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Enlarge and Reduce Person spells are diametrically opposed, so you can use Reduce to remove Enlarge, and vice versa. Using them in this way doesn't allow a save -- if you're enlarged, and I cast Reduce Person, then the Enlarge Person spell simply ends.
How does this work with MASS Reduce Person when one of the targets is enlarged? Is it:
1) I can choose to use the Mass Reduce Person to dispel the Enlarge Person, but because I am dispelling rather than casting it normally, it has no effect on anyone but the one Enlarged opponent.
2) I can choose to use Mass Reduce Person normally, targeting multiple people, but because I am not using it as a dispel, the spell has no effect on the Enlarged opponent.
3) I can choose to use Mass Reduce Person normally, targeting multiple people, but because I am not using it as a dispel, the Enlarged opponent gets a save normally. If he fails, he shrinks, but is (oddly) the simultaneous subject of Enlarge and Reduce person spells which leave him his normal size until the duration of the Enlarge Person spell expires, at which point he shrinks until the Reduce Person spell expires.
4) I can target multiple people. The Enlarge effect is automatically dispelled with no save, and everyone else gets a save normally.
I'm leaning towards number 4, because the others make my head hurt.
A Living Rune has a reach of 0 feet, and its primary offensive abilities (Glyph Touch and Symbols of Power) are resolved as touch attacks. The text does not specify whether these are melee or ranged touch attacks.
Are these abilities supposed to be melee or ranged?
If they're melee, does the rune have to enter an opponent's square to deliver them?
If so, does that provoke an attack of opportunity?
If the two-dimensional rune is occupying the same square as another creature, can other combatants target the rune normally? Does it get soft cover?
This is a cool and flavorful monster that I plan to use in about a week. I just want to make sure I've got the mechanics straight.
Ah ha! My memory was partially correct. I found it:
Endless Power (Su): You gain the ability to cast spells without expending your power. If you are capable of casting arcane spells of 5th level or higher, whenever you cast a 1st-level arcane spell it is either not expended (if you prepare spells) or doesn’t use up a spell slot (if you casts spells spontaneously). You must be at least 6th tier before selecting this ability. You can select this ability more than once. Each time you do, the level of arcane spells you can cast without expending the spell or using up the spell slot increases by one, to a maximum of 3rd level.
The reason I could not find this initially is that it only appears in the Mythic Adventures Playtest, and was removed from the final version. So my memory was correct -- I did read such a thing! But it's not an official option.
Probably because, frankly, it's just too good. Hello, infinite Magic Missile.
I remember reading a mythic path ability that lets an Archmage cast first-level spells without expending the slot. If I recall correctly, it could be taken multiple times, up to 3, increasing the spell level by one each time.
But I can't find it anywhere. Am I confabulating this, or is there an ability like that somewhere? If so, where can I find it, please?
Hmm. Here's how I would play it out.
I refer your attention to the description of the Runewell on page 361 of the anniversary edition:
Y3, the Runewell wrote:
By the time the PCs arrive, Karzoug’s runewell should be almost fully charged—once it becomes completely charged (at a point you should feel free to determine yourself, should the PCs not defeat Karzoug on their first visit to the Eye of Avarice), Karzoug can step into the runewell and emerge in area X16 of the Pinnacle of Avarice, once again free to spread his evil across the world.
By the time the party returns from Magnimar and their few days of rest, Karzoug is on the very cusp of freedom. He needs one more soul -- just one more soul with even a hint of greed would be enough to set him free.
So, arrange for that to happen part way through the battle. It could be some random soul -- perhaps a villager from Turtleback Ferry who visited the Paradise dies, sending that last tiny shred of greed in. Perhaps Karzoug uses a quickened Arcane Mark to place the Sihedron on one of the PCs who has shown a tendency to greed, and then focuses fire on that PC till they go down -- the latter would be much more dramatic, but harder to pull off.
Regardless, arrange events so that the final soul reaches the Runewell immediately after Karzoug takes a turn. Let the PCs have one final round to take him out. If they can't, he beelines out of the Eye of Avarice and teleports away immediately on exiting. You would need to sub in a Greater Teleport at level 7 for this.
Then the campaign proceeds as described in the "What if Karzoug Wins?" section on page 368.
