Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Pathfinder Society

Pathfinder Beginner Box

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Comics

Pathfinder Legends

Ashes at Dawn (GM Reference)


Carrion Crown

51 to 100 of 121 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>

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

Well, in the original folklore, it was said that the father of a dhampyr was a vampire seeking the pleasures of the flesh.  And to be fair, once you have a corpse up and about and doing a lot of things corpses don't do, (like moving, let alone talking or feeding,) arguing the illogic of dhampyr conception from vampire/human reproduction seems like quibbling.

I'd suppose the aversion to the idea comes from squick factor, except lots of people think vampires are sexy and want sex with them, (ref: vampire movies and the cleavage intensive vampires in this module). So I don't know what it's about.

Silver Crusade

My party has not one a lot wit the Order of the Palantine Eye, yes they know the judge was part of it,but they kinda brushed off the secret society bit.

Advice for what to do to get them where i need at this point?

Also this party has 2 members that are devote worshipers of Sarenrae, a paladin and an inquisitor respectively. both are going into this mod comping at the bit to waste some vampires with Sarenrae's holy fire.

How do you suggest i get the the required information.

Taldor

They need to do more than just identify the Moribund Key from the Dullahan. To get background on it they need to access the archives at the Haraday Theatre where they'll also find the Gargoyle statue that shows where the WW stronghold was.

Any sage knowledgable about Whispering Way would be a member of the Caliphas chapter of the Order. So no matter who they try to consult (in this case Abraun Chalest or Edjureus Modd) they would be consulting the Order.

--Vrocky Horror


I and my group really enjoyed the entire thing. The party got into the entire murder mystery and loved following the clues.

To deflect the paladin and Pharasmins (a cleric and ranger) from wholesale vampire slaughter the high cleric in Caliphas (at work so I don't have her name) informed them of a détente between the Vampires and the Church - If the church goes after the vampires they go after the citizens in a big way. She *really* didn't want to upset that balance, *yet*.

My only issue with this (and every other) installment is the maps. I mean really take the 5 seconds to do a google search for monastery floor plan then you end up with something that evokes the feeling of an abandoned monastery and go from there. So I usually find myself remapping buildings for every major encounter in an adventure path which is annoying.


Luther wrote:

Dhampir origin

Balkan mythology origins. If there was any copying then Blade copied off of the dhampir, not the other way around.

Unless you're referring to the specific dhampir NPC that appears in AaD, in which case the archetype he's representing was hardly original in either him or Blade.

"Born of both worlds, sired by a monster and now he hunts monsters, stalks the night to put them down, yadda yadda." That whole deal was done long before Wesley Snipes showed up in all black.

pheeeeww i was wondering if all of you notice how many often cames another halfsomething to hunt for his evil half:

Alucard: half vampire hunting vampires
Blade: ""
D: a half vampire hunting vampires too
Dante: half devil devil hunters
Kratos: half god hunting gods

so stop complaining about something like this... Quinley is another one who add to the list (actualy i hope it was made as a tibute for quincey morris from dracula or something).

Andoran

Ice Titan wrote:

I've come here to share two quick things:

First is Radivir. There was some talk about him as a monk and how his wand plan as a rogue doesn't actually work. So, since Ultimate Combat came out, I remade him as a tetori monk.

If you're going to respec him, why not just make him a sorcerer whose save DC is high enough that vampires might fail a save vs halt undead? Or a dirge bard who adds halt undead to their spell list? Now the party's in big trouble...


Does anything else need to be done besides the upper 30's touch AC and saves to match?


Where can I find the city stat block for Caliphas? I noticed that it is not in the Ashes at Dawn book and I can't seem to locate it on any of the pathfinder wiki sites. I can always make one up, but I figured if it already existed then I might as well use that one.


It's in "Rule of Fear."

Caliphas
LN Large City
Corruption +4; Crime -3; Economy +4; Law +6; Lore +4; Society +1
Qualities notorious, prosperous, rumormongering citizens, strategic location, superstitious
Danger 20

DEMOGRAPHICS

Government Overlord
Population 15,640 (14,950 humans, 350 dwarves, 220 elves, 120 other)
Notable NPCs
Prince Aduard Ordranti III(LN male human aristocrat 3/ fighter 8)
Countess Carmilla Caliphvaso (LE female human aristocrat 4/ rogue 11)
Diaudin (LN male human rogue 10)
Luvick Siervage (LE male vampire aristocrat 2/ fighter 15)

MARKETPLACE

Base Value 13,600 gp; Purchase Limit 100,000; Spellcasting 5th Minor Items 4d4; Medium Items 3d4; Major Items 2d4.

Andoran

Grey Lensman wrote:
Does anything else need to be done besides the upper 30's touch AC and saves to match?

Not really to make him a challenge for a party, depending on the party. But since a vampire can turn gaseous to escape being grappled until (if I understand correctly a 13th level tetori) having them fail a save vs halt undead or something similar is actually an easier task. Should they save and start running away, a sorcerer could actually use antimagic field or something to really slow someone down.

