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The Hungry Storm (GM Reference)


Jade Regent

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This thread is a GM Reference thread for Part 3 of the Jade Regent Adventure Path. Links for the individual threads for each part are as follow:
The Brinewall Legacy (Part 1)
Night of Frozen Shadows (Part 2)
The Hungry Storm (Part 3)
Forest of Spirits (Part 4)
Tide of Honor (Part 5)
The Empty Throne (Part 6)

Osirion

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

Is the caravan combat supposed to get this hard, this fast? It seems like the enemies in caravan combats are getting a lot of HP and damage dealt relative to what a caravan can deal back to them. The Brinewall caravan combats seemed OK, in that they dealt a lot of damage, but not relative to what a caravan had in hp, and they didn't have nearly the hp the caravan did.

I read the caravan rules, and I don't get how with RAW the caravan can scale up to these combats. I'm not so bothered by the fact that some of the encounters have attack bonuses of +17 and such, but damage of 8d6 from CR 8 worth of bugbears? In the easy going section? Wow. If it's that easy to wreck a caravan, who wouldn't just say F these wagons?

And if the random encounter attack bonuses are going to get that high, why bother with putting any points into defense?

In particular, I'm really worried about recovering caravan hp. It seems like you're doomed if you don't repair back to max hp at every settlement.

Qadira

I had a question about how to mix the site based encounters with the daily random encounter %. I was wondering if I missed in my read through the distance between each site encounter or if there are guidelines somewhere on how to figure that out.


logic_poet wrote:
Is the caravan combat supposed to get this hard, this fast? It seems like the enemies in caravan combats are getting a lot of HP and damage dealt relative to what a caravan can deal back to them. The Brinewall caravan combats seemed OK, in that they dealt a lot of damage, but not relative to what a caravan had in hp, and they didn't have nearly the hp the caravan did.

I'm actually a wee bit concerned with this myself. It seems like it would take quite a few rounds for most caravans to be able to take down something with over 100 hp considering it does only 1d6+7 damage(Around 10) per attack if players aren't picking up the offensive caravan feats and will almost certainly be taking 30-40 damage back per round. Figuring 'most' groups will have at least picked up two more wagons by this point it's probably a safe assumption that the Caravan are probably rocking about 200 HP by this point which isn't all that much breathing room for players.

My players have just arrived at Brinewall in the first book and I'm concerned for their 'low offense' caravan plans so far, is anyone further along(book 2 -ish) who wants to comment on how their caravan's are holding up though the early encounters there? An ogre encounter in the first book nearly totaled mine.

I'm almost thinking the book might be taking into account attacks from the PC's or something supplemental that I might be missing in my skim of the book thus far. That seems like the only way to manage the damage totals for most of these fights.

Also, I suppose this might be further incentive to not 'rush off' half cocked and actually have them take their time? Still speculating though, others with a bit higher level caravans chime in with your thoughts!

Osirion RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

K.G The Mathlete wrote:
I had a question about how to mix the site based encounters with the daily random encounter %. I was wondering if I missed in my read through the distance between each site encounter or if there are guidelines somewhere on how to figure that out.

According to the map legend on page 18 and eyeballing the distance, you are looking at around 300 miles or so per inch on the map, so you can use a ruler (or, if you're really hardcore, a string translated to a ruler to account for curvature) to get a better approximation of the number of miles between each red dot.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

Asurasan wrote:
logic_poet wrote:
Is the caravan combat supposed to get this hard, this fast? It seems like the enemies in caravan combats are getting a lot of HP and damage dealt relative to what a caravan can deal back to them. The Brinewall caravan combats seemed OK, in that they dealt a lot of damage, but not relative to what a caravan had in hp, and they didn't have nearly the hp the caravan did.

I'm actually a wee bit concerned with this myself. It seems like it would take quite a few rounds for most caravans to be able to take down something with over 100 hp considering it does only 1d6+7 damage(Around 10) per attack if players aren't picking up the offensive caravan feats and will almost certainly be taking 30-40 damage back per round. Figuring 'most' groups will have at least picked up two more wagons by this point it's probably a safe assumption that the Caravan are probably rocking about 200 HP by this point which isn't all that much breathing room for players.

My players have just arrived at Brinewall in the first book and I'm concerned for their 'low offense' caravan plans so far, is anyone further along(book 2 -ish) who wants to comment on how their caravan's are holding up though the early encounters there? An ogre encounter in the first book nearly totaled mine.

I'm almost thinking the book might be taking into account attacks from the PC's or something supplemental that I might be missing in my skim of the book thus far. That seems like the only way to manage the damage totals for most of these fights.

Also, I suppose this might be further incentive to not 'rush off' half cocked and actually have them take their time? Still speculating though, others with a bit higher level caravans chime in with your thoughts!

