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So looking through the thread, it seems that perhaps my group was just well equipped for Vordakai? Thinking about it a bit, I can see where a group that lacks a paladin or monk, or someone with a magical blunt weapon might struggle more. Though I do still think that his spell selection is a bit lackluster -- especially considering he's encountered on his own.

In a similar vein, I find the wizard in Drelev to be just an annoying speed bump. He won't really trouble any party at that level. In and of itself, that might not be a bad thing though if you are looking to just have an easy encounter tossed in there. Plus, its not as though he's the BBEG.

One thing that would be good to consider for the new version though is that I imagine most groups are likely to largely abandon the Hexploration by book 3 or certainly book 4. Its pretty cool early on, but rapidly becomes redundant. To that extent, perhaps come up with a few other ways for the group to earn XP (assuming the DM isn't leveling them up as needed without XP).


Canarr wrote:

Adding to 6), even though that may be going beyond this thread: I find the Flash of Insight ability way overpowered. Basically a Crit on demand, for a creature that already deals a ton of damage? Where's the fun in that?

The campaign I'm running is still in RRR, but I'm already planning to change Flash of Insight into something defensive - maybe a 50% miss chance for a number of attacks per day, or the ability to negate a crit per day, something like that. Give the cyclops more staying power, without the risk of one-shotting my PCs.

On a more general note, the AP would greatly benefit from more interaction with the Kingdom's neighbors. As written, neither Varnhold nor Drelev are actually a Kingdom on par with the players', Mivon isn't even a footnote, and Brevoy only very occasionally rears its head. There is a lot of potential lost here for a great political/military campaign.

Just a quick point that flash of insight only really guarantees a potential crit. The confirm roll, as I understand it, would still need to be made. For the standard undead cyclopes in the adventure, this wasn't a huge deal as they mostly failed their confirm rolls anyway, even using the advanced template for the 6 player conversion. For the graveknight though, its a legitimate concern, but does admittedly go a bit beyond the scope of the thread (even though I brought it up) since that was community created material, not published inclusion.

Of course, every group is different, so your players might end up with lower ACs than mine did due to class selection, feats, items, etc., in which case the flash of insight could be a bigger problem. Vordekai's melee touch is a bit more problematic with flash of insight as well, but the flip side to that is the damage is almost non-existent. The real threat there is the potential permanent paralysis, but at the same time there's multiple opportunities in the adventure itself for the PCs to get access to Freedom of Movement without even considering prepared spells.


Brother Fen wrote:

It breaks down into about four parts.

Part one involves learning of the shadow fey problem as they take over Zobeck which you can switch with a city of your choice.

Part two is the shortest and involves making the journey through the shadow road to the courts of the shadow fey.

Part three involves the PC's arrival at the court and their slow rise in status through dueling and alliances.

Part four involves the feast, the firebird chase and petitioning the queen.

The final section which is an extension of the previous one involves confronting the Moonlit King.

Some parts can be left out relatively easily, but part three can be rather time-consuming as it may take some trial and error as the PCs get caught up in courtly intrigue and try to raise their status enough to gain an audience with the queen.

Good to know, thanks! I'll be downloading this shortly and giving it a read through. Might need to get a bit creative and/or streamline, but definitely sounds interesting. Fortunately I have some time to figure it out. We're missing our next, biweekly session and the party just knocked off V so there's going to be probably at least a session or two of dealing with the fallout (they are still in the throne room since we ended with the monk plucking out his own eye) and then kingdom building. In the end, I am looking for something to fit in between VV and B4B just because I know the party will be skipping much of the B4B, but I will report back on what I figure out!


Brother Fen wrote:

It's easy enough to adjust the CR by adding more creatures. The main problem with using it in Kingmaker without dropping another book entirely is that it's not a one-shot. It's a rather involved sandbox which can take up quite a bit of time. At a weekly, then bi-weekly pace, I think it took me about 18 months to run the adventure in its entirety, but I did not skip anything and ran every possible scenario involved.

A good GM could probably speed it up by changing the status rewards/penalties, but it will take some work to modify.

Thanks for the quick response. I doubt I would run it in its entirety, though I don't mind running a chunk of it since I figure a lot of B4B will be essentially cut by the players. It also sounds like a nice change of pace after the dungeon crawl at the end of VV and what will more or less amount to dungeon crawls in Drelev and Armag's Tomb. Looks like I'll give it a good read through and see what can easily be plucked. Our group tends to progress pretty slowly anyway given that we do a lot of "beer and pretzels" and then miss a number of sessions due to our assorted schedules.


Just curious how this has worked out for others, and how easily it could be adjusted up a few levels? I'm asking because my party just killed Vordakai and I'm looking for something to toss in before Blood for Blood. Main reason being that my party is pretty much done with the whole hexploration thing. They didn't really do it in VV, and I can't say I blame them. I have already run much of Felnight, so this does feel like it could mesh in fairly easy -- even if I lop off big chunks. Might be good to use to get them up at least one level to 11 before sending them to Drelev, then assuming they clear Drelev, they can be 12 when they go after Armag.


Name: Bernard
Race: Human
Classes/Level: Paladin 9
Adventure: Varnhold Vanishing
Location: Vordakai's Tomb
Catalyst: Graveknight
The Gory Details: The party had trekked through Vordakai's tomb looking for their missing party member (arcanist had wandered off after being reduced to 1 Wis and been captured). After fighting the water elemental off, the party opened the door to confront Vordakai. Opening the door the saw their missing party member strung up in chains and a large, armored foe. A voice boomed that party was meddling where they did not belong and that they should leave but they did not listen and ventured in further. The Graveknight (I have 6 PCs) rushed forward toward the paladin and Flash of Insight + Smite Good + Power Attack saw poor Bernard slice from his right shoulder down to his left hip where he fell in a pool of his own blood and entrails.


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Alright, my group is only halfway through at the moment, having just finished of Vordakai on Saturday. That said, a few thoughts.

1). As noted, the one encounter a day thing is very prevalent here and as a result a lot of the fixed encounters become pushovers. One thing that could potentially be done is to clarify the expected ability gen system. I notice that a lot of groups tend to use 20 point buy, but I think the "default" was 15 if I'm not mistaken. That makes a big difference.

