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Erudite Owl

Jim Groves's page

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4. Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Society Member. 1,995 posts (5,627 including aliases). 8 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 2 Pathfinder Society characters. 15 aliases.


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Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Wow, this sounds like an exciting edition to the Bestiary line. I love some of the ideas coming out of this.

I'm particularly keen on the mention of "troops of goblins". I sincerely hope that this means we're going to get an actual troop template or statblock finally, with goblins being the example.

I thought troops from "Rasputin Must Die!" (by the awesome Brandon Hodge) were truly inspired. I've been waiting for something like them, for personal homebrew and even freelancing, ever since.

So excited!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I like this preview. :)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Vinyc Kettlebek wrote:
I just find it strange that there are so many people complaining that real world morally heinous acts pop up in a magical land of make-believe. When they spend most of their time, in the same world of make-believe, killing anything that moves until they can get their mcguffin.

I think that is a misrepresentation of the position taken. I think it is widely accepted that this land of make-believe has morally heinous elements. They're necessary for conflict and drama, components of storytelling.

Seriously, I can't speak to all of the forums but I don't see this position being argued in this thread.

Rather the discussion is about whether player characters should be engaging in morally reprehensible acts. The PFS campaign is not an appropriate place to explore that. Hell's Vengenance, for example, is a campaign where it is appropriate. Society missions have shades of gray, in terms of morality, but there is very little "gray" in slavery. Not to the slave anyway. The standard for PCs is not the same for NPCs, in an organized play campaign. Home games are an entirely different matter.

Quote:
Why haven't people cryed out that Geb is allowed to exist when it has farms full of humans being raised as a food source for it's undead citizens?

They haven't been given an outlet to do so? It stands to reason they might when confronted with a scenario or module or AP where that was a theme.

Quote:
Perhaps the campaign should change PFS to a G rated game, and we can go around making deliveries for local businesses or saving cats from trees.

I think that is an extreme comparison to having other player characters owning other people as chattel.

Like a young person complaining that because they're prohibited from vandalizing buildings and strong-arm robbery against the elderly, they must now be confined to making lace doilies and knitting. No, they still go camping, play basketball, read comics, and play video games.

Slavery is an extreme act, and prohibiting it does not alter the PFS since its inception. I honestly never heard of anyone owning slaves in PFS since the last 12 hours.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

7 people marked this as a favorite.
Nefreet wrote:
The hypocrisy (and narrow-mindedness) of humanity just staggers me sometimes.

Slavery is not an appropriate activity for PCs to engage in, especially in a campaign that is inclusive and open to everyone. Including young people. Frankly we're not that many generations removed from the practice, and the hurt it caused is incalculable.

I can understand why slavery exists in the campaign, because it is a societal evil which can be opposed, and therefore makes an excellent foil for storytelling.

While one can debate what is actually evil on a cultural level, PFS is not a course on Sociology. Lines must be drawn at some point. GMs are asked to entertain, not teach, let alone handle a topic like this with sensitivity.

Domesticated animals are not slaves because they lack self-awareness. That doesn't preclude treating them with kindness. My dog is not my slave, but I must set boundaries for him for his protection, health, and safety. Animals do not belong in a discussion about institutional slavery.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

2 people marked this as a favorite.

@ Rednal,

I saw your review and I just wanted to personally thank you. Not just for myself, but for Neil, Thurston, Jeff, Jonathan, Sean, Chris, Andrew, and Jason Nelson.. and our artists and layout folks.

This one was really a team effort and everyone involved made it a great product. I'm really glad you enjoyed it.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Happy Birthday John!

You are a scholar and a gentleman, and a genuine pleasure to work with. Hopefully I can attend PaizoCon this year and we can have a proper conversation.

I remember John as a potential rival but he has demonstrated to *me* time and time again that he is the best at what he does—the cheerful, thoughtful, imaginative developer for a program that brings joy to countless people all over the world.

A toast to John Compton.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.
captain yesterday wrote:

Great job Jim, love the adventure so far, especially Ithanothuar. :-)

Also the Grundlescorn Sisters, great stuff!

Thank you. You are very kind.

James Jacobs is actually responsible for Ithanothuar, and I think the addition is inspired.

I *DO* take credit for the Grundlescorn sisters.

