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I had read that thread, and it does raise some other problems and I was planning on taking some of the advice on there.
The manor looks good, it just the execution of some of the book doesn't appear to hang right, which is why the opinions of people who have played/run it is so welcome.
I may just not run this one, or start at 6th and strengthen the beginning encounters.
Has anyone run this module and if so what was you experience?
I am particularly looking at the story awarded experience and the speed of advancement.The module need the party to be 8th before they face the Big Badie at the end. Therefore they need to be 7th when the enter the Manor. The problem appears to be starting at 5th.
The gap between 5th and 7th is too big for the module to fill, hence the story awards of Experience.
My problem is that the PC's will be shooting through levels every 2 sessions. It may just be easier to start at 6th.
However reading a module is different to playing it. Has anyone played this, and what have they found?
Your problem appears to be the oracle.
A divine spell caster normally acts as a back up melee character/archer
Thistletop boss is a tough fight, but from what you say you struggle with many of the fights.
Your group needs to sit down and talk about what is working and what is not. No point playing if it isn't fun.
The "healing in combat is a waste/inefficient" mantra like most perceived wisdom on the web has to be taken with caution.
What is said on a forum may have no relevance to your game. These perceived wisdom's are always based on assumptions which might not apply to your game. If you are all enjoying yourselves you are doing nothing wrong.
To my mind it is not the monsters being close to Sandpoint but how the farms on the other side of the Devils Platter survive. The Platter on one side and Whisper Wood on the other.
Shalelu is one answer, But really you need some form of 1) secret protector 2) Some form of deterrent threat to keep the monsters in line or 3) Evil force/person powerful enough to keep the rest in line
Basically I agree with NPC Dave, here are my thoughts in more detail:
1. The campaign has to end with the world saved. So they need to find evidence/correspondence that shows The Shadow Pearls cannot be made anywhere else and that the ones already delivered have been used or accidentally broken.
2 The climax has to be special. Look at your party and enhance Khala or add helpers to make the fight really epic.
I stopped my ST campaign at a similar point.
Occult could bring up stuff which claims to get around normal prophecy,
The Knights of the Ioun Star know a lot about him. Aboleths (good luck to the party getting them to talk). Thassilonian ruins/records or Azlanti ruins themselves. The Mordant Spire Elves
These spring to mind
While not essential there are all kinds of stuff which could be useful (you can run it with just the Book itself)
1. Player companion to Varsia (cannot remember it name)
These spring to mind.
I would echo the call to look at the forums. Some people do some amassing stuff and then share.
The Caryatid Columns have DR 5/- so the chances are good. The primary weapon will be broken. Yes they all have back up weapons, but facing a big boss CR 3 above party level with back up weapons looks like trouble.
I had not considered Suishen (The party had decided to present it to Ameiko, but are still carry it). You are right it does help with the initial fight and evens up the big boss fight a lot.
Has anyone had trouble with the Advanced Caryatid Columns
Anytime anyone hits them with a weapon, the weapon takes 3D6 Damage.
I can see them going in to face the Big Boss with broken weapons!!
My brother is playing this kind of character in my Jade regent Campaign. He is not multi-classing, and is doing fine. In a party with a summoner, inquisitor and Warpriest, the character is more than holding her own.
The Ranger dip does not do much harm but is not necessary (swap the con and dex as you suggested or lower str to 17. The dip does also give you some different class skill and track. These are ok but hardly earth shattering. That decision I think comes down to flavour and personal preference
I do not see that you need to change much.
Sea Wyverns Wake
Here There be Monsters
Tides of Dread
The whole bad people fighting worse people can be great fun
A few pointers
1. Try and have some party investment to the Jade Ravens. Doesn't matter if is Like/love/hate or rivalry. Just something.
2. I had the party come across mention of Vanthus during the journey just to keep the name in their minds
3. Like all campaigns, I personalised things to fit into the characters back stories (e.g. The basilist statues in adventure 3, one was a characters lost uncle. An evil necromancer, but she did not know that at the time
4 I liked Sasserine so added material between 2 and 3. Including investigating the plantation Vanthus was sent to.
It does depend on your role for Jhod in your campaign.
While it does Nerf him Adept works for 1, and is fine for 2
Ranger could work
Personally I would not worry about classes you do not like (he is only a NPC) and go with oracle.
Without more information It is difficult to advise alternatives.
Atarlost is correct that many people on these boards think a wand of CLW solves every problem. Parties can and do survive without a cleric/oracle. It is a decision for the players, but has implications they have to live (or die) with.
I am in two adventure paths without a cleric/oracle. On occasions this hurts (costs a lot of money) but we are surviving.
Many thanks for the ideas. Kama beads is an idea I would not have thought of. Mage's tattoo is worth looking at when a feat comes round.
My problem is whether to take teleport when I next level. Currently I will not be able to take the whole party. Hence the level increase does not need to be permanent.
I will have to balance the cost/benefits
The entrap ability:
Hethua: You know your party better then anyone. However this critter has DR 5 and 4 attacks. Against 4 x 1st or 2nd level characters Hethua looks to be a party killer
As others have said. There should be no problem. Fighter, wizard and Cleric are all solid/classic choices. There is more to the Skald then raging song. Many parties go without trap-finding. They will be without some skills and just need to co operate between themselves to cover the important skills.
I would stick to a AP with a strong story line and which avoids adding new rules/subsystems.
Not Kingmaker, Skull and Shackles, Wraith of the Righious or Iron Gods.
Just some person thoughts
Also second level is Acute Senses (UM)I find it great.
My party were travelling towards Ravenscraig while still 4th. So I made the journey more difficult by adding a Glacial Toad, the idea was to get them to 5th. It was doing ok, the oracle move within its reach to get into the right position to cast a spell. Unfortunately it criticalled the Oracle and killed her outright (rolled lousy hit point)
Kingmaker has lots of differences to "normal" APs. As others have mentioned. Another one is the amount of down time. It is great for a crafting character. Our party has a wizard who is always making something for someone.
I have a paladin and have not suffered a lack of things to smite. The mount is great as well.
Your party already has a martial charater and a cleric. So depending on builds should be ok in that area, but only has a part time arcane caster. I would look at that area. If you feel the need to add melee ability, possibly a magus or bard. If you don't like that idea, personally I would pick between Paladin and Oracle and not mix. Love paladns in Pathfinder
Basically, without a totally different build you simply need to SA more. Without party support your only real option is feint. To do this usefully you need improved feint, which needs Combat Expertise. So without re-training you are 2 feats away.
Other stuff can help around the edges, but your class is designed to get combat damage from SA.
Playing in Kingmaker I have a half Orc Rogue using a falchion. Highest stat is strength. Uses Improved feint. So far I have been the most consistent damage dealer. Has been a real glass cannon. It is often a race to see who fall over first (something I have lost on numerous occasions)
I like having the skill out of combat. While spells can replace skills they either have to be carried at the right time or resources (i.e. money) spent on scroll/wands/potions. Skills cost nothing.
Agreed with the OP further up. Two weapon fighting is a serious trap. But then it is for most classes apart from fighters.
I believe the idea that you always have something better to do in combat then healing is great in theory, not so true in practice. A selective channel at 3rd level can be healing 4D8+4 to allies. There are lots of occasions when a 3rd level cleric does not have anything more useful to do. This is equally true at other levels.
If your party has a good damage dealer, keeping him/her on her feet can be your best move. You may not be able to keep up with the opponents damage output, but it can still be the best option.