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Murder mystery: find out about murdered person's background, discover motive, search for murder weapon, reason out opportunity, stealth into private rooms, persuade authorities, orate solution in front of audiences of authorities and suspects.
Chase! Obstacles to avoid and power through, distractions, false trails, set up obstacles to slow down other party, goal.
Well, part of what makes him easier to handle is that there are a lot less mooks statted out than the text indicates should be there.
There are 38 soldiers on duty, but just 8 off-duty; there are 12 hour shifts. Unfortunately, that implies that either 8 people are on duty at night or that the numbers are off. It should be half and half. So, you could make it 22/24 (teams of 4, plus the parapet) or 38/38.
Whether it's evil really depends on the campaign. If your DM runs an "All Evils Twirl Their Mustaches and Kill Indiscriminately" world, then you're fine. Being an Asmodean cleric is a crime worthy of any such attacks.
But maybe the DM's running a different kind of world, less beer and pretzels kick down the door style, in which it's not necessarily evil to be a cleric that worships a legal faith and simply enables the bad decisions of foolish or evil people. Then, I think you're in moral difficulty.
Remember, you can be Lawful Neutral and worship Asmodeus. Are you sure that he's actually evil?
And there's this: "In countries not under Cheliax's yoke, priests are expected to abide by local laws and take sacrifices only from willing victims."
Many of these are good ideas. I particularly like the Luck Blade, wands, determination armor, and boots of teleport. His stealth score and access to greater invisibility spell and potions he crafts of invisibility means that the ring of invisibility isn't that important to him, but it is exactly the sort of item I'm looking for: something that allows a lot of new stuff to do.
Drat. That's not going to work on the campaign timeline then. No crafting.
Bazaku Ambrosuis wrote:
Posoner´s Gloves (5000 po) is a no brainer if you use it right, you can keep them as a second resource when out of bombs, just use them with a bad extract (such skindsend).
Got it, but that use is banned.
Bazaku Ambrosuis wrote:
Could upgrade what I have there, but it's not really an exciting use of the sudden influx of cash
Bazaku Ambrosuis wrote:
Tried that. GM put significant road blocks in the way of finding said caster.
I'm leveling up to 11th level as an alchemist and I have lucked into 50,000 gp to spend. Can you help me spend it? What would be AWESOME?
I can either buy items up to 50K or take a crafting feat and craft my items for more bang for my buck. But it has to be items I can craft as an alchemist and at CL11.
The alchemist is a bomber with lots of those feats, along with Phantom Limb and Tumor Familiar.
This should be a learning opportunity for you, as are all problems at the gaming table.
First, you audit characters before they hit the table and check in with players about their decisions as they level up.
Second, a great way to keep the power gamers in check and balance YOUR PARTICULAR TABLE'S preferences is to limit the books available for players to use and then allow players to petition for exceptions. Err on the side of rule of cool and campaign flavor given how your table plays.
Third, because your table plays less intensely in character build and tactics, you could probably stand to brush up on encounter design to make things more challenging. This will allow your players to feel pushed to survive and get better at the tactical minis side of the game in response.
Fourth, the next time you have this kind of disparity, have the power gamer specialize in buffing the other characters. It's highly satisfying to use system mastery to boost the rest of the team, like being a den mother. I speak from experience that feeling responsible for the rest of the party is a good feeling for power gamers to have.
Fifth, power gamed characters have a weak point. Be aware of what they are and periodically press them hard on that weak point. A lot of times, power games play a game of chicken with their DM, betting that they won't have to make a save-or-die on Fortitude or Will, for example. Make them start to see the utility in balanced characters without being a jerk about it.
Sixth, if a player likes to nova their abilities, put them on a clock so that they can't do the 15 minute day. Make them husband their resources and save them for the boss battle.
Seventh, high level pathfinder play is rocket tag. It may be that he's just designed his character to do well with that. If you don't like rocket tag style play, perhaps try to play E6 or E8.
Paraphrased, quoted, and/or adapted to fit the AP from an enormous thread of random encounters earlier on this site...
15. A horde of children gather around the Silver Ravens early in their career, asking intrusive questions about what they’ve killed, begging to see them cast spells, etc. How long will it take for the PCs to realize that they’re pickpockets, and what will they do?
