Nightmare Bat

Hierophantasm's page

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I've been running a Darkmoon Vale game--for a little too long, not that anyone's complaining--and the popular rumor is that "Asmodeus assassinated Aroden". Whether this is true or not is less important than how it affects the increasing tensions between Piren's Bluff and Falcon's Hollow, et al. Still, Aroden's name has come up more than before, since my players just finished "Hungry Are The Dead", and are now "addressing" the involvement of a certain priestess to Asmodeus in the events that have unfurled in their overarching campaign.

I just finished running a (converted to 4th Edition) adaptation of Crown of the Kobold King, and my players had a great time. The children had already become established characters in the Darkmoon Vale campaign, and their absence--particularly Kimi, who was a student of one of the PCs--resonated.
The players really enjoyed fighting the diverse kobolds, the encounter with Glintaxe, and many more. The random encounter with the imp, Sithmuck, prompted the gnome wizard to adopt him as a familiar, which led to hilarity involving...

...the lodestone trap. Sithmuck was sent in to explore; he accidentally tripped the trap, was locked in, and the sound of an imp in the most excruciating pain let loose the bellows of laughter at the table.

Some conversions played out in an interesting fashion. I had a lot of fun adapting the Slurks for 4E, and especially Merlokrep, not to mention the treasure.
The sidebar regarding the "Kobold Battle Royale!" encouraged me to develop a fast-paced variant to represent the sudden flooding of the caverns with kobolds, forcing the heroes to act to avoid a countdown...
Spoiler: the potential sacrifice of Hollin Hebbradan
This primarily involved 1d4+1 kobold minions spawning each round at an entrance point, enabling basic melee or ranged attacks to be made as minor actions, maintaining an "around the table" style of initiative, and allowing one encounter power and milestone to be awarded per 10 kobolds killed. It was fast, frantic, and a ton of fun blasting kobolds left and right, all while the clock was ticking.
I'm especially interested in developing the children's roles in the campaign after this adventure. And, I'm interesting in seeing how their roles could lead into the next adventure.
Thanks for a great adventure!

Horus wrote:
Consider changing the assasin vine to a trap / skill challege style encounter.

I actually did turn the assassin vine into a variation on a Daggerthorn Briar trap (DMG p.90). As it was, the visible tree bough and previously discovered ritual scroll of Comprehend Languages made it pretty obvious that attacking the plant was unnecessary; though I can't think of too many real penalties for doing so, I wouldn't have considered actually slaying the vine worth experience, rather discovering the riddles to be worth the reward.


I've been running a Darkmoon Vale campaign, which we converted into a 4E campaign a few months back. So far, it's been a phenomenal success. The prepublished adventures are of such quality--as is the setting--making conversions with recognizable monsters easy, and facilitating the invention of others.

So far, the party has been through "Hollow's Last Hope" (the last leg of it was converted to 4E), done a sidequest set-piece encounter from Christopher Wissel's excellent "Wingclipper's Revenge" adventure from Dungeon 132, and only last night pretty much finished "Into the Haunted Forest".

Conversions have rarely been difficult, though it's been enlightening learning how to create monsters using the 4E DMG. (Chapter 10--The DM's Toolbox is pure gold!) Also, certain encounters lend themselves more to Skill Challenges...

Spoiler: particular, the "Rough Crowd" encounter in "Into the Haunted Forest" (p.4), made a particularly cool "barroom brawl"-styled skill challenge, as did the following "The Usual Suspects" portion of the adventure.

I had a lot of fun converting the "magic items" in "Into the Haunted Forest" to 4E equivalents, and others from "Hollow's Last Hope". One of my favorites to convert was...

...the Ring of Torag. Although I noticed the high market cost of rings in the PHB, I considered the Ring of Torag here to be of a reasonable power level. Still, I'm still trying to figure out what kind of legitimate formula might be used to derive what the cost of a magic item should be when written.

Ring of Torag—
Property: +2 on saves to end ongoing fire damage
Power (Daily): Immediate Interrupt—Gain resist 5 to fire damage from a single attack. If you have reached at least one milestone today, the damage resisted is doubled.

I'll try to post some more info on monsters I've made for the campaign so far, if others are interested. For what it's worth, the conversion has been well worth the effort.

Curaigh wrote:

Last night we did the second of the infamous seven. One of the PCs could not make it so I typed it up for him. In way of thanks Hierophantasm for the Brood Mother Cerattakatha here is how it went down...

Glad it sounded like it was as much fun for you and yours as it was for my players. Tense, cool moments like the ones you described are the best parts of D&D. When my players encountered Cerattakatha, they felt the sting (pun intended) of the aura effect in particular. Long story short, the fight ended with the players moving up a forty-foot surface they descended to fight the beast in its lair, with the half-orc crusader readying his attack to strike the infamous scorpion queen upon approach, finally delivering the felling blow.

BTW, we used the colossal red for Cerattakatha, because--IIRC--she actually was 40ft by 40ft.

I work at a game store, and have an Xbox 360 myself. Both systems are respectable choices with each one having some small benefits over the other.

Xbox 360 can be purchased at $200 new as a bare-bones model; you have to pay $400 for the cheapest new PS3. However, I'd recommend the $300 Pro system at least, considering how online savvy all the new systems are. But even this 360 doesn't have a built-in Network Wireless Adapter; Microsoft charges you another $100 for those. At this point, both systems cost the same, but the PS3 has 20GB more memory.

On the other hand, although the 360 offers you the choice of installing games to the hard drive with the NXE, a select number of PS3 games require you to install them. This means you can play any 360 practically as soon as you pop it in the system; you may have to wait some time before you can play your PS3 game.

Although Sony introduced a movie service recently, Microsoft's deal with Netflix members being able to instantly access movies in the Netflix member's instant queue is truly fantastic, and gives them the multimedia entertainment edge.

Although you must pay to play online on the 360 (I believe it's still free on PS3), the value of a gold membership goes beyond just online play. You can occasionally download games at a cheaper price, and it's my belief that this money is going to gaining access to console-exclusive downloads, like the Fallout 3, GTA IV, and Tomb Raider: Underworld expansions.

Admittedly, the PS3 should be the definitive HD system with a Blu-Ray player, but I'm not sold on the big deal about Blu-Ray yet. I've seen HD graphics in 720p and 1080p, and the difference between these two resolutions is difficult to even notice, unless you happen to have a 55-inch or larger HDTV capable of 1080p resolution; if you do, could you send some money my way? ;)

Lastly, and importantly, almost every 360 owner I know who's played their 360 frequently has had to replace it at some point over a year or two. My PS2 had to be serviced once in it's 7-year life span; yeah, the 360 console feels cheaply made. Admittedly, Microsoft has made great efforts to repair/reissue the gamer their system with little to no hassle, but I only rarely hear about the PS3 owner who encounters something similar to this.

Most times, I tell people to buy their console based on what games you want to play, but with so many PS3/360 titles being practically identical, it really does come down to the additional features. I put my money down on the 360 this time out, but in the end they're similar enough that I would've been fine with either.

I have tons of monsters I love using, but recently I've been a fan of werewolves. I've been running a campaign set in the Darkmoon Vale, and debuted my campaign with a savage fight with a werewolf at the entrance to town, amidst a thunderstorm at night. Very brutal fight for a 1st-level encounter, but not out of reach for a smart party.

Another favorite monster are the colossal vermin in the Monster Manual. Back in Savage Tide, I set up a sidequest against a colossal scorpion. For a CR 12, those things make for a memorable--if deadly--fight.

One of my personal favorites are the shadar-kai, from the Fiend Folio. Interestingly evil, shadow-bound fey. One of the players in my campaign is playing a gnome shadowcaster, so I intend on tying his powers to that of the shadar-kai, coupled with his fey (first-world) origins.

One creature I've always wanted to put to use is the centaur. Maybe I'm just a Shining Force fan, but I've always wanted to give them a greater sense of identity in the D&D world.

I just started playing around with the 4e character classes, and, after seeing PHB2, I noticed that as of the release of that book, the four power sources presented had four classes to choose from, each. So, the idea of doing a martial-themed campaign sounded more realistic (or any other, for that matter, but I have the PHB2 on my birthday list, which is three weeks away). Yet, there is no "controller" role for martial characters. (Arguably, I can appreciate why this might be, given that the wizard has such a breadth of options available to him, making him a definitive controller.)

So I started thinking about how I could create a martial controller class, which I have dubbed as a working title, "Samurai". I'm still just starting with this idea, but I envision the character being able to maneuver deep into combat, and mow down minions, while using Bushido to carefully deliver varied attacks with his weapons. Here's what I have to start:


"Throughout history, rulers have engaged in games of tactics; their aptitude and skill have shaped the course of history. I, too, forge a path into greatness, as I wade into battle like a skiff on a lake."

Role: Controller
Power Source: Martial
Key Abilities: Strength, Constitution, Wisdom

Armor Proficiencies: Cloth, Leather, Hide, Chainmail, Scale
Weapon Proficiencies: Simple melee, military melee, simple ranged, military ranged, bastard sword (katana)
Bonus to Defense: +1 Fort, +1 Will

Hit Points at 1st Level: 12 + Constitution score
Hit Points per Level Gained: 5
Healing Surges per Da: 7 + Constitution modifier

Trained Skills: Endurance (Con) or Insight (Wis) (choose one). From the class skills list below, choose three trained skills at 1st level.
Class Skills: Athletics (Str), Bluff (Cha), Heal (Wis), History (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Perception (Wis)

Build Options: Survivor Samurai, Iaijutsu Samurai
Class Features: Ki Channel, Way of the Five Rings, Honored Daisho

I enjoy fumbles as a DM, but have discovered a nice compromise.

