which they would be in any world with teleportation).

As for in game, if you have multiple clerics, you can always offer them the travel domain which grants them access to teleport. Otherwise, you're kind of stuck from the viewpoint of rapid travel. You can buy items to make up for it. But really a cleric with the travel domain would be the ideal.

Yes, this is not a problem in my game. In fact, most lairs will have counter measures for even high level spells. Most of the rulers are CR 20+, and plan accordingly. I've got a scene coming up where the enemy is obviously begging for a scry and teleport sequence, of course it's a trap. Now, it may play out differently.

The travel domain is a good idea, but we're not going to re-write PC's that have been in play for over a year (it might be longer).

Ah, I meant to reference Wind Walk in my first post not Air Walk. That spell may do the trick. I think I was overlooking how fast they could move and the total distance they could cover. Thanks for all the feedback.

I know it may seem odd to want teleport back in the game, but I built the high level parts of the campaign to require some high level spells in order to accomplish the challenges.

The PC's are basically a special forces unit for an empire that is being attacked on several fronts. Political leader's are being assassinated, and several powerful enemy forces are converging on the region. There are several instances where they will need to defeat one force, and then very quickly get to the other side of the empire to quell another threat.

I'm currently running a campaign that is at 15th level, and we will no longer have a wizard in the group moving forward. Fortunately, the group has two clerics and an oracle (seer).

The problem I'm seeing is that the group relied heavily on teleport. I'm not seeing many options for clerics to quickly whisk the PC's around an empire until they get access to 9th level spells (Interplanetary Teleport).

Am I missing something? I don't even see any summoned monsters that can help (I'm guessing that is intentional).

Air Walk seems too slow, or maybe I'm reading it wrong. Control Winds would help that if it were a cleric spell or there was a druid in the group.

Any pointers would be helpful.

A tiaga giant leader, part of a scouting party for a large raiding group.

Giant Leader CR18

Here's a lunic (homebrew race) anti-paladin that came along with the assassin's strike team.

Lunic Blackguard, CR17

And the traitor who let the assassins into the home base.

Traitorous Cleric CR16

This enemy leads an assassination strike on the PC's home base.

Assassin Strike Leader CR18

Entering a new chapter, the PC's are confronted by a mutinous legate trying to seize control of the legion.

Mutinous Legate CR17

They either have to negotiate with him or remove him, while contending with the rather loyal legionnaires at his command.

We're entering a new chapter in my campaign, and the PC's are at 15th level. Here's a giant shaman they may encounter.

Giant Shaman CR16

CampinCarl9127 wrote:
I distinctly remember either an item or a class ability that allows an assassination to be made at range (up to 30 feet), but I can't seem to remember what it is now.

If you happen to recall what may allow a ranged death attack, I'd love to know. I was building an assassin for my homebrew, and wanted to have him shoot from a distance and then disappear. I was surprised to find that really wasn't an option. That and the DC isn't too hard to beat (at least against the martials he would be targeting the most).

Char-Gen addict wrote:

However the decision between ranger and fighter ends:

Do not take the archer fighter archetype

Why is this again? I know I've heard this before. While I'm not the biggest fan, I have one in my current campaign that destroys encounters that aren't prepared to counter her ranged attacks.

And closing out t current chapter is the BBEG, the Elder of the Hellfire Phoenix.
Elder of the Hellfire Phoenix CR17

Here is the Hellfire Order's second in command.

Hellfire 2nd in Command CR16

Here is the last summoner's eidolon, Nimia. Imagine a beast resembling an allosaurus in form, but with four long arms ending in cruel hook-like claws, a head lined with multiple black insect-like eyes, long teeth resembling a deep-sea predator, and a long spine-lined tail.

Nimia the Eidolon

Here is an enemy summoner, an ambassador to the enemy, and relative to the PC's primary antagonist.

Summoner CR16

Here is a sphinx sorcerer, who could be a potential enemy or ally, depending on the PC's actions.
Sphinx Sorcerer CR15

A harpy ranger filling a role as a bodyguard to a Phyrian leader.

Harpy Ranger CR14

Oye! Didn't notice that.

Headfirst wrote:
Wouldn't it be great if someone came out with a supplement that let you take just about any monster and turn it into a boss fight?

Unfortunately, that is almost the equivalent of asking "wouldn't it be great if someone gave me the recipe to writing a great novel or movie script?" Beyond the good advice of some posts in this thread, creative encounter design, and creative final boss encounter require, well, creativity to make them unique and memorable.

With that said, I fall into the camp of hating solo BBEG's. They are anti-climactic, and disappointing for all. I use a method similar to Mr. Hoover, almost. The average party can handle 4-5 APL encounters per day. My BBEG lairs tend to have that many encounters in them. And they tend to be in close proximity to the BBEG. Sometimes, the PC's can pick off one or two enemies at a time. Sometime they raise an alarm, and are facing the BBEG and all his minions at once.

Here is an assassin the PC's may run into.

Phyrian Assassin CR14

CampinCarl9127 wrote:

A very careful spellcaster can make it basically impossible to learn about his personal demiplane.

That being said, make it a plot hook. They have to go on an adventure, perhaps through the other planes, perhaps breaking into the wizard's tower to read his notes, perhaps talking to one of his trusted allies, in order to learn about it. This is probably best left as a campaign hook as opposed to a "Make X check to learn about his secret demiplane" kind of thing. IMHO.

I agree and I see that I should have been more clear.

There will be a couple demiplanes which belong to a family of casters (or an organization in another case), which have been permanent for generations. The planes exact location is fairly secret, but some research with the right people, may point them in the right direction on how to obtain the information on these hideouts.

The personal demiplanes will be much harder, and there may be few clues that they even exist. The PCs will need to find the right information through the adventure, in particular by capturing the enemies notes and documents, maybe interrogating the right captured enemies .

I agree that the rules aren't clear, but I also think it may be a good plot hook. Odd thing is, that in this particular campaign the BBEG is an arcane caster who has many spell casters under him, and is tied to a spy organization. So in my mind, the PC's could potentially run into many enemies with their own private planes. Working against them is the fact that they've had a real hard time fighting a spy organization that seems to have several people bought off in almost any populated area they need to work in. Someone will eventually see them disappearing (spellcraft check), or overhear about the planes existence. Then it's just a matter of the enemy casting enough divination spells.

I also agree on that idea that deities may not know everything. At least in my homebrew, I think the general attitude would align with "why would I ever look into what all the puny archmages are doing with minor demiplanes?"

As for the bad guys, I'm thinking that if they ever brought someone else to that demiplane, and that certain someone told someone else about it, and then maybe it is mentioned in a piece of correspondence that the PCs recover, that would also be a nice "mundane" way of giving them a clue.

My group has a Seer archetype oracle, so they don't have any problems with divination. However, sometimes the sheer power of being able to ask anything causes little to be asked at all.

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