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I know I'll never use the mini in any actual combat (except one the players are destined to lose), but that aside, Lamashtu looks absolutely amazing. I mean, I don't often get creeped out by minis, but dang, good job, belly and all! The supporting cast is also quite impressice- for those of us not in the know, whatsup with Etania's stomach?
Tybid, its almost like our groups are running at the same pace. My PCs next encounter is the one you just ran. We won't be running it until the beginning of September unfortunately due to me switch-gaming with the other DM (he runs Kingmaker) and vacations in August. Still, I like reading about how other players fare against certain encounters before I run them.
Did you run the version straight from the module? I'm curious, because I was planning on using the Tetori Monk rewrite of him; his stats didn't look that impressive to me on paper, but sometimes I underestimate a bad guy's abilities.
-Nightshades: Some of the best CR'd undead in the game IMO. Running Carrion Crown, so these guys are sure to get their use. I particularly like the Nightskitter (CR 12) from Undead Revisited.
-Daemons: For some reason, these guys are fun to run. Maybe its their unusual and awesome abilities or what they represent, but I've had fun with every one I've ran.
-Vampires: So many ways to run them. Also, since their gaze works on all Giants, its fun to utilize such creatures as unconventional minions; my players were horrified when they came upon an imprisoned group of Ogres (blood banks) being forced to do things they would never do, like read, add, tell jokes, and wear human clothes. The only downside is having to custom make such monsters, but I've been having fun pumping out Alchemist, Monk, and other awesome creations with the template.
The research checks help, but aren't essential for defeating the five prisoners. It is a shame if your PCs aren't able to discover any information since all of their backstories are really cool. An alternative approach would be to substitute some of the facts in the research checks with rumors gathered via diplomacy from the townsfolk. In this way, you could give some of the story, albeit through the narrow-minded and prejudice filled eyes of the townsfolk. Truly though, your players have more than enough time to complete the module before the ultimate bad stuff happens. Consider also that it is a horror game, and a lot of that goes with not necessarily knowing why stuff is happening. Remember also that some of the haunts help convey the final moments of the prison, making actively seeking information (or using the Spirit Planchette in the prison) a viable solution to find out what they need. Hope that helps you!
Sorry its taken so long to get this up, here's so more:
1)I am the childe o f_______
a)Ludvick Sievrage: This works best in my opinion if the Dhampir in question is the party leader or someone who exerts a lot of dominance in their daily dealings. Having such a powerful figurehead for a father sholud not necessarily be a way to bypass the role-playing required to gain the Vampires’ good graces but rather an opportunity to showcase the themes of agelessness and being locked within a certain timeframe that vampires exude. The dhampir might represent to Ludvick either an earlier emotional failure, a secret shame, or a target of resentment if the Dhampir’s birth killed the mother. In all three cases, the reason for the Dhampir not immediately knowing the location of the Vampire’s court and not immediately being helped by Ludvick is more readily apparent. Whether or not the mother is still alive creates its own interesting dynamic. In any case, solving the vampire murders helps to cement Ludvick's respect for his child, something that would lend itself to good role-playing.
b)Lady Evgenya: One who seems to travel in high circles, and has such would make the Dhampir’s father as high nobility. Yes, I know it’s a given that the Dhampir’s mother should be mortal since it seems inconceivable for a vampire to carry a child. Without even touching Twilight with a 30’ pole, I think in a fantasy world, what's to stop from a creature that drinks the blood of others from using this blood to sustain life? At any rate, if the PC were using this idea, I would recommend the PC have some knowledge of vampire culture, its outer mysteries, and a lot of other information up to the location of the current vampire court. Alternatively, the PC could be invited by a proxy, a la Quinley, to re-attend the court, only to be attacked by Merrick, who has grown paranoid due to the killings taking place near her area. Also, by having Lady Evgenya be linked personally and a likely next target for the vampire killers, it makes the stakes more personal and her plan more appealing. Oh, if one isn’t comfortable with vampires having babies, just have her be turned into one after the Dhampir’s birth and have the father be dead or some noble she turned the tables on and now controls.
c)Merrick Sais: Same birthing situation as Lady Evgenya, except the father could be a ranger, druid, or another in tune with nature. This takes a little bit of finesse since the encounter with Merrick in the greenhouse is worth running and a good chunk of XP. For this reason, there needs to be a reason that the Dhampir wouldn’t want to cross paths with his/her mother. I could see Merrick having a Darwinist view of vampirism as it relates to nature, and would thus choose the best and brightest specimens to become spawn (in my game, she had a dominated group of NPCs defending her grove besides the other defenses). In this regard, there would be a constant need for the dhampir to be powerful enough in her eyes to garner respect coupled with a simultaneous fear that she wants to make the dhampir into the ultimate hunter by turning them. In this way, the fight in the greenhouse becomes a little more personal.
