Storm Hag

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A recent thread got me thinking about doing conversions from Pathfinder 2nd edition back to Pathfinder 1st edition, and I decided to take a stab at Hellknight Hill to see how much work it would be to convert. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't too bad. I may very well convert the rest of the AP.

>> Link the Conversion Guide <<

I haven't had a chance to run this yet (and when I do it will probably be a solitaire mock run because my players are in the middle of another campaign) but I think this is sufficient to run it. I'm interested to hear any feedback people have.

Monsters and magical items were converted to their PF1 equivalents, and where ones didn't exist I statted them up. XP awards were a little harder, but based on the party's expected APL it was able to ballpark it. I've done a more thorough pass the XP totals and it holds pretty close to the APL expectations set forth in the adventure overview (if you fully-explore the dungeon and solve most of the challenges, you will reach the expected levels). I only eye-balled loot; it looks fine, I'll go over it with a fine-toothed comb later.

Skill checks are mostly unchanged, just mapping each skill to its context- appropriate PF1 counterpart. Since PF1 and PF2 skill checks are pretty close at low levels the DC's didn't need to change in most cases. Since we have more obscure skills in PF1, I did lower the DC of more obscure skill checks, and a few checks I changed to better comport with PF1 guidelines. I did consider raising the DC's for things that we can take 20 on with no risk of failure, but in the end I only did that with a couple Disable Device checks. Saving throw DC's, where called for, are reduced since PF1 saves are significantly lower than PF2 saves.

The one thing that really bothers me is that Mephit encounter. I absolutely love that encounter, but when converted back to 1st edition it's a CR 5 encounter that occurs when the party is still 1st level. The combination of DR/magic, fast healing, an SLA that deals just enough damage to 1-shot a 1st level character, and a very deadly environmental hazard (smoke is way more dangerous in PF1 than it is in PF2) make this encounter incredibly deadly. I've made some modifications to hopefully make it less deadly, but I'm still afraid because... well, it's still a nasty encounter. I'd love any feedback or opinions other people have on this one.

Just a few other thoughts on the various conversions:

Spoiler:

Backgrounds
Dragon Scholar: the PF2 effect of this background is completely useless when backported to PF1, so I had to come up with something completely new. I decided to create a half-powered version of Eldritch Heritage, which fits the background's flavor (even if it's completely different from its actual effect).

Items
Doubling Ring: I'm kinda interested to see how useful this will be in PF1. It's a huge cost-saver on enhancement bonuses and have some cheeky application with using a thrown weapon in your off-hand, but occupying both your ring slots is a huge downside.

Monsters/NPC's
Pib and Zarf: while it might seem weird to have gone with Elemental bloodline instead of Draconic, had I gone with Draconic I wouldn't have been able to properly emphasize their elemental divergence. With this approach Pib gets an acidic version of Burning Hands to match Zarf's default fire version, and they get matching elemental rays as well. This ultimately serves their flavor better.

Skeletal Hellknight: there was no way in any of the lower planes that I was converting this guy's on-hit stun effect. Yikes. Instead I gave him Charnel Soldiers and the Precise Strike feat to better emphasize his role as a leader of the skeletons in the encounter in which he appears.

Malarunk: in a surprising inversion, 2nd edition Malarunk has access to a spell that 1st edition Malarunk can't really duplicate. I have to admit, that's pretty much the last problem I expected to have given how magic is in PF2. I put a wand of sending on him to fill that narrative niche and kept the charges low so it doen't break the WBL bank.


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So I've got a lot of problems with backgrounds currently. I love the flavor, but the implementation feels very lackluster. They restrict more than they enhance character creation, and the system could stand for significant improvement.

Let's start with lore, something intrinsically linked with backgrounds. Lore is PF2's counterpart to the profession skill, which is to say it's so narrow and circumstantial that it's rarely going to come into play. There are a few edge cases of professions which cover useful skills that can't be found elsewhere (sailing being the most common example in both PF1 and PF2), but for the most part lore skills are quite forgettable. But lore's problems go beyond being niche: just having lore doesn't actually make you good with it. Due to the way skills work in PF2, an untrained skill check can still be made at a -2 penalty. For characters with 10 intelligence, this means your trained lore check is still quite likely lower than untrained lore checks by other members of the party. A little spreadsheeting to calculate the probabilities, and there's only a 25% chance that your 10 intelligence character will actually get the highest result in the party if everyone rolls on the lore check (presuming two other characters with 10 intelligence and one 18 intelligence wizard are also rolling, none trained in your lore). It may be realistic for an 18 intelligence wizard to be a know-it-all, but the end result is that lore ends up irrelevant for most characters. As of right now intelligence seems to be the go-to dump stat, so that means wizards are the only class that are good with lore. Practicing a trade suffers the same problem, once again if you don't have a high intelligence you won't be good at any profession. Moreover, it leads to weird circumstances like an acrobat making an intelligence-based check to practice his trade as a circus performer.

Because lore is so inconsequential, backgrounds feel like mere proxies for their skill feat. This makes backgrounds more of a limitation than a boon; they lock certain concepts to certain skill feats, and this can result in unhappy marriages. On the one hand you can have thematic concepts like an ex-criminal paladin... but the Experienced Smuggler feat is essentially useless until you get up to at least mastery proficiency in stealth, so if your class doesn't have signature skill in stealth you're basically just throwing your background skill feat away. Or you could have the opposite side of the coin, with a character with 10 dexterity who is untrained in acrobatics chooses the acrobat background because the associated skill feat is useful to them (flagrant munchkinry). The sailor presents yet another problem; underwater marauder is basically a feat tax in aquatic campaigns, but useless in a land-based campaign. It does make sense that sailor is more useful in an aquatic campaign, it's a bit too wide a swing in my view.

Finally, there's the general feeling that we got two traits in PF1, and now we get one background in PF2. It just feels like we're getting less than we used to (a common problem across many categories) and there's no real reason for it to be that limited.

I do have three ideas on how to alleviate these problems:

1) Replace lore with an actual skill. Most backgrounds would offer only one skill, but some backgrounds (like scholar) might offer a choice. This is your background skill. You are trained in your background skill, and always treat it as a signature skill. You gain the ability to make profession checks to earn a living with your background skill. You automatically know the answer to any easy questions regarding your background, and can make a check using your background skill to answer more difficult questions relating to your background's subject matter.

This neatly folds lore into the existing skills. It also means your 'lore' proficiency automatically improves whenever you improve your proficiency with your background skills, giving a bit more compaction in that respect. This is also a subtle incentive to continue investing in your background skill, without making it so good as to be mandatory to do so.

2) Each background should allow for the selection of any skill feat whose associated skill matches the background skill. So acrobat would allow you to pick any skill feat associated with acrobatics. You would still need to meet the prerequisites of the skill feat in question.

This addresses the problem of using backgrounds to bypass prerequisites, future-proofs backgrounds, allows greater customization, while still narrowing choices to thematic ones associated with that background. Each background could suggest a default choice, creating a mid-ground between speed of character creation and customization.

3) Campaign backgrounds are chosen in addition to your regular background, essentially giving you a second background. They do not increase your ability scores, and do not grant you a profession. They only grant a trained skill and a skill feat. If your campaign is not using campaign backgrounds, you can select a free skill feat instead.


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I'm increasingly concerned about blasting spells in PF2; spells like fireball and magic missile whose purpose is to deal direct damage. For the most part, these spells were quite weak in PF1, and required extensive feat and class feature support to be effective. The hope was that PF2 would give us blast spells that would work better out of the box, and wouldn't leave us with the problem of being an obligate specialist in a single spell. This would also mean the extreme blasting support options that existed in PF1 wouldn't be necessary in PF2. What we've seen has me worrying that PF2 is going in the opposite direction, and is making blasts even worse for casters who lack extremely powerful class features to bolster them.

In essence, my concern is that these spells deal too little damage. We now know that the PF2 fireball spell deals 6d6 damage, with an additional 2d6 damage for each spell level you up-cast it by. Its damage dice do not improve with caster level, but its DC does. This does have some advantages over the PF1 system; the degrees of success rule means that spells can crit for double damage now, and the higher DC certainly is valuable with that in mind. With their reliance on metamagic-boosted lower-level spell slots, PF1 casters certainly had their fair share of troubles with DC's. However, since the PF1 caster continues to gain to additional damage for free without expending higher-level spell slots and still can upcast on top of that by way of metamagic, they're getting much higher baseline damage. With the Intensified Spell metamagic, the damage caps tended to be very generous as well.