If the PCs experience significant danger for their caravans, it might be an incentive to invest in offensive or defensive upgrades more than commerce or cargo upgrades... or perhaps to go for max speed and hope to buzz across the pole with a minimum number of encounters. At the very least it would show the dangers in ignoring any one aspect of the caravan - caravans apparently don't have a dump stat! :)

Seriously, though, you can foreshadow the dangers of the road, and hint strongly that PCs are going to need to beef up their caravans. If you still think it's too much, wave your Rule 0 wand and reduce the damage the caravan encounters inflict. I think all of the caravan combat encounters are based on a CR formula for their combat stats, so it's a uniform challenge. It's also assumed that you will almost never have one caravan encounter piled on top of another one, so even if your caravan does get significantly trashed in a battle, you'll probably have time to fix it up before the next one.

At the end of the day, much like other subsystems Paizo has introduced in their APs, the actual campaign play of the caravan rules may reveal things that don't work quite as intended, so feel free to share your experience of how things go and don't be shy about adjusting things if you find they are off the wall for your campaign.


Jason Nelson wrote:

According to the map legend on page 18 and eyeballing the distance, you are looking at around 300 miles or so per inch on the map, so you can use a ruler (or, if you're really hardcore, a string translated to a ruler to account for curvature) to get a better approximation of the number of miles between each red dot.

With my "hardcore" string measurements I was able to eyeball the distance for my GM at about 3562 miles.

Not bad!

Lantern Lodge

Quote:


I'm almost thinking the book might be taking into account attacks from the PC's or something supplemental that I might be missing in my skim of the book thus far. That seems like the only way to manage the damage totals for most of these fights.

Also, I suppose this might be further incentive to not 'rush off' half cocked and actually have them take their time? Still speculating though, others with a bit higher level caravans chime in with your thoughts!

My players just finished the first caravan encounter in Book 2.

Spoiler:
The Ulfen Raid
While the PCs were fighting, the caravan was having a rough time taking out the attackers. However, I realized afterwards that we also forgot to add the caravan level to damage which would have made the fight a lot easier. Lesson learned! The players' caravan got destroyed one time about a day after they left Brinewall Castle. I rolled an encounter for the Wholly Rhinos and the players did not realize they could escape the battle. They were able to repair the caravan on the road, but it set them back about 10 days in the journey.

My players decided, after looking through all of the feats and rules in the player's guide, to focus on offense rather than defense. They had the same worries that you did - namely that the caravan wouldn't be able to pump the caravan's AC high enough to counteract the high attack modifiers and damage. On the flip side, they are also rather stingy about putting their own money into the caravan, so they haven't bought any armored wagons to increase the caravan AC. On the whole, it seems that the best feat investment for survival is the increased damage feat. By about 7th level (roughly the start of book 3) the caravan could be doing 5d6+7 points of damage - an average of 23 points/round. Fights would basically be a "who can kill who first?" situation. When the caravan has 200 hps and the enemies have 100, it's likely the caravan will survive the fight simply because the damage discrepancy is lower and the caravan has twice the number of hit points.

I would also be interested in hearing about some of the strategies other groups have used.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Zach M. wrote:

[...]

My players decided, after looking through all of the feats and rules in the player's guide, to focus on offense rather than defense. They had the same worries that you did - namely that the caravan wouldn't be able to pump the caravan's AC high enough to counteract the high attack modifiers and damage. On the flip side, they are also rather stingy about putting their own money into the caravan, so they haven't bought any armored wagons to increase the caravan AC. On the whole, it seems that the best feat investment for survival is the increased damage feat. By about 7th level (roughly the start of book 3) the caravan could be doing 5d6+7 points of damage - an average of 23 points/round. Fights would basically be a "who can kill who first?" situation. ...

Caravan damage seems to max out at 4d6 plus bonuses, because Increased Damage can only be taken 3 times, unless I missed something. Reckless Tactics and First Strike only add bonuses, and the ballista equipment only boosts Attack, not damage. Quite a problem!

Going all Defense won't work either, since you can't get much past AC 28 or so, and random encounters have attacks like +17.

Paizo, what is the stat block for what you would consider the typical level 8 caravan?

I had hoped that the caravan combat mechanic would allow for more mooks to appear, since the paperwork of fighting a big clot of APL - 4 creatures is too much, but it seems like it will need some DM tweaking.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

Zach M. wrote:
Quote:


I'm almost thinking the book might be taking into account attacks from the PC's or something supplemental that I might be missing in my skim of the book thus far. That seems like the only way to manage the damage totals for most of these fights.

Also, I suppose this might be further incentive to not 'rush off' half cocked and actually have them take their time? Still speculating though, others with a bit higher level caravans chime in with your thoughts!

My players just finished the first caravan encounter in Book 2. ** spoiler omitted ** While the PCs were fighting, the caravan was having a rough time taking out the attackers. However, I realized afterwards that we also forgot to add the caravan level to damage which would have made the fight a lot easier. Lesson learned! The players' caravan got destroyed one time about a day after they left Brinewall Castle. I rolled an encounter for the Wholly Rhinos and the players did not realize they could escape the battle. They were able to repair the caravan on the road, but it set them back about 10 days in the journey.

