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I really enjoyed my first PFS session, with a nice mix of brand new players and 4-5 star GM players. My level 1 shaman killed a white dragon! (media reports that it was an innocent helpless hippogriff are "fake news".). Inexplicably, family members from Texas, Colorado, and Wyoming have decided to come see me at the con. I must be a better son or brother than I thought!
Alas, hotel Wi-Fi very uncooperative.
My homemade haunt cheat sheet. FYI, there's this and a ton of good stuff over in the RotRL forum.
1. Before a haunt begins to manifest, the only way to detect it is with Detect undead or Detect alignment at a -4 penalty vs. the Notice DC.
Anyone who's a specialist in anything in real life will probably have to swallow their disbelief frequently when that particular thing arises in pop culture. I'm a law nerd, so I often cringe whenever I see the depiction of lawyers and trials on TV dramas. Doctor nerds surely do the same with the trope that a single punch instantly knocks out any unaware mook with no long term consequences. As a gun/military nerd, you'll just have to get use to things like "a lack of trigger discipline" in pop culture (including RPG) portrayal of soldiers or drive yourself insane trying to fight the good fight :)
I've always interpreted these statements to mean: what will get the PC as far away from the source of the fear as far as possible in one round? Depending on circumstance, it might be a double move, the run action, dimension door, or even freaking plane shift :) Whatever it is, that's what the PC has to do (with the limitation that they won't jump to certain death off a bridge, for example).
Session # 16 Recap:
[7 Lamashan 4707]
As the first rays of another autumn morning begin filtering through the shutters into Arnald Swiss’s room at the Rusty Dragon, a sharp knocking can be heard at his door. The cause of the noise proves to be Shalelu Andosana, fully outfitted for travel. She brusquely tells Arnald that she didn’t sleep well and doesn’t want to wait for Sheriff Hemlock to turn his attention away from training the new recruits to finding experienced warriors to help continue the search for Nualia. Instead, Shalelu explains, she plans to take a risky course of action in order to capture or kill the silver-haired worshipper of Lamashtu before the cultist can obtain reinforcements or find the mysterious weapon boasted about in Tsuto’s journal. Shalelu says she’s long heard tale of a pair of dangerous outcasts living just a couple of miles south of Sandpoint. According to local gossip, they’re dangerous and untrustworthy, but after the death of Felix and Nedrin, she’s decided that it may just be time to throw caution to the wind and fight fire with fire. She gives Arnald time to get dressed before setting off at a quick pace.
She and Arnald pass sleepy guards as they leave Sandpoint via the southern bridge and walk briskly along the Lost Coast Road before reaching the area where a wide stream disappears into the rocky hills south of town. There, at the abandoned Bradley farmstead, an old fisherman’s shack serves as the home of two of the area’s most disreputable occupants. Shalelu nocks an arrow and motions for Arnald to ready himself for battle as the two approach the shack cautiously. Inside, however, the visitors’ approach has not gone undetected. “Not so fast, one more step and it’ll be your last!” a voice rings out. Shalelu shouts back that she’s come on business, and succinctly summarizes the threat posed by Nualia and the events of the previous raids on Thistletop. Tense negotiations lead Shalelu to grudgingly offer those inside the shack one of her personal magical items, an enchanted amulet, in order to purchase their loyalty for the mission to come.
The ill-fitting door to the shack creaks open, and a figure emerges: a powerful-looking half-orc, wearing a kilt and a long-sleeved tunic, with a long braid of hair. Accompanied by a goat, the half-orc, whose name will eventually be known as Eugeni, approaches as, by arrangement, Arnald delivers the magical amulet. With terms agreed upon and payment rendered, the door to the shack opens again and the remaining resident emerges: a member of the feathered, bird-like species commonly known as tengu. The tengu, whose name is Ome, is accompanied by a startling sight: a massive giant wasp, the size of a full-grown cat! The two pairs of adventurers watch each other tensely.
Shalelu proposes that, before attempting their ultimate goal of dealing with Nualia, the four adventurers should learn to evaluate each other’s strengths and weaknesses by undertaking an easier task. The four settle on attempting to collect the bounty offered by the Sandpoint Mercantile League for the capture or death of the notorious bandit Shank, known to have operated for years from the small forest that now bears his name. For almost four years now, Shank has been plaguing the Lost Coast Road, holding up lone travellers and entire carriages, leaving his victims poorer but alive. Yet in the past six months, the highwayman has turned to kidnapping—-with no ransom demands having been made!
The newly-formed hunting band follow the Lost Coast Road back through Sandpoint and out the northern gate. As the road continues east parallel to the coast, a brightly-coloured wagonful of the area’s indigenous Varisians wave and smile. Later in the morning, the adventurers reach a patch of the road just south of Shank’s Wood where Shalelu says the highwayman was last known to have attacked. Ome kneels down to look for signs, and although it’s been weeks since the attack, the tengu is confident she’s found tracks heading into the forest! Shalelu is dubious of Ome’s findings, but reluctantly agrees to accompany them into the woods. Ome reports that several sets of goblin prints criss-cross the area and make tracking difficult, but after about a mile she suddenly stands up and points. A gurgling brook runs from east to west in front of them, spanned by a mossy fallen log. On the far side of the water, an old trapper’s cabin made from scavenged timber and driftwood can be discerned through the treeline.
Arnald, as the most heavily armoured of the group, is chosen to take the lead in approaching the shack. He calls out, and soon the poorly-hung front door opens. An older man with unkempt grey hair peers out cautiously. When asked about the bandit Shank, the man says he hasn’t had any run-ins with bandits but that there are several goblins about. He says that he’s a trapper and fisherman, and invites Arnald in for a cup of tea.
