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As far as the OP's questions go I'd say leave Evil Eye be and go with Slumber and/or Misfortune. You'll have much more influence on combat. I've just reached level 5 as a witch in PFS and here's what I've learnt:

1) Lead with Slumber unless you know/believe the targets are immune/resistant. That's when you turn to Misfortune. Even one round of slumber is better than cackling your way through multiple misfortune rounds.

2) Misfortune is next best, particularly if you have other casters in your party with Save or Suffer spells.

3) Evil Eye is more of a fall back if I'm up against sleep immune and/or high WIS enemies. It just edges out Good Fortune mostly because your allies can only benefit from GF 1/day.

4) Cackle, Cackle, Cackle. All turns where you've misfortuned must have a cackle.

5) GM's will come for you and given the 30ft range of Hex you will be hit and ganged up on often if your party doesn't protect you. Spacing is important. Your party needs to ensure you have 5ft step options to get out of harms way and for them to fill the gap to protect you.
* A lot of the Witch's spells double up on what you already do so make sure you're not over committing to compulsions, Will saves, etc.

6) Gear wise I think AC and Con bumps are the way to go given you're a GM's first target. Other tricks to generate miss chances go along way.

7) Spells tend to be cast at range or out of combat as you're mostly just Hexing. In the long run I'm building towards Quicken Spell with the plan being to spend my turn doing Quicken Ill Omen, Hex (Sleep/Misfortune), Cackle and 5ft step if required.

8) Healing Hex has been pretty good to free up spell slots from healing and conserve curing wands.

9) I'd also suggest having the odd combat where you don't slumber or misfortune. Why? Mostly to give your GM a break as some will find the witch a frustrating character to have in the game and sometimes it's best to just let your party have their moment to shine. I mostly pick a combat where I feel the challenge is minor and will turn to the hexes if I feel it's things are starting to get out of hand against us through freaky dice rolls.

I put a dragon in the passageway to the valley as I figured a large predator would serve as a great deterrent for anyone getting too close to the city. It would also serve as a deterrent for anyone trying to get out.

Zigguarat - Inside
The book doesn't have anything listed for whats inside so I figure the Spear of Righteous Anger was part monument, part training facility and part head quarters of the Spear Wardens. I've set it out as having the stairs taking you straight to the top where you enter and then work your way down. There's also the stairs to the top for the Spear to be activated.

First level down is one big room with construct guardians. When the PC's enter they come across the bodies of Charau-ku, Girallons and Dire Apes amongst smashed bits of stone. The guardians had activated and drove off Akkituk's forces. The guardians then reverted back to being statues and columns. Perception rolls for the PC's where high enough to identify the bits of blood on the statues and columns. I should say I used where the Terra Cotta soldiers skinned as Ceratid Constructs (both in Bestiary 3) for the guardians.

My guys were able to piece it all together and tell the activating guardians that they are here for the tests to become spear wardens. This summons the ghost of the former Master of Trainees who commands the statues to peace and leads the PC's down to the Hall of Heroes. There's a bit of a Q&A session and it's here that I do some work binding the Harrowing module to this AP.

Basically the story is that the creator (the bard Sonnorae) was tasked with creating a dimensional world that would test the abilities & virtues of potential spear wardens. She created a world with a storyline where recruits (or testees as my guys called themselves) would have to figure out what was happening and solve the problem. He warned them that what happened in the test was real and it was not unsual for those that entered to never return or be brought back dead. He also told them that in the lead up to Earthfall Sonnorae went into the test and never returned.

My group decided to take on the test the next day and in the mean time explore the lower levels. For the lower levels I had basic barracks - emptied supply/gear roomes, sleeping quarters, mess room, etc. In one of the single bed rooms they came across the body/skeleton of the ghost peacefully lying on his bed.

The Test of The Spear Wardens - The Harrowing
I ran it as it is with a few added bits of information coming from the NPCs. I had to explain what you had a "modern" and "carnie" world that was created in ancient times. So for this I had npc's explain that the lead villain was able to look out into the world and lure people across through hidden rifts (no npc knew where they were). He was shaping the world based on the changes he saw in an attempt to make himself "real world" where he would then escape this made realm. To do that he needed to consume real world creatures and as he did the realm changed.

I also had the guys come across gear with spear warden insignia, azlanti coins and I was able to drop some clues and hints for the tiles for the vaults.

To be honest this was a bit of a bust. It detracted far more from the storyline than I had initially thought. It was a good change of pace in that it has some different opponents, but my guys felt it was a hindrance and less of a break from crawling through ruins.

I think the core idea of a dimensional world created to test potential recruits is sound. The mistake was using the Harrowing because it's flavour just does not work with the Ancient Azlanti flavour of this AP. If I was to do this again I think I would have done the story arch in the same lines as the Dragon Head statue I had added as an added encounter in the Mercantile District (See several posts back). Have it set that the PC's find themselves in a small village and must defend it from the monstrous forces of a dragon, before heading out to find the Dragon and defeat it. Would have been quicker to play through, ties in with what they had seen/encountered before and requires the PC's to be heroic and capable.

Military District
My group was about level 8 when it first decided to head into the Military District and got a little cocky as they smashed Oulijimi's patrols with fireballs and bombs. I managed to have a few escape and raise the alarm which boosted the patrols with extra numbers. I also had Oulijimi set an elite force that had advanced Girallons and spellcasters mixed in with the patrol that would be within a few rounds of being able to come across to the regular patrols that would signal as soon as it encountered adventurers. For the spellcasters I just used some from the GMG and described them as Charau-ku. They didn't last long for it to really matter to be honest.

Zigguarat - outside
I changed things up quite a bit here, partly because this was where I was going to set the Hall of Heroes and partly because my guys were just obliterating the encounters set in the book for this district. So I made it that Akkituk had rallied a large force with him to try to get into the Zigguarat. His previous attempts had been thwarted by construct guardians who defend against intruders (non-spear wardens). The large force was a mix of Girallons (some advanced), Dire Apes, Charau-Ku and 2 Stone Apes. For the Stone Apes I used the Totems from the book (pg 86) skinning them as stone apes. I give them 20ft movement and remove the fire vulnerability given they're stone and my fireball flinging sorceror is already having a field day. I also added in Grugnoth as I couldn't see my guys going to the island and level wise they were already close to the end without having conquored that much of the city.

The total numbers of the force:
* 4 Dire Apes - 2 will go down the left side and 2 down the right side
* 5 Girallons - 2 advanced girallons that stayed close to Akkituk
* 12 Charau-ku - I used the Thug stats, but gave them fast movement and rage (basically +2 attack and damage)
* 2 Stone Apes - Totems
* Grugnoth
* Akkituk

I made sure my group had plenty of advanced warning in spotting Akkituk's forces, ensuring they had time to discuss tactics, buff and 2 full rounds of distance between them and the enemy. The group buffed up and then kicked it off with ranged attacks - basically sorceror and Alchemist acting as artillery.

Then we went into initiative with the creatures being broken into groups. The Charau-ku and Girallons ran straight at the PC's straight down the clearing. With the extra 10ft to their base speed the Charau-ku got ahead. The Dire Apes went wide and scrumbled onto roof tops of nearby buildings. The Stone Apes and Akkituk trailed down given their slower speed. This made the encounter happen in waves.

In the end the group takes out a lot of Charau-ku, Girallons and Dire Apes in addition to the patrols they'd wiped out that I figure that Oulijimi's reach is cut off and he withdraws his remaining forces to the Stronghold. Basically awaits the final confrontation.

This was one of our best encounters to date. There was some great tactical choices being made and the guys were pretty tense. Having the apes leaping across the roof tops really had them on edge. Add in the ominous Stone Apes and the flying Grugnoth, I definitely had the full attention of the table.

With the different speeds of the creatures the encounter was one where the enemy came at them in waves and put some tactical choices on the group. They had to weigh up whether to pick off the incoming speedsters (Charu-ku with 1 level of Barbarian) that could tangle them up or take out the heavy hitters (Stone Apes, Dire Apes & Girallons). They also had the flying demon ape coming in that really concerned them. So there was some strategic choices to be made and the group burned through a lot of resources. It's only after Akkituk gets there and they're forced to make their first will save (Hold Person) that they choose to bail.

