Ruby Skull of Chast

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I've actually already started work on a character: Vira Taengar! She is a Fanglord Skinwalker, with family ties to both Qadira and Sarenrae worship. In her backstory, she studied at the Rhapsodic College in Oppara and was actually recruited to the Shadow College beneath it in order to join the Lion Blades, only for her superiors to discover her background and arrest her family. She'll start the game with a very strained relationship with the state, and have a few personal enemies in the Lion Blades in particular.

Mechanically, she's going to be a bardic Dervish of Dawn, emphasizing her role as a primary damage dealer. I'll probably only end up playing her if the group I'm in is lighter on other melee combatants, as Bards can get overshadowed in that role fairly easily.

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Honestly, I'm hoping for pretty much anything! A Heist style operation would be absolutely amazing, but I somehow doubt that this AP will be able to pull it off. The Bargains and Compromise will play a part for sure, and I agree that Relationships and Loyalty and the Power of Secrets will play enter stage.

I wonder if this AP will make use of the verbal duels found in Ultimate Intrigue?

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taks wrote:
Absolutely. That's the angle I'll submit to my players when we get around to discussing our next adventure. Our Saturday group enjoyed that aspect in Mommy's Mask as well.

Honestly, this AP has a much stronger leg to stand on than Mummy's Mask ever did in this regard. To state the obvious, Azlant is an entire lost continent, effectively destroyed when the aboleth called down the Starstone in -5293 AR. Its fall ushered in a dark age in Golarion's history. If we do that anachronistic but somewhat necessary thing where we compare Golarion's nations to our own, it is the obvious Platonic Atlantis analogue: perfect and utopic at first, but doomed to failure as an antidiluvian society. Without trying to put too much of a romantic spin on it, Azlant is an entire world that was lost, and its place as a historic benchmark for most of humanity makes it a vital mission for anyone looking to study and illuminate that age. You could even make the argument that exploring Azlant - regardless of taking from lost treasure hoards - is important in and of itself, seeing how little modern day historians and cartographers really know about the continent.

The raiding of the various tombs of Wati and the rest of Ancient Osirion, by contrast, is a purposive and economically driven edict by the Ruby Prince. As per the books themselves, Khemet is trying to inject his flagging economy with a much-needed shot in the arm by opening his borders to foreign tomb-raiders and persuading them to sell what they find back to local markets. He's essentially selling out his own legacy, and making the PCs complicit in said transaction. While you can lean on the same 'historical archaeologist' angle, it's a lot harder to justify given the above context. Furthermore, the sites in question are actually tombs and graves, built to honour the dead - are nothing like Azlant, which was just out and out destroyed. If Osirion harkens at all to real-world Egyptian burial practices (which we can all agree it should), than all of the pharaohs, priests, and nobles whose tombs the PCs rob would be using those relics and magical items in their afterlife, making Khemet's decree all that more infuriating.

If there's any AP that is actually out to enlist scum and villains, it's Mummy's Mask.

zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Who is more well-suited to graverobbing and plunder than the scum of the Earth?

You call it 'graverobbing and plunder', I call it archaeological discovery and acquisition!

In all seriousness, Azlant represents the collective sum of humanity's past pre-Earthfall: it's an incredibly significant trove of relics and knowledge. The name has also been heavily romanticized in lore and history. It makes sense that both Andoran and the Bountiful Venture company alike would have real interest in a colony on Azlant for its own sake, besides potential mercantile lanes to Arcadia. That's not the kind of job you just trust to scum.

Rune wrote:
Any ideas for incorporating him into the campaign?

I have an idea, but it's fairly far off given the nature of the campaign. I think logically, it would make sense for Azaersi to seek retribution against the PCs after their defeat of Kosseruk and the breaking of the Siege of Longshadow. Siege of Stone mentions her taking notice of the efforts of the party after the conclusion of the third volume, and while I understand the lack of large-scale military assault as the Ironfang Legion focuses on absorbing southern Nirmathas and Molthune, I can also see the General casting her nets wide for a solution to her 'adventurer problem'.