This just goes to show that all products are the result of teamwork and collaboration. Behind every great writer is a great (and hard-working) developer.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Awesome work, buddy!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

James, you did a great job here. I echo Amanda Hamon Kunz's feedback. For example, the part about ambient moisture is a trap that you perpetrated upon yourself. I know what that's like, because I'm very detail oriented too. Sometimes, however, we make life difficult for ourselves by trying to explain too much. I'll speak frankly, when it comes to rule trolls, everything you say may be used against your actual intention. Ergo it's necessary to be frugal and efficient with our words and to avoid extraneous details. A simple approach may be to say the blade reforms after a round with an option to make the process faster with water, and forego mentioning anything about ambient moisture.

That's not a dig against other posters, rather I say that simply out of pragmatism. We protect GMs from unnecessary rule challenges when we provide tight mechanics.

The infravision trick was neat but Amanda has a point, newer players may not get it and wonder why you are providing a weaker and slightly more complex power than darkvision.

All that said, did I like it ? Absolutely! You found some neat new design space and that is important. Congratulations on your first up on this road. I look forward to your future entries!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Now this is a cool design challenge!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

@Charlie, Sub-Creator, Lord Gadigan, awesome posts!

(As were previous ones)

I should have said I welcome essays but don't want to demand them. I love to hear about why they were awesome. Soooo helpful. The comments about Gallowspire especially.

I just didn't want to go negative. But i get that a little is necessary to contrast.

Reading and taking notes!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Hey Folks,

What's your favorite Chapter Six of any AP? If you have more than one, you can list them in order of preference. Please be specific in you can.

Transparency: We learn from studying the work of others. There's a lot to be learned from trap design, use of templates, and monsters with class levels. Balance of story versus combat. That's why I am asking.

If you want to say why that chapter 6 is a favorite, I'm all ears, but a short answer is a good answer too. No essays required.

What not to do: Please don't tell me you don't like high level adventures and what the "sweet spot is". Please no editorials on what Paizo should do in the future (I have no say in that). Please don't argue with each other but respect that people have different opinions. Just tell me YOUR opinion.

Bear in mind this is *me* asking and not Paizo. If you want to speak to them, feel free, but pretty please also answer my question too.

Thanks in advance, I appreciate t!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Alex Smith 908 wrote:
What were the plot elements in question?

Send me a PM and I'll answer, or ask in another thread and send me a pointer. Its not relevant to this book and it would be an unnecessary thread derail. Although, I can't guarantee it is worth your time. It was not a particularly provocative decision that I think anyone is going to care about.

I defer all similar posts with the same response. I like the Occult Bestiary. Lets use this thread to talk about this cool book that was actually written. ;-)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I'd like to know who wrote the dreamthief hag. I'd like to thank them.

In 2010, I lost to Matt Goodall in RPG Superstar (he went on to write "Cult of the Ebon Destroyers").

My pitch was "Doom of the Dreamthieves" which was about extra-powerful night hags that raided Absalom from the Dimension of Dreams. It was a ridiculously complex planar adventure that couldn't actually be written without Occult Adventures (so the pitch was YEARS ahead of its time, the core rules sort of lacked the support it would have required). The proposal had other issues. It was waaaay too long for 32 pages and it drew upon plot elements that the Development Team wanted to quietly forget. "Doom of the Dreamthieves" had fans though! Some people wanted it! I failed very boldly. (Best final round RPGSS advice I can give is to know how many encounters you need to write your adventure).

So, when I saw the dreamthief hag I was touched. In a good way. It made me smile.

Now, having said that, I hope no developer makes a special effort to publicly say there was no connection. Because that would make me sad.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

FAINTS

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

3 people marked this as a favorite.
The Blog wrote:

Skirkatla the graveknight queen from "Ice Tomb of the Giant Queen" made a deadly return in the beginning of this marathon. She was accompanied by her most powerful lieutenant, a unique svathurim dullahan known as the Decapitant Lord. Kurst Grath tried to slow the charge of the undead, but fell at the end of a lance powered by eight hooves.

As the fight against Skirkatla dragged on, the graveknight cornered Zadim and swung down with a full attack that packed more than enough damage to avenge her first loss against the party.

Nothing warms my heart to a black cinder than a returning villain!

Go, go, graveknights!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

My very good face-to-face friend and professional colleague, Ben Bruck, will be delighted that he claimed the character death!

Awesome read, Order of the Amber Die! I was glad to help!

