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RPG Superstar 2015

The TPK Boss / Encounter From Each AP (Many Spoilers)


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

This is just out of curiosity, since I've read all the adventure paths (except SD and Kingmaker), but haven't run all of them. Of the two which I am running, Xanesha is unanimously the most dangerous encounter in RotRL, and she certainly was in my Runelords game. In Legacy of Fire, I've heard many mention House of the Beast as the toughest module (I'm guessing Ghartok is the most dangerous encounter? My group has just finished book 1 and Xulthos very nearly TPK'd them.)

So I'm interested from others who have run or played through the other APs: what was the one encounter that spelled doom (or nearly spelled doom) for the party? Is there one boss or encounter that, like Xanesha, was just too overwhelming?

Just curious what others have experienced.

Shadow Lodge

From my person experience:
Demilich in CoCT
The pouncing Scout ape demon thing from ST
Xanesha in RotRL
caravan rules in JR (lol)

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Varthanna wrote:

From my person experience:

Demilich in CoCT
The pouncing Scout ape demon thing from ST
Xanesha in RotRL
caravan rules in JR (lol)

Funny you should mention the demilich, I suspected that would be the culprit from Crimson Throne. We'll be finished Runelords later this year and CotCT is what I have lined up after it. The demilich is one of my favorite old school monsters, still debating whether I will modify this encounter. Was it a TPK for your group?


Luz wrote:
Varthanna wrote:

From my person experience:

Demilich in CoCT
The pouncing Scout ape demon thing from ST
Xanesha in RotRL
caravan rules in JR (lol)
Funny you should mention the demilich, I suspected that would be the culprit from Crimson Throne. We'll be finished Runelords later this year and CotCT is what I have lined up after it. The demilich is one of my favorite old school monsters, still debating whether I will modify this encounter. Was it a TPK for your group?

I ran CoCT in 3.5 and I used the sidebar advice in the book (crush the gems and the souls return to the body). If I hadn't the session probably would've grinded to a halt. It was a great encounter and the players loved taking on such an iconic monster but there will be fatalities and unless you want to go through the process of rebuilding a party in the middle of an adventure I recommed that route

Oh and as for other nasties the umbral dragon from Skeletons is nasty. Also since the other poster mentioned Savage Tide, the head baddie from the temple on the isle of dread. Took the party 3 tries to take him down. Vicious.
The ape demon is great also. Great Predator vibe.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Luz wrote:
Varthanna wrote:
Demilich in CoCT
Funny you should mention the demilich, I suspected that would be the culprit from Crimson Throne. We'll be finished Runelords later this year and CotCT is what I have lined up after it. The demilich is one of my favorite old school monsters, still debating whether I will modify this encounter. Was it a TPK for your group?

That demilich was the bane of my group as well. But they never faced it. No, they peeked in the room and then ran like the wind. Never fought it, never faced it, never got its loot. Even after the AP and one PC claimed the castle as her own she made sure the demilich was still in there, hammered the doors closed, and put up a big "DON'T GO IN THERE" sign.


Oddly enough when I ran through CoCT we fluked out and one-shot the Demilich before it could do anything... almost got TPK'd by the Danse Macabre though (lots of failed saves, ugh)

If you are wondering about how we breezed past the Demilich - Oracle with Kn: religion knew enough to know it was undead, and cast Disrupting Weapon on the melee characters weapon, who then charged it in the surprise round, lucky crit managed to do some damage past the DR, terribly unlucky save on the Demilich's part and bam toast.


Aushanna from Shackled City has quite a few notches on her bow.


I've actually never run into a TPK, but i've come fairly close. The demi lich in CotCT killed all but one of our group, though we had a couple npcs in another part of the castle. The Danse Macabre was pretty rough too.. come to think of it that entire module was a nightmare.

Jaagrath Kreeg was another one. I think two out five characters survived that fight. Oddly, no deaths from flying snake lady of doom.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Jam412 wrote:

I've actually never run into a TPK, but i've come fairly close. The demi lich in CotCT killed all but one of our group, though we had a couple npcs in another part of the castle. The Danse Macabre was pretty rough too.. come to think of it that entire module was a nightmare.

Jaagrath Kreeg was another one. I think two out five characters survived that fight. Oddly, no deaths from flying snake lady of doom.