If you go this route, have a plan for letting the PCs have another crack at him. Free of the Eye of Avarice, Karzoug has no reason to fight the PCs, and every reason to avoid direct confrontation by sending wave after wave of minions against them. If the players can come up with a plan for forcing him to ground, great. If not, you should have some idea of your own that you can steer them towards, because, as a player, it would really suck to invest a huge amount of time in a campaign, get to the end, and lose.
Part of this depends on how comfortable you are with doing high level homebrew. If Karzoug gets loose, the nice tidy rails the campaign has been on up to this point fade abruptly into the grass, leaving you to find your own way. If that's not something you feel up to, then -- even though it breaks realism a tad -- just run it as written. Assume that the swathe the PCs carved through Karzoug's minions has left him basically without the ability to finish what he started, at least for the few days they want. He's stuck. Take away any negative levels he's got, and prep the room as best you can, and then he'll just have to sit there and wait his fate.
How about this: a ghost paladin with Oath against Undeath. Despises the undead ... but failed that last mission, died, and just CANNOT move on until that job is done.
Makes a good NPC, especially if they're bound to the spot of their death and need help from the PCs to finish their final mission.
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.
The PCs are definitely committed to defeating Karzoug at this point. And the players, despite not liking dungeon crawls, want to finish. We've already spent four years to get this far, so we've got a lot of sunk costs.
I think I need to just jump the rails and treat it more or less as homebrew from here on in, using the books only as a very loose guide. I've already been planning to break book 5 into a series of mini-dungeons scattered around the holdings of ancient Thassilon, so they can do a session or two of dungeon, then a session or two of role play stuff. If I'm sneaky I might be able to get some role play into some of those little dungeons.
For the problem at hand, perhaps I'll take Ashkar's suggestion -- they get back to Jorgenfist and discover that Mokmurian has departed with his troops. Then I can make the rest of the book about (quickly!) rallying allies and assembling an army to defend against Mokmurian. Some of the Jorgenfist encounters (rocs, harpies, etc) can stay there, which will make clearing out the rest of the place a lot more straightforward.
All right, here's more info.
1) The PCs initially made their way into the caverns and had a tough fight with the kobold barbarian. After the necklace of fireballs put all of them into single-digit health totals, they killed off a couple of ogres who had come to investigate, made a fast effort to make it look like a redcap incursion, and ran for their lives.
2) The inhabitants of Jorgenfist bought the Redcap Gambit, and brought in Conna to seal the tunnel using her Stone Shape ability. Conna didn't buy it, and sealed the tunnel with a very thin stone shell bearing a message on the far side alerting the PCs to her presence and proposing an alliance against Mokmurian.
3) After healing up in Longtooth's lair (he died in the Sandpoint incursion), they ventured back in, contacted Conna, and carved their way through the rest of caverns in two combat-heavy sessions.
4) The two juvenile red dragons did not appear in this game. Instead, I put in two juvenile copper dragons, charmed as per the book, and arranged for the party to meet their wyrmling dragon sister Vernalia, who begged them to rescue her brothers. (Mom got petrified by Mokmurian; Vernalia, being itty-bitty, was able to hide.) During that fight, they only succeeded in breaking the charm on Encontredor. After the second Lamia priestess fell, the still-charmed Suleminga fled the scene to get reinforcements. He chose the frost giants. I gave them an intelligence check, and they rolled a Nat 1. Therefore, being bored and not really believing these intruders could be all THAT dangerous, they foolishly decided to follow Suleminga downstairs and take care of the puny adventurers themselves. They lasted 3 and a half rounds, which wasn't bad. Suleminga finally shook the charm effect in that fight.
5) Conna did in fact brief them on the layout of the place, including telling them that Mokmurian was downstairs. After their second incursion, she did not believe she could plausibly remain in Jorgenfist when every other giant in the level got pasted. Mokmurian's no fool; he would suspect her treachery, and either kill her outright or chuck her into the runeslave cauldron to ensure her loyalty. So she prevailed on the PCs to get her out, which was achieved via a lesser extend rod applied to both Fly and Invisibility spells. On escaping, she retreated to Minderhal's Anvil and her old friends Etena and Ferin (imported from the Giantslayer AP), a location the PCs are familiar with. She is growing increasingly worried about the time the PCs have been gone.
