Golarion Day: Chopper's Revenge!

Thursday, January 13, 2010

Last week, with the first installment of Golarion Day, I put out a call for everyone to start sending in ideas for future blog posts. Those requests are pouring in, but it's gonna take a few weeks for us to sort through them and match requests to the right content and all that. But keep the suggestions coming!

This week, though, I thought I'd show off a bit of my office Sandpoint campaign. This game's one of the largest I've ever run—the initial goal was to have it be a game that the entire editorial pit could take part in as a team-building exercise. But as we've hired more folks, and as friends of current players have joined, the size of the group has exploded into an intimidating group of nine players. The campaign itself is called The Shadow Under Sandpoint. You can check out the campaign journal over on our boards—it's generally only a few game sessions behind where we're at.

Illustration by John Gravato

One of the tricky things about such a large group, of course, is designing encounters that challenge the group. You can't just boost the CR of the bad guys and make them individually tougher, because that'll only mean that the bad guy will have a much better chance to kill a few PCs before he's defeated—you don't want to kill PCs in every fight, since that's a downward spiral. Instead, I've found that having one particularly tough boss monster surrounded by lots of less powerful minions works really well—gives everyone in the party someone to face off against, but also lets me have big key encounters with major bad guys.

Such was the case several months ago, when I knew the PCs were going up against the ghost of an infamous local murderer named Jervis Stoot. Old Stoot (known as Chopper back during the height of his murdering days) is part of Sandpoint's history, and those who've played in "Rise of the Runelords" have probably heard his name. He was never a villain in that Adventure Path, though, so that made him a perfect source for a logical foe for the PCs to face in this campaign.

So when I designed Stoot, I made him a ghost that would provide a challenge to the party (they were all about 4th or 5th level at the time), but who also had some built-in options to call upon allies. Giving him a new ghost ability that allows him to summon birds and command avians made sense (he was a Pazuzu cultist back in the day, after all!). The fight ended up playing out over two sessions—one atop the old light while Stoot had possessed the town sheriff, and then a second after they defeated the possessed sheriff and chased the ghost back to his island den to finish him off. In both cases, I threw in some bird swarms to help amp up the terror and mayhem, resulting in what normally would have been a CR 8 encounter, but when you have nine players, that's what you gotta do!

(And don't tell my players, but they've not seen the last of old Stoot's ghost yet! That's why I'm not listing the way in which you can permanently put Stoot to rest, after all...)

In any event, if any of you are playing a game set in Sandpoint, or if you're looking for a cool, flavorful ghost to use, I thought for today that I'd throw Stoot's stat block in for folks to check out. You'll note I did something a little weird with this ghost—he should normally only have two special ghost abilities, but I gave him three—corrupting touch, avian mastery, and malevolence. In order to balance things, I also gave him an additional weakness and nerfed his malevolence ability. In other words, feel free when you're making villains up for your home game to fiddle with the rules!

JERVAS STOOT CR 6
XP 2,400
Male human ghost rogue 5
CE Medium undead (incorporeal)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +13

DEFENSE
AC 19, touch 19, flat-footed 15 (+5 deflection, +3 Dex, +1 dodge)
hp 61 (5d8+35)
Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +2
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4, evasion, incorporeal, rejuvenation, trapfinding, trap sense +1; Immune undead traits
Weakness avians

OFFENSE
Speed fly 30 ft. (perfect)
Melee corrupting touch +6 (6d6; Fort. DC 17 half)
Special Attacks avian mastery, malevolence 1/day (DC 17), sneak attack +3d6

STATISTICS
Str —, Dex 16, Con —, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 20
Base Atk +3; CMB +3; CMD 16
Feats Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Toughness
Skills Bluff +11, Climb +8, Craft (woodcarving) +9, Craft (metalworking) +9, Escape Artist +11, Knowledge (local) +9, Knowledge (nature) +6, Perception +13, Sense Motive +9, Stealth +15
Languages Common, Thassilonian
SQ fast stealth, surprise attack

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Avian Mastery (Su) Stoot can command and influence all normal birds as if via dominate animal at will. He can control any number of birds within a 60-foot radius in this manner. Once per day, he may cast summon swarm as a spell-like ability to summon a swarm of crows (treat as a bat swarm sans the wounding ability).
Weakness to Avians (Ex) Damage inflicted on Stoot from any avian's natural attacks is resolved as if he did not possess the incorporeal defensive ability. This includes creatures that have assumed the form of an avian.

