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RPG Superstar 2015

The Varnhold Vanishing (GM Reference)


Kingmaker

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Hopefully others can use this thread to clarify questions arising in this adventure. If you happen to see another thread, please link post a link in this one to try and keep things tied together.

Chapter 1: Stolen Land
Chapter 2: Rivers Run Red
Chapter 3: The Varnhold Vanishing
Chapter 4: Blood for Blood
Chapter 5: War of the River Kings
Chapter 6: Sound of a Thousand Screams

Grand Lodge

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

OK!! I am now officially eager for the next installment of Kingmaker. :))


PJ wrote:
OK!! I am now officially eager for the next installment of Kingmaker. :))

You only have to wait another week. Got my "in a week" email.

You all know what to do!

Dark Archive

Yeah, email must've been sent at the end of the West Coast work day. Cool! Now I really need to motor on "Rivers Run Red." I've been busy prepping and GMing "Fellnight Queen."

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

Got the email saying to just wait a week-ish! So excited!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
DMcCoy1693 wrote:
Got the email saying to just wait a week-ish! So excited!

Lol me too!!

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

Something I've been doing in my campaign is introducing the PCs to some other relevant NPCs. Specifically, the last time they went back to Restov (had to buy a scroll to get 2 party mates back from the dead), I had them run into Baron Maegar Varn, himself on a trip to Restov.

This gave the PCs the opportunity to get to know him and interact with him. I attached a piece of fantasy art from the internet and one of the players immediately decided her character had a crush on Baron Varn, and after some flirtation the two of them have gotten very friendly.

Likewise, the PCs have been spending parts of several sessions exploring the frontier area between the two areas and negotiating possible border disputes ahead of time, trying to find a firm, fair, and friendly border that will satisfy both sides.

Basically, I'm working on making Baron Varn and his country much more relevant and interesting to the PCs... leading up to what is to come in this adventure! I figure they'll be much more motivated to investigate if they actually have some personal contact with Varn.

So far it's going well, although the players have been rather harsh negotiators, wanting to squeeze for every drop. Not quite as friendly as the first meeting, but they also shouldn't just think Varn is a pushover schmuck. He's just like them - trying to make a name for himself and settle a harsh and wild land and do the best he can for his people.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Jason Nelson wrote:
Likewise, the PCs have been spending parts of several sessions exploring the frontier area between the two areas and negotiating possible border disputes ahead of time, trying to find a firm, fair, and friendly border that will satisfy both sides.

And how, pray tell, are things going on the PCs' "other" border with Fort Drelev in the Hooktongue Slough...hmmmm? ;-)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
PJ wrote:
DMcCoy1693 wrote:
Got the email saying to just wait a week-ish! So excited!
Lol me too!!

Status is pending....

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

NSpicer wrote:
Jason Nelson wrote:
Likewise, the PCs have been spending parts of several sessions exploring the frontier area between the two areas and negotiating possible border disputes ahead of time, trying to find a firm, fair, and friendly border that will satisfy both sides.
And how, pray tell, are things going on the PCs' "other" border with Fort Drelev in the Hooktongue Slough...hmmmm? ;-)

They've mostly been avoiding the western border like the plague. Given that forest hexes are a net loss for a kingdom, they have claimed almost none of them (the only ones they claim were to get a city at the ruined Temple of the Elk that was discounted because of some NPCs). They had no interest in following up the Tatzlford lead.

By "they" I should probably say the player running the ruler (and who has done up a kingdom spreadsheet) has no interest in expanding that way and has made a sufficiently convincing case that the other players agree. They'd much rather head east for the hill country and farm it like there's no tomorrow.

They have investigated a bit on the west side of the Tuskwater and Candlemere, as far as the lizardfolk village, but retreated from that mission after two party deaths. However, there is troll trouble a-brewin on that southwestern frontier, so their attention will be pulled over to the west whether they want it to or not!

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Jason Nelson wrote:
However, there is troll trouble a-brewin on that southwestern frontier, so their attention will be pulled over to the west whether they want it to or not!

Oh, yes. It will be. It WILL be!

;-)


Downloaded and unzipped :)

Oh, well... sleep is for the weak.

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

DOWNLOADING!!!!!!!!


