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How Can I Make Vordakai’s Tomb Harder?


Kingmaker


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hello!

Question for all you amazingly helpful people. I'm running Kingmaker, and we're on Book 3 at the moment. My party have just entered Vordakai’s Tomb.

My party consists of a Fighter, a Ranger, a Paladin, and a Wizard, but we have a guest joining us for the next few sessions who is a Monk (a previous player who left for college, but is back for Christmas break and wants to play with us). All level 9.

They have been able to handle just about everything I've thrown at them with little difficulty, and I've done a few things to make the encounters harder by tweaking the monsters and situations a bit, but it's still mostly a breeze for them. I understand that Kingmaker is like that do to there being mostly just one battle a day thing.

However, they're about to go though Vordakai’s Tomb, which is supposed to be difficult, but I have the feeling they'll push past it, especially with the guest Monk. I would like to make the tomb harder without upsetting the balance.

Are there any tips for making this dungeon more difficult? Should I just throw a few more enemies in the rooms? Tweak stats? What do you suggest?

Thanks in advance.


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You could adopt the changes from the 6-player conversion thread (stickied above, but here's a link) if they're really blowing through everything with no sweat and just 4 PCs.

A word of warning, though: the dread zombie cyclopes are pretty deadly in numbers. Flash of insight with a x3 crit weapon and power attack is almost a guaranteed PC-dropper, if not PC-killer.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Spatula wrote:

You could adopt the changes from the 6-player conversion thread (stickied above, but here's a link) if they're really blowing through everything with no sweat and just 4 PCs.

A word of warning, though: the dread zombie cyclopes are pretty deadly in numbers. Flash of insight with a x3 crit weapon and power attack is almost a guaranteed PC-dropper, if not PC-killer.

Yes, I'm aware of how powerful Flash of Insight is. The Paladin is stated for healing and raising the dead (having Ultimate Mercy at lv. 9). I'm not too worried about dropping someone. But I DO want to make it a little more harder, without disrupting the balance of the play.

Thanks for the link, I'll look that over.


KingGramJohnson wrote:

H

Are there any tips for making this dungeon more difficult? Should I just throw a few more enemies in the rooms? Tweak stats? What do you suggest?

Thanks in advance.

Hmmm ... a few ideas:

* I always thought that the single dread zombie cyclops in the valley was kind of anticlimactic. How about if there are some lesser zombies in there?

* Some sort of critters in the lake around the tomb might be suspensful.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
pennywit wrote:
KingGramJohnson wrote:

H

Are there any tips for making this dungeon more difficult? Should I just throw a few more enemies in the rooms? Tweak stats? What do you suggest?

Thanks in advance.

Hmmm ... a few ideas:

* I always thought that the single dread zombie cyclops in the valley was kind of anticlimactic. How about if there are some lesser zombies in there?

* Some sort of critters in the lake around the tomb might be suspensful.

Those fights are already over, unfortunately. And though they were easy, they were fun. The cyclops got the drop on the party, and the wyverns attacked them as they crossed on a boat, making the fight a little more challenging.

The party has just entered the tomb.


KingGramJohnson wrote:
pennywit wrote:
KingGramJohnson wrote:

H

Are there any tips for making this dungeon more difficult? Should I just throw a few more enemies in the rooms? Tweak stats? What do you suggest?

Thanks in advance.

Hmmm ... a few ideas:

* I always thought that the single dread zombie cyclops in the valley was kind of anticlimactic. How about if there are some lesser zombies in there?

* Some sort of critters in the lake around the tomb might be suspensful.

Those fights are already over, unfortunately. And though they were easy, they were fun. The cyclops got the drop on the party, and the wyverns attacked them as they crossed on a boat, making the fight a little more challenging.

The party has just entered the tomb.

Hmm. To start with, there are a LOT of corpses in the place in decorative poses. Have some of them randomly come to life as undead, the more disturbing the better.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

OK, here's a thought:

I don't have the module in front of me, but as I recall they come across at least one warrior in the tomb, maybe even Varn himself. Some more ideas:

* Make one of the townsfolk a blood knight that the players have to duel. During combat, he ought to talk to the players about stuff they've done together, relations between their kingdom, etc. Really try to get inside their heads.

* Swap out some of the vanilla undead for Dread variants.

* A room full of cannibal children, led by a child with suitable class levels. Not incredibly challenging, but really friggin' creepy.

* Some haunts can add some flavor to Vordakai's tomb.

* A Tooth Fairy Vampire Swashbuckler.

