In area A9, Outer Sanctum, the Scribbler's Suggestion trap creates a suggestion spell effect. Suggestion is language-dependent, but the trap doesn't specify what language is used. However, the only languages that the Scribbler speaks are Abyssal and Thassilonian, so whichever one is chosen, it's unlikely that many of the PCs will be affected by this trap. How have other GMs handled this?
I'd run it as is. The Scribbler was a resident of ancient Thassilon, where Thassilonian was the common tongue. Of course he'd try to use Thassilonian. Unfortunately for the Scribbler, Thatssilonian is a dead language in the present day. This would make his trap less effective.
Anonymous Visitor 830 387 wrote:
Yes, I checked the PC high AC and it's is possible to have it's still a challenge for me to balance encounters so all PCs have a good time.
I wouldn't be too worried about the high AC. Enemy BABs scale with level, while AC bonuses are practically static. As the characters level up, enemies will gain enough BAB to consistently hit the high AC characters. Thus, this should only be a problem at low levels.
Personally, I'd let them enjoy playing a nigh invulnerable character while they can.
If you want to ensure that the high AC character gets hit, magic is your friend. Armor can grant high AC but doesn't improve Touch AC. Scorching Ray would be a good spell for targeting their touch AC. AoE and Save based spells also bypass AC.
Using better enemy tactics would also help. Intelligent enemies should switch to squishier targets once they realize their attacks are useless. Veteran warriors may simply ignore the high AC character once they see that they are wearing armor. Melee enemies engaging multiple party members at once will certainly make the other members of the party feel threatened.
TLDR: An arcane caster is helpful, but lacking one is not crippling. Don't make the samurai switch unless they want to. But the party will need to be prepared to work around their lack of arcane capability.
Arcane casters have a broad spell selection.
They get a wider variety of direct damage spells than a druid. Arcane casters also get access to a few healing spells like Remove Curse and Stone to Flesh that the druid doesn't. An additional caster would also give them more spell slots for buffing and utility spells. So an arcane caster would complement this party well.
Arcane casters show up in every adventure of Rise of the Runelords and become ubiquitous starting in Sins of the Saviors. Having an arcane caster in the party will definitely help counter rival arcane casters. But I can't think of any occasions that the AP outright gates progress behind arcane abilities.
As such, I wouldn't force a player to play an arcane caster if they don't want to. If they decide to forgo an arcane caster, they will need to prepare accordingly. Specifically, the party will need to carry scrolls for anything the druid can't cover and invest in UMD to use the scrolls. Investing in UMD will probably fall on the Rogue due to their high skill points. Without a cleric in the party, they will probably want to do this anyway.
Your samurai will need to select a specific arcane class if he decides to swap out. Arcanists and Wizards would be my recommendation for this party. An Int-based class with all of the knowledge skills as class skills allows the party to fill their missing bookworm niche. Obtaining information about enemy abilities will make their life a lot easier. These classes also excel at using Detect Magic to analyze magical effects and items. Due to all the enemy wizards running around, this AP is chock full of spellbooks and enchanted items that the mage can use. And they can take up crafting to build their own items.
I personally prefer the arcanist so that I don't have to micromanage my spell slots. That will make things easier if this is the samurai's first caster.
I don't see any problem with just letting them reach level 4 if they have the experience for it. I'd allow prepared casters to fill their new spell slots using the normal rules for filling reserve spell slots.
3 to 4 days is a long time to delay attacking Thistletop. I suspect that your players are assuming that the world will wait for them while they dawdle. This is a common beginner's trap due to the popularity of this trope in video games.
I'd have Nualia stay where she is in the AP and put Orik in command of Thistletop. I wouldn't change the goblin tactics, because they're undisciplined. Commanding goblins should be like herding cats. In other words, most of the goblin encounters in Thistletop should be run unmodified.
If the PCs raise an alarm, Orik and Kyrie will engage the party. I would have them muster enough goblins to make this a Hard encounter (APL + 2). Having Orik and the goblins as meat shields will give Kyrie some breathing room to cast her spells.
