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The Varnhold Vanishing (GM Reference)


Kingmaker

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Taldor

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

So, if/when the PCs get the free annexation of those 19 hexes...what are they? Do they all have roads? Are some/all farmland? How were they taken by Varn when some have encounters in them, signifying that they were not 'cleared' before being claimed?

Part of the annexing/goodwill of Varnhold's inhabitants is based on getting all the items minus the ones in the church back to their owners, or having them not find out that the PCs took them. What happens with the items of the fallen? Are the villagers willing to part with them, or does returning only the items left to those still alive and keeping the others still lead to the penalty?

Taldor

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber
Runnetib wrote:

So, if/when the PCs get the free annexation of those 19 hexes...what are they? Do they all have roads? Are some/all farmland? How were they taken by Varn when some have encounters in them, signifying that they were not 'cleared' before being claimed?

Part of the annexing/goodwill of Varnhold's inhabitants is based on getting all the items minus the ones in the church back to their owners, or having them not find out that the PCs took them. What happens with the items of the fallen? Are the villagers willing to part with them, or does returning only the items left to those still alive and keeping the others still lead to the penalty?

Bump*


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It says in the adventure that one of the hexes has a farm, and maybe a road (don't remember).

Maybe the encounters came after they where claimed? Either way I wouldn't worry too much even if they got the land with encounters in them. I'm sure a kingdom can say "this land is ours" even if there's a big and angry bear there.

I ignored the folding boat in the one house as I figured no one knew or cared, but had family members of Varn ask for his fairly recognizable sword for example.

Taldor

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber
Leonal wrote:

It says in the adventure that one of the hexes has a farm, and maybe a road (don't remember).

Maybe the encounters came after they where claimed? Either way I wouldn't worry too much even if they got the land with encounters in them. I'm sure a kingdom can say "this land is ours" even if there's a big and angry bear there.

I ignored the folding boat in the one house as I figured no one knew or cared, but had family members of Varn ask for his fairly recognizable sword for example.

I was going off memory of what I thought to be the 'hex must be cleared before it can be claimed' rule. The 'after' you suggested seems like it could work, especially since the people seem to have been gone for a decent amount of time.

Aside from that though, I was curious if there was supposed to be a breakdown of all the hexes based on what they are or hold. Seems only the one has a city founded, and I think maybe one or two of the others may have had some mention, but I was curious about the remainder. It follows that if you get them with the annexation of the city, that they belonged to the kingdom, and if the kingdom was in the works at the same time as your PCs kingdom, then there shouldn't be 15+ claimed hexes that haven't been marked as something, be it farmland or what have you. I mean, I suppose it could be assumed that the disappearance of the people had such an effect on the kingdom that every hex needs to be reestablished for purpose and terms of roads as an 'upkeep' for the unintended neglect, but that seems kinda stretching it a little to me.


I'm curious about something; since Maegar Varn is described as being a Swordlord himself, shouldn't he have dropped the surname 'Varn' in favour of 'Aldori' in accordance with the Swordpact?

Pathfinder Creative Director, Frog God Games

Ambrus wrote:
I'm curious about something; since Maegar Varn is described as being a Swordlord himself

I don't recal writing him as a swordlord. Where are you getting that info from (it certainly could have appeared in the editing process, but I'm not familiar with it)?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Ambrus wrote:
I'm curious about something; since Maegar Varn is described as being a Swordlord himself, shouldn't he have dropped the surname 'Varn' in favour of 'Aldori' in accordance with the Swordpact?

The bit about him being a swordlord was indeed added during development, if I recall correctly... but also, by striking out south to settle his own land, Maegar Varn is in the same situation as the PCs. He's no more a direct subject of Brevoy than the PCs are, and is thus free, as the commander/ruler/would-be-king of Varnhold to do whatever he wants when it comes to what his name is or what his city/nation is called.

Could this cause friction among the actual swordlords of Restov? Perhaps... but it's hardly the first time one of their number broke with Restov and established their own thing and perhaps spread the word of the fighting style outside of their circle. In fact, it's PRECISELY the type of behavior that Maegar Varn is displaying that makes it okay for any PC to learn the various Aldori swordfighting styles without first becoming a swordlord.

Maegar Varn is doing your PCs a favor, in other words!


Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
Where are you getting that info from (it certainly could have appeared in the editing process, but I'm not familiar with it)?

It's mentioned in the sidebar on page 13 of Pathfinder 31.

James Jacobs wrote:
He's no more a direct subject of Brevoy than the PCs are, and is thus free, as the commander/ruler/would-be-king of Varnhold to do whatever he wants when it comes to what his name is or what his city/nation is called.

That may be true, but it simply seems odd seeing as how the Swordlords are his colleagues, they're the ones who granted him a charter and the sidebar describes him as being "a low-ranking but eager-to-impress swordlord". Having him betray the Swordpact by re-adopting his old surname and using it as the namesake for his fledgling colony seems a strangely antagonistic slap-in-the-face to his patrons. It's also detrimental to his reputation since it publicly brands him as an oath-breaker for betraying the Swordpact.

I just don't get it.

James Jacobs wrote:
[it's] okay for any PC to learn the various Aldori swordfighting styles without first becoming a swordlord.

It is?

Pathfinder Creative Director, Frog God Games

Ah, okay. I missed all that on my read through of the published adventure. I usually do more of a skim unless I'm going to run it just because by that time I've read it in some form or other about 9 million times. I do try to see what may have changed, though, and apparently missed that sidebar.


Having a blast running Kingmaker but in prepping for VV I seem to have missed where Handout 1 at the top of page 26 is supposed to come into play. Granted I haven't concentrated on Vordekai's lair much yet. It seems to be a big clue that contradicts some of the other misdirection.

Pathfinder Creative Director, Frog God Games

E-Eternal wrote:
Having a blast running Kingmaker but in prepping for VV I seem to have missed where Handout 1 at the top of page 26 is supposed to come into play. Granted I haven't concentrated on Vordekai's lair much yet. It seems to be a big clue that contradicts some of the other misdirection.

Area L12, in Pendrod's room.

Qadira

First off, I loved the Sarnath reference in "The Doom that Came to Varnhold"!

Serious question: What has happened to the various messengers that have been described as being sent to check up on Varnhold? Since Vordakai's abduction was a one-time event, did the spriggans kill them? Maybe a Soul Eater attack?


Greetings, fellow travellers.

I think having the messengers killed by a soul eater is a little bit over the top.
Being killed by spriggans or the other hazards in Varnhold sounds more likely.

Also, remember what can happen on the road: wasn't there one guy lying dead in a gulch next to the road - from one of the various quests?

Ruyan.


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

Hi.

I am running the Kingmaker Path, and am launching into Varnhold Vanishing in 2 weeks time. I have read through all the posts in a bid to spot 'bottlenecks'/ issues.... as per usual.

part of me wishes that Tales of the Margreve would work better in the Gnarlmarshes.... and that you chaps in Paizo had really gone fey-mad on this story arc, and really worked on developing the wood on the border of the pc lands, and gone from there.... BUT....

