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Thifirane Rhiavadi encounter is too weak


Shackled City Adventure Path

Cheliax

Hello guys, I've run into a small problem in planning my next session. In these days of power-creep and crazy PrCs the Shackled City AP has be modified somewhat to keep it challenging for PCs. The party at Thifirane's approaching in my game (it may be this Friday!) and I've realized that these NPCs are going to die instantly. While I would not usually have an issue with the PCs making a plan that's intelligent and surprising my villains, they likely won't even need to do that to beat this encounter. None of the enemies have really good ACs or attack bonuses, and most of them are going to instantly fail a couple of saves and be dead for the count.

What I'm looking for are some suggestions for how to modify the villains in the room. Feel free to incorporate stuff from any WotC book as my PCs have been doing that the whole game. The spell compendium is your friend. I have been sitting, staring at these NPCs for about a week and have been unable to come up with any ideas besides giving a few of them levels from 'The Book of Nine Swords'. My composition follows:

Human Warlock 13
Grey Elf Wizard/Crusader/Jade Phoenix Mage 13 (w/ smoking eye)
Human Cleric/Warblade/Church Inquisitor/Devoted Champion 13
Dwarf Warblade 13
Grey Elf Wizard 13
Human Cleric 13

One of them has a cohort artificer that can give them infusions that last 1ast 100+ minutes. The multi-class cleric and wizard are both AC machines that can't be hit with normal attacks (ACs in the 40ish) and both of them plus the dwarf can't miss with attacks as they can drop 30+ touch attack rolls while power attacking. The warlock is also able to do multiple d6's of damage a round with touch attacks. Overall the only thing the party has ever missed is another warblade with the "Black Pearl of Doubt" combat stance (+2 to AC everytime someone misses you). Incidentally, my PCs use that stance all the time.

HELP!


I changed the guests to better fit my Forgotten Realms campaign. First were a Red wizard and his henchman, a Thayan knight:

Sharkam, NE Male Human Wiz5 (Evoker)/RedWiz7
Hp: 72
Init: +3
AC: 20 (Flatfooted:17 Touch:15)
Atk: +5 base melee, +8 base ranged; +6 (1d4, Dagger, Masterwork)
Saves: Fort +8, Ref +8, Will +12
Abilities: STR 10, DEX 16, CON 16, INT 25, WIS 12, CHA 12.
SQ: Specialist defense +3 (+3 save vs. evo spells); Spell power +3 (evo spells at +3 caster level)
Skills: Bluff +16, Concentration +18, Decipher Script +15, Intimidate +14, Know (Arcana) +21, Geography +16, History +16, Know The Planes +16, Spellcraft +24.
Feats: Empower Spell, Enlarge Spell, Extend Spell, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Quicken Spell, Reach Spell, Scribe Scroll, Tattoo Focus.
Possessions: Mw. Dagger; Ring: Protection +2; Amulet of Health +2; Bracers of Armor +5 ; Cloak of Resistance +2; Gloves of Dexterity +2; Headband of Intellect +4.
Schools Specialized in Evo; Forbidden: Conj, Ench, Necro (from lvl 3 onwards).

Spells Prepared (Wiz 4/6/6/6/4/4/3 + 1 evocation extra) (DC17+spell level):
0 - Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost (s), Read Magic
1st - Enlarge Person, Expeditious Retreat, Magic Missile (s), Magic Missile, Ray of Enfeeblement, Reduce Person, Shield
2nd - Blindness/Deafness, Blindsight, Extended Shield, False Life, Invisibility, Scorching Ray (s), Scorching Ray
3rd - Blink, Dispel Magic, Fireball (s), Gaseous Form, Haste, Slow, Empowered Magic Missile
4th - Globe of Invulnerability, Lesser, Gutsnake, Ice Storm (s), Greater Invisibility, Polymorph
5th - Baleful Polymorph, Ball Lightning (s), Cone of Cold, Telekinesis, Wall of Force
6th -- Chain Lightning (s), Disintegrate, Dispel Magic, Greater, True Seeing.

