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walter mcwilliams's page

RPG Superstar 6 Season Dedicated Voter. FullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 681 posts. No reviews. 1 list. No wishlists. 2 Pathfinder Society characters.


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Okra.King wrote:

I also wanted to know if any of you have incorporated any of the death traps into the vaults listed in the back of this book, and if so how did it go and do you have any suggestions for running them?

I have used the Pendulous Staircase and Philosopher's Stone thus far and they have been very memorable encounters, causing the PC's to think outside the box a little.

As I noted above, the in the Philosopher's Stone trap, the PC's really didn't push each other out in the hall, but tried to stop the ball with a stone elemental which failed. I did not did not do the staircase right as I forgot to roll a reflex save for the PC's every round only when they broke another stair (it was about 1am at that point) so the stairs didn't fall. The PC's did get smacked around a lot though. In the end, the PC's did cut the chain at the top of the main shaft causing the whole thing to come down. They will use a rope next time.

I am going to try to use all of these traps in the halls and caves, though I may need to adjust the save DC's for some of them as my PC's are at a higher level than what is suggested.

Kudos to Gareth Hanrahan for these traps. They are very well written and provide some different play as opposed to fighting or diplomacy.

Where specifically did you incorporate the traps?

In my campaign which is just getting ready to finish up CoSS each of the factions has moved into a district. The shackles pirates currently reside in the Mercantile District and I am considering just having the Gorilla King roll-up and take them out save a few survivors.

My party avoided the Government district like the plague and subsequently saved it for last. In fact, they surmised that it was the Chapter 4 location.

I have a 6 PC party so I added two levels of staff magus to the BBEG. He smacked the the living crap out of my guys it was a battle of attrition which he lost and only the cleric in full on medic mode saved any PC deaths.

Gark do you mind if others post their alterations/conversions/resources here?

When I sat down and made my list I was surprised at the number of modules I've actually ran/played.

1.) Carrion Hill - I ran this shortly after its release and my players loved it! Then, several years latter played it as a side-trek during our Carrion Crown campaign. Loved it all over again!

2) Lake Encarthan Trilogy - These three modules (Crypt of the Everflame, Mask of the Living God, and The Golden City) are excellent as stand alone efforts or the intended trilogy. I highly recommend them!

3) Dragon's Demand - Probably not on most people's list, but my players really enjoyed it and the fight at the end was epic for them.

4) River into Darkness - I was excited to run this at its release because its a classic Jungle River Trip themed adventure and it delivers. On my list of modules I would like to see updated to PF ruleset and expanded background.

5) Realm of the Fellknight Queen - I'm not a fan of fey adventures, their subtleties are just lost on me and my normal group. But this module offers something special my players were really keying on. Sadly events overcame us and we were unable to finish, but it was fun while it lasted.

Honorable Mention: Crown of the Kobold King - I ran this as a one off and it was a blast. I would love to run the Falcon Hallow series some day.

Has anyone expanded on the city or used the expansion article about other Ilmurea locations ?

Master Elodin wrote:
Steel_Wind wrote:

Another note, for those who use Herolab, I have purchased the "GM Only" content for Curse of the Crimson Throne Anniv Ed AP and I am finding it very useful.

Most of my players are very experienced and tend to blow through most combat encounters as written with ease. Only you as a GM can best gauge how much to beef up encounters to provide the proper challenge to your players' PCs. Every group of players is different. I find I have to boost mine significantly; YMMV.

Having the encounters in Herolab via purchased content greatly facilitates my being able to revise statblocks and boost encounters quickly. As I also use Herolab's tactical console to run my combats, this is a great method for getting it all in there quickly. Lastly, I use a VTT to run my game and having the encounters in a form I can (mostly) revise and then export in D20Pro format saves me countless hours of work.

Short strokes: if any of this sounds like you, get the CotCT Anniv Edition "GM Only" content from Lone Wolf. It's worth it.

Duly noted. Thanks!

Shoot me a message here with an email and I will add you to the correct google drive folder.

Horror adventures will integrate easily, especially in Scarwall. My party had a paladin of Iomedae which worked very well

Mandraivus cabal included a paladin of Abadar
and a Hellknight PC would be a fun challenge from a role playing perspective.

Regardless of the version you run, and Kalindlara is correct it's a great rewrite of an already excellent series and everything is already converted to PF for you. Regardless of the version you need to get the players fully-invested in Korvosa. She is the most important NPC in the AP!

I have a lot of extra material I did for this campaign if you're interested. It is far and away my favorite of the first three post WoTC AP's.

