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The Emerald Spire Superdungeon Discussion Thread


Pathfinder Modules

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This is a discussion thread for the material presented in The Emerald Spire Superadventure. Bring your thoughts and questions (and answers) here.

Readers of this thread may also be interested in this companion thread, discussing the timeline of events in the Emerald Spire.

I open with several questions, which I try to answer - if you have answers for these questions (or wish to expand on what's already presented), or questions of your own, please chime in.

Hellknights
The Hellknights reached Level 10, the Magma Chamber; what's really impressive is that they apparently did it within the last 30 years. Their activities raise a few questions.

Question: When exactly did the expeditions occur?
Answer: Probably within the last 30 years, once the Hellknights established control over Fort Inevitable; Chaid DiViri was summoned by the signifier at that town. Beyond that, it is unclear. If you want to avoid some potential complications, set it more than five years ago. Otherwise, you need to account for their run-ins with Grulk, Klarkosh, and Splinterden.

Question: Why didn't the Hellknights clear out every floor of the dungeon? Surely they would have if they were interested in law, power, and discovering clues regarding the "mysterious presences" and "potent lawfully aligned magic" that were said to exist down there.
Answer: This one isn't spelled out in the book. To some extent, the Hellknights may have already been informed about the first few floors, and assumed they would not possess what they sought; a glance around those environments would probably confirm that. Their divinations, or detection spells they cast while exploring the dungeons, may have revealed an apparent lack of anything significant on the floors they explored; or they may have simply assumed that what they sought would be at the bottom - or otherwise immediately obvious. In any case, they were not there merely to adventure - and their numbers were already being whittled away by whatever they did face.

Question: How much do the Hellknights of Fort Inevitable know about the results of the expedition?
Answer: Unclear. All of DiViri's records were sent back to the Order of the Gate's headquarters. However, the signifiers of Fort Inevitable were the ones who received the divinations, and had requested the aid in the first place. They probably know, at the least, that the Emerald Spire goes at least ten floors deep; and that whatever they were seeking is probably even deeper than that. Besides that, they are likely not interested in what goes on in the first ten floors: they may know a little bit about the residents of the first nine floors (excluding those that moved in afterward), just incidentally.

The Godbox
Q: How many adventurers have made it past the Godbox?
A: The Godbox on Level 4 presents an interesting obstacle. It seals the passage to the next floor, allowing passage only to those who provide it with at least two pounds of metal. Therefore, nothing can come up from above (at least without destroying the seal, which apparently cannot be replaced); and nobody can pass through without first making the requisite sacrifice. Apparently the Godbox's memory is good, as it will always allow the same people through once they have made a single sacrifice. Consequentially, you can determine exactly how many people have passed through Level 4 by counting out the combined weight of all 150 items stuck to the Godbox, and dividing that number by 2. I have not yet done the calculation myself, but it has likely let through dozens of travelers.

Q: Why does the Godbox seal the passage to the next floor? And why does it let people through if they sacrifice metal?
A: Unclear. This probably has something to do with the Godbox's faulty programming.

Miscellaneous
Q: Why didn't Nhur Athemon visit the levels below floor 14?
A: This one puzzles me. The book implies that Nhur Athemon has had 10,000 years of occasional activity to do as he pleases, and his focus has always had something to do with the Emerald Spire itself. It's strange that he never explored deep enough to find the root. I believe the book might have hiccupped when explaining when Axis made its visit. Axis had placed a ward on the lower levels, to prevent chaos from invading from below. As written, the book implies that occurred after Nhur Athemon became a lich. More likely, Axis appeared shortly after the Emerald Spire was created. They created the seal, which disguised itself, and Nhur Athemon simply did not notice it at the time - despite his mighty power. In recent centuries, the seal waned - and when Nhur Athemon awoke once again, he noticed the weakened seal. This is what invigorated him to resume his research. He is, in fact, interested in going deeper - he had just previously not had the time, resources, or interest to keep exploring. The idea that somebody had intentionally placed a seal there, however, makes him curious. It's still a somewhat odd idea, and is based on an unexplained line in the text, which says that seeing the seal "suggested a new approach".

Q: Why doesn't Splinterden attack the troglodytes?
A: Unclear. The troglodytes are peaceful, and possess a fantastic resource (plus treasure). Perhaps Klarkosh forbade it, or perhaps they simply assumed that the troglodytes would be dangerous, despite reassurances to the contrary.

Q: How did Uzar-Kus, of Level 8, get in contact with the undine on Level 5?
A: The Spire transport tokens can be used only to get to levels on which the person knows the local sigil. Because the serpentfolk have been down here so long, Uzar-Kus' ancestors probably collected sigils for the levels above them. Ironically, the book does not mention anybody on this floor possessing a Spire transport token. A reasonable edit would give one to Uzar-Kus, to explain how he first came in contact with the undine.

Q: How did the Mistress of Thorns learn the sigils of Levels 2 - 13?
A: Unclear. Apparently she has taken captives before, but it's not clear from which floors. Perhaps she visited the other levels herself some time in the distant past; or summoned creatures to bring her captives who knew the answers.

Residents of Each Level Know the Following about the Other Levels
Level 1: The Tower Ruins know about The Cellars and The Clockwork Maze, but only by reputation. The goblins do not visit those places, but they know of the crypts and they know Klarkosh resides in the Clockwork Maze. The goblin cleric, Skizzertz, has the sigil for Level 6.

