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Island of Empty Eyes (GM Reference)


Skull & Shackles

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Figured I'd make this topic, as it doesn't seem to exist yet.

I've just picked up IoEE today and it's looking neat so far, but does anyone else think that the Eye of Serenity (area G20, p. 37) is an absolutely brutal challenge for 10th level characters?

I don't imagine most players will realize to grab the scary crystal with the screaming faces in it as fast as possible when they're faced with the fact that it's currently blasting them with enervations, and that they've got a CR 12 encounter's worth of undead cyclopses to deal with. By the time they do grab it they'll likely have taken so many enervations that they'll fail the save on trap the soul, and won't be able to remove it from the pedestal.

Not to mention that they have to do the whole challenge with at least one PC blind, and potentially several slowed.

I predict a lot of death from the Eye of Serenity. The Gholdakos alone are a CR 12 challenge. The eye itself, and all the (many) negative effects present in the enounter (blind, slow, enervation, trap the soul) should add a LOT more to that CR.


Hopefully someone notices this thread and stickies it along with the others.

I was also just reading that section and my greatest concern wasn't that specific encounter, but the point at which the PCs are supposed to get there.

The book seems to indicate that the PCs may either explore the island a bit or go straight to the fort when they arrive. If they explore a bit, it could be pretty messy if they run into the cyclopes at level 9 (though, I suppose one level, by itself, isn't a huge game breaker).

To quote from the AP:

Quote:

The PCs should be 10th level before venturing into the ruins of Sumitha. They should have explored the majority of the island and reclaimed the abandoned Chelish fort before this point.

Is this a little odd to anyone else? Don't they need to deal with the Immortal Dreamstone to put Bikendi's ghost to rest and stop the haunting of the fort? How exactly are they going to claim the fort before heading to Sumitha? I haven't counted up the xp, but there may be enough between the portions of the fort which they can finish and bits of island exploration that they'll be 10th level before entering the Eye of Serenity, but it seems most groups would still be 9th when they get there.


Well, to allay some of my worries, I went and added up the xp rewards throughout this portion of the AP. The rough breakdown (per PC, in a 4-person party) is:

24K - exploring the island
33K - Fort
32K - Sumitha
33K - Spoils/Rumrunning/Dinner Party

Given that the PCs will be 9th level at the start, they only need 30K to get to 10th level which can easily be done, even if they miss some encounters on the island and do only the portions of the Fort which can be completed without the Immortal Dreamstone.

By the time they finish the exploration and defeat the cyclopes, they'll have earned about 80+K experience, which will put them into 11th level even before their party starts. If they managed to find absolutely everything in the book, they'll be pretty close to 12th level by the end (particularly if they start just above the minimum for 9th).

I just have to decide how I'm going to run things with my 6-person party. My inclination is to simply award xp as-is and let them lag behind by a level, but I'll probably introduce a couple beefed up encounters here and there to help balance out the action economy and prevent them from falling too far behind the recommended level at any given point.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Class Deck, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Tem wrote:
I just have to decide how I'm going to run things with my 6-person party. My inclination is to simply award xp as-is and let them lag behind by a level, but I'll probably introduce a couple beefed up encounters here and there to help balance out the action economy and prevent them from falling too far behind the recommended level at any given point.

I'm facing a similar problem with my upcoming 8-player RotRL campaign. My plan is to use the regular advancement rate, and to have the players be one or two levels behind what the AP suggests. This means I shouldn't have to make too many drastic changes to encounters, although at the earlier levels I will probably be tweaking the action economy by increasing the number of mooks, or adding templates &c. to solo opponents. I'll see how things work, and refine the strategy as needed.


JohnF wrote:
Tem wrote:
I just have to decide how I'm going to run things with my 6-person party. My inclination is to simply award xp as-is and let them lag behind by a level, but I'll probably introduce a couple beefed up encounters here and there to help balance out the action economy and prevent them from falling too far behind the recommended level at any given point.
I'm facing a similar problem with my upcoming 8-player RotRL campaign. My plan is to use the regular advancement rate, and to have the players be one or two levels behind what the AP suggests. This means I shouldn't have to make too many drastic changes to encounters, although at the earlier levels I will probably be tweaking the action economy by increasing the number of mooks, or adding templates &c. to solo opponents. I'll see how things work, and refine the strategy as needed.

I'm still back in Book 1, but had the same concern with running a 5 or 6-person party. So far I've gotten away with running the encounters as written, adding in the occasional extra critter or maxing out Critter HP as needed. For party XP I just give whatever the written per-PC award would have been (XP amount divided by four) and not worried the small stuff. Seems to be working OK so far, though how well it might go against higher-level encounters or with an 8 (!!) person party I'm not sure....


Tem wrote:
The book seems to indicate that the PCs may either explore the island a bit or go straight to the fort when they arrive. If they explore a bit, it could be pretty messy if they run into the cyclopes at level 9 (though, I suppose one level, by itself, isn't a huge game breaker).

I hadn't even considered that, but good point. Any party that lands their ship at point K on the island rather than point B is more than likely to end up in Sumitha before the fort. And while the difference between 9th and 10th level isn't that big for some, certain classes get significant 10th level abilities, and lacking those could be an issue.

Here's my own opinions one which classes really benefit from 10th level, in comparison to 9th. By my own count it's 12 classes that find 10th useful, and 7 classes for whom it doesn't make as much of a difference.

Quote:

Classes for whom the difference between 9th and 10th level is a big deal:

- Barbarian (increased DR and a rage power at 10th compared to the lackluster 9th level)
- Bard (4th level spells is the big thing. Jack of all trades and versatile performance are less combat-oriented, generally)
- Monk (Gets a lot less bonus feats than the fighter, so this one is significant. Also, all saving throws improve)
- Paladin/Antipaladin (Another use of smite evil/smite good, and 3rd level spells)
- Ranger (Favoured enemy, a bonus feat, and 3rd level spells)
- Sorcerer (5th level spells)
- Alchemist (4th level extracts, a discovery, and immunity to poison)
- Inquisitor (4th level spells, increased use of judgement, lots of judgements' effects improve at 10th level)
- Magus (4th level spells are important enough to make this level worthwhile, fighter training is useless until 11th level, when the magus can gain a feat)
- Oracle (5th level spells, bonus spell from mystery)
- Summoner (4th level spells, aspect is useful for all, but especially summoners more inclined to fight themselves, eidolon ability score and armor bonuses are useful for those who send the eidolon into combat instead, or fight alongside them)
- Witch (First major hex. Similar to rogue/ninja, except that hexes are generally more useful than talents or tricks)