As for why they thought they could go spend a week away: it's because my players didn't really want to go back.
The heart of the problem is out-of-character. My players just don't enjoy dungeon crawls very much. They prefer the scales tilted towards complex role play and character development, interspersed with occasional light combat.
And I really, really wish I had known that before embarking on Rise of the Runelords. The AP is emphatically not suited to the play style my group enjoys. My players want to develop romances, help out NPCs they've grown friendly with, pursue arcane research, and resolve internal moral conflicts. They want personalized character arcs.
The AP offers them combat. Lots and lots of combat. Especially in books 4-6, which take the party ever further away from the early NPCs and leave them stuck in battle for session after session.
I'm finding it increasingly difficult to reconcile these two, with the current Jorgenfist dilemma being a good example. I know that stopping in the middle of the dungeon has got to cause problems for them when they go back. The world has to react to their actions.
But I didn't have it in me to force them back on the rails when I knew they wouldn't enjoy it.
Having cleared out the Caves under Jorgenfist area, my PCs teleported back to Magnimar for a little R&R. It's been about a week of in-game time, so their handiwork has certainly been discovered. Any suggestions on how Mokmurian should react?
Conna has been evacuated, and the two frost giants from top-side are dead. Other than that, they haven't touched the library level, or the surface level.
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.
Alignment: 1d10 ⇒ 2
Domain 1: 1d29 ⇒ 14
Vesper, god of elemental freedom
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.
The Magic Tactics Toolbox introduced the spell Roaming Pit.
School conjuration (creation); Level cleric 6, druid 6, psychic 6, sorcerer/wizard 5, summoner 5
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, M (powered diamond dust worth 10 gp)
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Effect mobile 10-ft.-by-10-ft. hole, 10 ft. deep/2 levels
Duration 1 round/level
Saving Throw Reflex negates; Spell Resistance no
This spell functions as create pit, except the pit is capable of movement. As a move action, you can direct the pit to move up to 20 feet, though it must always remain on a horizontal surface large enough to accommodate its area. If the pit’s movement causes it to share a space with a creature on the same horizontal surface, that creature must succeed at a Reflex saving throw or fall into the pit. Any creature that avoids falling into the pit when it reaches its new destination moves to the nearest safe space. Creatures that fall into the pit move with it if it is relocated.
I have ALL kinds of questions about this.
1) Roaming Pit specifies "it must always remain on a horizontal surface large enough to accommodate its area." Create Pit specifies that "the edges of the pit are sloped, and any creature ending its turn on a square adjacent to the pit must make a Reflex saving throw with a +2 bonus to avoid falling into it."
Does the area refer to the 10x10 pit itself, or does it include the adjacent squares? Can I move the pit all the way up to a wall, or does it stop five feet from the wall to accommodate the sloped area?
2) If I move the pit under an inanimate object, obviously the object would fall into the pit with no save. But does the object have to be flush with the horizontal surface? For example, if I conjure the pit on a forest floor, can I move it beneath a boulder whose bottom 2 inches are under the surface of the ground?
3) How solid does a vertical surface need to be in order to halt its motion? Would a paper wall in a traditional Japanese house stop the motion of the wall? Assuming I find a door as wide as the pit, can I slide the pit under the door, or does it count as a vertical surface?
4) If a vertical surface is narrower than the width of the pit, does it block the motion? For example, a pillar with a 2 foot diameter is much narrower than the pit. Does the pit halt on encountering it, or can I slide it under the pillar, causing it to fall upon my hapless enemies like a pestle in a mortar?
5) The spell says: "As a move action, you can direct the pit to move up to 20 feet, though it must always remain on a horizontal surface large enough to accommodate its area." Is that movement instantaneous or does it take time? Can I sweep the pit under a line of opponents, or does it instantly open up underneath a specific spot in the line?
The spell looks really, really useful. Maybe even overpowered for level 5. But the mechanical details are a bit unclear in places.
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:
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.
I think we'll have to agree to disagree on that one. I've always ruled that if the caster of a charm spell tries to outright kill one of subject's other friends, that's a hostile act which forces you to choose sides and therefore breaks the charm.
Sure, it renders Charm spells useless in combat -- which is just fine by me. They're social spells for social encounters.
