So, cost issues in regards to basebuilding:
It hasn't come up yet (my players are still en route to Sumitha), but they're already laying plans for basebuilding after they've secured the island. They're not planning to use the fort (current plans involve tearing it down for building materials); I'm tempted to try to convince them to renovate Sumitha, but they may end up making their own castle/base/whatever on the Eastern bay instead.
The reason they figure they can get away with this is that the party Sorcerer has Craft Wondrous Item, and as they were sailing from Drenchport to the IoEE, she made a Lyre of Building. The party bard (who is also the captain) has a +17 to Perform: Strings, and since nat 1s aren't auto-failure for skill checks... As near as I can tell, he can pretty much play the thing ALL DAY to get the effect of, oh, 4,800 man-days of construction labor in a single day. Once per week.
Granted that they'll still need to acquire some materials and furnishings and stuff, but that still leaves them with a lot of leeway in terms of what stuff they can build. I'm wondering if anyone would have any suggestions regarding how to handle the listed repair costs in the "prepping for the party" section in regards to this.
Jondera, The conclusion I came to was that while the ruins are cool and would make a nice base, they would not make a good initial fort, and a simple knowledge check should tell your plays why.
There is no good way to defend your island from it. It is far from a coast, and there is only 1 entrance and exit. In addition the closest bay is the more difficult one, making it difficult so sail through. Probably not a great way to impress pirate lords(is also pretty much fails you for the first section).
Now if your players still want to do it they can.(my party is using the fort for the pirate lords, but have set aside a large sum of money to fix the ruin as well to use as their actual main base) Note that while the lyre requires the fabricate spell to be created, it does not cause a fabricate effect, so they will still need some supplies. I deemed that it would take another 10 plunder points to fix the ruins, and 5 more to fix the docks in the northern bay. If they want to build extra buildings and such, I would look at the building costs in the Kingdom rules of Ultimate campaign. If you don't have it I can give you some cost examples later.
Again, if your party wants to I would let them, you will just need to change the Eel's tactics a bit. He will need to setup shop in a different location, and since everyone will be further away from the boats and Sefina's Grotto, it will take them more time to reach the ships and stop him/put out the fires. Once again lowering their chances with the pirates council.
Interestingly enough my group did the island in reverse order so to speak. They headed straight to Sumitha (yet have to claim the stone) before searching Bikendi and now look for his apprentice.
I tried to use both the Nereide and Maride to give hints about the fort and how some wizard there had stolen something that was brought back later, but they still decided to clear the city first. Only after running blindly (literally) into the stone and barely managing to escape using dimension door they realized they might need more information about what they are up against.
Overall there is an apprechiated increase in difficulty compared to the previous books. Stuff finally catches up with their above average AC and there are a lot of special abilities that make them think twice. They hated the item destroying treants with a passion (they lost 3 magic items to them, but could repair them later).
The attribute damage can be a real pain if you don't have the right tools at hand. Two of them caught the disease from the undead guarding the stone and nobody managed to save against the addiction. Their divine caster is a shaman and for whatever reason they get no access to remove disease it seems. At least this allows the magical hammock to really shine.
They are convinced Bikendi tried to use the dreamstone as a phylactery to become a lich and whoever performs the ritual will become his new body. It actually fits suprisingly well with the information they get.
my game is almost up to the party encountering the dreamstone. Just wanted to double check with others that the dreamstone's soul bind only affects those who perish to the negative levels.
Given the average character level thats almost a natural 20 to make the saving throw when you tack on 10 negative levels, this should be rough for the party
I'm storytelling that part now. My players are still on the Chelish fort but I guess they will get there soon. They have had a hard fight with the animate dreams and the phase spiders, which allowed me to test how good they are doing with their saving throws. The swashbuckler is the one who is failing a lot of them, low fort and will are a handicap despite his charmed life ability.
Fortunately, they have a bard with Saving Finale that will surely allow them to pass some extra saves there. Alongside with Sandara, who is part of the group, I hope they do well. But yes, it looks like a rough part indeed.
