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Scaevola77's page

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber. 229 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


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My 2 cents . . .

I can sympathize with the point of view that a social agenda being pushed too much and where it doesn't belong could be annoying. I mean, if every day during breakfast someone gave you lectures about how murder is not acceptable, you would find it pedantic and annoying because that is a commonly held belief. For some who find no problem with non-heterosexual pairing, this same effect could come into play.

Now, my example of murder-talk-during-breakfast differs a lot from the issue of homosexual/trans/etc people primarily because it is still a controversial topic in society and the "no murder" policy is much less so. Thus I feel the threshold of non-preachy "pushing" is a lot higher. However, it is still possible for reasonable people who embrace to get annoyed with the message, especially since for most of us, game time is "escape for reality" time; for me at least, this includes "I don't really want to feel like someone is lobbying for a political agenda" in game. Our society has enough of that in real life.

All that being said, I don't personally think Paizo is anywhere close to crossing into the "annoyingly preachy" territory with their message of acceptance via non-heterosexual NPC pairing. I think it would take an entire AP of only NPCs in homosexual relationships for me to really feel that way.

Just to add, I love Paizo as a company precisely because they are willing to insert their personal beliefs into Golarian and stand by them. It helps that I personally agree with 99% of the beliefs they express. Also, as a heterosexual white male, I don't know if I will ever completely understand what having Paizo-created NPCs that mirror my sexual preferences/identity means to a LGBT person. Some wonderful forum posters have explained what it means to them though, and I would be perfectly happy to endure a stretch of "Come on, I get it! LGBT is ok!" frustrations in exchange for the benefits they can get from it.

. . . hopefully this all makes sense. Generally, the longer my post, the less eloquent I am, especially with complex topics.

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In the Wrath of the Righteous, there are 2 homosexual couples with Irabeth/Anevia and Sosiel/Aron. So 4/8 of the NPCs that are flagged as important allies to the party are homosexual couples. Of the other 4, only 1 is mentioned as having any existing relationship (Aravashnial), but he got dumped not long before the AP. In the "not in an active and happy homosexual relationship" is also Arushalae, who we can safely conclude is bisexual. So the NPC makeup of the 8 NPCs that are expected to be close to the party is 4 homosexual, 1 straight, 1 bisexual, and 2 completely GM-determinant. Only 3 NPC-NPC relationships are mentioned, 2 homosexual relationships within the ally pool, and 1 heterosexual relationship that was over before the AP began.

In the Half-Dead City, 2 of the 4 NPCs listed in the back are in a homosexual relationship with each other.

So, looking at the past 7 books of AP without reading any supplemental material, it seems like at least recently, in AP-provided NPC-NPC relationships, homosexual relationships are far outnumbering heterosexual relationships. I considered combing through all the APs post-Skull and Shackles to do a tally of NPCs in active relationships mentioned in the NPC sections, but decided not to as I may end up as a player in one of them Shattered Star/Reign of Winter.

As Deadmanwalking pointed out, couples are more commonly identified in the setting books/articles rather than the actual AP. So while the "important to AP" group of NPCs may seem to have a disproportionate number of homosexual relationships, factoring in the setting books may make it seem less disproportionate.

Tangent101 wrote:
I think seeing some healthy heterosexual (or even bisexual-with-opposite-sex) relationships with the NPCS might be a good thing. That said, I wonder if Paizo defaults toward showing more non-heteronorm relationships with the NPCs as they expect most players to run with male-female relationships?

That was my thought too. However, if they do use that default, I think they may need to be a bit careful with application of that default, lest the underlying message of "non-heteronorm relationships are OK in Golarion" become overstated and preachy. The message is good, but over-emphasis of it could annoy people who just want to play a game.

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I too think that the APs can be a little much. At least for my group that meets irregularly for a couple of hours each week. I think if you have the type of group that meets consistently for 6-8 hours on a weekend, they probably would be fine.

I think after my group wraps up our current AP (Council of Thieves, we are on book 6 so we are so close to finishing), I will take a break and do a bunch of modules instead of an AP.

I do like the ideas of what APs can be broken up into smaller portions and played as a module. For example, books 2 and 4 of Council of Thieves (The Sixfold Trial and The Infernal Syndrome) can be run independent of the AP with very minor tweaks.

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Another TPK (or TPKO - Total Party Knock Out) for my group, bringing the death toll to 15. I count these as deaths because with the entire party unconscious, only the plot prevented a TPK. I actually now have a sign that says "It has been ___ days since the last perma-death".

Magny, Halfling Sorcerer 4/Rogue 3/Arcane Trickster 3 (player of Davi and "Z", 6th PC death)
Hermod, Elven Cavalier 9/Fighter 1 (player of Skuld, 4th PC death)
Halung, Halfling Barbarian 10 (only surviving beginning character, 3rd death)
Mimra, Human Bard 10 (player of Maruk and Aubrey, 2nd PC death)

Adventure: Mother of Flies
Location: Ilnerik's Lair
Catalyst: Morrowfall backfiring, plus being completely unprepared
The Gory Details:
The party successfully killed the Calikang and began looting the Treasury. After securing the contract with Mammon that outlined Chammady Drovenge's doom, along with several nice pieces of treasure, they decided to press on. Despite being told by Eirtein that there was only one room beyond the Treasury, and knowing the Ilnerik lurked down there, the party chose not to resupply with anti-vampire equipment, such as a wand of Death Ward or Protection from Evil. The only anti-vampire tool in their kit was the Morrowfall. A potent tool to be sure, but one that they had already used a couple of times that day.

Undaunted, the party opened the door and came face-to-face with Ilnerik. And the 4 vampire spawn that they failed to kill in the Walcourt basement. And Jerusen, who they never killed during the Infernal Syndrome. And a vampiric Larko, who had just recently been turned (they could have rescued him had they moved a bit swifter through Walcourt).

Before anyone else can act, Magny raised the Morrowfall and used Sunburst. The vampire spawn all failed their saves and died instantly. Unfortunately, Ilnerik, Jerusen, and Larko all passed their saves, and since all had Evasion, were unscathed. Even more unfortunately, the Sunburst placement resulted in the entire party getting hit. Of the 5 (including Hermod's mount, Berzerker 2) intrepid adventurers, only Hermod and his bear made their saves. Thus the battle began between 3 fairly potent vampires and a group of blind adventurers.

Despite Ilnerik's cockiness and his refusal to cast Haste or to Dominate the only remaining enemy with eyesight intact, the party struggled. A couple of times, they barely missed attacks as the concealment penalty for being blind wreaked havoc, in addition to their quick accumulation of negative levels. Despite at one point bringing Ilnerik to 15 HP, they eventually ran out of momentum and began to fall. Magny was last to be taken out, chased down by Jerusen as he blindly stumbled down the hall to the treasury.

Amazingly, I was able to knock all of them unconscious rather than killing them. Thus they awoke the next day in Skarx's prison, where Aberten aided in their escape as a favor for the mysterious Council of Thieves agent named Abrogail.

My party is actually fairly competent in terms of build. The encounter seems like a lot, but with the damage that Halung can put out, and the ridiculous AC of Hermod, the vampire spawn and Larko were never a threat. I expected them to be wiped out within a round or two, and sure enough, none of them contributed to the fight. With wand of Death Ward and Protection from Evil, the party probably could have easily won the fight, even while blind. They just continue to try to brute force their way through encounters, rather than properly strategizing and preparing.

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To confirm, those numbers are with respect to the change in WBL, correct?

If so, that means that in the end-game, the characters can be expected to be 772,166 gp over WBL. Which means they will almost be double the WBL for a normal, non-mythic PC without counting any artifacts, the vendor trash, crafting, or items saved (like from recharging wands). Yikes . . .

I am a bit fearful about what this means for my party. There only 3 people, so by my calculations (and assuming you used a 4-person party in your calculations), they will be 1,322,888 gp above WBL by the end, without counting artifacts. The witch in the party is already planning of having a crafting focus. With that wealth advantage, I guess I won't have to worry too much about adjusting encounters down for them.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Chuckg, not to demean your service in the military, but the point I was trying to make is that Iomedae would rather not send people needlessly to their deaths and thus strengthen the enemy. Is that not a good trait for officers to have?

To my understanding, the elite special forces often go through SERE training, which includes resistance to torture. How is that taught, if not by controlled torture? (I honestly don't know much about SERE, this is just what I have heard).

Would you care to respond to any of the other rebuttals I presented using quotes from the book?

Lastly, participation in this thread was originally interesting, but I grow weary of this thread. At the end of the day, we can have different interpretations of how this encounter portrays Iomedae.

I told a couple of my players about the encounter, and they thought it sounded cool and in character for Iomedae. I don't find it particularly upsetting and inconsistent with her role as a LG warrior goddess. James Jacobs seemed to express disappointment in the fan reaction, and seemed to feel that the representation of Iomedae was fairly accurate. I encourage everyone to evaluate if perhaps you are misinterpreting the encounter or Iomedae's character, and to find out what your players might think of the encounter. I suspect that the encounter's focus on negative consequences may have skewed some perspectives on the encounter.

