A couple of things. One is, who guards the prisoners on the way back to Restov? If there are no guards available, the PCs will have to escort them or the prisoners will have to be kept insite till some arrive.
Then have Kesten Garess arrive, shake his head, and start building a gallows. He can explain to the PCs that their charter gives them the legal right to try bandits, and are they going to have the trial today or tomorrow?
Or have Oleg explain that he doesn't have any cells, and certainly no spare food, and the PCs will certainly have to pay for food, guards, and his expenses in turning one building into a cell and then have Svetlana sell tickets to the hangings. There will probably be a few interested locals cheering the hangman on.
Oh, and Oleg will sell bits of the rope afterwards.
I remember looking at a class guide that says enervation is amazing. Is that true?
It is not. Enervation is MUCH MUCH better than that.
Seriously, a ranged touch spell with no save that gives stackable long-lasting penalties to EVERYTHING and eventually kills the victim? At which point it becoms a wight and you are free to take control of it using one of your many other spells or abilities? Without even an expensive material component?
The only thing that's amazing about I is how many wizards don't take it.
The silent type. Doesn't say anything about himself or his goals. Then, when someone asks him why are you doing something, walked out of the campaign because that question shoes that nobody had many any effort to fathom the motives buried inhis dark and tormented soul.
Yes, that's right. He blamed us for not knowing what he had never told us.
Don't do goblins. Do kobolds. There are more of them later in the adventure path, so it will look like good foreshadowing.
Have the wreck of a caravan attacked by bandits, with a couple of scavenging animals (wolves, dogs, rats?) feeding on the corpses of the dead. Foreshadow Kressle with a few chopped-off hands. Of course, you have to figure out what happens if the Pcs decide to track the bandits.
Animals of various local types -- see the random encounter tables -- are always good
Have a crazed traveller who thinks the PCs are more bandits attack them from ambush or something.
Have a wandering orphan kid (parents killed in a bandit attack) show up at the fire looking for food, warmth, whatever. Or maybe the kid is a spy for the bandits?
Explain that you're giving evil people a chance to "serve again" and work off their bad deads to purify themselves. (Be sure to max out your Bluff check before doing this.)
Do the undead as commandos striking in the night. Explain to the locals that obviously your holiness is keeping the undead from affecting them.
Or just flat out tell them the truth and hope they don't burn you. If it's going to derail the campaign, do it early.
Aid someone in melee with your spear. Or aid their AC.
Use scrolls or a wand.
Think about the fight and what's going on, and what you might need to do.
Ready to shoot someone with your crossbow when you have a clear line of sight, if you can't shoot anyone right now and don't have Precise Sot.
Use your school powers.
But mostly, use one good spell to set up the battlefield and let the martials shine. Your contribution isn't in doing hit point damage, it's in doing other things.
Yup, pretty much.
Like I said, I'm mostly coming at it from the viewpoint that charm isn't dominate, and isn't suggestion. Suggestion can get you to do crazy things, within limits. Dominate makes you do whatever the caster wants, and even then you get a save if its too alien to what you are. So no way should charm be as powerful as either of those spells.
The fundamental point of my guide, by the way, is that you don't win as a enchanter by winning the opposed charisma check. You win by managing things so you never have to make that check at all.
I'm assuming that you want a corrupt or adventuresome city, yes?
Well, there's always the guards at the city gate. That will let you set the scene, show what the guards are up to (e.g., in a corrupt city they might even solicit bribes -- do the PCs report them, bribe them, or just pass them by).
Find a temple to one of their gods -- small, run-down, in a back alley, with kids mocking the priest(ess) or throwing mud at it. Can they restore the respect the temple ought to have without slaughtering the kids (which would provoke the parents, or the guards, or somebody).
A beggar asking for help, and offering to sell them information. Maybe they get something useful. Then he pickpockets them -- an agent of the Thieves' Guild, reporting to his masters on the new people in town.
Someone who wants to hire them for slave market security. Decent wages, opportunity for a little sampling of the merchandise, whatever. What do they do? (If they react too badly, his other guards show up and become annoying, but they won't fight unless attacked first.)
