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Tinalles's page

Goblin Squad Member. 1,037 posts. 2 reviews. No lists. No wishlists.

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Wild Shape starts at 4th level, unless you've taken an archetype that delays it.

As for the morality of conjuring allies of nature, I quote from the description of Summoning in the Magic chapter:

A summoned creature also goes away if it is killed or if its hit points drop to 0 or lower, but it is not really dead. It takes 24 hours for the creature to reform, during which time it can't be summoned again.

Emphasis added. For a summoned creature death is like waking up from a bad dream and being really shook up for a day. Definitely unpleasant, but not permanently debilitating.

If you really want to focus your ire on a morally dubious class feature, cast your eyes over to animal companions. A boar who becomes an animal companion, for example, is taken away from the ordinary business of being a boar and forced to act in manifestly unnatural ways. He might be outfitted with armor, and is very likely going to be forced to fight creatures he would ordinarily flee on sight: undead, aberrations, heavily armored people trying to kill him, and so on. During all of that time of service, he's not off in the woods rooting for mushrooms and making baby boars. And if he happens to die in one of those fights, that's it -- that death is real and permanent. He'd be better off getting summoned.

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Hmm. The gods got involved in a horrific war that killed all of them off without destroying the mortal spheres of existence. I think there are some basic questions that you as GM need to know the answer to:

1) What was the cause of the divine armageddon? That is, what were they fighting over?

2) Who were the gods involved in that conflict?

3) Which sides did they take?

4) Who killed whom?

5) Did anyone manage to "win"? What happened to the winner, if any? How did the winner die?

6) Is there some MacGuffin out there still waiting to be "won"? Or was it destroyed in the previous conflict?

7) Will the party consist entirely of gods from one faction in the former conflict? Or will there be representatives from multiple factions who were previously fighting one another?

8) Is the party the whole pantheon, or are there other reborn deities out there slowly regaining THEIR powers? Could be good antagonists/allies.


I strongly recommend drawing a sharp line between the past and the present. You, as the GM, get to define the Gods of Old. You can choose what they did, who they loved and hated, and how they met their end.

The players, on the other hand, must have the ability to play their PCs as they see fit. Don't try to force them to adopt the same personalities/attributes that you invented for the Gods of Old. They are reawakening the power, it's true, but they are also building new identities for themselves, which could mean radical change.

Perhaps one of your Gods of Old was Tyrinian, God of Storms, a CN tempestuous weather god. Don't be too surprised if a player takes that and reinvents him as a NG god of agriculture, using his weather powers to ensure a good harvest for the faithful. Similarly, maybe Pialla the LG Goddess of Healers had a crappy upbringing this time around, and winds up turning into a NE goddess of necromancy. Old allies might become deadly enemies; old enemies could turn into trusted friends. Everything can change.

Honestly, I think it's that part of the idea appeals to me the most. Divinity reborn in the mortal world is divinity that can choose new paths.

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Alignment: 1d10 ⇒ 2

Domain 1: 1d29 ⇒ 14
Domain 2: 1d29 ⇒ 27
Domain 3: 1d29 ⇒ 6
Domain 4: 1d29 ⇒ 9

Vesper, god of elemental freedom
Chaotic Neutral
Domains: Liberation, Travel, Darkness, Earth
Favored Weapon: slam

Vesper began as an earth elemental bound to the service of a powerful mortal conjurer. With age and experience came wisdom, and he came to loath his master's cavalier disregard for the well-being of his planar servants just as much as he loved experiencing new things. When not actively working on his master's orders, Vesper would meld into stone and rest in the cool darkness of his native earth, contemplating ways to free himself and the other elementals his master had conjured. But being bound, he lacked the ability to oppose his master's whims.

All that changed when his master arrogantly made an attempt at the Starstone. Within, his master found death -- and Vesper found the freedom and power to pursue his own goals. Now, Vesper encourages fair dealing between conjurers and conjured; he is not opposed to binding agreements, because they offer his kind the opportunity to travel and learn far more than they could confined to their native planes. But he violently opposes abusive or overly restrictive contracts, and punishes conjurers who mistreat their elemental servants. He answers the prayers of those elementals, and occasionally of suli who have found themselves enslaved or restrained. He has no interest in other mortals unless they somehow have ties to the elemental planes.

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In the spirit of offering detailed, concrete feedback, I have written up a brief usability analysis of the Paizo checkout procedure. It has screenshots, discussion, and recommendations. Here it is, in PDF format:

Paizo Checkout Feedback

I would usually charge for something like this, but in this case I actually spent money to make it happen. (Two purchases to get the screenshots.) So I hope it's helpful.

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Huh. Well, chalk that up to something I didn't know. Sigh -- so much world lore locked up in APs I can't read lest I ever play them!

EDIT: I suppose the easy way to resolve the inconsistency between the above story and the Council of Thieves lore is to simply declare that Ameiko just doesn't know that her half-sister exists.

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In my game, I decided that a PC named Micah shared a father with Tsuto, and asked James Jacobs for a bit more detail about about Tsuto's father. His response gives an expanded timeline for events in the Kaijitsu family, including Ameiko's assorted adventures.

After the fight with Tsuto (who got one-shotted by the party barbarian), Micah had a long conversation with Ameiko about her family, and as part of that I invented some more detail about her adventuring career. It all happened via email, so I've still got that. Here it is.

(April 10, 2013)

Brushing the lint and dirt from his outfit, Micah looked in the mirror. He wasn't as sought after here as he'd been at home, but he knew he was still handsome. Even with the new scar on the left side of his face. Maybe it made him look a little more rugged instead of elven "delicate." He tried a muscle man pose or two, just for effect... and decided against it. He shook his hair out into perfection again and threw his cloak over his shoulders.

Today was the day he'd see about finding information about his family. The man at the glassworks had looked almost eerily like he did. And the woman might know something about it. With a wink at the bartender and a blown kiss to the barmaid, he stepped out into the sunlight with a bounce in his step.

Peacock? Maybe... but then, he was good looking. He'd see how this went.

(April 17, 2013)

Ameiko's black kimono and obi drew curious glances from the other visitors as she made her way through the Sandpoint Cathedral. Few of these people had ever seen formal Minkai clothing before. Certainly they all knew of her family's origins in distant Tian Xia; but it was now three generations since they arrived, in her grandfather's day, and the family had long since adopted the local dress for day-to-day purposes.

If only such a day-to-day purpose moved her now! But though she was no strict traditionalist like her father, Ameiko would never dream of offering the funeral rites for her father and half-brother in any but the most strictly proper mourning garb of a Minkai noble, correct in every line and fold.

No one stopped her as she stepped softly through the cathedral and out the door to the graveyard beyond. The weather was fine -- it should be raining, she thought. But the annual fall rains were still some weeks away.

The family tomb lay near the back of of the graveyard, a small pagoda set close against the wall beneath the spreading limbs of a silver maple tree. A few pale yellow leaves mottled with brown spots lay scattered about the gravel path, presaging the winter to come.

Ameiko set down the two funeral urns and drew the crypt key from where she had folded it into her obi. It fitted neatly into the lock. She paused before turning the key, however. It seemed ... final. As if she were not merely opening a door to lay her kin to rest, but sealing herself into her new roles: not just noble of Sandpoint and expatriate of Tian Xia, but head of her family -- and the sole surviving Kaijitsu.

The key turned too easily.

Within, the dim room that held the urns of her ancestors awaited. No more than perhaps 12 feet square, the flagged stone floor rose to ranks of niches for urns all around. At the back stood a small altar to Pharasma, in her Tian aspect as Mother of Souls. Ameiko brushed a few dead leaves out of corners, and lit a stick of incense on the altar.

Turning right, Ameiko laid a hand on one dark green urn made of glass produced at her family's glassworks. The death tablet below it read "Atsuii Kaijitsu" in the flowing Minkai script.

"Hello, mother," she said. "I'm sorry for not visiting more often. The inn has taken so much of my attention lately. But here I am now."

She paused a moment. "And I've brought father," she said. "And, and Tsuto."

Blinking back tears, she placed the two urns in the niches to either side of her mother's, then knelt before the altar, bowed her head almost to the floor. She sang the traditional death chant, a measured, deliberate, yet dissonant tune.

Afterwards, when she had calmed herself a bit, she sat cross-legged before the altar. "O Pharasma," she prayed, "Mother of Souls, Lady of Graves. Take my departed kin and judge them in thy wisdom. Thou art known as an impartial judge; yet if a daughter's prayer may sway thee, judge not too harshly my father Lonjiku. If a sister's plea may soften thy stern mien, look kindly on my brother Tsuto. I ask not that you forgive their faults, which were many -- but if there is room for atonement in the afterlife, I ask that they be given a final chance to redeem their living choices. Or, if it be thy will, let them live anew to redeem their sins of this life in a new one: for thou art also goddess of birth and rebirth, the First Midwife. In thy hands, their hearts; in thy lips, the power; in thy mind, the judgment. So be it."

She fell silent. Wreathes of incense coiled lazily through the still, cool air. According to tradition, now was the time for the mourners to speak quietly of their time with the deceased, to recount joys and sorrows, and offer what comfort may be had in shared remembrance.

But Lonjiku was widely disliked, and had been all but a hermit for these past years since his wife Atsuii's death. No one would come for him.

Nor would anyone come for Tsuto. He had been gone for years, only to reappear up to his neck in some kind of diabolical plot to burn the entire town to the ground. Father Zantus had initially been opposed even to allowing Tsuto's ashes to be placed in the cathedral grounds. Ameiko had had to trade heavily on her status as Sandpoint nobility -- and proprietress of the glassworks, a major source of local income -- to persuade him otherwise. In the end she had had to bribe him with promises of a fine stained glass window for each of the six major shrines in the cathedral, and even then he was not happy about it. The locals would not want to risk censure by reminding him of the matter. No, no one would come for Tsuto.

Ameiko folded her hands in her lap, lowered her gaze, and settled in for a long, lonely vigil amongst the dead ashes of her family.


After asking around after Ameiko, he was led to the cathedral. Father Zantus did a double take at the similarities in this man to the troublesome one that was being interred out back even now. It took Micah a moment to realize that though, as his eyes were all over the interior of a building the like of which he'd never seen.

It continued to amaze him the grandeur most people would go to for something that could have been done in nature, the way it should be. Finally he turned to the minister, giving one of his more charming smiles. "Sir, I was told Ameiko was here for some reason." He had heard it was to inter the remains of the dead in stone, but that was a ridiculous concept to him. Burn the body and scatter the ash to aid the lands; that would make more sense. But different people, he supposed.

With light, quiet steps in his soft black leather boots, he moved closer to the man. "Could you please tell me where I might find her?"

(April 19, 2013)

It took Father Zantus a moment to realize that this was not Tsuto Kaijitsu risen from the urn, but instead one of the young folk who had lately distinguished themselves defending the town from goblins. The complexion was quite different really, though the hair and facial shape were startlingly similar. He blamed the dim light of the nave for his mistaken impression (rather than his aging eyes).

He indicated the door at the back of the nave. "That leads to the graveyard. You'll find her in the ... pagodie? Paga doh? The pointy little building at the back. Doing what she WOULD insist on doing. Young folks these days, I tell you. No, don't thank me, I'd rather wash my hands of the whole matter. Shoo!"

(April 19, 2013)

"Thank you, sir." Micah gave another of his charming smiles, unaware he was doing it. He had found it was best in these "civilized" lands to be polite and respectful.

He started for the back, but turned to the priest again, dropping 5 coppers in the older man's hand. "Here. I... hope this is acceptable?" He knew there was usually some rule about giving to places like this, and didn't want to offend them.

As he turned away again, he caught a young woman in the first pew staring at him. Was it because he wasn't a local? Or his looks? Or the reputation he and his companions were gathering? Whatever it was, he smiled and winked as he went by.

Passing an acolyte, he in turn was the one doing the staring. The young man was rather attractive. Strong, lithe body the robes couldn't quite hide, wavy hair, clean cut and was that a dimple in his...?

Micah walked right into a pillar. This wasn't the time for flirtations; what was he doing? He shook his perfect hair out as he cleared his mind and went the rest of the way out to the pointy building to find the only woman who might have a clue about his past.

He watched her for long moments before quietly clearing his throat. "Ameiko?"

(April 19, 2013)

(In the background, Father Zantus seems mildly offended at being given money for giving basic directions, but Micah moved away too quickly for him to respond effectively.)

Ameiko gave a start and turned around to see -- for one wild moment she thought Pharasma might have taken her prayer and raised Tsuto from the dead, right then and there. But then she recognized Micah, the adventurer who had lately been staying at her inn.

"Oh!" she said. "You startled me." She hesitated, torn between manners and a mild sense of alarm at this unexpected appearance. Manners won out. "Do please come in. I'm sorry I can't offer you a chair, but ..." she gestured at the bare room, designed for the comfort of the dead rather than the living.

(April 19, 2013)

(Wasn't giving for the directions, but for visiting a holy establishment ;) )

"Right, um... I don't want to intrude." Honestly, the place creeped him out. "I just wanted to know if I could visit with you about your brother some time." Away from here, he thought.

(April 19, 2013)

"Oh! ... yes, of course. And this is the traditional time to speak of the dead." Ameiko tucked an errant strand of black hair behind one ear. "What would you like to know? I gather your meeting with him was ... brief, and, well, ended badly."

(April 19, 2013)

Surprisingly, he didn't find her attractive; not in the weird get-up she was wearing... and not in this weird place. "I'd say it was brief." He nodded. "And a surprise. I didn't expect to see anyone that looked like me." He paused, suddenly a little unsure. He wanted to know, but what if it was another hope that went up in smoke? What if she thought he was just crazy? But he had left the only home he'd ever known with the intent of finding out. Suck it up, he told himself. "I guess... I'd like to know about his parentage. See, I've never known my mine. I don't even know if it was the mother or father that was an elf. I was abandoned as a newborn." He doubted she was even interested in the backstory. Best just shut up about it for now, until he knew if she even cared. "So... seeing as how he and I looked alike..."