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Chuckg wrote:

The line between defiance and mockery is, as our very discussion here is proving, vastly subjective and all in the eye of the beholder. If the player thinks he's on one side of the line and the DM thinks he's on the other side -- which is entirely possible in any game, even ones where the players and the DM have gamed together for a long while -- then somebody's going to get the fertilizer smited out of him purely on a misunderstanding. This alone would justify the claim that this encounter is poorly written, because a well-written encounter does not set up PCs for this kind of misunderstanding without at least writing a sidebar for the DM saying 'Please keep in mind that your players and you may not interpret this the same way and err on the side of caution' or something. Which they didn't.
Tell me the exact quote where she wants "defiance". All I can find is
She needs to know they can stand before a true deity and not quail or be reduced to groveling

I would argue that this is not active defiance. This is the basic ability to keep your wits about you and not be overawed. Mocking a goddess would be making the whole thing out to be a farce, and implying Iomedae is incompetent or lacks power. There is a spectrum, enough of one that expecting someone to be able to avoid both should be simple, and not contradictory, as you originally claimed, in the least. (I notice you backpedaling here. Before you claimed that she was being inconsistent with herself, and when I called you out on it, now you merely say that the appropriate forms of conduct is highly subjective. I suggest you pick a stance in regards to this rather than shifting.)

As for the smiting due to a player/DM misunderstanding . . . I really don't think that they needed to include a disclaimer of "communication and understanding between the DM and your players is important". That is kind of a given. Also, this:

Deities exist beyond anything the rules say can or cannot happen, but you should take care not to be too arbitrary and overwhelming in running this first part of the adventure. Iomedae can, of course, do anything she wants to the PCs, but she doesn’t—she values them and what they mean to the crusade too much to deliberately antagonize them, even if she were interested in doing so (which she is not). If the PCs include worshipers of deities opposed to her, she still understands that as a group they are, perhaps, the Fifth Crusade’s greatest and most powerful weapon.

Should give the DM enough of a warning to err on the side of caution. Iomedae should not be too arbitrary and overwhelming, she values them and is not going to deliberately antagonize them, she understands that PCs might worship deities. This all sounds quite a bit like the disclaimer you wanted them to include . . .

Chuckg wrote:
Also, if Iomedae is looking for people who will fight even at hopeless odds, who will not surrender even if faced with the vast power of a demon lord... then she can hardly be surprised if they also refuse to back down when confronted with the vast power of a goddess. Trying to have it both ways at once is a failure of both logic and this encounter's writing.

Standing confident in her presence and refusing to back down and grovel is exactly what she wants! However, you can not back down without attacking her. There are other options than be cowed and attack. Again, there is a spectrum of possible conduct. Attacking her would also prove them to be "unworthy" I would say, because they would be showing themselves to be foolishly overconfident, dismissive or her powers, or idiotic.

Don't try to use the "they would think she is a demon lord!". The PCs were in the presence of Nocticula, they have been on the Midnight Isles. There is a palpable difference in how it feels to be in the Abyss and in the presence of a demon lord versus in Iomedae's cathedral and in her presence. They should be able to pick up on this. And if they still suspect Iomedae might be a demon lord in disguise, well, I doubt any but Lamashtu would really have the juice to completely fool the PC by faking the feel of a plane and masking her presence. In which case, they are still being a bit foolish and attacking a goddess when they should probably be looking for a method of egress.

Chuckg wrote:

Yeah, but here's the thing. Your building manager has the option of simply hiring an outside electrician. Therefore, it actually is worth his time to ponder the distinction between 'who is most qualified of the people on my staff' and 'who is sufficiently qualified in an absolute sense'.

But Iomedae doesn't have the option of hiring out. If she cannot find a team of heroes among her Crusaders capable of doing this job, then she just ain't going to get the job done ever. Its that simple and that hard.

Iomedae is, literally, in the position of a military commander who needs a high-risk mission done deep into enemy territory, and has only one team that is even possibly qualified for the job. At this point, why the hell is she screwing around with evaluation tests and games at all? If the mission is really that important that its worth the risk, and there's only one possible choice to do it, then its not really a choice at all is it? If there was anybody else around who could possibly do this job then maybe setting us both up to be tested to see which one of us has a better chance would make sense. But there isn't. The entire conceit of the Adventure Path is that there specifically is not. Its all up to us.

So since the entire AP is based on the principle of 'Send in the PC heroes and hope for the best'... why is she just not doing that? Why does this encounter exist at all? It damn sure ain't because its literary merit or entertainment value justify spending time on it on its own hook. And as just laid out at length, its hardly necessary to the plot either.

Yes, Iomedae doesn't really have the option of calling in an electrician. After all, if she decided to recruit some empyreal lords, or high-CR angels/archons rather than the PCs . . . that would be rather lame, wouldn't it? Also . . .

One of her fears is that by sending the PCs into the proverbial lion’s den too soon, she would be giving the enemy tools to spawn new lions.

She doesn't have the option of getting anyone else, true. However, she doesn't want to just throw the PCs away to their doom. They are the best able to do the job, but if they are not actually able to do the job, sending them would do more harm than good. She is being a good, caring military commander in that respect. She is not just going to toss them in right away because they are the best she has got at the moment. She is going to evaluate if they are good enough, or if sending them in is just going to result in giving Baphomet more hostages.

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Chuckg wrote:
On re-reading this encounter, I am struck yet again by how horribly sloppy the writing is. Page 8 of 'Ivory Labyrinth' contains a specific mention that Iomedae is supposedly looking for PCs that will defy her, because if they have the cojones to remain proud and defiant in a goddess' face then she knows that they won't quail vs. a demon lord. And yet Page 9 is all about 'if you dare offend the goddess she will SMITE THE FERTILIZER OUT OF YOU'. In addition to being unable to remain consistent with prior Pathfinder supplements about Iomedae, this thing cannot remain consistent with itself from page to page!

She wants them not to quail and grovel before her, but also doesn't appreciate them mocking her. There is a HUGE spectrum between "quail and cower" and "openly mocking". There is no contradiction here beyond what you are manufacturing.

As a side note, this could add more reason for her "torture". How do the PCs handle a display of power from a goddess? Will they cower in front of her? Will they behave rashly and attack? Will they remain collected and respectful? If they are truly worthy, they will do the last.

Chuckg wrote:


Welcome, heroes. I am Iomedae. You are those who have proven most worthy to strike back against the Abyss' latest injustic: the kidnapping of my own herald. Answer my questions truthfully and be found worthy of the great task I would set before you. Remain silent, and be known as cowards in the face of evil."

Within the space of two sentences this thing has just fallen back on itself. In literally one breath the goddess tells me I am "proven most worthy" of the quest, and in the next she tells me that I need to take a test in order to prove myself worthy. Make up your mind, ma'am! Am I worthy or not? Have I already proven myself or am I yet to?

This was already discussed. Someone can be "most worthy" and still not actually be "worthy". At my job, I may be the most qualified to re-wire the building due to my electrical engineering background. However, that does not actually make me qualified to do the job. The same is true with the PCs. There is no-one around close to the same power as the PCs. They are the most worthy for this task. That does not automatically make them worthy. At best, you could say it implies they are at least the best of the worst. Awkward wording, yes. Contradictory, not at all.

Chuckg wrote:

And the sheer clumsiness of the phrasing of "be known as cowards in the face of evil". Um, ma'am, the only people here are the party and you. So, where exactly is this evil that I'm currently in the face of again? Wait a minute...

Cowards in the face of the evil that is confronting them actively on a day to day basis and she is about to ask them to face? Iomedae assumes they have object permanence and can remember what happens outside her realm. No issue I see here.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Chuckg wrote:

So, no, I would venture to say that permanently crippling people simply if you don't like what they're saying to you /does/ qualify as "torture" by a reasonable sense of the definition.

Please note that all of this is what happens /before/ you get to the three questions. It's entirely possible to end up permanently blind, deaf, beaten to -1 hit points, and bounced back to Golarion before you've even /taken/ Iomedae's hero quiz, if she felt that your character was disrespecting her. This is something entirely separate from the sonic damage you get from not answering questions correctly. And its horrifying.

This only happens if you either attack her on sight, which is probably one of the dumbest things a PC can do. I mean, any character with more than 3 in Int or Wisdom should know not to do this. Or you openly mock her, suffer the warning blast, and think "I'm going to continue goading this goddess that without any effort was able to deafen and mute me".

So yes, it is possible to permanently crippled . . . IF YOU ACTIVELY ANTAGONIZE A GOD! I think in such situations, it is less "torture", and more "just desserts".

This is comparable to me getting "kidnapped" by my friends for a surprise party, then after we arrive at the location, I pull out a knife and try to stab him. Why on earth would I do that? Why on earth would I not expect retaliation for that?

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Lochar wrote:
Even if torture is hyperbole, kidnapping really isn't. And in game terms, there wasn't even a Will save to negate.

Maybe, maybe not. I don't think most kidnappings "fill each PC [victim?] with a feeling of pride and hope". It is also hard for me to judge it as a kidnapping (ignoring the "torture" portion for a moment) when the "kidnapping" victim gets to be one of the first in a long time to personally talk with a goddess, marvel at the glory of her home plane, potentially get some extremely nice goodies (one of which is a piece of her cloak), and have all of this occur in the blink of an eye. If not for the "torture" portion (which I do think is hyperbole), I fail to see any aspect that merits being labelled as "kidnapping". I suppose in the purely legal sense of "taking someone against their will", but it is more like kidnapping a person to take them to a surprise party or something.

So, yeah. I think the "kidnapping" portion is hyperbole, because the only reason I can think of it being objectionable is due to the "torture", which I also think is hyperbole on the basis that it is pretty ridiculously easy to avoid the 20d6 blast (have someone heroic in a heroic campaign?), and 10d6 with a save to halve really is a slap on the wrists at this point. Regardless of how much sound damage they actually take, the PCs emerge from the meeting no worse for wear (except for anyone who is dumb enough to attack a goddess), potentially get a few goodies, and miss out on just a couple moments of time. I wish kidnappings went that way, the world would be a much better place.

