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The Breaking of Forstor Nagar (PFRPG)

***** (based on 6 ratings)
PSICB6805

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Savage battlecries and screams of pain echo through the streets and off the raw sheer walls that make up the carved stronghold of Forstor Nagar. The cannibalistic troops of The Hungering Legion have breached the gates, and the defenders have been routed.

Trapped in the heart of Forstor Nagar, the ambassador from Ithulandis, the City of Adventure, must be rescued. But the redoubt is cut from the living ice of the Forstorheim glacier, and enemies rip the very life from the inhabitants. Only scant hours remain before the alleys are slick with a crimson slush.

Adventurers must cross the invaders' lines to infiltrate the fortress, locate the diplomatic compound and escape with the ambassador before filed teeth sink into their flesh and the fate of the city is sealed forever. Will they succeed, or just become more corpses for the conquerers' larder? Welcome to the Breaking of Forstor Nagar!

Author: Ben McFarland
Cover Image: Tyler Bartley
Cartography: Jonathan Roberts
Editor: Mark Moreland
64 pages full-color

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Product Discussion (102)
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Nice review, D_M!


Couple more comments/questions.

-- I understand that some defenders would still be trying to fight even after the city is obviously lost. What's confusing to me is the fragmented nature of the defense -- people still defending an outer gate after the enemy is already inside the city.

-- Mathinder as pure McGuffin: I see what you're after there. But IME PCs tend to pick up on this, and get annoyed with NPCs who are "useless". As it is, you're setting Mathinder up as pure negative -- not only do you have to keep him alive, not only does he insist on burdening the party with the refugees, but he himself is absolutely no help. That seems a bit harsh, and I suspect many PCs might react with "sod this for a game of soldiers, we knock him unconscious and throw him in a sack" -- not because they're neutral or evil or whatever, but just out of impatience with this obnoxiously unhelpful NPC.

I think giving Mathinder a few minor spells, or letting him make one of the five skill checks, could significantly sweeten the pot for a party. Practically, it's not significant, but psychologically it could be the difference between "This guy just sucks" and "Okay, he's trying."

-- Is Mathinder aware of the nature of the Oracle? For that matter, is anyone? I have the impression it's supposed to be a surprise, but you'd think the inhabitants of the city would know. (Its ice-shape ability functions as Stone Shape, which means it has a limited range -- it would have to be out wandering around the city in order to shape all those buildings and whatnot.)

-- How is the Oracle held or bound to the city? Did I miss this?

-- If the PCs know the Legion's plan, the obvious solution is to kill the Oracle themselves and remove the relevant part. (Clever PCs would adopt a "let's you and him fight" position, allowing the Legion to weaken it so they can finish it off.)

I don't mean to sound very critical. I like this module. (I have a weakness for high concept, which this certainly is.) If I were running it, I'd run the second half as a classic disaster movie. You have a bunch of NPCs tagging along, some likable, some less so: who lives, who dies?

Doug M.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


-- I understand that some defenders would still be trying to fight even after the city is obviously lost. What's confusing to me is the fragmented nature of the defense -- people still defending an outer gate after the enemy is already inside the city.

Communication is sparse, limited by the defense, and so not everyone has gotten the word the city is lost. Also, you have guys trying to secure their own way out, or keep their own people safe. This is related to the fact there is no map-- if we define everything, then we need to deal with everything. The point of the matter is that the Legion is trying to get into the city from multiple gates and defenders are trying to keep them out and maintain the security of different quarters of Forstor Nagar. If you were abandon all the gates, you would speed the fall of the city, giving the enemy more resources to push further inward. People inside, trying to manage an escape, might not have a chance if the Legion was to march further inside unopposed. The outer defenders hold the line because there are people inside they want to escape or complete objectives which still need time to succeed. Those defenders are likely sacrificing themselves by holding their position.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


-- Mathinder as pure McGuffin: I see what you're after there. But IME PCs tend to pick up on this, and get annoyed with NPCs who are "useless". ...

Your mileage may vary. In my experience, it hasn't been an issue.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


-- Is Mathinder aware of the nature of the Oracle? For that matter, is anyone? ...

-- How is the Oracle held or bound to the city? Did I miss this?

This is discussed somewhat on page 4 and otherwise left a secret to all but the Oracular priests of the city. I considered the dragon's state as the Oracle to provide a way for it to extend its iceshaping powers throughout the city, but since it's not relevant to the story, I didn't get into it in detail. What binds the Oracle to the city is left to the GM's discretion.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


-- If the PCs know the Legion's plan, the obvious solution is to kill the Oracle themselves and remove the relevant part. (Clever PCs would adopt a "let's you and him fight" position, allowing the Legion to weaken it so they can finish it off.)

This is discussed on page 34, in the development of encounter 7. Obviously, allowing the Legion to get to the Oracle first is unacceptable, since they would arrive in such force that the characters could not hope to stop them.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


If I were running it, I'd run the second half as a classic disaster movie. You have a bunch of NPCs tagging along, some likable, some less so: who lives, who dies?

Then you'd be running it as I intended, only to Mathinder, everyone deserves to live.

-Ben.


Quote:

What binds the Oracle to the city is left to the GM's discretion.

OK, I wasn't clear on this. I had the impression the PCs had the option of releasing the Oracle. The box on page 35 seems to support this ("its freedom might doom the region to even more bloodshed...") as does the text on page 36 ("the Oracle could be convinced to leave")

If the PCs cannot free the Oracle, then they have only a straightforward choice -- kill it themselves or ignore it and leave it to the Legion. (If the party is already weakened, this may be no choice at all.) If they have the option of freeing it, then it's a three-way choice.

I'm okay either way, but I'm wondering what the intent of the writer was. Can the PCs release the Oracle? Or has it already been freed -- by the death of the priests, or whatever?

-- Now that I think about it, two other possibilities occur. One, a nongood party might seek to ally with the Oracle for a joint escape. And two, a clever PC might seek to gain the Oracle's heart for himself! After all, why leave that power just lying there?

Quote:
Obviously, allowing the Legion to get to the Oracle first is unacceptable, since they would arrive in such force that the characters could not hope to stop them.

Sorry, possible misunderstanding. I meant the Legion forces that are already in the temple -- one devil, one footpad, one Legionaire (I assume the "L" on the map on page 36 is a Legionaire, though this is not made clear in the text) and three fighters. Altogether, they're CR 9, which while not enough to defeat the Oracle is probably enough to take a chunk out of it. Since the PCs start off fighting them, they'll probably continue doing so -- but crafty players might immediately shift to defense and allow their enemies to whittle each other down.

Also, I notice the Oracle has no treasure. (In fact, in general this is a very treasure-light adventure.)

Doug M.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


OK, I wasn't clear on this. I had the impression the PCs had the option of releasing the Oracle. The box on page 35 seems to support this ("its freedom might doom the region to even more bloodshed...") as does the text on page 36 ("the Oracle could be convinced to leave")

Sure, they can "release" the Oracle-- they need only retreat from encounter 8 without engaging. That might be more difficult with a train of refugees in tow, but possible. Doing so might also mean more Legionnaires pursue them to the teleportation circle-- Legionnaires who didn't see the dragon's departure and think it can still be captured. That might make encounter 9 much more difficult, if that was something you wanted to do.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


I'm okay either way, but I'm wondering what the intent of the writer was. ...

