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Spires of Xin-Shalast (GM Reference)


Rise of the Runelords

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Cheliax

We've played 1/2 of this now. party of 5 14th level characters, played today with 4.

I've cut the 2nd Vekker brother from the game entirely because I thought it would only waste time.
Instead, I had the Wendigo's blizzard reach it's climax after the PC's had opened most doors on the upper level. In the meantime, I had the Wendigo telepathically communicate to the sorcerer 'stop messing with my masterpiece'
Then I started the Cannibal Urges haunt that lasts several rounds. During the 4th round, when all goes quiet, I had the wendigo howl. At this point, the players, 4 grown men, were more spooked than they'll ever admit.
I put the Wendigo at the top of the stairs and they fought him vigorously. at one point, the raging barbarian rolled a natural 20 on his grapple roll after the Wendigo had grabbed him, and because we like to add something spectacular on a 20, the barbarian lifted the Wendigo up 5 feet and stuck his antlers into the wooden ceiling for 1 round. a few rounds later they burned the Wendigo to bits, and I read the "thank you" section that Silas Vekkar would normally speak.

This made for a very memorable event and it cut the dull fetch-my-brother quest from the game. I highly recommend this change to anyone playing this AP - the players even requested I suggest my changes for the new hardcover, and as such I hope this post is not yet too late :)

Cheliax

My players decided to "Occupy Xin-Shalast".
I lol'ed.


Something that I just noticed confused me in Karzoug's stats today, and I was hoping for clarification (Anniversary Edition):

According to Karzoug's stat block, he's got +3 Int, Wis, and Cha for being beyond his venerable age, but that seems to contradict the aging rules. Based on the core rules:

Age wrote:

Middle-age results in a -1 to all the physical ability scores and a +1 to all mental ability scores.

Old age results in a -2 to all the physical ability scores and a +1 to all mental ability scores.

Venerable age results in a -3 to all the physical ability scores and a +1 to all mental ability scores.

So should Karzoug's Int, Wis, and Cha each be 2 points lower? Is there an errata to aging rules I've missed? Is Karzoug just outright ignoring rules that don't benefit him because he's the main villain? Someone help me out here.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Gluttony wrote:

Something that I just noticed confused me in Karzoug's stats today, and I was hoping for clarification (Anniversary Edition):

According to Karzoug's stat block, he's got +3 Int, Wis, and Cha for being beyond his venerable age, but that seems to contradict the aging rules. Based on the core rules:

Age wrote:

Middle-age results in a -1 to all the physical ability scores and a +1 to all mental ability scores.

Old age results in a -2 to all the physical ability scores and a +1 to all mental ability scores.

Venerable age results in a -3 to all the physical ability scores and a +1 to all mental ability scores.

So should Karzoug's Int, Wis, and Cha each be 2 points lower? Is there an errata to aging rules I've missed? Is Karzoug just outright ignoring rules that don't benefit him because he's the main villain? Someone help me out here.

The penalties/bonuses for aging categories are cumulative. Hopefully you didn't make STR, DEX, or CON your dump stat. ;-)


HangarFlying wrote:
Gluttony wrote:

Something that I just noticed confused me in Karzoug's stats today, and I was hoping for clarification (Anniversary Edition):

According to Karzoug's stat block, he's got +3 Int, Wis, and Cha for being beyond his venerable age, but that seems to contradict the aging rules. Based on the core rules:

Age wrote:

Middle-age results in a -1 to all the physical ability scores and a +1 to all mental ability scores.

Old age results in a -2 to all the physical ability scores and a +1 to all mental ability scores.

Venerable age results in a -3 to all the physical ability scores and a +1 to all mental ability scores.

So should Karzoug's Int, Wis, and Cha each be 2 points lower? Is there an errata to aging rules I've missed? Is Karzoug just outright ignoring rules that don't benefit him because he's the main villain? Someone help me out here.
The penalties/bonuses for aging categories are cumulative. Hopefully you didn't make STR, DEX, or CON your dump stat. ;-)

According to the core rulebook only the penalties are cumulative. The bonuses hit +1 at middle-age and never advance further from there (CRB page 169, right beneath table 7-2, the bonuses stay at +1 while the penalties increase).

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Gluttony wrote:

According to the core rulebook only the penalties are cumulative. The bonuses hit +1 at middle-age and never advance further from there (CRB page 169, right beneath table 7-2, the bonuses stay at +1 while the penalties increase).

Page 168 of the CRB states:

Quote:
With age, a character's physical ability scores decrease and his mental ability scores increase... The effects of each aging step are cumulative.

