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Finally finished the Age of Worms campaign


Age of Worms Adventure Path


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Our campaign started in January 2009 and ended in July 2012, after 54 sessions of play. It was played under 3.5 rules. There were a total of 7 players that played throughout the campaign, although average attendance per session was between 5 and 6. We played all twelve modules of the Age of Worms adventure path, and in addition played through the Istivin mini adventure path and Death of Lashimire (Dungeon #116), right before The Spire of Long Shadows.

We had six or seven characters that had permanent deaths, i.e. where they had to roll a new character. All but three of them happened in the Whispering Cairn and the players just started similar characters. Two happened during Three Faces of Evil when the player that was playing the aasimar paladin changed to a halfling rogue/swashbuckler and another player changed to beguiler (I forgot what he played before). Finally the last one happened during the Spire of Long Shadows where the player changed from playing a barbarian to playing a fighter/paladin/kensai. This death was particularly unlucky as the barbarian failed his saving throw on a prismatic spray cast by Mak'ar, Harbinger of Worms, and was transported to the Positive Energy Plane where he died. As true resurrection was beyond their means at the time, he had to roll a new character.

There were dozens of other deaths from which characters were raised, resurrected or (in the last two adventures) true resurrected.

The toughest encounters, in my opinion, were:

- Most of the encounters in the Spire of Long Shadows, particularly the fallen angels. That adventure was by far the toughest one in the campaign.
- Dragotha: Took two full sessions to complete, although the ending was very anticlimatic as the Radiant Servant of Pelor destroyed Dragotha (yes, I allowed all splat books and I do regret it). Having said that, without that ending it could have been a TPK.
- Whispering Cairn air warriors (forgot name): Extremely tough low level encounter. Two characters survived that encounter and it was close to a TPK.
- Three Faces of Evil against the temple of Hextor. The party actually escaped on their first attempt, leaving behind the corpse of one of their allies (who later rolled the beguiler).
- All Broodfiend encounters, at least until the party fighters started using Sheltered Vitality. A lot of money was spent on true resurrections as a result of these.
- Of course, Kyuss, although probably not as tough as the previous ones, even with Divine Rank 1 since the party didn't successfully fight despair (they did destroy the unlife vortex though).

The party at the end was composed of the following PCs:

Human Psion (Nomad) 22
Human Cleric/Radiant Servant of Pelor/Paragnostic Apostle 22
Human Fighter/Paladin/Kensai/Exotic Weapon Master 22
Halfling Rogue/Swashbuckler 21
Halfling Wizard/Archmage 21
Grey Elf Beguiler 21
Goliath Fighter/Exotic Weapon Master 20

All but the goliath fighter attended the final battle. There was also one Solar Ranger 4 gated in by the cleric, and another solar gated in by the wizard during the fight.

On Kyuss' side, there was Lashonna, 6 Blessed Angels, and 10 Broodfiends (these came in three waves throughout the fight).

Kyuss only received damage from one hit from the sphere of annihilation (he then cast gate on it and it was destroyed), several hits from the solar ranger that was aided by the Instill ability of the Kensai and thus hitting every time, a few hits from the Kensai before he figured out that it was more efficient to use Instill, and finally a retributive strike from the staff of the magi that belonged to the wizard, which is what ended up killing him before he could Time Stop and Harm himself to full hit points for the second time.

The Broodfiends and Blessed Angels were for the most part eliminated by the Beguiler's dominate monster and eventually the cleric using turn anathema to get rid of several of them. All spellcasters and the psion used greater dispell magic liberally, and the wizard actually used reaving dispel very successfully on Kyuss who then had to rebuff using time stop. The rogue and kensai mostly fought Kyuss' minions. It was overall a pretty well fought encounter.

It was a great campaign and a lot of fun. Now we get to decide who DMs the next one as I need a break!


I'm sure you do need a break! I'm just about to start this campaign. Any tips if you were going to do it all over again? I think I'm going to run it using Pathfinder and only the core book and Advanced Players Guide for PCs to build from. Right now it looks like it will only be 3 players, so I'm thinking I might have to scale back some of the encounters.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
P.H. Dungeon wrote:
I'm sure you do need a break! I'm just about to start this campaign. Any tips if you were going to do it all over again? I think I'm going to run it using Pathfinder and only the core book and Advanced Players Guide for PCs to build from. Right now it looks like it will only be 3 players, so I'm thinking I might have to scale back some of the encounters.

