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"Perhaps he was dictating"


Mysteries left unsolved at the end of this scenario:

Spoiler:

-- What caused the carriage crash?
-- What caused Andor's disease?
-- Where did Quintus go?
-- What about the paper dolls? (they pop up three times -- Mrs. Lyons' monologue, Quintus, and after the collapse at the end.)
-- What was the origin of the haunted potion in Lasarte’s gear? (The haunt does seem directly relevant to the adventure...)
-- What was "taken away" from Mrs. Lyons?
-- Why did the cleric at Mrs. Lyons' place insist that he'd seen the party twice before?
-- Quintus repeatedly insisted that shovels were being stolen. This never gets mentioned again. If true, what was that about?

N.B., I have no problem with loose ends, especially in a mystery scenario. And quite possibly some of these were just red herrings, and that's fine too. But... this one cries out for a sequel, people.

Doug M.


Running it this Sunday for a group of five. NONE of us have played 2e before. I, and one other, have read the core rulebook. We're all experienced gamers who are very familiar with 1e and with D&D 5th.

1) What should we know before starting to play? What surprises should we expect, what should we keep in mind, what's really different?

2) Is there a short-short scenario that's suitable for a single session that could serve as an introduction? (I've seen the PFS Scenario "The Mosquito Witch", and it looks good, but maybe not for a first time -- it's mostly talk and social stuff.)

-- Also, do I understand correctly that odd-numbered ability scores under 19 no longer exist? NBD, just wondering if I'm missing something.

Many thanks,

Doug M.


David knott 242 wrote:

It is not just a single feat -- You have to be a Loremaster to qualify, and that prestige class has some rather steep feat prerequisites for anyone but a wizard to qualify for.

But for a wizard, dipping a level of loremaster is easy and almost painless.

TBC, my starting point here is the Spell Sage. The Spell Sage is a well balanced archetype! Since its introduction back in 2011, it's enjoyed a steady niche popularity with the kind of player who loves nerding out on all the available spells. It's challenging to play at lower levels, but it manages to be interesting, attractive and playable without being OP.

This lets a wizard gain an improved version of the Spell Sage's signature ability for a single feat. It's not game-breaking, but it's definitely OP and abusable. In terms of power it's roughly equivalent to... oh, say a feat that gives the Mesmerist's Stare ability: as a free action, slap a -2 penalty to all Will saves to a single enemy within 30'. Not everyone would take that feat -- not even all casters, perhaps. But most wizards sure would.

Doug M.


Gorbacz wrote:
They've learned that lesson, hence PF2 is what it is.

Plan to pick it up, but haven't yet. Is it inherently less abusable than 1e? Or is it just that it doesn't have 200+ splatbooks yet?

Doug M.


The Skald is a half-casting class. So, a 9th level Skald with Spell Kenning can use one of his slots to pick up a 3rd level Bard, Cleric or Druid spell. A 9th level Loremaster with this feat can use one of his slots to pick up a 5th level spell -- ANY 5th level spell, from ANY casting class.

Also, my beef isn't with the power itself. In the case of the Skald and the Spell Sage, it's integrated into a class or archetype, and you're trading stuff away for it in a way that makes sense. Here you're getting this super abusable power for just a single feat. That's not good game balance.

Doug M.


kevin_video wrote:
I’d have to disagree. It’s a 1/day SLA that still uses your resources, and no matter what the spell, it’s a minimum of a full round. Taking it three times just makes it 3/day. Honestly, that’s a waste of three feats. And you still need to have access to that level of spell.

The Spell Sage archetype sacrifices Arcane Bond and specialization to get a version of this power, and it's a fair and balanced trade. This lets you gain the Spell Sage's signature power for a single feat slot. Google up my Guide to the Spell Sage for an idea of just how abusable this can become.

Basically it turns you into an incredibly obnoxious super-utility caster with a spell for EVERY POSSIBLE OCCASION. Trust me -- if I played a mid- or high-level arcane caster with this spell IYC, with this feat taken a couple of times, you would soon come to hate me a lot.

Additionally, you can now do weird combinations that are normally impossible, like Contingency + Breath of Life, or Glyph of Warding + Fireball. Oh, and almost as an afterthought, you can now craft any magic item in the book no matter how obscure the spell required.

If this wasn't in their very-last-ever 1e Players' Companion, it would probably already have been Crane Styled by now. As it is, shrug.

Doug M.


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Magic Trick (Prestidigitation) is great -- well done, Vanessa. I actually wrote a whole post on it, which can be found over here.

On the minus side, the Secret of Magical Discipline feat is pretty painfully abusable. Dip one level of Loremaster, then just take this feat two or three times. Boom -- now you're basically a spontaneous caster with access to ALL the spells on ALL the spell lists.

Doug M.


Wow okay, yes that feat is totally OP. True, you have to dip at least one level of Loremaster. But that does you almost no harm -- Loremaster doesn't cost you any caster levels -- and then you can take this feat multiple times and just, woo. So abusable. Just take this feat three or four times and you're basically a spontaneous caster with access to EVERY SPELL EVER PRINTED.

I didn't continue this guide past 3rd level spells (and because of the edition change, I probably never will). But there are a LOT of excellent spells that you can access with this feat at 4th level and higher.

Ah well. This feat came out in the very last 1e Player Companion. "Go out with a bang," indeed.

Doug M.


The Worm That Walks template can be added to "any evil spellcasting creature". Usually it's a high-level humanoid spellcaster, but there are all sorts of other options. Anyway: I'm considering a WTW as an end boss for my PCs, who are currently 3rd level but should be 4th when they hit this thing. The template is CR +2, so I'd want a CR 4 or 5 evil monster. I could just take a 5th level sorceror or whatever and slap on the template, but now that I think about it, "evil spellcasting creature" really opens up a lot of options, doesn't it.

Basically I'm looking for novel ideas here. What've you got?

Doug M.


(I think this thread will have SPOILERS so don't keep reading beyond this post, which I'll keep spoiler free.)

Has anyone actually played this yet?

It's the single most insane thing Paizo has ever published, and I honestly have trouble seeing how the PCs can win. Four 20th level PCs, fully loaded, against the boss... and the other things... and also the special sauce? I'm sure someone will manage it, but if the DM plays it straight and unleashes the full potential of this setup, it's a crapton of damage coming at you really fast. Scry and die / rocket tag may not be enough in this case.

But I don't know. I've never played PF at this level. Would be really curious to hear an account from someone who actually reached Vol. 6. Failing that, if anyone with experience with super high level play wants to take a crack at theorycrafting how the combat might go, I'd be interested.

Doug M.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
It makes sense that an evil deity wouldn't have "entertainment" as part of their portfolio. After all, an evil person does not perform for the benefit of others, an evil person will perform as a means to an end, be it personal benefit or ushering in the reign of dark forces.

I give you two Neutral Evil demigods, Anton and Franton. They're twins!

Anton is the evil god of creative art, and he's a god of arrogant excellence. Every chef who has abused a kitchen full of subordinates, every musician who has left a string of broken hearts behind, every artist who has justified revolting personal behavior because they are the best... they all serve Anton, whether they know it or not.

Anton's specialty is the creation of art -- music, writing, food, jewelry, you name it. He also claims dominion over jacks-of-all-trades and skill monkeys, because universal competence is one way to be the best. He welcomes ambitious strivers, and encourages them to excel by whatever means. Second Violin who wants to be move up? Arrange a little accident for the First Violin -- you're already the best, it's just accelerating the inevitable.

Anton's is a narrow niche -- he's only worshipped by artists and creative types, a few academics, and a smattering of ambitious dreamers -- but he's fine with that. He has a complex love/hate relationship with Shelyn; they're both gods of art and creativity, and Shelyn can't help but love some of his work. But he's personally such a complete dirtbag that she has to very strictly separate creation from creator.

Franton, his brother/sister, is the evil god/goddess of art appreciation. Franton wants you to enjoy that delicious meal, and never mind the starving people outside. Delight in that beautiful music -- if it's sung by slaves, well, good for you for giving a purpose to their worthless lives. "That's my last duchess, painted on the wall." You should enjoy these things, because you deserve them. You're the best, and the consumption and appreciation of beauty is how you show it.

