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On the evening of July 3rd, I ran "The Night March of Kalkamedes" -- PFS scenario 4-19 -- for a party of 5 vigilantes. All PCs were level 5, 20 point buy. Since they weren't created for PFS, I did not enforce any PFS-specific rules, and just picked vaguely appropriate faction missions for them after they introduced their characters.
The cast, with linked character sheets:
Frank, playing Galannon, stalker vigilante (page 1, page 2)
Notes on the character sheets:
1) Frank didn't actually have Hide in Plain Sight -- I pointed out to him before the session that you need to be level 8 to pick that. He substituted the talent that gets you a Rogue talent, picking Fast Stealth. Also, he was clearly using a form-fillable PDF. I am uncertain why he printed it out and sent me scans of the pages (in two different file formats) rather than just emailing the PDF. There must be some kind of reason.
2) Connor's initial plan was to hide his full plate and a scythe in his Tattoo Chamber, popping them out and using Serren's Swift Girding to put them on when he needed them. Sadly, neither one meets the "fits in one hand" requirement. So he wound up hauling his full plate in a backpack, and switching to a trident for his weapon.
3) Andrew seems to have gone over-budget on his gear, but I don't think it mattered. The keen property on his axe might as well not have been there, considering he never rolled a crit threat during the evening.
We recorded audio of the full session. The session ran just over 4 hours. For convenience, I have split it into separate chunks of audio for each encounter in the scenario, plus one for cleanup after the privateers ("The Ballad of Laurie and Howard"), and one for post-session discussion of mechanics.
There was a television running successive episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation in the background, so there is some more or less constant background noise, but for the most part it doesn't get in the way.
In listening to the session after the fact, with more leisure to check rules, it seems I was running the Acrobatics check for Up Close and Personal incorrectly. We were using a DC of 10+opponent's CMB to go through its space, when rules actually specify CMD+5 as the DC, which would generally be higher. Galannon was rolling pretty well on his Acrobatics, but even so, he likely would have failed to pass through the opponent's square on at least a couple of occasions.
Up Close and Personal was very powerful as long as he had cover to use for Stealth; it will probably be at its peak at level 8 when a Stalker can take Hide in Plain Sight, allowing a pretty reliable way to get Hidden Strike. After that point, it will slowly diminish in power because it only allows a single attack; its damage output will be lower than a full-attacking fighter type. I do wonder how it will interact with feats like the Sap Master chain.
In retrospect, I also wonder if I interpreted the "aware of your presence" clause correctly or not. Gallanon always cover available to re-stealth. But the other bandits were well aware that their comrades were getting cut down by something fast and dark. Should that have meant that they were "aware of his presence" even if they didn't know quite where he was? The extra conditions for determining whether the vigilante gets his Hidden Strike, compared to standard sneak attack, seem a great deal more open to interpretation. I am unsure how I feel about the matter.
We double-checked after the session, and Connor's belief that the Warlock specialization does not gain extra spell slots for a high INT was incorrect. Even so, I am in agreeance with him that the Warlock and Zealot seem distinctly underwhelming compared to the Avenger and Stalker.
I hope this is useful. The class seems like an interesting idea, but the dual identity is difficult to integrate with existing published material.
Step 1 of the Income Phase says "Attempt a capital check for each building you control in the settlement that generates income and is able to provide you benefits."
Note that it specifies "for each building", not "for each room". The rooms function collectively as a single building, sharing their bonuses. They don't get to take 10 individually. Similarly, teams contribute their bonus to the organization, and you can take 10 for the organization, but not each team.
If you want to let rooms and teams take 10 separately in your game, that's fine; just be aware that it's a house rule.
Thanks, this is helpful. We picked up a fourth player, so the adventure scaling should work normally.
I'm having a hard time deciding how much information to give them about the adventure in advance. So far I've told them the general location, and that the adventure will take place primarily outdoors, and that they shouldn't neglect knowledge skills. I have not told them anything about Kalkamades other than that they will be assisting him with a personal problem. Should I let them know any more than that in advance?
Question: Ghaele Azatas have a gaze attack that slays evil creatures of 5 HD or less. Can she turn that off? Otherwise any party containing an evil-aligned PC who wakes up Sulianna is going to be in trouble.
93. Reading the adventure in advance (as a player), carefully thinking through the best possible way to tackle every encounter, then steering the group to your preferred solutions through subtle hints.
(The player I saw do this only got caught out because the group made a bad choice, with some very negative consequences that he knew were coming. He had his PC commit suicide. That way he got a new PC, and didn't have to live with the results of his former PCs actions. The group broke up over that.)