Spellbook:
0 -- Acid Splash, Arcane Mark, Dancing Lights, Daze, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Disrupt Undead, Electric Jolt, Flare, Ghost Sound, Horizikaul`s Cough, Launch Bolt, Light, Mage Hand, Mending, Message, Open/Close, Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost, Read Magic, Repair Minor Damage, Resistance, Silent Portal, Touch of Fatigue
1st -- Burning Hands, Comprehend Languages, Enlarge Person, Expeditious Retreat, Feather Fall, Magic Missile, Ray of Enfeeblement, Reduce Person, Shield
2nd -- Aganazzar`s Scorcher, Bear`s Endurance, Blindness/Deafness, Blindsight, Bull`s Strength, Cat`s Grace, False Life, Flaming Sphere, Invisibility, Levitate, Scorching Ray
3rd -- Blink, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Dispel Magic, Fireball, Fly, Gaseous Form, Haste, Lightning Bolt, Slow, Telepathic Bond, Lesser, Vampiric Touch
4th -- Fire Shield, Fire Trap, Globe of Invulnerability, Lesser, Gutsnake, Ice Storm, Invisibility, Greater, Polymorph, Stone Shape, Stoneskin, Wall of Fire
5th -- Baleful Polymorph, Ball Lightning, Bigby`s Interposing Hand, Cone of Cold, Overland Flight, Telekinesis, Wall of Force
6th -- Acid Storm, Bigby`s Forceful Hand, Chain Lightning, Contingency, Disintegrate, Dispel Magic, Greater, Globe of Invulnerability, Legend Lore, True Seeing.

Zarlim, LE Male Human Ftr8/ThKnt5
Hp: 130
Init: +2
AC: 24 (Flatfooted:22 Touch:13)
Atk: +16/11/6 base melee, +15/10/5 base ranged
+20/15/10 (1d8+7/17-20, +2 Longsword)
Save: Fort +12, Ref +7, Will +6
Abilities: STR 17, DEX 14, CON 14, INT 14, WIS 12, CHA 8.
Skills: Climb +17, Int +11, Jump +6, Know Arc +4, Know Lcl Thay +4, Ride +10, Swim +7.
Feats: Blind-Fight, Close-Quarters Fighting, Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Greater Weapon Focus: Longsword, Improved Critical: Longsword, Iron Will, Mobility, Weapon Focus: Longsword, Weapon Specialization: Longsword.
Possessions: +2 Longsword, +3 Chain shirt, +2 Shield, heavy steel, Ring: Protection +1; Potions of Bear`s Endurance; Bull`s Strength; Cure Serious Wounds; Shield of Faith +4.


Next I had the head of an important thieves' guild and one of the mightiest pirate captains.

Haskar Corintis, NE Male Human, Rogue15 Assassin2
Hit Points: 142
Initiative: +8
AC: 26 (flatfooted 26, touch 18) (dex + mage armor + barkskin) + dodge
Attacks: Crossbow, Light +20/+15/+10
Rapier +1 (Shock) +19/+14/+9 (1d6+3+1d6)
Dagger +1 (Frost) +19/+14 (1d4+2+1d6);*Dagger +1 (Frost/Thrown) +21/+16/+11
SQ: +1 save against poisons, Death Attack (DC 14), Evasion (Ex), Improved Uncanny Dodge (can't be flanked), Opportunist (Ex) 1/round a rogue Atk of Op vs opponent hit by another character, Poison Use, Slippery Mind (Ex), Sneak Attack +9d6
Saves: Fortitude: +10, Reflex: +22, Will: +7
Abilities: STR 14 (+2), DEX 26 (+8), CON 16 (+3), INT 14 (+2), WIS 10 (+0), CHA 12 (+1)
Skills: Balance 10; Climb 7; Disable Device 22; Disguise 13; Escape Artist 28; Hide 28; Jump 9; Listen 15; Move Silently 28; Open Lock 28; Search 22; Spot 15; Tumble 30; Use Magic Device 21
Feats: Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Quick Draw, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse
Possessions: Amulet of Health +2; Wand Mage Armor (16); 20 Bolts; Cloak of Resistance +2; Light Crossbow, Dagger +1 of Frost; Gloves of Dexterity +6; Potion of Barkskin +4 (90 min, drunk); Potion of Bull's Strength; Potion of Haste; Potion of Shield of Faith +4; Rapier +1 of Shock; Wand of Greater Invisibility (7); Wand of Web (33); Wand Cure Serious Wounds (11)
Spells: 1st: Obscuring Mist, True Strike

