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The Lost Outpost (GM Reference)


Ruins of Azlant

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Kate Baker wrote:

Welp, now it has a name. Karl the ankheg.

I have the best players.

That's excellent!

My PCs befriended the one of the Monkey Goblins from the smith's forge, and have nominated Harcourt Carrolby as Ambassador to Goblins™.

They were considering taming the Ankheg, but one of them decided they couldn't do it after it took a healthy bite out of him. :(


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I'm using FantasyGrounds to run this AP, so we needed a few extra battle maps. I drew these up in DungeonPainter; not the prettiest maps in the world but are serviceable in a pinch:

Hopefully I made those links public. Let me know if you can't access.


HedwickTheWorldly wrote:
<snip> Does she know Ochymua's name? Does she know what he is? I'm reluctant to spill too much, because I don't want to mess with the 2nd book and all of the secret stuff happening, but I also want to reward them somehow for their line of questioning. Thoughts?

Yeah. Great situation to be in because (as DM) you can really build up the sinister and mysterious nature of Ochymua through the questioning of Eliza.

First, i guess just keep in mind Zone of Truth doesn't compel the target to speak, it just prevents intentional lies. So, Eliza can refuse to speak, or she can be evasive in her responses, if you want to run it that way. Also, if she does speak, she would only tell the truth as she knows it, which doesn't have to match up with reality. As an option, you could chose to portray her fanatical devotion to Ochymua where she responds to the PCs questioning in grand praise for her malevolent master.

Next, Ochymua's domination doesn't give Eliza any insights into Ochymua's thoughts (and vice versa), so Eliza would only know what Ochymua chose to tell her (or show her) whenever it initially dominated her (and during its refresh sessions). It probably wouldn't have given her its name, and it certainly wouldn't have revealed what it is or any of its plans to her (or Arkley). But, clearly, it gave her some kind of information because she saw something (power, charismatic attraction, etc.) in Ochymua which caused her to give herself willingly to it. Perhaps it presented itself to her as the object of her deepest desires, perhaps it simply posed as "the island" (see Jacob/Smoke Monster from Lost or The Island from the Dresden series), or maybe it falsely promised her fantastic rewards in return for her service.

Lastly, don't forget that according to her motivations and the alt ending on page 54 that whether under domination or not, Eliza will try to identify the most powerful colonists and get that information to the skum raiders at the first opportunity. So, if the PCs were to somehow compel her to talk about her plans, this might be revealed under the ZoT spell.

Very interesting possibilities!


Ted wrote:
HedwickTheWorldly wrote:
<snip> Does she know Ochymua's name? Does she know what he is? I'm reluctant to spill too much, because I don't want to mess with the 2nd book and all of the secret stuff happening, but I also want to reward them somehow for their line of questioning. Thoughts?

Yeah. Great situation to be in because (as DM) you can really build up the sinister and mysterious nature of Ochymua through the questioning of Eliza.

First, i guess just keep in mind Zone of Truth doesn't compel the target to speak, it just prevents intentional lies. So, Eliza can refuse to speak, or she can be evasive in her responses, if you want to run it that way. Also, if she does speak, she would only tell the truth as she knows it, which doesn't have to match up with reality. As an option, you could chose to portray her fanatical devotion to Ochymua where she responds to the PCs questioning in grand praise for her malevolent master.

Next, Ochymua's domination doesn't give Eliza any insights into Ochymua's thoughts (and vice versa), so Eliza would only know what Ochymua chose to tell her (or show her) whenever it initially dominated her (and during its refresh sessions). It probably wouldn't have given her its name, and it certainly wouldn't have revealed what it is or any of its plans to her (or Arkley). But, clearly, it gave her some kind of information because she saw something (power, charismatic attraction, etc.) in Ochymua which caused her to give herself willingly to it. Perhaps it presented itself to her as the object of her deepest desires, perhaps it simply posed as "the island" (see Jacob/Smoke Monster from Lost or The Island from the Dresden series), or maybe it falsely promised her fantastic rewards in return for her service.

Lastly, don't forget that according to her motivations and the alt ending on page 54 that whether under domination or not, Eliza will try to identify the most powerful colonists and get that information to the skum raiders at the first opportunity. So, if...

