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#9-09 Beyond the Halflight Path


GM Discussion

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Online aka Hmm

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Season 9, Episode 9, with 9 plots! Coincidence? Nein!

So let’s discuss this latest Evergreen taking place in Kaer Maga. If you are prepping it and have the luxury, I suggest reading as background material Pathfinder Chronicles, City of Strangers by James Sutter. If you don’t have the cash, check out Kaer Maga on the Pathfinder Wiki and see what you can grab there. The setting hooks are present in this evergreen, but the descriptions are a bit thin for my taste. If like me you are a settings GM, immersing yourself in Kaer Maga will make this a richer experience.

★ --- ★ --- ★ --- ★

So... Here are some of my opening thoughts on this new Evergreen and how it compares to #8-07, Tome. Once again, we have a choice of three locations, but this time all three locations are different vaults under the surface of Kaer Maga. Each of these vault locations has three different plot arcs.

Unlike in Tome, where plot arcs could be mixed and matched with different locations, each of these plot arcs belongs strongly to its own location. It looks like the set up for this will be in some ways easier than Tome. There are fewer rooms, and once you pick a plot, there are fewer random elements to deal with. I think that Tome may turn out to be the more diverse evergreen in terms of permutations, but having 9 separate plots is fun.

There is a lot of repetition in the layout, but I like that because it means that each section was less confusing. I could pretty much read one section as a GM and understand it.

BTW, speaking as someone who loves typos, this one has some howlers. My favorite is the appendix called “Additional Treats” in the Table of Contents that is full of monsters. I can just see saying to my players, “Hey guys, here comes another Treat for you!”

Muahahaha.

★ --- ★ --- ★ --- ★

Has anyone run this yet? What were your starter choices? Where will you be taking your players, and what parts of Kaer Maga are you working to develop and enrich when you GM this?

One thing that I am considering is how to handle veteran players who during the invesigation will inevitably look for Miss Feathers, the most infamous of Kaer Maga information brokers from previous scenarios. I am thinking of telling them that the Grande Dame of Information has moved on to managing her own theater in the Ivy District of Absalom.

So, let’s help each other prep this one!

Hmm

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

I’ll be prepping for this weekend soon. Will see what I come up with.

Grand Lodge *****

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I plan on running this next Friday. There's a lot of good stories to pick from, but I've decided on one (raising the dead) and chosen treats...er, threats and locations. Also thinking about loot placement (I may have some of the "potions" for example, be magical gems studding the walls, which they can pry out and swallow to use; the curative potions will definitely take the form of mushrooms).

I agree about the typo/layout issues. Most were easily understandable, but there's a section of text missing (can't find the location offhand), but only a line or so, so nothing critical.

IMPORTANT! Unless you want to spoil the investigation right at the outset, be sure to trim off the player handout headers for the letters from Sheila, since each one specifically identifies the vault they'll be going to!

For Miss Feathers, I don't mind the PCs visiting her, but she won't have any good rumors for them--nothing going on impacts her social circle. She can direct them to the warrens, however, and maybe give them a reference that will give them a circumstance bonus on their Diplomacy checks for thinking to speak to an old contact.

*****

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I was super excited for this scenario, even before I realized it was an Evergreen! Running it in two weeks, will post after I review more.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

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I'm excited to hear what you think of it. It was a challenge to write, and the developers had their work cut out for them with a project this complex. I think they did a wonderful job. I'll check in here once in a while to provide (totally unofficial) suggestions.

Also, I don't know if the "Additional Treats" is my mistake or not, but I'm totally taking credit for it. That's awesome.