Franton competes with Urgathoa, but her portfolio is both broader and shallower: it includes gluttony and lust, but also music, art, and more abstract appreciations of beauty and knowledge, and of course Franton is revolted by the undead. Ugly things! Away! Naturally, Franton is popular among aristocrats, the wealthy, and aesthetes of all kinds, and also among poseurs, social climbers, and those who yearn after sophistication.

Strictly speaking Anton covers evil in the creation of art, while Franton's portfolio is evil in its consumption. But there's broad overlap, and a bard could happily worship either, or both.

Doug M.


Artofregicide wrote:
I'll repeat what I said on your other thread: Hastur. He's not very invested in what exactly you do, because invariably you'll bring about his plans longterm...

On one hand, I think you're right -- Hastur is the closest thing you're going to get in the current set of deities. His writeup specifically says that bards play a particularly important role in his worship because of their ability to stage and perform his unholy play, _The King In Yellow_. And his portfolio includes decadence, which is definitely extended to art -- he's associated with artists and musicians.

On the other hand, he's a Great Old One, not a god per se. Yeah, mechanically they're exactly the same. Still. It gives him a much narrower focus. And there's still a certain amount of "shaping to the god", though less than with the others -- a bard of Hastur would presumably be into creepy, decadent art, and would be a nihilist, and would have a long term goal of performing The King In Yellow and driving a town insane or causing it to join Carcosa. Again, I agree it's the best fit so far. It's just a little... specific.

Doug M.


Adjoint wrote:

A bard that creates paeans glorifying the tyrannical ruler, or is another type of propagandist, may worship Asmodeus.

A bard who specializes in using his performances to create distraction while his partner pickpockets the spectators may worship Norgorber.

A bard who is using his art and charms to seduce women may worship Calistria.

All reasonable, but again, we're shaping the bard to fit the worship of a particular god. There isn't an evil deity whose portfolio includes entertainment as such. And it's really not hard to imagine such a thing! I mean, there are evil gods whose portfolios include everything from food and sex to illusions and alchemy. And there is a Great Old One (see below) which shows the thing is possible.

Doug M.


Val'bryn2 wrote:
Any god, just thinking about the different styles of bards. I can make a bard of Zon-Kuthon, focused more as a spy, or of Gorum, focused on oratory and inciting the masses to battle

Yeah, but then you're building the bard towards the god. There's no god there that's a natural, obvious fit for a vanilla bard.

Doug M.


There don't seem to be a lot. I mean, yes, the Trickery domain. But evil gods whose portfolios connect to core bard stuff like music, performance, art and diplomacy? Seems like a pretty short list.

Assume a plain vanilla bard who's doing typical bard stuff but is, you know, evil. What deity might be a plausible fit?

Doug M.


Halfway through ISOS, and we're starting to get clues about backstory. One of the PCs is a gnome bard. Backstory (unknown to PC or player) is that in his previous life, he was Lowls court jester. I think he was a giggling little sadist, possibly insane, and either NE or CE.

So: what god might he have worshipped? I ask because I think I want him to find a tattoo or something. Default would be Groetus, who is creepy and a good fit thematically, but CN rather than CE. Great Old Ones are possible but might be too obvious (the players don't even realize this is a Lovecraft-themed campaign yet). Zon-Kuthon is a sadist but not in a fun way, and he's LE and not a great fit for the campaign thematically. I'm contemplating some weird minor deity like Ghlaunder or something... anyway, suggestions welcome.

Doug M.


Arachnofiend wrote:
I think for a PC, Repulsive Flavor makes this a tempting feat to take all on its own. Unless you're playing in a big city intrigue campaign where 90% of enemies are going to be humanoid you will get bitten a lot.

Right! Right? I mean, +1 AC for one character is worth a feat, straight up. So +2 AC for everyone in the party, including familiars and NPCs, against one of the game's most common attack types, is pretty clearly worth a feat and 3 skill ranks. And then you get some other fun and flavorful effects as pure gravy.

Quote:
I'm honestly a huge fan of the Magic Trick feat. The Floating Disk and Mage Hand tricks both got me very excited and are feats I'd like to build a character around.

Yes, you can totally build characters around these feats! Fun and interesting ones!

Unfortunately, they don't seem to have gotten much attention. Ah, well.

Doug M.


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Magic Trick [Prestidigitation]. In terms of flavor, I think this is either the best or the second best one-shot feat I've seen. (The competition can be found over here.) Let's break this down. You take the feat, and you need to know Prestidigitation -- which, let's note, is a cantrip that almost any character can get with just a bit of effort (be a rogue and take Minor Magic, be a gnome, etc.) Then you gain various weird abilities if you take other skills or feats. So:

Quote:
Adjust Scent (Survival 6 ranks): You can adjust the smell of an object or willing creature to become more or less powerful, respectively doubling or reducing by half the distance needed to detect the target with the scent universal monster ability.

This is very minor; few casters take Survival, and it's not a great power anyhow. However, this:

Quote:
Chromatic Savant (Disguise 3 ranks or gnome): When you change the color of an item, the changes are permanent. You can also change the color of part or all of a living being, but the effect gradually fades away in about a month. You must succeed at an appropriate Craft check to create complex or specific designs.

THIS is just AMAZING. There's pretty much no limit to the fun you can have here. Use colored rocks to mark a trail. Change the color of your outfit whenever you feel like it. Show up at the Duke's dress ball with a bouquet of unique blue roses. Is the magus being emo and annoying? Turn his black sword a lovely shade of pink.

If you're playing remotely realistically, this ability should be worth some real money. Take ordinary bits of quartz and color them: bam, semiprecious gemstones. Take lead pieces and color them gold. Start a business on the side that makes well-cut clothing out of ordinary cloth, then add vibrant colors with a snap of your fingers. Also, you could argue with a straight face that the ability to turn everyone's clothing green in the forest, white in the snow, and black in the Underdark should give a Stealth bonus. But even if your DM puts his foot down, there's really no limit to the fun you can have here.

Oh and "you can also change the color of part or all of a living being", and it takes a MONTH to gradually fade away. An unwilling creature gets a save, but it's a cantrip -- you can spam it all day long. The 10' range is probably more of an issue. But hey, who says the target has to be unwilling? Turn all your party members green to increase their recognition factor. Turn your imp familiar blue, just because. Change your own skin and hair color as often as your clothes. I would argue /hard/ that a complete change of skin and hair color should give a bonus on Disguise checks, but again, even if your DM is being strict there's still a lot to work with here. And, hey, you can always just open up the city's most prestigious tanning salon.

As to unwilling targets: turn an elf into a drow, or vice versa, with a simple palette swap. Be a vigilante, sneak up on the corrupt Mayor or the brutal sheriff, and turn them bright purple for a month. Let's not even talk about dragons. Getting within 10' of an unwilling dragon is no small thing. But turning a red dragon into a white or copper one? That's the stuff of legends, my friend.

(Also, if your DM insists on no mechanical effects, argue for a while then say "okay but at least I can do polka dots, right?")

Quote:
Lasting Changes (Extend Spell): The effects of your prestidigitation spells persist for 1 hour per caster level; this does not change its spell level.

Probably not worth Extend Spell unless you were planning to take it anyway. If yes, note that this lets you create a bunch of minor items that don't require a Craft check, and they'll last for a while.

Quote:
Minor Levitation (Spellcraft 3 ranks): You can cause up to 1 pound of material to become weightless and direct it to move up to 5 feet each round as if under the effects of levitate.

This is actually pretty good, especially at low levels. No more messing around with grappling hooks! But really it's mostly for flavor: your hat slowly floats 10 feet into the air, changing color as it goes.

Quote:
Repulsive Flavor (Craft [cooking] 3 ranks): You can cause a willing creature to taste foul. Once a creature with a bite attack successfully attacks the target of your spell, the target gains a +2 circumstance bonus to AC and CMD against bite attacks and grapple checks made with a mouth, such as the grab ability or swallow whole, from that creature.

Wait, this is terrific. It's an actual mechanical effect, and it's a really good one! You have to throw three ranks at cooking, yes. But this game is full of bite attacks! It's slightly nerfed because it only works after the first bite. But still... bite attacks are probably the single most common melee attack out there. Bite attacks after a first bite attack are maybe... 20% of all attacks? Well, the Bestiaries are just big books full of things that want to bite you, but let's be conservative and say 10%. "Everyone in your party always gets +2 AC against 10% of all attacks" is darn near worth a feat by itself.

