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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?
Oh good. That's a relief.
In this case I actually did generate a treasure:
4 Large greatclubs (no particular value)
That's way less than even a CR 8 encounter. And most of it is useless but flavorful.
This has undoubtedly been asked before, but I'm not finding it. My search-fu has failed me.
I'm running Rise of the Runelords, and I have been handing out the rewards explicitly listed in the adventure -- gear from named antagonists, rewards from grateful NPCs, and so on. But I have not been generating treasures for every nameless mook the party steamrolls.
For example, in one room in Fortress of the Stone Giants, there are four stone giants. Technically, they're an encounter. Am I supposed to:
A) Generate a separate CR 8 treasure for each of the four giants;
B) Treat the four as a CR 12 encounter, and generate one treasure shared between them;
or C) Ignore them because they're mooks who got pasted in 2 and a half rounds?
I don't want to shortchange my PCs, but dang, I don't want to spend ages coming up with treasures for every Crog, Brick, and Derpy Stone Giant who walks on and gets diced.
 OMG spoilers, there are stone giants in the book named "Fortress of the Stone Giants"!
Black Magga's heart was the key to the Runelords' deity (Lasona, Lashonna, I can't remember) and Sarenrae's fall is required to balance the scales.
It's Lissala. And that's pretty awesome.
My group ... did exactly zero damage to Black Magga. None of them had any cold iron weapons, and the one mage specialized in acid spells, and had three rogue levels (arcane trickster build), so his CL was waaaay too low to have enough dice to even think about overcoming her acid resistance.
The party druid decided to try Wild Empathy on her. Black Magga was insulted to be taken for a mere beast. So she turned a cold, reptilian eye on the druid, dominated her, and ordered her to lay waste to the works of man. The druid didn't get a second will save, since she's not too keen on civilization, and proceeded to find an axe and reenact "The Shining" on some poor peasant's hut.
Meanwhile the rest of the party focused on evacuating people from the church. They got everybody out through clever use of Floating Disk and some good swim checks.
I was kind, and didn't murder any of them with a monster that they had absolutely no way of opposing. Black Magga smacked a couple of them when they got in her way, but otherwise focused on demolishing buildings before sliding into the deeps of the lake.
Consider giving your player mythic tiers. I've been running a solo campaign for over three years now, and giving the PC mythic tiers helped a lot.
Particularly with action economy, because they give you lots of swift and immediate action abilities, plus the ability to spend a mythic power point for an extra standard action once per turn.
William Sinclair wrote:
Good lord. What were they crafting that was so all-fired important that they thought ignoring an army of cloud, storm, and rune giants was the way to go?
If Karzoug is not already free, he should be by the time your players get to him. Having a hard time seeing how the party is not going to wind up as stylish new gold statues in his palace.
The following is a reworking of the Library of Thassilon area from the Fortress of the Stone Giants, using the Research system from Ultimate Intrigue. It contains spoilers. If you are a player rather than a GM, do not read further.
Rather than write one monolithic research stat block for the library, I have chosen to write several smaller stat blocks, one for each research topic spelled out in FotSG and SotS. Each research topic has its own knowledge point total and thresholds, but shares the basic stats of the library. Each includes an event that triggers when the PCs reach the threshold just before it.
As written, the adventure does not award XP for completing these knowledge checks. If you do award XP for the research, I recommend waiting until all three topics have been fully researched.
If the party successfully befriended it, the Clockwork Librarian may supply Aid Another checks to the primary researcher at +4 rather than the usual +2 bonus because of its intimate familiarity with the collection. This uses one of the two secondary researchers allowed by the Research rules.
You could easily expand the list to add more research tasks connected to ancient Thassilon, such as the River Avah, rune giants, Leng, runeforged weapons, Alara'hai, sin magic, the other six Runelords, etc. But since those are less relevant to the adventure, it is probably better to treat them as single knowledge checks.
Therassic Library (CR 11)
Complexity 31 (average)
Research Check Knowledge (arcana) or Knowledge (history); Knowledge Bonus +5
Event The tome that reveals this final piece of information bears an ancient spell trap left by the jealous former owner.
Dream Dalliance Trap CR 6
Effect spell effect (dream dalliance, DC 17 Will save negates); single target (the reader)
Since the reader does not need to sleep while in the Therassic Library, they will not notice the effects of a failed save until after leaving the library. The clockwork librarian has read this book, but is unaware of this trap because it is immune to mind-affecting effects and does not sleep.
Event The Clockwork Librarian has been tremendously excited and pleased to have researchers in the library once more. In its eagerness to assist, it loses track of the key used to wind it up. The construct is stricken with terror at the thought of winding down just when its services are finally needed again, and begs the PCs to assist in locating the precious key. The key was knocked off its peg and accidentally kicked under a chair. Locating it requires a DC 28 perception check, and costs the PCs a full day of research time. If they can use divination magic (such as locate object), no research time is lost. If it is not found, the clockwork librarian winds down one day after alerting them to the key's loss, and reactivating it requires a DC 25 Knowledge (engineering) check.
