Meh, if the player is furious at encounters with invisible things, what's he going to think of player-foiling tactics such as displacement and DR/- later on? Sounds fairly balanced given the stalkers would not pursue outside a certain zone, leaving the tried-and-true method of "live to fight another day" a valid card in the player arsenal.
Erastil is a perfect fit to building a community in the wild and has ties to some storylines. Iomedae is somewhat out of place with the wilderness and building-a-village-into-a-city theme of the path. The PCs are native to the surrounding region, but they are not necessarily to the Stolen Lands.
As for Nyrissa, difficult to ascertain who's going to be alive by the end of the campaign, but no reason you couldn't have her linked to a demon to achieve her goals. You could simply replace the events in which she interacts with the world (the slain unicorn, etc.) with a demon servant, bound to her and perhaps involved with her fallout with the Elders (she dared to use such vile things in her service).
I house rule the following (always max at 1st level) wherein we roll for hit points for characters:
d6, reroll 1
One reroll is allowed, players who roll below the reroll numbers a second time get a minimum of 1 + the highest reroll number allowed. Hence, a d6 rogue will always get at least 2 hit points while a d12 barbarian will always get at least 5 hit points. With "retraining" of hit points allowed, provides some randomness without crippling the players' ability to survive.
Pets advance at the standard rate.
I'd shy away from max hit points as a given because I don't want to have to adjust every encounter. If they "retrain" then they've used finances and should benefit accordingly and if they, unlikely, roll maximum every level, I'll check their dice to see if loaded (but in any case, players would have earned it no differently than if a string of natural 20s ended a boss battle prematurely).
The spirit of the game is play what you enjoy. If you want to blow things up, do it! As Treatmonk says, sure Haste deals more damage over time, but you know what else does? Your enemies! Blow them to smithereens first. Plus, you chose this RPG because some small part of you loves the roll of dice. The pitter-patter of ten d6s dropping to the tabletop is much more satisfying than handing another player a condition card.
I'm GMing a campaign with an 8th level evoker, and he's been solid. The players adapt to one another's combat styles, and they know he's their go-to man for pesky fliers, incorporeal attackers, and mass of minions who hit hard but die easy. With the greensting scorpion, he's generally a lock to go first and set the stage.
Since 3rd edition and Pathfinder, he's the first Evoker I've gamed with, and it's refreshing and nostalgic (referring to 2nd edition wizardry).
As an update, I love one of the primary hooks from the Hall of Harsh Reflections and incorporated it into RHoD.
Miha Serani, the shapechanging spy from RHoD, is a "go where it takes you" encounter. So, I took it where AoW went with replacing a character with a shapechanger. Avoided the framing for murder as there aren't enough days to deal with that much of a side encounter when the campaign is about strategic missions to weaken the enemy before they arrive at the gates. She took over once the party had obtained a big victory against one of the Wyrmlords, wherein they obtained a phylactery of a lich being blackmailed by the Horde to help them. She decided to encourage them to seek the lich so the garrison in the lair could retake the phylactery. A dangerous proposition but she couldn't get a powerful enough force to intercept the mobile party on short notice.
The kid can play hardball too. He's been waiting 30 years and maybe he'll just wait for the next adventuring party to come through and they'll get all the wonderful treasures behind the door...
[and who's to say this can't lead to more adventures. Maybe the players call the kid on his bluff and some adventurers DO set his bones to rest or come looking for the party assuming they've got the bones. Maybe word gets around that they're the graverobbers, etc. Or, maybe these adventurers do get past the door and decide they want the rest of the loot the party has taken. A way to get the party items from the final chamber without going there.]
As for the cleric, ouch if he burns the kid with a lie on his faith. I'm sure he'll create another one or such, but the intent is to cheat a kid who is condemned to eternally walk this earth. Not OK if LG is your path.