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magnuskn wrote:
Scaevola77 wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
Scaevola77 wrote:
Even Michael Carpenter has an edge though. I actually agree with the idea that he would make a good Iomedaen Paladin. That being said, in the short story "The Warrior", his daughter gets kidnapped, and he was so angry that Dresden was scared of him. At the end of the story, Dresden has to talk him down from beating the unconscious kidnapper with an aluminum baseball bat (one of the previous blows was to the guy's kneecap too, so major damage had already been dealt). He barely succeeds by appealing to Michael's merciful side. When Harry Dresden is afraid and is acting as the voice of restraint . . . yeah, you are being intense and not so nice.
So, why would Iomedae act this way when in a completely peaceful encounter with the PC's, where the only person with any power potential (her) is using force on friendly people whom she abducted?
Well, I have enumerated numerous times why she might be doing that. You obviously disagree with me, and won't be swayed in your opinion on that. I would rather not just go around circles trying to explain my views to someone who obviously either doesn't understand them, or fundamentally disagrees and will not change their mind.
The problem here is that you are setting up a false premise to support your case. Citing Michael Carpenters behaviour from an extremely stressful situation as supporting Iomedae's behaviour in a situation which is fundamentally different in its nature is not a valid point of comparison in the first place.

The problem here is you were assuming I was setting up a premise to support my case regarding Iomedae's actions, whereas I was setting up a premise to support my case that paladins are not restricted to being kind, caring, giving people all the time and that they can have an edge to them. Yes, it is a false premise when viewed as an argument for a completely different case than what I was trying to argue at that point. It wasn't a false premise for case 1 (Iomedae's conduct in the encounter), as you seem to have interpreted it, but a real premise for the much broader case 2 (the capacity for LG to be harsh and angry). I would not use that as direct argument for case 1 precisely for the reason you dismiss it, Michael was acting as an avenger against the person who wronged him, while Iomedae is not. They have completely different motivations. I admit, I was remiss in my original response by not pointing out that you were misinterpreting my point. I responded to your comment stand-alone, rather than addressing it in the full context of my post you were commenting on.

If any part of that original post was a premise for my case regarding Iomedae's conduct, it would have been the second portion where I mention Charity Carpenter. Charity has all of Michael's good qualities, but is quite frankly a @*#&$ to Harry for a long time. Until he proves himself to her and worthy of being considered family. I admit, this is somewhat reminiscent of Iomedae's treatment of the PCs. Anyway, of the two Carpenter parents, she is the more strict and harsh, and easier to anger, thus in my mind, more Iomedaean. I always pictured Iomedaean paladins as being kind and honorable, but also the type of people you really don't want to cross. If you were going to read an argument in favor of Iomedae's conduct anywhere in that post, it should have been there. You still would have been reading an argument that wasn't there, but you would be closer. An argument comparing Charity's conduct towards Dresden to Iomedae's actions in this encounter would still be a bit silly because Charity has very complex reasons for treating Harry poorly that are vastly different than the reasons for Iomedae's treatment of the PCs (which again, have been presented multiple times in the thread, even touched upon by James Jacobs I believe).

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magnuskn wrote:
Scaevola77 wrote:
Even Michael Carpenter has an edge though. I actually agree with the idea that he would make a good Iomedaen Paladin. That being said, in the short story "The Warrior", his daughter gets kidnapped, and he was so angry that Dresden was scared of him. At the end of the story, Dresden has to talk him down from beating the unconscious kidnapper with an aluminum baseball bat (one of the previous blows was to the guy's kneecap too, so major damage had already been dealt). He barely succeeds by appealing to Michael's merciful side. When Harry Dresden is afraid and is acting as the voice of restraint . . . yeah, you are being intense and not so nice.
So, why would Iomedae act this way when in a completely peaceful encounter with the PC's, where the only person with any power potential (her) is using force on friendly people whom she abducted?

Well, I have enumerated numerous times why she might be doing that. You obviously disagree with me, and won't be swayed in your opinion on that. I would rather not just go around circles trying to explain my views to someone who obviously either doesn't understand them, or fundamentally disagrees and will not change their mind.

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Even Michael Carpenter has an edge though. I actually agree with the idea that he would make a good Iomedaen Paladin. That being said, in the short story "The Warrior", his daughter gets kidnapped, and he was so angry that Dresden was scared of him. At the end of the story, Dresden has to talk him down from beating the unconscious kidnapper with an aluminum baseball bat (one of the previous blows was to the guy's kneecap too, so major damage had already been dealt). He barely succeeds by appealing to Michael's merciful side. When Harry Dresden is afraid and is acting as the voice of restraint . . . yeah, you are being intense and not so nice.

Also, I kind of think Iomedae would be more like Charity Carpenter. Same goodness, same warrior fierceness, same general sense of honor as her husband, but not as quick as Michael to be accepting of people's good nature.

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Draco Bahamut wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
I'm still frankly kind of surprised at how violently some folks have reacted to the encounter in question. And that violent reaction really caught me off guard. So it's certainly something I'll be keeping in mind going forward when and if we do similar encounters,... if only that means limiting such encounters to the actually friendly and nice good guy deities! :-)

I do think there is no way this encounter could be handled without such reaction. Tomedae IS "the goddess of paladinhood", "the perfect paladin", even if she just showed up and said hello people would still complain. Everyone has his idea of what a paladin should do and Iomedae breaking this archetype idea is too much for some people to handle.

Indeed. You just need to look at how many paladin alignment threads exist where people get very spirited disagreeing about what types of paladin are allowed. Portraying a paladin goddess was going cause a bit of a ruckus no matter what.

For my part, I hope you remember that there are people who think that the portrayal was not overboard in any respect, and don't shy away from this in the future. Speaking for myself, I really like that Iomedae has an edge to her. I like the complexities that come from a good deity that is not nice and hug-able. My group likes it as well, which is what drew one of them to play a paladin of Ragathiel for this AP. I think you did a good job portraying Iomedae as having a gruff, no-nonsense, "I expect better of you, BE better", attitude. The only real change I might consider, is having the damage of 5d6->10d6->20d6 scale with regards to wrong answer, rather than be set by question.

I still want to know how actual players feel about the encounter in the context of the campaign. Unfortunately, my players are still marching to re-take Drezen, but I have a feeling that when running the encounter close to as written, they will not get the sense of "being kidnapped and subjected to sound-torture".

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Alleran wrote:
If one of those players follows Sarenrae, for example (among other possibilities, but she's a stand-out), then it's odds-on that they'll get punished for perhaps nothing more than remaining true to their beliefs.

According to the text, this would only happen if ALL players are followers of Sarenrae and/or have the same conviction for ANY player to be punished. Only ONE PC needs to seem conflicted about the answer to this question. So unless ALL players follow Sarenrae and/or similar gods/goddesses, it is unlikely this will happen.

Furthermore, if you, as a DM, have Iomedae punish a group of known worshipers of Sarenrae (or a similar god) for adhering to their beliefs, that is your own failure as a DM, not Paizo misrepresenting Iomedae. Iomedae certainly doesn't agree with Sarenrae with regards to redemption, but I see nothing that indicates she is dumb enough to intentionally punish a paladin/cleric of another good god purely for holding true to their ideals. If anything that is something Iomedae would probably respect, as she was a human of strong convictions.

Having caveats for how Iomedae should factor in every potential PC's favored deity is not something you can expect Paizo to do. It would take up way to much space, and I prefer having more AP content over getting a few pages on how each question might change based on what deities my party worships. I can adjust for that just fine on my own. It is the DM's job to take the framework given in the AP, and make adjustments to suit their party. In my mind, this is clearly a situation where the DM should be expected to make the adjustments.

Stating "Iomedae will smite people for merely staying true to their goddess" is, in my mind, actually claiming "I am unwilling to make a small logical change in order to make it work for my group, and blame Paizo for not including instruction for specific group compositions", and is not really an indictment on Paizo's representation of the goddess, but your unwillingness to deviate from the AP exactly as written.

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ikarinokami wrote:
it's funny how most people don't realize that Zeus was the Greek God of justice, and was a lot of times a jerk and incredibley unfair at times,

Adjusting for Zeus:

Tell me this vague thing that you could never know. DC 80 Knowledge (History) check.

Success: Your destiny is to go on a quest, kill some monsters, and eventually end up with a kingdom. Your queen may or may not attempt to kill you.

Failure: I'm gonna throw some lightning at you, permanently blind you, then go impregnate all your living female relatives.

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Dracovar wrote:
Stuff regarding Iomedae needing no better proof and her testing the PCs

So, yes, the PCs actions up to now should be pretty good indicators that they are up to the task. However, Iomedae still wants to assess the personally. While she no doubt has been following them, I don't think she has spent the entire AP sitting on the couch watching then on her big screen TV. As far as I know, gods in Golarian are not omniscient. So . . . assuming she has been watching at all, why the tests?

Well, from a narrative perspective, they provide a reason for the PCs to meet her. If it was just a matter of "you guys are good to go, have some stuff", then she would just appear to them in a dream, and have the stuff appear in their backpacks. There is no reason for her to meet them in person, especially when she has never done it before, not even for Galfrey, who for some parties will be more worthy of becoming Iomedae's herald than any of the PCs. Also, the "god questioning the hero" is actually a decently well know trope. In mythology, the gods appeared and tested heroes quite often. Failing often mean horrible things, passing meant great boons. Often, the mortals aren't even aware they are being tested by the gods. In Greek Myth there are a lot of examples of this.

But let's just throw that out the window for now. Let's ask the question, why does Iomedae want to give some personal assessment time for the PCs before giving them their goodies and sending them along their way? Well, first of all, Iomedae never struck me as a "free stuff for you!"-type of deity. I think she wants the PCs to earn the goodies, even if the test she gives are not difficult. Also, I think she wants to confirm that what she has seen is actually accurate and that the PCs are truly ready for this new trial that dwarfs all previous ones. So . . . let us look at the questions, and what they could tell her about the PCs.