Let's take a look at a comparison at the 10th level. We'll look at what happens when we cast a fireball out of the 5th, 4th, and 3rd level spell slot for both a PF1 and PF2 wizard. I won't be using any optimization here, beyond simply applying the PF1 equivalent to upcasting: the Empowered Spell metamagic. Note that the PF1 caster in this case has no options for the 4th level slot, and is stuck just upcasting the 3rd level Fireball at no benefit. For those who don't care for the math, I've put it in a spoiler block so you can skip straight to the results.

Damage Analysis:

A PF1 10th level PC Wizard has around 26 intelligence, and if you're using blast spells you're very likely to have Spell Focus. This gives a +9 bonus on the base fireball DC of 13, for a total DC of 22.

We don't have a good idea of what a PF2 Wizard's DC's will look like, so let's presume he's getting the same +9 bonus as his PF1 counterpart. However, the base DC on his fireball will improve with level so it will be 15 instead of 13. This gives him a total DC of 24.

In PF1, a typical CR 9 monster has a reflex save between 8-12. Let's take an average of 10. We don't know what sort of averages will be present for PF2 monsters, so again let's make the same presumptions, +10 reflex saves all around.

The PF1 spell has a 55% chance to deal full damage, and a 45% chance to deal half damage from a successfull saving throw. On average, this means you'll deal 77.5% of your pre-save damage.

The PF2 spell has a 15% chance to critically succeed for double damage, a 50% chance to deal full damage, a 30% chance to deal half damage, and a 5% chance of a critical save that deals no damage. On average, this means you'll deal 95% of your pre-save damage.

5th level Slot
PF1 Empowered Fireball: 10d6*1.5 (avg 52.5 raw, 40.7 after saves)
PF2 Upcast 5th level Fireball: 10d6 (avg 35 raw, 33.25 after saves)

4th level Slot
PF1 Fireball: 10d6 (avg 35 raw, 27.125 after saves)
PF2 Upcast 4th level Fireball: 8d6 (avg 28, 26.6)

3rd level Slot
PF1 Fireball: 10d6 (avg 35 raw, 27.125 after saves)
PF2 Fireball: 6d6 (avg 21 raw, 19.95 after saves)

Results:
5th level slot: PF1 Wizard wins 40.7 vs 33.25 damage average
4th level slot: PF1 Wizard wins 27.125 vs 26.6 damage average
3rd level slot: PF1 Wizard wins 27.125 vs 19.95 damage average

So when it comes to average DPR, this is a complete curb-stomp. The PF1 Wizard completely outclasses his PF2 counterpart regardless of which spell slot he's using. Even at the deeply unfavorably 4th level spell slot, where the PF1 Wizard was at a handicap due to having no upcasting option, he still manages to keep parity.

However, as I pointed out in another recent thread about blaster builds, average damage isn't everything. The ability to remove enemies from play entirely is a huge part of playing a blaster, since whenever you choose to blast you're doing so instead of applying battlefield control. The crit chance means that that even if the average DPR is lower, maybe the PF2 caster can still manage to remove more enemies outright than the PF1 caster?

So I created a Monte Carlo simulator to answer this question. I ran 10000 trials using the 5th level spell slot described above, spamming it repeatedly on a group of 10 monsters with 115 hit points (PF1 guideline standard for a CR 9 monster). Here's what I found:

Monte Carlo Results:

Turn 2:
PF1 has killed 4.95% of enemies
PF2 has killed 5.06% of enemies

Turn 3:
PF1 has killed 57.29% of enemies
PF2 has killed 29.30% of enemies

Turn 4:
PF1 has killed 94.35% of enemies
PF2 has killed 64.36% of enemies

Turn 5:
PF1 has killed 99.9% of enemies
PF2 has killed 88.83% of enemies

So the chance to crit lets it keep parity for kills if you blast twice in a row, but once you get a third blast the law of averages catches up and the PF1 fireball is decisively in the lead. I tested the results at other hit point thresholds to make sure it wasn't an artifact of the specific HP threshold I chose, and most were about the same or even more favorable for PF1. These numbers also demonstrate why the baseline PF1 fireball is underwhelming; it takes too many turns and spell slots for it start claiming kills.

Now, in reality, a 10th level Wizard isn't going to unload five 5th spell slots in a single battle (that's literally all his 5th level slots, plus an extra from an arcane bond item). In actual gameplay, blasters need to mix in lower-level spell slots as their bread and butter to get through the full adventuring day. And if the PF2 numbers can't even keep pace with these minimalist PF1 numbers at the highest level slots, that means their lower-level slots are going to be in an even more dire situation.

There's a lot that we don't yet know about PF2, but at this point there's enough stacked against blasting that I'm getting very worried.


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Generating spellbooks is always a hassle. Each book is its own unique collection of spells, requiring considerably more care and effort to assemble than other classes of magical items. At the same time they tend to be throw-away items, something for the party wizard to study in his downtime before pawning it off. So I really don't want to put a lot of effort into making these things, especially if I'm just stocking the local magick shoppe with merchandise my wizard player might not even purchase.

So, I decided to create a >> Random Spellbook Generator <<

I still plan on improving this further, but I feel it's far enough along to share it and get some feedback. I do plan on including more sources as well (in the immediate future, Ultimate Combat and Advanced Class Guide are priorities). Any feedback, questions, feature requests, or bug reports are welcome.


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Recently I've taken an interest in the timeline of events in Strange Aeons, specifically with regards to Count Haserton Lowls and his journey. This was partly out of curiosity and partly out of my own predisposition to test and break boundaries. The backstory elements describing Lowls' journey are spread throughout the six volumes, often with important details stated or alluded in the middle of other events, so collecting all the information in one place proved challenging. Specific time spans are rarely given, and in many places the information is extremely vague and requires an educated guess. I've done my best to reconcile the available information and produce a generally plausible timeline of events. All times are relative to the beginning of the adventure when the PC's wake up in Briarstone.

I had fun making this timeline, and hope it's helpful for anyone else who is trying to figure out exact time spans. Also, in case anyone says it, I’m aware that if you’re playing the AP as written then the answer to the question "where is Lowls?" at any given point in time is "one to two steps ahead of the PC's". This answer is unsatisfying to me, which is why I put in the time to figure it out more methodically. With that said, I'd definitely appreciate if anyone could point out additional information I may have missed that can refine these times further.

Evidence and Reasoning:

The first question that needs answering happens to be one of the messiest. The question is "how much time passes between when the PC’s minds are sacrificed in the Dreamlands, and when they awaken in Briarstone Asylum at the start of the adventure?"

At first glance, the evidence suggests relatively little time passed. Lowls is stated to have sacrificed their minds, dropped them off at the asylum, and departed Thrushmoor all in the same day. He also drops off the Chains of Night in the care of admnistrator Lasandro at this time. According to In Search of Sanity, it didn't take long before Lasandro attempted the ritual on Zandalus to exercise his dreams, inadvertently releasing the Tatterman. The Tatterman went on his rampage that evening, and the asylum descended into chaos within 24 hours. The PC's could not have survived this long in their fugue state, so they likely awoke within a day or two of the asylum falling into chaos. This short time-frame is corroborated by the NPC Keldrin Mon in Thrushmoor Terror, who indicates he saw the PC’s (prior to their memory loss) about a week previously. This suggests a time-frame of around 3-4 days between when the PC’s lose their memories and when they awaken as amnesiacs in Briarstone.

However, there's equally strong evidence that much more time has passed, specifically with regards to cross-referencing the background of the NPC Winter Klaczka with the background information for Thrushmoor Terror. Winter arrives in Versex county with the royal accusers sent to investigate the count’s affairs, and was specifically assigned to Briarstone to interview the count’s associates (the PCs) interred there. She would have needed to have arrived before Briarstone was enveloped with its dream fog. Based on the background provided in Thrushmoor Terror, these accusers only arrive in Thrushmoor after the Hastur cultists had already taken control of the town, and the Hastur cultists in turn only begin to arrive in Thrushmoor after the Count had departed - the day the PCs were interred in Briarstone. That means that all the background story described in Thrushmoor Terror occurs between the PCs losing their memories and awakening in Briarstone. That's way too many things to have occurred in only 3-4 days, and even a week would seem too short.

Although it's tight, I do think these two lines of evidence can be reconciled. To do so I must presume that cultists traveled to Thrushmoor by magical means (some came from Absalom - way too far to travel by non-magical means), and the cult moved into full operation within days of the count's departure and was in full control of the town within the week. The accusers arrived almost immediately following this. This still means about a week passed between when Lasandro received the Chains of Night and when she attempted the ritual on Zandalus, which is a rather long delay for something that "didn't take long". However, any shorter and there just doesn’t seem to be enough time for the cult to have done everything it is stated to have done in the intervening days. Overall, my estimate is 10 days for the time that passes between the PC’s losing their memories and reawakening as blank slates.