DMcCoy1693 wrote:
DOWNLOADING!!!!!!!!

kwik peruse through

my fav mod of the 3 so far "sandbox with strong subplot" just on pure read/glance through

hopefully finish part 1 tonight or next week

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
thenovalord wrote:
DMcCoy1693 wrote:
DOWNLOADING!!!!!!!!

kwik peruse through

my fav mod of the 3 so far "sandbox with strong subplot" just on pure read/glance through

hopefully finish part 1 tonight or next week

You guys are so lucky :)) I keep checking my email every 5 min. lol.


thenovalord wrote:
my fav mod of the 3 so far "sandbox with strong subplot" just on pure read/glance through

That's my impression as well. I'm really looking forward to running this campaign (we won't start until September since we're currently in the middle of Second Darkness).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In the village of Varnhold, there is only one location marked L6, but the text says each of these spots. Are there supposed to be multiple spots labelled L6?

I also assume that the room labelled L36 by itself is actually L37.

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

Question: p12, Restov Stat block: Should the High Priest be NG? IIRC Erastil is a LG deity so his priests should only be allowed to be LG, NG, and LN. It is currently listed as N.

(sorry if I am going to into total fanboy mode for a moment, but this adventure is awesome so far!!!)

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

One thing I should say: the rod of wonder is in our current (non-Kingmaker) campaign. We use a d10,000 list for what happens with the rod. The running gag in our group is the listing "Trade places with the nearest lich." The group is SO not going to want to roll that one before this adventure when I do run Kingmaker (the next campaign). Bwhahaha!


Is this the issue with the Pathfinder rules for mass combat? Or is that the next adventure?

Star Voter 2013

Freehold DM wrote:
Is this the issue with the Pathfinder rules for mass combat? Or is that the next adventure?

Next IIRC

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

TheChozyn wrote:
Freehold DM wrote:
Is this the issue with the Pathfinder rules for mass combat? Or is that the next adventure?
Next IIRC

Actually, no. The full rules for mass-combat don't appear until the 5th installment of the Kingmaker AP. The adventure after "The Varnhold Vanishing" is "Blood for Blood" and that's the one I wrote. It has a miniature "mass"-combat scene in it, but the rules for running that encounter are more of a "lite" version of the full rules that will appear in Jason Nelson's "War of the River Kings." Think of it as a warm-up...the battle before the war, so to speak. Things get a lot harsher after that.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

NSpicer wrote:
TheChozyn wrote:
Freehold DM wrote:
Is this the issue with the Pathfinder rules for mass combat? Or is that the next adventure?
Next IIRC
Actually, no. The full rules for mass-combat don't appear until the 5th installment of the Kingmaker AP. The adventure after "The Varnhold Vanishing" is "Blood for Blood" and that's the one I wrote. It has a miniature "mass"-combat scene in it, but the rules for running that encounter are more of a "lite" version of the full rules that will appear in Jason Nelson's "War of the River Kings." Think of it as a warm-up...the battle before the war, so to speak. Things get a lot harsher after that.

It's all part of the New Cruelty (TM)!

Star Voter 2013

Well fine be right... ;)

I'm gonna go back to my e-mail and spam refresh until I get my Shiny New PDFs


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Yay! Got it!

No mass combat rules yet but some great encounters though!

Edit: Can't say I'm overly keen on the Spriggans, they're not exactly scary!


A certain wizard is channeling like a cleric, but according to the Core Rule book a wizard can only channel to use the Turn Undead or Command Undead feat. Should the channeling be removed or will one of you nice Paizo people be giving us a reason as to why gets to break the rule, that may not have made it into the book.

Edit: The strategy section says he channels, but no mentioned of how many D6's he gets to channel is mentioned anywhere in the statblock


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:

A certain wizard is channeling like a cleric, but according to the Core Rule book a wizard can only channel to use the Turn Undead or Command Undead feat. Should the channeling be removed or will one of you nice Paizo people be giving us a reason as to why gets to break the rule, that may not have made it into the book.

Edit: The strategy section says he channels, but no mentioned of how many D6's he gets to channel is mentioned anywhere in the statblock

I'd guess 5d6 based off his caster level, but it's a bit weird.


stuart haffenden wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:

A certain wizard is channeling like a cleric, but according to the Core Rule book a wizard can only channel to use the Turn Undead or Command Undead feat. Should the channeling be removed or will one of you nice Paizo people be giving us a reason as to why gets to break the rule, that may not have made it into the book.

Edit: The strategy section says he channels, but no mentioned of how many D6's he gets to channel is mentioned anywhere in the statblock

I'd guess 5d6 based off his caster level, but it's a bit weird.