On Friday I'll be running The Night March of Kalkamedes (PFS scenario 4-19) as a vigilante playtest, for a group of three vigilantes. I'm starting them at level 5 with 20 point buy, limited to Paizo-published products, and excluding the uncommon races from the ARG. They players are all fairly experienced; two of them are long-term GMs.
The adventure gives instructions for increasing or decreasing the difficulty based on "sub-tier". I've never played in PFS, so I don't know what a "sub-tier" is. Which level of difficulty should I be having them play at considering the above?
EDIT: Never mind, I found the answer to the above question.
Thanks. Just writing down what happened helped a bit, and I appreciate the sympathy.
In the spirit of learning, what disasters have other people suffered at the gaming table, and what have you learned from it?
I just had a session that was, in a word, disastrous.
The Long Sad Story:
I'm running a Runelords campaign, and the Big Bad of Book 2 survived. I invented an alter ego for her, Diana Baythorne, and the party spent the whole of Book 3 as her sock puppets, taking out her rivals in her boss's organization.
After Book 3, there was a long stretch of downtime, both in-game (6 months) and in real life (2 months). To fill that time, I ran solo sessions for each PC, in which they all got different hints and plot hooks leading them to suspect that Lady Baythorne was not really their friend. For her part, Lady Baythorne decided their usefulness was over and arranged an ambush to eliminate them.
Today's session was meant to be the big revelation of Lady Baythorne's true identity and agenda. She would personally lead them into an ambush and betray them, revealing her identity in the process. I'd been eagerly anticipating it as the culmination of a real-life year's worth of plotting and planning. It was set for 1:30 on Sunday.
Friday night at 9 PM, one player ("Alice") texted me to ask if a guest ("Jenny") could come, and would it be okay if she brought a level 10 lich? I said no liches, but I'd previously indicated that guests were okay, so I allowed Jenny to attend. I asked Alice and Jenny to come over Saturday to work out a character. They said 7 PM would be fine.
That left me struggling to figure out how to integrate another character in my carefully laid plans. I knew absolutely nothing about Jenny. Heck, I didn't even know her NAME at that point. All I knew was suddenly I had to figure out some sane reason for another PC to show up and work them into my carefully laid plans. I kept going in circles based on my lack of information. The best thing I could think of was to give her control of one of the NPCs. But I didn't want to give her Diana Baythorne. I wanted to do that myself.
On Saturday, when they still hadn't showed up at 9 PM, I texted to find out where on earth they were, and they indicated that they hadn't left a social gathering at a city 75 miles away yet, and wouldn't be there before 10:30 at the earliest. I spoke with Jenny on the phone, found out she had a reasonable amount of experience playing arcane casters, and asked if she'd be okay with betraying the party. She was downright enthusiastic.
So I modified the mission. Instead of Lady Baythorne leading them into the ambush, this new PC would do so on Lady Baythorne's behalf. Baythorne's betrayal -- but not her true identity -- would be revealed by orders found on the body of Jenny's PC.
I stayed up till 4 AM working up Jenny's PC, prepping materials to brief her on the character's capabilities and what she'd need to do. I made it a necromancer with lots of debuffs but not a lot of damaging spells. The one really big damaging spell I put in was Death Throes, a spell dealing large amounts of force damage on death. In retrospect, that was a stupid thing to do, but it was really really late and I wasn't thinking clearly.
Today, the session happened. The betrayal went down. There was a reasonably dynamic fight. But it turns out that one of the other players -- "Bob" -- strongly dislikes PvP. And his PC died as a result of the Death Throes spell. The PC was saved by a timely Breath of Life spell, actually. But Bob's fun was well and truly ruined even so. He really felt awful.
Worse, Bob had really liked Diana Baythorne as an NPC. He couldn't understand why she would turn on them like that. He felt so bad, I tried to explain that I'd been trying to figure out some way to integrate an unexpected player at the last moment, and finally let slip that Baythorne was the Big Bad from book 2.
The instant I told him, I regretted it. That was the revelation I'd been looking forward to myself, and Bob was the player who cared most about it. I robbed myself of that, and I robbed him of learning it in play.
Bob's fun -- ruined.
My fun -- ruined.
All of the work and plotting and planning I put into that sub-plot for an entire year -- ruined.
I've been a giant ball of heartsick frustration for the last 8 hours over how horribly this turned out. I've been wandering my apartment second-guessing myself, alternately punching walls and crying. I've been mad at Alice for not giving me enough warning to think things through properly. I've been mad at myself for not thinking faster, and for letting the big reveal slip because I was trying to comfort Bob.