It may be too small a sample of fights to make conclusions just yet; four witchfires are nasty and could wipe an APL appropriate party and morghs may be the result of just bad dice rolls. However, the 5 characters don't appear to have much in the way of control, looks like pure hack, and pure hack is vulnerable to damage soak encounters like incorporeal or certain DR monsters.
I've run groups past 12th without dedicated healers and they can work, but players absolutely must optimize to avoid hurt.
Spoiler:As to healing, usually I let players "sleep in the bed they make," but I have a house rule that in a safe place where the 8-hour rest period could be done, all healing items and spells provided maximum hit points. Doesn't help the in-between moments where combat is coming quickly.
Saw a group to 16th level, one character only failed saves on a 1 for nearly all encounters. Seemed absurd but they knew they had to optimize heavily to make up for lack of a true healer. Group later was ignomiously wiped by bad draws from a Deck of Many Things.
I tend to a 'survival of the fittest' and from experience, I shy away from advising my players how to make their characters. If they ask I'll give input, but otherwise I'm interfering. Lost two good players from a group long ago after a battle I thought they should have handled better by giving my input "here's what you should have done." They played their characters as they saw fit and took their lumps, wasn't my role to tell them they "stunk."
Been there before. Finding a group of gamers that all share the same expectations can be a challenge. For example, we have a weekly group now, and every few sessions we mix things up by doing a board game day. My players love the story but need variety. Setting up in the same seat with the sheet and the dice and the books may not appeal as much to one gamer as another.
Warning signs that players want to keep meeting but need some variety include: last minute cancellations, calling in sick on game day, complete cluelessness at the story plot or NPC names, not updating the character sheet, and they're playing Skyrim a lot more than usual.
Justin Rocket wrote:
My players were primarily concerned with crafting and maintaining a base of operations, so "downtime" rules have assisted heavily (e.g. crafting on the adventuring trail). Charisma still plays a heavy role in the success of certain skill checks for gathering resources for "downtime" activities, but because those checks can rely on other skills, it's not the definitive advantage.
This AP can have some 'marathon' battle sessions where, without a "mass" healer, it'll be rough. However, a savvy party that doesn't throw caution to the wind and doesn't assume every encounter is meant to be solved by combat can fare well. The AP notes reflect these are "thinking man's" dungeons. While combat is inevitable, my best advice, as with any AP, is to think outside the box on encounters. This AP is well-designed for that style of play.
Dungeon Magazine #134, 3rd edition adventure "Home on the Range." Dwarven Base is being attacked by tieflings who hide under cover of magical darkness. Party hired to escort scarab beetles that can emit magic light through the Underdark to the base.
Besides the "old west" feel of herding through dangerous territory, it's got a dwarven base. Not quite on par with Thorbardin, mind you.
Playing AoW (converted for Pathfinder) now, can say party deaths are a reality if the adventure is run properly. The path is geared towards "old school" balanced parties (fighter, caster, trap disabler, and healer). Not everything can or will be solved by combat, but make no mistake it's AD&D style - lots of dungeons and monsters to be had.
The GM in me says it's a bit unfair to pick a character based on how well they'll handle the adventure path, but look towards party balance. The AP gives suggestions to the GM how each core class fits in. Avoid mounted classes; there's a lot of adventures where a large mount can't easily go. A healer who can selectively channel energy comes in handy. I'm not convinced (after seeing my own players struggle) that the plan we'll just "wand-tap heal" afterwards is a sustainable model in this AP.
As a final bit of advice, don't be afraid to retreat and come back to fight another day.
Since they were close to death, perhaps the daemon ripped and sold a portion of their souls to some Night Hags. Next time someone needs raised, or perhaps earlier through nightmares, the party could find out something has them partially in thrall. Mechanically, could be as simple as if the character cannot be raised, their soul is carted off to the Abyss or some other source. In the meanwhile, their partial souls are being used to fuel some nefarious scheme. As long as they live, they power that soul portion. Whether you implement any penalty (don't recommend any change in numbers but perhaps a graying of the skin, or changing of eye color, or ledger marks in Infernal indicating ownership that manifest on the person's back) is up to you.