Enter Qa'al. He's still on the run from the Shieldmarshals, and is still hunting for Nekiz. Maybe his travels have happened to take him near Nirmathas, or maybe word of his deeds have reached Azaersi some other way. Either way, Azaersi persuades him to join her cause - however temporarily - by dispatching the Shieldmarshal parties after our favorite gunslinger and promising him vengeance against his treacherous former superior in exchange for her help dealing with a few pesky PCs. He grudgingly accepts.

Now, Qa'al can serve as an interim villain between the PCs setting off for the Valley of Aloi, or encounter them when they get there. He could just show up, but it might be equally fun to have him try and draw the PCs out, to see if they can get him a better offer than Azaersi. I'd plan on making him Lawful Neutral as opposed to Lawful Evil, or at the very least highlight his nobler characteristics. He's not an Ironfang believer, and if the PCs are able to help him out with Nekiz, he'll gladly walk away (and might even share a few things). It'd be an engaging little sideplot, and would be fun if the PCs have already encountered Nekiz before: my idea would be for them to meet him first in Longshadow, living under a different name.

I'm planning on making a Samsaran Psychic with the Self-Perfection discipline and Mystic Past Lives to take advantage of the full power and flavour offered by that combination. My character will ideally be somebody with a past reincarnation who remembers the fall of Azlant.

At the moment, I think I'm going to try for a unique twist on Azlanti Scholar, in that the knowledge all comes from her past lives. I'm going to do a bit more research, but it should be a fun character to play!

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For Azaersi, I have changed her stats and levels to make her an Antipaladin (Tyrant) 2 // Warsighted Oracle of Battle 18. She's supposed to be this supremely amazing warrior, and somehow that translates to 20 levels in Swashbuckler? She does hit for less damage my way, but all of her battle magic changes the tide of engagements, which is the sort of thing I saw as more appropriate for a front-line General.

As far as hobgoblin distrust of magic is concerned, I was considering fluffing it as Azaersi believing her powers are the manifestation of her role as the chosen one of goblinoids across Golarion. And with 9th level spells, who are the PCs to argue?

You know, I just finished reading my copy of the AP, and I was wondering where the stats for this were! I had planned on treating it as a major macguffin as well.

Great AP, Crystal! You absolutely should not spend any time dwelling on mistakes made here; they were both few and quite minor. Ironfang Invasion is absolutely one of my favorite Paizo adventures to date.

Yakman wrote:

Yeah. No need to fight the hobgoblins.

Have them realize the odds are overwhelming and run. Run all the way to Phaendar. Have them beaten and tired and they finally get to a town... and then it happens again.

During the massacre they see Azaersci. Moving like lightning, death incarnate.

Like anyone else, they run.

When the denouement comes, everything has changed.

The problem with your plot is that a full 2 years separates the Ramgate Massacre and the events of Trail of the Hunted. Unless you want to stretch out the events of 24 months on the rode between Fort Ramgate and Phaendar (which sounds like something of a drag), a flash-forward at that point might be more appropriate.

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I noticed a typo (a Freudian slip, perhaps): on the descriptive blurb to the section on the Nesmian Plains, the Fangwood Forest is named 'Fangorn'. Given the name in question, I'm not sure if that's an intentional misspelling or if somebody really likes Tolkien and was trying to slip it in under the noses of the editors.

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Hey all, so I took Crystal's suggestions for tracks as well as my own inspirations for musical themes and put together a soundtrack on Spotify for Ironfang Invasion. I plan to use it for my upcoming play-by-post game. The tracks should line up pretty well with the events of the AP as they happen - I've keyed the various parts of each adventure to a series of songs. There's room for expansion, and I don't have Prisoners of the Blight yet, so I'll make sure to come back and post my new list, but for now here is what I've got!