The bolded point is important to note - this adventure is designed with an underlying philosophical bent towards so-called "Gygaxian naturalism." That is, you're in a dangerous place, and dangerous things live here, but YOU DON'T HAVE TO FIGHT THEM ALL. Every time you meet a creature, it's not automatically a combat. Sometimes you can talk. Sometimes you can evade. Sometimes you have to fight, but when you realize you are a thousand miles from any ready source of backup support, your PCs should probably err on the side of caution versus boldness.

It's kind of like 2nd Ed Dark Sun, for those who played it. If you approach it like a typical campaign where most every encounter is level-appropriate to you, you might run into trouble. True, almost every encounter here *IS* level-appropriate, but scaled in a different way.

Long story short: You might remind your PCs from time to time that they have options other than ALL-OUT ATTACK. :)


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Jason Nelson wrote:
Long story short: You might remind your PCs from time to time that they have options other than ALL-OUT ATTACK. :)

Just remember to award them XP even if they do run. Nothing like fleeing from something that they know will kill them, only to be told they don't get any experience from it. That'll lead to the players choosing to take on horribly out-matched fights that the characters would never choose because they meta-game know that that's the only way to get XP. (Thankfully we broke the only DM in our group that had that attitude of it early on. There's little more aggravating than being "punished" for doing something wise in-character.)


Zaranorth wrote:
Jason Nelson wrote:
Long story short: You might remind your PCs from time to time that they have options other than ALL-OUT ATTACK. :)
Just remember to award them XP even if they do run. Nothing like fleeing from something that they know will kill them, only to be told they don't get any experience from it. That'll lead to the players choosing to take on horribly out-matched fights that the characters would never choose because they meta-game know that that's the only way to get XP. (Thankfully we broke the only DM in our group that had that attitude of it early on. There's little more aggravating than being "punished" for doing something wise in-character.)

I think both of the above mentioned things are pretty good options, I'm generally quick to award my players for navigating an encounter by means other than combat, so the XP reward would be a given. After my players Ogre encounter in the first book they re-read the escape rules for themselves. With luck they might take them to heart in the future if they land a bad string of random encounters.

Lantern Lodge

Asurasan wrote:
Zaranorth wrote:
Jason Nelson wrote:
Long story short: You might remind your PCs from time to time that they have options other than ALL-OUT ATTACK. :)
Just remember to award them XP even if they do run. Nothing like fleeing from something that they know will kill them, only to be told they don't get any experience from it. That'll lead to the players choosing to take on horribly out-matched fights that the characters would never choose because they meta-game know that that's the only way to get XP. (Thankfully we broke the only DM in our group that had that attitude of it early on. There's little more aggravating than being "punished" for doing something wise in-character.)
I think both of the above mentioned things are pretty good options, I'm generally quick to award my players for navigating an encounter by means other than combat, so the XP reward would be a given. After my players Ogre encounter in the first book they re-read the escape rules for themselves. With luck they might take them to heart in the future if they land a bad string of random encounters.

I agree completely with all of you. It was a poor oversight on the part of myself and the players, and I introduced the encounter with wording that unfortunately made the players think that there was no possible way to avoid it. I'm still relatively new to GMing, so this was an important lesson learned. I still gave the players XP even though they died. I might, at some point, even provide small XP bonuses for innovative ways of navigating encounters. I will have to find some good way to balance this out though.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

Zaranorth wrote:
Jason Nelson wrote:
Long story short: You might remind your PCs from time to time that they have options other than ALL-OUT ATTACK. :)
Just remember to award them XP even if they do run. Nothing like fleeing from something that they know will kill them, only to be told they don't get any experience from it. That'll lead to the players choosing to take on horribly out-matched fights that the characters would never choose because they meta-game know that that's the only way to get XP. (Thankfully we broke the only DM in our group that had that attitude of it early on. There's little more aggravating than being "punished" for doing something wise in-character.)

Sure. In writing the Hungry Storm, I tried to work the various caravan encounters to have xp awards for circumventing them, incorporating potential magical solutions to the challenges, since there were a lot of non-combat complications, or for overcoming an encounter however it is done.


Something I noticed while reading my PDF copy whilst waiting for my dead tree edition:
On the NPC Relationships sidebar on p.52, there's a note about mediating a meeting between Shalelu and the Snowcaster Elves, but searching through the adventure, the only possible encounters with the Snowcaster Elves are two random caravan encounters (and then, assuming it comes out of the d%). Is this correct, or were there any other bits with the Snowcaster Elves cut for space/time?

Osirion RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

Daviot wrote:

Something I noticed while reading my PDF copy whilst waiting for my dead tree edition:

On the NPC Relationships sidebar on p.52, there's a note about mediating a meeting between Shalelu and the Snowcaster Elves, but searching through the adventure, the only possible encounters with the Snowcaster Elves are two random caravan encounters (and then, assuming it comes out of the d%). Is this correct, or were there any other bits with the Snowcaster Elves cut for space/time?

Actually, the Snowcaster elf things were added in after the fact. In doing my research for the mod, I evidently missed any reference to them so I didn't include anything about them in the adventure manuscript. The devs felt like it would be a good adventure to connect to them in at least a minor way, so they did. If you want to facilitate that event for making nice points with Shalelu, remember the time scale - you have MONTHS of time to drop in a meet-and-greet with some Snowcaster elves. If you want it to happen, make it happen. :)


A yeti in a sports bra, now I've seen ... a lot. :)

Andoran RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

While this isn't likely to actually come up in the adventure, the bestiary listing for Frostfallen Creature can get a bit wonky as written. Since it's possible it will appear in a future hardcover, I wanted to mention it for potential future errata.