Event The book that reveals this is a lengthy treatise on engineering magical protections into large structures, and notes that having a sympathetic focus makes the process easier, but that once complete, the focus is no longer needed. If the primary researcher succeeds on a DC 28 Knowledge (arcana) check and a DC 30 Perception check, they can locate the sympathetic focus that was used in the library's temporal warding: a clear spindle ioun stone, embedded in the stones at the bottom of the library shaft. Freeing it requires a strength check: 15+ succeeds; 11-15 succeeds, but the stone is flawed in the process; lower has no effect. Removing the ioun stone has no ill effect on the library's temporal warding.
Adjust the research DC according to taste. I have assumed it should be average. Easy = 26, average = 31, difficult = 36.
I opted not to assign serious time pressure to the research tasks presented here, because although knowing these things are useful, they are not crucial to advancing in the adventure path. Also, since the PCs will just have finished a long dungeon crawl, they may need some down time between 4 and 5 anyway to rest up, shop for gear, pursue romantic interests, and so on. If you want to assign time pressure to the Runeforge research task, I recommend giving them no more than a week.
Vigilante is a new class in the upcoming book Ultimate Intrigue, which is built around having two identities. Think Bruce Wayne/Batman, Don Domingo/Zorro, Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon -- any of those types of characters that have a normal identity and a secret identity. I don't think that's quite what you're going for.
So ... monk and bard, huh? Wow. Those are pretty dissimilar from one another.
I assume that since they share a single body, they also share ability scores, but have different feats/skills. What are your ability scores?
1) Are your two PCs two people sharing one body, or two distinct people who get swapped in and out of place?
2) How did this come about, and are they trying to change this state of affairs?
3) Are they capable of communicating? The swap sounds disorienting. If a swap happens mid-combat, will the new PC have any idea what's going on?
4) What happens if one of them dies?
The following is long. I've split it up into chunks and spoilered it.
General thoughts on the OP's predicament:
I think the basic problem you're struggling with is that you don't want the story to end prematurely. If you kill off the PCs, it does -- as long as you're committed to following the AP as written.
Things already sound like they're pretty much off the rails. But that's okay; it shows that your players have been acting in interesting, dynamic ways. Your group -- players and GM alike -- are reshaping the written story to make it their own.
I advise against a deus-ex-machina solution. "Doing a reset" like this cheapens the choices of the PCs. Besides, you don't need that yet. One of the PCs lived, and that means that one PC has the opportunity to flee, rally support, and keep the story alive.
If one of the PCs explicitly prays for divine aid, consider providing it. Perhaps a helpful archon/azata/etc pops up at a key moment, or a mortally wounded PC gains DR 5/epic and the ability to act while in negatives just long enough to turn the tide (after which they should fall unconscious again). Divine aid should be rare, focused, short duration, and aimed to maximize dramatic effect.
What I would do about the captured PCs:
Nualia's goal is to free Malfeshnekor, thereby fully purging her celestial "taint", and releasing a powerful servant of Lamashtu into the world again.
The adventure is not clear about exactly what she needs to do in order to accomplish his release. He's restrained by a Binding spell at CL 20; generally, it takes either an anti-magic field (Sor/Wiz level 6, min CL 13), or a Mage's Disjunction (Sor/Wiz level 9, min CL 17) to take one of those down. As a level 4 cleric with two levels of fighter, Nualia simply doesn't have the magical oomph (or monetary resources) to deal with that directly herself.
I suggest, therefore, that she's using an occult ritual whose purpose is not to dispel or remove the binding, but to change its target. Thus:
Upon successful completion of the ritual, the original target of the binding (hedged prison) spell is freed, and the new creature takes its place in the prison.
Nualia has learned this ritual, and trained a cadre of 20 secondary casters (mostly goblins) to assist in it. All she has needed are suitable prisoners. She was reluctant to use goblins, because it would have taken quite a few of them to come up with an equivalent to Malfeshnekor's 10 hit dice, and that might have disrupted her somewhat tenuous alliance with the tribes.
The captive PCs are exactly what she needs, and she wastes no time in putting her plan into motion. The very next day after capturing the PCs, she conducts the ritual, and it's a success! With the following results:
- Nualia gains the fiendish template;
Since Nualia is a devoted follower of Lamashtu, she is cruel. She would very likely mutilate them in painful, humiliating ways. Then, having used them to free her ally, she would abandon them alive in the deeps of Thistletop with plenty of water and no food, trusting that as they slowly starve to death, they will descend into insanity and cannibalism. She sees this as a fitting offering to the Mother of Madness.