16. Street rat with a monkey dashes by with a loaf of bread, followed by 4 dottari and then by an out-of-shape gasping baker.
17. The PCs happen upon an enormous snowball fight.
18. Prostitute offers a steep discount. If the offer’s taken, she uses the encounter in her crass come-ons in the future.
19. A group of four stray dogs are fighting over something in an alleyway-- a dismembered body part or clue from the tooth fairy or serial killer guy’s crime spree.
20. A wagon loaded with beehives runs out of control. If/when it crashes, angry bees swarm across the marketplace. How do they fight a swarm without area of effect spells that will damage stalls, produce, and people?
I mean, other than jail breaks? What kinds of things do revolutionaries do? Do they do things other than fight and spread propaganda? I'm looking for missions or skill challenges to replace some of the jail breaks in this AP.
Spreading propaganda could be a nice short 5-minute piece at the table: brainstorming slogans, a writing/artistry skill check, figuring out your target audiences, using a gather info check to get the message out, maybe a stealth mission for not getting caught.
Bard would be the best choice to solo Hell's Rebels: lots of potential allies to use, very social/political campaign, fewer obscenely hard fights.
I've DM'd a solo campaign for a bard. They're surprisingly good at it, as they're pretty good at a lot of things. It's a class that lets DMs have a great deal of variety in their campaign for you.
Given the number of similarities to planet earth, I think that Star Trek provides several excellent explanations for what's going on: alien copycats with a tiny exposure to earth culture, ascended beings with wish-like powers, Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planetary Development, seeding of similar genetic material, rule of cool on a budget, continuity errors dealing with forehead ridges, etc.
So, the science is similar until magic-babble is needed to deal with this week's inconsistency.
Rule 0: Say yes to things. Figure the rest out later.
Listen to the players brainstorm a problem, they're always more evil than you are.
Bad character design is not good role playing: you have a responsibility to be a functional member of the party. Corollary: optimal character design isn't necessary to be functional.
Give circumstance bonuses to PCs who do something awesome.
Don't stick to the plan: let PCs succeed at their wacky ideas.
First of all, dragons have colossal egos and this one has a particular grudge against the SR. So, it's totally in-character for this particular dragon to indulge in the delicious crunch of biting a SR in half at some point. Remember, it has regeneration going in favor for it, as well as spell resistance. It could just get overconfident from years of that kind of protection.
Second, if you want to balance this particular fight, let them pre-buff. It's not like a dragon is going to surprise them, even with invisibility, because the frightful presence aura in a city means that they just have to hear the waves of screaming citizens several blocks away to get a few rounds to buff up. In addition, her tactics allow for several rounds of buffing: breath weapon, circle, summon, mirror image, land.
Third, don't they have access to flight themselves?
Fourth, if the PCs choose a narrow street, there's not much the dragon can do other than breath weapon attacks or land and squeeze into that alley. Give that as an option.
Fifth, if you have the dragon cast a fireball early in the combat, some players will metagame and assume that they're dealing with an older dragon than they are, due to it casting a 3rd level spell. They'll be much more careful and use their best effects in this combat. It won't do much damage, but will signal to the table that this combat is special.
This is DnD. Your core assumption should be that your role as PCs is to cut the head off the snake. Prepare to infiltrate the army to assassinate leadership, while the town NPCs prepare the town. After all, as many people wrote, you may just be automatically dead if they're controlled by something smart. Your town's best chance is to face the mindless undead horde, so do your best to eliminate the people guiding the undead.
Since the game you're describing is going to be a mix of rocket tag and Diplomacy, Game of Nations, you're going to want to design your character to be able to game death in various ways and win friends and influence people. Diviners are a surprisingly good class for a lot of this, with their surprise immunity, access to Time Stop and Wish and Contingency, and incredible initiative score.
Their skills and spells mean that you have knowledge of almost everything, as well. So, you'll be involved in every plot development.
For the influencing people part, just remember that skills become a surprising back door at the highest levels, as spells often prevent spells but not skills. Example: Permanent See Invisibility doesn't really help with ordinary stealth.
