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Story Archer's page

627 posts. Alias of Wiggz.


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magnuskn wrote:
Told y'all.

My opinion from the start was that there would be a strong element of unpredictability in power levels due to so many rules and options being added, some using completely new mechanics. We were told that this was necessary to 'tell the story they wanted to tell'. Hogwash.

We dispensed with the Mythic rules, in part because I didn't want to have to deal with the over-complications that would inevitably ensue, in part because my players wanted to finally get to use their capstone ability, and in part because there seemed like genuine interest in how playable the AP would be without them.

Party of 4, 20 point buys and the characters leveled at the predetermined times as well as gaining levels at what would have been Mythic Tiers 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 10. Meaning characters would level faster and would top out at 26th level, though no character was allowed to have more than 20 levels in a particular class. To keep the power curve more even at higher levels, I added a single 'epic' rule:

At each level beyond 20th, you get to reroll a single d20 X/day with a bonus of +X where X equals your level above 20. In other words, once a day with a +1 bonus at 21st, twice a day with a +2 bonus at 22nd and so on.

This far its worked out superbly, the only problem having been the work necessary to disassociate mythic threats with some of their mythic aspects. The players feel suitably epic, are well challenged and the story is being told perfectly well. Moreover, the power curve if infinitely easier to predict which makes life much easier for me as the GM.

Wrath of the Righteous = tremendous story and epic campaign.

Mythic Rules = utterly unnecessary complication which may well have ruined the AP for many players as we're seeing in these forums.

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Let's define 'too common'.

LGBT represents approximately 3.8% of the population. I think its safe to say that among gamers that number is probably a little higher.

In the last two AP's, the last seven books thus far, we've had three LGBT couples front and center, meaning that they and their relationships were important enough to warrant detailed descriptions among the few NPC full page spreads in the back. 3 in 7 books, compared to how many hetero couples getting the same treatment in the same time frame? Any?

I can see the why people are saying that its starting to become a little too much, that its pouring over from simple inclusion into a pretty strong agenda push. As a woman, I personally don't see anything wrong with the occasional scantily clad girl or 'traditional' relationship... there are straight guys in the gaming community as well, no? I would hate to think that they - the vast majority of the gaming population - are welcome at Paizo's table only if they 'toe the progressive line'.

Very often we portray discrimination not as something active or even deliberate, but simply something that occurs automatically due to privilege, as the simple, inevitable result of a group being in the minority and therefor excluded from the larger group through poor representation. Well, politically, socially and now even in gaming circles, it seems like its becoming the default position that if you're a straight, white, male then you have something to prove when you sit down at the table... something women, blacks, gays or whomever else doesn't have to because they've been grandfathered in by sole virtue of being 'in the minority'. There is absolutely nothing inherently wrong with being in the racial, sexual or gender majority, and I'd hate to think we're getting to the point where we presume there is, because once we reach that point, we're doing EXACTLY the same thing we have have felt victimized by in the past.

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I didn't care for most of the NPC's as written (we get it Paizo - you're progressive) so I made some pretty extensive changes that actually streamlined the story a bit and didn't feel quite so 'forced'. In our game Anevia and Irabeth are a lesbian couple - and great NPC's both. Horgus is Anevia's wealthy father who resents Anevia's marriage due in large part to his not having an heir - they are estranged as a result and his pigheadedness gets him killed early on in a rather horrific way (vermlack, anyone?). Aravashnial stayed pretty much as written.

Aron, Sosiel and the little Halfling bard are all out. I replaced them with a Mongrelman Archeologist (Lann) who serves as a liaison with his people and a human Ranger who serves as the chief spy/scout - Anevia serves as his second and it's he with the secret shadow blood addiction which he eventually fell victim to and disappeared, returning later as a hunter and stalker of the PCs, striking when they were most vulnerable.

It all worked out really well without any bigotry or over-the-top agendas in sight.

Dotting. We have a permanent Mongrelman NPC and I had similar difficulties trying to figure out how to build him. Too much conflicting info out there.

Caius wrote:
If you're wanting to stick to canon it'd be very difficult. They weren't erected until the second crusade and Vorlesh was the one who opened the worldwound. She'd be a big deal well before the wardstone was around. To keep that I'd probably have an interlude where Iomedae (or another patron for the party) lets them glimpse back to the time before Sarkoris was torn asunder to see all that was lost. Not sure exactly how it was, but a bit of the glory days, back when they thought Aroden would return to lead humanity into the golden age and then everything goes wrong.

That's kind of what I'm thinking... sort of a bit of time-jumping where they get to 'participate' even though they're just perceiving it, immersing them in the drama of the most important and historical moments. I'm not real sure how I'm going to do it but I think the idea has a lot of merit as a finale for book 1.

Maybe just encounters with Vorlesh, maybe a witness to history from the beginning in Sarkoris... I don't know if I want a series of battles they flash from, one to the other culminating with a battle against Areelu before snapping back to the present... or if I want to actually put together a mini-adventure in Kenebres at some key moment in history.

Really what I'm aiming for is a bit of time spent in the 'memory' of Kenebres as it was and a previous conflict with Areelu that can bounce them back to the here and now, as if the reverberations of that experience echoes back through time.

Am I over-reaching?

It really bothered me that the PC's didn't get more time to explore Kenebres and some of the history and detail available on the city - in part because there is such a rich tapestry to draw from and in part because the more they come to love the city, the more appreciation they'll have for it and by extension the devastation they face at its fall. I also want the PC's to have a greater investment of hatred in Areelu beyond her simply being the bogey man that shows up at the end of Book 1 and then later as the next Boss they have to face.

