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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber. Organized Play Member. 70 posts (73 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.


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This question is for GMs and players, so please use relevant spoiler tags in your responses.

I've got a slow but steady game group with a shared Golarion that we shape as we play the APs, PFS scenarios or modified versions of the official content that fits how our world is growing.

I'll be running Tyrant's Grasp - just years from now ;)

We are going to be playing around Belkzen Hold, Ustalav, River Kingdoms, the Worldwound/Mendev and of course Varisia in the meantime with at least mentions of Nirmathis and Lastwall.

What names would you name drop? Allies, foes, organizations? What places would you have our table visit? What NPCs would you let show up early to have a richer presence, or what locations deserve an earlier time on camera before they are spotlighted in this AP?

My table definitely prefers time for names and places to sink in to utter surprises. They get a kick out of easter eggs, and hearing something a second time helps them pay attention. They know it's important and not a GM throwaway random generated name. They definitely like revisiting locations. All this assuming there's new content mixed in of course. Think of it as a chance to master a location and then feel confident playing there in the future.

So while I'm still at the reins, how shall I set us all up for success and bring in some foreshadowing and introductions?

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Dirtfox wrote:

Is this roll
1) Abstracting the mundane skill of a heal check needed to position the needle
Or is this
2) Activation of a magic item, where the use activation is a heal skill check

Thank you for taking the time to respond so far zza ni and Mysterious Stranger. I haven't received an answer to my question yet. I've highlighted what I was asking about using the lore needle, which is not about actions in combat.

If someone out there could clarify if installing the Lore Needle is using a magic device, that's the meat of what needs more detail.

The lore needle is a magic item to start with. And with a 4,000 gp price tag, it's a magic item with the use-activated discount. Is making the lore needle function for your willing or helpless target over 10 minutes activating a magic device?

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I've got two rules questions, which are both worth solving on their own for upcoming game adjudication.

The Lore Needle (https://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic-items/wondrous-items/h-l/lore-needle/) has a d20 roll for the heal skill check to use it.
Is this roll
1) Abstracting the mundane skill of a heal check needed to position the needle
Or is this
2) Activation of a magic item, where the use activation is a heal skill check

Related, but also worth discussing on it's own. Anyone want to share their clarification on what kind of actions you can aid another with? The core rule book mentions "In many cases, a character’s help won’t be beneficial, or only a limited number of characters can help at once." But there's really no list of examples, and I can't find lists of skill uses including (Aid another? y/n) categories to learn from. There are plenty of things that describe how people can help with this exact situation. For example, how many characters fit to overcome the DC to open a door in an AP, how multiple casters contribute in ritual magic, or aid another for attack or AC in combat. Do we assume if there aren't rules for how it is actively allowed, then the answer is no, no aid another is allowed here?

Let's go back to our lore needle and think about how aid another is impacted by the type of action it needs. If it's a mundane heal check, you could start with Aid Another being allowed, because characters can aid with heal checks in general. Or you could argue that the needle is so small that the 'limited number of characters can help at once' factors in and you can't use aid another. After that it's just GM fiat, and I'd like to build up a library of things you can and can't aid another on for examples if there's no rules here.

If the Lore Needle is a magic item that you activate with your heal check, then the core rule book clearly states that you can't use aid another. Only the character activating a magic device can make the check to activate it.

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These days in the lore and setting, Nocticula is called the “Redeemer Queen” and has ascended to godhood.

But Sarenrae still has the portfolio of redemption.

I’m getting in way too many arguments from my players about this. That if they want redemption themes they still go to Sarenrae. Someone give me backup or tell me I’m wrong, but I’m tired of arguing that Nocticula isn’t the redemption goddess purely because some cultist (or writer ;) ) wanted to call her redeemer queen.

In my head, I’m explaining it with some of the freedom and self-determination of chaos. Nocticula wanted to be a deity and worked that out for herself. You can do you. And if you want to stop being evil, work that out for yourself. If you get kicked out for doing you, then she’s got a place for you as the goddess of exiles. But she’s not going to actually tell you to do better or handhold you through a redemption.

How do you all explain this? Am I the only one having to argue so hard for canon?

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Name: Darwin Montenegro
Race: Human
Classes/levels: Unchained Rogue 5 (Knife Master)
Adventure: It Came From Hollow Mountain
Location: the Gryphine inn, Magnimar
Catalyst: Assassination
The Gory Details: Even though they were very upset with themselves and Viralane for the trapped 'gifts', the PCs went to bed in the Gryphine without overly tightening their security. Unless you count a pillow fort. The party did tighten their security by sleeping in the common room together in a pillow fort.

Dith-ka, the bugbear assassin stealthily climbed through the window, snuck next to Darwin, killing him outright (The Fort save required was around 30). A Nat 1 Perception Check by one of Darwin's sleeping party members meant they were still asleep and he got a second coup-de-grace off, but that player's luck was karmic and they got a Nat 20 on the Fort save, or it would have been a double kill.

Before the end of the night, Darwin was raised from the dead at Heidmarch manor thanks to a paid cleric from the Temple of Abadar, with costs entirely covered by the Sihedron Council as an apology for having booked them in the Gryphine in the first place.