My intention was to create a sandbox situation and morally ambiguous combat with some interesting tactical options. This is discussed to some extent on page 35. The Legion wants the dragon-- and in fact, I suppose some groups might realize that if they can make a blatant show of the dragon departing Forstor Nagar, they might save the city. This doesn't work, as described at the beginning of Encounter 9, and it would condemn the surrounding region to suffer what remains of the Legion as they pursue the dragon. In the end, there is no way to save Forstor Nagar, unless the GM wants to change things-- and that's always an acceptable choice. I imagine every adventure is tailored somewhat to the tastes of the group.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


-- Now that I think about it, two other possibilities occur. One, a nongood party might seek to ally with the Oracle for a joint escape. And two, a clever PC might seek to gain the Oracle's heart for himself! After all, why leave that power just lying there?

I'm reminded of a story about scorpions and rivers...

Characters are going to have a tough time doing anything with the Oracle's heart unless they know the same ritual the Hungering Legion knows, and it isn't provided in the adventure. It is entirely possible that characters "going off the reservation" could decide to acquire the ritual and pursue the dragon, but that's beyond the scope of the adventure. Part of that ritual might mean that the heart was consumed immediately after death. For an on-going campaign, the particularly cruel GM in me would allow the characters intent on such a course to acquire the heart, escape the city (which I wouldn't have collapse), and then be pursued by the Hungering Legion with all the consequences that would entail. The opportunities for roleplay as they discovered their situation would be delicious.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


Sorry, possible misunderstanding. I meant the Legion forces that are already in the temple...

The battle is specifically scripted to not occur until the characters have engaged the Legionnaires. The Dragon doesn't arrive until the fight is ongoing. This is intentional.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


Also, I notice the Oracle has no treasure. (In fact, in general this is a very treasure-light adventure.)

Yes.

-Ben.

Andoran

Must admit, I got the impression that whilst the dragon could not free itself from >whatever< was holding it in place, the characters or anyone else could release it if they so chose... but that it was not clear WHY the dragon was trapped there, that it might have been as a punishment for some past misdeeds, or to protect other sentients from it, or indeed just because it was useful to whoever originally built the ice city. The dragon might even have volunteered... although with the Legion wanting to eat its heart I expect it was ready to change its mind about that!


And this is why I like working with Ben.


We have arrived in print!

Woot!


And I know the print version has material not in the PDF-- some maps, boons, a few other extras. I don't think I'd call the inclusion of new material intentional, but nice to have, regardless.

-Ben.


Well, I'm going to try running this as part of my Crimson Throne campaign. The PCs just finished Old Korvosa, and they're all 8th level now, so it should fit. I'm going to make two minor plot changes to fit the continuing campaign arc:

1) Mathinder is now a sage who knows the details of the location of Serithtial, the magic sword that's the McGuffin in the back half of Crimson Throne. Basically, if the PCs get this information they'll be able to avoid the first half of "A History of Ashes", the module they would otherwise have started now.

I'm going to add a little detail to Mathinder; he's going to be an ExPal 2/Wiz 5/Loremaster 2. He walked away from being a paladin because their rules were too restrictive and became a Neutral Good character who studied magic and ancient lore. He now has a few spells, mostly divinations and buffs, that he can cast to help a friendly party. (He also has a Will save of something like +13, which is good to know in case the PCs try pushing him around.)

Mathinder also knows a lot about Kazavon, the Crown of Fangs, and the Fanglord (see below).

2) The Hungering Legion is now led by a Big Bad called the Fanglord. Centuries ago, a foolish sage took one of Kazavon's fangs, hoping to research how it might be destroyed, and traveled far away with it to his hidden sanctum in the frozen north. The evil thing gradually devoured his soul; he became some sort of vile undead, and the fang itself was lost. But when the Fangs were awoken in Korvosa, this one woke up too.

The Hungering Legion were once just the Hungry Ones, a ragged tribe of ice nomads with a nasty penchant for cannibalism. (Nobody knew it, but they'd been influenced over decades by the Lost Fang, which whispered to them in dreams and bent their spirits towards madness and evil.) When the Fang awakened, though, it summoned the cruelest and most ambitious member of the tribe to its hiding place. Now the Hungering Legion follows the Fanglord from victory to victory, growing in numbers and madness with each battle.

I'm thinking to keep the Fanglord a (mostly) off-camera menace; the city defenders will be terrified of him, and even the dragon will have lines like "Fools! Even I cannot stand against the Fanglord!" The idea here is to drive home that just one fang has turned a simple tribesman into this unstoppable juggernaut of death -- so what's going to happen when they face the Queen, who has all the rest of them?

Mathinder knows all about the Fanglord, BTW -- as a student of Kazavon, he had an interest in trying to track down the Lost Fang. He wasn't expecting it to suddenly surface and trap him, of course. If the PCs show too much interest in confronting the Fanglord... well, Mathinder won't object, but he will try to nudge them towards saving as many people as possible.

So. Thoughts?

Doug M.


"Bio-digital jazz man." - Kevin Flynn in Tron Legacy

Awesome!


First session this weekend -- we'll see how it goes.

Some minor tactical changes. First encounter, two boats instead of one -- the fireship goes in first, run by a couple of particularly ambitious/aggressive/crazy legionnaires, with covering fire from the second ship, 50' back. (Because even crazy guys don't put the assault team on board the fireship.) The idea is, fireship lands, two legionnaires jump out and dive into the water, second boat starts shooting flaming arrows and fire spells. If the defenders rush out and try to douse the boat, hey, that's why the attackers have a flying wizard with Wall of Fire, Fireball, Scorching Ray and Black Tentacles. Boat #2, with the rest of the troops, stands off until the fireboat either explodes or is defused, and then sails in to storm the gate.

If the PCs try to interfere, the wizard will assume that they're defenders and will Fireball the ice bridge. The text doesn't give stats for the bridge, so I'm just going to assume that this will shatter it, forcing the PCs to make a second set of Reflex saves in order to avoid a fall into the icy waters below. (For the record, that would be 4d6 damage +2d3 nonlethal damage, DC 20 Acrobatics check to turn the fall into a dive and take no damage.) On the plus side, this earns them the gratitude of the defenders.

If the PCs jump, levitate or fly into the fireboat from the bridge, then I think the legionnaires on board attack, while the flying wizard casts Wall of Fire on the ice shelf in front of the gate, and then Gust of Wind to keep blowing the boat forward. "You're on a boat full of explosives that's two rounds away from a Wall of Fire" should present an amusing tactical situation.

Okay, so. One minor comment and two questions.

1) The wizard should totally have Fly precast. It's 1 minute/level, and he'll want the tactical maneuverability. (Putting aside the whole "following a boat full of high explosives in a boat full of madmen as you head into combat" thing. Seriously, dude would have his fly on.)

2) A question for anyone who's run this before: how ready are the PCs to jump into the middle of this first encounter? They haven't seen the Legion at work, and so don't know they're insane and evil. I assume PCs might decide to ally with the defenders on the assumption that, hey, we need to be on good terms with them to get inside the city. But how does this play out in practice?

3) The text says that if the fireship explodes, it kills all the attackers and defenders. But the explosion only does 15d6 damage (DC 25 Reflex save for half) to those on board and 7d6 damage to those within 25 feet of the boat (DC 17 Reflex save for half). The defenders have 22 hp each, while the attackers have 37 or 22 (and the wizard has 45!) I'm okay with handwaving this, but if we actually game it out, a bunch of people will still be standing.

I guess there's a reward/punishment aspect here -- the point of the encounter is to stop the fireship, and failing to do that means there are no survivors to guide you to the next encounter.