That's great insight, thank you! She ended up not giving away a name, just that she opened the stasis chamber because there was a person trapped inside, and doesn't remember what happened to her after that. I went the "atonement" route, since the dominate had ended, and they sent her home on a supply ship, which is really the best of all possible worlds - now I'm not sure if I want her to muck around with people in Almas, or come back on a later boat to be with Ochymua. They were definitely left with the feeling that *something* malevolent was at work, but not necessarily what its nature is. I think 2 of my players know OOC what the slime is all about, but they're pretty good about not metagaming.


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Kate Baker wrote:

Welp, now it has a name. Karl the ankheg.

I have the best players.

Dang. I thought about Kate's players while running two separate groups through the ankheg encounters this weekend, and....no such luck. None of my players are bug-friendly and slaughtered nymphs and mama on sight. One group did take a monkey-goblin as prisoner (both groups have taken to calling them 'gunkies'). The 'pet' gunky is tied up and lashed to the saddle of their riding dog. None of them speak goblin, but since they left him un-gagged the thing shouts unintelligible insults at any opportunity and makes a general ruckus whenever they want to be stealthy.

I may not have the best players, but I find them entertaining, at least.

Order of the Amber Die

I loved all of the conversation about the final encounter on here, it greatly helped me, and I wanted to offer my experiences with it just two days ago. This can be a fascinating ending with a lot of potential, but one that I'd recommend GMs read several times through before running. I called a break just after the library fight, and used our group mealtime to prepare one last time to pull off this ruse. The more a GM pauses and looks down at the text, the more reason for concern that Eliza and Rayland are not simply two captives waiting to be rescued; call a bathroom break if you need to and go practice. Also, you might want to jot down several lines in advance that both NPCs might use, as well as some of the key answers Eliza will use to her advantage: fuzzy memory, trepidation about her physical state, detect magic simply showing her skin condition and not mental control or otherwise, etc.

I'm coming off of GMing 51 session hours of this adventure in 4 days, so I'll do my best to keep things organized, but bear with me:

I was dealing with a lot of veterans, so this encounter involved knowing how they might perceive it with any metagame they'd inadvertently apply, and then getting ahead of that. For those players who struggle to resist the metagame, I lured them through Eliza's role-playing that this was an encounter where both Eliza and Rayland are grateful but cautious of any rescuers, but perhaps a bit unstable due to their physical condition and what they've been through at the hands of the skum. This leads the players into thinking that they are supposed to role-play their way out of a combat, and that any suspicion on the part of the players only scares the NPCs closer to attacking the party. It is essential when trying this that you make anything voiced by a player at the table what their character actually says. For example, if a player laughs at something they probably shouldn't (maybe another player's attempt to calm the situation, as happened with us), increase the tension by not dropping character and saying "Why are you laughing? Why are you laughing?" (Eliza on the edge of tears and unstable, looking at her transparent hands, seems distraught, now nervous because a PC is laughing). We role-played this encounter for probably 8-10 minutes straight holding everyone in character. If players are allowed to talk to each other away from the table or out of game, they'll start the usual "I don't trust her, how can we figure her out" conversation that players like to do. If their characters break away and do this in secret, have Eliza put the pressure on them as she looks around nervously, and add "Other skum may be arriving soon, and there are lots of them. We may not have much time." It's not a lie, no bluff check needed. Use "May" and "Might" and "Maybe" a lot, as everyone is allowed to speculate without being considered lying. Describe Rayland as very physically overwhelming and competent; a party low on resources should be nervous of a high-level fighter in a finale, and seek to avoid combat.

The biggest question I struggled with and almost lost the whole encounter on: "Why did they leave you up here with all your items?" Eliza answered by alluding to herself being a psyhic, which was something that the skum may not be able to understand, and they preferred to quarantine her and Rayland here for now. It was a stretch, but luckily this question came late into the conversation when the pitch was most sold already.

They also asked "What did they do to you?" She simply shows them her hands, and appears distraught: "Horrible things..." If they press, as Ezren did, and ask "What EXACTLY did they do to you?" Eliza responds with "How could you ask me that?" in a shaky voice. Kyra quickly jumped in and shut Ezren down with "Don't ask her that, old man!"