* Vordakai has a scrying pool, and can watch the PCs, if I recall correctly. Give him a force of low-level undead -- skeletal warriors, bloody skeletons, zombies, whatever. Keep a count on them. When the players start to rest, the sends one of those buggers to kite the players into a big monster. The second time, the players won't follow ... so he'll lead one of the big monster toward the players. This keeps them from recharging.

Now, here's an idea for the final battle. Let's change it up.

* The Big V should have some suitable minions. I kind of like the idea that they enter his chamber, and it's festooned with a bunch of corpses hanging from the ceiling. These are hanged men, former citizens of Varnhold that Vordakai got bored with. At CR 2 each, they're not much of a challenge for level 9 adventurers. Which is a good thing. They're there to slow the PCs down. Slap the Advanced template on them, perhaps, and have them use Aid Another to help each other hit the PCs. Also, add in some giant phantom armor, and some ghouls with unusual touches (advanced, class levels, what have you) that swarm over the players.

* At the other end of the throne chamber is the Big V himself. A great cyclops. He rants. He raves. He casts spells. But here's the secret: He is actually a decoy!!! That's right. It's a really Vordakai's ghoul-friend!! A cyclops ghoul necromancer, maybe 7th-8th level, who puts up a little bit of a fight alongside the minions, but he falls rather quickly.

* And then ... VORDAKAI REVEALS HIMSELF!!! He was hiding behind a secret door all along!!! Dun-dun-DUN!!!!

Presumably, your players have already wasted their alpha strike, and now they face the Big V. And he's fresh and ready to go!!! Now, you have two choices:

The Ultimate Fight of Ultimate Destiny. Vordakai attacks, and there's a gigantic battle, run pretty much as in the book, but with the PCs weakened from the first wave of the fight.

Or ...

Follow that Cyclops!!! The battle begins, but Vordakai laughs as they fight. Three to four rounds in, he speaks. "Puny, yet arrogant mortals! You would invade this tomb!! Set yourself against Vordakai, the greatest necromancer of the Cycopean Empire!!! Your are fools. You strike at me here ... yet your strong places are unguarded!!! Since you would assault my home, let us see how you will take it if I assault your own!!!"

Vordakai casts Dimension Door!! This takes him to the outside of his tomb. There, he leaps aboard a waiting steed (perhaps a skeletal giant mammoth or a zombie roc) and he's off!!!

Cue the chase sequence. If you use the generic chase scene rules, I recommend setting up two or three different courses the players can take, and running them through the cards. Paizo makes chase cards, but they can be underwhelming for higher-level characters. Create some of your own. Players have to work their way through the cards if they want to catch up to Vordakai and take him down. If Vordakai gets to the end of the chase cards, then he heads for the players' nearest settlement to wreak havoc.

In the alternative, you can use the Pursuit rules from Ultimate Intrigue, which envision a chase over several hexes.

Personally, I think you should use both. Give players a chance to catch up to Vordakai in the fast-paced chase. If they don't catch him, then they can switch over to pursuit. In this scenario, Vordakai is going to meander a bit. He's still after the players' settlement, but he'll go elsewhere (maybe to the giant Linnorm Skeleton or to the silver dragon's lair) to animate dead to back him up in an assault.

Now, if your players are thinking like rulers (rather than adventurers), then the party wizard might still have a teleport spell left over. If he does, he might do the smart thing and teleport the party back to a settlement so they can recharge and resupply. If they do this rather than chase Vordakai, then he should go silent for a couple weeks of game time. While your players do whatever (kingdom build, etc.), Vordakai's going to gather his own forces. Basically, anything that the players haven't killed or allied with is fair game. The Linnorm skeleton and the dragon's remains. The bulette. The spider-things. Any leftover Spriggans. Hell, he might even pick up mites, kobolds, trolls ... anybody with a mad-on for the players.

Now, you've got another epic battle brewing. Vordakai's makeshift army will pore into your players' settlement, and they'll have to rally whatever forces they can to stop him. If your players haven't recruited armies yet, you can give them some generic warriors to pit against Vordakai's fortress. Meanwhile ... the party can battle the Big V himself (with a zombie steed if he has it) in the streets of their own town!!!!

If you don't want to get into mass combat, then Vordakai can recruit some individual critters that run rampant in town and that the players have to corral at the same time that Vordakai wreaks havoc on the civilians.

If Vordakai attacks publicly and puts the players to rout ... if the citizens see Vordakai defeat their heroes ... thats 1d4 unrest for each defeat he deals them, I think.


And, one more thing. Consider looking up some alternate spells for Vordakai. Horror Adventures, especially, has some real doozies. Hunger for Flesh looks especially interesting.