James Jacobs
Creative Director

DISCLAIMER: I know how much fun some folks have checking our work on stat blocks, but since I'm more or less copy/pasting these stats directly from my campaign notes without going back to give them the same level of checking I'd give something going into print... there might be an error in there somewhere! (This is also an excuse for me to see how harrowing it is to format a stat block for a blog post... wish me luck!)

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Animals Demons Golarion Thursdays John Gravato Monsters Sandpoint Shadow Under Sandpoint Undead
Silver Crusade

Awesome. :D

The Chopper Murders were one of the elements of Sandpoint that really grabbed your imagination and ran with it. Love seeing support for that corner of Varisia.


How comes Stoot speaks Thassilonian, a language that's been dead for 10.000 years and just barely decipherable through pictograms and inscriptions scattered all over Varisia?
Lyrie also spoke Thassilonian, how well could we consider one that spends a language slot know the language? I always considered that you cannot "speak it" but only try to translate runes, and the process is both uncertain (no real dictionaries) and takes a lot of time.
Yet we have that marvelous spell "comprehend languages" that might have helped during the last decades in understanding the dead language.
Oh well... pure geekiness here :)


I was actually surprised when I GM'ed Runelords that Chopper didn't feature more in the adventure path. This is a pretty awesome way of bringing him back

Silver Crusade

Beek Gwenders of Croodle wrote:

How comes Stoot speaks Thassilonian, a language that's been dead for 10.000 years and just barely decipherable through pictograms and inscriptions scattered all over Varisia?

Lyrie also spoke Thassilonian, how well could we consider one that spends a language slot know the language? I always considered that you cannot "speak it" but only try to translate runes, and the process is both uncertain (no real dictionaries) and takes a lot of time.
Yet we have that marvelous spell "comprehend languages" that might have helped during the last decades in understanding the dead language.
Oh well... pure geekiness here :)

Crazy whispers in his dreams taught him the secret words of a dead tongue.

Whispering always in the dark.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mikaze wrote:
Beek Gwenders of Croodle wrote:

How comes Stoot speaks Thassilonian, a language that's been dead for 10.000 years and just barely decipherable through pictograms and inscriptions scattered all over Varisia?

Lyrie also spoke Thassilonian, how well could we consider one that spends a language slot know the language? I always considered that you cannot "speak it" but only try to translate runes, and the process is both uncertain (no real dictionaries) and takes a lot of time.
Yet we have that marvelous spell "comprehend languages" that might have helped during the last decades in understanding the dead language.
Oh well... pure geekiness here :)

Crazy whispers in his dreams taught him the secret words of a dead tongue.

Whispering always in the dark.

That, or one afternoon tea at Brodent Quink's too many :)

Silver Crusade

Gorbacz wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
Beek Gwenders of Croodle wrote:

How comes Stoot speaks Thassilonian, a language that's been dead for 10.000 years and just barely decipherable through pictograms and inscriptions scattered all over Varisia?

Lyrie also spoke Thassilonian, how well could we consider one that spends a language slot know the language? I always considered that you cannot "speak it" but only try to translate runes, and the process is both uncertain (no real dictionaries) and takes a lot of time.
Yet we have that marvelous spell "comprehend languages" that might have helped during the last decades in understanding the dead language.
Oh well... pure geekiness here :)

Crazy whispers in his dreams taught him the secret words of a dead tongue.

Whispering always in the dark.

That, or one afternoon tea at Brodent Quink's too many :)

"He always seemed like such a nice fellow. Even mentioned how lovely my eyes were. And here I thought he was flattering me. sigh So lonely..."

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It'd be cool to describe the ghost animating a bunch of its beautiful bird carvings, warping them into horrible monstrous splintered things.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Beek Gwenders of Croodle wrote:

How comes Stoot speaks Thassilonian, a language that's been dead for 10.000 years and just barely decipherable through pictograms and inscriptions scattered all over Varisia?

Lyrie also spoke Thassilonian, how well could we consider one that spends a language slot know the language? I always considered that you cannot "speak it" but only try to translate runes, and the process is both uncertain (no real dictionaries) and takes a lot of time.
Yet we have that marvelous spell "comprehend languages" that might have helped during the last decades in understanding the dead language.
Oh well... pure geekiness here :)

Thassilonian being a dead language that no one speaks is kind of not the way it stayed. The language is certainly still one that scholars know of today, especially now that the world of Golarion itself is more well known (the idea of keeping Thassilonian super secret was an early one that we more or less abandoned once we realized Golarion was really popular, and we wanted our most well-known at the time bad-guy group to be less obscure). Certainly with a lot of creatures that are immortal or super-long-lived, the idea of a dead language is a lot less believable in a fantasy world than in the real world.