A family being evicted from their apartment for non-payment of rent (or non-payment of loansharking fees, or something) -- one of them spots the PCs and asks for help. If they do help (it's a matter of 50 gp or so), they have an ally or two in the family, and a secure shelter, but they also get a lot of other beggars. If they skip the trouble, have one of the girls show up a few days later being dragged down the street in chains as a slave (family had to sell her to get the money to move in somewhere else).
A festival of some sort is always fun. PCs can enter contests (some maybe rigged, some simple, some designed to let them shine), run into bards telling stories, get pick-pocketed, find out which gods are popular with which people (the rich are going to the festival of one god, the poor to another, maybe the people of one neighborhood in the city have their own special festival.)
A half-orc or tiefling being chased down the street by the mob. Do they rescue him? This might quickly turn into a combat scene, but maybe a good Diplomacy or Intimidate check will face down the mob.
What if the end results in a greater good for a greater number of people?
If I'm a paladin, and someone uses the phrase "greater good" around me, I detect evil on them. You may have to ally with someone evil. You might have to fight hard and maybe dirty. You don't get to be evil yourself.
This is not always easy, nor should it be. And that's why the atonement spell exists. Sometimes you make mistakes.
What does everyone think of the GM deliberately putting the paladin in situations that test the paladin's adherence to the code of conduct?
You volunteered to play a paladin. You signed up for dealing with issues of good and evil. You will run into them, at least in my campaigns. And some fiends will try very hard to make you fall, recruit you, whatever. Comes with the job description.
Now, a GM putting a paladin through nothing but that sort of thing, or forcing fall/fall situations, is just being a dick. I try not to do that. (It is, by the way, REALLY TRULY IMPORTANT that both you and your player be on the same wavelength as what's good or evil, what's acceptable and what's not, and it may differ somewhat from paladin to paladin. If player and GM aren't in accord on this, only grief awaits, and it would probably be better not to try. I speak from bitter experience.)
I generally ask them if they think their character ought to be on the same page as Joan the Maid, or Lancelot, or George Washington, or William Marshall, or Steve Rogers, or Clark Kent, when it comes to moral fibre. Because that's what a paladin (legendary or fictional)
Paladins ought to have moral issues hitting them at about the same frequency that wizards have hefty-magical issues hitting them, or clerics have issues-of-their-god, or bards have diplomacy issues, or samurai have loyalty issues. Some of those tests probably should be hard. Moral dilemmas do exist. But they also ought to have the chance to shine. Sometimes good and evil really are clear-cut, and the shining knight in armor deserves a chance to really, truly shine. Fiendish foes should fall. Wavering ones should be redeemed (or at least redeemable). People should trust and admire the trustworthy and admirable. Not all dilemmas are simple or easy to solve -- and falls need to be clear and unambiguous, and even a vague saunter downwards needs to be given plenty of warning.
And (in my campaigns, at least) no fall is unredeemable. You can always get up, atone, and try again: the only unforgivable sin is refusing to seek forgiveness. A paladin can choose the least bad course of action even if it isn't great, but he isn't allowed to do evil that good may come of it.
Ask the gods. A commune spell should provide an unambiguous answer.
Depending on how you word the question, of course. "Is Horatia the legitimate heir of Emma and Horatio?" "NO." (But maybe she's Horatio's daughter by some other woman, or Emma's by some other man, or maybe the two of them had an earlier child who is actually alive and thus the legitimate heir -- or maybe the god believes in ultimogeniture instead of primogeniture and Horatia's youngest sister is the heir.)
Well, the first thing that comes to mind is the guys betting on the fights, who have a strong incentive to get people to throw the fights, sabotage the guys on the other team, arrange for the favorite to be subtly poisoned the night before, or a dozen dozen other possibilities.
You could start the party as all working for one stable of gladiators, and then have them interact with others -- come up with 2-3 other groups to be rivals of the PCs. It's not just about winning the fights, but can you win them fast enough, or showily enough, to earn enough money to keep your patron solvent and the crowds interested? You might want to look at the performance combat rules in Ultimate Combat for some ideas.