Of course, this also means that they are alive, and can be rescued. It may be somewhat tricky for the PCs to do so, but they could always use the same ritual that Nualia did (it's not inherently evil; arrange for them to find notes on how to do it in her room in Thistletop). Perhaps Nualia and some of her minions could wind up in Malfeshnekor's binding. I leave the moral quandaries of leaving Nualia bound in Malfeshnekor's prison to you. She does have to eat, after all, so just leaving her there is a slow death sentence. Some of the good-aligned deities might balk at that, particularly Desna; others might be okay with it provided Nualia (and any others) are mercifully executed after the ritual is complete. Some of the more lawful ones would prefer a formal trial and sentencing first.
Alternatively, the PCs could buy a scroll of Anti-Magic Field in Magnimar. Cast it from the scroll, the bound PCs walk out of the prison; when the AMF wears off, the Binding spell snaps back into place, and they are still the targets. But because they are now outside the bounds, its effect is that they are incapable of ever entering that room again.
It's somewhat pricey for a low-level party at 1,650 gp, but if the alternative is being stuck in Thistletop for the rest of their lives, it's well worth it.
What I would do about the raid:
Let the players whose PCs were captured roll up new PCs who -- by a great stroke of fortune! -- happen to be passing through Sandpoint when your second raid hits.
Give them -- say -- 3 days to prepare. On Day 1, Nualia is busy casting Twist the Bars. On Day 2, she and her minions are recovering from the ritual, and possibly doing terrible things to the captured PCs for giggles. On Day 3, Nualia, Malfeshnekor, and Ripnugget have to martial their disorderly goblins into a horde and travel to Sandpoint. They attack on Day 4, before dawn and under cover of dark so that the goblins can benefit from Darkvision while their human targets are blinded. Perhaps it's a full moon so your normal-sighted PCs are not totally screwed, and anyone with low-light vision can function normally.
In terms of tactics, goblins are sneaky. It should not be a charge-in-head-first-yodeling-war-cries type raid. I would divide them into three groups:
Group 1: A general raiding party of goblins, led by Bruthazmus. These would sneak in first, under cover of darkness, through the dump, and aim to create as much chaos as possible as fast as possible. Set buildings on fire, hurl thunderstones through windows to flush civilians into the streets, kill people messily and painfully to sow terror. However, they are primarily a distraction.
Group 2: A group of goblin commandos led Chief Ripnugget. They enter over the wall behind the cathedral (Stickfoot can just climb over it, allowing Ripnugget to haul ropes over for the others.) Their goal is to kill known town leaders. In order, their targets are Father Zantus, Sheriff Hemlock, and Mayor Deverin. Zantus is first because he has magic, especially group healing, and because he is old he is a weaker target. Hemlock next because he leads the soldiers. Mayor Deverin last, because killing her would essentially throw the town into political chaos even if the goblins are forced to retreat, making the town a weaker target for future attacks. If they get an opportunity, they'll try to free Orik and order him to assist them with the slaughter, or kill him if he won't cooperate.
Group 3: The big one. This is composed of Nualia, Malfeshnekor, Gogmurt, and two goblin commandos. They are concealed in the woods outside the north gate, under cover of an Invisibility Sphere provided by Malfeshnekor. When Group 1 starts, they spend a few rounds buffing: Malfeshnekor casts Mass Bull's Strength and Mass Enlarge on everyone (he can't enlarge himself, not being a humanoid). Nualia does her normal buffs as per her stat block, but skips Bull's Strength since Malfeshnekor is doing that. She has Silence in that slot instead to deal with enemy casters. Gogmurt has finally gotten some rest, freeing up a second level spell slot for Barkskin. He buffs himself with Barkskin, Flame Blade, and has 2xFaerie Fire prepped instead of Charm Animal and Speak with Animals.
After buffing, Malfeshnekor uses Dimension Door to put them right inside the gates. Their first goal is to kill any defenders on the wall and open the gates, to secure an easy route of retreat if it should be needed. After that, they intend to meet up with the others -- first Group 2, then Group 1 -- in order to provide direction for the remainder of the raid. Their primary goal is to destroy Sandpoint by killing as many of its people as possible. However, Nualia is a servant of Xanesha, and knows that her mistress has plans for greedy souls. If they get an opportunity, they'll take some live prisoners to be marked with the Sihedron and sacrificed for the greed in their souls.
Allow the PCs to make knowledge or intelligence checks to identify likely avenues of approach (the junkyard because goblins like junk, the wall in the cathedral because they evidently came that way once before, perhaps the unguarded bridges by the mill). Then give them time to come up with defenses. Alarms, whether magical or mundane; traps; sentries at key spots; requisitioning better equipment for the guards; arming commoners with clubs or daggers, and maybe crossbows for a few. Sandpoint is large -- they may need horses or some other method of getting from one spot to another fast.