The interior of the cabin is dark and smoky for some reason. Arnald loses sight of the man and the next thing he knows, a thick leathery arm is wrapping around his head! Arnald calls out in distress as something sharp sinks into his neck and a sloppy sucking sound can be heard. Shalelu rushes into the shack, but although she hears Arnald yelling she can’t tell exactly where he is because of the smoke. She notices a small firepit on the ground and, thinking quickly, smothers it with a blanket. Seconds later, Eugeni makes a dramatic entrance: having become magically twice as large, he smashes through the wall of the shack, sending shards of wood everywhere! Ome follows through, bow at the ready. The air begins to clear as the three adventurers see that Arnald is struggling futilely against his attackers grip. And, for the first time, they realize his attacker is no elderly trapper: it’s a grotesque, faceless creature with leathery skin!
The creature, which Eugeni identifies as an Ugothol (or “faceless stalker”) continues to squeeze and drain the life out of Arnald as the others attack it and inflict several deep wounds. The aberration offers to let Arnald go if they’ll let it go, but they refuse; when bartering fails, the creature threatens a lifetime of stalking the adventurers, as they’ll never know when they’re safe. But when the Ugothol pushes Arnald away and tries to flee, Eugeni knocks the creature to the ground and then Arnald finally gets vengeance and cuts the creature in twain with one might swing of his greataxe! Eugeni and Ome quickly scour the interior of the shack and discover a small cache of money and magical items hidden underneath a filthy bed made of fur and branches. The two adventurers use their bodies to shield their find from the others, and keep most of the treasure to themselves. Outside, Shalelu finds a ten-foot deep pit containing mud, decomposing bodies (“Shank’s” victims), and a disgusting maggot-like grub the size of a small dog! Arnald is very interested in searching the pit, but the others persuade him to leave it alone.
Shalelu announces herself more-or-less satisfied with the newcomers’ skill in battle. Although it’s out of their way, the group must return to Sandpoint before tackling Thistletop because the elf’s bow splintered in the battle against the faceless stalker. They reach the town again in the early afternoon and Shalelu leaves the other three to wait at the northern gate while she goes to buy a new bow. While she’s gone, Ome asks Arnald for more information on what happened on his previous foray to Thistletop. His answers are vague and full of jokes, much to the tengu’s annoyance. Eugenie quietly tells his long-time friend that the human sellsword is clearly not the brains of the operation. The three talk about passing the time gambling, but realize they don’t have dice or a deck of cards to play with. Arnald heads into town and to the general store. Seeing the “No Adventurers!” sign in the window, he tries to disguise himself by pulling up the hood on his winter cloak. But Ven Vinder isn’t fooled, and when Arnald is slow in leaving, Ven swings his cudgel so hard it makes an audible “crack” when it connects with Arnald’s skull! The mercenary gets the message and leaves before further violence erupts.
Once the four adventurers are back together, they head back east. Shalelu is able to find a route through Nettlewood that avoids most of the dense forest’s obstacles and dangers. Soon, in the later afternoon, they stand on the edge of the promontory, across from which is the isle fortress of Thistletop. Shalelu, Arnald, and Ome are able to scramble down the 80’ cliff and into the water below with little difficulty, but Eugenie slips and tumbles awkwardly, hurting himself in the process. Fortunately, the half-orc’s friend is able to draw up divine magic to heal him. The group then swims across the narrow channel and are able to scale Thistletop using the rope to the former lair of the tentamort. The adventurers make haste towards the research room containing a secret door to the stairs below. Shalelu notices that many of the books and scrolls that had been there are now gone.
Once the adventurers are on the second subterranean level of the complex, Shalelu and Arnald point out to Ome and Eugenie the exact spot where the corridor ahead is trapped. The four spend a long time discussing various ways to get past the trap until Shalelu, frustrated, backs up and leaps over the pressure plate on the floor! The other three follow her lead without incident. Surprisingly, however, Nualia is nowhere to be found. A cursory look at the room she had been in before shows it to be a study of some sort, as it contains various small tables and chairs and is well-lit by enchanted blazing skulls. Wide stone ledges of red marble line the curving walls of the room and contain strange scrimshaw artwork, taxidermied animals and limbs, and several spots where the dust has been recently disturbed as if things that were once there are now gone.
The adventurers move on to another chamber across the corridor. Here they find an “L” shaped hallway, the southern part of which ends at a pair of stone doors carved with the depictions of two skeletons reaching out to clutch a skull between them. The walls of the eastern part of the chamber narrows down to frame a circular carving of what seems to be immense stacks of tens of thousands of gold coins rising from floor to ceiling. Eugenie casts a minor divination spell to discern that the stacks carry with them the aura of illusion magic.
Pressing on, the adventurers open the skull-marked stone doors. Four pillars support the vaulted ceiling of the room beyond, while alcoves containing standing stone sarcophagi line the walls. The centre of the room is dominated by the statue of a stern man wielding a glaive and holding a book. The adventurers decide to split up and take their time looking for secret doors, but their search is interrupted as insubstantial, inky black, vaguely humanoid-shaped shadows emerge from three of the sarcophagi and fly towards the intruders! Their touch is witheringly cold and drains the vitality of living creatures, a fact Shalelu discovers all too well before retreating out of the room. In her haste, she fails to account for the trap the group bypassed earlier and suffers multiple cuts.
Ome, Eugeni, and Arnald fall back as well and soon realize the manifestations of spiritual energy are bound to the crypt and cannot leave. Ome, having come prepared for many eventualities, coats the tip of several arrows with an alchemical compound that will allow the projectiles to harm the ghostly figures. Eugeni manifests blast after blast of eldritch fire to burn the creatures, and the renewed battle goes well until Arnald strays too close to the entrance to the crypt and gets swarmed! His body grows incredibly weak and he is barely able to fight off the siren song of death before Eugeni destroys the last of the undead lurkers.