(April 23, 2013)

Ameiko nodded. "There is a very strong resemblance. I remember being so startled the first time I got a good look at you that I almost dropped the dish of curry I was carrying."

She paused, organizing her thoughts. "Take a seat," she said, gesturing at the floor. "This may take a while."

"Tsuto was older than me by 3 full years. He was my half brother," she said. "As you can no doubt tell by the fact that I am full human, where he had elven blood as well. It caused quite a scandal when he was born -- to my mother, Atsuii. So this much I can tell you: if you and Tsuto truly shared a parent, it must be your father.

"I'm afraid I can't tell you exactly who that was. Mother never told anyone. I think she might have told me, in time, but when I was 13 I ... ran away for a while. I had ... agh. Things were never right between father and mother after Tsuto was born. Father was furious over her infidelity. He was a man of stern, unbending, rigid conviction. He had married Atsuii in good faith and never wandered, and considered it a grave personal insult that she did. He thought Tsuto would be his child. But when he was presented, the pointed ears made it quite obvious that Lonjiku Kaijitsu was not this boy's father.

"I wasn't there, obviously, but his rage was legendary. He fetched an axe from the shed, dumped mother on the floor, and proceeded to chop their bed in two. He hauled her half down to the basement and dumped it in an empty storeroom. He never even spoke of divorce -- he would never go back on a sworn oath like that. Mother retained her title, her income, her place in the household. She kept everything. Everything but his respect and love. They barely spoke a word after that. The fact that I was born at all ... well, that's a story in itself.

"As for Tsuto, father forbade mother to raise him. He saw to it that Tsuto was placed in Turandorak Academy, the local orphanage, and provided for, but ignored Tsuto himself, and strictly forbade mother ever to go and see him. Once I learned I even had an older brother, I used to sneak down to the Academy and and take him candy and pocket money and such ... ah, but I'm wandering.

"Anyway, when I was 13 ... gods, only six years ago ... I arranged a surprise meeting between Tsuto and father. I thought maybe I could reconcile them. It went, um, badly. Tsuto punched me in the face, and I was so upset afterwards that I ran away to Magnimar and lived on the streets.

"I might be there still, except that a few months later I got word that mother had died. Our manor sits on a cliff. There was a rainstorm, and she fell from the balcony. Tsuto swore blind that father must have pushed her off, but I never believed it. Why would he have? What could have led him to murder her then after tolerating her for all those years? I just couldn't see it. We had a screaming match in the middle of mother's funeral, and he stomped out. I didn't see him again until that night at the Glassworks when he tried to recruit me to his cause, if you can call it a cause. I think all he really wanted was to hurt father."

She looked down at the end of this recitation. "And there, in a nutshell, is the recent history of the Kaijitsu family. I'm afraid it may not be all that illuminating for your own questions. But at least you know a little more. Your father was an elf. Tsuto was born in 4686 AR, so sometime that year or late 4685 your father visited Sandpoint and, um, mother's bed. Tsuto's eyes were black, and I'm pretty sure he got them from mother, so you likely got your eyes from your mother."

She slumped down a bit. She had not broken up during her recitation of woe, but it was clearly a strain on her to dredge up these bitter memories.

(April 23, 2013)

Ah hells, he thought. A woman crying... best keep her from going there. He put an arm around her, patting her. "Didn't mean to make it worse," he muttered. He hadn't realized she was that young either. He was only a few years older than her. And this close, she smelled nice too.

It wouldn't be such a bad thing to see her again. "Maybe... your mother had letters? Or correspondence with this other man? Maybe she has a hidden treasure box or something? I mean, if you'd want to look..." He fell quiet, patting her arm, looking around the creepy room. I sound like an ass, he thought, asking her about this when she's lost someone. "Maybe it would distract you." Yeah, good recovery, Micah.

(April 24, 2013)

Out of Character notes:

1) Micah's certain to see Ameiko again, she runs the Rusty Dragon inn where the party has been staying when in Sandpoint. She stays there herself most of the time. So he doesn't need to make any particular effort to arrange to see her.

2) This incident is of course happening in the past -- it would have happened shortly after returning from Thistletop, but a good week or so before the recent murders that the party is now investigating.

3) I'd like a spot check for next post.

In character:

Ameiko looked down at the floor as Micah put his arm about her shoulders. She didn't pull away from his touch, but neither did she lean into him. His resemblance to Tsuto made it a bit spooky to accept an embrace from him right after placing Tsuto's ashes in their niche. She had also noticed his eyebrows raise slightly as she mentioned her age. Not too surprising. People who didn't know her well often took her for older than she was, partly due to the two streaks of white in the otherwise black hair that framed her face.

"It's all right," she said. "You had a fair reason to ask. And I do appreciate the company -- this is the traditional time to talk about the dead, as I said. I didn't really expect anyone to come. Father and Tsuto were not well liked.

"As for letters -- well, it's possible. If mother did have correspondence with him, it would probably be in her room at father's house. My house, now, I guess. Sweet Shelyn, that seems strange. What am I supposed to do with that great barn of a place all by myself?

"Anyway, I wouldn't mind looking. I've been curious about it for years, but of course I was too young to really understand something like that -- and then she died, and I never had the chance to ask as an adult. If you'd like, we can go look together. Perhaps the day after tomorrow? I have to sit vigil here all night, so I'll be exhausted all day tomorrow."

(April 24, 2013)

Woo! 19 +5 = 24!!!!

Micah happily sat back, glad she was done with the near-crying episode. Seemed women were the same most places in that regard. "Look, I don't know the rules for things like this," he motioned to the crypt. "But if you want someone to sit with you, I can. Back home we never made anyone light the pyre by themselves. Seems kind of... rude, really. So... not that I can offer much, but I could listen. Or just sit here." He gave a slight shrug.

Maybe he could be a bit of a peacock, but he had also been there for friends when they lost parents or siblings or loved ones. He never knew what to say or do, but he was good at being a quiet presence. Sometimes that's all the other person needed.

(April 24, 2013)

Ameiko smiled at him. "Thank you very kindly for the offer, but I must decline. It is traditional for the family to receive visitors for a few hours after placing the urns, and you are welcome to stay that time. Afterwords, however, the overnight vigil is for family only.

"While I don't look forward to a night alone here ... if there was one thing that father and Tsuto agreed on, it was the importance of tradition. I never saw eye-to-eye with either of them on that point. Tradition can be far more restrictive than law, and changes even more slowly. But tonight, tradition calls on me to sit vigil for them. Since they cared so much about it, I feel that it would be disrespectful to break with tradition in this.

"Quite aside from that, I'm sure tongues would wag all over Sandpoint if I spent the night alone with a man in my family crypt. Particularly one who looks so much like my brother. I have enough to deal with right now without going blue in the face fighting unfounded rumors.

"But if you would like to talk for a while, it's fine. I lit a candle right after the death chant. You may stay until it burns out." She indicated a taper on the Micah had not previously noticed, partially obscured behind a bunch of flowers. He estimated it would last perhaps another 45 minutes at most.

He also noticed something else. As she pointed at the candle, the left sleeve of her kimono slid back a few inches, revealing a tattoo. He couldn't see all of it, but it looked like one end of a snake.

(April 24, 2013)

He shrugged. "Depends if you want the company." He'd check in with the man in the temple to see if anyone would be watching the crypt either way. If there wasn't, he fully intended to sit watch outside. Protection first, especially when someone was emotional; it was one of the first lessons he had learned.

"Wait..." he gently set a hand under her arm. "Tattoo?" He was intrigued.

(April 24, 2013)

"Ah." She said.

A long pause followed.

"Your group lost someone. The big half-orc -- Port, I think? Tell me about that."

(April 25, 2013)

"Oh. Port. Well..." It wasn't something he liked even remembering. And it wasn't the first time he'd lost someone. "I failed." He shrugged, quiet now. "I had him in my grasp... and I couldn't hold him. He drowned... because of me."

The strong cocky attitude was gone. Micah looked away, not wanting to show he could be bothered or shaken. People didn't respond well to weakness. Not back home; not here. And he certainly doubted she wanted to hear about friends he'd lost; not when she was grieving something raw yet.

He had hardly known Port, but he had done everything he could to save the big guy. And all he had done was make it worse for everyone.

He forced a smile for her. "He was a solid fighter."

(April 25, 2013)

Ameiko nodded. "Then you understand perfectly. Your group lost one person. Mine lost four, and one of those died to save me."

She looked moodily at the altar, lit by the flickering candle. "When I was sixteen I couldn't stand living in my father's stale, bitter house any longer. I left, and joined a group of adventurers. We ranged all over Varisia, and once into Nidal to the south, and got into all kinds of awful scrapes over the course of a year or so. Ironically, the last job wasn't far from here, which just goes to show you that you don't need to go far from home to risk your skin.

"We were hired by a small, small mining town in the Fogscar Mountains in central Varisia. They'd been all but cut off from the rest of the country for nearly a year -- a group of cannibals had been preying on villagers, merchants, anyone who came along the road. We wouldn't have gotten there ourselves if we hadn't come in the hard way, over the mountain peaks -- but that's another story.

"Anyway, they were holed up in an abandoned mine in the mountains outside of town. The village had lost half its population over a year, and were desperate, so they offered us a pretty sizable chunk of the gold they'd mined during the year if we'd go up there and clear out the cannibals. We accepted. It was the only good way out anyway.

"Things went ... badly. It turns out the cannibals were puppets, not really in charge of their own lives any more. I mean that literally -- they had some kind of fungus growing in their heads. It made them crazy, wild. They were faster than they should have been, and stronger, and they would eat anybody they could get their hands on, or else plant fungus in them, too. Poor bastards."

She shuddered a bit in remembrance. "And as I said, they were puppets. The whole group had been created by a druid who decided that the town's mining practices were an affront to nature, and that the town needed to be wiped out. He'd been infecting people with this fungus to make them his slaves."

Though she was sitting calmly enough, Micah noticed her fists clenching and unclenching in her lap.

"We went in all fat and happy. Just a bunch of backwoods yokels who'd gotten all wrong in the head and started eating people, we thought. We were doing okay until the druid showed up. He liked snakes. He had a lot of them, mostly just little ones he kept as pets, I guess, but one really big one. Things got ... real bad, after that. Jellia, Huron, and Mel went down pretty fast, leaving just me and two others: Alder and Sandru Vhiski. We tried to retreat, but the snake was damn fast, and it got me.

"See these?" she asked. She ran a finger into her hair and indicated the two locks of white hair. "I wasn't born with those. The snake ... it had its fangs buried in my head, here, and here. I remember looking down into the dark of its throat and thinking 'O Shelyn, this is it.'"

"But Alder got it off me somehow, pulled me free. It turned and bit him, and then we ran. We got away, all three of us. But Alder had already lost a lot of blood, and I think he'd been bitten by more than just one snake. He stumbled, and the few remaining cannibals fell on him. There were too many, and more snakes were coming ... I just, I just couldn't go back for him. The delay while they tore him apart is probably the only reason Sandru and I got away.

"Sandru was a wreck. He'd gotten off lightly -- no poison, just a few wounds -- but Alder was his brother, and that hit him hard. He tended me while the poison burned through my system, but I could tell he was tearing himself up inside. I lived, but ever since my hair has grown white where the snake bit me.

"We got back to Sandpoint okay, and then Sandru left. Took a job as a caravan guard. I haven't seen him since. As for me, I cashed in some of the profits from my year as an adventurer and bought the Rusty Dragon. It gave me something to focus on besides the loss. Even so ... I couldn't stop thinking about it. It just ... bothered me that Alder died just to save me. I didn't feel like I really deserved that. If he hadn't come back for me he'd probably still be alive. Instead he died in agony on a cold mountainside.

"So after a few months I decided I had to do something to honor him. Something permanent, something that would never let me forget his sacrifice. So I got this."

She pushed up her sleeve to show the tattoo. Her arm was solidly muscled. The snake began just above her wrist and coiled all the way up to her shoulder. "See? This way, kind of, the snake ate me after all. And every time I look at it, I'll think of Alder and what he did for me."

Through this recitation of horror, Ameiko had remained strangely calm, perhaps because it was an old and familiar grief rather than fresh and hot. Her sleeve fell down as she returned her hands to her lap.

Reflectively, she said "I never told anyone about that before. Sandru knows, of course, but people would just pity me if they knew. But I figure you'll understand. You've been there. You know.

"And even if it didn't work out as you liked, you tried to be an Alder, diving in to save your friend. Not an Ameiko, who ran."

(April 26, 2013)

He reached over, taking her hand, squeezing it firmly. "Everyone runs sometimes. Like I said, Port wasn't the first I lost. It just... his was so obvious to everyone in the group. I live in a forest, by the gods. I should be able to swim. I couldn't hold him up. He was in my grasp and just... slipped away. I didn't hold on long enough. I failed.

"I've been lucky in not having scars other than this." He showed the claw marks down his cheek. "And I'm sorry about your brother. Wish things could have gone different." Unsure what else to say, not given to speaking about his past, he sat quietly, his hand in hers, sharing the grief she had to endure. Even so, he watched the candle burn lower, knowing he would need to step outside within another 20 minutes now.

It was about her anyways. Her time to talk, to grieve.

(April 30, 2013)

"Thank you," she said. "Tsuto ... and father ... I loved them both, in their own way, but as you can no doubt tell, our family was not especially close and cuddly.

"Father and I had grown increasingly distant since I got back to Sandpoint. He disapproved of my job as barkeep at the Rusty Dragon -- and never mind that I actually own the place, bought with money I earned risking my neck as an adventurer. He thought it was below a Kaijitsu. And maybe if we were still in Minkai, he'd be right.

"But we're not. Grandfather brought the Kaijitsus to Varisia. We can't keep living as if we're in Minkai. It doesn't make sense for here.

"As for Tsuto, well, I hadn't seen him in almost four years. And we didn't actually grow up together -- I only got to see him when I snuck out. It bothers me that he threw in with that Nualia woman, and I don't understand why he killed father. They hated each other, sure, but somehow I never thought he'd do any real harm. Maybe I didn't know either of them as well as I thought.