So at venerable age, your physical stas have a -6 penalty and your mental stats have a +3 bonus. In Karzoug's case, because he is special, only the mental bonuses apply.


Oh, so I've been misunderstanding the physical stats as well then.

Damn. That Str penalty could end up dropping casters into the range of "can't stand under the weight of their own body" by venerable age.


Would anybody with the anniversary hardcover edition be willing to post the stats for Chellan from page 421?


Steg wrote:
Would anybody with the anniversary hardcover edition be willing to post the stats for Chellan from page 421?

James Jacobs hooked me up here.

(James is awesome)


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

bump since stickies aren't working


Does anyone know how the reality-warping effects of Leng play out exactly with respect to the saving throws mentioned on page 317? Does every PC passing the save allow them to bypass the hunger and full moon requirements, and simply see XS (they don't see a phantom river, but they cross mountain tops and eventually just see the place, is how I'm envisioning it, if that is the case)? what happens if some PCs pass the save it others fail it, do some end up in XS and the others end up on the other side? With the effect being subtle and gradual, would they not notice that they were split up until they've (either group) already crossed the area?

Edit: thinking about it some more, I think I've come to the realization that they need to be hungry, wait for a full moon, and pass the Will save when entering the area, the area of being the "XS environs" (not particularly in that order), in order to get to XS. But what about the splitting up thing?


Does the occlusion field prevent teleportation within the area affected by it, or only when the teleportation crosses the boundary?


Asked this in the "Ask James Jacobs" thread, and this was his response:
(link)

James Jacobs wrote:

1) The Will saves talked about on page 317 must be made whenever a character enters the Xin-Shalast environs, yes.

2) If every PC passes the Will save, then they get to ignore the requirements associated with the Avah River.

3) They will indeed get separated. The PCs who passed the saves will need to backtrack out of the region to "re-sync" with the reality that the save failures are still in.

4) If the PCs take this route, and the caster level check is accurate, they can appear within the Xin-Shalast environs zone and thus bypass the Will save, but where they end up is entirely up to the GM, since until the PCs visit the place, they can't pinpoint it to teleport to it.

2b/4b) The CL check does both. You cast teleport, then make the CL check. If you succeed, you know something was trying to mess with your teleporting but you powered through it. If you fail, you know the same thing and when you arrive, you know because you're not where you were trying to go to. Following the phantom river is the best option for groups who lack the powerful "rules breaking" options of certain high-level spells or the like, but if the party has the resources to use those options, they should absolutely be able to enter Xin-Shalast.

The point of this whole thing is to explain why very few people have found Xin-Shalast over the past 10,000 years, and to make the PCs feel like they're high-level bad-asses when they DO find Xin-Shalast.

Grand Lodge

I asked this in the Rise of the Runelords thread, and didn't get an answer, and wondered if this might have been a better place for it.

I noticed that Karzoug's champion, Viorian no longer had a permanent enlarge person on her. My feeling is that it might have removed so that the PCs could make use of her magic items, since this was the last leg, and selling loot was not an option.

Just looking for insight into the change. Thanks!


Ultradan wrote:
Russell Akred wrote:

I wanted to have some handout material for the directions to Xin-Shalast. So far I have this, a page telling about the dwarves discovery of the city.

Vekker's Notes page 3

I'm not sure if I'll do the other pages.

Just took a look at your work...

WOW! MORE!!!

lol

Did you happen do do more of this?

Ultradan

also just looked at this and agree it is amazing, and helps with a dilema i have been having, some of the encounters with the rune giants look a tad brutal, especially the room with 6 of them and the room with 2 plus the champion, this subtle note about looking for giant killing dwarves might tip off my party to go and grab some giant bane weapons.


If the rules on altitude sickness etc were used in your game, I'm interested to know how characters specifically dealt with the problem? Did they use spells and items they already had, or did they research new spells or make bespoke items?


@Ghaleonausa:

There are only 3 giants in the pinnacle of avarice. Those with the champion are advanced storm giants, and most of the other wardens are advanced cloud giants.

@Grimbold:

Since one of the players was using Shalelu, she made some checks to know what to expect from high altitude. Since they were dealing a lot with the dwarves in Janderhoff, I informed them that elixirs of the peaks were commonly used to those explorers who can afford them. I honestly didn't researched much about other items. The original Pathfinder issue (#6) had a paragraph or two about some useful items in the altitude dangers section.

The ioun stone that allows to exist without oxigen, and necklaces of adaptation are other good options.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber

More of an "advice" question than anything else: What have other GMs done about the "fourth ring" problem?