The worst part is, right AFTER the session I came up with the perfect way to handle Jenny: one of the players has a cohort. I could have let Jenny run the cohort. There wouldn't have been any PvP to bother Bob. I could have proceeded with my original plan unaltered. I wouldn't have had to stay up till 4 in the morning building a character and modifying plans. Everything would have worked out so, so much better.
So. Lessons learned:
1) If you want to invite a guest to my table, you have to give me at least a full week's notice so that I can have time to adjust things. If you miss the deadline, your guest can observe or run somebody's cohort, but they don't get a PC.
2) It's vital to find out if any of your players dislike PvP before it becomes an issue.
I'm hope someone else can learn from my mistakes.
What kind of action is needed for a creature with the Change Shape ability to revert to its natural form? Standard? Move? Swift? Free?
Undercover lamia NPCs with plans to turn on the party in mid-combat want to know!
I don't understand how to use ghosts as a monster. They've got that rejuvenation ability which renders them basically undestroyable without dealing with the situation that's holding them back, so canny parties who do their research never bother fighting the ghost: they just find out what it wants, then go deal with that situation.
It can easily take a couple of hours to stat up an NPC, including applying the ghost template. If all the ghost's going to do is serve as a plot hook, spending all that time working up stats for it feels like a waste. I could just as easily have scribbled down some estimates of social skills and a save DC for its frightful moan and left it at that.
What other approaches should I try?
I ran a party of four through the first two books of Carrion Crown, playing the GM and all four PCs myself. They all died horribly at the first encounter in Book 3. It wasn't even that hard an encounter -- the dice just decided to hate them.
It was good practice in divorcing GM knowledge from player knowledge, which has stood me in good stead on a couple of different occasions when I've wound up re-playing published adventures that I previously played.
That said, it wasn't nearly as fun as playing with other people. I know myself pretty well. It's difficult to surprise myself with my own choices. But players and GMs do that to one another all the time.
I've been working on a PC, and I'm so pleased with the outcome I thought I'd share some notes on it. It's not a min-max build, nor especially ground-breaking, but it should be fun to play.
20 pt buy
Primary class: Wizard, Admixture school, opposition Necromancy/Enchantment
Levels 1-5, Wizard, focusing on evocation stuff. The Admixtures school ability lets you swap out energy types to deal with energy resistances.
Level 6: Sleepless Detective from Paths of Prestige.
Level 7: Back to wizard
Levels 8-17: Arcane Trickster
Levels 18-20: Wizard
Totals: Wizard 9/Sleepless Detective 1/AT 10
For the early part of your career, you're just a wizard, and you play it like a wizard.
In the mid-levels things get interesting. The single level of Sleepless Detective lets you add your INT to Perception and Sense Motive. It also lets you add INT to Diplomacy for Gather Information purposes; the Student of Philosophy lets you add INT to Diplomacy when making a request, so you get INT on most Diplomacy checks. It also gets you a juiced-up version of Detect Magic as an at-will SLA, which frees up a cantrip slot for other things.
You're playing catch-up with sneak attack progression in the mid-levels:
6 - +1d6 from Sleepless Detective
So by level 11, you're 1d6 behind a full rogue, and 1 caster level behind a full wizard. Over time, you get full sneak attack progression (+10d6 at level 20). In addition, between Alertness, Skill Focus, and traits, you've got solid social skills.
It's feat poor, which is a drawback. But I think the tradeoffs are acceptable.
I've got a PC using this build at level 6 which I will start playing tonight, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how it works out in play.
I'd really like to see sets of minis built around the Summon Monster and Summon Nature's Ally lists. Say, one set per spell level -- so you'd have the Summon Monster I set, then in the next installment Summon Monster II, etc. They could either be builders series, or small box sets.
That would be handy for both GMs and for anyone who plays a PC that summons things.
Are the fringes of the Eye of Abendego at all navigable? I'm just trying to figure out the best overland route from Magnimar to Yamasa by mundane transport.
So far, it looks like the sanest option is to take ship from Magnimar to Azir in Rahadoum, then travel overland through the pass at Haldun.
Would be at all viable to sail from Magnimar, put in at Ilizmagorti for fresh water and supplies, then skirt the edges of the Eye of Abendego?
When I first started running my own campaign, I dutifully calculated XP budgets, spent them on CR-appropriate critters, and awarded XP, all per the book.
What a pain.