As Damien_DM says, be sure to cut the vault name off the handout. It's there so the GM knows which one is which.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Online aka Hmm

So... Our Meetup has event comments. I asked my players for next Sunday what characters they are bringing and what they love to do. Three of them have responded so far with level 6 characters — a Dark Tapestry Oracle, a Mesmerist, and Magus/Fighter combination who is Silver Crusade and likes fighting evil. These three are veterans, and two of them really love creepy flavor, and the other likes fighting creepy stuff, so I am pretty sure that we are headed to Scintillating Halls. My fourth response has been from a level 3 unchained summoner, with the other two players as yet unresponding. Chances are, they won’t respond, so I won’t know what they have until they show up.

More In Depth Scenario Planning:
My only concern is that we have that 3rd level character in the mix — I am hoping that his plan is to stay back and cast stuff, because I’d really hate to kill the guy. I still have no clue what the other two players are bringing, but I’m pretty comfortable with assuming that we are going high tier, possibly with the four player adustment.

At any rate, I like to build for story, and I like to make sure that every player is going to have a chance to shine. I really like the feel of the Alien Infection Arc with its brain collector. While the despair and fear oozes will be frustrating for the mesmerist, especially with their ability to shut him down, I think that the mesmerist should be able to have fun with the brain collector. The player told me that his character really likes to mess with enemy’s heads — and here are seven brains for him to mess with!

For major and minor threats, I’d like to bring in some creatures that are identifiable with something other than Knowledge Dungeoneering. While I like the look of the Chaos Beast, I am not sure that I want to bring in two of them with a party that has low level players in it. Besides... If I go for the two Caulborns, maybe my brain collector can refer to them as Mommy and Daddy? After all, they brought the egg here to hatch, right? And I do want to go creepy here. Besides, the brain collector and the caulborn are all telepaths, and there is a really nice resonance here.

For the minor independent threat, I am thinking that I want something different. Perhaps some comic relief. I don’t want another ooze, that’s for certain. I am thinking of either in-over-their-heads goblins or a pair of trolls. Something obnoxious that talks would be good. I just want it to be reasonable that these creatures are sharing the same dungeon with the brain collector — but maybe the brain collector is a snob. Sure, he could take troll or goblin brains, but really... they’re not up to his standards, right? The goblins are archers, so I will have to see if there is some good terrain to place them in. I am leaning towards the goblins since the map already has a spot with a bunch of goblin bodies in it

For the environmental trap, I’m torn. I adore the dweomer sink, and I could see it arising naturally out of all this proximity to Dark Tapestry stuff, but there are also these goblin rogues running about. Surely they could have set up a trap?

Next step... Figuring out where to place all these story bits on the map!

Grand Lodge *****

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Minor note on monster statblocks: two of them are missing book references. I looked 'em up, and they are as follows:

Caulborn: Bestiary 3 page 48
Huecuva: Bestiary 3 page 150

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Online aka Hmm

I have a chronicle sheet question.

9-09, Page 5 wrote:
Cross off all items that the PCs did not find on their Chronicle sheets as normal, including items from other vaults and story arcs, and then use the following table to deduct rewards based on encounters that the PCs do not complete. For space reasons, standard items from the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook with a value of 1,000 gp or less (or 2,500 gp or less in Subtier 6–7) do not appear on the scenario’s Chronicle sheet.

I am going to have a mixed group playing high tier. Eyes of the Eagle is handed to the group. It is not on the high tier loot list, but it is on the low tier loot list. I was going to cross out everything from the low tier loot list, but I think that my Level Three player might like to be able to have this item appear on the Chronicle Sheet, especially since it is treasure that is given in the 6-7 Tier and they might not have the fame to purchase it.

May I leave this and other items that the party finds uncrossed out, or am I forced to cross out everything from Tier 3-4?

Hmm

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Online aka Hmm

Another thought that occurred to me. Is there any way to get my email off the chronicle sheet? It irritates me that it is printed there for this scenario.

Hmm

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Oh crap, I didn't even think about that. It's in the middle of the scenario this time, so the system probably didn't take that into account.

Grand Lodge *****

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Just went through Verazaz's stat block, and I note she has a greensting scorpion familiar. She also has Improved Initiative, so her initiative modifier should be +10 at low subtier and +11 at high subtier.