My group is an extremely-cautious, stealth-oriented bunch. They've taken out the Hidden Beast and Ghlorofaex for two rings and figured out that they need two more rings.

I'm still waiting for Gamigin to have a good chance to attack them so they get the third ring, but then I'm in for a HUGE amount of sitting around suffering as my PCs explore every single building in Lower Xin Shalast, convinced that there's a fourth ring in there somewhere. (They're even talking about thoroughly exploring Shahlaria and checking all the giant commanders for rings.)

Have any other GMs had this issue? I'm going to have the PCs in every single building that says, "Exploring this building is beyond the scope of this module," which is a wee bit frustrating, to say the least, since it means massive amounts of ad lib workup on my part to get all those buildings ready.

And yes, I did out-and-out say, "The magic on the Sihedron Ring seems almost identical to the magic on the Sihedron medallion," but they didn't get the clue.

Eventually, after massive exploration, they're going to end up setting up camp at the base of the path and ambushing anyone who comes down. Any suggestions as to who should come down?

Thanks!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber

Well, everything worked out for the best, in a wonderful, in-story way:

- Gamigin finally got a good chance to attack the party from surprise, and opened by tormenting them, "Greetings, heroes! I will be your tormentor over the next few days!" (I figured it would be fun to have him be a recurring, sniping pain in their side, and thought I might be able to kill or disable one of them before he had to go.)

- Cue the paladin critting him on her first shot with a composite longbow while Smiting Evil (half his hit points in one shot) and the barbarian joining in to drop him to 9 hit points before he got to do ANYTHING. AND the pesky sorcerer successfully hit him with Greater Dispel Magic just to add insult to injury.

- So rather than having him run away forever, I had him teleport away while his bone demons ambushed the sorcerer from surprise and a scarlet walker tried to insanify the barbarian.

- The party depleted most of their resources, but fought everyone off.

- Two hours later, Gamigin returned, riding on the shoulder of a rune giant.

It was two pathetic saves by the rune giant (rolled a 5 vs. the bard's Grease to drop his weapon and then a 1 vs. the sorcerer's Ki Shout and spent a round stunned) to keep it from being an epic battle, but now they have their four rings, and they're sitting on top of the world...
for the moment...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber

One more question: The Pinnacle of Avarice describes in detail how every creature reacts to the "alarm being raised", but never once mentions HOW the alarm gets raised. The proportions of the building are enormous. The walls are reinforced masonry at least "a few feet thick". Sound is NOT going to carry in that building, so my critters aren't going to be making those PER checks to hear the combat.

So once the party reveals themselves to Karzoug in X2, I thought he could start alerting any creatures near one of his 'thin' spots, but the only one near any creature is the one in the Rune Giant cells. That gives me ONE rune giant to respond to the alarm, and he'd die fast.

Did other people just ignore the mechanics of the building and have everyone hear the initial fight? I'd just like to have some mechanism whereby all my critters get notified, as my party is extremely stealth-based, so just saying, "Oh, everyone magically knows you're coming," is not going to go over well with them.


Is the runelord of greed a mythic for? His stats say wizard 16 ARCHMAGE 4 yet the only archmage I know of (without access to my core books) is the mythic one yet he has no mythic abilities.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Spires of Xin-Shalast was written for 3.5 before the Pathfinder days. There is an Archmage Prestige Class in 3.5 and that's what you see in the stat block. It is not related to Mythic Adventures that was released much later.

In the anniversary edition of Rise of the Runelord, rewritten for Pathfinder, Karzoug is a pure transmuter 20 with the Thassilonian specialist archetype because most of the archmage 3.5 prestige class abilities were folded in the wizard base class.


Olwen wrote:

Spires of Xin-Shalast was written for 3.5 before the Pathfinder days. There is an Archmage Prestige Class in 3.5 and that's what you see in the stat block. It is not related to Mythic Adventures that was released much later.

In the anniversary edition of Rise of the Runelord, rewritten for Pathfinder, Karzoug is a pure transmuter 20 with the Thassilonian specialist archetype because most of the archmage 3.5 prestige class abilities were folded in the wizard base class.

I see thankyou, might be interesting to make a mythic version with a few tiers and the longevity path feature.


NobodysHome wrote:

One more question: The Pinnacle of Avarice describes in detail how every creature reacts to the "alarm being raised", but never once mentions HOW the alarm gets raised. The proportions of the building are enormous. The walls are reinforced masonry at least "a few feet thick". Sound is NOT going to carry in that building, so my critters aren't going to be making those PER checks to hear the combat.