Level 2: The Cellars know about the Tower Ruins, Splinterden, and The Clockwork Maze. Thieves from Splinterden use Klarkosh's noisemakers to warn off Moon Spiders that try descending into their level. Gorloth is bound to serve Klarkosh; and possesses a Spire transport token

Level 3: Splinterden is aware of the undead and spiders in the Cellars above. They possess one Spire transport token. They are also aware of Klarkosh, who gave them the noisemakers that ward off the moonspiders, and whose agents occasionally passes through their level.

Level 4: Godhome is not precisely aware of any other levels. They know people pass through their level all the time, but little beyond that.

Level 5: The Drowned Level is aware of Klarkosh, who provided them with the sharktailed automaton in the first place; and Senethar in particular is aware of Level 8; she possesses a Spire transport token and the Sigil for Level 8; she reports to Uzar-Kus.

Level 6: The Clockwork Maze is aware of the occupants of all levels above him, because Klarkoth has passed through them; and, in later times, subjugated them. Klarkoth is also aware of the serpentfolk in the levels below him, but does not know how many floors they occupy. He is also aware that there is something below the serpentfolk, thanks to the Pech who refers to "The Great Master in the Deep". Naturally, Klarkoth possesses a Spire transport token.

Level 7: Shrine of the Awakener are aware of their brethren in Level 8 below, with whom they are at war. They are also aware of Klarkoth in the Clockwork Maze above them, and stop him from advancing. A salamander working the local forge possesses a Spire transport token that he took from an adventurer.

Level 8: The Circle of Vissk-Thar are at war with the serpentfolk on Level 7. They are also aware of the undine on Level 5 (Uzar-Kus is trying to bend them to his will).

Level 9: The Spire Axis knows the sigils for Levels 2 - 13. The Mistress of Thorns also possesses an effectively unlimited amount of Spire transport tokens. She presumably knows a little bit about all of the other floors for which she has sigils.

Level 10: The Magma Vault do not know much about the other levels. A contingent of Hellknights passed through here, and the magma dragons must have gotten their treasure from somewhere, but it is unclear how it came into their possession. Most likely wandering serpentfolk.

Level 11: The Tomb of Yarrix have been sealed away for so long that they do not know anything about anybody else. They do possess one Spire transport token.

Level 12: The Automaton Forge know of their master, Nhur Athemon, and presumably the stewart has a passing knowledge of the Pleasure Gardens. There is also a Spire transport token on this level.

Level 13: The Pleasure Gardens know about Nhur Athemon; most notably, the succubi here often teleport outside of the Spire to conduct investigations for their master.

Level 14: The Throne of Azlant knows about every level above him, and Level 15. He discovers information by scrying and employing agents like the succubi. There is one Spire transport token on this level.

Level 15: Order and Law are unconcerned with everything occurring above them, although a Kolyarut somehow wound up on Level 10 once (along with his Spire transport token). They are interested in Level 16, but do not know anything about it.

Level 16: The Emerald Root know about every level; at least, the Vault Keeper does.

Liberty's Edge

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Since Paizo isn't repleasing one, I'm currently working on a Emerald Spire Player's Guide.

I'm mostly for my party, but I thought other people might find it useful so I'm emulating the style of the official ones and making use of some of the Community Use images (plus a map yanked from Thornkeep as the book really needs one).

Comments are welcome, of course.


Jester, I encourage you to continue your work; please keep us updated. I would love to share that Player's Companion with my group.

Here are some thoughts on your material.

I love how your Traits give the characters some background to work with, and may even provide story hooks. Don't forget to separate them by category.

Wouldn't Hellknight Armiger apply only to Hellknight Armor? Or plate mail? My impression is that your character is training to be a hellknight, so you would be wearing their armor - or whatever they let their squires practice in. I would also add that this trait does not stack with the penalty reduction that the Hellknight Prestige Class gets. If you want to be technical, you might say it translates into a different benefit at that point. Otherwise you wind up with this weird situation where you ask yourself why every Hellknight doesn't have that benefit.

I haven't done the math, but I wonder how the Merchant Connection balances out mechanically. I just hope it doesn't give merchants access to some crazy stuff.

Instead of giving the Goldenfire Initiate money, I'd recommend letting them draw on funds or resources that improve as the character levels (but which always remain minor). Or just giving then an Emblem of the Goldenfire. The problem with the trait-as-written is that half of its benefit disappears after Level 1.

Darklands Delver is basically a permanent +1 initiative bonus insofar as this campaign is concerned. I'm not sure whether that's balanced; I want to say it is, because of the +1 Fortitude feature I've seen tossed around before.

Blue Basilisk Recruit takes you out of the adventure because, once your character gets the cargo, you don't have a reason to stay. In fact, your character really should be getting back to the Blue Basilisks. If you want to keep that one, I'd make it sound like a "well, there's no going back now..." kind of situation. Also, is the benefit balanced? A +1 to all your offensive rolls with a weapon you'll use all the time is definitely on the higher end of traits.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

The Sword Emperor wrote:
Darklands Delver is basically a permanent +1 initiative bonus insofar as this campaign is concerned. I'm not sure whether that's balanced; I want to say it is, because of the +1 Fortitude feature I've seen tossed around before.

As a general rule traits are supposed to be about half as good as a feat 9which is why a feat can give you two traits). So while I'm not making any kind of official development, as a personal opinion I don't think a trait that gives you a +1 initiative bonus is too good, since Improved Initiative gives you +4.

Liberty's Edge

Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
As a general rule traits are supposed to be about half as good as a feat which is why a feat can give you two traits). So while I'm not making any kind of official development, as a personal opinion I don't think a trait that gives you a +1 initiative bonus is too good, since Improved Initiative gives you +4.

Too late! I'm giving you credit as "developer" in the document! Bwa-ha-ha!