Then you can extend a bit and have the PCs do some low-life intrigue situations -- can they sneak into someone else's place and find proof that he's behind the plague of loose bowels that struck them all the night before a big fight? Can they make friends with the cooks who deliver the food, or wheedle extra favors from the keeper of the armory (like maybe figuring out what weapons the other stable has been practicing with before the big slice-and-dice free-for-all next week?) What if one of their friends is in danger -- you can have a whole bunch of city adventures going on eventually, if anyone's interested.
Do they want to escape from the arena? Do they want to win enough money to buy out their contracts and return home? Do they want to set up as masters of their own stable? (A perfect use for the Leadership feat...) Do they set up and lead their own rebellion against the evil empire -- or do they fail and get turned into garden torches for the Emperor's birthday party?
I tend to do Erastil as Lawful Grumpy, but take the good part of his alignment seriously. Not so much that he's misogynistic, but that he believes in strong sex role divisions. Men do men stuff, women do women stuff, and it works and keeps the villages alive, just as it has for thousands of years. Most if not all pre-ndustrial cultures do have fairly strong sex roles.
And it's not male superiority: men, in Erastil's view, have just as strong a responsibility as women to stick to their role and do their thing. Nobody gets to go off haring after their own goals without making sure that their family and community are provided for first and always,
Now, how does a party without high-level magic of their own defeat a high-level wizard?
Your own low-level spells can provide some basic effects (lots of resist energy and/or protection from energy). Boosting saves is crucial, as most high-level wizards have read Machiavelli Carnegie's How to Dominate Enemies and Charm People -- protection from (alignment) is very handy. See invisibility is a must.
You need some way to pierce illusions, some way to dispel magic, and some way to keep the wizard from teleporting away and returning later for Round 2. Scrolls and wands can provide some of this ability (see invisibility, true seeing, and dimensional anchor), or perhaps you can purchase or bargain for the services of outsiders with the appropriate abilities to join you, or bestow them on you. Getting someone to make one or two useful spells permanent on you can be handy and should be possible for WBL once you're above 10th level.
If you know that the wizard has favorite tactics, make yourself immune to them. He uses fireball a lot? Have resist energy up. He always casts Spell X -- find a cleric to cast spell immunity to Spell X on you. Does he like summoned creatures -- make sure you have magic circle against (alignment) up before going in (it's only a 3rd level spell).
Secondly, your tactics need to emphasize speed and surprise. Ready actions to attack the wizard when he starts spellcasting, as several people suggested above. Boost initiative (potions of cat's grace, if you can't think of anything else). Think about the wizard's weak points (low hit points, probably low AC, need for spellbooks and spell component pouches, vulnerability of familiar or arcane bond item, need to speak/gesture to cast most spells).
Have backup plans. Someone (even a relatively weak summoned or bound outsider) can try to grapple in case he forgot the freedom of movement, someone else can shoot arrows or use other weapons, try multiple energy types at him and see which one penetrates, and ABOVE ALL dimensionally anchor him as fast as you can -- there are too many ways for him to escape and come back later if you don't. If you can predict his actions, anticipate them; if you can predict his defenses, try something else. Gathering information will be critical -- but beware of defensive deception attempts.
See if you can subvert a minion or two. Maybe you can bribe someone for information. Maybe you can spy on them. Maybe you can have one of them sneak a spying sensor, or an invisible thief or spy, into the wizard's keep. A wizard that gets caught without -- or during! -- his daily spell prep is a dead wizard.
Casting silence on a fighter (or other grappler) and having him approach the wizard and grapple him (or fly up to him and ditto) is an old but useful trick. A high-speed flying familiar or animal companion could do the same (move action to get near wizard, ready an action to follow him if he moves).
Antimagic shell is probably not within your reach without a full 9th-level caster, but maybe you could buy a scroll of it and use it at the right moment. Wizards without magic are oommoners with good Will saves. (Rogue, stealth up to wizard, UMD the scroll during the surprise round, win initiative, two-weapon sneak attack. Dead wizard.)
Spam incapacitating spells at him -- even low-level ones like sound burst. Enough spells and he might roll a '1' on his save.
Fighters with the right critical feats can try to trigger stun/sicken/whatever hits against him -- but, really, just try to reduce his hit points to sub-zero as quickly as possible. It's not like he has lots and lots of them (well, except necromancers with certain spells).