Classes for whom the difference between 9th and 10th level is NOT such a big deal:

- Cleric (A few extra spell slots, but no new level of spells or other abilities)
- Druid (Improved wild shape with more options, but not amazing ones)
- Fighter (A bonus feat is nice, but unless you're one feat short of something awesome it doesn't compare to 9th level's weapon training)
- Rogue/Ninja (First advanced talent/master trick, but nothing else. Not a big deal unless the talent/trick is super awesome)
- Wizard (A bonus feat. Lackluster compared to the gain of 5th level spells at 9th, unless you really need a particular metamagic feat)
- Cavalier/Samurai (An extra use of challenge. Similar to the paladin, but the cavalier/samurai doesn't have a new spell level to help make this level amazing)
- Gunslinger (+1 dodge to AC, not much else)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

pretty much expecting a licking at the stone room, a withdrawal and after getting deathward stuff (scrolls or spells), and only then taking it on again.. having cleared the rest of the place before that.
Im sure the teleporters will be handy, and they have a ghost that should be persuadable to assist against any and all cyclopses following thru the portal.

I do forsee the players viewing the teleporter area in their basement a problem that would need to be trapped one way or the other... quite possibly killing the eel when he tries to sneak around down there.

Or at the very least, most certainly cannot use the basement as a place to rest.


Avimar Sorrinash

Has anyone else compared Tempest Rising p67

Spoiler:
CE male human were*shark* rogue 5 - "...Sorrinash is a brutal tempest when transformed... thanks to the acts of bloody underwater carnage and shows of subaquatic strength." Makes sense that he could convince sahuagin to worship him.

with Island of Empty Eyes p52?

Spoiler:
Male human natural werewolf ranger 11

That threw me for a loop. When I glimpsed that Sorrinash would be one of the

Spoiler:
Pirate Lords sent to the island to test the PCs, I was very much looking forward some potential shark frenzy. I had visions of a shipboard fight in which Sorrinash would bull rush a PC overboard, transform, eat and come back up for seconds.

Maybe it was deemed that classic lycanthropy would be more appropriately imposing and carnal and lusty than variant lycanthropy? Or maybe writers figured enough with the sahuagin already, even though it fits so well with all the flavour about Ollo and Shark Island and the sahuagin infestation and how Sorrinash is the only pirate lord to keep it in check somehow? What prompted the change I wonder?

Spoiler:
Maybe what would an aquatic want with a ship?
The redacted version is quite nice, don't get me wrong. But I'm considering sticking with the Tempest version for the novelty and cold-blooded inhumanity.


It has been mentioned elsewhere that he's supposed to be a werewolf and that the wereshark description was a mistake.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Tem wrote:
It has been mentioned elsewhere that he's supposed to be a werewolf and that the wereshark description was a mistake.

Too bad, because that would have been so much cooler.

Then again, why not rewrite ? having a Wereshark snap about in their hall should be so much more discomfitting for the players than you average werewolf, something most players know pretty well. Especially if they do not ant to kill him


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Gluttony wrote:

....

I don't imagine most players will realize to grab the scary crystal with the screaming faces in it as fast as possible when they're faced with the fact that it's currently blasting them with enervations, and that they've got a CR 12 encounter's worth of undead cyclopses to deal with. By the time they do grab it they'll likely have taken so many enervations that they'll fail the save on trap the soul, and won't be able to remove it from the pedestal.

Not to mention that they have to do the whole challenge with at least one PC blind, and potentially several slowed.

I predict a lot of death from the Eye of Serenity. The Gholdakos alone are a CR 12 challenge. The eye itself, and all the (many) negative effects present in the enounter (blind, slow, enervation, trap the soul) should add a LOT more to that CR.

All of the above which ... yeah, that one looks like an extremely deadly encounter. Really the sort "you have to walk into this ambush, because that is the only way to close that part of the adventure".... aka "please touch the black sphere of annihilation to advance"

Reading through it, a lot of questions occur though :

- It actually "fires Enervation 1/round"... at what bonus to hit precisely ?
- At what range /casterlevel are the Enervations fired (spell resistance etc.) ?
- Firing only through the doorways, hence in a narrow arc, or does the entire G-20 structure vanish - the walls becoming incorporeal would assume it to be partially existent ?

- Are the grey objects mapped inside G-20 the Gholdako or actual pillars ? In which case - where are the Gholdako placed, after all, the blinded door-opener might be walking straight into them.

- The Dreamstone is presumably located in the middle of the blue pool ?

- What size is the Dreamstone - I mean just for purposes of "mage hand" or "telekinesis" ?

- Does it keep it's necromantic abilities once removed from the pedestal ?

- What happens if the - appearantly magical - G-20 structure is touched by an anti-magic field ? Or is it non-magic and disappears by act of a higher fait accompli ?


vikingson wrote:

- It actually "fires Enervation 1/round"... at what bonus to hit precisely ?

- At what range /casterlevel are the Enervations fired (spell resistance etc.) ?

Presumably the to-hit is a base +0 ranged touch attack (still not that hard to hit most creatures with) and the CL (based on the trap the soul effect) is at-minimum 15th, more likely 20th, as the dreamstone seems like it'd qualify as an artifact.

vikingson wrote:
- Firing only through the doorways, hence in a narrow arc, or does the entire G-20 structure vanish - the walls becoming incorporeal would assume it to be partially existent ?

I think the G20 structure is effectively vanished, as it says the crystal fires into G19 if applicable.

vikingson wrote:
- Are the grey objects mapped inside G-20 the Gholdako or actual pillars ? In which case - where are the Gholdako placed, after all, the blinded door-opener might be walking straight into them.

They're the pillars I believe. I've never seen AP maps display the exact location of monsters, except in the RotR anniversary edition's first encounter.

vikingson wrote:
- The Dreamstone is presumably located in the middle of the blue pool ?

Presumably.

vikingson wrote:
- What size is the Dreamstone - I mean just for purposes of "mage hand" or "telekinesis" ?

Considering night hags carry heartstones around, I imagine it's fairly light. Probably light enough for a mage hand, even.

vikingson wrote:
- Does it keep it's necromantic abilities once removed from the pedestal ?

I believe it does. It's blasting PCs due to a corruption, and taking it off the pedestal only removes the connection the the corrupting source, it doesn't remove its power altogether.

vikingson wrote:
What happens if the - appearantly magical - G-20 structure is touched by an anti-magic field ? Or is it non-magic and disappears by act of a higher fait accompli ?