Klorox wrote:
err, given how some books were edited into nonplayability (the unplayable because incomplete Ecclesitheurge in ACG, spells attributed to alchemists that are incompatible with alchemy in the Arcane Anthology, the fact that many feats were errataed into making the book they camme from irrelevant as a reference...) I just can't agree with you, Walter.

I was referring to the adventures (modules, AP). They tell excellent stories. Incompatibilities such as your example don't tend to bother me as player or GM. But, I can see how they frustrate many players, including several in my group.

But I really think the creative writing team is exceptional.

As for options, which seems to be every ones favorite thing, I can take'em or leave'em, except classes I can leave'em. We have to many!

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A History of Ashes - A Man Called Horse

Consistently high standard of writing.

Skeleman wrote:
I've just finished wrapping up book 4, and to put it lightly, it was not the favorite for either myself or my players. Their characters were especially upset at the attitudes of the Illmarshers all around. They managed to leave (barely) without burning the entire place down and hunting down the Sherriff for his head. I'm curious how this setting and events played out with other groups. I'm also interested in hearing how other characters handled the fallout in the town and the political vacuum caused by the removal of the church and the mayor.

Then it should be your favorite! That's exactly the reaction it generated in our party! We hated that place, and it's that installment which which stayed with us the most through the entire AP.

In our AP - Our gnome alchemist lost his sanity completely during this AP and carried and had intimate discussions with mayor greely's brain for the rest of the AP!

In the end, I believe our Life Oracle of Pharsama who was a no nonsense, straight laced, victorian midwife returned following our defeat of the WW to try and help the survivors.

But yeah! This was the highlight book for us and we still talk about it today three years later!

With my old group

I converted Lost Caverns as the sequel to my CotCT campaign replacing Iggwilv (my fav 1ed GH personality) with Rune Lord Sorshen, kept the basic story the same, and moved the location to the Bloodsworn vale area.
The catalyst was The party Paladin investigating the strange plug below Castle Korvosa when he set off convenient trap that captured him inside the Prison of Zagyig, which I renamed the Prison of Eros, where he was erotically tortured until the pals came to save him. It was a cheesy and campy romp but the final battle against my version of Drelzna (1/2 fiend, dread vampire ftr 15 (free hand), with 3 mythic tiers and a supped up version of Asheia was phenomenal.

I also did a conversion of WPM, I was running Age of Worms for my current group and they were in Grayhawk City for Halls of Harsh Reflections. I used WPM as background in my in-game campaign newsletter. The headline of the first page, day one in GHC was the WPM Poem. I never planned on actually running it, but one of my fellow old school players recognized the poem right away and when his sons, who also play with us, heard us tell our olde-school stories they got excited and wanted to play it. I did the conversion and was going to use it but Sadly, that campaign imploded shortly there after and it never happened.

My premise here is that when the Party reaches Mage Point, Tenser gives them a boon. Instead I was going to have him send the PC's after the three weapons instead.

I would be happy to share what I have if anyone is interested.

What is the DC for the Poison effect?

My players are also flustered they can't explore the tomb. My plan is to use it as a follow on to the campaign. If they succeed with the goal of the AP then it will be used as part of a follow on to destroy the big baddy once and for all. If they fail, it will be part of the lets try again follow on lol.

In either case I'm going to ask some of my GM buddies who don't play in our campaign to each design or submit a level.

My group does epilogues. When we conclude an AP (we've finished 5 over the past 7 years) we usually have a pot-luck dinner, then the DM presents an epilogue.

Our group has lost some players to geographical relocations and other life events. On one occasion we ran a follow on adventure when everyone from that original party happen to be in town.

The GM of our Second Darkness campaign runs a sequel which takes place several years after the events with different heroes. We play those PC's about once a year. We're all elves and lantern bearers. It's quite fun and deadly.

Beginning in my campaigns earliest planning stages I wanted to create an atmosphere of isolation and privation that I imagined an exploration of this magnitude would impose upon its participants. Especially, the ability of the exploration to sustain themselves so far from civilization.

To accomplish this, I modified the Kingdom Building and Downtime rule sets into a Base Camp rule set. It is not a highly detailed system, it is intentionally simple, so it emotes what I want the players to feel without becoming a game unto itself.

First, I developed a list of Camp Improvements along with the cost and construction time for each. When the party first established their base camp they were given 5 build points to begin construction of their base camp. The only mandatory improvement was a faction HQ. Each week the faction resupply arrives and the players receive an additional build point to further enhance their base camp. Improvements bring specialists, and open resources the PC’s can use, spending either gold or earned PA. All of the improvements are tied to downtime activities, as well as the exploration, supply and defense abilities given in the AP. So far this has worked really well and has been well received by the players.