[Not to be a shill, but the actual isomorphic map is in the Giantslayer Map Folio. The full color version was not available to the Order in time to play their session. Adam Daigle gracious gave his blessing for me to send them my turnover version. I dare say the isomorphic perspective really adds to the fun of the player's strategic planning]

Thank you guys so much for playing and promoting this AP!

And.. I am to understand from the Order's GM that the final boss fight was very challenging even though they didn't have a death...? (No spoilers desired, just hoping for confirmation)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

5 people marked this as a favorite.

GM, three rangers just begun,
But nobody rolled a cleric and now we're screwed.

GM, ooh,
Did you try to make us cry,
If I'm not back again this time next week,
Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Generic Villain wrote:

A question: roughly speaking, how many frost giants (or just giants in general) would you say are currently active on the plateau?

I know the adventure is structured specifically to avoid a "PCs vs. every last giant" scenario, so the number is kept intentionally vague. But for purely story-based reasons, I'm curious what kind of force the big guy is assembling, even just unofficially.

I have no idea, speaking honestly. I have a cop out answer and my real answer. I'll offer both because they both have an element of truth:

Cop-Out Answer: I don't really know how many giants are going to be required to conquer Avistan. I had no way of knowing how large the previous adventure was going to be in terms of population—or how big the next one was going be. I didn't want to throw out a number and have it be wrong. There’s so many people who just want to nit-pick a potentially wrong answer. I’m afraid of mass combat simulations to debate who is right and who is wrong.

Real Answer: It is a bad question from a narrativist point of view. No personal jab intended! The moment I assign a specific population, I have hamstrung the adventure. The Sabotage and the Outrage mechanic become pointless. The goal of the adventure was to encourage stealth and guerrilla style tactics. The only way to effectively achieve that goal is to make attrition of the giants an unobtainable or unrealistic objective.

The fact is, a blunt head-on confrontation at that level should fail. Because giants are dangerous. Depending on your group, that kind of systematic series of fights might even make for a tedious game. Plus, no group can sustainably go from fight to fight to fight. They have to stop and rest and replenish their resources. How does one simulate the giant response? The portion of the camp they cleared remains empty and deserted? No way! Plus, players shouldn’t be counting dead bodies, they should be exploring cool encounters and learning secrets—and that notwithstanding, there is still a wealth of good old combat to be had.

I don't mean to sound evasive and I do get what you mean. It is a fair enough question if this was a novel. Honestly, if I had to guess, I would be just making something up whole cloth. But I went for the lengthy reply to explain that the decision was deliberate and I feel it was the right call to make. It encourages the PCs to approach the problem with creativity and not just brute force.

Hope this helps!

EDIT: Removed an unnecessary remark about myself.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Kudaku wrote:
Does this trend continue through the entire AP or is this just a spike in the first books?

I'm actually running the AP and I am halfway through Chapter Four. There is a fair amount of DR. I would defend the reasons why that is not a flaw, but in the interest of a short, honest answer. Yeah. There's a fair amount of DR in all the chapters. Not on everything, but I can see wanting an adamantine weapon.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

As the author, I'm going to abstain from the art discussion except to point out one thing.

I'm sure that wasn't requested in the art order. I'm reading this depiction that it was some sort of intentional decision on the part of Paizo, and unless they contradict me—I cannot believe that to be true.

Dealing with artists is different than dealing with authors. We're a whole lot easier to edit.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Ah, my esteemed colleague is here to speak for himself!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

2 people marked this as a favorite.
xavier c wrote:
Can you give more info on the Birelus?

They come from a time when humanity did not live apart from nature, and in fact appealed to spirits of nature for intercession when life was cruel. These creatures are a humanoid embodiment of nature manifesting as humanoid.

They're pretty interesting. Incorporeal. Capable of possession—because they're spirits. But not undead. Kinda playing with animism but not exactly going there. Got antler horns!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Not to change the subject, but folks should really take a look at the Campaign Map Folio. It has my isomorphic which has been beautifully redrawn!

When people get the adventure, I can't stress enough how useful I feel this will be! And to staff: I am just floored by how magnificent this came out.

Product Image

Product link: Go here

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mizkitty wrote:
I'd love to find out just what information was extracted from this Frostfur captives we escorted...

I am having tea with the Foxglove sisters this afternoon, I shall endeavor to ask!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

4 people marked this as a favorite.
John Compton wrote:
And for those of you who were guessing whether the Year of the Serpent would involve the Aspis Consortium or the serpentfolk, why can't it be both?