It takes a while to develop a sense for it, but it's much easier to design encounters when you know your PCs' abilities really well. What options are available to them? How could they deal with this encounter? Is it obvious? If the monster is too tough, you can always nerf it, or provide tools the PCs can use to handle it.
If you're just starting out, I suggest making a short adventure with definite start and end points. Run it and see how it goes. An ongoing campaign is much harder, and you have to get better at improvising, because 1) the PCs will routinely come up with crazy things you never thought of, and 2) in a really long campaign, things will change and morph in response to player actions and events in the game.
If they're really stuck on something, you can suggest things. Maybe call for an Intelligence check, and the high roller gets a suggestion for a tactic that might work, or at the very least a suggestion to retreat and regroup.
Under the rules as written, chemically induced unconsciousness is not magical. For example, the poison Blue Whinnis renders those who fail their saves unconscious. Similarly, the drug Dreamtime Tea knocks out the imbiber with no save against the unconsciousness (though one is allowed a save to avoid addiction to the tea).
The elven immunity explicitly says "Elves are immune to magic sleep effects". Neither of the two samples above are magic, and so the immunity does not apply.
In the case of the dwarven racial trait "Hardy", the +2 on saves versus poison would apply to the blue whinnis, but not to the dreamtime tea. The former is a poison, the latter is a drug. Although "poison" and "drug" are logically both chemicals, they are technically governed by distinct rules systems.
If you are planning to knock out your PCs in order to initiate a scenario, be advised that some players find this upsetting. I advise using this tactic sparingly, only with good reason, and making sure your PCs are quickly given the opportunity to take control of their own actions once again.
Hi! I wrote post #58 in the thread Magical Sleep or Natural Sleep. A large number of posts in the thread got zapped for derailing the original question, an action which I approve because they were.
Mine, however, was a substantive answer to the original poster's question. It did make one minor reference to the derailing posts, consisting of the phrase "as amply demonstrated by Username-was-here." The post was initially left intact, but later removed. When I noticed the others had been removed and mine left, I wanted to remove that clause because it no longer made sense. But by that time I was no longer able to edit the post.
So, would you please consider restoring that post, minus the offending clause? It even got a favorite, which is always nice.
Oh, and I would prefer to have made this appeal by PM, but as far as I can tell there's no "Send private message" link on Chris Lambertzs' profile page. Is that by design, or a bug?
Kestral287 - You've got 4 levels of Rogue and 6 levels of Druid. Oddly enough.
The target has 1 level of rogue and 6 of cleric. In case it's interesting, the target is ...
Rise of the Runelords spoilers:
... Justice Ironbriar, from Rise of the Runelords. Both he and Xanesha survived book 2, and he's been dispatched to Korvosa to hire the Cerulean Society to undertake more murders of greedy people. We're in between book 3 and 4, and one of the PCs is on a solo side adventure in Korvosa.
I sent Ironbriar because I wanted to tie the side adventure back to the main campaign. I'm planning for his identity to come out (if he survives the side quest), so that the PC can tell the rest of the party once they meet up for the start of Book 4. They really do need to know he and Xanesha are still active.
Some good ideas. I hadn't considered drugging him. That's a good suggestion.
As for arranging a fake ceremony -- he's a cleric of Norgorber, in his aspect as god of assassins. I can't think of any particular rituals that might require him to take his ring off, except perhaps cleaning up after an exceptionally messy murder. But I'll double-check in Inner Sea Gods and see if anything jumps out.
Scenario: you work for a thieve's guild. Your guildmaster is soon to meet with the representative of a powerful client for the first time. He is suspicious of the client's offer, and wants a hidden spellcaster to use Detect Thoughts to learn as much as possible during the negotiations.
Unfortunately, the client's representative is equipped with a Ring of Mind Shielding. The guildmaster learned this in advance, and has managed to create a fake ring that looks exactly like the rep's ring.
Your job is to swap the two rings. The rep is currently traveling overland towards the city, and will arrive in about 3 days, then spend about 1 day in the city before the meeting. He's a cleric, and tends to keep the ring on unless he has a good reason to remove it.
How would you go about it?
I'm designing a one-shot in which a soloist PC (Bard 10, with fighter 8 cohort) will fight a Rakshasa. Before getting to him, the PC will encounter three helper NPCs who will test her worthiness to undertake the task and give her useful stuff if she passes.
It's the three helpers I'm having trouble with. They were chosen by drawing from a Harrow deck, and they are:
1) The Paladin
I need a challenge and a reward for each of these three.