Hard to say. Probably best to just answer that as you see fit if it comes up.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

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I'll do what I can to help out here, but Rob will likely be along eventually to address some of these things.

Spoiler:

Gluttony wrote:
I don't imagine most players will realize to grab the scary crystal with the screaming faces in it as fast as possible when they're faced with the fact that it's currently blasting them with enervations, and that they've got a CR 12 encounter's worth of undead cyclopses to deal with. By the time they do grab it they'll likely have taken so many enervations that they'll fail the save on trap the soul, and won't be able to remove it from the pedestal....Not to mention that they have to do the whole challenge with at least one PC blind, and potentially several slowed....I predict a lot of death from the Eye of Serenity. The Gholdakos alone are a CR 12 challenge. The eye itself, and all the (many) negative effects present in the enounter (blind, slow, enervation, trap the soul) should add a LOT more to that CR.

First, you should understand that this encounter got changed in development from my original turnover. So, I won't have definitive answers for you on some of these things (just a best guess). For example, I didn't have the gholdakos to draw upon when I was writing the manuscript. So, my version of the Eye of Serenity encounter involved some souped-up caryatid columns guarding the gemstone's pedestal. In addition, the stone itself wasn't firing enervation rays at the PCs. Instead, it flashed through a random arc in a cone-like effect each round, targeting a single victim caught in the cone with a trap the soul effect to pull them into the dreamstone. If it didn't "flash" in the area your PC happened to occupy, you were in no danger (aside from the caryatid columns). And, of course, I definitely had written it so that the stone still assaulted whoever picked it up with one last trap the soul attempt.

vikingson wrote:
Reading through it, a lot of questions occur though...

Fair enough. I'll give my best effort to answer, elaborate, or intepret for you.

vikingson wrote:
- It actually "fires Enervation 1/round"... at what bonus to hit precisely?

I would assume it would fire using the ranged touch BAB of a level-appropriate spellcaster. Since no CL was given, you should probably assume the minimum to cast the stone's highest level spell effect (i.e., trap the soul)...so, CL 15th with +7 BAB seems reasonable.

vikingson wrote:
- At what range/caster level are the Enervations fired (spell resistance etc.)?

If you go with a CL 15th, I'd assume far enough to hit anything in the chamber (not simply G20).

vikingson wrote:
- Firing only through the doorways, hence in a narrow arc, or does the entire G-20 structure vanish - the walls becoming incorporeal would assume it to be partially existent ?

In my turnover, I had the walls vanish so they were no longer there once you entered G20. Thus, the trap the soul cone effect flashed through a complete circle surrounding the stone. And I think I had it only reaching about 20 feet in any single direction. So, a short enough distance that someone with a decent movement rate could run in and grab it if they were willing to risk AoO's from the guardian caryatid columns.

In this version, it would seem the walls' disappearance became attributed to going incorporeal. So, maybe the intention was to still allow the enervation rays to "flash" through them?

vikingson wrote:
- Are the grey objects mapped inside G-20 the Gholdako or actual pillars ? In which case - where are the Gholdako placed, after all, the blinded door-opener might be walking straight into them.

The grey objects were originally intended to represent the caryatid columns. So, yes, in the developed version of the encounter, I'd assume that marks the position of the gholdako.

vikingson wrote:
- The Dreamstone is presumably located in the middle of the blue pool ?

Yes.

vikingson wrote:
- What size is the Dreamstone - I mean just for purposes of "mage hand" or "telekinesis" ?

Same size as a night hag's heartstone, meaning it's portable and mage hand could be fair game. Personally, I'd rule that mage hand isn't sufficient and that the stone resists telekinesis as well. It requires a living hand to interact with it in a way that prevents it from continuing its damage. No easy out with the ranged manipulation spells.

vikingson wrote:
- Does it keep it's necromantic abilities once removed from the pedestal ?

Not in the sense that it keeps targeting people with enervation and trap the soul. Those necromantic effects are still a result of the stone's interaction with the Eye of Serenity repository itself. The entire chamber is a greater divination artifact dating back to the days of ancient Ghol-Gan. Not just the stone itself.

Now, that said, the stone would retain its necromantic abilities to store souls. That is, of course, the purpose of a heartstone to some degree. So, it continues acting as a repository for the trap the soul effects it already successfully pulled off.

vikingson wrote:
What happens if the - appearantly magical - G-20 structure is touched by an anti-magic field ? Or is it non-magic and disappears by act of a higher fait accompli ?

The entire structure is really an artifact of ancient cyclopean lore. As such, per the wording of the anti-magic field spell description, I'd say the entire G20 area and the heartsone remain unaffected...i.e., an AMF can't suppress it. You'll have to take your chances and risk touching the stone if you want to stop it.

That's the ultimate danger of this encounter. You put your soul at risk, not simply your body. And the trap the soul moment when someone fails a save is meant to be a further analogy for the adventure's title...i.e., "The Island of Empty Eyes." The "empty" aspect isn't just meant for the cyclops statues all over the island which have had their gemstone eyes stolen. It's also meant to reflect the "empty eyed" look of someone who's lost their soul as they collapse into a catatonic state. And, it also dovetails with the "empty eyes" of a dreamer and all the references to Bikendi's attempts to design a stone to let him enter the Dimension of Dreams so he could live forever in a world of his own imagining. I like finding ways to tap into an adventure's title when I can and I thought those aspects made for a nice literary touch and backstory for the plotline.


But that's just my two cents,
--Neil


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Neil Spicer wrote:

I'll do what I can to help out here, but Rob will likely be along eventually to address some of these things.

** spoiler omitted **...

ouch ouch ouch (looking at some of your concepts)

Although the 20' beam would have made it... well, IMHO, slightly more fair or at least fun. More acrobatic and daring, too = more in a pirate vein of action. Would have been some relief given the whole "clobber the giants for possession of the island" arc.

- so basically the description of G20 is yours ("two statues with swords reaching up" ) but the room design in not yours anymore.

