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The monster is listed as CR8, and I'm not that experienced a DM (which is why I was using a published adventure), so I didn't realize how horridly it was overpowered before too late. I have no idea how this monster got published.
Syrus: I'd really prefer not to kill anybody because I made a dumb mistake... though dropping a few more hints about the knowledge they already have might be a good idea.
Thanks for that rebuild, JohnHawkins! That's extremely helpful! :) (Though the look on their faces if it started flying around would be priceless.)
Not a bad idea, but that still leaves the rest of the battle, during which it's bound to be Bad News for the party unless rebuilt somehow...
My players stay out, please.:
I'm running a Pathfinder-modified version of the Dungeon #90 adventure Elfwhisper (3.0, I believe), and the final boss encounter is set up to be a TPK against my party. I'd like to avoid that.
The party consists of a lvl.7 diviner with virtually no offensive spells (for house rule legacy reasons), a lvl.7 bow ranger, a lvl.6 antipaladin (who I'm allowing to smite evil for story reasons, with the use of hero points and some good RP), a lvl.6 shadow sorceror (with a shadow raven familiar), and a lvl.6 NPC cleric (their rogue is currently missing). They don't have a great deal of magical or alchemical equipment - only the ranger and antipaladin have low-grade magic weapons. They do have the aid of a dying lvl.4 NPC bard, who was attacked by the boss, and the antipaladin is being protected by elven spirits as though he were under a stacking mage armor effect. The party has proceeded to attack the boss over a harp of charming it has.
The boss is an advanced half-fiend shambling mound with some odd powers. It has fire resistance 30 and cold and acid resistance 20, a fairly high AC and attack as well as hps, and the thing that concerns me most: its spell-like abilities, which it uses as a 14th level sorceror. The one that concerns me most is blasphemy. That one, cast at such a high CL, could be a TPK on its own. If you have the magazine, you can see the others, but they don't concern me as much (except maybe for unholy aura, which would grant it SR 25 vs good spells/spells cast by good creatures once cast!). Honestly, the spells appear to be chosen out of a hat full of "let's destroy the party." On top of that, the boss is supposed to be able to use the harp of charming, which might conceivably take out the party's main firepower/muscle if they fail their saves. Its main concern is to kill the sorceror, who is an elf. She has currently gotten too close, and is grappled. Did I mention that it has a reach of 20'?
I don't want to nerf the encounter entirely, as it should be hard, but obviously I don't want to slaughter the party. On top of that, they've been grumbling about not succeeding at their other quests, so they probably will be unhappy even if they survive this unless they defeat the boss somehow. Since the game is supposed to be fun for them, and we've been playing a long time (pbem) without what they consider significant victories, I want to make it possible for them to defeat the boss - but I don't want to make the boss a pushover, either. I hinted earlier in the game that the boss could be controlled by the harp it now has, but a) they don't seem to think they can get the harp without killing the boss, though the familiar is holding it along with the boss, and b) they don't seem to have realized that the boss IS the boss I hinted about.
Since they aren't carrying much in the way of offensive power that can defeat the mound, especially with its fire resistance (which might as well be immunity when it's that high), their choices are to simply run away and come back better equipped, which they don't want to do because they're in the middle of tracking down the missing rogue, or abandon the harp entirely, which they don't want to do because they think it's important to the plot. OR... we're looking at TPK material. Or I DM fiat that they win somehow, which is a pretty hollow victory.
- the boss has, in the story, been killing off elves in the region for a long time. Not just once long ago, but continuously since it arrived; it just arrived so long ago that, combined with general hostility towards elves in the area, most of the killing was long ago, and no one worries about a missing elf here or there now. The harp is instrumental to keeping it under control, and the boss knows that the harp can do that. The boss is actually the pawn of a greater power, the true villain of the campaign, which the party doesn't know about yet (though the missing rogue does).
- there is an escape hatch nearby (within the clearing): a fairy ring that leads to the outer part of the forest. I've described a desecrate effect on the dead tree as the Weave unravelling into wild magic just around it, again for story reasons. (The diviner can see this.)
- I do allow hero points to be used to get hints on how to deal with situations.
So... is there a way to save this situation without being extremely heavy-handed with hints and cheating in favor of the PCs? They do have plenty of hero points (due to an old house rule that removed the limitation of max.3), so they can avoid insta-death, but... well, they haven't come up with anything clever and neither have I. Best-case scenario at the moment is that the boss crushes the elf, then drops her and leaves her for dead (though with judicious use of hero points she wouldn't be) and... I don't know, goes away for some reason. Maybe they even sever the branch holding the harp before it can use it (the ranger severed the vine it used to grab the harp before, but no one got to it before the boss picked the harp up again - not sure why she thinks it won't work again), and grab the harp. But I doubt they'd let it go (or use the harp to control it, since they don't seem to have understood that this is the boss the harp was meant to control, and with the bard dying and no one inclined to help him, no one can play it anyway), and if they did, they'd be unhappy about another "defeat." Quandary!