I am a big fan of Pathfinder and am now in the middle of DMing Serpent's Skull (starting the third book). I think using Pathfinder would be the way to go, if you don't mind doing some conversions. Although you could play with no conversion and the higher power of Pathfinder characters over 3.5 Core would probably compensate for the fact that you have 3 players.

If I had to do it over again I would use 3.5 Core and have anything above core have to be specifically approved by the DM. It really depends on your players and how good they can be at designing powerful characters within the rules. Two of the characters in this group were extremely powerful, especially in the end game and it was tough to keep the game balanced.


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

Congrats on finishing the campaign, Oti! That's quite a feat!

P.H. Dungeon, I'd be careful with only 3 PCs, even with Pathfinder rules. My group of 3 PCs (20-pt buy when we usually play with 15-pt buy) ended up TPKing in Three Faces of Evil. Sure, they should have retreated when they sprung the trap in the temple of Hextor (Zon-Kuthon in my game), but that campaign is really brutal. I would have liked to do like Oti and go all the way to the epic fights in the end, but after that damn TPK, we were all pretty down and moved to something else. So, yeah, be careful, and congrats again for finishing such a long campaign, Oti! :)


I'm was planning on giving them a NPC companion or two at the start, so that hopefully I don't end up with a TPK in the first two adventures.

I've run the entire Savage Tide campaign with this group (it was a bit bigger then though), and there were a number of casualties during that game, so I they are aware of the dangers and hopefully will play smart. However, I feel that the second adventure looks like it could be really dangerous for a group of 3 PCs.

Oti- I actually am running some of Serpent's Skull right now as well, but I never intended to run the whole AP, and mostly I'm just borrowing heavily from it (not really running it RAW). My group is currently exploring Saventh Yhi (more specifically Savinth's tomb, which I've fully detailed). Once they've finished they plan to take all their loot and return to their home city via teleportation magic, and at that point I'm going to end the campaign. Tomorrow they will be exploring the final section of Savinth's tomb, and hopefully the next weekend we will be onto our first session of Age of Worms.


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P.H. Dungeon wrote:


Oti- I actually am running some of Serpent's Skull right now as well, but I never intended to run the whole AP, and mostly I'm just borrowing heavily from it (not really running it RAW). My group is currently exploring Saventh Yhi (more specifically Savinth's tomb, which I've fully detailed). Once they've finished they plan to take all their loot and return to their home city via teleportation magic, and at that point I'm going to end the campaign. Tomorrow they will be exploring the final section of Savinth's tomb, and hopefully the next weekend we will be onto our first session of Age of Worms.

It's great that you took the time to create Savinth's Tomb. What character levels did you create it for? Good luck with Age of Worms!


I'm not entirely sure what levels its for because I'm running the game using a system that I designed myself based on the Dragon AGE rpg, and I've stripped levels and classes out of the game.

However, the characters would probably be around 8th level in Pathfinder.

I included a number of nasty traps along with encounters with Azlanti warriors that were frozen in stasis to guard the tomb, angels, and a silver dragon that was also in stasis to guard the tomb- making for some interesting rp, when the PCs started to realize that they were kind of the bad guys in this one for trying to loot such a holy place.

Liberty's Edge

Out of curiosity Oti, what level were the characters by the end? When I plotted it out there seemed to be enough XP to bring a party of 4 to 22nd level.


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There were 4 characters at level 22 (the beguiler made 22, I had made a mistake in the original post), 2 characters at level 21, and one at level 20 (although as a goliath he had LA+1 since we played under 3.5 rules).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

I increased the number of monsters per encounter to account for the fact that we typically had 5-6 PCs per session and we also played some side adventures during the campaign.

Liberty's Edge

Awesome, good to know I have solid math skills.

I'm going through the work of doing a final prep to run AoW (I swear I really am going to run it this time) so I've been asking questions of all sorts around here in order to know what to anticipate and what kinds of impacts my inevitable extensive changes and modifications will have on both the story and the mechanics.

Liberty's Edge

I would put most of your design efforts towards managing the campaign from Whispering Cairn to Shadows of Long Spire. After Long Spire and a brief "rest" in Prince of Redhand, the campaign takes a markedly different turn for the third and final leg of the AP. You may well get there and I hope that you do -- but to be realistic? Chances are better than even that you will not.

I'm not saying to ignore the final third of the AP, but that you will have a LOT of time before that stage of the campaign is before you. It is far netter to spend your time on the first half to two-thirds of the AP where your efforts will be more immediately rewarded and where the time spent is far more likely to be used at the table. Moreover, no AP survives contact with the players and it may be that your AP will take a radical branch off the intended path along the way.