- portable..... so many things are portable^^ All the way from a necklace to a bag of holding type IV. So it seems I would be free to pick. What got me worried was the description of the original as a "lens". One used by 9' tall cyclopses. Lenses, given the density of Quartz or other gems, tend to be heavy. Ok, let's wait for Rob

- "telekinesis".... as an easy way out ? A spell not usually prepared unless you have a very specific reason in mind to use it ? Putting in this vastly underrated (allegedly CR-12; and I fully agree with Gluttony here ) room into this dungeon, with a fair chance of actually crippling or slaying a group at the end of a long run, with a murderous ambush assault... and not putting in any preventive measures against ranged manipulation and then calling it "unfair" ? What happens if the players disintegrate the pedestal ? Or send in a Zombie to pick it up for them....

- "retaining necromantic properties" : mostly the trap the soul effect, because that is verbally linked to "on the pedestal". There might also be the question whether Bikendi's final acts will consume the stone and, whether breaking it to release the souls will incur the penalties attached to it as described in Bikendi's description, B30. Because the players may not really be "happy" about losing their comrades trapped in the stone. Which in a way doubly penalizes them for trying again.

A pretty....heavy-handed approach to "run this dungeon". But I am only a layman.

thanks for the clarifications.


My party has just started on Island of Empty Eyes and I am seriously concerned about much of what has been discussed above.

Already they decided to approach the island from the smaller bay on the eastern side of the island and in short order they were knocking on the door of the Ruins of Sumitha. From there, the 6 Cyclops present at the entrance proceeded to kill one party member and nearly kill another with their automatic crits (Average 70.5 damage with power attacking critical hits on x3 weapons, which is enough to knock anyone in the party but the fighter unconscious in one swing), and once they finished that encounter the party moved on to the lair of The Great Mother, who killed another party member straight away. The party is only in-tact through liberal use of hero points and my players are very nearly ready to quit this adventure path, and I cannot say I blame them. There is some pretty shoddy tactics listed for various monsters, and an absolutely heinous set of encounters for a 9th-10th level party.

For example, The Great Mother's (Advanced Giant Trapper) tactics are listed as "During Combat The Great Mother lies in wait until someone ventures into reach, then she grabs and smothers and constricts her victim while fending off any would be rescuers with her slam attack."

The module clearly states that the creature should initiate a grapple, then while maintaining that grapple and smothering a target, fend off other attackers with her slam attack and crush the currently grappled target to death, but she cannot do that because she lacks the Improved Grapple and Greater Grapple feats, so she must take a standard action each round in order to hold the grapple she is already maintaining. That shows a poor knowledge of monster skills and abilities by the designers, and it is not the first instance I have seen of this kind of lazy writing in this adventure path.

Giving them a pass on that, the encounter is still brutally difficult for a 10th level party, and only more so if they end up fighting it at 9th level. When it grapples a target, it completely envelops the target in its body making it impossible to hit the target with a touch spell (Heals, Liberating Command, Etc...), and blocking line of effects for things like Channel Energy. The target also cannot breathe, cannot cast spells with verbal components, and has little hope of breaking free before the average 69 damage per round kills them. Even if it cannot attack the rest of the party, it will almost certainly kill the first person it grabs before the party can even react, because it has a +24 stealth check to avoid notice in an environment with dim light, and while the trap is obvious, unless the party throws something like an acid flask at the sword to check for a sentient creature, they can't possibly know that coming within 25 feet of the sword will cause the thing to srike. Luckily I'm running this with a 28 point buy, and my party was able to blow hero points to survive the 2-round death, then deal enough damage to cause the creature to try and flee, dropping the unconcious PC in the process. At 15 or even 20 point buy, I would have expected a TPK.

I also have serious concerns about how people are going to deal with the Phase Spiders and the Animate Dreams in the Chelish Fort, which seem like encounters specifically designed to kill a party. The idea is to provide a challenge, not go on a murder spree.

Any input on how I might be able to better prepare my PC's for some of the encounters would be nice.


It sounds from your description that the cyclops all confirmed their critical hits. That's particularly unfortunate for your PCs, but certainly not the norm. When power attacking, they only confirm at +9. I would expect the AC of most front-liners to be well into the 20s by 9th level. Heck, even with an AC of only 20, half of the crits wouldn't confirm.

Regarding the the Great Mother, if the PCs expect a trap and take time to look for hidden things from a distance, they should be able to take 20 on their perception checks, right? Of course, they still might get unlucky since they'd need in the mid-30s to see it, but any party I've ever seen would have at least one PC able to do that by 9th level.

Even if they couldn't see the danger, why the heck would they walk in? "Oh well, I don't see anything but it sure feels like a trap. Let's go in anyway!"

Besides, can't it just take the -20 to its CMB for the grapple and keep using its slam at the same time? Perhaps I'm just mis-remembering the rule, but I thought big creatures could grapple only with a limb (or in this case, by being engulfed) and still keep the rest of their attacks. Of course, if it's using its slam against others, then only the constrict damage should be applied to the engulfed creature (average of 34.5 per round)

EDIT: Hmm - it seems that the -20 to CMB just allows it to avoid the grappled condition. I can certainly see where the author may have made that mistake though. I'd allow it as I described above even though it may not be the exactly correct rule, because it's a way to help keep the PCs alive a bit longer (the one inside will have twice as many rounds before killed). I seem to remember there are other creatures with tendrils that could grapple only using that limb at -20 as well. Were they able to continue attacking with their other limbs? I'll have to look that up.

It sounds difficult, but certainly not impossible. I guess we'll see in a while how my 15-point buy PCs fare.


Tem wrote:
It sounds from your description that the cyclops all confirmed their critical hits. That's particularly unfortunate for your PCs, but certainly not the norm. When power attacking, they only confirm at +9.

They did not all confirm.

When my PC's began the encounter, the surprise round was spent when the Cyclopes emerged from their hiding places for better positioning, one of which moved toward the party and the other moved off to alert the 4 in the barracks. On the PC's turn the Ninja cut himself free as a full round and spend a Ki point to turn invisible, then took a 5 foot step out of the square he was in. The rest of the party advanced since they were 50 feet behind and the Fighter drank a Potion of Enlarge Person. The Cyclopes in the barracks advanced into the next room on their turn and the attacking Cyclops moved toward the visible PC's, but bumped into the Ninja on the way. He then swung and used Flash of Insight to auto-threat. He failed to confirm, and the Ninja ignored the attack with his miss chance anyway.

The party fighter charged the Cyclops that attacked the Ninja and the Ninja moved off after the one that alerted his friends, positioning himself in the only exit to the building they were in. Those 4 Cyclopes attempted to move past the invisible Ninja and two of them bumped into him and attacked his square. The other two made guesses as to which square he was in and one of them was correct. The used Flash of Insight for auto-threats, but only one of them actually connected due to miss chance. His attack confirmed and knocked the Ninja unconcious (He actually straight-out killed the Ninja, but I fudged the damage because I'm not a fan of killing party members with trash monsters). party again advanced, and the Fighter did some damage to one of the Cyclopes in the building. The Magus killed off the Cyclops that alerted his friends with help from Sandara Quinn. The Ninja stabilized.