Add in a cyclops grave knight with levels in anti-paladin, and give Vordakai a spellcaster level or two, and have him have created a simulacrum before he became the super weakened lich he is. Have him animate or create undead from the PC's former foes or even current friends. Summon up another dergohdaemon. Have the King of Pitax contact Vrolikai and set up an evil group of counter adventurers in the service of the king.


You can also take a look at these undead cyclops lieutenants I came up with. I gave them each a bunch of regular zombie cyclops for minions, and then ended up as decent threats. The graveknight was the most deadly, though, by a long shot. That is a killer template. Well, he was also riding the animated linnorm skeleton from hex "R", which might have contributed to the deadliness...

Vordakai's Heralds


Have there be a supernaturally dark room in which there live a bunch of wraiths. Several constitution drains later and the PCs will be regretting not having someone who can heal energy drain.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
pennywit wrote:

OK, here's a thought:

I don't have the module in front of me, but as I recall they come across at least one warrior in the tomb, maybe even Varn himself. Some more ideas:

Wow! There's some great stuff here. The party is slowly making their way though the tomb. I've made it a little hard based on some of the suggestions I've read on this thread so far, and it's been fun. The river trap almost killed them all. Only some quick and reckless thinking by the wizard saved their lives.

I'm excited to see how things go for them going forward.

Thanks for the help, everyone!


Uh ...

Spoiler:
As already mentioned, there are some energy draining undead nasties awaiting them. Move them into supporting positions along with the aforementioned screen of mooks in his lair.

Hopefully, your Big V has been taking notes about the intruders ...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
The Mad Comrade wrote:

Uh ...

** spoiler omitted **

Oh, yes he has. ;-)


KingGramJohnson wrote:
pennywit wrote:

OK, here's a thought:

I don't have the module in front of me, but as I recall they come across at least one warrior in the tomb, maybe even Varn himself. Some more ideas:

Wow! There's some great stuff here. The party is slowly making their way though the tomb. I've made it a little hard based on some of the suggestions I've read on this thread so far, and it's been fun. The river trap almost killed them all. Only some quick and reckless thinking by the wizard saved their lives.

I'm excited to see how things go for them going forward.

Thanks for the help, everyone!

Not a problem. It's why we're here. I'd really like to know if you use the chase or the Decoy Vordakai gambit.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
pennywit wrote:
KingGramJohnson wrote:
pennywit wrote:

OK, here's a thought:

I don't have the module in front of me, but as I recall they come across at least one warrior in the tomb, maybe even Varn himself. Some more ideas:

Wow! There's some great stuff here. The party is slowly making their way though the tomb. I've made it a little hard based on some of the suggestions I've read on this thread so far, and it's been fun. The river trap almost killed them all. Only some quick and reckless thinking by the wizard saved their lives.

I'm excited to see how things go for them going forward.

Thanks for the help, everyone!

Not a problem. It's why we're here. I'd really like to know if you use the chase or the Decoy Vordakai gambit.

I'm not 100% sure I'll use those just yet, but I'll inform you all of how it goes.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I did a quick read through the KM Obituaries thread and counted 54 PCs KIA within Vordakai's island, with maybe a dozen or so more from the island back down to the Valley of the Dead. Our party of 5 also lost the Queen's Consort, the Staglord of Moreland (a paladin of Erastil), and I think the Lord General, a half-orc barbarian.

Our Magistar, a human wizard, who later replaced the Fellnight Queen, was a HUGE souleater magnet. She came close to biting it half a dozen times, and was the main reason it took our party nearly a week of in game time to hack our way through it.

Vordakai's island is one of the most lethal parts of KM. I suggest you do a read through of the KM Obituaries and note those areas where most of the fatalities occurred. Play those areas intelligently with no fudging.

Don't let them rest within the island anywhere. Make teleporting into and out of the island random, but within normal. Reset the entrance traps and monsters, or have new ones feeding off the old ones. More dread zombies can always be returning to the island from errands.

Lots of good stuff in this thread too!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Here's the aforementioned promised report on how things are going so far in my "made a little harder" tomb.

First of all, you must realize that my players are paranoid all the time, so they tend to over think things, and thus come to clever solutions. Here are some of the changes I made to the tomb:

- I made it so that one could not teleport into or out of the tomb without difficulty. If attempted, there was only a 20% chance of getting though, otherwise you get teleported to a random room (if you're already in the tomb). If you wanted to teleport properly, you have to leave the tomb (this does not include dimension door).

- I tweaked some of the encounters to make them a little more challenging for my players, which I told them ahead of time that I would do, and they were fine with that.