"For that matter, what the hell happened to Nualia anyway? I didn't really know her, growing up; she was too old to play with me and her foster father kept her penned up in the old cathedral a lot of the time anyway, but everyone seemed to like her. No, that's not the right word. Not "like" -- she was the town mascot, or something. How the hell do you go from town mascot to a demon cultist intent on burning the place down to fuel your own transformation into a monster? I just don't get it.

"I've made my peace with Alder's death, I think, including my own role in it. I have my tattoo to remind me -- I'll never forget him and what he did for me as long as I live. I think that's enough. At any rate, ever since I got the tattoo I've been able to sleep again."

She looked contemplatively into the candle, running fairly short now. "Before time runs out on us, here ... I'm curious. What else do you know about your parents? We've established that your father was an elf, which means your mother was human. Any idea where they met? Where you were born? You have to know where you grew up, anyway -- some kind of forest, someplace?"

(May 2, 2013)

He looked away, not wanting her to see how sore this topic was to him. He wasn't like the elves where he'd grown up. He wasn't like the humans here. He was half-breed, and no matter that he was "exotic" looking... they had never let him forget he was still a "mutt." Everyone wanted to taste the forbidden fruit, but no one wanted to love it.

That's right. Underneath it all, the proud peacock was a hurting, wounded thing. He covered all of that with the flamboyance and posturing... since it seemed most were at least attracted to that. "I'm... a foundling," he finally said, his voice just over a whisper. "My parents must not have wanted me. They found me in a basket in the hunting lands of Nirmarthas.

"Elves don't have much reason to be in the forest where I was raised, so... either my mother travelled, or my father stumbled on our people, or they..." He sighed. No reason to go into all the possibilities of what could have happened to his parents. "It doesn't matter. I just... for once in my life want to know I fit somewhere. That maybe they did want me." He gave her a weak smile, honesty in his eyes rather than the self-importance he usually presented. "I was fostered in the Fang Forest. Suppose the green cloak gave it away for you? Anyways, Half-breeds don't really have a place, despite the fact I was raised there. Always welcome, forever apart." He shrugged a little. "Not much chance for a mutt to marry, you know? I just want to know what happened to them. Why they left me. Was I nothing but a big mistake? Are either of them like me?" He shrugged again. "Your brother was the first clue I had to anything."

(May 5, 2015)

Ameiko listened to this history closely. She smiled at his comment about the cloak. "The cloak told me nothing -- I knew you were from a forest because you said 'I grew up in a forest, I ought to be able to swim' just minutes ago."

"You're right, that doesn't give you a whole lot to go on. Was there anything in the basket with you? Where was the basket left? Any nearby settlements or paths, or just out in the middle of nowhere?"

"As for belonging ... I think I know your problem. You've been the only half-elf living amongst humans. You need someplace where there are a bunch of other half-elves, so that you'll have people who know how it is, and you won't stick out so much. Or rather, the wardrobe will probably make you stick out regardlesss, but at least you won't stick out on account of your *race*.

(May 6, 2013)

He laughed at that. "I know. I like fancy clothes. At least I keep it practical for running the wilds. And if I found other half-elves, that would be great.

"I was left in the middle of hunting lands. The people that raised me said it was lucky they found me. I wasn't dehydrated yet, and couldn't have been there long. Something would have eaten me otherwise. So that's all I've got to go on. Most in the area don't really do a lot of reading or writing; not great at it myself. I -can- do it, just takes me a little to figure it out. So no note with me. Not even a blanket. I was left exposed." It bothered him more than he wanted to admit that he had been left like that. It kind of pointed to someone in the area being his mother... and definitely not wanting him. His best option now would be to find his father.

But he put on a smile for her. "Sorry. This should be about you."

(May 10, 2013)

"I have all night to reflect on Tsuto and father," Ameiko said, "So don't feel like you're hijacking the conversation. It's nice to think about something else for a bit anyway."

On the Pharasmin altar, the candle flickered, low and nearly gone. "The reception time is nearly over. I think we're probably not going to solve the mystery of your ancestry today, though. Meet me at the Rusty Dragon after lunch the day after tomorrow, and we'll go up to the house and see if we can find any information about this dashing mystery elf who apparently wandered around the area sweeping human women off their feet a couple of decades back."

(May 12, 2013)

He rose to his feet in a fluid motion, leaning to take her hands lightly into his. "Until the day after tomorrow," he offered with a bow. "May all go well until then." He gave her hands a light squeeze, gave her a smile of sympathy, and went out to stand guard over her vigil.

There he remained until first light, only then creeping back to the inn for a few hours rest. No need to even let her know he'd been watching out for her. Or even tell the others what he'd done. They'd only think he was off carousing with a loose man or woman anyways.

(May 12, 2013)

Micah's night vigil was unpleasantly cool. Though autumn was still young, the night air bore promises of cold to come. Twice during the night he had to hide from passing priests -- since Nualia's theft of her former step-father's ashes, security had been stepped up. Still, Micah's forest-trained stealth easily outmastered the eyes of priests accustomed more to bookish labors than night patrols.

The only other thing of note during the night was some mournful, haunting music emanating from the Kaijitsu shrine. Evidently Ameiko had brought her instrument along, though he hadn't noticed it earlier. He didn't recognize the instrument by its sound -- perhaps some exotic instrument from distant Minkai?

The parts from Micah's perspective were written by the player. I wrote Ameiko's perspective. Feel free to borrow and adapt as you choose. Hope this helps.

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If your character hasn't got a motivation for doing anything, then you haven't got a character.

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I wanted a bit more depth for the six dwarven captives toiling in the armory of Jorgenfist. So here they are.

Following a dispute with some of the clan elders over what constituted acceptable pricing structure for weapons and armor sold to non-dwarves, the master dwarven smith Elda Girsidottir decided to move her family from Janderhoff to Ravenmoor. She sold off her stock and shop to bankroll a new shop in their new home, packed everyone up, and hit the road. In addition to her husband Myrthin Borinson and their two children (Gunnar Myrthinson and Aud Eldasdottir), she brought her long-time friend Hilda Aelfredasdottir (a cleric of Bolka), who officiated at Elda and Myrthin's marriage. Finally, an independent gem smith, Gisli Grimsson, asked to come along as he wanted to make new trade contacts with the human cities along their route.

The group was taken by surprise at night, shortly before they would have reached their destination of Ravenmoor. All of their worldly possessions were taken from them, with the exception of their crafting tools. Since then, they have all been branded with the Sihedron, and forced to labor at making weapons. All of them had at least a little previous experience with weapon crafting, except Gisli, who has learned what little he knows since reaching Jorgenfist.

Notes on individual characters, with stat blocks, follow. I gave a few of them max hit points (the squishier ones).

Elda Girsidottir (expert 3):

Elda Girsidottir is a master smith -- her single-minded focus on her craft has given superb skill at crafting weapons, armor, tools of all kinds, locks, and even stonework. Her fierce temper, tendency to short patience, and her one-minded focus on her craft can make her a difficult woman to deal with.

Her strong desire to see her work put to good use led her to lower her prices, a move which led the elders of Janderhoff to censure her. They preferred not to charge higher prices to non-dwarves, in order to ensure that the finest weapons remained in dwarven hands. In accordance with dwarven tradition, Elda dutifully raised her prices -- just long enough to save up enough to relocate. The dwarven elders were unhappy, but had no grounds on which to forbid her to leave.

Alas, Elda's plans were thwarted when one of Mokmurian's scouting parties of stone giants intercepted her convoy, taking it by surprise at night. Dwarven training notwithstanding, the small group was no match, and handily captured. The giants soon discovered that their captives had useful skills, and brought them back to Jorgenfist to make weapons and armor for their armies.

Elda Girisdottir CR 1
XP 400
Dwarf expert 3
CG Medium humanoid (dwarf)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +8
AC 11, touch 11, flat-footed 10 (+1 Dex)
hp 25 (3d8+12)
Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +3; +2 vs. poison, spells, and spell-like abilities
Defensive Abilities defensive training
Speed 20 ft.
Special Attacks hatred
Str 14, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 15, Wis 10, Cha 8
Base Atk +2; CMB +4; CMD 15 (19 vs. bull rush, 19 vs. trip)
Feats Alertness, Prodigy[UM]
Skills Acrobatics +1 (-3 to jump), Appraise +2 (+4 to assess nonmagical metals or gemstones), Craft (armor) +12, Craft (blacksmith) +10, Craft (locks) +10, Craft (stonemasonry) +10, Craft (weapons) +12, Knowledge (engineering) +7, Perception +8 (+10 to notice unusual stonework), Sense Motive +8, Spellcraft +6; Racial Modifiers +2 Appraise to assess nonmagical metals or gemstones, +2 Perception to notice unusual stonework
Languages Common, Dwarven, Elven, Halfling
Other Gear masterwork artisan's tools, masterwork artisan's tools, masterwork artisan's tools, masterwork artisan's tools, masterwork artisan's tools
Special Abilities
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white only).
Defensive Training +4 Gain a dodge bonus to AC vs. monsters of the Giant subtype.
Greed +2 to Appraise to determine price of nonmagic goods with precious metals or gemstones.
Hatred +1 Gain a racial bonus to attacks vs. Goblinoids/Orcs.
Prodigy (Craft [armor], Craft [weapons]) Gain a +2 bonus on two Craft, Perform, or Profession skills.
Stonecunning +2 +2 bonus to Perception vs. unusual stonework. Free check within 10 feet.

Myrthin Borinson, her husband (fighter 1/expert 1):

Myrthin Borinson is a simple man. He likes food, ale, and sharp business deals. He briefly served in the Janderhoff militia as a young man, but soon found that he was better suited to business, and mustered out after his term of duty finished. Soon after he and Elda were paired by the Janderhoff matchmaker -- a match that proved excellent. Myrthin provides a stabilizing influence on his more mercurial wife, not to mention a much more pragmatic business sense. True love blossomed soon after their arranged marriage.

Myrthin Borinson CR 1
XP 400
Dwarf expert 1/fighter 1
LG Medium humanoid (dwarf)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +7
AC 11, touch 11, flat-footed 10 (+1 Dex)
hp 21 (2 HD; 1d8+1d10+7)
Fort +5, Ref +1, Will +2; +2 vs. poison, spells, and spell-like abilities
Defensive Abilities defensive training
Speed 20 ft.
Special Attacks hatred
Str 15, Dex 13, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 10
Base Atk +1; CMB +3; CMD 14 (18 vs. bull rush, 18 vs. trip)
Feats Alertness, Ancestral Weapon Mastery, Weapon Focus (dwarven waraxe)
Skills Acrobatics +1 (-3 to jump), Appraise +1 (+3 to assess nonmagical metals or gemstones), Climb +6, Craft (weapons) +3, Diplomacy +4, Handle Animal +4, Heal +4, Perception +7 (+9 to notice unusual stonework), Profession (merchant) +5, Sense Motive +6; Racial Modifiers +2 Appraise to assess nonmagical metals or gemstones, +2 Perception to notice unusual stonework
Languages Common, Dwarven, Halfling
Special Abilities
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white only).
Defensive Training +4 Gain a dodge bonus to AC vs. monsters of the Giant subtype.
Greed +2 to Appraise to determine price of nonmagic goods with precious metals or gemstones.
Hatred +1 Gain a racial bonus to attacks vs. Goblinoids/Orcs.
Stonecunning +2 +2 bonus to Perception vs. unusual stonework. Free check within 10 feet.

Gunnar Myrthinson, their eldest (commoner 1):

29 years of age (14-ish in human terms), Gunnar is very obedient son, but loves his father's stories of serving in the militia more than hammering out metal under his mother's stern gaze. He did not shrink from battle when the stone giants came, and managed to smack one pretty well in the shin with a hammer. They would happily have killed him, but Elda managed to persuade them that he was her most effective helper, and that she needed him if they wanted her to make the weapons they were after. That hasn't prevented them from mistreating him, however. He has been beaten heavily, and it is taking its toll despite healing from Hilda (and now his sister). In the event that he joins combat, he must roll twice on every attack roll and take the lower of the two.

Gunnar Myrthinson CR 1/4
XP 100
Young dwarf commoner 1 (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 295)
LG Small humanoid (dwarf)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +4
AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 11 (+3 Dex, +1 size)
hp 11 (1d6+5)
Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +0; +2 vs. poison, spells, and spell-like abilities
Defensive Abilities defensive training
Speed 20 ft.
Special Attacks hatred
Str 11, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 8
Base Atk +0; CMB -1; CMD 12 (16 vs. bull rush, 16 vs. trip)
Feats Simple Weapon Proficiency (dagger), Toughness
Skills Acrobatics +3 (-1 to jump), Appraise +1 (+3 to assess nonmagical metals or gemstones), Climb +4, Craft (weapons) +5, Perception +4 (+6 to notice unusual stonework); Racial Modifiers +2 Appraise to assess nonmagical metals or gemstones, +2 Perception to notice unusual stonework
Languages Common, Dwarven, Halfling
Other Gear artisan's tools
Special Abilities
Beaten Must roll twice on every attack roll and take the lower of the two.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white only).
Defensive Training +4 Gain a dodge bonus to AC vs. monsters of the Giant subtype.
Greed +2 to Appraise to determine price of nonmagic goods with precious metals or gemstones.
Hatred +1 Gain a racial bonus to attacks vs. Goblinoids/Orcs.
Stonecunning +2 +2 bonus to Perception vs. unusual stonework. Free check within 10 feet.

Aud Eldasdottir, their youngest (adept 1):

Aud is 22 years old (in human terms, about 10). Although her mother has begun teaching her the arts of smithing, she does not finding terribly interesting. She is far more impressed with Hilda Aelfredasdottir, and spent a lot of time talking to her on the journey. When they were captured by the stone giants, she hid, but was soon found. She is gaunt and tired after long days of forced work, and for the first two weeks of captivity cried herself to sleep; but then she had a dream, in which a dwarven lord with a shining golden beard welcomed her to a great feast, fed her the most delicious food she'd ever had, and promised that soon rescuers would be coming. She woke to find herself feeling full for the first time in a week; and after she made a prayer of thanks, found that she could cast a few spells to aid her friends and family.