My players tried to figure this out, I will give them that much. They even pulled out Rayland's whiskey bottle and asked him "Do you recognize this?" If he wasn't Rayland, the ruse was up. Problem was, he simply said "Yes." Valeros offered him a drink and he took it, as the two fighters nervously stared each other down. Out of game, stand close to your fighter and appear strong, almost intimidating, and emphasize what it's like to look someone in the face who has transparent skin. My goal was to intimidate the player using Valeros into thinking that a fight against Rayland at the end of the adventure might not be one he wanted to bite off.

Rayland never had to save against domination, as he never attempted to go against his nature.

There were only a couple of bluff checks I did have to make with Eliza's beautiful +13, but I had rolled five of them in advance just in case, so I wouldn't need to roll during the encounter and tip off the PCs to anything. Don't forget the +5 modifier if the lie is one that the target wants to believe.

As for detecting domination through sense motive, I only had one player pass me a note to try it, and the additional +2 wasn't needed due to a 9 on the roll. Remember what the author mentions on p.59 about ruling that a roll may not even be warranted for Rayland, and on p. 57 when he notes that Eliza is free to speak and behave naturally, which makes it difficult to detect anything.

My players did not have Detect Evil. I don't have much for this one other than what's in the module, and I think it might be a tough sell if they do have it.

Eliza did most of the talking, Rayland appeared distant (and was farther on the map to start) and nodded a couple of times, occasionally speaking if necessary, but always short answers that seemed like his personality (of which they know nothing).

Eliza acted worried about their condition (transparent skin, etc.), and hinted to the party that Rayland has been suffering from mental distress that is nonmagical (i.e., PTSD), and that he will need their support in the days to come. If she needs to, she can respond to why she does not suffer from as much distress by saying that "As a psychic, I handle some matters of the mind better than most." PCs often like to feel needed, and in particular they seemed excited to have Kyra play the role of therapist and believed it to be yet another intriguing facet of Groves's adventure. Remember that we played this as a marathon, so in one long weekend they had already seen: a love triangle, social combat, wilderness hazards, logistical/interpersonal challenges of establishing a colony, and traditional combat. They should be guessing at the end, this adventure has already shown them that.

If they start up a conversation about how the "last big battle" was the skum in the library, just nod and give them something like "I thought he was really tough, you guys just did a great job there." Slap their hands, congratulate them, and keep them feeling a sense of winning so they don't get too suspicious and start trying to detect anything on the way back or in the days to come.

As a final note, my players obviously do not read this thread, but they do read The Azlant Odyssey thread where they respond to comments, as well as our Paizo Blog reports. As of right now, they have no idea anything is wrong, or that Rayland and Eliza are preparing their nefarious scheme. I'd rather handle any questions about Rayland/Eliza here or on PM (instead of the odyssey thread or our Facebook) so that they can be kept in the dark until our next marathon in January.

Now the biggest question I have for myself involves PC death, as one-on-one for Ezren or Kyra (our spellcasters) vs. Rayland or Eliza (about a week later in game time) could certainly spell doom for a character. Feel free to offer up what you would do from here, as it will certainly be on my mind until the next marathon.

Hope this gave back in some way , and that everyone has fun trying to fool their players!

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Adam, thanks for the great detail on how this went down with your players!

As for how to handle death in the early books, your situation is much more difficult if you are trying to hold to the iconics even for replacement PCs. How have you handled PC death in your other APs, or is the first time you limited the PCs to iconics?

I would probably have my players give me their 1-2 backup character concepts also at first level and keep those characters as background parts of the colony.

Apart from current colonists, other opportunities to get new characters new colonists or even sailors from re-supply ships, strix PCs from the nearby island, locathah PCs from the waters around Ancorato, an inquisitive merfolk, gillman, or undine that happened by, an early encounter with a mordent spire elf checking the colony out. Later, freed colonists and citizens of Talasantri are good options too. Also, a stray grippli or ratfolk may call the island home, or any castaway really, or perhaps even a monkey goblin PC if you have good RPers.

However, with iconics you may have to get more creative. The locathah, strix, or new naga friend could have a scroll of raise dead (or more fun, reincarnate) to trade. The witch could have one available as treasure too. Also, the resupply ship may generously bring one on behalf of the colony's backers.

