Infiltrator's Onyx

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So I decided to offer my players the opportunity to use the downtime rules from ultimate campaign while between books in the AP I'm running. A friend and I take turns DMing different games during the year and the books of an AP make good stopping points.

While my friends game was active, I wanted to use the downtime rules to help keep the timeline in my game running while his campaign happened. This helps build a sense of my world continuing to exist and evolve while the PC's wait for the next big event to happen.

My friends game happened to take longer than expected this time around and as a result my players had a lot of time to play around and think about what they were going to do with downtime. The answer to that turned out to be a wrestling league.

WWF/WWE/WCW/ style shenanigans.

All of the players have embraced this to varying degrees at this point and have invested alot of time and effort into the concept. However, instead of trying to stifle my players creativity in this or railroad them back into the storyline laid out in the AP (ROTR), I am attempting to embrace it.

To that end, what ideas should I employ to bolster or thwart this fledgeling Vince McManhon wannabe empire? Alternative wrestling leagues? Real Undertakers with undead grapplers? A rival (and vastly more popular) group of female wrestlers from the Pixie's Kitten?

Also, can you be taken seriously as a wrestler if you have a bard do your intro music?

23. Fire at the Rusty Copper

The Rusty Copper was the oldest inn and tavern in the Northern Reaches. The owners were proud of their long and colorful history of amazing performances of theater and performing arts in their outdoor amphitheater right outside its doors. Bards, Skalds, adventurers, and travelers from across the realm have rested or performed inside its hallowed halls.

Just as you arrived in town however the great building caught fire in a great wash of flame that could be seen for miles around the neighboring countryside. Pressed into service to contain the blaze, you find yourself standing shoulder to shoulder with people you do not know in an ultimately futile gesture to save this priceless local attraction.

Instead of thanks when the inferno ultimately does burn itself out, the local baroness has decided that adventures, artists, and travelers just like you are to blame for this calamity. She has coldly decreed that all "outsiders" are to be conscripted into service until the Rusty Copper is rebuilt.

The work is tiring and the enforcement of the baronesses mandate by her guards can be quite brutal. But there are other ways to serve the town if you look hard enough. Word is that this fire wasn't an accident, but arson. The townsfolk here look almost as oppressed as you do now. What can they tell you about the town and its icy cold leader?

Do you yourself even care? One should be able to escape the work details if you are skillful and crafty enough. The one thing you do know though is that you will need allies here if you are to get out from under the thumb of this oppressive ruler.

What will you do?

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The swashbuckler shivers from the wet and damp, suddenly plucked from the churning maelstrom into the waiting tentacles of a hungry Kraken. At the last second he was spared from being a tasty morsel of a meal and deposited roughly unto the deck of a fearsome ship with an even deadlier crew. Even the greenest of sailors in the Shackles would recognize this ship and her immortal, always dangerous captain. What can only be her first mate and herald strides forward from the crowd to speak.

"Aye matey! You almost made toothy over there a fine starter of a meal! It seems you have stirred the Lady's interest however, so she persuaded her friend to place you upon our deck!" The herald smiles a black toothed grin, his one eye glowing a crimson red as he speaks. "But first we needs to judge ye according to yer deeds. How much tribute have you paid the lady? What have you taken in her name? Let's just see shall we?"

The swashbuckler can only watch in morbid fascination as a large iron wrought chest is dragged from the depths of the maelstrom by the justifiably angry Kraken. It's worked in cold iron and precious metals with large and small jolly rogers picked out of gemstones of the finest quality and clarity. It is easily the most valuable thing he has even seen in his lifetime. With a mind piecing shriek the chest is opened unto the deck and from the blackness inside roll out...
Two shiny gold pieces.

"Lads! Look at the bounty this man has bestowed upon our Goddess! shouts the herald. With this tribute we can raise havoc across all the known worlds!" The crew shouts with joy as if a mountain of coin and plunder had poured forth from within the chest. It takes a few minutes for the mayhem to cease, after which the herald once again addresses the unfortunate swashbuckler.

"Aye! Ye have been judged and found wanting laddie! But yea still have a chance to make yer amends. We will return yea from whence yea came. In exchange, for a year and a day ALL ye plunder save whatcha need for food and lodgins will be thrown overboard in tribute to the Pirate Queen!" The herald pauses to spit something black and viscous over the side of the ship before continuing.

"If yea don't agree now, we feed yea to toothy here! If yea agree and attempt to renege on this agreement, than toothy here will have a second chance at a meal!" The herald gazes upon the swashbuckler with a predatory grin as if almost daring the man to strike him, perhaps offering yet another way out of this predicament.

"So matey! What will yea answer be?"

*Please note that the two shiny gold piece reference is what would occur if this happened in my own campaign. Your mileage may vary.*

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What is the swashbucklers standing with Besmara? You could have him cast into the Maelstrom and have him fished out of the chaos by the Seawraith and Besmara herself.

She could then judge him according to his deeds. "Aye matey! How much tribute have you paid the lady? What have you taken in her name? Let's just see shall we?" At which point a chest materializes on board with all the loot the PC has thrown overboard in tribute to Besmara. Woe be unto him if he hasn't dropped any.

Regardless of the outcome, the swashbuckler would then be required to "walk the plank" off the ship at the end of negotiations. He ends up either swimming by himself (with hungry sharks/weresharks/Kraken if Besmara is displeased) or in a rowboat with a couple of days of food and water somewhere in the Shackles if things take a better turn.

The other thought here is to have him picked up (still in the Maelstrom) by Besmara's herald the Kelpie's wrath. It has been known to pick up drowning sailors in exchange for years of service (when this is to be served could be negotiated) or to help mortals in exchange for large amounts of treasure.

Given that you are at the end of book 5 the character is at a level that justifies this level of interest by the goddess in question.

Even if you want to craft your own world and test your universe making skills the advice remains the same. Start small.
Steven King gave an interview once about how he built his most recent novel at the time. (Storm of the century)He noted that the idea came to him of a man in a jail cell. Then he hit on the idea of the sheriff and his deputies being terrified of this man that they had in the cell. After that the entire town was fearful of this man. Why were they? How did it happen? A small start to a larger story.

