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GM Plot Help: Case of the Missing Conjurers


Rise of the Runelords


Okay, I'm at my wit's end, and I need something by this Sunday. I know this should be no problem for the forum at its best!

Please be patient and read carefully, as I have changed some specifics from the AP that have led to my current dilemma.

My problem is this: I have rearranged quite a bit of Sins of the Saviors, and filled in a lot of the empty rooms and such.

My players have left the Festering Maze of Sloth wing for last. They did this specifically because Freezemaw followed them into Runeforge, and they know he passed into the Sloth wing.

I have dropped several hints about the disappearance of the conjurers (in Vraxeris' clone log and elsewhere). Other denizens of Runeforge have been unable to explore for very long in the empty wing due to an unspecified magic effect (which perhaps I ought to specify).

The abjurer-cum-savior in the party has studied the original construction of the runeforge, and suspects that the abjurers built a "back door" in the original sorcery that ripped the complex off of the prime material plane.

I have a simple map of a very large chamber with five pools that I would like to use as a battleground for the encounter with Freezemaw.

I've also written it so that Runeforge was something of a Prison in addition to a laboratory — this is implied in the books, but I have spelled it out. Once you enter, you can never leave. But somehow, the conjurers did, which makes this a very important plot point for the PCs.

So here are my problems, writ short:

  • What effect keeps other mages from spending much time here? How might that interact with the presence of the dragon?
  • How did the conjurers escape? How can the players discover the method, and why did nobody else discover the method in all these millennia?

One last wrench in the works: Delvahine is still in play. She is also trapped here, and not even plane shift can break her out. She managed to capture the abjurer PC's bonded object, he's been rolling concentration for like 6 sessions now. She is holding it ransom so that when the PCs find the way out, she can escape too... so if this helps me reveal the escape plan at all I can use that.

I tried to include all the pertinent details, but this is a 13th level party, many things have been said... Work and school have taken up most of my time this week, so I am really hoping some of the creative folks here can help me dig myself out of this one.

Thanks in advance!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My first thought is that whatever the conjurers did to escape requires creating a permanent anti-magic field over a wide area. The others trapped in the Runeforge did discover the method, but were never willing to risk the attempt failing and leaving them helpless.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

What if the conjurers built an item that uses a Gate effect (creation/calling) rather than Plane Shift (teleportation) to bypass the Runeforge keep-um-in-um field?

Further, what if that item requires an arcane caster casting spells from each of the five schools that conjurers have access to (Transmutation, Conjuration, Abjuration, Enchantment, Necromancy)?

I think that would make it so that no single Thassilonian specialist who was not a conjurer could activate it, because they would have at least one of those schools as opposition schools. Distrust of the other wings would prevent them from working together.

It could actually be that the other wizards have discovered the method but were unable to make it work.

E.L., I have a question for you: Was it your campaign went into the territory of Stone Giants invading the Varisian Plain? If so, do you have an adventure log or would you be able to post a synopsis of how that all went down?

My PCs decided to detour away from dealing with the growing Giant threat so I am thinking that I may run something similar to that and am looking for ideas.


Maybe they escaped with some custom-made Conjuration effect, and the first non-conjurers that went in had Conjuration as an opposed school. When the first went in and the others lost all contact, none of the others (who could cast the conjuration escape spell) dared to enter and try.

Thousands of years of isolation will do wonders with ingrained fear and ignorance.


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Greycloak of Bowness wrote:

Further, what if that item requires an arcane caster casting spells from each of the five schools that conjurers have access to (Transmutation, Conjuration, Abjuration, Enchantment, Necromancy)?

I think that would make it so that no single Thassilonian specialist who was not a conjurer could activate it, because they would have at least one of those schools as opposition schools. Distrust of the other wings would prevent them from working together.

It could actually be that the other wizards have discovered the method but were unable to make it work.

Jackpot! THANK YOU.

As a reward, I will tell you a bit about how the landwar went down:

EL's Giant wars:

There were plans to do something with Kingmaker's mass combat rules. I actually statted up a lot of the armies, and at Jason Nelson's recommendation I shifted the army size table columns by two steps so that the giant armies made more sense. But in truth, the party didn't really have "armies" of their own, other than the black arrows, so it was really just a plotting tool for me in the end.

Noteably, the town of Ravenmoor was reduced to ruin by a giant attack.

The players were weirded out by Mokmurian's "in-your-face" tactics. he never put himself on the front line, but he fought battles in a way that seemed not to care for holding ground, nor for sparing the lives of his troops. We know the reason for this: each giant who dies fuels Karzoug's return with his greed. What's more, a considerable number of the black arrows and magnimar troops who were engaged in battle against them were also branded by Lamia conspirators over the last 5 years. Mokmurian's goal was to lose in as bloody a way possible.

This became clear to the players only during a massive confrontation at Ft Rannick — a rally of the various giant armies, with Lokansir and Mokmurian arriving riding Rocs in the middle of the battle (I am so mean!)