Anyway. Comments from playtesters or anyone who has run this will be very welcome!

cheers,

Doug M.


Play report, part 1.

At the end of the last session, the monk rolled a natural 20 on Knowledge (Geography) for knowledge of the city. Before this session, he asked if that could mean he was from the city. I said sure. So, he's a native of Forstar Nagar who left a decade ago.

Spoiler:

As a result, the PCs immediately took the side of the defenders against the attackers. They figured out that the fireship was a fireship immediately and tried throwing alchemists fire from the bridge. The Legionnaire wizard responded by fireballing the bridge, causing it to crack and shift and forcing PCs to make saves against falling off the suddenly slick and tilted surface. Two PCs ended up in the water (and got attacked by Legionnaire javelins), and a brisk combat ensued.

High point of the combat: repeated hits with damage spells on the ice bridge, eventually causing its collapse. Flying dwarf grappling the wizard (you built a wizard with no anti-grappling defenses!). The CG rogue trying to save some drowning Legionnaires, and nearly getting dragged down, torn to pieces and eaten for his troubles.

The PCs were definitely freaked out by the Legion! I gave them hideous, fresh facial scars -- it's part of the initiation ritual, to make it impossible to change your mind -- and gave the wizard a bite attack. He never hit, but the dwarf PC was distinctly unnerved by having his grapple victim constantly squirming and trying to gnaw on him.

The garrison was very impressed by the PCs, so they blew past Encounter 2 without difficulty. The remorhaz encounter was over quickly -- 2 rounds of massive damage from the party barbarian, who has little difficulty doing 60-90 points of damage with a full-round attack.

Now they're at the encounter in front of the embassy. Despite coming in the back via the "Saviour PCs" route, they've been detected -- they weren't using Stealth at all! Despite being told what's going on, I don't think they've really grasped that the Legion is inside the city in force. So a mass combat is about to ensue.

I'm considering beefing up the Legionnaire forces to make them more menacing. The PCs will have a chance to rest overnight and replenish spells inside the Embassy, so we might as well have a knock-down combat now!

Also, I've changed the Hunger Devils a little. The text depicts them as pretty standard devils, horned and tailed and all. Nothing wrong with that, but...

Spoiler:

I have them looking like a cross between a starving child and a naked, squeaking baby bird. They're Small creatures with clawed, birdlike legs, emaciated torsos, and the heads of hungry human children. When not attacking they sort of waddle and stumble around, eyes closed, making faint "bee bee bee" noises like a nestful of hungry baby birds. When alerted to food, they open their cold yellow eyes and rush forward shrieking, like baby birds when mother shows up with a fat worm: BEE BEE BEE!

(These guys had just showed up when we ended the session. The players seemed equal parts freaked out and alarmed, which is what I was aiming for.)

Small size = -2 Str, +2 Dex, +1 attack and AC. I've added Lifesense, which seems thematically appropriate (and will also negate the Rogue's stealthing) -- their eyes are for gaze attacks, not to locate prey. Also swapped Power Attack for Weapon Focus: Claw. Then ditched the kukris and put the bleed damage on their claw attacks, which are now +10, d3+3 +2 points bleed.

I'm debating whether to keep the Cha damage on the claw attack, since that adds up pretty fast. I may replace it with the grab ability, a +4 racial bonus to grapple checks (bringing their CMB back up to a reasonable +8), and a fasten-on bite attack that does +1 or +2 Con damage. So, if it hits with a claw attack, it sort of swarms up you and tries to fasten its horrible little toothless mouth onto your flesh and start draining your very life away.

The dwarf PC rolled high on Knowledge: Planes, so I told him they were servants of the Horseman of Famine. (Since this is a Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign, they've already encountered a servant of the Horseman of Plague.)

Once they get inside the embassy, I'm planning to complicate things a bit by introducing a rival party of adventurers who are also after Mathinder. (They're serving the Queen, of course. Details in this thread.)

As for the PC who's a native of the city, it hasn't come up yet, but I'm planning to make some of the "civilian" NPCs acquaintances or relatives. Done properly, It seems like this could add all sorts of fun.

It goes down next weekend, so suggestions are very welcome.

cheers,

Doug M.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


I'm going to add a little detail to Mathinder; he's going to be an ExPal 2/Wiz 5/Loremaster 2. He walked away from being a paladin because their rules were too restrictive and became a Neutral Good character who studied magic and ancient lore. He now has a few spells, mostly divinations and buffs, that he can cast to help a friendly party. (He also has a Will save of something like +13, which is good to know in case the PCs try pushing him around.)

Doing that means Mathinder really doesn't need the party to escape, but I'm happy you've found a way to present him which is more palatable for your group.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


Some minor tactical changes.

Jumping into the water in an arctic environment is tantamount to committing suicide...but given they're crazy and riding a boat full of burning explosives, well, then it's just a matter of how crazy.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


If the PCs try to interfere, the wizard will assume that they're defenders and will Fireball the ice bridge. The text doesn't give stats for the bridge, so I'm just going to assume that this will shatter it, forcing the PCs to make a second set of Reflex saves in order to avoid a fall into the icy waters below. (For the record, that would be 4d6 damage +2d3 nonlethal damage, DC 20 Acrobatics check to turn the fall into a dive and take no damage.) On the plus side, this earns them the gratitude of the defenders.

I think it would be 3d6 damage + 2d3 nonlethal (Ignore 20 feet, 20 feet of nonlethal, 35 feet of lethal), since you're not rounding the DC up to 25 for the Acrobatics check. But if you want to count the last 5 feet as enough for a d6 of damage, I'd say you need to kick that Acrobatics check up to 25. That's me. I think I also intended the bridge to be impervious to fireball, but I don't see that in the final text. Personally, I'd use the same statistics as the compound's ice walls-- AC 5, Hardness 3, 180HP.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


If the PCs jump, levitate or fly into the fireboat from the bridge, then I think the legionnaires on board attack, while the flying wizard casts Wall of Fire on the ice shelf in front of the gate, and then Gust of Wind to keep blowing the boat forward. "You're on a boat full of explosives that's two rounds away from a Wall of Fire" should present an amusing tactical situation.

I don't think the explosives are labelled, which makes it a ship packed with casks, boxes, whatnot. I generally allowed some kind of Craft:Alchemy check if they were on board when it lit.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


Okay, so. One minor comment and two questions.

1) The wizard should totally have Fly precast.

2) A question for anyone who's run this before: how ready are the PCs to jump into the middle of this first encounter?

3) The text says that if the fireship explodes, it kills all the attackers and defenders.

1. The wizard has a bonded object and dimension door known. He doesn't need fly precast because he's invisible (Ah! I see that was removed in edits!) and can teleport away to the surface of the glacier to escape if need be. I kept fly in reserve to facilitate escape or improve his combat options.

2. They were pretty much right into it when they saw the defender crew freak out and fall back inside. The summoner's eidolon suit permitted them to fly down to it fairly easily.

3. Yes. I considered it the price for failing to act. That was a narrative choice.

-Ben.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

Play report, part 1.

At the end of the last session, the monk rolled a natural 20 on Knowledge (Geography) for knowledge of the city. Before this session, he asked if that could mean he was from the city. I said sure. So, he's a native of Forstar Nagar who left a decade ago.

** spoiler omitted **...

Sounds like a great time. I'd suggest, then, based on your experiences thus far, that you increase the CR for the encounters-- Enc#3 probably should have been 2 creatures, then.