You don't need the complete backstory to Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, or The Wheel of Time at your first session. You will need a reason for four to six first level characters to meet up and adventure together. Saving the multiverse can come later.

With first time players it may take multiple sessions for you and your crew to decide on what characters they are most interested in playing/running and what location they are most interested in playing in. (Water based, forest, cityscape, etc.) I would run several loosely connected scenarios with each one of those themes to get a sense of what your group (and you) like best. Keep the stuff you like and focus on that.

Remind everyone that mistakes will happen and that everyone is there to have fun. Once you have them hooked after a month or so you then let them know that if they bring you food and wash your car every week that "the gods will be merciful". It may take a few sessions for everyone to decide what is fun for them. Enjoy getting them there.

Multiple cities and colonies. Roanoke, Camelot, Atlantis, Aztalan, Lyonesse, El Dorado, and Julfar to name a few from real world examples and legends. Lots of lost ships drawn through from the Bermuda or devils triangle. (drifting alone with no crew aboard or whatever curse dragged them here)

For sake of completeness I will add an epic level Demon with Mythic levels named Dri-Aire (the e is silent)who summons socks from multiple alternate dimensions. His lair is a brightly lit almost friendly looking laundromat where scantily clad attendants cheerfully stuff fresh loads of mismatched socks into his gaping maw. He does this so that he can fully manifest himself into all of the prime material planes at once (like a low rent Cthulhu) and bring about the end of matching pairs of socks for everyone forever.

Sub-Creator wrote:
Plus, they could work out a way to provide maps that somehow work on every axis! I mean, if you're going to be fighting under water, you'll not have to worry about that silly x-axis only, but the y-axis too! Need to figure out a better way of doing that on these maps other than clear dice containers flipped upside down! =D

They are already going to need this for Starfinder anyway. Doing a "test run" of a proposed 3D combat system in an underwater AP before Starfinder launches gives them a chance to make and revise whatever system they come up with. It also gives them a chance to tweak the system for playability and fun factor a long time before launch.

Kingmaker set a great number of the building rules for Ultimate Campaign. If done right an underwater AP could very well set the bar for space combat in Starfinder.

I'm still going to bang the drum for a gladiator themed AP, but I realize that there are multiple difficulties in getting it to work.

However an underwater themed AP is a much more viable product line. For starters, you have an entirely open underdeveloped area to work with. It's still on Golarion, but an area of the sandbox that is almost completely untouched. Almost anything you can think of can be placed here at the moment and the opportunity for follow up adventures and supporting paraphernalia is absolutely immense.

If done right, the AP sets the stage for exploration of this "undiscovered world". Then the guides, bestiaries, and pawns associated with it contribute to the revenue stream and heartily encourage continued exploration of its cold mysterious depths.

Just please don't use "Under the sea" as the title or place any pineapples on the sea floor.

Name of PC's/Class/Level Talis (Lv. 1 Paladin Lv 2 Oracle), Krauzer (Lv 3 Barbarian)and Derrin (Lv 3 Swashbuckler)
Adventure:Burnt Offerings
Catalyst: DM overreach/ Poor tactical decisions (Pc's)/DM not rolling his usual Nat 1's for attack rolls/ Malfeshnekor/

The beginnings of what could have easily been a TPK for this 6 person party began back in Sandpoint. The Barbarian has played ROTR before so I have had to modify several things to keep him of guard. He has helped the situation for me by him RPing a dumb Barbarian who likes to smash everything and ask questions of the survivors. (Of which there have been very few)

They had an opportunity to gain a lot of info of Thistletop and fanned on it completely. They got a general sense of the place and that the villains held their big "ceremony of EVIL" every week but missed out on layouts, watch rotations, and the like. Also with the way the Barbarian was RPing his character, he was literally smashing in every door he found rather than seeing if it was open first. (giving me extra rounds to prepare) Everyone thought it was fun even after I warned them several times that "You will not always be fighting unintelligent foes like Goblins" This would come back to haunt them.

They chose to invade during the ceremony. This allowed them into the keep without much difficulty. However they then alerted the keep to the intrusion without fully exploring the first floor, and that turned out to be very bad in the long run. The keep responded by sending all the Goblins up both staircases (they had found only one by that point) and even though they mopped up the Goblins for the most part they used alot of resources to do so.

I had a part to play at this point here as well. In the "post action report" I held after the session it was made clear that I had not clearly defined that while yes they were under a time crunch, they could have retreated and rested up for a day after killing the Goblin King. Nualia and company would have regrouped and had a different strategy for them, but it would have been perfectly acceptable to fall back and recover from their drain on (mostly magical) resources. Instead they pressed on.

The second level of the keep was deserted. Nualia's Lieutenants had gone down to protect her on the third floor. I wanted to keep Nualia as a long term nemesis for the Paladin, so I gave Lyrie her Cleric levels(dropping mage) and had Nualia stick around just long enough to taunt the party (no combat) and exit. This left Tesuto, Bruthazmus, Lyrie, and a few remaining Goblin commandos to face them. I let the party have at it for several rounds until just Lyrie and one lone Goblin commando archer were left.

That's when Malfeshnekor appeared. In hindsight, I should have waited until the party had defeated Lyrie. Or not used him at all. But the combat was going well for them and I thought that they could handle it. (A "who's bloody" check here would have been a smart move on my part) Lyrie had mirror image up (from the deception domain) and had been ignored by the party while they crushed everything else. This came back to haunt them when she started channeling negative energy. That's what killed the Barbarian. It also dropped the parties Dwarf who was returned to consciousness by the parties Sorcerer

Even with the Paladins 26 AC, 3 attacks at +14 from Mal is going to hit stuff eventually and that's what happened. The party was hopelessly split with 3 PC's dying/attacking Lyrie about 50 feet away from the 2 dying/attacking Mal. Mal basically chewed up the Paladin and the Swashbuckler in short order. Both Mal and Lyrie were dropped to bloody, but it was not enough. (If they had rested before this fight I have no doubt they would have cleared the room.)