Seriously though, that was my reasoning as well. "+2 to Initiative" was a pretty common Trait in APs. I find it a little boring but know some people like the Init bonus, so I added a Trait with that, but added a flavour restriction (that doesn't really restrict in this campaign).

The Sword Emperor wrote:
I love how your Traits give the characters some background to work with, and may even provide story hooks. Don't forget to separate them by category.

I'm basing the work on some of the more recent Adventure Path Player's Guides, where the Traits have a backstory component. So the player takes it for the mechanic bonus and gets a connection to the campaign at the same time.

The Emerald Spire is pretty light in long term story with few direct hooks for the players, so I'm trying to work a few initial motivations into the Traits. Something to get the party started and aimed in the rough direction of either the Spire or people who hand out quests. Of course, after that they're on their own.

Oh, and all would count as "Campaign Traits". That's their category.

The Sword Emperor wrote:
I haven't done the math, but I wonder how the Merchant Connection balances out mechanically. I just hope it doesn't give merchants access to some crazy stuff.

Most of the Traits are pretty heavily based on existing Traits, tweaked and customized to fit. This is one of the few exceptions, and it's significantly better than related merchant traits.

However, it serves a pretty meta-gamey purpose.
The Emerald Spire module is pretty set in the one location, with only Thornkeep and Fort Inevitable nearby. Both are small cities and the party will quickly find themselves unable to unload treasure or buy the magic items the game assumes they will have. This Trait essentially lets them treat Thornkeep or Fort Inevitable as a larger city for buying/selling.
Still toying with the precise numerical benefit though.


Splinterden could have attacked the Trogs in the past but gave up since the Godbox just summons more Trogs in.


Jester, I recommend adding a section explaining to the PCs what their characters may know before - or expect to learn during - the first game session. That is a good way of drumming up some interest, and sparking players' imagination for character concepts; it would sync well with your advice about making dungeon-delving characters.

Here are some suggestions...

Your characters will be based in Fort Inevitable, a small town near the Emerald Spire. Fort Inevitable is under martial law, ruled by the Hell Knights. They maintain order, but also punish crimes harshly and allow for slavery (but not slave abuse). Putting aside their government, the town is otherwise decent enough, with its own story hooks, and even a troublesome group who opposes the Hell Knights rule. The town's alignment is LE.

The campaign will focus mostly on the eponymous Emerald Spire. The Emerald Spire is a glass-green tower, now in ruins. The Spire is believed to have been built by the ancient Azlanti (one of the first great human civilizations), perhaps as a retreat. It's well-known that there is a dungeon beneath the spire, and that it goes down several levels, but nobody knows how many levels it goes down - just that it goes down deep. Occasionally portals to other planes pop up around the spire itself, disgorging strange creatures, or making visitors disappear.

The Emerald Spire is a popular destination for adventurers, but only a determined few brave the dungeon itself; there's goblins topside, and worse than that below.

The Emerald Spire's most remarkable feature is the gigantic green stone stake that pierces the ground in the middle of the ruins; it rises a few dozen feet above the ground, tapering; and is around five feet wide at the base. Nobody knows how deeply into the ground it goes.

***End Recommended Text***

I might work up a more formal post regarding exactly what players can expect their characters to know before the first session; or reasonably learn during the first session. And what information they can learn from the town, generally speaking, before they dungeon delve.


Q: How long should the group expect to run through the Emerald Spire Superdungeon?

A: At least 36 weeks; but budget for a year of gameplay. The authors estimate that a group of four players, playing on the fast track, will have their characters at around level 12 by the end of the campaign. Assuming characters level up every three sessions, that would put the game at 36 weeks.

However, gameplay may be expanded by additional material. For Inevitable has a bunch of story hooks. The biggest story hook is the Hell Knights; and whether their rule shall continue. Depending on how the players feel toward the Hell Knights, their characters might aid the Seven Foxes in their struggle to free the town of their martial overlords. That alone can easily occupy at least a couple sessions.

On the other hand, the dungeon levels actually are not big. Most of the fights will be against single foes, or small groups of enemies. In fact, at least two of the levels can easily be bypassed or played through without any combat; and one of those levels encourages pacifistic play. Some groups may be able to clear the superdungeon in 32 sessions; or even 16 (assuming they were able to clear out one floor per session).

These are all estimates at this point. I have not yet run the campaign myself.

Liberty's Edge

The Sword Emperor wrote:
Jester, I recommend adding a section explaining to the PCs what their characters may know before - or expect to learn during - the first game session. That is a good way of drumming up some interest, and sparking players' imagination for character concepts; it would sync well with your advice about making dungeon-delving characters.

I'm trying to avoid telling too much. Walls of text scare off many players. That's why the campaign traits work so well, people uninterested in the lore can skim the trait for the mechanic, take the option, and still be involved in the story.

That said, there is the gazetteer at the end. I might co-opt some of your text for that.

I also don't want to assume too much about any given GM's campaign. Given its proximity to Thornkeep, some GMs might opt for that location as the base of operations, taking the opportunity to make use of that book. (It might be fun to move the campaign from Fast to Medium xp and run through the Thornkeep adventures as well).

Similarly, I don't want to say too much about the Spire itself.
Many of its details are a surprises/revelations, such as its Azlanti origins, the portals on the surface, and the fact the green spire goes down for two miles and connects every layer of the dungeon.
Some GMs will have the 1st level characters make a Knowledge (history) check and go "oh, the above ground ruins are clearly Azlanti in origin." Other GMs will tease that information over several sessions.

Liberty's Edge

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The Sword Emperor wrote:

Q: Why didn't Nhur Athemon visit the levels below floor 14?