Several most memorable ones...
The final encounter in our Age of Worms game. This one was memorable for the tactical complexity and the moral complexity.
Most of these are less tactically challenging and more interesting for the impact on character.
This encounter was pretty memorable low level one. I had a goblin fire department, since one of my locations included Freeport. So the PC ran into a fire department that was looting and eating pets in addition to saving babies. That fire department included her goblin crew, one of whom surprised her by acting heroic due to having been given a battering ram during a moment of terrible judgment by that PC. Her look when her goblin crewman said, "Me go save babies" made it worth it.
I had another great encounter of a duel between a PC and an actor, after she discovered he was the solution to the murder mystery, as he was killing people to advance extras who practiced his Method acting style into lead roles to promote his artistic philosophy. The fact that she had slept with the murderer--and that he had been disappointing in bed--made it particularly personal.
The hill billy horror cabin of the Hook Mountain Massacre adventure. Whoo-boy. Horrifying as a player, as I got captured. Awesome as a repurposed shrine to Lamashtu where Mammy Graul fought, naked and pregnant, in a pool of Lamashtu's vile mother's milk.
The time the party went up against a "fully armed and operational" 3rd edition battle cleric.
This whole module. But I modified it one way. The cover character had his equipment modified a bit. His swords were supposed to be invisible blades, but I changed them to have an illusion of a rubber chicken and a bowling pin. The boots of the elvenkind became the clown shoes of the elvenkind too.
1. I am for the inclusion of the GR as a component to the campaign backstory, because it gives the sense that the events in Kintargo are part of a larger movement sweeping the country. The players should have a sense that their characters are part of something greater than themselves, should be awed and inspired by that. I am against having there be contact between the GR and SR leaderships in Books 1 through 3. The GR doesn't have much to add to this phase of Hell's Rebels's story, which is about building local support in Kintargo and throughout Ravounel. Even if the GR seems more glamorous, it should not be hard to keep the PCs from haring off to join them. The GR leadership's on the other side of the country at this point, the PCs' travel options are (or should be) limited, and the immediate opportunity to make revolution in Kintargo should keep revolution-minded PCs where they are. If the PCs want to consider their group a local affiliate or ally of the GR (with or without adopting - or for that matter knowing - its organizational forms), that's their prerogative.
I pretty much agree with this, especially given the power of the narrative framing and the geographical isolation.
2. I am for the inclusion of GR characters beginning in Book 4, in the form of refugees from Kantaria braving the Menador Mountains or allowed to pass by the destruction of Menador Keep. The players should get the sense that while their actions are confined to Ravounel, the effects of those actions are not. Free Kintargo is a light unto the nations, a shining city on a hill, and they should feel responsible for keeping it lit. Because of the pace of Book 4, the PCs' attention should be easily kept on local events.
Yes, that works as a background flavor here. Sort of feels like Rick's in Casablanca on a regional scale.
3. I am, beginning in Book 5, for allowing the SR leaders in Kintargo and GR leaders in Westcrown to contact each other with sending spells and the like. Use the refugees to establish the requisite familiarity. I would let the players coordinate strategy with the GR leadership even as local concerns demand both leaderships' constant attention. Or they could have a political falling-out, because that's about as likely as solidarity between two proud and seemingly-ascendant revolutionary leaderships. Maybe they start out aligned and drift apart. Both the GR and SR should be for investigating the Kintargo Contract, but the GR would push for the SR to use it to split Thrune and Hell, while the SR should have some affection for Kintargo at this point and be more cautious.
Since I plan on cutting a lot of books five and six because I find the Return of Jack the Ripper and Hell's Dungeon Crawl uninspiring filler, this will work nicely and sets up my response to this below.
4. Finally, I am for allowing House Thrune to divide and conquer over the course of Book 6 by tempting the SR with a separate peace (which they need to deal with Barzillai's ongoing manifestations), while crushing the organized GR and forcing the remnants to go into hiding or flee across the frontier. And I would present this as an overall defeat for the players, because that's what it is. They could have played for the big prize, but instead betrayed their natural allies to preserve themselves. That might even have been the right strategic and moral choice, but it should be a hard one, and should inspire even greater heights of hatred for the enemy that played them. Continuing the campaign, they should want to work to redeem themselves by overthrowing Thrune and revolutionizing the country, but have to work to overcome the shattered state of the groups they abandoned, and their justified distrust of these putative patrons.