Test 1: A simple question regarding history, and an evaluation of humility. As I explained previously, the history lesson should be trivial to any group that has done anything to keep their knowledge half decent. This likely is just a test to see if the PCs know about her, and thus can adequately understand where she is coming from. The second part is probably more important. The PCs are amazingly powerful, and they almost assuredly know it. Do they recognize that power, but also appreciate it. Can they see they are mighty without letting it go to their heads. They are about to invade the realm of a hostile demon lord. If they are too confident in their abilities, they may misstep and fail. This is harder to recognize by observing from afar, and the PCs may never have had a situation where this could have been seen anyway. They have been elevated to great heights, but how often have they not been the most powerful people in the room and not been trying to kill the other person in the room? The meeting with Nocticula may be the only time since book 2. Their actions are being celebrated all the time, so it may be hard to observe their humility. Regardless, as long as 1 PC has decent knowledge, and 1 PC is playing the way the campaign seems to want them to play, success. Overall, an easy test.

Test 2: A moral quandary on whether to show mercy or not. Now, this question only requires that the PCs show uncertainty, and are able to civilly discuss the matter. Obviously, if the party is a group of Sarenrae worshippers, Iomedae must be smart enough to account for their answer of unanimous "Yes", and it is the GM's responsibility to adapt to that appropriately. I think she is evaluating here is are the PCs able to see the grey area regarding redemption. This takes on a whole new meaning when you consider that she probably knows that Baphomet has corrupted her Herald. Will the PCs endeavor to redeem her Herald? She no doubt wants this. However, if the PCs are too focused on that, they could end up dying and failing, and she would rather they kill her Herald than die attempting to redeem him. I think the other takeaway is are the PCs capable of thinking through tough decisions and evaluating things on a case-by-case basis. Again, this is something that for most parties playing Wrath of the Righteous will be ridiculously easy. All they have to do is have 1 PC playing a character that fits well. However, this is also something that they may not have encountered in fullness yet. Arueshalae is the only character where they are pretty much guaranteed to attempt to redeem, and that decision is easy because Desna has already given the green light. It is entirely possible that the PCs have never had to answer the question "is this evil person redeemable?" before, much less have encountered it multiple times and arrived at different answers.

Test 3: A test of "are you up to this?" Once again, trivial provided 1 PC is actually playing a heroic character. However, while the PCs have done some impressive stuff already, nothing comes even close to what she is asking of them. She is asking them to invade the realm of a hostile demon lord who actively wants them dead, may have turned her Herald against them, and knows they are coming. Yes, the PCs have been to the Midnight Isles, but there they were guests of a demon lord who was a potential ally. There is a significant difference between those two. Here, Iomedae wants to know that they are determine and are up for the challenge. She is looking for willingness and bravery, because if the PCs go in uncertain and scared, they will quite likely fail. Again, if you have even 1 heroic PC, this should be easy, but it is necessary because it is entirely possible that the PCs would be daunted and not want to take on this challenge.

As for the punishment. The first is kind of a rap on the wrists. If the PCs are being punished for not having humility, this is kind of a "yes, you are powerful, but keep that in perspective". The second one is harder to justify. I see it as either a lesson that not everything has a straightforward answer (in the case of "Yes"/"No" response, as they gave a simple answer), or a "listen up and stop bickering" blast. For the third, I think it is sort of a test in itself. If the PCs go in with no plan and no will to accomplish the taste, their hesitation and uncertainty will cause them great harm. The 20d6 is kind of a way to "test" if they can survive the repercussions their uncertainty could have in Baphomet's realm.

If you have a party that thematically fits the AP, these tests should be really easy, and perhaps even completely unnecessary because the PCs have already demonstrated that they are worthy. In which case this entire encounter becomes a "I want to do a final check before I send you on your way, good luck heroes!"-type encounter. That is great, and my guess is the PCs will still find it a fun roleplaying encounter.

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I will take a stab and add a bit to Fabius's point and respond to you GreyWolfLord.

As Fabius Maximus said, the play and the build up to it is meant to be distasteful. Death of the main character is expected, to the point where Thesing is outraged that the PCs survived and claims they ruined the play. In a very real sense . . . they did.

For the players, Robahl is supposed to be an angry jerk. He is not meant to be sexist. Thesing is a self-absorbed, pretentious jerk and a womanizer. While he wants to bed Calseinica, having him chase after a female PC playing Larazod could also makes a lot sense (and is what I did). The entire character of Thesing is an exercise of "how can we make the most unlikable, sleazeball NPC ever?". Calseinica is a naive starlet, and while the book says she chases after the actor of Larazod, a think to remember is that seldom are NPCs truly solid in their sexual preference when it comes to the PCs. If Larazod is played by a female PC, Calseinica could still chase after them. None of them should come across as intrinsically sexist.

For the play, the all male parts could seem sexist, but the once again, Hell is sexist. Also, all of the characters can be gender-swapped pretty darn easily. There would have to be some pronoun changes in the play, but nothing depends on the characters being male or female with the exception of Ilsandra, as she is an erinyes and they only are female. But even Ilsandra can be swapped to a Bone Devil or something without much trouble.

And again, the entire play is in poor taste. It is meant to make good characters unhappy/uneasy. Players can either share in that sentiment (which it seems yours did), or they could disassociate themselves from the game and find it interesting or even amusing (my players found the whole thing fun and amusing . . . but they did have the barbarian playing the wizard).

What I am slightly more concerned about, and I apologize if this comes across as an insult or attack upon you, is that you were unable to predict and adjust the encounter to prevent this issue. As a GM it is important to be able to anticipate what the group will like/dislike, and make sure to make adjustments as necessary to facilitate that. I think this encounter may be something you can learn from. Now you know something that your players react strongly against, and will be better able to find it and avoid it in the future.

As for the "blowing out of proportion", I agree saying someone is blowing something out of proportion does not seem like the right thing, but I find when there is something that someone finds offensive, and reacts as strongly as it sounds like your players did, it is imperative for them to look back with a level head and evaluate whether their response was appropriate. Sometimes, if there is a sore spot, our reactions can far outweigh the offense. I posit that Fabius was merely suggesting that this might have been the case.

Personal story illustrating this:
I have a friend dating a guy who has, on occasion, acted in ways I did not approve of. Due to my history, I am extremely protective of my female friends, as quite a few have been in abusive relationships, and thus I reacted very strongly. I then looked for more evidence, found it, and it built and built to the point where I couldn't be in the same room as the guy because I was so angry with how he was "abusing" my friend and frustrated that she couldn't see it. But then I stepped back from the situation and re-evaluated everything. I then realized, I was finding "abuse" where there was none, and overreacting to the whole situation. Just because of a couple comments/actions he did early on that hit my trigger point. A simple hit to a trigger point caused a snowball effect that seriously impeded my happiness and ability to interact with my friends. Now, while I still am wary of him at times, we are able to get along fairly well and I don't see potential abuse in everything the does.

In this thread, you have people who have run and/or played this encounter and emerged without being offended by it being sexist. It might be that the people who have done so have really thick skin, or it may be that the encounter hit some trigger spots for your players and it snowballed beyond what is merited. In my mind, that is something that should be investigated. That being said, they are the ones who need to do the investigation and identify what offended them and if the offense merits their reaction. This is not something you can force upon them.

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Tangent101 wrote:

Okay. Let's assume you're correct and not everything fails on a 1. We have a 15th level Cleric. He needs a 20 to know what Iomedae wants. The player rolls a 1. They only have an intelligence of 14, and 15 skill ranks in Religion. The result is a 17 as Knowledge is an Intelligence-based skill. (And that Int. of 14 is being generous, btw.)

Let's say they only need a 15. What if a Cleric only put 10 skill ranks in Knowledge: Religion? Assuming the same Cleric with an Int of 14, then the Cleric rolled a modified 13 and fails that Skill Check.

It is entirely possible for a player to, because of bad die rolls, flub this. It is not "ensured" that others will have knowledge in this. Thus a bad die roll can result in the characters being damaged and lose out on a boon. Oh, and let's say they decide to burn a point of Mythic to try and boost their chance... and roll another 1. Still failed.

The entire point of requiring skill rolls and the like is the chance of failure. But in this case, bad luck can result in players losing out on some equipment that would make their job easier. And at the same time the players are harmed because a simple die roll went bad on them, when they are talking with someone who is nominally their ally. All because she disapproves.

I honestly can see even a worshiper of Iomedae getting upset at this point and calling her on her action, and in doing so being hit with another disapproving strike for their actions. And in doing so, Iomedae is not being honorable, but petty. You don't summon people to your presence and then go about harming them because they aren't 100% to your approval. Especially if you're requesting their aid. It's not an honorable course of action.

Correction here. Assume a 15th level Cleric of Iomedae getting the DC lowered to 20, which is reasonable. They have 15 ranks in Knowledge(Religion), which is reasonable as the campaign has been sprinkled with many instances where Knowledge (Religion) would be helpful. With an Int of 10, the Cleric has a +18 (15 ranks + class skill bonus) to hit the DC. He needs to roll a 1 to fail. If they have even 12 Int, they can't fail.

A different party has a lvl 15 vanilla bard, with 1 rank in Knowledge (Religion), thus their Knowledge (Religion) would be +11 (1 + 3 class skill bonus + 7 bardic knowledge). They use their Lore Master ability to take a 20 (they are in front of a goddess, why wouldn't they do this?) and get a 31. Certain party compositions will make this absolutely trivial. Others can make it more difficult.