In any case, the party is probably expecting some hardship/quest in return for surviving the TPK. The daemon kept them alive for a reason...
We had a party death and 3 near-deaths at 1st level in the Cairn, but we knew this AP was meant to be an old school challenge with no hand-holding. The path lists ways to increase the challenge for a 3rd level party; without it the battles will be cakewalks. At 3rd, you will lessen the severity of some of the trap encounters.
In some character building sessions where the players got to know our town, these type of tombs were hyped up as places where adventurers go and don't come back. Lived up to the billing, and if it were a cakewalk, I think players would have been a tad disappointed. On the flipside, losing a character permanently stinks.
Where it Got Serious
Wind trap tunnel: discovered very early on, and the players had no idea what they were getting into. The fall killed a character and nearly killed another.
Showers: player went solo on a tether to explore the dark waters. Probably should have been a player death but used some GM leniency when the player was paralyzed.
Filge: a challenge if he's ready for them in combat. However, plenty of ways to handle this area rather than hack n slash.
Recommended for new players:
Hollow's Last Hope (free): Great intro adventure into the spirit of exploration and heroics. Plague hits small town and local cleric needs party to retrieve ingredients, braving Darkmoon Forest, witch's hut, and abandoned dwarven monastery. Encounters and battles are simple yet clever.
Sunless Citadel (3rd ed, easily converted): One of the best 1st level modules for new players. One review: This adventure is geared more for a fresh-faced referee and equally fresh set of players. So fresh, they're not jaded by lengthy combats and worry about the number of partial actions other get in on their characters. Classic dungeon crawl with a ton of opportunities for all types to shine (stealth, diplomacy, hack and slash, it's all there). Not every faction in the dungeons get along, and there's side quests into discovering where another adventuring party failed.
Both give you a springboard to a campaign without tying you into a rigid plot.
As for some special starter ideas:
[adapted from Kingmaker forums and used in my own] Role-play wedding precursor:
Party is given contract to clear bandits from the Stolen Lands, but any idea could do. Party was on road to the area and I declared we'd roleplay them meeting at a wedding 6 months prior, before they were contracted and perhaps before they all knew one another. No dice, no skills, just roleplay. Everyone, on the fly, had to provide some ideas why they were there, who they knew. One player became childhood friends to the bride. Another was there as part of the catering staff. After meeting some major NPCs, the festhall was set on fire at the end of the wedding, an assassination attempt on the couple (politics). Roleplaying actions only, the players were nearest and one saved the bride while the others chased the assassins. It was a limited, novel-like session, with no dice, nothing but imagination to start. Because they saved the bride, her father gave them dibs on the contract, but you could insert any quest opportunity. It gave free-form ability to flesh out a character background.
The World Serpent Inn:
A free supplement product from Wizards of the Coast for 3rd edition. A planar inn that travels, the party could have won a chance to hang out there. Wherever it pops out could be grounds for a new adventure, or could just be a cool setting.
Party has escorted a caravan from their starting town to the "city." The local constables do a double take and immediately ask the party to come with them. A local murder took place and the bodies are identical to the players. An eyewitness says cloaked assassins appeared out of nowhere, slew the other party, and one of them said "one down, two to go" before they vanished into thin air. In my campaign, an ancient demipower had seeded various races, having foreseen his ruin, and certain bloodlines would allow him to reinhabit a living body, if that body could be directed to put on an artifact holding the demipower's essence. The artifact had been sundered into several parts long ago, but the demipower uses dreams and some limited power to urge his bloodlines to reassemble the artifact. What may seem a quest to reassemble a lost relic may turn into a battle for one's soul as many factions seek the ancient power.
A railroad plot that free-form players may not enjoy, derived from 1st edition's Curse of the Azure Bonds. Players wake up with 5 tattoos on arms that cannot be removed, even by magic. The tattoos compel them to commit a major crime. The only way they'll be free is to find the creators of the tattoos and make them remove them. Each tattoo was a separate faction that had its own agenda for placing the tattoos. For example, one planned on using them to assassinate a king, another just to see if mind control could be done on "good" heroes, and another planned to betray the others and sacrifice the magic to free a dead god.