I get what you're saying and that should be the threat of negotiations, but, frankly, this adventure will take 5-6 years and my players will need more narrative pay off than this provides. I get enough of grim reality in my working life and from my perception of this past election. Narratives teach us about reality, yes, but they also provide comfort and resolve to face exactly that through diversions into fiction or just structure in nonfiction. I just can't DM that story; more power to you if your table would support it though.
If the PCs have set up a role as consultants on GR strategy, then it makes sense that they could intervene in the events of HV Book 6 as things start to get desperate. Your alternate narrative provides perfect justification for a cross-over event of HV vs. HR. I like that A LOT better than beating a villain you already beat, which is the narrative of Book 6 and an out of nowhere "All According to My Plan" player agency wipe by deus ex devilus, or whatever. This cross over would need some narrative foreshadowing, but that can happen during the negotiations set piece of Ravounel vs. Cheliax
Finally, focusing on the PCs renders the rest of the named cast - never mind the masses of people - entirely passive. The only hint of mass action the book provides are the responses to the tax hikes on Bleakbridge (pickets, ferries, etc.), and even those don't end up playing a part in the adventure. They're background noise. There are some hints in the rebellion subsystem that the PCs can organize mass actions (and that's a good thing! More of that please!), but for the most part they're locked away in the event table.
I agree. There's a solution for that problem, which is having the players periodically RP the other members of the Silver Ravens. I had a DM do that for Age of Worms, actually, to drive home a tragic loss of a castle. Worked like a charm as a single-session experience. Doing this a handful of times strategically can keep the immersion with a single party while still making the point that it's a mass movement that the players are actually RPing.
4. Taxes are high. Morale is low. Time to ... rob the tax collector. A heist adventure good for morale, or gaining gold for la resistance.
6. A family's being evicted because the parents can't afford the bridge tax to get to their jobs. How can you help them, without bringing the law down on them?
Um, why are the other players not policing this character? My response as DM would be a long silence and let the other players police the party's actions. If they don't do something to fix it after having been given a chance, then they've all consented to accepting the consequences of those actions, either for the party as a whole or just to that character.
Probably, yes, although you could lead up to that public torture with the threats, as I recall some of that occurring in book two. And, of course, organized crime and militias tend to prefer to use threats if they're effective.
I think some DMs are looking for things to make the Rebellion mechanic less... mechanical. To do that, you could periodically have small RP events to humanize the advancement of the rebellion. We should brainstorm a list of such advances. These should be events that take little time at the table, but symbolize the battle for hearts and minds, rather than major encounters like the ones handled by the books.
1. A child of one of the Silver Ravens' supporters is being bullied by children of the Chelish Citizen's Group. One of the parents approaches one of the PCs to ask for help for the kid. How do the PCs help? [justifies gain in supporters or addition of new generic team, perhaps] [events: ally in peril, low morale]
2. One of the teams a PC supervises is doing an assigned Rebellion Action. But a squad of Dottari or Hellknights is approaching and will disrupt the Action. How does the PC distract the squad sufficiently to let their team succeed at the Action? [good for covert action, placing a cache, black marketeers gaining gold, reduce danger, sabotage] [disastrous mission]
3. The Chelish Citizen's Group is spreading malicious slander about one of the more notorious Silver Ravens. How do you fight the gossip? Murdering the gossiper will simply confirm that the Silver Ravens have something to hide... [could work for gathering information action or recruiting supporters, disinformation by fighting this lie with a lie]
WITHOUT putting my personal anti-Trump politics into it, here's some traits to work with:
With all that said, how Trump's alleged motivations--monetary gain and fame--fit with the established plot that Thrune's engaged in? Will this distract the players from that plot line and make it harder for them to get into?
I've got a goblin Alchemist, True Neutral, who'd be good prospect for a Skull and Shackles or Hell's Vengeance campaign. Name's Max Biggins.