Another concern is that the way I have our game set up, we're not using Mythic rules, but the party does see a two level jump upon the destruction of the wardstone fragment and the aftermath that comes with it... I'd like something to better satisfy that surge in power beyond a boom and a rush. So, what I've come up with is a bit of time travel... sort of. When the PC's strike the Wardstone with the rod of cancellation, one of the things that happens is that they begin to get visions of the Wardstone and the history surrounding it from the day it was created up until that moment - it occurs to me why not make them part of that history? I'm thinking of a brief adventure that occurs, set in Kenebres past involving the wardstone and Areelu before the height of her power, perhaps even before anyone knew the villain she would one day become... I'm thinking I write is as a mini-quest where the PC's realize when they are and make an effort to forestall disaster, but since they are merely witnessing a part of history firsthand, they can't. The adventure would bring them through various parts of Kenebres during more peaceful days, perhaps to uncover a cultist plot, and would culminate in their confronting Areelu, perhaps foiling an even greater plan in a dramatic moment where they flash back to themselves in the wardstone chamber the very instant the backlash tears Areelu apart.

At any rate, that's the rough idea, but I'm going to need to learn more about Kenebres and Areelu's history before WotR takes place. I've got access to the Inner Sea Guide and the Worldwound campaign setting - is there anywhere else I should look, online or in print, to give me the information I need to put this together?

grandpoobah wrote:
The Paladin and Witch plan on single classing, but the "capstone" abilities for those are boring. The Paladin capstone is actually kind of bad, as the smite forces a banish (and ends the smite), but I'm letting that be an "if you want to" attempt.

Don't underestimate the 'maxing out' of the Lay on Hands ability as part of the capstone. It can be a really big deal.

grandpoobah wrote:

My actual real party is:

The Heroes:
• Prudence Valoura Pureheart : Aasimar (f) priest of Torag. Touched by Divinity
• Zora Lightblade Human (f) archer, follower of Iomedae. Child of the Crusades
• Kurien Fenbourne : Half orc (m) Witch (follower of Shelyn). Riftwarden Orphan
• Kel : Human (f) Paladin of Sarenrae. Exposed to Awfulness

We did our first session this weekend, and they finished Chapter 1 Part 1&2 and are level 3 already.

The Paladin and Witch plan on single classing, but the "capstone" abilities for those are boring. The Paladin capstone is actually kind of bad, as the smite forces a banish (and ends the smite), but I'm letting that be an "if you want to" attempt.

The Cleric plans on being a Holy Vindicator, and the Monk plans on dipping into Rogue for Trapfinding. I don't think they'll miss out on capstone powers, but will definitely enjoy maxing out a prestige class and hitting the highest tier of spells.

We always pre-plan our character builds to give players something to work towards, though nothing is ever written in stone. With the understanding that they'll be reaching 26th level, the group is going to end up looking like this:

Khoresh Cimmeron, 20th level Paladin (Oath of Vengeance, Oath Against Fiends) / 6th level Oracle (Lame, Life): Paladin of Iomedae, offspring of a captive Aasimar woman and an Incubus intent on breeding his own cult. Slew his 'minders' and escaped, Growing up as an outcast hiding from the forces of good and evil alike. Started the campaign dedicated to his personal vendetta (that of finding his father and ridding the world of his and all other demonic presence) but stoic and mistrustful of others, needing to learn that the importance of the broader cause superseded that of his own.

Gregoravon al'Terendelev, 14th level Sorcerer (Draconic) / 8th level Dragon Disciple / 4th level Paladin (Sacred Shield) : one of several of Terendelev's progeny gathered together to serve as his personal attendants in Kenebres - there's a great backstory there involving a secret Augury which foretold one of his descendants would be the one to close the Worldwound if it could be done at all, and even that would not come to pass until after his (Terendelev's) death. It plays a key role in the dragon's sacrifice in the first book and ties the PC to Kenebres and the Crusade.

Lliam & Llira Valar, 20th level Bard (Dervish of Dawn) / 2nd level Fighter (Lore Warden) / 4th level Paladin (Holy Tactician): Twins from half a world away led to Kenebres by strange shared dreams. They learned in the last book (3) that they are in fact offspring of Sarenrae herself, her dual nature reflected in Lliam's swiftness to judgement and Llira's desire to see all who can be redeemed. The two balance one another - Lliam was slow to trust the Tiefling Khoresh while Llira was his greatest champion, and she is now uncertain how she feels about the growing closeness between he and the redeemed succubus in whom he finds a kindred spirit. The two make tremendous use of teamwork feats in their fighting styles.

The group is aided by an NPC, Lann the Mongrelman whom has been leveling as an Archeologist but at the regular rate since joining them in the first book and serving as liaison for the rest of his people. He's been with them off and on for about 2/3 the campaign so far. The redeemed succubus Arueshalae is a recent addition to the group as well.

All are effective in melee, all can cast to one degree or other, and all are capable of combat healing if needed. They've done well so far but I have real concerns coming up in books 5 and especially 6 - from the beginning I viewed Mythic as gross complication of the rules utterly unnecessary to tell this otherwise fantastic story, and now it looks like I'm going to have to do a fair bit of re-work to disentangle the major threats they will face from the Mythic ruleset. We'll see.

Lochar wrote:
And expect a new mythic enemy later on, as Possession Mastery allows Eustoyriax access to your character's mythic abilities as well.

Very nice.

IcedMik wrote:

So, I'm moving away next month, and going to be starting Skull & Shackles with some old friends of mine. This gives me a lot of time to prepare. I'm currently borrowing one of my players' S&S books, and reading through all of them when I've got the time, as well as pouring through each chapter's official thread.

Seeing as I've got so much time to prepare, I wanted to ask you guys if there's anything you wish you'd have done in your games. If there's anything I need to foreshadow, or any rule systems that need tweaking (I'm reading that the rum rations can kill off characters, if used RAW). Also, I'm going to look through the forums for suggestions of good supplements and tools, such as NPC spreadsheets, so if you guys know of any off hand that might have fallen off the first couple pages, let me know.

I'm sure a lot of the foreshadowing plot lines will become more obvious when I've finished reading through the books, but I wanted to ask beforehand so I can keep an eye out for specific things.

Thanks in advance!

Best advice I can give:

1) Absolutely bone up on underwater combat rules.

2) Consider having Arron Ivey be alive rather than... what he is.

3) Consider flipping some of the major events in book 6 with book 5... i.e. take out Bonefist before rallying the pirates against the Chelliax fleet.