Grugnoth did manage to get in close, but was easily cut down and wasn't really a threat so I possibly should have looked at beefing him up given my guys were level 8 and fully buffed. At the time I wasn't too fussed as he spooked the players which gave him an influence on the encounter and I had planned to re-use his stat block as guardians for Oulijimi.

I'd also consider taking out 2 Girallons and replace them with Derhii scouts making 3 fliers. It seperates the forces a bit more and pressures the casters.

This encounter no doubt looks like an XP-fest, but I dropped the CR's by 1 for each creature given the opening distance. The PC's had plenty of time to buff and then a full 2 rounds to bomb, blast and shoot, before the enemy got within striking distance. Add in that they were tactically smart enough to buy another round by moving back their base speed for those 2 rounds while casting and shooting.

I think if you are to use this in your own game consider how your group responds to enemy forces and their general tactics. If they're going to charge in or walk right up and then engage you should drop initial numbers of the encounter down and have the extras come in later (1-2 rounds). Treat it as though they're on the other side of Zigguarat or outer patrols returning once they hear the sound of battle.

I had set it up that the Stronghold had once belonged to one of the wealthy families that owned one of the vaults in the temple of Abadar. My backstory/reason for Oulijimi being there instead of the Ziggaurat was that he had discovered some Demons of Angahazan that had been turned to stone by the original owners and kept as trophies. Oulijimi believed that if he could free these demons he could potentially take over the city as they would have the knowledge to create a gate that would let more of Angahazan's minions through. With the successful release of Grugonoth he was closing in on his goal so with the PC's pressing his forces he was about to start taking a chance on releasing them. For the Demonic Apes the plan was to use Grugonoth's stat block and add 2-3 Barbarian levels. Maybe have one of the greater demon (skinned to be more like an ape).

I was greatly concerned with Oulijimi as an opponent and held him back using him as a deterrence. His dominate ability was most likely going to TPK as my group had two PCs with bad will saves that they relied heavily on for combat. My initial plan was that he'd have used up two of his dominates on a Camulatz and Dinosaur. I figure a guy like him would always keep one up his sleeve and I just dreaded what might happen should one of the PC's fail that save.

I mostly had Oulijimi fly around on a dominated Camulatz and scare the hell out of my group getting them to fall back. They'd learnt about the vorpal ability of the Camulatz and wanted nothing to do with them. Particularly once they were beaten up a bit and had expended their best punches. It enabled me to steer the party a bit and give Oulijimi a bit of menace. The Camulatz vorpal ability is the key here. I had the PC's witness one of them swooping in and lop the head off livestock from the expedition that had gotten outside a broken fence.

In the end my group never battled Oulijimi as they did the Hall of Heroes (The Harrowing module) and I realised that they were level 9 and needed to have progressed much more into the city then what they had. So to wrap up the Military District I had them come out of the Hall of Heroes a couple of months later learning that the expedition had dealt with the Oulijimi threat while they were searching for missing PCs. No body found though as they collapsed the Stronghold with him still inside. So I've got Oulijimi in the back pocket should I need an interesting villain later. I figure I can give him some levels and some demonic minions for the higher levels.

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

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Huzzahhhhh! I caught up...

Since I started voting I've come across a lot of
* Undead interaction items
* Torcs
* Soups - though not so many since the cull
* Voice manipulation
* A lot of drawbacks as a counterbalance

I don't know about anyone else, but this voting has revealed some things to me:

1) Handy items trump powerful items
2) I don't like dream items, or teleportation and time based items
3) I'm a stickler to the each turn a player may make 1 full round action or 1 standard action and move action. Didn't realise how much I dislike Swift actions.
4) Don't like items that require extra GM work (found myself muttering, "Got enough on my plate" a few times)
5) Cinematic trumps mechanics for me as long as there are no major errors/flaws with the item
6) I like items in the hand that require you to wield it and interact with it
7) I have a preferred range of about 5-30k in market value. Items under that don't tend to have abilities that interest me and items above that tend to frighten me off power wise.
8) The easier it is to read the more favourable I am to the item
9) I don't care if words are mispelled or the format is a little off, as long as it's easy to pick up what the item does
10) I'm finding myself repeating what a mate used to repeatedly say back in the 3.5 days, "Some spent significant XP, gold and time to make that...why?"

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

CR 4 cap kills off the idea I had been playing on using...

Oh well the fun is in the creating side anyways!

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

Torcs and Soups were a common occurance in the first few days. Had a lot of items that gave bonuses to knowledge skills too.

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

Yeah I had the same thing happen to me. It's bad enough that I'm repeatedly seeing the same lot of items again and again, but to have it just spit out the same combo has me close to calling it a day voting wise.

I changed it and made it the Gorrila Prince who was reluctantly sent to the city to take it. I rolled pathetically for the first few rounds of the fight my group started to think something was up that he was throwing the fight and so I just ran with that. Made it that the Prince didn't want to be there and would rather be back home. He lost, then learned he was banished for his failure, the group took pity on him and now he's an ally that has a residence in the city for him and his handful of supporters.

• Camulatz - Probably a mistake to use it the way I did. I think it serves better in an open terrain, preferrably with the PC's crossing a bridge or something. This will come up later where I have the group racing across the bridge as a Camulatz positions itself to swoop in.

• First encounter with the Tribe - this one has the potential to kill off the possibility of diplomacy. I had the patrol spot the PC's first and send a representative out in the open to speak to them. I played it as though they hadn't seen any pale faces ever before and were a bit curious. I also had the patrol leader/speaker a close ally of Osond and knew the challenges his tribe faced. I had him look at these pale faces as a potential game changer.

• Disease - I forgot to add that on the way to the Artisan District I had the group make saves versus disease. One failed, which gave Osond and the tribe an opportunity to help the group by curing the disease and showing herbs/fruits to help resist and fight off diseases in the future.

• Radiant Muse - I needed to add in the bits on the Radiant Muse being a revered figure and her ties to the founding story of the tribe to explain why they would follow such a nutty leader. I think it also helps serve as a restraint on a potentially powerful ally.

• The Performance - This was a good change up from what had been a pretty combat heavy few sessions. If I was to do this bit again I would just do away with the dice and have it roleplayed. My group really thought it through and put a lot of effort into coming up with an interesting performance that would appeal to the RM that it didn't deserve to fall over because of one bad dice roll. I gave them a second out by having the paint up an impressive murial, but I think this one should just be a role play challenge and the dice are forgotten about. If you've got no bard and a low Charisma party I would definitely do this as the DC is just too high for the level your PC's are going to be. Either that or you drop some specific magical items to help get them over the line.

• Savith's Memorial - Originally I was keeping the ghost to the spears, but after seeing the statue she just had to be there. If I was to do this bit again I think I would have a big muddy pool of water before it and relocate the amphisbaena from the flooded Amphitheater (F4).

• Memory Masks - once again I had forgotten about these and should have dropped one or two in. It could be one that makes Performance (dance) and a class skill with a +2 bonus. Could do it for other performance types and would serve as one way to prepare the PCs for the performance that determines the reaction of the RM.

• Vault clues - I had the RM tell some stories that seemed nonsensical, but contained clues to tile combinations. My group did not pick up any of them. I should have had the murials in the Artisan district holding clues and I suppose I still can and have the expedition academics identify them.

My group now faces a decision. To listen to the ghost and pursue the trials or to get started on the Boggards. They end up deciding to go back to the expedition to share what they have just learned and establish ties between the expedition and the tribe.

Savith's Memorial
I have my group come across the memorial and after the cleanse it of the snakes the ghost appars. This time she spends a bit longer and tells them that unity and the seven virtues are the key. She urges them again to go to the Hall of Heroes and complete the tests.