In one campaign I altered Leadership to provide an NPC class (Expert, Adept, Warrior) instead of player class, and that character would serve as a "resource" character who wouldn't adventure but provided a benefit as a Sage, Crafter, bouncer at the Inn, etc. Ultimate Campaign has fleshed out the "downtime" system to provide many of the benefits I altered Leadership to have, so I no longer use Leadership.
Otherwise, Leadership has been used by everyone I've seen as a way to get a "healbot" or "buffbot," and at high levels it slowed down play as gamers adjudicate the tremendous range of multiple PC character actions. But that rant is for another post.
I have also treated followers as "hirelings" (there was a free Paizo supplement where hirelings provided minor benefits like a guide who grants bonuses to survival or porters to carry things). While none have any real levels, they provide a measureable benefit. Just don't make the jerk GM move and kill them off every time the groupies are left to guard the horses.
You can use a Glaive or any two-handed weapon with Spellstrike. The ability is designed to make it easier to deliver Touch spells, not more difficult, as a reward for playing this particular class. First, the intent from Sean Reynolds in a FAQ dated 2/7/2012 (abbreviated for relevance, on the magus page):
...Basically, the spellstrike gives the magus more options when it comes to delivering touch spells; it’s not supposed to make it more difficult for the magus to use touch spells.
Second, as noted above, Free Actions provide the "non-actions" that demonstrate how Spellstrike works with a two-handed weapon. From James Jacobs, unoffical post 6/9/2010 regarding spellcasting with a 2-handed bonded weapon:
As for the OP's question... if you're wielding a 2H weapon, you can let go of the weapon with one of your hands (free action). You're now only carrying the 2H weapon, not wielding it, but your free hand is now free to attack or help cast spells or whatever. And at the end of your turn if your free hand remains free you'd be able to return it to grip your 2H weapon so you can still threaten foes and take attacks of opportunity if you want.
Because free actions are as many as can fit reasonably within a round, the "regrip" notion is perfectly valid. Again, the magus is designed around delivering touch spells through weaponry. Rulings that make this more difficult are against the design of the class.
Breath of Life operates like an interrupt to fatal damage, curing hit points in a "window" where it is presumed the soul has not fled the body. As such, it targets creatures only.
Disintegrate transmutes the target to dust, whereby it ceases to be a creature and becomes an object...dust. There is no body nor wounds to be healed.
Sounds like the GM was being generous to the party on a nasty botched save.
The party starting levels (assuming a 4-man, you may need a bump with 3) and ending levels for each module. The names shouldn't give anything away.
Whispering Cairn: 1-3
As to your current adventure, I use story-based XP but expected my players to level to 4th after around 2 temples and hit 5th after the "finale." If you're using regular XP advancement, Jacobs is correct in saying that there should be a "close to 4th" level advancement if everything is done in the Whispering Cairn. If you're carousing to the finale in the temples at level 3, I pray you've got epic stats and great gear!
Sometimes decades of GMing experience can work against you. I'm constantly remembering older versions of the rules.
Been down that road too; called a player out for using 3d6 rather than 2d6 on a flaming sphere. Ate some humble pie. Sounds like you'll be fine once you advise you've been using an old version, and guessing the player will dig into his repertoire and try something new. But also remember that sometimes players love a certain spell or way of doing things. It's repetitive, but my same wizard player loves magic missiles. Classic spell. Could he choose a more effective spell? Is it the most efficient spell? Doesn't matter. He's the player and free to build and play as he sees fit.
I've merged the two as I've been wanting to run my group through RHoD and AoW but didn't want two campaigns just to give them a whirl. Largely AoW can live without Blackwall Keep and Hall of Reflections with a little nudge.