Playlist Breakdown, AP Spoilers Ahead!:
Intro - 'A Winter's Tale'

Night of the Iron Fangs - 'Night of the Long Fangs', 'Twisted Streets', and 'A Knife in the Dark'
Beneath the Hemlock Banner - 'Survivors', 'Kyne's Peace', 'Threshold', 'Commanding the Fury', and 'Distant Horizons'
Cradled in Stone - 'In Hushed Whispers', 'Silent Footsteps', and 'Vortigen and the Syrens'
Camp of the Red Jaw - 'Make Them Count' and 'Welcome, Imlerith'

Exploring the Fangwood - 'The Call', 'The Edge of the Wild', and 'Unbroken Road'
Revel at Ristin - 'Descent', 'Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts', and 'Eyes of the Wolf'
Secrets of Fort Nunder - 'Wharf to Wilds' and 'Roast Mutton'
The Gorge - 'The Bielski Otriad', 'Amon Hen', and 'Watch the Skies'

Safe Haven - 'Seasoned Oak', 'Nascence', and 'Tooth and Claw'
Scouting The Hollow Hills - 'Journey to Skyhold', 'Slinger's Song', and 'Forged in Fire'
Jewel on the Marideth - 'The City Gates', 'The Streets of Whiterun', 'Cloak and Dagger', and 'The Hornburg'
Undermining the Legion - 'Journey to the Caves', 'Mine, Windbag, Mine', and 'Calling the Inquisition'
Battle of Longshadow - 'Helm's Deep', 'Siege of Adamant', 'The Fall', 'Isengard Unleashed', and 'On Thin Ice'

Goddess Below - 'Ancient Stones', 'The Hill of Sorcery', and 'The Darklands'
The Long Walk - 'A Journey in the Dark', 'Shadows and Echoes', and 'The Bridge of Khazad-Dum'
Judgment of the Sky Citadel - 'The Dwarf Lords', 'Sovngarde', and 'Sons of Durin'
Ghosts of the Past - 'The Lost Temple', 'Bottom Feeders', and 'The Place of All Fears'

Any feedback would be very welcome! I can add album and artist credits when I'm at a computer, but the above list should correspond with the playlist, which I've linked above. Happy gaming!

grandpoobah wrote:

It's a neat idea. I'm looking into starting Siege of Stone in a few sessions, and my game calendar puts that at 5-6 months after adventure start.

Most of the events of Book1,2, and 3 happen in direct sequence - not a lot of time to sit down and relax, so if you assume not giving your players more than 1-2 weeks downtime between books, a 5-6 months should be appropriate.

I would caution against giving away too much about the Synod, as it tells the PCs they need to seek out some dwarves later. It might take away from the big reveal at the end of book3 when the PCs see the onyx stone artifact for the first time.

If you describe the synod as "you stand before the Synod, an important ruling body. They seek to know your virtue and deeds before agreeing to help you. Tell your tale." it will work great.

A sentence like that does not reveal who (dwarves from kraggodan) the Synod is, but states their importance to the PCs and the story. It also doesn't' state why the PCs are there (they players can figure out it is something important to the adventure). Don't let the Players get bogged down in descriptions of the Synod (as it gives future events away).

best of luck to you and good gaming!

Thanks for the advice! I will keep the '6 months' advice in mind, and probably use that as a reference in case the players need more time in order to complete various quests.

As far as revealing the members of the Evenhanded Synod goes, I agree that less is more. My plan is to keep things pretty vague, setting the scene of 'a great hall' and 'a roaring hearth'. I'm going through descriptions of the various members of the Synod in order to describe them without revealing their race and where the PCs are. I want to convey the fact that the PCs are in the presence of important figures and that their telling the story is important but not give too much away.

The good thing about this being a play-by-post is that I can make this part of a single intro post and lead right into the story. That way the characters only need to really interact with the opening of the game at the Phaendar Market Festival and the subsequent Night of Iron Fangs while the players can see the framing device.

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Hey all! I am intent on starting this adventure path fairly soon, in an online format on the Giant in the Playground forums. Having read through the first four volumes of this AP, I was intrigued by the section in Siege of Stone where the PCs get a chance to tell the tale of their adventures to the Synod of Kraggodan, the ruling council of dwarves in the Sky Citadel. It's a fun interlude from the dungeon grind, and offers players a unique opportunity to recap heir adventures leading up to the present. However, I want to take a different tack.