d)Radvir Giovanni: Having Radvir as the Dhampir's father has serious story connotations that must be examined. Foremost among questions is whether or not Radvir is doing what he is doing because of the Dhampir, whether due to events that lead about the Dhampir's birth or possibly as revenge for the Dhampir's exile. Its possible that Radvir sired the dhampir in an attempt to create a mortal agent that he could use to further the Whispering Ways goals, one who could be inserted among men of higher learning such as Professor Lorrimer or Adivion Adrissant. Much of this depends on whatever the DM designates Radvir's motivaion to be, whether its whole-heartedly serving the Way (a srange thing for a vampire), or if its simply an attempt to break free from the bond of master and spawn that exists between vampires and their makers, in this case Ludvick. In this case, its important to stress the theme of slavery represented by this bond, especially in the dealings with the vampires themselves. What also might make this interesting would be Radvir's possible willingness to confide his plans to his child, especially if the company he is traveling with displays a willingness to kill vampires.
e)Other Caliphas Vampire: I wasn't sure from the beginning that the Dhampir PCin my group would live all the way from the first to the fifth module, and it seemed unnecessary to set up a big backstory or reveal future plot-points when the PC in question might die ignobly along the ay (there's lots of places for this, its a pretty lethal AP, and Dhampirs aren't the most survivable races). To my surprise, the typically headstrong player has one of the few PCs to have survived all the way to this module, so towards the end of the fourth one, I asked him to come up with a backstory. While he did a great job doing so, I was hard pressed to integrate the module's players in with what he had written without giving to much away.
His Backstory:If the PC has a reason to seek out the vampire father in question, nothing is more compelling than the possibility of that vampire becoming a target of Radvir.
. Basically, he's born to a noble vampire named Lucien, a vampire who serves with Ludvick's court but is not one of his children. The dhampir's mother survived his birth and eventually was turned into a vampire. The dhampir was raised in vampire culture (I allowed him to roll his Knowledge: Nobility with a +4 circumstance bonus for determining etiquette, and even if he were untrained, would have still let him roll it.) He falls in love with the human sister of one of his rivals, an elitist vampire named Reylis. For whatever reason (reasons I came up with for the Dhampir to unravel), his mother was killed in a blood ritual by the Whispering Way, resulting in a series of rash words and acts. Ultimately, his perceived lack of credentials in the eyes of the vampire nobles leads him to fight a duel against Reylis, which he loses. He is exiled until he comes into the service of the Professor some years later. When the player provided all this information, i decided that I needed more vampire nobles than just Ludvick and Lady Evgenya for him to interact with, so created Reylis and had his father Lucien still be alive.
f)Other Non-Caliphas Vampire: If not for my player's backstory, this would have been the route I had taken. A Dhampir could easily be the result of the experimentations of Conte Ristomir Tiriac since he is known to be seeking a cure for vampirism. and the PC could be a by-product of such endeavors. In this way, the Count could provide early incentive for the PCs to help Ramoska Arkminos. Dealing with the Whispering Way could have been a misguided attempt to further the Count's research into the cure. In any case, this sort of background creates the possibility of both distrust due to being an outsider but also possible acceptance on the merit of name recognition and the value of bloodlines.
2)My mother is ______________
a)Alive: If the Dhampir's mother is alive (or father), consider using them as bait or a hostage by Radvir once he knows that he is being investigated. Also, consider thematically what the mother represents to the Dhampir, that last link to the characters humanity. This can be important if one plays up the constant temptation given by the vampires to join them, to gain great power at the cost of humanity and servitude. In this way, it could be relevant to showcase the freely given love between the Dhampir and parent versus the forced love implied through the vampiric bond. Finally, there could be feelings of resentment between the parent and the Dhampir, feelings brought upon by everything that the Dhampir could represent, whether shame that their one child isn't normal or the need to forgot the trauma that brought about the Dhampir's existence.
b)Dead: If this is the case, how did she die? If the Dhampir's birth was the cause of her death, it is easy enough to foster a wall of resentment between the Dhampir and his creator. Overcoming the blame for such a thing could prove a crucial moment of role-playing for gaining acceptance into the vampire underworld, or could be used (in the case of Radvir) as a reason for going down a darker path. If it is not the birthing that killed her, how or why did she die? Its reasonable that the creation of a Dhampir could be a social blunder if not a crime in vampire culture. Afterall, having something walking around in broad daylight that proves the existence of vampires seems to run cross purpose to the secretive means of vampire society. Its conceivable that the mother is killed in retribution for the Dhampir's birth, while the Dhampir ix exiled from vampire culture. Finally, its possible to involve her death with the Whispering Way, as my player attempted to do. This took a bit of a re-write of the module, which I'll explain below.