2). Perhaps each adventure could have a few notes about "ramping up the difficulty" if needed? I know that word counts are a thing, but something to help GMs out might not be bad. This could potentially tie into a 6 player conversion (see the threads on here) as well.

3). Hargulka definitely needs some help as noted already.

4). Cephal Laurentus in Varnhold Vanishing was an absolute pushover. His spells don't really do anything and he's a lone caster that is likely going up against a 9th level party. He needs . . . something. Of course, the occasional "easy" encounter, especially in a dungeon, isn't a terrible thing either.

5). Vordakai. Its interesting seeing people's descriptions here. I think this fight is a classic "boom or bust" type of fight. Either Vordakai is going to devastate the party, or he's going to be a pushover. In my game, he was pretty much a pushover. His spells were largely dependent on a failed save to do much of anything. Worse, they were mostly Will saves, which uses the same stat as perception, and thus, gets bumped by a lot of savvy players. I think my party averaged about a +11 on their Will saves, making the saves pretty easy. The result was he was pretty much dependent on his melee touch attack, but was pretty easy to pin in.

His DR can be a great help. Unless of course the party has a monk or paladin. Mine had both. So yeah, my party was pretty well set up for the fight, which is fine, but its just something to keep in mind. I think perhaps a better fight might have been to make him more of a battlefield controller with more minion support. That way his abilities are not so closely tied to the failure of the PCs to make their saves. Also, having him use one of his precious 5th level spell slots on a quickened shield seems like a really questionable decision. He's smart enough to know that the PCs are in his tomb long before they reach him. He's smart enough therefore to be watching/waiting for them. So just have him buff up right before the PCs open the door. He's going to know that they are fighting the elemental presumably anyway. If need be, and frankly it makes sense, his familiar can be hanging out invisible out there (rework V's spells if need be).

Additionally, he's a lich. Even atrophied, he's still really intelligent. More traps littered throughout his tomb would be good. Symbols of Pain, that sort of thing. Not anything that necessarily will kill the party, but enough to use up some more of their resources. More roving dread zombies. Paladins love using their smite evil, and getting them to use them up before they reach Vordekai definitely changes things up.

Finally, I get the atrophied part. He has to be. You can't have a 20th level lich going against a 9th level party. However, I don't like the whole "Oh, he's 9th level now, so you don't have to worry about him coming back." Granted, as GM I can, and will, make it so that he is able to come back, but the threat should be there. I also like the spell dump that comes with his spellbook, but his book should absolutely be warded. A lich is not going to leave his spellbook unprotected.

6). Sticking with Vordakai for a moment, while I think his spell list could be reworked to be a bit more reliable, I just wanted to make a note about the 6 player conversion presented on the forums. The Graveknight definitely helps make the fight far more interesting and deadly for a larger party (I had 6 PCs at the time of my fight), but he a) has the chance to outshine Vordakai (my party largely ignored V because the knight was the bigger threat, especially as none of V's spells were going through) and b) he is particularly deadly as written: Flash of Insight + high strength + axe + power attack + smite good = one shot kill at 9th level. Which is what happened to one of the characters in my group. My group is pretty old school, so they were cool with it, but just a warning for others. I think my suggestions above of making him more a battlefield controller with good minions that have a variety of offensive options (kind of like an adventuring party) would go a long way to making him way more memorable. Of course, a group without bludgeoning attacks or without a paladin will have had a lot tougher time with him. I understand that.

7) Just a general thing. I think there should be something in the modules along the lines of "the clock is always ticking" and making the antagonists more proactive. As written, they all just sit around and wait for the party to show up.

8) Going further beyond the scope of the AP here. At the very least, some more notes about the fate of Brevoy would be good. Something as to what the Civil War entails. Who is aligned with who? The Venture Capital thread provides some great potential for entangling the new kingdom in the affairs of Brevoy should they choose to do so. I realize you can't dedicate a ton of space to it, but something would be nice just to point GMs in the right direction.

9) Finally (for now), there is a super cool hook dangling in the introduction to the campaign. Skywatch. Then, nothing. Absolutely nothing. In many respects, the mystery of Skywatch is even more compelling than Varnhold. I'm making my own stuff for my campaign, which is fine, but even just a few ideas would be helpful. Ultimately, I think a good challenge for Kingmaker (given that the nature of the campaign often makes the combats cake walks) would be presenting the party with more plot lines than they have the time to address. Combine that with "the clock is always ticking" and you may have some complications arise from the sheer fact that the party can't address every little thing. This also adds a certain amount of realism to the campaign as well. A leader of a nation quite naturally has to decide what is and isn't worth her time and then deal with the consequences of that decision later.

Sorry for the long post and I know it strays a bit from the request. All in all though, I have to say that I absolutely love this AP even with some of the flaws that have been noted.


Spatula wrote:
I thought energy damage wasn't multiplied on a crit. So it would be 9d6+90 + 3d6 fire, average 125. Which would still probably kill most characters at that level. But smart PCs will have breath of life handy, because instant deaths will happen around this point, and going forward.

Yeah, you're right, I had missed that part, but still plenty deadly . . . as the paladin found out. Sadly for the paladin, cleric didn't have Breath of Life because he had memorized Raised dead instead since they had list a different party member the day before.


One minor note, Vordakai, as written, already has Mage Armor cast upon himself, so the bracers of armor +4 do not actually add to his AC as they are both armor bonuses.


So it seems the old forum topic on this got lost in the shuffle. Or at least the link to it no longer works.

Anyway, my question revolves around the final encounter with the Graveknight. While I like the addition of a bodyguard to this encounter a lot, I'm a bit concerned at the potential damage output of the knight.

If I'm reading this correctly, with his Flash of Insight, he can Smite Good with a guaranteed Crit Threat while power attacking at 3d6 + 30, plus 3d6 fire, which equates, essentially to 18d6 + 90 if he confirms (albeit 9d6 of it is fire). Even the +90 is likely to drop anyone, with a good chance of outright killing them. The variable damage then averages out to another 56 points.