Block line-of-sight if you can. The wizard will probably still have other spells to use (area-effect, escape, buffing) but it's hard for him to target you if he can't see you.
Be able to fly and teleport. This is just a must. Otherwise the wizard laughs in your general direction.
Penetrating walls of force and other high-level force effects may be the hardest thing to manage without full casters -- you don't have disintegrate -- but maybe you can teleport around them or get around them some other way.
Wizards often dump one or more stats. Often Strength -- does your rogue have the advanced rogue talent that inflicts 2 Strength damage every time a sneak attack lands? Can you hit his stats other ways?
Debuff him and then hit him with Fort saves. Or flood the area with energy types he's not resistant to -- wizards also have poor Reflex saves. Don't try to hit him with Will-save stuff, though a scroll of feeblemind might be worth trying.
Find other enemies of the wizard and convince them to join up with you to take him out.
Last shot: make friends with him instead of trying this attack stuff ;)
The important thing is to try multiple tactics. Wizards can prepare for anything, but they can't prepare for everything at the same time, unless they cast the Spell of GM Fiat Foreknowledge. Don't depend on one foolproof plan, because the wizard is probably smarter than you and thought of it too, then made himself immune to it. I had one set of players who were going up against a high-level wizard, got in close, and pulled their One Big Trick -- using a rod of maximize to max out the level check on a greater dispel magic. (Wouldn't work RAW, but none of us knew that at the time.)
When I handed them her character sheet (written months ago) and pointed to the ring of spell turning, a lot of faces went ashen...
Long-duration low-level spells, with extend spell if necessary to get the duration to full-day (or at least full-waking). Have 'em up.
Mind blank. Overland flight. An effective contingency that either nerfs your current foe's favorite first attack or gets you a long way out of the way if you are surprised or utter a command word.
Ring of spell turning and ring of free movement take care of a lot of the ambush issues. You need to either get out of there or survive the first blow so you can strike back.
Conjured bodyguards of one sort or another. Note: smart malicious bodyguards (devils, demons, efreeti, philosophically opposed outsiders) open a hole that can be exploited; dumb loyal bodyguards (elementals, undead) open a different sort of holes, so don't depend on them much. Permanent major bodyguards probably have a telepathic bond or similar setup so you can communicate undetected by outsiders; if they're really permanent you may have a teamwork feat.
Your familiar has a defensive wand of some sort -- invisibility, wind wall, some kind of basic illusion or disguise or LOS-blocking spell, maybe even a wand of d-door that it can use to get you and it out of there. It also has a scroll of teleport so if you die it can take your body back home to your chapel where the family priest or other 9th-level servitor is waiting with the means to raise you from the dead. (Or maybe you have a clone in temporal stasis with an expiration date. Whatever.)
Illusion and misdirection. Have simulacra handle your daily business, have illusions up, disguise self as a flunky and have the flunky disguise othered as you -- only works with loyal flunkies.
Generally: Act first (warning spells, initiative boosts, high Perception for you and your familiar, alert guards), keep yourself from getting killed by the first strike, rapidly relocate if you survive the first round and can't handle a whole group of enemies, and HAVE A BACKUP PLAN in case you get killed -- at this level, death is a trivial inconvenience, make enemies work to keep you down.
Mage's sanctum (no scrying, etc.)
Guardians with scent and some kind of illusion-piercing ability. Most of these are just to raise the alarm. Other guardians will be unsubvertable (e.g., golems with very precise instructions -- they might be fooled or bypassed but not turned against you.), and usually invisible, perhaps with warding enchantments on them (look at all the uses of the permanency spell!). Similar guardians on the astral and ethereal planes. Some of them may be disguised or under illusions to look like something else, and maybe reinforced with other spells (e.g., the iron golem in the Room of Perpetual Fireballs -- make the environment really favorable for your guardians, not so much for enemies. Poison gas filled rooms with guardians immune to poison. A basilisk working with an angel immune to petrifaction.)
Be creative. I once had a wizard employ a friend who was a medusa with sorceror levels and the Transdimensional Spell feat (from 3.5) -- she was plane shifted to the ethereal, so anyone using see invisibility was also subject to her gaze attack and meanwhile anyone entering the place she could harass or kill with her spells while she was completely immune to anything that wasn't capable of going ethereal. Quite foxed the players for a while.