c)A Vampire: Its entirely possible that after the birth of the Dhampir, the mother could be completely seduced by vampires and decide to turn. I would caution against a stable, loving relationship between the two vampire parents and the Dhampir; you don't want an Adam's family scenario where hilarity ensues. However, having one of the parents be a suspect in the vampire killings could add a bit of personal depth to the investigations, especially if one of the vampires is not part of vampiric society as a whole. This is entirely conceivable if the birth of the Dhampir is frowned upon by the society as a whole. Finally, while this seems cheesy, its entirely possible for Quinley to be a brother or half-brother to the Dhampir PC, making him more memorable. This would mean that one of the first vampiric victims would be the PCs mother, raising the stakes on the investigation.
3)My Rivals in Vampire Society are _________
A lot of this depends on who the Dhampir's parents are, what weight that carries, and how vampire society as a whole views the Dhampir's existence. Think about the list of players and how each of them would regard the PC if they are the child of a particular vampire. For example, a child of Merrick could be looked down upon by the more effite vampires such as Lady Evgenya for their lack of social graces, while a child of Ludvick would inspire jealousy and mistrust in any of his other children. In any case, having a rival creates a connection that allows the NPC to expand upon the Dhampir’s past based on their interactions, whether actively aggressive or passively so. In this case, I used by PCs backstory to create Reylis, an unaffiliated vampire who views vampirism as an ultimate perfection of nobility and fighting prowess; aside from getting by Merrick, my PCs encountered this vampire en route to Ludvick’s who demanded a duel from the Dhampir to prove his worth (first to hit three times, Duelist vs Magus basically, with the Magus Dhampir getting the upper hand due to tricks like True Strike and Arcane points. At any rate its important for the PCs to constantly feel like they are being judged and evaluated by the other vampires, whether as potential future spawn, as pawns to be manipulated, or as rivals to be eliminated.
4) My story changes I’m using the basic framework of the module itself, but like Broken Moon have expanded a lot of stuff due to the use of Mythic and the PCs backstory. Here’s what I’ve done:
Hope any or all of the above helps to stoke the creative flames for anyone running this excellent module. Note that I didn’t expressly rewrite the main framework of the module, I think the author has done a fine job with the overall story. I also am very grateful for all the input he’s given on the DM thread for this module. Its helped to make some of the above ideas work as well as creating a memorable experience for my players.
So shadows are... hipsters? " (Scoffs) We're from the Plane of Shadow, you've probably never heard of it but we lived there before it was cool."
That helps soften them a little, shadows seem to be the alpha ambush predator of the Pathfinder world. Wasn't it you that did the thread about why shadows haven't completely overrun Golarion?
(Worries he can't make the opposed charisma check to make Matt Damon perform tasks against his nature. Decides to send him back and pulls out a mirror.)
(Speculates by the above words that he might have been sent to the world where the Wheel of Time takes place. Better hope he can't learn how to Channel.)
Erik Mona wrote:
...and this is why I continue to buy your minis and other products. Erik Mona (and others) rolling 20 on their customer service Diplomacy check.
Right? The lack of feats utterly kills golems. It reduces them to melee sluggers who are easily outwitted by dozens of builds.
Its the 140 hp.. a 14th level party will chew through that in a round. I've noticed its typically really hard to Under-CR at higher levels. Other than some of the Tane (Jabberwock, Bandersnatch), there aren't a lot of monsters that are a death sentence to fight if the party is 3 levels under the CR.
Edit: Winterwight might be another hard fight, if its DCs were just a little higher.
How would you make a Shadow weaker (young template doesn't work, makes it more powerful)? I guess maybe Give it a save for the strength dmg? Vice-versa for the wraith. DC 16 fortitude save making your pcs laugh? Remove the save and make it con dmg instead. That is exactly why Shadows are ten times worse than Wraiths... the lack of save.
Woops, meant Cloaker, not Choker. Forgot the Basi's were medium. I would still like some Dark, Lunar, or Water Naga as well.
I played through the entirety of STAP, and by the last four modules, we were regularly curb stomping Mariliths and Balors, one shotting Hezrous, and just being terrible to demon-kind in general. These guys would have given me fits. Very well done Ashiel. The Mosh of Terror in particular gives the Balor more action economy without increasing his actions exponentially. Also, I really like the secondary abilities and spells you gave them.
On topic, I feel that the Purple Worm is another one that's really over CR'd. It needs to be Vermin so it can benefit from immunity to mind effects. I can count at least four separate instances of play were the worm got charmed, put to sleep, and other ridiculous fates due to its atrocious Will save. (+4 on a CR 12??? Better roll 20s against every save or suck coming at you.