Also keep in mind that if she has her scorpion on her person (and I assume she would, she'd gain the benefits of Alertness, for an effective +2 on Perception and Sense Motive.

In high subtier, her tactics are copied from the low subtier, including a mention of casting scare in melee, which is not on her high subtier spell list (understandably since it caps at 5 HD).

Instead, here's a nifty tactic to consider: if she gets init over some of the party, have her ready an action to use stone shape to seal the entrance to whatever location you put her, splitting the party. If there's an alternate way to the location you placed her, that's a good place to put a trap or hazard...

**

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Scintillating Halls Story Threats 6-7 should read 1 neh-thalggu and 4 phycomids, correct?

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Online aka Hmm

keras_terune wrote:
Scintillating Halls Story Threats 6-7 should read 1 neh-thalggu and 4 phycomids, correct?

Yes, with the two Emotion Oozes as the linked threat.

Speaking of which, I do recommend reading the bestiary entry on the emotion oozes.

Emotion Ooze Fluff Text wrote:
The ooze’s reactions get more extreme when creatures around it express the type of emotion to which the ooze is attuned. The ooze begins to noticeably ripple, pulsing in a sympathetic rhythm and reshaping itself more rapidly than it does when it is on the search for emotional creatures. An anger-attuned ooze might form its pseudopods to look more like jagged spikes, and a despair ooze might reach out fitfully like a creature struggling to escape from a pool of quicksand.

That is some really good description that can be used to make an ooze more interesting as an encounter, and up the mood of creepiness.

★ --- ★ --- ★ --- ★

Hmm places her Monsters:
So I am building Scintillating Halls, Alien Infection, and I see that I have a table that is mostly veterans. So I want my monster placements to both makes sense and offer challenge.

Goblin Firestarters. These guys are ranged rogues, so I placed them first in A3. I loved the space in this area for ranged villains to actually do some damage. The bridge adds interesting terrain to the encounter, and I also liked its story proximity to A7, where the goblin bodies embedded in crystal are.

Going into this room, I also placed a Spiked Pit Trap because goblins would totally do that in front of their lair.

Neh-thalgu and Phycomids. I had to spend time thinking about Neh-thalggu and the Phycomids. Initially, I wanted to put them in or around the Lake in A6. After all, the Neh-Thalggu can fly, and Phycomids like things damp. Unfortunately, little leads there in this dungeon, and there is not much land next to the lake for the party or the Phycomids to stand upon.

So I moved them north to the wet and squishy room in A4. I figure that a flying creature would like difficult terrain for its lair, and that the phycomids would appreciate the damp but not sodden surroundings. The eerie looking mutant frogs is a good creepy setting detail, too. Since this is the main threat, I was thinking that the party would come in to the room to discover the brain collection on shelves along the walls, with various Phycomids guarding them. Meanwhile, hovering invisibly above them is the brain collector, assessing potential merchandise to add to his collection.

The Emotion Oozes. I like these creatures better now that I have read their fluff, anc can have the rippling moments of fear and horror echoing in their shapes. Since they like to live in creepy sad places, I decided to move them into the Crystals from Beyond in A5, and I will amp up the emotions here. I also really liked the tight quarters of this room with its twisting crystal passages, which will make it harder to take these oozes out.

To amp the atmosphere, I think that the crystals will sound off with creepy sad music. I am thinking of intoning a few bars the Imperial March from Star Wars: Dun Dun Dun DUN da Dun! However, Bret suggested something even more evil: “It’s a small world after all!”

    ♫ It’s a world of pain and a world of fears
    As we mutter Aklo in your ears
    Pathfinders beware
    You’re caught in our lair
    It’s our world after all ♫

He grinned when I spontaneously sung that back to him, and I am still debating using it...