Trap the soul only affects to characters killed by the negative levels, as you said.
My group is still a long way of from this book, but reading ahead and learning how the Eel plans to sabotage, I have some concerns, specifically about his plan to sneak around the fort invisibly while introducing the second half of his poison into the food. See Invisibility is a pretty easily available resource at this point. I know, there's not much reason for a PC to randomly cast See Invisibility the day before the dinner, and even if they do, I as the GM can just decide the Eel had already done the deed, or else hasn't started yet, and the spell is wasted.
However, I had Permanent See Invisibility on my Kingmaker character by 9th level (I bought a scroll of Permanency to do it), and one of the PC's in this group is an Occultist with the Divination Implement, which could reasonably give him all-day See Invisibility by level 10. See Invisibility is a powerful ability to have on at all times - something a PC could very understandably want for himself - and if a PC wanted to spend resources to get that, I wouldn't want to have to tell them that they didn't notice the freaking INVISIBLE MAN sneaking around because it was crucial to the plot that they didn't.
Has anyone run into this problem in the past? Any ideas how to remedy it?
Not sure if this will help you but in my campaigns, See Invisibility-Permanent must be triggered. Is not on continuously, so a PC must declare that they are scanning the area in question. They just can't leave it on full time. Vexes my PCs but they have come used to the restrictions and now use them accordingly.
Also, they have to be in the same place as The Eel when he is doing his sneaking. If they are out and about or not in the kitchens, dining rooms, prep rooms, storage rooms at the same time they can't see him. Seriously, what PCs spend their time in the Mess Decks and scullery when on the ship? The Eel, being a pro, should recognize the 'threats' to his mission and move accordingly.
Hope this helps.
The Eel simply uses the time when the PCs are greeting the pirate captains at the docks to start luring in the rats. As written the food tinkering took place before it even reached the island, so your PCs never get the chance to see him doing that either way. He is careful to a degree that borders paranoia, so its also very plausible that he would wait for the PCs to leave before doing anything in the weeks prior to the feast. He should still have plenty of time to explore everything.
From a DMing perspective, do you think it's fair to have every Cyclops in Sumitha use their Flash of Insight ability to score/confirm critical hits against the PCs?
I don't suppose the Cyclopes would have much use for it on the the island unless they got mixed up in a scuffle with some of the island's other inhabitants, but the fact that they're in Sumitha suggests they haven't.
I have a 5 PC party and they had no trouble with Bikendi (although one of them died against an Animate Dream...). They'll probably hit the level 10 sometime in Sumitha. If I want it to be a challenge, I'm definitely going to have to buff it up. Either buff up the cyclopes themselves (which is what I'm leaning toward) or add more.
Don't forget that Cyclopes have Ferocity, so they go on fighting well after the party brings them to 0 hp.
True, but it doesn't matter so much when they're up against a group of level 10 PCs with haste and mage armor, bumping their AC up to around 25-30. With a +11 to hit, that means a Cyclops needs to roll 14-20 to hit (with the exception of their flash of insight).
Sometimes I don't understand the encounters in these APs. They often seem so ridiculously easy. Are they intended to be challenging? If so, CR 5 monsters up against level 10 PCs seems like a crazy oversight. Ishtoreth is a CR 12, but I foresee them knocking him out in two or three rounds due to action economy.
Another way to get the most out of your Cyclopes is instead of saving their Flash of Insight ability to confirm a crit, preemptively use it to set up a Critical Called Shot. Worst case scenario, you fail to confirm, but still deal normal damage and get a secondary Called Shot effect; best case scenario, you confirm the crit, deal extra damage, and get a very satisfying Called Shot effect, usually dealing ability damage, or at least applying a hefty penalty. Even if confirming the critical Called Shot is next to impossible with rhe PCs’ AC, once they realize what you’re going for, it’ll really ratchet up the tension as they wait in fear for you to roll that natural 20.