Encounter #6&7 should probably both follow the sidebars and scale to CR11. Encounter #8 should do likewise and kick up to CR12, possibly maximizing the Oracle's HP with the other additions. To ensure they don't try playing hero against the legion, have them roll in to the outer courtyard with a battery of lightning ballista and support troops-- making it evident the temple gates are coming down pretty shortly. (Few players would be willing to charge 8 lightning bolts, but hey, there's always one.) Encounter #9, I would increase it by including two groups of Legion footpads-- one after each obstacle to make ensuring the refugees' crossings more hazardous. You might consider increasing the DCs for activating the circle, but that's your choice. Once you cross to encounter #6, the party has additional concerns to keep them preoccupied, so we'll see how that impacts tactics. I know our group at Gencon had a tough time keeping things together despite very optimized builds.

I'd not considered that characters might be from the city-- that's a great option which adds all manner of RP to the situation. Especially given that there's no chance to save the place. I wonder how he'll react to that knowledge, and I'm looking forward to hearing it.

-Ben.


terraleon wrote:


Doing that means Mathinder really doesn't need the party to escape, but I'm happy you've found a way to present him which is more palatable for your group.

He kinda does need the party to escape, though. Two reasons. One, he's an Old character (-3 to Str, Con and Dex) who is not optimized for combat, at all. Formally he's CR 8, but really he's more like CR 6 on a good day. One roaming squad of Legionnaires would take him out.

Two -- more importantly! -- he needs the PCs to rescue the civilians. The soldiers won't leave their post (they're going to die nobly), and Mathinder alone can't herd a bunch of low-level civilians through the dying city.

Just for the heck of it, here's a quick sketch of Mathinder:

Spoiler:

Mathinder
Male Old human ExPal 2/Wizard (Diviner) 5/Loremaster 2
NG Medium humanoid

Init +1, Perception +10

DEFENSE
AC 13 (mage armor, -1 Dex)
hp 32 (2d10 +7d6 -9)
Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +13

OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Melee mwk longsword +5 (1d8-1/19–20)

STATISTICS
Str 9, Dex 9, Con 8, Int 17, Wis 16, Cha 16
Base Atk +5; CMB +4; CMD 13
Feats (5 + 1 wizard bonus): Iron Will, Alertness, some others

Skills: Just a lot, including maxed out Knowledge (Arcana), Knowledge (History), and Heal, along with +10 Perception and +12 Sense Motive

Spells (6/5/4/2) (opposing Evocation, Necromancy)

1 -- Anticipate Peril (+5 to initiative), Burning Disarm, Mage Armor, Protection from Evil x2, Sleep
2 -- Blur, Communal Endure Elements, Resist Energy (Cold, 20 points), Minor Image, Share Memory
3 -- Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Dispel Magic, Hold Person x2
4 -- Communal Tongues, Hallucinatory Terrain

(If these spells seem pretty feeble, that's because they are. Mathinder is a diplomat and a teacher, not a fighter -- he never saw the need to fill his spellbooks with blasting and zapping.)

SQ: Diviner's Fortune 6x/day (touch a creature and give it +2 to attacks, saves, and skill checks for 1 round), Forewarned (+2 Init, always act in surprise round), Bonded object (mwk staff), Secret (+2 on Will saves), Lore (+1 on all Knowledge checks)

Getting this version of Mathinder on side is mildly useful -- he can cast a few minor buffs and defensive spells, and the Diviner's Fortune is nice -- but not really a game-changer.

The other reason for statting out Mathinder is that I'm complicating things by adding two rival groups racing the PCs for the same information.

Spoiler:
One is Shadowcount Sial (from _History of Ashes_), an 11th level cleric of Zon-Kuthon with his chain devil cohort. Sial is evil, but he really doesn't want to harm Mathinder -- he just wants the information. And he particularly doesn't want to hurt the PCs, since they're fellow enemies of the Queen.

The other group is much more dangerous; they're an antipaladin, a necromancer and a gnome alchemist/demoniac, all CE or NE and a couple of levels higher than the PCs. They're totally willing to torture, maim or kill anyone who gets in their way -- although they will try playing nice at first until they figure out who's who. If they fail to extract the information, they'll try to kidnap or kill Mathinder, grab some civilians as bargaining chips, and head over to the Legion side to see what information they can gather there.

So, there will be some roleplaying at the embassy, and very probably a combat. Might as well work him out in a little detail.

Doug M.


terraleon wrote:


Jumping into the water in an arctic environment is tantamount to committing suicide...but given they're crazy and riding a boat full of burning explosives, well, then it's just a matter of how crazy.

Well, Finns, Russians and the Polar Bear Club jump into icy water regularly without taking lasting harm. I think the DC 15 Fort save on impact covers it. The real trick is to not stand around in wet clothes... that's what kills you. (The PCs used Prestidigitation; I ruled that each PC needed three rounds to render clothes dry and warm again, so they waited until after combat. Maybe I should have them roll Fort saves against catching cold.)

terraleon wrote:
I think I also intended the bridge to be impervious to fireball, but I don't see that in the final text. Personally, I'd use the same statistics as the compound's ice walls-- AC 5, Hardness 3, 180HP.

I think it ended up taking something like 80 points of damage from spells and weapons.

terraleon wrote:
I don't think the explosives are labelled, which makes it a ship packed with casks, boxes, whatnot.

I described them as not labeled, but the PCs instantly assumed it was a fireboat. (They assume things a lot. This time, they just happened to be right.)

terraleon wrote:
The wizard has a bonded object and dimension door known. He doesn't need fly precast because he's invisible (Ah! I see that was removed in edits!) and can teleport away to the surface of the glacier to escape if need be.

Alas! The dimension door spell isn't on the wizard's spell list. If you look on page 8, you'll see that he only has Black Tentacles and Wall of Fire prepared. Fine choices, to be sure -- but editing out dim door left him without any defense against grapples. Since my PCs are relentless grapplers of spellcasters, that was pretty much that.

Doug M.


terraleon wrote:


Sounds like a great time. I'd suggest, then, based on your experiences thus far, that you increase the CR for the encounters-- Enc#3 probably should have been 2 creatures, then.

Yes, probably. I was a little worried about the massive damage an advanced remorhaz can deal out. Gotta remember that works both ways.

Incidentally, the PCs split over rescuing the gardener -- at least one was perfectly willing to let her get eaten. Bodes well for character discussion when it's time to win over Mathinder.

[omitting discussion of upgrading the later encounters -- I'm inclined to agree, and will review carefully.]

terraleon wrote:
To ensure they don't try playing hero against the legion, have them roll in to the outer courtyard with a battery of lightning ballista and support troops

Oh, that's when I'm introducing the Fanglord, the leader of the Legion. CR 13, and very obviously bad news -- I'm going to telegraph this clearly, so if the PCs charge him, they'll deserve what they get.

terraleon wrote:

I'd not considered that characters might be from the city-- that's a great option which adds all manner of RP to the situation. Especially given that there's no chance to save the place.

Well, I'm giving him a chance to know every NPC he meets [roll, roll]. Hasn't come up yet, but probably will once they're inside the Embassy. "Hey, that's your third grade teacher. And the kid from around the corner who was afraid of dogs."

How he'll respond once the monsters start gnawing on his childhood friends and neighbors... well, the player in question hasn't been into roleplaying much yet -- he's the quiet one who plays the Zen Archer monk -- but maybe this will jar something loose.