I have really enjoyed the path so far - but have had problems, I imagine partly caused by me allowing for a 25 point build for pcs (not really thinking this through).... and partly because most encounters are 1 critter encounters which hardly pose a challenge to the pcs. I have found myself 4e-fying the encounters - eg "brute-yfying" major beasts like "Owlzilla" (the giant owlbear), the tendriculous plant beast, the evil tre-ent.... giving them a shot in the arm of an extra 100-200hps each so they can survive the first 2 rounds. (The 3rd level barbarian charging on a mount criticalled against Tuskgutter, killing it in one hit, despite me making it a dire boar).... They are a tough bunch of hombres the pcs.... They have so many creature allies (druid's giant elk, barbarian's warhorse, the mage's summonsed rhinos....)... In the troll lair, I decided to throw lots of trolls against the party - in waves - which made it a closer combat (as I hoped) - but they still were victorious (one of their creatures was grappling with the troll, otherwise it would have downed the barbarian) - but only the troll lair and stag-helm fort have challenged the party (as in used all their resources) since these were large encounter zones..... highlighting the problem of sandboxing with small encounters..... but I digress

1) I am obvuously concerned about the weak encounters in the wilderness (this seems to be a problem in all the books for this AP - D&D is designed I guess for dungeoneering, and tough resource burning encounters/ a string of easier ones - not one-offs)

2) I am also concerned - well - know for 100% -the spriggans are no match for a bunch of powerful 7th level pcs, run by a bunch of bright sparks

3) I am concerned about the whole adventure to be honest. As others have mooted (sorry Greg - this was your remit so no blame on you), the story is a little tangental to the main path, it has no fey etc

A previous poster, I forget who - and it may have been on another board) threw out some interesting ideas (and I apologise if this is the wrong person) about changing V's background and linking it into the metaplot, by making V into Count Ranalc (obviously this would need some development).... thus keeping the fey theme - and the spriggans doing his bidding....

Another poster threw up the idea of having the Nomen centuars worshipping the awakening Vordakai (say he had been dreaming for ages and his dreams infected the locality, and thus corrupted the local seers etc and their dreams).... so initially the centaurs are hostile.... an idea I like a lot..... Thus in their dreams they could have been told by their 'god' to attack the new settlement.... thus the real signs of conflict.... with some settlers being dragged back for sacrifice, awakening fully Vordakai, who then uses the soul jars....

I rather like the idea of Varnhold being totally empty.... with food rotten on plates, etc... to ratchet up the mystery.... thus no spriggans (who are no challenge to my 7th level party)...

Things I need assistance on - if anyone is feeling charitable!!!!:

a) how to make it challenging - current wilderness encounters, as well as the Spriggan are waaaay underpowered
b) how to keep things pacy. (We only meet on Fridays from 7.30-midnight) (I am doing the kingdom building on another night with one other player so the adventure time is maximised). Part of me is tempted to roleplay the first part - with the whole realm being barren of life.....the need then is for pcs to find clues..... I am thinking the murder of crows (again massively underpowered) could give the party a direction to follow.....leading them to the Nomen Centaurs.... and into a war with them.....until they discover the hidden valley (but how will they do that??)

If anyone has any thoughts, I'd appreciate them!!(to make this a good story)

Ta!

Ben

Taldor

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber
Ben Ferguson wrote:

Hi.

I am running the Kingmaker Path, and am launching into Varnhold Vanishing in 2 weeks time. I have read through all the posts in a bid to spot 'bottlenecks'/ issues.... as per usual.

part of me wishes that Tales of the Margreve would work better in the Gnarlmarshes.... and that you chaps in Paizo had really gone fey-mad on this story arc, and really worked on developing the wood on the border of the pc lands, and gone from there.... BUT....

I have really enjoyed the path so far - but have had problems, I imagine partly caused by me allowing for a 25 point build for pcs (not really thinking this through).... and partly because most encounters are 1 critter encounters which hardly pose a challenge to the pcs. I have found myself 4e-fying the encounters - eg "brute-yfying" major beasts like "Owlzilla" (the giant owlbear), the tendriculous plant beast, the evil tre-ent.... giving them a shot in the arm of an extra 100-200hps each so they can survive the first 2 rounds. (The 3rd level barbarian charging on a mount criticalled against Tuskgutter, killing it in one hit, despite me making it a dire boar).... They are a tough bunch of hombres the pcs.... They have so many creature allies (druid's giant elk, barbarian's warhorse, the mage's summonsed rhinos....)... In the troll lair, I decided to throw lots of trolls against the party - in waves - which made it a closer combat (as I hoped) - but they still were victorious (one of their creatures was grappling with the troll, otherwise it would have downed the barbarian) - but only the troll lair and stag-helm fort have challenged the party (as in used all their resources) since these were large encounter zones..... highlighting the problem of sandboxing with small encounters..... but I digress

1) I am obvuously concerned about the weak encounters in the wilderness (this seems to be a problem in all the books for this AP - D&D is designed I guess for dungeoneering, and tough resource burning encounters/ a string of easier ones - not one-offs)

2) I am...

I'd say more that your PCs are overpowered than the encounters being underpowered, what with the 25 point buy. Either way, you could start using the advanced template on a lot of the things to make them harder, or some of the other CR+ modifiers. Increase the number of enemies per encounter. Don't do the 15-minute adventuring day where they only have 1 encounter, especially if it's a small one-off creature. Ambush them while they're asleep and not wearing their armor. There's a number of things you can do.

As for the story, remember, this isn't constrained by time like the other ones. Maybe V is the more apparent threat, as the party hasn't really done too much to get in the way of the First World yet. Maybe they aren't a threat. But the disappearance is causing some issues, so they are asked to check it out by their former benefactors. Plus, the party probably shouldn't know that it's 'not tied in' to the fey, IMHO.

Just my thoughts.


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

Thanks Runnetib.

Yes - the party are overpowered, and I have been using the Advanced Template in a judicious fashion!!! They are also a crack team, with the guy playing the mage having got it down to a T....summoning monsters, buffing the others with speed for an extra attack... and the druid with their companion, and at low level spells such as entangle (deadly in a wilderness).... the mage is seriously overpowered, with their headband of thought (the +2 INT bonus)... giving them a 22 INT, and thus +6 on DC of their spell saves - a substantial number!!

Even if they were a mere 15 point buy, I still have gotten the impression that challenging encounters need to be strung along together, to demand resource depletion....

BUT these issues aside (since I am part to blame!)... I am concerned about the Varnhold scenario... and how best to approach it... and would appreciate any advice from folks who have run it/ are running it/ have simply read the book and have a grasp of the issues from your POV. :)

Thanks again,

Ben


Ben Ferguson wrote:

Thanks Runnetib.

Yes - the party are overpowered, and I have been using the Advanced Template in a judicious fashion!!! They are also a crack team, with the guy playing the mage having got it down to a T....summoning monsters, buffing the others with speed for an extra attack... and the druid with their companion, and at low level spells such as entangle (deadly in a wilderness).... the mage is seriously overpowered, with their headband of thought (the +2 INT bonus)... giving them a 22 INT, and thus +6 on DC of their spell saves - a substantial number!!

Even if they were a mere 15 point buy, I still have gotten the impression that challenging encounters need to be strung along together, to demand resource depletion....

BUT these issues aside (since I am part to blame!)... I am concerned about the Varnhold scenario... and how best to approach it... and would appreciate any advice from folks who have run it/ are running it/ have simply read the book and have a grasp of the issues from your POV. :)

Thanks again,

Ben

What are your particular questions? I ran a similar group through it. I am on book 5 now so anything before book 5 I can probably help you with.

One issue I do have is that there are lot of encounters where the party gets to rest a lot due to the openness of system. They got a lot of XP from random encounters. Those Soul Eaters are nasty though. Don't forget about the cyclops "flash of insight". It makes things interesting. For the water trap I took out the dinosaur and put in advanced electric eels. Stunning is a good way to take away actions.


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:


What are your particular questions? I ran a similar group through it. I am on book 5 now so anything before book 5 I can probably help you with.
One issue I do have is that there are lot of encounters where the party gets to rest a lot due to the openness of system. They got a lot of XP from random encounters. Those Soul Eaters are nasty though. Don't forget about the cyclops "flash of insight". It makes things interesting. For the water trap I took out the dinosaur and put in advanced electric eels. Stunning is a good way to take away actions.