A: This one puzzles me. The book implies that Nhur Athemon has had 10,000 years of occasional activity to do as he pleases, and his focus has always had something to do with the Emerald Spire itself. It's strange that he never explored deep enough to find the root. I believe the book might have hiccupped when explaining when Axis made its visit. Axis had placed a ward on the lower levels, to prevent chaos from invading from below. As written, the book implies that occurred after Nhur Athemon became a lich. More likely, Axis appeared shortly after the Emerald Spire was created. They created the seal, which disguised itself, and Nhur Athemon simply did not notice it at the time - despite his mighty power. In recent centuries, the seal waned - and when Nhur Athemon awoke once again, he noticed the weakened seal. This is what invigorated him to resume his research. He is, in fact, interested in going deeper - he had just previously not had the time, resources, or interest to keep exploring. The idea that somebody had intentionally placed a seal there, however, makes him curious. It's still a somewhat odd idea, and is based on an unexplained line in the text, which says that seeing the seal "suggested a new approach".

I assumed the seal was placed before Nhur Athemon became a lich or even came to the spire.

The war between the aboleths and vault builders was prior to Azlant. So the spire would have been created well before, and thus sealed before.

Nhur Athemon might very well been interested in the lowest level but unable to penetrate the epically sealed passage. Some of the 10,000 years of research might have led to his plan to summon extraplanar beings.


You make some interesting points regarding player information that I hadn't considered. I'll agree, though I'll supplement with a point:
The Emerald Spire is popularly thought to be Azlanti ruins. It's one of the defining features that attracts travelers to the Emerald Spire in the first place.

Also, yes, you're welcome to co-opt any of my text from these threads for your guide. :-)


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So, Your Players Want to Mine Out the Actual Emerald Spire
Although the Superdungeon focuses on the Emerald Spire, it never discusses what happens when somebody tries to chip away pieces of the structure. The subject comes up in passing - and in fact is important to several NPCs - but there isn't a stand-alone section describing how difficult it is, or what happens if the PCs decide to literally just carve out an entire section of the spire. Here are some thoughts...

1: The Emerald Spire is an ancient object of fantastic might. It's reasonable to give it at least Hardness 20 (which also gives it 40 HP per inch). The Hardness could theoretically be higher, as this is a magical substance; perhaps Hardness 30 (90 HP per inch). Or, if you're feeling more narrative, you could treat it as an artifact, and say that the best anybody can do is chip off tiny portions.

2: Doing enough damage to the Emerald Spire can theoretically have unforeseen consequences. Portals might begin popping up all over the place; or it may release a sudden blast of planar energy; or even warp the area around the crack; or drag the miner into another plane.

3: Any significant headway with the Emerald Spire is sure to attract the attention of one or more of the residents who are examining the structure. It's reasonable to say that significant tampering creates a resonance that others can detect. The undine, Jorqual, might notice something interfering with his studies - if he doesn't investigate directly, he'll probably just tell Klarkoth. Of course, Klarkoth himself might figure it out, and send some of his minions to deal with it.

The Mistress of Thorns, in the Spire Axis, spends a lot of time studying the Emerald Spire. She may notice, and start sending devils or other servants to go capture - or at least harry - anybody who is apparently trying to destroy the Spire.

Yoc, the xorn, may realize something is touching its precious Spire; enough interruptions may actually get Yoc to release the Spire, and earth glide around until it finds the interloper.

Nhur Athemon himself might realize somebody is toying with his Spire; and depending on the circumstances might already be aware of the PCs' movements. He has plenty of minions (including the succubi) to send to deal with people who attack the Spire itself.

The Vault Keeper, of course, will almost certainly realize that something is digging away at the Spire. It seems practically unfair that it would rise up to deal with these threats; and would likely send minions, or just wait and see if one of the other inhabitants of the dungeon deals with the issue.

Regarding "Earth Glide"
Earth Glide is an ability that enables the possessor to pass through any kind of earth or stone (even lava, with the appropriate protection; but not metal). The ability is commonly associated with earth elementals (which several classes can summon), but there is also a spell that grants it; and druids can eventually transform into an earth elemental. Players can gain access to Earth Glide at least as early as 5th Level (the Paladin Stonelord archetype gains an earth elemental in place of a mount; and it stays around as long as the Stonelord wants, and can go out as far as it wants).

In the Emerald Spire Superdungeon, Earth Glide raises a couple issues.

First, Earth Glide can spoil the fun of surprise. Enterprising players might have their characters use Earth Glide (or send a summoned creature on their behalf) to scope out the lower dungeon floors. Depending on their approach, they may be able to safely discover the exact layout of those floors, and perhaps even get an impression of the contents, from a point of relative safety (either in the earth; or even outside the dungeon, if they are sending a minion). This provides a tremendous mapping advantage; beside other benefits.

GMs who allow Earth Glide as-is should pay attention to the actual structure of the dungeon walls that the creatures pass through. Don't forget the Magma Vault is full of lava, and that the Pleasure Gardens contain sickening plant-life. Also, once the dungeons' inhabitants are aware that something is using earth glide to spy on them, they may take appropriate precautions in case of an attack or attempted theft. Finally, notice that some of the dungeons' inhabitants may be able to deal with earth gliding nuisances with ease - the Vault Keeper has several abilities that should come in handy in such a conflict.

GMs might wish to prohibit players from taking the Earth Glide spell, and if they possess the ability to become a creature that can Earth Glide (or can summon a creature which possesses the ability), replace Earth Glide with something else.

Second, what happens if something tries to Earth Glide into the actual green-stone spire?