For the Paladin, I don't have a good challenge. If she passes, the reward is Protection from Evil 1/day as a spell-like ability, to deal with the Rakshasa's mind-affecting spells.
For the Brass Dwarf, I don't have a good challenge. If she passes, the reward is the Holy weapon property on her rapier or shortbow (not both) to deal with the Rakshasa's DR.
For the Rabbit Prince, no idea for a challenge OR a reward. I've run The Harrowing before, so I'm familiar with how he was presented there, but I'm not sure that fits. Maybe I should take the card metaphorically, and have the helper be just a younger member of a noble house or something? Totally at sea on that one.
Setting is Varisia, and the Rakshasa is guarding a Runewell of Lust under Korvosa. Session is scheduled for Saturday morning.
Suppose I make a PC using the variant multiclassing -- say, a witch with the bard features -- and then enter the Evangelist prestige class. When the PC hits Evangelist level 2, I have to choose "a class she belonged to before adding the prestige class to be her aligned class".
Do I have to make a choice between witch and bard (primary and secondary), or do I get both?
Seek ways to deal with it that don't involve hitting it, because 80 is well-nigh untouchable (with the exception of touch attacks, as noted by Lamontius).
1) Gum up its works somehow? Acid in the gears? Sand in the crankbox?
2) Maneuver it into a space too small for it to get out of easily?
3) Sic rust monsters on it? Their primary is a touch attack that rusts metal.
The Antimagic Field does not have a "Target" line; it has an "Area" line:
Question: does the "you" in the Area line allow a wizard to designate his familiar as the point of origin for the emanation?
Because that would be super-useful. Cast Antimagic Field on your familiar and have it go hang out with the fighter.
Oo. Lose interest in the campaign against evil in favor of endless hunts and entertainments ... yes, I like that. Thanks, Mikaze!
And yes, perhaps I should have put some kind of homebrew flag in the subject. If a moderator wanted to edit one in, that'd be fine. I wasn't even sure whether to post this here or someplace else, maybe Gamer Talk.
As a result of some rather complicated events in my homebrew Golarion campaign, Cernunnos has changed alignments from CG to CN. In brief, he was wounded, and the cure became adulterated with pure chaos by a protean.
I'm just trying to figure out how this should change him. He's currently the patron of the PC, having granted her some mythic tiers. I've played him as impetuous and rash, but committed to the greater good, and willing to sacrifice himself in a good cause. Now he's busily re-evaluating his outlook on life, and I don't even know if he can be an empyreal lord now that he's not good-aligned any more.
The PC and cohort in my solo campaign got turned into vampires as a result of an unfortunate random encounter. The cohort was a witch, and her fox familiar left once she died and took up with an NPC -- he didn't want to revert to being a normal creature. The NPC was a little girl, and had only a vague idea what was happening.
In retaliation the PC and her cohort tracked down and murdered the kid's older brother, messily, because he was her sole surviving family member and that would show her how it felt to lose someone you cared about. It was pretty messed up. I mean, they were vampires at the time, but still.
I recently had a lovely encounter prepared for a fight with a nemesis who'd been a thorn in my player's side for about 6 levels. I made the foolish assumption that the PC would follow standard adventurer protocol: kick down the door and roll initiative.
So what does she do instead? She convinces the kingdom's guards that there's an invading army. The council (on which the nemesis sits) was duly convened, and the PC taken straight to them as a material witness -- where she decides to destroy the nemesis' reputation instead of just attacking her.
That's right. She went for character assassination instead of an actual assassination.
And good advice -- I'll be sure to insert a session or two between sieges.
In our campaign, Xanesha escaped the party (barely). In fact, the party is currently working for Xanesha (unknowingly) in her cover personality as Lady Diana Baythorne, Chief Intelligencer of Magnimar. She used the PCs to destroy her rival Lucretia, and while they were away she has successfully assassinated Mayor Grobaras. So I think there'll probably be a session or two devoted to political intrigue over his death and succession, plus the party discovering that Lady Baythorne isn't what they thought she was. Mwa ha ha.
I failed to find the thread, so I've gone ahead and devised my own plan for having Barl Breakbones assault Fort Rannick, defended by the PCs. Here's a write-up. Any feedback would be appreciated.
Needless to say, there are lots of spoilers to follow.
1) In the adventure as written, Barl took over the tribe based purely on his possession os Sihedron medallion. This strikes me as a tad unrealistic, so instead Barl overawed them by animating the corpse of Gargadros as a zombie under his own control. The gentle repose effect of Gargadros' sihedron medallion meant the body was in sufficiently good shape for this, though Barl did need to cast Desecrate in order the be capable of animating such an enormous corpse (I have given him a custom magic item that casts Desecrate 1/day for that purpose, which is a nice item for any necromancer to have anyway).