Haskar Corintis hails from Ormpetarr in Sespech. He’s the head of the local thieves’ guild, which is responsible for caravan raids, assassination attempts and bloody confrontation in the streets and shops of the city. He despises the baron for bringing law and order back to the country. Chondath finances his activities in an attempt to destabilize Sespech.

Captain Vurgrom the Mighty, CE Male Human Fighter13
Hit Points: 149
Initiative: +3
AC: 24 (flatfooted 21, touch 14) + dodge
Attacks: +1 Battleaxe frost +23/+18/+13 (1d8+12+1d6)
Saves: Fortitude: +11, Reflex: +7, Will: +7
Abilities: STR 25 (+7), DEX 16 (+3), CON 16 (+3), INT 10 (+0), WIS 12 (+1), CHA 12 (+1)
Skills: Balance 9; Climb 5; Jump 12; Swim 19;
Feats: Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Great Cleave, Greater Weapon Focus (Battleaxe), Greater Weapon Specialization (Battleaxe), Improved Sunder, Iron Will, Mobility, Power Attack, Spring Attack, Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization (Battleaxe)
Possessions: Amulet of Health +2; Shield +2 (Heavy/Wood); Battleaxe +2; Belt of Giant Strength +4; Chain Shirt +2; Gloves of Dexterity +2; Ring of Protection +1
Potion of Enlarge, Potion of Barkskin +4 (90 minutes)


Then the Night King of Westgate, a vampire kingpin, sent one of his most powerful minions to negotiate for him:

Tebryn "shadowstalker" Dhialael, CE Male Vampire Half-Drow Elf, Rogue13 Wizard3
Hit Points: 156 + 10 (false life)
DR 10/silver and magic
Fast healing 5
Initiative: +15
Speed: Walk 30 ft.
BAB/Grap +10/+5; +15
AC: 33 (flatfooted 33, touch 22) (with armor spell)
Attacks: Dagger +1 (Human Bane) +21/+16 (1d4+6) (vs. humans +23/+18; 1d4+8+2d6)
and Slam +21 (1d6+2 + energy drain = 2 negative levels and 1 temp hp for vampire)
SQ: Half-elf traits
Defensive Roll (reflex save for half dmg when hit would take below 0), Evasion, Improved Uncanny Dodge (can't be flanked), Opportunist (1/round a rogue AoO against opponent hit by another character), Sneak Attack +7d6,
Alternate Form (bat, dire bat, wolf or dire wolf), Blood Drain (on pinning 1d4 con drain), Dominate (gaze into eyes, 30’ range) DC19, Cold/Electricity Resistance 10, Gaseous Form (fly speed 20), Spider Climb, Turn Resistance +4
Saves: Fortitude: +7, Reflex: +24, Will: +12
Abilities: STR 20 (+5), DEX 32 (+11), CON * (+0), INT 16 (+3), WIS 16 (+3), CHA 18 (+4)
Skills: Balance 18; Bluff 28; Concentration 19; Diplomacy 10; Disguise 15; Escape Artist 30; Gather Information 16; Hide 29; Intimidate 6; Jump 12; Listen 29; Move Silently 29; Ride 11; Search 27; Sense Motive 27; Sleight of Hand 23; Spot 29; Tumble 29;
Feats: Alertness, Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Scribe Scroll, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (Dagger)
Possessions: Amulet of Natural Armor +1; Cloak of Resistance +2; Dagger +1 (Human Bane); Gloves of Dexterity +6; Ring of Protection +1

Spells:
Spells per Day: (4/3/2/ DC:13+spell level)
Wizard - Known:
Level 0: Detect Magic, Ghost Sound, Mage Hand, Prestidigitation
Level 1: Grease, Mage Armor (cast), Shield
Level 2: False Life (cast), Web


Finally I upped Thilrifane's power a bit too.