Since you can apply this to cany corporeal creature, and it retains all subtypes other than alignment and kind (such as giant), you can apply this subtype to a (fire) subtype creature, making it have both (cold) and (fire). This in and of itself isn't that big of a deal, but what happens when you apply it to a creature that is immune to fire? How does that interact with gaining the vulnerability to fire weakness?

Qadira

JoelF847 wrote:
Since you can apply this to cany corporeal creature, and it retains all subtypes other than alignment and kind (such as giant), you can apply this subtype to a (fire) subtype creature, making it have both (cold) and (fire). This in and of itself isn't that big of a deal, but what happens when you apply it to a creature that is immune to fire? How does that interact with gaining the vulnerability to fire weakness?
The FAQ wrote:

Does a creature with fire immunity automatically have vulnerability to cold?

No. A fire-immune creature (such as a balor) shouldn't automatically be vulnerable to cold. Likewise, a cold-immune creature shouldn't automatically be vulnerable to fire. (Note that this is not the same as a creature with the fire or cold *subtype*, which automatically gets vulnerability to the opposite energy type.)

Unfortunately, the Core Rulebook includes the rule from 3.5 that states fire immunity means cold vulnerability, and vice versa (Energy Immunity and Vulnerability, page 562). This will be changed in the next printing of the Core Rulebook.

Update: Page 562, Energy Immunity and Vulnerability: Delete " If a creature has fire immunity, it also has vulnerability to cold. If a creature has cold immunity, it also has vulnerability to fire."

There's some weirdness going on, but by RAW, it's not necessarily contradictory to have both at once. Vulnerability adds 50% damage, which is then ignored because the creature is immune. I don't think there are any ways to bypass immunity in Pathfinder, so effectively, just ignore the vulnerability part.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

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Just for fun, sharp-eyed observers of the Crown of the World gazetteer and longtime fans of RPG Superstar will notice that Zavaten Gura, Land of the Stained Peaks is now an official part of Golarion. Thumbs up to James Mackenzie for creating such an evocative and fun notion for a nation, which I thought would make a great addition to the desolate lands of the Crown of the World.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Zaranorth wrote:
Jason Nelson wrote:
Long story short: You might remind your PCs from time to time that they have options other than ALL-OUT ATTACK. :)
Just remember to award them XP even if they do run. Nothing like fleeing from something that they know will kill them, only to be told they don't get any experience from it. That'll lead to the players choosing to take on horribly out-matched fights that the characters would never choose because they meta-game know that that's the only way to get XP.

This is exactly why we don't even deal with XP anymore. We find other "reward systems" to be better suited to our game (Hero Points and Plot Twist cards).

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Zaranorth wrote:
There's little more aggravating than being "punished" for doing something wise in-character.)

You mean other than living.


Clark Peterson wrote:
Zaranorth wrote:
There's little more aggravating than being "punished" for doing something wise in-character.)
You mean other than living.

Well yeah, I mean I shouldn't always be level 1 even if I'm brave (brave, brave) Sir Robin, right?


Hi all.

I'm half through my first reading of the module and the first point that came to my mind seeing the maps of the Crown has not been explained (maybe it's on the other half...). So, here it is.

Why does the crossing of the Crown go into the High Ice at all? After reading the gazetteer and Part One of the story, it's just assumed that the players follow the route on pg 18, but it looks easier to travel the outer rim. No ice, less extreme day/night conditions, easier to hunt for food, etc.... Either way -east or west- you'll have to cross one or two (probably wide) rivers, but compared to the dangers of crossing the high ice it should be simple. I'd even guess that building a bridge and a fortified encampment around it would be profitable if the merchant routes cross it often.

Could you point out the official reason for taking the apparently more dangerous (and probably slower even though it's a bit shorter) route?

Regards.

Qadira

Fox1212 wrote:

Hi all.

I'm half through my first reading of the module and the first point that came to my mind seeing the maps of the Crown has not been explained (maybe it's on the other half...). So, here it is.

Why does the crossing of the Crown go into the High Ice at all? After reading the gazetteer and Part One of the story, it's just assumed that the players follow the route on pg 18, but it looks easier to travel the outer rim. No ice, less extreme day/night conditions, easier to hunt for food, etc.... Either way -east or west- you'll have to cross one or two (probably wide) rivers, but compared to the dangers of crossing the high ice it should be simple. I'd even guess that building a bridge and a fortified encampment around it would be profitable if the merchant routes cross it often.

Could you point out the official reason for taking the apparently more dangerous (and probably slower even though it's a bit shorter) route?

Regards.

The party is railroaded onto the pole by Katiyana's morozko. Use the damage given on page 43; basically, if they try to go around, the caravan explodes.