A10, the room after it, is a big empty and boring storage room. I debated putting the Caulborn in there, but they are not immune to the effects of the Emotion Oozes, and have no other way of getting past them. So instead, I am just dropping well-earned loot in here. Instead, I put the Caulborn in A9, the fungal room that still houses some of their cruel experiments on the fey. It seemed thematic as heck.

★ --- ★ --- ★ --- ★

Other prep. I’ve drawn out the map, and it turned out pretty beautiful with all of its swirling water and crystal formations. I’ve made handouts with pictures of some of the people they meet (even though I had to look up outside art for that.) I’ve tracked which rooms have which creepy effects, created loot cards, and wrote out rumors in the voices of the various characters we have to deliver rumors. I spent time re-reading about a couple of the Kaer Maga neighborhoods, so that I can add setting details to the investigation.

I’ve enjoyed this process so far, but I am irritated at two things about the chronicle sheet.

COMPLAINT ONE: It has my email on there. I really do NOT like that.

COMPLAINT TWO: I went through the sheet and pre-crossed out anything that was not from the high tier Alien Infection arc. What is left is a sea of black ink and a very few items. It looks terrible. Players hate getting sheets with this much crossed out on them, so I will have to be telling them, “Hey, there are 18 different looth paths, which means you only get the loot that was in your route.”

★ --- ★ --- ★ --- ★

Stuff left to do: I need to make my pre-game questionnaire. Because of the wicked nature of room A5, I will clearly have to ask about languages, and I think that the Neh-Thalggu would like to know which player characters have the best education. I’m also going to ask about who has been to an adventure in Kaer Maga before. After that, I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll ask them about character quirks, and see what they tell me.

Hmm

*****

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Damien_DM wrote:
Instead, here's a nifty tactic to consider: if she gets init over some of the party, have her ready an action to use stone shape to seal the entrance to whatever location you put her, splitting the party. If there's an alternate way to the location you placed her, that's a good place to put a trap or hazard...

Just remember that stone shape is fairly limited in volume - only 18 cubic feet at her level - that's about two inches thick for a 10'x10' wall.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

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Hmm, until the chronicle is updated, I recommend increasing the scale of the printing to more than 100%. This will force the watermark outside the print area and leave just the chronicle.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Online aka Hmm

Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Hmm, until the chronicle is updated, I recommend increasing the scale of the printing to more than 100%. This will force the watermark outside the print area and leave just the chronicle.

That is pretty brilliant, TOZ!

Hmm

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

I use it to blow up handouts as well, so it prints more of the art and less of the layout dressing. On some of the more text dense handouts it greatly helps with readability.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

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I love to hear about all the work you guys are doing. I'm so excited!

I wanted to provide a bit of assistance too. By its nature this scenario requires the GM to build up the "connective tissue" of whatever location she chooses. Since only some of the pieces are set by the story arc, it can be tricky to make choices that fit thematically and reinforce the adventure's story. It sounds like those of you already talking about your plans are doing just that, but I thought some might find it helpful to get a sense of what I had in mind regarding the theme of each location since I was sometimes a bit subtle. I hope this helps GMs as they plan and run it.

Scintillating Halls:

The theme I had in mind was "alien horror and madness." I tried to write location descriptions in a Lovecraftian way (ornate yet vague; suggestive not explicit). The antagonists all have an alien, inhuman way of viewing sentient life, and the caverns themselves work to transform and warp those who enter.

Shining Deep:

"Things fall apart" kept running through my head as I worked on this section. The instability of the location itself reinforces the breakdown of normal order (in "Recovering the Implements" and "Raising the Dead") and instability between planes (in "Summoning Gone Wrong"). The antagonists in these arcs broke both physical and social boundaries, yet their own successes seem to crumble almost immediately as well.

Sparklegrim Passage:

This location and its story arcs are all about entrapment. The antagonists have all captured prisoners, but even the villains themselves were lured into a location designed to ensnare and destroy them. By capturing what they want, they hasten their own destruction (at the hands of the PCs).