A third and perhaps final raid on Thistletop has begun, yet Nualia is nowhere to be found. Has she slipped through the adventurers’ grasp?
Eugeni and Ome were, of course, the new characters for, respectively, Nedrin's and Felix's players. Eugeni was a half-orc wizard, while Ome was a tengu inquisitor of Calistria. The two players worked together to create some shared background for their characters, which was a nice touch that made it much easier to integrate them into the campaign. The PCs were around 5th level at this time but because of all the character deaths I wanted to have the first encounter for the session be something more manageable than they might find at Thistletop. I used an encounter from the first hardcover volume of the Pathfinder comic involving a Faceless Stalker masquerading as a common highwayman. I liked how the encounter turned out, because the dim lighting and smoke inside the shack made for a naturally more challenging (and exciting) battle than I expected.
Speaking of Thistletop, I had to put some thought into deciding what Nualia would do. The adventure path has instructions for what happens if she escapes, but she actually won the battle and it was the PCs who retreated. But, she was also almost the only living creature alive in the fortress and I didn't want to have a video game style campaign where the boss just sits around waiting for the heroes to come back. So the PCs lost out on a clear victory, some XP, some treasure, and a lot of information when she abandoned Thistletop. She makes a return appearance in Chapter Two, however, and the PCs luck will prove much better.
GMs will note something major in Thistletop that the PCs missed, but that's okay. Not every party has to have the same experiences, and it's good that the adventure path isn't on rails.
I was nervous about the fight against the shadows since they can easily overwhelm and kill PCs, so I was impressed with how well the group did against them.
There's some very long threads about this issue and a lot of back-and-forth about whether mounts count as allies, whether being mounted counts as being adjacent, etc., etc. Some people see using the feat this way as perfectly sensible, others as incredibly cheesy. In the end, I doubt you'll find a mass-approved answer to your question unless there's a FAQ someday.
With absolutely no spoilers and my understanding that every group can vary, would those of you who have run/played The Confirmation peg it at running closer to 4 hours or taking up the full 5 hours? I'm trying to see if it's realistic for me to sign up for something else that starts about 15 minutes before the 5 hours allotted to it technically ends.
Session # 15 Recap:
[6 Lamashan 4707 continued]
Having defeated two yeth hounds in a difficult battle, the party discuss their next course of action. Nedrin suggests barricading a room and resting for the night, but Shalelu urges her allies to press on before Nualia, the mastermind behind the raid on Sandpoint, can escape. Encouraged by Shalelu’s liberal use of a healing wand, the group agree. They quickly search the chapel that had been guarded by the yeth hounds. Felix spends several minutes yanking free the two glowing kukris held by the statue of the demon goddess Lamashtu.
The adventurers then head for the “secret” door they learned about by surprising Lyrie Akenja during her research. Arnald takes the lead as the group head down a flight of stairs to emerge at a deeper subterranean area. This level is canted, forcing the adventurers to walk at an upwards angle as they move east. They pass through a large room containing several statues of a man in robes clutching a book and glaive, but it’s clear that whatever ancient upheaval tilted the floor also severely damaged the statues. The eastern door is ajar, and when Arnold opens it, the end begins for two of the brave explorers.
The doorway leads to a short, narrow hallway, with alcoves to the north and south containing statues of stern men wielding glaives. At the end of the hallway are two sets of stone doors to the north and south, but standing at that point is the group’s quarry: Nualia! The beautiful silver-haired aasimar has madness in her violet eyes, her left hand has been transformed into a red talon, and she wears the distinctive scars on her stomach of one specially favoured by Lamashtu herself! “The so-called Heroes of Sandpoint have ventured thus far,” she spits out arrogantly, “so come at me then, if you dare!” Arnald takes the challenge and charges down the hallway, only to fall prey to a cunning trap! A pair of metal portcullis slam down right in front and right behind him as he crosses the area right in front of the statutes, and then the glaives begin hacking downward. Nualia laughs maniacally and enters the room to the north, but from the same doorway emerges one of the dreaded yeth hounds.
Felix comes to his trapped ally’s aid and helps Arnald lift up the portcullis that served to cut him off from the others, and the rescue came at a good time, as, seconds later, a pit opens on the very spot Arnald had been standing on! When the trapdoor raises shut, the other portcullis also raises up and the statues stop their attack. Shalelu, Nedrin, and Arnald decide to fight the yeth hound from a distance with archery, but the creature darts pass their barrage of arrows and flies over their heads, landing behind them to cut off their escape. Then the creature unleashes its horrific howl which sends Shalelu, Felix, and Arnald fleeing in absolute terror to the east . . . right into the grinning visage of Nualia, who has returned fully prepared for battle! Able only to cower in fear, Felix soon falls before the demon-worshipper’s bastard sword. “Your blood is well-spilt,” she cackles, “and will only speed the cleansing of my revolting celestial taint!”
Nedrin is the only adventurer capable of fighting, and heroically duels the yeth hound one-on-one. The hobgoblin is sorely taxed but ultimately prevails and decapitates the creature! Nualia shows admiration rather than anger, however, and starts channelling waves of pure demonic energy through the room, sapping the adventurers’ strength! “You will make a fine sacrifice to the Demon Mother,” she promises Nedrin, as the hobgoblin finally falls. Shalelu and Arnald, badly hurt but finally recovered from the supernaturally terrifying howl of the yeth hound, have no choice but to flee from the almost completely uninjured cleric of Lamashtu. “The bones of my father were but the first to be burned on the Mother of Monster’s altar,” Nualia shouts as they flee, “and soon all of Sandpoint will be next!”