Good things can happen from tragic mistakes however. The party's Dwarf (a fellow DM who is running a campaign of his own for us) managed to save the day with a great bit of personal sacrifice for his character that was RPed by him very well. I allowed it to stand and only now as I type this do I realize the extent to which he saved my bacon from cries of unjustness that might just be very well deserved.

No matter. What happened happened and now the party continues on to the next chapter with some "interesting" choices to be made by the dwarf in question.

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Barghests love to consume corpses. The fresher the better. Even though Malfeshnekor is a greater barghest, he still hasn't eaten in a very long time. It would be well within Nualia's character to say and do this.

Nualia wrote:
"What just happened here? The mighty heroes of Sandpoint thought they could just stroll into our complex and defeat us? We all see how that went. Useless scum! Let us not let them off so easily by burning them now! When I free Malfeshnekor, his first meal shall be the flesh of these so called heroes and everyone here can witness their destruction!"

The party is then stabilized and thrown into the dungeon until Nualia can open up the prison which takes... however many days (less than a week though) you need until a "rescue party" can come get them. Several NPC's in town have enough levels to mount a commando style raid with the sole intent of rescuing the PC's. I would let the party members run them so they have something to do during this time. It would also give the PC's a chance to learn the abilities/ increase the levels of the NPC's for the giant raid down the road.

This part is NSFW. It will contain thoughts and magic items that are mature and disturbing in nature. Parental discretion is advised.

bad stuff:
The Demon mothers mask in Inner Sea Gods would allow Nualia to mate with Malfeshnekor. This would be a release of sorts and one that fits in with Lamashtu's guiding principles. If Nualia found this mask on the altar with the key, its purpose would be crystal clear.

Malfeshnekor is released by this act and immediately leaves to recruit the Goblin horde. Nualia leaves to have a child that would appear later in the adventure but not before telling Ripnugget to "Finish my light work" in true Evil overlord style.

The "rescue party" would have a much easier go of it in this case, and the PC's (who still need to recover after their ordeal) would be ready to deal with Malfeshnekor's raid in about a month give or take.

It looked like my characters weren't going to be interested in this either back when I ran this so I made Sandra more central to the PC's plans and set up several "incentives" for the PC's to go to the rescue. Granted I knew this might come up, so I planned ahead accordingly.

First it was Sandra who was the biggest link between the other crew members who wanted to mutiny and the PC's. The other captured crewman also was a PC ally. They didn't even need a wisdom check to realize that suddenly being down two allies would not help them in their cause. They needed her to coordinate the mutineers and tend to the wounded. I also played up how having "The luck of Besmara" on their side would help them as well.

Then I let the PC's know that the punishment for "magic water" that disappeared after one day was summary execution. This at the very least made them want to find the water supply. (From Create water: "This water disappears after 1 day if not consumed") Mr. Plugg let them know that they and their water would be "under watch" until the 24 hour period had expired.

It was Owlbear who convinced them though. Sandra was the only other person who had shown any sympathy to the poor man and he vowed to fight with the PC's if they rescued her. Convincing him to stay chained in the hold "until he was needed" was the hardest part of that one.

You can also just run the numbers by them if everything else fails. I told them all that losing two more crewman that was "stretched too damn bloody thin as it was anyway", would be a "slow fat under defended target" if they got the ship sailing again. You need 20 crew minimum to sail without penalty. For my guys assuming they killed everyone and left Sandra to rot would leave them at 8 sailors loyal to them and they were a 6 person party.

Even after all of this, I told my players that if they wanted to do this that it would be fine. In fact it would have made the actual mutiny a lot better challenge than it turned out to be. But I laid out enough incentive (one of the PC's ended up developing a relationship with Sandra) that they went ahead and explored the island.

I expanded the old light quite a bit in my campaign. PC's had to rappel to a small opening near the top of the tower to gain access. Once inside, passages underneath the light went to choppers basement and other ruined/collapsed areas. I also borrowed/enhanced the 3d hologram idea from the forums here in the main hall of the light.

When activated, (with blood) it shows a spherical map of the world with other locations of bases/defenses/runewells/etc. marked on it in flashing colors of differing intensity. It also would have taken the weapon out of standby mode if it wasn't mostly broken. Of course no one currently living has any idea what it does, but Mr. Quink is giving it his best effort.

The PC's thought the whole place was evil death land, so they didn't touch anything. (The PC who took the Thessilon background trait was tempted however) They spent so long down in the passages underneath that Mr. Quink had one of his mage apprentice friends cast levitate on him and followed the PC's inside after about thirty minutes.

Activating the map/weapons console shook the entire tower and tunnels underneath as part of the weapon systems activation process. By the time the PC's made it back up to the main chamber, they found a delighted Mr. Quink happily trying to press everything he could find to try and "make some history!"

Fortunately for everyone in a ten mile radius, he did not.

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OK, so it's not that risque, but it does involve Shayliss so I put the tags up.

My parties Barbarian was the one who impressed Shayliss in her encounter during the raid, so he was the one who she tried to seduce.
Note the tried there.

Sure, the Barbarian showed up to her place looking sharp and neatly groomed (via prestidigitation). He also brought with him food and drinks (provided by two very helpful PC's). However not being all that experienced having no experience at all in the art of love, when it came down to the action part of the evening he thought “wrestling” with Shayliss with one hand behind his back and naked meant that he was actually wrestling with Shayliss with the disadvantage of being naked with one hand behind his back.

As such, our wonderful “hero” of this tale repeatedly ignored several blatant attempts to interest him in furthering his sexual education including several lines that had the table in stitches. This includes such safer things to post as “Why you stick your tongue in my mouth? That not wrestling!” and more than one accusation of cheating when a clearly frustrated Shayliss doubled down by putting both hands on a very personal area of our heroes anatomy instead of trying to get out of a hold. “Why you cheat and not wrestle? This how you wrestle!” PIN

Of course this is when dear old dad showed up to which our hero promptly offered to “wrestle” him in this new style of wrestling that he had just learned from his daughter. He even remembered to tell dad that he had to get naked first to do it correctly.

Yeah. That went over well.