On the third round, the Cyclopes in the building moved into combat with the Fighter and two of them missed (one of which made a full round because it had not move), one of them hit, and the only one that had not used Flash of Insight used it and confirmed his critical against the Fighter. The Fighter took 104 points of damage and was reduced to 9 HP. He retaliated by attacking his previous target and dropping him, then using Great Cleave to attack the remaining Cyclopes which he only missed on a 1, and all of them were adjacent due to the bottleneck created by the Ninja. His damage left 2 alive, and he finished both of them off with attacks generated by Cleaving Finish. The end result of the fight was that the Fighter was left at 9 HP, and the Ninja was unconscious, all because of an encounter with 6xCR5 creatures.

The Oracle used Debilitating Portent on one of them but it died before it got to swing, and his Channel Energy did bring the Ninja back to consciousness, but only after the fight was basically over.

Tem wrote:
I would expect the AC of most front-liners to be well into the 20s by 9th level. Heck, even with an AC of only 20, half of the crits wouldn't confirm.

The Ninja has very high AC. Most of the attacks did not confirm. Only one did, and as luck would have it that was the one that got through Invisibility. The Fighter is lower in the AC department (19 I believe when under the effects of Enlarge Person) so the one confirmation roll was not surprising, and all but one of the other attacks missed. Statistically I should have hit with about 3 of the 5 attacks and had a 55% chance for the guaranteed hit to confirm, so I rolled on the low side of average. The high side of average would have meant the Fighter died.

Tem wrote:
Regarding the the Great Mother, if the PCs expect a trap and take time to look for hidden things from a distance, they should be able to take 20 on their perception checks, right? Of course, they still might get unlucky since they'd need in the mid-30s to see it, but any party I've ever seen would have at least one PC able to do that by 9th level.

Taking a 20 does not guarantee success. A result of a 20 is only an auto success on attack rolls, saves and the like. On skill checks you actually have to have high enough skill to perform the action. Similarly, 1's are not automatic failures. In this case, The Great Mother has a stealth bonus of +24 even without a circumstance bonus for being in dim light, and even if she only takes a 10 on her stealth check that means the perception DC is minimum 34, and could be as high as 44 if you assume she has time to take a 20 (and it's reasonable to assume she does). The Ninja is the only character in the party with Perception as a class skill, and his perception is +12 because he has no Wisdom bonus (9 ranks +3 for class skill), making it impossible for him to spot The Great Mother. Everyone else was lower than that. Suffice it to say, traps are difficult for this party because they lack a true Rogue.

Tem wrote:
Even if they couldn't see the danger, why the heck would they walk in? "Oh well, I don't see anything but it sure feels like a trap. Let's go in anyway!"

Again, there is no Rogue in the party, so no character with trap sense. It's reasonable to assume that characters with their skill set might poke and prod from a distance and when nothing happens, assume it could be safe and approach cautiously. One party member did such, and was killed as a result. Most regular traps would not do that. The only reason he was killed was because it was a CR10 creature lying in wait, NOT a trap.

Tem wrote:
Besides, can't it just take the -20 to its CMB for the grapple and keep using its slam at the same time? Perhaps I'm just mis-remembering the rule, but I thought big creatures could grapple only with a limb (or in this case, by being engulfed) and still keep the rest of their attacks. Of course, if it's using its slam against others, then only the constrict damage should be applied to the engulfed creature (average of 34.5 per round)

Nope. It can take a -20 to not gain the grappled condition itself, but that does not allow it to maintain the grapple for free. It simply means the creature can make attacks of opportunity, move, etc...In order to make an attack each round in addition to maintaining its grapple, it must have Improved Grapple and Greater Grapple on its feat list, which it does not. If that were the case, it could make the grapple check as normal against its target, dealing slam damage, then deal constrict damage on the same round, AND make a slam attack against a second target, possibly initiating another grapple. Then, when it gets around to it's next turn, it must choose one or the other creature to maintain the grapple on, so it drops the first creature as a free action, maintains the grapple on the second dealing slam damage and constrict, then slams the first creature, initiating another grapple if the creature survives, and dealing constrict AGAIN.

If it had those feats, it would have been a TPK for certain.

Tem wrote:
It sounds difficult, but certainly not impossible. I guess we'll see in a while how my 15-point buy PCs fare.

It was possible, but player death should not be something that can just happen on any random encounter. Final bosses, sure. Mini bosses at the end of each part of the module, sure. But not on a random creature lying in wait in a room near the entrance to a large complex. That's a good way to get a party to turn around and not come back.


Well, it sounds like a difference in play style from your description. My PCs realize that death can happen in any encounter at any time and usually take pains to avoid it.

If anyone in the party (through a knowledge check) knew that cyclopes had the flash of insight ability, perhaps they'd deduce that taking six on at once would have been a bad idea. Even if you didn't fudge the numbers, losing one PC in an encounter like this (ie. storming the castle) seems like what you'd expect. Likewise for the Great Mother. If the PCs even have the inkling that something looks like a trap (being a rogue has no bearing on it), then maybe it's best to go a different route.

Of course, most players have learned over time that they can just stumble through adventures and survive despite poor planning. The APs that I've played are rarely like that. They're quite often very deadly if you don't take numerous precautions (at every level). I don't see this as being an exception.


Tem wrote:

Well, it sounds like a difference in play style from your description. My PCs realize that death can happen in any encounter at any time and usually take pains to avoid it.

If anyone in the party (through a knowledge check) knew that cyclopes had the flash of insight ability, perhaps they'd deduce that taking six on at once would have been a bad idea. Even if you didn't fudge the numbers, losing one PC in an encounter like this (ie. storming the castle) seems like what you'd expect. Likewise for the Great Mother. If the PCs even have the inkling that something looks like a trap (being a rogue has no bearing on it), then maybe it's best to go a different route.

Of course, most players have learned over time that they can just stumble through adventures and survive despite poor planning. The APs that I've played are rarely like that. They're quite often very deadly if you don't take numerous precautions (at every level). I don't see this as being an exception.