After they beat Orik and Kyrie, I would inform the party that they only have 2 days to rescue Ameiko. They would learn this in character either by interrogating prisoners or by finding a journal entry on Orik or Kyrie. And I would explicitly warn them that the above trope is not in effect in my game. I would probably run the 2 day limit as 48 hours from the time this encounter ended. If they can't be bothered to gather intelligence, they deserve to suffer the consequences.
I'd have Nualia order the two remaining Yeth Hounds to continue guarding her temple of Lamashtu as written in the AP. But you could have one or both of them backing Nualia up during her fight if you want to make things harder on the party.
Can the party manage without an arcane full-caster?
An arcane full caster would be recommended, but not mandatory. They get a lot of useful utility and offensive spells that divine casters have less access to. Wizards would be especially good in this AP for figuring out all of the magical stuff that gets thrown at the party in the 2nd half of the AP.
The party can get by without a Rogue if no one wants to build one. Traps aren't prominent enough in this AP to justify building a Rogue on their own. Lock picking and being a skill monkey are the main reasons to play a Rogue in this AP. Bards or Rangers can easily fill this niche due to their generous skill points.
Recommended. Wands and Potions can substitute for a healer.
But that will be expensive. Having a dedicated healer will be nice because the party will frequently be going into the wilderness/other dimensions where accessing an NPC cleric will take a hike.
How many melee, how many ranged?
I'd go with one dedicated melee character, and one dedicated ranged character. The dedicated ranged character could be a sorcerer rather than an archer.
I'd personally outright replace the Core Barbarian and Monk with their Unchained counterparts if I were GMing for new players. The Unchained versions are a lot easier on beginners. But the Unchained Summoner may be a bit complicated for a beginner.
I'd definitely add the Oracle class to the allowed options so that there is a spontaneous Divine caster available to the players. That will make it easier for a beginner to play a healer.
I'm going to quantify how bad the situation is:
The Will Save DC is 19.
Micah fails their Will Save on rolls of 2-.
In percentage terms, this means that (against 1 mummy):
Probability to fail at least once against 6 mummies:
You can safely assume that Dova, Zoey, Wren, and Skrag will fail their saves in the encounter as written.
2/3 of the party being affected is a problem with a status condition as crippling as paralysis. This is definitely a ha-ha-the-whole-party-dies encounter!
If I were GMing for this party, I'd replace the mummies with CR appropriate undead. I might keep 1 mummy if I felt like challenging the party.
In my opinion, you are overthinking this.
The fact that the mansion burned down is irrelevant to the plot. In fact, I had completely forgotten about that until you mentioned it. Therefore, you can safely remove all references to the fire in the adventure.
However, you will need to replace one haunt that explicitly references the fire. I see three options here. The quick and dirty approach is to ax it and reward the players with an equal amount of story XPs. A second approach would be to replace it with your own custom haunt (something involving Aldern Foxglove finally succumbing to ghoul fever would be good). Or you could write a new encounter outside of the Misgivings to catch them up.
The problem is that the haunt is only a single encounter. Meaning that whatever you come up with will have to be short and sparse on loot. I think a trek out to Chopper's Isle fits those constraints better than exploring Thassilonian ruins.
I'm a bit concerned that the front line is a bit squishy with Medium Armor being the best we have. A barbarian can be an offensive terror but can he and the oracle go toe to toe with some of the big hitters in the AP ?
I wouldn't be too concerned about the player's AC. In Pathfinder, AC does not scale well with level. So achieving ridiculously high ACs is generally not worth the investment. Granted, at low level the extra AC would be nice.
HP tanking is a lot more viable for long term survival because it scales with level. Your Barbarian should do well at this with his meaty d12 Hit Die (and hopefully a decent CON).
I'm not sure how well the Oracle will do as a front liner. With a d8 Hit Die, he will be a little squishy. But he will have the Barbarian backing him up, so he might be OK. I'd definitely recommend the Combat Casting feat for your Oracle so they can more reliably pull off spells in melee combat.