Shalelu and Arnald run up the stairs and over to the cave where the tentamort once looked out over the waves below. They hurriedly climb down the rope and into the rowboat tethered at the bottom of the cliffside. Their return voyage to Sandpoint is a solemn one of shocked silence. When they arrive back at the community, the pair leave the boat at the docks and walk in silence to the Garrison. There, they deliver the news of the group’s failure to Sheriff Hemlock. Hemlock says it’s regrettable to hear about the deaths of Felix and Nedrin, but that another assault will have to be made on Thistletop to bring Nualia to justice before she can gather reinforcements and launch another attack on the town. He promises to look into finding others who would be willing to take on such a dangerous mission.
Once they reach the Rusty Dragon, Shalelu pushes through the lunchtime crowd and heads straight to her room. Arnald quickly knocks back a tankard of ale and speaks to the tavern’s halfling barmaid, Bethana Corwin. Arnald explains that he’s in Sandpoint to protect it and drive off the goblin threat, but that his cause has suffered a severe setback. Bethana mentions that adventurers who tell an entertaining or moving story to their fellow patrons receive a room at half-price, but Arnald explains that he’s not in the mood. He does find himself the object of attraction for a fellow newcomer to Sandpoint: a new acolyte at the Cathedral named Sister Celia, an attractive woman in her early 40s. Sister Celia explains that she worships Shelyn, goddess of beauty, love, and dance. She flirts with Arnald but he rebuffs her advances and leaves to resupply for another expedition.
Visits to Savah’s Armory and Bottled Solutions are productive, but Arnald unwittingly walks into an argument when he visits the town’s general store. The proprietor Ven Vinder is yelling at his daughter Katrine that he doesn’t want her “going around with that fellow from the mill anymore.” Katrine shouts back that she loves “Banny.” When Vin sees Arnald enter, the storekeeper shouts “no adventurers!” and threatens the sellsword with his cudgel while angrily denouncing Felix (whom he doesn't know is now deceased) for “violating my chaste princess” (referring to his other daughter, Shayliss). Arnald wisely leaves before violence ensues. Instead, he walks over to the Goblin Squash Stables and buys some barding for his horse. Conversation turns to the local goblin tribes, and Daviren explains that in Mosswood, the tribe is broken into several warring families and that one of the families is deformed and rumoured to worship Lamashtu. Arnald makes one final stop, this time visiting the cathedral where he meets the other new acolyte, a halfling priestess of Erastil named Sister Erica. Arnald is disappointed when, instead of the powerful magic he seeks, Sister Erica offers him spiritual development by letting him help out in the garden behind the building.
Arnald returns to the Rusty Dragon as the sun sets. He sees Sister Celia flirting with Vorvashali Voon and awkwardly intrudes, before heading up to his room for the night.
[7 Lamash 4707]
A new day dawns over Sandpoint. But after the raids on Thistletop, is the town safer or in even more danger?
So here it was, the big boss fight to end Chapter 1 of Rise of the Runelords. I'm sorry to say things just did not go in the PCs' favor. One problem was that the earlier fight against the yeth hounds alerted everyone in the whole fortress that intruders were present, because their cries can be heard at least 300' away. This alerted Nualia and allowed her to institute a cunning plan when the PCs appeared on her level--she lured Arnald into the trap, then retreated to her chamber to fully buff for a few rounds, then (and most wickedly) had a yeth hound bay *behind* the PCs so they would run *towards* her instead of away from her. Some of these tactics were a bit more devious than those given in the book, but I also wanted to account for the advance warning she had.
Felix just got worn down over several rounds and expired unceremoniously, while Nedrin put up a heroic fight in destroying the yeth hound before being repeatedly assailed by something he couldn't do anything about: Nualia's ability to channel negative energy. It was sad to see both characters die, especially Felix since he was one of the starting characters for the game.
I really liked the idea of the canted level giving an advantage over combatants on higher ground, but despite making myself a reminder card I think I and the players consistently forgot to apply it. Sometimes with so much going on, it's really hard to remember little bonuses! I'm also not the best (though I try) at having NPCs talk, mock, and reveal some of their personality or backstories during battles, otherwise they're often complete enigmas. I'm sure that during the battle, I didn't word Nualia's statements quite so articulately, but that's one of the advantages of a recap.
There's a very quick appearance by Katrine Vinder because I wanted to introduce her ahead of what I knew was going to happen in Chapter Two. Alas, I don't think it helped in terms of narrative because Arnald's player didn't remember meeting her (and I can't really blame him).
I think I'd be up for this assuming you're playing at the conference hotel. I have a shiny brand new level 1 PC, or could be talked into playing a pre-gen.
I've made two incredibly weak characters for Pathfinder in the past couple of years, mostly because I have a fondness for multi-classing.
The first was a back-up PC for a campaign, so he needed to be Level 9. The concept, which I still thing is cool, was essentially to re-create the psionic martial-artist main character in the Forgotten Realms "House of Serpents" novels. My implementation of this was terrible, as I made a multi-class Psychic/Monk. Because I wanted the high AC bonus, I put his highest stat in Wisdom, not realizing until I was all done creating the character that Psychics use *Intelligence* as their casting stat :) He would have been a mediocre monk with a few easily resisted spells. Fortunately, I recognized the problem and never had to introduce the character into a game.
My second near-disaster is my current PC who've I played since level 1 and is now level 11. I love her in terms of personality, but I forgot the KISS principle and ended up with "by trying to do everything, you're not good at anything" problem. The idea was a sort of arcane knight that specializes in buffing her allies on the battlefield. Given that her rolled ability scores were quite low, I ended up with a Dex-negative mediocre cavalier and a "can still only cast Level 2 spells" magus. I then exacerbated the problem by allocating much of her wealth to rebuilding an old castle in the swamp and hiring soldiers to staff it, leaving very little gold for much-needed equipment upgrades.
I swear to the gods that next time, I will play a straightforward, single-classed character and actually contribute positively to an encounter!