We absolutely loved this AP and I'd be happy to work with you on your prep - drop me a line any time. :)

I'm going to be watching this thread closely. We're running through the AP right now and have just finished book 4 - its moving a little faster than our previous APs' but its been really great thus far. We, also, are running the campaign without mythic rules for a number of reasons. Instead, we are using some very basic home-brew epic rules:

1) The PC's level at the pre-determined points and also level at what would be Mythic tiers 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 which means that at the AP's conclusion they will be 26th level. No more than 20 levels in any particular class can be taken, but it provides an actual opportunity to use one's capstone ability for once. The faster BAB progression, earlier access to higher level spells and accelerated feat accrual go a very long way towards keeping the characters at the appropriate power level and just as importably, in a much more predictable manner.

2) Because power curve is likely to drop off later in the game (think 20th level Wizard becomes a 20th level Wizard/1st level Fighter) and at a time when it needs to least, we added in this hombrew 'Epic' rule: At each level after the 20th, the character gains the ability to reroll any attack, combat maneuver, save, critical confirmation, skill check or ability check X times per day with a bonus of +X on the roll where X equals the number of levels past 20 they've reached. In other words, at 21st level a character can make 1 re-roll a day with a +1 bonus, at 22nd level a character can make 2 re-rolls a day with a +2 bonus and so on.

I'm planning on beginning a campaign journal soon, written in a narrative form from my notes, but I'm going to include GM comments and this topic in particular will be addressed often.

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I appreciate the responses and I'm glad there seems to be a consensus - I'm trying to remain true to the deity canon because they play such a large role in the AP, and the impression I got of Iomedae was one of rigidity, a goddess who was far less concerned about redemption than she was about duty. I was worried the idea of a demonic outsider (no matter how dedicated) would seem inappropriate.

The general agreement here makes me a lot more comfortable moving forward with my plans. I think granting Scion of Humanity is a good idea and would represent his 'transformation' into divine herald well.

I'm running this for my group and they're just finishing up book 4 right now and I'm in a little bit of a quandary about what to do in book 5. Three of our four characters already have strong tie-ins with the powers that be in the story - a Dragon Disciple that's offspring of Terendelev (REALLY looking forward to that scene in book 6), Aasimar twin Dervishes who are children of Sarenrae (as revealed in book 3) - and I've been cooking up something special for our fourth. He's a Paladin (Oath of Vengeance, Oath Against Fiends) who is an utterly devout follower of Iomedae and is even similar to her in personality and outlook near as I can tell and I can't imagine a more ideal scenario for him than to get the opportunity to serve as her herald...

...but the problem is, he's a Tiefling. He was born of a captive Aasimar woman by a particularly powerful Incubus Sorcerer who was literally breeding his own private cult/army in a region of the Worldwound. As a youth he managed to slay his overseers and disrupt a ritual before escaping into the wilderness where he made his own way, dodging both good and evil forces until finally a Cleric of Desna found him. Without getting too much more into his background, suffice to say that he eventually turned his destructive impulses into a one-man crusade against the demonic menace that infested both his land and his body.

Its really worked out well to this point, in book three he both found a kindred soul in Arueshalae and defeated a half-brother in Marhevok. Becoming a herald of Iomedae would be the icing on the cake as far as this character's story goes... but from what I know of the Inheritor it seems incredibly unlikely that she would accept a Tiefling as a herald, so I wanted to get some thoughts from board members, particularly in the hopes of finding a perspective I can offer better than 'she's willing to overlook it'.

Also, I'd be interested in hearing any thoughts on what it means to become Iomedae's Herald mechanically speaking, since so little information was provided on the topic. How does allowing him to cast Greater Angelic Aspect 1/day as a spell-like ability? Also, since the PC is technically both Aasimar and to a much greater degree Tiefling, I was thinking about having Iomedae grant him the Aasimar racial trait 'Scion of Humanity', effectively cleansing him of his demonic heritage as reward for his devotion... what do you think?

FanaticRat wrote:

Maybe I should just run a homebrew campaign.

The main reason why I love AP's is that they provide the framework for an entire campaign which allows me to spend my time fleshing it out, customizing it for my players and our play style. The AP's exist to be altered and changed as you best see fit. Without them I'd spend all my time working on the big picture and wouldn't have time to make all of those great changes.

I've run two full AP's and I'm running a third right now. I've also played through one and the first book or two of two more since they first started coming out. Not one of them hasn't undergone all kinds of changes.

Follow the advice of others and make sure you read ahead so that you know none of your changes are being made to crucial elements of the story. Come to the boards to ask opinions on specific changes from those whom have played through the AP... but feel free to change away.

Latrecis wrote:

I think the hint you're looking for is in Part 3 but not in the Cathedral of Wrath section but the Glassworks section, specifically Tsuto's journal (handout 1-2.)

In detail: the journal mentions "few Thistletop goblins perished" in the raid, implying Thistletop goblins were more important than other goblins and also mentions Ripnugget having an opinion on the next attack. If the players have encountered Shalelu in the "Grim News from Mosswood" encounter from Part 2 (AE), they should recognize Ripnugget as the name of the Thistletop leader.

And if push comes to shove, Shalelu can always show back up saying that she tracked the goblin raiders back to Thistletop where there seems to be a large number massing under very organized leadership... she can then accompany them to Thistletop after Hemlock/the governor asks them to investigate if you like.

ThunderMan wrote:
I would like to point out I never said what condition they would be in when rescued. On the fair side though. That's pretty demented. >_<

Just throwing this out there - it can be a little cheesy if not done right (and might be anyway), and its a well you can't really go to more than once, but in the past when a group has been hell-bent on a course of action that could only lead to a TPK, and a TPK would likely mean the end of the campaign, I've had them do it and then, after the inevitable wipe, had one of them awaken as if it had been a dream... perhaps one God-sent in an effort to forestall such foolishness.

As I said, might seem clichéd, but better a cliché than the end of an entire campaign everyone is enjoying.

ThunderMan wrote:
My players have decided that they wanted to go after Harrigan in tempest rising. They managed to find the location of harrigans island, it's a party of three level 7s. I think it's going to be a tpk, and I'm thinking I should just let it be. They wanted a challenge above their pay grade, and just lost their magical support. I don't see this ending well for them but they want to do it against recommendation. Any thoughts as to how to fix this outside of a total party kill?