Thilfirane Rhiavadi, NE female human, Transmuter13
Hit Points: 73 + 27 hp (empowered false life)
Initiative: +3
Speed: Walk 30 ft.
AC: 18 (flatfooted 15, touch 14) with mage armor
Attacks: Crossbow (Light/Masterwork) +10/+5 (1d8)
Dagger (Masterwork) +6/+1; (1d4-1)
Saves: Fortitude: +8, Reflex: +9, Will: +11
Abilities: STR 8 (-1), DEX 16 (+3), CON 14 (+2), INT 24 (+7), WIS 12 (+1), CHA 12 (+1)
Skills: Concentration 18; Decipher Script 22; Knowledge (Arcana) 23; Knowledge (History) 17; Knowledge (Local) 12; Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty) 17; Knowledge (Religion) 12; Knowledge (The Planes) 22; Spellcraft 25
Feats: Empower Spell, Energy Substitution (sound), Greater Spell Focus (Transmutation), Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Quicken Spell, Reach Spell (touch becomes ranged to 30’), Scribe Scroll, Spell Focus (Transmutation)
Possessions: Cloak of Resistance +2; Potion of Cure Serious Wounds; Mw Light Crossbow; Mw Dagger; Gloves of Dexterity +2; Headband of Intellect +4; Ring of Mind Shielding; Ring of Protection +1;

Eye Ray: Thifirane has one of Vhalantru’s beholder eyes grafted to her forehead. Once per round, as a free action, she can fire a ray of inflict moderate wounds for 2d8+10 dmg (Will save DC 12 for half).

Contingency: When brought below 25 hp, dimension door to Oblivion

Prepared Spells (4+1/6+1/6+1/6+1/5+1/4+1/3+1/2+1/0/ DC: 17+spell level; 19 for transmutation)
0th– Detect Magic, Detect Poison,*Mage Hand,*Message, Read Magic
1th– *Expeditious Retreat, Grease, Mage Armor (cast), Magic Missile, *Reduce Person, Shield, Unseen Servant (cast)
2th– Acid Arrow, *Bear's Endurance, *Cat's Grace, Scorching Ray [Energy Substitution Sound] (2x), Web
3th– *Blink, Fireball [Energy Substitution Sound], *Fly, *Haste, Magic Missile [Empower Spell], *Slow, Vampiric Touch
4th– Dimension Door (2), False Life [Empower Spell] (cast), Globe of Invulnerability (Lesser), *Polymorph, *Stone Shape
5th– *Baleful Polymorph (DC 24), Break Enchantment, Lightning Bolt [Empower Spell], Vampiric Touch [Reach Spell 30’], Wall of Force
6th– Chain Lightning, *Disintegrate, Dispel Magic, Greater, Globe of Invulnerability
7th– *Ethereal Jaunt, Fireball [Quicken Spell], Teleport, Greater

Spellbook:
Level 0: Acid Splash, Arcane Mark, Dancing Lights, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Disrupt Undead, Flare, Light, Mage Hand, Mending, Message, Open/Close, Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost, Read Magic, Resistance, Touch of Fatigue
Level 1: Comprehend Languages, Enlarge Person, Expeditious Retreat, Feather Fall, Grease, Mage Armor, Magic Missile, Reduce Person, Shield, Unseen Servant
Level 2: Acid Arrow, Alter Self, Bear's Endurance, Bull's Strength, Cat's Grace, Fox's Cunning, Knock, Levitate, Owl's Wisdom, Rope Trick, Scorching Ray, Web
Level 3: Blink, Dispel Magic, Fly, Gaseous Form, Haste, Lightning Bolt, Slow, Vampiric Touch, Water Breathing
Level 4: Enlarge Person, Mass, Globe of Invulnerability (Lesser), Polymorph, Reduce Person, Mass, Stone Shape, Stoneskin
Level 5: Baleful Polymorph, Break Enchantment, Fabricate, Overland Flight, Passwall, Wall of Force
Level 6: Bear's Endurance, Mass, Chain Lightning, Contingency, Disintegrate, Dispel Magic, Greater, Flesh to Stone, Globe of Invulnerability, Legend Lore, Stone to Flesh, True Seeing
Level 7: Ethereal Jaunt, Mage's Sword, Teleport, Greater