I thought it could be fun to, in the vein of classical storytelling like in The Odyssey or in more contemporary fantasy works like The Kingkiller Chronicle, to start the PCs off in Kraggodan, as the Synod sits down with them and invites them to share their tale. At that point, the game cuts back to the beginning of the story, at the Phaendar Market Festival. The PCs themselves would not necessarily need to describe their characters telling the story: as a nested narrative, it can be broadly assumed that the events of the first three and a half instalments of Ironfang Invasion have happened the way the players and I describe through the game's narrative. This would help keep things relatively broad, to account for character deaths and new characters joining the party roster.

So, I'm looking for some advice. Do you think this idea is feasible to pull off in a play-by-post scenario? What about a tabletop, pen and paper setting? At your best estimate, how much time do you think might have passed between the beginning of Trail of the Hunted and the PCs' arrival at Kraggodan? Is this idea completely done to death?

A bit of backstory before I get into the crew. I started the game as a play-by-post on the GitP forums, with a plan to use one of the homebrew naval systems on this very messageboard so that all of the PCs had a role in ship to ship fights. I tinkered with the system so that there would be 5 roles instead of 4, to account for a slightly larger party, but I liked so many of the applications that I made a radical decision. I chose 8 players to be Wormwood conscripts, and I told all of the applicants that I was going to cull them down over time, finding dramatically appropriate times throughout the first module to kill 3 off. It worked quite well, with most of the player deaths having major impacts on the story. We are powering through Raiders of the Fever Sea right now, with my chosen 5 ready to fill the roles aboard the ship that they've grown into over the first few levels of role playing and gameplay. They're about to take off back into open waters, where the AP's sandbox really hits its stride.

Without further ado, the crew of the newly squibbed Wyrmborn!

- Catrina Bagrid, CN Female Gunslinger (Buccaneer) / Swashbuckler (Picaroon). Daring, deadly, and seductive, she's a young girl with a big role to fill. As the ship's captain, she occupies the Bosun role in naval combats, commanding the whole crew and directing naval maneuvers.

- Lodan Tanner (really Lodan Wolfe), N Male Rogue (Knife Master), VMC Bard. Equally charismatic, with a penchant for tall tales and perennially underestimated. He is the Wyrmborn's first mate, and in naval combats he will be the Shantyman, supporting crew actions and demoralizing the enemy.

- Kana, N Female Druid. A budding adept in storm magic and at home on the sea, she has a dark past and is the taciturn pilot at the ship's helm. She also acts as the Pilot during ship to ship fights, pulling off crazy stunts and controlling the ship itself.

- Feuryon (Fury), N Male Nagaji Barbarian (Scarred Rager). A brutal lizard galley slave, Fury is the hulking sailor and consummate warrior of the group, trading blows with the worst monsters on the sea. He is the Sea Dog, the one who leads boarding parties and is always the first over to the enemy ship.

- Thysh, CG Female Gnome Oracle (Dual-Cursed). Blessed with divine magic, she has traveled the world and fallen in with disreputable pirates, but she is loyal to her crew. She is taking on the role of the Wyrmborn's quartermaster and resident alchemist, and is going to grow into the role of Master Gunner, commanding the siege crew.

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Hello fellow players and GMs!

Inspired by a player of mine that spent way too much time customizing a spreadsheet for my Hell's Rebels rebellion (hi Zim), I've gone ahead and made my own version for the new Militia rules that are used throughout the Ironfang Invasion Adventure Path. I have added all of the new actions and changed the Officer titles, as well as added in a column for the Provision Points to replace the Population sidebar for Kintargo.

I've left everything blank so that you can fill in your own values as soon as your Militia is founded and the PCs settle into their Officer roles. The only exception to this is the Training score, which is just a pre-set number because the function to calculate the Militia's Rank, bonuses, and number of actions accepts 4 as the minimum even though it's obviously not. Feel free to change the function, I just thought it would be easier to leave it and start tracking Training after the first week of taking the 'Drill Militia' action.

Here is the link to the sheet. I ask that if you intend on editing it, please make a copy for yourself and track all of your changes there so that I can keep using this as a base template for other Ironfang parties.