One of the players has a "second sight" for the sinful souls being siphoned into the soul lens at Xin Shalast — she is a descendent of Alaznist by way of the Shoanti. She noticed that many souls from both the giants and her own troops were forming a twisting column skyward above the battlefield. That's when they "cracked the case".

The party's ardwright (a custom artificer class) had independently developed a system whereby a banner with a symbol of sleep was to be used defensively at Rannick. Now it was their only hope to defeat the giant armies without playing into Mokmurian's plan.

At the conclusion, Mokmurian cast Form of the Dragon III to turn into a huge green dragon. (I had previously inserted a black dragon into a Kaer Maga sidequest, so next month when they fight Ghlorofaex they will have fought all five chromatics!) I didn't think this one through very carefully, as the party wizard is an abjurer. He managed to shut down the spell, which was the main source of Mok's remaining HP... so losing dragon form actually killed him, in what might be the most satisfying boss-fight resolution an abjurer could possibly hope for.

In the aftermath, Korvosa decided to exploit the diversion of Ilsurian's troops northward to Ft. Rannick (as part of an alliance) and occupied. There is presently a second war raging between Magnimar (fighting for Ilsurian, but not quite trusted for their motives if they should prevail) and Korvosa. It serves as a distraction to keep the high-powered settlements of the area from getting too helpful while the party tries to stop the emerging evil archwizard.


Greycloak, your idea works especially well because I hastily adopted the Sin Magic variant from Inner Sea Magic. So yes, none of the Runeforge wizards can cast from prohibited schools (or even wands or scrolls) at all!

That the map has five pools, with one pool being considerably larger and more central, only makes it perfect for this method too!

You are a lifesaver. Where do you live, I will buy you a beer if I ever roll through.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The Bowness part of my username is a particularly notorious neighborhood in Calgary.

Glad I could help. You wouldn't happen to have those army stats laying around would you? My email is in my profile if you have them still.


They were incomplete at best, nothing that you couldn't extrapolate from a basic, naked army of that size and CR in the KM rules. My plan was to fill them out as they came into play, which never really happened.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Ok, cool. I'll probably revert to plan A which was to rip the armies right out of Kingmaker 5, use their stat blocks and just change the descriptions of numbers.

I'm running a hybrid campaign and my guys might be starting a war with the kingdom that's grown up around Ravenmoor. That should soak up a bunch of time and it would be cool for them to roll over Ravenmoor, just to be assaulted by a big giant force pouring out of the North, which at that point would be part to finish off Turtleback Ferry for the marked souls there and part to gain a foothold to head to Sandpoint to go after Xaliassa.

We'll see. My PCs keep doing what I don't expect so I have no idea what's next.


The Feast of Ravenmoor is a module that might give you some cool ideas for an army therein.


Hey, totally sweet to see that battle pan out. I remember being totally envious of your players way back when when you posted about it here.

I'm actually not too familiar with FotSG or SotS, so I don't have much to contribute that others couldn't/haven't done better. Hope it's epic.


Oh, I'm all set now due to Greycloak's contribution.

Ended last night's session with Freezemaw totally spanking the party by round 6, still at full HP. They'd better up their game next session or it's a TPK.

Andoran

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I might rip off your idea of the PC who can see departing souls. I have a PC with a newly regenerated eye who might discover that he can see a little more than he expected with it...

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

EL, any update on how this turned out?


Beautifully! Best puzzle encounter I have ever GMed. More later.


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So yes,

The players didn't spend long on the puzzle, maybe 20 minutes at most. This was mainly because the Abjurer cast arcane sight, and I let him see a trace aura of each school on the pool/fountain where they needed to cast the spell. Once described, this led them immediately to remember the puzzle at the entrance to runeforge, which is just as well since this was supposedly a backdoor built by the conjurers who created the demiplane.

The pools were arranged like the pips on the "5" face of a die, and the central conjuration pool was much larger. They lost a couple of castings before realizing they needed to case while in physical contact with the pool.

My personal favorite moment was this:

Player 1: "So only the conjurers could have cast the necessary spells to escape?"

Player 2: "That's right. The Sin Mages could cast from prohibited schools at all, not even from wands or scrolls. Only the conjurers would have been versed in the right combination of schools."

Player 1: "Unless they, y'know, cooperated."

Player 2: Pauses. "Hmmm. It seems that in ten thousand years, that isn't something that occurred to them!"

Perfect.

Heartfelt thanks for adding an awesome moment to my campaign, Greycloak! I recently got a look at the Sloth wing in the new hardcover, and though it looks really cool, I can honestly say I wouldn't do a single thing differently, and it's largely in part to your idea.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm glad.

I'm probably going to go with a similar encounter when my group gets there, with two ways to escape:

1) The conjurer back door, pretty much as it worked for you
2) By constructing each of the seven runeforged weapons and activating the central pool with them

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