It does make more sense for the Path of Aganhei to trace the edge of the High Ice, rather than to cross it. Since the party can't take it anyways, it doesn't actually matter which way the traditional path goes, so changing it isn't a big deal.


LeadPal wrote:
Fox1212 wrote:


Could you point out the official reason for taking the apparently more dangerous (and probably slower even though it's a bit shorter) route?

Regards.

The party is railroaded onto the pole by Katiyana's morozko. Use the damage given on page 43; basically, if they try to go around, the caravan explodes.

It does make more sense for the Path of Aganhei to trace the edge of the High Ice, rather than to cross it. Since the party can't take it anyways, it doesn't actually matter which way the traditional path goes, so changing it isn't a big deal.

No, I'm not taking about trace the edge of the High Ice or cross it. I'm talking about the lower regions to the east and west which, as far as I can tell, are accessible for crossing and should be a lot easier.

And about changing it or not, that's not the point. I know my group, and the first thing they are going to say is "Why do people even need to go into that *beep* plateau covered with ice when they can just go around it"? And that's a valid question if there aren't any real reasons for avoiding the outer rim routes. If those zones where plagued with giants, trolls, etc..., or highly volcanic such as the hellrung mountains, I could just tell them that caravans cannot use them because of that, but I haven't found those reasons.

Qadira

I'm agreeing, Fox. By tracing the edge, I mean following the cliffs around the High Ice at the bottom.


LeadPal wrote:
I'm agreeing, Fox. By tracing the edge, I mean following the cliffs around the High Ice at the bottom.

Ooops, I misread your post. Sorry.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
LeadPal wrote:
I'm agreeing, Fox. By tracing the edge, I mean following the cliffs around the High Ice at the bottom.

Tundra at any time of the year is not a trivial terrain to cross. During the summer season glaciers can give rise to expansive rivers which would be hard going for a caravan. if you get the chance YouTube a documentary called Long Way Round where Ewen McGregor and Charlie Bordman try to ride modern motorbikes and jeeps across the Russian tundra.

During winter months the tundra can suffer from freezing wind patterns that could stop a caravan in its tracks.
I'm not saying the high ice route is any easier, but 3000 miles of snow and ice may be easier than 4500 miles of tundra.


Just a quick one here for someone to comment on.

The Oni(Ogre) Mage that can potentially try to track the PC's down in this AP(Seijuro I believe was his name). Should he be counted as towards Suishen's Oni slaying leveling up total?

I suspect not, but I just wanted to make sure one way or the other so my players don't end up missing out on any powering up of the sword at any point.

What is everyone's plan for this so far?


Asurasan wrote:

Just a quick one here for someone to comment on.

The Oni(Ogre) Mage that can potentially try to track the PC's down in this AP(Seijuro I believe was his name). Should he be counted as towards Suishen's Oni slaying leveling up total?

I suspect not, but I just wanted to make sure one way or the other so my players don't end up missing out on any powering up of the sword at any point.

What is everyone's plan for this so far?

I believe it should. It's listed as "Male ogre mage (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 221)". If you go to the description in the Bestiary, you'll see that it's:

Ogre Mage CR 8

LE Large outsider (giant, native, oni, shapechanger)

So yes, it's an oni, and counts towards Suishen's power up.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Zaranorth wrote:
Just remember to award them XP even if they do run. Nothing like fleeing from something that they know will kill them, only to be told they don't get any experience from it.

I've always treated encounters as a PC victory as long as they prevented the enemy from achieving their goals (such as "eat the party"...)

Qadira

Asurasan wrote:

The Oni(Ogre) Mage that can potentially try to track the PC's down in this AP(Seijuro I believe was his name). Should he be counted as towards Suishen's Oni slaying leveling up total?

I suspect not, but I just wanted to make sure one way or the other so my players don't end up missing out on any powering up of the sword at any point.

What is everyone's plan for this so far?

I intend to count it. I figure the sword should be at full power by the start of Book 6, which means it should improve once a book.

The flip side is that I don't plan to count all the oni in Forest of Spirits, only the BBEG at the end.


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

Okay, so ran the first real session of this volume last night. First concern, like others have voiced, is that the caravan encounters are HARD...without me fudging in favor of the party or allowing somewhat unorthodox solutions they wouldn't have succeeded a single one of them. As they have added every significant NPC they could and upped the caravan stats I had thought they were in a good spot but the horned herd encounter just about obliterated them. Number 2 How is a witch fire and two will o wisps a CR 9 encounter? The option to go through the lake area is almost a death sentence, the river dwellers in the other is a CR 9 but not as deadly as this. Did anyone else have problems with these encounters?

Also while I think this path is by far the best I've actually seen or ran yet the tedium of the randoms during the journey are starting to wear thin.

Cheliax Contributor

atheral wrote:
Okay, so ran the first real session of this volume last night. First concern, like others have voiced, is that the caravan encounters are HARD...without me fudging in favor of the party or allowing somewhat unorthodox solutions they wouldn't have succeeded a single one of them. As they have added every significant NPC they could and upped the caravan stats I had thought they were in a good spot but the horned herd encounter just about obliterated them.

