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Sam Polak's page

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8. RPG Superstar 2013 Dedicated Voter, 2014 Star Voter. Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber. FullStarFullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 51 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 9 Pathfinder Society characters.


Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Wilmannator wrote:
Sequel or prequel to Slave Ships of Absalom? And what happened to my new favorite author, Mark Garringer? ;-)

This one follows the events of Slave Ships of Absalom. And I can tell you that Mark has probably not been captured by vengeful slave-trading pirates and is most likely not being held in a secret location on Stonespine island.

Sczarni ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I ran this last night! The party included a bright red Tiefling with prominent horns and a Vishkanya, whose features might be taken as celestial or fiendish to an uninformed observer such as one of Dawnton's farmers.

They didn't want to go in disguise even though they knew Dawnton was insular and fearful of demons, and a couple of bad diplomacy rolls early on led to them hearing false rumors and asking around about demon worship. Their town sentiment track advanced at an impressive pace, culminating in the use of color spray and sleep poison against the pugilistic pig farmers. Nevertheless, the party managed to gather their evidence and befriend Sheriff Luin before things got out of hand.

They easily turned Dalton's ambush against him and presented their evidence eloquently to Ekira and Tobias. At this point Tovril, who had been following Ekira, got frustrated at the diminishing chance of violence and revealed himself. Giggling manically, he channelled negative energy over the crowd. The PCs convinced him to depart with some cold iron arrows, but didn't have a good way to keep him from fleeing.

The PCs convinced Ekira to free the prisoners and even to reconsider her hatred of the Pathfinder Society, but the townfolk still wanted them all gone as soon as possible.

In the end, I have to say I am enjoying the way so many of these Season 5 scenarios deal with the effects of the crusaders' struggle to hold a line against an infinite army of demons in a war they expect will never end. We have NPCs who are meant to be heroes, but have suffered psychological trauma that affects their decision-making. Understanding that and figuring out how to work with them makes for an interesting adventure by itself.

And for the unofficial record, one PC got a haircut at Orug's.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8

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I've been working on a first level investigator for a Pathfinder Society game, and I can't figure out how to contribute when we have to fight something. As a reference point, one of my most successful pathfinder field agents is a bard with no strength or dexterity bonus.

I see there's been plenty of discussion already about the investigator's lack of offensive capability at low levels, but due to the investigator's heavy reliance on tools, it's difficult to compensate with equipment. Proficiency at my role cracking traps and locks requires thieves' tools (30 gp), and brewing my extracts requires an alchemist's crafting kit (25 gp), so over a third of the character's starting wealth is devoted to tools of the trade that don't provide anything beyond proficient use of my class features. That's money my comparably skillful bard spent on alchemist's fire, holy water, and alkali flasks. The ability to identify a monster is great, but my bard can do that and inspire courage and cast spells on other creatures.

Of course, this is all just speculation until I put it to the test. The game is scheduled for tonight, so I'll post a real playtest report as soon as I die get the chance.

Sczarni ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Were you doing the math as if buying the wand from a ranger?

The Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play says "All potions, scrolls, wands, and other consumables are made by clerics, druids, or wizards..." unless the spell isn't on the cleric, druid or wizard spell list. (p 25, under "Potions, Scrolls, and Wands")

If the wand of resist energy was crafted by a cleric, the cost should be 4,500 gp (2nd level spell * CL 3rd * 750), 1/5 of which is 900 gp.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8

4 people marked this as a favorite.

I wasn’t sure what to do with The Hungry Storm until I read Under Frozen Stars.

My modified back story for The Hungry Storm:

In primordial Golarion, as the elder ones retreated to their last city at the north pole, they created there an intelligent computer called SITHHUD to help control the climate via a network of weather-altering machines. SITHHUD continued to operate long after the elder ones abandoned their nameless spires, and as more humans ventured into the frozen north, the legend grew of intelligent “hungry storms,” or morozkos, descending from the high ice to wreck settlements. Eventually in the age of enthronement, a small team of expert hunters led by the Erutaki hero Ihalik managed to reach SITHHUD and damage it, limiting its control over the morozkos. Legend, of course, named SITHHUD a demon rather than a machine. The Five Storms Oni knew of these legends, and when they learned the Amatatsu family had fled across the crown of the world, they dispatched one of their Ja Noi generals from Kaoling to see if he could return the lord of the hungry storms to power. When he arrived at the storm tower, the Oni didn’t know where to start repairing the alien technology, but he succeeded in releasing a portion of SITHHUD’s power source-- a half-fiend sylph imprisoned there, sleeping away the long millennia in a crystal tube. Once free, Katiyana laughed gleefully at the Oni’s offer to aid her, and rather than turn against SITHHUD, she styled herself as its high priestess. Katiyana immediately set about salvaging the technology of the elder ones and distributing it to the various monsters inhabiting the crown. Those monsters in turn would drive the Erutaki out of their settlements, clearing the way for Katiyana to replace the long-destroyed weather stations and restore SITHHUD to his former glory. The Oni lingers near the storm tower, hunting the beasts there for amusement and awaiting the chance to face an Amatatsu in battle.