I can offer some advice on how to forestall the group, how to keep the situation from turning into a TPK, but I'd need more information - have they already begun the attack? Are they aboard ship or on foot on Harrigan's Island? You say that they 'just lost their magical support', which makes it sound like they're in the thick of things already...

We actually had a situation where the PC's were captured by a rival pirate captain and imprisoned (not Harrigan, but were to be delivered to Harrigan) and were eventually rescued by members of their crew and who managed to sneak into where they were being held - I thought it better for them to lose most of their gear than to lose their lives and have the entire campaign de-rail. Members of their crew petitioned Tessa Fairwind for aid and Pegsworthy lent a hand as well, further bolstering those alliances for later in the campaign.

It actually led to a funny line that was one of our favorites from the AP - Mardus Siggs, the boy from the Rock, had been taken as a sort of hostage by our captain and was serving as a cabin boy aboardship where he had shown a real flair for piracy. He had an infatuation with the group's Rogue, a vicious woman known for her coarse nature and unpredictability - she of course couldn't take the teen-aged boy seriously and regularly made him the butt of her jokes. Well, Siggs was the one who led the rescue party to free his captain and her officers, and on the way out our Barbarian First Mate leaned in grinning and told her:

"You know, you're going to have to throw a leg over him after this..."

to which she replied grudgingly

"Yeah, I know."

Definitely tons and tons of coins - and in truth probably a lot of smaller stuff considering these were local townspeople and not nobles or lords. Ruined paintings and silk drapes, shattered works of art, gilt woodwork and so-on that would have decorated the place. Probably a safe or vault somewhere with the good stuff (coin-wise). As for jewelry and whatnot, I'm sure there's some, but most of it cheap or fake (again, simple townsfolk) and no magical items to speak of.

All in all, I can't imagine there being more than a few thousand in gold down there at most and monetarily wouldn't be worth their while... however, from an adventure standpoint, exploring a sunken wreck in the black depths of a nearly bottomless lake while a literal sea monster is lurking about - all I can say is good times.

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S'mon wrote:
Thanks Story Archer, more good stuff to think about. This reminds me that when running this AP I do need to be sure to make Harrigan's officers nasty enough that the PCs would want to mutiny, given the chance, although initially it's really only Mr Plug that needs to be totally bad. Some of the stuff in Book 1 such as the deadly rum ration seemed silly, and I wasn't planning to use it; likewise probably toning down the initial harsh treatment of the new crew as it didn't make a lot of sense to me (why are pirates pressganging would-be pirates anyway? Why not just sign them on? Maybe Harrigan has acquired a bad reputation as he keeps losing his crews?) But Plug then turning into a little Hitler when given his own ship - that seemed like the kind of thing that can happen.

I didn't use the Rum Ration at all. I also didn't use the Bloody Hour, rather instead having someone lashed the moment of the infraction unless there was a major issue in which case the crew might be assembled after the accused spent the rest of the day in the hot box.

I highly recommend that you do what you can to have the group mutiny before encountering Bonewrack Isle, have the storm come up after they'd mutiny and have them struggle with the storm undermanned before running aground - it makes more sense, especially since you have Sandara Quinn abducted (after all, she can Create Water at will).

Another big recommendation, one I've discussed at length in other posts, is that you have Arron Ivey be alive and at his wit's end. In our campaign he was able to fill the PC's in on the story of the Infernus, direct them to its wreck where potions of water-breathing could be acquired (enough for the whole party) and tell them of the Grindylows cave, intimating that they had kidnapped several members of his crew (much better lead-in than a chance observation through the looking glass). He became a part of the crew and eventually became our ship's carpenter (the role I gave him aboard the Infernus). Most of the 'advice' Fishguts is supposed to give I had come from him or Sandara.

Finally, I omitted the ghoul fever aspect of the botfly swarms, and if your party has no means of dealing with swarms, I recommend you omit them completely.

Just a few thoughts.

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S'mon wrote:
(b) What have other GMs done to fill in the blanks?

We have a pretty mature group and we often deal with some pretty mature themes in our games (as a side note it always amuses me how Paizo tip-toes around some mature themes and embraces others with gusto). Skull n Shackles provided some unique opportunities and we took advantage of them.

It seems important for the PC's to decide ahead of time 1) who they feel about slavery and 2) exactly what they plan to do with the captured crew of defeated ships.

In our game we ran Scourge as a lecher, one whom had already been rebuffed by Sandara and let it end there due to her being a 'favored of Besmara' and his typically pirate superstitious nature. However, one of our PC's was a bewitchingly attractive and exotic Tian woman (Seasinger Bard) whom he arranged to get a 'cushy' job in the galley. He then pursued her, cornered her on two occasions and finally, frustrated, arranged a lookout while he raped her. It was an intense scene - one we didn't play through the act of, naturally - and involved a fairly new female player to the group. She and I discussed it at length ahead of time in private and she was okay with it... more than okay, she used it as a catalyst for her character to go from quiet and reserved to self-determining and empowering. The other PC's were aghast and rallied around her - the females aboard (her, Rosie, Sandara and especially our female rogue who was simply vicious) conspired and eventually succeeded in murdering Scourge and dumping his body over the side during a distraction aboard ship.

Eventually that same player became the group's captain where she brooked no slavery and no mistreatment of women, became famous in the Shackles as 'The Maiden' and legends grew about her beauty as well as the rumor that no man would have her unless he could outsail her. Their ship was named 'The Maiden's Promise' (renamed from The Man's Promise) after the promise that crew who surrendered their captains would see no harm come to them. She inspired many a mutiny and won many a crew member due to that promise. She also became a close ally and a clandestine lover of Tessa Fairwind and eventually put the Hurricane Crown on her head.

We had other issues and moments as well, but that was the most significant of them, and I can't do justice to the player that individual became for us. The other books definitely create opportunities for mature themes, but they do not directly present them as an explicit part of the campaign. As always, the AP's serve as outstanding frameworks from which you can evolve your campaign in the direction and theme you best see fit.

jimbob5555 wrote:

Hey all,

I want to run Skulls and Shackles much like a sandbox game, as it does allow with its vast amount of information, story, creatures and lore.