So once the party reveals themselves to Karzoug in X2, I thought he could start alerting any creatures near one of his 'thin' spots, but the only one near any creature is the one in the Rune Giant cells. That gives me ONE rune giant to respond to the alarm, and he'd die fast.

Did other people just ignore the mechanics of the building and have everyone hear the initial fight? I'd just like to have some mechanism whereby all my critters get notified, as my party is extremely stealth-based, so just saying, "Oh, everyone magically knows you're coming," is not going to go over well with them.

It's not that far-fetched, as one of the earliest posts noted.

Kharzoug is linked to his apprentice and the Rune Giants are linked via Dominate to their thralls. "Alarm raised" could be shouting Cloud Giants, which seems very bellowing to me, even with -20 through the doors (not walls at all) they still have good Per and will probably hear it.
If they want to go Stealth mode at this level, they have to earn it with more than quick kills. They'll need Silence, perhaps illusions of false noises, or walls. Heck, the Cloud Giants have scent, so it's going to hard to really sneak up on them anyway before they get out a bellow (or via Dominate link).
Cheers.


Okay, the rings/medallions allow PCs to ignore the Occluding Field, but doesn't the TP/Divination wards on the city still effect them, or no?
Or are those only for entering/leaving, not internal?

Do the rings allow divinations too?
Thanks for any help.
Cheers.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber
Castilliano wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:

One more question: The Pinnacle of Avarice describes in detail how every creature reacts to the "alarm being raised", but never once mentions HOW the alarm gets raised. The proportions of the building are enormous. The walls are reinforced masonry at least "a few feet thick". Sound is NOT going to carry in that building, so my critters aren't going to be making those PER checks to hear the combat.

So once the party reveals themselves to Karzoug in X2, I thought he could start alerting any creatures near one of his 'thin' spots, but the only one near any creature is the one in the Rune Giant cells. That gives me ONE rune giant to respond to the alarm, and he'd die fast.

Did other people just ignore the mechanics of the building and have everyone hear the initial fight? I'd just like to have some mechanism whereby all my critters get notified, as my party is extremely stealth-based, so just saying, "Oh, everyone magically knows you're coming," is not going to go over well with them.

It's not that far-fetched, as one of the earliest posts noted.

Kharzoug is linked to his apprentice and the Rune Giants are linked via Dominate to their thralls. "Alarm raised" could be shouting Cloud Giants, which seems very bellowing to me, even with -20 through the doors (not walls at all) they still have good Per and will probably hear it.
If they want to go Stealth mode at this level, they have to earn it with more than quick kills. They'll need Silence, perhaps illusions of false noises, or walls. Heck, the Cloud Giants have scent, so it's going to hard to really sneak up on them anyway before they get out a bellow (or via Dominate link).
Cheers.

Do you have a link to the "earliest posts"? Just re-read the whole thread and saw nothing about the alarms.

It's pretty much a moot point -- they came in through Mokmurian's tunnel, freed Ayruzi, ambushed and obliterated Khalib, and wandered right into the lamia barracks so they're in the prescribed "long-running fight" (lamias are down, cloud giants, storm giants, and Viorian are all on their way), so it's working out as-written.

I still wonder about coming in the 'front door', though -- the cloud giants would notify the rune giants, who would notify the storm giants, but what about Khalib and the lamias?

Ah, well, as I said, it's all working out, and I get to run an 8-hour battle today...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber
Castilliano wrote:

Okay, the rings/medallions allow PCs to ignore the Occluding Field, but doesn't the TP/Divination wards on the city still effect them, or no?

Or are those only for entering/leaving, not internal?

Do the rings allow divinations too?
Thanks for any help.
Cheers.

My take ended up being TOO beneficial to the PCs, so take this with a grain of salt:

- The first paragraph says that the Occluding Field renders the entire area impenetrable to divination or scrying or any sort. I felt that the original creators of the rings would not feel a reason this should be bypassed, so I allowed the field to continue to prevent scrying. This was a "mistake", as once my group got into the Pinnacle they had to be found by "regular" means. Khalib suffered a horrible, ignominious death as a result of this decision.

- The second paragraph goes on to describe the "powerful effect" that those not wearing rings suffer. I let the rings end those effects.

- The teleportation CL check seems to be more because of the region's proximity to Leng than the Occluding Field, so I left it in. Notice that in the AE, it's only there for teleporting into the region from outside, or out of the region from inside, so it only affects the PCs anyway; the Bad Guys are just going to be popping around Xin-Shalast proper.

