This is a total GM (my) judgment call, but I'm curious to get other views. We ended our last session with one of the PCs about to be charged and surprised/sneak attacked by three thugs. The PC wants to use a hero point to move before she is attacked. The player referred me to this use of hero points: "Act Out of Turn: You can spend a hero point to take your turn immediately. Treat this as a readied action, moving your initiative to just before the currently acting creature. You may only take a move or a standard action on this turn."
I'm not sure that technically applies, because this is a surprise round and the PC does not technically have a turn yet. I think the PC would actually get 2 things out of the use of the hero point: (1) getting to act in the surprise round; and (2) getting to act FIRST in the surprise round.
Would you let the PC use a hero point to act before her surprise assailants? If not, perhaps a compromise would be say that the use of the hero points means the PC isn't surprised, but the PC is still flat-footed if she doesn't beat the assailants in initiative? I'd probably roll the assailants' initiatives separately in that instance.
Thanks for all this. We ended the last session with the attacks unresolved, so I may just want to revise their action to say that they charge and sneak attack the PC (or at least 3 of them do). But can a charge and attack happen in a surprise round, which is just supposed to be one standard OR move action? A charge attack is usually a full round action.
I'm running a game where the PCs are exploring a temple. One PC is presently in a room with doors to the North and the South. The PC is in the open North doorway, distracted and looking North. Four temple rogues are hiding in the room to the south. All four try to sneak across the room to sneak attack the PC. Three beat the PC's perception, and one fails. Which of the following is the right result?
(1) The 3 that succeeded sneak across the room and get a surprise attack (sneak attack) on the PC. The 1 that failed moves across the room but does not get to act in the surprise round.
(2) There is no surprise round because 1 of the 4 failed and thus alerted the PC. All 4 only get sneak attacks only if they beat the PC's initiative and catch her flat-footed.
Is one of those right, or is there yet another result?
Wouldn't it be possible to devise some relationship (some deal) between the Mi-go and the WW rather than eliminating the Mi-go? Maybe there is something the Mi-go needed for their experiments that the WW provided them.
What is the WW's direct involvement in the goings-on in Illmarsh? I wonder if I might like to add more of a connection in my game as well (we've just started the module).
What a mess this thread is! It seems clear to me the grab and grapple rules don't work for a creature like a giant octopus and it is silly to try to apply RAW to that monster. A giant octopus can only hold one creature in its tentacles at a time? Silliness! It needs to take -20 on every constrict check because it needs to use its whole body to effectively constrict an opponent? Silliness! This is a massive creature with powerful and long tentacles that operate pretty independently, and every depiction in fantasy has them grappling several enemies at once. This is a place for the GM to ignore the rules and just have fun. As long as the PCs don't get killed, the rule semantics don't matter. So I guess one lesson is use this monster for flavor and not as a critical combat that needs to be run in a perfectly rule-certifiable way.
Thanks for your thoughts everyone. They encountered ghasts at the Sanctuary, which have a similar but much stronger smell than ghouls. But if the PC gets a good whiff, she would probably be able to guess it was ghouls.
But I like the idea that the ghouls smeared themselves with offal. They know the party has a half-orc, so a smart opponent might have considered the possibility that the half-orc has a sensitive sense of smell.
The scent description actually states, "False, powerful odors can easily mask other scents. The presence of such an odor completely spoils the ability to properly detect or identify creatures."
Assuming the barn door is open, I guess when the half-orc gets within 30 feet (assuming strong smell, downwind) I'll say that the barn smells very strongly of manure, as if it has not been cleaned out in a long time. I'll rule that masks the ghoul's smell, especially when they pop out covered in manure, although I suspect my half-orc PC will still complain. Scent is a bit overpowered, so I think it's fair to frustrate it this way.
I believe under RAW, scent IS a passive ability. That is, when the PC walks within 30 feet of a scent, he notices it. It is a move action to determine direction, not to detect that there is an odor. Is there disagreement on this?
Similarly, and as to the second point, aren't perception and sense motive also passive? That is, a PC gets to make a perception check whenever a foe is trying to hide from them (use stealth) or lie to them (use bluff). I don't think PCs need to declare they are trying to look or tell if someone is lying. I think the GM should automatically make the rolls for them when appropriate. Do you all disagree?
And thanks for all your thoughts on the encounter. I want to make sure I play it right technically, because if the assassin manages to kill someone I don't want to get into debates over rules. I agree that the assassin and ghouls are mincemeat after the surprise round, which is why I was hoping there is a rationale for the ghouls to get an attack in the surprise round.
I'll consider Raith's suggestion to have the attack happen elsewhere, but I think I may want to move things along out of Thrushmoor...