I say "always", because this lasts an hour, and you can just re-up it with a standard action at any time. So you absolutely should have it on all party members whenever you're anywhere near a dungeon or other danger spot. As DM I might argue that, when active, it leaves a nasty taste in the PC's mouth... but I don't think that's going to be much of a deterrent to this becoming an autobuff.

Quote:
Thaumaturgic Aesthetics (Bluff 3 ranks, Disguise 3 ranks, Deceptive): While you have a prestidigitation spell active, you can thematically change the effects of other spells you cast, such as changing the color of a fireball, granting your magic missile a specific shape, or adding a floral smell to your mage armor. This increases the DC of Spellcraft and Knowledge (arcana) checks to identify your magic by an amount equal to half of your ranks in Disguise (minimum 1).

Not many casters take Deceptive, so you're probably not going to fulfill the requirements for this one unless you're an arcane trickster or something.

But okay. Two things happening here, one mechanical, one flavor. The mechanical one is weak sauce, because the Spellcraft bonuses to understand a spell scale up much faster than the DC of the check. By midlevels it's usually auto-success, and adding half your level to the DC won't much help. The flavor effect, however, is great! Magic missiles that look like flowers, teleporting in a puff of smoke and the stench of brimstone, a crown of flames appears around your head for a moment when you cast Burning Hands, you name it. The cool factor here is only limited by your imagination. Also, note that characters *without* Spellcraft should be fairly and legitimately confused. "He cast some kind of spell, and now you can see his skeleton through his transparent flesh -- " "What the HECK, man?"

TLDR: this feat requires some building, and the mechanical effects are modest. But it's just so much darn fun.

Thoughts?

Doug M.


Int > Dex > Cha > everything else

Traits: Magical knack, Charlatan

Illusion specialist, opposing schools necromancy and divination

1 Rogue 1 - Deceptive
2 Wizard 1
3 Wizard 2 - Magic trick (Prestidigitation)
4 Wizard 3
5 Wizard 4 - Skill Focus (Bluff)
6 Wizard 5
7 Wizard 6 - Breadth of Knowledge

So this is an NPC for PCs to interact with. He's CG and I think his schtick is that he's a Robin Hood-ish free-the-slaves / help-the-poor type. And his signature move is to use the Chromatic Savant power granted by his feat to change the color of items as a sign that he's been there. Bright blue oranges, leopard-print roses, the watch dog wakes up a rather lovely blue plaid, you get the idea.

(Pause a moment to check out the Magic Trick feats. They're balanced and they're flavorful as heck. Spending a feat on Magic Trick [Prestidigitation] gives only minor benefits, but it can be a lot of fun.)

He also likes using his Disguise skill -- he's got max ranks in Disguise and Bluff -- to fast-talk his way into places he shouldn't be, or really just for fun. And while it doesn't formally give a bonus to Disguise, he likes suddenly yelling "Palette swap!" and changing the colors of his own clothing. So the guy all dressed in green suddenly becomes a guy all dressed in spotless white except for a bright blue vest, or what have you.

Oh and: he can change the color of "part or all of a living being", and it takes a *month* to gradually fade away. This is an awesome power to use against dishonest merchant, a slaver, or what have you. It allows a save but it's a cantrip, meaning he can just spam it until it works. Of course, it's only 10' range, so he'd have to sneak up close invisibly or whatever. But I like the idea of a gnome Robin Hood who punishes the wicked sheriff or the corrupt priest by turning them bright purple for a month.

Breadth of Knowledge is there to make him useful to the PCs, and also to mix it up: he really knows a lot about a lot of different topics. Bu-ut, he's also chaotic and he likes to tell stories or just lie a lot. And his sky-high Bluff (around +18 or so) means it can be very hard to tell the difference between "he's telling us the true and useful history of the Dungeon of Doom" and "he's spinning a yarn just for funsies". Mind, I don't see him as an *annoying* character -- more like, he's going to be helpful or not, based on his assessment of their characters. And then, true or false, he'll yell "Palette swap", cover himself with zebra stripes or whatever, and wander off.

Thoughts?

Doug M.


Be aware that the Trickster is a utility build, not an AWESOME POWER build. You're pretty good at a lot of things, not amazing at any single thing. Personally I like it because you can do many different things! and you''re almost always useful! But if you want to max damage output, play a straight blaster or and AM BARBARIAN build. That's not what Arcane Tricksters are about.

Oh and take Magical Knack obviously. +1 ECL for a trait, totally worth it.

Doug M.


Gentlemen, I like where you're going with this.

I don't think we can use the Aura of Unluck because on anything with more than 2 HD it gets OP really fast. And allowing the face to cast separately would be like Divided Mind, which is a 9th level spell. But: I think we can maybe have an interesting compromise. Say the cat itself can cast spells normally, maybe as a fourth level witch... and the face can cast too... but it's long out of spells, so it can only cast hexes. This allows the cat to effectively take two standards per turn, but one of them has to be throwing a hex. That's rough, but I don't think it's OP.

Thoughts?

Doug M.


I was thinking something like that. Giving it 4 witch levels makes 6 HD, and 4 witch levels isn't sick OP -- it's just 1st and 2nd level spells plus a couple of hexes.

Of course, it can't really drag a familiar around with it. Could have the face act as the familiar, but that's kinda strange. Are there witch archetypes without familiars?

Doug M.


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Oh, DR should be Good not Evil. Increased Int lets it add Abyssal as a language. (It has truespeech, so it doesn't much matter.) And a couple of skill changes. There's no reason a flying creature needs Climb, and frankly it can live without Fly too -- if it gets into a dogfight, it has Dimension Door. Replace those with Bluff and Sense Motive, both at +9. Also, the obesity cuts Fly from 90' (good) to 80' (poor). I like the image of this great fat cat-thing blundering gracelessly through the air as the face on its belly spasms and grimaces...

The weakness of this build is its low hp. But Aura of Unluck means that anything with less than +8 to hit is going to have a really hard time hitting it, and DR helps, and of course it has a bunch of different ways to avoid combat in the first place. It's more of a PITA / nuisance monster than a deadly threat. That said, (1) if it can get a single character alone then its aura + evil eye + Heroic Strength make it quite dangerous to a low-level non-melee character, and (2) it's a terrifying debuffer; if it can position itself tactically, it can make an ordinary level-appropriate encounter into a complete nightmare. If you really want to be vicious, ally it with a boss. Whether the boss is a melee brute or a witch throwing save-or-sucks, throwing this cat into the mix will make that encounter much more memorable.

Note that Resist Cold 10 meakes it a potentially interesting cold weather encounter. I imagine low level PCs shuffling through the snow while this thing flies around, grinning. (I think that when it Dimension Doors, its grin is the last thing to go.)

Just for the hell of it, I'll say it's a Knowledge (planes) DC 17 check to ID it as a silvanshee, and then DC 22 to see that something's odd and different about this one. Also, its preferred MO is to watch from a distance for a bit and then try to guide or manipulate targets into situations where they'll be humiliated or killed. Kyvuss is a relentlessly spiteful and petty creature, and just as happy tormenting a peasant or a beggar as a powerful adventurer. After all, once you've killed an Emperor, it's all gravy...

Anyway. Corrected version below, and now I'm going to think about a witch version. The issue here is that I really like the Aura of Unluck -- it's thematic and fits the description perfectly. But if you combine it with actual spellcasting it gets terrifying really fast: making every save twice means the save DCs are effectively much higher. Throw in the Evil Eye hex and it gets kinda OP. Also, IME Pathfinder players hate pugwampis a lot, and this thing is like them but worse. (As opposed to 5e, where "disadvantage" is a thing you expect to happen sometimes.) But maybe being able to ruin your luck is appropriate for a divine messenger? and anyway we can adjust the CR? Thoughts welcome.

Nyvuss the horrible silvanshee, messenger of Gyronna (final):

This massively obese black cat has gray stripes, violet eyes, and an unusual white blaze on its chest. It crouches low to the ground as it smiles engagingly at you.