So that was my take on the whole thing. Completely my interpretation; I agree it would be nice to have it clarified.


I don't remember where the comments were, but it was on this post.
The Champion is linked to Big Boss.
The giants are linked.
Ceoptra has Sending.
I think Khalib's summons can get something with Sending too.
So it's not a perfect system, but there are several who can connect.

-I think I'd go with the 1st part because it matches the city, but I'll review that to make sure it's internal as well as re: Xin-Shalast itself. I'll just use Greater Planar Binding to send something to scout for them if need be. (Though I doubt they'll go stealthy, probably just run if needed.) The Lamias, if alive, have lots of healing, especially mama, and an angel could be brought in for more.
Odds are this effect is to prevent "Scry & Die" tactics, so anti-Divination is almost a given at this power level.

-Definitely the negative effects have to end. Just traveling up the spire is going to hurt. A lot.

-I agree on the TP effects and the source, and that's a city-wide issue, but the Champion & the Apprentice both have such abilities...
I do wish there was clarification.

Thanks & Cheers


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber

Final note: See whether you can steer them towards the main entrance.

My group entered Mokmurian's tunnel and set off the alarm at the lamia's quarters. 5 rounds later, the lamias were obliterated and the giants and Viorian were forced to come single-file down the hall. (Well, the giants were. According to the map, the halls are only 20' wide.)

Sure, it was a 20-round fight and the players used up almost all of their resources, but they purged over 1/2 the population of the Pinnacle in one fight. On the bright side, it's a VERY RP-heavy group, we had a 4+ hour "nothing but combat" session, and all of them said it was really fun, and really grinding.

I would have loved to have the giants back off and wait, but I didn't see Karzoug allowing the giants to retreat and hole up in Viorian's room considering the first time they tried the PCs just went in the other direction, threatening the Leng Device. I figured since the Leng Device is crucial to his invasion plans and the giants are nothing more than 'shock troops' anyway, Karzoug would just wear down the PCs with sheer numbers. Another 10-15 giants might have done the trick...

EDIT: I mean, I have to admit, I'm loving my non-optimized party's ingenuity: When they recognized the bottleneck for the giants they dropped a diagonal Blade Barrier in the hall and then Deeper Darkness on that. Anyone want to wander blindly down a hall full of whirling blades? No? I ended up bringing Ceoptra in to dispel all that nonsense, and she nearly got the sorcerer (his save vs. the Destruction was a 26, so 3 less on the dice and he would have been non-existent), but once they knew she was there and targeted her she fled back to her room to heal up and prepare. So it's a very clever group playing good tactics, but as a GM I was very frustrated that I could only send the giants in one at a time, yet I saw Karzoug as feeling his giants were more expendable than his Leng Device. He got his wish...

And let's be blunt: That hallway is pretty much a "Here's your reward for not just kicking in the front door," moment.


Yeah, it's a bad place for them. I feared that right off the bat, but my party has no rings so will be racing. There's also a loophole with the angel, she can't talk even out of combat ("guard silently"), but she can start communicating before she's triggered, even pointing downward to the other entrance, but even better she can use her SLAs to help the party! If they don't enter, that is.
Heck, they could hand her a pen and paper.
Or a Silent Metamagic Rod. :)
Thanks for your input.
Cheers.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber

No rings? OW! At least your party's got a time limit!

No; my party is All About The Paladin (TM).

So when Ayruzi attacked, the paladin stood there, full defense, and refused to fight back until they figured out a way to free her. A few Spellcraft and Knowledge:Arcana rolls by the bard and the sorcerer later, and the sorcerer was hitting her with a touch attack (Plane Shift) while the paladin took the damage from the AoO using Paladin's Sacrifice. She took two crits from the greatsword and just stood there, taking it!

It was, in my opinion, the single-most-epic moment of the entire campaign. The sorcerer had to hit with the touch attack. He had to get past her SR. He got her to the Celestial Plane. He brought her back to the Material Plane, teleported her to the fens, and had her fly him back to Xin-Shalast.

THEN they started planning how to take out Khalib and all the rune giants *without* killing any of the other giants.

It's VERY satisfying running this group, but in sessions like last night's, where it was just disposable shock troops trying to breach the PC's defensive stand, as a GM I just felt bad for the bad guys.

Final toll: 5 dead cloud giants (4 killed by the rune giant trying to spam the PCs with his 20d6 spark spray), 1 dead Vioris (triple-crit by the paladin), 1 dead rune giant (the paladin Did Not Approve of his tactics), 1 freed cloud giant, and 3 freed storm giants. Oh, and every single lamia in the entire Pinnacle is dead save Ceoptra.