Again, completely disagree with the choice of a troll as one of the valuable large slots. I would take any of the following rare or not-yet made minis over one with 9+ incarnations:Basidirond
Devils (no really, we get every demon ever, but no devils??)
...and that's not even touching Bestiary 2. I have to wonder if I'll ever see a representation of Qlippoth, or Daemons, or lots of other Paizo-flavored monsters that have yet to have any sort of mini for them.
I'm gonna be the lone voice of dissent here, but I think this objection is valid:
Again, not trying to be a jerk, but I am not excited about this particular mini set so far. It almost feels like "Everything that got cut from Runelords and Shattered Star Set"...
I did a thread about this as far as under-CR'd monsters a bit ago. The link is here.
My biggest thing is getting 2 out of 3 of the Legendary Relics for companions. Both the one for the Templar and the one for the Scoundrel that I picked up have the following suffix: "As long as this is equipped, your follower cannot die." I assume there's one for the Sorceress that does the same as well. They definitely make soloing easier, having everything pile on an indestructible follower.
So, statistic buffs, or in fact, most Transmutation effects as a whole have visible or noticeable effects that can be deduced as to having been dispelled if such a thing occurs.
Perhaps, but on an in-game level, it definitely affects what actions a character takes based on their knowledge of the situation. A Paladin with Death Ward up won't think twice about charging the head vampire, possibly taking Attacks of Opportunity that would normally inflict level drain from the dozens of spawn around him. Without this spell, his tactics change significantly, probably trying to bottle-knock and isolate the numerous spawn before engaging the leader, fighting defensively to avoid the dangerous level-drain.
Once Gibbs is dealt with and the Sheriff is bed-ridden, you could have the Splattermna step up his game by using the Sheriff's body. Have his caretakers find bloody letters written on his sheets and anywhere else that he can reach, or have him suddenly wake up and engage the PCs, only in the Splatterman's voice.
Without arcane sight and detect magic as aids, I'm gonna say no.
Gimme a little bit, I'm going to write up something to the effect of, " How to incorporate a Dhampir into this module" based on what happens in our next session (Tuesday or Wednesday). Besides what's above, I've also need to post about how I'm incorporating Mythic into this module, which I'll do after the details of an upcoming fight. Suffice to say, having Mythic has altered the storyline slightly, but the explanation is really long. I'm at work right now, so will have to post late tonight, at least on the slight plot alterations that have resulted from incorporating the Dhampir's backstory further as well as Mythic.
The first modules of Carrion Crown and Rise both were pretty hard. I'm playing Rise, so I don't know how they end up, but at level 13 things are pretty easy. Carrion Crown was a pushover after module three as well.
Magnuskn, have you made it into module 6 of CC? Some of the stuff in Book 4 and 5 can be easy if you're a half-way decent player, but book 6 looks like it has some really hard stuff.
The Banshee, The Witchfire Coven, The Nighwalker, The Gallowdead, dealing with the Mortuary storm, etc.
Also, the only group I ever TPK'd was a group that made it all the way to Karzoug in Runelords. (original edition)
Whoa, I didn't know they put Whimsyshire creatures in the rifts... That's gotta be kind of creepy; fighting teddy bears and unicorns under the dark palettes and dissonant music used by some of the rifts.
Oh, I so wish I had that. Financial obligations have made me miss the last few purchases I've wanted from Paizo, some of which would help flush some of this out even further. (The stuff with the Witches and the Order works within the absence of contradicting material, but I always like seeing all the information out there. For all I know, there could be a chapter of tEOotPE in Irrisen composed of nothing but witches (seems unlikely).
So, I am quite enamored of the gothic backdrop that is Ustalav. Jason Nelson and Wes Schneider’s take on the mist enshrouded metropolis that is represented by Caliphas in Ashes at Dawn andRule of Fear is fantastic, yet I wanted more for my players. Since this module details the PCs at a height of power (11th level) interacting with not only an ancient, legendary city and its citizens but also its undead underworld and secret societies, I wanted more details on what is written for the city to evoke feelings of nostalgia and brooding among my PCs, many of whom are World of Darkness veterans. There are a good 10+ pages of material written for the city with many names and locations listed, most of which do not coincide with the adventure as it is written. Of course, few DMs run adventures exactly as written, I feel it’s a shame to waste the time, energy and pages devoted to Caliphas itself. For this reason, I decided to expand certain facets of the culture and places presented in the two sources, while trying to incorporate them into the module as a whole. Here are some things I've added or expanded upon to help bring Caliphas to further ‘unlife’.
Being a coastal city, Caliphas is almost always enshrouded in a blanket of fog. This natural occurrence is heaviest from dawn to dusk when the temperature and closeness of the lake give rise to such conditions. When traveling in Caliphas from sunset to sunrise, all visibility for PCs lower than 20’ from the ground is reduced to 30 feet. Characters further than 10 feet away from each other have concealment, while those 30 feet away or more have total concealment. The 20 foot limitation allows airborn or rooftop characters to avoid the mist while exposing themselves to anything that might be watching from beneath.