Both of these also assume a character with 0 Mythic tiers whatsoever. Not a single mythic ability. If I am trying to make a knowledge check to answer a goddess, I am definitely using an extra 1d10 from Mythic Surge. If I roll a Nat 1 on my skill check, I am using Force of Will to get a re-roll immediately. All of a sudden, that first cleric can't fail. hitting a DC 25 when you get to roll 2, take the highest and add 1d10 plus some skill modifiers? Not too tough. 7 Mythic ranks give you so much extra padding that not making this check would require active neglect of Knowledge (Religion), which would be ridiculous to do considering the campaign so far. And all this is also assuming they do absolutely nothing to augment their abilities besides putting in a couple of skill ranks.

If a worshipper of Iomedae gets upset and calls her out . . . then I would question if they were ever a true worshipper of Iomedae. Iomedae set a test with a potential reward and a potential punishment. They failed the test. The lawful and honorable thing to do is accept the punishment. Rebelling against/complaining about the test is not the action a true worshipper of Iomedae would do. They would honor the terms of the test. A test given a being they revere. Does the PC truly believe they are a better judge of fairness than Iomedae? Are they so arrogant that they think they know better than their goddess?

Also, I find it weird that so many people are saying "Iomedae is requesting their aid", and even spinning it to seem like Iomedae should be grateful the PCs are even listening to her request. Yes, Iomedae is desperate and is asking the PCs for help, but this is not a "oh please will you help me?" from a position of weakness. This is a draft notice. This is a "you have been chosen to fight for the forces of good". Regardless of how you feel about the punishment aspect, let's remember that Iomedae is a goddess. No matter what, the PCs are not negotiating from a position of power. They have been selected as her agents, and she can't directly intervene, but she can find someone else if she really needs to. She could probably call up Irabeth and Galfrey and instantly give them 10 Mythic Tiers if she really wanted to. Just because the PCs are the best option, doesn't mean they are the only option.

Iomedae needs the PCs help because she can't intervene, but they need her more than she needs them. From the deity level, losing her Herald sucks and sways the balance of good and evil, but probably not much on the cosmic level. It is probably something she would be able to deal with eventually, after all Aroden dealt with the loss of a Herald as well. In the PCs' world, having the Herald as Baphomet's pawn has dire and immediate consequences. One of the Demon Lords trying to expand the Worldwound has just taken one of the strongest opposing forces and twisted it to his side. This is potentially devastating to the crusade. This could result in the expansion of the Worldwound and the destruction of nations. The draft notice is more for the PCs' sake than for her sake. The PCs reaction to this summons should be "Oh snap! This needs to be stopped or we are in trouble! What should we do?" not "Well, Iomedae, if you treat us right we might be willing to help you out here."

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Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
I DO have a problem with the fact, that if one player fails, everyone gets punished.

As I read it, this is the opposite of the case. Only one player needs to succeed for the entire group to succeed. Only one PC needs to answer the first question, for the second they need only to not fall all begin bickering, or not all respond immediately in the same way, and the third requires only one PC to show heroic bravery or confidence. Thus it one PC will never be the cause of a failure to answer correctly unless they make a point of bickering with the others.

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Personally, I would find it interesting to hear how the encounter with Iomedae as written is being received by players at the table.

My reading of it, and many others, seemed fairly in-line what James was saying they were shooting for. Others clearly disagree in their evaluation. However, I am a big believer in the idea that what is seen in the book and what transpires at the table can be very different even without any tweaks. I think this is especially true in a case like this where a lot of the text does focus on what will occur only if the party fails to live up to Iomedaen ideals or seriously blunder. So what comes across at the table could be all of the positives from the encounter, and none of the portions that people are discussing or upset by are even a factor.

I plan to run it pretty much as written, possibly with a bit extra content as a nod to the paladin of Ragathiel in the party, but my group is a long way from encountering the Inheritor. I just wonder if our perspectives are colored by the writers accounting for things that quite probably won't happen and we are unduly focusing on those aspects of Iomedae's portrayal.

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Lochar wrote:
And the first blast of horns is 5d6, so yes, she can withhold her power easily enough.

The blast of horns for failing to answer questions isn't her, it is from choirs of unseen angels and archons. Her minions can do less than 20d6, yes, but the only aggressive action Iomedae is listed as able to do are:

- Permanently deafen and DC 40 Will save to permanently mute a character
- DC 40 Fortitude save to reduce someone to -1 HP.
- I suppose rescinding the ability to look at her without saving and/or banishing the PCs count

It is entirely possible, and likely, she can do less than this, but on a the scale of power where she is listed as being able to do those things on a whim and without any effort whatsoever, 20d6 damage is ridiculously minuscule. So again, for the scale of power she operates under, the blasts of sound from her choir are a minor scolding. If she was actually torturing the PCs, it would be so much worse.

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magnuskn wrote:
Did that riding instructor also beat the crap out of your sister when she didn't do as he wanted?

Do you think Iomedae yelling at someone would do less than 20d6 damage? Just looking at her requires a DC 40 Will save. Just raising her shield forces a DC 40 Fort save to not be brought to -1 and she isn't taking any overt aggressive action. If just looking at her requires a DC 40 Will save, hearing her yell probably is instant death or at the very least instant deafness with no save for a mortal. 20d6 is probably not even equivalent to Iomedae tickling someone.

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Tangent101 wrote:
These few heroes are legends made flesh. They are as Iomedae herself once was. Or even her mentor, Aroden. And she treats them as a schoolmarm scolding unruly children. Worse. She treats them with no respect, and yet they have earned respect. Perhaps a disciplined and seasoned group of players would just roll with the punches and accept this plot coupon as needed to get to the quest, but plenty of players will sense this lack of respect and dig in their heels.

While the PCs have earned respect compared to other mortals, there is a huge scale going on here. Merely by speaking to them directly and "in-person", Iomedae is showing them a lot more respect than she has shown anyone else. Even Galfrey, a Queen who has reigned in Iomedae's name and led the crusade for over a hundred years, and who is considered worthy of becoming Iomedae's herald, never got a face-to-face chat with the goddess. The fact that Iomedae is giving that to the PCs shows a combination of desperation and respect to them.

That being said, even with their legendary powers, the are nothing power-wise compared to a god. She probably can see potential in them, but they are merely the strongest insects to her. Also, the scolding can be seen as a measure of respect. My sister rode horses as a teen, and her riding instructor would get on her case and yell at her all the time. The reason? He saw that she could be good. He wouldn't have bothered yelling at her if he didn't see any potential. So you can view the "torture" as more of a "I know you are better than this, be better than this". If she didn't respect the PCs, and see their potential, she would not bother with them at all.

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Another thing, the damage is not that strange when you consider that:

Meeting a Goddess wrote:

Although Iomedae knows the PCs are powerful, she wants them to demonstrate their righteousness and valor

before her. She needs to know they can stand before a true
deity and not quail or be reduced to groveling, for if they
can withstand her presence and impress her, then surely
the taint of a demon lord’s realm will have a difficult time
corrupting or destroying them.

She wants to see if they can stand before her and withstand her. The trumpets are a part of that, and could be easily modified into withstanding hearing her "angry voice", as someone suggested earlier. The trumpet blasts are less of a "how dare you get the question wrong! I'm going to beat you now!" and more of a "well, if you can't prove your mettle via your answer, can you prove it through your fortitude?".

Also, yes the PCs have been in a demon lord's realm before in the Midnight Isle's, but Nocticula was not actively hostile to the PCs, and Baphomet is. There is a huge difference between a manipulative potential-ally demon lord, and a vicious, brilliant, angry demon lord. Some additional vetting is merited.

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Lord Snow wrote:
Face it - if you would have seen a movie about a human doing the exact same thing Iomedae is doing (say, a high ranking military man kidnapping his best soldiers, asking them questions and torturing them when they get one wrong, "to prepare them for a mission"), you would be very comfortable with dubbing that human The Bad Guy, calling him a psychopath and cheering when the good guys catch him and stop him in the end. But somehow, because Iomadae is Good, everything she does is arbitrarily declared Good, too.

I see what you call "kidnapping of his best soldiers" as the divine version of the commander walking into a room full of soldiers, saying "you three, with me", and then walking out with soldiers in tow. That trope is played out a lot in movies by the good guys. Yes, if a mortal commander randomly took 4 soldiers to a different plane of existence to give them their orders, that would be absurd. But Iomedae is a divine being. She adheres to different rules. Sending a celestial messenger is a good middle ground, but the "kidnapping" is really just a divine way of taking some of her soldiers into another room to give them their new orders. Ask any military commander if they would like the ability to instantly have any soldier they need to give orders to in their command tent immediately and not have any time pass during the meeting, and I'm guessing they would ask where to sign up. Quite frankly, if the PCs are indignant at the "kidnapping", then they shouldn't be there, or are at least likely to be the uppity PCs that get blasted for mocking the goddess. "How dare the goddess in charge of the Crusade against the Worldwound stop time and whisk me off for a private chat! Can you believe her nerve?". Any PC with proper respect for the gods should have the attitude of being honored to be taken to the realm of a god and personally talk with them.

For the "torture" portion . . . again, it is really unlikely that the PCs, if even one fits in at all with the campaign, will get hit by the 20d6 damage. The 5d6 and 10d6 are minor scratches to the PCs at this point, and a DC 25 Knowledge(religion) check should be ludicrously simple to make, and the redemption answer just requires them to deliberate a bit before answering. I don't disagree that this punishment seems somewhat out of place, but given the average military commander in modern times, do you really think they would be happy with an elite squad of soldiers saying "We have no clue if we are going to be able to do this and we don't really want to try"? Because that is the equivalent of an answer that merits the 20d6 damage. For none of the PCs to reply with any bravery or confidence.