Creativity is good. When my PCs defended Sandpoint against the stone giants, the party bard asked if she could play the bells in the cathedral to Inspire Courage across the whole town, and I said yes because that was cool. The result was a pretty embarrassing death for Longtooth.
I do not think that a TPK at this stage is very likely. There are lots of goblins, and Nualia and Malfeshnekor are extremely dangerous. However, since the fight is happening in Sandpoint, there are lots of people available to help. It's a lot harder to wipe out a whole town than it is to crush a party of four or five adventurers unsupported in the midst of a hostile dungeon.
Ameiko: can use Inspire Courage and provide minor healing.
Shalelu: can provide ranged support.
Father Zantus: can provide healing if the party saves him from Ripnugget. Give him the Selective Channeling feat so he can heal everyone in an area but exclude Nualia and company. He likely has some lower level acolytes (adepts and level 1 clerics) who can also assist in this way.
Belor Hemlock: can provide a fair number of guards, and is a pretty respectable combatant himself. Have him coordinate closely with the PCs during the preparations stage.
Orik: I'm not entirely clear on how well your party is getting along with Orik. If he is cooperative, they could use him as a source of information about likely tactics by Nualia et al. But honestly, at this point they probably know everything he has to tell them on that score. The more interesting potential arises if he has decided that he needs to undo his former errors -- or at least save his skin from prosecution -- he might be enlisted as a defender. But if he learns that the party killed Lyrie, I suspect that would likely drive him fully into the arms of evil. There is much potential for dramatic switching of sides here.
Last, but definitely not least, there are the players. This is a prime opportunity for your players to try out some new PCs. Perhaps some of them will prefer to keep the new PCs after the dust has settled. Or perhaps they will prefer to resume playing their original PCs (in which case, the ones they use for this raid could reasonably become "backup characters" in case somebody dies further down the line).
Either way, they get to keep playing, and the story goes on.
As mentioned, this was originally for a solo session -- it was tackled by just one player, with the assistance of Brodert Quink. The PC is an arcane trickster, so the area was designed to give the player an opportunity to do rogueish things -- sneaking around, dealing with traps, coming up with clever ways to defeat opponents he couldn't tackle in combat. That sort of thing. The opportunities for tricks-n-traps characters to shine are a bit slim in RotRL.
He stole the key for the two clockwork golems and waited for them to wind down a few days later, and lured the caryatid columns into the pit trap just outside command, after which they weren't a threat any more. He was greatly pleased, and is tinkering on one of the clockwork soldiers in his spare time to see if he can repurpose it as a combat buddy.
This is, in my view, a problem with Rise of the Runelords. While the first parts of the AP are rife with great opportunities for roleplay and character development, the last half are mostly long dungeon crawls in far away locations, with little connection to the first chapters.
Agreed! Even more broadly, I think this is a symptom of difficulties with Paizo's approach to writing adventure paths. It's extremely difficult to maintain tone and internal consistency when you have six different authors writing each chapter.
I think they buckled down and got some stronger editorial controls in place for later APs, but particularly in the earlier ones it's very obvious when authors have diverging interests.
I like your retake on Sins. I'll have to do a bunch more thinking and see if I want to replace it or do something like what you did. Thanks!
I'd chime in with the others - a group of pc's would not necessarily need to leave Runeforge to rest and recover.
The bigger issue is that they spend an entire book cut off from the rest of the world.
I have one player in particular whose PC has an incredibly well-developed persona with rich, complicated ties to multiple NPCs -- romantic partners, rivals, friends, children, the whole nine yards. That player derives her enjoyment of the game primarily from developing all those relationships.
We can't meet terribly often. Generally about once a month. It'll probably take a year to get through Book 5. If all the established NPCs are unavailable because the party's stuck in Runeforge, then my player is basically not going to have any fun. For a year.
I don't think I can let that happen. The whole point of the game is to have fun, right?
I'm a little confused at the OP's pc's: they appear to only be 10th level. That's dangerously low for this phase of Book 5. The progression in the AP assumes the pc's are 14th level before entering Runeforge.
They're not in Runeforge yet. We're about half-way through Book 4, and on track to hit level 13 before starting Book 5.
I'm just trying to plan ahead. If I go ahead and substantially rewrite the book, that's going to take a lot of time, and I need to start long before they actually get there.
One last nit: teleport would not be useful for the OP's pc's even if they had it - Runeforge is its own demi-plane and while teleport would work within it, the spell cannot be used to travel to/from Runeforge.
It's ordinarily assumed that PCs gain access to certain key abilities at specific levels. For example, once they hit five, adventure authors have to start planning for flying PCs. Once they hit 9, start planning for long distance teleportation. And so on.