Sorry, I forgot to actually include a link! Here is what I hope is a good overview of skill challenges, and how to use them effectively.

Since I posted my character (see Aster above), I might as well mention the three other people she's going to be working with against the Ironfang Legion:

Rask, Half-Orc Slayer (Vanguard)

Professor Kaitlaea Mayvert, Human Occultist (Battle Host)

Gander Stennick, Half-Elf Bard (Flame Dancer)

Our party is a good mix of direct damage and crowd control, with a specialization on buffs and debuffs from my Shaman and the Bard. We got through the first combat in approximately 1 round, and I'm hoping that we will be able to get through Phaendar without taking any casualties.

Hey all! So I'm here again, asking for some advice from experienced GMs or players who have played through the AP. In the past year or so, my play-by-post has gone through a (somewhat shortened) version of The Wormwood Mutiny, and we are now entering the main story of Raiders of the Fever Sea. The PCs are about to depart from Rickety's Squibs and out into the wider world of the Shackles. I'm really excited for the sandboxy content of the AP, and quite a few of the shipboard combats look entertaining. However, looking ahead, I'm concerned my players are going to get bored with numerous repetitive fights against humanoid enemies on ships throughout the Fever Sea.

So I thought to myself: why not take a page out of 4E's book (gross, I know) and introduce a few skill challenges into the mix. For those of you who have never played a skill challenge, here is a link that I think does a pretty good job of breaking down the principles behind it. Basically, it's taking opportunities to find creative ways to solve problems without resorting to combat encounters, while giving everyone a chance to share the spotlight.

A couple of places I think adding skill challenges in this module might be fun would be:
- Sabotaging the Rudder of the Chelish Pirate Hunter
- Smooth-Talking your Way into Tidewater Rock
- Exploring Mancatcher Cove

That last one in particular would require some overhauling of the AP a bit, probably adding a few traps to Wolfe's lair in the skull cave formation (skull challenge? Too soon?) and expanding it a bit over the endless underwater caverns of the sahaguin below. I'd rather halve the amount of fights like those in favor of a skill challenge like going through a puzzle or trying to escape a collapsing tunnel leading to the rumoured resting place of a forgotten treasure. It just seems more cinematic and pulpy to me, in keeping with the pirate tone of the adventure.

Has anyone else tried using skill challenges in this AP? Did it go over well? What places would you (or wouldn't you) recommend to add in some skill challenges to mix things up?

Aster Wintarius, NG female Human Shaman (Speaker for the Past). I'm taking the Frontier Healer trait, focusing on being a debuffer and secondary healer/controller in combat. Out of combat, she focuses on providing wilderness lore and other knowledges.

Wow, that is a lot of material to cover! I've started listening to the soundtracks posted by Mortagon, and I must say there's some good stuff in there (I especially like the dark and atmospheric Nox Arcana stuff). Thanks for all of the suggestions!

As for the games... my PC is not the best, so I'd be more likely to get a game for my Xbox 360, as it is the only console I own, although my DM has a PS4 so maybe we'll go to town on those games as we get the campaign started.

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You always see one of these in heavily themed APs, but does anyone have any really good, eerie atmospheric music in mind for Strange Aeons? I'm asking as a player, in order to give more suggestions to my DM who has asked about setting the mood for a horror game beyond the nice tips offered by the Horror Handbook.

Alternatively, does anyone have any good media - TV shows and video games primarily - that they would say makes for some good supplementary experience going into a game like this? I've just finished re-watching the first season of True Detective and binge-watched Stranger Things over the course of a day, anything else in that area?

So, I have a question about one particular section of Thistletop as it appears on the map towards the end of Burnt Offerings. There is an area in the second dungeon level of the fortress - specifically, the waterlogged treasure room labelled 'E7' - that is accessible by just swimming inside, with a DC 25 Perception check to find from the surface and a DC 20 Swim check to navigate the 10 ft wide, 20 ft deep underwater passageway. I'm wondering if any of you have ever had PCs discover and try to use this alternate route, and how that changed the experience of the dungeon.