If someone rolls a natural 1 on an attack roll, that character/NPC provokes attacks of opportunity. This highlights the dangers of combat, without that "Three Stooges" feel of a dungeon full of blunderers. As an addition, it encourages the use of the Combat Reflexes feat, which while one of the 5 best feats in 3.5 OGL (IMO), is rarely taken in my players' circle of gamers, usually because it isn't often that "crunchy".

One of my favorite graphic novels is Domu, by Katsuhiro Otomo.

Very cool, very Otomo.

The whole thing just strikes me as odd...

According to the press release, Wizards of the Coast is filing lawsuits against eight individuals (from the U.S., Poland, and the Philippines) for copyright infringement by pirating the Player's Handbook 2 through free file-sharing websites, likely hurting their sales of the sourcebook.

Makes sense so far...

Now, Paizo--and other online retailers of WOTC-published/owned material, I assume--are no longer able to offer sales and downloads of PDF-files of said material. (I am not clear as to whether the decision to cease sales of WOTC PDFs was demanded by WOTC or was voluntary, though.)


Unless I miss my guess, we are in the 21st century, and internet sales serve many companies who publish/sell published material an amazing source of revenue, even if only through downloads for sale. So, while future releases of WOTC-owned PDFs might be held from online retailers until physical copies were distributed to stores (to potentially abate releasing early material), discontinuing the sales of WOTC-owned PDFs of already existing products--particularly those from discontinued product lines owned by WOTC--seems not only ineffectual, but foolish. This would be particularly true for a retailer such as Paizo, which appears to have been heavily involved with WOTC in the past, unless a member of the Paizo community were one of the defendants whom WOTC is suing. (While non-disclosure would keep this information private, I'm sure, the likelihood seems very remote.)

While I'm sure WOTC's intention behind such a move is to counter efforts on the part of pirates from releasing their material upon file-sharing sites, this all seems a bit backwards. First, if the impetus behind their initiative to cease sales of their PDFs from Paizo's website was the pirating of the 4E Player's Handbook 2, why place Paizo in a position where they must cease sales of PDFs, if (as I think was mentioned in this thread) the 4E Player's Handbook 2--and other WOTC-owned 4E material--were not even for sale on the site? Second, if the material was leaked via file-sharing sites, shouldn't WOTC (and, in my opinion, online retailers everywhere) go after these pirates and their sites, instead of punishing the legitimate retailers following the law? An ambitious proposal, I know, but again, in my opinion, these file-sharing/"torrent" sites should be shut down flatly, considering how much piracy takes place upon them.

Hopefully, Wizards of the Coast will come to terms with this financial hurdle, and return to supporting the retailers of their fine products soon.

Ubermench wrote:

57) player who plays WoW during the game.

58) player who suggests the group should be playing WoW instead of the current rpg, even if we're playing something else besides 4e.

Amen, brother. Sorry, had to chime in for this again, as this one still chides me. Although my group doesn't actually halt gameplay to play WoW, they spend a lot of time lately talking on and on and on about it, in and out of the "dungeon". WoW's fine as a video game, and as close in many ways to D&D in video game form as there is without the D&D stamp on it, but D&D aside, I'm done with every other conversation with my buds becoming about builds, guilds, and quests. It's like they're whispering "join us, join us"...

(Ahem...sorry for the OT.)

Heathansson wrote:
43)People who take the "git the dungeonmaster drunk" thing too far and try to take his kidney out for black market sale.

You too?!

44) Players talking about their WoW character builds/instances/raids when their characters are not immediately engaged in a conversation/combat with an NPC/monster is my newest gripe.

Honestly, I've never had a player search through the Monster Manual for stats on a monster they are currently engaging, though. Most of them metagame from memorization. :P (Seriously, how are you going to just "know" that a tanar'ri is immune to electricity?)

Players who show up late used to be one of my big ones, but I just use the time the tardy player shows up to give the other players a break, and fill in Mr. Late-Pants.

A player doing something like reading or playing some other video game is usually a cue that I'm "too" engaged with another player, so I have adapted with that hurdle.

As for players with characters on laptops, let me tell you...I once (past tense) had a player who put his characters on Excel files, requiring scrolling and on multiple pages. No prob, I didn't have to deal with it. Fast forward to later in the campaign when I offered the players a chance to make an old character into an enemy they would fight in a coliseum. Everyone else provided me with stats, abilities, and round-by-round tactics on a single piece of paper or note card (especially hard since they were 17th-level characters); my Excel player left his in an Excel file, printable only onto a total of seventeen pages, mostly of useless dead space. (His coliseum character was also not a character he had played, but a goofy dual-caster/psionic mess, who I happily saw killed in round one.)

Hopefully all the previous annoyances by the OP are not all going on at once, otherwise I'd find a new group or have a sit-down.

I'm sorry to say it, but right now, I cannot afford to continue my subscription to Pathfinder.

Don't get me wrong, it's very reasonably priced--and the subscription rate is amazingly competitive--but I am once again drowning in unplayed adventures.

Thank you for understanding, and I'm looking forward to giving my copy of "Howl of the Carrion King" to a friend for his birthday. Considering Erik Mona's "The Whispering Cairn" and Age of Worms AP got me back into D&D after a many-yeared hiatus, I desperately made sure I didn't peek and spoil any surprises...torture indeed!

I remember when I was in high school, and I used to use my graph paper to draw dungeons instead of my homework. I came up with elaborate mansions, dungeons, etc.

I showed them to someone who was interested in what I was doing. Although he was unfamiliar with D&D, he made a comment that stuck:

"Where are the bathrooms?" He was right. I had drawn a massive three story mansion with a basement cavern and mausoleum, added dining halls, antechambers, bedrooms, trophy halls, kitchens, and other storage rooms, but no bathrooms.

"...Umm...they hold it?" I had failed my Knowledge (architecture and engineering) check.

The Black Bard wrote:

I want to throw a word of caution out: Diamond Lake needs to suck, but there still needs to be something that ties them to it, especially if they aren't all good or lawful.

Later on in the path, after they have "moved on" from Diamond Lake to the Free City, a bad guy will come to Diamond Lake in search of them, and cause a lot of damage, which the PCs need to come back and put a stop to. No problem for altruistic or responsible PCs, the bad guy is hurting people, and its the PCs fault for leading it back to Diamond Lake. But more self-serving PCs may be less inclined to return. Many of the backstories suggested by the first adventure imply that your PCs should want to get out of Diamond Lake and never come back, which can make it even more problematic.

So give them ties. Give them freinds (who don't get kidnapped or betray them for a silver), give them family (who don't annoy the crap out of them), give them reasons to care about the place after they leave.

This is what I would also recommend. As for forging ties to NPCs, if your PCs are good-aligned, the easiest motivator might be the inclusion of a potential remedy for an obscure disease deep within the Whispering Cairn, and a fabled rumor of it leading the heroes to it. Of course, any PC would want money and a better life, and the adventure hook that worked for us was an NPC approaches the party with an offer of a treasure map--unsure of its validity--leading into the Whispering Cairn, one that turned out to be quite legit.

My first D&D game consisted of my friend and I playing the ol' "black box" Dungeons & Dragons board game. He made a wizard named "Zathrose". (I misunderstood him when he said he wanted his character to be named Zatharos, but the name stuck, and the legend was born.) Probably the best character name in my history of D&D.

However, the worst name in my D&D history goes to a buddy I played with in a group when over in Scotland and Ireland, for a student ambassadorship. He played--I kid you not--"Eric the Cleric". It didn't register until a little later, but when it hit me, I was rolling on the floor.

This takes me back.

When I first heard about a remake of Ys Books I and II, I practically bought a DS for it. I mean, it's not an exceptional game by today's standards, I suppose. You really just run around on the battle map slashing baddies. But, it is--in many ways--the progenitor of the modern action-RPG, and its best qualities remain timeless.

The music--which first-run copies come with a soundtrack--is phenomenal, and the graphics are respectable on the DS. The cinematics in the intro are quite impressive for the system, as well. And the story, though cliched by this point, is still a familiar walk down memory lane of what was for many, many years, my favorite RPG from the TurboDuo.

If you have a DS, and really want a history lesson in gaming with your Zelda-esque gaming, check this one out. I'd be interested in hearing what someone who hadn't necessary fallen in love with this series so long ago might get from it. Me, it was like welcoming back an old friend.

Wow, this one's a lot of fun to play. Picked it up yesterday, and was up late playing it. The story's kinda cliche-JRPG stuff, but in space. The graphics are slick and fancy, though the characters mouths don't match what they're saying (I know, it's Japanese). But the combat is where it really shines. Blindsiding enemies is exciting, and so is having control over what moves you perform with the triggers. I'm really enjoying this, and look forward to more.

Xaaon of Xen'Drik wrote:

since the tiers start at 150 points and continue to 2500 points, you could actually make book-keeping easier and make it 15 points to 250 points...

