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I couldn't get rid of the warhorse fast enough... it was a cute bit of background, but realistically it was unimaginable that they got it across that bridge - unconscious and dead weight no less - and ultimately it was meaningless in the grander scheme of things.
I added more than enough to make up for its omission, however. ;)
James Jacobs wrote:
This actually worked superbly for us.
During the 'initial' Thistletop foray, the PC's avoided unnecessary encounters (such as with the Giant Hermit Crab which they didn't find and the Tentamort which wasn't in their way) and they missed Malfeshnekor entirely which was partially by design. At a later point in the campaign, they were approached by a pair of druids from Mosswood who had designs on inhabiting the ruin and making it a place for a new Circle in the area... but first they needed the PC's aid to cleanse the place of a greater evil they sensed that still resided within. The PC's went back and referenced Tsuto's journal remembering a passage about Nualia trying to awaken a greater evil from the bowels of Thistletop...
When the group returned they were a little more seasoned, so I added a cool harpy encounter on the upper level and gave them a second run at Thistletop that they enjoyed, as well as new allies who would play a recurring role in adventures in the region.
Just throwing this out...
In our campaign Lyrie was Nualia's lover and fanatically devoted to her while Tsuto was terrified of Nualia and what she was becoming, and instead had developed a most unhealthy infatuation with his half-sister Ameiko.
During the assault on Thistletop, Orik revealed that there was a price on Lyrie's head by the local Pathfinder's Society, 500 gp dead or 1,000 gp alive. If the group allowed him to take her in for the bounty, he'd switch sides, which he did (he needed to, because my fight with Nualia was designed to be particularly brutal).
Now I had much more extensive plans for Nualia in my campaign than is written in the AP, she's a major ongoing NPC, and as such I had the 'killing blow' against her instead sever her demonic arm and cause her to fall into a coma. She was brought back to Sandpoint and kept under watch for weeks until she finally came out of it, at which time Magnimar wanted to put her on trial for the crimes she had committed up to and including the attack on Sandpoint... as for Nualia herself, she was disaffected, nihilistic and 'done with the Gods and their games', but I had given the PC's a few compelling reasons to want to keep her alive (due to my plans for her eventual redemption). They decided to try to free her en route to Magnimar for her trial and to make it look like more members of her coterie at Thistletop so that they themselves didn't become wanted by the authorities...
...ironically, Lyrie, whom had escaped the lunkhead Orik before they made it to Magnimar had been planning exactly the same thing for some time, and her raid on the guard caravan will happen in the same place and same time as the PC's planned ambush. Should make things exciting!
Making changes to various things as I re-work the campaign and one I thought I'd share is my reimagining of the Righteous Medals. We're running a non-Mythic version of the AP, but I would think this would work for any group if they found it interesting. The idea behind the changes is to make the awarding of them a touch more realistic, the activation of them more of a meta-scavenger hunt for the players and the benefits they offer easier to track given the gonzo nature of things already.
What I'm planning on doing is having all six of the medals awarded to the PC's at once by Queen Galfrey and her entourage after the destruction of the Wardstone. I've renamed them, each for one of the six major good-aligned deities invested in the World Wound. There will be six priests on hand, one of each deity, to pin them to the PC's chest (along with Irabeth and a select few others), one of the presenters being Sosiel which should make for a nice precursor to introducing him to the campaign.
When pinned, the medals will 'activate', providing their benefit to wearer whenever they have met the requirements, even retroactively (the requirements remained unchanged). The ones that don't activate will do so whenever the requirements are fulfilled, though I don't plan on telling the PC's what those requirements actually are.
The medals and their benefits:
The Unending Grace of Sarenrae (+1 Sacred bonus to Dexterity)
When all six medals are activated, the wearer will also gain a +1 sacred bonus to saving throws.
I'm revisiting WotR after a little break and planning my next run at it. Obviously we won't be using Mythic rules - instead I've taken the advice that a Mythic level is more or less two regular class levels and run with it. Characters in our game will be advancing to 25th level, though they will still be limited to 20 levels in any particular class. I'm encouraging characters to use this opportunity to dip where they think appropriate in their builds. This is where I'm planning on having the characters automatically level throughout the campaign, with them starting at 2nd level:
2nd - Vol. 1, Part 1: The Fall of Kenebres
I will be adding in some homebrew material throughout, to ease some of the 'accordioning' of the level progression, including some encounters during the initial attack on Kenebres, some side quests before heading out on the Crusader's March and a fair bit between books 3 and 4... but does that look about right? Any concerns over timing vs. power levels?
Builds will be pretty standard (20 point buy) with a few house rules (like the feats Power Attack, Deadly Aim, Weapon Finesse, Combat Expertise and Eschew Materials being free to anyone who meets the pre-req's), and when the characters hit 21st and beyond I plan to add in a few little extras to reflect that they've reached an 'epic' tier of play and to keep the power curve steady. One of the things that I like about this approach is that the characters will not only have the chance to actually get to their capstone abilities, but will actually get to use them for a while, theoretically all the way through Book 6.
A few bonus encounters during the festival (our group had an enchantment-focused Sorcerer with Sleep, so it required a bit more challenge to stay interesting and to seem a legitimate threat).
I added a pair of goblins on a rooftop with shortbows (partial cover, but they had lit the building on fire so after 1d4+1 rounds the ceiling collapsed, and they along with it).
Two groups of four goblins each - one with a Warchanter - trying to burn down the Goblinsquash stables. Hosk is there trying to get the horses out but is menaced by one group while the others fan the flames.
A pair of goblins menacing Shayliss in an alleyway while the PC's are on their way to the north gate. This allows her to be rescued and develop her bit of hero worship naturally, but then I had a much bigger subplot with Aldern and Shayliss so thrusting them together at the time was expedient.
I've made some extensive changes to the first two chapters of RotRL. One of the more minor ones was that the Sheriff wanted everyone to stay in town (including visitors from the festival) until they could make sure the area was clear of goblin marauders... bought a couple of extra days for the 'slow down' and gave the PC's a reason to stay in town (if needed, the Sheriff could ask them to stay as a reassuring presence to the townsfolk while his men checked out the surrounding region).