So 1) Has anyone run this conversion and 2) What did you do/How did it go? I like the idea of upping the challenge for the party obviously, but I'm just afraid that might be a bit much. Frankly, if I were a player and I saw a PC take 146 points from a single weapon attack, I'd be running.


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I'm not sure I would have fully taken away his spellcasting right away like that, but that is neither here nor there.

You are in a bit of a pickle because by punishing the cleric, Desna (i.e. you) is also punishing the party. That said, I agree with Lord Foul. Have her revisit him and let him know that he has strayed dangerously from her path, but that she still believes in his potential. If the party has not yet located the Temple of the Elk, making it a temple of Desna is a great chance for his redemption. She can drop hints of a lost holy site of hers in the woods. More to the point, she not only suggests he reestablish said temple, but to help she gives him back his spells.

As the dream starts to fade though, she leaves him with a final message. "We are not defined by the mistakes we make, but rather by whether or not we learn from them. I believe you have the capacity to learn, do not prove me wrong."

Edit to add: For extra motivation for him, while giving his spells back, don't let him see the stars just yet. Thats a good sign he's still being watched carefully.


Lord Foul II wrote:

One simple thing you could use is the spellcasting is the boss

He can scry and he can summon daemons and he can cast guards and wards

Yup. Big V is pretty familiar with my party. They never did anything to ward off his familiar (not that they knew it was a familiar, but I digress). They are exploring the tomb now and have had some difficulties. The soul eaters did a number on the party and the arcanist wandered off as a result of having a Wis of 1 and got himself captured (back to back crits by the piscodaemon). I had V take special interest in the arcanist an so the arcanist is currently running a modified Xamanthe while they look for him.

The final encounter is about the only challenging one left for the party, so we'll see what happens. They should, hopefully, get there this weekend!


I ended up letting them notice it at the door. Makes sense since the door is the trigger. But just curious how others would have ruled.


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Can't help you personally on the new ruleset, but I don't see any problem with asking Kingmaker specific PF2 rules questions here. Just know that obviously a lot of the people here ran/are running it under PF1.

As for where to go, I think you already have a good start. You can probably keep a lot of the same monsters, just give them stats that are identical or very similar to the published monsters in the new bestiary. So you can still call mites, mites, but instead you are largely using goblin stats, etc. I'm assuming you are already familiar with the assorted Venture Capital and Dudemeister threads which offer great ideas as well. Most important piece of advice though is to have fun!


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Zi Mishkal wrote:

Not actually an encounter - but the overall map. It would be great if you could (a) resolve it with respect to the rest of the world (b) orient it so that north is "up" and (c) include a little more of the borderlands so that players have a much better idea as to where they are with respect to Brevoy, Mivon and Pitax. This last in particular as the stolen lands map actually overlaps Mivon when you orient it onto a regional map.

Many people worked on this problem in the past decade. My solution is here and you are free to use it, whole or in part. That would be sufficient for adventures in the Stolen Lands

A larger, regional map might look something like this. In our campaign, I added an extra book (Book 5.5?) in the area to the east as the PCs explored a lost Taldan colony with a sinister secret. It also gave the PCs an interestting alternative to trading west - trading east to Casmaron! And you can see how a larger map works and helps out the GM by quantifying the landscape. It would also be useful for narrating a Brevic civil war or trips to Iobaria.

So much this. The maps are incredibly annoying as published.


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Indraea wrote:
My interpretation had been 'no', but reading the rules as written, it does say to "choose a third Kingdom attribute" at size 101+, and if you can't take the same attribute multiple times, then there's no choice for a third attribute. Therefore, it appears that, as written, the answer is 'yes', even though that doesn't feel correct/intended.

There are three attributes though (Stability, Loyalty, Economy). You just add Cha to each.

For me, since it says a "second attribute" and a "third attribute" I would say you have to add it to each, not doubling or tripling up on one.


In area W12, there is the Stygian Fires trap that is triggered by opening the door on one side. It's bypassed by lighting the fires and donating blood. My question is, where do the PCs need to search in order to detect the trap? The door? The altars? Either?

Obviously this is one that could easily be ruled differently by different GMs, but just curious what others have done.


Just curious as to what you did with Skywatch? I think this is one of the cooler mysteries in the AP, but unfortunately there is nothing more said about it after the first mention. I too am trying to lay hooks for Skywatch for my party and thus, would love to see what others have done.


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Warped Savant wrote:
Gargs454 wrote:
Yeah I plan to use the marriage contract too, though I have a feeling my players will simply shrug and say "Well, sucks to be you." I mean, this is the group that signed a treaty with Hargulka and gave the keep in Varnhold to the spriggans. We'll see what happens when/if they actually manage to rescue the remaining Varnholders of course.

WOW!!

I hope a lot of them giving land away is either greatly rewarded or majorly bites them in their collective asses.

And I don't know which one I'd prefer to see happen.

Heh, well, a little of both will/would be the outcome. I mean, I'm not going to specifically penalize them for not going in the direction the authors anticipated. That said, Hargulka ended up not being an issue because they wound up attacking him anyway when they believed he had violated the treaty (he didn't really, but they interpreted it differently). They do still have the lizardfolk living there though -- sadly they did not notice the missing boy.

As for the Spriggans, it was kind of a "Not our problem" issue. Though they are obviously missing out on some gear as a result. From an XP standpoint, I don't track XP but rather level up at appropriate times, but I would have given them the same XP as if they had stormed the castle so to speak.

I have to hand it to my group, they are very much a "Hey, if you don't mess with us, we'll leave ya be" group. This did cause some issue with Gregori whom they largely ignored because they figured it was his right to speak out. They eventually got tired of it and managed to out debate him though. The spriggans will be an interesting one to watch though assuming they rescue some Varnholders. I imagine though the PCs might just tell the Varnholders to bugger off since they are learning that they were not exactly the good people they thought they were. Having a Surtova noble come to collect his bride that was promised might almost cement the deal in that regard. The interesting long-term questions will be that there are now a number of potential enemies that have been let go, or who have run off and not been pursued. This could lead to some interesting developments later on.