The Oracle should do fine as the party's dedicated healer. Keep in mind that the Oracle is limited to their known spells. You could run into a situation where the Oracle can't remove a debilitating status condition because they don't know that specific removal spell. The party will definitely want to cover any gaps with healing Scrolls, Potions, and Wands.
I do hope for a different dynamic this run through - but one of the "old" players in particular can tune out pretty quickly if there's nothing to smash.
IIRC, there is a long stretch where the party only encounters haunts. Mixing in some normal combat encounters might help to keep this player interested.
Yeah, rewriting entire scenarios is a little hairy. I understand if you don't want to do that.
Since you're so worried about a TPK, you may want to play the encounters so that your party gets a chance to escape once they realize they are overmatched. Goblins having bad tactics/discipline would be a good way to do this while being in character for them. For example, when one of the characters drops, several goblins might get distracted looting that character. Good luck getting the players to retreat before one of their characters dies, though.
Looking back at your original post, you said that you were about to run the missing bartender scenario. Getting your players to play through the catacombs first would not be difficult:
In the original version of RotR, the players investigate Ameiko's disappearance at the request of the maid (I don't remember her name). After finding Tsuto's note to Ameiko, they head to the Glassworks to save her. Unfortunately, your players may decide to head to Thistletop anyway, even if they do choose to investigate.
It sounds like your players are going to Thistletop to bring the fight to the goblins. In that case, all you have to do is have someone from Sandpoint inform them that a large group of goblins has broken into the glassworks and murdered all of the workers.
Tsuto's journal should be enough to motivate the players to explore the catacombs. I would recommend changing the journal to state that Tsuto has already convinced Eryllium to assault the town. Adding a battle plan involving Eryllium and co. attacking the town from within would be a nice touch.
That should get them back on track.
As others have pointed out, RotR heavily assumes a heroic party. Characters with evil alignments will be hard to fit in. Skulls and Shackles would be a better AP for that kind of thing, but you'd have to switch campaigns.
I would definitely have a discussion with your player regarding how much trouble being a drow will cause. Finding that kind of thing out in play can be very frustrating.
Pointing out that Sandpoint would have to fight on two fronts if the goblins and catacomb denizens both attack while the party is away may be enough to convince them to deal with the catacombs first.
If your PCs are adamant about going to Thistletop, I'd recommend rewriting Thisteltop to be doable by Level 2 PCs. Design it so that they reach Level 3 upon completing Thistletop. Then rewrite the catacombs to be a worthy challenge for Level 3 PCs that will push them to Level 4 upon completion. That way they would be on track level-wise for the rest of the AP. I'd have the climax of the adventure take place in the catacombs.
You can always move RotR 7 years into the future if you get a TPK. Rewriting the AP to take place 7 years into the future shouldn't be too hard. There are very few hard references to time in the RotR. The players will never know that you moved the AP 7 years in the future.
The main problem is that
Spoiler:But that can be resolved by having Hemlock and co. thwarting their attack on Sandpoint but being unable to invade Thistletop and finishing off the opposition. Thistletop is a strong defensive position, after all.
Nualia plans to destroy Sandpoint with her army of goblins and a Bhargest. Since destroying Sandpoint will complete her transformation, I highly doubt Nualia would wait 7 years to carry out this plan.
Speaking of Sheriff Hemlock, he did leave town to seek support from Mangimar. So you have a credible explanation for a new party of adventurers arriving in town.
Except for the Sniper, your party does look pretty solid. IMHO, Snipers are a poor choice for a ranged build. I predict that the player who chose to build a sniper will feel useless as the campaign proceeds:
IMHO, the Sniper archetype is useless. Giving up trapfinding for halved range penalties is a bad trade because combats just don't take place at long range very often. Increasing the range you can do ranged sneak attack damage is nice. But you still only get your ranged sneak attack damage against enemies who have lost their DEX bonus to AC. Usually, that will happen in the first round of combat when the enemies are flat footed. If the Sniper rolls poorly on initiative, they might not be able to capitalize on that.