There is no reason to think that Cloak of Dreams would cause Invisibility to end, is there?
Cloak of Dreams
I'm looking at the Improved Familiar feat and it says that:
Improved familiars otherwise use the rules for regular familiars, with two exceptions: if the creature's type is something other than animal, its type does not change; and improved familiars do not gain the ability to speak with other creatures of their kind (although many of them already have the ability to communicate).
That seems to say that you would follow the normal rules for familiar advancement, i.e. they effectively have your number of HD, they grant bonus feats like Alertness, their natural armor bonus increases, etc. Looking at it, however, I'm not sure that makes sense. Let's say that I select a Faerie Dragon - if his effective Hit Dice go up, does that mean his ability to cast spells as a Sorcerer progresses as well? Does he gain additional skill ranks and/or feats? What about the DC for his breath weapon? A Faerie Dragon has an Intelligence score of 16, but the 'rules for regular familiars' dictates that at 7th level he would have an Intelligence score of 9 - did he suddenly get much dumber through association with me? If so, does he lose skill ranks, and if not, then does he gain the increase in natural armor that's universally shown on the exact same table? If they don't gain those abilities of 'regular familiars', then can they still somehow qualify for familiar archetypes that alter or replace those abilities?
I've got two PC's in my group who just took improved familiars and I could really use some help in clarifying the rules so that any potential arguments could be settled beforehand.
Just because they work so well for us, figured I'd throw them out for dissection/adoption.
Actions can be downgraded - i.e. a standard action can be used to perform a move action, move action can be used to perform a swift action. As part of this change, the Quicken Spell feat makes a spell cast-able as a move action rather than as a swift. Additionally, characters get one immediate action every turn regardless of whether they have used a swift action or not.
All characters (and creatures) add their BAB to their Initiative.
Feats that are weapon-specific (Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, Improved Critical, etc.) apply to weapon groups rather than individual weapons as per the listings under the Fighter's Weapon Training class feature.
Power Attack, Deadly Aim and Combat Expertise are free to every character (and creature) who meet their pre-requisites. Weapon Finesse is no longer a feat and instead is a weapon quality - weapons with this quality use Dexterity to determine their attack bonus rather than Strength.
Combat Maneuvers are broken into two categories - one based on Strength which continue to use the STR modifier to determine CMD, and one based on Dexterity which uses that modifier instead. They are broken down below - additionally, Improved (Combat Maneuver) and Greater (Combat Maneuver) feats are combined.
Strength-based Combat Maneuvers:
Dexterity-based Combat Maneuvers:
Point Blank Shot does not exist and therefor is not needed as a pre-requisite. Improved Rapid Shot and Greater Rapid Shot replace Multishot and function as Improved TWF and Greater TWF.
Every class that gets 2 skill ranks/level gains 4 skill ranks/level instead.
Specific class changes:
Our group only uses Core and Base classes as, for the moment, 20+ classes and over two hundred archetypes plus any number of prestige classes offer more than enough variety for us. As such, adjustments haven't been made for Hybrid classes, Occult classes, Unchained classes, Alternate classes or Psionic classes at this point.
Didn't use the redemption rules, but here goes...
As you know, I'm merging some of the Shattered Star books in with my Rise Campaign - this is basically how I handled Nualia:
During the climactic battle, I ruled that if a PC confirmed a critical hit, he would sever her demonic arm, leaving her without that attack and shaken. The Paladin did crit and it was enough to knock Nualia unconscious - certain NPC's had expressed a desire to see Nualia redeemed if possible (Father Zantus and Ameiko) and sense the Paladin was a follower of Sarenrae, they took her back with them to Sandpoint.
After losing her arm, I had Nualia fall into a coma from which Zantus could not awaken her. Instead he looked after her in the Sandpoint jail, visiting her daily. The mayor wanted Magnimar to have her tried for her crimes, but Magnimar would not try her until she was conscious once again and took the attitude that if the issue could be 'resolved locally' in the meantime...
At any rate, Nualia remained comatose all through the Skinsaw Murders with the players wondering what would happen with her. When they returned to Sandpoint after defeating Ironbriar and seeing Xaneasha escape, they were greeted with the news that Nualia had awoken. They spoke with her then, getting much of her backstory between the burning of the church and her arrival at Thistletop. At this pint I ran her as a nihilist who knew she would be executed and figured it was what she deserved - almost looked forward to it after the life she had led. Too, she wanted nothing to do with the Gods, feeling that she had been their pawn for good or ill all her life.
The PC's weren't sure what to do until I had the Paladin receive a vision from his goddess of his hand and Nualia's clasping one another in alliance - Nualia's missing hand, in fact. So, following that vision they concocted a plan to 'rescue her' on the road between Sandpoint and Magnimar as she was being taken back for her trial - they managed to do so in a way that left none of the guards dead and had them thinking it was remainders of Nualia's cohorts whom were responsible. Instead, they snuck her into Magnimar and brought her back to Foxglove's Townhouse before contacting Sheila Heidmarch to tell her what they had done. Needless to say she was not pleased.
Sheila kept them in hiding for a few days until she was able to arrange passage aboard ship out of Magnimar - passage to the Curse of the Lady's Light where her research suggested another Shard might be found. Nualia joined them, but remained fatalistic and resistant to the idea of redemption. While under the Light, during a furious battle against Ghouls coming out of the water, trying to upend their boats, Nualia had a chance to sacrifice herself for one of the PC's, saving them, and as a result was drug down into the depths and torn apart. The PC's grieved but continued on, going so far as to recover what remains of her they could - the Paladin keeping her silver braid in the hope of one day seeing her resurrected.
After the final confrontation in the Lady's Light, the group retreated back to Maroux's hut to recover... and in the middle of the night the door was thrown open, a beautiful dark-haired woman wrapped only in a cloak stumbled inside, whispering 'help me' before collapsing - Nualia had been reborn into Sorshen's clone as a result of the trap they had encountered in the Light. The group was suspicious at first, especially the Grey Maiden Oriana whom had been kept prisoner by a succubus wearing that same form for weeks. Eventually all but Oriana came to trust her and Nualia seemed truly reborn, reveling in her new body and her second chance - she still wanted nothing to do with the Gods but learned to be a Magus, finding a strong (but not surprising) aptitude for arcane magic.