As a cool side point though, my group of very veteran gamers had no idea that the Hargulka's Monstrous Kingdom stuff was not part of the AP as written, which is very much a big time kudos to Dudemeister. His stuff was so well laid out that it was easy to flow it seamlessly into the adventure.


Warped Savant wrote:

I use Dudemeister's suggestion and had Brevoy send a noble down during book 3 that had a contract for marriage to Varn's daughter (that didn't exist as written but DM added in). It created a fun challenge as the group had to figure out a way to convince her to get out of it, figure out a way she could get out of it, and that entire area was on the line if they failed.

Later, in book 5, I again used a suggestion from Dudemeister and had Brevoy working with Pitax and attacked from the north/east as Pitax was attacking from the west.

Yeah I plan to use the marriage contract too, though I have a feeling my players will simply shrug and say "Well, sucks to be you." I mean, this is the group that signed a treaty with Hargulka and gave the keep in Varnhold to the spriggans. We'll see what happens when/if they actually manage to rescue the remaining Varnholders of course.


I too used the Venture Capital approach with a bit of an assist from the Redcelt's Game of Thrones in Brevoy thread. I'm seeding the story as a bunch of jockeying for position among the various houses and the PCs thus, are roughly allied with half of the great houses, and thus lined up against the other half. When war breaks out in Brevoy, there will no doubt be a call for the PCs to aid one side (especially now that the Baron is married to the granddaughter of Poul Orlovsky).

Additionally, I've been trying to plant a hook for Skywatch (which the PCs haven't really latched onto yet) but setting up a series of observatories (Talon Peak, Candlemere, and Skywatch) that were all part of research being done by the Casmaran Cyclopean empire which ultimately drew the attention of the Dark Tapestry. In my game, the Cyclopes Empire was actually good, though Big V was ultimately tasked with monitoring the Dark Tapestry after the empire was destroyed fighting them off, and his thirst for vengeance has turned him into the evil creature he is now. Ultimately I think the party will have more hooks than they can realistically follow, so we'll see what they decide to latch onto.


Bumping because I too am a bit concerned my players might have a bit of an easy go of it. I do like the changes proposed here, especially the "fleeing Vordekai" option. My party is generally fairly well equipped to handle undead between a cleric, paladin, and two arcane casters. As an example, as they reached the Valley of the Dead, I started with four Dread Zombie Cyclopes (though I missed flash of insight in the stat block). Party started to mow through them so I started to spawn new ones as they were still in the massive cyclopes graveyard. Ultimately I had 12 total (though no more than 4 at once) and the party had very little issue with them. Granted, catching flash of insight would have helped tremendously, but still.

The Soul Eaters will help in the early going, but Big V might be an issue. I do like the Champion proposed in the 6 player conversion but am also a bit worried that flash of insight combined with a 30 AC might prove a bit . . . daunting.

For those who have played with the teleport difficulties described above, did you do anything to allow the PCs a chance to notice the potential danger? My party does have teleport available, so wanting to know what kind of check to give them to notice. Spellcraft probably? So yeah, I think the biggest thing will be to keep the pressure on the party. Don't let them rest in the dungeon, maybe toss in an extra soul eater on occasion, etc. If the party backs out of the dungeon to get a rest, then V can also make preparations. I will definitely be using the 6 player conversion though as I have potentially 7 players, one who is a druid and has a cohort with an animal companion, so there does tend to be a lot of bodies in the fight (though in the dread zombie cyclopes encounter above we were down two players, so it was only a 5 person party).

As an aside, I love the story of the two players that sold the soul jars! Great job on running that!


GeraintElberion wrote:
I prefer when the curse comes because the holy sword was used to slaughter innocents, that kind of plot-curse.

This too. :)


Loren Pechtel wrote:

Some more thoughts on this:

1) The need to identify items pretty much means you can't use the stuff you found until you have downtime to identify it. Whether that is a good or bad thing, though, I'm not sure.

2) Personally, I never use cursed items. I just can't see why anyone would make one and I don't agree with them being due to a failure in making them, either--where did the additional power come from?! Yes, someone could make one as an assassination weapon--but anyone worthy of such effort is going to have a lot of protection and unlikely to go into combat in the first place.

As to #1, I do agree that some of this is a relic of the older versions of the game wherein identifying items was not exactly cheap. More to the point, depending on the style of game you ran, even if you had the money for it, you might not have yet located said material component (this of course, being far more common a game style a long time ago than currently). That said, it can be fun to try to identify items without identifying them, but as a practical matter, you do need to figure out the stats pretty quickly just for bookkeeping purposes. This is especially true as magic items have become more prevalent in the games as well. It might have been pretty easy to add the additional +1 behind the scenes before (or subtract 1 if it were an armor item) but now its a lot more work for the GM.

As to #2, I can think of a number of reasons for creating a cursed item. The necklace of strangulation for instance might be a particularly good assassination item depending on the target. You want to kill the King's daughter in order to (insert reason here), what better way than to gift her a beautiful necklace on her birthday? Done right, you don't even need to be there when she opens it. She'll see a gorgeous necklace and won't be able to wait to try it on!

Or, you are a budding villain who has several key henchmen laying the groundwork for your plan of ultimate doom but you don't fully trust them? How about giving them an item they can't remove so you can scry on them -- works great for when they are killed by those darned adventurers too.

Other items, like cursed swords/armor, I guess that would have to be described more as "something went wrong" that wasn't intended, but I do agree it becomes a little more difficult to explain how it keeps getting passed around. Depends on the nature of the curse I guess.


There certainly have been a lot of player-friendly changes over the years, but you can still potentially make it work. One avenue is artifacts of course. They don't even register as magic. After the early levels though, it will be fairly hard to catch the party with a cursed item. Though there are some instances where you might still be able to make it work.

In a recent campaign, I handed out a ring that gave positive effects to the wearer, with the only drawback being . . . the wearer absolutely refused to ever remove it. The party of course figured out it was cursed in this regard and eventually did a remove curse on it (though all the time prior it still only seemed beneficial). The real curse, as it were, was that it was crafted by the evil archmage that was the ultimate BBEG. His purpose in creating it was to be able to scry on whoever had it in order to gain information.