Since the average "Achievement" is worth from 5 to 20 points, it actually breaks down easier on a 500pt or 1000pt per adventure set. Listed below is the achievement list for "Hollow's Last Hope". Needless to say, it is FULL of spoilers, so don't look if you intend on playing in this adventure:

Darkmoon Vale Achievements

Hollow’s Last Hope

Hungry Like the Wolf 5G
Defeated the Werewolf
Wolfsbane 10G
Performed a Critical Finish on the Werewolf
A Silvered End 10G
Delivered a Killing Blow to the Werewolf
Full Moon Savior 5G
No more than one soldier fell to the werewolf
Workin’ For a Livin’ 5G
Made a Profession or Craft check during Off-Time
Bookworm 5G
Made a successful Research check during Off-Time
On The Road Again 5G
Undertook a quest during Off-Time
They Call Me the Hunter 5G
Successfully hunted during Off-Time
New Places, New Faces 5G
Made friends with someone new
Doesn’t Play Well With Others 5G
Antagonized an NPC deliberately
Mr. Nice Guy 10G
Made friends with four new people during Off-Time
Public Enemy 10G
Antagonized four different people
BFF/A New Romance 10G
Rose your friendship tier to the maximum, Level 4
Arch Enemy 10G
Antagonized someone to the maximum, Level 4…watch your back!
Type A Personality 10G
Worked during all four weeks of Off-Time
Burning the Midnight Oil 10G
Researched during all four weeks of Off-Time
Wanderlust 10G
Undertook a quest during at least three of the four weeks of Off-Time
Gamemaster 10G
Successfully hunted during all four weeks of Off-Time
The Plague! 5G
Discovered the nature of the sickness pervading Falcon’s Hollow
Find a Cure 5G
Undertook the quest to find a cure
Hard Bargain 5G
Talked Laurel up to giving you each 45gp for your efforts
A Slime Approaches 5G
Encountered your first wandering monster
X Marks the Spot 5G
Acquired a map for the Darkmoon Woods from Milon Rhoddam
Mapping the Vale 5G
Made your own map of Darkmoon Woods
Mercy Killing 5G
Put the Firefoot Fennec out of its misery
Nursed Back to Health 5G
Began the process of nursing the Firefoot Fennec back to health
Hunted the Hunter 5G
Pursued Grung Knifetongue for three or more rounds before finishing him
Gathered Elderwood Moss 5G
Found the first ingredient of the medicine
Birth of a Dragon Slayer 10G
Peformed a Killing Blow on the Tatzlwyrm
Whupped the Dragon Whelp 10G
Performed a Critical Finish on the Tatzlwyrm
TPK, No More 5G
Defeated the Tatzlwyrm(s)
Tatzlwyrm—Rank S 20G
Met all three goals for the test of valor
Tatzlwyrm—Rank A 15G
Met at least two of the three goals for the test of valor
Tatzlwyrm—Rank B 10G
Met at least one goal in the test of valor
Tatzlwyrm—Test of Valor 10G
Defeated the Tatzlwyrms in the test of valor
Gathered Rat’s Tail 5G
Recovered the second ingredient for the medicine
Cooked the Kettle 5G
Defeated Ulizmila’s Cauldron
Ulizmila’s Cauldron—Rank S 20G
Met all three goals in the test of valor
Ulizmila’s Cauldron—Rank A 15G
Met at least two of the three goals in the test of valor
Ulizmila’s Cauldron—Rank B 10G
Met at least one goal in the test of valor
Ulizmila’s Cauldron—Test of Valor 10G
Defeated Ulizmila’s Red Hot Cauldron in the test of valor
An Enthusiastic Amateur Trapsmith 5G
Tripped or disabled at least three of Gurtlekep’s “traps”
Gathered Ironbloom Mushrooms 5G
Recovered the final ingredient for the medicine
Graypelt’s Final Howl 10G
Delivered a Killing Blow to Graypelt
Eyes Like Fire 10G
Performed a Critical Finish on Graypelt
End of a Lupine Tyrant 5G
Defeated Graypelt
Graypelt—Rank S 20G
Met all three goals in a the test of valor
Graypelt—Rank A 15G
Met at least two of the three goals in the test of valor
Graypelt—Rank B 10G
Met at least one of the goals in the test of valor
Graypelt—Test of Valor 10G
Defeated Graypelt and his Wolf Pack
Madam Curie Award 5G
Returned the ingredients for the cure to Laurel, and facilitated the production of
the medicine.
Time Lost Equals Lives Lost 10G
Returned to Falcon’s Hollow after no more than four days have passed
To The Max 10G
Dealt maximum damage or achieved maximum duration for an attack or spell
with a variable three times.
Bloodletter 10G
Dealt 80 or more hit points in actual damage.
Critical Acclaim 10G
Confirmed three critical hits
Andele, Andele, Arriba! 10G
Rolled a natural 20 on an initiative roll
Saved! 10G
Rolled a natural 20 on a save
Scaredy-Cat 10G
Retained improved cover for five or more rounds in combat

Total Points: 500G Story-Awarded Points: 50G Total Achievements: 58

Although many terms, such as Critical Finish, Killing Blow, and Test of Valor are used on the list, these are criteria I use in my own campaign, and I can go into length on what they are, if interested. The "G" is a term used on the Xbox 360 to measure "gamerscore"; I carried the symbol over when achievements are earned to measure how many points are acquired.

This thread is a response to the Achievement Feats proposed as an option in the Legacy of Fire Player's Guide. What follows is an alternate proposal for implementing "achivements" into a 3.5 OGL campaign setting; in this case, I am using the Achievement Points and following Hero's Paths in a campaign set in the Darkmoon Vale locale (detailed in length in numerous GameMastery and Pathfinder Modules, as well as Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to Darkmoon Vale.) Individual Hero's Paths have been condensed into spoiler tabs for ease of navigation.

Adventure Achievements and Hero’s Paths

As the players progress through the Darkmoon Vale adventures, they can accomplish goals, some necessary and some optional, to gain “achievements”, marking their efforts. These achievements can then be invested into special “Hero’s Paths”, giving their characters access to increasingly potent abilities.
How these work is that when the heroes gain achievement points, varying depending on the significance, difficulty, and uniqueness of specific situations in an adventure, they can begin to invest them into a Hero’s Path. Although there are no limit as to how many Hero’s Paths to pick from or invest into, investing all achievements into one Hero’s Path may be preferred for accessing its more powerful abilities, though splitting the points between multiple ones allows for access to more—albeit weaker—abilities.
Investing achievement points is a free action that can be done at any time, such as in an act of desperation. A PC can begin investing points as soon as they are acquired, but cannot disinvest the points until an opportunity to retrain arises (generally after a week of downtime). The cost for higher-tier abilities along the Hero’s Path increases significantly for each tier. Thus, a character who wishes to save his points until that path’s next tier ability is available is going to wait a lot longer than a character who invests into many first-tier abilities frequently; however, since a character who invests into other tiers must wait until retraining to disinvest those points, the one who waits may gain an advantage when access to the next tier is available, as he can readily invest his saved points on the spot.
Adventure Achievements are designed to be similar to the achievement/gamerscore system introduced with the Xbox 360 video game system, representing the gamer’s skill and dedication. Likewise, not all achievements will be easily earned; in fact, while some are rewarded for plot points and progress, as some are dependant on small percentages of chance on the part of the heroes, some may not be achieved at all. Nevertheless, the ones that arise from extraordinary effort or luck can be equated to “bonus points” in this respect.
The following are the known adventures for the Darkmoon Vale campaign:

Hollow’s Last Hope: 500pts
Crown of the Kobold King: 1000pts
Carnival of Tears: 1000pts
Revenge of the Kobold King: 500pts
Hungry Are the Dead: 1000pts

While some achievements may be made known to the players, many—for anti-spoiler purposes—remain secret. The average amount of achievements that any player should expect to earn is roughly half of the possible amount for an adventure.

Hero’s Paths

The following are a list of the eight Hero’s Paths available from the start in the Darkmoon Vale campaign:

Costs to invest in achievement points:
Tier 1—150 points
Tier 2—450 points
Tier 3—1100 points
Tier 4—2500 points

El Viento (The Wind)—Powers: Wind, Speed
Tier 1—Double Jump
After having made a successful Jump check to move at least 10 feet, you can make another jump check to move an additional distance, as long as you have movement remaining, in a direction of your choosing. Treat this jump check as though you did not have a running start, though it still qualifies as a leap for purposes of feats, such as Leap Attack. Spellcasters can sacrifice a spell to gain a bonus on their Jump checks equal to +4 per spell level sacrificed as a free action.
Tier 2—Wind Blade
Once per encounter, you can make a basic melee attack with a range of 20 feet, with an additional +1 to hit and +1d4 damage. This attack can be part of a full attack action, but cannot be used with maneuvers. Normal penalties for making a ranged attack into melee apply. Alternately, you can use this to add the slashing subtype to any spell or ranged attack requiring an attack roll to hit, increasing its range by 10ft, granting an additional +1 to hit, and dealing an additional 1d4 damage.
Tier 3—Squall Strike
Once per encounter, you take flight, and deliver a deadly flyby strike, dealing +4d4 damage. You move up to your speed, and can attack your target at any point during the movement. If you engage your opponent in melee and move out of his threatened area during Squall Strike, he cannot make an attack of opportunity against you. If you possess the feat Spring Attack or Flyby Attack, your attack has a +4 to hit. If you have a fly speed, you instead deal d6s for the extra damage instead of d4s.
Tier 4—Hurricane
You are constantly surrounded by faint winds, making physical ranged attacks made against you suffer a 20% miss chance. Furthermore, once per day as a full-round supernatural action, you can let loose a terrifying burst of wind, buffeting enemies, and thrashing them with high-velocity bits of debris. Allies can take an immediate action to abate the effects upon themselves to move up to their speed toward—or, if more beneficial, away from—you, as you conjure a 50ft radius burst with up to a 5ft radius “eye” in the center, which is not affected by Hurricane. Hurricane creates hurricane force winds in the area of effect (See DMG p.95), and deals 8d6 total slashing, piercing, and bludgeoning damage to all within the area of effect (Reflex DC 10+ 2x tier level + ½ character level half). If you possess the feat Whirlwind Attack, the DC increases by 4.