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Online aka Hmm

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With both Halflight and Tome, I wanted to take the opportunity to let my inner storyteller shine through. Having the opportunity to build a story by connecting up the pieces and creating your own powerful connections... awesome. I also plan as much as possible to tailor these dungeons to my audience. At Dreamers where there is a more RPing Beginner crowd, I intend to focus more on the ‘people’ plots. For this next group though at the Source, I am unleashing super creepy Dark Tapestry stuff. I did pick telepathic monsters though, because as a GM I need to do villain monologues and taunting. It’s a requirement, really.

One thing that I like to think about when building these dungeons is what the relationships are between all the things in the dungeon. They’re not just random monsters. They’re in the same space. So there are these goblins, who feel pretty badass because they share a dungeon with bigger monsters — who are totally ignoring them (or using them as errand runners) because the gobs don’t have the kind of brains that the ther monsters want! That is hilarious stuff. I want the connections and story to shine, and be a source of player discovery.

Sure... We could randomly roll up elements, but then it’s just monster condo. What I like about these make your own dungeons is that they have good bones, but that it is up to us to do the heavy lifting here.

Hmm

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

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Hilary Moon Murphy wrote:


One thing that I like to think about when building these dungeons is what the relationships are between all the things in the dungeon. They’re not just random monsters. They’re in the same space. So there are these goblins, who feel pretty badass because they share a dungeon with bigger monsters — who are totally ignoring them (or using them as errand runners) because the gobs don’t have the kind of brains that the ther monsters want! That is hilarious stuff. I want the connections and story to shine, and be a source of player discovery.

Sure... We could randomly roll up elements, but then it’s just monster condo. What I like about these make your own dungeons is that they have good bones, but that it is up to us to do the heavy lifting here.

Hmm

Right on! It's astonishing how many different stories and approaches will come out of this scenario, and I'm so happy that GMs get a chance to be even more creative than usual and have significant control over the story at the table. While I put goblins on a chart, for example, I did that because, well, I like goblins and they fit in/under Kaer Maga. A GM can look at that chart and say "Yes! Goblins! I know why they're there..." or "Here we go again; Duckwitz and goblins, I'll pass, and go with _____ instead." It's freeing, certainly, but you're not kidding: it is heavy lifting!

Scarab Sages **

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I ran this yesterday for a group of veteran players with pretty well built characters at tier 6-7. I used Scintillating Halls and the Alien Art Recovery storyline. The group was surprised by the investigation aspect of the scenario as they were expecting a pure dungeon crawl, but seemed to enjoy it for the most part. RPing the guides, and the troll augury scene were pretty enjoyable. As for the dungeon I had a real shock: my veteran players handled all the challenges well(no surprise) except the except the independent minor threat(big surprise!) for which I had selected the dark stalkers. None of the experienced players at my table had any counter for Deeper Darkness! The upside to this was that they encountered this first in area A5. The combo of darkness, creepy whispers, and a challenging combat meant they were on edge every time they entered a room for the rest of the dungeon which lends itself well to the Lovecraftian theme of this story.

I had played Tome before, but haven't run it so I was not prepared for all the crossing off of items on the sheet. I knew it was going to happen just didn't realize how much time it adds to filling out the sheets. I'm running this again at a con in a few months, and am going to try and get the chronicles from HQ before the table so I can have that done ahead of time. That seems like it could be a problem when everyone wants to run off for their next slot or to sneak in a bite to eat before said slot.