- I added an extra element to the boss fight, in the form of a champion, because I believe Vordakai alone would be too easy for my players (if you disagree, you don't know my party. Having faced Vordakai myself as a player, I believed that, though the tomb was hard, the litch himself wasn't too difficult with our party build, which is similar to the build of the party I'm running currently.)

- I added a haunt to a certain part of the tomb that triggered if they slept there.

On to the report Note, my players have not yet finished the tomb.

The party entered the tomb found the tar pit and decided NOT to go that way as they have four PCs and one animal companion. My wizard is greedy and didn't want to waste an extra charge of his wand of dimension door on the large wolf and the ratfolk monk (the guest player). Not to mention the noxious fumes of the tar was getting them sick. So they went around to the other entrance and quickly dispersed with the few dread zombie cyclops that were there.

They continued on and it was business as usual until they reached the river trap room. I made a small change here too, the portcullises were sold rather than with bars like a normal portcullis is (like I said, my party is clever, I knew this wouldn't trip them up too much).

They triggered the trap, the water started pouring in, the zombies came at them and the eel started to attack. Panicked, they quickly got into formation to execute Order 66, which is their code word for a blind use of dimension door. He was able to get himself, the rogue, fighter, and paladin out, though they did take some damage from popping into the wall first. The wizard left the wolf and monk behind, now in darkness, with rising water and enemies.

The wizard popped back into the room using dimension door again and made it through without damage this time. Fighting off the zombies and eel, the wizard was able to touch the monk and the wolf and made his concentration check and got out, over all the whole thing took about five rounds.

From there, the party continued on, got through the Stygian Fires trap with some good them working together on knowledge skills. They continued on to the guard chamber where they encountered the piscodaemon, who challenged them. After talking to it for a moment, the paladin smote it, and the creature was difficult to attack, its stinking cloud obscuring the area and nauseating most of the party. But they survived and were able to kill the creature.

They found Xamanthe and used remove paralysis on her. She told them how she was captured and asked for them to help her out. That’s when the party decided to get some sleep. They were running low on spells and whatnot, and a lot of them were still a little hurt. But first, the wizard wanted to leave and get some more supplies from their kingdom, but he couldn’t teleport out, lucky for him he didn’t end up going anywhere he hadn’t been before.

So they decided to get Xamanthe out after they slept, and pick up the supplies and come back. So they slept…where the haunt was, were the trigger was sleep (I created the haunt myself). After being woken up by the haunt, taking damage, and learning what it was, but not how to exactly to destroy it, they used enough positive energy to disable it. The next hour it woke them up again. The ran past it’s reach and the haunt ended. But they ran into the room with the soul eaters, which attacked when they entered the room. The wizard was nearly killed and dropped to 0 WIS. The wizard unconscious, the party on their last leg, decided to hunker down and sleep, keeping watch of course.

I had mercy and nothing else attacked them that night. But now they couldn’t rely on the wizard, who after getting some sleep had a WIS of 1, and played it very well, I have to give his player applause. They checked out the rest of the area and found the eye sculpture room (where Vordakai will go if he needs to heal up). Disturbed by the eye sculpture, they wanted to destroy it, but short of hitting it a million times, they didn’t have much of an option with their wizard barely fictional.

The paladin, the wizard, and the centaur decided to leave the group in the tomb and go back to get supplies and get some restoration potions for the wizard. They split the party. The had to fight their way past the wizard zombie in the tar pit room as they used potions of fly to get across the pit (the paladin guided the wizard though the air).

Xamanthe left for her tribe, and the paladin found a way to get the wizard to teleport them to their capital city where they quickly got him restored, bought what they needed, then teleported back to the island and reentered the tomb, fought their way past the zombie wizard again and killed him in the process, and proceeded to find the group

The other group. Just sat and waited, and killed some dread zombie cyclopes that came after them. Once back together, they want back to the room with the eye sculpture, the wizard figured out that it was a teleportation circle, and the group opted to destroy it. It took them a while, but they eventually broke it.

That’s when the paladin felt a spike of evil and dread. Vordakai’s eye was cracked, he’s pissed, and now he’s going to go after them, which will happen next week when we meet.

So far, very exciting!


Sounds fun so far.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Here's the continuation of the story, sorry it took a while. We didn't meet for a couple of weeks.

The party continue to explore the dungeon, but they are unaware that they are being stalked by Vordakai and his Champion. They entered the feast hall and deal with the zombies in there.

Vordakai heard the commotion in the other room and decided to wait until their battle was over because the zombies could soften them up for him. Once that battle was over, he and his Champion used dimension door to get the drop on them. Challenged them for coming into his home and disturbing him, then they attacked.