Still, the combat power of this assembly is in their united strength. I allowed the PCs to spy on the meeting unnoticed. (I even wrote out Thilrifane's speech, but I can't send you that, because it is in Dutch, my mothertongue.) The PCs had time to buff up AND surprise some of the guests seperately, which made all of the fights an extreme walk-over.

Still, the merit in this encounter lies in finding out a bit more about Thilrifane's plans and coming up with some nice tactics to surprise the enemy. If you go for one big fight, there should be plenty of combat challenge as well, though.


I'm not going to blame it on the Book of Nine Swords, as I use material from that regularily and don't have problems with it, but I must say, from the examples you gave, something seems wrong.

In my game at that point I had a Warlock, an NPC Healer, A Bard/Rogue, A Rogue/Assasin, and a Dwarven Knight. Access to almost all WotC books, including Spell and Magic Item Compendium. The Dwarf Knight had an AC in the 40s, but that was her goal. The warlock was a damage cannon for sure, but only against single targets. The assasin was probably the most dangerous, because he was frikken smart and bought numerous arrows of slaying whenever he could.

I don't mean any offense to you, but if they are pulling off 30+ touch attacks while power attacking, I have to wonder where the bonuses are coming from, although the degree of power attack is a factor.

It sounds like you have some serious powergamer/minmaxers, but maybe my group is just "low key" compared to average. The encounter was challenging for my group, and that was even after the assasin sniped Thrifane with an Arrow of Human Slaying and killed her in the first round before she could order her Shield Guardian to do anything.


The Black Bard wrote:
I don't mean any offense to you, but if they are pulling off 30+ touch attacks while power attacking, I have to wonder where the bonuses are coming from, although the degree of power attack is a factor.

There's a Tome of Battle maneuver that allows you to make a melee attack as a touch attack (Emerald Razor, I think).

Cheliax

hogarth wrote:
There's a Tome of Battle maneuver that allows you to make a melee attack as a touch attack (Emerald Razor, I think).

Ding, ding! Emerald razor is the problem. I've looked over that book lots of times and that is one of the attacks that is so good everyone should take it...and they did.

Yes, there is a player in my game who is really good at optimizing, but he is actually a really nice guy and walked me through his exact plan and I allowed it, so it's no ones fault but mine.

The main problem is the concept of buffs. Early in Shackled City, there are long dungeons and players need to spread out their buffs. Lords of Oblivion is completely different though. It's a small set of encounters that all occur on different days and allow the PCs to buff up ahead of time. With buffs from the Spell Compendium it's very easy to make your attack bonus into the 30's while still power attacking for full, and emerald razor, wraith strike, etc. all allow you to just spam touch attacks. It's actually kind of insane.

Even better, if someone has "White Raven Tactics" it is possible for the warblade to take a full action to regain their attacks, and then someone else uses White Raven Tactics to give them another turn where they can use Emerald Razor again. It does not take a power gamer to see how broken that book is, but I also laughed when I saw the stats of the party guests. They are pretty pathetic even by "core" d&d standards.

Thanks for some of the ideas, if you have any more let me know. I'll be re-making the new NPCs all day and will post some of my results.

In general I'm:
-Keeping the casters "as is" but leveling them up some. I'm also replacing most of their spells with spells from the Spell Compendium because their spell choices are terrible.

-Replacing fighter levels with warblade levels.

-Keeping Mhad the same, she is the only real powerhouse in the room.

-Making Velior into a crusader/cleric.

-Giving Khyron lots of touch spells and the meta-magic [reach] feat.

EDIT: I apologize for how frantic my posts sound...I just can't believe how badly designed these NPCs all are. I've been able to update most of the SC NPCs as I go with only minor changes and spell changes, but it's like 3 whole pages of the worst character design I've ever seen (except for the Stormblades).