Andoran

Anyone have any ideas for Prince Aduard Ordranti III's security and bloodline? Ramoska mentioned him, and now I need to figure out why Ramoska thinks that; what, if anything, the PCs might learn to corroborate or refute that; and detail the Prince's security team and set up. I'm open to suggestions, as I'm leaning towards a number of guards and a somewhat resigned attitude given that he figures his only threat is the Countess who hasn't done anything yet.


In Ashes, page 38 - there are 3 nabasu demons in the warehouse. It also says there are 8 ghouls killed by the nabasu demon gaze in that warehouse.

For the stat blocks, it points to the bestiary - where you'd normally then run the nabasu demon according to the AC, HP, etc. based on the bestiary. But - if the demons killed these 8 ghouls, then they should have 8 growth points split between them and this isn't mentioned at all. This also gives them 8 gaze attacks between them a day as well as more hit points, more ac and etc..

Usually if the base stat block of a creature from the bestiary has extra added onto it (ie. growth points and stats) - so should I be running them with growth points or without growth points?

Thanks for any help/advice!!


blashimov wrote:
Ice Titan wrote:

I've come here to share two quick things:

First is Radivir. There was some talk about him as a monk and how his wand plan as a rogue doesn't actually work. So, since Ultimate Combat came out, I remade him as a tetori monk.

If you're going to respec him, why not just make him a sorcerer whose save DC is high enough that vampires might fail a save vs halt undead? Or a dirge bard who adds halt undead to their spell list? Now the party's in big trouble...

I am just going to say that I ran Radivir as Ice Titan's remake, and it was a pretty cool fight. The party's reaction when Radivir intentionally dived right into the front line, ki threw them all in different directions while punching them in the face, and picked up the party's sorcerer like a ragdoll was priceless.

Well, that and when with his gloves of arrow snaring Radivir caught one of the alchemist's bombs and spiked it right back into his face.

The party took Radivir down without suffering losses, but it involved like four different people all scoring criticals against him and his 45+ AC (I'd given him the advanced template, too).


I'm hoping this is posted in the right forum. I have a question regarding Lady Evgenya Zunaida. I must be overlooking something. According the tactics notes, she is to escape "casting quickened dimension door with her metamagic adept power to escape". I don't see how this is possible since dimension door is a 4th level spell, Evgenya is a 10th level sorcerer, and quickened uses 4 spell slots higher than the spell being cast (e.g. quickened dimension door should use 8th level spell slot, which she doesnt' have). The metamagic adept only decreases the casting time of a spell when used with a metamagic feat.

What am I missing or did the designer goof?

Thanks!


Orphelyne wrote:

In Ashes, page 38 - there are 3 nabasu demons in the warehouse. It also says there are 8 ghouls killed by the nabasu demon gaze in that warehouse.

For the stat blocks, it points to the bestiary - where you'd normally then run the nabasu demon according to the AC, HP, etc. based on the bestiary. But - if the demons killed these 8 ghouls, then they should have 8 growth points split between them and this isn't mentioned at all. This also gives them 8 gaze attacks between them a day as well as more hit points, more ac and etc..

Usually if the base stat block of a creature from the bestiary has extra added onto it (ie. growth points and stats) - so should I be running them with growth points or without growth points?

Thanks for any help/advice!!

I'm just bumping this question just once in case anyone knows the answer!


ckdragons - that's probably a goof from someone thinking that metamagic adept worked like a metamagic rod. My party didn't fight Zunaida, so I never looked at her tactics.

Orphelyne - I'm pretty sure I added the growth points to my Nabassu so that they'd have the gaze. It's really your discretion - its an easier fight if they can't do it.


Thanks, Zhangar :) I did the same thing in the end - but wanted to know if I got it right!

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

ckdragons wrote:
I'm hoping this is posted in the right forum. I have a question regarding Lady Evgenya Zunaida. I must be overlooking something. According the tactics notes, she is to escape "casting quickened dimension door with her metamagic adept power to escape". I don't see how this is possible since dimension door is a 4th level spell, Evgenya is a 10th level sorcerer, and quickened uses 4 spell slots higher than the spell being cast (e.g. quickened dimension door should use 8th level spell slot, which she doesnt' have). The metamagic adept only decreases the casting time of a spell when used with a metamagic feat....What am I missing or did the designer goof?

Evgenya Zunaida changed quite a bit from my original turnover. Originally, she was an aristocrat 2/sorcerer 13, which gave her spellcasting up to 6th level spells. The Morale section of her stat-block then included a quickened casting of invisibility to aid her escape rather than dimension door. Thus, as a 2nd level spell, she could use her metamagic adept power and Quicken Spell feat to do that. You're quite right that a quickened dimension door wouldn't be possible. Sometimes slight inconsistencies like that happen when NPCs are modified from their original design. Rob or Wes must have needed to scale her down from a CR 14 to a CR 12 and just missed that change in terms of her abilities as compared to her tactics.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Orphelyne wrote:
In Ashes, page 38 - there are 3 nabasu demons in the warehouse. It also says there are 8 ghouls killed by the nabasu demon gaze in that warehouse....so should I be running them with growth points or without growth points?