The battle ended up being tough. The Champion ended up smiting the paladin and eventually killing him (they threw his body in a bag of holding to raise later), and the guest player, the monk was also killed, but the player was returning to school, and so they didn't plan on raising him. Player logic.

The wizard got the best of ol' Vordie by hitting him a with a calcific touch spell, which the Lich then dispelled, but the wizard used his staff to recast it on him. He dropped pretty low in DEX and escaped with dimension door to heal up and wait for them to come to him again.

The party moved on, killed the elemental in the pool, then entered the throne room, where Vordakai attacked them again.

He almost killed their fighter, but she managed to survive, and they killed him. They raided the place and found all the treasures and soul jars.

Then the wizard and fighter discussed for about 30 minutes whether or not to sell the soul jars with or without souls. Their ranger was checking the room for more treasure and secrets and didn't hear the discussion, and the paladin was dead at the moment and couldn't chime in on the conversation. They eventually settled on finding someone in the black market and try to sell the souls secretly. That should add a level of fun to the game I wasn't anticipating. *GM grin*

Anyway, thank you everyone for the advice.


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Quote:
They eventually settled on finding someone in the black market and try to sell the souls secretly.

The Witchmarket might come in handy for this. If you plan to introduce an intrigue element into future modules (see the Kingmaker Clue thread for an example), then a rumor (with proof!) that the nobles deal in the enslavement of souls will be a very, very nice source of unrest.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
pennywit wrote:
Quote:
They eventually settled on finding someone in the black market and try to sell the souls secretly.
The Witchmarket might come in handy for this. If you plan to introduce an intrigue element into future modules (see the Kingmaker Clue thread for an example), then a rumor (with proof!) that the nobles deal in the enslavement of souls will be a very, very nice source of unrest.

I have plans in my head for how the whole thing will go down, depending on how the party will want to approach it. One way or the other, it should be fun.


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Have the purchasers be fey, not outsiders. It can tie back in to Nyrissa eventually...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
tonyz wrote:
Have the purchasers be fey, not outsiders. It can tie back in to Nyrissa eventually...

That's actually what I was thinking of doing. Any suggestions on what type of fey they meet with to make the drop off? I was looking at the list and wondering which one would make the best contraband dealer. Haha.


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Pick one that looks interesting to you and that you're likely to run again (re-using monsters saves lots of GM time and energy). Look at book 6 for inspiration, maybe the huntsman or the witch.


One small trick I like, especially for larger parties, is raising monster max hp. I don't mean adding a template or anything, I just mean looking at the underlying HD+CON and then working out what range what would be better than the assumed "no rolls, average hp". After all, if PCs can roll above average for their hp, why not monsters?

*For a beefier monster, try 2/3rds or even 3/4ths of the theoretical max hp, or if you want a miniboss, just max the hp and move on.

It works especially well when a monster is in the right power band where adding levels/templates/stat buffs would make it hit too often/hard/etc. whereas adding more hp allows that baddie to stick around an extra round or two and have a chance of getting to use its nasty attacks and abilities against those pesky PCs.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
tonyz wrote:
Pick one that looks interesting to you and that you're likely to run again (re-using monsters saves lots of GM time and energy). Look at book 6 for inspiration, maybe the huntsman or the witch.

That's a good idea, and it'll fit into what I'm planning already. I might do that.

I'm just curious to see how my players are going to handle the situation if it goes south quickly.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I want to continue the story of what happened after Vordaki's Tomb, as it was very interesting and made for some wonderful role playing.

So, two members of the party, the fighter and the wizard, decided to actually sell all the filled soul jars. Now the book does mention that when you sell the soul jars, you get 1d6 points of unrest per jar sold if caught as well as an alignment drop, however, it didn't say how all of that can happen, meaning I had to come up with something.

I searched the internet and forums to see if there were any stories of other Kingmaker campaigns who went through the process of selling the filled soul jars, but I couldn’t really find much (if anyone knows where some of those stories might be, let me know, I’m curious of what other groups may have done differently). Since I couldn’t find anything to draw inspiration from, I had to figure it out on my own.

I spent two weeks developing a 16 page side quest solely dedicated to the sale of the filled soul jars. I provided the party with a slim, but still possible chance of walking away with 215,000 gp, or watching the kingdom fall into ruin. I had different aspects of the selling process add to or subtract from their percentage to fail, which would be rolled once a month during Event Phase. If they did everything right, their chance would be lower than if they messed up. Without going into great detail, here is the basic rundown of how it went.