(The dwarven lord was a servitor of Bolka; I gave her a level of Adept instead of Commoner, the Blessed feat, and added Crafter's Fortune to her spell list despite it not usually being on the Adept spell list.)

Aud Eldasdottir CR 1/4
XP 100
Female young dwarf adept 1 (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 295)
NG Small humanoid (dwarf)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +3
AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 11 (+3 Dex, +1 size)
hp 8 (1d6+2)
Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +5; +2 vs. poison, spells, and spell-like abilities
Defensive Abilities defensive training
Speed 20 ft.
Special Attacks hatred
Adept Spells Prepared (CL 1st; concentration +4)
. . 1st—crafter's fortune[APG] (DC 14), cure light wounds
. . 0 (at will)—create water, light, mending
Str 6, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 17, Cha 10
Base Atk +0; CMB -3; CMD 10 (14 vs. bull rush, 14 vs. trip)
Feats Blessed
Skills Acrobatics +3 (-1 to jump), Appraise +0 (+2 to assess nonmagical metals or gemstones), Bluff +0 (+2 vs. Good Aligned Outsiders, -2 vs. Evil Aligned Outsiders), Craft (armor) +2, Diplomacy +0 (+2 vs. Good Aligned Outsiders, -2 vs. Evil Aligned Outsiders), Disguise +0 (+2 vs. Good Aligned Outsiders, -2 vs. Evil Aligned Outsiders), Intimidate +0 (+2 vs. Good Aligned Outsiders, -2 vs. Evil Aligned Outsiders), Perception +3 (+5 to notice unusual stonework), Spellcraft +4; Racial Modifiers +2 Appraise to assess nonmagical metals or gemstones, +2 Perception to notice unusual stonework
Languages Common, Dwarven
Special Abilities
Blessed +1 DC on spells & +2 on Cha skills vs. good outsiders. -2 on Cha skills vs. evil outsiders.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white only).
Defensive Training +4 Gain a dodge bonus to AC vs. monsters of the Giant subtype.
Greed +2 to Appraise to determine price of nonmagic goods with precious metals or gemstones.
Hatred +1 Gain a racial bonus to attacks vs. Goblinoids/Orcs.
Stonecunning +2 +2 bonus to Perception vs. unusual stonework. Free check within 10 feet.

Gisli Grimsson, gem smith (expert 1):

Gisli Grimsson has no particular connection to any of the rest of the dwarves in his party. He was just looking for a convoy to travel in greater safety while making a loop of the human lands in order to establish trade contacts with other gem dealers. Alas, he chose the wrong group.

Gisli has not held up well in captivity. After the first few weeks of insufficient, rancid food, and being forced to craft weapons (a skill he had no training in prior to starting) he has given in to despair. He dully gets up in the morning and hammers weapons all day, dully eats whatever food is placed before him, and never says a word to anyone.

Gisli Grimsson CR 1/3
XP 135
Dwarf expert 1
CN Medium humanoid (dwarf)
Init +0; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +5
AC 10, touch 10, flat-footed 10
hp 9 (1d8+1)
Fort +1, Ref +0, Will +3; +2 vs. poison, spells, and spell-like abilities
Defensive Abilities defensive training
Speed 20 ft.
Special Attacks hatred
Str 10, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8
Base Atk +0; CMB +0; CMD 10 (14 vs. bull rush, 14 vs. trip)
Feats Skill Focus (Craft [gemcutting])
Skills Acrobatics +0 (-4 to jump), Appraise +0 (+2 to assess nonmagical metals or gemstones), Craft (gemcutting) +5, Craft (jewelry) +2, Craft (weapons) +4, Diplomacy +3, Knowledge (nobility) +4, Perception +5 (+7 to notice unusual stonework), Sense Motive +5; Racial Modifiers +2 Appraise to assess nonmagical metals or gemstones, +2 Perception to notice unusual stonework
Languages Common, Dwarven
Other Gear artisan's tools
Special Abilities
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white only).
Defensive Training +4 Gain a dodge bonus to AC vs. monsters of the Giant subtype.
Greed +2 to Appraise to determine price of nonmagic goods with precious metals or gemstones.
Hatred +1 Gain a racial bonus to attacks vs. Goblinoids/Orcs.
Stonecunning +2 +2 bonus to Perception vs. unusual stonework. Free check within 10 feet.

Hilda Aelfredasdottir (cleric of Bolka 3):
Hilda Aelfredasdottir was always meant to be a cleric of Bolka. The birthmark she bears on her left clavicle in the shape of Bolka's holy symbol marked her for that path from the day of her birth. Happily, it is one that suits Hilda just fine.

Hilda has been Elda's friend since childhood, and joyfully presided over her wedding. To her sorrow, Hilda herself remains unwed although she has been twice betrothed. The first betrothal lasted only a month before it became clear that Hilda and the young man did not suit one another. The second was much better, but her betrothed perished in a mining accident before they could wed.

Since being taken captive, Hilda has kept her clerical abilities hidden, using them quietly in the dark of night to bolster the bodies and spirits of her fellow captives. She is concerned that Gisli has given in to despair, but does not know what else to do for him. She is also greatly heartened by Aud's recent manifestation of faith (and magic). She believes Aud's stories of the angel who spoke to her, and waits patiently for the foretold rescuers.

Hilda Aelfredasdottir
Dwarf cleric of Bolka 3
NG Medium humanoid (dwarf)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +3
AC 11, touch 11, flat-footed 10 (+1 Dex)
hp 29 (3d8+12)
Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +6; +2 vs. poison, spells, and spell-like abilities, +2 trait bonus vs. charm and compulson
Defensive Abilities defensive training
Speed 20 ft.
Special Attacks channel positive energy 4/day (DC 12, 2d6), hatred
Cleric Spells Prepared (CL 3rd; concentration +6)
. . 2nd—calm emotions (DC 15), remove disease[D], silence (DC 15)
. . 1st—charm person[D] (DC 14), liberating command[UC], shield of faith, stone shield[ARG]
. . 0 (at will)—create water, detect magic, purify food and drink (DC 13), spark[APG] (DC 13)
. . D Domain spell; Domains Charm (Love subdomain), Healing (Restoration subdomain)
Str 12, Dex 13, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 17, Cha 12
Base Atk +2; CMB +3; CMD 14 (18 vs. bull rush, 18 vs. trip)
Feats Extra Channel, Extra Channel
Traits birthmark, grounded
Skills Acrobatics +1 (-3 to jump, +3 on balance-related checks), Appraise +0 (+2 to assess nonmagical metals or gemstones), Craft (armor) +2, Diplomacy +5, Heal +7, Knowledge (religion) +4, Perception +3 (+5 to notice unusual stonework), Sense Motive +7, Spellcraft +4; Racial Modifiers +2 Appraise to assess nonmagical metals or gemstones, +2 Perception to notice unusual stonework
Languages Common, Dwarven
SQ adoration, restorative touch
Other Gear artisan's tools, 150 gp
Special Abilities
Adoration (6/day, DC 14) (Su) Target must save or lose one attack against you.
Cleric Channel Positive Energy 2d6 (4/day, DC 12) (Su) Positive energy heals the living and harms the undead; negative has the reverse effect.
Cleric Domain (Love)
Cleric Domain (Restoration)
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white only).
Defensive Training +4 Gain a dodge bonus to AC vs. monsters of the Giant subtype.
Greed +2 to Appraise to determine price of nonmagic goods with precious metals or gemstones.
Hatred +1 Gain a racial bonus to attacks vs. Goblinoids/Orcs.
Restorative Touch (6/day) (Su) Remove the dazed, fatigued, shaken, sickened, or staggered conditions by touch.
Stonecunning +2 +2 bonus to Perception vs. unusual stonework. Free check within 10 feet.

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Self-cleaning cookware - cleans itself on command. The command word is: clean. (Works more effectively when shouted at the top of your lungs.)

Instant Hair-Dye: changes your hair color instantly! The catch is that the GM picks what color. Lasts for 8 hours.

Clean Candy -- cleans and whitens your teeth while you chew it. Tastes great, too! No downsides to this one.

Burbling Doll - a children's toy, which laughs, cries, burbles, and makes other baby noises any time anyone holds it.

Allspice - a dash of this will make any food taste delightful. No, really. It doesn't matter what kind of food, how it was spiced to begin with, or what the user likes. No matter what, it makes the food delicious. Provides no nutritional value.

Endless Top -- when set spinning, this top just won't drop. Spins until it is picked up again or until friction wears it away to nothing, whichever comes first. Rare examples may have adamantine tips, which in theory could bore their way to the center of the planet given a few thousand years to do it.

Unending Pen -- supplies its own ink. Available in multiple colors, 5 gp each. Deluxe version can change color on command (50 gp).

Perfect Tie -- this tie ties itself on command, in any knot the user cares to name, perfectly. Changes pattern and color on command.

Rainbow Lipstick -- when applied, shifts lazily through all the colors in the rainbow. Cycles once every 5 minutes or so. One tube contains 30 applications.

Cat Whistle -- no one but cats can hear this whistle. When blown, any cats in the area look at you in annoyance and then ignore you pointedly.

Fleamaster's Kit -- Start your own flea circus! This kit contains all you need to train fleas in any number of amazing tricks: tightrope walking, trapeze, clown cars, and more! Amaze your friends! The only real disadvantage is that you have to feed the fleas somehow, which tends to make you itchy and unpopular.

Mathematician's Smock -- the pockets of this loose smock always contain everything a mathematician might need in the course of performing mathematical calculations: bits of loose paper, pencil stubs, even an abacus. Also very stylish, if you ignore the pocket protector that just won't go away.

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In a campaign I'm GM'ing, I needed an NPC with expertise in aiudara and teleportation. For story reasons, she had to be a witch, and high-level (18). So here's a rough draft of an archetype for a teleportation-focused witch. Any feedback or suggestions are welcome.

Skills: A gatekeeper witch does not gain Knowledge (Nature) as a class skill. This modifies the witch's class skills.

Patron: a gatekeeper replaces some of her patron spells, as follows: 2nd—starsight; 18th—interplanetary teleport. Gatekeepers typically have the Stars patron. This modifies patron.

Arcane Reservoir (Su): at level 1, a gatekeeper witch gains an Arcane Reservoir, as the arcanist class feature, treating her witch level as her arcanist level. She does not gain the consume spells class feature. This replaces the witch hex gained at level 1.

Dimensional Slide (Su): at level 2, a gatekeeper witch gains the Dimensional Slide arcane exploit, treating her witch level as her arcanist level. This replaces the witch hex gained at level 2.

Teleportation Expert (Ex): At level 8, any time a gatekeeper witch observes a teleportation effect she may make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + the caster level of the effect) to determine the effect's destination, expressed as a direction and distance from the point of origin. This ability works on both spells that she observes being cast, and on teleportation items or artifacts that she examines. This replaces the hex gained at level 8.

Swift Teleportation (Su): at level 10, a gatekeeper witch may spend 1 point from her arcane pool to cast any spell of the teleportation subschool that she has prepared as an immediate action. If she spends an additional 2 points, the spell is not expended, and may be cast again. This replaces the major hex gained at level 10.

Gatemaker (Su): At level 18, a gatekeeper witch may cast Teleportation Circle twice per day as a spell-like ability. When she casts Teleportation Circle in this way, she may choose to expend 3 points (per casting) from her arcane reservoir to make the circle permanent, as per Permanency. She does not need to pay the costs normally associated with creating a permanent teleportation circle. She may set conditions on who may pass through one of her gates: by alignment, subtype, a list of authorized individuals, a password, or any other criteria she chooses. This replaces the grand hex gained at 18th level.

Gatemaker Savant (Su): At 20th level, a gatekeeper witch no longer needs to pay points from her arcane reservoir to use Dimensional Slide. She does not need to pay points from her arcane pool to activate Swift Teleportation, and the cost to retain the spell decreases to 1 point. Finally, when she uses her Gatemaker ability, she may choose to spend an additional 3 points from her arcane pool (per casting) to make the circle function as though it used Interplanetary Teleport or Plane Shift, allowing her to create gates to distant worlds or other planes of existence. This replaces the grand hex gained at 20th level.

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Hmm. That's pretty cool, but it's going to be tough. Let's just walk through this.

Ogre Cattle Rustlers:
If the PCs are under cover when you reach this encounter, they could join in the cattle raid, help out the ogres, eat delicious beef (that's not theirs), and gain some valuable intel about Jorgenfist: directions to the area, a few named NPCs, such as Cinderma, and maybe a couple of the leaders in the camps outside the fortress proper. They may know passwords (which could well be out of date, considering they're deserters!) The raiders probably don't know anything about the interior of the fortress, but they might know about the rocs and harpies.

If they wind up camping with the ogres, one of the ogre raiders develops a crush on the PC disguised as an ogre. Does the PC reject their advances, potentially triggering a fight? Delay, and hope to escape before it can come up again? Accept, and then have a dreadfully awkward time explaining why they can't take off this one bit of shiny gear (their disguise item)?

Storval Stairs:
The adventure doesn't specify, but presumably the guards have orders to allow their allies through, and probably some kind of password. They're also hill giants, and not terribly bright. I'd let the PCs talk their way past without too much difficulty.

Iron Peak Patrols:
Stone giants are brighter than hill giants, and more likely to be suspicious. The PCs would be best advised to evade detection if they can.

If the patrol discovers them, though, I'd run this as a combat encounter, more or less as written -- the PCs need to prevent those stone giants from reporting in, or their cover will be blown.

Cinderma's Tower:
Any passwords garnered from earlier encounters should now be out of date (unless they manage to get one out of one of the Iron Peak Patrols, perhaps). Anyway, Cinderma is no dummy with an INT score of 12 and WIS of 17, and she's immune to illusion and enchantment spells (which makes it difficult to supplement their disguises with magic). The PCs would probably have an easier time presenting themselves as new recruits, but it doesn't match up with their story about delivering a piece of the Old Light.

If the PCs are smart enough to observe the watchtower closely from cover before approaching, let them realize that Cinderma takes off in the evening. That leaves it in the hands of her Runeslaves, who are dumb as a bucket of rocks. If the PCs say they're here on Mokmurian's orders, the Runeslaves will probably just let them pass.