That's a fair assumption and I believe it's the assumption of the AP that the players should expect the encounters to have the possibility of player death. Unfortunately the Wizard in the party left, and he was the one with the Knowledge skills. He was replaced by a Magus, introduced during the Free Captain's Regatta, but the Magus lacks the prodigious number of Knowledge skills that the Wizard had, so the party is still adjusting. The Wizard will return eventually, but his absence could make this part of the AP a little difficult.

I think I will have to warn my players to be extra cautious on this island, because the encounters can all end with a TPK if they do not take precautions.


Having finished Tempest Rising and preparing to run this section of the AP, I've decided to make some changes as to how the PC's arrive at the IOEE.

As frustrated as my players where with the dead ends and backtracking with the search for spies, I don't see them actually sitting through the race.

:
Instead, I've decided that the information brought to the council by the PC's efforts leads them to cancel the Regatta.

Later, Cerise Bloodmourne, as Tessa Fairwind's Agent, brings a note from Tessa that instructs them to locate a spy refered to in recovered documents as "the Eel" and find out who he works for. Information places the agent on the the Island of Empty Eyes, where it just so happens that a missing member of the council's seat of power sits vacant. By going to the Isle and capturing the Eel, as well as securing the Fort and Isle from its denizens.

The will still have to prove themselves to the council and curry favor with pirate lords and etcetera...

Any thoughts?

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

RoninUsagi wrote:
Any thoughts?

Sounds mostly reasonable.

Spoiler:
You could probably spin it so that Bikendi was once a Pirate Lord on the council, as well. But since taking over the Island of Empty Eyes, no one has heard from him. And any visit there has determined the fort lies destroyed. So, even without the regatta, the PCs could be sent there to reclaim the island and its fort. If successful, they could be awarded Bikendi's open seat on the council. Meanwhile, rather than have the Eel be their target while exploring the island, just make it so that he's sent there by their rival to prevent them from succeeding...i.e., someone doesn't want them to have a voice on the council and it's their old enemy who still bears a grudge against them.

My two cents,
--Neil


Neil Spicer wrote:
RoninUsagi wrote:
Any thoughts?

Sounds mostly reasonable.

** spoiler omitted **
My two cents,
--Neil

I like this one personally. Send them chasing after Bikendi, because he is the primary tie to the rest of the island. Changing his backstory so that he was once a member of the Pirate Council is a good way to get rid of the regatta and still have the party gain favor with (and potentially seats on) the Pirate Council.


This is actually the way I was thinking of taking it.

The plan is

:
with Bikendi (one of the judges) missing, the PC's must follow the trail back to the IOEE. Cerise Bloodmourne, as an agent of Tessa Fairwind, puts them on the trail of the Eel, who may also be involved as an agent of whoever is spying on the Shackles. As they investigate, they discover that the Eel also had a hand in Bikendi's fate, manipulating him and Lodhotha, the Hag that Bikendi used to make his Heart Stone. The Eel intended for the two to destroy each other so Barnabus could lay claim to the island and a coucil seat.

Ultimately, the real climax of this adventure is the discovery that Harrigan is behind the spy ring and lead into part 5, the Price of Infamy, which I've already gone through too.

This is mainly because of the extreme interest my PC's currently have with taking Harrigan down more than anything. They are closer to figuring things out than the books intend (if some of them haven't already), and I intend to reward their patience for it.


RoninUsagi wrote:

This is actually the way I was thinking of taking it.

The plan is ** spoiler omitted **

This is mainly because of the extreme interest my PC's currently have with taking Harrigan down more than anything. They are closer to figuring things out than the books intend (if some of them haven't already), and I intend to reward their patience for it.

*update* This change worked really well for my group.

Liberty's Edge

My group just finished book 3 and we will be meeting again in 3 weeks. They will be heading to the isle and since there druid has gone off exploring before, I thought to invite him over for some scouting missions before hand. He missed last time and so while leveling up discovered that he can cast "Commune with nature". WOW, did casting this spell twice, shorten his scouting time and net some good info. And probably saved his life. Great timing of class, level and place.

Liberty's Edge

Also, reading up on it, it says the druid took out 3 ships to explore. Has anyone ever used the returning ships full of cyclopes? seems like they would return and be a very hard encounter.


It seems like Mod 3-4 is where most people are now.

My PCs are going to start this module very soon, so far they have just barely survived and they are using a 28 point buy!

Right now as prepping I have turned Tidewater into a village, added a cleric of Besmara to account for the spell casting. Here is the stats....

Tidewater Rock

CN Village (Mod -1)(+1 Crime; Lore)
Corruption +1; Crime -3; Economy -1; Law +1; Lore -1; Society -3;
Qualities Insular (Law +1; Crime -2), Notorious (Crime +1; Law -2; Danger +10; Base Value +30%, Base Purchase Limit +50%)
Danger +10
Disadvantages

DEMOGRAPHICS

Government Overlord (Corruption and Law +2; Crime and Society -2)
Population 181 (164 humans, 15 half-orcs, 2 halflings)

Notable NPCs

Captain Royster McCleagh (LN Male middle-aged human fighter 7)

Lady Agasta Smythee (N Female middle-aged human aristocrat 4/warrior 3)

Head Priest Bart Seasworn (N Male human cleric of Besmara 5)

MARKETPLACE

Base Value 650 gp; Purchase Limit 3,750 gp; Spellcasting 3rd
Minor Items 2d4; Medium Items 1d4; Major Items

Here is what I plan to do:

After the PCs finish the island off, I want to offer them more than just the ability to fix up the fort and fix up the harbor for piers/docks. I was hoping for ideas on what all I could offer the PCs in building up this area into an actual Settlement.

Rebuilding the Fort - 10 plunder
Rebuilding the Harbor - 5 Plunder

Squibing Facilities
Harbor Defenses
Residential Facilities/Housing
Warehouse District
Redlight District
Commercial/Shopping District

This is just a rough idea, what do you guys think?

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

You know, the new Ultimate Campaign rules for building a stronghold would be a great resource for widening out the means by which your PCs fix up the fort. Legendary Games also just released an Ultimate Rulership PDF which adds onto those rules in ways that might enhance that approach, as well. Food for thought, at least.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I have the Kingmaker rule set i'm going to use that for restoring the fort and building their own port

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

From what I understand the rules in Ultimate Campaign are an expanded version of the Kingmaker rules.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
greysector wrote:
From what I understand the rules in Ultimate Campaign are an expanded version of the Kingmaker rules.