Symbols of various sorts under covers. If the place is attacked, your minions have orders to remove the curtains. These can be absolutely vicious, particularly when combined with incapacitating effects and slow-damage stuff (open box, expose symbol of sleep, release ooze!). Read the triggering conditions for symbols carefully.
Having extradimensional strongholds or refuges is highly recommended. Particularly if you can find some way to bar access to them. True, they're difficult for bat-wing salesmen to reach or if you want to have a social life, but at your level you send minions to fetch stuff from shops, you don't go yourself, and you can surely have a refuge or two that isn't your primary residence. How isolated depends on how sociable you want to be.
A few trap-zone areas in your house (an illusionary wall hiding a permanent prismatic wall, a one-way gate to a nasty planar destination, with a programmed illusion of you diving through it to lure attackers to their doom).
Generally: Prevent information-gathering, restrict access (you can't block it entirely), and have surprises and guardians ready. Some are just designed to waste enemy time or attract attention while other guardians gather or react, some are designed to gather information, some to strip the enemies of defenses for later encounters (the trap with greater dispel magic targeted on anyone without the password is a very good one.)
The armor expertise trait. Skill Focus (Ride). Perhaps something like a masterwork military saddle to boost your Ride check (special straps, etc.) If you are really focusing on mounted combat, there are ways to significantly boost your Ride check, and you should probably be taking them.
Things any city will need, but you might have specialized dwarven versions:
Food supplies: can be combined with sewage disposal in giant mushroom vats, perhaps with some kind of wild or ravenous fungi run loose now that the dwarven gardeners are no longer there. Otyughs, violet fungi, mold patches, and an occasional rare variety of dwarven mushroom that's worth a LOT if you can figure out how to grow it -- in a big wild patch. Carefully tended by something that likes the taste.
Sewage disposal (may be combined with above, including gelatinous cubes or various varieties of puddings). Maybe just treatment works discharging into an underground river. Maybe it needs to be fixed or bad things will happen throughout the complex.
Living quarters: Dwarves probably have tight family cluster houses rather than individual barracks (though you might have some of those near the entrances for guards). Comfortable, well-made, and every home is a fortress that can be defended invidually. Maybe something has moved in and is using the dwarves' own defenses. Well-made doors, good locks, crushing stone traps (with careful off switches, and that DON'T trigger on dwarven children.) Much machinery and clockwork, and maybe fireworks, might be involved.
Industrial quarters: dwarven forges, ore refining chambers, treasure vaults (probably robbed, but maybe not, and certainly VERY well secured. It might be a big challenge to get in.) Could have some animated objects, golems, or bound elementals here (forgefire, earth miners). Or mephits hanging around causing havoc (one or more might have once been a familiar for a dwarven wizard and maybe knows something of the caverns; PCs can learn some useful things if they talk instead of fighting -- or maybe the mephit knew one of the PCs' ancestors, but wants a Secret Family Password before handing over the key it wears around its neck. Did the PC pay attention when Great-Uncle Dundar was droning drearily at dinner? Or maybe it wants the PC to swear an oath of vengeance -- it even has a sketched picture of the killer of his great-grandfather. All sorts of plot hooks abound here.)
A fire in a coal vein might still be burning, smoldering, giving off smoke. Can the PCs assure an adequate air supply if they venture into the area? And what about the small dragon hatchling that's finally gotten warm after crawling around and burrowing through the place? It might not want to leave. It might want to trade riddles with the PCs. It might just be hungry.
Temples: to Dwarven gods, of course. Maybe one of them has been desecrated by something evil moving in, or is guarded by the ghost of the last priest, who wants to possess somebody and make them go fix something somewhere. Might not be safe anymore.
Graveyards: Dwarves usually bury their dead in stone (according to Professor T), so you likely have a wide necropolis of sarcophagi with names and statues of famous dwarves. Or maybe each family is buried in its own cave. Maybe some of the dead will be angry if disturbed. Maybe nobody has breached the seals... yet. Maybe the grave of an ancient enemy of one of the PCs' families has a guardian.