2) Vampire in Caliphas Popular Culture:
In Caliphas, vampires have a long and sometimes bloody history intertwined with the city, yet for them to exist in such a large city without being hunted down, secrecy must be maintained. Sometimes the best secrets are those in plain sight, and for centuries the vampires of the city have maintained a semblance of anonymity through several businesses, services, and self portrayals in the city’s popular culture. While vampires are whispered about in myth and legend, few people believe the exist due to a number of devices that have become widespread throughout the city, such as decorative mediums, costuming services, and even a couple of popular ‘vampire clubs’, places full of young nobles pretending to be creatures of the night for their own amusement.
Decorative Mediums This includes items such as painted, wooden replicas of garlic cloves that adorn many doors (some of which are embellished with etched designs, inlaid metals or even encrusted jewels. Wolf and Bat themed gargoyles adorn many of the rooftops, Almost all the nobility wear heirloom holy symbols passed down from generation to generation, whether their current scions believe in the gods they represent or not. In fact, many of these antiques are used as fashion statements, much to the chagrin of the local churches.
Costume Shops Among others of its kind, the shop Cloak and Fangs helps cater to the young, bored nobility of the city, providing gothic clothing all the way up to the broad cloak, sunglasses, and even fixable 'vampire teeth'. These utilizes a variation of Sovereign Glue and Universal Solvent to fully embrace the 'creature of the night' fantasy. They also sell a cheap wine called 'Virgin's Blood', a thick. syrupy red concoction meant to resemble blood. For the right price, young nobles can also learn the weekly location of the Bloodtear Club, the most prestigious of the Vampire Clubs that the young nobles frequent.
Vampire Clubs Perpetuating the idea of vampires being 'cool and romantic' are a few different spots that gather Caliphas's wealthy and strange.in environments decidedly tributary to the ancient creatures. Foremost among these is the Bloodtear Club, a nightclub that moves every week to different spots in the catacombs beneath the streets. The location is usually kept secret since its openly known that illicit activities and substances present themselves beneath the avant-garde front of the club. Ran by Vivanny and Celric Gorboroff, the decadently wealthy nobles use their bardic skills to entrance and entertain the nobles simply to watch them take themselves to further and further excess. Bored with noble society and conventional gatherings, the two seem to thrive on the energy given off by the club's patrons when they dance in costume to eerie tunes beneath illusions such as swarms of bats, raining blood, mists, and other effects created by the two.
3) Witches in Caliphas Popular Culture
Unlike Vampires, Witches are talked about in hushed, fearful whispers that is frequently followed with a sign against evil. Due to the recent machinations of The Dublesse's mentor Oothi and her subsequent demise, people not only believe in witches and witchcraft but fear it enough to create physical memories of such activities within the city.
1)"Gnurly Witch, Gnurly Witch, Better Run
2)"The Old Green Crone, she wasn't home,
Spectral Witch Those who have cause to travel above the mists at nighttime have occasionally seen a strange sight in the sky, a ghostly witch. This spectral, withered old crone riding a broom shoots through the air above the city, only to vanish an instant later. Seeing her requires a DC 25 perception check, but those that do recognize her as a human woman wearing clothing that predates the founding of Caliphas. This is an echo of pre-Ustalavic Kellid's powers. They counted many witches among their numbers, and because of the ancient people's association with savagery and unknowable gods, witches have been lumped into this same superstitious category.
The Why Not trying to single out Witches, but most forms of Magic (oracles excluded) can be divined to their source of power. Wizards follow universally formula-laden spells, those that require the same material components worldwide, regardless of region, race, or power level of the user. This makes Wizard's spellcasting almost like a form of science; the methods are almost always the same and the results are always the same. Sorcerers are similar, minus the material components, and powerful ancestors are an understandable sources of magic. Likewise, druids through nature, clerics through their deities, bards through the power of song, and alchemist through scientific formula all make sense to the average layman about where their power comes from. Not so with Witches, who follow mysterious Patrons that have their own agenda. Consider asking any of the above to explain their source of power, and most not only would tell but even try to pitch their philosophy as decreed by their power (druid professing nature, etc.) Not so with witches, who themselves aren't necessarily sure where their power comes from.Also, hexes don't follow most of the rules for magic, making them slightly more frightening and less predictable to other practitioners. This is the reason for the rampant mistrust of witches among not only the populace of Caliphas, but specifically the Esoteric Order. Finally, the people assocaite witchcraft with those who were here before them, the ancient Kellids, tying witchcraft to old ways that are not the ways of the current populace, ways believed to be bloody and savage. It should be noted that no one is playing a Witch in my game, but if they were, I would still run with this just for the RP opportunity, especially when Aisa and Hetna ask the PC in question to join them in scouring the prejudiced populace of the city. (not their goal, I know, but goals can change, especially if Countess Caliphvaso forces their hands and sends people to kick them out of the abbey.
