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Do 5 level 13 characters have a chance against Karzoug


Rise of the Runelords


Do 5 level 13 characters (Paladin, Rogue, Sorcerer, Wizard, Druid) have a chance against Karzoug? I mean, as written but without the minions.
Or will he just annihilate them? (or, I guess, will they just annihilate him?)

I'm not experienced enough with Pathfinder high levels to really know if I need to tone him down first. I'm after challenging but not unwinnable.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Oh boy. It depends.

Have they got good intel on his capabilities?

Have they got good intel on the terrain they'll be fighting him in?

Are the PCs optimized for combat?

Are the players good tacticians?

Can they control or influence the terms of engagement?

In theory, yes: a party of well-prepared level 13 PCs could probably take on Karzoug by himself and win. But it would still be an extremely difficult fight. A TPK is definitely possible.

What do you, the GM, hope to accomplish by confronting the PCs with Karzoug four levels before usual?

Edit: get copies of the character sheets if you don't already have them and simulate the combat yourself. It's not perfect and definitely time-consuming, but it'll give you a decent idea of how your PCs stack up in this situation.


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

They need surprise, they also would really benefit from the runeforge weapons , but even then if you run Karzoug competently you will kill them all , I came very close to killing the entire party at level 16 and my players were prepared, optimised and knew their business.

Their saving throws are not going to be good enough so a single wail of the Banshee could kill all of them, the creatures summoned by Summon monster IX are actually dangerous to them etc

Dark Archive

I agree run even reasonably well it should be a TPK, they might have a chance to not completely wipe if he rolls a 1 on initiative. I gave 5 18th level characters a pretty close shave with minions, but I would have wiped them at 13th level with just the wizard.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Preeeetty sure thats TPK easily. Why do you want to run boss written for four level 17 characters with level 13 characters?

Sovereign Court

If you run his prepared spells and tactics as written, it's theoretically possible if they're powerful for their level, lucky and prepared.

Pros in their favour:

Action economy
Ability to nova if properly prepared
Karzoug's written tactics aren't great against a prepared party
Karzoug's prepared spells aren't great and are Core Rulebook only, even in the Anniversary Edition

Cons against them:

High saving throw DCs
High damage spells (particularly watch Wail of the Banshee, as he doesn't have to care about hitting allies)
Karzoug's Save or Die spells (Baleful Polymorph, Disintegrate, Flesh to Stone)
Surprisingly tough - Karzoug's a tough old coot.

I wouldn't, if I were you, it's too risky.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If I remember correctly there is a system in the final level of the tower to eliminate projected images of him which reduces his power level. They definitely need to do that have a better than below average chance I think.


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He's a CR 21 opponent. That's 8 steps above your Level 13 characters, even allowing for 5 vs. 4 pc's (typical CR math base) that's a BIG step up in power.

Wail of the Banshee alone will kill them. I've killed two pc's already in the Pinnacle with it (I've been using Karzoug's most powerful spells through the images contrary to AP tactics. I don't play slow pitch.) And my pc's are 17th level. And typically have significant buffs. And Hero Points.

It might help to know why you are going this route. But I think you'll need to ratchet Karzoug back to 16th or 17th level.


Thanks for the feedback everyone.

The party are far from combat machines, not so big on planning and preparation and let's face it - a little disengaged.
I might rebuild the final encounter from scratch. Aim for a similar layout just toned back 4 levels or so.

The story is: the players are over it (which might mean just RotR, might mean roleplaying altogether). But I want to wrap things up with an ending - so we're essentially skipping from the raid on Sandpoint right to the very end. Not even doing the Pinnacle.

See my previous thread. But since my last post there, we've agreed to wrap things up in two or three sessions (~4hrs each).


Quite frankly, I'd aim to wrap it up sooner rather than later ... and I'd want go out with a bang.

Ramp them up to 20th so they can play with their capstones intact. Strap a few tiers of mythic archmage onto Karzoug or simply award him 5 levels of the 3pp Archwizard PrC to accommodate. Make the best part of Chapter 6 the entire finale - which is the final stretch.