This is what happened, spoiler for length:
The wizard and fighter (the only two members of the party who risked it all to sell people’s souls) asked someone they trusted who dealt in shady stuff (he had helped the party sell shady items in the past). He told them the name of someone in the black market that might know someone who would buy souls (by the way, they lied to this person and told him they were trying to catch someone selling soul, not that they were selling them.)

Using magic to disguise themselves and careful planning, they found the fellow in the black market, and after gaining his trust and telling him how many of the jars they were looking to sell, (43 of them), he agreed to put them in touch with someone who would buy souls.

He met with them the next night and introduced them to a drow who did not speak common, he was the quality control man, there to make sure they were on the level and what they were selling was pure for the buyer. He inspected one of the soul jars, and impressed with how fresh the soul was, told them that he could guarantee that the buyer would take them off their hands at full price, 5,000 gp a pop. The drow even promised not to try to haggle or undersell them because of how valuable the jars were.

Soon after that, still disguised, they met with the buyer, The Horned Hunter (thank you, @tonyz, for the idea). He looked at the product himself, and then went over his terms with them. He could buy 3 that night, but the rest would have to be bought in 5 or 10 jar batches each month for monetary sake. He couldn’t buy all 43 jars right then. If they agreed to the 5 jars each month plan, it would be safer, but they would have the jars for longer period of time. With the 5 jar per month plan, they can have all of them sold within 8 months. If they chose the 10 per month plan, they could get rid of them in only 4 months, but it would be a lot riskier (higher percentage on the chance to fail and have their kingdom fall).

After given some time to talk and think it over the fighter and wizard decided to go for the slower, but safer option. Before they sold the three that evening the satyr asked them if they were sure they wanted to do this, that selling souls was nasty business, there was no going back. They agreed and made their first transaction, earning them their alignment change to NE for the selling of the souls of Varnhold.

Over the next seven months they would meet with the satyr in different locations, but keeping the same disguises. At each drop, they would exchange the souls for the money, 25,000 gp each drop. A few of the drops were little mini adventures on their own that I made up on the fly. My favorite was when they had to make an exchange inside the VIP room of a brothel with a service girl in the room with them while it went down. It was fun. They decided to hold onto the money from each drop until all the soul jars were sold.

Meanwhile, the kingdom Spymaster (and one of the other PCs, a Ranger) started to hear of some highly illegal things being moved out of the country. And despite his efforts, was failing to get a good lead because the wizard and fighter were really good at hiding their tracks and keeping themselves hidden at each drop.

The Ruler (the paladin) couldn’t figure out what was going on either, and even his detect evil was being masked by magic rings the wizard made to keep themselves hidden. Out of character, they of course knew what was going on, but in character they were having trouble figuring it out.

All was going well, but there was always that chance that everything was going to blow up in their face. Every month during the Event Phase I would roll to see if their soul trade operation was discovered. They almost got away with it. After their seventh month, after 38 of the jars were sold, and having only one more drop left, it all crumbled and fell.

I rolled and the number was not in their favor. They were so close to getting away with it and making BANK. Anyway, in character, they were woken up by their Royal Assassin telling them to get into the council chamber, as it’s the safest place in the castle. It’s where the Large Council meets (in our campaign the Large Council is the full kingdom leadership, and the Small Council is the party alone). As they’re ushered into the chamber, they can hear uproar happening outside the castle.

Their Royal Assassin told them that the country was in chaos; it was complete anarchy. They were told that a drow arrived in Olegton and started screaming about how the wizard and the fighter in the Small Council were selling souls (despite their disguises, the satyr knew who they were due to magic items). The satyr showed up and killed the drow for betraying him, then left. This gave legitimacy to what the drow was saying. Word spread like wildfire and the people revolted. The unrest they generated was 38d6. Minimum roll is well over 20, the number needed for anarchy.

An interparty fight broke out when the wizard and the fighter tried to escape/get out of the situation, resulting in an interesting encounter, the paladin’s wife falling victim to the wizard’s magic jar spell, the eventual death of the paladin’s wife, the wizard escaping with the Oculus of Abaddon, a summoned a piscodaemon, the fighter in prison, and their paladin Ruler unsure if he wants to continue ruling.

Normally, complete anarchy means game over for this AP, but I decided to give them the option to walk away and let the Stolen Lands claim their country like it’s claimed so many others (game over, and move on to something else), become tyrants and force the people to submit, or work with the people to bring peace (the two keep playing options, with some new characters needing to be brought in to replace the wizard, fighter, and possibly the paladin too).

Overall it was a blast to run, and I’m proud of the adventure I had to write up for it. It was a neat scenario that dealt with keeping secrets from the rest of the party, and even a legit party fight.