As I sit and think about it: it's canon that the Oracle is holding the shape of the city, yes? I've ruled that the Oracle works through little stylized dragon images that are carved all over the place, and further that the Oracle is somehow bound by the priests (all of whom are going to die Real Soon Now) to some magic dingus in the temple. Whether the Oracle is killed or unbound, Forstar Nagar gets destroyed -- even if the Legion goes away, the slow relentless movement of the glacier will gradually wipe the city out of existence. So the monk character will face a particularly poignant choice.

cheers,

Doug M.


An additional wrinkle about the Oracle:

Spoiler:

So the Oracle is a YA white dragon, which is a level-appropriate boss monster, and interesting in that it's an intelligent (albeit evil) creature that's in a hell of a fix. So far so good. But -- why is it an Oracle?

Well: the original Oracle, way back in Greece, was a priestess who sat by a crack in the earth breathing fumes that came up from below. So let's say there's something underneath the glacier, some powerful source of magical energy. The energy rises up through a crack in the ice. It appears as, oh I don't know, a glowing green vapor or some such. And a creature that gets immersed in it gains uncanny powers of prediction. But the vapor is deathly cold (10d6 of cold damage, DC 20 Fort for half), mildly soporific (DC 14 Will or fall asleep), and highly hallucinogenic (treat as Nightmare Vapor, inhaled poison, DC 20 Fort or 1 Wis damage and Confused).

So while anyone could step in and be the Oracle, ideally you want a creature that's immune to cold, immune to sleep effects, and possessed of a really high Fort save against the poison. Hey presto: a dragon. The ability to Ice Shape the city is pure gravy.

The dragon has been drenched in the vapors for so long that it has become somewhat magical itself, so eating its heart will indeed grant some (though lesser) predictive abilities -- maybe the ability to cast Commune or Vision once per day, or some such. This also explains how the dragon got the Advanced template.

(What's down there? A powerful lost artifact, a gate to another plane, a fragment of a dead god? I have no idea. Once the Oracle is dead or fled, the crevasse will close in d4 days, and whatever lies under the glacier will be sealed away, maybe forever.)

Possibly I'm overthinking this. But what the hey.

Doug M.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


terraleon wrote:
The wizard has a bonded object and dimension door known. He doesn't need fly precast because he's invisible (Ah! I see that was removed in edits!) and can teleport away to the surface of the glacier to escape if need be.

Alas! The dimension door spell isn't on the wizard's spell list. If you look on page 8, you'll see that he only has Black Tentacles and Wall of Fire prepared. Fine choices, to be sure -- but editing out dim door left him without any defense against grapples. Since my PCs are relentless grapplers of spellcasters, that was pretty much that.

Check the "Combat Gear" section, bottom of the right column on page 8. The line indicating what he had "Known but not memorized" was apparently edited out of the statblock, but the Combat Gear section shows he knows both dimension door and dispel magic, so he's covered for that contingency.

Trust me, I'm a veteran of many years of Living Greyhawk play in the great cheeseweasel region of Keoland. I wasn't about to send him in there unprepared for the grapple. You'll also notice he's got two spell component pouches, just in case some clever player feels the need to sunder the first.

And double checking, you'll note that Dohban's pre-combat tactics block indicates he begins invisible (I knew it was in there.) and the combat tactics block specifically discusses a grapple. Those two points might have made for a very different battle. Out of curiosity, did you have him haste the rest of the group as an opener?

As far as your take on the Oracle, that sounds like a perfectly consistent and reasonable take on its situation and background. I left it open to interpretation for precisely that reason. Regardless, it looks like you're enjoying things so far, and I couldn't ask for more than that! Please feel free to continue keeping us updated!

-Ben.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I agree with Ben. Please keep us updated! This is fascinating.


Well, the next session (this weekend) will diverge furthest from the module as written.

First the PCs need to get past the Legionnaires outside the Embassy compound. That's a fairly straightforward combat; my only change is, on Round 1 the Legionnaires will blow a horn for help, which will arrive in force after 20 rounds. If the PCs are having trouble, I may have the embassy soldiers sortie to help them.

The Embassy compound includes Mathinder, the commander and some soldiers and civilians, just as in the module. But there will also be a Shoanti ranger (he's a link forward to the next adventure in the path, the back half of _History of Ashes_) and Shadowcount Sial and his cohort (ibid). When the PCs arrive, the ranger will be on watch using an Eagle Eye spell (POV 200 feet overhead) while the Shadowcount will be having a polite conversation with Mathinder, trying to persuade him to tell what he knows. After that, well...

Spoiler:

Scene 1: some roleplaying with Mathinder and the Shadowcount, who I will initially present as mysterious but polite and not obviously evil. Some interaction with the commander and the civilians. In the background the ranger will occasionally describe bad stuff happening around the city. It's at this point that the PCs may come to realize that the city is going down. The Commander will describe how the Fanglord faced and defeated the city's native heroes. (The PC who is from the city will know enough to be alarmed.)

Scene 2: arrival of the other rival party. The ranger sees two men and two women... wait, there's a halfling too, five of them, running from the Legion towards the embassy. Help them?

The rival party is five, one of whom is an old enemy of the PCs. However, the leader seems to be a decent guy. (In fact he's an antipaladin, and his halfling manservant is another old party enemy, a gnome demoniac/alchemist.) Combat may break out, but everyone else -- Sial, Mathinder, the commander -- will try to quash it.

Scene 3: offers on the table. Lord Willis the disguised antipal begs Mathinder to come home with them. Mathinder says he won't go unless the civilians are saved. Sial says he can rescue a few of them by walking through the Plane of Shadow; if he does this, will Mathinder promise to tell him everything he knows afterwards? Mathinder agrees... but there are still civilians to be saved, and he won't leave without them. He asks the PCs if they will help. Lord Willis' group say they will try to persuade him out of this madness.

Scene 4: arrival of the Fanglord. He's basically Lord Humungus from Mad Max. Shows up with a platoon of troops, obviously too many to come out and fight. Marches back and forth in front of the Embassy and makes a boastful, raving speech. Arrows and spells bounce off him -- DR 4/-, Regeneration 10. He'll publicly kill a couple of captives then make the Embassy group an offer: come to him and get a quick death, come to him bearing meat and join the Legion, or stay there and be slowly eaten alive. He then departs -- the main fight is elsewhere -- saying he'll be back in the morning.

Scene 5: treachery, as Team Evil decides to grab Mathinder along with some civilians. (They want to talk to the Fanglord, and the civilians are fresh meat -- their ticket into the enemy camp.) This is likely to be the big combat scene. If the PCs are careful and clever, they may not be surprised, and they could get Sial and the garrison on side. OTOH, Team Evil will have some evil tricks up their sleeves... we'll see how this plays out.

Of course, the players could easily derail this. We shall see!

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I will be needing an adventure for my campaign at about this level. I am looking at this. The campaign is set in Eberron that is being invaded by Spelljammers. Specifically, the Vodoni from Under the Dark Fist. I was wondering if anybody thinks that this would work, substituting House Lyrander's Stormhome in as the city.fortress, and the Vodoni werewolves in for the cannibals.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Eberron is not my forte, but I know someone who regularly plays there, and he playtested a bit for me, so I'll ask him and see what he says.

-Ben.


xorial wrote:
Specifically, the Vodoni from Under the Dark Fist. I was wondering if anybody thinks that this would work, substituting House Lyrander's Stormhome in as the city.fortress, and the Vodoni werewolves in for the cannibals.

This could work alright, now that I've read better and looked at your thread here.

Yes, with some modification, you could make this work for your purposes, I think. The Oracle might require some extra work.