Derklord wrote:

Yeah, I was only thinking about items that can kill you in combat, not ones with non-lethal drawbacks. I actually plan on using some of the quirks and flaws in Unchained (e.g. a weapon that you can only put back when it has drawn blood, so you'd need to cut yourself or an ally for base damage if you didn't hit an enemy), and even some cursed items (like Broom of Animated Attack or Needful Doll) in my campaign.

I just don't see how an item like Armor of Arrow Attraction, or a weapon that randomly stops working in combat, is any fun. Maybe it's just that schadenfreude isn't my thing.

While I wouldn't necessarily say that a GM who puts an item like that in the game is being a jerk (there could have been non-jerk reasons) I also agree that I don't particularly see the fun in said item. I suppose there could be scenarios where its fun, just don't know what those are.


Derklord wrote:
Gargs454 wrote:
One of the more entertaining series of sessions I had as a player was when another character had obtained a ring of contrariness. It lead to a lot of fun at the table as we had to navigate how to get the character to do what we wanted him to do.
You make a good point - I was thinking more of items like Necklace of Strangulation, Boots of Dancing, or Bracers of Defenselessness. When properly used, relatively harmless items could still exist. Indeed, if the players aren't paranoidal making sure to completely identify every item they've found, it's easier to use the more harmless, fun-for-the-players cursed items.

I am not, per se, opposed to utilizing the more dangerous cursed items, but I do agree those should be relatively rare. The cursed hat of disguise can be fun too. ;)


A lot of this comes from a more "old school" approach back when Identify in another notable rpg required a 100 gp pearl as a material component. Part of that meant that, particularly early on, it was often cost-prohibitive to identify. The flip side was that Identify generally worked when used.

As the game has evolved of course, there has been increasingly less emphasis put on things like material components and accounting. There's much more emphasis put on "just play on" which is understandable. Ultimately though a lot of this comes down to what your group prefers. There's no right or wrong answer to this. Rolling to identify items doesn't take much time. In fact, my players can usually give me the result of their spellcraft rolls much quicker than their attack rolls.

As for cursed items, I am a bit old school in that I do like the occasional cursed item. I think it can bring a fair amount of fun to a game, and I've experienced it both as a player and a GM. One of the more entertaining series of sessions I had as a player was when another character had obtained a ring of contrariness. It lead to a lot of fun at the table as we had to navigate how to get the character to do what we wanted him to do. Made more complicated by one of the other characters just not being overly bright and often interfering. That said, I also understand that not every group is going to enjoy that. Some groups just want to bash skulls. Others just don't want to have to worry about their new shiny being cursed. Nothing wrong with that.

One final note: Someone upthread mentioned that "if you can't identify a magic item, its a pretty good indication its cursed". This is certainly accurate. However, keep in mind that this is also metagaming. Just because you don't think its a powerful item, doesn't mean it isn't. Again, as with all things, there's nothing wrong with metagaming if your group is ok with it. At the same time though, a lot of groups would have an issue with this, and I know plenty of GMs who will, for example, modify a number of monsters in their campaigns simply to avoid metagaming.


These are all excellent suggestions! One thing for the PC influence side of things would be to perhaps incorporate the rules of Ultimate Factions into play, allowing the PCs to take up individual factions within the realm.

I would also love to see some more information on Skywatch. Such a cool mystery they toss in there that is then never explored. more information on the disappearance of House Rogarvia would be great too. I get that the idea on these two was probably to leave it up to the GM to write up something that goes well with their particular campaign as it plays out, but I could easily see most groups simply forgetting about it.

To play along with the dynamic options you mention, you could even do something along the lines of having a sufficient number of hooks that biting on all of them is almost impossible. Thus, what is really going on at Skywatch? What is the impact if nobody ever goes to investigate? Same with House Rogarvia? How about Hargulka? If the party allies with him, how long will he hold up his end of the bargain?

Other options that would be fun to explore:

1. The Brevic civil war. Options for how to handle it -- especially if the campaign has adopted Venture Capital and the party is now tied to certain houses.

2. What do certain named NPCs do if they manage to survive? A certain quickling for instance is a pretty prime candidate to escape death, but he's likely to harbor a grudge.

3. What are the rest of the River Kingdoms doing? And what happens if the PC's nation goes against the Rules of the River Kingdoms?

4. Optional rules for treaties with other nations, etc.


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Pure gold as always DM! Love the stuff on the Observatory. Sadly I somehow missed this when I was running through all the threads in prep for KM so I did not include it in the Talon Peak observatory. That said, I should be able to splice it in somewhere close by. (insert evil grin)


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Completed Talon Peak this weekend. Party loved the Challenge of Air. They were thinking they were going to have to fight the giant, black bird that alighted on the top of the ruined observatory until it spoke mentally to them (in all the languages they knew). They had a fun time trying to hang onto the bird as it flew and banked and dove. Two of them ultimately fell but each had Boots of the Cat so the damage was manageable. I did change up the Spirit of Air and the eggs a bit:

Spirit of Air:
I made the Spirit an "entity that transcends time" and the eggs likewise. Rather than using the eggs for an omelette, I had them being key components in a ritual that the Nomen could conduct. As the Roc transcends time, so too does it eggs, and thus they could catch glimpses of the past and future of places they have been.

The party came back through Varnhold on their way to the Nomen after descending the peak. Thus when they conducted the ritual they got not only some history of the observatory, but could also see the townspeople all get up and walk south at once. For the observatory, I kept it as originally elven but had it eventually inhabited by the Cyclopes wherein they were studying the Dark Tapestry. I ran the version of Candlemere that someone had posted that had hints of Yog-Sothoth cultists, etc. there in the past as part of a Haunted Candlemere, so this is tying into that. Ultimately, in my game, the Cyclopes were fighting the horrors of the Dark Tapestry and Nyrissa in an attempt to gain her freedom and more power ended up joining the Great Old Ones. The Great Old Ones, with some help from N, were ultimately able to more or less wipe out the Cyclopes, but at a great personal cost (they too were more or less banished). Vordakai was the lone survivor and grew extremely . . . vigilant in his efforts against the Old Ones, and views any that would interfere as enemies. I plan to do a vignette for the party at some point where they see much of this play out.