Faction reaction
Amivor and PFS are pumped to learn about the RM and Tribe of the Sacred Serpent. He quickly plans to send a diplomatic envoy to forge strong ties to the community and raises the possibility of the PFS shifting over to the tribe. The SG are more cautious and oppose such a shift. The PFS argue that be day-to-day interaction with the tribe and round the clock study of the ziggaurat would reveal much about the city. Particularly if the Radiant Muse is one of the original inhabitants from before Earthfall. The General argues now is not the time to divide their strength and while an alliance would be good we don't know the full threat of the Boggards. It would be very risky to bind ourselves to an ally against an unknown opponent. After some roleplay it comes up that a diplomatic envoy will be sent along with a scouting party to investigate the Boggard threat. The PC's will head into the Military District to attempt to locate the Hall of Heroes.

So picking back up from where I left off.

I had realised that I missed an opportunity to reveal the Camulatz so I have the group hear from one of the camp workers about a massive bird flying down lopping the head off one of the oxen before swooping down to fly off with it. It's now in their heads and serves as a good scare for my group much like the Red Mountain Devil from book one. How can you not be afraid of the vorpal parrots.

So at the end of last session my group were planning on heading down to the Military District, which I have heavily prepared for with extra encounters. As players are wont to do, they change minds at the start of the next session and decide that because they can see that Zigguraut over in the Artisan District they'll go there.

Journey to the Artisan District
With the fear of Mokele-Mbembe the group heads into the jungle to get there. On the way I decide to have them come across a Camulatz nest. I show the picture and the group starts to freak as they recall the story they'd heard earlier and note the blood coming off the beak and claws. There's a battle and for loot I throw in a Ring of Virtues on a skeletal hand.

The group spends a night in the jungle and I have them hearing all manner of sounds which is messing with their heads. They fear another Camulatz. The next day the group comes across a patrol of Tribal Hunters from the Tribe of the Sacred Serpent (Using the same group from J1). It's a peaceful encounter and they manage to negotiate a meeting with the Chieftain (Osond).

Tribe of the Sacred Serpent
As the group is being escorted through to Osond I describe a people under seige. A heavily defended and fortified Zigguarat with the tiers being covered with vegetable patches. There are warriors guarding the walls with most being on the Farming District side of the Zigguarat.

I play Osond as the exhausted hard working middle manager trapped in a tough situation with an unstable and unpredictable leader above him. The group's first sighting of Osond is him tending to the sick and then playing a kick ball game with some children on his way over to meet them. I don't know if it was because of this set up or that the group has had a few near death experiences, but they strike up a quick friendship with Osond.

He explains the tough situation he's in saying that the Boggards are pushing aggressively into their territory and for safety they've had to withdraw the entire tribe into the Zigguarat. He further explains that while he leads the people in everyday affairs the true leader is the Radiant Muse and currently she won't let the tribe throw it's full power into dealing with the Boggards. She has forseen the demise of their great god and believes that all the tribe has to do is wait them out. Saddly that strategy has lead to the decline of his tribe and he is unable to do anything about it as everytime he attempts to build up a warparty she interferes.

He explains that she is a revered figure and that his tribe's story starts with her locating and uniting lost people. Under her protection the tribe prospered and grew, but saddly the centuries have started to take a toll and her mind is degrading. I basically describe dementia and Osond now finds that her direction is at times baffling, disruptive and dangerous. At times she is perfectly lucid making amazing tactical decisions and at others she seems to be seeing the city as what it once was. She has directed people to go into the jungles and ruins in search of materials for paintings, seen boggard war parties as ambassadors and treated dangerous creatures is domesticated pets. Saddly his tribe ignore these issues or play them off as insignificant and minor failing to see the greater potential dangers.

Osond explains that to minimise her interference he uses the artistically and creative talented of his tribe to keep her occupied and entertained. This has allowed him to bolster the defenses and fight back, but he fears that it has started too late and the Boggards are too powerful for his tribe to deal with now. Osond is happy to form an alliance and is willing to throw his full support behind it if the expedition will assist his tribe in dealing with the Boggards. Should that be dealt with he would allow PFS into their zigguarat to study and happily make their territory accessible and a safe place for the expedition.

He adds that while he makes the majority of the decisions and welcomes the PCs and their expedition, his people will not trust or accept them until the Radiant Muse does. By now she would have heard about each one of you and will be interested to hear your individual stories and see what talents you possess. For any alliance it is important that this meeting goes well as the group must win her over to have the full support of the tribe. He suggests that the best method is an impressive display of creative and artistic talent that reveals the group's story.

Winnning over the RM
It's fun to see what players can come up with when you tell them to put away the dice. I tell them to think about what they're going to and how they'll prepare the show with each members contribution. We end up the alchemist doing flashy explosions of colour, illusions, story telling and a bit of knife throwing. It ends of course with the dice coming out and down to rolls. I allow the Bard to shine and use his full kit of support abilities with assistance rolls and inspire competence. Saddly one flumoxes the roll, but the bard recovers and agrees to paint a murial of the group's story of how they came to Saventh-Yhi.

With the RM won over she shares some information. I had her bounce from topic to topic and sometimes ignoring their attempts to clarifying and ask more specific questions. Basically she tells them how to activate the spear and that the prophecy spoke of a great artistic young talent reactivating it. The group activates it and gets another visit from the ghost of Savith who urges them to find the Hall of Heroes before she fades out.

The group returns to the RM to try to get some more info. Naturally the RM is overjoyed at learning over Savith's ghost and says that it's a sign that the prophecy of the city returning to it's former glory has begun. She explains that the Hall of Heroes is somewhere over the side of the city. She doesn't know where exactly, but it's in the Military District.

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I looked at the map scale and thought the 2000ft scale couldn't be right. This is supposed to be a huge city. I was just grouping the buildings and say to my guys, "So you want to check out these ones?" it will take half the day.

If you did go with the 500ft hexes I suppose two hours would work for clearing a hex. Using the scale you're getting a few buildings in each hex so maybe 2 hours isn't enough given the aim is to thoroughly search and check every room in every building. Given they would be clearing it to be safe for non-combatants a search would involve looking through every room, on every roof, down every stairs, looking for secret doors, hidden basements and interesting objects/pictures. This would be quiet time consuming to do for every building so I'm now thinking probably 4 hours.

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No I didn't use them there and to be honest don't think it needs them. I would think about using them for Racing to Ruin though. If I was to run that one again I would print up the map without the pre-set trail and have the PC's decide how they want to get to Tarzion. The faction leader would advise the course that's in the book, but ultimately the players would have the deciding vote.

The map could then be "hexed" and you'd have the players clearing out a hex for the expedition to move into. I think it would give a greater sense of clearing a secure path for the expedition. From what I've read in the book 2 thread and my own experience there is a tendancy for players to shoot out as fast as they can forgetting about the expedition.

Most of the encounters in the book could easily be moved about and dropped in to where the terrain is a match or tweaked to match the terrain you want to use it in. I know for that one I added in small towns, additional travelling merchants, slavers, Mwangi hunters, a young T-rex, and a lot more encounters than what was in the book. I didn't really bother too much with random encounters instead just had some prepared ones that I slotted in where I wanted to kick things along.

The idea of this part of the AP is to explore the city and learn as much as you can so for my mind it lends itself to the Hexploration style. I think Ultimate Campaign has some upgraded/updated rules for it, but yeah originally I was thinking of Kingmaker.

A hex could only take a few hours as the PC's examine every ruin to clear hazards and learn as much as they can. Inside a hex would be a mix of clues to the purpose of the buildings, history/background, creatures, loot, discovery point/s, and clues to the greater story.

Each district could contain say 6-8 hexes that would oviously be smaller in size than Kingmaker, but for simplicity I'd treat it as though it were plains. I think it would give a greater sense of exloration, size of the city and progress then what I'm currently doing. Would also add to the feel of occupying and controling territory within the city.

I don't know if you've ever played the strategy Dune game (released back in the 90's), but it sort of captures the vibe I have in mind. As you progressed through the game you would see this map that was broken up into territories which were marked in the colours of the different warring factions. The colours would shrink back as you made progress. I'd like to do something like that. Maybe use coloured paper to attach to a copy of the map to show the progress of the different factions.

My group has steered clear of the Residential district so far, which is saying something because they're onto book 4. So I haven't had to do anything yet.