This one is fun. The Emerald Spire's original purpose is terraforming, which is at least partially accomplished by drawing directly on planar energies. Also, creatures (including a Vault Keeper!) have been known to become stuck in the Emerald Spire on at least two occasions. A creature which voluntarily earth glides into the Emerald Spire may be in for a surprise. Here are some possibilities.

1: Nothing happens. The character manages to earth glide through, no problem.

2: The character is teleported to a random plane of existence (or a plane associated with the floor of the dungeon on which the character is currently).

3: The Vault Keeper immediately becomes aware of the creature's shenanigans; and may choose to take immediate action.

4: The creature becomes stuck in the Spire's structure. It cannot escape by itself; and must be dug out. Of course, digging out the creature may alert the Vault Keeper (or other forces).

5: The character is unable to actually earth glide into the structure; or is immediately ejected. The Spire may have a defense system that ejects foreign bodies unless they are accompanied by a Spire Token. This theory aligns well with the fact that Yoc, the xorn, has not used his earth glide ability to merge with the Spire, despite its complete fascination with the structure

6: Things get really weird. Maybe this opens up a new portal, and something from the Plane of Earth gets in; or maybe the creature becomes charged with planar energies for some time.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

I am just looking through the PDF for the first time, and the map of Fort Inevitable seems to disagree with the descriptions of specific areas.

I think the problem is that the map has NORTH pointing to the left, and some locations (so far I have seen #4,#9,#42) seem to be descibed as if NORTH is up.
For example #9 the Mosswood Gate, is described as the Western Gatehouse, while on the map it actually resides in the Northeast.

SO...are the descriptions incorrect or is 'North' actually incorrect on the map?

I know i can alter all of this myself so its not a huge deal, but just pointing out an area where confusion exists.


First of all. Excellent thread and love the players guide.
Secondly, I'm a bit at a loss when it comes to the first quest "Friends in the fort" as described here:"
http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2r6r9?Emerald-spire-Friends-in-the-fort-quest

Sorry for calling attention to my thread like this and feel free to ask me to remove this reply, but i'm very eager for a reply since I'll be starting the module soon with my players.

Thanks in advance.

The Exchange

What is a good min/max amount of players for this campaign? Also which bestiaries do they pull the monsters from...just need to know so i have all the pawns ready to go...thanks :)


Beltias Arkona wrote:

What is a good min/max amount of players for this campaign? Also which bestiaries do they pull the monsters from...just need to know so i have all the pawns ready to go...thanks :)

Book says 4 players. 5 players is possible but exp will lag a bit behind, but this is made up bu the extra player character.

6 players is possible but you will need to field some extra monsters.

Bestiaries 1,2 and 3 are used as well as some extra monsters described in the book itself.

The Exchange

Thanks :) appreciate the reply!! Cant wait to get this to the table!!


Divil wrote:

First of all. Excellent thread and love the players guide.

Secondly, I'm a bit at a loss when it comes to the first quest "Friends in the fort" as described here:"
http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2r6r9?Emerald-spire-Friends-in-the-fort-quest

Sorry for calling attention to my thread like this and feel free to ask me to remove this reply, but i'm very eager for a reply since I'll be starting the module soon with my players.

Thanks in advance.

Divil wrote:


I've been wondering. The first quest in the Emerald Spire is the "Friends in the fort" quest.
My question regarding this quest is that it's nowhere clear how this quest is started/ completed and what is expected of the players.

They can align themselves with either the "Hellknights" or the "seven foxes".

What is expected from them if they align themselves with the seven foxes or the hellknights?

Did I miss anything or is this just left out of the Emerald spire book?

This one's an awkward can of worms.

The players "start" this quest by the DM saying, "You have gained this quest" at the very beginning of the first session.

If that's too meta for you, then you could either
1) Just let the players know they've gained XP once they accomplish the quest;
2) Give the players the quest once they've actually met both factions;
3) Just tell the players at the beginning that certain actions which progress the game's plot will grant them XP; or
4) Not use it at all, because it may be too tangential

When the players complete the quest, they gain XP. As for what's "expected" of them: the PCs will need to demonstrate loyalty to one faction or another. Spy on one faction and report to the other; turn in a member of the Foxes; slay a Hell Knight or stymie their pursuit of a slave or a Fox; rescue slaves; embarrass the Hell Knights. Any of those things could work.


I have to say regarding the Emerald Spire...

IT CAME! IT FINALLY CAME!!

lol

all of my guys were very excited when we got this and tried to steal the book right away. It was very endearing to see the gleam in their eyes when they realized what was in the box ^_^

@ Jester & Sword Emperor: you both have really great advice and ideas, I hope you don't mind if I "borrow" some ;) I can completely see my boys deciding they want to, for instance, mine the Emerald Spire lol


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Of course; so far as I'm concerned, you can use any of my material from this thread.

Silver Crusade

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What level are the players expected to be at level 1 of the Emerald Spire?

How about level 2 of the Emerald Spire?

What level are the PCs expected to be when they reach each level? IS this information listed in the "super Module"

Thanks


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I'm pretty sure it isnt listed. (Though they are supposed to start at level one and four PCs using the fast track should be around level twelve if they explore the entire thing).


Q: In 'tactics' section for Grulk you can read 'Once combat begins, Grulk uses the arrow slit to give himself improved cover'. But I cannot see such a slit in the room description... any clue?


I'll be starting up my version of the Superdungeon this Tuesday, July 1.

sornet wrote:
Q: In 'tactics' section for Grulk you can read 'Once combat begins, Grulk uses the arrow slit to give himself improved cover'. But I cannot see such a slit in the room description... any clue?