After the HQ and a palisade, the first improvement my players built was a trading post. Not surprising this is the outlet through which the PC’s can buy/sell their treasure. I gave the trading post the exact same statistics you would a settlement (base limit, purchase limit, spellcasting). As the players gain prestige these improve, reflecting their faction’s willingness to fund success.

I also wanted to keep as many of the NPC’s the party met along the Race to Ruin in the story as possible, so all NPC's who still live are available using PA to support the PC’s exploration. Cheiton was one of my favorite NPC's, so I gave him ties to the Kalabuto area as a merchant/black Marcketeer and had the PFS hire him as their trading post manager.

The trading post has Available Magic Items for PC’s to buy and Cheiton uses his contacts to procure other items. If the PC’s want something that isn’t available then they have to let Chiton know, roll to see if it’s available (I reduced the roll to 70%), and if successful they pay in full and a week later the item arrives.

I also wanted to make the Treasures of Saventh-yhi more meaningful, so once the PC’s recover half the Treasures the Availability Roll goes up to 75% and when they find them all it increases the value even further.

This system, in conjunction with my decisions to use the slow advancement track and nerf the mass transit spells has worked great both in meeting my intention to emote the feelings of isolation and privation and increasing the challenge(s) for my more experienced players.

Has anyone else done anything similar?

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City of Seven Spears is an awesome adventure, and my party has been having a lot of fund exploring the ruins. However, it has proven quite difficult with a PC death in three out of our last four sessions; and a PC being swallowed whole in 4 out of the last 4 sessions. Here is the consolidated casualty report.

Name: Obasi
Race: Human (Mwangi)
Class: Shaman 8
Adventure: The Seven Spears of Saventh-Yhi
Location: Spear of Wealth
Catalyst: Being the first to Fly

The Gory Details:

Flight is a very important milestone in an adventuring parties development and gives the party significant advantages over terrestrial foes. However, as Obasi learned, being the first to fly can also be very deadly.

No great story here, the Mwangi Night Bat simply crit him and swallowed him whole. The party did eventually slay the bat and raise their comrade however, this encounter marked the beginning of the swallow hole streak.

Name: Kells
Race: Half-Elf
Class: Hunter 8
Adventure: The Seven Spears of Saventh-Yhi
Location: Lake of the Green God
Catalyst: Wrong place at the Wrong time

The Gory Details: Kells recovered and repaired the spyglass from the Stormbird encounter in Racing to Ruin. Standing a top the Ziggurat of Abundance he spied the lake and some remains of boggard sacrifices. The party cleric cast water walk on the non-flying members and they spread out to investigate the area. In a Jaws like moment the Froghemoth attacked from below the allege covered lake swallowed Kells whole and killed him.

He nearly took a second victim when the flying sorcerer got to close and was snatched up the lunging Green Gods tentacles but before he could die, the cavalier Ralimba, on a water walking mount struck with a spirited charge against his challenged opponent. The party would raise Kells as well.

Name: Ralimba
Race: Human (Mwangi Kuta tribe)
Class: Cavalier (beast rider) 8
Adventure: The Seven Spears of Saventh-Yhi
Location: Throne of Pharasma
Catalyst: Sallying out of a good defensive position

The Gory Details: Ralimba's lion mount balked at entering the creepy temple and he failed his handle animal check to push. This should have been a subtle clue to the party that what ever was going on with the area "strangely devoid of vegetation" which was so similar to the Isle of Shadows, that something bad lurked inside this once holy ground. Of course they were clueless.

The Isle of Shadows and a random encounter with a specter led to the party shaman always having Anti-Incorporeal Shell (sounds like a 60's batman gadget lol) available in some manner. As soon as the first ghost appeared the shell went up. Now, it didn't protect them from the sonic attack, but it did pretty much give them an unassailable redoubt against any physical attacks. He followed that up by casting Spirt-Bound Blade on the cavaliers weapon. As the ghosts swirled in and out of the walls/floors/ceilings the party would pepper them with magic missile or occasionally getting a spiritual weapon attack. The cavalier, a man of action, grew impatient and decided to challenge one of the ghosts and successfully sallied out and killed it. Before he could return to the protection of the shell the remaining ghosts swarmed over them. Fate is a fickle mistress especially in Pharasma's throne a corrupting touch crit and two failed fort saves led to Ralimba's demise.

