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Harbinger Help


Age of Worms Adventure Path


***Spoilers***

So the PCs have made it to the final room – the Harbinger of Worms. They’ve systematically killed/destroyed/avoided everything else in the Spire.

I’m having a hard time coming up with a reason why Mak’ar hasn’t ambushed them anywhere in the Spire up to this point and why he is content to sit in his room and die like the six-armed worm he is. To complicate the reality of things, many of the inhabitants had to be encountered room-to-room like a crack house bust to keep from having a TPK on my hands.

On one side of my quandary is the fact that he is brilliant, wise, and charismatic beyond my ability to even run him. The other side of the coin is that he is alien and doesn’t exactly think like a regular humanoid.

I plan to run him akin to the “Architect” of the Matrix, since they could conceivably share many traits, with the exception that all dialogue would be telepathic in nature.

“Welcome. Incontrovertibly you have found your visitation adversative. You empathize that this is the way it must be to certify that you are indeed the protagonists of the past (DM Note: an allusion to the dream/prophecy event from issue #132) and the catalyst to the coming Age of Redemption (DM Note: Mak’ar does not call it an Age of Worms). The precondition has been met; you, like I, are forever bound to the trials that will come to pass, ushering in a new order to things. I have no inclination to do battle with you: there is little to gain from annihilating my liberator. But then, if I am able to kill you, then how could you be the trigger? (DM Note: this reeks of Cypher from the Matrix movie, but oh well…) You cannot feign to even comprehend the depth of this dilemma. Such knowledge would leave you in a catatonic state utterly.”

I anticipate the PCs attacking, if for any other reason, XP. He of course will try to win the battle.

Does anyone else have a better solution to why this guy hangs out in his room to possibly be destroyed by upstart PCs?


I’ve Got Reach wrote:

***Spoilers***

So the PCs have made it to the final room – the Harbinger of Worms. They’ve systematically killed/destroyed/avoided everything else in the Spire.

I’m having a hard time coming up with a reason why Mak’ar hasn’t ambushed them anywhere in the Spire up to this point and why he is content to sit in his room and die like the six-armed worm he is. To complicate the reality of things, many of the inhabitants had to be encountered room-to-room like a crack house bust to keep from having a TPK on my hands.

On one side of my quandary is the fact that he is brilliant, wise, and charismatic beyond my ability to even run him. The other side of the coin is that he is alien and doesn’t exactly think like a regular humanoid.

I plan to run him akin to the “Architect” of the Matrix, since they could conceivably share many traits, with the exception that all dialogue would be telepathic in nature.

“Welcome. Incontrovertibly you have found your visitation adversative. You empathize that this is the way it must be to certify that you are indeed the protagonists of the past (DM Note: an allusion to the dream/prophecy event from issue #132) and the catalyst to the coming Age of Redemption (DM Note: Mak’ar does not call it an Age of Worms). The precondition has been met; you, like I, are forever bound to the trials that will come to pass, ushering in a new order to things. I have no inclination to do battle with you: there is little to gain from annihilating my liberator. But then, if I am able to kill you, then how could you be the trigger? (DM Note: this reeks of Cypher from the Matrix movie, but oh well…) You cannot feign to even comprehend the depth of this dilemma. Such knowledge would leave you in a catatonic state utterly.”

I anticipate the PCs attacking, if for any other reason, XP. He of course will try to win the battle.

Does anyone else have a better solution to why this guy hangs out in his room to possibly be destroyed by upstart PCs?

Just be careful with doing the whole Architect deal, that was the weakest part of that movie and if you have PC's who feel that way about the movie, they may feel that way about the climax.


Ultimately that's one of the fundamental flaws inherent in the dungeon crawl. Why don't the monsters all try to gang tackle the PCs at the same time? True the denizens of the Spire can't leave on their own, but I would imagine that a newcomer that enters every century or so would definitely bring everyone to the front door.


Dillard - what you mention is exactly my quandry. Thankfully Dungeon Magazine (and by extension D&D in general) is getting away from this fallacy as time passes.

JJ4M - well, if the players hated the Architect scene, maybe it will translate to some sort of anti-wochowski (spelling butchered with no attempt to save it) blood bath...

As always, thanks for the input; its game time in a few hours.


If it helps, I played the Spellweaver as incredibly arrogant. He just didn't believe that the PCs represented a credible threat to his existence. Besides, if they had the temerity to attack him not only does he have his own arcane prowess to protect him, but three Kyuss Knights next door, not to mention a Gargantuan Kyuss Worm outside his door.

Besides, these creatures have been imprisoned for so long one could rationalize that their psyches collapsed. In other words they spend their time imagining their "fantasy" worlds. Not too dissimilar to what happens when people are placed in solitary confinement for extended periods of time.

Cheliax Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

I like the way you've got it set up - I'm probably going to have to borrow your idea when I run that adventure.

The only thing I might add is a temptation to the dark side. He might believe that he can convince the PCs to join him. The prophecy does indicate that the PCs will be key in beginning the Age of Worms (by, among other things, reuniting Balakarde), so he might think that they are (or will become) the ultimate tools of Kyuss. He might even tell them that they are the agents of Kyuss and serve his will even if they think they are being heroic.

Anyway, very cool stuff.


Don't forget to hit them with the 6 magic missile spells or three scorching rays.


Note on the Harbinger's stats: I believe there's a typo in his Concentration skill (or I was very bleary-eyed and overworked when we ran the encounter). My mag put it at +9; hardly befitting his prowess as an arcane caster. The wiz in our group lobbed quite a powerful Gust of Wind in his direction, he failed the save (badly) and was blown all over the room. This came after one or two rounds of debuffs by the players, and then all they had to do was blast him from a distance while the poor Architect (I called him that too) tumbled around in a hurricane, unable to make the 30+ Concentration DC to cast a spell. You'll likely want to either re-calculate it, or just hand him a +20 or somesuch.


In conclusion, the PCs made quick work of Mak'ar. Surprisingly, the cleric, wizard and rouge failed their Will Saves for Fear or Repulsion, but both Uber-Fighters made them. That was all she wrote for the Harbinger.

I had already pumped his stats up a little bit, but he couldn't recover from the tremendous raw damage the two fighters dealt on a round to round basis.


you didn't have him teleport away to heal and re-buff?


In a word: no.

The architect of the Age of Worms accepts his fate as it was told to him. If he has to perish to usher in the Age of Worms, then his act in Martyr-dom will not go unseen by the illustrious Kyuss.

Besides, I was a little dispondant when I saw how effective of a battle machine each of the two fighters were.

We'll see how good they are at Diplomacy in the Prince of Red Hand! Bwa-hahaha!!! I will have revenge!!!!


Not with those fighter's Fortitude saves, if you're planning on taking them down at the dinner. Of course, those rolls could be made behind the screen, and one of the fighters "might" roll a tad too low... and wake up without a few vital organs.


I'm banking on their arrogance as their downfall. They can't resist bravado and general displays of intimidation.

The Blessed Angels (whom will also be pumped up a bit) should prove more than a match for these PCs. On a related note, I'm trying to concoct a manner for which the Watchmen can call for Blessed Angels when they get "static" from adventuring types whom they know they have no chance against....any ideas (perhaps a necklace of communication, etc)?


how about a horn? maybe a magic one?

Cheliax

I'd tie the alarm-item into the artifact that controls the Angels--Baalphegor's Grace, found on p. 71 of Dungeon #135. As it's a chalice, perhaps they do something creepy, such as wound themselves and drip the resulting blood into small chalices they carry with them. Could be some nice foreshadowing!

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