Finally I showed images of Varnhold in battle. First with the centaurs but then a later battle comprised mostly of humans on both sides as a hint that there may be future struggles in Varn (reading ahead to the Brevic Betrothal in DM's Blood for Blood) or just potential fallout from the coming Civil War.

All in all this was a great addition to the module and I am extremely thankful once again for all your contributions DM and everyone else!


Phntm888 wrote:

The good news is that there is a cheap, affordable way to lower your Unrest, which wouldn't require much BP investment: Houses.

A House may not boost any of your rolls, but it does lower Unrest by 1. At a cost of only 3 BP, it may not hurt to abandon some Hexes so you can lower consumption, then spend a couple Kingdom Building turns building Houses to get the Unrest back under control.

A lot of people ignore Houses unless they need one for a building that boosts Kingdom stats, but when Unrest is high and BP is low, they make for a quick, affordable way to lower Unrest.

Good call. Abandon a Hex and then build a house and you negate the unrest and lower the DC.


Huh, just went back and reread the section in Ultimate Campaign, and it does seem as though your GM is right. Though you kind of have to back track a bit from the actual collect taxes part to get that based on an earlier example.

Gotta say, that seems harsh assuming it hasn't been errata'd and seems to make for extreme swings -- especially later on. In the example given, if the PCs make the check, minimum they can gain is 20 BP but one off means zero.


Ahh, thanks for the correction on reducing taxes.

I don't recall what the AP said about collecting taxes at the end, but I know Ultimate Campaign has it as make an Econ roll (d20 + econ bonus) and divide result by 3 (I believe off the top of my head) and that is how many BPs you get. Certain improvements like mines can then add to that. So even if you roll a 3 (like the Treasurer in my game likes to do :p) you still get some BPs.

You can then take those BPs and build buildings that will reduce unrest, which can certainly help offset the unrest generated by siphoning off hexes. Still should probably only do one hex at a time though. This will lower your DC and help a lot.

Also don't forget your bonuses to kingdom attributes from the leadership positions. As your PC's attributes go up, so do the kingdom attributes (in certain cases). Make sure you keep that up to date too.

I would also recommend taking an audit of your kingdom. Check to make sure that you have every bonus being applied. It can get pretty complicated pretty quick, so its easy to miss a +1 here and a +2 there. Every little bit helps though. In the end, it might be worth it to spend a several months worth of kingdom turns concentrating on earning BP and reducing unrest/contracting the kingdom. Once you get the DC back under control, that should help. For the most part, if you are careful with your expansion, you should be able to increase your kingdom attributes alongside your DC, even outpacing it a bit.

If I may ask, where in the AP are you currently?


My group hasn't really run into this problem yet (in large part because I ran the venture capital idea so they had bonus BPs to start). That said, do keep in mind that you can earn BP at the end of every kingdom turn by collecting taxes. If you spend a couple turns not building anything, that should build up your BPs. Remember that you collext based upon the roll, its not a pass/fail. Doesn't per se help with the unrest in and of itself though.

Next thing you can do is lower taxes IIRC (lowering taxes I believe reduces unrest but would have to double check since my party hasn't touched taxes since they were initially set). Also keep in mind that the warden can try to reduce unrest each month (though it is still based on the DC). Jettisoning a hex will lower DC, though the unrest is still a thing (but may be able to be offset elsewhere).

Finally, if you build up some BPs you can then have a festival which I believe also reduces unrest and can help get you out of the cycle -- especially if you can jettison some more hexes temporarily. Don't forget to build farms to balance out the consumption, etc.

All that said, a kingdom can go south really fast if you are not careful. Sorry I can't give you more specifics right now but am at work and thus, away from my books. :p


Arachnofiend wrote:

Fun tidbit, there's a bit of an implication that Desna is an Outer God who's just unusually nice, given that she's closely related to the positive aspects of themes associated with the Outer Gods and some text in Inner Sea Gods stating her true form is horrifying and she prefers not to show it to mortals.

It's not confirmed, of course, but I think it's a neat theory.

Innnnntterrresssting . . . it just so happens we have a cleric of Desna in our group. lol.

And thanks for everyone for their replies, will definitely be taking a look through all that stuff. For the most part, I'm using them more as a side piece in the campaign, but I still prefer to get it as close to right as I can. :)


blahpers wrote:
The Dark Tapestry (clicky)

Thank you Sir!


Hopefully quick question. In the Universe of Pathfinder 1st Ed., where would Cthullu, the Great Old Ones, and similar aberrations be from? In 4th Ed D&D terms I know they'd be from the Far Realm, but did not know what the planar equivalent (if any) was in Pathfinder. Any help would be most appreciated as always!


Derklord wrote:
Gargs454 wrote:
In all fairness, I think the discussion of rolled vs. point buy/array is somewhat off topic for this thread.

The only thing of topic is posty by people who don't differentiate between the boundaries of this thread (i.e. first time GM and first time players) and a generic discussion. "Rolled vs. point buy/array for first time players" is a discussion that's is very much not off topic, and contrary to what Gruingar de'Morcaine said, it's also not something discussed countless times.

Gargs454 wrote:
certain classes were supposed to be rare

Not in Pathfinder. Seriously, that's not something that exists in Pathfinder. Thus, it may be a valid "reasoning behind rolled stats" for a group of players who're at it since the 70's (or 80's, when was that a thing the last time?), but not for this thread.

I mean, are you going to tell a first time player "you can't play the class you wanted because 40 years ago, a similar class had a high barrier for entry"?

Hence the reason I said somewhat OT. I think a detailed discussion of the merits of the various systems gets a bit OT though I agree advising, in general, on a system is not OT. Splitting hairs I suppose, so my apologies in that regard.