Concerns mentioned:

1) ENCOUNTER DESIGN.
I am aware I need to toughen up critters an extent due to the 25 point buy pcs, but even if they were less powerful, many encounters in book 3, like books 1 and 2 as far as I can see are underpowered.... Paizo seems to design encounters with 1 creature.... which does not stretch the party/ risk them/ deplete their resources adequately (4e whilst being dull, at least has had encounter design sorted out)..... has anyone else found this - and if so, how can one get round this? As far as I can see, D&D is designed around the idea of multiple encounters in a short space of time, which cause attrition to resources, and thus stretch the party's skill in resource management (spells, potions, 1 use items, hps) over that period..... and the archetypal arena for such a testing is the dungeon. Wilderness, hex-based exploration (ala Kingmaker) has a problem in that we are encountering 1 creature every now and then, 1 per day at most, giving spell casters time to relearn their spells - making them much more powerful in 1 or 2 fight/day situations.....

eg: CR2 mudmen, even 12 of them this time, are not going to cut the mustard against well organised party.

2) ENCOUNTER MAPS: WotC in the last days of 3e had learnt a little better about creating encounter maps. Paizo seems to have dropped the ball on this one. 4e has continued with this. It would be good to see the environment being fully mapped out, to aide the DM in creating more dynamic encounter maps, where the critters can use their knowledge of the environment, to force pcs into hazards, encourage them to charge across ground which is dangerous, etc etc.....

Example - redesigning the mudmen - off the top of my head!! (The numbers are not play tested, and am going with experience of the last story arc I run here in Rivers Run Red!)

A) BATTLE MAP: Thus the mudmen......this works better in an interestingly designed encounter battle map, with some exploding geysers (roll a d6, they go off on a one, reflex save versus DC 17 or burnt for 2d6 heat damage or something)

B) BRUTES I would also brute-ify a couple of mudmen, say 2, giving them bonuses to their BAB (BAB to +14) and HPs (80 a piece at a guess for now). These would wade in with their fists for 2d6+4 damage

C) SKIRMISHES - the grappling mudmen, say 5, - use the Advanced critter template on them to boost their attacks and damage by 1, and defences, as well as AC by 4. That should do it.

D) ARTILLERY: 4 of them - boost their throwing mud skill to +10.

E) LEADER/ CONTROLLER: have a leader - an 'elementalist' who is able to cast some spells, and 'direct traffic'.
eg:
(i) can make ground become liquid, trapping pc - a mud version of entangled - DC 18 to escape/ make concentration checks to cast spells (Standard action)
(ii) cause a geyser to explode (standard action)
(iii) hurl lumps of piping hot mud from their (non-magical) staff (from the elemental plane of mud): ranged attack +12, damage d8+2

even 3 manticores are not going to really pose a serious problem in F on their own.... I may create some other hazards in that encounter too - 4e-fy it)

3) THE SPRIGGANS.
I have 2 problems with the spriggans
a) they are severely underpowered as a threat for a bunch of hell-raising 7th level pcs. Their boss is up to speed - but the rest? If I was to have them, I would have more, and have the gates closed, more guards (even if they are pissed)... and more on advanced templates!!
b) as I mentioned, I rather like the idea of the town being totally deserted. To ram home the idea of a ghost town.... so I will probably go for that....

4) NO SPRIGGANS --> NEW PROBLEMS.
a) experience points lost from not fighting them
b) who guards the loot.

a) I am thinking of having some more serious events on the way to Varnhold. As in a couple of 'mini-dungeons' -

EXAMPLE: one for the missing T Hanvaki, to make him into an explorer of gems/ seams of minerals - and his expedition to a new treasure trove has gone wrong.... pcs will be attracted by the possible new wealth (resource for kingdom)... but this enables me to design a small spelunking expedition into which I can throw an assortment of critters, gain them some xp, and of course, expend all their spells and resources over say 3 large encounters and some small ones. :)

5) CLUES.
I like the idea of the Nomen being 'set-up' here. But think having 'Nomen' written in Varnhold in the bar is a little too leading.....

Would this work:

A) NOMEN WAR WITH VARNHOLD. The PCs already have heard from the settlers east that they are having problems developing their farmsteads to the east of Varnhold, since the centaurs claim it as theirs. A guerilla war has been waged for some time. Centaurs have burnt down various farmsteads, scalped folk, etc etc..... THUS THEY ARE ALREADY THE BAD GUYS BEFORE THE PCS TURN UP.

B) VARNHOLD HAS SIGNS OF CENTAUR ATTACK (although these would be older - DC 15 Perception check --> signs of mounted soldiery/hooves outside varnhold, circling, with spear gauges in walls? DC 18 to know these are centaur tracks.... DC 22 to know these are a month old??)

C)Thus the pcs could track the centaur's for a bit, and be ambushed by them guerilla style, hit and run, on and off through the landscape..... how they handle that is another matter.

I better stat out the centaur as well as design my bigger encounters!!

If you Wraithstrike/ anyone has any thoughts on these ideas etc please throw them at me!

Thanks in advance

Ben


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I've been prepping this adventure during the holidays and will start it with my group at the next session. Here's my personal take:

Varnhold's growth has been much slower than the PC's kingdom because of the centaur problem, and I plan to play this up as much as possible. The centaur pelts in the tannery and descriptions of skirmishes in Willas's journal serve as proof. I'll add references on the cemetery grave markers and locations of a dozen skirmishes on Maegar Varn's map in L34. The "NOMEN" on the post seems like overdoing it, but I expect somebody will pick up on the "CROATOAN" reference and make the connection. I want my players to see the centaurs as a legitimate threat to settling the Stolen Lands, even if they don't blame them for the Varnhold's population going missing.

Like others, I'm going to go with the empty village route rather than a village that's been ransacked by the Spriggans. Assuming the party doesn't delay in following up on the Varnhold rumors they've received. I plan to leave the Chuul encounter as is, though I'll add a note in Willas's journal about being nervous having a charmed monster protecting the village. The Murder of Crows will also stay. Otherwise, the village will be untouched, just with no people.

I'll have the Spriggans recently arrived in the stockade and starting to ransack it, but too nervous to explore the rest of the village. They're not a great threat to a level 7 party, but add the advanced template and have them defending the stockade should make for a good fight.

As for tying the story in with Nyrissa, if the party investigates they can learn that fey were spotted just before a few of the centaur-human skirmishes and strangely, Willas spotting a fey is how he found the entrance to Vordakai's Tomb. One doesn't need to send a giant owlbear into a town if they can just "nudge" the settlers into other problems.

I'm going to remake Willas into an ex-pathfinder. My players are already paranoid about pathfinders coming into their kingdom and taking away magic items before the party can find them. A pathfinder awakening Vordakai should help feed that paranoia. Willas will also have a pathfinder journal in which the party will find a woman's cthulhu-esque story of strange monsters and disrupting a summoning ritual at Candlemere Tower 80 years in the past - the story being written under a pseudonym by an npc elf they know fairly well. It will reveal a secret entrance under the tower they thought was dealt with.

The CR2 Mudmen are no challenge to a level 7 party, no matter the number. I plan to run the encounter for fun, because there should be some low level encounters, but award no xp.

@Ben - Paizo seems to design encounters based on their pregens - which tend to be in the bottom 20%, or even bottom 10%, of what players create power-wise (the highest pregen AC of 20 is pretty pathetic). We just have to add the advanced template (sometimes twice) and add more opponents to balance things out. In general, there is only one encounter per day which makes things easy on the party. There's not much you can do but let them have fun with it. Occasionally adding a "random" night encounter and/or a second day ecounter can make things interesting and convince players to conserve resources. Twice in the second module my players were forced to flee their campsite to stay alive.