The main way i've kept them from going deeper into the Shackles is by telling them that many powerful captains are in the Shackles. If they lack the title of Free Captain then they will get quickly hunted down.

Now they are about to enter Tempest Rising which gives them the opportunity to become Free Captains. While I could hurry them down the path I would like them to go and enjoy the Shackles a bit more. What i'm worried about though is that they may conflict with the future books in the series or other encounters that may happen. With islands like "Cannibal Island" and "Raptor Island" it's hard to resist the urge to crack open the Isles of the Shackles books and run some stories there.

Do you guys have any tips for running the game much more as a sandbox and tips on how the PC's should travel?

We did something similar - helped the rebels on Bag Island overthrow their corrupt Halfling ruler (a cousin of Rosie's thrice-removed), aided the Master of Gales who was being manipulated by the Cult of the Eye into ending the ever-present hurricane and had Sandara go on a quest to regain Besmara's favor...

My favorite thing about AP's is that they do so much work for you, freeing you up to add and enhance the story as you like. If I had to write the campaign from scratch, so much that we do would never have made it in.

MC Templar wrote:
It amused me to watch how much fun they had with this, but I am now terrified about what will happen when they encounter Black Magga, since this group self identifies as big-game monster hunters, that fight might be a tragedy waiting to happen.

If it helps, Black Magga is utterly dispensible in the course of the campaign, as discussed in this thread, and there are certainly ways to modify the encounter so that they never get the chance to do more than cross paths... the danger in my opinion becomes their deciding to track her down and going off on a tangent that could potentially derail the campaign. Its a reasonable assumption to make as a player that if you encounter a significant threat - not just to your party but to an entire town - that you are expected to find a way to deal with it.

Of course, you could always reduce her power levels to something manageable and let them do battle instead. Might be fun for all involved, and the PC's have no way of knowing how tough the encounter 'should have been'.

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You could always let them kill him.

He has a Sorcerous lover/shipmate who has access to the Teleport spell to make off with his body and the Chellish empire have invested enough in him to make resurrecting him worthwhile - maybe even bring him back with a Fiendish template. Alternately you could have that Sorcerer or another NPC take up his mantle and his role in the campaign with a REAL reason to come after the party.

It might be tricky to manage, but how great a moment would it be for your PC's to discover a villain long-thought dead has been behind the scenes pulling at strings with revenge in his black heart?

You haven't mentioned it, but I would seriously like to recommend switching the events that take place in books 5 and 6. Its what we did and that was probably the best decision I made apart from having Aron Ivey be found alive.

Darksmokepuncher wrote:

Greetings fellow Pathfinders!

I am about to run my homegroup through Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition, and I wondered how difficult/advisable it is to run it for 6 rather than 4 players.

I hesitate only because I ran 6 players for a 2+ year Kingmaker campaign and I had to be a fair amount of work to adjust challenge ratings and encounters because of it. Other factors were the presence of a gunslinger who hit way too easily and the fact that many fights we agains one BBEG.

Will I run into these issues if I wanted to run 6? Any advice to make the work load a bit less?

Increase mooks by 50% and max the boss' hit points. That tends to be the simplest way to handle +2 players.

I'll often add additional mooks in waves so that I can keep em coming if the party is having too easy a time of it or hold them back if some bad roles put them at a sudden disadvantage. The important thing is that it be appropriately challenging for the group, not that it equal some predetermined formula.

This may sound simplistic but let them go to Magnimar and if you get even a hint that they plan to visit the Misgivings - which is not technically in the city - have them receive a note/messenger telling them that they are urgently needed back in Sandpoibt (due to the murders)... maybe have them encounter the farm on the way. That might get their heads turned around a bit and their focus away from Aldern...

TomParker wrote:

This is kind of a dumb question but I'm relatively new to Pathfinder and returning after a looooong hiatus from GMing.

For the Knowledge (local) skill, how local is local for most of you? Is it knowledge related to Varisia? Or local to Magnimar or Sandpoint? Would a PC with a Magnimar back story get a shot at local checks in Sandpoint, perhaps with a higher difficulty?

Very often 'local' knowledge would seem to be timely knowledge, moreso than other Knowledge skills its based on what's happening right now or has happened recently... I'd make the difficulty of information increase the further out one goes - for instance, if you were in Sandpoint and made a Knowledge: Local check, it would be higher if the information you were seeking were about someone or something originating in Mangimar. In other words, it'd be easier to get some background history on Titus Scarnetti in Sandpoint than it would be to get background history on Justice Ironbriar in Sandpoint... and vice versa in Mangimar.

The Block Knight wrote:

Just thought I'd note that some of the Runelords are already Mythic.

As it currently stands, according to James Jacobs, both Sorshen (Lust) and Xanderghul (Pride) already have 10 Mythic Tiers and sit in the power range of CR 26 to 28. Alaznist is closer to Karzoug in power, sitting on only a couple of Mythic Tiers around CR 23.

Just curious - where can I find this information, and did he give any reasoning as to why some RL's would be Mythic and some not?

Haladir wrote:
It depends on your players. I can certainly see running Shards of Sin instead of Burnt Offerings as Book 1 of a revised Runelords game, and basing the rest of RotRL in Magnimar. It's kind of a pity, because Burnt Offerings is one of the best-written modules I've ever read or run!

Oh I would never advocate skipping out on Burnt Offerings as I agree with you about the quality of the adventure... it just seemed to me that it would take very little re-writing to fit Shards of Sin in as a series of encounters to expose PC's to Mangimar in the fashion the OP wished. Again, there's even the Runelords tie-in which would serve as superb foreshadowing for the PC's.

I've often thought about trying to tie these two in so that they could be played concurrently as a sort of super adventure topping out at 20.

William Sinclair wrote:
All of my players cry about being under equipped. If there was one table I could remove from Core, it'd be the wealth by level table. Drives me nuts! They handle whoop*ss on a regular basis, and still say that they're under powered. Your group almost makes mine sound like the Legion of Doom!