So with the question of Lowls' headstart settled, the next question is how long it takes him to travel between Thrushmoor to Cassomir and then to Katheer? It takes the PC's 100 days to complete the journey between Thrushmoor and Cassomir on the Sellen Starling, and a brief note in The Whisper Out of Time indicates that travel by boat between Cassomir and Katheer takes "a few months". If we assign Lowls a 160 day travel time here then we have an obvious problem: any party that gains access to teleportation prior to departing Cassomir (which is very likely since the party is due to reach 11th level in Cassomir!) is almost guaranteed to beat Lowls to Katheer, and just forget about Neruzavin. This timing is unacceptably long.

A more reasonable interpretation here is that Lowls secures faster transportation than the PC's. A sailboat has an overland (or rather, overwater) travel rate 48 miles per day as opposed to the Keelboats’s 10 miles per day, which would allow Lowls to travel between Thrushmoor and Cassomir in only 21 days. He spent exactly one night in Cassomir before departing. Making similar presumptions for the leg of his trip between Cassomir and Katheer, I’d say a 15 day travel time seems about right. While a fully-sized sailboat might be a bit big for river-travel, I'm sure there's some river-going vessel of comparable speed to that.

The next step in Lowls’ journey is his research in the Mysterium of Katheer. He has three separate meetings with the overseers of the Mysterium in which he gives progressively larger bribes in exchange for more access. After getting unfettered access he spends several days researching the location of Neruzavin. After learning of Neruzavin’s location he steals the Necronomicon and uses a teleportation scroll to escape to Okeno. So how long does that take? Each meeting probably took place on a separate day, and the research sounds like it took about a week from the way it’s described. So I’d estimate a 10 days total.

The next question is how long Lowls stayed in Okeno. Both he and the gnolls kept their business brief, but chartering a vessel and filling it with provisions and slaves wouldn’t happen overnight. In addition he needed to hire separate human mercenaries. Keeping things to a minimum amount of time, I’d be more inclined to estimate a two day layover.

Now for the next tricky one: how long does it take Lowls to travel from Okeno to the Parchlands. Based on author commentary I’ve read on the forums, the exact location of the Parchlands and Neruzavin is not specified on any canonical map of Golarion. All we know is that it lies outside of the Inner Sea region, somewhere in Casmaron. Needless to say, that’s hopelessly vague. At any rate, it would take about 20 days of travel time by sailboat just to leave the boundaries of the Inner Sea region from an Okeno departure, so if we make a ballpark presumption that this represents the halfway mark then that gives a 40 day transit time.

The final stretch of the journey is one of the few cases where we have exact numbers to work with. There is a player handout in What Grows Within that details the journal entries of one of Lowls’ mercenaries. In the entry it describes that Lowls was last seen on day 20 of the expedition. Combined with another segment that indicates that overland travel through the Parchlands to Neruzavin takes 14 days, this gives us 14 days in the Parchlands and 6 days in Neruzavin before Lowls completes his rituals and leaves Golarion.

Taken together this timeline is consistent with almost all of the adventure path, and presuming the party doesn’t break sequence during Dreams of the Yellow King (the most likely situation being abandoning the Sellen Starling to teleport to Cassomir after concluding the dream quests) gives Lowls a sufficient headstart to guarantee he will reach Carcosa before the party can possibly catch up to him.

It does leave a one plot hole, specifically regarding the survivors in the Mysterium who have been waiting a long time for the PC's to arrive. Depending on how quickly the PC's complete other components of the AP, the Mysterium could have been locked down for up to 4 months prior to the PC's arriving. This is a tad long to survive in a monster-infested dungeon without food or water. However, I don't think that problem can be fixed by tweaking the timeline. Since Lowls still has two months of travel time ahead of him after departing Katheer, he necessarily requires several weeks lead over the party at this juncture. A similar but slightly less problematic example is the last "survivor" of Lowls' expedition to Neruzavin, who is just on the verge of succumbing to Xhamen-Dor's corruption when the PC's locate him. However, since the mercenaries are relatively high-level characters with PC class levels it's not unthinkable they could have survived for weeks or even months in Neruzavin.

Timeline:

Day -10: The PC’s Minds are Sacrificed
Haserton Lowls sacrifices the minds of his employees, the PC's, in the Dreamlands. This leaves the PC's in a catatonic fugue state. Lowls drops the PC's off at Briarstone asylum. He leaves a tome called the Chains of Night in the care of administrator Lasandro. Having tied up his loose ends in Versex, Count Lowls departs for Cassomir by boat before dawn breaks the following morning. He leaves the Iris Hill estate in the care of the cult leader Melisenn, who puts out a call to to the cult of Hastur to come to Thrushmoor.

Day -9: Cultists Arrive to Thrushmoor
Heeding Melisenn’s call, the first cultists begin to arrive in Thrushmoor. The first cultists to arrive do so by magical means.

Day -7: Melisenn unlocks the Star Stelae
Through her studies, Melisenn unlocks the Star Stelae and determines how they might used and empowered. She begins to set in motion her larger plans, including a spree of kidnappings and human sacrifice.

Day -5: Fort Hailcourse Sacked
Melisenn’s allies, the Skum of nearby Lake Encarthen, agree to attack Fort Hailcourse and slaughter the humans there. The Magistrate is replaced by a shapeshifting outsider.

Day -3: Accusers Arrive and the Tatterman comes to Briarstone
The Royal Accusers arrive in Versex county to investigate the activities of Count Lowls. They begin their investigation and find that the count is no longer present in Thrushmoor. They are turned away at Iris Hill and decide against storming it.

One group of accusers, lead by Omari, goes to Fort Hailcourse to force an inspection. They are ambushed and slaughtered by the Skum and cultists. Another group of accusers, lead by Winter Klaczka, is sent to Briarstone Asylum to interview the Count's associates there. She has a meeting with Administrator Lasandro, but does not gain immediate access to the patients she wishes to interrogate.

Separately that same day, Administrator Lasandro performs the ritual from the Chains of Night on Ulver Zandalus, inadvertently releasing the Tatterman. The Tatterman goes on his first killing spree that evening.

Day -2: Briarstone goes to Hell
There is an earthquake centered on Briarstone, collapsing significant parts of the structure. At the same time, the Tatterman’s murders cause an outbreak of ghouls and doppelgangers in the building. Zandalus, under the influence of the Tatterman, forms the Apostles in Orpiment, and begins creating Oneirogen to shroud the asylum in a dream fog.

Day 0: The PC’s Awaken
The Tatterman attempts to murder the PC’s in their dreams, but fails due to their wiped memories. They awaken to find Briarstone in chaos, and the adventure begins.

Day 11: Lowls arrives in Cassomir
Haserton Lowls arrives in Cassomir and meets with Miacknian Mun, who agrees to join Lowls and help in finding Neruzavin.

Day 12: Lowls departs Cassomir
Lowls and Mun leave Cassomir for Katheer the following day by merchant ship.

Day 27-29: Lowls arrives in Katheer and Bribes the Overseers
Haserton Lowls arrives in Katheer, and arranges a meeting with the keepers of the Mysterium. He is rebuffed. The next day he arranges another meeting, this time with a hefty bribe, and gets supervised access to the Mysterium. Still displeased, Lowls arranges another meeting the next day with an even bigger bribe and gets unsupervised access. He begins research in earnest.

Day 30-36: Lowls Researches at the Mysterium
Lowls and Mun pore over tomes to deduce the location of Neruzavin, along with any other information they need at this time.

Day 37: Lowls obtains the Necronomicon
Having obtained the location of Neruzavin, Lowls commits one final act in the Mysterium: stealing the Necronomicon. Using a scroll of teleport he escapes, abandoning the Mysterium and its occupants to their fates. Due to Lowls’ corruption by Xhamen-Dor, fiendish creatures and corruptions take hold of the Mysterium and it is sealed off to protect the city. Note that Lowls can no longer be safely scried upon at this point, as the Necronomicon provides its owner rather powerful protection against that.

Day 38: Lowls meets with Biting Lash
Lowls meets Biting Lash and arranges for a chartered ship, pack animals, supplies, and slaves for his expedition to the Parchlands. The gnolls are deeply uncomfortable with Lowls and keep their business short.

Day 39: Departure from Okeno
Lowls hires additional mercenaries and departs Okeno for the Parchlands via his chartered ship.

Day 79: Landfall in the Parchlands
Lowls makes landfall in the Parchlands and begins his overland journey.

Day 93: Neruzavin at Last
Lowls arrives in the city of Neruzavin and begins his exploration.