Runelords, like ST and AoW, is a meatgrinder and there really are several potential TPKs. The shining child and black monk both gave my groups serious runs for their money and it came down to two survivors out of six for each encounter. They also had to run away from the carrion swarm or be eaten alive. Still, Xanesha was the one that kicked their collective butts.

ANebulousMistress wrote:
That demilich was the bane of my group as well. But they never faced it. No, they peeked in the room and then ran like the wind. Never fought it, never faced it, never got its loot. Even after the AP and one PC claimed the castle as her own she made sure the demilich was still in there, hammered the doors closed, and put up a big "DON'T GO IN THERE" sign.

That's friggin awesome. One of the cool things about a demilich is the prospect of fighting one strikes such dread into most players, yet the option to leave well enough alone is always there. Although I do agree that they shouldn't be impossible to fight, I love the fact that they are probably the most feared monster in the game.


For my group the Demilich was a walk in the park: at first they freaked out, when they realized what was lying on the altar. but then they prepared themselves pretty well: death ward all over them, silence (no wail of the banshee), everyone enlarged (more damage), and even some spell turning. the bishop lasted three rounds, and I don't know anymore if he caused any harm.


The MindFlayer from AoW, and Dragotha if ran without mercy.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter 2013

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

Danse Macabre far and away. The Erinyes in Zenith Trajectory a close second.

Star Voter 2013

AoW: Xyrzog (Mind Flayer), Dragotha of course, and the whole Hextor wing in "3 Faces of Evil"
Savage Tide: Olangru (Bar-lgura Demon), Kala
RotRL: Xanesha of course. The Shining Child also gave my group fits; I remember having to tone down its SLAs or risk a TPK.
CotCT: Seems like the Demi-Lich wins here.
LoF: The Sepid Div in "The Impossible Eye" is nasty just because of his unexpectedness
CoT: The Calikang is a nasty surprise for the players who've managed to reach him. The Shadowy Triceratops gets honorable mention, other than the fact that a few canny PCs managed to take command of the thing with Control Undead and wreak havoc on the rest of the campaign.
KM: Seems like the fight against the Stag Lord ends badly for lots of people, either because they bee-line straight to his lair before they're the appropriate level or because they try to straight-up assault the keep or get surrounded by all of the enemies within. There's lots of ways for this encounter to go right or horribly wrong.
CC: So far, seems like a couple of traps in "Trial of the Beast" have accounted for a number of fatalities. They're pretty nasty traps.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Cards, Maps Subscriber

CC - In Trial of the Beast at the Castle my PCs went in to the museum and bypassed the mummy and mimic without checking that room out. They sent downstairs to the Flesh Golem and they ran back to the room above. They ended up running into the Mummy and every failed their saving through but the cleric. Also, several had taken massive damage from the flesh golem. The whole group was hurting. The cleric backed up from the mummy and was grabbed by the mimic. He killed the mummy through channel energy.

One PCs with few hit points fell of the bridge as they fled from the mummy. One recovered from the fear and went back to save the cleric. When he met the golem again he fled up the cliff and slipped off into the river (again with few hit points).

One PC made it out alive and went back to town to lead the new group to finish the job at the castle. Not a BBEG but the group was destroyed in this encounter.

Contributor , Star Voter 2013

Sounds like an episode of Benny Hill!

*cue wacky saxophone music as PCS run room to room*


I've heard some bad things about a shadow demon in one of the adventure paths.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

That would probably be the shadow demon from SS #2, Racing to Ruins.
In the adventure you (may) have an item that makes the encounter a snap, but a lot of groups didn't recognize it for what it is.

spoiler:
The shadow demon is possessing an ape. So the ape beats on the party, then could potentially possess a party member, THEN you have to actually deal with the demon.
All the while you (may) have a one-shot Dispel Evil magic item... but you have to make the knowledge checks to know it's a shadow demon. Can be a tricky encounter.

Dark Archive

Brandon Hodge wrote:

Sounds like an episode of Benny Hill!

*cue wacky saxophone music as PCS run room to room*

Chuckle


Jenner2057 wrote:

That would probably be the shadow demon from SS #2, Racing to Ruins.

In the adventure you (may) have an item that makes the encounter a snap, but a lot of groups didn't recognize it for what it is.

** spoiler omitted **

Spoiler:
Standard to activate, need a touch attack of 18 to hit the creature. Cleric with str has a +5~+6 attack bonus. Fighter has a +10. Wizard has +3.