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JoelF847 wrote:
I'm starting to run the Underflume dungeon, and it's come up that aside from the ballroom, there doesn't seem to be any lighting mentioned in the area, despite most of the residents being human and not having darkvision. I'm going to be putting in lanterns in most occupied rooms, but it definitely was an unplanned issue when running the first battle on VTT where we do use lighting.

I wanted to make the Underflume feel different from other locations and set up a theme of Thassilonian magic levels making it feel more modern, despite being 10,000 years old. So I declared each room was magically lit in a flattering ambient glow from the ceiling. Except the Ballroom has it's fire for ambience. I turned on daylight in my VTT for the Underflume spaces that weren't ruins (ie flooded cavern and Arcane storm). Definitely set those rooms up as dangerous too, since 'the lights don't work' is a good trope to trigger your players with.

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Is there lore or backstory I'm missing? How did Baraket end up in Alaznist's armory? The circumstances make sense - near gauntlets that could keep her ego suppressed so she could get into a vault. Even that the vault is near the 'ambassador rooms' so a 'safe' handoff of Baraket could happen.

But is there anything that describes why or how Xanderghul lost his Champion and his Alar'hai to Alaznist?

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coyote6 wrote:

We're starting Return next month, having completed Shattered Star last month. I have a small problem: Xin successfully cast mage's disjunction on the Sihedron in the final battle of Shattered Star, rolled under 20%, the PC failed the saving throw, and the artifact was destroyed.

So, how can the Sihedron that was irrevocably destroyed in the last AP appear in this one? Any ideas?

There's a nice-to-have moment in the time wounds of Book 6, but it's not required.

Bjørn Røyrvik pointed out the first role the Sihedron plays, but that's replaceable too. We also know the Alar'hai respond to Runelords, and Alaznist's sword Garvok isn't in this book. If you haven't used it elsewhere, just declare the Sihedron council had Garvok in their custody and when it activated, that was the signal to go away and investigate.

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Love it. That line is heartbreaking, but in a good way for the characterization of Xanderghul.

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Hey thanks for this! The reforging is a good idea. Plus I completely forgot about Alaznist being able to command it to break. How perfect is that if someone shows up to face her with Garvok in hand. I haven't missed the opportunity yet to have Baraket redeemed. Can you tell me more about what you have planned related to reforging Baraket as the Blade of Humility and the 'warning he may not want to hear'?

I could picture a trip to Runeforge after meeting Sorshen in Korvosa where Baraket and Asheia are taken to be reforged before going to the Peacock Temple.

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Long story short, the art for Nualia's sword in Rise of the Runelords reminded us of art for Garvok. So I ended up GMing that it was, and my Rise party carried around an inactive Garvok all campaign. It was a great addition, especially for sympathy with Chellan.

Now we're on Return, and Alaznist is active with Garvok in play!

Even more interesting, the PC who chose to wield Garvok (and keep it close until they could figure out how to destroy it) was voted one of the Sihedron Heroes by the players in our session zero.

I'm interested in what you all would do with this.

In case someone else comes here for advice on this in the future. I'm currently picturing that Garvok's growing power was the draw that

sent the Sihedron Heroes to Hollow Mountain in the first place
. I mean, they have the whole set up of being around to put down future Runelords as they arise. Going at strength before one of their number switches sides makes absolute sense.

The part I'm still thinking about is what happened next. Did Alaznist

throw all the Sihedron heroes to get trapped in time together in one big, nonspecific move? That means her champion is also trapped in time, and not in play per the books. Or did she somehow separate out the hero holding her champion's sword.
Which means Alaznist has a champion in play for the rest of the campaign.

I'm inclined to say the first one, because it changes less of the campaign as written. The PCs can just be paranoid they're about to run into Garvok. And Alaznist would not have been happy having her supposed champion showing up to oppose her. Then it puts the burden on the current party

in Crystilan to decide what to do about Garvok when the see the hero wielding it frozen there. Also it puts it's arrival in play very close to the Oliphant of Jandalay, so destroying Garvok is on the table.

But I'm really open to ideas from the community.

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Thanks! Bringing up an even one-sided courtship might spark some interesting conversation in my party. I like the idea of having some anti-Cheliax behavior in escapes before her freedom.

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Interested in hearing from anyone who has already run this AP, but also just folks who like brainstorming.

I have a Cheliaxian ex-slave halfling PC in my party, so I anticipate Corla is going to get more attention (and more questions) than most. I'd love your help to brainstorm a richer Corla backstory with me. Her character art screams plot hooks (eyepatch! and why is she still wearing rags if Viralane is such a prideful character? Wouldn't even her servant be better cared for?). She's likely to get left behind and interrogated by parties after Viralane's escape even for parties who aren't drawn to her earlier on.

Missing an eye can certainly speak to her former masters in Cheliax. There's a bit during dinner that says Corla is very self confident and not humble, so that takes out that logical explanation for her looks.

Currently thinking Corla was previously better cared for, and her clothes are a clue into the pair's lack of funds. Plus why Viralane never changes out of the one fancy costume she has left. Maybe the missing eye is from one of the rough places they performed to try and get around Viralane's curse, and can foreshadow Corla not letting her mistress stick around at all when Cracktooth's tavern turns sour on her.