Day 99: Departure to Carcosa
Lowls completes the last of his rituals to transport himself to Carcosa. This is the last he’s seen by his hirelings, which are succumbing to the effects of Xhamen-Dor at this time.

Overall I quite like this timeline, as it represents a rather graceful middle-ground in terms of making it possible to catch up to Lowls. If you play the AP as written and spend the full 100 days on the Sellen Starling then such an interception is impossible; in order to catch up to Lowls the party must choose to abandon the Sellen Starling, a conscious act of breaking the campaign's boundaries. That's a nice balance that feels right to me. If my PC's play the campaign as written then the backstory flows more-or-less without issue, but if they want to break the sequence then there's ample opportunity to do so.

When it comes to scrying on Lowls, it's important to note that he possess the Necronomicon from days 37-99 of the adventure, rendering him highly resistant to scrying attempts for the duration. Lowls is vulnerable to scrying before and after that point (though after that point he’s no longer in Golarion). This does mean there is ample opportunity for the party to perform scrying attempts on Lowls during the research period of Dreams of the Yellow King. It is plausible that the party will reach 9th level before the 36th day of the adventure, raising the possibility of a scry-and-die attempt (although to be honest, confronting Lowls in the Mysterium while its magical defenses malfunction sounds awesome).


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As a direct tie-in with the Homebrew Challenge: Pantheon Generator we will be randomly generating settlements. These settlements will exist in the same setting as the random gods generated in the other thread, but otherwise you're free to take your concept in whatever direction you choose.

The settlement rules can be found on the PRD. Random tables have been prepared, and you can find Instructions for Randomly Generating Your Settlement in the linked document.

Short version:
Step 1 - Roll for Alignment
Step 2 - Roll for Size
Step 3 - Roll for Government
Step 4 - Roll for Qualities
Step 5 - Roll for Region
Step 6 - Roll for Dominant Race
Step 7 - Write up your settlement!

I will upload all settlements created to this document and this spreadsheet so we can admire the world we're creating.


I've been reading through the Occult Ritual rules lately. I quite like the concept here, providing a well-defined framework to grant limited access to high-level spell effects that would normally be outside of a player or NPC's league. The prebuilt rituals included in Occult Adventures are pretty underwhelming for the most part, but the guidelines for creating new rituals leave the door open for straightforward spell->ritual conversions. That's ideal for me, as for the most part the rituals I want to create will just be duplicating an effect that's similar to an existing spell. Plug in spell level, apply modifiers, get target DC.

That's where things get weird; the DC's are erratic, and when I actually spreadsheet the probabilities of succeeding on a ritual they do not match up with expectations at all. The baseline ritual has a DC of 28 + spell level - backlash. This gives a range of DC 30-35 for standard level 4-9 rituals with an average backlash. This is actually a fairly narrow range, which immediately raised alarm bells for me. While those DC's may seem high, hitting them isn't nearly as hard as it looks (particularly if you allow for +5 competence bonus items and the skill focus feat, which are easily slapped onto the NPC cults this system screams to be used with).

Supposing the ritual casters can hit +24 skill checks this gives the following chances of completing these progressively "more difficult" rituals:

Level 4 ritual – 73% chance (DC 30; 3 successes / 4 attempts)
Level 5 ritual – 83% chance (DC 31; 3 successes / 5 attempts)
Level 6 ritual – 64% chance (DC 32; 4 successes / 6 attempts)
Level 7 ritual – 71% chance (DC 33; 4 successes / 7 attempts)
Level 8 ritual – 48% chance (DC 34; 5 successes / 8 attempts)
Level 9 ritual – 50% chance (DC 35; 5 successes / 9 attempts)

This is a very problematic distribution. The chance of success simply doesn't match expectations based on the vast gulf in power between these various spell levels. It also means that any cult (or party, for that matter) that is struggling to complete level 4 rituals is only a few skill points away from being able to reliably complete level 9 rituals. I'm kinda disappointed; I love the flavor and intent of the system, but the numbers just don't seem to work and mandate GM fiat for pretty much every ritual.

What are people's thoughts on this? Any good ideas on how to get it to work sensibly out of the box?


I placed this order four weeks ago, and it's still pending. An update or resolution would be appreciated. Thanks.


Suppose Dalfgan the Wizard is moving around invisibly. He spots a group of goblins and wants to cast a sleep spell. Because they are unaware of him he gets a surprise round. He cannot cast this spell on the surprise round, since it is a full-round action to do so and he only gets a standard. Rather than doing something to break invisibly, he passes his turn. The goblins win initiative and go first but are still unaware that there's an invisible wizard in the room. What happens?

The most straightforward ruling is that everyone who was unaware remains unaware. In this case combat effectively begins at Dalfgan's initiative count. For all intents and purposes this ruling allows a character to give up their surprise round (provided that everyone who can act on the surprise round coordinates to do so) in order to ensure they come first in the regular initiative order. The problem with that ruling is that it leads to blatant metagaming. Since initiative is rolled before the surprise round occurs, whoever is doing the ambushing can change their actions to take advantage of this out-of-character knowledge. This can get really abusive with the delay action, allowing an entire party to synchronize their initiative count. A perverse consequence is that high initiative results are of little value if the ambusher does this. All these consequences lead me to believe this ruling is wrong.

A more draconian ruling is that combat doesn't begin until you actually take your surprise round. Dalfgan in the above example could keep passing turns until his invisibility expires, he's never going to get a full-round action until he reveals himself to the goblins so they can act. This ruling would be great for a tactical board-game, but it doesn't work well for a tabletop roleplaying game. If my wizard player wants to cast his sleep spell, there needs to be some way of resolving that. "You can't do that right now" is not an acceptable response.

What are people's thoughts on this one?


I made this order back in August, but it's still pending. Any resolution would be appreciated. Thanks!


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I've been putting the finishing-touches on my home-brew pantheon of deities. A couple of these deities subtly break the normal "rules", and I'd like to extend that to every deity rather than having a few odd cases. Each deity would have their own little quirk. The difficulty is that I do not want this to impart any significant mechanical advantage, and this makes it difficult to come up with something that fits that narrow "sweet spot" that adds a bit of flavor without affecting game balance. I also would like to avoid re-using the same effect twice.

So far, I've decided on these effects:

* accepts clerics up to two alignment steps removed from his own.
* has three similar favored weapons: shortspear, spear, and longspear.
* an evil deity who has the sun domain, allowing his clerics to channel positive energy instead of negative energy.
* clerics can choose which auras (good, evil, law, chaos) they have, irrespective of their own alignment. Once this choice is made it cannot be changed.
* clerics add knowledge (geography) and knowledge (local) to their class skill list, replacing knowledge (nobility) and knowledge (history).
* clerics can use the decapitated head of a recently-slain enemy as an impromptu unholy symbol.

That's a total of six, but the are nineteen deities in my pantheon. I'm nowhere close to filling this out. I'm open to any suggestions that people may have. The full pantheon is listed below, to give some more context. General feedback on the pantheon is good too, but my primary focus is filling out these quirks.

Rahast
Alignment: chaotic evil
Portfolio: god of conquest, predators, and night
Domains: animal, darkness, death, evil, war
Subdomains: blood, demon, fur, feather, murder, night
Inquisitions: conversion, fervor, heresy, persistence, torture
Favored Weapon: falchion

Special: Rahast is more lenient with regards to alignment than most deities, and accepts clerics and inquisitors up to two alignment steps removed from him. All clerics of Rahast channel negative energy and have an aura of evil and chaos regardless of their own alignment. Good-aligned clerics of Rahast are not prohibited from casting spells with the [evil] descriptor.

Description:

Rahast is the current Patriarch of the “old pantheon” of deities. The fact that it is referred to as the “old” pantheon should speak to the decline of its influence. Much of the blame for that is born on Rahast's shoulders. He spent the better part of the last era undermining his rivals in order to claim his current place of power, and in doing so weakened the very institution he now holds dominance over. It has been a little over a century since his ascension, and the power of his faith his grown enormously in that time. The other members of the old pantheon are Tuur, Amlil, Zasasci, Chira, Uma, and Ephi Cana. Kets and Yaaru are former members.

Rahast extols the virtue of “might”; the strong shall rule over the weak and by this virtue alone they are entitled to whatever their hearts may desire. To Rahast the concepts of “fairness” and “justice” are nothing but naive fallacies, and those who hide behind them are too cowardly to stand on their own strengths. Rahast respects those who can seize and hold power, and does not particularly care what means they use nor what ends they may seek. He regards strength of arms and cunning subterfuge as equal merits.