Later, the shaman spoke with the deceased Kuta Lion-rider's spirit and he declined to return. In Kuta tradition the party cremated his remains upon a pyre.

- While not deaths the other two Swallowed hole victims were
Kells - In a foretaste of his death at the stomach of the froghemoth, Kells was also swallowed whole by the Sarcosuchus.

- The player of the recently deceased Ralimba returned as the fighter Voltus, an adopted nephew of Chieton and was promptly swallowed by a T-Rex in a random encounter while the party was traveling through the Merchant District

We had a life oracle in our CC AP. She was indispensable ! Kept the Paladin and inquisitor in the fight and very well buffed!

NobodysHome wrote:
walter mcwilliams wrote:
I've also began experimenting with the use of other skills other than perception to devalue it.

I'm not a player in *this* AP, but speaking as a player in OTHER AP's, I have to say, "BLESS YOU!!!"

The idea that you're a cleric/fighter/paladin/sorcerer/etc. with all of 2 skill points per level, with Intelligence not an otherwise-useful attribute, and you have to spent one of those two points EVERY LEVEL just to buy up Perception because EVERYONE needs it to survive in the APs is just... annoying... to say the least...

Thanks lol

I have 5/6 regular players in my game as well. They are all very well seasoned players

I give XP from the 6 player column and use the slow advancement track.
I don't give any additional GP/treasure.
Weapons/armor of < masterwork quality cannot be resold.
I add mooks/ give extra hp, etc to some not all encounters.

I've also began experimenting with the use of other skills other than perception to devalue it.

Chess Pwn wrote:

I'd probably say no new characters are to be brought in.

If someone's not having fun with their guy then look and see if some small tweaks are enough or major re-haul is needed. Explain major changes as being tied to the death something like "The events of your death left you lame, but your mind has been expanded and you've been blessed by great powers of the divine" remake any character into a lame oracle.

I do not like new PC's being brought in either. Mostly, because they get to cherry pick and optimize their gear. Another part of PC death is what happens to their gear. All of a sudden the other PC's can have a significant economic bump.

When I DM I insist players have an adventuring contract and will's that spells all this out.

As DM I have final approval on all contractual clauses and wills.

Generally, all treasure is split x+1 where x is the number of players and the +1 is the 'party tresure" for raise dead, party expenditures etc.

All that said! I hate player death in AP' after the second book, it throws all kinds of monkey wrenches into the plot, economics, balance of play etc.

Would love to read suggestions on how other groups handle it!

congratulations, we're at the 1/2 way point of book 3 and I'm so psyched to keep this thing moving. Everyone is having a blast.

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Overall, I find the players guides very helpful from a crunch perspective; helpful hints and traits to help players generate usable and thus more enjoyable PC's.

My expectation for SA as a Horror themed AP is slightly different than my expectations for a more traditional AP. Player specific tips and techniques for playing in a horror themed game will be covered in the Horror hardcover and Player's Companion I'm certain.

I believe having SA specific tips by class would be great. Especially for classes which may not lend themselves to the Horror genre.

Mammoth Lords would be cool, but for my money its Iobaria!!!!!!

When I finish DMing Serpent Skull this AP is next in the queue for our group, we rotate DMing duties, so I'll be playing. Totally excited about this AP since like Taks eluded to it's a nod to the "D" series of modules which I can remember playing in my high school lunch room way way back in the day lol.

When I ran this the party figured it out pretty quickly, they're all pretty experienced gamers, but the role-played it well until they had the evidence.

What was so much fun for me as the GM was developing and role-playing the NPC thoughts, motivations and actions (public and private) as the PC's uncovered the plot line.

I think it is this interplay that endears so many PC and NPC to this AP and ranks it among my top 3 AP's (3.5 and PFRPG) of all time.

Someone asked me about it recently and I told them it was a plot-line sandbox adventure. The GM, feeding off the PC preferences and emotions can go all manner of directions, from the popular Rebel Alliance thread, a lets join the Queen evil party thread, behind the scenes blackmail line or really what ever; then just stage the chapters and encounter areas as needed.

I am looking forward to the hardback release which will build on the fan favorites, more detail on the Gray Maidens for example. I am disappointed that Scarwall is rumored to have received the axe. This is one of the great castle crawls of all times. My PC's loved it!

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It does not, nor is there really time to do so in the story as written. This is a great choice however, an you can easily hang a lot of coolness on the skeleton of this AP to support that PRC.