From what I understand, as long as the PCs have reached 3rd level, they should be alright just fighting Nualia at full strength (and even sneak around her trap leading into the observation chamber at 'E4'), even though they might be missing some of the loot from the upper chambers. They'd then have a huge surprise advantage against the goblins and Nualia's mercenaries. How accurate is that assumption?

Update and reply: I'm on the sixth day of the Wormwood's voyage, and am one PC down from the start of the game. The player sort of lost interest, and so I had *someone* (the PCs haven't figured out who) shank him in his sleep and throw him overboard. Funnily enough, I also planned on this being Slippery Syl Lonegan, one of the hostile NPCs that the players haven't really been paying attention to. I'm definitely trying to portray some of the NPCs aboard the ship as having their own agendas, although I'm allowing the players quicker than usual progress on influencing the

The rum ration has proven to be brutal, with most PCs either trying to Stealth or Sleight of Hand their ration away, or just taking the six lashes. I'm glad I didn't cut down on the difficulty in that area, as I am fully counting the continued Con damage killing off at least one more character (probably the cook's mate, who has rolled for the 'double rum ration' twice already and is down to 6 Con from a starting 14). We'll see how much longer they survive.

Up next, I've made the Owlbear a 3rd level Brawler who is absolutely deadly in combat, Plugg's tidewater cutlass will knock a PC overboard (and make it look like an accident) during the 'Storm' event, and I fully plan on playing Bonewrack Isle to its full, deadly potential. Thanks for all the advice so far! I'll keep you all posted as to how my game goes. One down, two more to go...

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So, I'm facing a quandary of my own making. Spoilers for The Wormwood Mutiny, so prospective players begone.

I am in the midst of running recruitment for a Skull and Shackles game in a PbP, and inspired by a friend of mine, decided that I was going to make the first module more interesting. Instead of selecting four PCs (the typical number for any adventure path), I decided I was going to go with eight initial candidates, and whittle down the characters until only four or five of them are left. Part of the reason for my doing this is because of the play-by-post format in general; weeding out players with great applications but no follow-through on games is important, and I figure I'll have at least one or two flake out. But I also want to be up front with the players that the Wormwood is a brutal place, and right from the get-go, their lives will usually be in danger of some sort.

Now, I'm faced with the challenge of increasing the difficulty of The Wormwood Mutiny to accommodate for double the amount of players. One idea I had right off of the bat was to remove and shuffle some of the NPCs around, so that all eight PCs are the new hires from Port Peril. Some of the other original presses will be hardened members of the crew now, and harder to influence. Mr. Plugg and Master Scourge will have a bit more sway over the crew to start (and both villains have been upgraded). I'm also toying with the idea of removing Sandara Quinn entirely, with Fishguts and possibly Grok the closest thing the PCs will have for allies until they get the popular support for a mutiny later on.

Does anybody have any other ideas for interesting ways to shake up the first module? I'm probably going to revamp Owlbear to make him a Brawler who is seriously a threat to a PC in a fight, and to roll randomly to have one of the PCs go overboard in the major storm on the Wormwood's eight day. Any and all other suggestions would be more than welcome.

I have a question about a particular mechanic in the Hell's Rebels module. In the Players Guide, under the 'Team' definition on page 23, it states that "in the space for 'Bonus', record the manager's Charisma bonus (minimum of +0); the team modifies all Organization checks made when taking a rebellion action using this bonus".

My question is: does the Charisma bonus apply to ALL subsequent Organization checks, or only the ones that that particular Team unlocks for the Ravens? If, for example, my resident Cha 18 Bard manages 4 teams, would that give my Rebellion a +16 to all Organization checks? Because that would make almost every single action a non-issue, removing a major source of tension to an otherwise fun subsystem.

I bring this up because one of my players brought this to my attention, and I house-ruled that the Bonus only applies to the specific actions. It's just not delineated clearly in the Players Guide.

A small typo - in Part 3 of the adventure, you've described the scrivenite encounter on page 46. Then, under the stat-block, there's no entry but it refers me back to page 46, when the Bestiary entry is on page 86.

Other than that, loved it! So much detail, I'm still reading it over and finding new stuff to use for my upcoming game.