Somewhat unique amongst evil deities, Rahast has many good-aligned followers. He does not have any particular misgivings regarding acts of compassion, as it is the right of the mighty to determine the fates of those beneath them. While Rahast may consider the decisions his followers make to be foolish, it is their choice to bear the burden of whatever consequences may follow from it. Thus, good-aligned followers of Rahast do not so much see their god as evil but rather expecting that his followers must fight to uphold their own moral values or else perish along with them.

Rahast's faith distinguishes between the concepts of loyalty and obedience. Those who obey do so out of fear or apathy; such is a sign of weakness and submission. Loyalty, on the other hand, is a mutual respect that is given freely; it is a sign of strength and confidence for all involved. Rahast extols the virtue of loyalty, particularly amongst family. In this context, he is often viewed as a protective patriarch.

Despite his darker overtones, Rahast's religion is very popular and widely observed. The world is a very violent and dangerous place, and Rahast speaks a simple truth that people must be ready to defend themselves and their interests. This mantra of preparedness, combined with his philosophy of personal freedom makes him very appealing in this time of uncertainty. Others are horrified by the widespread acceptance of this deity's ethos. It justifies oppression, slavery, and genocide on the sole pretence that the victims lacked the strength to resist.

Tuur
Alignment: lawful good
Portfolio: father of civilization, the immovable guardian
Domains: artifice, good, law, strength, sun
Subdomains: agathion, archon, day, light, resolve, toil
Inquisitions: conversion, heresy, justice, truth, valor
Favored Weapon: shortspear, spear and longspear

Special: clerics get all three favored weapons when worshipping Tuur
(house-rule note: the longspear and spear can be wielded as one-handed weapons with martial weapon proficiency)

description:

An age ago when the great glaciers receded, Tuur appeared before the seven great tribes of human-kind and brought each to a different sacred place where they would lay the foundation of civilization to come. Tuur watched and guided his children, and was venerated by humans as the greatest of all deities. But there were also six other great tribes, three whom were guided by the vigilant eagle-god Kets and three of whom were guided by the maverick raven-god Zasasci. Together these three deities were an alliance known as the “Triumvirate of Light”, and prior to the ascension of Rahast they ruled over the old pantheon. Kets was the leader of the group, with Tuur as his right hand and Zasasci as his left.

After the death of the god Kets, Tuur briefly assuming the rule of the pantheon, but he abdicated this position to enter into a self-imposed exile. This sudden and poorly explained absence has caused his religion to collapse to a fraction of its former glory and many turn to the upstart “new gods” or the rising power of Rahast for guidance. Tuur has never been widely worshipped by non-humans, and is often regarded with contempt for having selected seven tribes of humans and not one of any other race. This choice on Tuur's part is singled out as the reason why humans now dominate most of the civilized world, while other races live in their shadow.

Tuur believes in selfless service as part of the greater good of society. Hard work, honesty, and perseverance are their own reward. His followers are to uphold the tenets of law, which should be even-handed and unbiased. Truth, responsibility, and obedience are central to his faith, and those who follow him must set an example for others to follow. Tuur has very much an opposite view to Rahast, and regards those with power as having a responsibility to use it wisely and for the greater good. The strong should protect the weak such that society may persevere in peace and discard the vulgarities of war and strife.

The temples of Tuur are mostly relics from when his power was far greater. They are large and domineering buildings of great decor and architectural beauty. In places where his religion is still strong, his priests are often called upon as judges to oversee trials and resolve disputes. Though their god is now silent, the faithful of Tuur remember his teachings and continue uphold the principles of law and justice.

Amlil
Alignment: neutral good
Portfolio: god of compassion, family, and redemption
Domains: community, darkness, good, protection, repose
Subdomains: defense, family, home, loss, purity, souls
Inquisitions: conversion, heresy, oblivion, truth, valor
Favored Weapon: unarmed strike

description:

Amlil is a deity found amongst the shadows, both literal and metaphorical. His origins and nature are an enigma, but they are as irrelevant to him as they as they are to his faithful, for he is a beacon of hope and light in a world of darkness and despair. This is a god that does not seek to dictate or dominate, but rather to guide and counsel mortals to change history for the better. His methods are varied and strange, and is less likely to appear before a mighty and opulent king as he is before an orphan beggar child.

Despite comprising a god of darkness and loss, Amlil is distinctly a good deity. He seeks not to cause these things, but rather to aid those afflicted by them to rise above the evil around themselves. Followers of Amlil shall not wallow in despair, but shall grow stronger by overcoming it. Good shall arise from evil, whatever its source, and this is the central tenet of his faith. It is what draws mortals to worship him in their darkest hour; it is the crucible in which heroes are born.

Amlil's religion seeks redemption and forgiveness. In his view the sins of the past cannot be undone, but some may yet be set right and redeemed. His followers are implored to seek peaceful resolution first, to resort to violence only when other avenues are closed, and to seek contrition afterwards. To act out of fury and rage is to forget the teachings of Amlil; only by forsaking hatred can evil be undone. A follower of Amlil must be as quick to act in the defense of the innocent as he is reserved in judgement against the guilty.

Perhaps the most interesting tradition in Amlil's religion is the “act of contrition”. To commit acts of violence is to admit a failure to find peace, a failure to redeem evil. Left unchecked, the cycle of hatred and violence shall only continue. The followers of Amlil must seek to break this chain by seeking restitution with the kin of their enemy. It may seem foolish to seek forgiveness for acts of heroism, but this is exactly what is to be done. The faithful of Amlil recognize the consequences of their own actions, and seek redemption both for themselves and others.

The faithful of Amlil are expected to show generosity towards their fellows, particularly children. Most temples of Amlil are also orphanages, and the majority of donations go towards supporting these charitable operations. One of the more difficult tasks Amlil takes upon himself is collecting the souls of departed children, sparing them the difficult journey to the afterlife that most mortal souls must take. Grieving parents will often pay homage to the twilight god, as will the old and infirm seeking to cast aside their last earthly regrets before their final breath.

Zasasci
Alignment: chaotic good
Portfolio: god of culture, heroism, and curiosity
Domains: charm, fire, glory, good, travel
Subdomains: azata, exploration, heroism, love, lust, smoke
Inquisitions: conversion, heresy, fervor, illumination, truth
Favored Weapon: short bow

description:

In his youth, Zasasci was a god beholden by wanderlust, ever chafing at his responsibilities as a member of the old pantheon. This caused him no small amount of grief with his father, Kets, who desired a faithful god of vigilance to follow in his own path. Yet when Tuur came before Zasasci and shared his plan for a civilization of mortal kind, Zasasci was intrigued and against his better judgement agreed to become the third member of the “Triumvirate of Light”. Together with Kets and Tuur, he was responsible for shaping much of the present age.

The faith of Zasasci believes strongly in the growing of culture and tradition. To remain static is to fail to find meaning; each generation must add to what was given to them by the last. The temples of Zasasci reflect this, they are slowly changed throughout the years with the young and old collaborating to add their statements to its rich history. Celebrations and rituals are unique to each temple, whose traditions are expected to grow independently. Priests of Zasasci often spend their wealth supporting great artists and performers, and when they die their funerals are some of the most spectacular events and celebrations as each of these individuals pays tribute to their patron.

Zasasci expects his followers to find time for creative endeavours. To simply create a piece of art or prose and then lock it away is unacceptable. It is the performance, display, and sharing of the piece that allows it to become part of the larger experience of culture that truly fuels the faith of Zasasci. Even those of modest creativity can still contribute in meaningful ways; for instance, by adapting and retelling an existing story in a new way. The only failure is to abstain altogether.

Due to their similar focus on creative endeavors, the religions of Zasasci and Chira are often closely associated. This often manifests as a friendly rivalry as both sides attempt to upstage the other with shows of grandeur. However, a key difference between the faiths is the emphasis that Chira places upon wealth and hard work and the emphasis that Zasasci places upon change and originality. They are opposite sides of the same coin.

Chira
Alignment: lawful neutral
Portfolio: goddess of craftsmanship, wealth, and development
Domains: artifice, earth, fire, plant, strength
Subdomains: ash, caves, construct, decay, ferocity, metal
Inquisitions: conversion, fervor, heresy, imprisonment, persistence
Favored Weapon: battleaxe

description:

In an elder age, Chira was a lesser goddess of dragonkind. She herself was ascended from those mythic creatures, and venerated for her might and power. Yet Chira was enraptured by the works of Tuur and his followers, and she forsook her dragon-kin to become a god of creation and craftsmanship. While dragons now curse her as a traitor, she alone remains of the dragon gods of old. The others failed to heed to growing influence of civilization, and fell from divinity.