Unfortunately, that's another casualty/change from my original turnover. In the original manuscript, I didn't include any ghouls created by the nabasu yet. That encounter just had the three demons in the rafters for the PCs to encounter. Basically, Radvir was intending to encourage the use of their death-stealing gaze to create more chaos in Caliphas on the Whispering Way's behalf, transforming its citizens into ghouls...which would ultimately create a new cadre of undead for the Whispering Tyrant upon his return. The nabasu hadn't yet been given leave to begin this activity yet. Radvir was waiting to complete his manipulation of Luvick's vampires before setting them loose.


Neil Spicer wrote:
Unfortunately, that's another casualty/change from my original turnover. In the original manuscript, I didn't include any ghouls created by the nabasu yet. That encounter just had the three demons in the rafters for the PCs to encounter. Basically, Radvir was intending to encourage the use of their death-stealing gaze to create more chaos in Caliphas on the Whispering Way's behalf, transforming its citizens into ghouls...which would ultimately create a new cadre of undead for the Whispering Tyrant upon his return. The nabasu hadn't yet been given leave to begin this activity yet. Radvir was waiting to complete his manipulation of Luvick's vampires before setting them loose.

Thanks, Neil! I appreciate the background. :) I ended up running him with the growth points just for the added challenge. It worked out well!

Lantern Lodge

I just started my detailed reread of this book having warped up Wake of the Watcher last week. First off, glad there has been some discussion on the building of rational to stay the hand of the zealous folks here in this thread. I'm dealing with a paladin, and two oracles with religious ties to Pharasma. So this module might turn into a blood bath if not handled carefully. I'm actually strongly considering talking GM to Players, and determining how they want to approach the problem, and if the group of players agree that they want their characters to have the emotional inter party strife that comes from such allying, or the risk that comes with a pogrom of vampires, then they are free to roleplay knowing that the group of players has made a decision. It won't be the first time we've broken the fourth wall in this AP, and we had decidedly good results with Trial of the Beast, where we sat down and talked through the nature, and the mechanics of the trial as gamers, before we stumbled through it with their pcs.

The second thing is Neil's evil genius scares me. The combo with the Dolthysuun and the spiders is pure awesome.


I've decided to rework the hook for this module. I'm having Adivion Adrissant invite the party to his home in Caliphas. He's been interacting with one of the party members for some time wooing her with gifts. His plan is to have them give him the Raven's Head mace and use them to kill the vampires in Caliphas.

Once the party sets out killing vampires, I'm going to have Luvick contact them to make a truce and explain that they are being used. That should set up the next module for a confrontation with Adivion.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

This is a redoing of the greenhouse in part 1

Greenhouse of Doom


I have to say, Mathius did a great job with the modified Greenhouse. My players couldn't figure out what was going on, who the actual target was, or what kept hitting them with roots and pulling them around the board.

It was a far better fight than having them go one on five against the druid vampire (which always ends quickly due to action economy).


Been a while since I posted here. Thanks for the compliment on the encounter.

My players saw it coming and but went in anyway to save the cleric of Caydin. He died but Breath of life brought him back. Yeah 6th level spell to save a NPC. The druid got nailed by glitterdust, surrounded by a blade barrier and lance charged by caviler that bull rushed her into the blade barrier. No party losses but they used a lot of resources to win it.

The druid followed the vamp druid as an elemental deep into the earth and burned her when she reformed in her coffin. They were vindictive.

Work in the Abbey now. The first thing I am doing is writing up how one room will come to the aid of others to make fewer harder encounters.

Looks like a hard CR 15 upstairs and CR 16 downstairs. If they take the 1st level first instead of going strait to a witch they can make the upstairs encounter much easier but then both witches will have time to buff.

Will post the Abbey when done.

They went on a slaughter fest in the vampire underground but I made Luvick a wiz 20 who was bored. Watching the PCs butcher his children giggle. Once that was done he told them about the witches and offered to pay them and transport them to gallowspire if they dealt with it but they have to do it today.

They abbey will be tough with about 1/3 to 1/2 of their spells gone.


I must say that I have gotten so much inspiration from this forum! I am a first time GM and the community resources are unimaginable! Some we have just used for inspiration, and other ideas we have downright stolen. We are in the end of "Wake of the Watcher", and in book 5+6 we are doing something different. Our players have longed for a game with more options, so we have tried to give them that.

The setting is that there is a serious uprising of undead all over ustalav, they can feel something stirring, and everybody wants to get in on the action. The players will see ravaged country sides, and blacksmiths will be busy making arms and armor.