I don't GM everything, but I do GM every time I have the chance. I do it, because I enjoy creating an interactive story which emotes feelings of happiness, fear, wonder, surprise, relief, sadness and anger in my players. It's so enjoyable for me, I turn 50 this year an have been doing this since I was in the 9th grade, its the only game I've never given up and never intend to.

Great question by the way. Nice to see something worth discussing on here once in awhile.

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My unnamed party of explorers stood in the shelter of a ruined building and stared up at the seemingly unassailable walls of the ancient grey-stone Azlant fortress. The hunter Kells removed the beaten copper spyglass from its protective case, extended it and scanned the wall.

“Six charau-ka and some dire apes!” he stated matter-of-factly to his assembled companions.

“Piece of cake!” quothed the Sarenrite Xnion, the rest of the party looked at him dubiously.

Kells eyes took on an opaque appearance as he tilted his head back and sent his mind’s eye searching for his animal companion quetzalcoatlus; “Perhaps quetzalcoatlus can reveal what lies beyond the walls to me.” A moment later he was peering down into the fortress through the eyes of quetzalcoatlus.

“Gozreth’s balls!"

“There's a large, white, four-armed ape. Like an albino Girallon, but not, he’s escorted by four more of the dire apes!” His eyes fluttered and returned to their normal color.

Having a better idea of your enemy’s strength, a council of war ensued and plans were made. The party would assault the fortress.
Approaching to within 100ft of the fortress proved less difficult than originally suspected. With all preparations complete, the Sarenrite Xnion blessed the party, and the shaman Obasi commenced summoning a giant bat to transport himself and Kells to the fortress wall.

Xnion and the dragon blooded Illamain moved up the cliff-side trail using their magic to engage the wall defenders while the great bat ferried Obasi and Kells to the wall. The Kura-lion rider Ralimba mounted upon the golden Kura-lion assaulted the fortress gate and began bashing it down.

The charau-ka defenders rained volleys of stone-death down upon you while the dire apes sallied out to reap horrible wounds upon you with their bone-crushing fangs and razor sharp claws.

The white Girallon roared intimidating orders and vile insults; while raining hand-axes with deadly and painful accuracy at Obasi and Kells on the wall.

Flame, steel, spell and claw quickly dealt fearful death across the walls and rooftops of the ancient fortress leaving its cold gray stones dark with the blood of defender and attacker alike.

A great din of splintering wood announced the breaching of the fortress gate by Ralimba, and access to the fortress for himself, Xnion and Illamian.

Illiman identified the great white ape as an Angazhani. A horrifying magical beast spawned in the image of the Demon Lord Angazhani. Named Olujimi, the high girallon leap from rooftop to rooftop to frustrate his attackers, and dealt death with impunity while his troops constant sniping further eroded your resources.

With the knowledge that the High Girallon was resistant to normal steel; Kells quickly switched to cold iron and death hummed in those arrows.

The hyper-aggressive chieftain immediately focused his rage on the now dangerous Kells. Charging across the roof tops he overran Kells and Obasi’s position on a guard turret. Terrified Obasi leaped from the turret in fear for his life. Kells never had the chance Obasi roared in victory as his axed sliced Kells from shoulder to sternum falling him like sapling.

Obasi managed to stave off Kell's impending death with a simple enchantment, but overwrought with the righteous anger of a Chieftain whose castle had been invaded, wishing to intimidate his enemies and secure the confidence of his tribe; he tossed the unconscious body of Kells like a chamber pot from the fortress walls and into the rocky chasm 50ft below.

It would be his last act as chieftain of the simians of Saventh-Yhi. The mad minute of bloody death ended when, enraged with anger by the death of his stalwart companion Ralimba spurred his mount across the parapet and impaled Chieftain Olujimi on his lance.

Olujimi having pounded my parties hunter into unconsciousness flung him off the wall of the fortress where he fell 50ft to his death.

Is there an FAQ I couldn't find or a change that makes the Otherwordly Companion druid level -3?

I use hero lab and it seems to indicate there is.

Besides being a wonderfully written novel (best combat writing, even better than Bernard Cornwell), Twelve Children of Pairs, by Tim Willocks has the best literary example of a card reading I've ever read.

I love using Harrow Cards in my games but often struggle at giving intriguing interpretations of the cards; the above example was inspiring and I thought I would share, since it's a rare troupe to see in novels.

I won't speak to your specific scenario rather I'll give you the steps I take since I routinely have 6 PC parties. I use which ever action(s) seem appropriate.

A) Increase HP to max, keeps your baddies in the fights longer uses more resources.