Yeah, I make sure they have what they need - and they get some pretty great stuff, most of it customized and homebrew - but as long as they're handling the challenges being thrown at them I could care less about the WBL table.

NobodysHome wrote:
William Sinclair wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:

... My PCs are insanely good-aligned (led by a paladin and there hasn't been an instance yet of one of them bristling under her requirements for their behavior), and so had all of the NPCs hide in the theater and cathedral while the PCs dealt with the fight.

God, I WISH my group was like that. I had an NPC murdered in the first session during a bar fight. I had another ostracized almost immediately because he tried to write into his background that the mayor was his Aunt and she'd do ANYTHING for him (read: Gimmie lots of money!). I had two PCs cause the Savory Sunderies to be burned to the ground and one of the daughter to die in the fire. I have one PC who grew up in the town threaten to kill Titus Scarnetti because he wouldn't reward them for recovering his stuff from the Stone Giant raid.

Needless to say, it's been a crazy ride so far, but the party continues to help.... for now. I just wish they could get it through their thick skulls that NPC doesn't mean lickspittle and a** kisser!

Be careful what you wish for! I don't know whether you're one of the anonymous lurkers on my insanely-massive campaign thread, but my group tends to get loot and immediately ask, "Now, who does this belong to?" and try to return it.

They've spent thousands (if not tens of thousands) on gifts for NPCs (my favorite example being 6600 on dresses for Ameiko, Shalelu, and an NPC halfling I introduced as a romantic interest for the gnome), returned huge amounts of treasure because it was the "right thing to do", and so I've had to adjust a bit for "community goodwill" to make sure they weren't hopelessly underequipped. On the other hand, their tactics are excellent and more than make up for their lack of equipment. (A 17th-level barbarian with a +1 holy adamantine earthbreaker and +1 medium fortification breastplate, for example; in fact, no one in the group has anything over +2 except they all have +5 Cloaks of Resistance and the paladin has +5 armor.)

Our group was much the same way...

Just in the first book they gave the horse Silvermist to Sheriff Hemlock once Hosk got him fed up and healthy and donated all of those Everburning Candles to Father Zantus for his Church... lots of money was spent re-building the town after the Giant raid as well. One of the PC's eventually married Ameiko and at the conclusion of the AP eventually took on the mantle of governor of Sandpoint.

Its been a good example of not all rewards being monetary. Zantus loaned the party his Wand of Healing (homebrew magic item) when they went off to Thistletop which ended up saving their life, the Druids they later helped clear out Thistletop for proved to be valuable allies in the Giant raid and when they set up Brodert Quink in the Ancient Library with the help of the librarian construct, the area served as a 'homebase' for them during the latter part of the campaign where a tremendous amount of invaluable research was done.

Ivan Rûski wrote:
So, my players are preparing for the giant raid. Over preparing. They have gotten it in their heads that hundreds of giants are coming to wipe Sandpoint off the map, and have called in every favor owed them. They have gotten Magnimar to send a dozen troops up (who haven't arrived yet), and every NPC with class levels stands ready to defend their homes. They will wipe the floor with the relatively small raiding party, and I'm fine with that. I just don't know if I should just let that happen, or I should bump up the raid a bit. They seem really stoked about the fight, and I don't want to disappoint them. So my question is, do I let them stomp the ever-living crap out of the raiding party and possibly be underwhelmed, or do I bump up the encounters to be a challenge and they feel justified in their preparations?

Our party didn't 'over-prepare', but they did prepare and considering how well-built the characters were, how smart they tended to play and the fact that they would have some NPC aid, I beefed up the raiding party a bit. Don't be shy about having a couple of Ogre squads in your back pocket to toss in whenever you might need to increase the challenge of a particular encounter.

Also, remember that there will be many attacks at once - its unlikely that your characters will be able to be everywhere and if they try it may well spread them too thin.

Just something to consider - the first book of Shattered Star (the first two, actually) could very easily be played in Mangimar at about that level with very little adjustment. They're set in the seedier parts of the city and its environs and even have a Runelord tie-in to maintain the feel of the campaign... I'm fairly certain that if I were to re-run it, I'd seriously consider using that material and having the PC's spend as much time in Magnimar as in Sandpoint during the early-going.

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Andrea1 wrote:
Rough. IMO the game should have been held until the absent PCs could attend but that is how things roll at your table.

I am inclined to agree. The players were completely wrong imo for bailing out with little or no notice, but the result - at my table at least - would have been my telling the other players that they got bailed on, that there was no way I was running the conclusion to an 18 month AP without key members of the party present and that they should be pissed, but they should be pissed at the other players for wasting all of our time. If it was in the middle somewhere that would have been one thing, but the finale? It can wait.

That's just me. I don't know anyone involved so I can't fairly judge the call.

Personally, I like occasional encounters where the PC's simply have to run away, especially if they've been particularly dominant of late - pride goeth before the fall and all that. Too, I like the dynamic of PC's having to 'hold the line' against a superior foe rather than simply laying the smack down all the time.

Having said that, after the encounter in our run, the PC's presumed that such a major threat floating down main street clearly played an important role in the campaign and spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to draw her out and engage her again, or worse yet, how to follow her into her underwater lair... I was tempted to try and tie it in to the sunken wreckage of the 'party barge' but at the end of the day it was too much work for the time I had available. In retrospect, knowing how my players reacted to it, I would have just written it out.

Besides, the giant snake encounter back-to-back with Black Magga seemed a bit redundant in theme and flavor anyway...

woegman wrote:
Latrecis wrote:

I'm going to throw this behind a spoiler tag, just in case.

** spoiler omitted **

I am DEFINITELY stealing a majority of this! Thank you - exactly what I was looking for!

If you get this far:

If you do decide to make him from Runeforge, there's a clockwork librarian in the ancient library in Fortress of the Stone Giants. How awesome would it be for it to recognize him, or at the very least recognize his 'make and model' in some casual way?

It also begs for you to include a handful of similar warforged, perhaps even a legion of them, serving as bodyguards and servants in Xin-Shalast...