The initial plan was to make it a faction clash zone with the Aspis and Pirates dominating the district. I'd still have one little pocket of the Vegepygmies as a lead in to the hag, but that's it. The main encounters would come from clashes with the other factions, particularly the Aspis. After a few run ins with the Aspis I was thinking that I'd have Gelick turn villain joining with the Aspis. He would lure the PCs into an ambush as the Aspis sort to take out the lead. My group hates Gelick with a firey passion so it would be a great memorable twist.

I've decided to add a new party to the mix based on whats happened in the game. Tentagard escaped so I'm thinking of having him take over part of the district and use a lot of demons, which should prove more challenging then the vegepygmies as they level up.

Issilar (from book 2) escaped so he might be disguised in one of the factions, which should explain the aggression towards the PCs.

I'd like to add my appreciation for this guide and I hope Paizo takes note as it's a subject that definitely deserves a hardcover.

Bits I'd like to see added to your excellent guide are:
* Sequential encounters - having enounters that build on each other in the lead up to the BBEG. Your comment in the Harrowstone example about the low level PC's likely to have used most of their AoE effects is the sort of thing I'm thinking about. Advice on how to use lead up encounters to boost the major encounter.

* Creature selection - combo's (tips on opponent/monster team ups), ability/powers for terrains, matching up vs PC composition (eg: caster heavy part, melee heavy party, etc), templating and opponent roles for greater challenges.

* Managing spellcasters for the higher levels - quick & easy tactics/guide for casters to run that are still challenging

* Monster tactics - playing the different intelligent scores of monsters.

* Encounter management - Aerial encounters, moving terrain, natural hazards, making the most of abilities, etc

Some editing bits I picked up on in the Practice What We Preach — Haunting of Harrowstone section:

in #2 — Reduce the Splatter Man’s CR
Regardless, the Splatter Man’s CR is now CR 5, meaning he is worth 1,600 XP. This means you freed up 800 XP to worth with, just like in the first example.
** Wording: I assume that it should be work with instead of worth with

in the Grusome entry part
The moment your blood touches the air, it quivers. The Splatter
Man grins as your red ichor enters his area of influence and your blood animals into hundreds of small, amorphous blobs that swarm the room, attempting to siphon even more of your blood
from your withering veins.
** Wording: I assume that it should be animates instead of animals

A little further on in the How Many section
I wouldn’t recommend this. While you’ll get an impressive four to five swarms don’t so, having that many ooze swarms is bound to agitate and frustate your players.
** Spelling: Frustate - should be frustrate
** Wording needs improvement. Perhaps: "I wouldn't recommend this as although you'll have an impressive four to five swarms, you're likely to agitate and frustrate your players."

I have only just started on the Terrain section and will post up any other bits I catch if you like.

One option is to have them come across a war party of a Mwangi tribe that is hunting a crazed dire ape terrorizing the region. That war party may have another charm to use or once the PCs are rounded up the shadow demon changes to posess the war party leader. Depending on how you want to play it you could have a diplomatic contest with the PC's needing to convince the war party the leader has been possessed.

Another would be to have them come across a rival faction's scouting group who can help them out. You could use it as an interesting set up for book 3 complications plus should motivate your group by seeing that another faction is close.

Or use it as a role play challenge for the player. Have the demon learn about Savinth-Yhi and wanting to hitch a ride to the city. The player then should play the character a little bit creepier, more aggressive, and less protective of his party members. A bit meh about other people's suffering. Could be a lot of fun and gives you the option of having the demon leave the PC to find a stronger host in the city or ride for awhile looking for some maguffin until the PCs are strong enough/equipped to deal with it.

The Abadar Vaults
As the expedition is now settled in the Zigguarat the group has taken an interest with the vaults and combination locks. I had created the tiles by printing out symbols I have gathered over the years and sticking them to bits of cardboard. At the time I hadn't seen the Thassalonian runes, and if I was to do it again I would use them. Instead I've got a mix of religious symbols, demonic symbols, guild/organisation symbols and creature pics. Having the tiles at the table made it a lot more engaging and interactive with the group sorting through them and speculating. I have them make some knowledge checks to be able to seperate the symbols into groups. One rolls a natural 20 so I have him identify the coin of Saventh-Yhi which is a coin pic from some other rpg I've had for years. With no further clues to work on I have the academics say they will research on the symbols on the coins and on the vaults while the PC's search the city for clues. I figure this is a good way for the expedition to contribute to the PC's success. My group is definitely energised to explore the city.

Camp Rolls
I've now added that when my guys make their exploration roll they can choose to have it for a tile or for a discovery point. If they roll high I'll have them gain the both.

First reveal of the Map
My guys love a good map and I wanted to pull out the map from the map pack as I thought it will help give them an idea of how big the city is. I had the expedition create a map after a bit over a week of being at Saventh-Yhi as I figured they would have sent scouts to the top ridges to sketch up a map. Plus with the 7 story high Zigguarat I thought it should be easily done to add to the detail.

• Gelik definitely spices things up and serves as a great motivator when you play up his smugness. At some point I might have Amivor choose Gelik and his group over the PCs to really rub it in.

• Having the ring do a bit more when the spear was activated has made it a lot more interesting to the players. They're definitely interested to see what it does in the military district.

• For the 4 statues encounter I wish I'd though out the story of the adventuring party so I could read it out rather than just telling the key plot points. I missed an opportunity to add some real colour there.

• I would also show the campsite people suffering a bit like the PC's who are constantly crawling back into camp beaten and almost broken. I think a simple medical tent where people were tending to by medics for broken bones, diseases, cuts, etc would do. Might also serve as a good friction point as the natives are given non-magical healing while the colonials and foreigners benefit from healing magic because they can afford it or are more of a priority to the expedition due to their expertise, skill sets and position.

• I'd forgotten to use the memory masks which would have been great to for the Zigguarat. I could have had the wearer learn a ritual, piece of lore or something.

• The Chimera is potentially a very deadly encounter depending on the initiative rolls, PC positioning/spacing, and how the GM uses the Chimera. I nearly killed 2 PCs outright and a TPK was just a bad roll away.

Added Encounter
I added an encounter of my own where the PC's come across an open public gardens. The encounter involves the PC's spotting 4 statues surrounded by skeletons. As they approach they see the four statues are Azlanti adventurers around a dragon head (statue). When the PC's get within 60ft they hear the sound of jungle drums (emitted from dragonhead) and then the human skeletons start to rise and huddle behind the statues. The non-human skeletons remain inert. The group hears wimpering and crying from the human skeletons as the drums continue to play and a voice starts speaking in Azlanti. The voice tells the story of 4 young heroes journeying out into the jungle to fight a dragon and return to become Spear Wardens. When the story ends a number of advanced Jungle Mantis drawn by the noise descend on the PCs. At the end I award them a discovery point and they're now wondering what is a Spear Warden.

Keche Encounter
The PC's see the stacks of ape skulls and realise that they've entered the territory of some sort of group. They decide to try the diplomatic approach and engage in talks with the Keche. They learn about Olujimi and Akkituk and the chieftain will agree to an alliance if the PC's bring the heads of Olujimi and Akkituk. They also learn a bit about Mokele-Mbembe as they watch the Keche offer up a dead ape to the beast.

Return to the Zigguarat, Spear Activation & Rings of 7 Virtue
My guys wanted to clear it out and went in fully prepared to deal with shadows and had a much easier time of it. I put in a lot of murials at the top that told a bit about the place of the church in society as a central trading place, banking and contracts. From these they learn that there is are vaults underneath the Zigguarat.

For the spear activation I have the PC's see the ghost of a female azlanti warrior trying to reach out to them. She tries to speak, but it comes out in a nonsensical babble before she fades away. Once activated I had the PC with a ring of 7 virtues feel warmth emit from the ring and start seeing the value of everything around him. The player loves this sort of stuff and had a great time just rattling off prices randomly.

They head back to the basement level find the magical runes that they activate using an Abadar ritual to open the way down into the basement vaults. Down there they see the great vaults below, discover the tiles and combination locks realising it will take a lot of time and research to crack.