From there the group would go on to Korvosa for a modified version of Seven Days to the Grave from CotCT, following clues left behind by Ironbriar's journal and tracking Xaneasha. In our campaign they just arrived, but my plan is for Oriana's mistrust of her to gradually wane, and by the time the chapter ends for she and Nualia to be a couple (in my campaign Nualia was involved with Lyrie while Tsuto lusted after his half-sister Ameiko instead). The group will leave them in Korvosa, with them working together against the Queen whom they believe has become influenced by a waking Sorshen, while the PC's head north for The Hook Mountain Massacre. The next time they see her will be when they go to defend Sandpoint from the Giant's raid in a very cool scenario I've written called 'A Gathering of Eagles'.
Sorry, I know that was long-winded, but Nualia has really become a great NPC in my campaign.
I don't think it would give away anything and would make for a nice bit of backstory... though I'm not familiar with 'Under Pauper's Grave'.
In our campaign I had a pair of druids come down from Churlwood with the intention of inhabiting Thistletop and starting a new Druidic Circle in the area. Their return allowed me to send the PC's back with them to 'clear they evil they sensed still lurked within'... their first trip they hadn't defeated the Barghest, the Tentamort or the Giant Hermit Crab, and I added some squatting harpies on the top level for good measure. It was a nice little return trip for them.
In between Burnt Offerings and Skinsaw Murders I also had the PC's track down Shalelu - she had gone off in pursuit of Bruthazmus when the villain had escaped and when she did not return Ameiko grew concerned for her friend. The group found her in Raven's Roost, a bluff that served as a wintering stronghold for a band of hobgoblins whom had been taken over by Bruthazmus (and his new Ettin enforcer). The group stormed the place - it really made for an exciting battle and a fitting denouement for Thistletop.
I am just about to start Book 3 and am curious as to what I should do with Shalelu. My PCs already have an archery focused ranger in their group, and I would rather not have Shalelu steal his thunder. I do, however, like Shalelu as a character and would like to develop her more. What do you recommend I do?
How well do they know her? She could easily have been rebuilt as a Druid or given an Elven Curve Blade and built as a two-handed ranger...
Shalelu has and continues to play an important part in our Shattered Star/Runelords campaign. She first met the PC's in Sandpoint when she brought them news of the goblin activity in the area, and spent the evening drinking with Ameiko and a couple of the PC sharing adventuring stories. She then accompanied the group to Thistletop and was useful (no ranged threat or tracker in the group). The nemesis angle with Bruthazmus was played up and when Bruthazmus fled the battle below, she pursued, playing a game of cat-and-mouse with him throughout the fortress while the group dealt with Nualia. Bruthazmus made his escape by cutting the bridge behind him. Once the group navigated their return to shore, Shalelu gave them a message to Ameiko and departed, eager to track down the fiend before his trail went cold.
Later, after portions of the Skinsaw Murders, Ameiko began to grow worried that Shalelu hadn't returned by the winter snows as she was wont to do. I made a point of emphasizing the intimacy between the two women, like sisters if not more. When the group was contacted by the druids whom had taken up residence at Thistletop that they had discovered Shalelu had been taken captive by a band of hobgoblins, it was all they could do to keep Ameiko from packing up and riding to her rescue. Instead they went after her and found the hobgoblins holed up in a stronghold known as Raven's Roost; they laid siege to it, defeating the hobgoblins, Bruthazmus and his Ettin henchman and were able to rescue Shalelu. She was in terrible shape - Bruthazmus had her bound to a post, starved and exposed to the elements, and had been using her for target practice, forcing the hobgoblin shaman to heal her when her wounds became too great. She was traumatized and hadn't fully recovered when she was returned to Thistletop.
The group left her in the Druid's care with Ameiko making periodic trips to visit her. From there they went on to run through The Curse of the Lady's Light and a modified Seven Days to the Grave before rejoining with Shalelu en route to Turtleback Ferry and the Hook Mountain Massacre. By then one of the PC's and Ameiko had become very close, and Ameiko bade her friend to look after her new paramour. This involved a bit more hands on than he realized, as she dismissed his refusal of her advances by saying 'Do you really think you're the first man we've shared', later adding, 'though if she has her way you just might be the last.'
After the Hook Mountain Massacre and the revelations of her father, Shalelu returned to defend Sandpoint from the giant raid (a much larger affair than was originally written into the books) and, in the aftermath of that attack and the death and destruction that had been wrought, joy was found anew as the PC, Ameiko and Shalelu were married, following a traditional elven arrangement which recognizes poly relationships. Shalelu would then return to Fort Rannick to help rebuild the Black Arrows while Ameiko would be elected Mayor to replace Mayor Deverin... the three remained in contact with a set of magical bracers which let each know the distance and direction of the others, as well as their general well-being, and once a week allowed the use of a collective Dream spell.
This should help - I found this for our campaign and am using it for our wiki (which, I'm sorry to say, has fallen behind our actual play)...
Is Nualia dumb? Not in my campaign.
I re-built her as a Warpriest and the final battle played out thusly:
Bruthazmus, Lyrie and Tsuto awaited the party at the bottom of the stairs on the lowest level (Grease having been cast on the ground at the bottom) and engaged the party while Nualia observed from down the hallway. When the battle turned against her minions, she sent her final Yeth Hound to join the fight - remember the hound can fly so it didn't set off the trap in the hallway. When the PC's emerged victorious, she simply turned and walked down the hallway... of course they raced after her and triggered the trap. While they were dealing with that, she buffed up, including casting an Invisibility to Undead spell that she had prepared for just such an occasion. She awaited the party at the doorway of the room with the Shadows and when they attacked she cast darkness (she has darkvision) and fought them all while the Shadows swarmed in unseen and wrecked their havoc. It was a very, very tough final fight (or fights) and could have easily resulted in a TPK. Knowing that, I had Orik flip sides before they descended down and he probably ended up being that slight tip in the scales they needed.