You'll have time to worry about the final third in due course.

Liberty's Edge

I noticed a bit of player burnout when I ran Shackled City that required a couple of breaks so what I'm doing this time is organizing the campaign into a series of smaller plot arcs that have a larger metaplot. This should reduce player burnout since there are clearly defined start and end points. I'm merging in the information from Elder Evils and Exemplars of Evil and it all breaks down quite nicely.

The first arc is the intro of Mad God's Key, followed by Whispering Cairn, Three Faces of Evil, Encounter at Blackwall Keep and the confrontation with the Tolstoff siblings. The worms in this segment are coming from Edwin Tolstoff beneath the keep in a plot to spawn them in the swamp with Illthane, though both figures are enigmatic at this point, hinting at a deeper danger.

The second arc will send the party to the Free City for Hall of Harsh Reflections, a confrontation with the Harald of Kyuss (I will likely merge this character with Mahuudril or bring back the Faceless One or even perhaps merge all three into one, I haven't decided yet), and the climactic finale in Champion's Belt.

Arc three will return to Diamond Lake for Illthane's attack and the opening portion of A Gathering of Winds with Icosiol's tomb replaced with the Tomb of Horrors. Clues will then lead to Spire of Long Shadows, a final confrontation with the Herald of Kyuss, back to the Free City for Prince of Redhand and the first journey to Rift Valley for an arc conclusion finale battle with Edwin Tolstoff and the Wormcrawl Island encounters.

Arc four deals entirely with Rift Valley and the machinations of Dregotha and a final showdown with the beast in Library of Last Resort, Kings of the Rift, and Into the Wormcrawl Fissure.

The very last portion is the shortest containing only the grand finale of Dawn of a New Age.

It has been my experience that my players have a much easier time focusing with smaller stories than with an epic plot. I have run games with them made up of smaller stories that spanned levels 1-18 and 1-25 without taking breaks but Shackled City spanning 1-20 required two breaks. Hopefully this will help and if we do take a break it will be easier to put down and pick back up later.


What's a paragnostic apostle? Is that from a splat book or is it 3rd party?


I just wrapped up our Age of Worms campaign myself last week. Five players and we were running it in 4E. The campaign itself was excellent and we all had an awesome time, except for my monsters.

But 4E will never see the light of day at my game table again. The fight with Kyuss took over 4 hours to complete and there was only a single PC death during Kings of the Rift. I had Kyuss, a 30th level solo of my own design up against the party of 24th level PC's, and he couldn't kill a single one of them. Every time I thought a PC was dead, they had some silly power that let him come back to life again, or another PC had some item or power that would put them back into the fight on their next turn. It was pretty ridiculous, and fairly anticlimactic for me as a DM.


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

Well done, Pop'N'Fresh! That's quite an achievement!

I sympathize about the end-fight no being climactic enough. There's nothing better than a tense, uncertain battle to end a long campaign like this one.


I like 4e for the most part, and I just started to run this campaign as well, but I decided I didn't want to go to the trouble of doing a conversion, so I opted to run it with Pathfinder. However, I've found that high level Pathfinder/3.5 combats can also be pretty slow as well, so I wouldn't be surprised if the final fight in 3.5/Pathfinder might also take 4 hours. I know that when I ran the final battle of Savage Tide vs. Demogorgon in 3.5 it took at least 3 hours, and PCs that were killed were also constantly popping back up to life thanks to a staff of life and revivify spells, so it's really not that much different than 4e in that regard. I had 7 fatalities during that fight and there were only 5 characters in the party. Besides do you want players sitting on the sidelines watching the final battle of the campaign because their character is dead? Of course there needs to be tension as well, so if that was all gone than it's not much of finale for a campaign.

Pop'N'Fresh wrote:

I just wrapped up our Age of Worms campaign myself last week. Five players and we were running it in 4E. The campaign itself was excellent and we all had an awesome time, except for my monsters.

But 4E will never see the light of day at my game table again. The fight with Kyuss took over 4 hours to complete and there was only a single PC death during Kings of the Rift. I had Kyuss, a 30th level solo of my own design up against the party of 24th level PC's, and he couldn't kill a single one of them. Every time I thought a PC was dead, they had some silly power that let him come back to life again, or another PC had some item or power that would put them back into the fight on their next turn. It was pretty ridiculous, and fairly anticlimactic for me as a DM.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Gururamalamaswami wrote:
What's a paragnostic apostle? Is that from a splat book or is it 3rd party?

I believe this Prestige Class is from WotC's "Complete Champion"

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