After the third punch connected to our heroes face with the only reaction from dad being “ the best bleeping rage you have seen from a non Barbarian”, our hero decided that the wrestling match had already begun and immediately grappled/pinned dad in two rounds.

That's when the still naked Shayliss broke the bottle of very expensive Dwarven spirits over the Barbarians head.

Our hero decided at that point that, “You all sore losers and cheaters. Me go home now.”

It wasn't until he got outside that he figured out that while he had remembered to put on his pants before leaving that he had neglected to put on his shirt. Oddly enough the door to Shayliss's house was locked when he turned around to get it.

Why not give the new characters a unique reason to hate their nemesis all over again? I would have them start off working for their prior nemesis. I would do this through proxies and dupes to make it more legitimate to be working for him in the beginning and more of a surprise.

That way when he betrays them later on you have that "Aha!" moment at the table where everyone realizes "Of course he betrayed us! He's our nemesis!"

So I finished running most of this in my first session for this campaign, and I think it went rather well. Having the PC's play their characters as children allowed them to meet nearly everyone in town and to get an early feel for who they individually like/dislike within it. Hagfish victims uh... competitors ahead!
There were also early team bonding moments when one of the characters fell asleep on guard duty and during the patrol chase section when almost everyone wiped out on an overturned stack of crates in an alleyway. They all knew that it was a "training exercise", so there was less angst at five people rolling under ten on a Dex/Acrobatics check.

The trial was admittedly the weakest part. I still think the idea is sound for introducing Ironbriar and Kaven Windstrike but I doubt anyone will remember them when they encounter them again. That's on me for not describing them better. They did focus on the Black Arrows and how "justice is done" in Magnimar though, so it's not a total loss. If I do this again it might be omitted for something more memorable.

We broke for the night after that. The fire sequence is next up on the agenda for this session and judging by my PC's so far, I think it will go pretty well. We always start with a recap of the last session first, so I might intentionally linger a bit over the trial part to hopefully get it to stick out a bit more.

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I have looked through a bunch of stuff relating to background for a ROTR campaign, and this is the direction I think I am going to lead my PC's in for the first session. The goal here being to tie my PC's as tightly as possible to the town of Sandpoint from the opening session. Nothing is set in stone yet however.

I have six PC's including a Dwarf, Half Elf, Half Orc, and three Humans. Everyone must be from Sandpoint or the outlying areas. Classes are irrelevant for now as the introduction phase has everyone except the Dwarf cast as a Level one commoner during this sequence. The Dwarf will be a “supervisor” essentially but he is being tested by the militia for fitness to command and/or be in charge of training young children as he is relatively new to the town of Sandpoint at that time.

The game opens with the PC's gathered around a bonfire on the edge of town the night before the Swallowtail festival. (A two day event) They are at their current ages and levels. (Starting at lv 2 with story based leveling)

Gazing into the fire they each remember back to the day almost five years ago when they were all required to spend their six month “enlistment” in the Sandpoint militia. All except the Dwarf. Being fairly new to the town five years ago, yet wanting to “Do something for the town after hearing about the unpleasantness with that chopper fellow.” he was assigned this group of children to mentor and oversee in their training to see how well he worked with human and half human children. (This is roughly six months after the chopper was killed.)

At this point, I plan to take them through several vignettes. They are all children deemed old enough to serve their mandatory stints in the militia. The early days are hard work and exercise. Formation drills. PT. Marching. Standing watch. It is at this time that they meet the members of their squad. (The other PC's) The Dwarf is with them constantly to keep them from trouble (or show them how to not get caught, players choice)

The second scene follows a few months later with a patrol scenario where the PC's encounter many of the towns inhabitants. Who they meet will be influenced by my characters background choices (Ties to the mayor/sheriff/Sczarni/brothel owner etc). Aldren will be introduced. Ven Vilder makes an appearance. Eventually they will encounter Ameiko, who will be arguing with her father. As she angrily brushes him off, she gives the PC's a “quest”, to find a “stolen” shipment of salmon that was taken by a “thief” which eerily matches the description of the sheriffs second in command. (the argument with her father is real of course) After some general investigating, they find the thief who leads them on a foot chase through the streets of Sandpoint ending at the Goblin squash stables. They then fight the thief five on one with quarterstaves. (They enter this fight as Lv 1 commoners vs a lv 3 fighter who fights exceptionally dirty but with “supposedly” one hand tied behind his back.)

A month later we jump to a local trial being officiated by a certain justice Ironbriar and two more justices to be named later. (the justices originally having been in town for a fete hosted by the mayor) It seems a very recent “altercation” at the Fatman's feedbag turned not only violent, but almost murderous as well a day later over gambling debts. The PC's are offered the very rare opportunity to witness “big city justice” and get to sit in on the results of the trial. Kaven Windstrike has a choice, a lengthy prison stay at the hells in Magnimar, or joining the Black Arrows. They can only sit and watch, (unless they are unruly which will lead to time in the brig) but this introduces both Mr. Windstrike and the Black Arrows to the party. It will be made clear that a sentence of joining the arrows is for life.

On the last night of their official service to Sandpoint two months later is the night of fire and pain. This is the night Nualia burns down the old church. The PC's are standing watch for the last time and have an opportunity to sneak a drink with the older guardsmen on watch with them as a “right of passage” for completing their training. This affects everyone's ability to see the smoke from the fires if they choose to do so. Even if they don't drink, by the time the alarm is sounded it's a swirling mass of chaos and death. The PC's are pressed into bucket brigades to quench the flames and have the opportunity to see (with perception checks) citizens of Sandpoint that need to be rescued from the flames and smoke. (Drinking or not drinking carries consequences forward with both the sheriff, mayor and the guards who were on watch with them that night)

By the time the fire is brought under control, the PC's find that they are back at the bonfire they started at in the beginning of the session. They are startled awake, each one staring once more into the flames realizing that they have all shared one momentous memory from the past.