Union of the Snake!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Some of my peers have said that Pathfinder Core Rules don't lend themselves to adventuring underwater very well. That while there are temporary fixes for short adventures and encounters, long term it is more of a hassle than fun. They're citing movement tied to a skill, slow movement in general, weapon penalties and added combat complexities, and so on.. plus other logistics (how do wizards prepare spells, blah blah).

1.) Do you find that to be true?

2.) If so, do you ever wish it wasn't?

Golarion has so many cool and terrifying mysteries under the waves, I wish we could explore them more. Not just to race to Aboleths, but to other stuff as well.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm sold. I want to put these critters in adventures!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

If it troubles you much, by all means make her a male opera singer.

And bear in mind, she's not there to be won as a prize by male characters. Or female characters. She's in a committed relationship with an important NPC who cannot undertake the task herself—because too many other people would be endangered if she took a needless risk for personal reasons.

I appreciate the concern and it is noted. A writer has to make some choices sometimes and this was one of them. I'm not perfect, but I know I have great Editors like Judy Baur to help when I don't see my own biases.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Luna eladrin wrote:


Afterwards they shot the fire rocket into the air as a signal for the revolution. Subsequently, Vladimir the fire sorcerer invited Bella to the roof and asked her to sing a revolutionary song, which she did. He used illusion spells to create a lovely light and sound spectacle, and Aleksej the bard accompanied her on his musical instrument. It was a memorable performance.

Oh, now that is awesome. You must be a fantastic GM blessed with the coolest players. Thanks for sharing!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

2 people marked this as a favorite.

A few stray comments:

The Technology Guide does have some Golarion Campaign Setting material (Androffan tech) in it which will have to be changed or removed in accordance to the rules. Sections of the book are also posted as part of the Paizo PRD as Core Rules Content. That makes it a valuable resource and at least as baseline for comparison in making technological content.

So I think both perspectives have some merit but neither are exclusively correct.

We're going to have some technology. The parts of the Technology Guide that are open content are a resource for consistency. We have a responsibility to produce content that is mechanically balanced and consistent with the Core rules. That's why a baseline really is an important tool.

But.. as an author who has communed with both the publisher and developer, we're aiming for Sword and Planet. Not everyone knows what that means. I struggled with it myself. As "homework" I sat down and watched the film version of "John Carter." Without getting sidetracked about things like critic reviews and what fans of the novels felt about the adaptation, its a great visual two-hour primer on some of the themes and tech levels we're looking at. You'll see guns, energy weapons, flying ships but also a healthy dose of sword-fightin' that comes straight out of sword and sorcery style action.

(And I enjoyed the movie whether that matters or not)

Science Fantasy.

Hope this helps!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Sir Croome? From Seeker of Secrets? He's no coward. I think he's British. Well, the Golarion equivalent, Taldane.

There are a lot of cameo's and special mentions throughout the scenario.

Seriously, if you read it again if he didn't duck behind the barricade, he'd take a crossbow bolt in the head. Then he runs off to fight an elephant by himself.

Aint that tuff enuff? Fabulous Thunderbirds? Bueller?

I thought that was pretty badass for a guy with a monocle. Elephants are CR 7.

That said, there's no harm in swapping him out. I'm not offended on Sir Laribold's behalf. There's just a lot of NPCs that have small roles or are just mentioned by name. This is to reflect how much of the Society is present for this special occasion. Its likely not all players will catch the references, but they're kind of like "legal Easter eggs."

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Thurston Hillman wrote:
Maybe I need to tape a video of me continually shoving gobstoppers into my mouth... OM NOM NOM!

::stares coldly::

See this?

Eccentric Genius Beloved By All wrote:
Satan sends booze overseas!

That contains no passive language. Just so you know.

::drops the mic::

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Neil Spicer wrote:
But, I consider myself quite lucky to have the support of more than a few industry veterans in writing and publishing it. .

There are a lot of industry vets that are excited to be part of it too!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Legendary Games's Road to Destiny was designed to integrate with the 500 mile caravan journey to Brinewall. In as much as it can, it foreshadows events in Chapter Two. We've had a couple rounds of edits and fixes,and it truly has some great maps.

5 stars from EZG too.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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Adam Daigle wrote:

It's truly beautiful.

(Your original was badass too!)

YAY!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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I am looking forward to seeing the frost giant village map. I drew the original.