As for the second part, I assumed you knew I was referring to the history of Pathfinder and its roots in D&D and why people still choose to roll for stats. More to the point though, if you read my entire post, you'll see that I actually agree with you and recommend NOT rolling stats.


Disclaimer: I don't know if you've changed the history of Trox much in your world (whether explicitly yet or not).

Idea if you want to be a bit . . . cruel: He wasn't separated from his parents. They sold him into slavery, much like they had other children. They used this money to help gain power and influence and now own/captain a powerful Thalcanian naval vessel.


I'm pretty fortunate in that most of my players are pretty invested in the Kingdom Building aspect of the campaign. There are two that are a bit tuned out, though one was earlier until his first character died. The two that are a bit tuned out are moreso because their characters are.

That said, I don't completely agree that the actual kingdom building is an integral part of the campaign, rather just the growth of the kingdom (heck, the AP even gives the kingdom in the background rules). So with that said, what I would likely do in the situation described by the OP is check with the other players (the non-invested ones) and see if they are even want to partake in that phase of the game. If not, you can just deal with the one player that is invested and give an update before each session.

Another alternative that could work fairly well would be to turn the kingdom turns into seasons rather than months. By having a kingdom turn every three months or so, it better allows the PCs to have their time adventuring and only occasionally return to deal with the kingdom stuff. The bottom line of course is that not every player wants to get involved in all the minutiae and there's nothing wrong with that. Additionally, if you are not worrying too much about the kingdom turns, it might give you more time to develop the story elements of the game, which then get your players more invested in the story.

For my mileage, I think that the KM AP provides a very solid foundation for a campaign, but it's just that, a foundation. Its the good and bad about a sandbox game. Lots of great hooks tossed around, but not much development of them. I thin the most successful KM campaigns will require a good deal of flexibility on the part of the GM (not saying OP isn't already doing that btw). You need to listen to your players and watch them. See what they are gravitating to, what they are focusing on. Heck, even the BBEG needs a lot more development by the GM (IMHO) than is in the AP because otherwise, said BBEG kinda comes out of left field.


pennywit wrote:
Lee Hanna wrote:
Wow. Well done.
Thanks. My main thing is if I ever run this again, I'm going to make the bad guys more active, and I absolutely will not use mythic rules.

Heh, yeah I had considered running mine as a mythic game since there seemed to be some good, obvious points for Mythic trials, etc. But had never been in a mythic game before. So started looking at the mythic rules and even just in Tier 1 said "Nope!" :)


In all fairness, I think the discussion of rolled vs. point buy/array is somewhat off topic for this thread. Personally, I understand the reasoning behind rolled stats (certain classes were supposed to be rare), and I also believe I can fun with pretty much any rules system. I do think though that for a first time group (both first time players and a first time GM), that a standard point buy is probably better. If, for example, the group were to roll really low abilities, it would take a decent amount of adjustment on the GMs part to keep encounters balanced. APs are written with an expectation of at least a minimum amount of power level. Granted, in my experience, they don't anticipate fully optimized characters, but they also don't anticipate really weak characters either.


doomman47 wrote:
Derklord wrote:
doomman47 wrote:
3)Never force pointbuy or average hp on your players if they want to roll let them.

Hell no!

If they absolutely want to roll when you say ahead that you're using PB and average HD, they aren't beginners, period. I'm pretty sure over 99% of all players who say they want to roll have played previous editions of D&D and are stuck in nostalgia mode - at which point bringing the point across that it's your campaign, and a Pathfinder campaign, is vitally important.
At most, a beginner might ask why you're using those system, at which point a short explanation à la "rolling can lead to unplayable or overpowered characters, both of which hurts the fun", and you're done.
Point buy is the devil and while there is a risk of getting lower hp than normal by rolling it you can also end up with significantly more hp, though personally I would just say give them max hp all the time instead of just at 1st.

By and large, I don't think HP are the issue with rolling for stats, I think its the abilities themselves. Average roll with 4d6, drop the lowest, is 11. So you have a very real chance of a character with straight 11s across the board, or worse. That simply won't cut it. I mean sure, you could then let them trade one stat down to raise another up, just to get them competent in something, but now you are likely making them really weak in other key areas.

I mean, at the end of the day, its your game and as long as you are having fun, then you are doing it right. But the advantage to point buy is that it allows you a better opportunity to carve out the character you want. Doesn't make it necessarily better, since that's a group by group thing, just different.


A lot of really good advice already. Here are a few more tips to keep in mind:

1) Start small. Not only will you realize that you likely don't know all the rules as well as you thought, your players, being new, certainly won't. Don't be afraid to slowly add elements to the game as your players get a better feel for the rules.

2) Consider limiting the players to the Core Rulebook (or maybe just one additional splatbook). This keeps the options down, makes it easier for both the players and you to learn the rules, and avoids analysis paralysis.

3) A good way to help the party without actually fudging dice rolls is to look at the ability scores of your monsters. Many, many, monsters are not actually all that bright. That means that they likely will also not use really good tactics. In many cases, you will be much smarter than the monster. An example: In a recent session, my players came across a Giant Advanced Dire Bear. Its attacks were powerful and quickly had the monk (initially the only PC in range) down to near zero hit points. Other PCs arrived to assist though and started to hit the bear as well. Tactically, the best course of action was probably to finish off one character, then move to the next. This reduces the number of attacks/actions of the party against the bear. However, the bear had Int 2. It wouldn't really know that. Instead, it knew that these pesky creatures kept hitting it, so it struck back at anything that attacked it, thereby spreading its attacks out across several characters. Still a challenging encounter, but not, as it turned out, a deadly one.

4) As others have said, take your cue from the players. Every group and every player is different. Some groups just wants to bash skulls into powder. Others can have a grand ole time without ever picking up a die. Most are somewhere in between.

5a) Make your players give you some sort of background for their characters (or give it to them if using pre-gens). The background can be as simple as a series of questions; #1 Why adventure? #2 Who was your mentor/close friend/loved one? #3 Who is your nemesis?