SR 17, so a roll of +9 versus 17. Need an 8 on a d20 to bypass spell resistance.

Will save, DC 17, or be banished. It has a will save of +7.

So you need an 15-12-8 to hit, 8+ versus SR, and 9< on its save.

Assuming the fighter...
1d20 ⇒ 9
1d20 ⇒ 19
1d20 ⇒ 17 Saved.

1d20 ⇒ 2 Missed.

1d20 ⇒ 6 Missed.

1d20 ⇒ 13
1d20 ⇒ 15
1d20 ⇒ 17 Saved.

1d20 ⇒ 13
1d20 ⇒ 19
1d20 ⇒ 2 Got him!

It's ridiculously hard to pull off just because you need 3 good die rolls to make it happen-- it's actually easier to just beat it to death than it is to hope the item works.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If we go as far back as Shackled City, Aushanna was a near TPK for my party, if not for a couple of lucky rolls by players and an error in tactic on the DMs (my) part.

The bebilith in Test of the Smoking Eye killed a few PCs but didn’t result in a TPK.

In RotRL, we kicked Xanesha’s ass without raising a sweat, but she managed to escape. We faced her and her sister together midway through the next adventure, that was a tough fight that we thought at various points would end in a TPK – we managed to scrape through though.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber
Ice Titan wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Wow... I completely missed the SR. Guess my players lucked out. Oops.

But even with only two rolls, it took my PCs two attempts so yeah, saying it's a "snap" was probably a bad choice of words. Heh.
Excellent points Titan.


Jenner2057 wrote:
Ice Titan wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Wow... I completely missed the SR. Guess my players lucked out. Oops.

But even with only two rolls, it took my PCs two attempts so yeah, saying it's a "snap" was probably a bad choice of words. Heh.
Excellent points Titan.

Best part? Hit and don't get through the SR and the item's wasted.

I hate the shadow demon.

Lantern Lodge

Ice Titan wrote:
Jenner2057 wrote:

Wow... I completely missed the SR. Guess my players lucked out. Oops.

But even with only two rolls, it took my PCs two attempts so yeah, saying it's a "snap" was probably a bad choice of words. Heh.
Excellent points Titan.

Best part? Hit and don't get through the SR and the item's wasted.

I hate the shadow demon.

I made a whole thread specifically to complain about this shadow demon. He is so unfair it is not even funny. Even if you hit, get through the SR, and he makes his save, the item is wasted. Only if you miss entirely do you get to try again, and it's not that tough an attack (unless the wizard is doing it) so you're not that likely to miss entirely.

And all that assumes he didn't just kill the whole party while you were running like morons from his surprise-round fear; it's an at-will SLA so he can just spam it until you're all good and panicked. Just plain unfair. Not fair at all. It's pretty clear that their playtest group for this encounter included a paladin; any 5th-level paladin with bless weapon prepared can solo this guy.


Paul Zagieboylo wrote:
Ice Titan wrote:
Jenner2057 wrote:

Wow... I completely missed the SR. Guess my players lucked out. Oops.

But even with only two rolls, it took my PCs two attempts so yeah, saying it's a "snap" was probably a bad choice of words. Heh.
Excellent points Titan.

Best part? Hit and don't get through the SR and the item's wasted.

I hate the shadow demon.

I made a whole thread specifically to complain about this shadow demon. He is so unfair it is not even funny. Even if you hit, get through the SR, and he makes his save, the item is wasted. Only if you miss entirely do you get to try again, and it's not that tough an attack (unless the wizard is doing it) so you're not that likely to miss entirely.

And all that assumes he didn't just kill the whole party while you were running like morons from his surprise-round fear; it's an at-will SLA so he can just spam it until you're all good and panicked. Just plain unfair. Not fair at all. It's pretty clear that their playtest group for this encounter included a paladin; any 5th-level paladin with bless weapon prepared can solo this guy.

We piggybacked on our dual-wielding smite-focused paladin. Without him it would have been a TPK.

Party members:
1) Rogue -- can't sneak attack incorporeal + DR 10 = cannot do damage period
2) Two-handed ranger -- At level 6, he was dropping 2d6+14. An average roll (21), halved for incorporeal, pushed through DR 10 would yield... 1 damage.
3) Lore oracle -- SR 17 + elemental resistances = completely unable to do anything
4) Bomb alchemist -- 4d6 is 14 avg, halved is 7, fire immune, cold resist 10. Unable to damage this creature.
5) Dual-wield paladin -- smite, smite, smite, smite, dead.

haaaate

Quote:
The Shadowy Triceratops

Charged through the aquarium on a surprise round, knocked half the party prone and hit the cavalier. Won initiative, hit the cavalier, he went unconscious.