Note that in the beginning of this version of events almost six months have passed since the end of Stoots rampage. (The PC's had some intensely bad dreams the night the minor runewell flared, but nothing serious. The Dwarf had not come to town yet.) Using this time line, it just might be possible that when this prequel ends Nualia has gotten herself pregnant again (all for the will of Lamashtu) which prompts her to kill her father and flee to a place (Magnimar) to birth her monstrous son or daughter. This is the reason the cultists in Magnimar help her as she is seen as literally carrying “The will of Lamashtu" inside her.

Thoughts and observations are certainly welcome.

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It's a year later or so, but I'm still going to say Gladiators on this one. It could be done and done well I think as long as you manage the expectations of moving from the arena in the first few AP's to ruling a city state infatuated with its love of gladiatorial combat in the final AP's.

An all underwater AP as mentioned more than once would be nice.
The sinking of your ship beneath the cruel waves of the merciless sea was not the end of your journey traveler, but just the beginning!

Other than that a Ulfen/Nordic/Viking themed AP with just the Ulfen represented would be most appreciated.

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An AP set in a nation that has plenty of arenas and the PC's are gladiators.
Your characters start out just fighting to take one more breath, to survive one more day. Slowly they earn their way out of the fighting pits by strength and guile straight into a web of deadly intrigue that threatens to burn this imperiled nation to ashes.

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James Jacobs wrote:
All will be clear by Paizocon. We have plans.

I wasn't planning to lead, I was standing in the back and then everyone turned around.”

― Avery Hiebert

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Gorum. With the whole Hell's Rebels thing going on, how can you not?

"What are you rebelling against Johnny?"
"What have you got?"

Now I just need to figure out how to justify why my cleric will wear only leather armor and insist on riding something vaguely resembling a metallic horse with wagon wheels instead of legs everywhere around town.
BRMC for life!

I would totally ask to be the bad cop in this situation. Allow the smart ones to attempt to "use their words" and stand back with a maxed out Intimidate. Then make sure to get introduced as a consequence for not seeing things the groups way.

Party Face- "I'm terribly sorry to hear that allowing us to pass in peace will require so much gold Sir but before we continue negotiations I think you should hear from one of our more impatient members. Bob? Can you add a few words please?"

You- (shouting) "How many of your beating hearts must I rip out from your chests and eat in front of you before you will let us pass!"

Party Face- "Thank you Bob. Now as we were discussing..."

If that doesn't work, then you get to fight. Win/win.

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The Temple ...Cathedral of Elemental ...Primordial Evil ...Bad! Uh... One sec... Corruption! That sounds better.

Yup! The Cathedral of Primordial Corruption.

Although the lack of an official "we will most likely never do another hardcover revision again" statement so far is interesting, I doubt that it will happen. Even though I personally would love to see second darkness redone, doing such a thing comes in conflict with the way paizo is currently running their operation.

If they did announce that they were making a SD hardcover, you can bet that they wouldn't be able to give away the last of the original stock of SD material. They are still trying to sell it at every sale event, so it stands to reason that there may be a copy or two still left in the warehouse. However if you could prove that an updated product is something that people would be willing to buy, you may stand a better chance at getting it done for all the early products. Specifically in this case, the conversion of all 3.5 works to PF.

How? By creating a seventh part of the SD AP. Include all of the official conversions, class changes and advice on plot rewrites that the author feels is needed. Release this product in PDF form only to minimize the time/treasure/talent drain on the Paizo staff. Note however that this cost may still be too high to bring the product to completion.

If this seventh part is profitable(key word there) with a AP that didn't sell particularly well (IMHO there), it could prove to the company that more conversions could in fact be profitable to do. With this plan, you also gain the ability to sell those extra copies of SD sitting in the warehouse as it is not a full conversion.

In a perfect world, every AP could have a hardcover book full of shiny, glossy, full eratta-ie goodness two years after release. The economic reality is that you have to be able to prove that what you are proposing is viable and profitable for the company.

Gorum: There is only War Off the Dawn of War 2 soundtrack.

Guide to keeping your players interested. How to keep your players coming back to your table week after week.

Guide to storytelling. How to weave popular/historical fiction into your campaign.

Guide to improv. How to make stuff up and keep the game running smoothly when the PC's go in the direction you never ever envisioned.

More character stuff may make more interesting characters, however more GM stuff makes for more interesting campaigns. That in the end, will draw more people into this hobby.
(IMOHO of course)

This is why you have henchmen.
This is why you don't name your henchmen, you just give them a number.
"A swarm? Alright number 5,756. Just do what I told you to do while the party and I go get some help."

The menu itself could be called The adventure path. It could also be called "A meal at the alehouse. A Pathfinder chroniclers culinary adventure sponsored by Scottys brewpub." That might be a bit long though.

Starters or appetizers, The initiative.
All alcoholic drinks, The fortitude save.
Salads or vegetarian choices, The Druids grove.
The entrees or main dishes, The loot. Or goblins horde.
Desserts? Has to be, The will save.

Heymitch wrote:
Whale_Cancer wrote:
Also, what is meant precisely by punishing?
Roll a d20. That's how many minutes you have to keep the nipple clamps on...

Rawr. That's usally on every other tuesday though.

He could be the son of a minor noble in the outlying area that the PC's need to court favor with. Maybe a bastard with the half orc parentage. "I will join/agree to trade with your kingdom only if you accept my son into your service" kind of a thing.

He comes from an area close to the Varnhold is the easiest way to go. Who better than a Ranger native to the area to guide you around? That way if he doesn't continue to play with the group it can be assumed that he went back to/stayed in the Varnhold area when the AP is over.

I would find a friend who is also playing in any game you may be interested in to act as your spotter to help you with things like dice rolls and miniature placement. That's all you really need if it gets right down to it. It's called "theater of the mind" for a good reason.

I personally would make any adjustment I had to as a DM to make a visually impared person feel comfortable at my table. From the looks of it so far, there are many others who feel the same way.

Best of luck to you sir.