Have you adjusted the caravan damage up to d6/level (as James suggested in another thread)? We'll be moving on to that section in a week or two, and I'm wondering whether that fix is enough.

My group enjoys the caravan rules, so I'm looking forward to the crossing.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Dave Gross wrote:
atheral wrote:
Okay, so ran the first real session of this volume last night. First concern, like others have voiced, is that the caravan encounters are HARD...without me fudging in favor of the party or allowing somewhat unorthodox solutions they wouldn't have succeeded a single one of them. As they have added every significant NPC they could and upped the caravan stats I had thought they were in a good spot but the horned herd encounter just about obliterated them.

Have you adjusted the caravan damage up to d6/level (as James suggested in another thread)? We'll be moving on to that section in a week or two, and I'm wondering whether that fix is enough.

My group enjoys the caravan rules, so I'm looking forward to the crossing.

No, I have missed that post apparently...but its not so much the damage that's tanking the caravan is the Security checks most of the time unless the roll is amazing the DC on the checks is out of the caravan's reach my example of the horned herd encounter for instance its a DC 18 to avoid the herd and a DC 20 to get the "reward" from the encounter the best they got on one of the encounters was a 20 the average result (roll + security + bonuses) was 12 which means the herd attacks at a rate of 10d6 per attack for up to three rounds and during the stretch from the river crossing to illaquat you have a 50% chance per day of encountering them if you follow the adventure.

And that DC18 is a fairly low check most are in the 25-30 range and even with the bonus giving spells etc some of those are a high mark to hit.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

atheral wrote:

O Number 2 How is a witch fire and two will o wisps a CR 9 encounter? The option to go through the lake area is almost a death sentence, the river dwellers in the other is a CR 9 but not as deadly as this. Did anyone else have problems with these encounters?

Creatures summoned don't count towards an encounter's CR. Which is usually a decent idea, because demons and devils tend to summon much weaker ones, and only a certain percentage of the time. Witchfires (CR 9) summon two will-o-wisps (CR 8) 50% of the time. So it's literally a coin flip whether or not the encounter is going to get considerably more difficult.

Also, glad to hear a report from the field that the randoms were draining. My Serpent's Skull game fell apart in part from the long stretch of random encounters in Racing to Ruin, so I'm keeping my eye on this section if I run JR.


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Demiurge 1138 wrote:


Creatures summoned don't count towards an encounter's CR. Which is usually a decent idea, because demons and devils tend to summon much weaker ones, and only a certain percentage of the time. Witchfires (CR 9) summon two will-o-wisps (CR 8) 50% of the time. So it's literally a coin flip whether or not the encounter is going to get considerably more difficult.

Also, glad to hear a report from the field that the randoms were draining. My Serpent's Skull game fell apart in part from the long stretch of random encounters in Racing to Ruin, so I'm keeping my eye on this section if I run JR.

Hm..To tell the truth I saw the 50% but for the life of me couldn't figure out what the heck the context was, Thanks for that as I have now learned somthing. But The witchfires (this particular one) states that she summons both of her wisps who go invisible for an ambush if possible so yeah....anything that has the incorporeal subtype is normally really bad news for my players, the shadow demon is SS, The ghosts of the prisoners in CC etc.

As far as the randoms are concerned yeah depending on the speed of the caravan and what the players want to do during the trip it can be a pain my example due to the sequence of events it has taken 76 days for the party to make it from kalsgard to iliquat that's roughly 70 random encounter rolls, with an +10 percent occurrence chance everyday that you don't have an encounter of some kind so I roll an encounter chance day 1 roll of 1=encounter I roll a 5 so no encounter next day 1 or 2 gets an encounter I roll 6 and this continues till a <7 gets a random before something occurs. So until they got to the village it was kind of difficult to keep the players engaged.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Roll all the random encounters ahead of time and gloss over the intervening days with topical scenery of what they are passing by.

Then, "Sixteen days out of Kalsgard, your vigilance pays off, as..."

etc.

Repeat for each 'random' encounter, just don't roll the dice in front of them and make it look all pre-scripted.

Oh, right. Since you're rolling it ahead of time, you CAN pre-script it!

==Aelryinth


Aelryinth wrote:

Oh, right. Since you're rolling it ahead of time, you CAN pre-script it!

==Aelryinth

Here here to scripting. There are lots of neat encounters (and foreshadowing) in that table, and it would be a shame to miss out on some or overdue others due to silly die rolls. A party might make it to the North Pole without seeing a single Black Monolith or Frozen Dead, or have pleasant weather while walking towards a hungry storm! Much better to plan it out, have things slowly get tougher and less civilized, all that.


Mort the Cleverly Named wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:

Oh, right. Since you're rolling it ahead of time, you CAN pre-script it!

==Aelryinth

Here here to scripting. There are lots of neat encounters (and foreshadowing) in that table, and it would be a shame to miss out on some or overdue others due to silly die rolls. A party might make it to the North Pole without seeing a single Black Monolith or Frozen Dead, or have pleasant weather while walking towards a hungry storm! Much better to plan it out, have things slowly get tougher and less civilized, all that.