Ben Ferguson wrote:


Concerns mentioned:
1) ENCOUNTER DESIGN.
I am aware I need to toughen up critters an extent due to the 25 point buy pcs, but even if they were less powerful, many encounters in book 3, like books 1 and 2 as far as I can see are underpowered.... Paizo seems to design encounters with 1 creature.... which does not stretch the party/ risk them/ deplete their resources adequately (4e whilst being dull, at least has had encounter design sorted out)..... has anyone else found this - and if so, how can one get round this? As far as I can see, D&D is designed around the idea of multiple encounters in a short space of time, which cause attrition to resources, and thus stretch the party's skill in resource management (spells, potions, 1 use items, hps) over that period..... and the archetypal arena for such a testing is the dungeon. Wilderness, hex-based exploration (ala Kingmaker) has a problem in that we are encountering 1 creature every now and then, 1 per day at most, giving spell casters time to relearn their spells - making them much more powerful in 1 or 2 fight/day situations.....

The nature of KM and the one encounter a day does lead to easy XP. I ignored some of those random encounter, and put more XP(encounters) in the places the PC's were expected to have multiple fights. When you get to the fey town the fey that is very fast has incorrect stats. It's "to-hit" is down by about 5 or more.

I did not even use the mudman. I replaced them with something else. I think it was advanced super stirges. I wish I still had the stats for them. IIRC, I gave them the advanced and giant templates.
Quote:


2) ENCOUNTER MAPS: WotC in the last days of 3e had learnt a little better about creating encounter maps. Paizo seems to have dropped the ball on this one. 4e has continued with this. It would be good to see the environment being fully mapped out, to aide the DM in creating more dynamic encounter maps, where the critters can use their knowledge of the environment, to force pcs into hazards, encourage them to charge across ground which is dangerous, etc etc.....

I often made the maps up as I was playing, and I often used ambushes since KM does not have a map for every battle.

Quote:


3) THE SPRIGGANS.
I have 2 problems with the spriggans
a) they are severely underpowered as a threat for a bunch of hell-raising 7th level pcs. Their boss is up to speed - but the rest? If I was to have them, I would have more, and have the gates closed, more guards (even if they are pissed)... and more on advanced templates!!
b) as I mentioned, I rather like the idea of the town being totally deserted. To ram home the idea of a ghost town.... so I will probably go for that....[/spoiler]

The spriggans were a joke, but they still deplete resources which is just helping you out for the big boss fight.

I think the clue is supposed to be almost obvious. My players still caught nothing, but the resident RP'er was not there that night either.

5) CLUES.
I like the idea of the Nomen being 'set-up' here. But think having 'Nomen' written in Varnhold in the bar is a little too leading.....

The Centuars have over 200 warriors. There is no way they win that fight unless mass combat is used. The leader is a druid. I gave her personal bodyguards the advanced template.

I don't mind my players getting easy XP sometimes because I make them earn the rest of it later on. I have killed everyone at least once, except for the dwarf fighter, and his time is coming. How he keeps escaping is nothing but luck.

Back to you :) :
Let me know about the next big fight you plan to have and I will see if I can find some old stats.


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

Thanks Mandor & Wraithstrike!

at least you have confirmed what I thought was going on vis-a-vie underpowered encounters. I do find it strange that a company as well versed in 3rd edition D&D lore still finds it hard to design good encounters that stretch the party.... and with web-based support, Paizo could do a lot more to support us DMs. I liked how Ptolus was supported via a code in your book through which you logged on to get lots more goodies. Online support for encounter maps and the like would be great. Likewise, an online encounter builder, where you can tweek the encounter quickly, and print it off.... Oh well. What do I know? ;)

Will stat up a host of centaurs (you never know with my crew), and will advance template the spriggans (fort only), and change the mudmen.... not sure what to yet - may add an elemental.

Will get back to you on what I have done, and how it pans out!!

Playing in 2 Fridays time (I believe)

Ben


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gnaaahhh, stupido - deleted my post...

Anyways.

I see my thoughts about easy encounters mirrored in what you wrote - I add advanced template or 2HD to every monster without awarding more XP than listed. Works great (for me and my PCs who love a challenging fight).

Spriggans: I almost doubled their number, added two captains with +2HD of fighter and ranger (the guy in the yard + he got dire wolves).
What I don't get: what's so good about being able to change into a large version of one-self, when in such a cramped environment like the stockade?

Mudmen: changed to earth elementals (large and huge).

V's abode: make sure to add Julian's minions to V's army (see earlier post in this thread or see

here:
Encounters in Vordakai’s Crypt (W23)

Vordakai’s Champion CR 11
XP 12,800
Male graveknight cyclops antipaladin8 (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 52, Pathfinder #27 84, Advanced Player’s Guide 105)
CE Large undead (giant)
Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +23
Aura aura of cowardice, aura of despair, sacrilegeous aura 30 ft. (DC 28)
________________________________________
DEFENSE
________________________________________
AC 27, touch 9, flat-footed 27 (+7 armor, +0 Dex, +11 natural, -1 size)
hp 161 (10d8+8d10+72)
Fort +16, Ref +10, Will +17
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4, ferocity, rejuvenation; DR 10/magic; Immune cold, electricity, fire, undead traits; SR 22
________________________________________
OFFENSE
________________________________________
Speed 30 ft.
Melee +1 greataxe +26/+21/+16 (3d6+17/×3 plus 4d6 fire) or greataxe with Power Attack +26/+17/+12 (3d6+29/x3 plus 4d6 fire)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks channel destruction, channel negative energy (4d6, DC 17), cruelty (fatigued, staggered; DC 17), devastating blast 3/day (12d6 fire, 30-ft. cone, DC 22), smite good 3/day (+3 attack, +8 damage, +3 deflection bonus to AC while smiting), touch of corruption 7/day (4d6 negative energy), undead mastery (DC 22)
Spell-Like Ability (CL 8th)
At will- detect good
Spells (CL 5th)
2nd- corruption resistance, invisibility
1st- inflict light wounds, protection from good
________________________________________
TATCTICS
________________________________________
Morale Vordakai’s champion fights until destroyed, fully expecting to rejuvenate.
________________________________________
STATISTICS
________________________________________
Str 32, Dex 10, Con —, Int 12, Wis 20, Cha 16
Base Atk +15; CMB +27; CMD 37
Feats Alertness, Cleave, Dreadful Carnage, Furious Focus, Great Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Initiative, Intimidating Prowess, Lightning Reflexes, Mounted Combat, Power Attack, Ride-by Attack, Toughness
Skills Handle Animal +8, Intimidate +35, Knowledge (religion) +6, Perception +23, Profession (soothsayer) +14, Ride +10, Sense Motive +22, Survival +10
Languages Common, Cyclops, Giant
SQ aura of evil, fiendish boon (fiendish servant- fiendish dire ape), flash of insight, phantom mount, plaguebringer, ruinous revivification, unholy resilience
Gear standard (Large +1 breastplate, Large +1 greataxe)
________________________________________
SPECIAL ABILITIES
________________________________________
Channel Destruction (Su) Any weapon this graveknight wields is shrouded in destructive energy, and deals an additional 4d6 fire damage.
Devastating Blast (Su) Three times per day this graveknight may unleash a 30-foot cone of destructive force, dealing 12d6 fire damage. Creatures within the area may make a Reflex save for half damage (DC 22).
Flash of Insight (Su) Once per day as an immediate action, a cyclops can peer into an occluded visual spectrum of possible futures, gaining insight that allows it to select the exact result of one die roll before the roll is made. This effect can alter an action taken by the cyclops only, and cannot be applied to the rolls of others.
Phantom Mount (Su) Once per hour, a graveknight can summon a skeletal horse similar to a phantom steed (but it is large enough to carry the cyclops). This mount is more real than a typical phantom steed, and can carry one additional rider. The phantom steed’s powers are based on the graveknight’s total Hit Dice rather than caster level. A graveknight’s mount looks distinctive and always appears the same. If the mount is destroyed, it can be summoned again with full hit points 1 hour later.
Rejuvenation (Su) One day after a graveknight is destroyed, its armor begins to rebuild the undead warrior’s body. This process takes 1d10 days – if the body is destroyed before that time passes, the armor merely starts the process anew. After this time has elapsed, the graveknight wakens fully healed. (See PF #27, page 85 for more about a graveknight’s armor, which acts like a phylactery, but is tougher than a typical phylactery.)
Ruinous Revivification (Su) Fire was relevant to this graveknight’s life or death, and influences several of its special abilities.
Sacrilegious Aura (Su) A graveknight constantly exudes an aura of intense evil and negative energy in a 30-foot radius. This aura functions as the spell desecrate, which the graveknight constantly gains the benefits of. In addition, this miasma of fell energies hinders the channelling of positive energy in this area – such as through a cleric’s channel energy ability, a paladin’s lay on hands, or any spell with the healing descriptor – must make a concentrationcheck with a DC of 28. If the character fails, the effect is blocked, its number of uses of that ability being reduced by 1 or the spell being lost. The relevant bonuses have not been included above.
Undead Mastery (Su) As a standard action, a graveknight can attempt to bend any undead creature within 50 feet to its will. The targeted undead must make a successfull Will save or fall under the graveknight’s control. This control is permanent for unintelligent undead, while undead with Intelligence scores are allowed an additional save every day to break free from the graveknight’s control. A creature that successfully saves cannot be affected again by the same graveknight’s undead mastery for 24 hours. This graveknight can control 90 Hit Dice worth of undead creatures. If the graveknight exceeds this number, it loses control over some of its minions, as per the spell animate dead.