First hint of Saboteurs
I have Gallant Gelik and the Seekers strutting about camp in his fine green dragon armour showing off Azlanti Jewellry boasting about their battles with Dire Apes, Charau-ka and Girallons. Naturally this starts grating away at the bard who snaps. He storms over ready to start accusing Gelik of being a fraud when the ground starts to shake and he hears the sound of trees snapping. Dinosaurs stampede through the camp smashing and breaking everything in thei rpath. It's chaos with fires springing up everywhere, people screaming and the risk of camp being destroyed. The group has to re-direct the stampede away from the heart of the camp. They investigate a bit by tracking the stampede tracks and notice that there are boot prints at the point where the Dinosaurs were just feeding.

Moving the Expedition and The Chimera
Following the stampede with the Zigguarat cleared the expedition decides to move into the Zigguarat. I play up the frenzied excitement of the PFS leaders. The PC's will serve as the forward scouts and the other scouts will protect the flanks and rear as the expedition moves to the Zigguarat. I figure such a large group of people moving would draw the Chimera and a scream is heard as one of the flanking scouting parties encoutners the Chimera.

While the group was crawling through the Mercantile District I did a bit with the expedition and NPCs.

• As the group sold the body of the defeated dragon I had him buy the scales off the camp traders and get them made into a very impressive set of armour. Word spread through that he was a dragon slayer which as you can imagine really pissed off the group. I rubbed a bit of salt in by having Gelik being called Gelik the Gallant with tales of his deeds spreading about. It got the competitive juices going and was a great motivator. I think it also showed that the expedition wasn't just relying on the PCs to do all the exploring.

• Serves as a free cleric that the group can crawl back to for lesser restoration and other low level spells. He's also served as a good source of news and a way for me to breath life into the campsite by revealing what the expedition is doing while the PCs are exploring. I've used him to introduce some of the new npcs I've created.

Coalition tensions
• Before the Zigguarat was cleared I had the PFS push for the expedition campsite to moved out of the jungle into the edges of the district. In their mind it was cleared enough and by being in the city their academics would be able to spend more time studying the ruins. The SG argued that the district was only partially cleared and there was still a lot of risk. Any of the buildings could be haunted or hold curses and the expeditions understanding of the state of the city was too minimal to move so many people in. It was a good source of tension that I could put the PC's in the middle of. In the end they played the middle ground and forged an agreement that the Zigguarat was a great defensive structure and once cleared the expedition should move in.

• I've also had the Mwangi workers become very superstitious requiring the group to step in occassionally when foreign adventurers and PF's can't get them to do what they want. The Bard is loving this.

Camp rolls
• Worked well enough with some supply rolls being made to order gear and fix the campsite. After a few sessions though I largely dropped these to the background.

Apologies for falling well away from this for anyone that was following.

• The Bat is just not a big enough challenge on its own and needs something else thrown in with it. The sorcerer and alchemist just blew it to bits. I suppose it could play out quiet differently depending on the firepower of your groups ranged attacks.

• I missed an opportunity to use a Memory Mask in the temple of Abadar (Ziggurat). I think I made the Ziggurat too big as 7 stories worth of exploration is a lot to fill. In the end I had the main entry level as a central market place, the 2nd level the prayer rooms, 3rd level for low level acolytes, 4th and 5th levels for priests and guests, 6th level for head priests and the 7th level is a room with stained glass artworks of the faith and city with an exit to the outside and Obelisk.

• One of my players commented that it was strange that the ziggurat was left unclaimed, but later after the first encounter with Shadows changed he then said, “…now I know why…” so that was a good change. The shadows were excellent and have made the Ziggurat an achievement that the group wants whereas the Bat was just a walk over for them. So yeah I’d recommend changing that.

• I was finding it bit hard to give information on the city’s backstory and history as realistically any books and notes left lying around would have long crumbled into dust and there’s only so many times you can have the group run into a talking ghost/spirit. I did repeatedly mention the restorative power of the spears to hold off decay and deterioration which has made the faded crumbling books and notes readable with a tough linguistics check due to condition. But it just seems a little thin to me so I started using murials and statues.

• I think if I was to run this adventure again I would make it a hex crawl and use those rules.

You can print out a regional map and have the PC's decide on a course and then just plonk the encounters in the book where it matches the terrain. After I ran this one I thought if I was to run it again that is what I will do. Probably means coming up with some of your own encounters as well, but it would put the PCs in the driver's seat. Have a read through the respective threads for each book as there are a lot of shared experiences and help there.

Mercantile District (Area E)

I’ve made some changes here by shifting the Chimeras into the northern section of this district figuring that they would be the biggest reason why the Children of the Spear have not pushed into this district. I’ve also shifted the Bat out of the Ziggurat and replaced it with shadows as I just can’t see why such a large defensible structure would not be claimed. The bat I shift into a large compound with a warehouse of no real note for the guys to come across as the move through the district. I have a ghost inside the buildings and the group comes across a merchant notebook that's crumbling to bits, but they're able to note a reference that the temple of Abadar is the central place to trade.

I make the Ziggurat a huge 7 storey building with massive stone doors. I describe the entry level as looking like it was once marketplace with broken down stalls and covered in dust. They move up the first few levels with no encounters learning little bits of info on the church of Abadar in Saventh-Yhi. They come across prayer rooms and encounter a ghost of a former priest which they manage to talk their way through. From the ghost they learn about the stress of the earthfall prophecy on the population with some committing suicide, others turning to the gods, the rise of a new god and some calling on heroes of the past to save them. Going up the next level they come across some shadows that tear them to shreds. They barely crawl out of their alive and decide to head back camp with most battling to carry their gear. We end the session with them staggering into camp.

So going from the start here are some of the changes:

Changed the entrance to the Valley
Here I changed things from the book as I figure there needs to be a bit more of a reason why no one has gone into the valley before and I wanted my group to be the first to find Saventh-Yhi. I figure a large predator in the area would do the trick and put a series of cave tunnels hidden behind the waterfall that opens up to the valley with Saventh-Yhi. The PCs go and scout it out; encountering a young green dragon that they learn later is the offspring of a much larger one that dominates the region. The group explore some more and find the dragon’s lair in an offshoot tunnel. I make another change here by shifting the ghost of Nareem (originally set in Area C) to the lair of the young green dragon.

I change Nareem's story a bit and have him say that he was part of the Alithorpe Expedition that was headed to Gozreh’s Pool on route to some ruins that were said to having flying apes. The expedition was attacked by a massive green dragon that tore their expedition to shreds. It took a few of them off to these tunnels to feed to its offspring. There’s no combat and it’s a “talky” based challenge which the group is successful and gain some info. He tells them what happened to his expedition giving the group the info that there's a major predator out there dominating the region. I make another change here by having him tell the group that he believes that one or two of his group may have escaped. There’s a bit of roleplay and backstory sharing with the ghost asking the PCs to take his journal to the pathfinders and the remains of the expedition to be buried in the legendary city of Saventh-Yhi. “I led them on this disastrous trek with the promise of discovering something amazing….” Because I’ve turned a potential future combat encounter into a role play encounter I give an XP award. I also made the PFS much more gracious with the journal delivery and had Amivor give 2,500gp in potions and scrolls from his personal stock that are up to Level 4 (Luck rolls for anything that’s not likely to be main stream - i.e. a scroll of a spell outside of Core rulebook).

I also dropped the Pteranodons and Crocodiles and got the group straight into the setting up camp stuff as I had made book 2 a real slog and felt my guys had enough of hacking and slogging their way. There’s a bit of roleplay with the decision on the campsite with the SG wanting the jungle for better defense, but the PFS wanting to be in the ruins. I liked this bit as it highlights the differences of the two factions and their ambitions, generates NPC interactions and puts a decision on the PCs as they’re the deciding vote. Sort of this is the hassel that comes with the advantage of a coalition. The jungle is picked with the plan for the group to scout out safe area in the ruins for the expedition to move into. Group spends the day setting up camp and I have them make the rolls (Camulatz attack defended and exploration successful).

• Dragon addition worked well and it’s got the group moving around cautiously. They fear the big dragon's return and have commented that it's no wonder no one has found the city before.