Nautilus—Powers: Water, Defense
Tier 1—Water Tank
You do not suffer an armor check penalty for armor while making Swim checks. You gain a +1 bonus on hit and damage rolls with piercing melee weapons. If you possess Weapon Focus in a piercing weapon, your weapon now does an additional +1 damage.
Tier 2—Wave Beam
As a standard action, once per day, you thrust a line of watery force, buffeting enemies with bludgeoning power. The line can be 10ft wide by 20ft long, or 5ft wide by 30ft long, dealing 2d8+Wisdom modifier in damage. You can make a basic melee attack as part of this attack against a target within the area of effect of the wave beam. Anyone in the area of effect also is pushed back one square. If you wield a piercing weapon, the extra damage is in d10s instead of d8s. Additionally, the bonus from Water Tank to hit and damage with piercing melee weapons increases by another +1. Alternately, a spellcaster can “tack on” this attack onto a spell that has a line as an area of effect, dealing the extra damage along with the damage of the spell. A Reflex save (DC 10 + 2x Tier level +1/2 character level) reduces the damage by half, and negates the push.
Tier 3—Impenetrable (Stance)
As a move action, you can generate a shelled carapace (a stance), which protects you from damage, and reduces damage taken, though potentially slowing your movement. This provides an additional +4 armor bonus, and grants you DR 5/piercing. However, while in this stance, you are considered to possess a heavy load, and the armor imposes a 10% arcane spell failure chance. If you have the Combat Casting feat, you ignore the spell failure chance, and gain a +10 bonus on Concentration checks made to resist losing a spell if disrupted while casting. This stance is taxing however, and can only be used for a number of rounds equal to your Constitution modifier +1 (minimum one round) per day.
Tier 4—Rolling Thunder
As a full-round action, while in the Impenetrable stance, you trample opponents whose squares you move through of your size or smaller, dealing 2d6+Strength modifier in damage. An opponent can make a Reflex save (DC 10 + tier level +1/2 character level) for half damage. These opponents can make attacks of opportunity against you, but at a -4 penalty, but forfeit their Reflex saves to reduce the damage. You can attack a larger creature with Rolling Thunder, but it does not have a penalty on its attacks of opportunity, and it gains a +4 bonus on its Reflex saves. Unlike regular trample attacks, you can repeatedly reenter an opponent’s square after leaving it, to deliver multiple Rolling Thunder attacks, though each attempt allows either a reflex save or an attack of opportunity, if applicable. If you possess the Mobility feat, your Rolling Thunder DC increases by 4. If you wield a piercing melee weapon, you can make a basic melee attack with your weapon as a part of Rolling Thunder.

Shadowsword—Powers: Darkness, Martial
Tier 1—Dark Hand
Your off-hand manifests a blade of darkness, equivalent to a short sword (1d6 dmg per tier). Although you do not gain any bonus to damage from Strength, you can attack with it as a swift action, and it ignores miss chances provided by concealment due to darkness, and reduces the miss chance for total concealment due to darkness to 20%. If you already wield an off-hand weapon, it is now instead sheathed in darkness, dealing +1d4 dmg per level of Shadowsword tier invested into. If you possess the Two-Weapon Fighting Feat, you do not incur a penalty to hit with Dark Hand from wielding it in your off hand.
Tier 2—Lance of Night
Once per encounter, if you are charged at by an opponent, you can use an immediate action to retaliate with a lance of darkness which bursts up at them from the earth. This attack uses your character level as its attack bonus, and deals 1d8+2 damage per tier of Shadowsword invested into; this attack also has a range of 20 ft, and does x3 damage on a critical hit. This attack also halts the charge and ends his movement, unless your opponent makes a Fortitude save (DC = 10 + 2x tier level + ½ character level). Your Dark Hand and Lance of Night abilities ignore the first 2 points of damage reduction.
Tier 3—Shadow of Death
An opponent struck by your dark hand or lance of night must make a Fortitude save (DC = 10 + 2x tier level + ½ character level) or lose any temporary hit points; if it possesses no temporary hit points, it’s threshold for massive damage decreases by 5, and the save DC required to make a save vs. massive damage increases by 1. These effects stack. Also, Dark Hand and Lance of Night increase in damage by +2 and ignore another 1 point from damage reduction.
Tier 4—Black Mirror
Once per day, you manifest a shadowy duplicate (a construct) of you as a free action, when adjacent you are to an enemy. That duplicate flanks the enemy, and mimics your actions entirely, effectively twinning your actions, for the rest of your turn. This duplicate cannot be disrupted or halted in its actions, as it is nothing more than shadowy substance. Finally, you can make one additional attack with Dark Hand as a free action once per round.

Kreighund (War Hound)—Powers: Mercenary, Alacrity
Tier 1—Ready for Action
If you have a weapon drawn which you are proficient with, you gain a +2 bonus on initiative checks. If you have Quick Draw, and do not have a weapon drawn, you still gain the +2 bonus to initiative.
Tier 2—Tip the Scales
Once per encounter, as a swift action, you can make a Spot check to discern some weakness in your foe’s defense (Spot DC = enemy’s AC). If successful, you gain a +4 bonus to strike your foe and confirm critical hits until the end of your turn. If you possess some type of precision-based damage (sneak attack, skirmish, sudden strike), it deals d8s in damage instead of d6s when using this ability when applicable.
Tier 3—Underestimated
If you kill an opponent in combat, your level is considered to be one less for purposes of gaining experience at the end of the encounter.
Tier 4—Reaper
When you kill an opponent, you gain temporary hit points equal to the difference in damage dealt and its remaining hit points, for the remainder of the encounter, up to a maximum of the creature’s hit dice x2. If you cast a spell as the finishing strike, you can make a DC 20 Concentration check to retain the finishing spell cast, though you only gain half as many temporary hit points, instead.

Desperado—Powers: Combination, Acuity
Tier 1—First to Fight
You gain a +1 bonus on Spot, Listen, and Sense Motive checks; also, you gain a +1 bonus to your critical threat range for the first round of combat. If you also have Improved Initiative, you gain a +2 bonus to confirm critical threats in the first round of combat.
Tier 2—Wrath
Once per encounter, as a free action made on your turn, if you are bloodied (reduced to 50% or less hit points), you gain a bonus to speed of 10ft, can make one extra basic melee attack as a swift action, and gain an additional +1 bonus for each point of base attack bonus used on damage rolls made when using the Power Attack feat. This ability lasts for a number of rounds equal to your Constitution modifier (minimum 1). If you are raging, you can make a basic melee attack as an attack of opportunity when struck in combat while in Wrath. Alternately, if you are a spellcaster, you can channel this wrath into your next spell, empowering that spell without increasing its spell level, but requiring a full-round action to cast. In this way, you can do this a number of times per day equal to your Tier level in Desperado.
Tier 3—Deadly Rave
Once per encounter, you rush your opponent in a reckless charge super combo. As you are about to connect, roll 5d20, then divide by 20, rounding down; you can make this many additional specific attacks as listed below, each following bonus attack with a cumulative -2 penalty to hit, taken from your highest to hit bonus. Make any normal attacks from your charge attack first, then resolve the bonus attacks of the Deadly Rave. Bonus attacks from the Deadly Rave deal the following damage:
1st Atk—Jab: 1d4+Str dmg
2nd Atk—Uppercut: 1d10+Str dmg
3rd Atk—Air Suplex: 2d8+Str dmg
4th Atk—Hadouken: 1d20+Str+Con dmg
5th Atk—Raging Demon: Instant Death (no save)
All attacks must be made on the same enemy you charged.
Alternately, if you are a spellcaster, once per day, you can channel this deadly energy in to your damaging spells as a full-round action against one target. Roll 5d20 and divide by 20, rounding down. Your spell gains the following characteristics for each value:
1—Magna: Your spell buffets your foe with the force of your rage, dealing an additional 1d4 bludgeoning damage per spell level.
2—Magnus: The intense fury of your spell knocks your foe back by one square per spell level.
3—Magdyne: Raw power shocks your enemy’s system; your foe must make a Fortitude save or be knocked prone (DC 10 + tier level + spell level).
4—Magnum Rex: As the fullness of your wrath washes over your foe, he becomes increasingly vulnerable to your power, and your spell’s damage becomes maximized.
5—Armageddon: All Hell breaks loose, as a cosmic tear swallows your foe, instantly destroying him.
Tier 4—Way of the Warrior
Simple movements and fighting techniques are now effortless for you. You gain +5ft to your speed, and can make an additional 5-foot step per turn, even when it isn’t your turn, as an immediate action. Likewise, once per turn, as an immediate action, you can parry a blow that would hit you. Roll 1d20 + tier level + ½ character level + Wisdom modifier against the attack roll that would hit you; if you match or exceed that number, you parry the blow. If you possess Combat Reflexes, you can instead take a 5-foot step instead of an attack of opportunity, and can parry a number of blows equal to half the number of attacks of opportunity Combat Reflexes would grant you, and the action to parry the blow is now a free action.