I don't know if the error is in the strategy section or in the statblock.

related topic: I have also though about using a dread necromancer with changes suggested by another poster.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Vordakai is a necromancy specialist wizard. He has the channel energy ability only to be used with his Command Undead feat. He deals no damage with it. Heals no damage with it. He only controls undead with it. Only undead.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
stuart haffenden wrote:

Yay! Got it!

No mass combat rules yet but some great encounters though!

Edit: Can't say I'm overly keen on the Spriggans, they're not exactly scary!

All in how you play them, I guess. In our "Realm of the Fellnight Queen" adventure that's a sort of warm-up to "Kingmaker" they have a hard time hitting any of the PCs (who have ACs ranging from 21 to 26 at 7th level) but they're hateful and vicious and still have a definite presence. Last session they

Spoiler:
tried to toss a bound and near-dead dryad into a bonfire, but the monk intercepted her (I allowed Combat Reflexes to give him a grab in mid-air, since he was Large at the time and within reach). Even after that, another that was in hiding and was going to do a sneak attack instead popped out of the bushes and attempted to stab her in the chest while she was prone.

Before this, the druid had used Command Plants to bring two (Fellnight) spriggans under her sway, but I played them as so disturbingly murderous that she sent them away to "walk north until it becomes south" rather than use them as cannon fodder.

They really, really HATE the spriggans.

Guess now that I have my PDF, I'd better finish up my print copy of "Rivers Run Red" huh?


Justin Sluder wrote:
Vordakai is a necromancy specialist wizard. He has the channel energy ability only to be used with his Command Undead feat. He deals no damage with it. Heals no damage with it. He only controls undead with it. Only undead.

I know by by core rules that is what it is, but that strategy section suggest him channeling negative energy to deal with opponents. That is why I was wondering if they made an exception for some reason.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Golbez57 wrote:
stuart haffenden wrote:
...Can't say I'm overly keen on the Spriggans, they're not exactly scary!
All in how you play them, I guess. In our "Realm of the Fellnight Queen" adventure that's a sort of warm-up to "Kingmaker" they have a hard time hitting any of the PCs (who have ACs ranging from 21 to 26 at 7th level) but they're hateful and vicious and still have a definite presence.

::makes maniacally gleeful giggling noises in the background upon reading Golbez57's spoiler::


1 person marked this as a favorite.

It's all right Neil the nice men in the white coats will be here very soon.


Concerning the geography of the region:

- How much further does the Dunsward stretch to the east, ans does it border the Castrovin Sea?

- Do the Tors of Levenies stretch south-east to the Castrovian Sea?

- Or do they merge with (or are part of) the Hills of Nomen at some point?

- From the bottom of the map on page 10, how far is the border to Mivon? Does Mivon stretch to the Tors of Levenies?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Annexing Varnhold wrote:


they gain control of all of the lands surrounding Varnhold for
two hexes in every direction (with the exception of the hex
containing area P—this area remains under the control of
the Nomen centaurs).

It seems to me that area P is not within two hexes of Varnhold. I assume that the map was altered at some point without correcting this portion of the text. Can we assume now that they would take control of all 19 hexes (those within 2 of Varnhold)?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Tem wrote:
Annexing Varnhold wrote:


they gain control of all of the lands surrounding Varnhold for
two hexes in every direction (with the exception of the hex
containing area P—this area remains under the control of
the Nomen centaurs).
It seems to me that area P is not within two hexes of Varnhold. I assume that the map was altered at some point without correcting this portion of the text. Can we assume now that they would take control of all 19 hexes (those within 2 of Varnhold)?

Yes.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Zen79 wrote:
- How much further does the Dunsward stretch to the east, and does it border the Castrovin Sea?

The Dunsward is pretty large; I suspect it does get pretty close to the Castrovin Sea, but since we haven't actually mapped all that area out yet I can't really say for sure. (But see below)

Zen79 wrote:
- Do the Tors of Levenies stretch south-east to the Castrovian Sea? Or do they merge with (or are part of) the Hills of Nomen at some point?

My suspicion is that the tors do loop around and hook up to the Hills of Nomen; this gives us a pretty handy border between the Inner Sea region and Cassomir.

Zen79 wrote:
- From the bottom of the map on page 10, how far is the border to Mivon? Does Mivon stretch to the Tors of Levenies?

The corner of Mivon's northeast border is more or less a hex or so away from the bottom left corner of the map. The tors do not extend into Mivon.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm a bit confused about the town of Varnhold, when the pcs annex the town it contains 21 blocks worth of buildings which would give it a populaton of 5250.