Side note, there is an example of an orbital object impacting in 3.5, it's from a dungeon adventure. Issue 106, the Black Egg.

-Ben.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Cool, then I will likely purchase this in a couple of weeks (pesky money things, like other people wanting some first, :p). I will likely make lots of changes, but it is always good to have the basic ground work dome already. I'll have to wait & see about the oracle, but i do have some good ideas as to who the VIPs are to be rescued. Yup, replacing one ambassador with a group of people to get. I'm sadistic that way. :D


A couple of bye weeks, followed by a huge fight at the Embassy compound. The PCs move out for the Oracle next week, Mathinder and civilians in tow.

Doug M.


One interesting plot twist -- suggestions welcome from anyone.

So one player -- the Zen Archer monk -- decided that FN was his PC's home town. I've determined that he knows two of the civilians. There's a nice old lady who's a clerk, retired from working for the city. She was a neighbor of the PC's family and remembers the PC as "the nice boy who was always practicing. There's also a young aristocrat who was a junior student at the PC's dojo; he remembers the PC as the senior student who was excellent. They're both low level characters who will need some keeping alive, but who can provide a lot of information about the city.

Okay, that's no biggie. But: it's long been established that this PC has a brother. (Been part of his backstory since day one.) The brother, it turns out, is still in the city -- he's an officer in Forstar Nagar's small city guard. He's a NG Ftr 4/ Bard 1.

Spoiler:

Human Fighter 4 / Bard (Arcane Duelist) 1
NG Medium humanoid (human)
Init +1; Senses Perception +1

AC 20 (+6 breastplate, +3 shield, +1 Dex) touch 11, flat-footed 19
hp 33 (4d10+d8+5)
Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +6; +1 vs. fear

Speed 20 ft.
Melee mwk longsword +8 (1d8+4/19-20)
Ranged mwk composite longbow +6 (1d8+2/×3)

STATISTICS

Str 15, Dex 12, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 14
Base Atk +4; CMB +6; CMD 17

Feats (7) -- Iron Will, Arcane Strike, Unarmed Strike, Enforcer, Weapon Focus (longsword), Weapon Specialization, Shield Focus, Saving Shield

[Arcane Strike is a free feat for being an Arcane Duelist. Unarmed Strike and Enforcer are because he came up through the ranks, and an NCO has to bang heads sometimes. The rest is sword'n'board fighter feats.]

Skills -- Climb +7/+2, Diplomacy +7, Heal +3, Intimidate +8, Knowledge (local) +9, Perform (Oratory) +10, Sense Motive +7, Swim +7/+2

Spells

0 -- (2/day) Know Direction, Light, Mending, Prestidigitation
1 -- Cure Light Wounds, Moment of Greatness

SQ armor training 1, Rallying Cry, Inspire Courage +1, Fascination, Countersong

I'm playing the brother's key attributes as

-- Good Guy (kind, thoughtful, wants to do the right thing)
-- Responsible (for his men, for defending the city -- not in the paladin I Have A Duty sense, more like Someone Has To Watch Out For These Guys), and
-- Stubborn (hence the Iron Will).

So I have the character... now I'm trying to figure out what to do with him. Where should I place him for maximum effect on the party?

Doug M.


Final stretch next week. I printed out a "Civilian Rescue Table" for the players. It has an entry for each civilian they're trying to rescue -- something like this:

Name Stubby the Grifter
Notes Small-time con man
Combat? No

Name Harn "Old Shatterhand"
Notes Elderly retired soldier
Combat? Heck yeah, if someone can find me a sword

Name Rorke
Notes Wealthy merchant
Combat? I have people for that

-- and so forth, leaving a little room for notes. With 20+ civilians it's not possible to add much detail, but this at least gives everyone a name, and lets me say things like "Oh dear, a direct hit on the civilians [roll roll] -- draw a line through Tinko the fisherman, and Olaf the longshoreman is down on the ground." Also, I found that making up the table quickly generated a bunch of disaster-movie subplots -- like Rorke the obnoxious rich merchant, his unpleasant barbarian bodyguard Krusk, and his beautiful "assistant" Tanya.

I also threw in that the PCs will get 1000 xp for every civilian they rescue alive. Not sure if that will be a meaningful incentive or not -- let's see.

Doug M.


I've also found that if you make each player responsible for a group of civilians, giving them the list and making them move the minis, they tend to take a lot more ownership for the NPCs' actions and defense. It would also help justify the bonus xp to particular players. Just have the NPCs go on that character's initiative and it tends to run fairly smoothly.

-Ben.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Any suggestions for modifying the hungry Legion to be related to the Dark Tapestry? Or lovecraftian in general.


Cheapy wrote:
Any suggestions for modifying the hungry Legion to be related to the Dark Tapestry? Or lovecraftian in general.

Since I'm running a Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign, I have them related to the BBEG in that one.

(Some spoilers for CotCT)

Spoiler:

IMC, Kazavon had four major fangs. The Queen got three of them, along with all the minor ones, and used them to make the Crown. The Fanglord found the fourth.

Each major fang is associated with one of the four horsemen -- Pestilence, Famine, War and Death. The Queen has already unleashed Pestilence on the city. Now the PCs are meeting famine. In "History of Ashes", I plan to play up the 'Shoanti going to war' aspect -- the idea is that the Queen is trying to start a war for her own evil reasons. And the last module, of course, will be all about Death, as the Queen plots mass murder to give herself endless life.

Then Ben wrote:

Quote:
I've also found that if you make each player responsible for a group of civilians, giving them the list and making them move the minis, they tend to take a lot more ownership for the NPCs' actions and defense.

Ha, I like this. Not sure if it will work with my party -- there are six of them, and they're fractious -- but it's a cool idea.

Doug M.


Cheapy wrote:
Any suggestions for modifying the hungry Legion to be related to the Dark Tapestry? Or lovecraftian in general.

You could make them devotees to a cult of insanity drawn from the manuscripts, On Verified Madness, and The Last Theorum with the hunger devils the strange servants from beyond, who need to sate the cold void with all of creation. That takes very little modification beyond the background.

Even better, because it means you have an established way for the characters to learn about (and possibly self-initiate) the ritual involving the Oracle's heart.

-Ben.


Okay, we just finished this. And the players absolutely loved it -- "best session ever!"

Various minor encounters led to the PCs picking up a total of almost 30 civilians by the time they reached the temple. In particular, they encountered the PC's brother bravely trying to hold off a squad of Legionnaires and a hunger devil.

Got into the temple after fighting some Legionnaires out front along with a swarm fiend I added (basically a swarm of diminutive piranha-imps).

They decided to fight the dragon, though its first attack had already killed one PC -- they retreated outside, planned, buffed, and came back in loaded for bear. The dragon went down pretty quickly but not before reducing one PC to negs and within a point of death. By this time they were out of channel energy/burst heals and running low on ki points, potions and spells.

Final stretch: I ruled that with the death of the dragon, the city began to shake itself apart, with quakes every few minutes (DC 15 Reflex or take 1d6 of damage). No big deal for the PCs but a number of civilians were knocked unconscious or hurt. They got to the teleport room and started repairing the circle. I ruled that the circle could only send 6 people at a time, and then needed d6 rounds to recharge. The last couple of minutes were a nailbiter, as the Legionnaires and their fiendish servants closed in, another quake hit -- combat, desperate spellcraft checks, dying civilians, you name it. At the very end the Fanglord showed up -- one round too late, as the PCs activated the circle for the last time and teleported out.