*shrug* Different approaches, I guess.
Kind of late here, but I have a question. I missed this on my first reading.
You said that:
1) The Alchemist had See Invisibility.
So ... why didn't that break the charm on the alchemist right then and there?
After all, "Any act by you or your apparent allies that threatens the charmed person breaks the spell." That's the next-to-last sentence from Charm Person. Charm Monster functions identically except it has a longer duration and works on more types of targets.
So ... it's waaay too late now, but that poor alchemist should never have been taken out of the fight, since Xanesha removed her own charm effect a split second later by stabbing the ranger.
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.
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.
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?"
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!"
"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?"
(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.
(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.
"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."
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..."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
"Ah." She said.
A long pause followed.
"Your group lost someone. The big half-orc -- Port, I think? Tell me about that."
"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."
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."
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.
"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?"
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."
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*.
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."
"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."
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.
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.
I figure the current owners have no idea the statue is a petrified person. The lady selling the stuff -- Savash Versade, CG aristocrat 3/bard 3) -- would be horrified. Her uncle bought it ages ago.
Definitely going with a frightened, weary, expression.
As for messing with the PC, the player explicitly said at the campaign outset that she wants to find out what happened to Micah's parents. So we're cool there. It just took me three years and four books to get to it.
All good suggestions!
I'm thinking the people running the auction are going to hire a low-level wizard to use Silent Image spells to project images of the items being auctioned up above the audience, enlarged and rotating for everyone to see clearly. Having a good clear view will help make the checks a bit easier.
What kind of clues/checks can I give my players to realize that a statue in an art auction is actually a petrified person?
The full details:
One of my PCs is a guy named Micah, whose backstory involved being found in a basket in the wilds of Nirmathas. He's always wondered why his parents abandoned him -- he's got a great, big emo "nobody loves me" thing going on because of it.
I've decided that the reason his parents abandoned him is because they were being hunted by a medusa. He was asleep in a basket; the medusa was coming; they hid him under a bush and led her away, whereupon they both got petrified.
For her part, the medusa's whole gig is that she sells her petrified victims as fine art, in order to support her taste for decadent living. She may show up as an antagonist later.
Clues I've thought of so far:
1) A perception check to recognize the pattern on her tunic as matching one on the blanket Micah was wrapped in, which only he would know, so only he could make the check.
2) Some kind of skill check (Perform? Profession something?) to realize the statue is too perfect to have been carved.
They need some way to figure out that A) the statue is actually a person, and B) she's my PC's mother. I'm just hoping for some more ideas for clues I could add, because letting it all rest on a single Perception check by one PC seems awfully chancy. His perception is not that great.
Lumpy Giant Hater:
Lumpy is a nature-loving dwarf. He hates giants. I mean, really REALLY hates giants. They are just too ridiculously big, and someone needs to cut them down to size.
Alternate racial trait: Giant hunter (replaces hatred, +1 attacks vs giants).
Level 1-4: Druid (Goliath Druid)
At level 1, pick up Heavy Armor Proficiency. Buy a set of mwk stone plate (which won't slow your movement because you're a dwarf).
At level 5, pick up Shapeshifting Hunter, which lets you stack Ranger and Druid levels for purposes of selecting/improving Favored Enemy. Pump it all into Humanoid (giant).
From there in, go back to druid. At level 7 you'll be capable of assuming the form a a giant yourself, gaining a +4 size bonus to strength on top of the +4 untyped attack and damage bonus from favored enemy, and a +1 attack bonus from Giant Hunter, and a +4 dodge bonus to AC vs giants. Because your variant wild shape transforms you from one humanoid into another humanoid, your armor continues working normally even if it's not magic, and your melee weapons resize to match your new form. You don't need to worry about Natural Spell, because you transform into humanoids which can cast spells normally.
For extra silliness, add variant multiclass Barbarian to the mix.
Heaven help any giant that gets in your way. And you'll probably be tolerably decent against other enemies, also.
The Sleepless Trickster:
This is just a neat trick for arcane trickster, really.
Race: not especially important, but elf or half-elf would go well.
Class: Wizard. Evocation school, to gain the ability to change energy damage types a few times each day.
Variant Multi-class: Rogue. Nets you trapfinding at level 3, and sneak attack at prescribed levels starting at 7.