4)]Noble Families and Red Herrings
Radvir Giovanni is using the pretext of the nobility of Caliphas being responsible for the murders to start a war between the vampires and humans of the city. While the module suggests that Radovir is using minor nobles that have conveniently left the city as scapegoats, I fail to understand how he plans to influence Luvick to take retribution on these families if the vampires have no targets to go after. With the nobles all gone, why would they start killing people randomly? Also, his story of Ramoska being responsible falls flat if the Nosferatu denies it; neither has proof or a proper refutal of proof that the Nosferatu is behind the killings, making it an uneven question of who do you believe more, monster A or monster B? Also, our Dhampir player has had past dealings with Ramoska (he traded vials of his blood (2 con dmg) for potions of inflict wounds that he desperately needed), so if possible, I don't want to arouse suspicion of Radvir too early by having Ramoska call him a liar. My thoughts: what if Radvir had actual targets that he or the Whispering Way wanted eliminated? I therefore wanted the PCs to have the opportunity to talk to these targets to help unravel the investigation rather than have it hinge on a dice roll or an unprovoked attack from Radvir. (which despite its CR equivalency, I could see killing a couple PCs. Its a weighted encounter because the Vampires will certainly get a surprise round with their stealth scores, drop two fireballs, probably win initiative, then drop two more. Dropping 32d6 fire damage on the group without any warning just seems like cheese.) Below are families and groups I've detailed with known motivations for going after vampires or at least supporting those who do.
Vronds Brigadier Holladybe Vronds, official commander of Castle Mashir, once had a young son he was trying to groom into a postion in the Caliphas military, trying to get him to follow in his footsteps. His efforts created a form of resentment in the boy, named Astion, who eventually escaped the authoritarian upbringing by frequenting the night-life of the city. This lead the boy to the Bloodtear Club and resulted in one of the few times that the vampires almost compromised their masquerade. When he disappeared, the club's weekly location was unfortunately very near Restoration Park and the entrance into the vampire underground. Wandering from the club entrance and encroaching on vampire territory, intoxicated on substances purchased from a patron, Astion found himself in the greenhouse and there met his end. The Vampires thought little of it until Vronds heavily funded an investigation into his son's disappearance, one that forced the vampires to act quickly to cover their existence. Due to several castings of Divinations that he had performed, Vronds was certain that vampires were involved. He was disappointed when a ring of human kidnappers believed to have worked for the mysterious "Dr Low" turned themselves in a week after the investigation began, right when his primary investigator had finally tracked down a lead on a vampire. He remembers the vacant, glassy looks that the accused suspects displayed when they were caught, confessed their crimes, and even when executed. He feels as if he has never had closure on the affair, and though he contacted the church of Pharasma to garner their support against a possible undead threat, their refusal to help him has left him a rattled man with a grudge against both the church and the unliving..
Boxmon Shaid Boxmon, owner of the Hound's Tooth and former adventurer, may not be a noble but wields a fair amount of personal power from his business. Not only coin and services are given at the tavern he maintains, but also the free flow of information and secrets. He was the man hired to track down Holladyne's son, and the one who remembers all the details of the investigation. His strongest memory was the conclusion of the investigation, where the human kidnapping ring he tracked down were pretending to be vampires, draining blood from their victims and selling it to practitioners of dark magic. The details of the investigation never sat well with him; Dr. Low had a shadowy reputation as a criminal mastermind that never made mistakes, so to have a breadcrumb trail that lead to the hideout of his men and a lack of a real fight to take them in lead him to believe something else was happening behind the scenes. He never did catch Dr. Low, and as such has never been certain whether or not he truly was behind it or if his men were setup. Worst of all, he was certain through contacts at the Bloodtear Club that a vampire was behind the killing, one he had managed to track towards Restoration Park, until the new lead presented itself to him.
Gorboroffs As detailed in the Bloodtear Club, these foppish, decadent nobles are responsible for maintaining the underground scene while keeping their profile low. They are in fact aided by Radvir, who has long served as a liaison between Ludvick's decrees and their choices of location for the club's weekly placement. Since bards are the best liars in the game (thanks to Charisma as a main stat, Bluff as class skill, and spells like Glibness), pinning this down is exceedingly hard (assume a bluff check of +15, +25 if they know an investigation is coming). Nonetheless, they know the details surrounding the disappearance of Holladyne's son and it's this knowledge that Radvir points out as a possible motive for wanting to kill the vampires, besides having unlimited freedom to expand their enterprise into all corners of the catacombs. While Radvir has often used the club to occasionally pick off lonely disenfranchised youths with no noble ties for food, he rankles under the false pretext and glamorization of the vampire lifestyle. His desire is to make all of the pretenders dreams come true, turning them into real vampires. If things escalate without the PCs finding the trail to him in time, he will succeed, secretly freeing whatever spawn that aren't created by him with Bloodbrew Elixir. When this is done, he will sequester the mass of spawn away and use them as foot soldiers against Ludvick when he makes his move to kll him.