Grulk's room has a wooden door with a shuttered arrow slit in its middle. It's mentioned in A13. Ascending Stairs.

If he hears the PCs coming, he stands in front of the door, at the arrow slit.

Paizo Employee Developer

sornet wrote:
Q: In 'tactics' section for Grulk you can read 'Once combat begins, Grulk uses the arrow slit to give himself improved cover'. But I cannot see such a slit in the room description... any clue?

Hey, sornet! I developed the book, so I can handle your question. The door to area A15 is the same door described in area A13. It can be tough to convey such vertical geography like that on a 2D map, unfortunately. Sorry for the confusion! I wish I'd repeated the same information in both places or made it clear that they're the same door.

Another quick note on that map: The secret door symbol on the map is the "secret passage that ends abruptly at an opening 60 feet above the groud" referred to just after the boxed text.


Ouch! I missed that, thank you :)


I would also be interested in knowing the recommended PC level for each level of the Emerald Spire. I believe it was mentioned in the product thread that each spire level was designed with a certain PC level in mind.


The dungeon levels themselves do not provide recommended levels. You could add up the XP that players should expect to have received by the time they reach a dungeon level - and go from there.

Paizo Employee Developer

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OwenKane wrote:
I would also be interested in knowing the recommended PC level for each level of the Emerald Spire. I believe it was mentioned in the product thread that each spire level was designed with a certain PC level in mind.

Because Emerald Spire has so many variables (ways to tackle levels out of order, skip entire levels, or gain extra XP awards), I didn't include expected levels. It's meant to be—not a sandbox per se—but a fairly open-ended experience. It can be easy for a party to jump to a challenge significantly higher than their level, especially after they pass the upper levels. So please remember those caveats when looking at the level ranges below!

Dungeon Level/Party Level
1: 1
2: 2
3: 3
4: 4
5: 5
6: 6
7: 6
8: 7
9: 8
10: 9
11: 10
12: 11
13: 11
14: 12
15: 12
16: 13


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Super helpful, I'll reference this when my party jumps ahead and impale themselves on too difficult of a level

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So far, and i am only half way through, my biggest complaint is the lack of ties to the outside world. As the character progress in level, things should be happening outside and no mention is made of what these things might be. Sure as the GM I could make assumption and follow rabbits off to their destinations, and I do do this.

I would love more information on Fort Inevitable and its residents. Such as how active are the Seven Foxes? Will they get aggressive enough to actually take action? How would the Hellknights respond?

Also there are several NPCS that are very interesting...

NPCs:

Davon Stonde's "goblin fort" What exactly is this or what was it before it became a ruin? What can be expected to be found there?

Naldred Tillman's night hag visits... eventually the night hag will kill someone, probably Naldred (no offense but the indentured or the slaves, but only the most AR Hellknight would investigate fully). What then? Nice side quest if a number of people through the city start dying.

Gertrand Yeldun aka Naxan: okay a doppleganger. cool. What are his long term aims and goals? What other identies does he have?

Londor Sefurd, spy for the Hellknights. What kind of things does he report on? What does the Council of Prosperity do that the Hellknights need to keep such a close eye on?

Very small population of halflings and gnomes But a whole lot of half-orcs. Guess the Hellknights might be a popular career choice for lawful half-orcs.

Other unanswered things that would be nice to have...

Unanswered:

new types of undead are referenced at least twice in the text. What kind of undead? How do the NPCs know about them?

How and why is the grain disappearing from the granary?

How extensive are the town's sewers? Who built them? Who maintains them?

How in the heck to the Echo Wood brigands get in and out of the 3rd level of the Spire? Through the second and the first? Seems like a long dangerous way for them to travel.

Now before anyone says, you can make all that up yourself, yes, that's true. But what i am looking to do is make the Emerald Spire more of a center of a campaign. And to me that means it needs to have ties and connections to the outside world.


The "new" undead are talked about on level 14. They're just otherwise normal undead with Spire shards in them.


catdragon wrote:
How in the heck to the Echo Wood brigands get in and out of the 3rd level of the Spire? Through the second and the first? Seems like a long dangerous way for them to travel.

I may get to your other questions later, but there is an actual answer to this one.

If you look at the map of the Emerald Spire, you'll notice there's a tunnel connecting the third floor directly to the outside world. The same passageway is also mentioned in C17. It's a passage that climbs 1,500 feet to the surface.

Which is an impressive walk, I'll admit.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

The Sword Emperor wrote:

Miscellaneous

Q: Why didn't Nhur Athemon visit the levels below floor 14?
A: This one puzzles me. The book implies that Nhur Athemon has had 10,000 years of occasional activity to do as he pleases, and his focus has always had something to do with the Emerald Spire itself. It's strange that he never explored deep enough to find the root. I believe the book might have hiccupped when explaining when Axis made its visit. Axis had placed a ward on the lower levels, to prevent chaos from invading from below. As written, the book implies that occurred after Nhur Athemon became a lich. More likely, Axis appeared shortly after the Emerald Spire was created. They created the seal, which disguised itself, and Nhur Athemon simply did not notice it at the time - despite his mighty power. In recent centuries, the seal waned - and when Nhur Athemon awoke once again, he noticed the weakened seal. This is what invigorated him to resume his research. He is, in fact, interested in going deeper - he had just previously not had the time, resources, or interest to keep exploring. The idea that somebody had intentionally placed a seal there, however, makes him curious. It's still a somewhat odd idea, and is based on an unexplained line in the text, which says that seeing the seal "suggested a new approach".