Yet on page 19 it says that Varnhold had well over a hundred inhabitants before the problems. (while 5250 is "well over a hundred" i suspect that the author means 100-200 inhabitants).

Is there some reason Varnhold is so small relative to the number of blocks?
Have i missed some errata?
I know it has no impact on the rules but i'm still curious...

Personally i'm houseruling it that every block (and hex) gives the kingdom a population of 25 or 50. 250/block (hex) just seems too much, it would give a town a population growth of 500/month (if only single-block buildings are built. Theoretically it could be as much as 2500/month for a fledgling barony!)


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
My suspicion is that the tors do loop around and hook up to the Hills of Nomen; this gives us a pretty handy border between the Inner Sea region and Cassomir.

I assume you mean Casmaron, not Cassomir, right?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Zaister wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
My suspicion is that the tors do loop around and hook up to the Hills of Nomen; this gives us a pretty handy border between the Inner Sea region and Cassomir.
I assume you mean Casmaron, not Cassomir, right?

Correct.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Montana77 wrote:

I'm a bit confused about the town of Varnhold, when the pcs annex the town it contains 21 blocks worth of buildings which would give it a populaton of 5250.

Yet on page 19 it says that Varnhold had well over a hundred inhabitants before the problems. (while 5250 is "well over a hundred" i suspect that the author means 100-200 inhabitants).

Is there some reason Varnhold is so small relative to the number of blocks?
Have i missed some errata?
I know it has no impact on the rules but i'm still curious...

Personally i'm houseruling it that every block (and hex) gives the kingdom a population of 25 or 50. 250/block (hex) just seems too much, it would give a town a population growth of 500/month (if only single-block buildings are built. Theoretically it could be as much as 2500/month for a fledgling barony!)

Population totals are, honestly, kind of irrelevant to ALL of the game rules. That means that during design, we can list ANY number for a region or city's population, and since that number is 100% divorced and separate from the actual kingdom rules, we don't have to slave ourselves to specific totals.

For Varnhold, we wanted it to be a relatively small village, and the citizen total needed to be pretty small to enable what happens to them in the adventure. As a result, the pre-Vanishing population of Varnhold was something like 120 or 150 or thereabouts. Certainly looking at the MAP of Varnhold supports a population of about that size. The map absolutely does NOT support 5250 people. In this case, you should simply ignore the generalized rule for estimating populations and just go with what the adventure says. No errata needed, since the population estimation rules in the kingdom building article is used to determine populations for cities built using those rules. Those rules were NOT used to build Varnhold (even though we do give what amounts to a translation of the rules in the adventure).

Population numbers are a contentious topic. A lot of gamers like to think they're experts on population figures, but the fact that Golarion is NOT earth and we can't really know WHAT effects every-day magic might have on population totals makes it a no-win internet argument. Personally, I like to equate the prevalence of magic in Golarion to the prevalence of technology in the real world, and thus just think of Golarion and the real world as actually being pretty comparable when it comes to population densities and the like.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Should the Great Cyclops on p. 84 have the (Giant) subtype?

Sovereign Court

Justin Sluder wrote:
Vordakai is a necromancy specialist wizard. He has the channel energy ability only to be used with his Command Undead feat. He deals no damage with it. Heals no damage with it. He only controls undead with it. Only undead.

That does seem to contradict his tactics though. He dim doors away and heals up with it and uses it as a weapon against the party.

Sovereign Court

Some questions about the Nomen Centaurs:

Their leader is a druid but is depicted wearing a sword, armor, wielding a halberd, etc. I suspect that this is merely an artist choice independent of the text, but I would like to know if there's some sort of official gear for her. Does a druid of Desna wield some sort of wooden starknife? Is the bow her primary weapon(even though she wouldn't be proficient in it as a druid)? I doubt there will ever be combat with her, but if she ends up serving a larger capacity in the campaign, I want to build a statblock that is true to the writer's intent.

My other question is about the Nomen Centaurs and their desire for autonomy. Obviously, the easiest option is to declare their hex permanently unclaimable or the kingdom risks increased unrest and stability penalties from the broken truce, but my players are very roleplay-oriented and often manage to convince even radish-stuffed kobolds to be friendlier than their statblocks intend. I'm not a soft DM(I've killed my wife's characters more often than any other player and I'm rather fond of her), but I do respect players who try to solve problems through dialogue and conversation, as well as noble choices. My question is whether there might be some way to include the Nomen Centaurs as part of the Kingdom through some sort of negotiated agreement? Rather than standing alone in the middle of a rapidly claimed territory, is there any way to convince the centaurs to become part of the kingdom? Maybe even offering their chief an unclaimed or vacated leadership position?