Afterwards, I made it very easy for the party to miss Mal's prison because I didn't want them engaging him in their weakened state and I had a later plot point for it. The PC's were sought out by a pair of Druids from the Churlwood who hoped to make Thistletop the base of operations for a new Druidic Circle in the area. They had heard of the PC's involvement in driving out the goblins but 'sensed and evil presence resided still within'... the group headed back out to Thistletop and found a pair of harpies had taken residence there. After fighting the Harpies, the Giant Hermit Crab and the Tentamort (both bypassed the first time around), they finally faced Mal with the Druid's help (Druids were 3rd level). Thistletop made for a fantastic dungeon the second time around and the group gained some allies whom will prove useful down the road when Sandpoint is attacked.
Honestly, I always assumed that it was intended for villains, and NPC's in general, to be re-written and used however best seems to fit your campaign. If something about their text doesn't seem right to you, they're hardly bound to it - that's kind of the beauty of tabletop RPG's.
Thanks. I'm looking to incorporate them (some or all) into the Rise of the Runelords/Shattered Star campaign I'm running, and I wanted to make sure I got the whole story.
Appreciate the quick responses.
Oh. It's been outright stated in Curse of the Crimson Throne that Sorshen is, in fact, under Castle Korvosa. In fact, Korvosa is outright built on her capital. But that's about it.
That's kind of the stuff I'm looking for. The party has just left the Lady's Light (from Shattered Star) and have been deciphering Justice Ironbriar's journal (from Rise of the Runelords) which is leading them to Korvosa on the trail of Xanesha whom escaped them in Magnimar, following the clues about the plague she intends to instigate in the city using a weaponized version of Vorel's Phage.
I'm working in Seven Days to the Grave with some extensive modifications - in my Runelords campaign a number of the Runelords have begun to awaken and are moving their pieces about the board. In Korvosa, Sorshen's not quite conscious mind has begun to influence Queen Illeosa and she is militarizing the city and its holdings in preparation for the retaking of what was once Eurythnia. The more fully awoken Karzoug meanwhile is sending his minion Xanesha into the city to start the plague that takes place in Seven Days to the Grave. The 'Royal Physicians' that move through the city treating the sick will actually be her agents, marking people with the Sihedron so that Karzoug's runewells will surge with power, all while wrecking havoc and chaos in the capital city of his chief rival. Plans within plans, you know?
At any rate, the changes I'm making to Seven Days From the Grave necessitate having whatever knowledge I can of Sorshen's history with Korvosa, especially considering the group just left one of her former strongholds where they saw visual evidence depicting her slumber beneath the pyramid.
Thanks to all who chime in!
I know from CotCT, they shove in [REDACTED]'s [REDACTED] into [REDACTED] because it's a site sacred to their people. Ironically, part of this idea seems to be from the fact that they vaguely know that the pyramid is indeed meant to hold something. So... In short, Cole has it. They kinda know, but not really. Basically, after a 10,000 year long game of telephone, the importance may remain, but the specifics do not.
I must not be expressing myself very well. I'm not trying to find out what the Shoanti know, I'm trying to find out what there is to know, for the GM, for story-building, for the integrity and advancement of the campaign. Sorshen, her involvement with the pyramid at Korvosa and the Shoanti's link to it is mentioned in multiple places including two different AP's, so I'm pretty certain there's something more going on than just 'whatever, you don't need to know'... I'm trying to find out if there are any details available in Golarion's history from other sources that I might be unaware of.
Cole Deschain wrote:
Because it's a relic of their former overlords, the beings who shaped them into what they are now.
Not because they're guarding the terrible secret beneath? Not because they have a sacred covenant to serve and protect what might one day emerge, or an equally sacred covenant to ensure no one ever wakes what resides within? I'm really looking for something that's a little more specific and a little more canon than 'cuz that's what they do'... especially considering that most Shoanti - as I understand it, at least - aren't even aware of that history.
Really appreciate the response - I had just started looking at Terror, but I didn't know much about it. I've never even heard of Night March, but I'll look into it. Thanks again!
Cole Deschain wrote:
I got that, but it does nothing to speak to why they considered the pyramid at Korvosa sacred and had to be driven out by Chelliax...
What is the historical connection between the Shoanti and the Runelord Sorshen, or the Runelords in general? I've read that the Shoanti considered the pyramid at Korvosa a sacred place and its strongly hinted in the Shattered Star AP that Sorshen lies beneath the pyramid, possibly in some sort of stasis... where can I find more information about the possible ties between them?
I'm running a Runelords/Shattered Star mash-up campaign with Seven Days to the Grave mixed in as well, and the party is making their way right now from the Lady's Light to Korvosa - one of the characters is a Shoanti witch who takes the history and beliefs of her people very seriously; I don't want to miss any opportunities for her character.
I'm running a Runelords/Shattered Star mash-up campaign and the PC's are on their way from the Lady's Light (south of Magnimar) to Korvosa - I also worked in Seven Days to the Grave as part of the overall campaign - and they will be passing through Whistledown. I haven't played, GM'ed or read the scenario but I was thinking of picking it up as a side quest. For those who have been through it, how do you think it would stand alone as part of a larger campaign?
My group is travelling overland from the Mush Fens (where the Lady's Light) was set towards Korvosa. There is a degree of urgency to their travel, but I'd like to make the trip more interesting... I'm looking for some set pieces or scenarios that could easily be converted to that end - any suggestions?
(P.S. the group has played through Feast of Ravenmoor in the past)
My group is travelling overland from the Mush Fens (where the Lady's Light) was set towards Korvosa. There is a degree of urgency to their travel, but I'd like to make the trip more interesting... I'm looking for some set pieces or scenarios that could easily be converted to that end - any suggestions?
(P.S. the group has played through Feast of Ravenmoor in the past)
I made them all a Human 1st level Fighter/1st level Cleric/1st level Rogue with appropriate feat selection. The Skinsaw Masks I redesigned them - those who wore them either received the Sneak Attack class feature (+1d6 damage) or had their sneak attack raised by +1d6. Non-evil characters who wore them also had to make a Will save every round or react as if under the effects of a Confusion spell from the whispers in their minds. The masks could only be removed on a roll of 'act normally'.