I have a few questions about the ambush at the stables that starts the adventure:
(1) A half-orc fighter-rogue in the party has scent. I think this means the ambush has no chance of success. When the half-orc enters the barn it will smell the ghouls in the hay wagon and know something is up. Am I missing something?
(2) Did you players not make the perception and sense motive rolls to sniff out the ambush? The aforementioned half-orc has crazy high perception and sense motive -- it seems unlikely she will miss the DCs.
(3) How does the ambush work mechanically?
I see no reason why that wouldn't work, and it would certainly make things more straightforward. I found Estovion's ambiguous position with respect to the WW to be interesting, and my party certainly had some good RP in terms of figuring out where he fit in (they even let him go ultimately, since he wasn't actually aligned with the WW), but I don't think there is a fundamental problem with making him a straight up WW agent.
I think that all sounds workable. I like the idea of the werewolves being diminished in number. That matches with the limited numbers that appear in the rest of the module. It also makes sense that the tribes of natural werewolves would have trouble maintaining numbers. But it does beg for an explanation why the demon wolves, who are not natural werewolves, wouldn't immediately dominate the other tribes, especially considering how virulent the curse of lycanthropy is. Perhaps only a small number of infected werewolves can gain enough control over their transformations to become a part of werewolf society?
The small number of werewolves approach answers the issue with respect to your village, and also why travelers to the Lodge are not attacked. My PCs asked about that, and I said the Lodge had powerful allies whose wrath would be brought down on the werewolves if they targeted the Lodge or its guests. That worked.
One note of caution -- when the PCs meet two Primals in the woods early on, the module describes a cascade of howls in the wood, giving the impression of numerous werewolves. That is certainly how my players took it. In my mind the howls were from wolves under the sway of the werewolves, not other werewolves. But you should be aware of the possibility of creating a misimpression if you play that part as written.
I also like the idea of making Rhakis CG -- it makes sense considering the role of the Prince's Wolves vis-a-vis the WW. I've effectively done the same. I introduced him before the attack on the Stairs of the Moon. In my game, Madam Ivanja in the Lodge is an ally of the Prince's Wolves and she set up a meeting with Rhakis once the PCs convinced her of their goals and of the danger of the WW.
I wanted to share a perspective on Estovion's last stand at the Stairs of the Moon. The module suggests that Estovion is cornered and will fight to the death, but he has the dimensional steps ability, so he isn't really trapped at all. At any time he could just blink out the back wall.
Also, I don't think he is a very formidable opponent for the party in a direct match like that.
Interestingly, my PCs let Estovion go after he handed over the canopic stone that would allow them to destroy the Vilkacis. Although they viewed him as evil, they (accurately) understood that he wasn't really aligned with the WW. They also thought he was more of a threat than he was. And they had trouble getting at him through the bars (be prepared to know the DCs to break through the bars; I decided the lock was melted so that our rogue couldn't just pick the lock.) In the end, they gave Estovion a dose of wolfsbane (since he is infected), he gave them the canopic stone, and then he dimension stepped some distance away with the understanding the PCs wouldn't give pursuit, which they didn't.
I actually found it a pretty logical resolution. I'll have to decide whether Estovion shows up in Caliphas or something. Any ideas for bringing him into the story later would be appreciated.
Interesting ideas. We have limited game time, so I'm generally not looking for ways to expand the AP, other than customizations that don't add a lot of game time. I think the main things you would need to think about are (1) how does the village survive in a woods full of werewolves (not to mention other creatures) and (2) how would a long winter residence in the lodge affect the overall timeline of the AP?
On the second issue, I suppose it is easy enough to suggest that Vrood has to stay in Feldgrau a long time to raise a big enough army, although you'd want to include an explanation of why his work wouldn't be discovered over the course of months. The first issue seems trickier, at least if your players are (like mine) inclined to ask questions trying to figure out whether everything makes sense...
It is certainly interesting from an RP and story perspective, depending on how you've presented the Beast and his relationship with Caromac. I think in most games the players will have a lot of allegiance to the Beast, so it could be tough making them fight him, although, again, it would be interesting from a RP perspective.
In my game, the fight against the Promethean was tough and satisfying -- it can handle multiple opponents better than a lot of single opponents -- so I wouldn't want to have omitted that.
I think I want to make it a bit harder on the PCs. How could they determine infection with a heal check, where the disease/curse says it doesn't manifest until the first moon?