We want the players to gather a small army with which they can break through the undead masses and get to gallowspire and stop AA. The Ustalavian aristocraty will be unable to gather a large army due to the fact, that their counties all suffer from this undead uprising.

The players will need all their contacts to gather this small break-through force. They will need manpower, ressources and information about the opposing force. The idea is that the PCs can contact several people about these subjects. They, of course, require something of the PCs (we are afterall in the ambitious city of caliphas). The PCs could ally with Luvick's vampire forces, to gain information about gallowspire and the undead army when Luvick served. They will also be able to use allied vampires in the final battle. This will however create lots of problems if they have also allied themselves with the Knights of Ozem. Another example is that they will be able to get werewolves in the final battle (they loved them in the 3rd book), if they help Cybrisa Dorzhanev establish dominance in Shudderwood. Of course there are other conflicts, as Edjureus Modd is not the head of the Esoteric Order (EO) in our game, but he really wants to be. The leader of EO is not so willing to help the players, but will give some agents of EO for the cause. If Edjureus is made leader however, he will convince the nobles to gather a larger army for the players. It is not the case that the evil choice will always will be more effective, but the players will have to think about which people they ally with, as that can rob them of opportunities to ally with others. They will also be visited by Vrood (he has been turned undead). He is very angry at AA and would like to see his downfall. If they can break Vrood's former master, the goulish diviner Yrasa Nine-Eyes, out of her prison, they can help with a lot of information about AA's army, tactics and how to bypass traps and dangers in Virlych.

This will all lead to a final attack on Gallowspire and AA. The PCs will be able to direct their different parts of the army against different enemies, based on the information they have gathered. This could be that vampires suck against Marrowgarth, but werewolves are quite good.

Have a nice day


My players met with the various vampire groups in the sewers and are done for the night. I am planning to have the two vampire drug dealers attack them at the inn when I can, assuming my players ever let me pull it off. I hate when I'm like "ok, so how do you guys handle nights at the inn" and they look at each other and say something like "we never sleep! wards everywhere! I sleep in my armor! I sleep in a rope trick that I use from under my bed!" because they know that I only ask the question to prepare for some kind of sleepy time attack.


So how do I handle my players' current plan to halt undead + stake Radvir in the first round of combat? The wizard casts at somewhere around 22 save DC and the monk can get there and take him out in a single round. Have any of you dealt with these kinds of things?


From Halt Undead:

“The effect is broken if the halted creatures are attacked or take damage.”

I’d let your crew attempt a coup de gras with a wooden stake on a Halted Radovir. If they succeed, he’s staked; if they don’t, he’s free of the spell. It’s a sound strategy, so I see no reason not to reward it.

However, given Radovir’s Sense Motive and Bluff, his Disguise and Hat of Disguise, plus his rogue talent Honeyed Words and spy archetype’s Skilled Liar, I’d say it’s reasonable for you to have them run afoul of Radovir before they plan to, i.e. have him meet them in disguise and discover their intentions. One surprise round won’t demolish them, and it will make the encounter more rewarding for everyone if Radovir gets a few cheap shots in.


They ran into him in the park and staked two of his enforcers while he ran off. They just killed everything in the upper two levels of his lair and are about to go downstairs to kill everything in the building. Disguise is probably off the table at this time. What I will probably do is give him greater invisibility and have him just wander around sneak attacking all the things with that scarf. I'm also going to add a number of non-evil, non-undead monsters to the mix so that the players can't keep abusing their holy weapons.

Of course, I'll need to counteract the wizard's glitterdust... but I can work around that.


My players finished up the tailor's shop and moved on to the beginning of the abbey on Saturday.

I tried to be tricky in the basement of the shop, which would have worked... if the players weren't also tricky. I had the vampires (Radvir and a sorceress) summon 7 rat swarms. I was going to flood the room where the wizard was and make casting difficult. Unfortunately, the wizard using force wall to block off the doors north and east, then stood just outside the doorway into the dyer's room. So when the rats entered (from the side closet via a secret door), he just fireballed the room. Most of the other players have fire resistance.

Then the wizard glitter-dusted Radvir and he was blinded. Then the inquisitor shot him with five arrows for 254 damage (204 after DR). It was very anticlimactic. I don't know what to do about that guy. He was one-shotting the enslaved spawns before Radvir popped up.

At the abbey, I combined the demon with the witchfires. The demon was fun to run and he did a solid 60 or so damage to the monk and then to the inquisitor. He also confused the bard (who was unaffected for two rounds, then babbled for one) and the wizard (who scorching ray'ed once, then hit himself in the head, then was dispelled of the confusion). That was great fun. The inquisitor and a summoned huge rock elemental beat the demon to paste.

Here's the problem: The witchfires are seriously overpowered for their level it seems. 150 max HP, incorporeal (so more like 300) with a +13 touch attack doing 8d6 fire damage with the possibility to jump that to ~12d6 with the debuff. That's a lot.