Unique Chaotic Evil Silvanshee CR 4

CE Tiny outsider (agathion, extraplanar, evil)
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +12

DEFENSE

AC 18, touch 16, flat-footed 14 (+4 Dex, +2 natural, +2 size)
hp 17 (2d10+6)
Fort +7, Ref +8, Will +4; +4 vs. poison
DR 5/good or silver; Immune electricity, petrification; Resist cold 10, sonic 10; SR 13

OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft., fly 80 ft. (poor)
Melee bite +8 (1d3–2), 2 claws +8 (1d2–2)
Special Attacks heroic strength, pounce
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 2nd; concentration +5)

Constant— know direction, speak with animals
At will— bleed, touch of fatigue, putrefy food and drink
1/day— dimension door (self plus 5 lbs. of objects only)
1/week— commune (6 questions, CL 12th)

STATISTICS

Str 5, Dex 19, Con 16, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 17
Base Atk +2; CMB +4; CMD 10 (14 vs. trip)
Feats Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +13, Bluff +9, Knowledge (arcana) +7, Knowledge (planes) +7, Perception +12, Sense Motive +9, Stealth +21; Racial Modifiers +4 Acrobatics, +4 Perception, +4 Stealth
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Draconic, Infernal; speak with animals, truespeech SQ aura of unluck, flight, evil eye hex (1/day, always as a 2nd-level witch), spectral mist

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Aura of Unluck (Su)

Nyvuss radiates an Aura of Unluck within 30'. Any creature in this area must roll two d20s whenever a situation calls for a d20 roll (such as an attack roll, a skill check, or a saving throw) and must use the lower of the two results generated. This is a mind-affecting effect.

Heroic Strength (Su)

Once per day, Nyvuss can grant itself a +8 enhancement bonus to Strength for 1 minute.

Spectral Mist (Su)

Nyvuss can assume an eerie, mist-like form roughly the size and shape of a cat. This ability has the same effect as a gaseous form spell, except the silvanshee retains its own DR and supernatural abilities and can move at its normal speed. It can remain in mist form up to 5 minutes per day. This duration does not have to be consecutive, but it must be used in 1-minute increments.

Vestigial Face (Ex)

The twitching face of Nyvuss' former mistress is still attached to her bloated belly. Any mind-affecting effect has a 50% chance of affecting the face instead of Nyvuss itself.


Just for the hell of it, here's the CR 4 version.

Nyvuss the horrible silvanshee, messenger of Gyronna:

This massively obese black cat has gray stripes, violet eyes, and an unusual white blaze on its chest. It crouches low to the ground as it smiles engagingly at you.

Unique Chaotic Evil Silvanshee CR 4

CE Tiny outsider (agathion, extraplanar, evil)
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +12

DEFENSE

AC 18, touch 16, flat-footed 14 (+4 Dex, +2 natural, +2 size)
hp 17 (2d10+6)
Fort +7, Ref +8, Will +4; +4 vs. poison
DR 5/evil or silver; Immune electricity, petrification; Resist cold 10, sonic 10; SR 13

OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft., fly 80 ft. (good)
Melee bite +8 (1d3–2), 2 claws +8 (1d2–2)
Special Attacks heroic strength, pounce
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 2nd; concentration +5)

Constant— know direction, speak with animals
At will— bleed, touch of fatigue, putrefy food and drink
1/day— dimension door (self plus 5 lbs. of objects only)
1/week— commune (6 questions, CL 12th)

STATISTICS

Str 5, Dex 19, Con 16, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 17
Base Atk +2; CMB +4; CMD 10 (14 vs. trip)
Feats Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +13, Climb +9, Fly +8, Knowledge (arcana) +7, Knowledge (planes) +7, Perception +12, Stealth +21; Racial Modifiers +4 Acrobatics, +4 Perception, +4 Stealth
Languages Celestial, Draconic, Infernal; speak with animals, truespeech SQ aura of unluck, flight, evil eye hex (1/day, always as a 2nd-level witch), spectral mist

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Aura of Unluck (Su)

Nyvuss radiates an Aura of Unluck within 30'. Any creature in this area must roll two d20s whenever a situation calls for a d20 roll (such as an attack roll, a skill check, or a saving throw) and must use the lower of the two results generated. This is a mind-affecting effect.

Heroic Strength (Su)

Once per day, Nyvuss can grant itself a +8 enhancement bonus to Strength for 1 minute.

Spectral Mist (Su)

Nyvuss can assume an eerie, mist-like form roughly the size and shape of a cat. This ability has the same effect as a gaseous form spell, except the silvanshee retains its own DR and supernatural abilities and can move at its normal speed. It can remain in mist form up to 5 minutes per day. This duration does not have to be consecutive, but it must be used in 1-minute increments.

Vestigial Face (Ex)

The twitching face of Nyvuss' former mistress is still attached to her bloated belly. Any mind-affecting effect has a 50% chance of affecting the face instead of Nyvuss itself.

Changes to a standard silvanshee: added the Aura of Unluck, Vestigial Face, changed its cantrips, and gave it Evil Eye instead of the standard Agathion ability to lay on hands. Oh, and because it's obese, gave it -10 on both its moves but +1 natural AC.

I think this qualifies as low CR 4; it's not something a group of 1st level PCS could easily handle. It has almost no offensive capabilities most of the time, but Aura of Unluck + Evil Eye + 80' Fly + Dimension Door make it a huge nuisance that's very hard to corner and hurt.

More in a bit --

Doug M.


Artofregicide wrote:
Honestly I'm thinking higher CR, maybe add witch levels or HD?

Well yeah you could crank this up as high as you cared to. That's why the OP. This is the simplest, basic version and I think it works, but further elaboration is welcome.

Doug M.


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Quote:
Nyvuss (unique CE silvanshee): Once the curious andlovable feline familiar of the Kellid witch Marganala, Nyvuss watched as her mistress’s disguised green hag lover lured her deeper into corruption. When Taldan authorities finally lashed her to a pyre for her crimes, the witch swore her soul to Gyronna if only the hag goddess would allow her to take the grand prince’s head. The Angry Hag obligingly stitched the burned witch and her familiar into one horrible whole, and under the next new moon, Grand Prince Rodivarian III tripped over a black cat and broke his neck in the fall. Ever since, the mad Nyvuss has served as Gyronna’s messenger, spy, and courier of foul luck, always darting in shadows and moving by night so none can see the still-twitching human face stitched into her bloated stomach.

Now there's an evocative image. This is a horrible, cool idea for an evil NPC. If you wanted to introduce this into a campaign, how might you flesh it out?

First draft: a fiendish advanced silvanshee gives you a CR 4 creature... low end of CR4; it's an excellent spy but can't really do much otherwise. So in addition to the normal silvanshee powers, let's amend its Cats Luck ability. "A silvanshee adds its Charisma modifier as a luck bonus on all its saving throws. Once per day as a standard action, it can also grant this bonus to one ally within 30 feet for 10 minutes." Let's change that to the pugwampi's Unluck Aura: "Any creature in this area must roll two d20s whenever a situation calls for a d20 roll (such as an attack roll, a skill check, or a saving throw) and must use the lower of the two results generated. This is a mind-affecting effect." Giving this a 30' range and putting it on a flying creature with +21 Stealth makes it pretty nasty, and fills the "courier of foul luck" description given above.

Oh, and there's the Lay On Hands ability. I think the way to go here is to replace it with the Evil Eye hex once/day: boom, -2 on AC, attack rolls or all saves, no save, suck it. Yes, this stacks with the Unluck Aura. This thing is bad news.

Finally, there's that second face. There's a lot we could do with that, but I think the simplest way to deal with it is to treat it something like an ogre's Vestigial Head feat: any mind-affecting attack against the silvanshee has a 50% chance of affecting the face instead.

Overall I still think this is a CR 4 creature. It's annoying as heck to deal with, and a nightmare debuffer, but by itself it does almost no damage, and if a party of 3rd level adventurers manages to corner it, they've got a decent chance of killing it. But as long as it slinks around staying in the shadows, it can make life miserable for its targets for a long time... appropriate, for the messenger of the goddess of spite.

Thoughts?

Doug M.


OmniMage wrote:

I don't think spell mastery is a good feat. I think it gives you mastery over too few spells. You might be without a spell book once or maybe twice in a campaign. So the feat comes into play only rarely. Too few to be worth it in my books.

It's for an NPC. The PCs are second level. Setup is, they've run across some Dark Tapestry cultists who should be way too powerful for them, but who are currently in disarray.