The temples of Chira are lavish places that extol the virtues of architectural beauty and design. They often display the works of her greatest followers, and the priesthood are expected to each have their own craft with which to fuel the church's coffers. Hard work is a central aspect of Chira's religion, but those who maintain discipline shall be rewarded for doing so.

Chira expects followers to donate to the temple. Monetary donations shall suffice if they are unable to muster anything more, but a better donation is something of value that the follower has created. These crafts are often placed on display and sold to fund the temple, and the showcase of these works can help build the reputation and clientele of a craftsman who venerates Chira. There is no better way to find a skilled craftsman than to take a brief visit to the local temple of Chira and peruse their finest works. Chira is not disdainful of less skilled craftsman, and so long as they put effort and pride into their work it is sufficient for her graces.

In times of war, Chira revels in the craft and ingenuity that is born of necessity. Siege engines, fortifications, weapons of steel; she considers them beautiful implements, and has a profound respect for those who can use them to their greatest efficacy.

Uma
Alignment: neutral evil
Portfolio: god of waters, monsters, and disaster
Domains: animal, destruction, evil, water, weather
Subdomains: catastrophe, fur, ice, oceans, rage, storms
Inquisitions: anger, conversion, heresy, torture, zeal
Favored Weapon: glaive

description:

As a bestial god born of a more primal era, Uma is an oddity amongst the standing pantheon. All of his remaining brothers and sisters have fallen from divinity over the course of the past age, and those that yet retain the status of demigod cling to their great sibling. Uma is ever mindful that his own divinity hangs by a thing thread and may be lost if he does not make efforts to consolidate and grow his power. He is one of the most ancient deities, and some scholars hypothesize that he is the oldest of all that yet live; this would explain his alien appearance, as his origins are steeped in a murky time before any other recollection.

While Uma remains cool to civilization, he is not opposed to human followers and makes some effort to maintain his religion. The majority of his time and interest is still in monsters associated with the oceans and waterways, and his temples as such are usually located in secluded coves or estuaries. They are often built into natural caves or rock formations, giving the appearance of being a monster's lair (though it's not uncommon for monsters associated with Uma to actually reside in one of his temples). Within city limits, his priesthood usually only maintains a modest shrine for offerings and the main temple is located in a more remote reach.

The sea-god demands regular offerings, at minimum once every lunar cycle. The exact nature of the tribute is rather inconsequential, so long as it has sufficient meaning to the one offering it. The offering of a few coins would be sufficient from a poor farmer, but a rich merchant would be expected to offer something of appreciable value. It is the act of sacrifice, not what is sacrificed that is important. Offerings are collected at a shrine, and then taken out to sea by a priest who casts them into the depths en-mass that they be added to Uma's great trove. Inland temples often cast the treasures into swamps or deep lakes. If a follower cannot reach a shrine, casting his offering directly into the deep waters to the best of his abilities is also acceptable. Stealing from a shrine of Uma or salvaging from the deeps is certain to bring the wrath of this covetous god.

Ephi Cana
Alignment: true neutral
Portfolio: goddess of nature and renewal
Domains: air, earth, healing, plant, weather
Subdomains: caves, cloud, decay, growth, resurrection, seasons
Inquisitions: conversion, fate, heresy, imprisonment, oblivion
Favored Weapon: scythe

description:

Ages ago, long before the rise of civilization, Ephi Cana ruled over all deities. There was no concept of a pantheon in that time; all deities were presided over by the Earthmother, who laid down the edicts by which the other gods would behave. An eon of absolute power took its toll upon her, and slowly boredom and apathy poisoned her mind. At the turning of an age, she resigned from her position of power. Though the presence and threat of Ephi Cana still keeps the pantheon mostly intact, its complete hegemony over the divine has been lost without her stringent enforcement. She has become exceedingly passive, preferring to watch the machinations of the other gods and mortals while interfering as little as possible.

As the goddess of the very earth and world itself, of life and death and renewal, Ephi Cana has been venerated by mortal kind since time immemorial. Her followers mark the passing of seasons and the changing of the world, observing the rise and fall of the sun to the drift of the heavens that occurs too slowly to observe within a single mortal lifetime. Her temples are usually open outdoor places built to mark the passing of auspicious times and cycles – essentially acting as calendars in their own right.

Druids in this world rarely venerate deities, preferring to give their respects directly to the natural spirits of the world itself. Ephi Cana is the sole exception, as her followers believe that she is the natural world. Other followers find the Earthmother to be a very quiet goddess; she prefers to watch and her interference in matters are rare events.

Kets
Alignment: lawful neutral
Portfolio: former god of agriculture, domestication, and vigilance
Domains: air, animal, law, sun, weather
Subdomains: cloud, day, feather, light, seasons, wind
Inquisitions: conversion, heresy, justice, order, tactics
Favored Weapon: javelin

description:

Most deities that are slain are of weak stature and their priesthood quickly collapses without their support. Kets, however, was one of the most powerful deities of his time and his death was both sudden and unexpected. It was by the trickery of Rahast that he was goaded into battle with an upstart demigod upon an auspicious battleground. While locked in combat with his foe, the two were ambushed by Rahast's greatest mortal champions and their physical forms destroyed. The place of their battle, however, was an entrance to the underworld itself. Weakened and without a physical body, Kets was drawn into the underworld.

But the power of Kets' faith is too great to be extinguished even by his own end. Enough mortals still cry out to the god of vigilance that his clerics retain power and influence. The clerics of Kets are few in number, and new ones can only come into existence when old ones willingly relinquish their powers and pass their torch to a new generation. As such, their numbers are dwindling and they will eventually be driven to extinction. However, there are still enough of them remaining that the faith shall endure for centuries more. They still believe that Kets will be reborn.

Most of Kets' temples have long since been re-purposed by other faiths. With his death he is no longer part of the old pantheon or protected by its code, so the temples of Kets can be freely ransacked by other followers of the old gods. The churches of Tuur, Zasasci and Ephi Cana still provide some semblance of protection to the faith of Kets, and a few temples have remained untouched in distant and remote locales.

The old traditions of Kets called for vigilance, and followers were expected to volunteer for local militias to protect their homes and neighbours. Cremation was the method of burial of the honored dead, and the temples often included high towers that touched the sky. The followers of Kets will often sneak into these temples (regardless of their current owner) to throw offerings of seeds into the winds from the tower's peak. They shall remain vigilante, awaiting their god's return.

Quezolcol
Alignment: lawful evil
Portfolio: god of fertility, seasons, and blood sacrifice
Domains: air, animal, sun, war, weather
Subdomains: blood, day, feather, seasons, storms, wind
Inquisitions: conversion, heresy, illumination, imprisonment, order
Favored Weapon: throwing axe

Special: Clerics of Quezolcol who select the sun domain have the ability to channel positive energy despite their alignment and that of their god. Such clerics also spontaneously convert for cure spells instead of inflict spells, and are eligible for the “versatile channeler” feat to channel negative energy.

description:

When the deity Kets was drawn forcefully into the underworld, his essence slowly reformed, but in a way that was completely unrecognizable. Born of the fused divine essence of the god Kets and the demigod Azol, there is no other deity of similar stature or kind to Quezolcol. He is the youngest of all the deities, but being formed from the perverted spirit of a powerful and ancient being he has inherited much wisdom and memory that goes back eons. The remaining followers of Kets denounce this deity as an empty mockery, unfit to carry any semblance of their former patron.

In the eyes of Quezolcol, there is only one true god: himself. All others exist to be subservient to him, and his aim is to create a single monotheistic religious order with Quezolcol at the peak. This has made implacable enemies of every other deity. Quezolcol eschews the very concept of allies or friends, there are only servants whose allegiance is given unconditionally to their lord and master. Ordinarily deities as brazen as this do not survive long, but no other deity wields the kind of power that is possessed by Quezolcol.

Quezolcol is a god of fertility and vitality, and he asks that his followers build great nations and cities in his name. He shall watch over them, and provide those people his favour, but in return he asks for his share of the life force that flows within their walls. Upon the altars dedicated to Quezolcol, the blood of living people is spilled to quench the thirst of their ravenous god. Animal sacrifices are meagre consolations suitable only from small villages; it is the lifeblood of thinking creatures who are the pinnacle of civilization that has true value and power. If the rulers of any city displease their patron, Quezolcol shall send his agents to collect their blood as payment.

Cities prefer not to sacrifice their own, and take great efforts to capture slaves from rival cities for this purpose. Criminals and other unsavoury individuals are often selected for sacrifice, and the rule of law in places that venerate Quezolcol is draconian. The sacrifice must always be made daily, and as the city grows so too must its tribute. The bodies of the deceased are to be thrown into mass graves. They are not to be burned, but left to rot. In some of the older cities that have been worshipping Quezolcol since his rising there are entire mountains of human remains underneath many layers of construction that form the temples to this bloodthirsty god.