Even with nearly everyone having fire resistance, the fight ended with the wizard teleporting the party back to Caliphas. The bard was dead, the inquisitor had 2 hp (only because he used the Fast Healing and the +fire resistance judgements), the monk had 8 (and he healed almost 60 with potions/ki during the fight), the wizard had low 20s. One witchfire had 45 health left, another only took 30, and the third was undamaged. And I even held off the witchfires for about 4 rounds.

The difference being preparation and the wizard being confused for a few rounds, naturally, but still. Those witchfires are serious business.

How did other people's parties handle them?


The party managed to provoke the witchfires before entering their building.

IIRC (it's been nearly a year since I ran the encounter), a Communal Resist Energy (Fire), used with a lesser reach rod so that it hit the whole party, trivialized the witchfire encounter for my party. The witchfires had a good opening round, and then that happened and they stopped really doing anything.

Also, the alchemist with force bombs ripped them to pieces.

They then ran into the glabrezu inside the building - it was using Veil to look like a fly and had Mirror Image up. The alchemist passed the perception AND knowledge arcana check to realize he was looking a fly with mirror images rather than a swarm of flies.

The party fought it for a round or so before they dispelled the veil and learned what the heck they were actually fighting. That was kind of funny.


My players returned to the abbey, went in through the well, and absolutely destroyed the basement.

I guess a monk with haste and a holy undead bane AoMF is pretty nasty, but he killed the blood knight in a single full attack. I mean, seriously, I need to remember that these fights are a joke if there aren't a half dozen monsters to face.

They also did far better against the witchfires now that they had ghost touch items and focused their attacks more intelligently.

Last fight is against the witch upstairs and I'm looking for ways to make it far more difficult. I'm going to throw down still images to close off all the doors and hallways except the one way from bell tower into the central room. This will give me an unexpected method for delivering some charmed guards and the like to the fight from ways the players didn't know existed.

I'm going to also modify some of those guards into Alchemists with bombs just to make the fight slightly more interesting. I just don't know a good way to keep Hetna alive past a single full round attack from anyone (and absolutely cannot let the dire tiger-shaped druid pounce or it is all over, nor should the inquisitor be allowed an easy full attack with his holy bow).

Anyone do anything interesting with this fight which I could borrow?


If the PCs didn't find OOthi's skull, you could change its locale and have Hetna find it and rejoin it to the other bones, bringing her mentor in for the fight. That way, she wouldn't have to fight alone and more backstory for the witches can be given in game. To represent her, I would utilize a Worm that Walks composed of spiders and simply swap out its prepared spells for Witch-equiavalent spells. This way, you could keep her from being completely overpowering by eliminating her 7th level slots and managing the lower level ones. I recommend melee buffs to make it a physical presence in the fight, but its DR and fast healing should buy it and Hetna more time against your high DPS group.


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

Thats a cool way to do OOTHI

So I don't remember was she a Hag Witch or just a high level witch?

A worm that walks but that is spiders is amazing idea


'...These creatures are all that remain of the great annis Hag Oothi, who trained and mentored Aisa and Hetna Dublesse in witchcraft..' leads me to believe that she has some sort of Annis Hag Witch.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Correct. Oothi was an annis hag. Physically intimidating and yet mentally tough and skilled in the arcane arts due to her class levels in witch. She's actually a variation of a villain I used in my home campaign many years ago who was the enforcer for a coven of witches led by an even more powerful green hag. Together, they terrorized an entire kingdom and started a civil war.


Thanks! I'm actually prepping this module now, incorporating background elements from the PCs (one is a Dhampir) into it, and so knowing some of the backstory of Oothi helps me tie her in as well. I love foreshadowing whether its in the form of old texts, murals, statues, or reflecting pool carved reliefs (as in the case of Konas), so this helps me set a few things up for them. Always awesome to get the writer info on the module!

Hey Neil, Besides the change to Lady Evgenya, are there any other changes that were made, or more specifically, things that were cut or ended up being saved for space concerns? (or things you would have included but because of the number of pages, decided against?

I ask because while I plan on running the module largely as written, there are a few things I might expand on personally (like The Church of Pharasma's involvement as a possible red herring for the real vampire killer).

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

It's been so long ago since I wrote Ashes at Dawn, I honestly don't even recall any significant changes from what actually made it into print anymore. Mainly, I think your biggest themes to hit (with whatever foreshadowing/setup you can foster) would be the following:

Spoiler:

1) The Whispering Way - By now, Adivion (and the rest of the Whispering Way cultists) should have an idea of who the PCs are and the threat they pose to their plans. Hence, the encounter with the dullahan is meant to give a sense that Whispering Way agents are actively assigned to hunting them down now. Thus, the PCs should be on their guard even more in these final two chapters. It should also drive home the importance of the information they've been gathering. There should be a mystery behind the Whispering Way's activities and the reagents they're gathering for the formula that can transform Tar-Baphon's closest living descendant into a lich which his spirit can potentially possess and use to escape his prison. Dole that mystery out one length at a time, but use the foundation laid in the earlier chapters of the AP so they start to come to fruition in Chapters 5 and 6. Ultimately, reward the PCs for putting the pieces together and play on the growing sense of unease and horror (and utter evil) behind the Whispering Way's end-goal.