It'll be interesting seeing how the PCs deal with the dug-in defenses in the remaining "critical areas" of the Pinnacle.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber

We are approaching the final battle, and I'm having two fundamental issues with Karzoug's as-written tactics:

(1) He is supposed to cast CloudKill, Force Wall, and Prismatic Wall on his first round (or two if he rolls poorly on his Time Stop). So I can see him dropping CloudKill on the party, putting a force wall around it so they're trapped inside of it, and then putting a Prismatic Wall around that to prevent them from teleporting out. Beautiful tactics. But that Prismatic Wall is going to sit there for a LOOOONG time. In fact, I see my party as having to wait the whole thing out. Force walls prevent spells from passing through, and prismatic walls are opaque, so it seems like this tactic will result in everyone standing around for 3 hours waiting for the Prismatic Wall to disperse. How has that worked for other groups? Seems like a very anticlimactic, "Let's sit around and wait for a while and see if they end up dead," approach.

(2) More of an 'advice/world view' question: The party's been using Life Bubble to avoid the altitude effects. (Yes, the sorcerer burns four fifth-level spells every single morning.) Karzoug has permanent Arcane Sight, but not Greater Arcane Sight. Would he know about the life bubbles and therefore change his tactics (no wasting time with a CloudKill that won't work, for example), or does he just know that they're all buffed with some kind of abjuration spell that's just stacked with all the other daily buffs they put on themselves?

I tend to play BBEGs as, "Knowing what they could know, and not knowing what they couldn't," so I don't think he's going to know they're life bubbles, but that would render the first 3 hours of the fight pretty darned boring.

Advice/opinions/errors in my reasoning?

EDIT: And using Wall of Force to seal in the melee characters doesn't seem like it would be all that effective, either, as Bard's Escape can be cast at range, and the text of Wall of Force explicitly excludes teleport-like spells. Or would people argue that the bard would first have to go inside the wall, then teleport the melee characters out?

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A Knowledge (arcana) DC 20+SL will let a character know about spell effects currently in place. With the arcane sight active, that should make knowing about the life bubble trivial. Heck, he might already know about it from his images. Failing that, he should be able to figure that out during his time stop rounds and plan accordingly.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber
Misroi wrote:
A Knowledge (arcana) DC 20+SL will let a character know about spell effects currently in place. With the arcane sight active, that should make knowing about the life bubble trivial. Heck, he might already know about it from his images. Failing that, he should be able to figure that out during his time stop rounds and plan accordingly.

That's where my disagreement comes in: Detect Magic reads:

If the items or creatures bearing the auras are in line of sight, you can make Knowledge (arcana) skill checks to determine the school of magic involved in each.
Notice that it's the SCHOOL, not the spell. Spellcraft lets you identify spells as they are being cast, but Detect Magic is just the school.

It gets worse, because Arcane Sight has similar language:
If the items or creatures bearing the auras are in line of sight, you can make Spellcraft skill checks to determine the school of magic involved in each.

Again, "School of magic".

Then Greater Arcane Sight tells you you get the spell:
This spell functions like arcane sight, except that you automatically know which spells or magical effects are active upon any individual or object you see.

So I'm standing by, "He knows the school, not the spell," unless someone gives me rules that state otherwise. (Sorry, Misroi -- I agree with you 95% of the time, but this time I'm not seeing it in the rules.)

EDIT: It's not a huge deal; all I'd have to do is swap out his prepared CloudKill with something that would work, but in all my preparation for the battle I don't see him knowing about the Life Bubbles, and it would be nice to justify him knowing about them...

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It is a weird gray area - the Knowledge (arcana) skill specifically mentions reading auras with detect magic at 15+SL, and then follows it with identifying spell effects in place at 20+SL. You'd think that if detect magic or any of the spells that follow it would allow you to know the spell's aura if you beat the DC by 5 or more. Unfortunately, they don't have this verbiage, and don't give an example of what the spell effects clause relates to. We can make some reasonable assumptions: that curtain of flame that's burning without a source? Wall of fire.. The scintillating dome of colors around us all of a sudden? Prismatic sphere. The guy in full plate who we met yesterday that's now twice his size? Enlarge person. But what about less obvious spells (life bubble, to pick a spell at random)? Can Knowledge (arcana) identify those? The game is silent.