Niev Nara
Alignment: lawful good
Portfolio: goddess of cities and nations
Domains: community, glory, good, nobility, protection
Subdomains: defense, family, heroism, home, honor, leadership
Inquisitions: conversion, heresy, illumination, imprisonment, justice
Favored Weapon: longsword

description:

Niev Nara regards herself as a beacon of light to stand against the threats presented by Quezolcol and Rahast. With Tuur in exile and no other deities strong or willing enough to fight against the darkness, she presents herself as the only answer for those who seek salvation from evil. Despite the best efforts of her enemies to hold her in check, her prophets continue to spread her word far and wide, and people are listening. She seeks to create a new pantheon to replace the old, but thus far she has only a few fickle allies; the vengeful goddess Malrith and the vagrant god Huradi.

The followers of Niev Nara are called to make donations to their local temples. From this pool of tribute, projects of great magnitude can be undertaken. Cities which venerate Niev Nara often build glorious monuments and host festivals and events that draw travellers from across the known world. Prestige is central to Niev Nara's religion, and those better able to support the grandeur of their city should do so that all may benefit from its stature. At the same time, much of the coffers of Neiv Nara's clergy go towards the continued defense and the cities in which they reside, ensuring that walls are properly built and maintained and good soldiers are trained and retained.

As a relatively new goddess, Niev Nara places a high value on spreading her word and influence, and followers travelling abroad are to ensure that her presence is known. To wear her symbols openly even in places where doing so brings mortal danger is a great sign of faith, that her followers are unafraid to step forth and be counted even when it comes at great personal peril.

Yaaru
Alignment: true neutral
Portfolio: god of secrets, scholarship, and magic
Domains: artifice, knowledge, magic, rune, trickery
Subdomains: arcane, construct, deception, language, memory, thought
Inquisitions: conversion, fate, heresy, oblivion, truth
Favored Weapon: dagger

Special: A cleric of Yaaru may choose which auras (good, evil, law, chaos) he exudes, irrespective of his own alignment. Once this choice is made, it cannot be changed. This allows a cleric of Yaaru to masquerade as a cleric of a completely different deity.

description:

It is perhaps unsurprising that little is known of the origins of the god of secrets. In fact, many have noted that it's uncertain whether it is Yaaru the god or Yaaru the goddess. Whatever the case, the god of secrets fostered amongst mortals a tradition of scholarship and magical study. His students were the first wizards, and to each he passed different sacred knowledge. For passing on these forbidden secrets to mortals, Yaaru was expelled from the old pantheon. Followers of Yaaru must practice in secret, as their temples are often persecuted and even sought out for the supposed riches they hoard. This faith is not protected by the code of the old pantheon, and any follower of another god can simply enter their halls, slaughter their faithful, steal their treasures, and desecrate their altars. As such, the chapters of Yaaru's faith have become adept at hiding in plain sight or in unusual and expected places.

Most followers of Yaaru will worship a different deity in public, but in private they shall venerate the masked one. As a sign of their true faith, they shall take a symbol of Yaaru and affix it in secret somewhere within the temple of the deity they ostensibly worship, reminding those who notice it that Yaaru still walks amongst their numbers.

Followers of Yaaru do not show their faces to each other, and instead attend their temples while wearing masks. Their true identities are secrets to be shared only when absolute trust is gained, or if that knowledge is earned through other means. This preserves the integrity of the followers even if the temple is compromised and some of their numbers captured and interrogated.

The followers of Yaaru frown upon selling arcane secrets upon the open market. The sale and purchase of common scrolls is not an issue, but rarer and highly-prized ones should be earned rather than merely purchased by a sum of coins. To either reveal or destroy a great secret knowledge is the most terrible crime one can commit against this faith. It is by the pursuit of knowledge that one is proven worthy of it.

Huradi
Alignment: chaotic neutral
Portfolio: god of seafaring, navigation, and exploration
Domains: air, liberation, travel, trickery, water
Subdomains: exploration, freedom, oceans, thievery, trade, wind
Inquisitions: conversion, heresy, illumination, persistence, valor
Favored Weapon: longbow

Special: Clerics of Huradi replace knowledge (nobility) and knowledge (history) with knowledge (geography) and knowledge (local) on their class skill list.

description:

Anyone who travels upon the waters of the world may find the graces of Huradi to their liking. He offers freedom; the freedom from society, from obligation, from places and people and gods who would tie down the heart that yearns for freedom. A small donation and prayer when arriving safely at a destination is all that Huradi asks, and beyond that he expects his followers to live life to the fullest.

Huradi's faith is strongest in port cities, but this puts it in direct competition with the faith of Uma, and the two are effectively in a state of open war, with both sides attempting to destroy and weaken the temples of their foes. Battles between the faithful of Huradi and Uma have become the subject of story as of late, exaggerated far beyond their actual scope. This has ironically served to strengthen the followings of both gods by glorifying their influence.

Shrines of Huradi are often simple structures built outdoors. Offerings are left anonymously and received by a priest who services the shrine daily. Thieves quickly learn this mark is not as easy as it appears, since a mob of faithful dock-workers are often much less lenient than the town watch.

Phinico
Alignment: chaotic evil
Portfolio: god of vengeance, death, and undeath
Domains: chaos, death, destruction, madness, strength
Subdomains: catastrophe, ferocity, insanity, murder, nightmare, undead
Inquisitions: anger, conversion, heresy, persistence, vengeance
Favored Weapon: bastard sword

Special: a Cleric of Phinico may use the decapitated head of a freshly killed enemy as an impromptu unholy symbol.

description:

Phinico was a powerful but erratic mortal who made scores of enemies where-ever he walked. He was eventually brought down in an orgy of violence. After his death, his corpse miraculously regenerated, and he returned to pursue vengeance against the ones who had defeated him. One by one he destroyed each of the individuals involved in his downfall. The legend of the “immortal” Phinico grew; he was a wanderer dressed in tattered red rags, and any that angered him would be hunted to extinction. Many attempted to claim the title of the one who killed Phinico. His body was burned, cast over cliffs, fed to terrifying monsters, dismembered and spread across the realms, and destroyed in every way imaginable. Nothing would prevent the inevitable; Phinico would rise again with even greater strength.

Phinico expects his followers to fulfil any oath of vengeance, and to punish any slights against them. Phinico delights in acts of spite, and the destruction of something an enemy once held dear (preferably while they yet live to see it) is the greatest offering a follower can show him. Phinico's faith has a penchant for the undead, and reanimating the dead body of a passed individual is commonplace.

Those who seek revenge for wrongs committed against them often ask for Phinico's favour that they may draw upon his wrath. This god is fickle, however, and his religion is more like a cult with no hierarchy or structure between small followings throughout the world. The chapters of Phinico's faith are little more than a collection of like-minded individuals united by common enemies, but powerful individuals may act as a temporary cohesive of much larger movements.

One would imagine such a disorganized faith would be easily put down, but Phinico's cults have the same persistence as their lord. There is always an endless supply of disillusioned and disowned youth, and the faith of Phinico offers an easy path to power. Command over the dead is considered a great show of strength, and those who can lead the undead are the prized pupils of Phinico's faith.

Malrith
Alignment: chaotic good
Portfolio: goddess of rebellion, dignity, and restitution
Domains: chaos, healing, liberation, protection, nobility
Subdomains: freedom, martyr, purity, restoration, resurrection, revolution
Inquisitions: conversion, fervor, heresy, vengeance, zeal
Favored Weapon: kukri

description:

Malrith is one of the few mortals to have risen to the stature of deity after her own death. In life, she tended to the sick, the needy, and the condemned. She constantly fought against injustice and sought peaceful resolution and progress. By her actions Malrith challenged the powers that ruled her land, and for that crime she too was thrown into a prison deep beneath the earth where she died emaciated and alone. Her spirit could not rest, however, and as her legend grew her spirit reached outwards until at least she arrived upon full divinity. Her imprisonment and death still weigh heavily upon her, and when she appears she still bears the burden of the shackles and rags that she wore at the time of her death.

The matron goddess Malrith espouses the belief of forgiveness towards those of weakness and desperation, and of revolution and retribution against those who would misuse greater powers. She is a martyr at her heart, helping others absolve themselves of sin and to overcome violence and hatred, or channel it against those worthy of such feelings. She is sometimes called the two-faced god for her merciful and vindictive attitudes. Rejecting the laws of mortals and immortals alike, the only authority she believes is absolute is the moral compass of compassion. Regarded as naive and extremist by most other gods, Malrith has none-the-less found a following amongst those few mortals that are willing to sacrifice everything in the hopes of building a better world.