B) Add extra baddies, increase HD, add levels, add hazzards

C) My favorite however, is to make the battlefield asymmetrical. PC's cant fly, bad guys can; in the forest bad guys with climb have a lot more freedom of movement, amphibious enemies in the swamp, etc. Then attack from multiple sides spreads those six out.

D) I never add extra treasure, and with six person parties, I don't allow the reselling of non-masterwork/special material items. I've also gone 100% to the slow advancement track and always give XP off the six player column. (we do AP's).

E) I've also started trying to find ways to reduce the "Perception Dependency". My PC's just stack skill points in perception and it's ridiculous. So I've started using other skills to replace this reliance. Especially knowledge, craft, and profession skills.

F) Another balancing act for large parties is to limit them to Core only. One of the problems with the gluttony of classes available is over lapping skills and abilities. I'm running serpent skull at the moment and have a Hunter, Ranger and Shaman for the most part none of them feel special because they all have such similar skills, abilities and spells.

All that said, getting the Action economy balanced can be very difficult, some go to easy and others very difficult.

1) Racing to Ruin feels too much like a rail road. The Race part is, but it's a 60-day race with all the space in the world for a DM to do what ever he wants, I had a blast working in all kinds of unique encounters. Tazion is not, its a small sand box, the the PC can travel with in it and do what they want. Mine went straight to the capstone encounter!!
2) The serpent folk kind of disappear in the adventure path, which is troubling because they are the final antagonist of the first adventure and of the last adventure path as a whole. I never saw this as an issue, nor have my players, but you can easily up there on screen time.
3) Saventh-Yhi isn't all that well fleshed out, can be boring and the adventures that take place there are needlessly separated.
Some things about Saventh-Yhi just don't make a ton of sense to me--I don't see what the Aboleth adds to the adventure.
It also doesn't seem like there is a lot of opportunity for non-combat resolution of conflict, so many of the groups in the city are unwaveringly hostile to the PCs. I'm curious to see how my players work out everything here, I to wonder about the Aboleth, but I'm looking at him as a "power behind the throne" kind of guy. I however, don't see the place as boring and the more fleshing out I get to do the better!
4) For all the talk of the characters being the first to discover the city, NPC pathfinders got there first and end up being really important to the plot. An expedition did find the city first, but they were wiped out and forgotten by history, thus the city became "lost" again, they're not really important at all. If you don't like that aspect then just eliminate it, it really isn't that important.
5) The player's motivation needs to change throughout the AP, though this isn't really addressed in the text. In the first they just want to survive and get back to land. In 2-4 they are in some weird competition? and in 5-6 they need to avert the rise of an evil god. Curious as to why this is a negative?

It is a ruined city, while magic helps preserve it, it did nothing for the damage done from the Earthfall impact, so I see the city as having some substantial rubble to be over come, additionally, it's not staright line movement, it streets and ally ways.

I overlaid a grid on a PDF with 1/4" hexes and gave it a scale of 300ft, which is what I'm allowing my PC's to move in a minute of ground movement. obviously flight, mounts, climb speeds, etc change this.

If they're taking the time to explore, then I am charging them an hour of time per hex.

These are completely abstract, but help with tracking spell duration, etc

One of the players is a cartographer, so like on the Shiv, as he maps the area I usually allow them to increase their ground movement rates appropriately to again, abstractly reflect their increased familiarity with the terrain.

My party just finished chapter 2 (6th lvl) using slow advancement track and they are almost double average wealth, and I've added know extras.

Curious to know how other DM's handled mapping the Fortress? It's a beast!

Friday's long session was an epic battle for the ruins of Tazion. I played Raogru (Nicknamed Ragu by my players) as an intelligent leader from the arrival of my PC's in Tazion. I kept his scallykind domain, but replaced it with the leadership sub-domain to reflect this.

When the party first entered Tazion they maneuvered straight for the Ziguarat via the well and tower. In their encounter with the Charau-ka at the well they used some heavy firepower and one Charau-ka escaped. Raogru, realizing a powerful enemy was in Tazion had the party shadowed.

Following the party's victory at the Ziggurat, having a better understanding of the party's tactics he prepared appropriately and decided upon a plan to attrit the PC's resources and invite them to attack his stronghold. His plan was aided by the departure of three PC's the hunter, to call a new animal companion and the ranger and cavalier to protect the hunter and check on N'kechi who was guarding the parties mounts. (Two of these players were camping this weekend)

With the early morning fog blanketing Tazion, Raogru led a force of 16 Charau-ka to the base of the Ziggurat. These came from the survivors and patrols which the PC's never encountered directly. With the fog covering everything but the uppermost level of the Ziggurat, the PC's established themselves on the high ground.