Power Word Unzip wrote:
Remember that even if their cleric can cast remove curse, it has to be cast at CL 12 or higher to negate the lycanthropy, and must be applied within 3 days of being infected. If you're at the same point as me in the module, your party is probably about 8th level -- so that cure is a no-go. (Of course, you don't have to tell your players that.... =D)
I have kept this in mind, and I think the players are aware of it too (they rocked some research rolls). But I believe there is a CL 12 remove curse scroll in the room where the Vilkacis' remains are, so they can use that to cure one of the PCs.
My PCs just defeated Mathus at the top of the Stairs of the Moon. Two of the PCs are inflicted with lycanthropy (I'm kind of amazed not all 4 of them are). For a module that leaves such a high likelihood of the party contracting lycanthropy, it provides little guidance...
My understanding is that the lycanthropy does not manifest itself until the first moon. HOWEVER, the module seems to contemplate an immediate full moon after the Stairs of the Moon encounter, because the demon wolves turn Duristan into a werewolf, and he is aware of and has embraced his new condition by the time the PCs get to Feldgrau...
And how have you handled your PCs getting lycanthropy? Did they all gobble wolfsbane? I kept the FORT save secret and all four of my PCs got bitten -- does that mean I should let them all think they have lycanthropy and gobble wolfsbane? But all the CON damage they will take would throw off the pace of the adventure.
I guess the cleric can cast remove curse, and might prepare it a few times if I gave enough hints, so she can cast it on the two inflicted party members the night of the full moon?
I'd love to hear how this all went down in your games.
Interesting. My PCs were the opposite in the Lodge. They triggered maximum levels of suspicion in no time, so all of the events happened in quick sequence and Estovion fled the second night the PCs were there.
I think you are right that Rhakis knew the WW wanted Sain's heart for some reason, although the module indicates that Rhakis wants to eat Mathus' heart to become Packlord himself. I made him quite explicit about this. Since the PCs have figured out the Prince's Wolves are historical foes of the WW and the only technically non-evil tribe, they were willing to make the alliance.
I actually felt it was important that the PCs form some explicit alliance before going into the Stairs of the Moon. Otherwise, why would the werewolves allow the PCs to activate the Dusk Moth? In my mind, the Prince's Wolves, as Varisian wanderers, are actually pretty ok with Desna, so they will make sure the PCs get the space they need to perform the ceremony. But I'm dumping the requirement of a full day of cleaning the temple -- that doesn't jive with the importance of pursuing the WW.
By the way, I made Madame Ivanja a Szcarni ally of the Prince's Wolves, but not a werewolf herself.
Sounds fun. Why did a daytime raid lead you to place Estovion with Mathus?
How did it work out when your PCs needed to tell Rhakis of the Prince's Wolves that they gave Mathus' heart to the Primals?
My PCs formed an alliance with the Prince's Wolves earlier than contemplated in the module, which gave them the information about Mathus' location. Basically, I said Madame Ivanja is in league with the Prince's Wolves -- which seems so obvious it is odd the module didn't include it or specifically discount it -- and the PCs convinced her to put them in contact with the Prince's Wolves. The Princes Wolves led the PCs to the Stairs, since it made no sense to me that Duristan would know where the Stairs of the Moon are.
The party has moved onto the Stairs of the Moon. I'm wondering if anyone else's party just flew right up to the top of the tower and took the attack directly to Malthus. That's what my players did. It doesn't break the Stairs of the Moon encounter, although it is certainly not what the writer contemplated.
A rogue with a humanoid shapeshifter bane dagger stabs a werewolf with DR 10/silver for 4 points of weapon damage and 10 points of bane bonus damage. How much damage does the werewolf take? Only 4 because neither the weapon damage or bane damage is silver? Or 10 because the bane damage ignores DR? Probably the former, but it does seem a little odd that the bane damage wouldn't bypass DR.
I can't speak directly to your question with any knowledge of Paizo's plans, but I highly doubt the players guide will be printed. They seem to look forward, except when celebrating something seminal, like the Rise of the Runelords reprint. Frankly, it's not necessary to have a printed player's guide. It is short and only is needed during the character creation stage. Plus, everyone should have their own copy, which argues more for the PDF than the printed book. But if you really want something printed, I would print it yourself. Like I said, it's not too long.
"Aelthy took 21 points of strength damage ... That killed her on the spot
I don't think having your STR go to zero kills you. From the PRD: "If the amount of ability damage you have taken equals or exceeds your ability score, you immediately fall unconscious until the damage is less than your ability score. The only exception to this is your Constitution score. If the damage to your Constitution is equal to or greater than your Constitution score, you die."
Another question is whether ability scores can go into negatives like hit points, or if they just stop at zero. The relevance, of course, is whether you need to heal them up from a negative. My gut is that an ability score can never go below zero.