Levels 1-5: Wizard. You need to pick up Alertness at level 1 or level 5 (your choice).
Level 6: Sleepless Detective. Gets you 1d6 sneak attack, and lets you use your INT mod for a bunch of skills, notably Perception.
Level 7: Wizard. Thanks to variant multiclassing, your sneak attack is now at 2d6.
Level 8-17: Arcane Trickster for sneak attack and spellcasting progression.
At level 8, you'll have the ability to sneak attack with your rays, and you'll have Greater Invisibility.
By level 11, you're just 1 caster level behind a full wizard, and 1 sneak attack die behind a full rogue. Magical Knack or an Orange Prism Ioun stone basically fixes the CL deficiency, and if you care to burn a feat on it, the Accomplished Sneak Attacker feat from the Dirty Tactics Toolbox will get that up to full. Your skill points will be a bit scattered about due to all the requirements for the two prestige classes, but you'll be getting quite a few of them anyway, so no biggie.
I'm playing a PC based on this right now, and it's a ton of fun. The only real disadvantage is that the build is seriously starved for feats.
Who says you need players? I ran the first three books of Carrion Crown for myself, controlling 4 PCs and all the monsters up until I TPK'd myself in the first encounter of book 4 due to some really amazingly bad rolls on the "player" side.
Mind you it was more like a thought experiment than a role-playing game.
I'm not sure what you mean by "on the wrong 1 square = 5x5ft scale", but I'd go with the GustavoMalek maps. They're lower resolution (30px to the five foot square) but the design is much nicer and you get a single image with the full map in it.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Gatemaker Savant (Su): At 20th level, a gatekeeper witch no longer needs to pay points from her arcane reservoir to use Dimensional Slide. In addition, 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.
Basically I just took out the line about Swift Teleportation.
After consideration, I settled on this instead of Swift Teleportation:
Precise Teleportation (Su): At level 10, whenever a gatekeeper makes a percentile roll to determine whether one of her teleportation spells suffers a mischance, or to determine how far from the target destination she appears, she may add her witch level to the result, or subtract her witch level from the result (her choice). In addition, as a full-round action she may spontaneously convert any spell she has prepared into a conjuration (teleportation) spell of the same level or lower. This replaces the major hex gained at level 10.
I think I'm going to go with that.
Huh. You know, that's pretty much exactly what she needs. And she's had tons of time to find/research the spell. Sweet. I'll figure out something else for the level 10 gatekeeper ability.
I think Shadow Dancer is still mostly relegated to the same role it had in the 3.5 era -- a one or two-level dip class. At least that's how I've used it.
The stuff you get at level 1 and 2 (hide in plain sight, darkvision, evasion, uncanny dodge) are excellent. After that ... well, the abilities are flavorful, but not mechanically compelling.
Swift Teleportation is the main reason I built this archetype. The NPC I designed it for is a venerable elf, less than a year from dying of old age. At level 18, after penalties from aging, she has 6 CON, 2 STR, and 31 hit points.
Although I don't actually expect her to engage the PCs in combat, if things go south she absolutely cannot take even one hit without dying instantly. Hence the immediate action teleportation.
On reflection, however, the bit about spending arcane points to preserve the spell slot is unneccessary. I'll take that bit out.
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.
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.
My players were pretty demoralized after their Xanesha fight. Avoiding a TPK required literal divine intervention. The cleric in the group was the last one standing, and decided to leap off the Shadow Clock in the hopes of surviving the fall and fleeing to get aid. Fortunately he prayed to Sarenrae before jumping, and she opened up a portal beneath him as he fell which healed him, restored his spells, and dropped him right behind Xanesha with a +5 bonus on everything for five rounds.
Xanesha still got away, and became an important NPC.
She is one tough cookie.
Ah yes. Teleport. I keep forgetting about that. My party's wizard went arcane trickster and is three caster levels behind a straight-classed party. They'll finally get access to it at level 12, which is coming up soon-ish.
Let's see. Perhaps some character backgrounds for some of the smaller characters in the fortress?