One downside to the APs is that they are built with only core mechanics, and what little extra they are able to squeeze into the margins. If you play with heavy splatbooks (like I do) you have to spend a little extra time rebuilding Boss Grade bad guys to take advantage of the same material.

Also consider that NPCs are built off of 25 (aka Standard) Point buy. Its only their lower gear ratios that make them technically weaker than PCs. If you use a higher point buy, you should likewise increase important NPC stats by the same amount (but not neccessarily all, because that would devalue the Heroic concept of higher point buys).

You'd be surprised what an extra 7 Points can do for a BBEG when you realise your running 32 Point Buy PCs.

Also, it seems like a lot of the power comes from the fact your PCs work together well (using White Raven to refresh the warblade and such). Enemies rarely ever work together effectively, either because as the DM you don't have several play sessions of practice testing the tactics the way PCs might, or the creatures themselves would not actually work together. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Unfortunately, the very nature of the Thrifane encounter is a non-cohesive response from the bad guys, so it won't help you here.

Look for ways for the smarter, less suicidal villains in attendance to realize how they can bolster each other. Hate the Dread Wraith can cause serious damage to high AC characters thanks to his incorporeal touch attacks. Mhad's level drains are nasty as well. But Khyron Bonesworn, while not really a threat to the PCs, is an evil cleric, and could spontaneously drop spells to heal the two undead that could be genuine threats.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My players managed to sneak in up the stairs outside the ballroom, listened into Rhiavadi's presentation, and then rolled huge initiatives and got not only a surprise round, but most of them also went before the attendees could react.

They blasted through the room. And they're not particularly optimized.

Your best bet might be to tip off the people in the ballroom. Sure, then they have to rely on Rhiavadi's notes or interrogation to get the clues to the plot, but they'll have a more interesting fight.

And the best way to tip them off is to include a lot more half-orc mercenaries in the house. They'll be mown down like wheat, but they can cause a ruckus and alert people upstairs.

Or... what the heck. If they play well and sneak in effectively, let it be a fairly easy fight. Nothing wrong with that. But if they are clearly outclassing their opposition, I'd give out XPs like they were a couple of levels higher than they really are...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Sean Halloran wrote:
EDIT: I apologize for how frantic my posts sound...I just can't believe how badly designed these NPCs all are. I've been able to update most of the SC NPCs as I go with only minor changes and spell changes, but it's like 3 whole pages of the worst character design I've ever seen (except for the Stormblades)

I have to take issue with that. These are NPCs, not twinked out, powergame PCs. They're not supposed to pack a lot more bang for the buck. They're supposed to be fairly normal. They're supposed to be general enough that all sorts of D&D groups could play against them, including groups that aren't minmaxed out the wazoo.

Plus, it's not like they could have predicted all of the later-supplement power creep that 3.5 saw. The Spell Compendium looms pretty large as a culpret there. My experience with that is to limit it, severely.

It's the responsibility of the DM to customize the challenges his particular set of PCs will face if he feels the original written challenges aren't up to snuff.


Hey,

don't know whether this is still in time for your session, but:

My party is core-only therefore, the encounter wasn't a total piece of cake, however, it was easy enough after they managed to surprise the whole lot with a fireball down the chimney, which killed (by pure chance) both clerics, the only guys (except Mhad, who survived) who could've buffed themselves to any dangerous level. After that it was a real slaughter. Thifirane got off only one spell, that inconvenienced a PC, then had to resort to teleportation just to make it out alive. I can really imagine, how you must feel facing such odds...

Anyway, one thing that has really potential to tip the scales is when, no matter how high the attack rolls, the attacks still miss due to invisibility or other concealment effects. Displacement, fog, anything of that caliber will be golden, when it comes to making the encounter almost twice as difficult for the PCs (50% miss chance). Mirror image sometimes helps, but only, if your group relies totally on the touch attack strategy, if they have a single area effect damage spell, this is not helping. So if you want to double the odds of the NPC party surviving at least a round or two, give them access to something Thifirane may have orchestrated ahead of time. Some sort of contingency spell, that effects all participants of the meeting with a displacement or greater invisibility spell on a certain trigger condition, like a command word.