Liberty's Edge *****

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Hello,
I hope I am not the only one who thought the original chronicle sheet for #9-09 Beyond the Halflight Path is well... poorly formatted, and could use some improvement. The thought occurred to me that each path has its loot outlined and could be separated out on the chronicle sheet for easier marking. I took the time to make an example of this, and was wondering if the official one could be modified to something similar for easier filling. Example Sheet. Sorry if this isn't something to be discussed in this forum. It just seemed like something that should be brought up.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Online aka Hmm

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Regarding Chronicles

So.... What I did was edit the chronicles in Adobe Reader (after printing to PDF to get the chronicle sheet blank by itself). I crossed out the items in advance and then was able to just print multiple crossed out sheets of the variety that I needed. I intend to do this with all the major variants, because otherwise this takes too much time (especially if you are doing this at conventions or venues where there is a time crunch.)

One further thing that I did was note on the chronicle which story arc they did, so that on future runs of this evergreen, they can let their GMs know which plots they’ve already experienced.

(I use pre-crossed out chronicles for Tome as well.)

I decided that it was best to prepare the group for the insane number of crossouts by flashing them a glance at the crossed out chronicle before we started. “Hey, because this is an Evergreen, there are 18 possible loot tracks, and you’re only doing one of them today. This means that your chronicles are going to look like this,” I say, holding the chronicle out from a distance so that they cannot read it, just see the sea of black ink. “The crossouts don’t mean that you failed, Just that everything else in places the Society isn’t sending you today.”

This worked really well, and put them in a good frame of mind when they did receive their chronicles.

After Action Report

Because of the holidays, one table at our venue fell through, which means that I had a table of seven going into this, including a sunder brawler that Jeffrey, the organizer at my location, admitted was a monstrosity that he had designed to do absurd amounts of damage. It was a very high-powered group, so my challenging monster placements worked very well to keep them on their toes and scare them a little.

The Investigation:

The Kaer Maga investigation section was fun. Everyone arrived early, so I passed out a pre-game GM questionnaire that included questions like character quirks, langages known, and whether their character had been to Kaer Maga before. They had a low level investigator as part of the party, but even at low level investigators can rock investigations, and a the Dark Tapestry Oracle had been to Kaer Maga before, so I talked to them about how the Warren seemed changed somehow from its normal boisterousness. I made a big deal about long lines at the food stalls of Meatgate, and how many stalls had signs indicating they were temporarily closed for business, and how many of the folks were eyeing everyone warily.

Still they did a great job with the investigation. I had a great deal of fun with the personality of their main informant, and his description of the shadowy, skittery thing that sliced his friend’s head open ‘like one of them overpriced cantalopes they sell in Meatgate.’

When they met the troll augur, Nuregore told them, “There are so many forking paths, and I charge by the yard. Have you done your own leg work to narrow down the possibilities?” The ‘by the yard’ line puzzled many of the group members, but they dutifully told her of all of the rumors that they had found, and haggled her down. Then the meaning of my statement became clear as the troll performed the augury and the entire party started laughing.

Even with the excellent job that they did finding rumors, they had trouble after the augury figuring out which vault they needed to go to from the descriptions in handout 4. It took a knowledge Dungeoneering check from the investigator to figure out that they wanted the Scintillating Halls.

Within the Vault:

They all solemnly accepted the duskwarden’s offer of the halflight charms, and then headed into the dungeon. Everyone buffed up before entering, a precaution that I thought eminently sensible since even the Duskwardens thought that these vaults were bad news. They were creeped out by the first room with its howling hole and crawling mutant frogs and glowing pool... Even though there were NO encounters in that room. I had fun bringing the mutant frogs back, again and again in other damp rooms.

Since I kept getting questions about elevations, I passed the party my printout of the map with the elevations marked upon it, so they could know if they were heading up or down stairs. Since monster and trap placement is variable in these 3-7 evergreens, I don’t mind the party seeing the entire map all at once.

They decided to go up the stairs to room four where the first things that they noticed were more mutant frogs, the spongy floor, the brain collection on shelves on the walls, and the militant mushrooms. It wasn’t until the big bad spoke into their heads that they realized they had an invisible flying monster hovering overhead...