Vordakai’s Champion CR 9
XP 6,400
Male graveknight cyclops antipaladin 4 (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 52, Pathfinder #27 84, Advanced Player’s Guide 105)
CE Large undead (giant)
Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +22
Aura aura of cowardice, sacrilegeous aura 30 ft. (DC 24)
________________________________________
DEFENSE
________________________________________
AC 27, touch 9, flat-footed 27 (+7 armor, +0 Dex, +11 natural, -1 size)
hp 123 (10d8+4d10+56)
Fort +14, Ref +7, Will +14
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4, ferocity, rejuvenation; DR 10/magic; Immune cold, electricity, fire, undead traits; SR 20
________________________________________OFFENSE
________________________________________
Speed 30 ft.
Melee +1 greataxe +22/+17/+12 (3d6+17/×3 plus 3d6 fire); using Power Attack +22/+14/+9 (3d6+26/x3 plus 3d6 fire)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks channel destruction, channel negative energy (2d6, DC 15), cruelty (fatigued; DC 15), devastating blast 3/day (8d6 fire, 30-ft. cone, DC 20), smite good 2/day (+3 attack, +4 damage, +3 deflection bonus to AC while smiting), touch of corruption 7/day (2d6 negative energy), undead mastery (DC 20)
Spell-Like Ability (CL 4th )
At will – detect good
Spells (CL 1st, concentration +8)
1st – protection from good
________________________________________
TATCTICS
________________________________________
Morale Vordakai’s champion fights until destroyed, fully expecting to rejuvenate.
________________________________________
STATISTICS
________________________________________
Str 32, Dex 10, Con —, Int 12, Wis 19, Cha 16
Base Atk +11; CMB +23; CMD 33
Feats Alertness, Cleave, Dreadful Carnage, Furious Focus, Great Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Initiative, Mounted Combat, Power Attack, Ride-by Attack, Toughness
Skills Handle Animal +8, Intimidate +24, Knowledge (religion) +6, Perception +22, Profession (soothsayer) +13, Ride +10, Sense Motive +11, Survival +9
Languages Common, Cyclops, Giant
SQ aura of evil, flash of insight, phantom mount, plaguebringer, ruinous revivification, unholy resilience
Gear standard (Large +1 breastplate, Large +1 greataxe)
________________________________________
SPECIAL ABILITIES
________________________________________Channel Destruction (Su) Any weapon this graveknight wields is shrouded in destructive energy, and deals an additional 3d6 fire damage.
Devastating Blast (Su) Three times per day this graveknight may unleash a 30-foot cone of destructive force, dealing 8d6 fire damage. Creatures within the area may make a Reflex save for half damage (DC 20).
Flash of Insight (Su) Once per day as an immediate action, a cyclops can peer into an occluded visual spectrum of possible futures, gaining insight that allows it to select the exact result of one die roll before the roll is made. This effect can alter an action taken by the cyclops only, and cannot be applied to the rolls of others.
Phantom Mount (Su) Once per hour, a graveknight can summon a skeletal horse similar to a phantom steed (but it is large enough to carry the cyclops). This mount is more real than a typical phantom steed, and can carry one additional rider. The phantom steed’s powers are based on the graveknight’s total Hit Dice rather than caster level. A graveknight’s mount looks distinctive and always appears the same. If the mount is destroyed, it can be summoned again with full hit points 1 hour later.
Rejuvenation (Su) One day after a graveknight is destroyed, its armor begins to rebuild the undead warrior’s body. This process takes 1d10 days – if the body is destroyed before that time passes, the armor merely starts the process anew. After this time has elapsed, the graveknight wakens fully healed. (See PF #27, page 85 for more about a graveknight’s armor, which acts like a phylactery, but is tougher than a typical phylactery.)
Ruinous Revivification (Su) Fire was relevant to this graveknight’s life or death, and influences several of its special abilities.
Sacrilegious Aura (Su) A graveknight constantly exudes an aura of intense evil and negative energy in a 30-foot radius. This aura functions as the spell desecrate, which the graveknight constantly gains the benefits of. In addition, this miasma of fell energies hinders the channelling of positive energy in this area – such as through a cleric’s channel energy ability, a paladin’s lay on hands, or any spell with the healing descriptor – must make a concentration check with a DC of 24. If the character fails, the effect is blocked, its number of uses of that ability being reduced by 1 or the spell being lost. The relevant bonuses have not been included above.
Undead Mastery (Su) As a standard action, a graveknight can attempt to bend any undead creature within 50 feet to its will. The targeted undead must make a successfull Will save or fall under the graveknight’s control. This control is permanent for unintelligent undead, while undead with Intelligence scores are allowed an additional save every day to break free from the graveknight’s control. A creature that successfully saves cannot be affected again by the same graveknight’s undead mastery for 24 hours. This graveknight can control 70 Hit Dice worth of undead creatures. If the graveknight exceeds this number, it loses control over some of its minions, as per the spell animate dead.

Thanks again, Julian, for sharing them with us!

Ok, off to party, happy new year to all of you!

Ruyan.


Ben Ferguson wrote:

Thanks Mandor & Wraithstrike!

at least you have confirmed what I thought was going on vis-a-vie underpowered encounters. I do find it strange that a company as well versed in 3rd edition D&D lore still finds it hard to design good encounters that stretch the party.... and with web-based support, Paizo could do a lot more to support us DMs. I liked how Ptolus was supported via a code in your book through which you logged on to get lots more goodies. Online support for encounter maps and the like would be great. Likewise, an online encounter builder, where you can tweek the encounter quickly, and print it off.... Oh well. What do I know? ;)

Will stat up a host of centaurs (you never know with my crew), and will advance template the spriggans (fort only), and change the mudmen.... not sure what to yet - may add an elemental.

Will get back to you on what I have done, and how it pans out!!

Playing in 2 Fridays time (I believe)

Ben

I think that if we had stuck to 15 or even 20 point buy, and banned 3.5 stuff things would be a lot harder. The only reason I allowed 25 was because I combined AoW(Age of Worms) with KM, and that one is a meatgrinder. That is also why I don't care about them getting the easy XP from KM. They have had a few AoW encounters, and they notice the difference. If you drop any Paizo AP down to 20 PB, and put some restrictions on the 3.5 stuff it makes a big difference.