Not being able to see what we got into until the moment the open enrollment becomes available is pretty unacceptable.
Spare a moment of sympathy for those of us who live overseas. Open enrollment for me begins at 3 a.m. local time, so I can either stay up late or see what's left in the morning . . .
I have to admit that I'm nervous about spoilers too, and I'm not sure how to warn players off since naturally they'll be intrigued. I might suggest that things that AP-specific organizations and options would best appear as additional content if/when those paths get collected into a hardcover? I also really like Paizo's idea (mostly, though I understand not always) implemented that the stories in adventure paths aren't canon except insofar as they've been run by a group. That allows me to enjoy campaign setting guides, novels, etc., without feeling like I might be spoiled.
I think Paizo often does a good job setting examples with their Iconics. Harsk is a dwarf and shares his race's general terseness and grumpiness, but he's also an individual because he likes the woods instead of the mountains and drinks tea instead of ale. Seoni is Varisian and bears the trademark tattoos, but instead of being flighty and free-spirited, she's taken upon the responsibility of being the leader of her adventuring party. So, RP some elements of the "shared heritage" for fidelity to the setting, but mix in some unique elements so your character isn't generic and forgettable.
Yep, you got it!
Dark Midian wrote:
A less dramatic way of putting it is "Vote with your wallet." You don't like the way a company is conducting their business or what they're selling? Don't buy their stuff. Sure, if you come to Paizo's forum and tell people "Hey, don't buy their stuff" the devs are going to naturally get defensive about it; it's their livelihood. But that's how business goes.
I love the book's idea and I'll buy it, but there's nothing wrong with people explaining why they are not going to buy it. Paizo needs to know why people *do* buy certain books (whether it's "I like the title font!" or "kitsune iz da bomb!") and why people *don't* buy certain books (whether it's "the paper smells funky" or "I never buy books written by authors with vowels in their names").
I agree the poster above didn't word his post well, but there's nothing wrong with the sentiment (it's basically the opposite of the common advice we're told that if we want to see something, we need to not just buy it but also review it).
Your total movement can't be more than twice your speed, whether you're doing a normal charge, have Ride-by Attack, or have Wheeling Charge. All Ride-by attack changes is that you don't have to stop when you make your attack and can keep moving in a straight line; Wheeling Charge allows you to make 1 turn during that charge (before or after the attack).
The simplest way to think about this feat is that instead of having to move in a straight line while charging and being unable to charge through allies' squares (the normal rules), you get one free change of direction (up to 90 degrees) and can move through allies' spaces. So it's useful for crowded battlefields when terrain, allies, or other obstacles would make a straight-line charge impossible.
What did you guys use as a map for the trip at the beginning of Chapter 3 from Magnimar to Turtleback Ferry? All I can find is a very high-level map of Varisia, which is kinda disappointing since I've had excellent maps to this point of Sandpoint, the Sandpoint Hinterlands, Magnimar, etc. I know I could handwave it, but I'm the annoying type of GM who likes to track overland speed by day over different terrain types :) Is the map from the Shattered Star map folio any good for this purpose?
I can help out on Magnimar (this is partially paraphrased from the City of Monuments sourcebook):
Museum of Ages (Capital District, Building C4)
Founder’s Archive (Capital District, Building C4)
Session # 14 Recap:
[5 Lamashan 4707 continued]
The adventurers open the door across the hallway from Orik Vancaskerkin’s room to find a bedroom with a faint musty odor and a stack of birds’ feet heaped on the blood-stained floor. A search of the room turns up nothing further of interest, but by the time they’re done they hear Orik moving about and getting ready to start his day. A quick whispered conversation is held, and the adventurers agree on a plan: “kill him!” The moment Orik steps out of his room, the adventurers attack. Nedrin begins to shimmer for a moment and then stabs Orik through the abdomen with his longsword, and the others pile on. Orik tries to make a deal as he fights frantically for his life, but no quarter is given and the “Heroes of Sandpoint” slit his throat once he falls unconscious. Arnald takes Orik’s bastard sword and heavy steel shield that has been designed to resemble a human face. The other rooms at the end of this hallway also turn out to be bedrooms. Nedrin finds a chunk of obsidian he considers quite valuable, and underneath it are drafts of plans written by Tsuto Konjiku for the initial raid on Sandpoint.
As the adventurers leave the area and reach the point where they slew the bugbear Bruthazmus, a goblin strolls to the bottom of the stairs with a tray in its hands. When it sees the puddle of blood outside of the harem room and an elf (Shalelu) standing next to it, the goblin shrieks, drops the tray, and bolts up the stairs! The adventurers don’t react quickly enough to stop him, so instead of chasing him they prepare for the inevitable goblin counter-attack and take up defensive positions. Nedrin hears a booming voice from above shouting in the goblin tongue to “send the fodder down with the hounds”, and, sure enough, four goblin dogs and three goblins charge down the stairs. But the adventurers are ready for them and let loose with a barrage of arrows. The skilled archery of Nedrin and Shalelu, combined with Arnald’s massive great axe and Felix’s fists of fury, quickly create a pile of dead assailants at the bottom of the stairs. The heroes emerge from the battle unscathed!
Shalelu shouts “let’s finish this!” and charges up the stairs with the others at her heels. The adventurers find themselves in a trophy room of sorts, as poorly preserved horse and dog heads are mounted along one wall while a large pair of black-feathered wings are tacked to another wall with several daggers. A large pair of double-doors, barred from the inside, indicate the front exit of the stockade. The intruders first scout down a western corridor to find a guard tower that’s empty except for a stashed jar of half-eaten pickles. Turning north and moving further into the stockade, the party reaches an open-air courtyard. Doors along the southern wall lead to rabbit cages and a food storage room. To the north, two dead goblins lay slumped on the ground near a door that has been nailed shut. Hearing thumping from within, the adventurers prepare for battle as Arnald cuts the door down with his axe. He’s surprised to see a black and white horse inside, starved nearly to death, frantic with fear and hunger. It bites Arnald before passing out from sheer exhaustion.