Not quite. After the Knights of the Ioun Star defeated Nhur Athemon, they called down powerful mythic curses to bind his form to the specific dungeon level. He can never leave the Throne of Azlant level at all, so after the curse, there is no more personal investigation of the lower levels.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

Jester David wrote:


I assumed the seal was placed before Nhur Athemon became a lich or even came to the spire.
The war between the aboleths and vault builders was prior to Azlant. So the spire would have been created well before, and thus sealed before.

Nhur Athemon might very well been interested in the lowest level but unable to penetrate the epically sealed passage. Some of the 10,000 years of research might have led to his plan to summon extraplanar beings.

Also this.


Logan Bonner wrote:
OwenKane wrote:
I would also be interested in knowing the recommended PC level for each level of the Emerald Spire. I believe it was mentioned in the product thread that each spire level was designed with a certain PC level in mind.

Because Emerald Spire has so many variables (ways to tackle levels out of order, skip entire levels, or gain extra XP awards), I didn't include expected levels. It's meant to be—not a sandbox per se—but a fairly open-ended experience. It can be easy for a party to jump to a challenge significantly higher than their level, especially after they pass the upper levels. So please remember those caveats when looking at the level ranges below!

Dungeon Level/Party Level

Thank you for posting this! I started to compile an XP progression chart using google docs but ran into problems early on when I realized the party can skip levels and that the module awards different amounts of XP depending on how the party handles quests and encounters.


I'm unclear on whether quest XP is meant to be divided amongst the players, or whether that is per player. I imagine it's the former.


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While I'm at it, I'm just going to put the Emerald Spire timeline in this thread; efficiency!

Although the book has a timeline, it is less than a page long and omits some details that GMs may want to know before beginning the adventure.

What follows is my attempt to create a proper timeline. I have given estimates of dates where possible; events within date sections are arranged in roughly chronological order. If you have any additions or corrections, please chime in. I also intend to create a separate thread to discuss some of the adventure's logic.

Those who intend to play in the Emerald Spire Superdungeon should not read the following, as it contains spoilers.

Timeline Begins
Date: Unknown
Events

The Xiomorns, a primeval race of explorers and scientists from the Plane of Earth, lose a battle against the aboleths, and retreat from Golarion.

The Vault Keeper, Iluchtewhar, chooses to remain and attempts to create his own Vault. He is unable to control the power of a Vault Seed, and instead creates the Emerald Spire, which rises up through the earth and penetrates the surface. Iluchtewhar is imprisoned within the spire.

The inhabitants of the Eternal City of Axis, sensing the creation of the Emerald Spire, arrive on Floor 15. They seal off the deepest chambers.

Date: circa 5286
Events

Nhur Athemon, an Azlanti wizard-prince, flees justice. He arrives in Avistan. There, he learns about the Emerald Spire from the natives. He is fascinated by its magical (and in particular, planar) properties. Nhur Athemon erects a green glass tower over the Spire's uppermost point; and dungeons below to access different points of the Spire and experiment on its structure. He begins attempting to turn the Spire into an arcane weapon.

Nhur Athemon becomes a lich.

The Azlanti authorities discover Nhur Athemon's location. They raid his tower and its dungeons, laying them to ruin and destroying Nhur Athemon's body. Nhur Athemon survives thanks to his phylactery. He goes into dormancy, with occasional fits of wakefulness.

Date: pre-2714 AR
Events

Various people, creatures, and organizations begin visiting the Emerald Spire. Those with an interest in culture and history mistakenly believe the Spire itself to be of Azlanti construction.

The Mistress of Thorns takes control of Level 9, the Spire Axis.

Serpentfolk scholars travel through the Darklands and discover the Emerald Spire's subterranean levels. Over the next several thousand years, they intermittently occupy various levels.

The Godbox lands in Level 4.

2,000+ years ago: The evil high priestess Yarrix establishes a lair on Level 11. She is confronted by Carsolis, a champion of Sarenrae, who slays her and seals her in a tomb.

Date: 4214 AR
Events

The goblins of Zog occupy the Emerald Spire's ruins and the surrounding Echo Wood. They execute people by forcing them to brave the Emerald Spire's depths.

Date: Pre-4514 AR
Events

The serpentfolk turned Levels 7 and 8 into a temple, which remains occupied to the present day.

Humans establish various towns near the Emerald Spire, including Thornkeep, Southwood, and Mosswater.

An evil noble takes over Level 3, turning the natural caves into his lair. He studies necromancy until his own demise.

Derros, morlocks, troglodytes, and other creatures begin visiting the Emerald Spire's lower reaches by invading from the Darklands.

Derros enter on floor 8 and move to occupy floors 5 and 6.

Date: 4514 AR
Events

The derros' experiments on floor 5's affinity for water cause it to flood. Sometime thereafter, aquatic animals and undine spellcasters moved in. The serpentfolk of Vissk-Thar eventually turn the undine against their enemies.

Date: Pre-4614 AR
Events

The derros create the Clockwork Maze on Floor 6.

Troglodytes move in from the Darklands and form clans that worship the Godbox.

The morlocks move into Floor 9, where the Mistress of Thorns takes control of them.

Date: post-4684 AR
Events

Chaid DiViri makes expeditions into the Emerald Spire. After several successful expeditions, she finally dies on Level 10, the Magma Vault.

Gorloth, the bone priest, takes over rulership of the Crypt.

Date: 4709 AR
Events

The bugbear Grulk explores the ruins and establishes his own domain.

Date: post-4709 AR
Events

Klarkosh the Numerian Wizard explores the Emerald Spire. He makes a truce with Grulk to protect the entrance to the lower levels for Klarkosh; and similar negotiations with other inhabitants. Klarkosh establishes a lair on Floor 6.