Ironbriar had a much bigger role in our game as well.
Don't know if this will help, but the way I used Shalelu was thus:
In the bowels of Thistletop, I had Bruthazmus flee the battle when the PC's got the upper hand and had Shalelu pursue him, playing a game of cat and mouse throughout the rest of the complex while the PC's faced Nualia. Eventually she rejoined them and told them that the fiend had fled the islet and had cut the bridge to prevent pursuit. When the group decided to return to Sandpoint with Nualia as their captive, Shalelu departed with the intentions of hunting down her long time nemesis. Later, I had Thistletop become occupied by some druids who helped the PC's clear it, intending to use it as a base from which to raise a new Druidic Circle.
Later, one of the Druids came to the group and told them that they had discovered Shalelu had been captured by Bruthazmus and a band of hobgoblins - the party set out to rescue them, finding her being held and tortured at the encampment of a hobgoblin tribe who were just about to hunker down for the winter. Along the way they also ran into a couple of ghouls hiding out in some ruins, a bit of foreshadowing for the next chapter. The side adventure also served as a nice way to introduce a new PC.
I'm a bit behind on our chronicle, but those events are detailed here.
Daniel Kre wrote:
So now I need some ideas how to implement these 2 guys in the upcoming story. Since I'm a GM-Noob, I kind of forgot about Orik the whole time and for Aldern... I just didn't rly know. So it would be nice to get some ideas. How would you reintroduce them?
I'm going to have Orik show back up in Turtleback Ferry as a sort of down on his luck mercenary who has taken to drinking. I'm going to have him be a 'Paradise' survivor, giving the PC's a little more access to the backstory. I'm also going to have him help out the PC's in the re-taking of Fort Rannick and, if he survives, eventually join up with the 'new' Black Arrows, having finally found a place for himself.
Aldern on the other hand can be as easy or as complicated as you want to make it. On the narrow side it could lead to a pretty fun side quest, hunting him down through the sewers of Magnimar, following clues and eventually facing off against him with nowhere to run this time... or you could just have him in the Angel Clock tower or have him having fled back to his townhouse.
Honestly though, it would seem to suit the character more to continue using the Misgivings as a safehouse and deciding to either build a (small) ghoul army of farmers and vagrants in order to raze Sandpoint to the ground or you could have him develop a new obsession (Lust) with someone the PC's are familiar with, like Shayliss. Lot of options there, depending on how much work you want to put in.
Aaron Gillespie wrote:
I don't know how much you need to add to it, though some tweaks can definitely raise the difficulty level. I originally re-built Nualia as a Warpriest and surmised that, as an intelligent enemy who knew her lair well she would take advantage of everything at her disposal. This is how the final fight went:
First off, Tsuto had escaped and Bruthazmus had retreated to the lower levels to warn Nualia, so at the lowest level, the PC's faced off with Tsuto, Bruthazmus and Lyrie while Nualia and her remaining Yeth Hound observed from down the corridor at the 'T' intersection... when the tide began to turn against the villains, she sent her Yeth Hound to join the fight - remember, he flies, so he wouldn't trigger the trap, and with the trap in place the others know that retreat is not an option. You'd be surprised how potent a timely area Fear effect can be.
Once they were all defeated, Nualia simply turned and walked down the hall, causing the PC's to charge after her - as luck would have it, it was Orik, the turncoat, who sprung the trap, otherwise it surely would have finished off one of the PC's. At any rate, as they navigate the trap, Nualia goes to the room with the Shadows and waits. She has pre-cast, among other buffs, Hide From Undead for just such an eventuality, and when the PC's pursue, she casts Darkness on herself (her weapon). Remember, she has Darksight. So, while the PC's are trying to battle Nualia in the darkness, the Shadows are attacking, practically invisible and dramatically weakening the group... and if it looks like that's not enough to finish the job, Nualia can always channel to heal the Shadows if she wishes. This was very nearly a TPK and easily could have been had I not 1) had a wand of magic missiles discovered with the Imp Elyrium (instead of her magic dagger) and 2) not had Orik agree to join them when they caught him trying to sneak out of the complex. I also added in an alternate victory condition, that a critical hit on Nualia once she had been reduced to 1/2 her hit points would sever the demon arm and take her out of the fight, putting her into a coma - after all, I had future plans for the renegade aasimar.
When you factor in all the ways the Throne Room can go sideways and the lingering threat of Malfeshnekor, Thisteltop is a very difficult dungeon for any appropriately leveled-group. I don't think you have to add too much to it for it to pose a legitimate threat to your party.
Cole Deschain wrote:
I'm running a campaign using the six books of Rise of the Runelords, three books of Shattered star and one book from Curse of the Crimson Throne. They all link almost seamlessly. I'd say that overall I've cut out maybe 20% of the total material and added in another 10% worth of new stuff. Epic campaign.
I've seriously begun thinking about doing a larger integration of Serpent's Skull and Skull n' Shackles with some additions from Plunder and Peril as well... I've also been considering incorporating the first two books of Second Darkness with different motivations for the PC's.
There's potential to use the first book of Legacy of Fire as a way for the PC's to come together before the events in Mummy's Mask, though there would need to be some tweaking of the challenges in MM Book 1 to reflect their experience level.
RotRL can be pretty tough, so you shouldn't have too tough a time adjusting encounters - honestly, if you max out boss hit points and keep an 'extra wave' of mooks in your back pocket you should be fine.
The group is going to need a reason 'beyond their control' to get involved in the troubles and actually pursue them, not just around town but all across Varisia. My initial thoughts are twifold - first off, the carnival could be the victims of the goblins, with many of their tents, carts, supplies, etc. set on fire and lost - it won't be until next season until they can 'move on' and that's only if they can get the coin together. The leader of the caravan can 'prompt' them to work with the Mayor and the Sheriff and provide them investigative services in return for the coin they need to get back on their feet, as well as to ingratiate them with the locals. Whether or not that's the real reason is of course up to you. Having a 'boss' they have to answer will go a long way towards getting them all on the same page.