Lionheart—Powers: Justice, Bravery
Tier 1—Lion’s Pride
When engaging a foe in a Duel of Wills (Tome of Battle), you gain a +5 bonus on Intimidate checks if they participate; if mounted on a warhorse, the benefits increase to +10. If you remain mounted during combat, and possess the Mounted Combat feat, the bonuses and penalties provided by the Duel of Wills are doubled.
Tier 2—Herald of Victory
To take advantage of this ability, you must bear a banner of your party, worth at least 25gp, in your off-hand. This banner may be affixed to a spear or lance, though after that weapon has dealt 25 or more hp in damage, the banner is soiled and useless, and must be replaced. As long as this standard is borne in battle, your allies gain the benefits of a heroism spell (+2 morale bonus on attack rolls, saves, and skill checks), as long as they have line of sight to you. These benefits do not apply outside of an encounter. If you possess the paladin’s aura of courage ability, that aura extends to line of sight as long as you bear the standard. (Remember, the paladin’s aura of courage provides a morale bonus that does not stack with Herald of Victory.) Enchantment spells you cast are at +1 caster level, and enchantment spell DCs increase by 1. You also gain an additional +5 bonus on Intimidate checks made for a Duel of Wills. The benefits of beating a participating opponent double; if you possess Mounted Combat and remain mounted in combat, they are instead tripled, and an opponent cannot ignore you.
Tier 3—Righteousness
Once per encounter, as a standard action, while bearing your standard, you can let loose a war cry that fills your enemies with shame and terror, or the unholy with your righteousness. Make a Charisma check + tier level + ½ character level, and refer to the follow chart for its effects:
0-9: Your enemies are shaken for one round
10-14: Above, and your enemies’ shame prevents them from targeting you effectively, granting you and your allies concealment, and you and your allies gain a +1 bonus to hit for one round.
15-19: Above, and your enemies’ shame forces them to turn from you, granting you and your allies total concealment, and you and your allies gain an additional +1 bonus to hit for one round.
20-24: Above, and during this round, you and your allies automatically confirm any critical threats against evil foes.
25+: Above, and you and your allies deal an additional 1d6 holy damage against evil foes with each attack and overcome DR/evil automatically for the remainder of the encounter.
If you possess the feat Leadership, you gain a +4 bonus to this Charisma check. If you can turn undead, you can sacrifice a turn attempt to affect undead with this ability, even though undead would normally be immune to many of these effects. Also, you gain an additional +5 bonus on Intimidate checks made during a Duel of Wills; the benefits and penalties of defeating a participating opponent or a submitting opponent are now tripled; these benefits are quadrupled if you remain mounted in combat and possess the Mounted Combat feat.
Tier 4—Crusader
As long as your standard is borne in battle, you and your allies gain the benefits of a delayed damage pool. You and your allies do not immediately accrue damage until the end of each affected character’s next turn. In the mean time, for each five points of damage, you and your allies receive a +1 bonus to hit and damage until that damage is taken, up to a maximum of your tier level in Lionheart x 5hp, i.e. 20 hit points at tier 4. Alternately, a spellcaster can instantly take the damage in the pool to increase the caster level of a spell on his turn, even breaking the damage cap as a result, a number of levels equal to the damage in the pool, divided by 5. This ability has no effect outside of combat.

Hosanna—Powers: Exalted, Peace
Tier 1—Voice of Reason
Your words speak into the souls of others, regardless of language barriers. Once per encounter, as a full-round action, convey to your enemies the futility of their assaults. Although some enemies will not be reasoned with, some will. Make a Diplomacy check to influence their actions if they appear to be reasonable, and you can potentially alter their attitude toward you. Those who will not listen to reason are still affected by it, taking a -2 penalty on attack rolls against you, and you gain a +2 bonus on saves against abilities they use against you, for as long as you do not attack them. If you do happen to speak the creature’s native language, your Diplomacy check is made with a +4 bonus, and the penalty on attack rolls becomes -3 and your bonus to saves is +3. If you possess the feat Nimbus of Light (Book of Exalted Deeds), you can make this check as a standard action.
Tier 2—Hand of Mercy
When you deal nonlethal damage to your opponent, your opponent must make a Will save (DC 10 + 2x tier level +1/2 character level) or lose his resolve. He is treated as shaken for the remainder of the encounter. If you possess either of the feats—Subduing Strike or Nonlethal Substitution (Book of Exalted Deeds)—the penalties imposed for being shaken are doubled.
Tier 3—Ordained by Blood
Once per day, as a full-round action, you can activate a powerful, yet somewhat costly, ability. First, you must expend a vial of holy water, and second, you must take Constitution damage. Once activated, a rain of holy blood pours down onto the battlefield, regardless of whether or not you are exposed to the elements, in a 40-foot radius, centered on you, for three rounds. During this time, your allies recover a number of hit points equal to 1d4 per point of Constitution sacrificed per round, and enemies take 1d4 damage per point of Constitution sacrificed per round; undead and evil outsiders take 1d6 points, instead. A Reflex save (DC 10 + tier level + ½ character level) can be made for half damage. You can sacrifice a number of Constitution points equal to your character level. This Constitution damage persistently bleeds for one hour, not inflicting any additional damage, but preventing the Constitution damage from being healed for that hour. If you possess the feat Stigmata, you also heal your allies for an additional 1 point of damage per level they possess for each 2 points of Constitution damage you take, round down; also, each ally can make a new save against any disease affecting them with a sacred bonus equal to the amount of Constitution damage you took. For purposes of Voice of Reason, this does not constitute an attack.
Tier 4—Ascendance
Barriers and obstacles cannot keep you from your goal, nor can compulsions. You are perpetually under the effects of a protection from evil spell, and can act as though under a freedom of movement spell for a number of rounds equal to your tier level as a free action, per day. You can also use one of the following spell-like abilities, once per day: water walk, levitate, zone of truth, calm emotions, create food and water, remove disease, passwall

Apollo—Powers: Fire, Movement
Tier 1—Chariot of Fire
Flames lick your feet and that of your mounts, spurring you onward in your journeys without tiring you; furthermore, your spared energy from an easy sojourn give you an advantage in encounters. Overland travel for you and your allies is made at double speed. If you encounter a wandering monster, you can make a Survival check (DC 15 + monster’s CR) to surprise the monster. If you have the feat Track, you gain a +4 bonus on this check.
Tier 2—Fire Scion
All things of fire and light are enhanced in your hands. Fire or light spells and effects, as well as weapons with fire or light damage, deal their damage in the next larger damage die. Furthermore, you can enhance your melee or ranged attacks with fire damage, dealing an additional 1d4 fire damage per attack. (This damage—nor other fire damage provided by the Apollo Hero’s Path—is not enhanced by the Fire Scions ability.) Finally, light sources you wield or produce from spells increase their area of effect by 50%.
Tier 3—Fire Dance
Once per day, as a full-round action, fire wreathes your hands and feet, as you dance with the flames. You must be able to move at least 10 feet to use this ability, and can move up to your speed as a part of this ability. You can Tumble past or through enemy squares as part of this move, but must make the appropriate Tumble checks to do so. Make a Perform (dance) check, and consult the following for its effects:
0-9: The flames grant you a +2 AC bonus until the end of your next turn.
10-14: Above, and you can make a melee attack at the end of your dance, dealing an additional 1d6 fire damage. The AC bonus increases to +4. If you possess Improved Feint, you can make a feint action as a free action prior to striking with this attack.
15-19: Above, though your melee attack at the end of your dance has an additional +2 to hit, and deals another 1d6 fire damage. Flames trail behind you, dealing 1d4 fire damage to enemies you pass by. If you Tumble through an enemy square, he instead takes 2d4 damage.
20-24: Above, and you can make a ranged touch attack during your movement, dealing 3d6 fire damage. You can instead cast scorching ray—if prepared—at this point, gaining the larger damage die from Fire Scion. If you possess Shot on the Run, you can instead make two ranged touch attacks, each dealing 3d6 fire damage.
25+: You can instead use Nova Cyther—if able—at the end of the dance, instead of a melee attack, adding an additional +2d6 fire damage that cannot be resisted to the damage of Nova Cyther.
Tier 4—Nova Cyther
Once per day, you manifest the form of Apollo to teleport you behind your target. Your target is denied his Dexterity bonus to his AC, unless the opponent possesses four or more levels in a class which provides improved uncanny dodge more than the character’s total class levels. As you teleport, you grab your opponent with a touch attack (this does not provoke an attack of opportunity), with a bonus to your attack roll of two times your tier level (i.e. +8). If successful, you pour heavy nuclear damage into your opponent, devastating him. Your opponent takes 8d6 fire damage that cannot be resisted by normal fire resistance. Creatures immune to fire still take half damage. A Fortitude save (DC 10 + 2x tier level + ½ character level) reduces the damage by half. If you possess the Improved Grapple feat, you can instead engage your opponent in a grapple with this ability, adding +2 to the save DC, and dealing d8s for Nova Cyther’s damage, instead of d6s.

These Hero's Paths are untested, and are intended to be significant in their power at the 3rd and 4th tiers, representing the devotion of the character in his path of a hero, and encouraging its usage in the player's game plan.

I would love any input anyone would like to offer regarding these abilities, which would greatly benefit the campaign I have recently begun, and would love to hear how these might play out in other gamers' campaigns.

Xaaon of Xen'Drik wrote:

Hierophantasm Interesting system, I'd be interested in seeing more of it.

Cool. I'll post on a different thread, titled "Adventure Achievements and Hero's Paths", if Paizo's okay with that.

I've done something similar in a campaign I'm doing right now.

Instead of "achievement feats", however, the characters earn achievement "points"--like the Xbox 360 gamerscore--for accomplishing anything from story-related quests, to (more often) side quests, using specific skills successfully in a situation, or random chance with critical hits. I expect that the average player should earn 50% of the maximum by the end of an adventure.

What the players can do with their achievements is invest them into a "Hero's Path", a preconstructed set of tiered abilities, becoming incrementally more expensive to invest into to unlock more and more powerful abilities. This allows the characters to use their achievement points to "buy" new abilities, either a lot of relatively weak ones, or invest into a path for increasingly powerful (yet few) ones.

For example, I'm running a campaign set in Darkmoon Vale (See Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to Darkmoon Vale), and using adventures set there, starting with Hollow's Last Hope. This adventure (as a 16-pager) has a maximum number of "achievements" of 500 points, with only around 50-100 acquired through story. By voluntarily increasing the difficulty of fights, meeting certain battle prerequisites (such as not getting flanked), and so on, the characters can begin their earning of these points.

An example "Hero's Path" (all named--roughly--after heroes or other heroic archetypes) is El Viento (The Wind). Investing into El Viento's first tier requires 150 points, and grants the "Double Jump" ability

After having made a successful Jump check to move at least 10 feet, you can make another jump check to move an additional distance, as long as you have movement remaining, in a direction of your choosing. Treat this jump check as though you did not have a running start, though it still qualifies as a leap for purposes of feats, such as Leap Attack. Spellcasters can sacrifice a spell to gain a bonus on their Jump checks equal to +4 per spell level sacrificed as a free action.