A full-power 7th level wizard could kill all the PCs with one well-placed Fireball. So, I'm nerfing this guy to the point where he can't just whack the PCs. His spell book has been lost or destroyed and he's burned up all his higher level spells. So, he has to deal with them some other way -- talk to them and negotiate (possible), maybe help them (possible -- he's evil and has no loyalty to his boss or the other cultists) or run away and try to organize a counterattack against them (also possible -- it all depends on the PCs' approach).

This is still a work in progress, but I'm wondering if any interesting spell combos bubble up.

Doug M.


Yes, it's Spell Mastery! Thank you.

I don't think he'd take Knock when Dimension Door is on the table. And remember, he's got a lot of possible contingencies to plan for.

I think he'd probably take something like one escape spell -- Dimension Door is good here, but others are possible -- maybe one enchantment spell, like Suggestion or Charm Monster, and then one general utility type spell. Like, is there a 3rd-4th level spell that lets you create a wide range of objects?

He's paranoid and trying to cover a wide range of possibilities with just three spells. So... what three spells would cover a lot of ground?

Doug M.


Okay, two questions.

1) What's the dang feat that lets a wizard memorize three spells without a spellbook? I can't remember its name, and I can't find it.

2) So, a 7th level evil wizard. Super paranoid. Not a Mythos Cultist himself, but works for one as a henchman. (He's just in it for the research opportunities.) He has this feat. He has a lot of worries -- discovery and capture by the local paladins, the fact that his boss is a maniac who'll happily sacrifice him to Yog-Sothoth if he thought it would advance his cause, worry that Yog-Sothoth (or anyway one of his spawn) may suddenly come knocking. Oh, and he has a stomach ulcer.

What three spells do you think he'd take?

Doug M.


Meirril wrote:

I'm surprised the OP didn't list the two easiest plots possible.

The really straight forward one is a love one wants to bury the head in a respectable way. Even if your cousin was scum, seeing his severed head every day has got to get to you. Even worse if it was your son or brother.

Oh, you could certainly use this as a red herring. PCs' employer /claims/ to be the dead man's brother or whatever, but this seems unlikely on its face (he's not from around here, he's a gnome, whatever) and a bit of investigation will show the dead man didn't have a brother. (Or alternately, you can drop the information that the heads eventually get taken down and given to the next of kin.) So the PCs will reasonably jump to the obvious conclusion, which is Raise Dead.

Quote:

And the most Pathfinder reasons is...you want to Speak with Dead. Without the head the spell will fail.

This is perfectly okay. Just, there's no plot hook. "Head is actually super valuable" or "Employer really wants to use head to bring about catastrophe" pulls the PCs in. "Employer wants to talk to head"... might? depending on what they want to know? But you'd have to build it out a bit.

Doug M.


Emo Duck wrote:

I love it. The premise hits that sweet spot for me where it acknowledges the comparatively widespread availability of certain magics in Pathfinder, but not to the extent that society breaks down or becomes alien.

What happens to heads that are taken down after the minimum 21 days? Is there some sort of skull pit on the outskirts of town?

Reasonable question. 21 days is a minimum. Probably they stay up until the space is needed, so it could be months if things are slow. Perhaps then the next of kin are allowed to claim them, and if nobody does, yeah they get tossed in a hole in the local potter's field.

An interesting option that just occurred: get the town executioner to do it for you. Hey, he's up there all the time, and the traps and monsters won't go after him. Of course, it's worth his job if he's caught, so you'll need to hit him with Charm or Suggestion AND ALSO bribe him. And then he's a witness who could conceivably finger the PCs. But if a group of PCs successfully pulled this off, I'd give them the full xp.

Doug M.


TheGreatWot wrote:
I assume that the PCs are evil or at least selfish neutral? I don't see many good or lawful PCs stealing heads of criminals so that they can be raised.

I'd call it a nonlawful act, but not necessarily an evil one. If the town's government is oppressive, and the dead man was convicted for some relatively trivial crime, I think the CG rogue would have no problem shimmying up that pole.

Getting a NG or LG character up there would be harder, but you could probably manage it if you press your thumb on the scales hard enough. "That's the head of Navarth, the mad poet. Annoying but harmless. One day he composed a satire on Duke Bluto Saunce Pite. When the Duke's men had him arrested, they found his medicine -- oil of taggit. Navarth took it to fall asleep, but the Duke had him tried and executed for possession of a poison..."

Doug M.


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How does a town prevent executed criminals from being raised? By cutting their heads off, of course. (Resurrection spells are still a concern, but there are not that many level 13+ clerics around.) The decapitated heads are displayed on stakes above the Tower of Justice for a minimum of 21 days, each with a placard briefly describing their crimes.

Plot seed: PCs are hired to steal a head. (I think this works best for PCs around 3rd-5th level.) You can tell the PCs why the heads are up there. They will probably assume that someone wants to cast Raise Dead. Depending on the scenario (see below) the head may have been a petty thief, someone who stabbed someone in a brawl, or a vicious serial killer.

Challenges: The heads are guarded, of course. The simplest scenario is, there are a couple of gargoyles sitting on either end of the row of heads. The town tolerates the gargoyles, allowing them to live off pigeons, rats, and the occasional stray dog, as long as they guard the heads. This makes a pretty straightforward combat. Clever PCs can try talking to the gargoyles. They're chaotic, so they can totally be bribed, with gold or with fresh meat.

Alternately, there's one gargoyle, and it's a creepy-looking vulture-headed thing. Whoops, it's not a gargoyle at all but a CR 7 vanth psychopomp! (Obviously there's a backstory. Bound by a wizard? Paying off a favor? You decide.) The vanth can be talked to, and it's not an evil creature, but at the end of the day it's not letting anyone get raised.

Alternately, there are X number of spikes up there... and each one is guarded with a Glyph of Warding... and each Glyph contains a Summon Monster III spell... and if one glyph triggers, they all do. So, depending on the alignment of the town, suddenly you're facing X number of Dire Bats, or Lantern Archons, or Dretches. There's a simple way to avoid triggering the Glyph (wear a necklace with three human fingerbones on it) which the local executioner uses but which the PCs are very unlikely to discover.

In all cases, to reach the heads you must be able to climb (fairly easy Climb check) or fly. The heads are clearly visible from the street below, so best do this at night. Bats hang out around the Tower of Justice (they have a nest in an empty room), so clever PCs who creep up invisibly will disturb them, alerting the gargoyles or the vanth that something's up (and possibly also triggering a bat swarm, because why not). Townspeople believe the heads are guarded by a curse, which is not true but should make PCs thoughtful.

Plot twist: The PCs' employer doesn't want to raise the head at all! They want the head for some other reason...

-- Demon eye. The dead man had a demonic graft: a glowing red demon eye (+8 perception). He mostly kept it hidden under an eyepatch, which his rotting head still wears. The eye still works just fine. With a high enough Heal check, it can still be removed and transferred to a new host. The PCs' employer may simply be a former colleague of the dead man who wants the eye for herself, or a wizard who wants it for research, or a cultist. Or they may be the person who sold the eye to the dead man in the first place...

-- Head fake. The employer is a necromancer who has come up with a cool new spell for creating an intelligent, evil undead from a severed head. However, he needs the fresh head of someone really evil; just killing a random person and taking their head won't work. In this scenario, if the PCs do any research or inquiry, mention that the head they're after is the head of a notorious serial killer or mass murderer. (Probably best with nongood PCs.) If they don't make inquiries, have "ATROCIOUS MURDERRER OF MANY" on the placard that hangs beneath the head. If the PCs hand over the head, soon the most disturbing rumors will be circulating, about the blood-sucking life-draining floating head thing that's terrorizing the poorer part of town...

-- Lore needle. This one is relatively benign: the dead man had a lore needle stuck in his head. This turns a person with one high Knowledge skill into someone with ALL the Knowledges, so it's definitely something a wizard, a bard, or just an academic researcher might want. In this scenario the PCs' employer is not necessarily evil, and may become a recurring NPC or a patron.

-- Brain infection. The dead man's brain was infected by something. (Possibly this is why he was committing crimes in the first place.) Options include brainworms or thoughtcrawlers (bad), brain moss (worse), or a slugspawn (very bad indeed). The PCs' employer may be an alchemist, is probably evil, and is quite possibly the person who infected the dead man in the first place. A drow or a derro, working in disguise, would work very well here, or your standard insane Lovecraftian cultists if you're going with the slugspawn. (Normally slugspawn form a spawning canker if their host dies early. This one didn't, and the cultists really want to recover it and find out why.)