In any event, Stoot himself knows Thassilonian because he's always been a little touched in the head. Kinda like speaking in tongues.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
It'd be cool to describe the ghost animating a bunch of its beautiful bird carvings, warping them into horrible monstrous splintered things.

His bird carvings do feature as a recurrent theme in "Shadows under Sandpoint," since poor James Sutter's character is kinda paranoid about them. He thinks he's being stalked by Pazuzu or something.

Spoiler:

He's right.


Looking back on when I ran this AP, I wish I had done more with Chopper and the Sandpoint Devil for that matter. It would have definitely given the module a more "Supernatural" feel.

In my campaign, there was a real change to the overall mood between the two modules.

Your players are sure to think Chopper is back and up to his old tricks when they start The Skinsaw Murders.


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Very great job.

We are french fan's. would it be possible to translate this article for a french's fan site?


GET TO THE CHOPPER!!!

sorry couldn't resist.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

mass wrote:

Very great job.

We are french fan's. would it be possible to translate this article for a french's fan site?

I personally wouldn't have a problem with that, as long as you cite the original source and indicate that it's Paizo's copyright and all that. I'm not sure if the community use license allows it, but it certainly allows the use of the artwork at the very least as part of a fan site.


Beek Gwenders of Croodle wrote:

How comes Stoot speaks Thassilonian, a language that's been dead for 10.000 years and just barely decipherable through pictograms and inscriptions scattered all over Varisia?

Lyrie also spoke Thassilonian, how well could we consider one that spends a language slot know the language? I always considered that you cannot "speak it" but only try to translate runes, and the process is both uncertain (no real dictionaries) and takes a lot of time.

That's kind of like wondering how every Lovecraft story has somebody who happens to have read the Necronomicon, when there's only supposed to be something like three copies in existance.

Maybe the Necronomicon was originally written in Thassilonian!! Abdul Alhazred, the Mad Runelord!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

I'd be very interested in doing that, but I would rather not have any legal problems. Who should i contact to know more about this.

TY for the great job, more french's fan love your job. :-)

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Thomas Miller aka tqmillerusa wrote:
Looking back on when I ran this AP, I wish I had done more with Chopper and the Sandpoint Devil for that matter.

I decided to take Stoot in a different direction for my current RotRL campaign: Stoot succeeded.

Spoilers in case my players stumble in...:
After removing his own eyes and tongue, Stoot completed his ritual, and thus succeeded in turning himself into a demon. Given his obsession with all things avian and with eyes and tongues and the art work in the Bestiary, I decided to make him a shadow demon with a bird-like form.

To tie this to the characters, one of my players is the daughter of Wade Deverin, murdered by Stoot, who developed a hatred of birds after her discovering her father's body. Her uncle Gaven took the death of his brother hard and blamed himself, handling raising his niece rather poorly. Now, five years later, he has been playing around with things he shouldn't in the hopes of countering his depression and guilt and has allowed Stoot to return to Sandpoint to truly enact his revenge on the city. The player's character, Tamaze, has been trying to help her uncle through his depression, and became very concerned when she discovered he's taken up whittling to calm his nerves.

Currently, in my game, the party has returned home to Sandpoint to winter after the events at Hook Mountain. Upon arrival, they discovered someone has been stirring up supernatural trouble around the town, including agitating the Sandpoint Devil and freeing Malfeshnekor from his prison (a good bit of trouble since the PCs failed to take care of him previously), coupled with the reappearance of some Stoot carvings. I've placed some red herrings around, like Vhiski aiding Gaven in his endeavors for a price, so the PCs are going to to be in for a shock once they realize what's going on.


James, You've been playing this campaign since March of 2009 and the group is only around 4-5 level? Wow. I guess that explains why high and epic level stuff is a low priority for Paizo (not that I mind that). ;)

Contributor

cibet44 wrote:
James, You've been playing this campaign since March of 2009 and the group is only around 4-5 level? Wow. I guess that explains why high and epic level stuff is a low priority for Paizo (not that I mind that). ;)

Trying to keep up with the product schedule also cuts into game time, alas. :)

Contributor

mass wrote:

I'd be very interested in doing that, but I would rather not have any legal problems. Who should i contact to know more about this.