This ability should be affordable during the first adventure. Should a player do exceedingly well, or--more likely--he invests more points into this during the second adventure, Crown of the Kobold King (worth 1000 points, at 32-pages, IIRC), he will be able to afford the second tier, after having invested a total of 450 points into El Viento, which is as follows:
Wind Blade--Once per encounter, you can make a basic melee attack with a range of 20 feet, with an additional +1 to hit and +1d4 damage. This attack can be part of a full attack action, but cannot be used with maneuvers. Normal penalties for making a ranged attack into melee apply. Alternately, you can use this to add the slashing subtype to any spell or ranged attack requiring an attack roll to hit, increasing its range by 10ft, granting an additional +1 to hit, and dealing an additional 1d4 damage.

Although these examples--and others which follow--become increasingly powerful, it encourages players to embrace this option, and tailor their character towards its usage. Nevertheless, awarding points for achievements, and having a list of abilities which could be purchased with those points might make for a similar sort of rewards system. More so, "achivement feats" could be purchased, and the feats themselves could become available (unlocked) as the prerequisites are met.

I will concede this method is--perhaps--unusually complex, so its implementation over a large scale would be difficult and time consuming. Still, food for thought...

trellian wrote:

"Wingclipper's Revenge" by Christopher Wissel features fey plaguing a community due to an evil ranger bent on revenge.

Actually, I was planning on raiding Wingclipper's Revenge for stat blocks (perfect multitude of battle-ready fey), but now that you mention it, I could also raid it for potential "set pieces". That issue also has an adventure relating to oozes, IIRC, so I should definitely give it a further look. (Certainly got my moneys worth out of it from the "Library of Last Resort" adventure, when I ran AoW.)

Speaking of set pieces, I've been looking at some of the locales (Etherveil, Cold Marrow, etc), and have been trying to come up with some encounters and reasons to quest there. We play again next Friday, so I should come up with some more goodies...

So, some months back, I heard about this wonderfully ridiculous title of a game, and saw a small screen shot that suggested a Devil May Cry-meets-Dead or Alive action game. So, I thought, what the heck, let's give it a try.

But there's a few caveats:

First, and most importantly, I recently replaced my XBox 360, and have had little problems, but this game (both copies I tried) froze during loading screens like no other game I've played before...and often just as I was about to finish a level. At least a dozen times since I got it almost a week ago. It's not always, but typically at least once during a play session for over an hour.

That aside, it's not exactly a revolutionary title, but in a way, that's its charm. I remember beat-em-ups from the PS2 like Bujingai and Blood Will Tell which were not exceptional in story or graphics, but were competent and enjoyable slash-n-bash action games. I have fun with just kicking back and beating up the bad guys till they're dead for a few hours. (That is, I enjoy playing for a few hours, during which time I beat up bad guys until they're dead...syntax...)

This is no different, and though the graphics are washed out, the characters look good (I mean, they have respectable detail, not perfect, but...) The cutscenes are enjoyably ridiculous, and the titled chapters are like great B-movie horror flick titles (mostly).

The loading in the game is ridiculously bad, though, and frequent. (And, this is when my game would be prone to freezing.) The little mini-game in it I think actually makes it take longer, or freezes the game! The levels would be fine, but you have to replay them like four times in a row, going back and forth opening gates, etc. That's kind of excessive.

I like the sword slashing, and the customization in leveling up, though the experience orbs drop much later than they should, as you're far away from them when they do manifest, typically. I think the best of it was the boss fight with the zombie killer whale, which is hysterical.

I'm not too disappointed by this game, because I didn't go into it with any raised expectations. But, for anyone considering buying this, keep the receipt handy.

I'd lost interest in SquareEnix RPGs, but the great visuals and good pedigree of the series drew me back. I'll give a whirl if they can pry Street Fighter IV from me.

Beaten to the punch!

I actually started a Darkmoon Vale campaign this Friday the 13th! (I have a flair for the dramatic, I guess, and the natural ones galore didn't disappoint!) We started with an encounter with a werewolf during a thunderstorm outside the north palisade of Falcon's Hollow. The werewolf had slain a group of three dwarven merchants and the driver of a caravan, with goods supposed to go to the low market, now ruined. A month of what I call "Off-Time" for the characters will precede the adventure "Hollow's Last Hope".

This setting and the modules within it have made for a rich environment for both exploration and familiarity for the players, as they dwell in Falcon's Hollow. The Guide to Darkmoon Vale has provided a multitude of quest hooks, and made improv very easy. My players are eager about the well-defined roles of races, religion, and monsters in the area.

Because of the episodic nature of the modules set in Falcon's Hollow, this has allowed me to link them together over long spans of time (long for most campaigns), usually with a gap of several months between adventures. During this "off-time" characters can spend their time retraining, working (with Profession or Craft checks), researching the region (to gain bonuses to future knowledge or other skill checks in the future, or uncovering quests), go hunting for monsters or other quarry, or undertake miscellaneous quests to fill the time and become deeper inured in the region.

I also made a comprehensive list of every named NPC from the modules, making their appearances prior to the modules they are featured in make their roles in the modules more resonant. For example...

Namdrin Quinn and his wife Tessa are members of the Gray Eagles, alongside Edgrin Galesong and Tyran Moonsilver, and they will be available to assist PCs on quests early on. How PCs interact or befriend these NPCs will affect their reactions to future events in the modules

My group of players have made characters based on information I have provided them from the Guide to Darkmoon Vale, and their interest in the setting shows.
One player is playing a female half-elven spirit shaman named Damaera, acting as an entertainer and caretaker for poor children--one of her favorite charges is Kimi Eaveswalker; likewise, she has a secret crush on Deldrin Baleson.
Another is (secretly) a changeling bard named Pseudo, who acts as a deputy for Deldrin, and investigator, following up on the most recent assault by the werewolf, its potential impetus, and who would stand to gain from such a tragedy.
Next is Willic, a human barbarian brewmaster at Jak'a'napes, who was unfortunate enough to be bitten by the werewolf; in order to keep his employee brewing his award-winning pale ale, Jak will make every effort to aid in the young man's recovery, or should he become a "pariah", his secret.
Next is Sedgwick, a gnome illusionist of a well-to-do family, who has sought the privacy and secrecy of Falcon's Hollow to research whether there is more to gnome magics than illusion--his player looks to develop him into a shadowcaster; he is the only other gnome in town, and lives with Brickasnurd Hildrensocks, his friend and business comrade.
Finally is Drake, a silverbrow human with an abyssal heritage, who came from a noble house and served as a soldier to a foul man; seeking a new way, he has left on a journey, his fortuitous arrival in Falcon's Hollow coinciding with the werewolf attack.

This kind of campaign has let me play with a lot of new concepts that I've had on the back burner, such as how the characters can use their off-time, as well as having a campaign where the characters don't necessarily do a lot of traveling, but adventure is in their backyard.

Making them large (barring advancement) would give them a +4 bonus to their grapple checks, making their abduction easier to use. However, they would have a -1 to hit and to AC, so this in turn makes things easier for the PCs. If you wanted to do the math, you could advance them for an even harder fight, but I found Olangru was a deadly foe, and would have remained one even without my own advancement of his scout abilities when I did it. In my opinion, unless you want to abduct your PCs to weaken them tactically, simply adjusting there size actually makes things easier for the PCs; I wouldn't increase the CR and resulting XP.

It's funny, but I was thinking of adding something like this to the beginning of a Player's Guide for the players in my next campaign. Honestly, my gaming circle is pretty good, though some of them can be quick to get off topic, or can be lazy. Still, they're all friends, and we're down with playing D&D with one another.

And that's really the biggest issue. For the OP, I would recommend thinking about if you genuinely want to play D&D with one or any of these guys, if you feel like they're not reliable. We've had a couple of guys in our groups, who've been either difficult to schedule with, or just unreliable, and it is frustrating. It's okay to still be friends with them, but maybe not play D&D together. A game shouldn't ruin a friendship, but that doesn't mean that friends must always play D&D together. Either way, good luck with it.

Still, as for social contracts, since it's something more than one person I've known playing has brought up before, here's the one I'm thinking of pitching:


DM/Player Agreement

In the interest of providing an enjoyable and balanced game environment for all players present and devoted to spending their spare time playing Dungeons & Dragons, a few ground rules must be established and agreed upon by the DM and players.