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Taason the Black wrote:

I struggle with this all the time. I come up with these cool characters and then when I consider how it would compare against the other players characters, it just fails.

An example is the "Hulk" alchemist. Very neat concept but put a lv 10 of this against a lv 10 fighter with a greatsword and it isnt even close damage wise. Or ranger. Or ninja. Or pretty much anything.

The concept of the duelist. Same thing. Great flair and roleplay but subpar performance.

At what point, if ever, do you say the heck with it and just roll subpar?

I know the game should be about your enjoyment but when you are not really being effective and they guy next to you is, it isnt a whole lot of fun.

It has everything to do with you rGM... which in turn often has everything to do with the rest of your players. A group of optimizers won't be fun for a pure role-player and vice-versa... hopefully you find a group where all of its members are somewhere in between...

Aaron Gillespie wrote:

So my PCs cleared out the catacombs of wrath but didn't destroy the runewell. They then went to Thistletop and cleared out the first two levels. They took Lyrie and Orick prisoner and decided to return to town to put them in jail and rest/heal.

So they left Thistletop with Nualia still alive and well and doing her thing. Based on some information they found at Thistletop they think they should go destroy the Runewell to make sure no more sinspawn come out to invade Sandpoint.
My question is, how should I run with this? What would Nualia do if most everyone at Thistletop is dead of captured? Would she keep trying to release Malfeshnekor?

I would think she would accelerate her efforts - imagine the drama of her being successful just as the PC's arrive...

Something you need to keep in mind - for recurring villains to be, well... recurring, they need to survive. That means most if not all of them need an 'out' to keep them from being easily slain. At higher levels this is a bit easier with access to things like Teleportation spells but at lower levels its a bit tougher. And to that end, I'd recommend that each time the two groups meet you have at least one of the baddies designated as expendable, so that the PC's feel like they're making progress even when most of the rest of the group escapes.

Another thing to consider is having a 'tweener' member of the villian's group, one that develops a fondness for one of the PC's or is with the bad guys due to unusual circumstances, someone that can create some grey area or betray their group... or perhaps one that enjoys being a double agent. Its definitely something to consider not having the sole interaction between the two groups be combat.

I ran a campaign once with a recurring 'rival' party and learned some very valuable lessons from that.

bigrig107 wrote:
Story Archer wrote:

I switched the NPC relationships around a little bit. Tsuto was obsessed with his sister (sexually and otherwise) since she was the only person who was ever kind to him growing up and returned to Sandpoint to rescue her from its destruction... he was terrified of Nualia.

Lyrie and Nualia were lovers - Nualia was driven, Lyrie was just freaking crazy.

Orik was just about ready to wash his hands of the whole thing, but was afraid he'd be killed if he tried to leave.

Oh, wow. That makes for a twisted, scary campaign.

I love it.

We tend to run pretty mature games - thematically, at any rate.

I switched the NPC relationships around a little bit. Tsuto was obsessed with his sister (sexually and otherwise) since she was the only person who was ever kind to him growing up and returned to Sandpoint to rescue her from its destruction... he was terrified of Nualia.

Lyrie and Nualia were lovers - Nualia was driven, Lyrie was just freaking crazy.

Orik was just about ready to wash his hands of the whole thing, but was afraid he'd be killed if he tried to leave.

blahpers wrote:
Or, the typical modern version of the Dead Man Writing trope. In more modern settings, this is generally recorded as video or holography. What's the simplest way for a character to prepare an animated visual message for someone to view in the event of his demise?

My suggestion is to never limit yourself to spells written as the only options for magic. They make for a good selection for the PC's but over thousands of years over hundreds of cultures, I'm quite sure everything under the sun that can be done has been.

If its something an NPC wants to do, hand wave it without a second thought. If its something a PC wants to do and it doesn't provide any real mechanical benefit, let him research it and then do it as well.

Dallimar wrote:

I noticed that the NPCs have been a big pain for me so far.

** spoiler omitted **

I changed some of the NPC interactions/motivations as well.

I made Anevia and Irabeth a lesbian couple without all of the transgendered sex-changing potion backstory. Instead, Horgus was Anevia's father, one who severely opposed the match because he is concerned about having grandchildren whom could serve as heirs one day... and he's not overly fond of half-orcs - racial prejudices die hard. That made their interactions fairly easy to RP because the PC's were able to subconsciously fill in the blanks rather than chase down a lot of that convoluted backstory as-written.

Aravashnial was less imperious and more traumatized by his circumstances, the despair that the demons had worked so long to instill finally beginning to take root. The PC's - one in particular - spent a great deal of effort bringing him back from the edge. It made for some nice RP moments.

Lann I wrote in as an Archivist Bard to supplement the party, kind of like an NPC cohort run by me. He served as a representative of his people in Kenabres and then as a liaison between they and the mongrelman forces that aided the armies in later books. He's been a real pleasant surprise for us as a group thus far.

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NielsenE wrote:

I'm starting the AP tomorrow. PCs are a summoner, ranger, rogue, paladin (the latter is planning to multi-class cleric).

I've read a lot and I'm still undecided about running it as written or some variants I've read online.

** spoiler omitted **

Well, here's what we did:

First off, one of our PC's is a Dragon Disciple and is in fact an offspring of Terendelev, one of a small group of them who have been gathered by him as a group of attendants and protégés in the fight against the evil they all face. He is, as far as he knows, the only one of them who survived the fall of Kenabres.

When the attack began, the four of them were in three separate groups (two are siblings and were together) not very far apart from each other. I ran a handful of small encounters against small home-brewed demons, a couple of cultists and the rescue of some citizens while greater battles took place nearby... they eventually ended up fighting together or assisting one another and, following the PC mentioned above, attempted to make their way to where Terendelev was battling the Storm King. They reached the battle just as the scene in the book takes place, and it was Terendelev's efforts to save his last remaining heir that caught them all up in the Feather Fall spell/collapse of the street into the tunnels below. While down in the tunnels I ran the encounters as listed with a few minor omissions (the cave viper and the abandoned temple).