A great time for all. I had lots of fun doing the "disaster movie" roleplaying with the NPCs -- the obnoxious rich guy who kept trying to bribe the PCs, the teenage girl who came down with a crush on the high-Cha rogue, the devout cobbler who was endlessly cycling through prayers to every god in the pantheon, you name it. Just an excellent high concept adventure. When I bought it and read it, I had some questions and a lot of quibbles -- see my first post in this thread -- but this had my players alternately awed, cowed, and doing high-fives over the table.

thanks to all involved,

Doug M.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Doug, just a note, Rite Publishing is the publisher. Cubicle 7 is the distributor of the physical copy :)


For those who have played this adventure...let us imagine there was an additional encounter arc designed for it-- what would you want to see?

-Ben.


I can tell you what I added and how it worked out.

-- A BBEG, much too powerful for the PCs to fight, as the boss of the Legion. This worked because they once they realized they couldn't fight him, he became a great offstage presence that allowed me to put a clock on the adventure.

But this might not work out so well in a published adventure. (Certainly it would be unusual.)

-- Terrain issues. I ruled that the city was beginning to disintegrate as the distracted Oracle could no longer hold it together. So, earthquakes -- lots of little ones, and then a big one that knocked people down -- plus a crevasse that they had to somehow lift 20 civilians over. Not that hard by itself, but they were very nervous about getting an encounter just then...

I also added some ice traps around the temple: pits filled with supercold brine and concealed under a thin scrim of ice, fields of spikes, and the like. (The idea was that the defenders would use the Oracle's ice shape power to quickly throw up some defenses.) These were CR 3-5, hardly a speed bump for the party, but once again they had to work to keep the civilians from being hurt.

-- Intrigue at the embassy, including a rival group that wanted to get Mathinder for their own vile purposes. I thought this worked well.

-- The hunger devils were a nasty surprise at first, but I couldn't keep throwing them over and over. So I added a fiendish swarm: a bunch of tiny imps like flying piranhas, magically contained in bags that were carried by Legionnaire officers. These guys were only CR 6 or so but as it turned out the PCs were not prepared for a swarm at all -- no area effect spells! It took them a long time and a lot of hurt to put down one swarm, and it made them super nervous about facing another one -- when I mentioned that another Legionnaire (inside the temple) had a second bag, the players started seriously freaking out.

-- I added some Will-o-Wisps around the entrance to the temple. (I decided that they followed the Legion around feeding on the fear and death they created. Made sense, and also fit with the general "evil hunger" motif.) Not a serious threat for 8th level characters, but they didn't like these guys one bit.

I had some ideas for a couple of encounters that I never used (some Eskimo-themed tribesmen trying to escape the city, led by an evil shaman with a Tupilak), but the adventure was running long enough already.

cheers,

Doug M.


Thanks Doug for the great review! Breaking is one of the things I'm proudest to have worked on during 2011 and it's fantastic to see the 5* reviews continuing to roll in.


Finally got my review up for this, Thanks for giving me the chance to check it out.


Nie review, KTFish7!


KTFish7 wrote:
Finally got my review up for this, Thanks for giving me the chance to check it out.

Thanks for taking the time to review it, KTFish7! I am certainly very interested in the alternate access methods to the city suggested by your group. I like to think I cover the obvious methods and a few of the less obvious methods, but I *always* like to hear the crazy plans folks have for getting into the city. If you'd share them, I'd be really appreciative, because it helps me think of potential avenues in future products. (Personally, I know I'm often frustrated when designers ignore the potential of simply stoneshaping one's way into a structure.)

You also mention you would like to see "more attention paid to how the Oracle is imprisoned, and how it managed to get free." This note intrigues me. I'm sincerely curious why you would like this information, since the characters are extremely unlikely to find the imprisoned Oracle prior to their encounter. Again-- this is something I'm wondering so I can keep it in mind for future design.

Thanks again and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

-Ben.

EDIT: As a side note, the "top down illustrations" are really tokens, meant to be used for the battlemat if you lack miniatures, but also served double duty as spot art.


terraleon wrote:


Thanks for taking the time to review it, KTFish7! I am certainly very interested in the alternate access methods to the city suggested by your group. I like to think I cover the obvious methods and a few of the less obvious methods, but I *always* like to hear the crazy plans folks have for getting into the city. If you'd share them, I'd be really appreciative, because it helps me think of potential avenues in future products. (Personally, I know I'm often frustrated when designers ignore the potential of simply stoneshaping one's way into a structure.)

Luckily, I have one of those playgroups that gives GM's nightmares, lol. They have a tendency to out-think me constantly, and this was just one of those moments. I went with the fact that they were sent to rescue Mathinder, and therefor arrived knowing the city was under siege, and laid plans ahead of time. Seeking merchants who had dealt in trade with the city, they were able to glean a basic layout of the city before they even began their voyage to rescue Mathinder. Now, it is fair to say, that as a group, they scheme, and have more than once impressed me with their plans, or rather destruction of my plans, lol. Upon accessing the situation on site, all but the rogue climbed into the group's bag of holding IV (they actually all chipped in and bought it when it came up on a random roll for a market as available...lol...I knew it would come back to haunt me). After securing them, the thief simply shadow walked his way into the town and upon finding a safe location, released the group from the bag. Took him all of 6 minutes, with 4 to spare before the group was in any danger.

Quote:


You also mention you would like to see "more attention paid to how the Oracle is imprisoned, and how it managed to get free." This note intrigues me. I'm sincerely curious why you would like this information, since the characters are extremely unlikely to find the imprisoned Oracle prior to their encounter. Again-- this is something I'm wondering so I can keep it in mind for future design.

The minute I realized it wasn't clarified in the adventure I knew the group would ping me on it, and they did. I would have liked to see the information because the fact that the dragon is suddenly thrust upon the group in the middle of a combat felt, at least to us, kind of orc and pie from the players point of view. And by that I mean, this dragon has been imprisoned here long enough that the city is known for it's dragon oracle, and yet, it was able to get free with nothing even mentioned as to how? Did a siege weapon damage it's holding area (kind of a cop out since that was already done with the remorhaz), did it require twelve old guys standing around the dragon to chant a binding ritual of power to keep him there and one head a heart attack...did the dragon finally try the doorknob only to discover he has been on the honor system this whole time? Add to this the fact that the characters could find themselves in an issue of morality pertaining to this dragon, do they let him go, do they re-imprison him if they manage to help stop the siege, do they kill the dragon. Well, I for one, can't ask my players to make a moral decision without giving them everything to consider, and how the dragon was treated, captured, imprisoned speaks volumes to whether the people of this town deserve their fate, as well as whether this "evil" dragon deserves it's vengeance or freedom.

And as far as unlikely to find the oracle still trapped, imagine for an instance, the playgroup that doesn't care about the legion, at all. They are here to snatch Mathinder, but he does manage to appeal to them as far as killing the Oracle to keep the legion from getting its power. Any group with the capacity to teleport or dimension door at this point now only needs one person who knows the interior of the temple to be able to find that dragon, fast. I'm not saying it's likely, but it is possible. And a small paragraph, a few lines of text covering how and where, and all bases are covered.

Quote:


Thanks again and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

-Ben.

EDIT: As a side note, the "top down illustrations" are really tokens, meant to be used for the battlemat if you lack miniatures, but also served double duty as spot art.

I know their tokens, but everytime I typed token I kept thinking of the round pog like markers, so I settled on top down, lol. And, as I said in the review, when it comes to those, it is merely a matter of personal taste, that's all.