1. Game Balance—The 3.5 Edition of Dungeons & Dragons has a wide and diverse sea of options available for players and dungeon masters alike; these options—taken as a whole—are unbalanced. Many of these options were introduced late into the lifespan of 3.5 D&D, and may have been introduced with the intention of drawing in new players, breathing life into old classes, or ramping up the power level to keep the enthusiasm high for continuing gamers. Whatever the reason, many of these spells/feats/abilities/etc. are not appropriate for party play, as it affords one player’s character gameplay advantages over that of the other players’ characters, while forcing the DM to cater encounters toward that player’s character specifically. As such, many new options are presented to afford all players options to empower their characters on an even playing field, and other options limited to certain classes/races/etc. are not available. Furthermore, if the DM/players feel that an option need to be discussed with relevance to its power level, and its inclusion/exclusion in the Darkmoon Vale campaign, that topic is open for discussion during the Pre-Game Warm-Up/Post-Game Wrap-Up, or—in extreme situations—interrupting Game Time.
2. Session Structure—Each weekly or bi-weekly gaming session is time dedicated by each player present to enjoy a game of Dungeons & Dragons. In order to better enjoy this time dedicated to this hobby, a session structure can help retain focus, and allow the players and dungeon master to make the most out of that time. Each session begins at the designated time, and allows for fifteen minutes of Pre-Game Warm-Up. This discussion can be related to any topic, but once the fifteen minutes have transpired, the players and dungeon master proceed into Game Time. Game Time—while variable—should probably not exceed four hours, with three hours being the most appropriate. There should be a fifteen minute break taken at some point within the Game Time. During Game Time, all player/DM conversation should be relevant to the immediate situation in game at hand; rules questions/discussions should wait until the Post-Game Wrap-Up. The DM goes around the table, and alerts each player when their turn comes up. Each turn, the players move their pieces on the board—when applicable—or take actions appropriate to their situation. Players wishing to participate in actions occurring on another player’s turn should hold their actions until their turn arises. Players should come to game prepared with a short list of items they would like to purchase with their treasure to expedite gameplay, and should have their characters preemptively leveled up when the opportunity arises. Finally, after Game Time, is the Post-Game Wrap-Up. During this time, the players and dungeon master can converse about anything they like, but might be better served by questions/concerns/rules discussion that have been held until the end of the night. There is no expressed limit on how long the Post-Game Wrap-Up can be, though no player should feel compelled to stay during this time.
3. Punctuality and Attendance—A time to start the weekly/bi-weekly session of the campaign should be agreed upon by all players prior to beginning the campaign. Starting times should allow for difficult weather, and other factors beyond the control of the players, and afford each player the opportunity to participate in the Pre-Game Warm-Up. Players are expected to attend every session, though in extreme cases, exceptions should be allowed. Players who are running late are expected to contact the DM and to give an estimated time of arrival. If a player no longer feels they can regularly attend on time, it would appreciated by the other players and DM if that player alerts the DM as soon as possible, so the DM can make appropriate arrangements.

(Sorry if this post got relocated onto another thread.)

This may sound wild, but...

I've recently been working on adapting psionics for a mid-level (6th-13th) level campaign set in a futuristic sci-fi setting, with futuristic weapons (like pulse rifles, and even grenade launchers, etc), practically eliminating the presence of magic (in all its myriad forms), and making the XPH races and humans the only available races.

What I mean might sound wild is, that since psionics occupy such an unusual role in D&D, in that it's in many ways functionally similar to magic, but rarely, if ever, supported in any published adventures, it tends to get swept under the rug as an oddity.

Well, why not take Pathfinder into outer space. Several planets have been mentioned over the course of GameMastery (Pathfinder) Modules and Pathfinder adventure paths. Seems like it could be a new...ahem, "undiscovered country" (couldn't resist) for 3.5 OGL D&D.

I'm sure this sounds like shadows of Spelljammer (which, I confess, I have no experience with), but it may be more interesting to set it in a futuristic time/space, and using some of the rarely used weapons (if only for a basis) mentioned in the Dungeon Master's Guide (p. 146) to give both psionics and space-RPGs a fresh feel. Plus, could tie in with Planet Stories, I suppose...

I've dubbed my own work in this vein "Planets & Powers", and have borrowed from numerous sci-fi sources, from Star Trek/Star Wars, Mass Effect, Aliens, and bits and pieces from here and there. While I should have had this done by this January, my brother got me "Hungry Are the Dead," so now I have to do a Darkmoon Vale campaign. Oh, well...maybe in a few months.

Still, I know it's a bit out of left field, but it could be a unique and exciting take on these unexplored realms of RPGs.

This may sound wild, but...

I've recently been working on adapting psionics for a mid-level (6th-13th) level campaign set in a futuristic sci-fi setting, with futuristic weapons (like pulse rifles, and even grenade launchers, etc), practically eliminating the presence of magic (in all its myriad forms), and making the XPH races and humans the only available races.

What I mean might sound wild is, that since psionics occupy such an unusual role in D&D, in that it's in many ways functionally similar to magic, but rarely, if ever, supported in any published adventures, it tends to get swept under the rug as an oddity.

Well, why not take Pathfinder into outer space. Several planets have been mentioned over the course of GameMastery (Pathfinder) Modules and Pathfinder adventure paths. Seems like it could be a new...ahem, "undiscovered country" (couldn't resist) for 3.5 OGL D&D.

I'm sure this sounds like shadows of Spelljammer (which, I confess, I have no experience with), but it may be more interesting to set it in a futuristic time/space, and using some of the rarely used weapons (if only for a basis) mentioned in the Dungeon Master's Guide (p. 146) to give both psionics and space-RPGs a fresh feel. Plus, could tie in with Planet Stories, I suppose...

I've dubbed my own work in this vein "Planets & Powers", and have borrowed from numerous sci-fi sources, from Star Trek/Star Wars, Mass Effect, Aliens, and bits and pieces from here and there. While I should have had this done by this January, my brother got me "Hungry Are the Dead," so now I have to do a Darkmoon Vale campaign. Oh, well...maybe in a few months.

Still, I know it's a bit out of left field, but it could be a unique and exciting take on these unexplored realms of RPGs.

...and mine is "Hierophantasm". Aren't I original?

Mostly playing Rock Band 2, occasionally Gears 2 (though I'm a n00b, to be sure), multiplayer-wise.

If anyone does want to play something specific with me, though, let me know. Working at a GameStop lets me check out games sometimes.

I liked this movie and saw it in the theaters (Cedar Lee in Cleveland). I was originally interested in it because of the lead actor (Tadanobu Asano), who I have seen in many movies, such as Ichi the Killer and Last Life in the Universe. He's an interesting actor, kind of like a Japanese Johnny Depp.

Funny story. Shortly after I went to see this movie in the theaters, Mongolia won its first ever gold medal in wrestling (I think), and people in Mongolia were going nuts, and the gold medal winner was making proud claims about his and his peoples ancestry with Genghis Khan.

Cool movie, if a bit of an Eastern "Braveheart".

Years ago, we used to have a guy in our gaming circle who cheated. I mean, I was never around if anyone ever did call him on it, but we still poke fun at "The Jeremy Roll".

How to perform a Jeremy Roll:

(Note: you will need another die of the appropriate die for each one you intend to cheat with.)

Step One: Leave the first die at your space at the table face up to the highest digit (a 20 on a d20, for instance).

Step Two: Roll a different die of the same type between the palms of your hands, like you were warming them, then slam the die down on the table, near the die you left face up to cheat with.

Step Three: Point to the die you left face up, and tell everyone that you rolled a 20.

Step Four: Before anyone can come over to look at the roll, or the difference in dice rolled, quickly snatch them up, and feast on the proud fact that you lied to a bunch of your friends in a game of glorified "Cops & Robbers".

I never really believed I had a player in my recent history who cheated, though some players seem unusually lucky, or tend to interpret their characters abilities liberally. Still, I've told my gamers that about the saddest thing I can imagine is cheating at a game where imagination is the foundation of the gameplay.

If I did have a cheater, and I knew, I'd let the other players know, and ask how they felt about it. If they felt like their recreation had been diminished, I'd let the cheater know how I and the others felt, and see how he reacted. If the cheater apologized and promised not to do it again, I'd give him another chance, with the stipulation that anymore cheating, and he would be out for good. If he didn't care, I'd imagine none of us would want to game with him anymore, and would give him the boot then and there.

D&D, like all good games, should be fun first, and the rest second...and Jeremy Rolls dead last.

I've bought and sold on eBay, myself, and only ever bought one Dungeon issue from eBay (the one w/the "BoVD" adventure, primarily for Scuttlecove backdrop). Haven't yet run it, meant to as a sidequest for the Jade Ravens.

Personally, I couldn't sell my Savage Tide issues for two reasons. First, I spent a year and a half running it and have a sincerely good amount of personal value attached to it. (Will never forgive myself for selling my D&D black box board game and other three "board game" styled adventures in a garage sale for $5 when I was a kid.)

Second, I'm rough on my stuff, and these magazines have krinkles, rips, markings I made in them, and are held together with Scotch tape. They saw good usage, but I wouldn't buy them in their condition now.

While I've not seen the Tome of Horrors entry for quicklings, I was wondering if Prig's stat block is accurate, when it lists his speed as being 240 ft., and his bonus to Jump check being +100. While I get that if his speed is indeed 240 ft, he would gain a +84 bonus to his Jump check from this alone, I guess the question his speed really 240 ft.? (Maybe that's why they call him a "quickling"?)

Presuming it is, I can't figure out how the PCs could catch him. Obviously, he's interested in taunting the PCs, more than a flat-out fight (thank God), but is he even supposed to be caught, or rather, defeated? My guess is that he is meant to lead the PCs to the Ice Carving area, wherein he "slips up" and loses his grasp over the witch ice shard. I suppose a lucky shot or a flubbed Reflex save from a fireball spell would do the trick, though.

While I'm looking forward to running this potentially chaotic encounter, I'll have to be quick with the dry erase markers, if--as I suspect--Prig is going to run laps around the carnival, giving the PCs a literal "run for their money".

One last thing, I noticed that Prig's fey dagger has a sleep effect attached to it, but here is no description as to the nature of the sleep effect in the stat block. Just wondering how this sleep effect functions.

I'm so intrigued by Falcon's Hollow and Darkmoon Vale, that I'm compiling PC-friendly material from the modules set in and around Falcon's Hollow for a "mini-campaign". Great, iconic monsters, with a focus in specific monster types, plenty of potential events and reoccurring sets.

While I considered the black gargantuan "mini" totally worth it, I was constantly using two of my players' minis vast collections for the rest. So I lucked out. Still, if you're short on the right sized mini, you may want to use one that is one-size smaller, and place it on the intersections, letting your players know its the bigger size. On the other hand, you could get creative, get some clay, or even buy toys, as a previous poster mentioned with the McFarlane ones (good suggestion for this adventure).

Of course, you could use the pineapple or rotisserie chicken like the ads had...

You may want your players to "pitch in", if you think minis are the way to go. After all, you can all share them for other campaigns, and keep them wherever you usually game.

Just to nitpick, and a bit off-topic..