• With the two escaped members of Alithorpe Expedition, I left them unnamed because I was in two minds. I wanted to have the two as Endo and Juliver, but wasn't sure how to make it so that the two escapees weren't the first two to discover the city. In the end I when Juliver was saved I had it that it was them and that they spent weeks crawling around the edges of the valley jungle before being chased into the city and stumbling around in the dark. Given it was months since that intial encounter with the Dragon I had hoped that the PC's would have forgotten that, but saddly one of them recalled and was bummed out that they weren't first. If I was to do this bit again I would have them escape into the valley sticking to the mountainside to find a way out. They would be found by the pirates who would imprison them before using them for their expertise as PFS when their group is attacked in the city. While their captors are being slaughtered they flee and stumble across the portal that leads them into the darklands. Now time is an issue here, but because I had my guys jump through a portal to a different realm (Spear Warden test will discuss later) I was able to advance the timeline so yeah I missed a better way to do this.

So here is a brief summary of what I've done (not in order):

Used as a carrot/motivator the potential for regional and social change by helping the SG meet its goal of a navy. One of the things I like most about this AP is that the PCs have the potential to make a significant impact on the game world. One of the big carrots for my group has been that they can potentially end slavery by freeing the SG from their dependence on the pirates. So the group is keen to win the city and all it's potential riches to get the SG the navy it needs.

My guys formed a Coaltion Expedition with the SG and PFS so I had several situations where the group would have to play the mediator to keep the expedition running smoothly. I'd have the two factions disagree on starting location, moving location, when to push into other districts, methods of approach to other expeditions, etc.

Created a Murder Mystery by using a small team of Norgorber cultists infiltrating the expedition. They start out sabotaging and eventually build to murder in an attempt to divide the different groups of the camp (Natives vs Colonials and SG vs PFS). Breadcrumbed with small sabotaging events that the PC's either heard about or saw the end effect of.

Spirit of Savith reaching out to the PC's to foreshadow for what is to come and introduce the group to the idea of becoming Spear Wardens. What are Spear Wardens you ask...well Spear Wardens were formed by some of the survivors that joined Savith in the great battle with Ydersius. They formed an elite guard that would be forever vigilant in protecting the city and watching for the return of the Ydersius. They are linked to the Spears/Ziggurats. Naturally they died off like the rest of the inhabitants and now with Ydersius stirring below Savith is reaching out to find new Spear Wardens to protect the surface world. To become Spear Wardens they will have to complete the test which is through a portal in the Ziggurat of the Military District.

Iron Cross trading camp. Located right at the entrance of the valley on that small island where the river splits and then rejoins before running out of the valley. I'm using this as an alternate source to buy/sell gear, but also an information point and neutral grounds for interaction with other factions.

Ancient technology and knowledge. I wanted to have a feeling of disocvery and long lost magic. So I seeded things with the academics of the expedition learning about Memory Masks, skilled crafters, unique armours and weapons, and world based rewards such as improved farming techniques/magic and improved alchemy techniques. Memory Masks are bronze masks that when worn have the potential to grant a new feat. Wearer makes a will save DC 15. Success gains a basic feat such as armour proficiency, martial weapon proficiency (eg: longsword and shortbow) and quickdraw feat. If fail don't gain and have a headache for the rest of the day. Each Mask will only work on wearer once so if fail can never gain the benefits of that mask again.

Surface vaults with a tile combination that needs to be discovered to unlock. The vaults are within the temple of abadar and has a heap of tiles. The group will need to learn what tiles go with what vault and the right order. I'll have the academics of the expedition assist by uncovering leads and identifying the odd tile.

Gallant Gelik and the Seekers. Like most other groups Gelik became a hated NPC and has continued to be an annoyance to the group. I had him form his own little band and explore the city. He's served as a bit of roleplay interaction, a competiting motivator (don't want to be out done by Gelik) and will later serve as a great betrayal when its discovered he has been working with the Aspis.

Expedition contribution to the PCs. I've had the expedition be more than just a safe place to sleep and buy/sell gear. I've had them contribute by uncovering information and leads, giving free low level spells, giving free simple gear and once when the group was pinned down and spent had a small band arrive to help out.

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I've read through the various threads and the module itself and have to admit this is one of those modules that needs needs a lot of GM tweaking to get it right. So after finishing book 3 I thought I'd share what tweaks I made, where I've gone off script and what worked and didn't with thoughts on why. I should also mention that some of my ideas came to me halfway through or towards the end of book 3. So they missed some foreshadowing, would have been better used earlier and were implemented a bit hastily. I know many have criticized this module heavily and agree there are some holes and missing content, but overall we've enjoyed it. I do however have no doubt if I was to run this one again it would be significantly better experience for all.

Alright so here's some background on our group and our playing style.

I like to put roleplay choices on my players that have both gains and consequences. I would say that of my group I’ve a got a method actor disguised as a heavy role player and a world builder that likes to connect his character to the game world and build organisations, buildings, kingdoms, etc. So for this part of the AP the history of the city is a key motivator and reward for my group. I’ve found the boards really helpful here and recommend Gms interested in this to check out: Jemmer2057’s Chart and Mysteries to discover in the General Thoughts on this AP thread and Collated Notes on Azlant and the Azlanti. Near the end of the book I started using bits of roman history to give the feeling of an ancient people that rose and fell to rise again, before being destroyed by Earthfall.

My group is primarily just 4 characters with odd cameo from a mate we’ve gamed with in the past. For most of it we had an Alchemist, Inquisitor of Desna (with 1 level of fighter), Sorcerer (Fey bloodline), and a Bard/Dragon Disciple. We've just lost the Inquisitor for a few months, but have the cameo (two weapon fighter) looking like a potential regular.

My group has formed a coalition expedition with the Pathfinder Society (PFS) and Sargavan Government (SG) and this will be an ongoing working point requiring the group to step in to resolve conflicts and hold the expedition together at times. I’m playing the PFS as single minded, impatient and ambitious in their desire to get into the city ruins as soon as possible and uncover the long lost history. The SG are the opposite and are much slower and more cautious with a long term view of ensuring that the expedition has a strong secure base camp. More of a slowly, but surely approach.

I should also mention I don't really believe in random encounter tables. I normally have some prepared encounters and put them in where I think we need a bit of action/tension and as a way of sharing information (leads & foreshadowing). My philosophy is that as the GM I control the pace and tension so I don't really use random encounter tables instead having a few opponent combinations ready to throw at the PCs. I have also gone off script and changed encounters in the book by shifting some to other areas and boosting others for a greater challenge.

Also we haven't completely covered all of book 3 so some areas my group hasn't ventured into yet.

Feel free to post questions and comments as I go along as this will take a long time to get it all up.

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I basically look at the Azlanti as kind of like the romans and greeks of ancient times. My descriptions and flavouring of the city has been heavily inspired by them. Wikipedia and podcasts have been handy here in giving me some ideas. I've described statues of heroes, pillars enscribed with pictures and symbols of the gods, murials of Savith, bronze enscribing referencing famous houses/organisations, etc. Basically I've looked at what we've got left of the ancient societies of this world, how they decorated things and the legends/stories we know of them and their key figures and tried to replicate for the Azlanti.

As we've neared the end of book 3 I had the Iron Cross create a neutral trading outpost so the PCs have a different place to hear about the other factions and buy/sell bigger GP items. All expeditions can come in and trade with them and they have no interest in heading into the city. All they want is to make money off the expeditions and adventurers going into the city. I've set them with a higher limit in items and will have that grow as the story progresses and I figure more things are found/pulled out of the city. All people entering the camp must wear peace knots on their weapons and I've descibed the campsite as heavily guarded with veteran warriors and spellcasters. Entry into the camp means you abide by Iron Cross rule. No fighting or provoking others. Failure to comply means being blacklisted from all Iron Cross traders or possibly more heavier punishments such as stripping of all gear for compensation, loss of limb, or death.

I've also added some minor bits that have hooked the players and encouraged a bit more activity in the city and bonded them to it. I wanted a lost technology hook and here's what I've used thats worked well:
1) Memory Masks - bronze masks of human faces. When someone puts the mask on they gain a free feat. So far I've just used three; angry face (free weapon proficiency - long sword), stern face (free chainmail armour proficiency feat), and neutral face(free alertness feat). They have to succeed or will save DC 15 where failure leaves them unable to gain the benefit and stuck with a headache for the day. I figure by using small/minor feats it won't unbalance the game and serves as a good reward.