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:
I think that if we had stuck to 15 or even 20 point buy, and banned 3.5 stuff things would be a lot harder. The only reason I allowed 25 was because I combined AoW(Age of Worms) with KM, and that one is a meatgrinder. That is also why I don't care about them getting the easy XP from KM. They have had a few AoW encounters, and they notice the difference. If you drop any Paizo AP down to 20 PB, and put some restrictions on the 3.5 stuff it makes a big difference.

I have banned anything non official Pathfinder (as in only using the Core rule book and the Advanced Players Guide - nothing from 3rd party producers, message boards, 3.5 books etc) for the sake of my sanity, and since all of us recognise that only the stuff in the core 2 books (and soon to be 3 with the magic one coming out soon) has been thoroughly playtested for Pathfinder.

There is some demand for more prestige classes though, esp from the mage pc..... and that magic book is some way off still...... so I may have to relent for him!!

I won't allow a 25 point buy again for the next AP I run!! Too much extra work!

Ben


What I allow depends on how much free time I have to adjust things. If I am short on time then it is 20 point buy and Pathfinder only with a few exceptions. If I know I will have free time to waste I allow most 3.5 books.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Like some other GMs, I am worried that my PCs will hit Vordekai too soon, at level 7 rather than 9. My situation is a bit different, though, because they show every intention of hitting Vordekai *before Varnhold gets Vanished*. They are very aggressive information-gatherers, and had several hints that Willas was poking into things better left undisturbed, so they decided to move early....

I have improvised a line about a long-dead coven of spirit naga, one of whose ghosts possesses Willas. This is slowing the PCs down a little but they are still going to be at Vordekai before I'm really ready for that. I think I will have to rewrite him. He is too arcane for our game, which has lower than average magic.

I think the pacing of this module is difficult. Before the Vanishing most groups will have no reason to be doing the harder mountain encounters--the real estate is valueless and there are few indications of anything to gain. After the Vanishing the PCs are likely to focus on the mystery, and if they can find out about Vordekai at all they're likely to go straight there (or not at all if they think they can't cope). So if the PCs go in as 7th they may be 7th or 8th when they ought to be 9th. Mine certainly are.


Well, I just did a little number crunching since my PCs will be starting VV this coming week. I've played the first two books almost exactly as written with the only serious addition being Candelmere tower where I added a little custom stuff (which didn't amount for a whole lot of xp - about the same as 2 more random encounters).

I have four PCs and they have about 44000xp each after finishing RRR.

They are now building up their kingdom to the 50-60 size recommended in the book before starting VV which will net them just over 5000xp each.

They will earn 8250xp each from the sites in Varnhold (including the soul eater) which will take them to an average of 57250xp which puts them into 8th level.

Since they don't know exactly how to find the Nomen Centaurs, I will let them search around the Dunsward and encounter some of the fixed encounters there before finding their camp (they probably will anyway). Along with the 2+ expected random encounters, this will account for 9700xp by the time they've made their way to big V. That takes them to 66950xp.

The PCs should also complete three of the quests by this point (I may even give them another one before Varnhold vanishes) for up to 4800xp each, bringing them to a total of 71750.

So, even if my PCs take a b-line towards big V, they'll be on the doorstep of 9th level (only 3250xp shy). Since I generally allow PCs to level up on the fly between sessions, it shouldn't be a problem and they should all easily be 9th level before having to face him.


He can be beaten by a level 8 party, but I would not try it with a 7. As for as the party gathering info I would change the story in such a way that they avoid certain opponents. It does not have to be a complete rewrite, but enough to send them off to get more XP before they try to fight something that is beyond them.


If that happens in my game, I will either send them a centaur war party with the leader's daughter (to give the encounter some more significance and introduce her) and let her ask the PCs for help - I will try to create some personal link, having the centaurs look less suspicious/evil/hateful/what-not to create some more RP possibilities and make them doubt their reasoning when they get to Varnhold.

Another idea I had was to change the encounter sites for the given quests to let them gain more XP in advance.

Also, I have been thinking about letting them play through Neil Spicer's module "Realm of the Fellnight Queen" which ties in nicely with my heavily themed fey KM setting.

Ruyan.


DM Wellard wrote:

I knew I'd seen a reference somewhere that would explain the rapid growth of the cities in Kingmaker and now I've found it

'Riverfolk welcome thousands of escaped slaves to all kingdoms each
year, to fill ranks in armies and agriculture.'..Guide to the River Kingdoms page 8

If you build it they will come

Pardon my asking, but -- Cheliax aside, where are all these runaway slaves coming from?


Eric Hinkle wrote:
DM Wellard wrote:

I knew I'd seen a reference somewhere that would explain the rapid growth of the cities in Kingmaker and now I've found it

'Riverfolk welcome thousands of escaped slaves to all kingdoms each
year, to fill ranks in armies and agriculture.'..Guide to the River Kingdoms page 8

If you build it they will come

Pardon my asking, but -- Cheliax aside, where are all these runaway slaves coming from?

just off the top of my head?, numeria, irrisen, isger, razmir, galt, druma, iobaria, casmaron, and ustalav, just a few of the big dogs right there, refugees come from everywhere, also their are ALOT of people in cheliax (over two hundred thousand just in westcrown and egorian alone), it would make sense that most would make for the river kingdoms (after all who would want to look for them there).


captain yesterday wrote:
Eric Hinkle wrote:
DM Wellard wrote:

I knew I'd seen a reference somewhere that would explain the rapid growth of the cities in Kingmaker and now I've found it

'Riverfolk welcome thousands of escaped slaves to all kingdoms each
year, to fill ranks in armies and agriculture.'..Guide to the River Kingdoms page 8

Pardon my asking, but -- Cheliax aside, where are all these runaway slaves coming from?
just off the top of my head?, numeria, irrisen, isger, razmir, galt, druma, iobaria, casmaron, and ustalav, just a few of the big dogs right there, refugees come from everywhere, also their are ALOT of people in cheliax (over two hundred thousand just in westcrown and egorian alone), it would make sense that most would make for the river kingdoms (after all who would want to look for them there).

Thanks for that nice list of slave-holding nations that can be a source of citizens for the River Kingdoms.

Though I am confused about Druma, I thought that they didn't own slaves there?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Where does the passage from W8 leaving to the right go to?

Why did Vordekai leave one of his dread zombie cyclopes walled up in W7?

How did Vordekai get back in after vanishing Varnhold without leaving any traces anywhere? Dimension Door?

In what sense is selling the jars trafficking in souls? They are bottled up corporeal people, after all: you could sell them as slaves, and it seems no more or less evil than any other slave trade. The jar doesn't give you any power over the soul per se.

The "annexing Varnhold" rules assume that Varnhold and 17 hexes around it are inhabited, but there are only 42 people left. (?!) They also risk destroying the kingdom; be very careful before inflicting a +18 to all DCs on your kingdom (and 2d6 unrest, and a Consumption increase). It may be better to just let the PCs take the hexes at the usual pace, but for free.


The passage from W8 leads to the river basin as described in the text. I assume that the zombies were entombed here as guardians many years ago. Since they haven't been disturbed in that time, it seems reasonable that they'd still be walled up.

It doesn't really say how Vordakai got back but I'd also assume Dimension Door was used.

Regarding the Soul Jars, in what way would you say that slave trade *isn't* trafficking in souls? It's basically the same thing. It may actually be worse since an evil wizard could use the trapped soul directly without having to worry about wresting it from a corporeal body.