I plan on doing something with the souls they sold (something later on to remind them that this happened), and obviously the satyr will return. It will take them a little time to recover from this, and bring their kingdom back to order, but I think it’ll be fun to see how they climb out of this hole they dug themselves into.

Thanks for reading!


Well done! That was good and it gives me some inspiration for how to deal with that particular problem if any of my players decide to sell the soul jars. :)

CB


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Canadian Bakka wrote:

Well done! That was good and it gives me some inspiration for how to deal with that particular problem if any of my players decide to sell the soul jars. :)

CB

Thanks! It was a long road. They ended up finding a way to keep most of the money anyway. Not too shabby for them. The loot they get for a while might be lessened.


I'm necroying this because I'm setting up my KM campaign.

I was under the impression that undead were immune to calcific touch since it both does ability damage to physical stats (which they are immune to) and requires a fort save (and works on creatures only).

Unless I'm missing something?

If you're still running the campaign, an idea I've had for mine is to have "scandal cards", where I write down every ignoble thing the party does on cards, and this deck of shame can be accessed by npc's (such as that bard lady from pitax or the king of pitax himself trying to run a smutt campaign before the war) in order to attempt to reveal them to the PC's populace.

Selling 50 souls on the black market is worth around 100 or 200 unrest if I'm not mistaken? That's a pretty devastating scandal, whatever the alignment of the kingdom (even a CE kingdom will be outraged at something like that)


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Nvm, you handled it like a champ :-). Hadn't read the spoilers


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
AlastarOG wrote:

I'm necroying this because I'm setting up my KM campaign.

I was under the impression that undead were immune to calcific touch since it both does ability damage to physical stats (which they are immune to) and requires a fort save (and works on creatures only).

Unless I'm missing something?

No, that was a mistake I had made. The spell shouldn't have worked on him. But everything worked out alright, so I'm not too worried about it.

And yes, we're still running. The party is currently trying to liberate Fort Drelev. We put Kingmaker aside for a while, and just picked it back up.


Wooh! Fort drelev sounds fun.

How did they recover from the social uprising?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

They ended up holed up in their castle as the people in their capital city (and the rest of the cities once they heard) raged and rioted. After the wizard escaped, the fighter was captured and exiled, and the paladin ruler left (his pregnant wife was killed in the wizard/fighter betrayal fight, and he was able to raise her with Ultimate Mercy, but not the baby in her womb, and he decided to give up rulership and leave to make a new life with his wife. Meaning this whole situate caused three new characters to be rolled up), the ranger was the only one left to take over rulership. But before the paladin left, he called for a representative of the people to come to the castle and meet with him and the council to solve the issue.

They came to a peaceful compromise, which included an elected commoner to sit on the council to keep an eye on the ruling government. Then they had to slowly win back the trust of the people, regain their lost territory, and all that stuff. With a few well placed half-truths, the small council (the party) was able to keep about 90% of the money made from the selling of the souls (over 200,000 gp), because the ranger wasn't in on the whole thing and didn't know what was the money from the souls and what wasn't (all half truths). Basically, the party found a clever way to keep the money under the guise of ignorance. So they used that to help rebuild, and pay for new shiny stuff. Once everything was back to normal, Drelev attacked.

The month long riots from the selling of the souls became known as the "Days of Chaos", and their country is known for being the one who had human souls being trafficked by the rulership without the Duke knowing about it. It stained their reputation.

Like I said before, I have plans for bring the souls back into play somewhere near the end of the adventure. They players are going to have to face the consequences of those souls they sold beyond the uprising.

Needless to say, now, a year and a half (or so) in game time has passed since the uprising, and they've recovered, but the people still remember what happened, and the country's reputation is forever tarnished.


KingGramJohnson wrote:

They ended up holed up in their castle as the people in their capital city (and the rest of the cities once they heard) raged and rioted. After the wizard escaped, the fighter was captured and exiled, and the paladin ruler left (his pregnant wife was killed in the wizard/fighter betrayal fight, and he was able to raise her with Ultimate Mercy, but not the baby in her womb, and he decided to give up rulership and leave to make a new life with his wife. Meaning this whole situate caused three new characters to be rolled up), the ranger was the only one left to take over rulership. But before the paladin left, he called for a representative of the people to come to the castle and meet with him and the council to solve the issue.

They came to a peaceful compromise, which included an elected commoner to sit on the council to keep an eye on the ruling government. Then they had to slowly win back the trust of the people, regain their lost territory, and all that stuff. With a few well placed half-truths, the small council (the party) was able to keep about 90% of the money made from the selling of the souls (over 200,000 gp), because the ranger wasn't in on the whole thing and didn't know what was the money from the souls and what wasn't (all half truths). Basically, the party found a clever way to keep the money under the guise of ignorance. So they used that to help rebuild, and pay for new shiny stuff. Once everything was back to normal, Drelev attacked.