I love that its CR is 1 less than a regular triceratops. And isn't it permanently hasted and can shoot a laser beam? Try passing that off at the table. "My BBEG's CR is actually 1 lower because he is permanently hasted, can fire a searing ray as a swift action and has 20% concealment when standing still. All of these buffs obviously make him weaker."

Dedicated Voter 2013

Paul Zagieboylo wrote:
Ice Titan wrote:
Jenner2057 wrote:

Wow... I completely missed the SR. Guess my players lucked out. Oops.

But even with only two rolls, it took my PCs two attempts so yeah, saying it's a "snap" was probably a bad choice of words. Heh.
Excellent points Titan.

Best part? Hit and don't get through the SR and the item's wasted.

I hate the shadow demon.

I made a whole thread specifically to complain about this shadow demon. He is so unfair it is not even funny. Even if you hit, get through the SR, and he makes his save, the item is wasted. Only if you miss entirely do you get to try again, and it's not that tough an attack (unless the wizard is doing it) so you're not that likely to miss entirely.

And all that assumes he didn't just kill the whole party while you were running like morons from his surprise-round fear; it's an at-will SLA so he can just spam it until you're all good and panicked. Just plain unfair. Not fair at all. It's pretty clear that their playtest group for this encounter included a paladin; any 5th-level paladin with bless weapon prepared can solo this guy.

There's this lovely little thing in the CRB that should be a bread and butter spell for every 1st level Bard and Cleric: remove fear. Inquisitors and Oracles from the APG are always able to select it starting at 1st level. There are far too many fear-based special attacks, spells, auras and gaze attacks not to have this on tap. It has a short range to target. The save DC on the fear is an 18 "book".

5th level characters theoretically have access to daylight, which renders the shadow demon unable to attack within the very large radius of bright light that also eliminates the demon's ability to stealth around the area, let alone make an attack - they flee such light.

Why wouldn't PCs have acquired cold iron weapons by 5th level? A magic weapon spell is also 1st level and available to most of the casters and takes care of the worst of the whiffing problem. A wand of magic weapon is the same cost as a wand of cure light wounds and comes in handy about as often.

SR 17 is at worst a 12+ to beat it for a 5th level caster. Depending on feats, traits and race, this number can quickly decrease by as much as 4 or 6 (8+ or 6+ on the d20 to beat the SR respectively). Gawds help the shadow demon if there's a human cleric that took the "+ level vs the SR of outsiders" favored class bonus, although that's not really expected. In this corner case, that character automatically penetrates any SR of 15 or less without even having to roll a die (5th level +4 greater spell penetration +5 favored class [cleric] = +14), making that SR 17 a point of minimal concern with only needing to throw a 3 on a d20 to beat the SR.

Offensively, there's the trusty spiritual weapon and magic missile spells to pepper the demon with. see invisibility coupled with glitterdust puts paid to its primary means of stealth for a considerable amount of time. And of course readied actions. Holy water is effective, albiet horrendously risky, against them in melee.

All in all, the playtest group with or without a paladin very likely had access to some, most or all of these spells. Is a shadow demon nasty ? Absolutely. Is it unbeatable? Absolutely not.


Consider reading his post again and reviewing the party composition. That particular party is fairly well balanced and doesn't include a wizard. If the oracle doesn't happen to have daylight then his points are all fairly valid. That monster was neigh unassailable short of having the paladin.

Dedicated Voter 2013

Ghostalker wrote:
Consider reading his post again and reviewing the party composition. That particular party is fairly well balanced and doesn't include a wizard. If the oracle doesn't happen to have daylight then his points are all fairly valid. That monster was neigh unassailable short of having the paladin.

He did have both bard and sorceror in addition to the oracle, making all of these spells except daylight accessible at least in theory.

My point is not that his particular party could or could not have done it. My point is that during a playtest without a paladin that it was a "doable", albiet nasty, encounter. Which was the complaint I saw above.

EDIT: I remember that thread, having re-read it. Blowing 4 Will saves out of the gate sure didn't help his situation.