A search of the seemingly empty stockade continues, as the adventurers find a filthy latrine (“we’re not searching through that!” says Felix), a barracks, a planning room, and more. When they reach a locked door, Felix puts his ear to it and his keen hearing picks up whispering on the other side, which Nedrin then translates: the goblins inside know the adventurers are coming. Rather than force the issue now, the group decides to continue searching the rest of the stockade.
When the group reach the eastern guard tower, Nedrin scales to the top and sees the body of the sentry he so aptly targeted when the group made their seaborne approach to Thistletop. Nedrin takes a careful look to ensure the group’s rowboat is still tied to the cliffside, but instead he spies something very different: Lyrie Akenja has somehow gotten free of her bonds and is rowing the boat towards the mainland! The adventurers are not about to let a former captive escape with their best way off the island, so they unleash a volley of arrows at the ill-fated scholar. She’s pierced through and through with arrows, and although she somehow survives long enough to jump into the water to try to swim for safety, Arnald finishes her off with an expert shot and her body floats gently on the waves.
The determined adventurers return to the first subterranean level of Thistletop so that Felix can scale down the side of the cliff and then swim out to recover the boat. He also pulls Lyrie’s body on board and (after fending off and throwing her cat familiar into the sea) strips the body of possessions, including going so far as to remove the woman’s pearl earrings. He dumps the corpse, along with a thick book she was carrying, into the water and rows the boat back to the island. There, the group work together to secure it again. The adventurers return to the stockade on the surface of the island and prepare to attack what they surmise is Warchief Ripnugget’s throne room. Arnald chops down the door to reveal Ripnugget mounted on a giant gecko. Ripnugget’s planned trap is foiled when Felix notices three goblin commandos hiding behind spiked timbers and a warchanter crouching behind the throne. Ripnugget tries to lure Felix further into the room, but the Shoanti warrior is in no mood for conversation. The battle begins! Arnald charges into the room and is quickly surrounded before falling prey to a malicious enchantment cast by the warchanter, which leads the mercenary to fall into bouts of hysterical laughter! Nedrin doesn’t leave his ally defenceless, however, as he enters the room and kills Ripnugget’s mount with a single arrow. Felix also enters to fight next to Arnald and taunts Ripnugget, but the powerful goblin chief responds by stabbing the pugilist in the belly. As Shalelu fires arrow after arrow, Nedrin draws his sword and lands a telling slash on the back of Ripnugget’s neck. The battle is over almost as soon as it began, and the entire Thistletop goblin tribe has been wiped out.
After looting the corpses and completing a search of the stockade (finding an armoury and a butchery in the process), the adventurers return to the lower level. After further exploration turns up the keys to the cages, Felix shows mercy by putting the goblin females inside along with the infants. The adventurers continue their exploration and open a door that turns out to be the southwest entrance to a chapel dedicated to the Mother of Monsters, the demonic goddess Lamashtu! Along with stone fonts, a black marble stone altar, and a ten foot tall statue of Lamashtu, the chapel is home to two unearthly hairless canines that fly and exude an air of menace and cruelty. Sensing intruders, they let loose with a terrifying, uncanny howl that echoes through the entire complex. Nedrin manages to stand firm, but all of his companions flee in panick! The hobgoblin wisely retreats, shutting the doors to the chapel behind him. The creatures, known as yeth hounds, begin slamming their bodies against the doors to break free.
The adventurers come to their senses and gather their courage to make a stand in the prison chamber just seconds before the yeth hands break the door down. Nedrin and Arnald are knocked to the ground repeatedly by the hounds’ unrelenting bites. Shalelu fires a veritable quiver-full of arrows to kill one of the creatures, while Arnald’s axe opens huge gashes in the other before Felix manages to finish it off with a punch into the back of its throat!
The adventurers have triumphed over every obstacle so far, but they’re beginning to get worn down. Yet their task is unfinished, as the true mastermind behind the assault on Sandpoint has not yet been brought to justice . . .
Felix's remark about the latrine, "We're not searching through that!" will prove amusing to GMs who have run this chapter.
This iteration of the party was quite bloody and brutal! Slitting poor Orik's throat and drowning Lyrie's cat are good examples. I was actually really surprised they managed to see Lyrie rowing away with the boat, as I had expected they would go to leave and be surprised to realize that the boat was gone.
The battle against Ripnugget was pretty easy. As this point, goblins just weren't going to be a threat against the adventurers. Yeth hounds, however, are a whole 'nother kettle of fish. Will saves were not the PCs' strong suit, and this would prove their undoing next session.
1. This discussion has been fantastically civil, and I really appreciate the good faith efforts on both sides to make their points politely.
2. I've never played an Occultist nor a PFS game, so I don't have a view or personal investment either way.
3. I imagine this conversation puts the PFS leadership in somewhat of an awkward position: on the one hand, they've prohibited something that the writer is strongly and quite publicly in favor of including. On the other hand, it's already been prohibited and if they change the ruling it might appear they've done so more out of professional courtesy than because they've been persuaded otherwise.
So this might be the sort of thing to just let simmer for a while, because without knowing exactly why it has been banned, discussions about the archetype in the abstract may miss the mark as often as they hit.
Robert G. McCreary wrote:
I think it'd be worth doing a Player's Guide, even if only as a blog post like James Jacobs did for the hardcover Curse of the Crimson Throne. Player's Guides are a great thing to circulate to potential players to get them interested in an adventure path, and they (ideally) give a concise overview of the setting and the general types of adventures that players can expect. Plus, it's always cool to have a couple of traits (or the Starfinder equivalent) that are available *only* to characters in that adventure path--a kind of special bonus. And as (hopefully) the years go by and more Starfinder APs come out, groups trying to decide which one to play may base their decisions on the Player's Guides because they know there won't be spoilers in them. That's my 2 space credits anyways . . .