If drow are transformed elves in the world of Golarion, wouldn't a template be more appropriate? Or would this be unnecessary paperwork? Also, would they inherit any kind of subtype?

Honestly, I don't know when any of this would ever come up in a game, but just curious...

Story-wise, I was more interested in the kind of post-modern, self-awareness of the title, like it knew it was a Mario-game, but resisted the trappings of such a title by turning the cliche hero-saves-princess plot on its head. It's fascinating, but I felt the story--in a way, like Mario--was there to give the player a sense of purpose behind the action. This game is--in so many ways--wonderfully different and equally recognizable to gamers, and that's its greatest strength, in both story and gameplay.

(I stand corrected. I forgot Elder Scrolls and Fallout 3 were also on the PS3.) Yes, Fallout 3 is a phenomenal--albeit mature--role-playing game. Truly great options, and the stuff great RPGs are made of.

While it's not a traditional RPG--in fact, its not one at all--I've heard good things about Uncharted for the PS3. Should have some engaging characters and story.

As far as a game--action, again--with some great platforming, good story, and engaging characters, that is relatively simple and yet intense, check out Prince of Persia. I loved this game, and if you like exploration, but not just smashing enemies (though there is a good amount of swordplay), this is worth a look.

Truth is, I don't think there are many RPGs that aren't just grindfests (like Untold Legends) on the PS3 right now. The soonest one coming out I can think of is Star Ocean 4, but that's sometime next year. In truth, I've found for RPGs, the 360's the place to be, with games like Mass Effect, Lost Odyssey, and--for better or worse--Infinite Undiscovery.

Either way, flip through a game magazine, go online to something like IGN, or go to a game store (may want to wait a week after Christmas) and see what's out there.

Army of Two was a lot of fun, though I didn't try co-op locally. I did try Left 4 Dead locally, and while it's a great title, it suffers from major clipping problems and enemies vanishing and reappearing suddenly in local co-op. The graphics also seem to take a downgrade in local, though not too sure why. Still tons of fun, but it seems to lose a little, locally.

I guess I've never been a big fan of local co-op for anything other than a brawler like good ol' Streets of Rage 2 or a fighting game--which, by definition, isn't co-op. Still, enjoy the new 360, I love it myself.

The Wii is something both totally different and surprisingly familiar. While I consider myself a "hardcore gamer", the hardcore gamers of today started out on games that, years ago, were "casual games".

I mean, the complexity for games has grown over the years, but for people who always wanted to get in on the gaming fun, while it was quickly becoming a niche hobby, couldn't because of how prohibitive modern "hardcore" games can be.

I remember balking at the six-button controller of the SNES, trying to figure out what kind of game needs six buttons. (Even Street Fighter doesn't really need six buttons, four will do, as King of Fighters and its ilk proved.) But as I became acclimated to increasingly complex control schemes and level design, I forgot that people who didn't play games were looking at modern games like they were some bizarre experience that required months of devotion to just crack into. Enter the Wii.

A couple of buttons, simple game philosophies, engaging entertainment. Although a lot of it's shovelware, most people who want to play don't know or don't care. When it comes right down to it, the "casual gamer", the people who consider watching a movie a night of entertainment, are not that far removed with the Wii. After all, the "controller" is called a "remote". (Why the heck they decided to call the Nunchuck what it is is beyond me, though...I guess "thingy" was too non-descript.)

My girlfriend's not a gamer. I love tabletop RPGs and most video games. (Though Square Enix hasn't released an RPG I've given two cents about since FFX-2, RPGs like Mass Effect still blow me away.) I let her play Sonic the Hedgehog. Sure, you only need one button, but its fast with lots of spike traps. Wouldn't you know it, she kept running into the spikes, or not getting rings, over and over. But it's not her fault. Even Sonic the Hedgehog was still kinda developed with the "gamer" in have to understand that spikes and those cute crab robots are going to kill you, and to quote Blade Runner, "reaction time is a factor". However, she loves Wii Bowling, and some of those other "move the remote to do stuff" games. Even a game I got her, "Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun", because she loves Agatha Christie novels, she enjoyed...because she liked moving the guy around.

Though I've retained my badge as a "hardcore gamer"--loved my PS2, now my 360--and the graphically stunning games, with high production values and multi-faceted online functionality, hat's off to Nintendo for reopening the doors to new "gamers", and reminding us why games like Mario, Gyromite, and Bubble Bobble engaged us years ago.

Never mind. Everything's peachy. Thanks, though, and have a happy holiday!

Sorry to be a bother.

I, too, am having trouble purchasing "The Classic Dungeons & Dragons Rulebook PDF". When I click on "Proceed to Checkout", my computer is telling me that "Mozilla can't find the server at".

Just wondering if there is something that might be wrong with the host server at this time, or if it's my clunky computer or web browser. Sorry, not asking for tech support, but just mentioning it in case the host server might not be active.


Heward made a cameo in my game. One of the characters, an artificer, became a super-entrepeneur (sp) a la Bill Gates. After the party recovered an Amulet of Mighty Fists +6 from a throwdown with Xiureksor and put it on sale, Heward came into Sasserine (whose economy has now become that of a major city in my game) to purchase it "for a friend".

We did this before scuttlecove, and it was a lot of fun. I'd recommend erring on the side of simplicity, and use a lot of window-dressing to describe fancy ships to your players. Stormwrack suggests naval combat rules which barely crawl compared to the speed of PC vs. NPC/monster combat. I recommend keeping the ships moving on a battle map. Use small cardboard cut-outs to represent the ships on a large-scale map, but keep a standard battlemap nearby, so that when the PCs attempt to board, they can zoom in on the action.

Keep it fast and loose, round numbers to speed things up, use averages for dice values, etc, because all those ships and all those NPCs will soak up time your players aren't rolling their dice. All in all, it's totally worth the effort.

One of the inside jokes of the group is the multitude of stuck doors in the...

Lotus Dragons' Guild

This almost derailed the campaign from the start. Then again, I game with a group that isn't savvy on old-school dungeon crawling, so they had a bias. Considering that the dungeon is pretty complex anyway, I'd just remove that "stuck door" problem from the start.

Also, the Shrine of Duplicity is pretty vague and difficult to surmise how to overcome.

Decide if you want to play out some of the large scale battles over a large battlemap, or suspend disbelief, and have your PCs engage in localized skirmishes. Both have their pluses and minuses. I opted for the large-scale battles, and one of these generally took roughly four hours, and composed the entirety of the night of gaming. Still, the players always loved them, and the battlefield control it offered them, the freedom for their characters to do what they wanted, and made long-range abilities matter. Still, let players know there may be long gaps between their turns, and keep them focused.

Introduce some kind of motivation for the PCs to flood...

...Golismorga. My players thought they could just kill all the kopru, and leave the aboleths petrified, and not force the mongrelfolk out of their home, not liking to have to pick the lesser of the two evils, and their metagaming instincts made them even think the aboleths were the greater of the two. (They were also very overconfident.) Fortunately, one of the PCs, an Olman warlock, had began praying to Tlaloc a while back, believing him his patron deity, thus giving me an easy out, when I told him his character felt a whispering at the back of his mind begging him to break the tear of his deity in Golismorga.

In Scuttlecove...

...don't even call for Spot checks against the Yuan-Ti assassins Hide checks, unless a character has a ridiculous Spot check bonus. Just have them surprise the PCs and be done with it.

Also, I've noticed this isn't too big of a problem, but make copies of stat blocks in Serpents of Scuttlecove for yourself as a DM (or at least use page markers), so you don't end up tearing the pages of your magazine, dancing around between three separate places for stat blocks and tactics. First time I ever considered the advantages of the Delve Format used in Wizards modules.

Also in Serpents of Scuttlecove...

Spoiler: out for Vzorthys. He is a devastatingly effective opponent, who can decimate unprepared parties. He's still a great fight, but use with care.

In Enemies of My Enemy...

I would still recommend giving Malcanthet's Queen's Kiss to the character with the highest Charisma. Although she followed the article in my game, offering it to the one with the lowest, the CN warlock, with the highest Charisma, stepped forward and accepted, enjoying the benefits of a +4 profane bonus to Charisma, coupled with a +4 sacred bonus provided by the Fountain of Beauty earlier. Altogether, this just felt more appropriate; or, if only because the character was CN.

In Prince of Demons...

...going back to what I was saying about large-scale battles or skirmishes, this is crucial here, with tons of spells and troops, using new items found in an appendix in the back, I had to just fast forward most of the way through the fight. Truly, it is one of the most exciting "D-Day-styled" set pieces in the campaign, but the fight is as grueling as the opening to Saving Private Ryan. Consider giving your players anti-summoning weapons of some kind, teleportings capabilities, area effects, or just skip it if it's too much hassle.

For the very last dungeon, don't hold back. I invented whole-cloth new items or abilities for its denizens, and made it even more memorable. This is your sign-off on the campaign, and by now, you will know your parties strengths and weaknesses; plan accordingly.

A couple asides:

Hezrou show up all over at mid and high levels, and they love using unholy blight, it seems. This damage is difficult or impossible to resist, so be careful spamming these area effects on PCs if the PCs are ambushed by them.

Also, blasphemy is a devastating spell for demons to have at-will. Make it a 1/day spell, or once every 1d4 rounds, or something, and your players won't pour sugar in your gas tank as they storm out angry at the liquid cheese your poured over them. (Didn't actually happen.)

Finally, the "Thrown Weapon Master" prestige class is too powerful in this campaign. A player played one with the Two-Weapon Fighting feats and devastated big monsters with terrible touch ACs. Since many of the dinosaur-styled or other big monster enemies have poor touch ACs, this prestige class may, again, be too good for this campaign.

To anyone starting this campaign, have fun! It gave my gaming group a year and a half of enjoyable Friday nights.

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