Cave city stuff:
Ventilation shafts (air has to come from somewhere, unless you want magic). Maybe the PCs need to repair the fans, or replace the blowers, or something, before one of the lower levels is habitable. Hope somebody remembered to pump up Knowledge/engineering and a couple of craft skills...
Drainage shafts (so the water goes somewhere). You might be able to throw in an underwater adventure (PCs have to get through the flooded area to unblock the drains so they can get to the treasure vault). Is anything living in the water? Maybe something with lots of tentacles? "There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world." -- some anonymous burgalar-finding wizard)
Cave-ins (see environment rules in the CRB). All sorts of things might lie beyond, or have been opened up by a cave-in. Maybe something else came in through the cave-in. Or attacked through it. Maybe it's just a mess.
Sealed doors: what's on the other side? Maybe bad air, maybe some kind of monster trapped, maybe a valuable mine shaft just waiting to be re-opened, maybe a cache of provisions and weapons overlooked in the abandonment, maybe an obstacle course where Dwarven warriors proved their agility by dodging giant rolling boulders, their wits by detecting and disarming traps, and their wisdom by not opening the chest in the first room that the spider swarm came out of...
General notes: emphasize the high quality of the mining, the architecture, the mechanisms. Make the dwarves proud of their ancestors, and eager to emulate the craftsmanship. Maybe there are some lost secrets, or a huge metal tome granting them the secrets of a new dwarf-only prestige class tailored to fit one or two of your PCs? Maybe an ancient feat can be learned if they solve a riddle on the altar of an obscure Dwarven deity? Maybe there's a map to further mines or treasures farther along in the mountain range? (You know dwarves would have those!)
For the male Chelaxian witch I have just decided to play, it will be low bureaucratic muttering. "Fill out these forms in Infernal, fountain pen only,no misspellings. Fill out those forms in abyssal, blue pencil only. Please join queue 13-F to turn in the purple copies..."
Raid his lands, prove he's e better soldier.
Try to challenge the PC in other tournaments or various types of combat.
Allying with the enemies of the PC to get a chance to fight him.
Try to kidnap the lady -- who is, as he sees it, his rightful bride, and would surely be overjoyed to be rescued from the loathsome clutches of the foul villain who has carried her off.
Track down a witch or other powerful creature and promise his firstborn child's service in exchange for a love philter which he then gets the lady to drink.
Hire bards to sing songs disparaging the PC in question, especially in places where his lady is. Bonus if they actually use events from the PC's past to make their point. Has he done anything mockable recently? Alternately, he can hire bards to sing songs boosting him in hopes "his" lady will hear of it. No reason he can't do both, actually.
Go after the PC's friends and family.
Get a group of fellow knights together and go after the lady,s father, THEN come after the PC. Not the wisest course, maybe, but good foreshadowing and making the PC start to worry.
Get together a band of evil PCs and come after the player. When he is defeated and slain, rise as a horrible undead to continue seeking revenge on the PC.
Seduce the lady and smile inwardly when she bears a child nine months later. Fertility charms optional but recommended. Or just make the PC suspicious that he has done this.
You might also want to have an idea what the lady feels about the whole situation. Which of the two does SHE prefer? Maybe she wants the PC, maybe the knight, maybe she sympathizes with him and helps him but stays loyal to her husband. Maybe she convinces them to become best friends or something. Maybe she betrays the PC. Maybe she encourages him to kill this foul intruder on the sanctity of their marriage.
Maybe she's the one hiring the bards.
Another subtle thing with low-level mooks -- have another low-level mook boosting them. A level 1 cleric casting bless and healing, a level 1 bard inspiring courage -- these things make them more of a danger to the PCs, plus some nifty intermediate objectives (kill the drummer and they all slow down a bit).
Plus the image of a gnoll riding a hyena beating drums made from the skin of dead enemies he's personally devoured is just too fun for a DM to pass up. ;)
I'm a LG Paladin of Serenrae, would I tolerate a group member summoning Daemons or Devils to fight other evil?
I'd probably start by asking them why they are summoning evil outsiders instead of, you know, GOOD ones. Which have, often, much better abilities against evil creatures and would love to fight them, instead of having to be bribed or forced with unholy acts that endanger your own soul.