For RP reasons, I have decided to give my warforged fighter in a 3.5 campaign that I am in prestige class levels in planar champion and horizon walker.
Planar champion first because I am built for it, and horizon walker when I get the ranks in knowledge geography. (Current character level is 6 and ready to take the first level in planar champion)

However, I might be able to get the DM to allow me to use the Pathfinder version of the horizon walker prestige class. The questions are:
Should I do this if allowed?
Should I just stick with planar champion?
Should I just stick with fighter? (I am really leaning towards "no" on this one)

The character concept here if needed is that my character is a warforged who was purchased for the sole purpose of warding a newborn child of two powerful mages. The child was the only humanoid he had ever seen develop from "A small misshapen lump of clay that needed a day or two more in the blacksmiths forge" to a young girl that " Could still use some work in the forge, but somewhat presentable if she must be human"

That girl was then abducted by powerful enemies which led to many many years of my character searching the world (and planes) for her before this adventure even began.

Obviously this is a RP heavy campaign, which is why I am considering levels of horizon walker in the first place. So. What should I do?

awp832 wrote:
You really dont need more than a 13 wis to start. a +6 wis headband can bump it all the way up to 19, for your 9th level spells if you get that far.

It may just be the old school paranoid former first edition player talking here, but what happens when the headband gets stolen? Or targeted by a dispel magic? Or an Anti magic field?

Don't get me wrong here, I found the channel smite feat long after I had made my own decision to sideline chr on my character. (Sigh) Switching dex for chr is a solid choice, but I have a hard time giving up good physical stats in a needed area (Wis) for being forced to rely on an item to let me cast my high level spells.

That's all off topic, but what is on topic is that there are plenty of creative ways to avoid being the party's band aid. The reach cleric would fit the battlefield control slot nicely I would think.

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Battle Cleric of Gorum. 18 str, 15 wis, 14 con, 13 dex, 10 int & chr. Be a human to make up for lack of skill points. Still choose HP every level. You can be CG to keep the good requirement. Take offensive domains for self and team buffs. Keep your spell list stocked with combat buffs. Tell your party that you heal by "Killing the enemy in glorious battle with better planning, better buffs and better tactics than your foes."

Before you get to battle however, have arm wrestling events with every party member you have. Constantly try to test everyone you meet and your party members in other contests of strength and skill as well. Tell your teamates that Gorum demands that they "Prove themselves worthy of healing by showing their couarge in combat before you can heal them." Etc. Etc.

captain yesterday wrote:
i would buy updated books of old AP's, but not a 7th book just to get the updates. thats what the message boards are for:)

The message boards for Second Darkness specifically are somewhat underpopulated. Don't get me wrong, what's there is good (and what I'm using now) but I personally would like to see an "official" conversion.

Besides I think given the titles left available for sale for that particular AP in stock, a seventh part of the AP might well be the only shot it has at being converted. After all if enough people bought this one it would bode well for the other AP's. (IMHO once again) The pros would be that you could set one person to do it. But it would still take time, treasure and talent from Paizo to have it come to print. (Printed by users as it would be a PDF) Without a large groundswell of support to make it come to life however, I just don't see it happening anytime soon.

Sure I want to see a conversion of all the 3.5 AP's. However, if you can prove that there is interest in a full conversion of the 3.5 AP's to PF by buying out a more budget sensative alternative (Seventh issue of a 3.5 AP, Second Darkness to be specific in this example) You have a much more budget freindly way to prove that this should happen.

Just my two Electrum pieces (Oh, the Rogue didn't tell you they were rare and worth five times their face value? How did that happen?)

Laric wrote:


Thanks for sharing this info. What you are saying makes a lot of sense.

I'm sure Paizo has contemplated many different options with regards to updating previous APs, and I know this idea won't appeal to everybody, but I thought I'd put this out there anyway:

Have you thought about releasing a "seventh" PFRPG update AP volume for each of the 3.5 APs which would contain updated NPC stat-blocks for all of the previous 6 APs, some basic broad stroke modifications on how to better link up or DM each of the previous APs, some additional encounters and maps. What I envision is a product that would contain all the fixes to the AP (like the Anniversary Edition of RotRL) but which would not necessarily reprint the core text of the 6 APs.

This would encourage customers to buy old AP volumes of CotCT, SD and LOF as they would still be necessary to play the AP in its updated form. It would also avoid the risk of people cancelling their subscription thinking that they can just wait for a compilation.

These updates could be published in a 64 page module format or a 100 page AP format as necessary. Or if printing would be too costly or if more than 100 pages were needed, maybe you could do a pdf only format like you are doing for "The Emerald Spire" mega-adventure.

Anyway, I know this wouldn't be a hit with everybody, but I would definitely buy these updates.

I agree with this. Even if it were PDF only to keep costs down, I would like to see an "official" version of an update to all the 3.5 AP's. This would keep people buying the older stuff (like I did with one of the SD AP sales), without being overly cost prohibative. Note that this would still cost time, treasure and talent from Paizo to do however even in a PDF. Without a clear indicator that this would sell well, it is unlikely to occur.

If you want to see the conversions happen though, supporting the option most likely to be funded IMHO(a "7th part of the 3.5 AP's) is most likely the best horse to back at this current time.

I liked the idea of critical hit/fumbles as a DM, until I sat on the other side of the screen and did the math. I realized that on a very bad run run of luck, my entire party could be killed by one kobold who wouldn't even have to raise his weapon as we all could (theoreticaly) kill ourselves with our own weapons. Extreme? Yes, but possible with what I was using in my own game at the time.

I have since modified my views on critical hit/miss charts. Do I still use them? Yes. But it involves much more of my players interaction and consent to use them now.

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Mr. Creighton. I currently have 26 of your products. I have found them all to be enjoyable although not all of them are five star worthy. (IMHO of course) I don't post much in general, (lurker mostly) so real review write ups would be more than I am willing to do right now.

Some of those were free of course, and most of them were obtained on sale. However, every one of them was worth the price I paid for it. Including the ones I purchased at full price. I keep track of your products and will continue to do so. I like them quite a bit.

So the final score here so far is you 26 (27 after I DL portcullis) and the other gentleman 0. 27-0 is a sound thrashing sir, regardless of the sport. Keep up the good work.