Dwarves are particularly well-wuited to this AP. I like themed groups a great deal, more than those which might be technically 'balanced'. Sounds like you're going to have a lot of fun.
Seconding this request. Turtleback Ferry is definitely going to be the most significant part of my re-write for that volume. I'm planning on having the PC's reunite with a down-on-his-lick Orik among other things. Any discussion on ideas would be good.
Might be worthy of its own thread.
I ended up rebuilding that room so that the cells were actually more akin to prison cages rather than pits... I put a half-dozen zombies or so in some of them and had a pair of Sinspawn tormenting them with their glaives when the PC's arrived. It made for a dynamic encounter area because I ruled that anyone ending their turn adjacent to a cage (PC or Sinspawn) would be subjected to an attack by whatever zombie or zombies were inside of it. The room was redesigned to force the issue a little, especially against foes with reach weapons.
the Lorax wrote:
Actually I hadn't seen it - I've kind of been away from the boards lately, but I'll keep an eye open.
I originally set up a scenario where Aldern was infatuated with Shayliss and she was infatuated with a PC, so coquettish young thing that she was she used Alderns affections in a bid to make the PC jealous, not realizing she was playing a dangerous game. Meanwhile I had Tsuto's infatuation be with his half-sister Ameiko (Lannister style), and his return to Sandpoint intended to save the only person he ever felt loved him. It was images and thoughts of Ameiko that filled his diary, not Nualia.
When Aldern left town and the PC made it clear that it was Ameiko he was interested in, the scorned Shayliss continued to keep in touch with Foxglove through secret correspondence and eventually became smitten by the man who would become the beast. During the Skinsaw Murders notes were left scrawled on for the PC as Aldern boasted that 'she would be his forever'... in one of my more clever efforts (if I do say so myself) this was all deliberately set up to create the red herring that somehow Tsuto had returned from the dead and was seeking to reunite with his sister. With that thought, Ameiko joined the PC's on their trip to the farm, thinking to confront her brother after all - when they found the key to Foxglove Manor all the tumblers fell into place and they realized their mistake. They raced back to town only to find Shayliss gone.
The trip to the Misgivings became a rescue mission and by the time they found her, Shayliss was already in the grip of ghoul fever. Priests of Desna in Magnimar managed to cure the girl and traumatized as she was, they found a worthy acolyte in her when she returned to Sandpoint under Father Zantus' care.
Btw - appropriately enough, Aldern was carrying the Shard of Envy, just as Nualia had been carrying the Shard of Wrath.
I ran Rise once before and you can see how our raid went in a thread devoted to that subject below... but now that I'm running it a second time, this time as part of a larger mash-up which includes several of the Shattered Star volumes, I'm approaching it a completely different way. I'm really looking forward to it and I think my players are going to love it, so I figured I'd share my idea with you guys in case it inspired some of your own...
Warning - there are some spoilers for both Rise and Star here, though all of my own alterations likely make most of them unrecognizable.
First, a little set-up: at this point in the campaign the group has acquired four of the Shards and the forces of Karzoug have come to realize both the threat they present and the fact that they have in their possession several of the much sought-after Shards. The raid in this case isn't with the intent to grab some cornerstone, but rather to sack the town, razing it to the ground if necessary and to liberate the Shards for their master. As such it is a much, much bigger raid which includes many more giants and a sizable force of Ogres as well.
In response, circumstances are going to conspire to deny them aid from Magnimar, but its going to serve as an opportunity for a number of NPC's from earlier in the campaign to show up and 'lend a hand'. I'll likely be running this with three PC's at the time, and what I've done is set up a series of scenarios during the battle where they not only get to play their characters but also many of the NPC's they've enjoyed up to this point. Some of the fights will be challenging, some will be impossible and may well lead to the tragic - or heroic - deaths of the beloved townsfolk. Here is a sampling of what I intend:
Encounter One: Defense of the Main Gate
Encounter Two: Battle at the Bridges
Encounter Three: At the Cathedral
Encounter Four, part one: Not my Theater!
Encounter Four, part two: Looting the Library
Encounter Five: Patrolling the Streets
Encounter Six: Patrolling the Streets
Encounter Seven: To the Docks
Encounter Eight: After Them!
Of course this is just a brief overview (well, as brief as it could be) with plenty of details left sketchy, but that's the basic idea. I think its going to be a unique challenge and a lot of fun.
I thought the Shards were too generic, especially for the mash-up campaign I'm running, so I rebuilt them, making the more powerful as well as more dangerous. A few notes before the specifics:
Anyone carrying a Shard (in their hand, in a pouch, backpack, whatever) falls under its effects. Those effects will linger 24 hours or until the next 'extended rest' after the Shard has been relinquished or passed on. It will not become attuned to its new bearer until its effects have faded from the previous one.
Being under the effects of two Shards at once Sickens the bearer for as long as those effects last. Being under the effects of three Shards Nauseates the bearer for as long as those effects last. Being under the effects of four or more Shards renders the character unconscious.
After the group finds their third Shard, Sheila Heidmarch furnishes them with a magical chest to carry them in. It appears and functions as a normal chest unless its activated - upon activation it opens into an extra-dimensional space with a felt-lined tray designed to hold up to all seven pieces. When a Shard is placed into the chest, its current effects immediately end. Also, unknown to the PC's...
...Sheila can access the contents of the chest from its twin which she keeps with her in Magnimar as a safeguard against something unfortunate befalling the group.
The 'new and improved' Shards of the Shattered Star:
Shard of Wrath/Evocation:
Whenever the bearer takes damage or is the target of a hostile spell they enter a rage-like state, gaining +4 STR, +4 CON, -2 AC and the Pounce ability. They must focus their attacks on the individual who triggered the Rage and any who seek to bar their way. Once that foe has been defeated, or if the foe cannot be engaged, they continue to attack the nearest creature for as long as they are under the effects of the Rage. They may make a DC 20 Will save every round to end the Rage, and once it ends they are Fatigued as per am Barbarian's Rage.