Despite the difficult terrain the party did well in this room. Most of the mushrooms died fast, but they weren’t the real threat here. The mesmerist shone as he lit up Mr. Invisible with glitterdust. Then he and the investigator worked together. Between an ill omen wand and a mesmerist stare, they managed to get a persistent mental block spell off on the Neh-Thalggu, shutting off most of its abilities. At this point it fled the chamber as fast as it could.

The party, filled with blood lust, chased it right through the spiked pit trap leading into the goblin lair (but the guy in lead made his reflex save) and THEN into the sneak attacking goblins. Finally, the Neh-Thalggu made its will save to get off the Mental Block spell and managed to do a little damage before they killed it.

The worst challenge came from room 5. I had a great deal of fun asking for perception checks, and then singing my horrid little parody of “It’s a Small World” in Aklo. One of the players said in awe, “That’s singing on infinite repeat? You have an evil streak that I never fully appreciated before.” Another said, “I have never been so grateful to be deaf before.” The party was amused that those who made their perceptions were the ones affected by the room’s special property, which made this a pretty nasty trap.

Then the emotion oozes ambushed them. Most of the party failed their will saves against the oozes (whom I described in a very creepy fashion) and placing the oozes in this twisty crystal chamber meant that the party could not just surround the creatures. With a less experienced or powerful group, this would have been a deadly TPK. Instead, it was a really thematic battle that challenged the party fully. I would advise GMs to read their tables before placing their monsters. If you think that your party might struggle, move those oozes to a more open space, like rooms three or eight. Still, they finally defeated the oozes, found the treasure I left for them in Room Ten, and drank down every Cure Serious potion I’d given them.

The final battle with the Caulborn was fun. Almost every member of the party got fascinated except the mesmerist and the investigator, who were punching their own party members to get them moving. Still, the approach of the caulborn and then consuming of thoughts allowed for more will saves to break the fascinate effect, and the party emerged victorious with notes on the Caulborn’s experiments, and corpses that they dragged out as proof.

SUMMARY: A good dungeon crawl experience for everyone concerned, and a great challenge for this party of veterans.

Hmm

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

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Hilary Moon Murphy wrote:

I decided that it was best to prepare the group for the insane number of crossouts by flashing them a glance at the crossed out chronicle before we started. “Hey, because this is an Evergreen, there are 18 possible loot tracks, and you’re only doing one of them today. This means that your chronicles are going to look like this,” I say, holding the chronicle out from a distance so that they cannot read it, just see the sea of black ink. “The crossouts don’t mean that you failed, Just that everything else in places the Society isn’t sending you today.”

This worked really well, and put them in a good frame of mind when they did receive their chronicles.

Hillary continues to instruct me in the proper ways to prep this scenario. If only I had this instruction before this past weekend, it would have smoothed the admin at the end so much better.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Online aka Hmm

Awww, thanks TOZ.

So I am all kinds of curious now. What story arc did you run, and how did it go? Inquiring minds want to know!

Hmm

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Well, embarrassingly enough, I didn't properly prep for this. Part of that was the fact that we were running two tables, and my VA still has not been officially added to the rolls. So he had most of my printed prep. I was running from my laptop, which given the appendices and layout of the room descriptions and separate treasure piles made for a lot of back and forth scrolling even with multiple copies of the PDF open.

I selected the Scintillating Halls, Alien Art Recovery storyline. I thought the Mi-Go would be a horrifying opponent for my team of four 5th levels, one 4th, and two 3rds averaging to low tier. For my extra monsters I picked oozes, to have the HP to withstand the heavy hitting bloodrager and melee druid.

The party found the halls disconcerting with the mutations and strange formations. There was a lot of back and forth about drinking the water, as the cleric of Irori took a sample for study. I improvised the treasure as being magical crystals and mushrooms with the properties of the wand of color spray and potions of cure and resist energy. Due to not really preparing the connections between the rooms, there was a lot of emptiness to the dungeon, which I will have to improve on in the future. (A similar issue to the many hallways of Tome.)