The Sisters Three:
The three harpies are:
Sister Ecstasia, the youngest and most carefree of the group. She sings high alto, and revels in using her captivating song. If she has someone in her thrall and is not immediately in danger, she is likely to lead them far afield rather than pressing her advantage, merely for the sake of having an audience. She is vain about her plumage, which resembles that of a peacock. She dislikes Mokmurian, and would be happy to see him go, even though she would miss having such a huge selection targets to beguile.
Sister Morvalia, by far the most serious devotee of the Black Monk. She admires his unending discipline to a point that borders on worship. She believes that the Black Monk banished her and her sisters as punishment for some failure of discipline that he has declined to explain to them. She takes her guard duties very seriously, and hardly sings at all any more unless it is in combat. Her feathers are matte black, and she disapproves of Ecstasia. She aspires to achieve undeath in time, in imitation of her master.
Sister Perowyn, the eldest of the three. She understands a little more of the Black Monk and of Mokmurian than her sisters. More than anything, she wants to understand the mysteries of the Peacock Spirit. Because the Black Monk's order emphasized wizard-monks, she believes that the path to this understanding lies through knowledge of the arcane. She has secretly been attempting to teach herself wizardry, and is intensely frustrated that she has so far failed to master even a single cantrip. She has a heavily thumbed spellbook containing all the cantrips from the core rulebook, and made a bargain with Longtooth for access to his lair as a place to study privately. He charged her heavily for this, and she has had to resort to killing a few giants here and there for the gold to pay her tithe to the dragon. Her plumage is dark brown mottled with white spots.
The Frigid Brethren:
Isvig, the younger of the two frost giant brothers, has occupied himself in carving elaborate knotwork into the wood pillars that support Bear's Hall. Hidden in amongst the loops and swirls are highly stylized bears, executed with great cunning. He is impatiently waiting the arrival of his tribe, as there is a particular frost giant maiden -- Inghild -- whom he has been courting. He carries a token of her affection tucked into his shirt at all times: a comb she carved out of mammoth ivory. He often takes it out and studies it, thinking of her fingers shaping the ivory and how he would love to have them running through his hair and beard as the comb does in her absence.
Jaansk, the elder, is somewhat exasperated with his lovesick little brother, and spends little time interacting with him. He has spent his time attempting to brew a proper jug of mead for himself, but has been frustrated by having insufficient supplies of honey. Periodically he will go out vainly seeking hives to plunder in the surrounding region, only to find the mountains do not favor honeybees. So now he waits in the Bear's Hall, sharpening his weapons and wishing he had a proper drink.
Grumelda has a secret: she is not actually a stone giant. She is a amnesiac norn, once called Lona. Before the fall of Thassilon, Lona and her two sisters embarked on a mission to ensure that Karzoug perished on the day of Earthfall, in accordance with the the death written for him in the threads of fate. But, forewarned by his allies in Leng, he managed to trap the triumvirate in a bubble of slowed time: for every year that passes in the normal time stream, only one second elapses within the bubble. Several centuries ago, Lona finally made it to the edge of the time-bubble and escaped back to the material plane. But her sisters are still trapped, moving so slowly to escape. Alone, she was no match for Karzoug even if she knew where to find him. And so she took the form of a stone giant to hide, and has been waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
Now the mental and physical losses that affect her kind during extended stays on the material plane have taken their toll. Her fey abilities are almost gone. She can no longer change shape. She has lost her shears, and clutches her ladle in token of the dim memory that once she had a shining tool. She no longer remembers her name; but she knows it is not Grumelda, and answers to that grumpily because it is not hers. She no longer remembers her mission, but finds herself compelled to stay near the Sihedron because she knows there is something she must do about it.
She no longer remembers her sisters. But she dreams of golden threads, of quiet love, and shared purpose -- and every morning wakes weeping to make more gruel for Mokmurian's minions.
You know, I would just like to point out that you don't need to be immune to magical sleep in order to be immune to Slumber.
Slumber functions "as per the spell sleep." That means it's got all the same limitations as Sleep:
1) Anything with immunity to compulsions, mind-affecting effects, or enchantments cannot be affected by Slumber. Anything with bonuses on saves against any of those gets to use them.
2) Anyone with Protection from [Player's Alignment] running is immune.
3) Sleep allows spell resistance. If the monster has SR, the witch has to roll a caster level check against it. If the witch fails to overcome SR, I might allow them to try again, because they didn't get as far as making a save.