I will say this - the final battle of the campaign's probably not the time to change the answer to that question. If you've been running it as detect magic only can read an aura, then allowing Karzoug to do so feels like a cheat.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber

You make a spectacular point that I hadn't been thinking about up until now: The PCs have been using Detect Magic on fallen foes to detect charms and compulsions; far more specific than just, "They have something from the school of Enchantment on them."

So Cloudkill is still useful in terms of obscuring their vision, but I'm sure Karzoug can find a better 5th-level spell. Considering how poorly my casters have fared, I think I'm going to put in Wreath of Blades so I can't possibly blow my Concentration checks.

I'll ponder it. Thanks for the input, as always!


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I think you could also easily justify Karzoug doing a Sherlock-esque moment with the spell.
"I noticed that the party had an abjuration spell in place. In my observations of them, the party seemed not to be winded, despite the altitude, which could be explained by an adaptation to high altitudes, but given the demographic makeup of the party, this seemed unlikely. Far more likely was that the spell was assisting them. Given the length of time between castings, and the fact that the caster is clearly not a wizard, but a cleric, this led me to believe that it must be "Life Bubble". Therefore, my tactics would need to be adjusted."

Or you could just say that one of the times, he was scrying on them when the spell was cast, allowing a Spellcraft check.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber

So... while we're at it, any suggestions on what he's doing with his Wall of Force and Prismatic Walls? Seems like cutting off the party from each other seems like his best bet, rather than cutting the entire party off from him, but I'll have to re-check the chamber to see whether there's any good 'flat, vertical' place for such a wall...


NobodysHome wrote:

So... while we're at it, any suggestions on what he's doing with his Wall of Force and Prismatic Walls? Seems like cutting off the party from each other seems like his best bet, rather than cutting the entire party off from him, but I'll have to re-check the chamber to see whether there's any good 'flat, vertical' place for such a wall...

It sounds like he's hoping that they'll remain trapped in the Cloudkill AoE, knowing they can't escape physically or through magic, draining their CON so that they're softened up once the battle actually begins. And since Cloudkill creates a roiling, rolling cloud, not a stationary one, it also keeps the cloud from moving away from his intended targets.

Of course, if you determine that he knows the party won't be affected by Cloudkill due to Life bubble, then there are probably better tactics he can use besides Wall of Force and Prismatic Wall, too.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber

Exactly. I'm just worried because there's an incredibly delicate balance here between "Easy TPK" and "Easy Karzoug annihilation" and I'm trying to thread that needle.

At the moment I'm thinking he knows about the Life Bubbles, so I'm going to swap out CloudKill for Wreath of Blades because I'm infamous for blowing "impossible to miss" Concentration checks, then slicing the party in half with the walls so he only has to deal with 2 at a time. Trouble is, I'm likely to kill the party that way.

Well, they're an ingenious bunch; I'll try it and see how they respond...


I just realized something as I was re-reading my notes: One of the main introductions to Thassilonian magic is the Sihedron rune, including the seven schools of magic, as it's noted that the ancients didn't hold divination in high esteem. The question that I have, then, is would Karzoug think to scry on the party? He's highly intelligent, and I'm certain he's not above using tactics that would otherwise be out of fashion in Thassilon, but would he even have it in his spellbook?

There's nothing saying that he's prohibited from using divination, and perhaps he would just look at it as something no one would deign to specialize in, but it could still be useful. But I'm wondering if anyone else had thought of that.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber

Considering both the rings and medallion specifically say that Karzoug can use them to scry the party, I think the answer is a definite, "Yes."

I allowed Karzoug to scry them from the moment they got the rings (they kept all the medallions in a Bag of Holding, making scrying less-than-interesting) to the moment they entered the Occluding Field (blocks all forms of scrying with no exceptions listed, so I ruled it even blocked Karzoug).

So he knows all about them, he knows their tactics, and he knows they have Ayruzi with them, so he's setting aside a quick Banishment to get rid of her, but it explains why he needs the Time Stop spells at the beginning of the combat to buff himself: He's still not quite sure exactly when they'll arrive.

In short, the magic items specify that he can use them to scry, so you have to conclude that he does scry. His tactics indicate he's not quite sure when the party will arrive, reinforcing my opinion that once they're in the Pinnacle, he's just stuck waiting for them to arrive on his doorstep...

Taldor RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32

It's worth noting that the Robes of Xin Shalast allow Karzoug to ignore the effects of the Occluding Field, so his scrying should work just fine.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber
James Martin wrote:
It's worth noting that the Robes of Xin Shalast allow Karzoug to ignore the effects of the Occluding Field, so his scrying should work just fine.