KTFish7 wrote:
After securing them, the thief simply shadow walked his way into the town and upon finding a safe location, released the group from the bag. Took him all of 6 minutes, with 4 to spare before the group was in any danger.

Ah, bagporting. An often overlooked method of entry and one I've used before with a hound archon and a bag full of reduced adventurers. The archon's greater teleport eliminates the need to know where you're going.

But shadow walk is a 6th level spell-- outside of the adventure's level scope. Did they use an item? Even with access, it takes hours for the effect and shunts you to a slightly (100's of feet) off point from where you exit-- how did they "find a safe location?" Or did he walk in, reenter the Prime, *then* find a safe locale and release the group? (Although that doesn't account for the 1-4 hours in the bag from the spell effect [and its accompanying asphyxiation], that could have been bypassed simply by not ever putting the group in the bag.) You've definitely got me intrigued as to how they did this. Is it a racial power, like a fetchling?

KTFish7 wrote:
I would have liked to see the information because the fact that the dragon is suddenly thrust upon the group in the middle of a combat felt, at least to us, kind of orc and pie from the players point of view. And by that I mean, this dragon has been imprisoned here long enough that the city is known for it's dragon oracle, and yet, it was able to get free with nothing even mentioned as to how? Did a siege weapon damage it's holding area (kind of a cop out since that was already done with the remorhaz), did it require twelve old guys standing around the dragon to chant a binding ritual of power to keep him there and one head a heart attack...did the dragon finally try the doorknob only to discover he has been on the honor system this whole time?

The city is just known for its oracle. Whether the true nature of the oracle is common knowledge isn't clarified. Why does it matter how it becomes free, since the characters can't alter this aspect? The nature of the Oracle's relationship with the city is left ambiguous in the sidebar on page 35 and in the paragraph on page 5. Really, unless the party was a part of the Temple's inner circle of mystagogues, I can't see how they would know how the oracle was a dragon or how it was kept.

That omission is done purposefully. The method of the dragon's imprisonment doesn't impact the adventure directly, and by *not* defining it, the GM is free to make the dragon's situation fit whatever circumstances they desire, in a way that best creates an emotional impact on the characters. One of my favorite quotes applies wonderfully here: "Ask for your limitations, and sure enough, they're yours." Why do you need limitations here?

Also, almost every encounter is "thrust upon the group" in this adventure, because they're essentially moving through a massively chaotic environment mostly blindly. Trying to dictate all of the actions which *could* happen as they nose around the city would make our heads explode. I have to design it to adjust for that with a certain amount of ambiguity.

KTFish7 wrote:
Add to this the fact that the characters could find themselves in an issue of morality pertaining to this dragon, do they let him go, do they re-imprison him if they manage to help stop the siege, do they kill the dragon. Well, I for one, can't ask my players to make a moral decision without giving them everything to consider, and how the dragon was treated, captured, imprisoned speaks volumes to whether the people of this town deserve their fate, as well as whether this "evil" dragon deserves it's vengeance or freedom.

First off. No one can stop the siege but the Hungering Legion. Not as the adventure is written. That's said right out on page 4. Forstor Nagar is doomed. Regardless of that...

People in the midst of a battlefield are asked to make decisions without all of the information *all of the time.* How can you give the characters full disclosure of the dragon's relationship and treatment if this is the first time they have entered the city, they never encounter anyone who would be familiar with those details, and those details would likely be a secret anyway?

This is also part of the design-- this is a tough decision with incomplete information *on purpose*. It's up to the characters to assess what they know based on what they've discovered and make a decision they must live with beyond Forstor Nagar. It's intentionally a hard choice.

KTFish7 wrote:
And as far as unlikely to find the oracle still trapped, imagine for an instance, the playgroup that doesn't care about the legion, at all. They are here to snatch Mathinder, but he does manage to appeal to them as far as killing the Oracle to keep the legion from getting its power. Any group with the capacity to teleport or dimension door at this point now only needs one person who knows the interior of the temple to be able to find that dragon, fast. I'm not saying it's likely, but it is possible. And a small paragraph, a few lines of text covering how and where, and all bases are covered.

Ok...barring the point that such a group wouldn't need to discuss things with Mathinder-- they have teleport, they can just leave (which is also why this was designed at 8th level. Once a group hits 9th, the considerations for the adventure change substantially. Teleport eliminates most of the tension once Mathinder's located.)-- but presuming the group has access to a teleport effect and wants to use it to get to the the dragon, the chances of finding someone familiar with the inner sanctums of the temple are completely at the whim of the GM. Not a single NPC detailed within the adventure could provide such information, it's well beyond the scope of the material. There's one who *might,* Ignacia on page 33, but she's a clerk, not a priest.

I didn't find that situation very plausible during design, either, because it meant teleporting away without all of the civilians Mathinder has insisted require rescue, too. What could they possibly have, at level 8, which would allow for the group to teleport roughly 20 individuals into an unfamiliar place with any accuracy? I can't give you one. The series of events and resources necessary to reach that potential situation are extremely unlikely and certainly beyond the scope of the story as presented. With a limited wordcount, I've got pick and choose the most applicable and probable situations and address those. Teleport fell outside of those situations and so I felt those words better used detailing something else.

It sounds like your group was not strictly 8th level, and so the adventure needed a certain amount of adjustment anyway. Am I wrong?

Regardless, thank you for the insight into the group's strategy and tactics. It helps me know if I missed something I should have not missed.

I'd also note that a lot of these discussions were had while we were in design, on the patron forums. That's a benefit of patronage projects-- that you can focus a lot of brains on the situation beforehand.

-Ben.


terraleon wrote:
said lots of stuff...

I answered you in PM Ben...didn't want to continue threadjacking here.

And my apologies, I wasn't trying to get involved in a discussion where your design decisions were being challenged, that really wasn't my intention. And trust me, I'm looking at the concept of getting involved in a few patron projects in the future, as the concept intrigues me.


KTFish7 wrote:
I answered you in PM Ben...didn't want to continue threadjacking here.

Not a threadjack and not a challenge! :D

I engaged *you* with questions, and you were kind enough to respond! :D Seriously! I tackle playtest reports with the same sort of tenacity. I want to see how we can cover the most situations for an encounter while giving the GM a good manuscript that keeps the game running with the least amount of to-the-books! reference possible.

I like discussing the design decisions, because that's how we push the envelope and try new things. You've got to question how things are done before you can breach new ground and to question how its done, you need to understand why it's done a certain way. And all of that means talking about it.

Thanks for humoring me, KTFish7. And I'll make sure the next patronage project that goes up and I'm a part of, I shoot you a PM about it.

-Ben.


Just wanted to post that I spotted a print copy of TBoFN here in Germany, at the FLGS near Eschenheimer Tor in downtown Frankfurt. A pleasant surprise! The FLGS is mostly a comic shop, with maybe two shelves of English-language Pathfinder stuff; Forstar Nagar was almost the only 3PP item there.

Cheers,

Doug M.


Thanks, that is probably the benefit of having a UK based publisher, that has warehouses in both the US and the UK.


Quick question: a year and a bit later, has this creative team done anything else since? Because I enjoyed "Breaking" enough that I'd be happy to risk a sawbuck on something else by them.

Doug M.


Well Ben and Jonathan Roberts worked together on Five Room Dungeon: the Rabbit Hole.

Jonathan Roberts has been working on Lands of Ice and Fire for George R.R. Martin

and Ben won the ENnie award for best adventure with Streets of Zobeck.

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