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Thanks for the two Riddleport-centric PFS scenarios! When I don't need to buy a whole season it's pretty cheap to pick these up so I love mining them for content. I'll be using some material from each (though FYI for anyone looking at this or searching later, Rivalry's End is set up by a lot of previous scenarios so it's harder to use than I expected). All of Cyphermage dilemma is usable, and then I'm thinking of grabbing the cheating swindlers from Rivalry's End. Might also be fun to take the guidelines for the PCs in the PFS scenario sneaking into a gambling tournament and flip it so my PCs have some uninvited guests sneaking into the Gold Goblin.

Totally forgot the 'establishment of a faction' is covered in Ultimate Campaign. I'm going to hit up that book too.

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Longtime Adventure Path DM here and... infrequent user of anything else.

My group is playing some of Second Darkness: Shadow in the Sky, which infamously goes off in another direction after helping the Gold Goblin casino in the first book.

Well. My party liked the competition with other gangs. The politicking. The outmaneuvering. The straight-up assaults on each other's holdings. They want to keep establishing a new faction in Riddleport. They also are very fond of allies they've made in the city who need someone to turn to besides gang bosses. The party doesn't like leaving Riddleport as-is, though they've properly taken the bait for the metaplot otherwise.

Anyone have any PFS scenarios, adventures, or other pre-written segments that can give me some more mileage on the establishment of a faction or gang warfare? This is not my wheelhouse for homebrewing it.

I think if I can get a little more going for them to be involved in, we can all set up some NPCs to take the lead there and let the PC party handle the big world-ending threats.

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Great ideas and opinions everyone!

I like the idea of paying for spellcasting services too, or guide services for the non-magical members of the group.

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Hey Golarion GMs and Paizo experts!

I've got an NPC group, some who are starting as clerics and inquisitors of Desna, some who are coming to this as just plain old people.

This group has been patrolling roads. Cleaning roads. Keeping back the encroachment of brush and fallen logs. Repairing roads that weather or tree roots or animals disrupt. They've made it possible for a road through a dangerous stretch of wilderness to stay active, and compete with river based merchants.

And now the story is they need to collect funding for this work.

Caring for themselves as an organization, plus the tools and materials to build and maintain trade routes takes gold!

So the group is now collecting tolls from the trade that gets to bypass barge fees.

I want to play with the line between 'we're doing the good work of Desna helping travelers and keeping them safe from the monsters of the wilderness' and 'we're shaking down merchant wagons for protection money when they're far away from town and no longer have a choice.'

Where would you draw the line of what Desna is happy with? Generally okay with? Maybe sending dreams to change the direction of your life? Is someone going to make themselves an ex-cleric by collecting tolls? By having a colleague they are affiliated with kill a traveler in collecting a toll?

There is the distinction between laymen (people just doing this as a job) and those who are using divine powers in the work running the roads of this trade route. Toll roads by regular people probably doesn't merit Desna's attention. The clerics though... I don't see anything that specifically says Desna is against toll roads, but I do see she values freedom. I'd love outside opinions.

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Hey folks!

Any other Syrinscape users around here? I miss having the custom sounds from APs like Rise of the Runelords leading up to my playthrough of Return.

I'm going to be making some custom soundsets for at least some of the scenes in Return of the Runelords. I'd love to share the crafting if anyone else is interested in the same. I'll post the soundsets I put together, and I'd love to see (hear?) if anyone else has some they're working on!

Here's what I'm working with so far (Link requires a Syrinscape account to interact with):

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I want to flesh out Maga Szuul in roleplay and party interaction, since he's technically a story connection for both Kaer Maga and the cult of Yamasoth. Anyone done anything with him yet, or seen him in play in this book with their group?

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I feel like alignment is a harder and faster rule with dragons than with player characters, but I'd like some other Pathfinder (and Golarion) specific minds to think about how much wiggle room there might be on the alignment of chromatic dragons. Or expressed actions despite inherent alignment inclinations.

I'm thinking specifically of red dragons here. We know from Paizo sources that they're chaotic evil. They're the largest and most powerful chromatic dragons, and if one of them spares an innocent maiden from murder and consumption, it's because they like to enslave humans and elves as pretty, fragile additions to the hoard while they last. And then eat them later. So not exactly the gray area of gardening, academic greens.

Buuuuut. In social science and animal behavior, there's always a question of nature vs nurture. Is that something to consider for dragons raised in unusual circumstances? How much could their chaotic evil alignment be considered cultural or learned, and how much should we say at a certain age it's too big a part of them not to come out? Like when people try to raise wolves as if they were domestic dogs, it works until a certain age, but dragons are intelligent and can be reasoned with.

This is of course from a specific situation in my game:
Villains killed a mother Red and captured her youngsters. Heroes came along and killed the villains and freed the red youngsters. Also canonically, red dragons like taking out dragonslayers, so that was a point in favor of the heroes who put a stop to those dragonslayers and respected the reds. Because they were young and still at risk, the youngsters moved into a big city with the squishy mortal heroes and (said they would) accept compulsion spells for the safety of the city as willing conditions of being (served and) protected. At some point, they're going to be old enough to make the save. At some point it also might occur to a chaotic evil creature to go back on their word and not willingly accept compulsion spells. I'm just really wondering if it's completely implausible for either/both the modeled behavior of the heroes or the behavior modification of long term compulsion spells to have these particular young reds to grow up not chaotic evil and full of death and destruction.