I mentioned teleport primarily as an illustration of how my party is behind the curve in that regard, not because it would be useful for getting in or out of Runeforge.
I'm thinking of either substantially rewriting Sins or else dropping it entirely.
Reasons for doing this:
In reading over Sins of the Saviors, it sounds as though the adventure expects that the PCs will periodically be able to leave Runeforge via Plane Shift, rest, recuperate, go shopping, and then Plane Shift back.
Due to multiclassing, my PCs are far behind the usual expectations regarding access to spells. The party lacks a cleric, and the only arcane casters are a Bard 10 and a Rogue 3/Wiz 3/AT 4. They won't have Teleport until level 12. Plane Shift won't become available until 16. This poses some major difficulties:
1) Once they go into Runeforge, they'll be stuck there with no escape until they manage to carve their way through the Halls of Wrath, simply because there's no one in the party who will be capable of casting Plane Shift. They could use a bunch of scrolls, but 7th level wizard scrolls are not cheap.
2) If one of them dies, there's no way to introduce a new PC unless that PC has some way to get to Runeforge or is one of the NPCs who's already there.
3) Meanwhile, there's no opportunity to develop story lines connected to Magnimar or Sandpoint. I've got quite a few of those going on, and the players won't be happy to be cut off from them for so long. (If past performance is any indication, it will take about a real-time year to play through the book.)
Plus Sins is a giant dungeon crawl immediately following on the heels of a large dungeon crawl (Fortress of the Stone Giants). I like dungeon crawls okay, but variety is also nice.
Since the book is essentially seven small dungeon crawls, one thought I had was that I could take each wing of Runeforge and place it on the Material Plane, and run them as separate areas. That would change a lot, but let me re-use at least some of the material.
Some rough ideas:
- The Scribbler's rhyme would become clues to the need to forge powerful weapons/gear to take on Karzoug, with hints as to what they need and where to go to get it. The PCs main task would still be forging the appropriate weapons to deal with Karzoug, but I might add some way to get some juiced-up staves or something for the PCs who mostly use spells instead of weapons.
- I would need to invent something for the Abjurant Halls.
- The Ravenous Crypts could be run more or less as written, maybe placed in Belkzen not far from Xin-Gastash. Azaven has just woken up and is looking for ways to oppose Karzoug and revive Zutha.
- The Vaults of Greed could be put inside a monument somewhere in Varisia. Maybe under Riddleport? Ordikon would need new backstory.
- The Iron Cages of Lust I would probably throw out entirely, replacing it with something in Korvosa. Maybe one of those supremely-talented enchanters from the Acadamae stumbled into some relic of Sorshen's and is trying to find out what happened to her.
- The Shimmering Veils I might keep as a demiplane, but build in an exit of its own (maybe leaping through a mirror that reflects the real world instead of the Veils). Vraxeris is easy - he died aaaaaaages ago, and his simulacra are still faithfully following their last order to keep him from being disturbed. As written.
- The Festering Maze I would turn into an actual swamp, possibly on the western edge of Nirmathas -- I think Haruka extended that far over. Jordimandus would really LIKE to go bring Krune back, but it's just SO much effort, and anyway he's got this demonic heart thing tying him down, and wouldn't the PCs prefer just to take a nap? Some of the other encounters would need to be rewritten.
- The Halls of Wrath is harder, because it assumes a population of living wizards serving Alaznist. Also, Bakrakhan is mostly on the bottom of the ocean these days, which poses certain difficulties for land-dwelling wrath wizards. Not sure what to do about this one.
- I would put Arkhryst at the very end as the guardian of the Runeforge pool itself (now a stand-alone area without surrounding dungeons). The Karzoug statue could be run as written. I got the mini for him, and by all the gods, I am GOING to plonk that down on the table and watch them squirm!
One problem I see with this is that the PCs would need some reason to go to each of these places, rather than to just the 3 they need in order to create domineering weapons. That bears thinking on.
Has anyone else done anything similar, either splitting up or entirely replacing Sins of the Saviors? What did you do? How did it go?
In between Book 3 and Book 4, I did solo sessions for each of my players. One of them, an Arcane Trickster, wanted to investigate the Old Light more. So I declared a small earthquake had opened up a passage deep under the ruins, leading to this:
The Old Light (Hell Flume) -- 3.1 MB, 100 pixels to the 5-foot square, prints fine at 100 DPI.
The Old Light (Hell Flume) GM reference -- much smaller
Here's a description of the areas:
General features: ceilings are 10 feet high in the corridors, rising to 15 feet in the rooms. The walls are made of magically-hardened masonry, per CRB.