Even in my games the legends of Golarion don’t speak of alien computers, and some of my PCs had good enough knowledge of religion to know of Sithhud as a fallen demon lord specializing in cold and undead. I drew a transistor to show them what the “three-clawed symbol of Sithhud” looks like. My party was also exposed to the legend of the White Peacock Crown of Waj Khor while competing in a “Saga Slam” with some local Skalds in Kalsgard, and I plan to remind them about it if necessary when they get closer to the nameless spires.

Essentially they will be fighting alien robot monsters most of the way to Hongal, and more importantly they can lay the blame for their troubles squarely on the Five Storms Oni.

As an example, this week my players had to fight something I called “The Linnorm Apparatus.” It was a construct made to look like an ice linnorm and piloted by two kobold adepts in the head segment, with five warriors behind them in line, sitting on little bicycle seats and pedaling furiously. It coughed out a 60 foot cone field of caltrops in place of a breath weapon, and then shot electrolasers from its eyes as part of its full attacks.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

4 people marked this as a favorite.

First of all, I am not at all disappointed with a top 8 finish. I'm not a very experienced GM, and I didn't enter this contest with any expectations.

I did have to laugh at the suggestion that I'm "out of ideas" -- not every idea is going to be a hit, and regardless of how many we have, we only get to turn in one each round. I was aware of a lot of the problems discussed here when I submitted this entry, and I don't think it will surprise anyone to hear this whole thing was written and drawn on Thursday and I had to turn it in and go to work Friday morning without my usual editing and revision.

Can I do better? Of course. I think anyone would say the same, given the twists and time constraints that are integral to this contest.

If I have one regret, it's that I upset Sean, Neil, and Vic in one stroke by using goblins with class levels from Burnt Offerings. It wasn't my intent to push the boundaries of the rules, and I didn't realize it could be a problem until I'd already turned it in. If we do work together in the future, I hope you'll find me flexible and responsive when it comes to understanding requirements and making changes.

Finally, congratulations top 4! You've earned it!

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

9 people marked this as a favorite.

This enormous globular plant seeps sparkling resin as it trundles across the forest floor on a dozen root-like tendrils, its two thorn-filled mouths darting about on thick, flexible stalks to snap up any creature that strays within reach.

Ravenous Gorgewort CR 7
XP 3,200
N Huge plant
Init +4; Senses low-light vision, Perception +15

----- Defense -----
AC 21, touch 9, flat-footed 20 (+1 dex, +12 natural, -2 size)
hp 85 (10d8+40)
Fort +10, Ref +5, Will +6
Defensive Abilities resinous sap; Immune plant traits

----- Offense -----
Speed 20 ft., Climb 10 ft.
Melee 2 bites +14 (2d6+6 plus grab)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
Special Attacks disgorge, swallow whole (4d6 acid, AC 16, 8 hp), vacuum swallow

----- Statistics -----
Str 23, Dex 12, Con 19, Int 3, Wis 10, Cha 7
Base Atk +7; CMB +14 (+18 on grapple); CMD 24 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Armor, Skill Focus (Perception), Weapon Focus (bite)
Skills Perception +15, Stealth -7; Racial Modifiers +16 Stealth in thick vegetation
Languages Sylvan (cannot speak)
SQ arcane digestion, engorge

----- Ecology -----
Environment any forest
Organization solitary
Treasure standard

----- Special Abilities -----
Arcane Digestion (Su) When a gorgewort begins its turn containing another creature, the gorgewort can attempt to strip away one spell affecting that creature and apply it to itself, as if using the spell arcana theft. The caster level for this effect is equal to the gorgewort’s hit dice. Regardless of how many creatures a gorgewort contains, it can only digest one spell per round.

Disgorge (Ex) A gorgewort can rapidly compress its digestive cavity to forcefully expel up to two swallowed creatures as a standard action. The gorgewort can deposit these creatures on any surface within its reach. Disgorged creatures take 1d6 damage and land prone.

Engorge (Ex) A gorgewort can expand its body to accommodate up to four swallowed creatures. For every creature it contains beyond the first, its movement decreases by 5 ft. and it takes a -2 cumulative penalty to AC.

Resinous Sap (Ex) A gorgewort’s body constantly seeps a viscous, adhesive sap. Any weapon that strikes the gorgewort becomes stuck unless its wielder succeeds at a DC 17 Reflex saving throw. Such a stuck weapon can be wrenched free with a successful DC 15 Strength check. A weapon coated in universal solvent or alchemical solvent does not risk becoming stuck in this manner.

Vacuum Swallow (Ex) A gorgewort’s body acts as a massive bellows, contracting and expanding to vacuum prey into its digestive sack in the blink of an eye. This ability works like fast swallow, but the gorgewort can only use it once every 1d4 rounds.