The fight with the Mi-Go and phantom fungus was in A5, an excellent place to make the large numbers of the party irrelevant due to narrow passages. While it did not last much longer than any other fight, it did see the 3rd level master of many styles grapple the alien, then get counter grappled and fail the save against its surgical operation, much to the terror of the party. The bloodrager was able to deal grievous damage to bring it to morale conditions, but as it narrowly avoided the AoOs on withdrawl, the druid finally used his companions dire collar to get the snake into the fight for the only time in the scenario, biting and grappling the Mi-Go to unconsciousness and eventual death.

There was a lot of dead air on this one, but overall the party seemed to think it was fine. With a less leveled party, I think I could have given them a run for their money, and with more prep had the story better in hand and communicated.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

I support the idea to set up the chronicle with treasure packs instead of alphabetical lists, but I'd prefer NOT to have the story titles on the chronicle in order to avoid spoiling future replays.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Online aka Hmm

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I have thrown down a challenge to S.W.A.T., a cop-themed Minnesota group to have them come in for an investigative case in Kaer Maga. I think that this will most definitely mean fleshing out the “investigation” section of this Scenario, and developing the personalities of some of the rumor-givers a bit more. I am also going to have to figure out where I’m going to stick a donut shop in Kaer Maga.

Brian et al., because the S.W.A.T. Team includes GMs who may at some point want to access the GM thread for this scenario, I am going to hold on posting the story / dungeon layout that I am planning for their team until after I GM this scenario for them, sometime in mid-January.

I can mention that I want to evoke the full theme and genre of Cop Show for them, making the mood utterly different than what I did with the Dark Tapestry stuff at the Source. Still if anyone else wants to help me construct my Halflight Cop Show episode offline... PM or email me. I’ll happily consider your suggestions!

Hmm

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

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Helped my VA prep for his next run of this last night, including Hmm's idea to pre-mark the chronicles. I think I may spend some time to save copies of the chronicle for each story with appropriately crossed out items for each.

Looking forward to the stories of S.W.A.T: Kaer Maga!

Scarab Sages **

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You want to make sure the donut cart is in a section of town where they are likely to encounter it which makes the Warrens and Bis district the most likely choices. I immediately thought of CMOT Dibbler style donut vendor with a cart in the Warrens.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Manager

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Merged threads.

Liberty's Edge *****

Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
I support the idea to set up the chronicle with treasure packs instead of alphabetical lists, but I'd prefer NOT to have the story titles on the chronicle in order to avoid spoiling future replays.

Ok, I can modify the example one. Not sure what to label them though. Map 1 Path 1, Path 2, Path 3? It does also say in the investigation parts to let slip details of other paths to hint at adventures yet to come, so I didn't the names on the chronicles would be too much spoilers.

Dark Archive *****

Played this last night. Song of Discord is brutal! I definitely earned my pay keeping everyone alive in that encounter. After some player confusion on what happened, it played out as:

Surprise round: Make the spellcraft roll to ID the spell that hit everyone (I made the save, my bison mount did not).
Round 1: Ready an action to cast Unbreakable Heart on whichever party member attacks an ally. Fighter attacks, Song gets suppressed. Bloodrager, cleric, and bison then attempt to attack party. :( But miss or do minimal damage.
Round 2: Dispel Magic on the cleric. Song gets suppressed. (Witch-watcher Covenant Ally ability) Some of party is fleeing, some are attacking, bison manages to buck me off.
Round 3: Slumber the bison. Song is sleepy. Bloodrager does damage to people.
Round 4: Bloodrager finally gets a round to act normal. I ask him if he's ok with me Possessing him. He agrees, I cast Marionette Possession and take over the body. Song is frustrated.
Round 5, 6: Rest
Round 7: Fighter is unsuppressed, makes another attack, then the song wears off. Whew.

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