Phew. Thoughts?

Doug M.


Let me put in a word for the silvanshee.

The Silvanshee is not a combat creature. But look at it again. It's a Tiny creature that has Fly at 90' and has +19 Stealth and darkvision and +10 Perception. This thing is your little flying spy, yes? And it can talk to animals at will, so it can zoom around the city chatting up stray dogs or horses whatever to collect information. Know Direction at will means it never gets lost. It can ooze gaseously through the smallest crack and Dimension Door through walls and locked portals And it looks more or less like a normal cat -- hey, kitty, how'd you get in here? (Personally I'd allow a Knowledge [planes] check to ID it, but that's my own interpretation, and anyway not a lot of people throw ranks at that.)

Furthermore, it's very difficult to catch. Grab it and grapple it? +8 Str burst. Throw a net over it? Gaseous form. Surrounded by enemies? Poof, dimension door.

Next, check out that Cat's Luck power. By itself it's NBD -- +1 to all saves for 10 minutes / day. But it's wonderfully abusable. Take Fate's Favored as a trait and it becomes +2. Throw Eagle's Splendor on your cat and it becomes +4. Get the cat a Cha boosting item and now it's +5 -- again, that's to ALL saves. And the cat can give you the boost as a standard action any old time.

And finally, while 1d6 of healing ain't much, 1d6 of healing plus a 90' move means that the cat is your party's EMT. Desperate boss fight, your party's tank just got critted down to -15, he'll bleed out in a couple of rounds. Does your cleric waste a precious, precious combat round healing him? Ha no, your cat zooms in from 90' away and stabilizes.

The Faerie Dragon is fine too, sure. But the silvanshee is really flexible, especially in an urban environment.

Doug M.


"Hey! Try it out yourself! Eat this worm! If you eat it, you'll become me! And being me is reaaaaally fun!"

So additional data from the latest page of the webcomic: you can choose to allow Gog-Agog into you, and if you do, you gain some benefit. "Everyone wants to feel pretty... satisfied.. happy!" In PF terms, perhaps you gain +4 Cha, along with a nebulous but real sense of confidence and well-being. Of course the drawback is that Gog-Agog can now see through your eyes; can take over your body at any time; and can manifest herself wherever you are, killing you quickly and horribly in the process.

If you want to make her more of a boss than a demigod, you could say that (1) the number of worm-hosts she can have at one time is limited to her Cha bonus, and (2) otherwise it works like Eruptive Arrival, described above. In this case, yeah, I think you can pretty much just model her as a Worm that Walks with maybe an additional +1 CR.

Doug M.


ShroudedInLight wrote:
Just read the comic, I love it. Just wish there was more of it T_T

It's packed full of amazing little details that require a couple of rereads to catch. Like, in the dream sequence with Incubus in his "office", he has a mug on his desk saying "World's Greatest GOD" and his secretary is just himself in drag. Also, the drinking contest that results in the creation of Princess is one of the best webcomic sequences anywhere ever.

Doug M.


In the webcomic, she's had her head blown off at least three times. It appears to annoy her without doing any actual damage. So, AC doesn't seem to be an issue. In PF terms, we might model that as either crazy high DR, or crazy fast regeneration.

Doug M.


If you're not already following Kill Six Billion Demons, consider starting. But anyway: Gog-Agog is a demiurge, one of seven evil demigods who run the K6BD multiverse. She's basically a Pathfinder Worm That Walks -- a wriggling mass of worms animated by a single powerful colonial intelligence -- and she runs the multiverse's entertainment industry.

Here are some fun things about Gog-Agog that could be adopted to Pathfinder:

1) She seems to have the power to infect people with her worms. The host is then under her complete control; she can see/sense whatever it sees or senses. Worse yet, at will she can move her consciousness into the host. The unfortunate host is immediately devoured by an frantically growing mass of worms, with Gog-Agog bursting explosively out of the host's body in a single round. Think the Alien chestburster, only full-body. Needless to say, this kills the host very dead. The details of this horrific power are unclear; there doesn't seem to be any range limitation or anything. Presumably the host has to be willing or helpless to be infected. (Yeah, "willing" seems unlikely, but OTOH it's the entertainment industry, so who knows.)

2) Gog-Agog can appear completely human (or as any other small, medium or large-sized humanoid) to casual examination Close examination will show that she's really a mass of differently colored worms holding humanoid form, but you have to get within 10' and be paying attention. Gog-Agog regularly tinkers with new forms, usually young and attractive. A complication: none of these forms are stable. After a few minutes they begin, first to leak, then to melt, and finally to disintegrate. So, Gog-Agog is regularly distracted by putting her face back on.

3) Despite being an eldritch abomination that is also chaotic evil -- /very/ chaotic, and /very/ evil -- Gog-Agog can appear to be perfectly friendly. In fact, she can be downright chipper -- cheerful, perky, and filled with childlike enthusiasm and fun. This is an eldritch abomination that introduces itself as "Your pal, Gog-Agog!" Inside, she's a profoundly alien intelligence and also a festering mass of millenia-old resentments. She's known as the Devourer of Worlds, and there's probably a good reason for that. But she is also super easily distracted. She likes things that are cool! Basically she's a horrifically powerful pseudo-Lovecraftian nightmare thing with bad ADHD.

Apropos of nothing except that I'd really like to adapt her into a campaign someday.

Thoughts?

Doug M.


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The Lord of Life is a religious leader. In appearance he's a slender, attractive young man with a shaven head. He wears white robes and sandals and is surrounded by beautiful people. He's not affiliated with any known god. His doctrine is sparse and vague, and he has few rituals and no holy symbols. But what he does have is the ability to raise the dead. And not just the recent, intact dead! No, the Lord of Life can raise those who've been dead for decades. He can bring back the departed from an incomplete corpse, a skull, a fingerbone, or a mere handful of dust.

Furthermore: the Lord of Life seems to have unparalleled mastery over both arcane and divine magic. He regularly casts very powerful arcane spells, but he also conducts rituals that give the same results as high-level clerical and even druid spells. In fact, the Lord of Light seems to have a spell ready for pretty much any situation.

The Lord of Life leads a group called the Servants of Life. The Servants are cult-like, but they haven't broken any laws and don't seem to be committing any obvious evil. However, the Lord of Light's ability to bring back the dead has brought them a lot of attention, very quickly. He'll do this for much, much less money than the fees usually charged by the churches. In fact, he's been known to bring back the dead for just a few hundred gp, or even for no money at all. He'll also do occasional cures and Lesser Restorations, but the recovery of the dead is his main event. He does this exactly once per day, at sunrise.

If you want to talk to the Lord of Light, you must go through one of his two assistants: a breathtakingly gorgeous woman named Lucia, and an older man with a limp and a baleful glare named Skotos. Anyone who throws a detection spell will find that Lucia detects as moderate good, while Skotos detects as moderate evil. If this is pointed out, Luce will say that Skotos has suffered terribly, and that Life embraces all.

Visitors are encouraged to join the Servants of Life. This involves shaving your head, putting on white robes, and learning some fairly simple rituals. Strict obedience to the Lord and his immediate subordinates is required. There's a feast every night and the food is actually excellent. There's a lot of group hugging. The group -- cult? -- has purchased a large property (they don't seem to be short of money) and members spent a certain amount of time cleaning, decorating, gardening and the like. The locals consider the Servants eccentric and somewhat suspect, but must admit they pay their bills and cause no problems. PCs might encounter the Servants as wallpaper, harmless eccentrics who talk a lot about Universal Love and the benefits of an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet.

What's actually going on:

Inspired by [url]this post over at All Sorts of Critters[/url].

So the Demon Lord Haagenti has some good boons, especially on his Evangelist track. The peak boon there includes the ability to create very cheap potions of True Resurrection. Yes, really. At 16th level you can crank those out once/day for a mere 350 gp. Oh, and you also get immortality in an eternally ageless youthful form -- which means you still get age bonuses to mental stats, but don't suffer any penalties to your physical stats. Pretty sweet!

The Lord of Life is a 16th level Evangelist of Haagenti. His base class is wizard -- the Spell Sage archetype, to be precise. That means he can cast cleric, druid and bard spells up to 3X/day, subject to certain limitations: it takes two wizard spell slots, and the casting time is greatly increased. Still, it's spontaneous casting of ANY spell from those three spell lists. Also pretty sweet.