2) The Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye - This organization should feature much more prominently in Caliphas. The PCs will need to rub shoulders with those movers and shakers who belong to the time-honored organization, including Count Galdana, whom Adivion plans to use in his bid to resurrect Tar-Baphon. The gathering at the Eye's latest ceremony and use of their library should be a big deal. Right up there with getting access to an old archive of any conspiracy-laden mystery group pulling strings behind the scenes. While they aren't evil by any means, there are adversaries of sorts among the order's membership they'll have to overcome. In fact, I believe I made it so that the town constable (who has a chance to interact with them during the murder investigations) is another member of the order they'll have to circumnavigate to achieve their goals of tracking down the hidden lair of the Whispering Way. He was meant to be a bit of a thorn in their side...not really a violent NPC, just one of those pains they'll have to deal with in coping with the culture, etiquette, and authority in the capital city of Ustalav. He's meant to be the inept local official (along with the head of the order) who doesn't believe their stories or doesn't appreciate their meddling...i.e., basically the deniers of what's really happening, who thereby put the entire region at risk, enabling the PCs to be the heroes the AP needs.

3) The Murders - Take a page from any good Sherlock Holmes or Jack the Ripper mystery and play up the various murders in Caliphas. Some could be red herrings...i.e., simple victims of random vampire activity. But others should clearly be slain vampires by some unknown assailant...i.e., the handiwork of Radvir and his minions. But more than just observing the outcomes of these murders, make them more personal. Maybe there are innocent bystanders who get hurt in these situations who become witnesses for the PCs to question...i.e., thralls or potential victims of vampires whom Radvir assaults. Either way, feature the murders as something for the PCs to investigate. And drive home the very real impact of the vampire activity in Caliphas by having someone close to the PCs get bitten and turned. There's nothing like losing a loved one or a close companion/cohort to the story's primary villains to make things that much more enjoyable for your players. If Radvir or Aisa managed to acquire a new thrall who was once an ally of the PCs, all the better.

4) The Vampire Underground - Look to the Underworld or Blade movie franchises for inspiration here. There should be an entire sub-culture literally under the streets of Caliphas, complete with a vampire nobility reaching all the way back to the days of the original war against the Whispering Tyrant. They all have their little games and politics to play, currying favor and influence among their own kind. Feel free to create rivalries and cast suspicion on all kinds of vampire NPCs the heroes interact with. Lady Evgenya has a considerable sphere of influence. The plight of Arkminos should be played up as Conte Tiriac's servant is out of favor with the ruling class of vampires in Caliphas. And, obviously, Radvir himself plays the game better than any of them, seemingly loyal to Luvick while plotting all the while for a greater position by Tar-Baphon's side when the tyrant returns.

5) The Witches of Barstoi - Play up some of this storyline by circulating rumors and legends pertaining to the horrible hexes created by Oothi's original coven. Sprinkle a few situations where Aisa and Hetna have perpetuated that myth with their own conflicts in Caliphas, cursing those who've angered them or crossed their path. And make sure there's an efficient bridge between Radvir supplying them with "slain" vampires for their experiments and the bodies showing up for the constable to investigate. For an even stronger connection, bring it full circle by having Aisa plotting her own path to power as a future bride to Tar-Baphon once she becomes a vampire queen. And then ratchet up her ambition by having her research a way to merge both the vampire and lich templates into a mythical creature worthy of being the tyrant's consort.

In the end, you want the PCs feeling like they've deprived the Whispering Way of several major goals...i.e., suppressing the chaos the cult sought to spread in Caliphas by starting a war between humanity and the vampires...removing the vampiric drug Radvir's been selling to stir the vampires' bloodlust...squashing the witches of Barstoi before they can affect Aisa's rise to power or Oothi's return...and uncovering enough about the Whispering Way's true goal (i.e., the resurrection of Tar-Baphon through one of his living descendants) to finally chart a course to oppose them once and for all.


But that's just my nickel's worth,
--Neil


Definitely more than a nickel's worth there! Awesome breakdown of the important points of the module. On Conte Tiriac: What, if any, is his relationship with the vampires of Caliphas? Since he's trying to undo his own Vampirism, I'm gonna place him in the anti-WW camp of vampires. I ask because he is indirectly tied to the Dhampir of our group's backtory. Are the Caliphas vampires aware of his vampiric exitence at all, and if so, what is his place in their politics?

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Rakshaka wrote:
Definitely more than a nickel's worth there! Awesome breakdown of the important points of the module. On Conte Tiriac: What, if any, is his relationship with the vampires of Caliphas? Since he's trying to undo his own vampirism, I'm gonna place him in the anti-WW camp of vampires. I ask because he is indirectly tied to the Dhampir of our group's backstory. Are the Caliphas vampires aware of his vampiric existence at all, and if so, what is his place in their politics?