After the first round, the Sniper will be dependent on finding ways to get rid of the enemy's DEX bonus to AC. I can't think of any reliable ways to do that at range. The rest of the party can use spells and feinting to set up the rogue. But the party is better off investing their resources in defeating the enemy themselves.
I'd advise the Sniper to use the Ranger class as the basis for their ranged combat build. Or to build a front-line Unchained Rogue that can get their sneak attack damage by flanking and giving their allies (and themselves) a bonus to hit at the same time.
It looks like one of your players decided to build a healer Oracle. Which two Curses did your Oracle choose? Some of them are dangerous when chosen by a dedicated healer. For example, taking both the Blind and Deaf curses would be very detrimental to a field medic.
Ah, that explains why I misremembered that family's backstory. It did strange that such an antagonistic faction would be included when so much of the AP is built around the PCs liking Sandpoint and wanting to save it. Thanks for clearing that up.
I agree that getting into conflicts with the townsfolk organically would be more fun for the players.
I'd be careful introducing rivalries in Sandpoint. The AP heavily assumes that the PCs care about Sandpoint. If you dwell too much on antagonistic NPCs there, they may come to hate the town. That would be a problem when they are supposed to be saving the town. Only using one rival (faction) would help mitigate this risk.
There are three rivals I can think of off the top of my head:
As to the noble family,
you're thinking of the Scarnettis. They belong to Sczarni mafia. As such, they are concerned about what will happen if the PCs ally with local law enforcement.
The Tesseract wrote:
Then Master of the Fallen Fortress definitely isn't for your group.
Spoiler: The end boss of that scenario practically kills himself. Anticlimax FTW!
Ms. Pleiades wrote:
With only 4 players you definitely need to communicate what classes and skills will be useful before an AP. That way everyone can feel useful and have fun.
Any slack can be taken care of by the PCs hiring NPCs.
The "Master of the Fallen" scenario would be a good one for this group since it was designed for LV1 characters.
Common game mechanics such as saving throws, status effects, traps, and secret passages are all well used here. You could easily use it as a tutorial mission and plot seed for your ongoing campaign.
However, as written it is a bit of a dungeon crawl. And the ending is frustratingly anticlimactic. If this will frustrate your players, you may want to find another scenario.
Alchemy labs would be amazing for this.
If the players are attacking someone standing next to a set of beakers or the like, give them the option to take a -2 to -4 penalty (depending on how harsh you want to be) if they want to avoid hitting the lab equipment.
Those who decide that they don't want the penalty hit lab equipment on a failed to hit roll. AOE attacks should have similar results.
This can justify many different effects, from explosions, to smoke limiting visibility, to the players suffering from random spell effects (if a vial contained an oil).
And this gives savvy players the chance to use the environment against their foes by deliberately smashing vials.
So this should be a fun way to make combat more engaging.
Alas, with my schedule Sundays are the only time where I'd be reliably free in the foreseeable future. So the scheduling wouldn't work out. Thank you anyway, Connor.
I've been reading up on GMing, and I think I'll be able to handle the time management aspect that I was worried about. Now that I'm starting to get a concrete idea on what kind of game I want to run, I should be able to write a better recruitment post.
My brother and I decided that we want to play Pathfinder together online. We plan to do this by using MapTools in conjunction with Skype. The group size we want is up to 8 PCs + the GM.
I've talked with my brother, and we'd rather be in a homebrew campaign than go the PFS route of jumping from module to module. In other words, we're looking for a more narrative, player driven campaign. But neither of us has GMed before and this is a difficult style for a beginner to pull off. Would anyone be willing to GM? I'm willing to GM if no one else is, but I will have to pause the session to look up rules from time to time.
Both beginners and veterans will be welcome in this group. Some more experienced players who are more familiar with the rules would be nice if I end up GMing. The only restriction on character creation is that we won't allow evil alignments.
As to setting, that will be up to the GM, with group input. I would either use the Inner Sea setting or create my own setting if I were GMing. But I'd only create my own setting if my players wanted something radically different.