So True Resurrection normally costs 25,000 gp. This guy can cast it for a mere 350 gp. That means he can subsidize his little commune, charge far less than the rival churches for casting clerical spells, and still have money to burn. That said, money isn't really what he's after. He'll take modest cash payments from ordinary supplicants, but he's really interested in people who are powerful -- class levels, political clout, you name it. Those get their resurrections cheap or free, and then basically get brainwashed in return. The Lord of Life casts like a 15th level wizard but with access to all bard, cleric and druid spells below 9th level; he also has a succubus and a mesmerist on call. Dominate, Suggestion, Geas, Alter Memory, the succubus' Profane Gift, you name it. Unless someone has an *amazingly* high Will save, they'll be turned inside out for useful information and then reprogrammed.

Oh yes, the assistants. Lucia is a succubus / bard 4, and Skotos is a Mesmerist 8/ Demoniac 2. Demoniac isn't actually a great choice for a Mesmerist, but Haagenti has granted him the Hideous Urges corruption and also a Demon Talon in place of his left leg. Skotos believes he'll eventually be transformed into a demon. Meanwhile, Lucia is the beautiful, kindly face of the Service of Light. She casts Misdirection every day, which is why she pings as good.

Most of the cultists are neutral or good aligned commoners who have no idea what's really going on. Many of them had family members raised or diseases cured by the Lord of Light, so they're devoted to him, but not to the point of fighting or dying. There's one very sweet little old lady who's an Adept 6 or so, and Neutral Good; she's the target of the succubus' Misdirection.

There are two thug / mooks who do have some idea what's up. They're Ftr 5 / Rog 3 and they accompany their master almost everywhere. He cast Imbue With Spell Ability on them, so if trouble breaks out, they'll throw buffs on him and then get out in front.

Build notes and tactics:

The succubus, the mesmerist and the mooks have various duties, but protecting their boss is Job One. Note that a succubus with PC stats has a crazy high save DC, and if the mesmerist is in play that all just gets even worse. PCs who don't have access to mind-protecting magic are likely to get turned around fast. Kindly DMs may give advance warning -- "this NPC who went to investigate has shaved his head and is talking about how the divine energy of Life permeates the multiverse", or the like.

The LOL's base stats are something like Str 8 Con 10 Dex 10 Int 21 Wis 16 Cha 18. (Remember, he gets boosts to his mental stats for being Elderly, but takes no damage to his physical stats.) He also has a Profane Gift bump to Cha from the succubus. While it was tempting to put it on Int, he's not going to run the risk of a sulky demon ripping away half his brain on a whim. A 2d6+2 hit of Cha drain would hurt, but he can fix that in a day. His Will save is at least +13, so he's not too worried about her spamming Suggestions (though maybe he should be). Pretty sure he'll have an Int boosting item, so likely a working Int around 25 for casting purposes.

He walks around all day with Mage Armor and Magic Vestment on, so with his Protective Grace and a +1 armor item his default AC is 21 -- not much, but in just a couple of rounds he can boost that fast.

If it comes to combat, his preferred tactic is to stay behind meat shields (his AC and hp are not great) and throw save-or-sucks. He'll fight intelligently but will bug out the moment he thinks he's seriously threatened.

Plot seeds may follow, if anyone finds this interesting.

Doug M.


Pizza Lord: yes! These are the sorts of things I'm looking for! Thank you for the thought and effort you've obviously put in here. The Clipping and the Scales are both great, and very appropriate for a servant of Mammon to be selling. The vase is good too, but it's a bit of a specialty item -- a curiosity, unless you have a particular interest in that dynasty. But there are always buyers...

Really, thank you.

Doug M.


Ultrace wrote:
Not sure if it's in the price range, but certainly a gem containing a live, trapped soul (especially one of a non-evil being) certainly qualifies as evil. The value of the gem itself is 1,000 GP per HD of the creature -- but what's the value of the soul within?

Yes yes exactly. I am absolutely going to have at least one soul gem, with the specifically named soul of some celebrity or hero. Again, you get relatives or former comrades in arms bidding to save the soul from destruction, and you get evil characters bidding to acquire it for the soul trade. It's good because it allows some wiggle room -- just how great a soul was the late departed, /really/? The more powerful and noble and heroic you believe they were, the more you're willing to bid...

Bonus points because it allows for the Hellish auctioneer to cheat while playing within the rules, because maybe the hero or celebrity had a hidden, secret sin that will damn them. So buying the gem to release the soul accomplishes nothing, while for the soul trade it's distinctly damaged goods. No refunds, all sales are final!

So that's two.

Doug M.


To be clear, while the items don't have to be illegal as such, they should be things that can't just be bought at Ye Olde Magic Shoppe or whipped up by a friendly wizard with Craft Wondrous Whatever. Otherwise, why go to the trouble of an auction?

Here's one example: the catalog will probably include a Mi-Go Brain Extractor. Pathfinder doesn't have this statted up! Sandy Peterson did in his Cthulhu Mythos book, but that's not canon. TBF, Pathfinder does have the Mi-Go Brain Cylinder, which preserves the extracted brains and lets them see, hear and speak. But the device for getting the brain out in the first place? Not canon. (The auction won't include a Brain Cylinder. Once you've got that brain extracted, you're on your own. No refunds, all sales are final.) So it doesn't have a fixed price, and it's creepy enough that it would probably be illegal most places, and weird enough that you couldn't just make one.

That's the sort of thing I'm after. Anyone?

Doug M.


Claxon wrote:
I'd just look the a list of (evil) minor artifacts or cursed items.

Those have fixed prices.

Val'bryn2 wrote:
I'd go with the body of a holy figure, transported under Shrink Item, perfect for necromancers who want a fallen saint leading their undead armies.

That's closer. Maybe the location of the lost saint's body. A team of good clerics or paladins shows up, bidding in order to prevent the blasphemous desecration of a holy relic...

Decimus Drake wrote:
What about contracts for slaves or assassinations?

Slave auctions are their own thing. Different flavor, not what I'm going for here. Assassinations, there are guilds for that.

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You could have bodies, parts of bodies or even items crafted from good alighted creatures e.g. body lyrakien azata, metallic dragon scales, Angelskin armour, Unicorn's Blackened Horn etc.

That's the right general sort of idea, but I think I need it turned up a bit. I mean, you can probably buy Gold Dragon-scale armor in any non-good-aligned city, no? The local good clerics might be appalled but the merchant council that runs the city just shrugs. I'm looking for stuff that's a little more... outre.

Doug M.


PCs may attend an auction where a servant of Mammon is auctioning off interesting items. They'll be after one item in particular... but I want to build out the catalog. Parameters:

1) Value between 5,000 and 50,000 gp.

2) Does not weigh more than 50 lbs. (Items are delivered by teleporting devils.) Note that information can be an item.

3) No ordinary magic items. I mean, a +2 sword has a fixed value, yeah? So it's not really a suitable item for an auction.

4) Stuff that is creepy or disturbing, or anyway odd and unusual, is good. It's an auction run by Team Evil, and the bidders will probably be a pretty louche crowd.

Thoughts?

Doug M.


Dave Justus wrote:
Making stats for such a character isn't really all that relevant, such the interest of a character like this is in the conversation and manipulation, not a fight.

Correct. This guy is more likely to be a plot driver than a statted NPC. Of course, you never know when PCs are going to do something wacky that requires you to have an NPC's abilities set down in some detail...

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That isn't to say this sort of thing can't be done, it can and if done well it can be really really good. It is quite difficult to do well though, and often a poor attempt can really damage a game.

True, and a good point. It depends on the DM, the players, and the general tone of the campaign.

I think this is more likely to work in a campaign where (1) there's a pretty high established level of trust between the DM and PCs at the meta-level, and (2) the PCs have provided hooks in their history or backstory. In the latter case, the Blood Fox gets to drop tantalizing hints. "Have you never wondered who left you at that orphanage, and why?" "So you seek the throne of Korvosa. How strange. You've learned how to break the curse, then?" IME this sort of thing works well when, in-campaign, the PCs have been abundantly warned in advance against making any sort of deal.

Doug M.


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Yeah, Monstress really is pretty good. It's a monthly comic from Image that tells an above-average fantasy story with lush, incredibly detailed art. It's won a pile of awards and it's easy to see why. It has a spell-casting cat called a "nekomancer". If you like this sort of thing, you will like it a lot.