Finally, Eliza or Rayland wouldn't necessarily opt to kill a character. That is one less test subject after all.

Order of the Amber Die

justaworm wrote:

Adam, thanks for the great detail on how this went down with your players!

As for how to handle death in the early books, your situation is much more difficult if you are trying to hold to the iconics even for replacement PCs. How have you handled PC death in your other APs, or is the first time you limited the PCs to iconics?

I would probably have my players give me their 1-2 backup character concepts also at first level and keep those characters as background parts of the colony.

Apart from current colonists, other opportunities to get new characters new colonists or even sailors from re-supply ships, strix PCs from the nearby island, locathah PCs from the waters around Ancorato, an inquisitive merfolk, gillman, or undine that happened by, an early encounter with a mordent spire elf checking the colony out. Later, freed colonists and citizens of Talasantri are good options too. Also, a stray grippli or ratfolk may call the island home, or any castaway really, or perhaps even a monkey goblin PC if you have good RPers.

However, with iconics you may have to get more creative. The locathah, strix, or new naga friend could have a scroll of raise dead (or more fun, reincarnate) to trade. The witch could have one available as treasure too. Also, the resupply ship may generously bring one on behalf of the colony's backers.

Finally, Eliza or Rayland wouldn't necessarily opt to kill a character. That is one less test subject after all.

Glad you found it useful, and great points there! I'm excited to keep hearing how it plays out for others.

PC replacement will be made easier with the options presented in the introduction to volume two, and we have a system that I've described a couple of times in some of the Paizo Blog reports that will allow us to replace even an iconic (at level one). I would lean toward making Anya a full character at this point if an iconic was lost, as they're closest with her. My main concern will be how hard to be on them. Rayland or Eliza against one character is pretty rough, but in the Order the players don't like me to pull punches, either. Everything is run as closely as we can get to the author's intent, so I'm leaning toward those one vs. one matchups to lead off the series of encounters Groves discusses on p. 54. Or maybe I'll take out some of the spellcasting colonists that the PCs have come to rely upon for certain resources, that could get interesting as time goes on. It seems like the betrayal will need to come fairly soon before Rayland's domination wears off. I've got some cool stuff worked up for that squad of skum attacking the colony, maybe I'll throw in a 4x6' battlemat and really have at it... :)


I was hoping someone could help me. On page 43 in the treasure section for the Celedons it references an item called a "cognizance crystal (1PE)". In the text, it says it is in OA which I assume is Occult Adventures, but I can't find it anywhere in the book.

I am aware of what the crystal is in the terms of 3.5 Psionics, but I did not think Power Points and the like existed in Pathfinder. I know that in the Psionics Unleashed book, the item was converted but I am unsure if that is what is being referenced. Any information would be appreciated.


Zakkiel wrote:

I was hoping someone could help me. On page 43 in the treasure section for the Celedons it references an item called a "cognizance crystal (1PE)". In the text, it says it is in OA which I assume is Occult Adventures, but I can't find it anywhere in the book.

I am aware of what the crystal is in the terms of 3.5 Psionics, but I did not think Power Points and the like existed in Pathfinder. I know that in the Psionics Unleashed book, the item was converted but I am unsure if that is what is being referenced. Any information would be appreciated.

I had the same issue! I think my players looked up a couple of cognizance crystals from a couple of different places (3.5, DSP Psionics, and one other source I can't remember), and all of them were essentially the same - a thing that gives 1 "point" for whatever psionic system they used, that cost 1,000 gp. Fortunately, I have no psionic PCs, so I just retconned it into a Pearl of Power, which they were all good with.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

There is a Prismatic Crystal in occult adventures, maybe just go with that for now?


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Adam Smith wrote:

<snip>

I'm coming off of GMing 51 session hours of this adventure in 4 days, so I'll do my best to keep things organized, but bear with me:
<snip>

Wow! Terrific recap of that epic book 1 final encounter. And...51 hours in 4 days? Egads, I need a nap just thinking about it.


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

Maybe a few valium to kick-start the nap. I'd be wound tight.


justaworm wrote:
There is a Prismatic Crystal in occult adventures, maybe just go with that for now?