Once Gargadros woke and was obviously under Barl's control, Grolki surrendered. Here are stats for Gargardros (he's a fast zombie rune giant).
Gargadros CR 9
Male fast rune giant zombie (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 288, 289, Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2 130)
NE Gargantuan undead
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0
AC 29, touch 7, flat-footed 28 (+1 Dex, +22 natural, -4 size)
hp 143 (26d8+26)
Fort +8, Ref +9, Will +15
Immune undead traits
Speed 60 ft.
Melee slam +31 (3d6+24), 2 slams +31 (2d6+16)
Space 20 ft.; Reach 20 ft.
Str 43, Dex 13, Con —, Int —, Wis 10, Cha 10
Base Atk +19; CMB +39; CMD 50
Skills Acrobatics +1 (+13 to jump)
Languages Common, Giant, Terran
SQ quick strikes
Environment cold mountains
Organization solitary, pair, patrol (3-6), squad (7-12), or company (13-30 plus 2-4 fighters or rogues of 2nd-4th level, 1 oracle or sorcerer of 5th-8th level, 1 ranger or monk commander of 5th-6th level, 10-20 yetis, 1-4 cloud giants, 8-12 frost giants, 10-16 stone giants, 4-8 lamia matriarchs, and 1-2 adult blue dragons)
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Quick Strikes (Ex) Whenever a fast zombie takes a full-attack action, it can make one additional slam attack at its highest base attack bonus.
Undead Traits Undead have many immunities and use Cha in place of a Con for all effects.
Technically Gargadros retains the spell-like abilities he had in life, but since he has no intelligence, I chose to eliminate them. I also removed his armor and weapons, on the grounds that they were no longer in good enough shape to provide him any benefit (and I want my fighter to have a prayer of hitting him). Consider describing him as wearing armor so ancient and crumbling as to provide no useful benefit.
2) Barl has not killed his second stone giant minion. He just cut out his tongue.
3) Barl sent a messenger to go talk to Jaagrath; but he came back to report that the castle's been taken by adventurers and Jaagrath's dead. Enraged, Barl musters his forces and sets out.
4) Myrianna is not dead. Lamatar's animal messenger never made it to her. Perhaps it was a small bird that became a tasty snack for a hawk halfway there. Anyway, she's alive, and wondering why she hasn't seen Lamatar lately. She finally decides to investigate, and leaves Whitewillow to seek out Lamatar at Fort Rannick.
5) Myrianna has never visited Fort Rannick before, and in the course of avoiding Turtleback Ferry, she takes a wrong turn and gets lost. Emerging at the north end of the Kreegwood, she catches sight of Barl's forces -- a rune giant zombie can be seen from quite far away. It's easier to get her bearings once clear of the Kreegwood, by looking at the mountains, so she turns and rushes to Fort Rannick to warn Lamatar that an army of ogres and giants is heading for the fort with an enormous creature of some kind.
6) Myrianna throws caution to the wind and runs headlong into Fort Rannick calling for Lamatar. Instead she finds the PCs. A lot depends on how the PCs and Myrianna react to one another; you could run this as a hostile encounter in which Myrianna reacts badly to the news of Lamatar's death and lashes out in her grief. But it's more likely that they'll react with sympathy, and she'll deliver her warning to them instead, and potentially stay to assist. In my own game I've added two levels of druid to her. Here's a stat block for her:
Myrianna CR 10
Male advanced nymph druid 2 (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary, 217)
NG Medium fey
Init +11; Senses low-light vision; Perception +18
Aura blinding beauty (DC 23)
AC 29, touch 27, flat-footed 21 (+9 deflection, +7 Dex, +1 dodge, +2 natural)
hp 99 (10 HD; 8d6+2d8+62)
Fort +20, Ref +22, Will +23
DR 10/cold iron
Speed 30 ft., swim 20 ft.