Forgive me, this is a MICRO SPOILER, but the village is not on a flat plateau, so I drew it isomorphic style. Different height elevations are a terrain feature. I really hope it comes out well as I think it will be an exceptional and practical player aide for PCs to strategize and plan raids.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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Undead war machines!

Yay my cover is here!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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Muser wrote:
It's kind of troubling that so many deaths reported in this thread are related to gm's adding to or changing the encounters. Be vewy vewy caweful with that!

True, true.

But GMing is a practiced skill. You get better by doing, so it is excellent when GMs and Players give each other some grace. Pathfinder is a complex game with a lot of moving parts. I think a retcon rather than a complete reroll is a great idea.

Plus, you get to have fun imagining a worst case situation!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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Crystal Frasier wrote:
I think it's going to be a great AP, if I'm allowed to toot my own horn!

Toot away. Hey, who else will if we don't?

Hell's Rebels is going to be a great time folks.

And wonderful to see this thread. Carry on! <<salutes>>

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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Belated congratulations!

(I posted before, but it looks like it gotten devoured by the internet and I didn't notice till now)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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I don't want to suggest that Mike and I were any more than online acquaintances. I also don't want to make this post about me, but....

Mike played a critical role in the chain of events that led me to writing professionally. He's not the only professional who would influence me, but he was the first.

My condolences to his friends and family.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
Efforting

googles efforting

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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What an excellent choice. So happy to see this. :)

Looking forward to maybe working with you.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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So.......................

These llamas with hats...........

How exactly are they a metaphor for [REDACTED]?

And who is a Karl?

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I may not have been truthful. :D

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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Oh, I cant keep a secret!

It's ice mephits. A whole bunch of them. By they're not standard, scrub ice mephits... No sir! They have the advance template!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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Correct. :)

If we put it in the items, we'd be repeating it over and over. In a way, we probably should, but the Companion line is brutal on wordcount. We have to be really, really frugal, or just abandon the idea completely.

I'm not arguing with you, but "hiding" is not the best word for why that happened.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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@GM Tribute,

Thanks for the praise! :)

I am going to answer without spoiler tags, because this is the GM reference thread and its supposed to be chock full of spoilers. I do respect that you used them.

This is kind of a tough call. At 2nd level I would expect that most PCs who are interested in trapfinding would have a Perception check of +5 to +8. That accounts for maximum skill points, class skill bonus, and traits and other miscellaneous bonuses. And a +8 would represent a really an optimized character, IMO.

(@ Everyone Else- Please note, that is not a challenge to see how easy it could be done or made even higher)

If I set the DC to find the Bypass to DC 30 Perception, they can't roll the dice and succeed. As you point out, if I set it to DC 25, they can't fail to find it on a Take 20. I have to look at the former situation and conclude the DC is set correctly, even though I admit that taking 20 seems to take the excitement out of it.

Here's how I would look at it. The Necropolis is dangerous territory and they're spending 20 minutes doing nothing but examining this box, right?

First, timed buffs should have that time subtracted from their duration. That doesn't mean a lot if you're looking at mage armor and endure elements, but almost everything else is on a shorter duration.

Secondly, if there was ever time for a random encounter, its now. You can't look at the estate's natural inhabitants, like the div and the vargouille. You can also check out the Chapter One Wati Necropolis Random Encounter chart on page 79, which my pal Adam Daigle provides for just such a situation. There's a whole list of potential random encounters. You can assign a chance for a random encounter, or determine there *will* be one. You can roll for the encounter, or you can just pick one that makes the most sense to you. Ask the players what the PCs are doing while the one player takes 20 on the box. Don't telegraph any particular hidden meaning when you ask them, just be straightforward and keep your poker face up. If they say they're "just hangin' around", then bear that in mind if any opposed Stealth and Perception checks are called for. And the PC that's checking the chest? Once an encounter starts ask him if he's going to continue taking 20 or is he going to become involved. If he stops, make him start over once the encounter is finished.

I wouldn't do this twice in a row, that would be cheesy and a "GM editorial" against the players. Doing it once however, reminds the players that taking 20 is a serious decision when they're in a dangerous or dungeon-like environment. Its really intended to be done when the PCs have relatively complete control the environment.

From my point of view, there's nothing wrong with taking 20 except when it is taken for granted. Unfortunately, it usually is.

FINAL NOTE: This is more advice about how I might handle it, rather than a text correction. I can't say the DC is set wrong for reasons stated. I do hope I have given you some ideas on how to deal with this situation though. Good luck!

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