Regarding the annexing of Varnhold, most kingdoms will have bonuses so that they only fail checks on a 1. Even though they get +18 to the DC, they're also getting three roads, a farm hex and a total of +7/+7/+12 to econ/loyalty/stability respectively. It'll be tough for a couple months, but very easy to recover from. Oh - and they only incur 1d6 unrest and even then only if they fail a stability check (and therefore less than half the time).

Osirion

Charles Evans 25 wrote:
3) On page 51 it says that all that the Centaurs ask of the PCs is that they be left the Dunsward itself as their own territory. Is it reasonable to read this as that without PC diplomatic footwork, the centaurs will get unhappy if the PCs try to claim any of the Grassland hexes on the Dunsward unless those happen to be part of the 'within two hexes of Varnhold' package? Or does it mean that just the Nomen Camp (and perhaps their burial ground) is to be left out of the kingdom, or maybe just means the PCs agree to a restriction on the building of cities or...

Not sure if any “officials” still check this thread, but this is the main question I still have that hasn’t already been answered.


jtokay wrote:
Charles Evans 25 wrote:
3) On page 51 it says that all that the Centaurs ask of the PCs is that they be left the Dunsward itself as their own territory. Is it reasonable to read this as that without PC diplomatic footwork, the centaurs will get unhappy if the PCs try to claim any of the Grassland hexes on the Dunsward unless those happen to be part of the 'within two hexes of Varnhold' package? Or does it mean that just the Nomen Camp (and perhaps their burial ground) is to be left out of the kingdom, or maybe just means the PCs agree to a restriction on the building of cities or...
Not sure if any “officials” still check this thread, but this is the main question I still have that hasn’t already been answered.

If we don't get "official" opinions, as you put it, I would assume that trying to claim any plains hex besides those within 2 hexes of Varnhold would automatically fail and be considered an act of war against the Nomen Centaurs. Since we already have mass combat stats for at least one unit of centaurs, it wouldn't be hard to make others and if the PCs want to wipe them out, they have that choice.


Ok, so this is my first post so it is kinda long, and I apologize if I don't come across pro level.

My group (5 PCs, 15 point buy, 1 cohort) are half way into Varnhold Vanishing. I have hit my first major hiccup in the campaign at this point. I would like some friendly DM advice on how to play it out.

In game time it has been 10 months since Varnhold "vanished". My PCs have pushed to claim the city of Varnhold since it is now empty, they don't want the city to rot away into the wilderness. They have sent a crew consisting mainly of the PC's followers and some other hirelings to begin settling the city and making it operational again. (I charged them 1BP per building to restore them to "operating" status.) The PCs have met and made an uneasy truce with the Nomen centaurs... 4 months ago. So two huge questions.

1. 4 months ago Xamanthe the centaur went missing into the Valley of the Dead... I assume she has not survived the experience. Should I have her come back as a dread zombie centaur? Perhaps some other undead? She was tortured after all... any suggestions on what type of undead she would return as?

2. Once a full year goes by the Occulus is active again. I'm thinking Vord would then walk(or whatever) over to Varnhold again and make it "vanish" again. Obviously using the raven to see when the PCs are not there. Should I have Vord do this? How should this effect unrest? (I am thinking 2d4 unrest)

And one small question...
If the PCs continue to ignore Vord, what would he do? Does he slowly but steadily gain information and than launch an undead army attack, moving into Varnhold? Does he start his own undead nation? The Dread Zombies (especially human or centaur ones) could be smart enough to be Kingdom advisors... perhaps the Valley of the Dead becomes his capitol city and he moves to seize the PCs empire?


Quote:


If we don't get "official" opinions, as you put it, I would assume that trying to claim any plains hex besides those within 2 hexes of Varnhold would automatically fail and be considered an act of war against the Nomen Centaurs. Since we already have mass combat stats for at least one unit of centaurs, it wouldn't be hard to make others and if the PCs want to wipe them out, they have that choice.

+1 to what TEM wrote.

Quote:


1. 4 months ago Xamanthe the centaur went missing into the Valley of the Dead... I assume she has not survived the experience. Should I have her come back as a dread zombie centaur? Perhaps some other undead? She was tortured after all... any suggestions on what type of undead she would return as?

2. Once a full year goes by the Occulus is active again. I'm thinking Vord would then walk(or whatever) over to Varnhold again and make it "vanish" again. Obviously using the raven to see when the PCs are not there. Should I have Vord do this? How should this effect unrest? (I am thinking 2d4 unrest)

And one small question...
If the PCs continue to ignore Vord, what would he do? Does he slowly but steadily gain information and than launch an undead army attack, moving into Varnhold? Does he start his own undead nation? The Dread Zombies (especially human or centaur ones) could be smart enough to be Kingdom advisors... perhaps the Valley of the Dead becomes his capitol city and he moves to seize the PCs empire?

1. Dread zombie template slapped on a centaur. See here

2. Definitely V would (try to) do that - I just wonder why they ignored Vordekai for so long? Didn't they find the book in the inn?

V is used to having been the lord over hundreds of slaves back in the good old days. So he would start overtaking the whole area, if not stopped by the PCs. Again, I can not understand, why the group ingnored him. With one year having passed by, he had enough time to gather information on the new stuff going on.
I would also strongly considering having him gained the last two levels to gain true lichdom again.

Ruyan.


Eric Hinkle wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
Eric Hinkle wrote:
DM Wellard wrote:

I knew I'd seen a reference somewhere that would explain the rapid growth of the cities in Kingmaker and now I've found it

'Riverfolk welcome thousands of escaped slaves to all kingdoms each
year, to fill ranks in armies and agriculture.'..Guide to the River Kingdoms page 8

Pardon my asking, but -- Cheliax aside, where are all these runaway slaves coming from?
just off the top of my head?, numeria, irrisen, isger, razmir, galt, druma, iobaria, casmaron, and ustalav, just a few of the big dogs right there, refugees come from everywhere, also their are ALOT of people in cheliax (over two hundred thousand just in westcrown and egorian alone), it would make sense that most would make for the river kingdoms (after all who would want to look for them there).

Thanks for that nice list of slave-holding nations that can be a source of citizens for the River Kingdoms.

Though I am confused about Druma, I thought that they didn't own slaves there?

those countries were not meant as strictly slave owning, as more a list of places where the common man might want to leave to find a better life, i did not mean to sound harsh, i've just been watching alot of "always sunny" this winter so it comes out every once and awhile.


1. Dread zombie template slapped on a centaur. See here

2. Definitely V would (try to) do that - I just wonder why they ignored Vordekai for so long? Didn't they find the book in the inn?

V is used to having been the lord over hundreds of slaves back in the good old days. So he would start overtaking the whole area, if not stopped by the PCs. Again, I can not understand, why the group ingnored him. With one year having passed by, he had enough time to gather...

My group has ignored him (and still is) because they are terrified of him. There conversation literally went like this last session.

"What do we do about this "Vordakai"?
"The Centaurs want us to go check it out."
"Right. He sounds WAY to dangerous. We don't know any actual information about him accept he is a powerful warlord and a whole tribe of centaurs are scared of him."
"How about we claim Varnhold and fortify it first?"
"Yeah, ok, and while that is happening I would like to contact Restov and have some research done on Vordakai?"
At this point I say "Like magical or mundane research?"
PCs say "Mundane, no need to spend the money."

It then took my group the better part of 7 game months to claim hexes out to Varnhold and begin "fortifying" it. During this time, they went and met the centaurs and it just scared them even more. They saw a raven following them, but just scared it away by summoning an air elemental.

Solution = I think I'm going to make the centaurs get attacked by Xamanthe and a bunch of zombies under her control (the original Varnling Host) as Vord makes Varnhold "vanish" again. The centaurs will win the battle, but blame the attack on the "human expantionist", and begin to gather a large centaur army. Peace can be restored by restoring and dealing with what stirs in the Valley of the Dead. The centaurs will give 30 days before they ride forth and obliterate Varnhold and any trace of meddling humanoids from the Nomen Heights.