*Makes a note to upgun a pack of them to shred his group with*

Liberty's Edge

Mothman wrote:

If we go as far back as Shackled City, Aushanna was a near TPK for my party, if not for a couple of lucky rolls by players and an error in tactic on the DMs (my) part.

The bebilith in Test of the Smoking Eye killed a few PCs but didn’t result in a TPK.

I've seen a few mentions of Aushana being difficult but my party steamrolled her hardcore. Of course my party was gross in close combat. Once they got close to anything it was a freaken splatterfest. The only combat that really effed them up was Gottrod because they were terrible ranged combatants at the time. The ogre thought it would be a good idea to grapple him in an effort to stop his flyby attacks but then found out that going toe-to-toe with a dragon was a REALLY bad idea.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Jenner2057 wrote:

That would probably be the shadow demon from SS #2, Racing to Ruins.

In the adventure you (may) have an item that makes the encounter a snap, but a lot of groups didn't recognize it for what it is.

** spoiler omitted **

I have a friend who borrowed my SS AP last year. He said the same thing of this encounter and ended up toning it down for the party (who were relatively novice players), that it was just too easy to kill the whole group with it.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
EATERoftheDEAD wrote:
Mothman wrote:

If we go as far back as Shackled City, Aushanna was a near TPK for my party, if not for a couple of lucky rolls by players and an error in tactic on the DMs (my) part.

The bebilith in Test of the Smoking Eye killed a few PCs but didn’t result in a TPK.

I've seen a few mentions of Aushana being difficult but my party steamrolled her hardcore. Of course my party was gross in close combat. Once they got close to anything it was a freaken splatterfest. The only combat that really effed them up was Gottrod because they were terrible ranged combatants at the time. The ogre thought it would be a good idea to grapple him in an effort to stop his flyby attacks but then found out that going toe-to-toe with a dragon was a REALLY bad idea.

Why'd you let Aushanna even get into melee?


If he had kept Aushana in the air things would not have been so easy.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:
If he had kept Aushana in the air things would not have been so easy.

Exactly, Aushanna was good at teaching my players they are weak on ranged attacks =p


I was the only ranged combatant in my group so it was basically me against her. The cleric had to burn a lot of cure spells to keep me up though. I had no way to bypass her DR. The rest of the party was pouring potions down my throat once they realized ignoring my advice to get ranged weapons was a bad idea.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Oh, the Shadow Demon. We had to go at this thing three times. It beat our behinds the first two times, the third time it taunted us and teleported out at the end. We missed said "Dispel Evil" item completely, I have no idea what it was in the adventure.

At the moment we are getting our behinds kicked once again in the third module, this time by that set-piece elven music coliseum ruin. First try my character died by a combination of Grey Render, Will'o Wisp and crazy Ghost lady and I had to get a replacement, second try the Will'o Wisp lured us into the Shocker Lizards and we had to retreat after a 10d8 shock ( at level six! ).

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

I was going to bring up the shadow demon too. My group only beat it because they had a blackblade magus who could make his weapon into a force effect.

The aberrant promethean was nearly a TPK in the CC group I play in, because we went straight up that last tower instead of climbing the outside to get to the beast-summoning-control thing.

The sepid div fight in LoF is also nasty. Huge amount of bludgeoning damage (16d6? I think) in a large radius, multiple times, and no build up to know it's coming.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

I mentioned Xulthos from LoF in my first post. He's dangerous enough but what makes the encounter even deadlier is the fact that the party has to descend a 30-ft. shaft to reach his chamber, which is heavily concealed in hallucinatory terrain and veil spells. The module states that simply entering his lair is not enough to warrant a save against the illusions and that they have to actively search the area before they get a save. By the time this happened, they had walked right up to Xulthos without even knowing it and he got surprise. The party was on their heels from the start and retreat was not a viable option because of the 30-ft. shaft.

In the end, I had to exercise some DM mercy (a rare thing in my games!) with some divine aid. Otherwise, this would've been a slaughter.

Liberty's Edge

Luz wrote:
By the time this happened, they had walked right up to Xulthos without even knowing it and he got surprise. The party was on their heels from the start and retreat was not a viable option because of the 30-ft. shaft.

Uh...according to the module Xulthos explicitly stands in the open (under the illusion of a guy, but stil) and talks to the PCs before attacking them, making this really not the Adventure having him be extra deadly, so much as you doing so. The environmental advantage is mostly countered by his explicitly stated behavior.