So I want to build a campaign from level one with Keyser Soze (from The usual suspects) as the eventual BBEG. Mr. Soze, (working through a Kobayashi type to be named later) is the one who will initiate the party getting together using the movie device of "You have all stolen from Mr. Soze and now it's time to pay off your debt". (It beats having them all meet up in a tavern) They are all CN for this adventure so far so this will not be a good oriented adventure. I also know that regardless of whatever happens they will want a shot a Mr. Soze eventually (I know I would) which is why I will need to get him stated up at some point.

But it raises the question. Who exactly should Keyser Soze be? Godfather of gangsters working out of a place like Riddleport? A legendary mythical free Pirate of the Shackles? A major player behind the scenes in Cheliax? Not one person but a group of people working for some nefarious goal?

Expanding on that theme, which high level champion of a God or Goddess in the Golarion pantheon would be the most interested in the role if the campaign makes it that far? Asmodeus? Norgorber? What AP's are the most easily adapted to such a premise?

I have some thoughts, but more input is very welcome.

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270. This is the only town with Cheetos.
271. There is plenty of darkness here at night to cast your magic missile at.


He got the shaft when 4th ed. came out but I'm an old 2nd ed guy anyway so that didn't matter much to me. I had a Batman style Paladin dedicated to him back in the day.

These days as a part time DM I like what my PC's approach to being a cleric of Besmara has been so far. I like Gorum myself.

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I wouldn't punish the players for making a sound (but harrowing) tactical choice. Instead I would move the goalposts on them.

So you originally planned to have the end battle in a fortress. Great! Use that same fortress, but leave a high level lackey lieutenant guarding a teleportation circle to wherever you want the new "final battle" to take place. As Mario taught me as a wee lad, "Your princess is in another castle."

I wouldn't just make another castle though. And now you have time to make it Epic. Mini demi plane of Frost? Why not? Your circle could go anywhere. Does your BBEG realize that the PC's are adapted for cold magic? Make the final fight deep in a scalding desert with a powerful previously unrevealed fire wielding ally. Or the reveal of the BBEG's long term plan of trying to slay said fire creature by bringing Ice to a fire realm. The choices are endless.

The bottom line is that your players shouldn't know that this is where the final battle is. If they think so, let them. It makes the reveal of yet another place to go that much better.

Don't extend this out to far however. Having the "real" princess never get rescued really does get old after a while.

Thanks again. You have all raised interesting questions. I made it a point OOC before the group broke for the night to ask if everyone had fun. We all said yes. The rest of the players (and the DM) are enjoying themselves which is all that really matters at the end of any gaming session. No one got loud or obnoxious about this incident OOC before or after it happened.

I honestly don't remember why the fighter insisted he wanted to go in there. The room description wasn't indicating some kind of gigantic treasure hoard. Right after the up or down vote failed his character immediately moved into "I'm going in there!" mode and it was grapple check time. He did mention the xpees after the fact though, but I don't think it was the whole reason for going in. On a side note we didn't search the room after the fight, we left and camped so we do not know what's in there.

I will call for a OOC meeting before this weeks game to see what's going on and deconstruct last week. It could be as simple as the fighter feels he's not getting enough spotlight time. That can happen in a six person group.


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First off, wow. Thanks for all of the replies even if most of them are pointing out flaws in my take on the situation. Secondly, I'm currently on my break and can't give a full reply at this time.

Ok, my domains are tactics and ferocity. They are not Leroy and Jenkins. The party had a plan to deal with the skeleton after we found the Clerics who are currently our top priority. We have found out through an NPC we rescued that the bad guys have reinforcements on the way and that they are rapidly trying to finish whatever escavation they're doing. So time is a major issue with us at the moment.

My character already had his "moment of glory" by rushing in to a bar fight in hommlet. He ran in, threw some punches, slipped on a puddle of spilled beer, (nat 1+ fumble check) and cracked his head against a table. This knocked him out for three rounds. The character decided this was his gods way of telling him to use proper tactics, even in something as simple as a tavern brawl. This has altered his view of all combat since then.

The skeleton in question did not move towards us as we opened the door. We backed away and observed it for a round or two, making skill checks to figure out what it was and why it wasn't attacking. The room was the last one on a level and had another door we could lock/bar to hinder anyone who came to claim it. Not perfect, but we still are pressed for time.

We do also have a Druid and a Summoner in this game so extra healing is available. I concede the point that not healing him is also bad tactics but because I told the character beforehand that I wouldn't heal him I couldn't take that back afterwords.

Lastly, the fighter in question is a bow specialist who had his bow out when he went into that 20 by 20 room.(Ogre skeleton in middle) His only actions were to get hit and run away yelling "run!" to the rest of the party at the top of his lungs as he ran by us.

Thanks again for all the replies.

So my party is currently investigating the moathouse in Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil. (Retooled for PF) I'm playing a battle cleric of Gorum, although I am CG instead of CN.

The fighter of the party decided that he wanted to enter a room guarded by an Ogre skeleton, even though it didn't aggro when we opened the door.
The rest of the party did not. We're currently looking for the Cleric or Clerics in charge, not random monsters that aren't actively attacking us. We voted up or down to go in the room and he was the only one who wanted to go in.

The fighter ended up being grappled by our Monk (aided by our Gunslinger)when he attempted to go in and was told in no uncertain terms that if he went into the room that he was on his own. The rest of the party went out into the hallway before the fighter was released from the grapple.

He promptly entered the room with the Ogre. By the time the party retreated to the courtyard upstairs (to give us more room to fight the Skeleton) he was at one hp. Other members of the party were attacked by the Ogre and saved only by a combination of poor dice rolls by the DM and good buffs. The skeleton was defeated.

But the party was forced to retreat from the moathouse in part because of the increased spell consumption due to this fight and the fighter still being bloody after downing his two cure light potions. I told him "I refuse to heal your stupidity and lack of common sense." even though I had cures available before we rested for the night. I did offer long term care overnight, which was accepted. He is still bloody now as we are poised to head deeper into the moathouse.

In short the fighter acted against the wishes of the entire group. He displayed a complete lack of common sense, proper tactics (by going in alone and aggroing it back to us, and failure to listen to the will of the party.

Everyone seems to be fine with what happened (DM included), but I thought I would check with those of you who have experience with Gorum to see if this is character appropriate.