The month long riots from the selling of the souls became known as the "Days of Chaos", and their country is known for being the one who had human souls being trafficked by the rulership without the Duke knowing about it. It stained their reputation.

Like I said before, I have plans for bring the souls back into play somewhere near the end of the adventure. They players are going to have to face the consequences of those souls they sold beyond the uprising.

Needless to say, now, a year and a half (or so) in game time has passed since...

Hehe, that's nice to know ^^ I'll keep it in mind once my evil party gets to the big V :)


KingGramJohnson wrote:


Like I said before, I have plans for bring the souls back into play somewhere near the end of the adventure. They players are going to have to face the consequences of those souls they sold beyond the uprising.

I think a vilderavn might be appropriate here.

The Raven's Plot:
Perhaps you could handwave the vilderavn's soul eater and fate warden abilities to allow him to access and use the souls imprisoned in those gems.

This gives him the ability to impersonate any of the poor, unfortunate citizens of Varnhold whose souls were sold. These citizens, of course, should have some surviving relatives within the kingdom who could be manipulated by the unscrupulous vilderavn.

He grants some of these people a boon -- he can fashion cunning [soulbound dolls](http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/constructs/doll-soulboun d/) identical to the people whose souls he has stolen, and containing a portion of their souls. Those living in the kingdom have some piece of their loved ones back, and a constant reminder that their rulers trafficked in those souls.

Additionally, the vilderavn places such people under a gaes not to tell where they got the dolls. Even more fun: The vilderavn is quite familiar with the dolls, so he can scry on them easily. On top of that, the dolls still take orders from the vilderavn and/or his witchy ally. Also fun: The dolls use Suggestion (or another enchantment of your choice) to slowly turn citizens against their rulers.

All of this should be done secretly.

At some point, the vilderavn should replace somebody on the council -- one of the NPCs -- and apparently serve the PCs loyally.

The vilderavn himself should make his first appearance somewhere around Lake Hooktongue as a hard-bitten survivor of the Iron Wraiths who offers to help the PCs take down Armag. He should be quite helpful. Somewhere along the line, either this new mercenary leader or the PCs' council member should be exposed as a "traitor" by the other. Either way, the PCs get to eliminate a threat and have a trustworthy "ally" behind them.

Until ... late in War for the River Kings. Sometime while the PCs are battling in Pitax, the vilderavn will move on one of the PCs' cities (maybe even their capital!), conquer it, and make it his own. This could take one of several scenarios:

1) He could foment revolt against the PCs, building on the soulbound dolls' presence -- mementos of the small council's great crime against their people. In this case, he'd act as a demagogue.

2) The dolls, once put into place, can Dominate key people in the kingdom, causing them to sabotage the players. (I know the dolls, as written, don't have dominate. But you can modify them to your taste).

3) The vilderavn could conquer the kingdom with his army of soulbound dolls.

To make this really, fun, maybe the vilderavn, in his kingdom ruler persona, defends the rulers in such a way that he makes them look worse. "It was their right to traffic in these souls, and did you not, as members of the kingdom, profit from this trade?" And perhaps he foments rebellion in another persona.

Or maybe multiple citizens, under dollish influence, rebel.

Basically, the vilderavn's goal is to throw the kingdom into political chaos at the exact worst moment.

Other notes:

* I like soulbound dolls for the creepy factor, but a [soulbound mannequin](http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/constructs/soulbound-man nequin/) is also a possibility. Especially if there's a whole army of them. A [soulbound shell](http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/constructs/soulbound-she ll/) might make a good miniboss.

* If you're feeling less intrigue-y and more marshal-y, you could pull a page from Jade Empire and go with an army of golems powered by souls.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
pennywit wrote:
KingGramJohnson wrote:


Like I said before, I have plans for bring the souls back into play somewhere near the end of the adventure. They players are going to have to face the consequences of those souls they sold beyond the uprising.

I think a vilderavn might be appropriate here.

** spoiler omitted **...

Those are some neat ideas, but I already have a plan in place. It fits in with who bought them and why.


pennywit wrote:
KingGramJohnson wrote:


Like I said before, I have plans for bring the souls back into play somewhere near the end of the adventure. They players are going to have to face the consequences of those souls they sold beyond the uprising.

I think a vilderavn might be appropriate here.

** spoiler omitted **...

I have a vilderavn villain in my game, he's going to be the shadow operator (see my other thread about pathfinder kingmaker storyline extended)

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