Well, good luck with whatever you decided on...

Cheers,

Cheliax

Thanks for all the replies guys! I spent most of last night re-statting the NPCs and I think this encounter is going to be a little tough if my PCs just rush in for the kill. I'm going to wait until after the session to give details on what I did to them (it's not that I don't trust my players not to read this...I just don't want any accidental reveals).

I didn't cheese out the NPCs too much, and they will still die easy if my PCs go in with a plan. I took some of the advice from this thread, so thanks for everyone that gave it! I'm feeling really good about tonight and hopefully I will be able to give a report of the fight afterwards.

Cheliax

So as promised, here is how the Rhiavadi party went in my campaign. It definitely did not go as expected and much of my pre-game planning actually was unnecessary. The villains in attendance (I used delvesdeep’s infamous alternate Cagewright’s):

Thifirane Rhiavadi - Leveled up to a 15 transmuter (all apprentice Cagewrights are at least level 15). She was given spells from the Spell Compendium including things like Chain Dispel, Greater Anticipate Teleport, Brilliant Blade, and Greater Mirror Image.

Adrick Garthun – His role in the campaign was mostly the same, a lower level servant of the Last Laugh, profiteer, general scumbag. I changed his fighter levels to warblade levels (Book of Nine Swords). A lot of his maneuvers were White Raven maneuvers that would give his bodyguards more chances to flank or attack nearby opponents, as well as the infamous “White Raven Tactics” which would allow others in the room to go directly after him in the initiative.

Khyron Bonesworn – An apprentice Cagewright who was previously shamed by the PCs when he failed to kill them and the Striders in an ambush. Brought him up to cleric level 12. Gave him divine metamagic [reach] and the ability to use harm and other insta-kill spells at a distance, the idea being that he could heal the undead in the room and kill PCs from afar.

Vervil Ashmantle – Unchanged from how he was described in the book.

Harlequin Velior Thazo – This guy was my masterpiece. In my campaign there is only one Jester of the Last Laugh (Nulin Wiejeron) , and he has three Harlequin’s that work directly under him and which give orders to the rest of the group. Velior is one such Harlequin and Nulin’s apprentice Cagewright. I made a lot of changes to this guy. He is now a cleric 8 / crusader 1/ (ruby)Knight Vindicator 6. The Ruby Knight Vindicator is a PrC from Book of Nine Swords that allows a progression of divine spellcasting along with martial maneuvers. Velior has a lot of self buffs which he can quicken cast that make him faster, give him better AC (magic vestment), and make him hit harder. He also has access to Shadowhand maunvers which allows him to make ranged touch attacks to make people flat-footed or stun them. This makes him a beast when he has rogues supporting him. He is a CR 20 enemy.

Zarik Dhor – In my campaign Zarik is the son of Gau, and my party already had killed Zarn Kyass at this point. Since the Blue Duke could not attend, Gau sent her son to talk about the mercenaries working for the Cagewrights. I used the upgraded Zarik posted at the RPGenius website.

Mhad – Unchanged.

Minor players:
Shield Guardian – Kept the same

Adrick’s Bodyguards – Made into pure warblades (Emerald razor, Mountain Hammer, Bonecrusher, Stone vise, etc. )

Melagorn Thureq – Unchanged

Malruin- Ghostly lover of Khyron (from devlesdeep’s document). Unchanged from that document.

Vervil’s Bodyguards – unchanged.

Hate - Unchanged

So the battle went like this...The party had faked their own death’s after the battle with the beholder. Using the simulacrum suit, the party warlock dressed up as the Lord Mayor and managed to bluff a Cagewright when she came to visit him into believing that the party had been defeated in Oblivion. Believing this, the defenses at the party were not at their most optimal. The same warlock went to the party wearing the suit and listened to the evil plans. A few moments into the party, the rest of the PCs kicked in the door and….the wizard cast prismatic spray…a core spell and the fight was over in that action. Casualty list:

Thifirane Rhiavadi was turned to stone, her Shield Guardian was turned to glass by the next round by a well placed glass strike spell.