I know..sigh!... alas the bats flying forth from my wallet say "no dice!"

the kingmaker rules will just have to do 'til christmas :)

Liberty's Edge

Anyone got the basement mapped, so can use to copy it? I have all the up stairs fort done but the basement of the tower wont snap shot for me.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

captain yesterday wrote:
greysector wrote:
From what I understand the rules in Ultimate Campaign are an expanded version of the Kingmaker rules.

I know..sigh!... alas the bats flying forth from my wallet say "no dice!"

the kingmaker rules will just have to do 'til christmas :)

You may want to keep an eye out for Ultimate War, too. Jason is working on it now and it'll do for naval combat (and land wars) what Ultimate Rulership did for enhancing Ultimate Campaign. I know that's a lot of "ultimates" to consider, but collectively, these supplements could really enhance not only a Kingmaker game, but also the entire Skull & Shackles AP, too...not to mention the upcoming Wrath of the Righteous.

The Exchange

Any thoughts on the Great Mother on page 31?

I am confused as to its abilities and how to handle the grapple when it suceedes.

Liberty's Edge

CHAOS!!
My former captain player showed up and wanted the position back after missing 2 sessions and leaving soon. Ok, short is I had him become sick from the abolith control since he couldnt be there. He missed the race and so the players had to pick a different captain. Since player was leaving the state and most are evil I allowed some fun PVP. The druid buffs up with resists and such and starts out demanding they return the ship or leave his Island( he only just got there, and cuommuned it) Demand, demand, initiative and fails save vs blindness. Goes bat and flyes to island, but monk beats him there and sets to firing on him. cant kill him fast enough and druid goes earth elemental and glides away. I now have a crazed druid npc (former PC) loose. other members go search ruins and notice the PC quartermaster whom stayed on ship to guard it, is sailing the ship away. Monk chases and catches the ship with the 20 muting pirates and since gig is up they turn ship around.
mean while the other PC's have made deals with both the spiders and the ghost( unknown cause possessed a PC and than apprentice) to retrieve the Gem. while what a crazy day. Not sure they are going to make it off this Isle, but oh the laughs we had. Or most since one player dont take to loosing to well. Oh and one PC is selling her soul to the Abolith at 1000 gold to fail her save VS dominate so can spy on the world and look for the lost city. Hope yall's game is going as fun.


I was planning on using the Kapre as a non-hostile encounter. Has anyone ever used this creature? How did you roleplay it? What did you do with it?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber

How have other GMs handled the island exploration itself? Do you play out all the encounters or just talk them through some of them? How easy did you play their encounter with Bikendi or Paeta?

One of my PCs has such a ridiculous Diplomacy she could talk a fish into living out of water. She convinced. Bikendi not to attack ( because let's face it he only cares about getting his precious stone back to finish his ritual he's gonna play nice at least this far) and they're now going to help him. Coming back up the stairs Paeta attacks and she convinces the phase spider the best thing would be for her to help them retrieve it and everyone wins (which is strictly true). So now they don't fight anything in the fort but undead hands, and both their new "allies" (term used loosely) want them to assault a Cyclopes fortress. And they're still level 9.

My second conundrum is my party is not very....front line focused. 2 ranged casters, 1 archer, and the only front liner moved so his char is played but not present. A full assault on Sumitha I fear will be suicide. Has anyone else worked out a diplomatic solution? I am considering the warriors sent off-island to find food come back badly wounded, giving the PCs the opportunity to feed and heal them as well as make them friendly and then find a half-diplomatic tie to the ruins, possibly ending in a smaller battle and retaining a hungry cyclops presence on the island, a tenuous relationship where the PCs must help re-stock them with ample food supply to survive or be once again threatened by the once noble now savage race?

As a side note, my group doesn't award Xp. We just level based on suggestions in the book.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

I had a huge question here asking about the Pirate Council. I spent quite some time trying to find the answer without success, then, of course, 20 minutes after posting the questions here, I found the answers.

In case anyone else is wondering about information on the membership and workings of the Pirate Council, many answers can be found in the beginning of the fifth S&S installment, The Price of Infamy.

I'm surprised this information does not seem to have made it into the Pathfinder wiki.


I'm wondering how other DM's handled

Spoiler:
the Marid trapped in Sumitha? Presumably my party won't want to free her but keep her captive and make use of her wishes. The AP makes it seem like she had a bunch of wishes to throw around, but the Bestiary says Marids have one wish per year. Still, a free wish-granting genie already stuck on their island base seems a bit much.


The adventure book says it takes several weeks to make the journey from Port Peril to the Island of Empty Eyes. How is that possible? My players can sail at 6mph that's just 6 miles shy of the 150 mile journey. They could do it in. Two days tops.

The AP has loaded the adventurers up with items that increase their sailing speed and ability, not to mention, my group is experienced and optimized their characters as hardcore sailors. It's one reason why they breezed through the regatta in the last book with a final score of 46.

I'm hoping this book provides a better challenge since they are off their sea legs.


NDRW wrote:
I'm wondering how other DM's handled ** spoiler omitted **

When my group reaches this part of the AP and

Spoiler:
(presumably) frees the Marid I will have her return briefly to her home plane and then come back to present the PCs with a ring containing the promised number of wishes (no book handy, and I can't recall offhand how many we're talking about).
You are correct that in RAW a Marid can only grant one wish per year, but this solution sidesteps that restriction while avoiding the "access to unlimited wishes" temptation for the PCs

Liberty's Edge

CaroRose wrote:

How have other GMs handled the island exploration itself? Do you play out all the encounters or just talk them through some of them? How easy did you play their encounter with Bikendi or Paeta?

One of my PCs has such a ridiculous Diplomacy she could talk a fish into living out of water. She convinced. Bikendi not to attack ( because let's face it he only cares about getting his precious stone back to finish his ritual he's gonna play nice at least this far) and they're now going to help him. Coming back up the stairs Paeta attacks and she convinces the phase spider the best thing would be for her to help them retrieve it and everyone wins (which is strictly true). So now they don't fight anything in the fort but undead hands, and both their new "allies" (term used loosely) want them to assault a Cyclopes fortress. And they're still level 9.

My second conundrum is my party is not very....front line focused. 2 ranged casters, 1 archer, and the only front liner moved so his char is played but not present. A full assault on Sumitha I fear will be suicide. Has anyone else worked out a diplomatic solution? I am considering the warriors sent off-island to find food come back badly wounded, giving the PCs the opportunity to feed and heal them as well as make them friendly and then find a half-diplomatic tie to the ruins, possibly ending in a smaller battle and retaining a hungry cyclops presence on the island, a tenuous relationship where the PCs must help re-stock them with ample food supply to survive or be once again threatened by the once noble now savage race?