2) Referenced power armours. After reading Brandon Sanderson's Way of Kings I got this idea for ancient armour that functions like power armour in comics. I'm going to have this armour function a bit like Elven Chain in that it grants the wearer more than just AC and enhancement properties. My intention is to have it give the toughness feat, endure elements for the wearer, jump 3/day, strength surge ability 3/day, etc. Basically things you don't normally get as armour enhancement properties that aren't completely awesome, but by stacking a few on top of normal enhancements will make for an appealing armour. I'm thinking of using Gozreh with the armours linked to storms. Naturally the guys will come across some basic versions and then as we get into the later books some far more powerful versions.

3) Legends - I've started to build up some legends on famous individuals, heroes and organisations. I've used a bit of roman history here taking the non-Julius Ceasar and Hannibal related bits that most people aren't overly familiar with. It's really breathed some life into the city.

4) Murder mystery - this was a real hit and a good change of pace. I had some cultist of the god of secrets infiltrate the camp and start sabotaging. Small things at first, like food poisoning, getting dinosaurs stampeding through camp, structures collapsing, and then slowly working up to things like theft of an idol worshipped by the native porters/workers of the expedition to set them against the expedition leaders, and of course murdering a key researcher. My guys loved it and it was a great change of pace to go into the city of death. I'd done some foreshadowing on this with the end of book 2.

I'd recommend this thread for all your Azlanti info:

There is another thread where someone has put up info he/she used for the different districts. Can't recall which one it is, but I got it from these boards and its very useful.

My group did it long ago, but from memory the deep thinkers that they are went head on, got smashed, and then went and got the cleric NPC.

I do something similiar for my table. +10 for natural 20's on skill checks, but -10 for natural 1's.

For SR I'd still go with the natural 20's as auto successes and 1's as auto failures.

I've spent a lot on my books and stuff, but when I try to estimate a dollar value on it in terms of $$$ per hour of entertainment I don't even get 1c an hour. Compare that to going to the movies, theme parks, live sports, concerts, whatever. Its dirt cheap entertainment.

I could see how collectors could find it a bit tough trying to buy every product that Paizo releases, but you can choose to not do that. I'd like to collect sports cars, but definitely cannot afford to.

I think the primary hook for this adventure is the competition with the other factions. If you have signs of other factions you can spark a bit of competitive spirit from your PCs. Where this might be difficult is if your PCs got a sizable lead on the others or they just don't really care.

I did a couple of things to try to spark a bit of interest and energise my players for this one that might work for other groups.

1) I put in huge vaults under the temple of Abadar. I made the vaults magically sealed by combinations and have sprinkled clues throughout the city. I actually made the tiles and put them out in front of the guys. I've also given them the option to have the expedition contribute to unlocking the vault which has been good as it gives a way for the expedition to give something back to the PCs. So yeah basically the PCs have a motivation to crawl through ruins and explore to try to find hints at which tile goes with which vault and in what order. I plan to make the vaults massive with signs that great wealthy has been taken, but will put in some minor wealth. Sort of look at all these empty armour stands and yet 1-2 10k armours remain. Ditto for weapon racks. Sprinkle some other lesser magical items (scrolls, potions, minor rings and lesser wonderous items) with some small chests left behind and suddenly there's some motivation.

Should be a great set up for the next book with its vaults. "If the ones they left behind were great then imagine what these ones will be like". The trick will be to make it look logical for why this stuff was left behind. I'm thinking stuff left under tipped over racks, cubbards, chests, etc that have been forgotten. Sort of make it look like they packed as much as they could in great haste.

Verdict: Very effective so far. The group currently hasn't opened a vault, but have really taken to the tiles. By having made them (bits of cardboard with a picture glued on) its created a physical and interactive component to the game. I probably went a bit overboard in creating too many tiles (I made 50 with majority false ones not in combinations). Requires a bit of work as you have to find pictures, cut up cardboard, think of organisations and stories behind the combinations that you can leek to the players.

2) I tried to use Savith's ghost to hint at the coming danager and build a storyline of a group of heroes known as Spear Wardens who were bound to the spears. By activating the spears the ghost would appear and give a warning about a danger that stirs below. She urged the PCs to find the Hall of Heroes and become the heroes they were meant to be. The PCs found the Hall and encountered another ghost who was the training master. To become Spear Wardens they would first need to complete the test. For this I used the module The Harrowing.

We're still in the middle of it. I've tweaked it a bit and have implied that in the coming destruction of Saventh-Yhi the creator fled into the realm and was turned on by the conspirators. Slowly over time the realm has twisted and the inhabitants have had real world people be drawn in who have shaped it. Basically to explain why this test created by an ancient city has carnivals in it (think how silly it would be to learn that ancient greece had carnies).

The Verdict: I don't think this has been all that effective. The group wasn't looking for a save the world campaign. Should have stopped at the first one and left this out.

My main beef with this feat is that it forces an action without giving the target a chance to avoid or resist. I'd hate it if it was used on one of my characters. This should have a saving throw for the target.

By having this as a skill check it opens it up for abuse. I thought PF had shifted away from skill check based abilities that negatively effect other creatures because of the exploitive potential. The Bard's Fascinate, Suggestion, Frightening Tune and Deadly Performance abilities don't use performance checks to determine success. They use a Will save that is determined by the Bard's level and Charisma. Why shouldn't this feat be the same?

In its current form I think Antagonise needs a save. Alternatively it could be toned down where instead of forcing an action the target suffers drawbacks for not attacking the antagoniser. These could be penalties to d20 rolls that aren't attacks against the antagoniser and other creatures could get a bonus to attack the target (even if just being flatfooted). There's still significant benefits without making it force an action on another (be it a PC, NPC, or monster). Maybe this form would be too wordy and is the reason why the designers went for the simplier forced action.

I must admit this feat feels very WoW'y to me and I'd prefer my tabletop games not to feel like computer games. In saying that I don't mind designers exploring options for martial battlefield control. I just don't want abilities that force actions without some sort of save or way to avoid it - not in my tabletop games. I don't think the initial version or even the errata version is the ideal form and it needs more work. I think it should have been put out in an open play test before putting it in print.

Cheers for all the replies. Reading through the replies has been thought provoking, inspiring on a creative level and a little disturbing. :-)

I'm the GM so I guess all options are on the table. In saying that for the last decade we've played a 1 rez/raise/reincarnate per character rule as we didn't want death to be a trivial thing. So we won't be doing the stabby, reincarnate, rinse and repeat until get desired result option.

I like the idea of having him earn his return to "gnomeness" through a quest/side adventure. Its got me thinking about using Neil Spicer's Realm of the Fellnight Queen in a sort of ritual that connects to the dreamworld. The group would need to beat the module for the gnome to regain his "gnomeness".

Would allow me to lift the interaction with some NPCs that are currently very much in the background at this stage. Could also use it as a carrot to lure the PCs in a direction to get to a sacred site where this ritual would need to be done. And a mystical ritual into the dreamworld fits in with the primal supernatural flavour I've got going in the Mwangi Expanse.

Cheers folks.

The group I run has had its gnome sorcerer be reincarnated into a human. He doesn't like this and wants to go back to being a gnome and is considering what magic can help him. The group is only level 9-10 and have limited access to wealth and spellcasters, so I'm trying to think of what are his options.

Also what are the ramifications and possible consequences? If he has Polymorph followed up with Permanency cast on him can Dispel Magic effects end it and return him to human form.

Any help or thoughts would be much appreciated. Cheers.

When I ran it I used a lot of REs and by the end of book 2 my players were "Thank god thats over". There are some pretty sweet encounters in there so be on your guard.

Cheers guys. Much appreciated.

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If a creature under Dominate animal/monster/person fails a save vs fear can the spellcaster compel them to remain instead of running away?

Would you ever look at doing a story arc of an AP in the comics? I know its a bit spoiler'ish, but would be a good read and helpful to see how the story is meant to flow.

Heaps of ways of coming in with a new character.

A retired adventurer who misses the action, excitement and camradarie of adventuring. He/she is itching for some action and sees this as a great opportunity for one last adventure. You could do a lot of "...too old for this sh1t..." and "...in my day we just..." type of grumbling.