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I would argue that they PCs could be the most worthy of striking back, and still be considered unworthy of the task. "Most worthy" implies a non-binary scale of worthiness. In this, the PCs are most worthy because of their mythic tiers and all they have accomplished thus far. They are the only ones around who could possibly undertake this task. The second use of "worthy" is a binary usage, or is indicative of a threshold of the non-binary worthiness that the PCs must meet. The fact that they are highest on the scale of worthiness, or "most worthy", does not mean they pass the threshold of worthiness to undertake the task.

This is confusing and awkward wording, and they should have used different words to differentiate. Simply changing "most worthy" to "most able" completely clears up the confusion, and doesn't change the meaning by a significant degree.

Edit: typos . . .

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So, I don't think anyone can disagree with the "If the PCs are uppity and openly mock her, trumpet blasts and divine light". Also, the first two questions deal trivial amounts of damage, and can be healed immediately. No PC should have trouble surviving wrong answers to those two, and they fit very well in the stern teacher rapping the knuckles or drill sergeant shouting at/punishing a recruit in boot camp.

3rd question wrong is 20d6 (Fort 25 to halve). For a level 15/tier 7 character, that fortitude save is high, but not too bad. The lowest Fort save will probably be around +10. Paladins and Fighters will probably have an easy time passing, and thus halving the damage. On top of that, assuming HP average rolls, the weakest PC should have 71 HP + 15*Con Mod. So, a wizard with 12 Con would be rocking ~86 HP. On average, the final blast does 70 damage. A lot, to be sure, but it should not be fatal. Other PCs should not care as much. Even at max damage, this would be barely enough to kill the level 7/Tier 1 Paladin in the group I DM. And even if a PC dies, they are instantly resurrected.

This all can be circumvented by the PCs acting heroic, which, you know, they should be doing. That is kind of expected in this AP. They way I read it, they don't even need to have a good plan at all, they just need to say, "We shall find a way, he no doubt has some form of weakness we can exploit". That is it! They just need to have an attitude of "We can do it! We will find a way!". On top of that, only one of the PCs really needs to respond this way, as she asks the question to the group. If none your PCs are capable of being heroic in book 5 of this AP . . . then you are running the wrong AP.

Iomedae is not a "supportive, nurturing, caring" goddess. She is a warrior goddess. She doesn't have time to coddle these warriors, and they need to step up. I don't see her as a "petulant child", I see her as a somewhat frustrated commander making sure that the people she has in front of her are right for the job. Them answering wrong is no doubt frustrating to her because she has no other options. If you are really concerned about them missing the 3rd question, have it so the damage only increases from 5 -> 10 -> 20 d6 each time they get a question wrong. Then, the 20d6 is a punishment for the all of the PCs completely failing to live up to the standards of "warrior for good", which is kind of what the PCs are supposed to be in this AP.

I really don't see Iomedae as coming across as a demanding, petulant child to anyone other than PCs who are uppity or mistake Iomedae for Sarenrae or Shelyn. Iomedae may not be as harsh as Ragathiel, but she is no where near as cuddly as her NG counterparts.

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Gendif reminded me of something that will be quite amusing should my campaign ever re-start.

After Hemlock left the PCs in charge of Sandpoint, Sir Swa (the gnomish cavalier), and Ze (the human Inquisitor of Pharasma/mortician) decided to go out on patrol. I planned to include the Chopper's Isle short adventure, and chose to forshadow some of it, as well as make Das Korvut a more sympathetic character than the "grouchy old man". Thus Sir Swa and Ze stumble upon an angry Korvut chasing off some children.

The children are laughing and pulling childish pranks on him, and he is not amused. Sir Swa calms him down, making the Knowledge (local) check to recall that his son and wife were killed by the Chopper, and he hasn't been the same since. Sir Swa doesn't push too much on this, and chooses not to share this information with the party.

Meanwhile, Ze has chased down the children and is trying to give them a lecture on respecting their elders. He asks why the kids mock Korvut, and eventually learns through them that at night there is often shouts and screaming from Korvut's house (the result of him being haunted by his dead son). Ze makes the bizarre choice to tell the children to stay away from Das Korvut, as he is a worshipper of Zon-Kuthon, and the screams are from people he is torturing.

Needless to say, the young children (8/9 years old) are absolutely terrified, and begin telling everyone they know about this revelation. Ze is completely oblivious to this, and doesn't think that his lecture merits mentioning to the rest of the party. After the Catacombs of Wrath, the party finds that Das Korvut's house has been graffiti'd with anti-Zon-Kuthon writing/symbols. Unfortunately, not only is Ze still remaining silent about the rumor he inadvertently started, but Sir Swa, the only PC who knew Korvut's history and that the rumor was 100% false, died to Erylium. The Skinsaw Murders should be interesting, as Das Korvut will immediately become suspect #1.

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I echo the "why?", however, if you want Irabeth to fall, jealousy is not the way. Irabeth is characterized by being humble. She got her position by outing Staunton, and her thoughts on the matter are more "I should have caught him!", than "I did well!".

Like Scott Williams suggests, I would see Irabeth falling due to something happening to Anevia. Irabeth's backstory hints at her father's anger issues, and that she inherited some of that. Anevia was the stabilizing force in her life when her parents died. Having Anevia get killed/kidnapped/injured could cause Irabeth to lose her cool and do something rash and evil in anger.

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The AP does, indeed, provide for this in the early books. Later on, the PCs are kind of on their own.

The Wave Door holds a number of things useful for vampire hunting, including a wand of Death Ward which should be extremely helpful when fighting the Delvehaven vampires. Plus, once the Morrowfall is acquired, you can roast vampires pretty effectively.

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My Rise of the Runelords campaign is currently on hiatus, unfortunately, but the campaign manufacture a lot of funny moments.

Sir Swa, the gnomish cavalier, was the target of Shayliss, and while he was not interested in the girl, he was ridiculously dense. He fell for Shayliss's "help me exterminate rats!" routine, and ended up in her room with her blocking the door. He tried to Bull Rush/Overrun past her, but flubbed his CMB check. I chose to play Shayliss as a bit of an aggressor, and had her attempt to grapple the dashing gnome. Nat 20. So, the gnome follows Shayliss to her bedroom, belatedly realizes her intentions and tries to push past her. Then this teenaged girl lifts a fully armored gnome and drags him into her bed like it was nothing.

Sir Swa also challenged Aldern Foxglove to darts one night at the Rusty Dragon. Swa thought it would be an easy win, after all, Aldern was unable to fend off a couple measily goblins. Swa's allies figured that they could make a bit of money betting on the games. Well . . . Aldern never rolled lower than a 15 in the 4 matches they played before Swa gave up. Now the party is convinced Aldern is secretly really powerful.

The Aldern rescue:
Aldern (to the beautiful sorceress): Thanks milady for your aid in my rescue. My deepest thanks to your vassal here for her help as well!
Mia (fighter): I am no one's vassal, pretty boy!
Aldern: Oh, I assumed you were more than a maid.
Mia swings her greatsword at Aldern and misses
Aldern backhands Mia and knocks her unconscious (Mia was at like, 2 HP)
Aldern (to sorceress): My apologies, it is not my place to discipline your servants

After a failed combat against Erylium, during which Sir Swa perished, the group does some research to figure out Erylium's weaknesses. Using the library, the Inquisitor and the Sorceress make many attempts to find information, aided by Brodert Quint, but keep coming up empty. Finally, Mia, the 10 Int fighter, decides to crack open a book. Nat 20, Mia knows all about the standard weaknesses of quasits. After her companions spent a day studying to no avail, Mia walks in, grabs a book at random, and opens it to the quasit page immediately.

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Durngrun Stonebreaker wrote:
I don't look at it as "forcing someone to roleplay a particular stat" so much as not wanting someone to play the opposite of their stat.

I agree with this. At a recent session, I was very annoyed with another player. His gunslinger has 7 to Int and Cha, 0 skill points in Appraise or Diplomacy (or even Sense Motive), but spent a solid 20 minutes haggling, trying to figure out the best possible deal with a merchant, and coming up with increasingly complex arguments (all spoken "in character"). As a fellow player, it severely hindered my enjoyment of the game because it caused a major disconnect between what the player wanted and what the character actually would be able to do. Also, I feel slighted because I have a character with 8 Cha, but who has invested heavily in Diplomacy and Sense Motive to overcome her social awkwardness and allow her to speak with some competence. It is really frustrating to have a character with weaknesses and that struggles to overcome them only to have another player have a character with even more glaring weaknesses just completely ignore them on a whim. Thus I see it as less "forcing someone to roleplay a particular stat" as a negative thing, and more of a "keep players from breaking immersion and hindering the fun of the rest of the group". (and yes . . . I plan to discuss this issue with my GM and I would actually be very disappointed if she did not address it and "force" the player to roleplay their stats).

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Going to add to the chorus of player's interrupting me. I don't know how many times I was reading a description, and a player interrupted me with a question that was answered by the very next sentence. Let me finish, because a lot of questions are anticipated. Then I will be happy to answer your questions. On the same token, listen! I have had to answer the same question about a room that was in the room description 2 times because the players weren't listening.

I also get really annoyed when players start making assumptions on enemies. I have had players not even tell me their attack roll because they were certain it would hit (on more than one occasion they were actually wrong due to buffs and situational bonuses). Worse is when they tell me an enemy shouldn't be able to do something. Not a "Wow . . . he can do that?" but a "He can't do that!". This is especially frustrating when an enemy actually has bizarre augments based on his backstory that are supposed to make him unique and the players will not accept a simple "Nope, it works that way. Maybe he is special".

The whole "pay attention at the table, no texting/playing games/etc" I find bothers me less as a GM than as a player. When GMing, I just start to ignore that player. Yeah, I feel like it is disrespectful, but I would rather focus on the players who are engaged and keep them engaged than be annoyed with the one who can't focus on the game. When playing, it really bothers me though as I play reactive characters and it starts becoming hard to keep myself engaged in the game when it seems like I am the only one interested in it.