First, borrowing from forums, heavier foreshadowing with use of Faceless One letters so the party knows by the end of the Ebon Triad encounter that they've routed a cult that seeks the creation of an Overgod if they can make the Age of Worms come to pass (and they're apparently close).
Next, to skip Blackwall Keep and incorporate RHoD, had Allustan contact Marzena from the swamp during "down time" to share notes. She enters town with a representative of the lizard folk. The lizard folk were betrayed by a black dragon named Ilthane that sought to make them stronger by combining eggs but instead unleashed worms into their clutch. They lost over half their tribe, and a captive taken by the garrison was infected and killed most of the soldiers there before being hacked to pieces.
The swamp is too infested to continue to be a home for the lizard folk, and the source of the worms has yet to be ascertained. Allustan proposes the following: the party goes to Elsir Vale where Eligos (I changed it to Seriteren the Wise but kept the Eligos description) now lives. Eligos is a font of arcane knowledge but was banned from the City for liberating some tomes from the royal library. [Given that my party killed Filge, Allustan will mention Eligos may be the only person still alive who would know more about these worms].
As another hook, I have Allustan's estranged daughter as Captain Soranna, who should be able to help them find Eligos. Allustan also proposes they try to negotiate compromise for the lizard folk to relocate to the swamps of Elsir Vale.
From there, it is a simple matter to run RHoD. If Eligos dies, there is Immerstal the Red in Bristol that he may have given his notes to. Once Elsir Vale is safe, Eligos can divulge what he knows.
To hook Loris Raknian, Eligos may hint (if the party doesn't think of it) to look for anyone trying to obtain one of the scrolls/books he mentions. Given the notes they have, there is a rich patron in the City who was funding the cult. Some basic hunting turns up Loris Raknian and the hook develops to enter the party into the games to get some concrete evidence and find out what else the Ebon Triad is up to. Buff that adventure up a level (given the party should be 10th level after RHod) and we're back on track.
With no real intelligence, movement would be the qualifier to be a target unless directed by higher intelligence. Given the only way to effectively destroy objects is to break them, same logic would apply to the construct on how to destroy an enemy. Bust them into pieces.
Undead are animated with negative energy, so while this may not equate "life sense" to see hidden things, it's probably fair to say they know when a foe is still alive or not.
If you borrow some from Dudemeister and others regarding the sacred sites in the Centaur lands and combine that with locales like Candlemere, there's plenty of "places of power" in these ancient lands. With all the shrines to him scattered about (and you could add some more), she could be trying to siphon off his power through control of these sites.
As written, besides a few hints (dead unicorn), there's not much involvement from the BBEG till the end as the designers wrote it to be focused around the Kingdom with everything else as a threat to the kingdom rather than the traditional BBEG focus. Very easy to adapt, though.
A foul-mouthed intelligent sword named "Imp" that constantly derided the players but revealed as time went on life-saving abilities (like a well-placed dispel magic). Over many levels, the weapon warmed, a tad, to the characters and began insulting their foes. When the sword mouthed off to a pit-fiend who snapped Imp in two, the "soul" of Imp was revealed in the form of a hapless man whose soul was imprisoned in the sword eons ago to empower it. Driven insane over time, he achieved clarity in his release.
Player is running a dhampir magus with a background that tampering with magic beyond his control as an apprentice opened a portal to the shadow plane, forever changing him (into dhampir). He's now seeing if his exposure might have done more and is asking about the lich template. While the full template is insanely powerful for a PC and I can't let that in, looking for thoughts on other options and game balance.
I'd allow them as GM-only books. Personally I use the MIC to liven up our magic item finds, and definitely on a case-by-case basis. In no way would I allow characters to begin creating items from this book.
The physical descriptions and unique utility of some of the items make them very refreshing loot for players who've "seen it all."
Don't use the SC as Pathfinder has way too many spells already, including ones considered by many broken. Don't need any more, and you'd have to decide if each spell would fall into a particular caster's repertoire, such as magus, witch, etc.