I know my players. In Savage Tide, they transformed the Lotus Dragon lair into a thriving community of reformed Bullywugs who even paid their taxes to Sasserine in the manner of any other residents. I strongly suspect they will want to make the Centaurs a part of their kingdom when the time comes, but that's not even mentioned as a possibility. Was there a balance reason for that?

Scarab Sages

Warforged Gardener wrote:

Some questions about the Nomen Centaurs:

Their leader is a druid but is depicted wearing a sword, armor, wielding a halberd, etc. I suspect that this is merely an artist choice independent of the text, but I would like to know if there's some sort of official gear for her. Does a druid of Desna wield some sort of wooden starknife? Is the bow her primary weapon(even though she wouldn't be proficient in it as a druid)? I doubt there will ever be combat with her, but if she ends up serving a larger capacity in the campaign, I want to build a statblock that is true to the writer's intent.

My other question is about the Nomen Centaurs and their desire for autonomy. Obviously, the easiest option is to declare their hex permanently unclaimable or the kingdom risks increased unrest and stability penalties from the broken truce, but my players are very roleplay-oriented and often manage to convince even radish-stuffed kobolds to be friendlier than their statblocks intend. I'm not a soft DM(I've killed my wife's characters more often than any other player and I'm rather fond of her), but I do respect players who try to solve problems through dialogue and conversation, as well as noble choices. My question is whether there might be some way to include the Nomen Centaurs as part of the Kingdom through some sort of negotiated agreement? Rather than standing alone in the middle of a rapidly claimed territory, is there any way to convince the centaurs to become part of the kingdom? Maybe even offering their chief an unclaimed or vacated leadership position?

I know my players. In Savage Tide, they transformed the Lotus Dragon lair into a thriving community of reformed Bullywugs who even paid their taxes to Sasserine in the manner of any other residents. I strongly suspect they will want to make the Centaurs a part of their kingdom when the time comes, but that's not even mentioned as a possibility. Was there a balance reason for that?

In regards to the Centaurs, what about the reward for the quest on page 35?

Spoiler:
Reward: If the mystery of Xamanthe’s disappearance is
explained, Aecora thanks the PCs for their aid and rewards
them with a gift of potions—6 potions of cure moderate
wounds and 6 potions of lesser restoration. If the PCs escort
Xamanthe alive back to her mother, Aecora is overjoyed
and offers the PCs Skybolt (if the bow has been returned)
as thanks—symbolically accepting them into the Nomen
tribe. This action has the additional effect of allying the
Nomens with the PCs’ kingdom, which increases their
kingdom’s Stability by 2.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Sometimes, there are disconnects between the art and the text. Usually because the art comes in very late and we don't have time to double check it all against the text.

In the case of the leader of the Nomen centaurs, though, it's fair to assume she took some feats to get a few extra weapons. And of course, she wouldn't have to do so to get longsword proficiency, since centaurs have that for free. (And I believe that the halberd was ordered originally to be a spear, for what that's worth... don't have the art in front of me to determine if it IS a spear...). In any event, we didn't stat her up because she's VERY unlikely to be involved in a fight. You're the GM of your game, so feel free to build her stat block however you want, since neither the writer NOR me as the developer had an "intent" for her stats, really, since they were never needed in the first place.

If your players really impress the Nomen Centaurs and make friends with them, that'd be a great way to have the centuars become a more supportive ally for the kingdom. ANY allied NPC the PCs meet can be a potential recruit for a leadership position if they do well enough on the roleplaying and Diplomacy or bribing or whatever, including centaurs or even things like charmed spriggans or controlled undead! The sky's the limit!

The above-mentioned quest reward is the expected way that the PCs will recruit the centaurs to their side, of course.


James Jacobs wrote:
don't have the art in front of me to determine if it IS a spear...

As far as I can see the art clearly depicts her wielding a spear, along with a wooden shield and some sort of hide armor.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Branding Opportunity wrote:
Should the Great Cyclops on p. 84 have the (Giant) subtype?

I am guessing so, since the "Cyclops" on p. 52 of the "Bestiary" has the subtype.

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