T1 and T2: are pit traps (use plain, camouflaged or camouflaged and spiked as suits your player level). The trigger for these traps is magical. The hell flume's personnel carried tokens that identified them as authorized to pass in safety. Some of these can be found in a chest in B. Reset is manual; the pit needs to be closed again by one of the guardians (see G1 and G2).
G1 and G2: golems, faithfully patrolling the perimeter for intruders even after all this time. I used Clockwork Soldiers. Patrols proceed clockwise at a steady, even pace. It takes a golem 1 round to traverse 1 quarter of the circle, and their perception scores are poor. Sneaky players (and ones who don't charge blindly in) can easily wait for one to pass and then walk in behind it.
B: Barracks. Little remains. The few soldiers on duty here who survived the cataclysm of Earthfall stripped it of useful loot and departed millennia ago. As mentioned, pass tokens for the traps can be found in one of the chests.
M: Mess hall. Nobody cleaned up the dishes; they're still here, buried in drifts of ancient, dry dust.
K: Kitchen. The fire was not put out before the human complement fled, and something got knocked over into it. The resulting fire destroyed most of the kitchen. There's little left here but ash. Fortunately it did not spread to the rest of the complex.
L: Library/meeting room. (This could probably use a table.) The statue depicts Lissala. Most of the books are technical manuals pertaining to day-to-day operation of the Hell Flume, plus religious literature for Lissala, and a bit of light reading for the soldiers. All texts in ancient Thassilonian. One of the books is a roster of the personnel assigned to this station at the time of Earthfall. There were ten soldiers assigned (not including Xaliasa) at the time of Earthfall:
Mieli Tenris, lieutenant, 2nd in command (F)
Every member of the Hell Flume's personnel at the time of Earthfall were human. Although I have given genders here, this information is not listed in the the roster.
C: The command center. The pool of water at the upper right is a minor artifact containing an incorporeal construct called an Adjutant (Str -, dex 13, con -, int 16, wis 10, cha 13, HD 15, Sense Motive +15, Perception +15, Lore (Hell Flumes) +15, construct traits, incorporeal subtype, constant True Seeing). It radiates an overwhelming aura of transmutation and illusion magic. When a creature approaches the dais, it flares to life, projecting an image of itself above the water. In my case, I settled on a female human in a trim military uniform with a neutral expression, but feel free to customize the Adjutant's appearance and personality. Its purpose is to assist the commander of the Hell Flume in operating the structure.
The Adjutant is intelligent, but still at base a construct, and it was slightly damaged shortly after Earthfall. Its conception of time is out of skew; every night around 2 AM, its perception of time skips, and it reverts back to the state it was in at the time it was damaged. As far as it is concerned, only a few hours have passed since the crew fled. When approached, the Adjutant demands identification. The PCs can attempt to fool the adjutant into believing that they are authorized personnel. Doing so requires possession of one of the trap-pass tokens from B, and giving a name known to the Adjutant (retrievable from the roster in L), followed by a Bluff check opposed by the Adjutant's Sense Motive. The Adjutant is aware of the race and gender of its crew; if the PC does not match, the bluff automatically fails. Disguise Self and similar magics are a dead giveaway that something is wrong: the Adjutant can see through such illusions via its True Seeing. Mundane disguises can work, as usual. In addition, the only language that the Adjutant knows is Thassilonian. It will not, however, notice a Tongues spell should the PCs happen to use one.
If a PC persuades the Adjutant that they are Mieli Tenris or Oskarin Valnia, the Adjutant will give a status report on the facility, and ask questions about the current state of affairs. If they can further persuade the Adjutant that those higher up the chain of command are dead, then command devolves to the PC, and the Adjutant treats that PC as their new commander. Becoming the commander gives the PC full control of what's left of the facility, via the Adjutant. Further, they can designate "new personnel" authorized to work in the facility (whom the golems will not attack). The adjutant can communicate telepathically with the golems in the facility to relay orders and new authorizations.
If a PC impersonates Severi Belis or Kal Benro, they can get detailed technical readouts on the entire works of the Hell Flume, but the Adjutant will not discuss other matters with them. The arcanists were not authorized to designate guests, and were not in the chain of command.
If a PC impersonates any of the privates or the cook, the Adjutant will demand information from the PC regarding the whereabouts of the rest of the personnel, and order them to go fetch Commander Xaliasa, Lieutenant Mieli, or Lieutenant Oskarin at once, as the structure has sustained severe damage. They won't get much more than that -- the Adjutant outranks privates.
If a PC attempts to impersonate Thassilonian personnel and fails, the Adjutant says: "Intruder detected. Human complement unavailable. Initiating secondary defense protocols." At which point, both of the two statues in the room come to life and attack (I used Caryatid Columns for this). As for the Adjutant itself, it does not have any offensive capability, but it can cast Force Cage around itself at will, and does so at the start of combat.