Klarkosh begins experimenting on the Emerald Spire. He discovers a method by which he may harvest shards from the Spire, and inadvertently awakens Iluchtewhar.

Iluchtewhar pulls in creatures from other Vaults and learns how things have changed since his imprisonment.

Nhur Athemon awakens once more, and begins gathering his strength while observing levels near his own lair. He becomes aware of the serpentfolk and Klarkosh. Begins experimenting with methods to revive the dead (and undead) using the shards. Breaks the seal on floor 15, by using proteans. Axis shows up and a pitched battle begins, which becomes a stalemate.

The high priest of Ydersius - Ziszkaa - breeds hatchlings, including Uzar-Kus, who eventually takes over.

Pech, the earth fey, winds up on Level 6, and enters Klarkosh's service.

Date: 4713 AR
Events

Klarkosh begins actively defending his new home against all intruders, including parties of adventurers pursuing their own investigations of the Spire.

Date: 4714 AR
Events

The cleric Tarrin Dars establishes a stronghold on Level 3 of the Emerald Spire.

Sartoss the serpentfolk cleric breaks with his fellows on religious grounds; civil war ensues between levels 7 and 8.

The goblin cleric Skizzertz discovers a discarded automaton, which he begins repairing.

Klarkosh gives a sigil to Skizzertz, instructing him to bring any transport tokens he finds down.

New forms of undead monsters begin plaguing both Thornkeep and Fort Inevitable. Spellcasters report scrying effects from an unknown source brushing aside their normal screens and defenses. Something takes conscious control over the mysterious portals of the Spire Glen, disgorging monsters and capturing travelers far from the Emerald Spire. High Mother Sarise Dremagne of Fort Inevitable divines something about the emblem of a crown above a skull. Lady Commander Drovust seeks adventurers to destroy the "crowned skull".

Several Weeks Ago: Tiawask and Jharun visit the Emerald Spire. They are imprisoned by Klarkosh. Tiawask escapes.

Several days ago: Some intruders make it past the Crypts.

Three days ago (at least): Tiawask dies on Level 14.

Yesterday: Yoc, the xorn, finds the magma chamber, Level 10.

Concurrent: The PCs begin exploring. Iluchtewhar becomes somewhat distracted because of them.

Grand Lodge

Sartoss(pg. 76) has only a -2 for duel wielding rapiers. Seems like the penalty should be worse than that. Any ideas?

The Exchange

sornet wrote:
Q: In 'tactics' section for Grulk you can read 'Once combat begins, Grulk uses the arrow slit to give himself improved cover'. But I cannot see such a slit in the room description... any clue?

the S overlooking the rest of the tower seems appropriate

Silver Crusade

Curious if there's a way to combine the Thornkeep book with the Emerald Spire book. I'm sure with some modifications to either (or both) you could have a really long-lasting Campaign (up to around level 21 perhaps?) Any thoughts on this?

The Exchange

to provide a longer more challenging campaign im running it at medium EXP path. i think ill end up with 5 players. im expecting it to be DEADLY.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

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DarkKnightCuron wrote:
Curious if there's a way to combine the Thornkeep book with the Emerald Spire book. I'm sure with some modifications to either (or both) you could have a really long-lasting Campaign (up to around level 21 perhaps?) Any thoughts on this?

There is a direct, literal link between the Thornkeep level I designed and the Emerald Spire level I designed. That's one potential place to start, or at least to feature prominently.

Paizo Employee Developer

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Bryan Robinett wrote:

Sartoss(pg. 76) has only a -2 for duel wielding rapiers. Seems like the penalty should be worse than that. Any ideas?

Good catch, Bryan. The attack bonuses should be 2 lower for Sartoss's two-weapon fighting attacks.


A couple questions from Level 1: The Tower Ruins
Clanky has a Weakness, called "Magic Dependent". What does that mean?

Grulk has a Special Quality called "Stalker". What does that mean?


I'm having a small editing problem with the PDF version - I can't select or extract the images on p. 33 (trapped chest) or p. 37 (Gorloth). Near as I can tell I can select and copy all other artwork in the book, but these two pictures are being elusive.

I'm using Adobe Reader XI (11.0.07.79), I've also tried using Nuance reader and Foxit reader with no success.

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The Sword Emperor wrote:

A couple questions from Level 1: The Tower Ruins

Clanky has a Weakness, called "Magic Dependent". What does that mean?

Grulk has a Special Quality called "Stalker". What does that mean?

magic dependant is defined on page 154 of the emerald spire book.

stalker is a special ability of bugbears, and is defined under the bugbear entry in the bestiary.


Level 2: The Cellars
At least by the base description, there's nothing to hint that there are traps in those locations. The problem is that most of them are placed in hallways, and the traps are deadly. There's nothing there to suggest to the players that they could make an active Perception roll; and if players fall for it, then they'll start poking around with sticks in every hallway.

The same goes for the various pressure plate traps (less bothersome, as they're in actual rooms; but still). I suggest tossing in something, like pointing out that there's an area where the cobwebs give way; or putting a shiny bauble over a space (which doesn't make sense for the hallway traps; makes them too obvious).


Kudaku wrote:

I'm having a small editing problem with the PDF version - I can't select or extract the images on p. 33 (trapped chest) or p. 37 (Gorloth). Near as I can tell I can select and copy all other artwork in the book, but these two pictures are being elusive.

I'm using Adobe Reader XI (11.0.07.79), I've also tried using Nuance reader and Foxit reader with no success.

For what it's worth, I cannot select any of the drawings with PDF XChange Viewer.


Area H11 is listed as CR6, but there are no traps or creatures listed in the entry.

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