Adrick and his bodyguards were blinded and driven insane

Lord Ashmantle was injured by elemental damage and was finished off soon after, his bodyguards dodged most of the damage but had to retreat after he was killed.

Khyron was sent to another plane (perhaps to be seen again?), and really hates the PCs at this point.

Malruin was turned by the party cleric and will need a few days to reconstitute, while Melagorn was turned to stone AND sent to another plane.

Mhad was tuned to gas and Hate covered her escape back to her coffin.

Zarik Dhor – rolled saves like a champ and started to dismantle the party warblade, but was quickly taken down by other party members.

The only true survivor was Velior Thazo, was had moved out of the way of the AoE before the wizard cast it. He word of recalled away, but not before promising a cruel fate to the friends and families of my PCs. I’ll talk a little bit more about what happened after that in this thread.

Overall, it was a real blast for my PCs and everyone had fun, so it was a good success and I did learn a lot about the Book of Nine Swords in the meantime.


Sounds like your players had fun. That's what's important.

Still, you put a lot of effort into preparing this encounter, which didn't really deliver on that work. Guess that is the fate of DMs. I am happy that you can at least appreciate familiarizing yourself with a new book, so your effort wasn't completely fruitless.

Cheliax

It's often joked that the longer I spend adapting encounters to suit my PCs the more likely it is that my PCs will find a way to skip the encounter or to somehow one-shot the villians. In this case my party actually planned a good entry strategy and didn't just rush in and start rolling attacks, so I didn't feel that bad about it.

Most of the changes I made were very fast, and the only person I spent a lot of time on was Velior, and he managed to survive.


I know that it's been a few months after the last post, but just to give my two quarters.

My party (of which I am a member) also plowed through the encounter. We were able to attend the meeting as guests (Jil the Last Laugh assassin was with us) and as soon as the three-eyed lady finished the speech, we attacked.

The encounter was over in 4 rounds. Party consits of:

Gnome Transmuter 8 / Earth Dreamer 5 (me)
Half-Elf Sorcerer 13
Half-Orc Ranger 7 / Beastmaster 5 with a Celestial Dire Bear companion
Human Cleric 5 / Stormlord 8
Gnome Rogue 1 / Bard 5 / Invisible Blade 5 (Smoking Eye)
Human Barbarian 8 / Fighter 4

Besides me, and to an extent the Cleric, nobody is an optimizer, but we manage to pull them along.

First (surprise) round I killed the Vampire with Glass Strike, Bear grappled Cleric of Nerull, Barbarian attacked Blue Duke. Second Round, my familiar killed Blue Duke with an Orb of Fire (I cast Imbue Familiar with Spell Ability) and I disintegrated the Forceage cast upon some of the party. Bear was grappling Cleric of Nerull, Ranger killed Adric, Sorcer cast a few Chain Lightings in the mean time, Cleric dispelled protections of Three-Eyed lady, Dread Wraith chases me around and tries to con drain me, but fails (+18 fort), Rogue kills the grappled Cleric of Nerull. Third round I cast Telekinesis and grapple three-eyed lady, familiar tries to cast Dimensional Anchor on her but misses the ranged touch attack, Rogue full attacks her, she Teleports (Contingency), Bear grapples with Jester and in the following round, we just cleaned up the leftovers.

Problem is, the DM didn't prepare much for the session when he should have for such a big fight, so by the end of it, he was kind of pissed off because it was such a cakewalk for us, but weren't complaining. :D


Mr. Cale, sir, can I get your autograph?


Bill Dunn wrote:

My players managed to sneak in up the stairs outside the ballroom, listened into Rhiavadi's presentation, and then rolled huge initiatives and got not only a surprise round, but most of them also went before the attendees could react.

They blasted through the room. And they're not particularly optimized.

Same here. A surprise round and all players won initiative (4 players, but level 14 instead of the recommended 13). It was like a walk in the park.

On the other hand, they took a lot of effort to be stealthy, as 'this lady sounded very powerful'. Good for them. I'm not complaining: the group had a great time.

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