Thanks. Turned out not to be necessary. A couple hard hits with a silver falchion knocked sense into Corvin and sent the Vilkacis running home.
I think the module is a little ambiguous as whether that sort of "defeat" would prompt Estovion to flee Ascanor. I decided it would, mostly because we had basically wrapped things up at the lodge and I didn't see the point in prolonging things for another full day and night.
It did lead to some pretty interesting roleplaying trying to convince Belik to let the PCs break into Estovion's office, supposedly to make sure Estovion was ok. Although Belik is complicit in most of Estovion's schemes, there is no indication he knows about the Vilkacis. Belik initially refused to let the PCs access the office, but he eventually relented, due to his curiosity and concern for Estovion (and, frankly, my desire to give the PCs' the information in the office before they left Ascanor). But Belik, who accompanied the PCs, caught the PCs trying to search Estovion's stuff, and now he's going to kick them out of the Lodge.
I may be raising this question too late to help me tonight, but I'm confused about something relating to the Vilkacis. The module states that if the Vilkacis is driven from Corvin, the Vilkacis will seek to possess someone else -- presumably a PC. However, the write up on the Vilkacis only suggests it can be driven from a possessed person if the possessed person is struck by silver, giving that person an extra save. But, according to the write-up, if the person makes the save, then the Vilkacis cannot use the possession ability for another day, which means no attempting to possess anyone else. What am I missing?
Is there some way to figure out if the misfortune and evil eye hexes take effect? Because cackling consumes the witch's move action, the rules seem to contemplate that the witch would be aware of whether the hexes worked (that is, whether the opponent made the will save). It seems a little odd that the player would have to decide to maintain a hex round after round without having any idea if it took effect. Maybe the witch senses whether or not there is a hex in effect to maintain? That would make sense to me.
I hear your concern, Lorok, but it looks worse on paper. Other than the Erinyes (which the party CANNOT take head on), none of the encounters in the Schloss were overly difficult, and our party did not have a problem with the hound either. And our party is not maximized for dealing melee damage, either. I think you'll find it will be ok.
So I guess the assumption is that hexes are limited by the same line of effect rules that limit spells? Is this RAW or just logic? Also, where do the rules say that you need a line of sight to cast any spell? I only read them as saying that you need a line of sight to cast a ray. Although I agree it would be goofy to target an opponent with a hex if you're not sure where they are. But if you know what square they are in, I don't know why you need line of sight at the moment you target them with the hex.
Do the line of effect rules mean that a summoner couldn't peek around a corner, then duck back and summon something around the corner even though at the moment of casting it isn't within line of effect (or sight)? If one could summon in that way, then why couldn't you target a hex in that way? A hex is an effect you're placing on a target, not something physical that emanates from the witch to the target.
Hexes have a 30 foot range and the description of hexes doesn't say the witch needs line of sight, but I'm assuming a witch needs to know the precise location of an opponent to use a hex on the opponent? What if the witch knows there is an opponent on the other side of a wall? Can she use a hex on the opponent?
Just thought I'd mention that I played thconfused is out last night and the players loved it. They were appropriately confused and figured things out slowly enough and played along enough.
I ended up adding a Vollensag to the mix as follows: "Throwing dice with the Sczarni is a tall, lean fellow with long, wild dark hair (Holg). He is dressed rather primitively, wearing hide armor. He has a huge sword wrapped in cloth strapped to his back. If someone approaches the table they see a (Zoic) fetish around his neck made out of bundles of twine hair and stone." Obviously, the Sczarni were cheating.
One of the PCs is a Varisian barbarian, so he bee-lined for the dice table and had some good interactions with the Sczarni. The leader of the group delivered the message as suggested in your post and the barbarian found the (obviously centuries old) bronze medallion in the ruins of the inn. It should be interesting when he shows it to Rhakis Szadro.
The priest ended up being the best source of information that something odd was happening time-wise, because the players probed his historical knowledge and figured out that he was time oriented centuries ago. The players asked the bartender if there was a Desnan temple nearby and he told them he had heard of a Desna observatory somewhere in the Shudderwood.
The birth scene was appropriately creepy. The demon wolf burst out of the hag's stomach Alien-style, and the PCs in the room were too freaked out to do anything about it. It leapt out the window, as did the hag (who dropped her disguise to reveal her true nature). The players figured out that Jezelda is a demon lord.
Finally, when Dorzhev transformed I gave the PCs a chance to disbelieve the haunt and most of them did. So when Dorzhev's claws dug into the wizard, the claws passed right through, although the cleric saw the wizard gushing blood and tried to cure him. The Padre offered himself to Dorzhev who ripped out his throat.