Thank you!

Yeah, I'm having remarkable difficulty as a GM in book 6 because of all the effects you have to keep in mind (occluding field, altitude, scrying), all the ways to bypass them, and all the different locations they're described (overall descriptions of the area, individual magic items, individual NPCs).

If you're just starting book 6, I strongly suggest a spreadsheet of, "Overall effect/What it does/What bypasses it/Who has that bypass ability".

I've made 3 "major" blunders already in this book, and that's high, even for me.

(1) Allowing Phantom Steeds to exist in the Occluding Field. Honestly, my take as a GM is that because they're 'quasi-real' conjured creatures, they're more like constructs and therefore immune. But I could certainly see the argument going the other way.

(2) Allowing Ayruzi to be Plane Shifted back to her home plane, then Plane Shifted back and entering the Occluding Field without a ring. Oops! She was immune because she was called using the Anima Focus, so once she got Plane Shifted home, she should have required a ring.

(3) Treating Ceoptra as a cleric rather than an oracle. Totally my bad. Just the first oracle I'd run, after many, many clerics.


Loot Xin Shalast.

Example:
The area is covered in very small amounts of treasure, Ex-
"Though the bricks of the road are of basalt, they do in many places retain gold plating that might once have covered the entire run."
So like 1/100?

At the end of the adventure path it mentions: "A day's work scavenging precious metals and gems from Xin-Shalast's architecture yields 10d6 gp worth of commodities."

What about a fabricate spell? (to make a gold statue using the gold in the area)
Lyre of Building? (another gold statue)
Planar Ally (earth elemental), how much easier can he collect gold and gems?

If you can use a fabricate spell to make a gold statue, using the gold plating on the bricks in the area as the source of the material... How much would it weigh?
Gold, being a metal not a mineral, would fall under the spells "10 cu. ft./level". That is a huge amount of area.
Lets say the gold plating is only 1/10th of an inch thick and only 1/100 bricks of the golden road be covered in gold plating, a single casting would yield 81 pounds of gold, or 4050 gold pieces.

A gold plating that is 1080" x 1080" x .01" in gold would weigh 8140lbs. (and that is no where near 90 cubic feet) 1/100th of that is 81lbs. Gold Plating. Troy ounces = .0686lbs


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns Subscriber
Splendor wrote:


What about a fabricate spell? (to make a gold statue using the gold in the area)
Lyre of Building? (another gold statue)
Planar Ally (earth elemental), how much easier can he collect gold and gems?

From Lost Cities of Golarion:

But despite the opulence of its
architecture, the display is mostly ornamental and consists
of leafing and facade work that uses a relatively small
amount of actual wealth. Thassilonians were driven by
greed, not decadence, and stored the bulk of their riches in
well-guarded, heavily warded and trapped treasure vaults
secreted away in the darkest depths of the Hypogeum.

From the RotRL and this entry - I'm thinking that the amount of "A day's work scavenging precious metals and gems from Xin-Shalast's architecture yields 10d6 gp worth of commodities" is actually *using* methods like this.

The idea (I believe) is to get the players to see a dazzling city of riches where every doorknob is a diamond - only to find out it's just costume jewelry - yes you can make money scrounging - but it's not worth the time or effort.


So what would a non-magic using person days work yield?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I cannot figure out Karzoug's stats in the Anniversary Edition at all.

Str 24, Dex 24, Con 28, Int 36, Wis 15, Cha 22

We're getting +10 Str from the belt and wishes; +10 Dex from the belt and wishes; +10 Con from the ioun stones and wishes; +19 Int from wishes, ioun stones, age, and I'm guessing ability score bonuses from leveling; and +7 Wis and Cha from age. I'm guessing he was Azlanti, which grants another +2 to all stats.

In that case, we have these as base stats: Str 12, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 15, Wis 6, Cha 13. Ignoring that one can't buy a 6, this would give us a 20 or 22 point-buy. Am I just doing the math wrong somewhere?

Taldor RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32

No, Karzoug is exceptional and as such starts with a 25 point buy. It calls this out in his statblock explicitly on Page 364:

Anniversary Edition wrote:
Exceptional Stats (Ex) Karzoug was destined from birth to become one of the greatest wizards of his age. As a result, his ability scores were generated using 25 points, rather than using the standard 15 point buy used to create most NPCs. Additionally, Karzoug has much more gear than an NPC of his level would normally have. These modifications increase his total CR by +2.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

He's just shy of that, though. His stats should be just a tad higher with a 25 point-buy.

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