I guess regardless of being stuck evil, there's always a chance even a chromatic dragon chooses to point their fire and brimstone elsewhere.

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Any thoughts on how you would solve a problem.

What happens if the Rise of the Runelords party didn't kill Karzoug, only destroyed the Soul Lens before all dying dramatically. Since the soul lens adds souls to the Runewell, which allows Karzoug to escape, theoretically that trapped Karzoug in the Eye of Avarice until further notice. So everything was stable, albeit not a happy ending.

Of course, a big part of this adventure is the very cool visiting the Boneyard to ask Karzoug about the Cyphergate.


What would you do?

(My backup option that seems disappointing is that the Eye of Avarice fell apart and eventually killed Karzoug without the Soul Lens to keep adding magic to the Runewell.)

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I'm daydreaming for when it's safe to have the group play in person together again and I'm making a plan for this cool map scroll I have. (I'ts a very long vinyl map showing a town from it's outer gates to inner castle in a big enough strip it rolls up at either end.)

Feel free to help me out, or just grab this idea for yourself later! I'm definitely going to play this out, but I have time before we get around to playing Ironfang. So let's brainstorm!

The scenario - our advancing horde (orcs in our case, but could be good zombie action too if someone wants to apply this plan to another adventure) is closing in and sweeping through, and the PCs need to help the citizens escape. Here are the details I'm fiddling with so far vs the books, in part just to highlight the gimmick of the long, rolled up map. It also changes the feel of the invading horde, but with my limited read through so far, I don't think that breaks anything.


- Heroes can attack individual members of the horde, but they can't win that way, there's too many of them. Same as the books really, they WILL get overrun

- To up the overrun feeling for the scrolling map, this portion of the invasion is scary by sheer numbers, not personal strength. Minimal HP in exchange for increased numbers. So you can kill them, but it's only buying you time or clearing routes. And killing lots of numbers is fun!

- Orcs can attack and deal damage like normal, but I want the damage taken from engaging the horde to feel more like it's own 'clock' as the players take injuries to save people but can ignore it a little till it starts to add up. Would you change anything about the damage or to hit of the opponents?

- There are more buildings on my map, and I want the heroes to get to use that to personally be involved in the escape of more citizens. This one I wish I could playtest, so maybe post if you've tried something similar. Maybe just open the door and make a skill check to get them to start leaving? Maybe 'drop' orc minions in each building so the occupants can leave? Maybe hold a path clear for escape and each round the route is kept clear another person gets out? All of the above? Not sure. I want something that costs time so there might be parts where they have to decide to leave civilians, because we know not everyone gets out.

- With the gimmick of the physical long map... The map will physically scroll to advance on its own clock, indicating area that has been 'lost' to the invasion. The PCs can go closer to escape at their own pace, but the 'back' rolls up behind them regularly. Again, I wish I could playtest this to say a good pace, and maybe it's something I can play by ear or do based on how many orcs have gotten on the map. I like the idea of keeping up pressure, and I can't fit my entire map on the table we play on anyway.

- With the increase in the number (and decrease in the difficulty to kill) this advance front of invading orcs, I'm not sure if I want to change how VIPs work. Keep the specific details to rescue each of them, and just spread them out along my new map? I'm open to advice, but this might be just me reporting back one day about how that went.

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Great stuff! Although it seems... very hard to survive I’m finishing up Rise with an oversized group of seven (moving virtual because 2020 added back two players who moved away and wanted to see the end of the campaign) and they’re under level because of the XP split. It hasn’t mattered - APL goes up when you get too big a party and they have so many player actions - but now I’m wondering if their lower saves in particular will will make these good tactics an inevitable TPK without high saves.

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I'm saying this as a bystander GM who hasn't read this AP at all so please take it with appropriate amounts of salt grains.

Do you think it would help, or work for you, to take some of the plot elements and encounters and... put them ahead of your group on the path of their circus touring? Like, stop blocking them from doing circus, and instead sprinkle the plot along the road?

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Good warning. I have reasons I can keep it personal with just the follower as an individual so I'll make sure to emphasize that instead of the Alaznist connection.

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Oh! I like thinking of it as a plague of Runelords, especially since this is the book where suddenly multiple Runelords are potentially a threat all at once. I really didn't get that at all originally, I think since it opens with mentions of the Polymorph Plague.

Thank you for the thoughts on triggering topics. It'll probably be another year before we get this far, and plenty could develop if people don't even want to think about actual plague events anymore.

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The title of this book is pretty catchy, but I'm secretly glad the game sessions aren't titled with the names of the books because the polymorph plague feels small and insignificant compared to some of the other action going on.

After the fun my group had back in CotCT's Seven Days to the Grave, I'm tempted to make Runeplague more, well, plaguey. Also runey.

Anyone think I'd derail things too much if I let that first section stretch longer in the background and seem more widespread? Like maybe more and more people have runes appearing on their bodies (like the sores from Blood Veil) but the Yamasoth cultists are instead focused on a widespread trigger to 'activate' it and cause the horrific transformations we've seen in the module, and that's what the PCs are going to eventually focus on?

I'd definitely make sure to save the 'party' in Korvosa for after, almost so it can feel like a reward after stopping the plague. But there's no reason the showdown at Zincher's can't happen while the plague is spreading... After all, the auction seems the most date-specific of everything.