Has anyone played this using Pathfinder? I'd have more chance of persuading my group to do it if they could stay with PF.
I did a bunch of stuff with Castle Whiterock for 3.5, and like anything 3.5 product, there's no reason it couldn't be run with Pathfinder (just the usual fixes to CMB/CMD, etc.).
Session # 13 Recap:
[5 Lamashan 4707 continued]
Having returned to Sandpoint from their first journey to the goblin fortress of Thistletop, Felix and Nedrin sell some of the spoils of war and resupply for another planned raid. Felix sells a magical suit of goblin-sized armor to Vorvashali Voon at The Feathered Serpent, and, for a small fee, learns that the cloak taken from the body of the goblin druid Gogmurt is actually a cloak of resistance. A journey to Bottled Solutions for healing potions leads to a hair-raising experience as a small explosion occurs amongst a concoction that proprietor Nisk Tander is brewing. Meanwhile, experienced elven scout Shalelu Andosana walks to the harbourfront and hires a small rowboat from the Mercantile League. While there, she notices a human wearing a steel breastplate with a greataxe strapped to his back. Shalelu correctly deduces that the man is a sellsword and persuades him to join the planned attack on Thistletop in exchange for an equal share of whatever treasure is found within.
The adventurers reunite at the Rusty Dragon, and Shalelu introduces the sellsword, Arnald Swiss, to Felix and Nedrin. Felix makes a joke about Oliver which doesn’t go over well with Shalelu, and she retires to her room once the decision is made to depart in the early morning hours for Thistletop. Nedrin also retires early, but Arnald and Felix spend the evening in the Rusty Dragon’s common room. Arnald sees Daviren Hosk, and Felix realizes that the two know each other: Arnald helped keep Daviren out of a goblin cookpot when the latter had a vendetta against Chief Whartus and the Bonegrinder tribe. Daviren warns Felix to be careful in Thistletop and to watch out for Warchief Ripnugget, as he’s known to try to lure his enemies into traps. Later that evening, Felix tells Arnald a humorous story about accidentally burning down an inn in Magnimar (and having to escape the city in a hurry!) while Arnald boasts about fighting and travelling throughout the land. Arnald also hears a story from Ameiko about a legendary monster in the Varisian Gulf named Old Murdermaw that can bite a boat in half!
[6 Lamashan 4707]
The crisp autumn day sees little wind and smooth rowing for the adventurers, and in just a few hours they approach Thistletop from the west just as the sun appears over the horizon. A decision is made to do a full circuit of the island instead of just scaling the western cliffs, and the group’s patience is rewarded as they notice a small cave on the eastern face of the island, about twenty feet below the clifftop. A goblin in the southeastern guard tower spots the rowboat, but Nedrin reacts instantly and shoots an arrow to kill the sentry before it can sound the alarm!
Felix’s upbringing as a Shoanti of the Storval Plateau allows him to scale the damp rock face, but as he nears the cave, something up there starts to move! Before he can react, a dark blue creature with long tentacles emerges from the cave and crawls down the cliffside towards him One of the creature’s tentacles is pointed and barbed, and cuts into Felix’s shoulder, dislodging the warrior’s grip and sending him tumbling into the water below. Fortunately, Felix executes a skilled dive and Arnald jumps in to assist him in getting back into the boat. The squid-like creature continues its search for prey by wrapping a tentacle around Arnald’s neck and trying to drag him upwards until Shalelu unleashes a fusillade of arrows to kill the creature. Arnald, in a bout of dark humour or eccentricity, hollows out the creature and pulls it over his head as a sort of ghastly costume!
Felix resumes his climb and makes it to the cave, which has a strangely smooth, polished floor and passages heading off of it in three directions, one of which ends in a wooden door; the adventurers have taken an unorthodox approach but have pierced the outer defences of Thistletop! Felix throws down a rope which is tied to one of the slats in the centre of the rowboat, and, after the others climb up, he ties the other end to an arrow which Arnald jams into a crevice in the rock-face. If everything holds, the adventurers have secured an escape route and have chosen a propitious time to investigate Thistletop, as most of its denizens will still be asleep.
The group begins by venturing into the southwest tunnel, noting that the worked stone passages here are clearly man-made, and that lit lanterns hang in the hallways. The tunnel ends in a storage room full of junk obviously scavenged from elsewhere, but a wooden door to the west indicates an exit. The adventurers instead head back to their entry point and explore the northern passage, which leads to what must be the lair of the tentacled monster they just slew. Several seabird and even goblin corpses are scattered around the room, each consisting of just skin and bones as if their insides have been somehow drained. A search of the goblin corpses shows that one died in possession of high-quality dog-hide armor and a skilfully crafted shortbow. Felix and Nedrin take the former and latter, respectively.
The intruders gird themselves for battle behind the wooden door heading directly west, but when it opens, no enemies lay on the other side. Instead, the corridor leads to a pair of large stone doors, their faces carved with images of horrific, deformed monsters clawing their way out of pregnant women of all races. Wooden doors lay to the north and south, and the adventurers decide to try their luck south. They find stairs leading up, which they avoid for the nonce, and a depressing chamber that passes for a nursery in Thistletop: cages along the walls containing dirty mounds of straw and three goblin infants. Arnald callously asks the others what goblin infants are worth on the free market, but Shalelu says there will be no talk of slavery in her presence.