If remotely possible, make the finale of the campaign the finale - one longer session given the group's recurring attendance problems. See if it is possible to stage a longer single session of ~6 hours to sign off the campaign in glory .. or death.


I achieved a TPK with one Wail of the Banshee against my PCs as they were recovering from a fight. That's 5 level 17 characters. His DC for that alone is above 30, and it's 200 sonic damage... Luckily we use hero points so the cleric could use them to survive at 1 hp and evacuate the corpses prior to resurrection..

So i'd say no. If you want to make it work I'd suggest adding some allies to help them. There's a few there in the AP you could add, but do the CR calculations carefully as his DC's are brutal.


So I worked up a 17th level version of Karzoug last night (Hero Labs is a godsend) and he is still a TPK waiting to happen.
I think my best bet at this point is to simply avoid his more deadly spell options. Wail of the Banshee in particular. I'll claim he's "not all there" because he's only just awoken. Or something like that.
And put my invisible fudgey-GM hat on.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Belegdel wrote:


So I worked up a 17th level version of Karzoug last night (Hero Labs is a godsend) and he is still a TPK waiting to happen.
I think my best bet at this point is to simply avoid his more deadly spell options. Wail of the Banshee in particular. I'll claim he's "not all there" because he's only just awoken. Or something like that.
And put my invisible fudgey-GM hat on.

You could use Pathfinder Society Scenario Waking Rune as basis since its, at most, level 11 party vs Krune who is CR 17. Its basically has players disable his buffs while he is waking up and have him have less spells prepped to make it possible underleveled party beat him.


To really take on Karzoug, a party benefits from having:

  • Antimagic Shell
  • Mage's Disjunction
  • Runeforged Weapons
  • The Improved Critical and Critical Focus feats on your martials, or Keen on the Runeforged weapons
  • A total attack bonus high enough to hit on a roll of 17 (a 1-in-5 chance of a crit threat if you have the right weapons) on every attack in a full attack.

You can get lucky if you don't have the first two, but then it's even more important that you have martials with as wide a critical threat range as possible on their runeforged weapons, and a GM who is willing to give you a 1-round break before hitting you with Wail of the Banshee. Because that spell is a TPK waiting to happen.

Our party of L15 and L16 PC's did not have the first two and got very, very, very lucky. We spread out, then all the martials rushed him at once from different directions. If our GM had opted to do Wail right then, we probably would have lost them. But he wanted us to have a one round toe-to-toe with Karzoug first (and Karzoug's wisdom is not very high, so a GM can reasonably play him as "not as worried as perhaps he should be"). Next round, the martials got full attacks with a total of 4 crits and that was the end of Karzoug. But if he had survived those, we were toast.

The Runeforged weapons are extremely powerful, but you do have to last long enough to use them.


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To be fair, I had a team of 5 lvl 4 PCs defeat a wyrm black dragon because their dice rolled hot and the dragon's sucked. So the person you should ask is your dice.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Belegdel wrote:


So I worked up a 17th level version of Karzoug last night (Hero Labs is a godsend) and he is still a TPK waiting to happen.
I think my best bet at this point is to simply avoid his more deadly spell options. Wail of the Banshee in particular. I'll claim he's "not all there" because he's only just awoken. Or something like that.
And put my invisible fudgey-GM hat on.

I do wonder whether he was built on the expectation that the negative level loss from the images will make him lose Wail (under 3.5 rules, not Pathfinder), because it's even more brutal than the obvious Disintegrate/Quickened Disintegrate one-two punch.

Personally, I gave him epic levels and bunches of Quickened spells and compensated for that by pulling Wail of the Banshee from his spell list (and spell book). I was also going to run his level loss from the images using the 3.5 rules, but as it turned out he never lost any.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Narsham wrote:
I do wonder whether he was built on the expectation that the negative level loss from the images will make him lose Wail (under 3.5 rules, not Pathfinder), because it's even more brutal than the obvious Disintegrate/Quickened Disintegrate one-two punch.

That and the dominant weapons absorbing those Disintegrate spells. He'll know they have them, so at best he'll have to throw several transmutation spells at one PC to burn through the dominant weapon's absorbing ability before hitting them with Disintegrate.

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