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Pupsocket wrote:
The problem isn't the ability to build characters without social skills (although that's a problem too). The problem is that only the highest score in the party counts. A system that mechanically involves characters other than the party face would make social skills worthwhile.

In the games I have played in, each character has diverse interests, and would be interested in talking to different NPCs and asking about different things. Thus while often the party face and their high score is the most important piece to progress, having multiple people with strong social skills can be incredibly useful. Each PC will ask about different things, and having decent social skills means that they can gather more information.

I don't think the system needs to mechanically involve other characters. I think the involvement of other characters in social situations relies on the GM having NPCs that will interest and engage the different PCs.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I've had a pseudo-plan that worked far better than I had anticipated or thought was possible. Honestly, it probably has gone a bit too far, but my party loves what is going on so I don't really want to stop it.

Council of Thieves spoilers:

The original party was a barbarian, and ranger, and an oracle of lore. They were struggling because they were somewhat poorly built, though I was helping them out with a DM PC (eventually, they got their footing and the DM PC faded back to being an NPC). The player of the ranger was pretty unhappy with her character, because she was having to act as the glue to keep the party together. She had originally built the character to be a spastic, super-hyper, ADD gnome, and thus was especially unhappy at being force to break her character and make him the party leader. To rectify this, I told her to re-roll, and that I would be able to kill off her ranger really easily. The player is someone who really likes sneaky, deceptive characters. So she decided to re-roll as a tiefling summoner (named Aubrey), who was in league with the Council of Thieves, and was sent to spy on the party. After some discussion, we came to an understanding that she would be allowed to play this PC provided she lay down clues for the rest of the party to find out who she really is, and that if she every took it too far, Aubrey would become an NPC.

So, the party is entering the Asmodean Knot, a demi-plane where the Chelish Crux is rumored to be hidden. The Chelish Crux supposedly has the key to Delvehaven, an abandoned Pathfinder Lodge that is thought to be linked to the rise in the number of shadow beasts in Westcrown. Upon entering the Asmodean Knot, the party stumbles upon the corpse of an elven thief captured long ago, and killed recently by Aubrey and her associate. In the elf's pack, they find a runecurse trap to summon a bone devil (aka, my convenient, AP-provided method of killing the ranger).

The party continues on, eventually finding a prison area, where Aubrey is imprisoned as a ruse to gain their sympathy and trust. During the initial introductions, I controlled Aubrey and had her story be shaky and occasionally change. Since tieflings and half-elves look somewhat similar, Aubrey tried to pass herself off as the half-elven cousin of the elven thief the party found earlier. Despite her multiple inconsistencies in her explanation of who she was and how she came to be imprisoned in the Asmodean Knot, the party bought it.

Just a day later in game, the runecurse is triggered, and a bone devil appears, kidnaps the ranger and takes him back to hell (since the player wanted to possibility of the ranger coming back). The other players were completely shocked by this event. I passed Aubrey's character sheet back to the player, and immediately one of the other players said, "Good thing there is an NPC for you to control until we get out of the Asmodean Knot and can meet your next character".

My players were thoroughly convinced that Aubrey was an NPC that was designed to be played by the person who had their character kidnapped by the bone devil until they were able to rescue the PC. Aubrey's player and I decided not to correct them on this, in part because the players would be more suspicious of an NPC and thus more likely to find out that Aubrey was a double-agent than if they knew she was a PC. But we were very careful not to encourage it in any way. Not once did we acknowledge, refer to, or treat Aubrey as an NPC. The AP, however, convinced them for us. In the Asmodean Knot, they conveniently encountered an imp that they were able to persuade to cast Commune to get information on their missing ranger friend. The final treasure cache contained a Scroll of Scrying, so they could attempt to find out where the ranger was. The next event outside of the Asmodean Knot involved winning the Devildrome, a summons-based arena fight, and they were extremely glad that the AP saw fit to provide them with a summoner in case their regular party didn't have one. ALL of this was just from the AP as written, and supported their theory that one of them was supposed to be captured, replaced by an NPC temporarily, and then rescued. This completely cemented their belief that Aubrey was an NPC ally, rather than a subversive PC.

Eventually, Aubrey betrayed the party by stealing the Morrowfall (a magical McGuffin with sunlight-based powers), as well as an insane amount of loot, and became an NPC. At the time of the theft, the player was in game trying to get Aubrey caught, so as not to deprive the party of important items and wealth. However, none of the PCs took the hints that Aubrey was dodgey and maybe shouldn't be in charge of carrying all of the loot, and none of them caught her in the act of the theft. Though she is now revealed to be an evil tiefling and is no longer part of the party, they still are unaware of her connections to the Council of Thieves.

I have been using Aubrey as a useful GM Fiat machine, as she has pulled the PC's corpses from the wreckage of a TPK, and has returned the Morrowfall to them at the right moment to help them save one of their favorite NPCs and defeat the vampire boss of book 5. The kicker to me, is that Aubrey was introduced in the middle of book 2, and we are at the end of book 5, and at least one of the players is STILL convinced that Aubrey is an NPC from the AP that is on their side.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I must say, even assuming that the army was always a group of paladins, it is not hard to imagine that the PCs are much better off dealing with the Chimera themselves.

Yes, the paladins can Smite Evil, but if the Chimera attacks after a day of combat, the paladins may have already used their Smites in the battle. Without Smite, they are going to have significant troubles getting through the DR.

Even if they still have their Smites, the Chimera's breath attack does 8d8 damage in a 40' cone, with a save DC high enough to make it difficult for the paladins to succeed on the reflex save. With some good luck for the Chimera, and some pretty bad luck/positioning for the paladins, the Chimera could end up taking out 1/4 of the army on each action. After one full round of combat, he might be able to route the army.

So having the paladin army kill him would be possible, but would result in significant losses. Losses that they really can't afford.

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In a 4e homebrew, I once managed to open a portal to hell in the stomach of our group's paladin by feeding him cursed pastries made out of orphans.

What's worse is the entire party thought I had been doing the paladin a favor. An openly evil party member kept trying to trick him into eating orphan-pastries, and my cleric kept intervening. Since my cleric claimed to worship the same god as the paladin, and no one noticed I was holding a holy symbol of Vecna instead of Lathander, they assumed I kept replacing the orphan-pastries with normal ones. Unfortunately the game ended right after the portal opened due it being the end of school.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In my mind, sundering is perfectly fair, provided it is not taken to the extreme. If every encounter has the PCs fighting a group of sunder barbarians, that is too far.

The danger is that people tend to overspecialize. Rather than having a back-up weapon or two, they invest everything into one weapon. Then, yeah, when it gets sundered it is a huge loss. If they had invested just a bit less in their primary weapon, they could have a pretty solid back-up. By the time you are putting the +3 equivalent enchantment on your Sword of Awesome!, you can afford to instead get a couple Swords of Great to serve as a back-up. This way, if your primary weapons gets sundered, you lose less money and are not hurt as much because you have a decent spare.

There is a disconnect, I feel, in what players want and what would be practical. If you have a bard that is entirely based off of using whips, why would he not pack a spare? He is just going out and adventuring with only one of the weapon he can use effectively, blindly trusting that nothing will happen that will make him lose it? That is, quite frankly, dumb.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Daehsquinn has a decent idea. Ilnerik would want to keep it close, but only the human thieves of Walcourt would really want to touch it. He would probably have Jerusan store it in the treasure room or something.

Alternatively, you could have it be in the possession of Sandor the Strange, Walcourt's wizard. He might have stolen it to examine it. Or it could be in Maglin's room, and he could have stolen it because he doesn't trust the vampires/dark folk, and sees it as a potential weapon.

Depending on your parties actions, they could have an agent inside of Walcourt. The AP supplies you with a couple potential agents (Jarvis and Aberten). You could have the agent steal the Morrowfall and return it to the PCs, or have the PCs find the agent's dead body clutching it.

My group had a similar problem where the Morrowfall was stolen (by a former PC who was a double-agent for the Council). They are going to be getting the Morrowfall back by finding Sclavo (the paladin wannabe in the Children of Westcrown) with it in one of the Walcourt jail cells. He will have been horribly tortured and somewhat insane, and clutching it desperately to keep the "demons" away. I am mean to my NPCs . . .

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Responding to the OP, since the active discussion has entered the realm of "there will never be a consensus":

I have a Dwarven Fighter named Thorngar with a Charisma of 5. Of course, the 5 Charisma was the point of the build, as the DM was new and I have a history of making high Charisma characters that are disruptive to the plot via making absurd Diplomacy/Bluff/Intimidate checks. Unfortunately, Thorngar's insane antics have resulted in him being a party favorite, even though he should be a social pariah.

However, I have seen this regularly occur in builds that one of my players makes. He is an absurd min-maxer. The first character he built was a Witch where he had dumped her physical stats to the point where there was only a ~20% chance an attack from the first enemies in the AP would leave her conscious. Yes . . . attack, not hit.

His first actual character was an Oracle of Lore with 6 Dex (so she could have 19 Charisma at level 1). One of the favorite moments of the campaign was when there was a sloping tunnel that required acrobatics checks (DC 10) to navigate. Failure cause you to slide uncontrollably and take damage. The oracle entered the tunnel, and a few rounds later her unconscious body slid out the other end, coming to a stop at the barbarian's feet.

His second character of in the campaign I run is a cavalier with, I believe, 7 Int. He didn't really dump anything else though.

His character in our Skull and Shackles campaign is a Gunslinger with 7 Int and 7 Cha, because he needed to get his Dex to 19 at level 1. Amusingly enough (to me at least), his "super optimized" character is not noticeably more effective than any of the rest of the party.