*A bent and bedraggled old Gnome steps forth from the shadows of the rain lashed deck you are currently standing upon. He serves little purpose now but to regale the crew with stories and songs of the times that used to be. This aged man spins his tales with such force and conviction however that all who listen are convinced that they are standing next to these legends of a forgotten era. He pauses for a moment before he begins to speak.*

Avast yea scurvy ridden old sea dogs! Gather round now! For this is a tale of a group of unlikely companions. A story of men and women from different backgrounds, kingdoms, and countries from all across (and underneath) the various nations of Golarion. These poor sods were thrown together in the hold of a pirate ship called the Wormwood. Those people, these beings, and ultimately this crew, may have gone on to change the face of politics and (more importantly) the opportunity for plunder in and around the islands called the Shackles forevermore.

The Goddess of pirates and sea monsters is a fickle lady however, and she may have turned her gaze (and luck on saves) away from these particular humanoids in due time... But every epic yarn has a beginning, and this one is theirs.

The Formidably Maid in Port Peril’s “dockside neighborhood” may seem an… unlikely source of a launching point for such a world altering narrative. It is true however, that every person of interest to you, my gathered listeners would have noticed had passed through this rather ordinary, rough around the edges, run down, and oftentimes downright mean old tavern at some point during the evening of the now legendary parties “recruitment”. The fact that they later had a “burning desire” to revisit it (and its bartender) at some point only adds to its appeal and luster.

These creatures ran the gamut of races in Golarion, although to be honest most of them were half elven. All were of different nationalities to be sure, and most would have never even dared to dream of working with let along fighting alongside a Drow, a half Elf from another land, an Undine, or a Gnome. But such is life aboard a pirate vessel. You adapt or you get keelhauled. If you are lucky.

The only party member not to be found inside the Maid when the excitement began was the half elven Druid. She was (not so) secretly following the senior officers of the Wormwood after their attempted sale of an exotic snow leopard for the infamous pirate Captain Harrigan. She wished to save the beast from such a cruel fate. A blow to the back of her head while she was “surveying the ship for weaknesses” ended her crusade for the remainder of the evening.

The rest of our band of surly cutthroats were enjoying the “atmosphere” of the Maid. To be honest actually, all were by turns content or ecstatic except the half elf Fighter. She was much too busy getting kicked in the face by a monk (npc) in a “bare knuckles brawl“ contest in the fighting pit at the far end of the bar. After her defeat (pun intended) she did come around long enough to try and spit defiantly at the winner. “Yea kicked me in the face you swarmy blasted son of a goat!” She spat, “By Besmara’s blade I swear I’ll get you back for that!” She cried.
The “health potion” she drank shortly afterwards ended her night after that.

The half elven cleric of Besmara actually won quite a bit of gold betting on the Monk in the fight. She was very, very happy about that, but the (several) rounds of drinks she bought in celebration of that fact were not exactly what she had ordered. And cost quite a bit more than she thought they would as well.

The Gnomish Rogue and his “new bestest friend *hic*” the Undine Sorcerer were too excited by the prospect of the “free booze!” being offered by the Cleric to notice its odd aftertaste. Until the next morning that is when it was much too late to start being wary of such things.

Which leaves us with the Drow. A “slightly abnormal” surface dwelling Drow to be sure, but a dark elf none the less. His bearing and mannerisms reminded the oldest patrons of the alehouse of a similar looking elf who had brought a reign of infamy and terror to the Shackles decades ago. He stayed aloof of the goings on around him, politely refusing all “extra” food and drink offered to him. When he noticed the others being dragged out by their “friends” though, he decided that it was time to go to his nearby inn for the evening. Four additional “friends” with saps from the Wormwoods crew ensured that his peaceful nights sleep would be aboard a ship of Captain Harrigans choosing however.

So it was that this wild bunch of hooligans from far away places found their fates intertwined in the hold of a creaky, aging, and decidedly deadly pirate vessel. Where did it take them? Aye lads, that is a story for another day.

*His job done for the night the aged Gnome Bard retires for the evening, to continue his tale on another night.*

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So. I am old. Let me throw that out there as this post harkens back to the days of yore when Top Secret was brand new and full of new car smell goodness.

The three of us (1 DM/whatever they called it and two PCs) had finally found a free weekend where we could all get together and test drive this new game. (Average age 17)

The DM had been able to run an encounter or two beforehand without us and he was the DM in our semi regular D&D game so that made him an expert in our eyes. We were total noobs.

We spent the better part of two hours crafting our characters and outfitting ourselves as IRA "freedom fighters" on an op in London. Remember that this was "back in the day" when judging from the news at the time, you could see it happening.

Well, not like this.

We start actually playing and my friend (who was driving our car) drives to the nearest pub "full of loyal Britons" and sets about five pounds of C-4 off on a timer in the mens bathroom.
Oddly enough while this is happening, quite a few patrons of said establishment start to wonder why we are parading through their bar dressed like soldiers and carrying "extremely illegal equipment" around.

They try to stop us. The bartender calls the cops. My friend starts shooting. As we get out, the C-4 goes off just as "all the cops in London" seem to be headed to our location. "No worries" Says my friend. "I have a plan"

We abandon the car and run to the tube/subway/whatever and get into a subway car filled with "terrorized" cityfolk. My friends plan at this point is brought to the fore as he calmly pulls a grenade off of his web belt, pulls the pin, holds it up in the air and screams "I HAVE A GRENADE!!"

The panicked townsfolk scatter slamming into both of us in a mad rush for the doors. I fall prone, and my friend sadly looses his grip on the white phosphorus grenade he's holding.

I told the DM I was going to try to run, but he said "don't bother" as he explained to us in great painstaking detail for several minutes about the rules on cooking off additional ammo and grenades. (This would be after we were all long dead from the original grenade of course)

I didn't get to fire one shot, drive one car, or punch one patron of the bar. It was the best twenty three minutes of roleplaying in my entire life.

To this day I call up my best friend once a year and yell "I HAVE A GRENADE!!" into the phone. I am most likely on an FBI watchlist somewhere.