Temples of Malrith are usually simple and humble places which often reach out to the poor. In this sense, her faith acts very similarly to that of Amlil. More extremist branches also exist, seeking to bring down corrupt and evil powers by force. Even the most innocuous temple may house a den of militants. This often makes nations uneasy about the presence of this religious institution, despite the fact that it is most often quite benign and passive. Persecution only strengthens the resolve of this religious order, drawing more followers into their ranks.

Yasasca
Alignment: lawful neutral
Domains: charm, glory, law, luck, repose
Subdomains: ancestors, curse, devil, honor, inevitable, lust
Inquisitions: anger, conversion, heresy, tactics, zeal
Favored Weapon: spiked armor

description:

As the daughter of Kets, there were no opportunities deprived of the fair Yasasca. She pleased her father with her courteous and faithful nature, something that was in stark contrast to her rebellious brother Zasasci. She held little interest in the world of mortals, and ultimately gained her father's leave to retired to the planes beyond to rule over the outsiders who reside there.

The only active gods on the mortal plane that concern her are Quezolcol and Rahast. Revenge for her murdered father is her strongest interest on the mortal plane, but her ability to put any plans into motion are limited. She has almost nothing to do with her brother, and while she wouldn't pass up an opportunity to humiliate him if it came up, she is not overly pressed to pursue a now-ancient childhood rivalry.

In the inner planes, Yasasca is constantly pitted against the various factions vying for supremacy. Though her plane of Sanctuary is a powerful and defensible fortress, it is exposed to assault from many angles. She is constantly doing battle with Ereshkagel and Nergal for the position as dominant deity, but her central position makes her an easy target for agnostic outsiders who refuse to bow down before any deity. None-the-less, she is a deity with the force of will to make devils and angels cooperate under one banner, and this alone grants her the broadest and most formidable support base.

Since the death of her father, Yasasca has made more effort to keep at least a modicum of visibility on events in the mortal plane. She occasionally sends outsiders in her service to seek out champions to consecrate as clerics. She demands exactly what her father did; vigilance before threats and dutiful adherence. Because her interests are not directly involved in the mortal world, she expects her followers to be faithful to their rightful liege lord in her place.

Ereshkagel
Alignment: lawful evil
Domains: evil, knowledge, law, nobility, rune
Subdomains: daemon, devil, inevitable, thought, undead, ward
Inquisitions: conversion, heresy, torture, vengeance, zeal
Favored Weapon: scimitar

description:

The daughter of an Archduke of the hells, Ereshkagel was born into a time of strife and civil war that destroyed most of her kin. Her father was slain when she was young, and she was mentored by her uncle. She was barely an adult by the standards of devils when her uncle was slain by the goddess Yasasca, and she took the mantle of rulership. Ereshkagel grasped the power once held by her family and demonstrated a keen and tactical mind that allowed her to survive where stronger entities were failing.

She ultimately made a pact with the demon lord Nergal, hoping to rule together over all the inner planes. By their alliance they slaughtered the last true contenders for the throne of devil-kind, clearing the way for Ereshkagel's ascension. Though she was once a close ally and lover of Nergal, she has since broken away from him in disgust. Whatever she thought could work between them is clearly impossible, and the two are now bitter enemies. She understands the danger Nergal presents, and has built a great defensive network on the plane of Tatarus. Nergal has proven he can assault and destroy any single fortress of hell, so Ereshkagel will not make the mistake of presenting a stationary target. She is always on the move.

Ereshkagel aims to bring all (or at least most) of devil-kind under her rule, but the age-long civil war has divided the vast majority of the hells into independent duchies that scheme against each other for dominance and do not recognize her rule as legitimate. With the constant threats of Yasasca and Nergal she has been unable to attain her aims of unification. She has expressed some interest in the mortal plane, but does not have the capacity to invest in a significant presence there.

Nergal
Alignment: chaotic evil
Domains: chaos, evil, fire, trickery, war
Subdomains: ash, smoke, tactics, demon, protean, daemon
Inquisitions: conversion, heresy, tactics, valor, vengeance
Favored Weapon: greatsword

description:

The demon princes of the deep abyss have rarely risen to the status of true deities. Though their power might rival the divine, they themselves are barred from making that final step. Nergal is one of the few to have breached that threshold. In his wake lie the tattered bodies of one deity after another which has crossed him. How many have died to his blade are unknown, but by his cunning and ruthlessness the number that yet remain in the inner planes can be counted upon a single hand.

For a time, Nergal was the lover and husband of Ereshkagel, and the two conspired to destroy and unseat her rivals for power. However, they had a falling out of sorts and now the two are irreconcilable. Nergal has besieged her fortresses on Tatarus a thousand times over and conquered lesser planes in her service time and time again. He rarely loses a battle, but in the same breath he seldom holds territory for very long. Nergal can only be in one place at a time, and none of his generals share his divine aptitude for warfare.

Nergal is the sole deity of the inner planes that lacks a great stronghold plane to make a seat of power. Instead of brooding over a single domain, Nergal constantly invades new planes to claim them as his own. He doesn't have the time or will to settle in any one, as he is always on the move to lead his forces in their conquest of new targets. Nergal seldom reaches out to mortals of his own accord, but many learned individuals reach out to him, seeking just a moment of inspiration from the perfect general.

Archaeus
Alignment: neutral good
Domains: charm, good, healing, magic, madness
Subdomains: archon, agathion, azata, love, divine, nightmare
Inquisitions: conversion, fate, heresy, justice, oblivion
Favored Weapon: quarterstaff

description:

He is a remnant of an ancient era long before the remembrance of even most deities. His true name is lost, and his followers call him “Archaeus”, the ancient one. He slumbers restlessly, his body contorted amidst the depths of the void. Those who meditate nearby understand by a natural empathy his plight. He is stricken by a terrible malady that even a god cannot overcome, and in his madness he destroyed everything he loved and held dear. Until such time as he can cure himself, he has been cast into a great slumber.

For many eons he merely floated amidst the void, but slowly matter and substance collected around him, and some wandering outsiders took notice. In time, the entire plane of Morpheus formed around this sleeping deity. Though Archaeus slumbers and cannot take any action to defend himself and his interests, all the denizens of Morpheus are willing to fight to the death should any entity threaten their revered deity. So Archaeus continues to rest even as countless other deities in the beyond were cut down and slaughtered in the great culling.

Little is known of how Archaeus would dictate his will upon his followers. Whatever vague dictum may occur in a vision or dream from this insane god, it always clouded and difficult to interpret. Yet one thing is clear; he is reaching out to others, trying to cure them of their afflictions even if he is unable to save himself.

Powerful mortals with the strength to navigate the treacherous underworld will make the pilgrimage to the plane of Morpheus, that perhaps the terrors that ravage their soul may be healed by this slumbering deity. Many return bearing his mark, to restore others just as their god has restored them. It is quite possible Archaeus shall remain entranced for all eternity, his malady beyond anything short of oblivion to remedy.

Siax
Alignment: true neutral
Domains: knowledge, luck, magic, repose, travel
Subdomains: fate, curse, memory, souls, trade, arcane
Inquisitions: conversion, heresy, order, tactics, torture
Favored Weapon: ranseur

description:

Supposedly he came into existence as a lowly outsider in a time when the powers of chaos were just beginning to gain their dominance in the inner planes. Siax became a trader, dealing in all things imaginable, even those that were dangerous traffic in. His ability to obtain virtually anything for his clients in a timely manner granted him great friends in high places, as well as many enemies, and he grew in prominence and wealth.

Eventually, Siax made a bargain with a deity to assume his divine essence. Desperate was his client in this case, but the contract signed carried stipulations that Siax must eternally abide by. He is a god contracts, merchants, and deals, and by the terms of his divinity he is unable to break the letter of any agreement he makes. However, he is only bound to the letter of his word and he brazenly flaunts technicalities.

Siax's home plane is “Dimense”, a mysterious place that blends the powers of law and chaos. It is one of the great trading hubs of the inner planes, though few venture beyond the upper plazas. Those who do explore its depths report an alien place that defies comprehension. Siax has outsiders of all types under his command, mostly those who have willingly submitted to a contract of service. Many of the more chaotic denizens are surprised to find Siax has sway over them.

The clerics of Siax are each bound by a contract, similarly to how he himself is. A synergetic relationship is established between their god and themselves. The nature of these contracts are strictly confidential, and different servants of Siax gain favour with their lord in different ways and by completing different tasks. His exact level of influence and interest on the mortal plane is unclear. His clerics cannot confirm or deny any speculation.