Felix opens another door, and the time for cautious exploration is over! Inside, a harem of goblin females lounge while a massive, 7 foot tall bugbear mounts one of them. Shalelu shouts “Bruthazmus!” as Felix lights and throws a smokestick into the room. A furious battle takes place in the doorway, as Shalelu’s rival, unarmoured and taken by surprise, nonetheless gives a roar and rushes to crush his nemesis’s skull with his flail. Shalelu responds with her blade, and both take wounds in the battle in which no quarter is given. Arnald’s massive axe whistles through the air and lands a telling blow in Bruthazmus’ abdomen, and another stab from Shalelu’s sword is enough to drop the giant goblinoid. She shows no hesitation in slitting his throat. She refuses to have anything else to do with his body, but a search by Nedrin reveals four masterwork arrows with the goblin runes for “Elf Hate” etched into them; he adds these to his quiver. The goblin females, still dazed and disoriented from the smokestick, are tied up and the door to the harem room is closed.
The adventurers decide to pause their explorations of the southern corridors and instead make a foray through the northern doors. They find what looks like a crude goblin art gallery, filled with drawings of goblins engaging in violence against humans, horses, and dogs. One picture is much larger and more complex than the others, and shows what appears to be a massive goblin with snakelike eyes in a chamber in the subterranean centre of the island. An adjoining room is clearly a war room of some type, and the adventurers find notes indicating that once “the whispering beast is tamed”, another raid on Sandpoint will be launched in the space of mere weeks. More stairs leading upward are nearby.
Just off the war room is a study, but this one is occupied. A woman in her early twenties with dark skin and long hair braided into cornrows is sitting at a table, poring over books, scrolls, and stone fragments. She looks up as the adventurers enter, annoyed at being disturbed, but Nedrin keeps her from becoming alarmed by cleverly making a counter-intuitive decision: he lifts his mask to show her that he’s a hobgoblin! The woman, who gives her name as Lyrie, assumes the newcomers are reinforcements hired to replace the guards killed in the previous day’s raid, and she tells them that they’ve taken a wrong turn and are interfering with her research. Nedrin asks Lyrie where he can find “the boss”, and she says Nualia is either in the chapel behind the carved doors or a level below. Although the group’s deception is going well, Arnald inexplicably asks, right in front of her, whether they should tie Lyrie up, which leads her to try to cast a spell. It fails, however, and, cornered by four heavily-armed warriors, she submits to being tied up. The adventurers’ surreptitious entry into Thistletop is further rewarded by their discovery of a secret door that Lyrie has left ajar, on the far side of which are stairs leading down. The adventurers force Lyrie to move into the room that served as the lair of the monster she says was called a tentamort.
The adventurers return to their search, deciding to save the chapel for last in case Nualia is there and can summon reinforcements from elsewhere in the complex. The adventurers find a torture room with several unoccupied cells, and Shalelu suggest moving their prisoners there if they can find the keys. Another corridor leads to several doorways, and, opening the first one on the right, the adventurers barge into a mercenary finishing his breakfast of bread and smoked salmon. The ruggedly handsome human is heavily armored and has a shield and a bastard sword laying nearby on the bed. Nedrin plays it cool, however, and once again bluffs the man into thinking they’re sellswords hired by Nualia, recently arrived by boat since the bridge has been cut. The mercenary, who gives his name as Orik Vancaskerkin, says that Nualia pays well but is involved in some “creepy” things. He offers to show the “new hires” around Thistletop once he finishes his meal. Nedrin thanks him and shuts his door.
The adventurers have acted boldly and luck has been with them, as they’ve penetrated deep into the goblin fortress of Thistletop and, through a combination of quick thinking and luck, have caught the defenders completely by surprise. If they can continue to exploit their advantage, they may just make it off the island alive!
This session marks the first appearance of Arnald Swiss, the new character for the player who previous ran the dear departed Oliver. Arnald shared a lot of Oliver's quirky behavior, and in this session we see Arnald trying on the corpse of a tentamort as a disguise and alerting an NPC the group was trying to bluff their way past by opening asking if they should tie her up.
With Bey's player away, I ran Shalelu as a DMPC for the rest of Chapter 1 so there would be 4 party members.
I remember doing prep work for this section of the adventure and reading in the forums about groups who ended up entering Thistletop through the tentamort's cave, and thinking at the time how unlikely that was since it would require a) an approach by boat; b) a conscious decision to survey the far side of the island from where the boat would come from; and c) a high Perception check to notice the opening. And, of course, the PCs in my group did all three! I'm just happy that I had the sub-level prepared, otherwise I would have been super stressed.
I may have talked about this before, but I often get a kick out of how the adventure path sometimes puts so much effort into developing NPC antagonists (back-stories, full-colour artwork, connections with other NPCs, etc.) and then those NPCs die in a round or two of combat and all of that work is wasted. In this session, Bruthazmus and Lyrie were disposed of, and next session will see Orik get taken down quite quickly.
As the recap notes, the PCs really did stumble upon the perfect timing and approach to entering Thistletop, purely through luck. Alas, their luck won't hold much longer and tragedy will be the result.
Without changing anything above, you could slightly help the PCs by giving them a Sense Motive check to realize that Azaven is done negotiating and planning to kill them, and have everyone roll Initiative. Give the PCs a Perception check to tell that something is starting to move in the walls. That way some of the PCs might be able to act before the mummies burst free. But yeah, they look to be in a tight spot :)
Ask the PCs if they want to appraise something, anything, or nothing--it's up to them. If they just want to haul everything to a merchant and trust they'll get a reasonable price, they don't need to appraise anything at all. Most people in the real world who take in old watches and jewelry to a pawn shop really have no idea what their stuff is worth. If the PCs want to only grab the most valuable items out of the hoard (perhaps because of encumbrance or other issues), then yes, they'd need to appraise the items. Often, it's best to handle this stuff via e-mail in between sessions if the timing works out.
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