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Maybe the paladins player wants to adher to the paladin code? Maybe that's why he chose a paladin? It would be a bad move to kill him , or expect him to knowingly ally with a lich.
How come the lich expects him to? He should either deceive him or brute force (geas?) him (though this is again an almost unacceptable GM move) or better yet manipulate him more subtly to do it.
Why can you not use a minion or maybe the hound archon itself as agent for the exposition? Then finding later out that there's a lich behind it all and freeing/rescuing the archon, opposing the lich and in the end maybe confronting and defeating him are much better plot options IMHO.
+1 for checking out Eberron (which is originally a 3e setting) It is a great setting.
Though I can't imagine a da Vinci like magical engineering prodigy fitting into the Lands of the Linnorm Kings.
Not that some engineering wouldn't fit but most of these ideas will probably be met with some (quite possibly violent) resistance by the culture.
If you want to ground your concept a bit more in Viking culture I suggest you check out the Northlands supplement by Kobold Press. Gift it to your GM and he'll be grateful...
If it wasn't book one I'd have said how about the PC returns undead? Is thee a fitting low level undead that he could return as? I know the later WotW books have options for Vampire PCs.
Or maybe his masters kept a finger to clone him?
Tell us some more details about the PC and his companions! What level are they now? What classes and backgrounds?
Also would the player want to have his PC somehow revived/returned or would he rather build a new one?
Legendary Games Dark Druids adds a bit of mechanical stuff (with some fluff implications) to the clergy of Zon Kuth... ermm I mean the Chained God and the Umbral Forest.
Liane Merciel's Pathfinder Tales novel Nightglass likewise adds a deeper look at the religion and Nidal.
Neither adds anything concrete to the mythology though.
Question: what about the Faiths of Purity/Balance/watsitcalledtheevilone? Do they add any lore or only crunch?
Question 2: the deity articles from the APs? Have they been reworked into Inner Sea Gods? Any that are not in there?
The Book of the Damned series probably has some lore of the respective fiends interacting with/relating to some deities.
As for interesting adventures you might want to use/adapt some pre written adventures. Check out Raging Swan Press or Four Dollar Dungeons for some excellent low level adventures.
As for NPCs check out d20pfsrd.com NPC section. Don't over prepare and sometimes fudge or simply wing it. Reuse and reskin unused NPCs later. There are lots of good NPC books out there: Raging Swan Press has a Villains series as well as the pure crunch series. Legendary Games also does good Villain products.
Consider using a random encounter table or several. There are great ones available from Purple Duck Games, Rite Publishing or Raging Swan Press. Also check out Raging Swan Press GM Miscellany series.
Check out these threads:
Check out the gnome racial feats, esp Gnome Trickster. This grants you mage hand. Speak With Animals is a 3rd level arcane (bard) spell and so you then qualify for arcane trickster. (Which would then advance your cleric casting..)
As for channelling look into variant channeling rules.
Which traits/archetypes/feats/domains did you choose?
This excellent campaign journal placed it near the Worldwound.
The first and most significant change is that I've set the dungeon in Golarion. Rappan Athuk is located in Mendev, between the Lake of Mists and Veils and the outskirts of the Estrovian Forest, far from the Worldwound. Some of the names have changed, for example the Forest of Hope is now the Estrovian Forest Outskirts and the Sea Coast Road is now the Lackthroat Road (which runs all the way down to the village of Lackthroat, in Numeria - and, more importantly - on to the Mendevian metropolis of Nerosyan).
From the (non confidential) newsletter:
Coming down the pipeline...
Check out this old thread on anti magic army design which contains lots of neat ideas for mundane anti spellcaster tactics.
If you're allowing divine magic for anti-arcane that opens up a lot of additional options like spell breaker inquisitors with the spell killer inquisition.
See also this thread
In their newsletter LGG announced it's going to publish a planet hopping AP.
Get the news here.
TL;DR Legendary Planet AP!!!
From the newsletter:
Interplanetary, New Worlds, Ancient Species, Aliens, Technology, Psionics, and more!
Legendary Games brings you an eight-part, sword-and-planet Pathfinder Adventure Path; authored by some of the biggest names in Pathfinder, Legendary Planet will take your characters across the multiverse and back again in an incredible campaign like none other!
Are you ready to explore the galaxies? Coming to Kickstarter June 15th we plan to run until mid to late July, just in time to get ready for Gen Con.
The Assimilation Strain - To Worlds Unknown - The Scavenged Codex - Dead Vault Descent - Confederates of the Shattered Zone - The Depths of Desperation - Mind Tyrants of the Merciless Moons - To Kill A Star
TL;DR Legendary Planet AP!!!
+1 . Grant every PC the Leadership feat for free at level 7 but require them to work to actually gain a cohort or followers. (See this blog for how and why).
Or get the Leadership Handbook for more intricate Leadership rules applying to everyone.
Also introduce psychological combat 3pp rules which give CHA based combat options.
Alex Augunas ftw.
PS: Social combat rules are a good idea too.
While linking to this excellent thread multiple times I feel the need to add some points to the plotting villain problem.
The Alexandrian (surprise!) has excellent articles on node based design which is a technique I think one could leverage for the plotting villains in a sandbox. Design and interconnect the nodes that villains drive and see where the players intersect and influence them.
I believe Razor Coast does this offering 3 major driving villainous plots for the players to interact with if they choose.
You could argue that this only creates more and different rails but it is definitely better than the monorail. And having a sufficient number if rails would make a campaign still a sandbox IMHO.
For lots of good Dungeons to hook players with/sprinkle across the map use/adapt onepagedungeon entries.
Requiring players to create interwoven back stories and plot hooks in their backgrounds helps. Investment in backstory and the campaign world is crucial for players developing initiative.
Sharing the worldbuilding is also great. Let players develop a town/organization whatever.
Adding random twists (like from random encounter tables) and the connecting the dots to create connections and some plot is a great technique.
Jason Nelson wrote:
There's plenty of detail in the newsletter about this, why not post it in a thread too?
I for one would be interested in that material.
Do that. Legendary games produces Adventure Path plugins , so supplementary material for PF APs with the Golarion IP filed off often written by the same freelancers who work on the actual APs. Good stuff...
A hexcrawl campaign can help sand boxy play. In this you build a map sprinkle it with short NPC notes or Dungeons or villages . Add a few random encounter tables with varying encounter levels. Don't fetishize balance in encounters. And let the players explore.
The Wilderlands of High fantasy campaign setting could be very useful for this.
Read the Alexandrian blog on hexcrawl, the importance of wandering monster/random encounter tables, encounter design, and the open game table.
Also read the West Marches campaign blog.
The question boils down to how can you measure ingame a class or even *gasp* a level? Certain class features are observable ingame. Only a paladin is immune to disease and can lay on hands. Spell slots come in distinct quantums and spells are grouped into levels.
Read the excellent Sepulchrave's Story Hour for what I consider an excellent tale in I game representation of class mechanics like spell levels and vancian casting.
Maybe organizing sessions to stop at different points might be helpful?
Stopping with a cliff hanger instead if a resolution is normally used to get players more invested, but in your case maybe it helps offset ruminations of "what if I did something different ?" to a more proactive "what should I/we do next?".
Also realize that some losses are needed for a good narrative. This ties into GNS model but i don't get the feeling that your view is strictly gamist.