The Encampments:
If the PCs make it this far, most of the tribes probably won't be terribly interested in them beyond noting the arrival of a couple more lamias. They all know the two lamia sisters, who branded them with the Sihedron.

The ogres of the Red Shield and Nightshade clan may potentially be interested in your ogre-impersonating PC, as this is logically someone to join their contingent. They'll probably have questions like "What your clan?" "You join Red Shields, yes? We strong! Much stronger than Nightshade pansies." "No, you join Nightshade. We smarter than Red Shield buffoons. See? We know word 'buffoon'!"

The Harpy Monks:
Man, for guards they have lousy Sense Motive. I'd have the harpy monks just let them in. I mean, I doubt Mokmurian briefed them on all his plans, and they sure look like his allies, and if they've reached this point they already passed a whole bunch of other guards, so if I were they harpy on the wall, I'd just look them up and down, then call one of the stone giant guards to open the door and escort them inside to General Galenmir.

General Galenmir:
The general is the logical person to have the PCs sent to. Mokmurian is the big boss; he makes the big plans, and it falls to Galenmir to see to it that those plans get executed. Galenmir knows who was sent on that raid to Sandpoint, what they were trying to get, and that he didn't send any ogres or lamiakin with them. He's mostly a melee bruiser, but not dumb by any means. He probably doesn't know every ogre in his command, but there are only 2 lamia, and they live down the hall.

He'll want to know all kinds of things:

1) Who are you?
2) How did you get in here?
3) What do you want?
4) You weren't part of the party I sent to Sandpoint. How did you get involved?
5) What happened to the rest of them?

He doesn't have a great sense motive, but I would impose a significant penalty on bluff checks, because he knows exactly what was going on, and the PCs probably don't have all the details.

If they straight up fail to persuade him that they're legit, roll initiative.

If he's wavering and unsure whether they're legit, he'll demand to see the ogre's Sihedron brand. Unless the PCs have figured out that they need one, then that will give away the game -- and roll initiative.

If the PCs have managed to persuade him that they're legit: "Hrm. Well done for making the best of a bad situation, and completing a mission that wasn't even yours. Give me the stone, and then get yourselves some food in the kitchen before you head back out to the camp." If they try to persuade him to let them stay with the stone all the way to Mokmurian, that probably raises his suspicions. "I gave you an order, soldier. Hand over the stone, get back to camp, and wait for further orders." If they still won't do it, roll initiative.

But if they do, then ... well, at that point I'd say they have effectively infiltrated Jorgenfist, and you'll have to play it by ear from there.

Successful Infiltration:
Conna won't know that they're on her side, so she won't try to contact them. But perhaps they could discover her from gossip in the kitchen with other stone giants. Maybe someone wants to prank the newbies by sending them into the flayed giant trap.

The two lamia sisters are going to be a problem. They'll probably be very interested to meet these two lamia they don't know. Perhaps they want to swap gossip about happenings in Xin-Shalast (that the PCs won't know). Or maybe they want to invite their new sisters to join in a celebration of Lamashtu, complete with all the squicky bits that make Lamashtu so fun -- you know, eruptive childbirth, ritual sacrifice of prisoners for the greed in their souls, crossbreeding with monsters, the usual.

If they avoid that, someone is likely to notice that they're wearing magic gear, unless they go to extraordinary measures to conceal it (making it muddy and tattered, and using Magic Aura to conceal its magical properties from Detect Magic.)

Ultimately, there is no way that this can go on for very long. Sooner or later, somebody will figure it out, and then they'll suddenly be up the creek. They will need an escape plan. If possible, perhaps Conna can intervene and show them a way into the redcap tunnels to escape. Perhaps they can teleport out. Perhaps one of the dwarf prisoners from the armory has been working on an escape tunnel, and they can hide there for a bit until things quiet down. I don't know. You're going to wind up playing it by ear.

It could be awesome. But they definitely need some kind of escape plan, otherwise when things go south they will be in deep, deep trouble.

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Expecto Patronum! - cast the 3.5 era spell "Melf's Unicorn Arrow"

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Here's a redo of the Jorgenfist library using the Ultimate Intrigue research subystem:

The Therassic Library

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William Sinclair wrote:

Karzoug's army is on the march, and the party decided that crafting was more important than finding out what the army was all about.


So far....
1. Ravenmoor has been destroyed
2. Wolf's Ear has been destroyed
3. Lord-Mayor Grobaras has been deposed, and Mayor Deverin has taken his place.
4. The party has finally started to form an army to defend against the army
5. They found handout 6-1 and have moved on to the dwarven mining camp.

Good times....

Good lord. What were they crafting that was so all-fired important that they thought ignoring an army of cloud, storm, and rune giants was the way to go?

If Karzoug is not already free, he should be by the time your players get to him. Having a hard time seeing how the party is not going to wind up as stylish new gold statues in his palace.

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The following is a reworking of the Library of Thassilon area from the Fortress of the Stone Giants, using the Research system from Ultimate Intrigue. It contains spoilers. If you are a player rather than a GM, do not read further.

Rather than write one monolithic research stat block for the library, I have chosen to write several smaller stat blocks, one for each research topic spelled out in FotSG and SotS. Each research topic has its own knowledge point total and thresholds, but shares the basic stats of the library. Each includes an event that triggers when the PCs reach the threshold just before it.

As written, the adventure does not award XP for completing these knowledge checks. If you do award XP for the research, I recommend waiting until all three topics have been fully researched.

If the party successfully befriended it, the Clockwork Librarian may supply Aid Another checks to the primary researcher at +4 rather than the usual +2 bonus because of its intimate familiarity with the collection. This uses one of the two secondary researchers allowed by the Research rules.

You could easily expand the list to add more research tasks connected to ancient Thassilon, such as the River Avah, rune giants, Leng, runeforged weapons, Alara'hai, sin magic, the other six Runelords, etc. But since those are less relevant to the adventure, it is probably better to treat them as single knowledge checks.

Therassic Library:

Therassic Library (CR 11)
Complexity 31 (average)
Languages Thassilonian
Research Check Knowledge (arcana) or Knowledge (history); Knowledge Bonus +5

kp 25

kp 20
Xin-Shalast is a legendary lost city, rumored to be hidden somewhere in the Kodar Mountains. Stories hold that Xin-Shalast had gold streets and gemstone buildings, and sat under the gaze of a mountain that could see.

kp 15
Xin-Shalast was the capital city of an empire called Shalast, one of seven that composed the ancient empire of Thassilon. Legend holds that Xin-Shalast lay at the headwaters of the sacred River Avah—which Varisian folklore says leads to an earthly paradise sacred to Desna. Unfortunately, no record of where this river may have once flowed exists today, and most scholars believe the river itself to have been destroyed during Earthfall.

kp 10
In the final centuries before Earthfall ended Thassilon, Xin-Shalast was ruled by Runelord Karzoug, one of the lords of the Thassilonian Empire. The primary architects of the immense city were tribes of giants, themselves ruled by powerful beings known as rune giants.

kp 5
The Spires of Xin-Shalast stand upon the mythical mountain of Mhar Massif. This mountain of legendary proportions pierces the skies above the Kodars, and is said to be the highest peak in the entire range of stupendously inhospitable mountains.

kp 0
Mhar Massif is said to serve as a bridge to strange realms beyond Golarion—notably, to the nightmare dimension of Leng. The connections with the nightmare realm of Leng were said to have infused the region around the peak of Mhar Massif with dangerous eldritch and otherworldly energies.

Event The tome that reveals this final piece of information bears an ancient spell trap left by the jealous former owner.

Dream Dalliance Trap CR 6
XP 2,400
Type magic; Perception DC 30; Disable Device DC 30
Trigger proximity (alarm); Reset automatic; Bypass password ("elucidarian")

Effect spell effect (dream dalliance, DC 17 Will save negates); single target (the reader)

Since the reader does not need to sleep while in the Therassic Library, they will not notice the effects of a failed save until after leaving the library. The clockwork librarian has read this book, but is unaware of this trap because it is immune to mind-affecting effects and does not sleep.

kp 25

kp 20
Karzoug was the Runelord of Greed. While he was, himself, an Azlanti human, he was a powerful man indeed—said to be the most gifted manipulator of Transmutation magic in all of Thassilon, and to have lived for hundreds of years. He ruled a region called Shalast, part of the ancient empire of Thassilon, over 10,000 years ago.

kp 15
Karzoug’s armies were composed primarily of giants who followed his every command—the giants were ruled by towering monsters known as rune giants, who were themselves runelord pawns. Karzoug counted other powerful creatures as his allies as well, such as blue dragons, eerie denizens from the nightmare realm of Leng, blooddrinking outsiders known as scarlet walkers, and immense lamia harridans who towered over most giants.

kp 10
Karzoug focused his magic on the school of transmutation, magic associated in Thassilonian times with the virtue of wealth. Under his reign, though, this virtue of rule became more associated with the sin of greed. Among the runelords, his mastery of greed magic was uncontested, yet in the schools of illusion and enchantment (related to the sins of pride and lust), his skills had atrophied greatly. Many believed that weapons infused with illusion and enchantment magic, known as “dominant weapons,” would be particularly potent against Karzoug, yet no record of someone attacking the runelord with such a weapon exists within the library.

Event The Clockwork Librarian has been tremendously excited and pleased to have researchers in the library once more. In its eagerness to assist, it loses track of the key used to wind it up. The construct is stricken with terror at the thought of winding down just when its services are finally needed again, and begs the PCs to assist in locating the precious key. The key was knocked off its peg and accidentally kicked under a chair. Locating it requires a DC 28 perception check, and costs the PCs a full day of research time. If they can use divination magic (such as locate object), no research time is lost. If it is not found, the clockwork librarian winds down one day after alerting them to the key's loss, and reactivating it requires a DC 25 Knowledge (engineering) check.

kp 5
Karzoug warred with his neighbors, but none more so than Alaznist, the Runelord of Wrath and ruler of Bakrakhan. Between their nations, along a ridge known as the Rasp, Karzoug built immense sentinel statues to watch over Bakrakhan, while Alaznist built towers called Hellfire Flumes to prevent Karzoug’s armies from invading. Citizens of both nations worried that the war between Karzoug and Alaznist would soon escalate to the point where they could bring about the end of the world.

kp 0
As Karzoug and Alaznist’s war intensified, and as wars between other runelords threatened more than just their armies, the runelords devised methods in which they could escape the world and enter a state of suspended animation, so they could ride out cataclysms. In theory, their surviving minions would then waken them to reclaim their empires once the cataclysms had ended.

kp 40

kp 30
Runeforge was created as a place where agents of the seven runelords could gather to study magic.

kp 20
The runelords wove wards around Runeforge that barred entrance into the complex to any runelord or his direct agents, in order to keep the research within free from sabotage at the hands of an enemy.

kp 10
Runeforge’s magical enhancements sustained those within without the need to eat, drink, or even sleep.

Event The book that reveals this is a lengthy treatise on engineering magical protections into large structures, and notes that having a sympathetic focus makes the process easier, but that once complete, the focus is no longer needed. If the primary researcher succeeds on a DC 28 Knowledge (arcana) check and a DC 30 Perception check, they can locate the sympathetic focus that was used in the library's temporal warding: a clear spindle ioun stone, embedded in the stones at the bottom of the library shaft. Freeing it requires a strength check: 15+ succeeds; 11-15 succeeds, but the stone is flawed in the process; lower has no effect. Removing the ioun stone has no ill effect on the library's temporal warding.

kp 0
The final project the runelords set Runeforge on was the development of ways the runelords could escape the imminent fall of their empire. Each faction developed a unique answer for its runelord, based upon the underlying principles of that faction’s magical traditions.

Adjust the research DC according to taste. I have assumed it should be average. Easy = 26, average = 31, difficult = 36.

I opted not to assign serious time pressure to the research tasks presented here, because although knowing these things are useful, they are not crucial to advancing in the adventure path. Also, since the PCs will just have finished a long dungeon crawl, they may need some down time between 4 and 5 anyway to rest up, shop for gear, pursue romantic interests, and so on. If you want to assign time pressure to the Runeforge research task, I recommend giving them no more than a week.

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The following is long. I've split it up into chunks and spoilered it.

General thoughts on the OP's predicament:
I think the basic problem you're struggling with is that you don't want the story to end prematurely. If you kill off the PCs, it does -- as long as you're committed to following the AP as written.

Things already sound like they're pretty much off the rails. But that's okay; it shows that your players have been acting in interesting, dynamic ways. Your group -- players and GM alike -- are reshaping the written story to make it their own.

I advise against a deus-ex-machina solution. "Doing a reset" like this cheapens the choices of the PCs. Besides, you don't need that yet. One of the PCs lived, and that means that one PC has the opportunity to flee, rally support, and keep the story alive.

If one of the PCs explicitly prays for divine aid, consider providing it. Perhaps a helpful archon/azata/etc pops up at a key moment, or a mortally wounded PC gains DR 5/epic and the ability to act while in negatives just long enough to turn the tide (after which they should fall unconscious again). Divine aid should be rare, focused, short duration, and aimed to maximize dramatic effect.

What I would do about the captured PCs:
Nualia's goal is to free Malfeshnekor, thereby fully purging her celestial "taint", and releasing a powerful servant of Lamashtu into the world again.

The adventure is not clear about exactly what she needs to do in order to accomplish his release. He's restrained by a Binding spell at CL 20; generally, it takes either an anti-magic field (Sor/Wiz level 6, min CL 13), or a Mage's Disjunction (Sor/Wiz level 9, min CL 17) to take one of those down. As a level 4 cleric with two levels of fighter, Nualia simply doesn't have the magical oomph (or monetary resources) to deal with that directly herself.