That might be a better question for Wes to answer. He's the expert on all things concerning vampire history in Ustalav. James may have some input, as well. Personally, I'd go with the following:

Spoiler:

Individually, I've always gone with the theory that Conte Tiriac represents one of the more powerful vampires in Ustalav...kind of on the order of Dracula from the movies, or Strahd from Ravenloft...but more removed from the power centers of the nation as a whole. In other words, he prefers a more remote existence, unhindered by the prying curiosity of the living so he's free to continue researching an end to his affliction which won't damn him for an eternity to Hell. He's powerful, well-connected, and even influential when he deigns to wield those tools in exerting his will. But, in general, I view him as more of an outlier to the games of the Vampire Underground in Caliphas. He knows how to navigate the politics of his own kind when he needs to...but prefers to stay separate from them. As such, a vampire like Luvick doesn't trust him...or Arkminos as Tiriac's servant. Thus, it's easy for them to scapegoat the nosferatu as having played a role in the recent spate of vampire murders. He's an outsider, somewhat newly-arrived in Caliphas as Tiriac loaned him to Carmilla as a favor to help her research an alternative to the sun orchid elixir for maintaining her youth.

So, to answer your questions specifically...Conte Tiriac's relationship with the vampires of Caliphas is likely strained, but still cordial. They probably don't know of his efforts to undo his own vampirism, but they're certainly aware that he's one of them. His place in their politics is throttled up or down depending on whether there's something he feels he needs to involve himself in. Otherwise, he leaves them alone, and they do the same for him, thinking themselves above him because of his choice to remove himself from more active participation in their revels and gamesmanship. But whenever he chooses to act, he can do so with quick, decisive action backed with every bit of charisma and force necessary to achieve the outcome he desires. Even Luvick would think twice about moving against Tiriac in any major way, as calling attention to his status as a vampire would clue in far too many of the non-vampire nobility in Ustalav to their continued presence below the streets of Caliphas and lead to a war Luvick would prefer to avoid. In my mind, both Tiriac and Luvick are vampires who want to maintain a low profile in terms of their activities, thereby freeing them up to pursue all the varied subtle goals they care to craft. For Luvick, that means continued power among the vampire nobility as he safeguards their presence under everyone's nose. And, for Tiriac, that state helps him continue his search for a cure to vampirism.

Both vampires would be anti-Whispering Way as neither wants a return to the days of Tar-Baphon's influence over Ustalav. To Luvick, the tyrant's return would spell his doom for the turncoat actions the vampire undertook during the war when he abandoned Tar-Baphon to his fate. And, for Tiriac, it would complicate his goal to remove the shackles of undeath and return to true life...an achievement in direct opposition to the entire philosophy of the Whispering Way.


Hope that helps,
--Neil


Immensely! You rock, Neil!

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

One thing you might want to consider for an even more effective tie-in between the middle and latter parts of the adventure and overall AP would be to:

Spoiler:

...have Oothi hold some vital piece of information the PCs need to put them on the right path to more effectively countering the Whispering Way. Perhaps the annis hag is old enough (either via some template, undead status of her own, or mythic immortality) to know the origins of the secrets for creation of a lich's phylactery. Perhaps she even played a role in providing such information to Adivion before he arranged for the hag to be assaulted by the citizens of Barstoi and reduced to her spider swarm form? The hag could then have an axe to grind against Adivion and the Whispering Way as a whole. By restoring her, the PCs would unleash the return of a lesser evil on Ustalav, but they'd also gain a strong ally against Tar-Baphon's resurrection.

Thus, if they somehow come by the information that Oothi holds knowledge which dates all the back to the earliest formation of the Whispering Way, the PCs could task themselves with capturing either Hetna or Aisa so they can telepathically communicate and question Oothi in her spider swarm form without restoring her. Or, they'd have to bring her bones back together so the hag can reform and converse with them directly. Award the PCs extra XP if they succeed at getting the information, but keeping Oothi's body from reforming.


Just a thought,
--Neil


Thanks, you just upped the coolness factor of the module! by a lot (mind begins formulating best places for info dumps related to Oothi subplot) Mixing in Mythic is already a strong option for me since my PCs got their first tier at the final fight of the last module, snf Oothi surviving her death by unconventional means lends itself to the Mythic feel. I'm also considering having the Blood Exlier give temporary Mythic power to the spawn, possibly having Konas Espirillan's blood being the source of this (or the Sun Orchid Elixer).
I realize I'm asking a LOT of questions, but do you have any additional background on the Blood Knight? (his deeds, life before undeath, cause of transformation, etc.) It would help for working in the Mythic angle..

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Rakshaka wrote:
...do you have any additional background on the Blood Knight? (his deeds, life before undeath, cause of transformation, etc.)...?

Not really...