Shard of Envy/Abjuration:
Whenever any single-target spell targets someone within 30' of the bearer, it targets the bearer instead, even if they would normally be out of range of the spell (including touch spells). Whenever any spell is cast that targets multiple individuals has a target within 30' of the bearer it affects the bearer as well, even if to do so would exceed the spell's number of targets or the bearer would be beyond the spell's range or area of effect. The bearer must be aware that the spell is being cast but does not need to be able to identify the spell. Saving throws, resistances and immunities apply as normal
Shard of Lust/Enchantment:
Whenever the bearer first encounters someone whom they could be sexually attracted to, they are immediately targeted by a Charm spell (Will DC 20) towards that individual. Whenever anyone who could be sexually attracted to the bearer first encounters them, they likewise fall under the effects of a Charm spell (Will DC 20). The duration of these effects are permanent, but each affected person gets an additional save each time they have sex with the other. Once the save is successful, they are immune to the Shard's effects toward that individual thereafter.
Shard of Gluttony/Necromancy:
The bearer may use Vampiric Touch (caster level = character level) and Death Knell (Will DC 20) as spell-like abilities at will. They gain vulnerability to positive energy, taking damage rather than being healed by it and like undead cannot benefit from Raise Dead or Reincarnate spells.
Shard of Pride/Illusion:
Whenever the bearer makes a successful attack roll or saving throw, he rolls twice thereafter when making an attack or save and takes the better of the two rolls. Whenever the bearer fails an attack roll or saving throw, he rolls twice thereafter when making an attack or save and takes the worse of the two rolls. He also cannot ever benefit from Flanking or Aid Another.
Shard of Sloth/Conjuration:
The bearer may teleport up to twice his base movement speed as a move action at will. They must save make a Will save (DC 20) each round or be Staggered.
Shard of Greed/Transmutation:
The bearer chooses one: +4 to any physical attribute, the ability to fly as per the spell Fly, the ability to breathe underwater as per the spell Water Breathing or the ability to grow or shrink per the spells Enlarge Person/Reduce Person. They must also choose one physical attribute to suffer a -4 penalty. They may choose to switch between any of these options as a full round action.
I ran it slightly differently (see my post above) and had it affect the entire party the moment someone touched the sarcophagus... played each 'terror' out privately using a scenario from the PC's character history, having them make Will saves every round and taking non-lethal damage each time they failed as the visions worsened. It was up to them whether or not to discuss what had happened to them with the others, but they were all Shaken for the remainder of the 'day'. Worked out pretty well.
gustavo iglesias wrote:
I almost had to push the psrty witch to touch the trap. It's too good to ignore it
I'm running a mash-up, using the Rise of the Runelords to tell the Shattered Star story (all six volumes of RotRL as well as #1, #5 and #6 of SS and Seven Days to the Grave from Curse of the Crimson Throne. I say this as a prelude because of how I used 'the trap'...
Nualia was defeated by severing her arm (critical hit) and fell into a coma... later in the story she came around and was set to be taken to Magnimar for a trial and sentencing. The PC's had a reason to rescue her so they themselves became temporary fugitives from justice and Sheila Heidmarch directed them to the Lady's Light to search for the third Shard - they had already found Rage in Nualia's possession and Envy in hands of the ghoulish Aldern Foxglove.
At any rate, Nualia is now one-armed and is no longer the War Priest I had originally built her as, being done with gods and their manipulations. She's been a bit of a nihilist since joining the group and bouncing back and forth between depression and bitterness over all that has happened - a pretty tragic character who is going to meet an even more tragic end in the bowels of the Lady's Light. Once the PC's have defeated Ashamalintu and are recovering at Maroux's cabin, I'm going to have Nualia 'reborn' emerge from the swamps, clad in nothing more than the diaphanous robes the clone of Sorshein was interred in. It will be quite the revelation, but Nualia will be reborn in more than body... she will have a new lease on life (literally) and I plan to rebuild her as a Magus, combining her former martial skill with the new whisperings of magic she hears echoing in her mind.
The fact that I've replaced the BBEG influencing Queen Illeosa in Korvosa with that of a still slumbering (but very close to awakening) Sorshien should make the next volume very, very interesting...
This is not strictly just a Rise of the Runelords campaign (its the six book sod RotRL, four others from other AP's and much of my own stuff all together telling one story), but there is a wealth of information on this site, including lots of great images to show your players, and more is being added every day. Use the drop-down menus under the subcategory headings to navigate through. I hope it provides something useful as we continue on, and if there are any questions about the site, our campaign or your own, please don't hesitate to drop me a line.
I love all of this. I'm doing a mash-up of RotRL, Shattered Star and CotCT (6 books, 3 books and 3 books respectively) and the group is going to be getting to Seven Days to the Grave soon, pursuing Xanesha from Magnimar after learning of her plan to spread Vorel's Phage from Ironbriar's captured journals... the main twist I'm having here is that its she, not the Queen who's responsible for the plague gutting Korvosa, harvesting greedy souls infected by tainted silver. I'm planning on using were-rats as a red herring for the spread of the disease, and a lot of your ideas would be able to fit seamlessly into the mood I'm trying to create. All in all, well done.
I want to introduce him earlier, sometime during Burnt Offering for a bigger impact. Any ideas when would be the best time in the book fo him to show up in Sandpoint (in case Tsuto doesn't survive the Glassworks encounter)? Should he arrive when Hemlock returns from Magnimar?
I'm running a Shattered Star-Rise of the Runelords mash-up and I wanted to introduce both Shiela Heidmarch and Justice Ironbriar sooner and in a way that wouldn't necessarily announce them as THE NEXT IMPORTANT NPC'S!!! So, this is what I did:
Brodert Quink had an associate in Magnimar named Torabor Gustavos whom was known as a collector of Thassilonian antiquities and an amateur scholar of the period. He contacted him regarding the potential purchase of the golden helmet found beneath Thistletop and Torabor came to Sandpoint to inspect it and ultimate buy it from the PC's as the centerpiece of his collection. It also reignited and old argument he and Brodert have been having about the role supposed 'Rune Giants' had in the collapse/overthrow of ancient Thassilon. At any rate, Torabor mentioned his new wife (which Brodert found 'preposterous') and insisted that the PC's join them in Magnimar for a dinner party where he intended to unveil the helmet and he hoped they could share the story of its recovery with his guests.