Not that he's not a nasty fight (he is), but adding surprise on top is not something the Adventure intends, illusionary cave or not.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Luz wrote:
By the time this happened, they had walked right up to Xulthos without even knowing it and he got surprise. The party was on their heels from the start and retreat was not a viable option because of the 30-ft. shaft.

Uh...according to the module Xulthos explicitly stands in the open (under the illusion of a guy, but stil) and talks to the PCs before attacking them, making this really not the Adventure having him be extra deadly, so much as you doing so. The environmental advantage is mostly countered by his explicitly stated behavior.

Not that he's not a nasty fight (he is), but adding surprise on top is not something the Adventure intends, illusionary cave or not.

Yeesh! You're right, Deadmanwalking, I misread the room description. I thought the hallucinatory terrain concealed "Kardswann" on his throne so all the party saw was an empty cavern. It wasn't until after they entered the room and began searching it that they saw through the first illusion and saw Kardsann/Xulthos at the throne. Yes, I did proceed with the encounter as written and Kardswann/Xulthos delivered his speech before attacking the party. When I said he got surprise I was merely streamlining the story (i.e. he didn't get a surprise round to attack), but in the end it didn't matter. The party was caught off-guard and were over-matched. The fact that they didn't have a cleric didn't help their cause.

Even still, its a tough do-or-die encounter, since there is really no chance for the party to retreat if they need to.

Liberty's Edge

Luz wrote:

Yeesh! You're right, Deadmanwalking, I misread the room description. I thought the hallucinatory terrain concealed "Kardswann" on his throne so all the party saw was an empty cavern. It wasn't until after they entered the room and began searching it that they saw through the first illusion and saw Kardsann/Xulthos at the throne. Yes, I did proceed with the encounter as written and Kardswann/Xulthos delivered his speech before attacking the party. When I said he got surprise I was merely streamlining the story (i.e. he didn't get a surprise round to attack), but in the end it didn't matter. The party was caught off-guard and were over-matched. The fact that they didn't have a cleric didn't help their cause.

Even still, its a tough do-or-die encounter, since there is really no chance for the party to retreat if they need to.

Ah! Gotcha. Yeah, it's potentially a real nasty fight. Especially if multiple people fail that Will save vs. the droning.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Luz wrote:

Yeesh! You're right, Deadmanwalking, I misread the room description. I thought the hallucinatory terrain concealed "Kardswann" on his throne so all the party saw was an empty cavern. It wasn't until after they entered the room and began searching it that they saw through the first illusion and saw Kardsann/Xulthos at the throne. Yes, I did proceed with the encounter as written and Kardswann/Xulthos delivered his speech before attacking the party. When I said he got surprise I was merely streamlining the story (i.e. he didn't get a surprise round to attack), but in the end it didn't matter. The party was caught off-guard and were over-matched. The fact that they didn't have a cleric didn't help their cause.

Even still, its a tough do-or-die encounter, since there is really no chance for the party to retreat if they need to.

Ah! Gotcha. Yeah, it's potentially a real nasty fight. Especially if multiple people fail that Will save vs. the droning.

The droning really was the deal breaker for my group. One guy got confused and attacked the nearest creature (another character)while the others suffered the penalties for making their saves. From there it was all downhill as Xulthos's full attacks were just too vicious.

In the end, I had Sarenrae send a powerful blessing to the party for not defiling the undercrypt (they resisted looting any chambers) that fully healed/raised the injured or dead PCs, stunned Xulthos for a round and countered the droning effects. This gave them the fighting chance they needed and they finished him off. Of course, they did not receive the magic items as reward for not disturbing the burial chambers, but at least they lived.


Glad to hear about Xulthos being such a hard fight, I just started a Legacy of Fire adventure with all new players.

From what I've seen I think that Xanesha, the Danse Macabre, the demi-lich, and Ilnerik are all pretty hard. Surprised Ilnerik hasn't been mentioned, he's even got a sidebar on toning his fight down!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Xanesha of course, but you can put me down for the shadow demon.

.........

Side note: I appreciated the remark about remove fear. My players have a laundry list of things they hate. Confusion, fear, paralysis... I tell 'em those effects aren't going anywhere, so I'm surprised in the case of fear effects why they just don't take some preventative measures.

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