TL;DR: The boss is too tough for the party (with their limited resources) to win at the moment, but I don't want to nerf it too much. I would prefer that they have some sort of victory, even if they don't manage to destroy the boss. Ideas on how to achieve this? I'm no good at building monsters, which is why I used a published one in the first place. I suspect a story solution is called for, I just can't see the forest for the shambling mound. :P
My main gripe is that Chaotic Neutral appears to equate to either Neutral Evil or Chaotic Evil in most games. To me, that is really stupid. But then, to me, evil is selfishness on a large scale.
Many years ago, I read all these pages about alignment by James Beach, and they have proven formative to my perception of the nature and use of alignments.
Hahaha. I never actually wanted to punch Darth Vader until I saw episodes II and III. Actually, I never wanted to punch the Jedi before all three of the first episodes, either.
Sorry I wasn't clear - while the PC hasn't actually gone around committing good acts OR bad acts, his alignment is still good, thanks to those house rules. He never became evil - the powers are just a way to tempt him to become evil. He doesn't so much need a spark to remind him of the good in humanity as he needs to realize that the god he worships is Evil and has goals that are totally incompatible with his, and his morals.
Thanks for your response, Nearyn. Good advice, too, except... I was originally playing 3e with a lot of house rules, the relevant one being that I didn't require alignments to match class or deity. I decided to fall more in line with the regular rules when we switched to Pathfinder.
In-game, we had treated the character as retaining his good alignment, but being tempted to the dark side by the powers he'd been granted by a deceitful god (ie. the local population thinks Bane is a good god. I'm still brewing a few ideas why the PC was chosen for these powers, but I'd love to hear new ideas). He hasn't actually commited any heinous acts yet, though, and doesn't believe his faith in Bane is evil, just necessary. Bane is still trying to tempt him to use his powers to evil ends, though. Thus, the change to paladin isn't quite as unlikely as it might otherwise be.
Also, because it's a pbem (and going quite slowly at the moment), I can't draw out the change too long, because years of real time will pass! Thus I'm thinking some sort of intense event that has him reject evil in favor of good (and hopefully the new force) in a sudden blast. Possibly endangering his crush due to her connection to Mielikki, which Bane will be all about destroying, thus catalysing his decision to abandon the teachings of Bane (and the powers that go with them).
My players (KFR0) stay out, please.:
I'm running a 1345DR FR pbem game in which one player has given his character a level of antipaladin in service to Bane. He has agreed with me on a character arc that has his antipaladin eventually rise to become a normal paladin, though he hasn't chosen another god (and I'm kind of hoping he won't for metaplot reasons, so that he can gain his new powers from a new force I'll be introducing, though this would hopefully be a surprise, so I can't tell the player about it now).
Other background: his PC has a serious crush on another PC from the same area, who is ostensibly a follower of the same dark pantheon as himself (I gathered a handful of deities and made them a new pantheon under Bane), but who in reality is a follower of Mielikki. I'm thinking she could help advance the antipaladin's character arc, but I haven't made any agreements with her player yet.
Other other background: The campaign will have a strong fey presence. Also, it being a pbem, we're a pretty RP-heavy group.
So far I've just been sending the PC nightmares about an upcoming event, with urgings to commit dark deeds in preparation for standing against it - but with a slender ray of light offering another path, referencing his long-gone parents. I was hoping I could get some more ideas of how to encourage the PC to make a decision between good and evil, ramping up the intensity until the change takes place. I've considered having him find an intelligent weapon belonging to the new force (and making it the source of the light in his nightmares), but I'm not sure if that would be too railroady. Then again, since we've agreed on his arc, I'm not sure railroady is a problem.
So, any fun ideas? Or lacking that, any interesting metaphors I could place in his dreams?
Since I've decided Baird is going semi-incognito (the better to mesh with the dwarves in the party without starting a brawl), maybe he came to Talas to enlist his aid before leaving Kyonin? Or perhaps this: Baird is quite a bit younger now, so maybe Talas has helped him learn about dwarven history by allowing him access to the city's libraries, and once Talas learned of his plan to go delving, he insisted on coming along to keep the hot-headed Baird out of trouble?
Do these backstory mentions of Baird work for you, Krisam?