As a side note, my group doesn't award Xp. We just level based on suggestions in the book.

Had same problem. but worked itself out. My players destroyed the gem, which is real easy, cause one of them got trapped in it. Once it is destroyed the ghost goes away and than just give the spiders the broken pieces. Course this may open up problems.

Liberty's Edge

NDRW wrote:
I'm wondering how other DM's handled ** spoiler omitted **

Had one PC jump in for a swim and agreed to free her. she just returned after a few months with a cousin whom will honor the wish.


NDRW wrote:
I'm wondering how other DM's handled ** spoiler omitted **

I ruled that the well in itself has some magical proporties (after all, it has kept her imprisoned for centuries) that allowed her to use her wishes once pr. person, but prevented her from using them on her own.

As she is the one actually casting the spell, I said that she would want all the wishes spoken out loud up front before she started fullfilling them. That way, she wouldn't fullfill any wishes, unless one of them was for her freedom.

However, the PC's has so far used two of their wishes on resurrections. This island is deadly!!! They're keeping their last wish in reserve untill they have cleaned the island, as they have had 5 deaths so far (two survived through hero points, one raised dead and then the two resurrection wishes).

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Designer Notes:

Spoiler:
The trapped marid was never meant to provide the PCs with continuing wishes forever. Even if they choose not to free her, they should lack the mythic magic used by the ancient cyclopes of Ghol-Gan to force her to grant them ongoing wishes. So, instead, she's just offering them one free wish per year for the next "however many years there are PCs" as long as one of them agrees to use their first wish to grant her her freedom. So, yes, that means they probably won't get the benefit of a wish from her until at least a year has passed from when they first met her. That means the "wishing well" is a long-term boon to their rulership of the Shackles once the campaign has run its course. Aside from that, she's also an incredibly useful resource for understanding the history of the island and the height of the Ghol-Gan culture. And, as long as they free her, she'll come back once a year to grant them another wish until she's met her end of the bargain (i.e., one wish per PC).


Neil Spicer wrote:

Designer Notes:

** spoiler omitted **

Which makes it essentially worthless in game/campaign terms.

Spoiler:
So, as written, a year from now the first PC uses his wish to free the Marid. Thereafter, each year, one more PC gets his wish until the "one wish per PC" limit is reached. Given even the assumed basic four-PC party, this means four game years will pass before everyone has their wish. (In my campaign it would be at least six years, as we have a larger group of players.) Unless you grossly pad out the AP or have a group (and GM) willing to write years worth of further adventures once the AP has concluded, the campaign will never run long enough for the PCs to benefit. I'm not looking at the Marid as a "source of unlimited wishes", but this idea doesn't fly either.

I'll stick with the idea of a Ring of Wishes, thanks all the same.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Fitzwalrus wrote:
Which makes it essentially worthless in game/campaign terms....I'll stick with the idea of a Ring of Wishes, thanks all the same.

As in all things, Fitzwalrus, adjust the adventure as you see fit for your own game group and personal preferences/play-style. All I'm saying is that particular encounter was there far more for flavor and what the marid could provide to the PCs from an informational ally perspective rather than handing over the equivalent of a ring of wishes at that point in the PCs' adventuring career. And, from the discussion up-thread, it seems a lot of folks were thinking this encounter was meant to give out a lot of wishes to the PCs in a short amount of time, but it was never intended that way.

I also don't see the inclusion of that encounter as being "worthless" to the overall game/campaign.

Spoiler:
If the PCs are kind to the marid, her presence serves a very meaningful purpose in The Island of Empty Eyes, as she becomes a valuable ally in understanding and taming the island they get to use as their pirate base for years to come. Additionally, the effect of her wishes...even parsed out a year at a time...can have a very valuable impact on the "Continuing the Campaign" elements after they presumably become the new Hurricane "kings" of the Shackles. That kind of magic can go a long way in helping them consolidate and hang onto power in that region of Golarion.


I'm glad Neil provided some clarification on the final encounter in Sumitha, but there was still much that was vague. The walls either vanish or go incorporeal but that is confusing since the players had to ascend stairs to gain access to where the Eye was. Is that supposed to mean that everything moves to ground level or that the platform where the pedestal rested was incorporeal? Sigh. I made it incorporeal for spells and the enervation ray. But I made the pedestal remain solid, which meant that it was really a thirty foot high column. One of the players jumped off the platform and ran through it at ground level to take cover behind the pedestal/column. One of the stone columns chased him down the stairs but be unable to see through the wall- only having access to the same line of sight as the dreamstone. That saved the barbarian.

And also, one player blinded himself but there was no real detain about what would be seen after he did so. I did just fine describing the scene, but it is nice to have details provided.

I switched out the Gholdaki with the stone columns and ran the Gholdaki encounter earlier. That saved my game from. Turning into a TPK. The battle with the two Gholdaki was extremely challenging for my group. So for the third time since first entering the ruins, they ran back to their ship to heal and rest for the night.

In the end, two our of four players died and the other two lived only because I showed mercy in a way that was seamless and didn't let on that I was granting mercy.

My players are so good at optimizing their characters that they generally blast their way through encounters so I was thankful that there were some challenges in Sumitha for them.

Sovereign Court

My group just started exploring the island as well, but after circumnavigating it they started at the watchtower on the northwestern side of the island. So far they walked over the sentries there and have traveled into Sumitha dealing with the six cyclopes from the lookout and larder. As I'm using an alternate XP method (SKR's step system) they're handling the encounters pretty easily (at basically level 9.5).

One question about the Cyclopes "auto-crit" tactic... how does this work exactly? Flash of insight lets you choose the result of a single roll. If you choose the first "to hit" roll as your nat 20, then you still have to confirm with a second roll. I have one PC with an AC of 30+ so this tactic isn't as devastating as it seems on paper.


You still have to confirm a flash of insight.
However, even against a high AC-target, flash of insight is very strong. It means most cyclopes will land 1 hit (they could get killed before they get to act at all), and they deal out a decent amount of damage at 3d6+7.

I played the cyclopes as intelligent opponents. If the PC's withdrew from the main city, they'll get shadowed by the gargoyle scouts, while the cyclopes will prepare a new ambush, this time with all their ressources pooled into it. Battle means noise, and noise means the other cyclopes will come to investigate.

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