Spoiler:

...Originally, I had set him up as an undead horror in service to Tar-Baphon during the height of the Shining Crusade. Much like the headless dullahan, the blood knight represented a higher echelon of undead creature within the ranks of the Whispering Way, created by the lich-king's mastery of necromancy. I know there were some reservations by my developers with regards to just how widespread such creatures could be in Ustalav, however. For instance, just one of them with their perpetual well-spring of blood becomes a constant lure and temptation for vampires. So, they're a complicated creature to include, and more likely, they'd need to be seen as incredibly difficult to create, even by Tar-Baphon. So, portraying Konas as a mythic, almost-unique creature is a good way to go.

As for the knight himself, Konas was once a human ally of Tar-Baphon...possibly a knight of old Ustalav or a corrupted knight from Taldor...who distinguished himself as a battlefield champion for the forces of evil. Yet, whatever power tied him to Tar-Baphon after his transformation into an undead blood knight, also left him mad when the Whispering Tyrant was imprisoned at Gallowspire. Ageless, he fled the field and hid himself in the Virlych Mountains. That's where Aisa and Hetna discovered him and used their charms and hexes to bring him under the control...i.e., the implication here is that they tapped into whatever necromantic reins Tar-Baphon used to assure the undead blood knight's loyalty and service to him. And, the sisters were able to pick up control of him through that same conduit. Now they command him much like the Whispering Tyrant once managed long ago.

So, his life before undeath was that of a regular (if somewhat skillful) knight of Ustalav or Taldor. His deeds were once noble, but likely turned selfish or he was beaten down in the course of seeing so many give up life only to rise again as an undead which continued to fight. Eventually, he threw in his lot with Tar-Baphon. His transformation from a living creature to an undead blood knight resulted from the Whispering Tyrant's necromancy. And therein lies the most likely explanation for his mythic ascension, as well. If you want something tangible to explain it, I'd suggest investing his mythic power in the suit of armor he wears. The blood knight is already extremely attached to its armor and can never remove it again.


Hope that helps,
--Neil


Holy Crap that's awesome! I can definitely use that, especially with his connection with the blood. Makes me want to have his moment of 'undoing' a massacre of his own troops to prevent them from rising in service to Tar Baphon, only to have that backfire and force him to give up in the end. Perhaps only certain kinds of mortals can be made into Blood Knights, or those wearing armor drenched in the blood of their comrades.. (More stuff formulating for my campaign thanks to this) I love giving historical context to the bad guys, makes the setting seem larger than life, and you've definitely helped here!

Andoran

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

I have a VERY simple question.

In the first paragraph of the next installment of Carrion Crown (Shadows of Gallowspire), it says this:

"With the components of the Carrion Crown elixir now assembled..."

Did I miss something here?

Aren't they missing something that is now in the hands of the PCs for the last Adventure (Wake of the Watcher)?

Am I missing something?


Well... the Raven's Head isn't exactly required. Kind of an optional item that can cause some serious pain to the Whispering Way if they don't have it, thus they want it out of the hands of the players.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Wes or Rob may have a deeper insight for you, but I seem to recall one of them saying something about the elixir being intended for Count Galdana (as someone who shares the same geneaology as Tar-Baphon). However, Adivion ultimately takes it himself, possibly because he's lacking the Raven's Head...or because he had to substitute something in its place...in the misguided hopes that he could serve as a vessel for the Whispering Tyrant's return.

Either way, it's safe to assume the Raven's Head wasn't vital to the creation of the elixir...or maybe that the elixir is less stable than it otherwise might have been due to the Raven's Head's exclusion. Adivion's recipe for the lichdom powered by the elixir calls primarily for a series of ingredients which all correspond to the drinker's life experiences. Thus, the items he gathered up to that point were primarily drawn from Tar-Baphon's lifetime. And the Raven's Head represents a particular type of life experience. That doesn't mean it has to be the only one of that nature.

Just my two cents,
--Neil


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I also had the same question about the Raven's Head mace, as we're just starting this volume. I'm assuming it's spelled out somewhere that I didn't read yet. Is MurphysParadox right that Adivion only wanted it because it is a potent weapon against the Way? Seems funny to devote so many resources and risks to get it in that event -- including the theft of the Seasage Effigy in Lepidstadt. Is there a good explanation for this?

A separate question: I'm intending to substitute Kendra Lorrimor for the Count, and if I do that I need to start laying the path for that now. Have others done this? Any dangers to this approach? Another question: Again, because I haven't read far enough yet, if I use Kendra does that doom her to be killed by the Way? What ends up happening to the Count?

Thanks!

51 to 100 of 121 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Publishing / Pathfinder® / Pathfinder Adventure Path / Carrion Crown / Ashes at Dawn (GM Reference) All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.

©2002–2014 Paizo Inc.®. Need help? Email customer.service@paizo.com or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours: Monday–Friday, 10 AM–5 PM Pacific Time. View our privacy policy. Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc., and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Online, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.