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Just wanted to say that I'm thinking of playing with some Underwater Parts Only RoA. Not with elementary age kids, but with coworkers. So this has been just as inspiring ;)

Would you have re-tuned it to start at a lower level if you could have, in retrospect?

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Just to update you, my players decided they were in the mood for some morally gray characters, so Riddleport ended up being a perfect fit! I went with your suggestion of the Hellstorm Flume foundations being an advanced attack point, since I thought that made a lot of sense for the portal straight to Hollow Mountain (a destroyed one would, I decided, have had the portal dealt with).

The small gang rivalries fit in really well with Riddleport, and Jana becoming an early ally meant the PCs wanted to help keep the Gendarmes and big players out of her business to solve things internally. It was also an opportunity to kinda meet Clegg Zincher early, and the Cyphergate hanging over everything seems like it's only going to be good for the eventual payoff of getting to use it.

I'm planning a longer trip to the Churlwood. The other part that's been more work to adapt is the idea of making the Cove 'safe again' for soothing the ghost. So I'm changing that story a little. Roderic still founded the area and took care of it, and still had the same untimtely end. But it was much much closer to Riddleport than officially written, so the natural expansion of the port city just subsumed it as a neighborhood. So rather than trying to make All Of Riddleport 'safe' somehow, it's about making his Cove a successful place that knows their roots. A few of the goals for 'points' to succeed in soothing the ghost have been changed, I can write those out if anyone cares later. Basically new goal is a neighborhood with character and pride out of what was previously a slum. It seems (so far) to be really good with the friendship with Jana. As we know in real life, you can have pride in your heritage and also be in a gang, or morally gray ;)

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These are super fun! I haven't started into 2E yet so I can't comment on the helpful rules, but the concept is neat and the look is cool

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Hi GMs and math lovers!

Myself and my players enjoy rolled stats, and rolling them publicly as part of our Session Zero is always an exciting part of character creation.

The current method I prefer tries to keep the party balanced amongst themselves. I can always up the encounter difficulty if they get good rolls, but it sucks when one player gets a great stat spread and someone else is struggling.

I have everyone roll for their set of six attributes, and then any player can take any spread that any other player rolled. (When rolling, I have everyone use the 'roll 4d6 drop the lowest and roll 7 times and drop the lowest' rules but that part doesn't matter as much here).

What I want to do is combine the rolling of stats into playing games at the Cheat the Devil and Take His Gold tournament! I think it will give us an excuse to roleplay more of the tournament and practice bantering in-character while we get excited about everyone's stat rolls.

I'm wondering what you all think of this idea. What's the percentages, if I should tweak some numbers, or how you'd do it. Or if someone just wants to steal this idea in the future, go for it!

Right now, I'm thinking having the rolling of a stat (4d6) represent how that character did in a round of gambling. I'm deciding between two options for 'winning' the hand and moving on to the next 'circle of hell.' The quick and dirty method: you need to roll a stat above a set amount (say, above a 14) to win the hand and move on. The more convoluted method I could use to simulate gambling wins or losses. In this method you're trying to 'come out ahead' where a 1 or 2 on any dice is falling behind, 3 or 4 is neutral, and 5 or 6 is ahead. The net on your four dice needs to be 'ahead' and you move on with your winnings. But if the net is behind or even, those can affect your character's gambling winnings too!

I suppose a final issue would be that there are not enough stats for the circles of Hell listed in the 'contract' the players receive. But also, the tournament is destined to be interrupted, so maybe that's fine. We can just see who gets the furthest in the time they have!

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I love ethical/character dilemmas like this! What a cool choice! I guess since you're taking Mhar off the table you're fine with the Leng device functioning only as intended, because I thought as printed it wouldn't do what it was advertised to do due to tampering...

Are you thinking of running Return of the Runelords? It's got some great Time Travel themes! Unfortunately, the time travel now will complicate that AP if you want to run it. If not, don't worry. I'll try not to spoiler that AP here. I also want you to think about the following consequences:


If Karzoug is killed in the past, published material suggests he was barely holding / about to lose to Alaznist. Suddenly losing Karzoug and his successor would probably mean Alaznist overruns Shalast, which might have replacement consequences for the future

If Karzoug is killed in the past, his soul will have had plenty of time to go through judgement and not be available for Return of the Runelords plot.

If Karzoug's damage is undone, there will be no motivation to assemble the Shattered Star, so that AP probably wouldn't happen at all.

Technically published material says Karzoug tampered with Crystilan and that's why it's ruins, so if he isn't alive to tamper any more there could be ripples about Crystilan (I'm not sure what you've done there so far as it's not normally part of Rise if I recall)

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For those of you who've finished (or thought about your endgame) and decided to

strand your PCs in the past after defeating Alaznist
, how did that go over?

I'm having trouble wrapping my head around

being in ancient Thassilon but with a dead Alaznist. Wouldn't someone just succeed her as the Runelord of Wrath? Is that even a problem? And how did you discuss how screwed up the timeline would be by Alaznist being dead in the past, or the presence of high level PCs?