The night was quiet, eerily so when the cleric of Sarenrae took the last watch. As he finished his supplications, a torturous human scream echoed through the morning fog (a captured N'kechi enduring the scaling), followed shortly there after by the frenzied screams of charau-ka. As they began the assent on all four sides of the zigguarat.

The only other two party members present startled awake by the scream quickly took up defensive positions as the four waves of charu-ka reached the upper-level.

Raogru had blessed and prayed the entire contingent, and had placed resist energy communal and used his inspired command ability on one of the platoon's. This platoon would fight to the death, the others would fight as long as they were able.

The 3 PC's had a good fight, but in the end defeated the assault with good tactics, and superior power. Joined by the returning hunter and his companion, they head off to the temple (before there buff's wore out).

They approached from the north. I mapped the temple as a maze of tree roots, rubble, high and low walls. The perfect terrain for critters with a ranged attack, a climb speed, and good stealth.

The moans and suffering of the dying N'kechi (part of Raogur's plan) encouraged the PC's to move west. They found the maze and terrain frustrating along with the fog which gave everyone a 20% miss chance and limited LOS to 20ft.

The Charau-ka were very effective at widdling down the party's resources, there rocks don't do a lot of damage but it adds up over time.

They made there way east and when Chu-tak slithered out of the fog and snatched the hunter's animal companion, all the charau-ka took up the chant "Chu-Tak, Chu-tak"! Luckily the critter escaped on a well timed nat 20 escape artist check. Up until now Raugru had been a disembodied voice in the fog using Inspired Command to urge on the charau-ka.

He made his appearance by brachiating out of the fog and hitting the party with sound burst, the PC shaman promptly failed the save and stunned made an easy target for Chu-tak. Having Advanced knowledge on the PC's preference for fire spells Raugru had prepared himself and Chu-tak with protection from fire. With the main players on the battlefield, the surviving charau-ka maintained a never ending hail of rocks which only served to infuriate the PC's more. A critical hit from the gravity bow enhanced hunter did Chu-tak in and saved the Shaman's life.

A TPK was probably avoided by the party's sorcerer (copper dragon bloodline) his constant barrage of magic missiles and acid arrow wore on Raogru and forced him into melee. Even though a full attack from his mace drove of the sorcerer and then downed the hunter in the end, the Shaman's sleep hex spelled his doom!

The epic battle for Tazion took exactly 6 minutes of game time and near 6 hours of real time, and a blast for everyone.

Next week we start exploring Saventh-Yhi!!! Exceptionally stoked for that.

Last weeks game was a blast for everyone. Forced to withdraw and recuperate, they returned to the pyramid and a showdown with Issilar. It was an epic 18 round heavy weight slug fest, with every resource by both sides expended, the shaman was reduced to throwing an iron pot at one point. But in the end the party was successful in clearing the ancient Azlant temple and learning its secret.

They now stand atop the Ziggaurat as conquerors; while the howling death songs of scores of Charau-ka echo through the morning fog rattling the marrow of our heroes.

Can't wait for Friday! Extra long session for the holiday should get well into The City of Seven Spears!

All of CotCT is excellent, however Seven Days to the Grave sticks out as the best of the bunch and lots of fun to DM as well as for my players. I'm currently DM'ing Serpent's Skull (finishing Race to Ruin) and Souls for Smugglers Shiv has been the highlight to date. All of the Carrion Crown offerings are very strong, but for our group it would be a toss up between Trial of the Beast and Wake of the Watcher. Burnt Offerings is a classic, but I really enjoyed The Skinsaw Murders more. Lot's of people malign Second Darkness but I think it's better than its reputation and I really enjoyed The Armageddon Echo and Endless Night. Jade Regent also had a gem in Night of Frozen Shadows.

Based on my playing's those are my favorites, and I guess it proves what I've always known, which is I like low to mid level play the best.

I hate 6 PC's but I a long time friend of everyone in our group asked to join us and we have another player leaving on a 3 month trip this summer so we're at 6 players.

Yes, I certainly will make adjustments. We're using the slow advancement track, xp are divided on the 6+ players column, and I won't add more treasure all of which should keep things somewhat balanced.

In the end however, its action economy that breaks the game, so Bosses will have slightly larger entourage's and a lot of the minor guys will have maximum HP allowing them to stay in the fight longer.

And some guys will get a level or HD bump.