Sure, sounds good to me. Baird might not admit it, but he'd be relieved to see a friendly familiar face, and he does have a soft spot for elves. He might even have been a friend of Talas, whenever the Ironhames were passing through. Certainly the family would have been grateful for his mother's support.
Heh, thanks, but while Baird may have reached the hill, he isn't quite over it yet. I'd actually have liked to make him just a little younger, but there's yonder prereqs to consider.
I also keep thinking that dwarves get older than they do - must be thinking of elves. I may have some kind of mental block regarding nonhuman aging; I thought something similar with Bad Ben. :P
EDIT: Due to Baird's background (his family fled to the protection of the elves for the civil war), it would actually be quite likely that he might know Tarthiel. The Ironhame family's reputation among the dwarves isn't good because of it, though. Let me know if you want to build on that potential relationship.
While I would really like to play in this setting, I think I've gotten too used to the ease with which I can understand Pathfinder. I'm getting a bit confused about the old rules, which used to make sense to me before 3e. I think I'll withdraw from the running - best of luck to the rest of you, and good gaming!
I did post my character back in post #70, but here he is again. I waited with the spells in case you wanted to choose them or something? I need to read up on events for that year and the years immediately previous so I can come up with a background that meshes into the story well... or maybe I'll wait with that 'til I know if I get chosen. I understand that the elven Retreat was canceled, though? That might be an interesting jumping-off point.
GM Silver wrote:
Fair enough. I'll work out the details of my character tonight!
I'm interested! I'm thinking of a paladin of Iomedae - anything I should be wary of? I'll post what I have in a spoiler in a bit.
Sureelah Naalah Khanoor
female human (Keleshite) paladin (Iomedae) 1 LG
hgt: 5’6 wgt: 120 lbs
eyes: light blue
hair: dark brown, long
STR 14 +2
Concept: A steely desert paladin is seeking justice and redemption in the eyes of her family.
Her family fell on hard times, and to avoid an arranged marriage Khanoor signed on with a mercenary group. Though she sent all her wages back to her family, her "irresponsible escape" strained her relations with them, and she rarely communicates with them.
The mercenaries always called her by her last name, and it stuck; now it's how she thinks of herself. Among the mercenaries there was no concern for whether the fighting they did was for a good cause or a bad one, which disturbed her. Often she would take solace in the teachings of Iomedae, the faith of one of the foreigners among the mercenaries, and in the end those teachings caused her to leave the mercenary group.
Attacked by gnolls when she was reluctantly returning to the city, she underwent a trial by fire in a long, running fight with them, alone in the desert. Through her cunning and faith she prevailed, for Iomedae heard her prayers and helped her to force the gnolls to flee. As she stood over the body of one of them and watched the remainder go for reinforcements, she pledged her life to Iomedae, finding peace in her principles.
Then she ran, because taking on a whole pack of gnolls alone was something only a fool would do.
Unwilling to go creeping back home, she was still forced to return to the city, where she sold her camel for money to live on and stayed far from the ward she had grown up in. Determined to show the world that there was a better path through Iomedae's grace, she looked for an opportunity to prove it.
When I ask what to be wary of, I guess what I really mean is: how do you see paladins behaving in your world?
Here's Thorfinn reskinned as a slayer, in case you prefer:
CLASS: Slayer (<-- Favored)
SENSES Perception +7
HP: 19 (d8+1)
+1 att/dmg vs FT
BAB: +3 CMB: +5
Favored target (Ex)
+1 to Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense motive, Survival vs. Favored Target
"We are red, we are white, we are Danish dynamite!" ;) Maybe a raid gone wrong is responsible for all the Vikings in the area?
DM, what are you using as the Common tongue? English? If the spell-less ranger isn't okay, I could reskin as a fighter, but I'm really, really hoping the ranger is okay.
I should have Thorfinn up for consideration sometime tomorrow.
In that case, I'll jump in with some rolls (assuming the spell-less ranger is an allowed class, since it's 3pp).
4d6 ⇒ (3, 3, 2, 6) = 1412
Sheesh. I guess it's 20 point buy, then.
I was also thinking of making a Dane, looking for his lost brothers who mysteriously disappeared after a storm off the coast. Maybe it's not so mysterious and they just drowned, but he thinks Odin has shown him a sign that they're alive.
So, here's Koshu with a tentative backstory, pending mixing it up with the rest of you. I can't believe there are no lion avatars. :P I plan to make him a fighter from level 4.
One question for Ray: Koshu gets 2 claw attacks. Can he use them now with a full-round action since they're primary natural weapons, or does he have to wait 'til his bab is +6? I've assumed he doesn't need Two-Weapon Fighting to use them (since they are natural weapons, again), but if that's in error please let me know.