I liked the option as presented, I think it's really unique, and Varisia is so full of high level heroes. I was considering avoiding some of those points I worried about above by

having the PCs come out of Alaznist's broken Eye *after* Earthfall and the fall of Thassilon. It might be a bit more of a blank slate to play with, as there's going to be a few hundred years with no major civilizations to influence. Or whose to say that's not how ___ pulled themselves together during the Age of Darkness?

Cool idea? Bad idea? Something I'm not thinking of? Scrap the whole thing because your player group rioted when you tried something similar?

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soulnova wrote:

Could Karzoug technically craft a new set of Gauntlets (or an equivalent) if he had access to the Runeforge? It's going to cost a fortune but the players are LOADED and willing to pay.

I mean, I'm not looking at any books here, but isn't magical crafting just a question of spending enough time and money? Karzoug and Runeforge and an item to mimic seem very doable, just make the players jump through hoops as you see fit, or put something at risk by waiting long enough for the crafting :)

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To get really specific about a few additional thoughts:

- Floor Manager Larur Feldin is a dwarf, and could make a good quest giver for the missing dwarves. And why not have the missing dwarves have supplies for the beleaguered gambling hall in their caravan?
- Samaritha's interest in being a cyphermage would be a more personal connection to eventual activation of the cyphergate. I might just have her updated as a current cyphermage who heard Corstela might have some new information about Thassilon and is here to chat
- Since I don't need to provoke Boss Croat, I'm planning on skipping the entire moneylender/suspicious murder of Feldin mission
- I do like the more nuanced encounter at the docks with Braddikar the ex-Korvosan guard. I'll just change his backstory (if anyone looks into it or cares) as a guard who defected back during the riots at the death of King Eodred. Maybe one of Verik Vencaskerkin's defectors at All the World's Meat!
- The intimidating visit of Clegg Zincher would be cool because you meet him later in other circumstances, but another logical option is Captain Julit, who might just be eyeing things to make sure nothing suspicious is going on
- I'm not really into Mister Retch. Feel free to change my mind. I'd rather Old Scratch get freed in the robbery as written, but flee and be the annoying flavor around town that the PCs feel responsible for setting loose

I'm hoping stealing these early encounters and flavor adds some breadth to the murder investigation portion and a reason for the PCs to all hang out a lot and become close, with a bit more motivation to not immediately murder Jana. I'm open to more thoughts!

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Hi fellow DMs and creative sorts. I have a plan I want to share for a mash up of Book 1 of Return of the Runelords and Shadow in the Sky from Second Darkness. Feedback is welcome, as is using the notes we work out here for you game. Players who have yet to complete Shadow in the Sky or Secrets of Rodric’s Cove are advised to stop reading this thread.


So I’m sure my group will never play Second Darkness as written. But I like the scenario of working for a failing gambling hall at the start. Also, unlike other APs, the opening hook of Return doesn’t feel like it gives the PCs a strong excuse to be in the Circle Market when the opening hook happens. So I plan to open Return with a gambling tournament and use the Second Darkness traits as session zero hooks to get everyone on site.

Obviously things change significantly from there.

Here’s my mash up plan as it stands.:

1) Open with the gambling tournament at the Gold Goblin
2) The Gold Goblin is now run by “Gold” Gildersleeves
3) The robbery is a legit attempt. Bouncers wear the horned fang gang symbol. Possibly select other staff?
3a) Possibly robbery is done by Roadkeepers to mirror the Circle Market event
3b) Or it’s random upstarts or someone else cool I haven’t thought of yet. Either way the haunting starts at a later time below
4) When the PCs are offered room and board and a stake in the Gold Goblin, Jes is thinking she’ll test them out to deal with her sinspawn problem and keeps that business seperate.
5) Any dead theives are taken by the PCs to the graveyard where they connect or reconnect with Audrahni, who warns them the PCs were hired to replace ‘employees’ killed under mysterious circumstances
6) Investigating the murder of their predecessors happens alongside the initial Shadows in the Sky tasks and rolls for profitability
7) Samaritha Beldusk is in town for the Order of Resplendence (but they’re holed up after the murder)
8) After the initial gambling hall tasks and investigations are ready to get kicked into the next phase, ‘the siege’ event of Roadkeepers attacking is interrupted by Roderic’s ghost.
9) the book continues but with The Gold Goblin as a common base and Jes’ hidden motivation being about her gang being taken over

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My party has a nemesis among Alaznist’s followers and I’m planning way in advance. Anyone want to warn me how it would be game breaking or rough on the plot for the nemesis to waylay the party in the plane of shadow? Plane shift is a spell, so hitting them there seems the most reasonable compared with the city Or Pharasma’s boneyard.

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Just shooting some ideas around for you, do what you will with them but this sounded fun and inspired me. Some of these may also depend on how much you want to cut back on the more brutal elements for your daughter (I don't know her maturity level at 13, or tolerance for Bad Stuff).