After almost a month hiatus as real wold responsibilities interfered with our game the party (now 6 strong) reached Tazion first. They wasted no time in clearing the wall and made straight for the pyramid passing through the Well and the Tower areas. Arriving at the Pyramid, they were pretty well checked by the Queen and her subjects and are now contemplating where best to lay low and restore themselves.

Of course Raogru is has been aware of their presence and is mustering his forces - The six strong party is just to difficult for the as written patrols of 4 charau-ka to make them even a nuisance. But a clan of them supported by Raogru well that will strike some fear into my PC's.

Issilar and his allies are still unaware of the PC's presence since they tend to avoid the Queen and here cronies but that won't last long.

One of the changes I made was the final encounter prior to arriving in Kalabuto. Made it a haunt.

Since my last update, the party has successfully escaped from Smuggler's Shiv and we will begin the next chapter, next session.

Highlights - As you might have expected 4 epic battles have ensued as this excellent chapter roared to its finish.

The fight with the RMD was difficult, but having wounded him two days earlier the RMD had not quite regained full strength. However the challenging terrain and the RMD's flight ability made this encounter standout.

Leaving Red Mountain, from where the first glimpsed are V they took an overland route, avoiding the trails, along the southern coast. The set up a base camp a few miles from V and began a recon in force in its direction. They stumbled upon a patrol, which was looking for them, and when one member of the patrol made it to V the alarm was sounded. My PC's charged right in lol. A massive battle ensued, and nearly all the PC's were down at one point or another. Gelik showed up to add some support but a TPK was averted only by a successful sleep hex on the leader.

After resting for two days they delved into the sea caves and there on briny, seaweed tossed shores were once again nearly TPK'D until a timely gravity bow crit from the Hunter took MTF down.

The first encounter in the ToB was tough on my PC mainly due to to great DM dice and poor party dice, that along with my parties lack of a rogue just caused the obstacles leading up to the big fight to degraded their resources considerably.

The final battle was tremendous, the PC's easily handled the mooks, but the BBEBG managed to dom the heavy melee guy and well it was looking really bleak with 2/5th of the party down, the hunter came through again with back to back solid hits to win the day.

I hope it sounds exciting, because the 80+ days my guys spent on the island were; both for them and me. I laid a 1/2" grid over the island and made each hex a mile which probably increased the size of the island but it was well worth it. That along with the slow progression track has made everything a bit more challenging especially the boss fights. So it's on too Eleder and the Race to Ruin!

In session 4 my intrepid heroes set off from their middle of the island base camp near area K in search of their missing castaway. The reason I arranged the capture of the castaway was to invigorate their investigation of the island interior, they were OD'ing the wreck scrounging, and it was burning way to much time and giving Yarzoth way to much time.

What do they do, head back to the northeast side of the island and burn three days traipsing around the area E creek system lol.

Finally, they decided to man-up and head to the southside where they overlanded up the creek to area N then swung south intent on reaching area X. So far random encounters have come up empty for cannibals, but my party's paranoia over the size and strength of the tribe is growing. Which is for the best.

The made a temporary camp site about a mile west of area W, and I had the Red Mountain Devil (RMD) conduct a hit-and-run attack them there as they're getting danger close to his lair. They defended themselves adequately, but know they're a bit weak to take him on. Session 5 is tonight so a good chance all the castaways won't be around for Session 6.

The RMD has some good treasure and I modified the bow as a kind of legendary item for my Hunter. He missed out on a cool item in our AOW campaign since we aborted before the party reached that goal. I worked an Azlanti based background for it, since I think that's one of the really cool themes of this campaign.

Session 3 finished last night with the PC's finishing up the castaway quests. They also have searched every ship wreck on the north end of the island. Their nighttime visitor has made off with Ghelik and They're having a blast!

Very happy I choose to use the slow progression it has really helped establish the tone I wanted for the campaign.

They've sprung a few cannibal traps and they're very nervous about beginning their investigation of the south side of the island.

Session two was just as much fun as the first. The PC's managed to capture a baby dimorphodon for Sasha and unlock her boon, though not before failing once when an improvised plan sent the Dwarven ranger down the cliffside. After resting they completed their raft and sailed for the wreck near the brown island. Over came that challenge, opened the boon, but fearing the brown island was a bigger challenge than they could handle, they moved on to the main land cheked out a few nearby wrecks and moved down the beach, encountering a unique giant crab. Ending their second week on the shiv.

Everyone is enjoying the exploration they've learned about some of the Shiv's residents and have some hypothesis on how and who put them on the isle. At the moment they're mission focused on the castaway quests.

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