But anyway: the Blood Fox. In the comic, he's an Ancient. That's roughly equivalent to the Elders in Golarion's First World: not a god, but immortal and very powerful. The Ancients used to be CR 20+ near-gods, but their powers somehow got diluted when they bred with humans. So they're a lot weaker than they used to be, but still very formidable. The Blood Fox has been exiled by the other Ancients for extreme wickedness. (He didn't like that having part-human descendants reduced their power, and decided that genocide was the logical solution.) Now he lives alone on a magical island, surrounded by illusions. He passes the centuries getting high on a drug he brews from the bones of a dead god.

In appearance he's humanoid but with the head of a fox. (Here he is saying a friendly hello, and here he is going full-blast with a psychic offensive.) He's decadent and degenerate, and it's implied that he's stoned out of his mind much of the time. But he's still intelligent, manipulative, hateful, and very, very dangerous.

So the Blood Fox actually maps pretty well to a rakshasa -- either a maharajah rakshasa, or a mythic rakshasa, or just a standard rakshasa with a bunch of PC class levels. He's stuck on the island by some very powerful curse. He's thousands of years old and has basically Knowledge (Everything) +a lot, so you could visit him to ask him a question. He's pretty bored so he's ready to swap information.

Complication: he's not the only thing imprisoned on the island. Just getting to the island should be a challenge. (In the comic, it's literally surrounded by a belt of damned souls, which is impossible to cross without paying the undead Ferryman.) And once you're there, you need to be alert against the other inmates.

Challenge: the Blood Fox is basically Hannibal Lecter. He's willing to trade information, and can be urbane and pleasant, and he's ready to be distracted or entertained. But he's capital-E Evil and extremely dangerous to deal with. Like the good Dr. Lecter, he wants to (1) get inside your head and mess with you, and (2) escape. He may ask the PCs to do something seemingly innocent, even benign, that is actually a part of an elaborate escape plan stretching over centuries. Letting the Blood Fox escape is of course a terrible, terrible idea that will, at a minimum, seriously tick off whatever Powers locked him up in the first place. But even short of that, the Blood Fox's idea of fun would be to give you absolutely true and honest advice that will lead to some horrific outcome.

TLDR: the Blood Fox is a cool high-level NPC who could easily be adapted to many different campaigns. I'd do it myself, except then I wouldn't be able to recommend Monstress to my players.

Doug M.


Cavall wrote:

My only thoughts on it other than really liking the concept is the class choices.

Which isn't to say I hate the choices it more has to do with the question "does the North wind have a type"?

It has a type right now, yes. Its tastes change over time. Fifty years ago it preferred perfumed elegance. Lately it has preferred melee types and/or lawyers. (Nobody knows why a force of nature is going through a lawyer period, but there it is.) A potential Wind Wife should be reasonably attractive (positive Cha modifier) and reasonably healthy (positive Con modifier). It doesn't like being called on repeatedly, or taken for granted, so personality types who can take care of themselves are preferred.

It's possible that a Wind Wife must be a member of some particular religion, cult, or tribe. Alternately, maybe the North Wind just starts checking out random individuals who fit the profile. (It does get around a lot.) IMC I would say there's some sort of courtship, which may or may not work out. The North Wind isn't remotely human, but it has clear preferences. It is capable of love, and also of anger, amusement, and grief.

I see "Kim" as pretty content with the arrangement and matter of fact about it. Season to taste.

Doug M.


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So this is inspired by a blog post Arnold wrote over at Goblin Punch a couple of years back. Arnold's stuff is awesome and everyone should go read Goblin Punch, it's great.

Seed: the PCs meet an NPC who has the formal title of "Wind-Wife". This NPC is married to the North Wind. I imagine the NPC as female, but season to taste; the North Wind doesn't really see gender (though it is sexual; see below). Let's call them Kim. I see Kim as a ranger or fighter who is around the PCs' level. S/he is, ohhh, a guide across a wilderness area and starts as friendly if not allied. The PCs should be told that Kim is a "Wind-Wife"; beyond that, you can provide as much or as little information as you deem appropriate.

The North Wind is sentient and practices serial monogamy, taking Wives for anything from a few months to a few years. There's a courtship. Its tastes vary over time. In the last few decades, all the Wives have been either melee fighter types, or lawyers. There may or may not be a religious aspect to this -- flavor to taste. Anyway, being a Wind-Wife brings Kim a number of benefits.

Companion Wind. Kim has a companion wind that hangs around. It's basically an animal companion type thing, except it's a wind. In a pinch it can fight like an air elemental, but that's not its main purpose. It reconnoiter; can carry messages any distance (and it's darn fast, and tireless); and gives Kim the ability to cast Alter Winds, Whispering Wind, Entropic Shield (winds provide 20% miss chance against missiles) or Gust of Wind, all at will. It's smarter than an air elemental but it does wander off sometimes. It hates enclosed spaces (buildings, caves) and simply won't enter them. It's good for minor, Prestidigitation-type stuff like fanning fires or drying clothes. If killed in combat, it reforms in d6+1 minutes.

Wind Power. If you don't have detailed weather patterns worked out, just roll a d4 three times / day, at morning, noon and sunset. On a 1, the wind is from the north, and will be until the next die roll. When a north wind is blowing, Kim can call on their spouse for help. This isn't exactly the full North Wind, mind. It's more like asking for help from your spouse's little finger or something. Still, that's pretty powerful right there. Kim can ask d3 favors /day from the North Wind, which include Control Winds, River of Wind, Sirocco, and Control Weather. Kim can also ask the wind for a Wind Walk once/day -- basically being blown along by the wind. The PCs can be carried along too, but it's a rough ride if you're not used to it; Reflex saves or be sickened.

Wind Wife. Whenever the wind is from the north, roll a d20. On a 20, the North Wind shows up in person. (If you do the math, the North Wind visits about once a month or so.) Kim can also call on the North Wind. This has a 50% chance of success when the wind is from the north, otherwise 10%. (The North Wind is not particularly protective of its spouse, and Kim is pretty independent, so they won't attempt to call on it except in a dire emergency.) The arrival of the North Wind is extremely dramatic; gale force winds, a sudden drop in temperature, and a roaring loud enough to make normal speech impossible. Whether the North Wind takes a physical form, and what that might look like, is up to you. Meanwhile, roll a d6:

1: Venting. The North Wind is angry or upset about something and has sought out Kim to complain and look for comfort. Kim needs to go off and calm their spouse. This will take d20 x 10 minutes. Meanwhile, the side-effects of the North Wind's unhappiness will make normal activity quite difficult. The North Wind will ignore the PCs unless they force themselves on its attention (probably not a good idea).

2-3: Just stopping by. The North Wind just wants to visit with its spouse for a bit. It is in a fine mood and will adopt whatever attitude Kim has towards the PCs. So, if the PCs have made Kim Friendly or Helpful, the North Wind will feel the same way towards its spouse's new friends.

4-6: Conjugal visit. Kim is literally whisked away. They return d6 hours later, yawning, stretching, and with extremely wild hair. Any reasonable request made to the North Wind through Kim is 80% likely to be granted, but not until after Kim has returned. These visits are always followed by d3 days of unusually calm, mild weather.

Should Kim be killed somehow, flip a coin: 50% chance the North Wind simply mourns (awful weather for d6 days, but otherwise no effect), 50% chance it rages and seeks revenge. In the latter case, the PCs better be able to show they weren't responsible, and point to whoever was.

If Kim becomes a recurring NPC, then at some point the North Wind will move on. If the relationship ended well, Kim will have some permanent token of the North Wind's affection -- a magic item, a wind-related SLA, what have you. In theory a PC could become a Wind-Wife; the minimum requirements are a positive Cha modifier, a positive Con modifier, and either at least three levels in a melee class or at least 3 ranks in Profession [lawyer]. Details beyond that, including courtship and wedding ceremonies, would be up to the DM.

Thoughts?

Doug M.


lemeres wrote:
I feel like you could possibly abuse the spell Blood Biography.

I may not use this here, but in general I like the idea of an intelligence service, or someone needing to send simple coded messages, abusing this spell.

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Obviously, you kill the guys that hid the documents. This simplifies things- no loose lips, and no will saves against the spell.

Cleric of Mammon; goes without saying.

Doug M.

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