- How about making the Ameiko/Tsuto/Kaijitsu family situation tweaked for another famous Disney princess family for more sympathy? I'm thinking Ana/Elsa (either could be in the Ameiko or Tsuto role honestly), with Nualia either a bad influence or combined completely with Tsuto's character (since one hopes your party doesn't immediately murder the wayward sibling on the first run through). So like in one take combining with Nualia's story, Elsa could have been driven out of the family because of her sorcerer powers (just Golarion magic, not necessarily only ice) which caused the great fire during the Late Unpleasantness and she ran away like she did in the movie. Now she's working with the goblins and set on a bad path of revenge she can be redeemed from, and her father and the workers in the glassworks are encased in ice instead of horrible deaths encased in glass. Or flip it, and it's Elsa who was an adventurer and runs the Rusty Dragon Inn now and Ana was successfully led astray by Hans after being sheltered at home too long who wants to take over the family business... Hans can be the final bad guy in Nualia's stead, even connecting with Lamashtu if you'd like, for a satisfying boss to murder.

- Maleficent and the Evil Queen as Xanesha and Lucrecia? Or two sisters so both Maleficent inspired characters. You'd get shapeshifting into a serpent and possibly could even tie in the fairies over in the wood across from Turtleback Ferry.

- Get some plot with the Giants going on to reflect the Lion King plotline. Mokmurian was a clan member who was exiled, and then came back after gaining power to lead the stone giants to an ultimately ruinous end. Make him the Scar of the scenario, and set up Conna the Wise as a Serabi whose Mufasa (the murdered stone giant leader who now haunts that fortress room) was killed and she's trying to organize overthrowing Scar/Mokmurian. Gives you more reason to connect with other giants sympathetically later on, plus more personality to draw on as Mokmurian is set up as a bad guy throughout several books.

This is fun. I'll come back to it later after I do more job.

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Anyone who's worried about spoilers has left? This one isn't major, but I want to give people fair warning.


Some of you may be familiar with the Microscope RPG (http://www.lamemage.com/microscope/) which is a GM-less game of creating and exploring histories. I was inspired by the 10,000 years that Runeforge is cut off from the material plane, especially the Halls of Wrath where the book describes 'a highly successful warrior society' and that 'hundreds of generations have passed' compared to most of the wings where it seems the survivors had to become immortal in some way, and thus were relatively unchanged except for sinking into their corruption.

With a couple of my usual players out for a session, I have decided to run a round of Microscope to look at those hundreds of generations in Wrath!

I'm going to use the seed statement:
"The Halls of Wrath are isolated after the fall of Thassilon for hundreds of generations"

The starting period is:
"The fall of Thassilon cuts off Runeforge from the outside world. The denizens of Wrath do not pursue extended lifespans or immortality"

The ending period is:
"Their numbers diminished, the remains of a warrior society in the Halls of Wrath are led by Highlady Athroxis"

I figure if I set up the core boss fight as something that must be true (Athroxis), I could tweak what they find in Wrath to reflect the history we end up building together. The survivors in Wrath are also the only (most likely?) Runeforge residents who can actually leave as well, so exploring more about their history might make my players think about them as more than just targets for attacks, and think about what happens if they spare them and want to help them resettle out in the Material Plane.

I'm also not 100% stuck to making Highlady Athroxis a required part of the story if you think it would be more fun to leave it totally open-ended? I'm already choosing to leave out the 'why' of fighting Abjuration so we can decide for ourselves why there aren't enough people left in Wrath to sustain hundreds of generations of breeding stock.

Feel free to comment or give suggestions, to steal the idea for a Microscope round of your own, or stick around to see how it goes. I'll try and post something about the results, even if it's 'well that didn't work because of ___.'

Wish me luck!

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Misroi wrote:
Since you want to streamline the adventure, I'd recommend ...

This has been perfect! Thank you so much for your response and the reasons behind it. To keep you updated, I used NPCs (part of our heroes backup-character party) to give the scouting report of the area and they went in through the river caves. Deathwebs were fun (especially when they realized what they were exactly) and I turned Enga into a roleplay encounter that lead into the two red dragons and lamias.

The party consists of a mystic theurge, dual weapon ranger, paladin/cavalier, necromancer(ish) wizard, unchained monk, and a crossbow fighter/gunslinger. The wizard has teleport and invisibility sphere now to help with mobility!

I'm likely combining The General in with Conna as part of the expanded loyal giants to get his perspective out. Also to provide potential consequences depending on how that interaction goes... Then on to the Thassilonian portion! On the backburner, I've got a hit and run from the forgefiend that was suggested elsewhere on the boards if there's time some session.

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I'm running Rise of the Runelords for my long term group, but we've got 6, maybe 8 sessions left before we have to take a looong hiatus. We tend to manage only one combat per session, and that's if we haven't gotten too hung up on puzzles and ethical dilemmas first...

I'd like to aim it so the party gets to defeat Mokmurian before we go on hiatus, but... We only just got up the Storval Stairs and tracked the giants back to Jorgenfist, and there are so many encounters to go! I'm going to need to cut things, possibly dynamically as I see how far we're getting and how fast.

So, I have three angles to this situation you can help me with...

1) What were your favorite encounters once in Jorgenfist through the end of Book 4? Ignoring everything else, what would you want to make sure we all experience?

(My party loves story and plot connections most of all, but everyone enjoys memorable combats)

2) Any homebrew cleverness or mechanics you experienced or heard about to not lose the feel of the army or fortress being massive and well prepared without having to fight our way deeper every ten feet (so to speak)? IE if I'm dropping the number of combat encounters to save on time, what are other ways this could feel like a dangerous and populated enemy fortress?