I suggest, therefore, that she's using an occult ritual whose purpose is not to dispel or remove the binding, but to change its target. Thus:

Twisting the Bars
School abjuration; Level 6
Casting Time 6 hours
Components V, S, M (a tiny gold cage worth 100 gp per HD of target), SC (min 4, max 20)
Skill Checks Knowledge (planes or religion) DC 25, 3 successes
Range touch
Target one creature previously targeted by a binding (hedged prison) spell
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw none; SR no
Backlash The primary caster takes 1d6 points of damage per HD of the target creature and is exhausted. The damage may be split amongst secondary casters.
Failure The caster takes 1 permanent negative level.

This ritual frees the target of a binding (hedged prison) spell by substituting a new creature for the original target. The new creature must have at least as many hit dice as the original target; or, if such a creature is not available, the primary caster may designate a group of creatures whose combined hit dice equal or exceed those of the original target.

Upon successful completion of the ritual, the original target of the binding (hedged prison) spell is freed, and the new creature takes its place in the prison.

Nualia has learned this ritual, and trained a cadre of 20 secondary casters (mostly goblins) to assist in it. All she has needed are suitable prisoners. She was reluctant to use goblins, because it would have taken quite a few of them to come up with an equivalent to Malfeshnekor's 10 hit dice, and that might have disrupted her somewhat tenuous alliance with the tribes.

The captive PCs are exactly what she needs, and she wastes no time in putting her plan into motion. The very next day after capturing the PCs, she conducts the ritual, and it's a success! With the following results:

- Nualia gains the fiendish template;
- Malfeshnekor is free for the raid on Sandpoint;
- Your former PCs are now trapped in Malfeshnekor's prison.

Since Nualia is a devoted follower of Lamashtu, she is cruel. She would very likely mutilate them in painful, humiliating ways. Then, having used them to free her ally, she would abandon them alive in the deeps of Thistletop with plenty of water and no food, trusting that as they slowly starve to death, they will descend into insanity and cannibalism. She sees this as a fitting offering to the Mother of Madness.

Of course, this also means that they are alive, and can be rescued. It may be somewhat tricky for the PCs to do so, but they could always use the same ritual that Nualia did (it's not inherently evil; arrange for them to find notes on how to do it in her room in Thistletop). Perhaps Nualia and some of her minions could wind up in Malfeshnekor's binding. I leave the moral quandaries of leaving Nualia bound in Malfeshnekor's prison to you. She does have to eat, after all, so just leaving her there is a slow death sentence. Some of the good-aligned deities might balk at that, particularly Desna; others might be okay with it provided Nualia (and any others) are mercifully executed after the ritual is complete. Some of the more lawful ones would prefer a formal trial and sentencing first.

Alternatively, the PCs could buy a scroll of Anti-Magic Field in Magnimar. Cast it from the scroll, the bound PCs walk out of the prison; when the AMF wears off, the Binding spell snaps back into place, and they are still the targets. But because they are now outside the bounds, its effect is that they are incapable of ever entering that room again.

It's somewhat pricey for a low-level party at 1,650 gp, but if the alternative is being stuck in Thistletop for the rest of their lives, it's well worth it.

What I would do about the raid:
Let the players whose PCs were captured roll up new PCs who -- by a great stroke of fortune! -- happen to be passing through Sandpoint when your second raid hits.

Give them -- say -- 3 days to prepare. On Day 1, Nualia is busy casting Twist the Bars. On Day 2, she and her minions are recovering from the ritual, and possibly doing terrible things to the captured PCs for giggles. On Day 3, Nualia, Malfeshnekor, and Ripnugget have to martial their disorderly goblins into a horde and travel to Sandpoint. They attack on Day 4, before dawn and under cover of dark so that the goblins can benefit from Darkvision while their human targets are blinded. Perhaps it's a full moon so your normal-sighted PCs are not totally screwed, and anyone with low-light vision can function normally.


In terms of tactics, goblins are sneaky. It should not be a charge-in-head-first-yodeling-war-cries type raid. I would divide them into three groups:

Group 1: A general raiding party of goblins, led by Bruthazmus. These would sneak in first, under cover of darkness, through the dump, and aim to create as much chaos as possible as fast as possible. Set buildings on fire, hurl thunderstones through windows to flush civilians into the streets, kill people messily and painfully to sow terror. However, they are primarily a distraction.

Group 2: A group of goblin commandos led Chief Ripnugget. They enter over the wall behind the cathedral (Stickfoot can just climb over it, allowing Ripnugget to haul ropes over for the others.) Their goal is to kill known town leaders. In order, their targets are Father Zantus, Sheriff Hemlock, and Mayor Deverin. Zantus is first because he has magic, especially group healing, and because he is old he is a weaker target. Hemlock next because he leads the soldiers. Mayor Deverin last, because killing her would essentially throw the town into political chaos even if the goblins are forced to retreat, making the town a weaker target for future attacks. If they get an opportunity, they'll try to free Orik and order him to assist them with the slaughter, or kill him if he won't cooperate.

Group 3: The big one. This is composed of Nualia, Malfeshnekor, Gogmurt, and two goblin commandos. They are concealed in the woods outside the north gate, under cover of an Invisibility Sphere provided by Malfeshnekor. When Group 1 starts, they spend a few rounds buffing: Malfeshnekor casts Mass Bull's Strength and Mass Enlarge on everyone (he can't enlarge himself, not being a humanoid). Nualia does her normal buffs as per her stat block, but skips Bull's Strength since Malfeshnekor is doing that. She has Silence in that slot instead to deal with enemy casters. Gogmurt has finally gotten some rest, freeing up a second level spell slot for Barkskin. He buffs himself with Barkskin, Flame Blade, and has 2xFaerie Fire prepped instead of Charm Animal and Speak with Animals.

After buffing, Malfeshnekor uses Dimension Door to put them right inside the gates. Their first goal is to kill any defenders on the wall and open the gates, to secure an easy route of retreat if it should be needed. After that, they intend to meet up with the others -- first Group 2, then Group 1 -- in order to provide direction for the remainder of the raid. Their primary goal is to destroy Sandpoint by killing as many of its people as possible. However, Nualia is a servant of Xanesha, and knows that her mistress has plans for greedy souls. If they get an opportunity, they'll take some live prisoners to be marked with the Sihedron and sacrificed for the greed in their souls.



Allow the PCs to make knowledge or intelligence checks to identify likely avenues of approach (the junkyard because goblins like junk, the wall in the cathedral because they evidently came that way once before, perhaps the unguarded bridges by the mill). Then give them time to come up with defenses. Alarms, whether magical or mundane; traps; sentries at key spots; requisitioning better equipment for the guards; arming commoners with clubs or daggers, and maybe crossbows for a few. Sandpoint is large -- they may need horses or some other method of getting from one spot to another fast.

Creativity is good. When my PCs defended Sandpoint against the stone giants, the party bard asked if she could play the bells in the cathedral to Inspire Courage across the whole town, and I said yes because that was cool. The result was a pretty embarrassing death for Longtooth.


I do not think that a TPK at this stage is very likely. There are lots of goblins, and Nualia and Malfeshnekor are extremely dangerous. However, since the fight is happening in Sandpoint, there are lots of people available to help. It's a lot harder to wipe out a whole town than it is to crush a party of four or five adventurers unsupported in the midst of a hostile dungeon.

Ameiko: can use Inspire Courage and provide minor healing.

Shalelu: can provide ranged support.

Father Zantus: can provide healing if the party saves him from Ripnugget. Give him the Selective Channeling feat so he can heal everyone in an area but exclude Nualia and company. He likely has some lower level acolytes (adepts and level 1 clerics) who can also assist in this way.

Belor Hemlock: can provide a fair number of guards, and is a pretty respectable combatant himself. Have him coordinate closely with the PCs during the preparations stage.

Orik: I'm not entirely clear on how well your party is getting along with Orik. If he is cooperative, they could use him as a source of information about likely tactics by Nualia et al. But honestly, at this point they probably know everything he has to tell them on that score. The more interesting potential arises if he has decided that he needs to undo his former errors -- or at least save his skin from prosecution -- he might be enlisted as a defender. But if he learns that the party killed Lyrie, I suspect that would likely drive him fully into the arms of evil. There is much potential for dramatic switching of sides here.

Last, but definitely not least, there are the players. This is a prime opportunity for your players to try out some new PCs. Perhaps some of them will prefer to keep the new PCs after the dust has settled. Or perhaps they will prefer to resume playing their original PCs (in which case, the ones they use for this raid could reasonably become "backup characters" in case somebody dies further down the line).

Either way, they get to keep playing, and the story goes on.

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In between Book 3 and Book 4, I did solo sessions for each of my players. One of them, an Arcane Trickster, wanted to investigate the Old Light more. So I declared a small earthquake had opened up a passage deep under the ruins, leading to this:

The Old Light (Hell Flume) -- 3.1 MB, 100 pixels to the 5-foot square, prints fine at 100 DPI.

The Old Light (Hell Flume) GM reference -- much smaller

Here's a description of the areas:
General features: ceilings are 10 feet high in the corridors, rising to 15 feet in the rooms. The walls are made of magically-hardened masonry, per CRB.

T1 and T2: are pit traps (use plain, camouflaged or camouflaged and spiked as suits your player level). The trigger for these traps is magical. The hell flume's personnel carried tokens that identified them as authorized to pass in safety. Some of these can be found in a chest in B. Reset is manual; the pit needs to be closed again by one of the guardians (see G1 and G2).

G1 and G2: golems, faithfully patrolling the perimeter for intruders even after all this time. I used Clockwork Soldiers. Patrols proceed clockwise at a steady, even pace. It takes a golem 1 round to traverse 1 quarter of the circle, and their perception scores are poor. Sneaky players (and ones who don't charge blindly in) can easily wait for one to pass and then walk in behind it.

B: Barracks. Little remains. The few soldiers on duty here who survived the cataclysm of Earthfall stripped it of useful loot and departed millennia ago. As mentioned, pass tokens for the traps can be found in one of the chests.

M: Mess hall. Nobody cleaned up the dishes; they're still here, buried in drifts of ancient, dry dust.

K: Kitchen. The fire was not put out before the human complement fled, and something got knocked over into it. The resulting fire destroyed most of the kitchen. There's little left here but ash. Fortunately it did not spread to the rest of the complex.

L: Library/meeting room. (This could probably use a table.) The statue depicts Lissala. Most of the books are technical manuals pertaining to day-to-day operation of the Hell Flume, plus religious literature for Lissala, and a bit of light reading for the soldiers. All texts in ancient Thassilonian. One of the books is a roster of the personnel assigned to this station at the time of Earthfall. There were ten soldiers assigned (not including Xaliasa) at the time of Earthfall:

Mieli Tenris, lieutenant, 2nd in command (F)
Oskarin Valnia, 2nd lieutenant (M)
Maki Mustanen, chief arcanist (M)
Severi Belis, assistant arcanist (F)
Kal Benro, 2nd assistant arcanist (M)
Chelun Garvi, private (M)
Vialis Traven, private (M)
Ruusu Kivi, private (F)
Mirja Malkoinu, private (F)
Antti Beren, cook (F)

Every member of the Hell Flume's personnel at the time of Earthfall were human. Although I have given genders here, this information is not listed in the the roster.

C: The command center. The pool of water at the upper right is a minor artifact containing an incorporeal construct called an Adjutant (Str -, dex 13, con -, int 16, wis 10, cha 13, HD 15, Sense Motive +15, Perception +15, Lore (Hell Flumes) +15, construct traits, incorporeal subtype, constant True Seeing). It radiates an overwhelming aura of transmutation and illusion magic. When a creature approaches the dais, it flares to life, projecting an image of itself above the water. In my case, I settled on a female human in a trim military uniform with a neutral expression, but feel free to customize the Adjutant's appearance and personality. Its purpose is to assist the commander of the Hell Flume in operating the structure.

The Adjutant is intelligent, but still at base a construct, and it was slightly damaged shortly after Earthfall. Its conception of time is out of skew; every night around 2 AM, its perception of time skips, and it reverts back to the state it was in at the time it was damaged. As far as it is concerned, only a few hours have passed since the crew fled. When approached, the Adjutant demands identification. The PCs can attempt to fool the adjutant into believing that they are authorized personnel. Doing so requires possession of one of the trap-pass tokens from B, and giving a name known to the Adjutant (retrievable from the roster in L), followed by a Bluff check opposed by the Adjutant's Sense Motive. The Adjutant is aware of the race and gender of its crew; if the PC does not match, the bluff automatically fails. Disguise Self and similar magics are a dead giveaway that something is wrong: the Adjutant can see through such illusions via its True Seeing. Mundane disguises can work, as usual. In addition, the only language that the Adjutant knows is Thassilonian. It will not, however, notice a Tongues spell should the PCs happen to use one.

If a PC persuades the Adjutant that they are Mieli Tenris or Oskarin Valnia, the Adjutant will give a status report on the facility, and ask questions about the current state of affairs. If they can further persuade the Adjutant that those higher up the chain of command are dead, then command devolves to the PC, and the Adjutant treats that PC as their new commander. Becoming the commander gives the PC full control of what's left of the facility, via the Adjutant. Further, they can designate "new personnel" authorized to work in the facility (whom the golems will not attack). The adjutant can communicate telepathically with the golems in the facility to relay orders and new authorizations.

If a PC impersonates Severi Belis or Kal Benro, they can get detailed technical readouts on the entire works of the Hell Flume, but the Adjutant will not discuss other matters with them. The arcanists were not authorized to designate guests, and were not in the chain of command.

If a PC impersonates any of the privates or the cook, the Adjutant will demand information from the PC regarding the whereabouts of the rest of the personnel, and order them to go fetch Commander Xaliasa, Lieutenant Mieli, or Lieutenant Oskarin at once, as the structure has sustained severe damage. They won't get much more than that -- the Adjutant outranks privates.

If a PC attempts to impersonate Thassilonian personnel and fails, the Adjutant says: "Intruder detected. Human complement unavailable. Initiating secondary defense protocols." At which point, both of the two statues in the room come to life and attack (I used Caryatid Columns for this). As for the Adjutant itself, it does not have any offensive capability, but it can cast Force Cage around itself at will, and does so at the start of combat.

Of course, if the PCs return the next day, the Adjutant will have reset and forgotten their attempts to lie to it, allowing them to try again. If they manage to persuade it the they're the commander, it might be possible to repair its time sense, but doing so would require a series of difficult skill checks (UMD, Disable Device, Kn [Arcana]).