Two weeks later the invitation came and the PC's (and Brodert of course) made the trip to Magnimar's dinner party. Also attending were Canayven Hiedmarch, a fellow Usher and compatriot of Torabor's, his wife Sheila who had an active interest in ancient Thassilon, particularly Sihedron lore, Mors Cavanaugh a Stone Seer, Wyatt of Wartle a traveling minstrel who often stopped in Magnimar and of course, the surprise attendance of the stoic Justice Ironbriar. Lots of good NPC interaction took place, and the PC's ultimately earned an invitation to the Heidmarch's the following day where Sheila spoke with them at length and eventually offered them membership in the fledgling Pathfinder Lodge she had established in Varisia. That would serve to set up their search for the Sihedron fragments, one of which they had already unwittingly recovered (Nualia was in possession of the Shard of Wrath, given to her by Elyrium).
Of more immediate importance, one of the party members happened to witness what appeared to be a romantic exchange between Ironbriar and Torabor's young wife where he expressed his desire for her and she teasingly forestalled him for now... Seraphina Torabor was - you guessed it - Xanesha. She was using Torabor's connections to various Thassilonian expeditions, his position in the Council of Ushers and even his home as a personal base of operations, though it would be quite some time before the PC's discovered that.
Anyway, its worked out well thus far - I hope it inspires some ideas for your campaign.
If you're looking for more, this is the Wiki we're using for our campaign. It gets updated almost daily with stuff.
Have fun and good luck!
Pax Veritas wrote:
This entire post is filled with excellent advice, but I'd like to emphasize this point particularly. There are a great many instances where this has helped our game 'move along' in far more enjoyable fashion. A couple for instances:
They don't search every body for spare coins and keep track of every copper and I in turn presume that they've done so and that that coin goes towards things like meals, room and board, normal clothing, care for their horses, etc. They still search bodies for clues, of course, and they still find treasure but it tends to be in '100 gp' increments. Haggling over buying and selling mundane loot and whatnot often turns a story-driven campaign into an economy driven MMO.
There are times towards the end of sessions, especially when they've run a bit long, where the big bad boss is defeated, but there's still some 'clearing out' to do and the denouement to take care of... at those times I'll wrap things up and instead of making them go through the motions, I'll send out an email the next day or so telling the conclusion, what they discovered, the journey home, NPC reactions, etc. in narrative form - including setting up some of the mysteries or unresolved points for the next session. Its worked out really well because everyone has it fixed in their head where things 'left off' clean.
Just a few thoughts.
Mark Hoover wrote:
I had Hemlock ride to Magnimar to ask for additional aid and he came back disgusted with just half a dozen men-at-arms. The town decided to start fortifying their meager defenses, but there was genuine fear that any real progress would be made in the few weeks they had to prepare... and of course there was the unknown threat that was the ancient evil Nualia was trying to free beneath Thistletop.
If your PC's don't like the idea of battling the forces of evil when the threat looms large, they might be playing the wrong game. Having said that, after my PC's cleared Thistletop, I showed the Nualia's battle plans (which they found in her study):
Nualia, Lyrie and Orik would be at the gates along with Ripnugget mounted on Stickfoot and four goblin commandos mounted on goblin dogs, a goblin warchanter and 20 goblins.
Bruthazmus would lead an assault across the bridges which would include 8 goblin commandos mounted on goblin dogs ad 20 goblins.
Tsuto would lead a group of 20 goblins up out of the tunnels from beneath the Glassworks, joined by Elyrium with four Sinspawn.
Bruthazmus' group was takes with assaulting the gate from inside, timed with Stickfoot climbing over the wall after Lyrie had softened up the defenders with a Stone Call or two. She would coordinate the assault with Whispering Wind and then remain at Nualia's side using her wand. Orik would simply serve as Nualia's bodyguard.They would move to the new Cathedral to desecrate it and then the goblins would be let loose to burn and pillage as Nualia and her group progressed to the Manor homes looking for wealth and potential sacrifices.
All of that against the handful of class-leveled NPC's in the town and the PC's themselves without the benefit of the wealth or experience to be gained in Thistletop. Suffice to say, they were glad they had interceded as an when they did.
Good afternoon. I'm going to try running Rise of the Runelords for a small gaming group. I'm interested in any tips, caveats, etc., that you can share.
One great red herring I used to lead in from Burnt Offerings to Skinsaw Murders:
I had Tsuto infatuated with his sister Ameiko instead of Nualia, that infatuation leading to his sneaking into the Glassworks and contacting her - his murder of their father 'freed them' to be together Lannister-style, which of course she wanted no part of. The PC's rescued her and Tsuto escaped only to be killed in the showdown with Nualia at Thistletop.
I had Shayliss do her thing with one of the PC's, but also be seen to flirt with Aldern who inquired after her during the Boar Hunt. He was always magnanimous but still in competition with the PC for her affections. Shayliss' parents prefer the match with an established aristocrat and prevented her and the PC from continuing the affair. After a break, unbeknownst to most, Shayliss continued receiving secret messages from Aldern though he remained hidden in his new form.
Ameiko eventually got involved with the PC that Shayliss had made her move on, being played as a much cooler 'guys girl' while Shayliss played the sorority-girl type.
When the Skinsaw murders began, a message was left for the PC at the Rusty Dragon, insinuating that 'she was his and would be so forever'... it was Aldern (his Lust obsession towards Shayliss and his Envy towards the PC), but the group immediately assumed that it was somehow an undead version of Tsuto referring to Ameiko (she even suggests it if the PC's don't)... it wasn't until the Hambley farm that they found the link to Foxglove Manor that it all clicked, and they rushed back to town, only to find Shayliss missing. The trip to the Misgivings became a rescue mission as much as anything and Iesha's ire against Aldern was as much to prevent him from doing to another girl what he did to her. All in all it really worked out well.
There were plenty of other changes I made, tweaks to fit the larger campaign I'm running, but that was one of my favorites in the early going.