3) There's a lot of physical ground to cover too. Favorite or least favorite ways to move a party quickly through a dungeon, or facilitate skipping if we're falling behind on pacing? Make the map smaller, give them a copy of the map so there's less puttering around... Teleports or gaseous form potions?

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TIA for your help brainstorming and remembering options that might be out there.

TL;dr - tell me about a single session you played that was a good bonding experience for characters in a party getting to know each other.

I have a new player joining my long term campaign. He's been playing side games with me and some of the group for about a year, and with availability opening up in my main campaign I wanted to invite him in. We've already had him pick up the role of a known NPC for easier integration, had the session where we introduced him, and the other players are great.

So there isn't a problem I'm trying to solve per se. I want to be proactive in recognizing the main game has two years of backstory and character bonding, and make use of a few game mastery shortcuts to connect our new arrival.

I have a session coming up that's going to be light on attending players, so I'd like to do a bit of side content to provide a bonus bonding experience for newbie and two of our established players/characters. Think of it like when in Avatar: The Last Airbender when Zuko joined the crew as an ally and had several episodes with special missions bonding with the other characters ;) New player is a scholarly monk woman with a lot of good punching, who will be joined by a boy wizard and a Shoanti paladin.

Since I don't have a ton of prep time left before the game (it's tomorrow!), anyone have recommendations, or remember, scenarios or encounters they've played that had memorable bonding experiences? Or examples of things that happened in your groups that were good for a small group to experience together and bond over? I can put work into the session, just want a starting place or a leg up to push me in the right direction.

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These are great details, thank you for laying out some of the challenges and your ideas around them! Discussing the border between Shalast and Bakrakahn was something I'd completely forgetten about, so kudos for that in particular :)

My gaming group wraps their heads around urban settings much more comfortably than wilderness and small towns. I think I can wait to see what kind of characters they're thinking of making to help tip the balance on this decision though before I end up with a bunch of druids and such in a Big City.

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Background: My consistent gaming group has played a number of Pathfinder AP's in a consistent world, but it just so happens we haven't touched Riddleport.

I noticed Roderic's Cove seems to be limited to Book 1, but events touch Riddleport in the later books.

Since the other locations that are affected by events later in the AP will all be meaningful to my players, I was thinking of making Book 1 actually take place in Riddleport to help set that scene and bring it to life before the PCs have reason to care.

Any advice? Warnings? Pitfalls? Opinions?

My thought would be making Roderic's Cove a 'decent' neighborhood in Riddleport (with the setting description of details like 'no homeless' and 'minor crime') that enjoys less attention from Riddleport's seedy elements because of Sir Roderic's influence (in life and death).

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Zapranoth wrote:

A quick question: in the "Heroic Roles" part on page six, is there any reason at all that the PCs *wouldn't* send one Sihedron Hero to each of the four heroic roles? It looks like there's only upside to doing so. Am I missing anything? (Is the intention that the PCs just get all of these bonuses?)

Been fun reading today so far... wow, this is gonna be big rocket tag.

Maybe it's to decide what they give up if you need to rotate in a Sihedron Hero to make up for a fallen PC? Per the swapping PCs sidebar.

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Okay, all the books are out and I've skimmed every page! (but not dug in deep - not yet.)

Quick return to a question I had at the AP's launch: Which of the 'Seven Swords of Sin' are relevant to the official plot? I want to include all of these weapons (such as Chellan, Sword of Greed in Rise of the Runelords) throughout this campaign and the ongoing campaigns I'm GMing that will lead into 'Return.'

I see one of the Alar'hai and another, newly introduced, weapon for the Runelords themselves to use are detailed in the covers of each book for the different Runelords.

I see the Sword of Pride in Book 1. And... Not much else?

Am I missing things I can dig into and find more on? Where have you all used (or are planning to use) the Seven Swords?

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Wanted to say I'm doing what you're doing - DMing Pathfinder content with players who like 5e. So this helped me! Thank you for sharing your work.

Have you done other conversions? What were some of the ways you chose to find an alternate effect for all the stat damage and drain since that's a common attack in Pathfinder that doesn't exist in 5e?

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ShiftyMongoose, we can use the GM boards to collaborate on how we get around the consequences of our adaptations :D

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Okay! Thanks for both the surprises to anticipate and the reassurances about adjusting things on the fly. I'll see where it goes, and where my players actions now lead me for now...

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Just got Book 1 of Return of the Runelords, and I'm thrilled. Can't wait to be off work for my weekend and dig in!

The outlines and bits I've skimmed raise a question for me. Will any more of the 'Seven Swords of Sin' be relevant to the official plot? I noticed the Sword of Wrath is illustrated prominently, and the background material mentioned the Sword of Pride.

I've been working from some of the community inspired material on the forums here to introduce more of the Seven Swords of Sin into my current Rise of the Runelords and Shattered Star gaming. Plus I don't have Pathfinder Society active in my area, so I don't know if there's existing scenarios or modules out there that already cover anything (Except Greed from Rise), and I'm not sure if 'Seven Swords of Sin' from Gen Con is still canon.

Nothing has been named in my game so far, so I feel safe. But something could be done that can't logically be undone.

I'd love a preview or recommendation of which swords I might need to, say, leave out of my current campaign so I don't cross wires with the new material.

Any insight or thoughts out there?

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