I: The central chamber is the Ignis Core, a major artifact. It contains an enormous, partially incorporeal ruby that channels energy from the elemental plane of Fire, hovering mid-air on a jet of white-hot flame. If a PC manages to enter, they take 1d4 points of fire damage per round unless they have suitable protective magics in place (such as Resist Energy). A DC 20 Knowledge (Planes) check allows them to realize that the ruby is the focus for a direct connection to the elemental plane of Fire. A DC 10 Knowledge (Arcana) check is enough to realize that messing with it is a Bad Idea. I leave to the GM the exact effects of removing or even misaligning the ruby; however, the resulting explosion should result in a crater large enough to wipe out at least a quarter of Sandpoint. Possibly more.

The Ignis Core itself is heavily warded against teleportation; the only way in or out is through the doors. Both of the two stone doors into this chamber are sealed with Arcane Lock spells, and guarded by Rune Guardians of the wrath school. The rune guardians stay nestled in niches on the face of the door until a creature approaches within 10 feet, at which point they pop out of their sockets and use their Burning Hands special ability, followed by making loud alarm noises to attract the other golems in the facility.

There is a ladder on the east wall leading up to the upper level; there's an Arcane Locked trapdoor at the top. Getting up there the PCs would discover a partially collapsed room full of broken arcane machinery, with no other exit. This is not mapped.

X: these are Commander Xaliasa's quarters. The PCs can discover his private journals from before Earthfall here. He does not speak directly of his treachery against Alaznist at first, but as he slowly grew less and less sane, the ramblings in these journals reveal his role as a double-agent for Alaznist and Karzoug, and finally that he had begun seeking something or someplace called "Runeforge".

Status Report on the Hell Flume:

The facility consisted of several levels. This is the base level, and the only one routinely accessed by most crew. The upper levels consisted of:

level 1: ignis core (status: operational)
level 2: two phase intensifier array (status: partially operational)
level 3: expansion coils (status: destroyed)
level 4: targeting mirror (status: destroyed)

When fully operational, the Hell Flume produced (essentially) a 20d6 fireball, disregarding the usual cap on the number of dice. Energy would be drawn from the Plane of Fire through the Ignis Core, fed through the intensifier array (Maximize, Empower), then optionally the expansion coils (Expanded, Enlarged), and finally directed towards its target with the targeting mirror (itself a minor artifact). The result was a blast of 180 damage at any area within a mile of the structure, targeting as precisely as a single 5-foot square, or as broadly as a 60-foot radius, depending on how the shot was configured. It could be fired once every 1d4 rounds.

My PCs asked if they could use this during the giant assault on Sandpoint at the beginning of Book 4. I told them No, because the upper half of the facility is totally destroyed, and recreating it would take years or decades of dedicated arcane research and crafting.

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On Adding Crypt of the Everflame

It's doable, but you'll wind up making a lot of work for yourself.

You could add Crypt of the Everflame to the Swallowtail Festival easily enough. The festival begins when the lantern is brought back. The crypt holds one of the founders of Sandpoint instead of Kassen. The Razmiri cultists who woke the dead are actually servants of Karzoug (perhaps Nualia and company) gathering resources for his plots.

To combat the problem of moving out of town immediately, I'd insist that your players all be natives of Sandpoint, rather than random strangers passing by. Collecting the Everflame is a local ritual. The town would have no reason to involve random passersby in this aspect of their celebration. If somebody REALLY doesn't want to be from Sandpoint originally, then they should at least be a resident -- maybe their parents moved there a few years ago, and they've lived in town long enough to become part of the community.

If you run it as written, everyone will hit level 2 in the crypt, before the swallowtail festival even begins. With a party of six players, starting at 1 level higher than usual, you'll probably have to adjust the difficulty of the all the encounters in every book of the adventure path as you go along, especially if your players are experienced. That's a ton of work. I wouldn't do it. But if you want to, go ahead.

Back on the original topic of the thread, some more things I've changed in my RotRL campaign:

Dragon color swap: copper instead of red

I made the 2 young red dragons in Fortress of the Stone Giants copper instead, and gave the PCs a reason to rescue rather than kill them.

The full details:
In Fortress of the Stone Giants, there are two young red dragons (Suleminga and Encontredor) charmed into working for the two lamia clerics with names but no backstory. They're a speed bump.

I switched their color: they're not red, they're copper. Then, on the way to the Fortress, the PCs encountered a souped-up Krampus with some redcap minions, intent on punishing a misbehaving child. They dutifully intervened, and the "child" turned out to be a five-year-old wyrmling copper dragon named Vernalia. She had snuck out of her mother's lair despite being forbidden to do so, and gotten lost. Mokmurian found her, and aided her in getting home.

But later, Mokmurian returned with a bunch of his minions. He petrified Vernalia's mother with a Flesh to Stone spell, then charmed and abducted her two brothers. Vernalia hid; the Krampus was out to punish her for disobedience (going outside without permission), betrayal (showing Mokmurian the way to their home), and cowardice (hiding while her family were attacked). After the PCs rescued her from Krampus, Vernalia gave them a small hidden stash of her mother's hoard (the rest was stolen) and begged them to save her two brothers.

The lamias are now diligently stoking the greed in Suleminga and Encontredor's souls, and pushing them into increasingly evil acts until they tarnish enough to sacrifice. Vernalia has accompanied the party (and stayed out of combat, because dragon or not, she's five!)

The dragon color swap subplot will probably get resolved next session. Depending on how things turn out, the party may find themselves with Vernalia's mother (a mature adult copper dragon) as an ally in the fight against Arkrhyst in book 5. If you use this, adjust as appropriate to your party; mine is distinctly underpowered and in need of aid.

Introducing Viorian Dekanti in Book 4

I introduced Viorian Dekanti is an allied NPC in Book 4. When she re-appears in Book 6, the party will have history with her, and reasons to try things other than killing her.

Discussion and updated backstory for Viorian:
Viorian Dekanti, in Book 6, is a pointless walk-on. As written, the players have no idea who she is or where she came from. They have no reason to do anything other than kill her.

To rectify that situation, I have introduced her as an allied level 10 NPC who is accompanying them through the Fortress of the Stone Giants. She has a pre-paid contract on a Raise Dead/Restoration at a suitable temple in Magnimar, and she has told the party that, so barring a TPK she has an excellent chance of surviving the adventure.

Meanwhile, she is forming connections with the party now. Maybe they'll be friends, maybe rivals. Maybe one of them will strike up a romance. Regardless, she'll go off-screen again in Book 5, and then when she shows up in Book 6, she'll be a real person to them, someone worth trying to save, not just a speed bump on the way to Karzoug.

Her original backstory is totally unsuitable. I decided that she grew up in Kassen, in Nirmathas, and that her early adventuring career consisted of the events described in Crypt of the Everflame, Masks of the Living God, and the City of Golden Death. I may throw in other modules if the players keep asking for more backstory. That gives her AMPLE history.

She needs to be greedy, so as to be susceptible to Chellan. I've played up that she's a mercenary, and that she really likes getting paid. She grew up destitute, and resented by her siblings because she was adopted and a drain on family resources. Her personal goal is outdo Kassen, the founder of her hometown. He raised enough loot by adventuring to found a town. She wants more: she's shooting for 200,000 gp to bankroll a small kingdom (that's the equivalent of 50 BP under the Ultimate Campaign kingdom building rules). Nobody can say she's a useless drain on resources once she's ruling her own kingdom.

As for her reason for accompanying the party, she's working for the Magnimarian government. Due to OTHER plot modifications, the Magnimarian military don't trust the party fully, and sent their own hired merc along to make sure they could get the straight story from someone working for THEM.

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I'm curious -- what became of Shalelu Andosana in your campaigns? She has had many fates, I'm sure.

In my campaign, Shalelu proved a bit too insightful. The party leader, Micah, was about as shallow as a puddle, and wrapped up in his own emo-outcast self-image. Shalelu pointed out that everbody else saw him as a hero for his repeated acts of selfless courage, and suggested that the outcast loner schtick was all in his head, and continued mainly because he himself wouldn't let anyone get close.

Micah was disturbed by this assessment of his character. It struck too close to home. Therefore, he started telling everyone that Shalelu was creepy, and he didn't know if you could really trust her. The other party members picked up on his distrust, and in short order she became a pariah, tolerated only because she hadn't actively done anything to harm the party.

No one wept especially when she got crushed by a lucky critical hit with a boulder thrown by a stone giant in the very last fight of Book 3. Her final words were: "Tell ... Micah ... he really is ... a hero. And also ... an !@#$%^&."

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This wasn't a PC death, but it was so epic I'm going to put it here anyway.

Name of NPC: Longtooth
Class/Level: Male juvenile red dragon
Adventure: Fortress of the Stone Giants
Catalyst: Glitterdust

The details:

My PCs had acquired some hippogriff mounts during an interlude between books 3 and 4, and had also managed to uncover some intelligence alerting them to the upcoming assault on Sandpoint. They rushed to Sandpoint and set up defenses. Among these, the party bard asked if she could use Inspire Courage on the whole town by playing the bells in the cathedral tower. I thought that was awesome, so I said yes.

When Longtooth made his appearance, he naturally noticed the bells clanging, and decided to deviate from his scripted plan of attack and assault the cathedral bell tower first. He flew towards it, flaming and roasting the bard pretty well; he ended his turn in mid-air with the bell tower at the edge of his breath weapon's reach.

The bard baled out of the far side of the tower using Feather Fall -- and then the party's arcane trickster vaulted onto her hippogriff, used its motion to get into range of the dragon from behind it, and cast: Glitterdust.

"Okay, fine," I thought. "So we'll have a shiny red dragon."

Then he rolled a nat 1 on his Will save to avoid blindness.

Blinded, confused, Longtooth kept flying in the same direction he had been, and crashed straight through the bell tower. It crumbled around him with a clangor of falling bells. On the far side he failed a Fly check to remain aloft, fell, and plowed a furrow in the cathedral grounds. The 6d6 of falling damage didn't kill him; nor did the extra 1d6 for debris raining down on him. He even survived two hits from the bard's holy flaming shortbow (Batman!).

When the arcane trickster flew her hippogriff in and hit him with an acid arrow, he would have been fine too -- if he'd been able to see. But he was still blind, flat-footed, and the sneak attack dice did for him.

So in the end, really, it was Glitterdust that killed him. The bard and the arcane trickster high-fived each other and later had leather hot-pants made out of his skin.

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disclaimer: rules-wise, this might not be kosher)

You're right, technically that shouldn't have worked -- prismatic wall has no effect on its own caster.

But! This is a classic villainous end -- defeated by a clever trick that turned his own power against him. Seems to me that's a textbook case of the Rule of Cool, which trumps the normal rules out of sheer awesome.

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I dislike it when people don't start thinking about what they want to do until it's their turn. Use the other player's turns to plot out your own turn. Conditions may change, but you should have at least some idea what you want to do.

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I do like Pathfinder. But the rules tend to hamper creative gameplay. So. Many. Rules. And every time we have to go look up something in the rules, gameplay grinds to a halt.

Half the time we figure out that the player can't do what they wanted and have to come up with something else to do, which is frustrating for the player, and boring for everybody else who tuned out during the rules consultation part.

Honestly, the longer I play the more I find myself eying rules-light systems like Fate Core.

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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)
Chris, playing Arthur, zealot vigilante (sheet)
Connor, playing Montgomery, warlock vigilante (sheet)
Andrew, playing Bar, avenger vigilante (sheet)
Stephen, playing Kib, stalker vigilante (sheet)

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.

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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.)

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What slows down my table?


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Oh oh, nuke it from orbit! It's the only way to be sure.

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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.

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Here's a mythic reincarnate I came up with for use in a campaign I'm GM'ing. Add the following to the end of the spell:


Mythic: You may roll twice when selecting the target's new race, and choose which roll to use.

Augmented (6th): If you expend an additional 4 uses of mythic power, add all playable (0 hd) races to the list of possible races, subject to your GM's approval. You may choose the target's new race, gender, and age category. You may choose the details of the new body's form, such as hair and eye color, complexion, and so on. In addition, you may grant the target a +1 reincarnation bonus to one physical ability score. This bonus does not stack: subsequent reincarnations may affect a new physical ability score, but not the same one twice.

Goblin Squad Member

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Updated for the 6/29 draft!


Terra Australis Incognito moved from J to A
Brains and Brawn moved from S to D
vVv Gaming moved from A to J
The Phoenix Brotherhood changed names to Sunholm but retained control of O
Kabal moved from D to R
Newcomer Open Road took S
Reading Between the Lines moved from R to T
The Bastard Sons of Daggermark lost T

As usual, please post any corrections here.

Goblin Squad Member

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Okay, I've added an additional overlay for the territories of the three first-gen settlements.

And I've updated the alignment for the Agents of Erastil.

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The Underdark, reclaiming a lost citadel of the ancient dwarves.

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Succubi. They're a "challenging" encounter for an APL 6 party, but the save DCs for their Charm Monster and Dominate abilities are sky-high.

A level 6 cleric with an 18 Wisdom would have a Will save of +9. That's not bad, but it'd still take a 14+ on the die to save against the DC 23 dominate person -- meaning a PC who's supposed to be GOOD at will saves has a 65% chance of failing that save. Compare to the poor fighter, who is likely to be a good bit lower than that even if he diligently took Iron Will and didn't dump Wisdom.

Of course, a succubus only gets to Dominate once per day. But she can use Charm Monster and Suggestion at will, which is almost as good, and has a DC of 22, so there's a very good chance you will soon believe wholeheartedly that this lady is your trusted friend and ally, whom you should probably help if she asks you to do something reasonable. And her Bluff skill is ridiculous, so she can make some truly outrageous things seem like a terrific idea.

But suppose you saw them coming, and had Protection from Evil running on the party. Hooray, she can't curdle your brains! But she has ethereal jaunt and greater teleport at will, so really all she has to do is make a tactical withdrawal, wait a few minutes for the spell to wear off, and then come back and curdle your brains all she wants. It'd take Dimensional Anchor -- a 5th level spell that level 6 PCs don't generally have access to -- to actually corner a succubus.