If I were a paladin of Sarenrae, I'd probably try to convert the fiend. Engage it in conversation. Find out if there's any chance of getting it to switch sides. And if it doesn't, then I can smite it with a perfectly clean conscience.
Centaurs can be run as Mongol-type hit-and-raiders, shooting with a longbow from outside your range, repeating till you run out of countermeasures, and then closing for the kill. Centaur archer builds can be a killer.
Warring with the centaurs shouldn't be easy. Lots of hit-and-run, lots of hunting, lots of night ambushes. They have druidic magic as well (not a lot, but it's hard to find a druid who doesn't want to be found in the wild, and their strike-backs can be painful.) No fixed bases to attack.
On the other hand, they don't really have the oomph to go after fortified places, either (unless druids can substitute for artillery, which they might.) They can isolate forts, but have a hard time taking them. (Think Indian wars...)
All in all, you could have a very interesting long-term campaign here. Or the PCs could fortify the border and keep some light cavalry units around to counter centaur raiding parties -- a continual low-level drain of resources to the east, unless they find some way to deal with it themselves, eventually.
I agree that Jhod would be a useful conduit for more information.
Or you could have one of Erastil's minions pop up to tell players what's going on. Has the old priest learned from his time as a bear and is he ready to contribute again? There's a lot of things you could do, depending on what makes the best story. Maybe the old priest knows of something, or has quests for hidden treasures or lost objects.
I would definitely try to reward players for being creative and merciful. Remember: you get more of what you reward!
And never, ever, think you have to runi it just like it's written. It's simpler that way, yes, and there's nothing wrong with it, but it's your story and your players', Do what's fun.
Also note that players WILL come up with things you, or module designers, never predicted. Learn to roll with this and improvise on the spot.
A complete set of books detailing all the tax laws of a local kingdom. Interestingly, a DC 25 Profession (lawyer) check will reveal that many of these laws are not at all well-known and very few people have heard of them.
A DC 35 Profession (lawyer) or Knowledge (history) check will reveal that a number of these laws have been repealed over the last generation -- but not all of them. Some of the tax breaks are still legitimate.
Superman, or Captain America, from modern mythology.
Historically, Joan of Arc, or William Marshal (the regent after King John's death), or George Washington, or more poetically Galahad or Lancelot or Bors or Percival.
Paladins don't believe in "necessary evil" IMO.
Polymorph him into a goldfish. Take very good care of your new pet.
Have a cacodaemon eat his soul and produce a gem. Then carve it into your personal symbol. Take very good care of your new signet ring.
Get a friendly wizard to put him in temporal stasis and hide him on a warded chamber somewhere very far away.
Tempt him into signing a contract with Asmodeus, and let the Prince of Devils take care of holding onto the soul for you. Don't tell Asmodeus about the "for you" part of it.
Find out who keeps resurrecting him. Kill that person. Or take their daughter hostage and tell them that the next resurrection attempt had better result in "he didn't want to come back" if they ever want to see their daughter again. Twirl your mustaches a lot.
Find a wizard who can cast trap the soul and have him use it. Then give the gem to Tiamat and tell her it's a present for her hoard.
Trick the enemy into going through a gate to the Plane of NPC Slaying, perhaps with an illusion of you running through it. Then close the gate and leave them there. The Plane Of No Magic is another favorite for this sort of thing, or the Plane Of Really Different Time Flow.
In such a situation, I could see a paladin supporting the legitimate order of society, while acting (hard) against those who violated its moral code. Smiting individual evil aristocrats, very much on the cards. Arresting for trial those who try to violently overthrow the system by force, on the cards (though if the justice system starts show-trialing them, look out!)
Basically, a paladin will work within the system when possible (that's Lawful), try to reform the system if necessary (that's Good), and only go to out-and-out rebellion if the system refuses any necessary reforms. Where exactly things are at this point is a judgment call. I'm thinking, though, that a bunch of squabbling aristocrats who protect their own evil members and ignore a lot of suffering is very likely to be pretty close to the edge.
Recall that starting a rebellion is a fearful risk and likely to cause enormous amounts of harm to non-combatants, hence starting it unless very justified is itself a crime.