Unless your PC was Thor, god of thunder, telling a drunk, proud Ulfen who believes you've killed his one true canine friend in life to "f**k off or die" is going to result in a showdown.
The rationale that a roll of the die should replace "role-playing" an encounter lessens the experience of an RPG. While the rules exist to enhance the fun within cognizable boundaries, there will be instances where there is no realistic response other than to ignore a particular roll. Otherwise, the "role-play" associated with the "die roll" becomes meaningless.
Your player did a great job by role-playing his words, and you should encourage players to keep it up. However, he made a poor choice of words that really left the GM with no choice. You made the world more "real" by giving a realistic response.
Suppose your player had said "You're misinformed, and I don't take kindly to strangers accusing me of things I didn't do. F**k off." It's very possible (upon success) that the Ulfen might reconsider his actions and have some doubt based on the sheer conviction of the intimidating player character. On failure, although well said, the Ulfen simply might not be swayed and take it as hiding something.
If it's all just a "die roll," your player could simply say "Snazzle frazzle pink tutus and a snotty nose" and get the same result on an intimidate check. That's not role-playing. I think you handled it well.
Lots of ideas, my primary problem is high level combat bogging down with extreme amounts of dice rolling. 2nd edition's simplicity of maxing at two attacks is a peaceful thought, though mechanically the system and bestiary are based off the notion of increased attacks, increased potential for damage output. Huge undertaking.
Anything else can easily be house-ruled or remedied by extra effort by the players (such as tracking conditions using condition cards, or keeping a cheat sheet of combat maneuvers you'll use).
Currently: Taladas (on Krynn)
Krynn and the Realms are easier for me to envision and flesh out due to having read many many good (and bad) novels in those realms growing up. The lazy part of me just doesn't want to memorize what all is happening in Golarian.
Inspired from a baddie in Kingmaker, a lich-based enemy could use his touch attack to heal himself, so hit and run is a very viable option. Nothing more than a huge groan if the enemy comes back fully healed. Obviously certain spells can foil it, but if they don't have 'em, the lich may make mince meat of them.
We're engaged in the death-friendly adventure path "Age of Worms" and the 3rd level party has charged into a dungeon, guns-a-blazin', and ran out of spells and daily abilities. It's a reactive dungeon, and the bad guys are on notice there's invaders. As a GM, I'm inclined to not let them sit idly by and let the party "rest up." (they tried, and the bad guys tried smoking them out with fire).
The bad guys don't know the party's low on fuel. The party knows it can't leave the "dungeon" (a mine with cultists) lest the cultists scatter to the winds or get reinforcements.
As a GM, I know the bad guys have more than enough firepower to mop the floor with the PCs, but I'd like a realistic option to give the party a fighting chance to "rest" safely. Just can't figure out a reason the bad guys would sit idly by for 8 hours in their own compound, much less not seek reinforcements or set more things on fire.
We're trying a houserule at 100% cost to craft magic items, except wands, scrolls, and potions (which use normal rules). Feat benefit is still intact - creation without being subject to the whim of random loot or magic marts (if there are any), and we allow items of the same slot to be "deconstructed" at 100% value into raw components to be used against the cost of crafting the new item.
I'm not sure about a rule that tells my players how much wealth they can equip. What happens if everyone decides to save up as a group and buy the front-line fighter a shiny +5 suit of armor, which would put him past his WBL? Shouldn't the group have that freedom? What happens if a player declares he will put on the armor? Will the gods strike him down for his heresy?
On the other hand, you have an insane # of players in the campaign, and if the crafter is allowed to make items at 50% cost for everyone, then the challenges built on WBL systems fly out the window. Personally, I'd just have done 100% to control costs if this is the worry.
Make the GM feel a bit guilty if he has to kill off the party by offering a last prayer to your character's respective deity, then say "for the sake of all those who have suffered here and all those who have died here, [insert deity's name] condemns you." Then mass attack the gentleman If he drops, and there's unintelligent undead around, maybe you can outsmart them in getting away, assuming he was the one giving orders.