TY for the great job, more french's fan love your job. :-)

Contact Vic Wertz!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

cibet44 wrote:
James, You've been playing this campaign since March of 2009 and the group is only around 4-5 level? Wow. I guess that explains why high and epic level stuff is a low priority for Paizo (not that I mind that). ;)

It doesn't explain why high and epic level stuff is a low priority at all. In fact, if you'll look at the modules we're doing recently, many of them are high level. And we hit 15th level and above pretty much four times a year anyway with our Pathfinder Adventure Paths.

The group's encounter with Stoot's ghost was a while ago. They're now all about 7th level. And the reason for the slow advancement has nothing to do with my preference for what levels to play at (those would be, for the record, 10th and higher), but because of two completely different factors:

1) We only play, at best, once every other week, after work, for about 3 hours—generally time for one, MAYBE two encounters a session. And that date is often cancelled due to the realities of our schedule—when we're in scramble mode to complete a deadline, having the majority of the group be the same folks who have to work extra hours to COMPLETE that deadline (a deadline that always falls on a Friday, the day AFTER this game takes place), we often have to cancel the game. While in theory the game happens every other Thursday, I'd say that there's probably a 40% cancellation rate for those games.

2) There's 9 PCs in the group. That's more than twice the normal amount, and that means that when XP gets handed out, those totals are divided by 9. Which means that the XP accumulation is pretty slow... even with the Fast track.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
1) We only play, at best, once every other week, after work, for about 3 hours—generally time for one, MAYBE two encounters a session. And that date is often cancelled due to the realities of our schedule—

When my old group had a schedule problem, where it came to be the dreaded life ruled more than our resident rules lawyer did, we looked at ourselves and said, "Seriously, WTF. Does this night/day/time make sense for us anymore?" And lo, it verily did not.

So we picked a day/time that didn't suck so hard.

C'mon, James, you guys are like professional gamers! Move the night and play more. :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Dhampir984 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
1) We only play, at best, once every other week, after work, for about 3 hours—generally time for one, MAYBE two encounters a session. And that date is often cancelled due to the realities of our schedule—

When my old group had a schedule problem, where it came to be the dreaded life ruled more than our resident rules lawyer did, we looked at ourselves and said, "Seriously, WTF. Does this night/day/time make sense for us anymore?" And lo, it verily did not.

So we picked a day/time that didn't suck so hard.

C'mon, James, you guys are like professional gamers! Move the night and play more. :)

We did the same thing. Thursday, as it turns out, is the best choice. And also turns out, finding a single day of the week that works good for most of a 9 person group most of the time is VERY tricky.

Sovereign Court

James Jacobs wrote:
You can check out the campaign journal over on our boards—it's generally only a few game sessions behind where we're at.

I have been meaning to get that up-to-date....really, I have! There's just no opportune time to sit down and write...between chatting it up with the Worm that Walks, slaying the Sandpoint Devil, and dealing with Kirin and his crazy bird talk...what's a paladin to do?

And I really don't understand all this nonsense you've put under Stoot's name....other than he's EEEEEEEVIL! But I knew that, of course. It's my job to know these sorts of things.


YOINK!
(Thanks James!)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
We did the same thing. Thursday, as it turns out, is the best choice. And also turns out, finding a single day of the week that works good for most of a 9 person group most of the time is VERY tricky.

Keep trying man, I ran a group that hit 11 people (we'll ignore the other logistics involved in that for now!). It's doable to find a time. Might mean some slide in late or leave a little early.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

Quick rules question- would a ghost be able to use its sneak attack with corrupting touch or would sneak attack only be applicable with a ghostly weapon? I could see the sneak attack damage reflecting extra damage the ghost does by using "corrupting touch" on a vital organ or something like that.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

John Benbo wrote:
Quick rules question- would a ghost be able to use its sneak attack with corrupting touch or would sneak attack only be applicable with a ghostly weapon? I could see the sneak attack damage reflecting extra damage the ghost does by using "corrupting touch" on a vital organ or something like that.

Sneak attack works with anything that does hp damage. So yeah, it'd work with the ghost's corrupting touch.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Lost Omens Campaign Setting / General Discussion / Paizo Blog: Golarion Day: Chopper's Revenge! All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in General Discussion