I talked to the PC's once we were well into book Two and asked him what they thought about the changes I had made, compared to how it had been written and all of the input was positive. One thing though - we use automatic leveling, usually at the recommended points in the story, so balancing the XP from one encounter to the next isn't really a concern for us.

I also changed a number of NPC interactions and motivations.

Azmyth wrote:

Crafting large ships costs a huge fortune, but it sounds like you've got bigger problems in your game.

If you don't give them access to the wealth required to build a game breaking super ship, it never evolves beyond a player's pipe-dream.
Do you follow WPL guidelines for giving out treasure?

FWIW, our group had a pretty impressive flagship as well, but it was more built for speed, maneuverability and hardiness, using the rules offered up in the Players Guide (to the OP - are you guys using the Players Guide to build your ship? If not, that might explain part of the problem and its available as a free download on this site). The thing about their ship was that it was part of an on-going storyline.

In our campaign Aron Ivey lived and eventually joined the crew as the ship's carpenter until the end of book two where he lost his leg and 'retired' and oversaw the construction of what would eventually be the PC's flagship. It took a very long time, hampered by sabotage at one point and didn't even make its first appearance until the big sea battle in book five (we switched around events in book five and six). In the meantime, the PC's were constantly funneling money towards its construction and they even had a side adventure performing a service for the Master of Gales who, in return, cast a Hallow spell on the ship to make it immune to teleportation by enemies and to give it fire resistance. They also had one of those animated figureheads.

The players invested a lot of game time and treasure into its construction and had to play the 'delayed gratification' game but in the end they felt it was completely worth it. By the time they actually got the ship, they were about 12th level and it was the kind of ship you'd expect 12th level characters to have - they had long since evolved past simple piracy by then.

Scaevola77 wrote:
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 'Chopper's Isle' short adventure? Was this something published? Its the first I've heard of it...

Shaun wrote:
No, it's a one shot encounter as written in the AP. You can do whatever you want with it.

This is correct... though I caution you as a GM against allowing your players to 'abuse crafting rules and find loopholes' particularly if it includes building some sort of massive indestructible war machine... its very likely to ruin the game for everyone.

Players have to be able to trust their GM to keep them from derailing an entire campaign - that's why, at the end of the day, you have all the power. Use it wisely and use all of the tools at your disposal... like perhaps reading through the entire AP first, so that you know which potential problems to head off before they get beyond any of you.

I can only speak from my experiences and based on our philosophy of game play.

First off, we don't allow the Leadership feat. If I find the group is in need of a particular role its a good opportunity either for me to supply an NPC that I can use to further the plot or its a good opportunity for the PC's to challenge themselves by overcoming that lack on their own. Sometimes my group has several NPC's traveling with them, sometimes they have none, but when they do its never as a second PC they get to manufacture and control. Destroys the sense of verisimilitude in my opinion. NPC's should have their own motivations, their own secrets and should be beyond the control of the PC's themselves.

Secondly, we also don't generally allow crafting feats in our campaigns. We tend to play a bit on the lower magic end as I feel (and my group generally agrees) that overuse of magic items can become a crutch, it robs us of the sense of wonder that should come with magic and all too often the game becomes about what people can buy rather than what they can do.

Now that's just me - we prefer our games to have a feel somewhere between Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings but I'm well aware that other people feel differently. There's no way to 'have fun wrong', but I would not allow the Leadership feat at my table and even if I did, it certainly would't be so that a character could have a pocket crafter.

At higher levels, I like the idea of creating 'swarms' of goblins, zombies or vegypygmies. I find that's an effective way of boosting large groups of creatures who might otherwise not be a threat.

jhilahd wrote:

So my group just finished the top-side of the Glassworks.

For grins, I thought "I'll use all 8 of the goblins", and figured I'd have them split off after a bit. Do a little hit and run kinda thing for them.

The players were going to have none of that.

They got initiative, and my two front line guys charged to trap the goblins in. Yes, AOO's were accounted for.

The fight lasted about 3 rounds, roughly.
So... they searched the rest of the top side rooms and are preparing to face Tsuto(if he is there) below.

So... should I add a few more goblins just for fun and for fodder?
I thought I might add 2-3, and have them trap the stairs down, or one of the first rooms, just to be a pain.

The party is lightly injured. Really. One fighter is unconscious, the other five players are fine.

They can take Tsuto, easily.
Which is to say, should I let them? Or should I make it a struggle worth remembering?

Thoughts, suggestions.

And for grins, here are the players(they all just hit 2nd level).
Human Alchemist
Half-elf Druid (wolf companion)
Human Justicar
Gnome Illusionist
Human Fighter
Half-Orc Fighter


In the festival raid and in the glassworks, though I only had four players, I was very free with the goblins. I had about a dozen 'goblin encounters' during the raid written up ranging from 2 to 6 goblins in each - 2 had cornered Shayliss, 6 were trying to burn down Goblinsquash Stables while Daviren Hosk fought them off and so on. I used them as an excuse to introduce a handful of NPC's and proceeded with the intention that whenever it looked like it was getting tough for the PC's, I'd just stop and go directly to the final encounter.

Kind of the same thing for the Glassworks - I started off with 8 in the main chamber and added a couple of waves of 4 more to bring in as needed in order to make sure the PC's were suitably challenged. The final wave turned and fled back down to Tsuto, effectively leading them to him... and as GM I reserve the right to run in another wave of four whenever and from wherever I deemed it appropriate - after all, the PC's have no way of knowing how many goblins there are, do they?

Have Tsuto face them in one of the hallways (I had it happen just outside of Ameiko's cell) to limit how many people they can bring to bear against him at any given time. In our campaign, he managed to escape after a timely stun, leaving goblin fodder behind him to run interference.

Asmo wrote:

You are playing a Switch hitter: you fire an arrow, drop your bow and quickdraws you greatsword and engages the enemy.

A round later, an enemy picks up the bow, and uses it/sunder it, runs away with it. How would you feel about this, as a player?


How would you feel as a GM, if a player did this to one of his enemies?

Hopefully, you'd be indifferent. Its a common sense tactic and its not as if the player is picking on you, he/she is just playing smart.

Goes both ways.

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