Of course, if the PCs return the next day, the Adjutant will have reset and forgotten their attempts to lie to it, allowing them to try again. If they manage to persuade it the they're the commander, it might be possible to repair its time sense, but doing so would require a series of difficult skill checks (UMD, Disable Device, Kn [Arcana]).
I: The central chamber is the Ignis Core, a major artifact. It contains an enormous, partially incorporeal ruby that channels energy from the elemental plane of Fire, hovering mid-air on a jet of white-hot flame. If a PC manages to enter, they take 1d4 points of fire damage per round unless they have suitable protective magics in place (such as Resist Energy). A DC 20 Knowledge (Planes) check allows them to realize that the ruby is the focus for a direct connection to the elemental plane of Fire. A DC 10 Knowledge (Arcana) check is enough to realize that messing with it is a Bad Idea. I leave to the GM the exact effects of removing or even misaligning the ruby; however, the resulting explosion should result in a crater large enough to wipe out at least a quarter of Sandpoint. Possibly more.
The Ignis Core itself is heavily warded against teleportation; the only way in or out is through the doors. Both of the two stone doors into this chamber are sealed with Arcane Lock spells, and guarded by Rune Guardians of the wrath school. The rune guardians stay nestled in niches on the face of the door until a creature approaches within 10 feet, at which point they pop out of their sockets and use their Burning Hands special ability, followed by making loud alarm noises to attract the other golems in the facility.
There is a ladder on the east wall leading up to the upper level; there's an Arcane Locked trapdoor at the top. Getting up there the PCs would discover a partially collapsed room full of broken arcane machinery, with no other exit. This is not mapped.
X: these are Commander Xaliasa's quarters. The PCs can discover his private journals from before Earthfall here. He does not speak directly of his treachery against Alaznist at first, but as he slowly grew less and less sane, the ramblings in these journals reveal his role as a double-agent for Alaznist and Karzoug, and finally that he had begun seeking something or someplace called "Runeforge".
Status Report on the Hell Flume:
The facility consisted of several levels. This is the base level, and the only one routinely accessed by most crew. The upper levels consisted of:
level 1: ignis core (status: operational)
When fully operational, the Hell Flume produced (essentially) a 20d6 fireball, disregarding the usual cap on the number of dice. Energy would be drawn from the Plane of Fire through the Ignis Core, fed through the intensifier array (Maximize, Empower), then optionally the expansion coils (Expanded, Enlarged), and finally directed towards its target with the targeting mirror (itself a minor artifact). The result was a blast of 180 damage at any area within a mile of the structure, targeting as precisely as a single 5-foot square, or as broadly as a 60-foot radius, depending on how the shot was configured. It could be fired once every 1d4 rounds.
My PCs asked if they could use this during the giant assault on Sandpoint at the beginning of Book 4. I told them No, because the upper half of the facility is totally destroyed, and recreating it would take years or decades of dedicated arcane research and crafting.
If you can meet regularly, the time is not too bad. Example: a friend of mine ran Books 1-4 of Hell's Rebels starting August of 2015, the month it came out, and finished last week. (He doesn't plan to do the last 2 books.)
If you can't meet regularly, be prepared for a multi-year commitment. I've been playing Kingmaker for ... uh, five and a half years? We've finished Book 3, but haven't quite made it to Book 4 yet.
No, I'm not kidding.
Why it's taking so !@#$!@ long, for those who care:
The first 4.5 years of that were going through books 1-3 with a GM who didn't really have enough time to GM. We managed to meet maybe once every six weeks, on average, for about 4 hours. Then the GM's life took a turn for the busier, and he simply couldn't pretend that he had time to do it any more. So the campaign broke up.
One of the other players in that group wanted closure, so he started the whole thing over from Book 1 with a new group. This group can meet once every other week, or sometimes even more often (especially in summer). I joined that one, and it took just over a year to get to where we are now.
Meanwhile, I've been running a Rise of the Runelords game since June of 2012. I have plenty of time for GM'ing, but the players all have very busy schedules, and we can only manage to meet about once a month. We're just a bit over halfway through Book 4, so call it a book per year.
So ... meet regularly, and you'll be fine. Meet sporadically, and you'd be better off picking a one-book module instead of a six-book adventure path. Or just doing it homebrew style.
On Adding Crypt of the Everflame
It's doable, but you'll wind up making a lot of work for yourself.
You could add Crypt of the Everflame to the Swallowtail Festival easily enough. The festival begins when the lantern is brought back. The crypt holds one of the founders of Sandpoint instead of Kassen. The Razmiri cultists who woke the dead are actually servants of Karzoug (perhaps Nualia and company) gathering resources for his plots.