If that still doesn't help, consider other countermeasures:
4) The witch can't Slumber something that she doesn't know is there. Use things with high stealth scores, invisibility, incorporeality, or dimension-jumping abilities (like phase spiders).
5) She needs to be able to see the target to designate it. Cover the area in Darkness, or Deeper Darkness, or Obscuring Mist, or Stinking Cloud, or Solid Fog, or any number effects that limit vision. Consider blindness spells.
6) The witch has to be within 30 feet for Slumber to work. Open the range. Slumber will not help you against a volley of arrows from a competently built archer standing 110 feet away (the edge of the first range increment for longbows, assuming you don't bother getting a distance weapon or similar).
7) The witch can slumber 1 creature per round (or at most 2 if she has Split Hex). When there are a dozen opponents all at once, slumber is not that great.
But honestly, the best response is to talk with your player about it. Tell them "I'm glad you're having fun, but dude, from this side of the table it's boring and frustrating. Try something else once in a while." Sometimes you just need to address something out-of-game.
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)?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
8 Constitution? You, my friend, need to avoid getting hit.
You don't mention what level you are currently, but I'm guessing it's still early days -- level 1 or 2. Get Vanish ASAP, and Invisibility should be your first pick of spell when you hit level 3. When initiative gets rolled, round 1 you go invisible and then move someplace out of the way. In subsequent rounds you can focus on spells that contribute to combat.
Speaking of which, Tonyz' advice is pretty sound. As a conjurer, let your summoned beasties do the heavy combat. Summon Monster spells are your bread and butter. Just bear in mind that they're good for more than just combat; many of them have useful spell-like abilities, especially at higher levels.
Other conjuration spells that you may find useful and/or fun:
The spell "Create Pit" and its successors (Hungry Pit, Acid Pit) are from your specialized school (conjuration), and very good at battlefield control. Just be careful not to put it too close to your fighter. You don't want them to fall down there.
But honestly, you really need to do something about that Constitution score. I don't like running a wizard with less than 14 CON, more if I can get it. After all, a dead wizard casts no spells.
(Note: with that Charisma score, you would be absolutely terrifying as a vampire. All it takes is a willingness to cast off the bonds of nature and turn yourself into an unholy abomination who feeds on the blood of the living.)
The normal and flawed variants of the orange prism ioun stone are clear, but the cracked version needed to have a good bit more thought put into its mechanics.
Oh well. Chalk it up to one of those things where you just have to ask your GM. And heaven help you if you want to use it in PFS.
The phrasing is a bit weird. "Wearer adds one cantrip ... to his spells prepared." It doesn't say that they're allowed to prepare the spell, but that it is prepared.
That suggests that if you equip this on a wizard who has already prepared spells for the day, they actually gain a spell slot with the cantrip in it. That's certainly how it was implemented in Hero Lab (which is, of course, non-canonical).
If it does actually grant a bonus spell slot, then I don't see why it wouldn't work on a rogue or a ranger. In which case the caster level becomes the issue. Does it use the wearer's caster level, even if that is zero? Does it use the wearer's caster level, with a minimum of one?
The actual game effects of letting people get more cantrips are fairly minor. But I can see how it would be useful.
Would my wizard pay 1,000 gp for the ability to cast Create Water? Sure! It's always fun to drench your enemies.
Would my ranger pay 1,000 gp for the ability to examine magical effects with Detect Magic? Sure! He's got Spellcraft as a class skill, but it's way less useful without actually being able to examine magical auras.
Would my rogue pay 1,000 gp for the ability to cast Mending? Sure! It's handy for busting open windows, robbing a joint, and then repairing the window on the way out to conceal the method of entry.
But in general, well, they're cantrips. They're useful, but not likely to be game-breaking even if you load up tons of them.
The cracked orange prism ioun stone gives you an extra cantrip. Specifically, it says:
Cracked: Wearer adds one cantrip or orison (determined when the stone is created) to his list of spells known or spells prepared. Price: 1,000 gp.
1) How does this work with PCs who can't cast spells normally? For example, could a straight rogue equip this in order to gain Prestidigitation? If so, what is the effective caster level? One? Zero?
2) How does it work with PCs who have caster levels but cannot cast cantrips? For example, could a level 4 ranger equip one in order to gain Detect Magic?