Melee mwk dagger +13 (1d4+2/19-20)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 8th; concentration +17)
. . 1/day—dimension door
Domain Spell-Like Abilities (CL 8th; concentration +17)
. . 8/day—icicle (1d6+1 cold)
Druid Spells Prepared (CL 9th; concentration +14)
. . 5th—cure critical wounds, ice storm[D], wall of thorns
. . 4th—control water[D], flame strike (DC 19), reincarnate, spike stones (DC 19)
. . 3rd—call lightning (DC 18), dominate animal (DC 18), stone shape, summon nature's ally III, water breathing[D]
. . 2nd—chill metal (DC 17), flame blade, flaming sphere (DC 17), fog cloud[D], gust of wind (DC 17), wood shape (DC 17)
. . 1st—charm animal (DC 16), cure light wounds, entangle (DC 16), faerie fire, obscuring mist[D], produce flame, speak with animals
. . 0 (at will)—detect magic, flare (DC 15), light, mending
. . D Domain spell; Domain Water domain
Str 14, Dex 25, Con 22, Int 20, Wis 21, Cha 29
Base Atk +5; CMB +12; CMD 34
Feats Agile Maneuvers, Combat Casting, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +13, Diplomacy +20, Escape Artist +19, Handle Animal +20, Heal +16, Knowledge (local) +12, Knowledge (nature) +20, Perception +18, Perform (dance) +14, Sense Motive +16, Spellcraft +18, Stealth +20, Survival +7, Swim +21, Use Magic Device +20
Languages Aquan, Common, Druidic, Elven, Gnome, Sylvan, Varisian
SQ inspiration, nature bond (Water domain), nature sense, stunning glance, unearthly grace, wild empathy +25, woodland stride
Other Gear mwk dagger
Environment temperate forest
Treasure standard (dagger, other treasure)
Agile Maneuvers Use DEX instead of STR for CMB
Blinding Beauty (DC 23) (Su) Blind humanoids in 30 ft if they look at the nymph (Fort neg). Can suppress as a free action.
Combat Casting +4 to Concentration checks to cast while on the defensive.
Damage Reduction (10/cold iron) You have Damage Reduction against all except Cold Iron attacks.
Druid Domain (Water) Granted Powers: You can manipulate water and mist and ice, conjure creatures of water, and resist cold.
Icicle 1d6+1 cold (8/day) (Sp) As a standard action, ranged touch attack deals cold dam to foe in 30 ft.
Inspiration (Su) Chosen creature gains +4 to Will saves and Craft/Perform checks while carries a mark of favor.
Low-Light Vision See twice as far as a human in low light, distinguishing color and detail.
Stunning Glance (DC 23) (Su) As a standard action can stun one creature in 30 ft for 2d4 rds (Fort neg).
Swimming (20 feet) You have a Swim speed.
Wild Empathy +25 (Ex) Improve the attitude of an animal, as if using Diplomacy.
Woodland Stride (Ex) Move through undergrowth at normal speed.
I intend to have her assist in the fight, primarily using spells like Spike Stones and Wall of Thorns, plus perhaps some summoned creatures.
7) Myrianna's warning should give the PCs about half a day to make preparations. Adjust to taste.
8) Barl's forces consist of: himself, Gargadros, 2 stock stone giants, 5 ogre fighters (at 5th level), 5 ogre barbarians (4th level), 10 stock ogres. I intend to play up the zombie rune giant. "Some massive creature approaches. You can't see it yet, but you can hear it, feel it through your feet like the beating of some horrid heart: doom .... doom ... DOOM. Finally it pushes through the trees opposite Fort Rannick: a giant unlike any other you've seen before."
The assault will take place in several stages.
A) Barl offers them swift death if they surrender and come out of the fort. Trash talk and threats back and forth. Barl makes a point of bragging that his forces have already taken this fort once, and that their former commander is now his undead puppet, at which Myrianna shrieks in outrage and grief.
B) Barl points at the southern gatehouse and says "Gargadros: destroy that gate, and kill any who oppose you." Gargadros proceeds to demolish the gatehouse, using his bare dead hands to tear the walls apart; if attacked he changes his focus to the defenders, but he lacks any intelligence and merely attacks mindlessly until destroyed. During the fight the ogres should chant encouragement: "Gargadros! Gargadros! Gargadros!" At his fall, they howl and shriek in dismay.
C) Earlier, Barl ordered his 2 stone giants to flank the mountain. The party should not have seen them yet. Their instructions are to hurl large rocks down on the defenders as soon as Gargadros gets into the keep; if Gargadros is destroyed, they start chucking rocks then. If the party asks a Black Arrow ally how they dealt with this kind of thing, they'll say that the eagles (now dead) ran off any hostile creatures attempting to reach the summit.
D) Barl waits until the defenders are distracted by the stone giant rock throwers, then orders all of his ogres in at once. Barl uses his spells to support the ogres. The ogres with levels fight to the death; but the stock ogres lose morale and flee if 6 or more of leveled ogres die. The 10 stock ogres I've added mostly for dramatic effect and intend not to roll out -- they can fight in the background with surviving Black Arrows. They can either be encountered later in Hook Mountain, or else they can disperse and flee into the forests and mountains.