Corvettis Besides Vronds, the most public instance of vampire activity that has appeared within the last century occurred with the Corvettis some thirty years ago. A noble up-and coming family headed by Lena and Titham ,they came into Caliphas riding the curtails of the rush from Ardis when Ustalav's capital changed. Their daughters Vaanica and Triasa quickly adapted to life in the burgeoning and decadent capital, to the point that they quickly became involved in the undergound vampire culture. Vaanica, the eldest daughter, supposedly was followed and courted for weeks by a mysterious lover who would only show up at night. While few believe it, the parents came to understand that their daughter's love interest was a vampire. This vampire, Matet, decided to break a number of rules of Ludvick and the ruling vampires by revealing himself to the family and a number of others. He revealed secrets of the underground that were never meant to be known by the living. Professing love as his reason for doing so, he was alienated and isolated from the vampire community. In fact, it was the vampires, not the parents, who whispered in enough ears to initiate a hunt for the vampire by the Church of Pharasma. Taking great pains to make Matet appear as an isolated wanderer, It took Vaanica walking into Ludvick's Court to almost put everything right, at least until she was mistakenly killed by the church when they went to confront Matet afterward. It is believe that in his grief, Matet walked into the sun rather than deal with the loss of love that he had felt for the first time in centuries. (Yeah, this smacks of Twilight, which I am not a fan of, but I feel like the Vampires=Sex trope should have some representation here.) The family's current scion, Triasa, still harbors dark feelings over the loss of her sister decades ago and would love for any other vampires that might still be in the city to take a long morning walk.
The Church of Pharasma This one's the most intersting to me, as one has to wonder how much the church knows about the vampires and how they find a balance between their goddess's decrees and a foe far beyond their power. For my part, I've created a rift between the Inquisitor Zetiah Mardhalas and the high cleric Mother Verith Thestia. Thestia is quite aware of the existence of the vampires and the extent of their influence on the city. Ultimately, she struck a philosophical balance between the greater good of preserving the living while the are alive rather than fighting an enemy beyond her abilities. While able to call upon numerous branches of the church throughout Ustalav to mount a force against the 'Vampire Problem', she has never done so. She knows that if such a thing were to happen, thousands would die even if they were successful in destroying the current vampiric inhabitants of the city. This philosophy has put her at odds with her inquisitor, who sees no reason why they don't just wipe them out. Furthermore, over the years, Thestia has had to occasionally lie to the inquisitor about their quarry to keep any encounters with vampires from escalating, something that the Inquisitor is keenly aware of (since Inquisitors Sense Motive like no one else). The church's official stance when the PCs arrive is to divert them from starting a war with the vampires, even if Thestia has to lie them. Of course, being who they are, they are most definitely on Radvir's hit-list, something the Inquisitor is aware of due to a divination she had performed (not from Thestia, but Corbakas at the DawnGrace Memorial. I wanted a reason for them to go there since there's very little Iomedae in the campaign as a whole, despite the fact that she was one of the staunchest enemies of Tar Baphon.) This lack of trust between its two most powerful members makes the church a little more ineffectual in affecting the module, which I approve of. (Otherwise, why wouldn't the PCs just ask the 12th level NpC cleric responsible for eradicating undead to come with them and help them do just that, especially in her own city.)
The Why More or less explained at the beginning, also allows me to play with the nobility of Caliphas more than whats written in the adventure itself.
Hope this helps anyone out there to expand Caliphas from what's written and show some of the motivations of the players involved in this chapter of the AP. So far, I've used all of the above in my PC's investigations of the vampire killings, and its not only slowed the beginning to less of a frenetic pace but also given more motivation to not only the main players of these events but also those who lurk in the background. As always, if anyone decides to use any of the above, I would be overjoyed. (Thanks again of course to Wes and Jason for all the details they've already given to help flush everything out.)
(My next write up will be about what I'm doing to incorporate Dhampir PCs into this part of the AP and how to make this story more personal for such a player.)