I didn't have Dorzhev transform with fire, so I had the bartender throw a torch to start the fire. Which was a bit of a WTF moment, but it worked. The Sczarni and Kellid (the Vollensag stand in) just stood calmly and watched, which added to the confusion. The leader of the Sczarni made a reference along the lines of "The Broken Ones are puny werewolves."
Shortly thereafter the whole inn filled with smoke and then the smoke cleared and it was a ruin. It was a little odd to have such an elaborate event be a haunt, but the PCs accepted that haunts are vague eldritch happenings that don't follow game rule logic. I think it will be really cool once they recognize the connections to the tribes.
Thanks so much for sharing your fabulous idea!
judas 147 wrote:
Wouldn't it seem more realistic to make a list using a bunch of real Romanian or other Eastern European names -- very easy to find online. The guards who die are likely all Ustlavian and should all have standard Ustlavian names, while using the names listed here will add up to a pretty weird looking list.
As Sslarn points out, my main goal in starting the thread was trying to find out the intent of the AP authors. It also seemed to me that there was no clear rule in the Core Book, and that was confirmed by the debate until it was pointed out a clear rule had been added into Ultimate Equipment. The UE quote you provide actually doesn't suggest that GMs might give less than 100% -- it just indicates circumstances may justify giving MORE than 100%. So if I make it hard to get 100% outside a city, I am deviating from the RAW. That is, of course, my prerogative. But when I do deviate I like to be express about it with my players, which is why I've made the effort to be clear on what the RAW is...
Thanks, all. I'm willing to go with that RAW. It doesn't make sense that unwieldy art objects are as easy to liquidate as gems and jewelry, but it's a game, not reality. I guess what I'll tell myself is that the listed value is the minimum worth, and the patient art dealer will see a profit after paying the PCs the listed value. I'll probably still not give my PCs 100% if they aren't selling in a city, but it looks like that's not RAW, at least as of the publication of Ultimate Equipment.
I totally agree with Vrock's comment above. The Werewolves leave the Lodge alone because they know if they attack it will bring a whole lot of pain down on them, a lot of highly paid werewolf hunters that will destroy the lives the werewolves have built in the forest. Although some individual werewolves are tempted, the pack leader has prohibited such an attack. For the same reason, the werewolves don't focus on attacking well to do travelers clearly on the way to the Lodge.
I don't think it is credible to play it as if it is unclear whether the werewolves really exist. There is just too much history and too many werewolves. Heck, this is Ustalav. Everyone knows the monsters are real. And, after what the party saw in Trial of the Beast, a bunch of werewolves are the height of monster normality.
I'm not concerned about the module as written on this issue. I'll would just have Estovion say something like, "The werewolves know this Lodge has existed in the Shudderwood as long as they have. There is an unspoken detente -- they leave the Lodge and its guests alone, and the Lords of Ustalav don't fill the Wood with werewolf hunters packing silver."
The occasional independent werewolf hunter is something the Lodge can't really prevent, and something the werewolves need to tolerate as part of the unspoken deal. Frankly, I think the only reason the werewolves will tear Estovion apart without the protection of the Vilkacis is because he had the audacity to mess with something so sacred to the werewolves. Otherwise, they would respect the detente that has served them well so long. That is, ironically, it is Estovion's machinations that have, in fact, brought the survival of the Lodge into serious question for the first time.
Actually, both the Erinyes and the Air Elemental were Summoned Monsters. Which means they were only there for an extremely limited duration and couldn't move out of the area of effect of the summoning. So really, any players with the ability to realize that could just have outweighted them, so long as they had a GM that knew the rules.
What are the rules for the "area of effect of the summoning"? I assume the indicated range is the range for casting the spell -- that is, how far away a summoned monster can be made to appear. I don't read that as setting an area within which the summoned creature must remain. What am I missing?
And thanks, Rakshaka, for pointing out that summoned monsters can't teleport. I missed that.
Thanks for this. My PCs are in the Living Museum, so your thoughts about the leeches and black pudding are very timely! It's funny, my PCs mostly managed to avoid the 3 big fights -- they avoided the trolls and air elemental by flying over to the manor, and they avoided the Erinyes by retreating to the manor (I didn't have her chase them inside).
Factoring in the Erinyes' teleportation, if played fully to the hilt I think she'd be a TPK every time. I'm not actually sure how your party managed to dump a flying and teleporting Erinyes into the river, since she could teleport out of the tanglefoot bag, but I would have been inclined as GM to be lenient on the party, so I might have just given it to them.
Anyhow, I'm super impressed by all the customization you did. Some great ideas. Especially the foreshadowing of the AP, which I'm a bit late for.