My only objection to that is the 970gp discrepancy. At low level, that’s their wand of CLW and then some.

Order of the Amber Die

Ted wrote:
Adam Smith wrote:

<snip>

I'm coming off of GMing 51 session hours of this adventure in 4 days, so I'll do my best to keep things organized, but bear with me:
<snip>
Wow! Terrific recap of that epic book 1 final encounter. And...51 hours in 4 days? Egads, I need a nap just thinking about it.

You got it Ted, I usually sleep hard for a day after each marathon. Then the prep starts for the next marathon, and repeat six or seven times a year. That being said, this adventure left me so inspired for the rest of the AP, instead of sleep I dove right into prepping PF122 the same day the marathon ended! We're definitely going to utilize the Ultimate Campaign downtime rules, just to keep the momentum going in addition to the enrichment it provides the path.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I love this adventure so far, but we just got to "Shipboard Strain," and I'm not a huge fan of how the influence mechanics were used here.

I actually quite like the influence rules generally, but in this case, my four players only get two actions each, which requires success on every discovery check and every influence check to succeed at influencing all four NPCs. They only need three NPCs to cooperate to accomplish the goal, but that's still very little room for error. On top of that, three out of four NPCs use traditional social skills for their influence checks anyway. So a player uses their first action to succeed on a knowledge check for Harcourt only to learn that the influence check is diplomacy, which they probably could have just guessed, and would have preferred to have two attempts at rather than using one of their two actions on a discovery check that didn't tell them much.

I would have preferred to see more variation in the influence checks, particularly since there will probably be a lot of parties with low social skills for this specific adventure. I also would have preferred more actions total, which could have been offset by some NPCs requiring multiple successful influence checks in order to succeed.

My specific solution was to use some modified influence rules from a PFS scenario. I let them know both the checks for discovery and influence up front. If they succeed at a discovery check, they learn a bias for that NPC, which will just be the strategy described in the writeup, such as "Harcourt loves to feel important." If they use that strategy, they'll get a bonus on the influence check.

I'll report back how it play out.

And seriously, the first part of the adventure went swimmingly (pun intended). My players are invested in the mystery and trying so hard to work out what happened to the first colonists. This is the first point where I have felt the need to tweak anything, and I wanted to provide that feedback.


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Here's a DungeonPainter battle map for the Talmandor's Bounty barracks (A11) for the itty-bug fight in case anyone needs one. A11. Barracks (I forgot to include this in my previous post).

Also, I provided some text for some of the log books in the Government Building for my player's to pore over. They got a kick out Governor Arkley's Sea Journal, so I'll pass it along to the community. This is actually Captain James Cook's journal from 1768 (England to Rio) during his first world circumnavigation with names and dates changed (and a few odd events thrown in) Oddly enough, Cook makes a point of writing about how he saves two kegs of beer - which ended up making a nice (coincidental) detail.

Arkley's Sea Journal

I gave them some snippets of Ben Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac for a taste of what the daily weather and tide charts looked like. I also gave them a few entries that I just made up for Arkley's diary once the Liberty's Herald colonist made land.

I am using FantasyGrounds software to run the game and because of this my players like to have the contents of any given room represented as objects, so I filled A3 Provisions Building and A4 Tool House with specific tools and provisional stores. I gave them a quartermaster's log, too, and the last entries matched exactly what was found in the Provisions building, but the Tool House ended up showing a fair number of tools checked out to various laborors, which the PC's found when investigating the unfinished homes in Main Street. Well, all of the tools were accounted for except for a single chisel, which I included in a stash of loot in Vegelror's lair (my PCs have yet to encounter Vegelror, so the missing chisel is still a mystery) - I think some of my players think its the key to the missing colonists. Ya gotta love a good red herring.

I can provide any of these things too, if anyone wants them.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Just a warning the Monkey Goblins listed on page 13 (and in Bestiary 6) have maximum hit points instead of average. It makes them somewhat tougher then expected.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It's because they have PC class levels, where the first level is always Max hp.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks Captain collateral damage

I have only ever used that rule for PC's. Looking thro' other Beastiary's I can see you are right

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