Background is a goblin raised by a paladin who chose adoption when faced with the choice of what to do with the goblin baby he found after slaughtering his tribe rather than simply killing the innocent. In a campaign that needs non-evil characters, Max is trying to live up to his father's example and live down his goblin instincts. In a campaign like HV, well, let's just say that his daddy issues push him the other way. RP is a nature vs. nurture conflict.
Party role: scout, skill guy, party buffer, mad bomber.
I agree with a lot of this thread.
For Magus, use the voice command gun tech of Judge Dredd in a melee weapon.
I second nanites as a good tech for this, very versatile, possibly best for the wizard.
Robotics and 3D printing for Summoner's eidolon and spells.
Mutations via gene editing seem like a natural for the sorcerer blood lines. If X-Men show anything, it's how varied genetic mutations effects can be within limited focuses.
Alchemists don't need reflavoring. Big Pharma.
Cleric: Advanced AI that others not in the know think is a god, not a Corporate Product Branded Intelligence. Leveling is upgrading the AI.
Oracle: Scavenged damaged AI tech, maybe?
Witch: I feel like one of the classes should be the primitivist, and this is the one I chose. The familiar could be a connection to the old gods, Gaia, or to ley lines.
Inquisitor and War Priest: Mecha suit, as a lot of their tech is self-buffs, and it could be connected to divine powers through the Corporate Products that clerics use.
Bards: Psychic powers from advanced brain structures of the future allow for buffs, charms, and sonic effects.
I think there's an element where we have a different take because of how I'm reading the canonical reactions of these nations. The difference with the alliance system is that the HV5 as written doesn't give the Silver Ravens an alliance to join. Andoran never commits troops to the effort, deciding to only attack slavers, protect refugees, and solidify its borders. Rahadoum retakes a small strip of land on its borders. Molthune doesn't help at all, being more interested in a 70+ year guerrilla war with someone else.
Without the PCs creating an anti-Cheliax alliance, there's no anti-Cheliax alliance to join.
For the delay option, yes, it's a bit of a dead end, the True Neutral approach. But it is the sort of strategy of amoral incremental positional gains that nations do take as medium-term strategies in places like the World Bank or UN.
I think we largely agree on the revolutionary organizing vs. guerrilla warfare issue, with only slight differences in timing and PC starring role being a difference for me.
There's a fourth option: Delay. Stall the negotiations for as long as humanly possible: throw a snit fit about the shape of the table, insist on out-of-season rare delicacies at the meals, proposals that change just a little bit each time, etc. That assassination attempt? Clearly we must delay until a totally secure meeting area is arranged over the next few months. Appoint a minion without the ability to make a deal as chief negotiator and force them to check in after every significant proposal. Delay negotiations as you wait to see which side comes out on top: GR or Cheliax. As the tides of war tilt one way or another, modify your negotiation strategy to come out on top with the winner. If Cheliax looks like a winner, settle with good relations with them. If GR secures Andoran military aid or its plucky paladins defeat the Agents of Thrune protagonists in the Other AP, then you use that as increasing leverage by opening up simultaneous negotiations with GR and play GR and Cheliax off of each other at the table.
There's a fifth option: Open up a second front for the GR in exactly the same way that Cheliax threatened you: guerrilla warfare. You send mercenaries to Strike terror in the hearts of the Cheliax nobility. Strike high-profile targets and teleport out. Quite frankly, I see CG PCs being more likely to do this than any other approach. Especially since some PCs may very well look at Barz-villain's haunting as an outrageous act of war by House Thrune from beyond the grave.
There's a sixth option: settle quickly, then use your sovereign nation status to use diplomacy to persuade nations to intervene to "provide humanitarian aid" in ways that help GR and hinder Cheliax. Consult the Other AP for how other nations are responding to the Glorious Reclamation.
You could try Tower of the Last Baron, which is a solid infiltration adventure. Change the hook to be helping the Iomedaen paladins secure your flank by taking out this outpost, reduce the leader in rank.
If you're looking for another seaside adventure, there's Treasure of Chimera Cove which has a hook from Last Baron, but stands alone pretty well.
Both would need to be updated from 3.5e, but that's not hard.
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