And if you DID manage somehow, as a sixth level party, to confront a succubus with both Protection from Evil and Dimensional Anchor in place, then she's pretty much ... oh wait, she can summon a Babau demon. Babau demons have Dispel Magic at will, and carry spears. So she can summon one (50% chance), directing him to keep spamming Dispel Magic at the PCs, starting with the ones wearing heavy armor, so that she can curdle their brains.

So basically, if you throw a succubus at a level 6 party, they are either going to be REALLY lucky, or they're going to be sock puppets for Team Evil in short order.

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You can potentially use planar binding to summon an outsider enemy. At least, I hope so. There are three succubi loose in the Kingmaker campaign I'm playing in, and we've been having a hard time getting them to stand and fight. Why would they? They can just ethereal jaunt away and leave behind a trail of energy-drained corpses, enchanted puppets, and mentally scarred victims.

So I'm thinking we may need to try researching their true names in order to summon them and kill them.

Goblin Squad Member

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After the second or third time I misinterpreted the position of a guild in the land rush because the icons aren't labeled, I decided to fix that problem.

Labeled Land Rush Map

Mouse over a settlement, and a little box will pop up containing the name of the guild that currently holds it, a link to their page in the list of guilds, and the letter of the settlement.

Initial scale is 25%. A full size version can be seen by clicking "larger". Sorry, no fancy zoom effects, they would have made developing it a lot slower.

Guild icons can hidden or revealed with a checkbox.

Please note that I do not have permission from Goblinworks to do this, so this is totally unofficial, not affiliated with them in any way, and please don't sue me into little bits. I hopefully point out that I'm not hosting the images (they're still on the Goblinworks site) and it's all in service of furthering a community of people who are going to give Goblinworks lots of money over time.

Also, Goblinworks, if you'd like to adapt my code for use in your own map, help yourself! It's all there in view source. Nothing terribly fancy. And, as mentioned, integrating it with your zooming function would require a good bit more JavaScript than I'm using.

I'll need to update this each time another round passes, so there will be a delay after each draft till I can do so.

EDIT: Oh, and what's that guild symbol at position T? It wasn't labeled in the legend on the Goblinworks site.

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Yeah, that's fine.

But don't discount random encounters. They can really enrich the game if you let them be more than "1d6 monsters show up and try to eat you, roll initiative".

Example: a recent encounter with a Sphinx turned into a trivia contest. The player posed the sphinx a question about the BBEG that the sphinx just couldn't answer. Sphinxes get Legend Lore as a spell-like ability, so I decided she would use that to learn the answer. No sphinx would admit defeat in a contest of wits if she has any other option!

I had no idea it would take 1d10 days. The player rolled a 9 for that, and the sphinx wound up joining the party for 9 days.

So that random encounter turned into a named NPC (Beshala), and a chance for me to introduce some neat backstory the player would otherwise have been unaware of. It added a lot to the game, and I never planned it.

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Nobody speaks "Common" ... but everyone speaks Druidic. It's not secret yet.

Use the Primitive Armor and Weapons from Ultimate Combat.

The Words of Power system is fluffed as a more primitive form of magic that eventually gave rise to the the more refined schools of the day. Could be interesting, but it's also a fairly complex subsystem which will take some serious study for both the GM and the players.

If this is a Golarion game:

- Curchanus is hale, hearty, and very much alive.
- Acavna, Amaznen and Lissala may be around, but may not be full deities yet.
- Desna doesn't have dominion over travel.
- Lamashtu isn't a god yet, just an up-and-coming demon lord.
- Aroden, Cayden Cailean, Iomedae, Milani and Norgorber have not even been born.
- The Starstone doesn't exist.
- The "Inner Sea" itself doesn't exist (since it's mostly an impact crater from the Starstone).
- The lands that will one day be Azlant are there.

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Out of curiousity: What stuff do you use when GM'ing that wasn't originally intended for the purpose? The NPC Codex is nice and all, but I find myself using my 1994 copy of the Writers Digest Character Naming Sourcebook way more often.

It's got loads of inaccuracies, but I don't care. Since I began GM'ing on a regular basis, it's been SO USEFUL. Someone will say "What's the cook's name?" And I'll flip it open and say "Anniki!" Or whatever.

So what's in your GM toolkit that was never meant to be there?

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As a GM, I'm inclined to let druids be awesome. They deserve it after the agony of updating a bazillion character sheets every time they level ...

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All too often it's short hand for "I'm evil, but I can't admit it to myself." There's one of these at my table right now.

The best chaotic neutral RP I ever saw cast the character as, essentially, a libertarian. Freedom of choice was paramount; any and all external restrictions were unacceptable. More often than not, the character behaved in a chaotic good manner; but that was NOT guaranteed. The player argued that if you're not free to choose differently than you did in the past, then you're a slave to your own previous choices. In short, the character was basically a libertarian transplanted to a fantasy setting.

The violent dislike of enchantment spells also made for interesting role playing.

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Protection from Evil says two things about saves.

1) It gives "a +2 resistance bonus on saves [...] against [...] effects created by evil creatures."

2) It also grants a new save against existing mental control effects "with a +2 morale bonus, using the same DC as the original effect."

Those two save bonuses have different types: resistance and morale. Does that mean they stack, for an effective +4 on the new save versus an ongoing evil mental control effect?

Dominated minds want to know.

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To get back to the topic of stuff that's been added/altered:

In my campaign, Xanesha has not spent the last five years sitting on top of the Shadow Tower buffing her nails and idly taking reports from Justice Ironbriar. No, she's been a busy, busy lady.

Specifically, she's been Diana Baythorne, with a timeline like this:

- 5 years past: reached Magnimar, suborned Brothers of the Seven

- 4 years past: joined Magnimaran society in human form, presenting herself as an independently wealthy merchant. (Her wealth actually derives from all the greedy people she's been murdering.)

- 3 years past: purchased a patent of nobility from the Mayor, making her Lady Diana Baythorne, Baroness Ravenmoor. (The fact that she has no connection Ravenmoor is utterly irrelevant to the Mayor, who pays close attention to the opinions of shiny coins).

- 2.5 years past: through a careful campaign of bribery, enchantment, seduction, and one assassination, Xanesha secures herself an appointment as Chief Intelligencer of Magnimar. She's the head of the CIA and the FBI, wrapped up in one. She proceeds to build a vast intelligence network. Her agents tend to be loyal more to her than to Magnimar, and she uses the intelligence they gather to direct attention away from her own activities while also monitoring those of her rivals in Karzoug's employ (Lucrecia, Mokmurion, etc).

- Present: the PCs slip under her radar -- by the time she knows they're a threat, they're barging up the stairs of the Shadow Clock. And by amazing bad luck, she's actually there and not in her offices at the Pediment building. Sometimes a girl's just got to let her scales down, you know? She just picked the wrong day for it.

She is severely wounded in the fight, but manages to flee. Thanks to her wealth (and her own magic) she can heal up that night and show up at work in the morning looking as if nothing happened.

From here on in, she's going to play double agent:

1) Justice Ironbriar survived his confrontation with the PCs. Once they're off to Fort Rannick, she'll quietly reactivate him, assemble a new cult of acolytes, and continue harvesting greedy souls. She will instruct Justice Ironbriar to conceal his kills more carefully.

2) She will personally equip the PCs with excellent gear, and send them to disrupt the activities of Lucrecia and the Kreegs.

3) What she will do later depends on how things go. She can always turn the PCs over to Karzoug, or one of his other minions, and claim she didn't think they were as big a threat as they turned out to be. But on the other hand, if the PCs do well, they'll eliminate her rivals for position in Karzoug's hierarchy.

4) If it looks like they stand a serious chance of actually defeating Karzoug, she'll follow them to Xin-Shalast and monitor the fight, so that she can at any time step in. Ideally, the PCs will take a beating but destroy Karzoug: whereupon she will step in and finish off the PCs, leaving herself undisputed ruler. Alternatively, if it looks like Karzoug is going to wipe the PCs, she'll step in and help. Being second-in-command of a renewed Thassilon would still be pretty good, even if she has to put up with Karzoug.

Bits of this I borrowed from this post by Mathmuse. The basic idea of Xanesha as more of a scheming manipulator appealed to me, and I liked the name Baythorne. The Chief Intelligencer bit was my own addition.

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blackbloodtroll wrote:

Best bet?

Apple of Eternal Sleep, a cart, and some sneaky(and strong) people to haul it.

This is a good plan. But the Apple of Eternal Sleep should be for the paladin. Once the paladin is snoozing permanently, store him someplace safe and the horse can be delivered to the purchaser secure in the knowledge that the paladin won't be coming to punish the miscreant who dared touch his horse.

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Major_Blackhart wrote:
I thought Aroden as well.

No. Aroden raised the Starstone from the bottom of the sea, along with the surrounding land (now Absolom). He achieved divinity before that, apparently due to sheer force of awesomeness.

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Okay, here we go. Here are some pictures of the banner map:

This is 2 feet by 6 feet in dimension, and includes all four structures in the Graul homestead. I made a generic parchment background for them to sit on, and added labels.

- The material seems reasonably tough, while remaining flexible. It rolls up nicely.

- The edges did not have any protruding threads, one issue that the blog I initially found reported. They were smooth, and did not need to be sealed or anything.

- The surface has a little more grip than paper or wood. Dice roll on it just fine. The table it's pictured on is at work, and my Warhammer-40K-playing co-worker tried it too. He pronounced himself satisfied with its dice-rolling qualities.

- I tried markers on it. Wet erase markers go on smoothly and come off smoothly. Don't use dry erase on it, they do not come off cleanly and leave smudges.

- The image I uploaded had 100 dots per inch, and came out to the correct scale, as you can see from the alchemical golem mini in the close-up above.

- The print quality is rather grainy. This is most clearly visible in the close-up picture, above. I have emailed support to ask whether they have the ability to print at higher resolutions, for example 150 DPI or 300 DPI. I probably won't bother with images pulled from APs, since their resoluton starts so very low anyway. But Paizo flip-mat PDFs come at 150 DPI, and I'm fully capable of making my own 300 DPI maps. If they can produce a slightly nicer print quality by upping the resolution, that'd be nice. I'll report back on what they say on this point.

- The final cost for this 2x6 foot color map, including shipping, was $18.19 USD.

At that price I will probably be using them again, especially if I can get better prints by increasing the DPI on the image file.

EDIT: Support got back and had this to say:

We do print all banners at 100 DPI, so increasing the DPI of your file would not increase the print quality.

Too bad. That said, I can live with a little graininess in the print, considering how cheap and comparatively easy to store these are.

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The map arrived today! Unfortunately, I'm in the middle of preparing for a job interview, which will be out of state, so I'll be traveling till Tuesday. I promise to post a full write-up once I get back.

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Hobbun wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
If they are like regular vinyl banners they will be very much thinner and more prone to wrinkle.


Well, we don't know yet. Once the one I ordered arrives I'll report on how durable it seems.

When I said it only needed to last "a few sessions", that's because it's unlikely to take more than 2-3 sessions for the party to clear the area and move on. After that, we probably won't need that map again this campaign. So I'll just roll it up and store it someplace cool and out of direct sunlight.

Hobbun wrote:
Although the one you are purchasing you said is 2'x6', correct? That is pretty long. Are you putting multiple maps (floors) on one 2x6 section?

Yes. That 2x6 area includes all three floors of the Graul homestead, plus barn. If it doesn't fit on my table, or I just decide I want separate maps, I can just cut it apart. I left about an inch of space between each area.

Laithoron wrote:
My main concern right now is that in their help section that they state the JPG, EPS, or PNG file should be 20MB or under, yet there is no mention of the DPI at which their banners are printed.

The 20MB limit is for files uploaded through their web interface. During the upload process it said to contact support if I had a larger file, or something in a more obscure file format, and they'd work out an alternate way of getting the image to them.

As for DPI, that would be nice to know. Since I was working with Paizo maps extracted from the PDF, I scaled the map images up to 100px = 1 inch, then used Photoshop to create an image that was 7200x2400 px (6' by 2' at 100 DPI). When I saved that as a PNG, it came in about 8 MB.

After uploading, it showed me a preview of the banner. The image appeared to stretch all the way to the edges of the area, so hopefully it will come out at 100 DPI with nicely sized squares. We'll see!

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Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Why should the bard get a free ride for dumping strength if the barbarian is not going to get the same thing for dump stat? Dump stats should have negative effects on the character who takes them.

The bard isn't getting a free ride. The low STR still has plenty of negative effects. Namely:

1) Crappy melee damage if the bard winds up mixing it up.
2) Poor Swim and Climb checks. Those can easily be fatal.
3) Poor generic STR checks. This bard will not be bursting free of restraints, bashing down doors, or any other high-strength activity.

By the same token, the Barbarian is getting benefits too. If he ever gets his oh-so-amazing STR drained down to, say, 1, he will still be capable of moving rather than being immobilized by the weight of his armor.

As for dumping stats harder, my PCs don't have the option. We roll stats. They get what they roll. Their options for dumping are therefore pretty limited.

Anyway, heavy optimization is simply not a problem with my players. Several of them lack the rules knowledge. Others are more interested in RP than mechanics. And the one guy who's interested in optimizing isn't very good at it.

Mysterious Stranger wrote:
If you don’t want to do the book keeping then you should limit all characters to their light encumbrance load. Tell them they cannot carry any more period.

How about I go have badwrongfun my way, and you can go have badwrongfun your way.

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Ah ha! got back to me. Here is what they had to say:

Banners on the Cheap Support wrote:

Happy Sunday! I hope you've had a great weekend. I heard back from our legal team who let me know that we will flag the order as a "do not reprint

or use for marketing purposes" and asked that I let you know that we are aware of situations like this and it is completely acceptable for you to
deliver us the file and have it printed under your limited license! Woohoo!

Yay! The rep went on to ask that I inform her when I put in the order to make sure it gets flagged. I'll give it a whirl and see how it goes.

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