What do you think?


I think there are lots of good ways to handle the situation. What you describe is certainly possible.

I think the one thing that seems a little odd is that the Centaurs have been tasked with watching over Vordakai's tomb. Rather than blaming humans and starting a war with them, it seems much more likely that they would focus their efforts on stopping Vordakai (or whatever comes out of the valley) first. Of course, they're hopelessly outmatched. Perhaps Vordakai just uses his power to wipe out the Centaurs. After all, they are the reason he was stuck there so long and he would be quite bitter about that.

This still penalizes the PCs since they can no longer achieve multiple quests (peace with Nomen, rescuing Xamanthe) which gives xp, a stability boost to the kingdom and also would have allowed them centaur armies later on. I would probably also give V another level since he's had time to recover a bit since waking up.

The PCs can still win from this point, but it's going to be much harder.


Ok, one more thing: which level are your PCs?
According to the book they should be around 7-9th level, so they should be able to take V down.

I think it's great that you accomplished to scare your group!
But I also think, that you should now get them to do something about V. Again, I agree with Tem and the sandbox-style allows for all kinds of turns of events.

Maybe you could have some centaurs escape V's attack (if you want to follow Tem's suggestion) with some new insight on who he is/was, why the centaurs were guarding the valley and some other historical insight and get them to move against V.

Again, I would see him as having had enough time to having gained true lichdom again (especially with the centaur campaign) and the area should be teeming with undead.

Ruyan.


Quote:


Maybe you could have some centaurs escape V's attack (if you want to follow Tem's suggestion) with some new insight on who he is/was, why the centaurs were guarding the valley and some other historical insight and get them to move against V.

Again, I would see him as having had enough time to having gained true lichdom again (especially with the centaur campaign) and the area should be teeming with undead.

Ruyan.

First of all, thank you Tem and Ruyan.

Yes, it would make more sense to make the Centaurs vanish, not Varnhold. I like the long term effects of losing the centaurs, or if they do rescue some of them, the centaur unit later on would be smaller. Then perhaps once they go missing the PCs will be encourage to find out what the hell is going on. If not an army of centaur dread zombies riding towards Varnhold with an undead Aeroca Silverfire leading them would be nasty. The party is about 1/3 of the way to level 9. My players have stated they are going to try and wrap up some lose ends (getting a roc egg, getting manticore quills for one of the leaders crazy followers) in about a week of game time. With 5 PCs and a cohort I think might be able to handle V, that is IF they go after him. If they decide not to check him out, the plains where the centaurs roam can become an undead corrupted field for the centaur army. We play again January 30th. Does it seem like my PCs are behind on exp?
I want to upgrade Vordakai with 1 more level of wizard and perhaps have him have a specific set of spells to deal with that "growing, but still pathetic and puny, "nation" west of Varnhold. (he'll have had a while to research them.


I don't think your group is that far off what's expected of them at this point of the adventure. Although it's recommended that they're 9th level when they face V, it doesn't mean they have to be 9th when they get to his tomb. There's lots of xp to be had before the final encounter. Since you also have 6 good guys, even at 8th level, they'd still be able to take him.

I'm currently running VV and my PCs just got to Varnhold and will be facing the Spriggans next session. They've all just hit 8th level due to some kingdom building xp and a couple re-jigged encounters on their way there (the missing noble was killed by a Hangman Tree just outside of town, for instance).

Despite the fact that I've killed more PCs than I can remember, my players are completely fearless and very much surprised when they die. Thankfully, there's been no TPKs yet, but I wouldn't bet against it for the future.


If you wish to push them into action have V take Varnhold, and maybe about 3 months later make a move against their main area. That way they have to move against him. In any event you should at least throw a hint that he will eventually return to full power if he is left alone long enough. Maybe have them run across another group, or at least a surviving member of a group that fought him, and found out his power is not at its peak yet.


Tem wrote:


Despite the fact that I've killed more PCs than I can remember, my players are completely fearless and very much surprised when they die. Thankfully, there's been no TPKs yet, but I wouldn't bet against it for the future.

I've had two deaths in VV so far. The party baron/cleric died in a random encounter that lead to a mini-adventure when they decided to "go check out the slough" and an adult black dragon (daughter of Ilthuliak even though the PCs don't know that yet) wasted the cleric with a vicious strike power attack crit bite attack. The party than goaged the dragon into emerging and ambushed him. With some great rolling the dragon went down. I honestly thought there was going to be a TPK. Death two was when the wizard unbuffed fell into a spiked pit trap got hit by all 4 spikes, 1 crit and 3 normal damage and he died. I could see some deaths from the dread zombie cyclops "I just rolled a 20" attack if those crits start confirming. We'll see what happens.


Well, one of the new characters is a summoner so at least there's a little bit of a buffer against melee sources of damage. I assume the first big crit from a dread zombie cyclops will take him down if it confirms. I think the average damage from one of those things is in the neighbourhood of 60 which will be very scary.

Of course, fighting big V will be a different story all together. I can already guess who's going to be the target of the phantasmal killer. You know - I was thinking about his spell selection and it seems like he could have done better. I was thinking of swapping out dominate person in favour of summon monster V. Of course, I'd like for him to be able to summon daemons but there aren't any on the lists. I figure (based on CR) that I could just substitute them in anyway.

Has anyone else fiddled around with his spell selection?


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Yupp, I did. And I think, I remember wraithstrike speaking of the same.

V's spells:

1st - charm person, chill touch, grease, ray of enfeeblement
2nd - blindness/deafness, false life, ghoul touch, invisibility, protection from good, resist energy
3rd - dispel magic, displacement, suggestion, tongues, vampiric touch
4th - bestow curse, black tentacles, dimension door
5th - dominate person, quickened shield, summon monster V (babau)

Not finalized - and not correct concerning spells/level. I wanted him to be more effective in combat, though the spells are far from optimized. I have not made up my mind about wall spells, might also be a nice way to hinder them. Also, since he is shadowing them for a long time before they encounter him, he should be matching his spells to their power and strategy.

Ruyan.


Tem wrote:

Well, one of the new characters is a summoner so at least there's a little bit of a buffer against melee sources of damage. I assume the first big crit from a dread zombie cyclops will take him down if it confirms. I think the average damage from one of those things is in the neighbourhood of 60 which will be very scary.

Of course, fighting big V will be a different story all together. I can already guess who's going to be the target of the phantasmal killer. You know - I was thinking about his spell selection and it seems like he could have done better. I was thinking of swapping out dominate person in favour of summon monster V. Of course, I'd like for him to be able to summon daemons but there aren't any on the lists. I figure (based on CR) that I could just substitute them in anyway.

Has anyone else fiddled around with his spell selection?

I did. As written the heroes can just walk up to him and smack him. I had Wall of Force prepped. Then I started summoning things. I dropped wall once I had bad guys who could harass the casters. Luckily for them nobody failed any of the saves. I had blindness deafness, dominate person, and a few other SoS spells. Casting grease under the paladin's feet was fun. He was not all smiles though. I had a scroll of summon monster 5, and 4.

Osirion

So... one thing I never did get, and I don't see as being asked before: How are the PCs supposed to tell what 'originally' belongs to Varnhold, and what is for them to loot? Because if I know my players, they will loot anything they can from the empty town to use it later. And who is to tell them differently?

Is it expected that, once they rescue the villagers, they mention the stuff that belongs to Varnhold and expect it back?

I guess I'm just not sure of the best way to handle this, especially since they gain unrest for keeping the treasure, and get Loyalty for not. When there's a kingdom consisting of thousands by this point... how exactly do the 40 or so citizens of Varnhold left really cause that much unrest?

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