A ravenous gorgewort is composed of a mottled green, globular body topped by two thick, flexible stalks ending in gaping, thorn-filled mouths. When fully grown it can reach twelve feet in diameter, though its size varies depending on its current state of engorgement. The plant is completely carnivorous and drags itself along the forest floor on a dozen root-like tendrils in search of prey. Ravenous gorgeworts are opportunistic feeders and will inflate their bodies with a horrible gasp to inhale almost anything, disgorging it later if it turns out to be indigestible. Aside from the alchemical reagents that can be derived from a gorgewort, older individuals may have valuable weapons lodged in their congealed sap. Though possessing little more than animal intelligence, they understand sylvan and are sometimes kept as pets by powerful fey, leading scholars to believe the species originated in the first world.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

8 people marked this as a favorite.

Riders of the Black Steppe
Alignment: LE
Headquarters: Nomadic
Leader: Medekgu Khan
Structure: Tribal hierarchy
Scope: National
Resources: disciplined cavalry, pact with Leng, seven spellcasters with shantak mounts

As the empire of Lung Wa collapsed, a small army of outlaws and exiles led by a cabal of spellcasters seeking forbidden power scaled the dizzying heights of the Wall of Heaven and forged a pact with the Denizens of Leng. The pact allows the Riders right of passage through the Black Steppe, otherwise known as the dread plateau of Leng. The Riders use this boon to launch surprise raids against foreign traders anywhere between Goka and the Spirit Road, after which they melt away across the planar boundary with plunder and prisoners. By the terms of the pact, the wealth is theirs to keep but the prisoners belong to the Denizens of Leng.

Structure and Leadership

Medekgu Khan is a shrewd commander but shares his power with his stern Elder Oracle Odtsetseg and her circle of spellcasters, each of whom earns his or her place by taming a shantak as their mount. Beneath them are four baga bhod who each command a company of about fifty mounted fighters. Most are Tian-Las, but exceptional prisoners are sometimes offered membership. To reinforce their membership in the group and confuse divination attempts, newly recruited Riders choose new names, often with meanings like “Nobody” or “Not this one.”

Goals

The original Riders’ plan was to seize control of trade between Tian Xia and the western continents and become extravagantly wealthy, but as the years went by the Denizens of Leng demanded an ever higher price for their privilege. The current generation of Riders have had to capture more prisoners than ever before to satisfy their alien creditors. Some individuals are troubled but as a group they remain fiercely nationalistic and convinced their efforts benefit the horse lords and herders they claim to represent.

Public Perception

The Riders of the Black Steppe are cruel to outsiders, but often stop to share their spoils with Tian-La tribes. Although the Riders are welcomed when they bring gifts, the order to “go ride the black steppe” from your tribal elders is considered a severe punishment. Kiriltai Khan sees them as a growing threat to his authority, but they are notoriously elusive and the Khan is reluctant to invest the resources needed to track them down.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Moonlight Flute of the Ghost Hunter
Aura moderate illusion; CL 11th
Slot -; Price 11,000 gp; Weight 2 lbs.
Description
This traditional Minkan wood flute often bears the symbol of a noble house, usually a flower or animal native to Tian Xia. When played by a creature who succeeds on a DC 15 Perform (wind instruments) check, the flute creates an illusory double of its player as the spell mislead. The double is obviously false to any living creature, appearing only as a pale moonlit reflection of the flute’s player, but haunts detect the double as a living creature. As long as the double is within a haunt’s area, the haunt will focus on it and not notice or target actual living creatures. A haunt will manifest as soon as the double appears to satisfy its trigger conditions. If the haunt’s manifestations are purely mental and only the double is targeted, the flute’s player is aware of the effects but not harmed by them. The illusory double lasts as long as the flute is played, which requires a standard action each round. If a living creature within the haunt’s area takes any action that would end a hide from undead spell or speaks louder than a whisper, the flute’s effect is ended. The flute can be used three times each day.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, hide from undead, mislead, must be crafted in moonlight Cost 5500 gp

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.

7 Kuthona 4707 AR

I cried last night, though I’m not sure if even Shayliss saw me. I’ve seen good friends killed in the last months, but this was something different. The day began with a monstrous surge in the skull river that flooded half the town. As we raced back to help, we saw Tabitha, a little girl who had been running errands for us in town, crushed to death in the coils of a giant river snake. It was heartbreaking, but we barely had time to get her schoolmates up onto the roof of a nearby house before we were attacked by a local legend-- Black Maga, the monster long rumored to dwell out of sight in the Storval Deep. We managed to keep it away from the frightened townfolk until the current carried it on into Claybottom lake. Until we can find some way to defeat it, I don’t expect there to be much fishing in the lake. It grabbed onto Eli, and he might not have escaped if he hadn’t cleverly activated his boat token and let the boat take his place in the monster’s grasp. I hope I can do some research and find a weakness we can exploit before we have to face it again.

Once the immediate danger had passed, I announced to the town that anyone whose home had been damaged was welcome to take what they could carry and travel with us to fort Rannick. Quite a few more people volunteered than I expected, from looking at the extent of the flooding, and we worked our way up the muddy trail to the fort and spent the night there. Eli, Thana, Pocco, Nizari and I are leaving in the morning for Skull crossing to see what’s happened to the dam.


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