To combat the problem of moving out of town immediately, I'd insist that your players all be natives of Sandpoint, rather than random strangers passing by. Collecting the Everflame is a local ritual. The town would have no reason to involve random passersby in this aspect of their celebration. If somebody REALLY doesn't want to be from Sandpoint originally, then they should at least be a resident -- maybe their parents moved there a few years ago, and they've lived in town long enough to become part of the community.
If you run it as written, everyone will hit level 2 in the crypt, before the swallowtail festival even begins. With a party of six players, starting at 1 level higher than usual, you'll probably have to adjust the difficulty of the all the encounters in every book of the adventure path as you go along, especially if your players are experienced. That's a ton of work. I wouldn't do it. But if you want to, go ahead.
Back on the original topic of the thread, some more things I've changed in my RotRL campaign:
Dragon color swap: copper instead of red
I made the 2 young red dragons in Fortress of the Stone Giants copper instead, and gave the PCs a reason to rescue rather than kill them.
The full details:
In Fortress of the Stone Giants, there are two young red dragons (Suleminga and Encontredor) charmed into working for the two lamia clerics with names but no backstory. They're a speed bump.
I switched their color: they're not red, they're copper. Then, on the way to the Fortress, the PCs encountered a souped-up Krampus with some redcap minions, intent on punishing a misbehaving child. They dutifully intervened, and the "child" turned out to be a five-year-old wyrmling copper dragon named Vernalia. She had snuck out of her mother's lair despite being forbidden to do so, and gotten lost. Mokmurian found her, and aided her in getting home.
But later, Mokmurian returned with a bunch of his minions. He petrified Vernalia's mother with a Flesh to Stone spell, then charmed and abducted her two brothers. Vernalia hid; the Krampus was out to punish her for disobedience (going outside without permission), betrayal (showing Mokmurian the way to their home), and cowardice (hiding while her family were attacked). After the PCs rescued her from Krampus, Vernalia gave them a small hidden stash of her mother's hoard (the rest was stolen) and begged them to save her two brothers.
The lamias are now diligently stoking the greed in Suleminga and Encontredor's souls, and pushing them into increasingly evil acts until they tarnish enough to sacrifice. Vernalia has accompanied the party (and stayed out of combat, because dragon or not, she's five!)
The dragon color swap subplot will probably get resolved next session. Depending on how things turn out, the party may find themselves with Vernalia's mother (a mature adult copper dragon) as an ally in the fight against Arkrhyst in book 5. If you use this, adjust as appropriate to your party; mine is distinctly underpowered and in need of aid.
Introducing Viorian Dekanti in Book 4
I introduced Viorian Dekanti is an allied NPC in Book 4. When she re-appears in Book 6, the party will have history with her, and reasons to try things other than killing her.
Discussion and updated backstory for Viorian:
Viorian Dekanti, in Book 6, is a pointless walk-on. As written, the players have no idea who she is or where she came from. They have no reason to do anything other than kill her.
To rectify that situation, I have introduced her as an allied level 10 NPC who is accompanying them through the Fortress of the Stone Giants. She has a pre-paid contract on a Raise Dead/Restoration at a suitable temple in Magnimar, and she has told the party that, so barring a TPK she has an excellent chance of surviving the adventure.
Meanwhile, she is forming connections with the party now. Maybe they'll be friends, maybe rivals. Maybe one of them will strike up a romance. Regardless, she'll go off-screen again in Book 5, and then when she shows up in Book 6, she'll be a real person to them, someone worth trying to save, not just a speed bump on the way to Karzoug.
Her original backstory is totally unsuitable. I decided that she grew up in Kassen, in Nirmathas, and that her early adventuring career consisted of the events described in Crypt of the Everflame, Masks of the Living God, and the City of Golden Death. I may throw in other modules if the players keep asking for more backstory. That gives her AMPLE history.
She needs to be greedy, so as to be susceptible to Chellan. I've played up that she's a mercenary, and that she really likes getting paid. She grew up destitute, and resented by her siblings because she was adopted and a drain on family resources. Her personal goal is outdo Kassen, the founder of her hometown. He raised enough loot by adventuring to found a town. She wants more: she's shooting for 200,000 gp to bankroll a small kingdom (that's the equivalent of 50 BP under the Ultimate Campaign kingdom building rules). Nobody can say she's a useless drain on resources once she's ruling her own kingdom.
As for her reason for accompanying the party, she's working for the Magnimarian government. Due to OTHER plot modifications, the Magnimarian military don't trust the party fully, and sent their own hired merc along to make sure they could get the straight story from someone working for THEM.
Liz Courts wrote:
"Keep animal companions the same unless a rules selection requires it to be overridden." :D
Awww. Nuts. I just came up with a lovely bit of backstory using a familiar's death as the catalyst for a turn to evil.
Well, back to the drawing board I guess.