E) Finally, when all else has failed, Barl enters the fray himself.
9) Lamatar is not there, but Barl's bragging should have revealed his fate. He and the three hags were left behind at the clanhold. After the dust has settled, Myrianna will beg the party to go and destroy him, and return his body so that she can reincarnate him. At this point, taking on the clanhold will take very little effort -- it contains the three hags, Lamatar, and perhaps a few stock ogres.
I hope this is not too much. My party is not heavily optimized. It's going to be a hugely complex fight to run.
This thread mentions another thread about altering Book 3 such that Barl Breakbones assaults the PCs at Fort Rannick rather than waiting for them to come to Hooktongue Mountain.
I'd like to read that thread, because I'm considering something similar for my group. But I can't find it. It's not linked in the post that references it, my google-fu has failed me, and I quail at the prospect of manually sorting through thousands of threads.
Anyone know where to look?
So, suppose a witch casts a quickened Ill Omen (CL 10) on a character with Mythic Iron Will, followed by a Dominate Person.
The Ill Omen spell requires the target to roll twice and take the lower result on his next 3 saves. Meanwhile, Mythic Iron Will allows him to roll twice and take the higher result on all Will saves.
So ... how should this be resolved?
A) Roll twice for the Ill Omen, make a note of the worst, then roll a third time for Mythic Iron Will and take the better of the two?
B) Roll twice for the Mythic Iron Will, make a note of the better, then roll a third time for Ill Omen and take the worse of the two?
C) Declare that Ill Omen and the Mythic Iron Will negate each other's effects, then roll once and take it?
This is very likely to come up in my game on Saturday.
Ah, I like Mackenzie's suggestion -- Arazni is using Ranalc to flush out Nex. That sounds reasonable, if indirect. I like it. Particularly since as an undead creature, Arazni has a loooong time ahead of her -- indirect is fine, since she has time to try lots of approaches.
That's a good suggestion, though Arazni's incredibly smart (INT 39), and had centuries to get her ducks in a row.
I still may take it if nothing better comes up. Smart people make mistakes too.
So, in my homebrew game, Arazni has just attempted to hire the PCs to kill Count Ranalc.
Unfortunately, this offer was based on a misreading of the canon -- I somehow got it into my head that Nex and Count Ranalc were in fact the same person. I reasoned that Arazni is tired of being de facto ruler, and wants the full title -- which she can only get by destroying Geb. But Geb's a ghost, and will continually reform until the thing tying him to the mortal plane (namely his hatred of Nex) has been dealt with.
Meanwhile, Count Ranalc has been the primary antagonist at the root of the party's troubles for the last two years, so the party has a reason to be interested in the offer. The party is also currently undead (vampires, due to an unfortunate random encounter), so the fact that the offer is coming from a lich isn't a major problem. Arazni even has reason to believe they can credibly take on a demi-god, considering they killed Jezelda recently.
It all worked so beautifully in my head. Arazni hires the party to get rid of Ranalc. I stat him up as a demi-god (like an empyreal lord or demon lord -- something potentially killable, unlike a full deity). They take him on, presumably with direct aid from Arazni herself (possibly even Geb). Epic fight, and when the dust settles the party's path to completing their own goal (fixing the gates of Sevenarches) is made substantially easier without active opposition from Ranalc.
... except it turns out that Nex and Ranalc are not the same person after all, which totally undermines Arazni's reasons for hiring the party to do it.
At this point, the party has no idea why Arazni wants Ranalc dead. All they know is that's what she wants, and she'll be willing to discuss the details if they're interested. So if I can come up with another plausible reason why Arazni wants Ranalc's head, the idea could still work.
Suggestions? I mean, I could just declare that Nex and Ranalc really are the same person, but that throws all kinds of other related canon stuff out of whack, and I'd rather not do that.
The description from Bestiary 2 says:
Breath Weapon (Su) Although it deals negative energy damage, an umbral dragon's breath weapon does not heal undead creatures.
The ecology entry from PF #11, Skeletons of Scarwall, says that undead creatures often seek umbral dragons as mounts, because:
The wyrms’ ability to heal the dead with their breath and elicit fear from difficult-to-control undead minions—like mohrgs, spectres, and vampires—make them potent allies to would-be generals among the legions of the damned.
So ... which is it? I don't like it when the crunch and the fluff disagree with each other.