So . . . yes. There are people who actually play these builds. In my experience, unless the dump stat is the focus of the build . . . it is not worth it.

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As was pointed out, her sword was not Radiance. If it had been Radiance, she not only wouldn't have sold it, but would have given her an element of fame as the wielder of Yaniel's blade (in addition to her fame for uncovering Staunton Vhane's treachery).

As for the "selling advanced weaponry" angle, you need to put it in context. She sold her sword to a merchant in a town on the edge of the Worldwound that is filled with crusaders. She had no clue that her sword would end up in the hands of the enemy. Most likely, the merchant would sell it to another crusader in the city, as demon-slaying swords are probably in pretty high demand. Said crusader would likely use the sword to combat evil, potentially to a greater effect than she would. So the most likely scenario is that the longsword ends up still doing good for the crusades. The fact that the sword fell into the hands of a traitor was unforeseeable. However, even if she thought the enemy could get a hold of it . . . the enchantment doesn't hold much benefit for people fighting against the crusaders. She would have given her enemies a single +1 longsword.

The real value of the sword was in its sentimental value; it was her father's blade. Her selling her sword to get Anevia's potion was basically her sacrificing a memento of her dead parents to help the woman she loves. Self-sacrifice for the benefit of someone else? Certainly sounds paladin-like to me.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Once they get topside, there will be a lot of opportunities to tempt the little guy. After all, a ruined city running amok with demons? Fun times!

One other interesting thing to consider is at the climax . . .

When the wardstone explodes, it damages Jeslyn and her allies, and doesn't harm the PCs and their allies. To the PCs, this will seem to be a simplified "hurts demons, doesn't hurt normal folk".

If Kreggal is accompanying the PCs to this point, having him be unharmed (or take severely reduced damage) by the explosion of the wardstone would be a significant sign of "he's well on the way of redemption".

In addition, it could be that exposure to the power of the wardstone, or having a wardstone fragment lodged into him, enables his redemption. Could also be a catalyst for if you want him to change to be a different, good-aligned planar being once redeemed. The PCs get mythic tiers, he begins to transform into a Lyrakien or something.

*Edit:* Or to build off of Flamehawke, the wardstone explosion could reawaken his memories and attitude from life when he was devoted to Iomedae

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I find that rolling Initiative is generally a good way to get my players in a pseudo-combat mindset. Like, I will have them roll initiative if they are about to enter an area where timing and movement are important. Like if there is a trap in the room, I might have them roll initiative to get them in the mindset of "we need to be moving our pieces, and acting in turn". Often this can be accomplished by just going around the table, and reminding people to move their tiles, but sometimes having an initiative is good for conveying tension, as they are expecting potential turn-based events and/or battle. In my mind, it is a tool for me to use as the DM to increase player tension, though I generally preface any not-clearly-combat roll for initiative as a "hey guys, roll initiative so I can track some stuff better".

I also consider not-obvious-combat initiative rolls to be perfectly legitimate at times. For example, if the party stumbles across a group of travelers in the woods, I might have them roll initiative because, unbeknownst to them, there are bandits moving in to ambush them and the travelers. The point being, after initiative is rolled, even if it is for combat, it might not be for combat with something you can see.

However, from a purely roleplaying perspective, I don't think initiative=combat makes sense. In the situation described by the OP, they saw some people, rolled initiative, and then he attacked. What is the in-character effect of rolling initiative? Is it a measure of preparedness to react to a situation? Is it intensity? I sincerely doubt that in character there is some huge noticeable affect of time slowing down, or flashing "Ready? FIGHT!" light. From the in character perspective . . . they saw the other people, they tensed up, perhaps sensing something amiss, and then decided that this tension was best resolved by attacking the people they just saw. Should the DM have been more descriptive? Likely (though we only have the player's version of events). Is "as a player I did something that almost always means combat" a good rationale for a character to start attacking people? No, that is clearly metagaming.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I would add that for Skull and Shackles, I think you get what you put into it. If your players want to be pirates, and will get excited/have fun with it, it can be great. With my group, I am not a pirate fan, and only 1 or 2 of the group is actually acting "piratey". The rest are either just kind of there, or playing "amoral mercenary" and trying to pass it off as a pirate. Combined with a GM who is also not a big pirate fan, and the AP seems to drag and is not terribly fun. It is not bad . . . but kind of meh, in my opinion. The fun we is have tends to be independent of the AP content, rather than stemming from it. I have no doubt that if we were all buying into the pirate theme, it would be much better. Like with Aconyte said about Kingmaker, make sure your players are buying into the premise of "we are pirates" before choosing it.

I think Rise of the Runelords is a great AP to run, especially because, as Kolokotroni said, there are a ton of resources to draw from since it has been around for so long.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Uncertainty Lich wrote:
Both the GM & player knew it was an intimidate check and not a demoralize check.

A demoralize check is an Intimidate check. That is why it the mechanics for demoralize are explained as part of the Intimidate rules. It is a use of Intimidate. The other option is to use Intimidate to influence attitude. You pick one use of Intimidate when you use the check.

From OP:

Quatar wrote:
For me that meant however he was now convinced that they really did it, he's drunk and he feels honor-bound now to his threat before to declare a blood-feud (which apparently is a big thing to Ulfen), so while he was shaken from the Intimidate he'd still rage and attack.

Seems like the OP was ruling the Intimidate was a demoralize. Otherwise, the fact the barbarian was shaken would not have entered play. I do not see anything suggesting his line of thinking was, "hey, the barbarian is upset enough that this influence attitude check is instead a demoralize".

This was not a case of "I can't have the barbarian ditch no matter what!", it was a case of, "well, the PC just demoralized the barbarian . . . but I think in character the barbarian would still be angry enough to lash out regardless". Making an NPC shaken does not guarantee that they will flee. It makes it more likely . . . but not a guarantee.

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Well, with Martial Versatility, you can take the feat twice early on (level 4 and 6), once for Weapon Focus, and once for Weapon Specialization, and then at level 16 re-train one of them out for Martial Mastery. Then, for most of the fighter's career he is able to at least not worry about Weapon Focus or Weapon Specialization going away when forced to use a different weapon in the weapon group.

Also, Martial Mastery kind of is a powerful feat, as it applies to all weapon-specific combat feats, from any number of weapon groups. So, with a cost of 2 feats, you can ensure that any weapon-specific feat applies to an entire weapon group, which is pretty sweet. Level 16 seems a reasonable time to be granted such a potentially powerful feat.

Personally, I think the human restriction should be removed, and that maybe Martial Mastery should come automatically for fighters, perhaps bundled with Weapon Training. So, when you get Weapon Training, you get the standard +1 Atk/Dmg, and can start applying weapon-specific feats to all weapons in the group. It would help further establish the fighter's role as kind of a versatile master of martial combat.

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Ssalarn wrote:
Even if a fighter specializes in daggers and hand-crossbows he's still going to see useable light blades and crossbows come up very regularly.

Ranger: Sucks to be you! No awesome greatswords around here! You are gimped forever!

Fighter: Well, shoot. I mean, if you give me an aldori duelling sword, a bastard sword, a chakram, an elven curve blade, a falcata, a falchion, a flambard, a greatsword, a katana, a longsword, a scimitar, a scythe, or another such weapon, I am only missing out on my weapon focus/weapon specialization feats. But still, I am utterly gimped when denied a greatsword!

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
claymade wrote:

I suggest you read the OP again. The result of the roll was calculated, and the DM did compare it against the Barbarian's resist DC, since the DM did determine that it did beat it by enough (in his mind) to produce the "shaken" condition.

The roll was not explicitly struck by the GM, so the player was given no reason from anything described in the OP to think that his attempt was inherently invalid at all (as opposed to just not having succeeded at it).

If you want to say "you start trying to Intimidate him into backing down, but the already high-strung Barbarian attacks you before you can finish", that's fine. What's not fine is the player rolling Intimidate, the DM checking it against the Barbarian's stats as though the check went through, and then just saying "the Barbarian attacks you" without explaining to the player that what they were explicitly trying to get him to do (getting him to "F*** off") was actually flat-out invalidated, and was never even an option for the check (even though he calculated the check anyway).

Hence: quiet auto-fail.

You contradict yourself. The DM determined it produced the "shaken" condition, as you stated. So it was a successful Intimidate check with under the "demoralize" rules. So . . . the player's attempt was not invalid at all, it worked and was accounted for. How was the PC's attempt inherently invalid, as you claim? It was accounted for, as you yourself state.

There is no "quiet auto-fail" here. There is the player thinking "intimidate will get this guy to back off", doing something that seemed more like a "demoralize" than an "influence attitude", and the DM found that the "demoralize" succeeded. The fact that the viking attacked despite being Shaken (and in response to having his very serious grievance dismissed out of hand) is just a repercussion of the fact that the NPC was angry enough about his dog to not be dissuaded because of fear.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Once again, I ask to all people saying he needed to verify the type of Intimidate check this:

If you go up to a stranger and he says, "F*** off or I'll kill you!" and pushes past you, is he . . .
a) Trying to scare you (Demoralize)
b) Trying to get you to treat him as a friend for a short time (Influence Attitude)
c) Not sure, need to ask him

Option a is a very reasonable assumption. I can't find any fault with a DM who is told that a character does this, with no further explanation of intent from the PC, and comes to the conclusion that they meant for a Demoralize.

As for the "was there any way to know the NPC would attack?", well, that is mostly on the PC in my mind. The viking dude already said he plans to declare a blood feud, that is pretty much establishing that he is ready to fight about it. I don't think a Sense Motive is required to ascertain that the NPC might attack if mishandled, just Common Sense.

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