A prisoner in the cells of Eledar who had a huge reputation for taking on the impossible and winning. Having been imprisoned for years this person has had a lot of deep reflection and now seeks to make ammends for a youth full of bad deeds. Think of the Black Widow in the Avengers "I've got a lot of red in my ledger that I need to make black". Wizards of Eledar cast a spell (???) that grants them the ability to track and immobilise this individual should he/she get out of control as a fail safe.

An adventurer thats had a huge fallout with his/her usual companions. Maybe they've been cheated out of their cut of the loot or maybe its been a betrayal in terms of ideology. Either way he/she is looking for a change and sees this as an opportunity.

An adventurer that is the sole survivor of a group and after a period of mourning the fallen has decided its time to get back out there. He/she is looking to carry on in the spirit of his/her lost companions.

A bragging adventurer that is renowned for great stories of past exploits, but few can recall seeing them actually going out adventuring. He/she is called out by someone, saying "We've heard these stories a thousand times before. When was the last time you adventured outside of this bar!" Everyone laughs, and its followed up with, "If you're so great why don't you sign up for this..." while pointing at the ad. Its time to put up or shut up in shame so this adventurer joins up.

Its destiny! A decendent of Savith feels the calling and finds themself constantly drawn to the ad. They've had dreams and visions of their great ancestor and in some of these dreams they've been side by side with Savith. If not a decendent of Savith it could be a decendent of someone that journey'd with Savith in that epic final clash. Could be the decendent of the cleric of Desna or Azlanti mage.

AD, per shot its not good bang for buck, but it is in that your archer can have arrows covering all energy and alignment types, compared to the swordsman who has just the one (maybe two) magical blade with one energy type and/or alignment type.

The archer is still doing additional damage to the fire immune creature as well as the cold immune creature. That flexibility is a genuine benefit and advantage.

But I do agree that 160gp for a one use additional d6 is too expensive. It's definitely overpriced, but I think the costs of all magical items is way overbloated and should be reduced.

As a GM I tend to put more consumables like ammunition in the loot as I don't see players buying them unless really gearing up for a extremely tough encounter.

The benefit, or potential benefit I should say, is that it allows you to be more flexible and adaptable to the various opponents that you come across. Much like a golfer has different clubs to switch to depending on the situation. Cheaply you can have a number of different alignment types, energy types, bane properties, etc that you can switch to depending on the opponent. I think of it as being like the archer superheroes in comics (eg: Hawkeye & Green Arrow) and how they have a few different special arrows. Thats why it exists and should exist. Much more expensive to do this with non-ammunition.

Most players don't take advantage of that, but thats probably more to do with players tending to make either melee types or spellcasters in my experience (20+ years playing and GM'ing). Its not worth the investment for non-archer/xbow focused characters leaving magical ammunition to be left to random loot pick ups. Same with things like Javelin of Lightning and Elixir of Fire Breath. No one buys them at "Ye'old Magic Shop", but they're typically happy to use one if its picked up in random loot (up until about level 6).

I should say that the Slayer arrow goes alright too.

I use the advanced and young templates as a guide. Are my changes to the statblock the equivalent of these or much more?

If I'm still not sure I'll then flick through the bestiary and have a look at creatures 1-2 CR above and below the base creature I'm using and compare my changes.

But yeah as above posters have pointed out the CR change is about combat effectiveness.

Really Pathfinder, 4th ed, 3rd ed, 2nd ed and so on are just rules systems and its how they're being used that the game what it is. So I'd sit down with your group and say you've noticed a change in your play style thats killing the fun for you.

Must admit though that I've noticed that since we switched from 2nd ed to 3rd and the evolution of the d20 system we've become more number crunching, optimizing and rules focused.

For the current AP I'm Gming for some of the combats I havn't put out the battle map and miniatures. I'm noticing that for these encounters my players take a less rules intensive approach to the game when I do this. Brings me back to the games of ye olden days and they focus more on the story and character interaction.

Naturally you can't do this for all encounters and I still bring out the battle grid and mini's for the big combats or mass numbers, but its worked well for just a few opponents in either a massive wide open space or single opponent in a small space.

One tip I picked up from the Paizo boards is if the majority of encounters are near death and deadly then you get an arms race with players upping the power levels to ensure survival and the GM upping the encounters in response to the power of the PCs to keep things challenging. If this happens have the GM dial it down a few notches and low ball encounters for awhile to get players out of the power up mentality. A few soft encounters can take the intensity out of the sessions.

I do it all the time. We've been playing since 2nd ed with a couple even longer so I tend to skin monsters to make things "fresher" and less routine.

To me there's too parts to the monsters and thats the stat block and the description. I don't see a problem with using a statblock for another creature with or without some minor tweaks. Saves a lot of prep time.

Oracle looks so much fun. I don't think there is another class in the game that has a disability as an appealing class feature!

I remember reading about this thing called kin recognition which argues that when we meet a new person for the first time the more traits we see in them that we believe we have (or people important to us), the more positive our first impression. I guess for a gaming business this is relevant because people's first impression is largely influenced by the artwork, particularly the covers. I know for me when I make a character its a lot like seeing myself as a character in a movie so I can see the importance in having iconics and artwork that people see similiarities to them. So surely more diversity in the artwork is better for Paizo.

If I was to play critic with the artwork it would be that there is still a lot of overly scantily clad iconics in the APG and Core. Why any female adventurer would be running about like the Oracle in the APG is beyond me. Female soldiers were body armour and helmets not tank tops when going into dangerous areas.

Also the south pacific is neglected by RPG products. The Aboriginal culture is the oldest living culture in the world and yet I've never seen it or an influence of it in a RPG product. I'd say that this is because of the lack of exposure and expertise by writers, artists and developers to the people and cultures of this corner of the world. I don't know how many of Paizo's stable are outside of the US and UK, but it would be nice to see a little slice of my part of the world in a quality RPG product.

I don't need more high level content in terms of class abilities, feats, spells, etc as we don't really get to use much of whats currently out there.

One of the problems I've found with high level play is that because we're all working and with families its tough for GMs to get the time to create the games so we use a lot of modules and APs, which don't go all the way to level 20. Would be great to see one that did, but I'd be happy with 1-2 modules a year covering the 15-20 level range. I understand why they don't given its got a smaller audience compare to the sweet spot and hard to write to make it challenging for all groups, but some more high level adventures would be great.

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Don't have my notes on that anymore, but I'm pretty sure I ran it like a Haunt (probably CR 3 or 4) with the destruction being to defeat the raid and protect the couple. The trigger would be entering the Captain's cabin or touching the skeleton (like removing a ring or something). Off the top of my head, I'd probably have the Hit points 10-20. Perception DC20 (to hear faint whispers and crying). And the effect would function like a programmed image.

Its a story encounter really and works best with minimal rules and I think the way you start it determines how the players approach it. I think the build up is the key and you've got to set it up with a very visual description. Start with describing the cabin and decking starting to change in appearance before their eyes . Its as though the rotting wood and rusted metals transforms to look like a brand new ship (at the end of the haunt ensure you describe a return to the shipwreck).

Have them see the wide open seas instead of the Shiv and off in the distance they see a large ship rapidly gaining ground (or should that be water?). Describe that ship as an ominous pirate ship and have a PC overhear one of the crew mutter something like, "We're done for...its Blackbeard and the Dreaded Hag..."

Then describe the classical gallant captain rallying his crew before telling a beautiful noble lady to have no fear and lock herself in his cabin. Have him talk to the PCs as though they are part of his crew and that he needs them to be in amongst the crew who draw courage from their presence. The captain moves about the crew speaking words of couragement.

Also don't use mini's for this bit. I've found that when you don't have the mini's out players tend to be less rules intense and approach the situation with a more story based mindset. If they ask for minis tell them its not needed.

Another trick is to tell them that their melee and ranged attack now use their INT or WIS instead of STR or DEX. Gets them busy calculating that they're not whinging about why they don't get a save.

Of course there are players out there that just won't let things go and will sulk if they don't get their miniatures, saves for everything, etc... For that you could have them make a Will save and if they're successful they can get a bonus to attack or take half damage (I'll leave up to you).