Seconded. I readily admit that I can't create good encounter on the fly from scratch, so I'll prepare a few ahead of time.

We're still on Brinewall Legacy but that's what I did for the caravan part. I rolled random encounters ahead of time, guesstimated where they'd be (they'd already equipped their caravan so I knew rough where they'd be on a give day), adjusted a couple encounters to better fit, and then wrote some notes to give them some flavor. But, I also make a couple too many so I can switch out for something that fits in better or throw out a few if the pacing is bad.

Cheliax

shouldn't Vegsundvaag have sorc spells?


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thebwt wrote:
shouldn't Vegsundvaag have sorc spells?

Actually no, She is a Young Adult White Dragon. White Dragons dont get their first caster level till Adult Age range.

Cheliax

atheral wrote:
thebwt wrote:
shouldn't Vegsundvaag have sorc spells?
Actually no, She is a Young Adult White Dragon. White Dragons dont get their first caster level till Adult Age range.

doh somehow I keep scrolling to the wrong chart when looking that over.

Thanks.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

atheral wrote:
thebwt wrote:
shouldn't Vegsundvaag have sorc spells?
Actually no, She is a Young Adult White Dragon. White Dragons dont get their first caster level till Adult Age range.

Got it in one. :)


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Okay, so was running section M.The Storm Tower during last night session, and due to a chain of interesting events i will enumerate in the below spoiler tag to save space for persons who wish to skip, the party has now locked them selves in the crystal chamber.

brief summary:
1.Party was ambushed by the charda on the bridge barbarian threw his ax in the slush due to a natuaral 1 on attack, the black blade magus laughed at him, and proceeded to do the same with his sentient black longsword which was berating him the whole time telepathically. He swam down to get it and the ax after the fight being affected by blackfrost -2 Con for him.

2. Party faces the unhallow enhanced frost wights in the antechamber the samuari and wizard are now at one negative level each.

3. Party foolishly splits up barbarian,wizard and oracle face the frost phantoms. Samurai and Magus fight the moonflower which promptly blinds them both and eats the magus. The remainder of the party come to their rescue but the barbarian also gets podded. After this the ascend the tower and face the Remoraz the magus promptly gets eaten again.

4. They break down one of the crystal doors the crysmals ignore them at first. The wizard recognizes what they are has the party hand all gemstones to the barbarian who then proceeds to play a game of keep away for several minutes by running around the room with a small pack of crysmals chasing him, the eventually catch him all using their touch of idiocy, barbarian is now at effectivly 1 int 1 wis and 1 cha. (The party ignores the antics as the wizard has told them the crysmals are harmless as long as they get the gems they want.)

Seeing their situation they feel safest casting make whole on the broken door (several times) and lock themselves in the room (with the crysmals who managed to get the gems away from the stupefied barbarian and are ignoring the party again.)

The query how observant is Katiyana? I know she is required to concentrate on the storms but the party is cowering in a locked room beneath her feet. I'm trying to figure out whether or not she's going to try and roust them out or if all of her awareness is on the storms/outside the tower.

Andoran

Is it just me or does the Dead Man's Dome encounter come way out of nowhere???

I mean the idea that Ulf says, "yeah there is this hill where we can fight off an undead army... oh and yeah there is a rumor about some undead dude up there" is completely baffling. No build up, no clues that said dead man up on the mountain might help fight an army of undead creatures... sheeeeesh. As a GM I'd have to do a whole lot of prep work to make that encounter sound even remotely reasonable.

As a more general question though, how are people finding the caravan rules? It reads to me like one person makes the roles and everyone else sits there hoping for the best. Does it actually play out more party involved or is it more focused on the designated caravan roller?

Osirion RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

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J-Bone wrote:

Is it just me or does the Dead Man's Dome encounter come way out of nowhere???

I mean the idea that Ulf says, "yeah there is this hill where we can fight off an undead army... oh and yeah there is a rumor about some undead dude up there" is completely baffling. No build up, no clues that said dead man up on the mountain might help fight an army of undead creatures... sheeeeesh. As a GM I'd have to do a whole lot of prep work to make that encounter sound even remotely reasonable.

Not really. The problem is that you're thinking of having Ulf just tell them right at the moment it appears. That DOES make it come out of left field. Thing is, he's been over this route plenty of times. He knows all about the place and has been there before.

The solution is just have to have Ulf talk about their route over the Crown *BEFORE* they go up there. Dead Man's Dome is a well-known landmark along the route. At any point of their trip, but preferably early on, Ulf can sit down with them and some maps and say "Here's the Path of Aganhei. It goes from Unaimo here, up and around past the Steaming Pits of Gheit, then past the southern faces of the Alabastrine Peaks, cuz you know we sure wouldn't want to go anywhere near the top of the world! Then after we clear the Alabastrine Peaks, we'll veer south, making for Dead Man's Dome. It used to be a trade station, but they said some nameless hero held off an army of giants and helped the merchants and folks escape. Supposed to be haunted but I doubt it. Past Dead Man's Dome, we go down into the Ruun Uvas basin to Ul-Angorn, the first town of any size on the far side of the Crown. Then up and over Ovorikheer Pass and down to the Osman Confederation, through the lake country there, and then over the tundra to the Wall of Heaven. One last pass to traverse, and we're back into the warm lands beyond!"