I could even see the Scarlet Paladin sneaking innocent aristocrats out of the dungeons, while the Blue Paladin was throwing guilty ones in. One might even envision scenarios in which they come into conflict...
I ran something like this once.
Have the dragon be tricksy. Prepare a lair with illusions (e.g., programmed images of the dragon bursting in to get PCs to waste their best tricks), permanent walls of force giving the dragon some convenient lairs, acid-filled pits the dragon can bull rush people into, permanent illusions of walls and rocky areas. Perhaps a number of symbols, keyed to not affect the dragon?
Project image can be real handy.
The dragon probably has some kind of contingency and should have every permanent spell known to dragonkind. And of course he has Quicken Spell too, and probably Extend Spell for a bunch of all day low level buffs. Might as well cast most of those low level slots before hand since he won't get a chance to use them during combat.
Maybe some kobold servitors? Amusing if nothing else, and which of them is a 1 HD kobold and which a 15th level sorcerer? Plus they can rig up lots of traps.
Smoke or fog filling the lair so intruders don't get line of sight to the dragon but he can still detect them with his dragon senses, and react appropriately.
A smart dragon will assume tough adventurers have taken all the standard precautions (e.g., resist energy and protection from energy vs. the dragons breath weapon, see invisibility and true seeing and mind blank up, etc.). He'll probably breathe on them anyway just in case they're stupid.
All that said, multiple high level adventurers are a real bear. Action economy, which time stop really multiplies, will be a killer. Find ways to give the dragon extra actions (e.g, cleave for an effective second attack, summoned minions -- there could be quite a few high level traps of summon monster IX floating around), that sort of thing.
Two points first.
1)If you're planning to casti it a lot, get a wand. Cheaper than an equivalent amount of scrolls. If you regularly cast a particular spelli n a lot of battles, strongly consider a wand. At your level, you can probably only afford a wand of a 1st level spell, but, for instance, wands of protection from evil retain utility to very high levels
2) if caster level or saving throw matter, it's better to cast it yourself than use a scroll. Much more likely to be successful, since scrolls are low caster level and seldom benefit from your feats. Hence you probably want scrolls of stuff you cast on your friends rather than your enemies.
Missile weapon, melee weapon, light weapon. I like two-handed weapons (lots of damage) and reach weapons (slow down enemies before they get to you), But you must be able to fight both in-your-face enemies and stay-away-from-me enemies, andthe occasional one that swallows you. That's basic versatility.
For advanced versatility, you need to build in feat and magic support. It can be useful to take feats that aren't focused on a single weapon or type of combat. Quickdraw helps switch fast but isn't needed. Most styles really only need or four feats todo quite well at, and more than that is gravy. Power Attack, Furious Focus, Cleave (switched out at high levels), maybe Weapon Specialization, and you're inflicting lots of damage with a two-handed weapon. PB Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot,Manyshot,andDwadly Aim, and you're a whirlwind of ranged destruction. Sure, you can do more with more feats, but you dontneed to have more. Combat Reflexes, Combat Expertise, Improved X Maneuver,, and Greater X Manuever, and you're a maneuver master. Don't use feats for things cash can get you -- a keen weapon is usually better than Improved Critical, for instance.
Fighters generally have enough feats to bereally good at two things. You have to decide what those two things are, and there's a variety of builds to do it. Weapon training helps a lot; your primary weapon first (melee or ranged), then your other weapon, then light weapons.
Rangers can bypass feat requirements for their combat style and then use their regular feats to support the other half.
As a GM, I tell my players, "If you build a one-trick pony, smart opponents will out-trick you," and even stupid minions may have a smart boss.
I' would very strongly prefer NOT to have "good poisons" or "good diseases". They so don't fit the way I see good working.
Good and evil are different approaches to the world and behavior, not just different colored team jerseys. That should show up in their tools and abilities as well.
That's how I would GM it.
It's probably not enough to shift your alignment by itself, and there are a couple of spells with the evil descriptor that probably shouldn't have it (deathwatch, I'm looking at you), But regular use of such spells probably calls for an alignment shift at some point.
Using such spells to do good is questionable -- good is about methods as much as goals. Anyone who's regularly arguing that the end justifies the means is probably already well outside the good zone, and should be watched carefully lest they slip farther.