+1 to what Zhangar said; Raven's Head as a desirable but ultimately unnecessary phylactery works perfectly. I would suggest that anyone actually planning on using Count Galdana insert him into the story far earlier than Book 6 so his kidnapping has more resonance with your players. An ideal place for this is either in Lepistatd or as a departing guest from Ascanor Lodge. For my part, I plan on omitting him and using Kendra as the vessel. What's interesting is that my players (in book 5) have already guessed this and are taking pains to try to protect Kendra and hide her with the Esoteric Order. Too bad there's gonna be a really big body count when most of the WW shows up to kidnap her... which will let me have cause for the Esoteric Order to not interfere or aid in Book 6; they'll be to busy getting raise dead and the like on themselves to provide aid.
Eh, I hate using aliases. I mean, I don't hate people that use them when they're done cleverly (Mythic Evil Lincoln and TOZ are two that come to mind, as are some of the Paizo staff subbing as iconics) but its always struck me as weird to do so.
Absolutely, to the point I had customer service intervene. I was impressed with how responsive they were (they called literally within five minutes of me uploading my computer information). I was having the exact same problems as you (error 3007/3005). Most of what I did was just general maintenance issues on my computer (updating to newest video driver, removing Mal-Ware, cycling my modem, and disabling a fire-wall from McAfee). Last night, I haven't had smoother gameplay. Try some of what I did, and if it persists, give them a call.
Had the weirdest thing happen; a buddy and I (Ellegua) were doing Nephelim Rifts, doing a mirror of Field of Misery. After about three special packs, we get in a battle with two more and a treasure goblin. As I focused on the Goblin, it spawned, cloning into about five different ones. Stranger still, their gold trails weren't 1-100 gp but in the thousands. Anyone else ever have a Treasure Goblin explosion? (their drops got me two legendaries at once)
1) Not trying to be insulting, but you might want to dial back the 'author hating comments' such as 'x was written by someone who doesn't understand rules nor high level combat.' Most of the authors frequent these forums and might even decide to respond and chime in on their take of the module or changes that might have been made. They will never do this to a post with the above language.
2)If you would read the 'Ashes at Dawn' GM thread, you would see that the issue with Lady Evgenya has already talked about and been resolved.
3)The stats you are listing as sub-par are actually benchmarks for the CR of the creatures they represent at that level. The table in the bestiary listing average statistics for monsters of certain levels assumes your PCs average have average wealth and are on a 15 point buy If you are running a group that is way above the curve for whatever reason, that's up to you to adjust the challenge. The module doesn't account for a a group of four Paladins wielding holy, undead bane weapons, because it shouldn't have to. If you really have problems with them, change their feats, give them potions or whatever.
4)There has been a very effective alternate version of Merrick Sais on these boards. In fact, if you look through the 'Ashes at Dawn' GM thread, you will find it. I used a variation of her and was able to challenge my four PCs who also have one mythic tier, with a non-mythic encounter.
Ah, the problem is that Non-detection is the best spell for thia, but the text doesn't explicitly state that it stops supernatural abilities, just spells and magic items. You could infer that Lifesense is a form of Divination like Arcane Sight, True Seeing, See Invisibility, or Detect Thoughts. It definitely should be considered a form of divination, even if the text doesn't specifically say so.
Magnuskn, I may have missed this in your earlier posts, but at what rate do you allow your PCs' mythic points to recharge? All per day, half per day, or some other variation? I ask because I am running PCs with Mythic Tiers in Carrion Crown. I have been allowing them only to regain 1 point per day, which has curbed some of the 'Super-nova-ing' that I've read about in this thread.
I am designing a lair for some vampires and their spawn, and the vampires are gonna be using every trick they can to survive my 11th level, Mythic Tier 1 PCs. Besides grates for gaseous form and 30' ceilings for dominate/spider climb shenanigans, I was wondering about utilizing mirrors so they can use their dominate gaze without being directly in front of the PCs. I searched the forums and the Core for any references, but couldn't find any... so,
Written as anything (worded or intended):
Do mirrors allow gaze attacks to reflect?
No, that's with Sharpshooter at its max. However, my crit chance without it is about 43%. I know from playing with you you're doing more damage, at least at base dmg.Sswapping an Imperial Emerald for a Royal Ruby on the X-bow is a big part of my extra dmg.
No, you can still make the whole ring provided you get the three right body parts to drop out of the four tries you will get out of your assortment. The bodyparts from those rifts are cued to the older Hellfire Ring (2 million gp plan) instead of the drops for the mew ones, which are separate items for a separate ring (5 million gp plan). So, there's two Hellfire rings you can have. Its worth it just for the fun of fighting two bosses, but ith the old Infernal Machines, you can still get the old ring. You just can't mix and match portals with the new portal devices.
Just broke the Million dmg mark tonight, swapping out a Royal Ruby for an Imperial Emerald on my socketed hand-crossbow. (Part of some set that I'll never find. Finding set pieces easily was the only thing I liked about the auction house).