Boom, a one-paragraph travelogue along the early part of the trip that establishes Dead Man's Dome as a known landmark with a small bit of local lore about it. You don't ever need to mention it again, throughout the whole crazy traverse that drags them up to the top of the Crown after all. As they start heading back to get back on the trail, they pull out their map and it seems like the natural spot to connect back onto the trail. He's not telling them about it cold; he's reminding them of their earlier look at the maps.

It's no different from the scene in the movie version of "The Two Towers" when Frodo and Sam are caught by Faramir's rangers at Henneth Annun. In character, Faramir and his lieutenant look at a map of Middle-Earth and remind us, the audience, where they are and where Saruman, Rohan, Minas Tirith, and Mordor are and what they are doing. These are things we had explained a while back in the story, but after a long trip we need a new "establishing shot" to remind us of the landmarks of the story.

That's what you're doing - re-orienting the PLAYERS to the geography and landmarks of the Crown. Their characters probably would remember, but in-character you are having Ulf re-establish where the PCs are relative to the locations on the map and where they need to go next to get back on track. The nearest dot on the map: Dead Man's Dome.

Once the undead army starts tailing them, combine that with the re-orientation, and now instead of a "Hi, let's go here!" suggestion out of the blue, instead it turns into an in-character realization that the caravan is in trouble, leading them to think, "Geez, this is probably the only semi-defensible spot for our caravan for hundreds of miles in any direction. I guess it's Dead Man's Dome or bust. A bad chance is better than no chance, right?"

It doesn't take a lot of prep work. A little bit of foreshadowing goes a long way, and when you get close you remind and reorient them to the map. Badaboom, badabing, done.


Jason Nelson wrote:


At any point of their trip, but preferably early on, Ulf can sit down with them and some maps and say "Here's the Path of Aganhei. It goes from Unaimo here, up and around past the Steaming Pits of Gheit, then past the southern faces of the Alabastrine Peaks, cuz you know we sure wouldn't want to go anywhere near the top of the world! Then after we clear the Alabastrine Peaks, we'll veer south, making for Dead Man's Dome. It used to be a trade station, but they said some nameless hero held off an army of giants and helped the merchants and folks escape. Supposed to be haunted but I doubt it. Past Dead Man's Dome, we go down into the Ruun Uvas basin to Ul-Angorn, the first town of any size on the far side of the Crown. Then up and over Ovorikheer Pass and down to the Osman Confederation, through the lake country there, and then over the tundra to the Wall of Heaven. One last pass to traverse, and we're back into the warm lands beyond!"

And that's really all that's needed. You are quite right, Jason. The players will like to know where they are going and how they'll get there, and even help take decisions on the route.

Which brings me to my previous post on why is it better to follow the path of Aganhei than to travel near the coast, avoiding the high ice. Any comments?

Osirion RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

Fox1212 wrote:
Jason Nelson wrote:


At any point of their trip, but preferably early on, Ulf can sit down with them and some maps and say "Here's the Path of Aganhei. It goes from Unaimo here, up and around past the Steaming Pits of Gheit, then past the southern faces of the Alabastrine Peaks, cuz you know we sure wouldn't want to go anywhere near the top of the world! Then after we clear the Alabastrine Peaks, we'll veer south, making for Dead Man's Dome. It used to be a trade station, but they said some nameless hero held off an army of giants and helped the merchants and folks escape. Supposed to be haunted but I doubt it. Past Dead Man's Dome, we go down into the Ruun Uvas basin to Ul-Angorn, the first town of any size on the far side of the Crown. Then up and over Ovorikheer Pass and down to the Osman Confederation, through the lake country there, and then over the tundra to the Wall of Heaven. One last pass to traverse, and we're back into the warm lands beyond!"

And that's really all that's needed. You are quite right, Jason. The players will like to know where they are going and how they'll get there, and even help take decisions on the route.

Which brings me to my previous post on why is it better to follow the path of Aganhei than to travel near the coast, avoiding the high ice. Any comments?

I'd suggest it's for a couple of reasons:

1. Because the ice near the coasts is vastly more unstable and subject to constant movement throughout the year, making it impossible to reliably map it or establish landmarks, and putting caravans at much higher risk from crevasses and other natural hazards.

2. Also, since there's more moisture nearer the coasts, you actually would have vastly more snowfall there. While you can have white-out conditions on the High Ice due to wind alone, the prevailing weather patterns would suggest that snow would be a much bigger problem closer to the sea.

3. It may be that the less-severe temperatures nearer the seas would mean larger monster populations to menace caravans.

The Path of Aganhei thus offers a stable and reliable route that can be mapped followed without much chance of changing suddenly, where the ice is fairly stable and only rarely will collapse, where the weather is far more predictable (clear, cold, windy), and where the temperatures are low enough to keep a lot of monsters elsewhere without being so cold that it freezes the caravan.

It's the Goldilocks path of the happy medium--not too much this, not too much that, just right.

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