5b) Use those backgrounds in your adventures. Even with an AP, you can seed those backgrounds into the adventures. One of the PCs hates half orcs? Well, that bandit is a half orc instead of human. The Church of Erastil sent the PC out to gain wisdom and experience to better serve her god? Well, that temple of Desna that is in trouble is now a Temple of Erastil. You get the idea. It gets the players involved and invested in their characters without really changing anything on your end.

6) Remember the golden rule: If you and your players are having fun, then you're doing it right!


I love puzzles and other skill based challenges and find that they can be a lot of fun.

However, as Mark Hoover states above, you have to be very careful. The biggest problem with puzzles and riddles and the like is that they always seem obvious to the person who crafts it, or who already knows the answer, but they are not always obvious to other people. What's worse, this is an area where it just feels wrong to let the "character" figure it out when the "player" can't.

What I mean by this is, none of us can fight a dragon, but our characters can, and we understand the basic mechanics behind it (roll to hit, etc.). When presented with a puzzle though, often times the character will be much more intelligent or wise than the player (note this isn't meant as an insult, just that most of us, myself included, are not 18 Int types). But, when the player gets stuck on a puzzle, there's no real mechanic to help them out. I mean sure, you could do an Int or Wis check to get a "hint" but that . . . feels wrong. Same with an Int check to just solve it. Even worse. Even if the character would have been smart/wise enough to figure it out.

The key with puzzles and riddles and the like is this: don't make them a mandatory obstacle to defeat in order to progress. Rather, defeating said puzzle/riddle should instead give the party an edge. Using LotR for instance. "Speak 'Friend' to enter." should not have been required in order to enter the dungeon. Notice how the quest ground to a halt when they couldn't figure it out. Rather, it should have been used to gain entrance to the secret entrance that would bypass much o Moria and avoid the orcs altogether. Not being able to figure it out, the party could have still gone through the front door. Etc.

One of the things I've done in the past, especially 4th Ed., is to have hindering traps in the middle of an encounter. For instance, the trap that shoots a ray of energy at people in the room. The ray might not do a lot of damage (compared to the main enemies in the room), but if ignored, the damage will add up. Something like this can also let certain characters, like the rogue for instance, shine in a combat that might otherwise not have been ideally suited for him. Hard to sneak around in an open room, but hey, the rogue can disable the trap while everyone else is fighting, etc.


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Quick update:

Party is making friends with the Centaurs and has dispatched the manticores. Then also went to visit the linnorm grave and planned to go to the grotto after that but decided to go around the mountains rather than over them. That is until they started to pass by Talon Peak anyway and found the watchtower.

Great job on the tower. They found it suitably creepy. Only thing I realized too late is that the Captain should have died of dehydration rather than starvation (that only takes about 3 days as opposed to about 3 weeks) but fortunately none of my players noticed it. Party is about halfway up the peak now, though they had yet to receive all the hooks for it. Mainly, they know that the spirit of air resides there but did not know about the eggs. I had one of the mephits mention "valuable eggs" on the peak so they might continue to progress. The bear was a fun encounter, though I upped it a bit into a Giant Advanced Dire Bear (CR 10). Made for a fun and challenging encounter but one that was still very manageable. One thing to point out though, if your party only really sends one guy up front to hold off the big bad while everyone else peppers from range, it could get real ugly real fast with my version of the bear. My party had three (plus an animal companion) up there, so it worked out well as I had the bear swing at anything damaging it (Int 2, so not the best tactician).

The peak is turning out great so far though. Party loved the journal even if they don't realize its drawbacks yet. They are now thinking that something on the peak might be the cause of the Varnholders disappearance, but are confused because nothing they have encountered yet would explain what they found in the village.


I am Nemesis wrote:


I WANT the final encounter to be memorable!! And IF the DM has it all planned out, let there be a SEQUEL. The big bad ran away but he's back in an even badder way; he'd never been beaten before and this is a desperate grab to regain his power or whatever the narrative, I want it to be memorable, even if it ends in character death. Memorable. That's what as a Player, I care about.

As a DM, that's what I want; my player's to talk about and reference the game I ran for year's to come. Who cares if it was a TPK, as long as it was Memorable.

Can't agree with you more. Ironically, I had a player complain once because the boss of the adventure (not even the campaign), "ran away" when it looked like the boss would lose. Of course, said boss was a dragon. I just kind of looked at the player and was like "So if the roles had been reversed, and your character was looking like he was going to die but had a readily available escape route, you'd just stand there and fight in vain to the inevitable death?"

Player: Well no, but that's different.
Me: Eyeroll.

Seriously, though the big bad, mean, intelligent, ruthless, bosses are the best and most memorable. I had one boss in a former campaign that the party never did kill despite fighting 3 or 4 times (sadly the campaign ended before its ultimate conclusion due to real life) but the players were always talking about her. The boss put more than one character into the grave. Taunted the characters. Even thanked them a couple of times (the boss would get stronger when it got sufficiently damaged). Had the PCs in fits, but the players chomping at the bit to kill her.


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First off: There are many, many ways to play the game. So long as you and your group are having fun, you've chosen the right way.

Now, for me:

1. Characters can, and sometimes do, die. Yes, this is inconvenient in storytelling terms. However, the threat of actual death does make the successes more memorable. Otherwise, lets just play group story time.

2. If the party can recover the dead character's body, I usually make it so that they can find a way to revive said character should the player actually wish it (newsflash, sometimes they don't). I even do this at low levels by allowing a friendly NPC to use a scroll, spell, etc. Of course, the party may not have the funds on hand for said service, in which case they now have a debt.

3. Sometimes, I screw up. When this happens, I own it (and even the OP admits this). If that happens, then there's some form of a reboot. I try to tell a story with it if I can, but sometimes you have to resort to the really bad dream. By the way, the really bad dream cliche is great for GM screw up. Not so great for "Well that just didn't go the way we expected, stupid dice."

4. Sometimes the players screw up. The death of their character gives them a good incentive to learn. A lot of players believe that brute force is always the best strategy. Its not. Again, hopefully your group learns from the experience and more to the point, hopefully some of them made it out.

5. I also do not like to set up encounters that don't have an "out". In other words, I like to make retreat a valid option most of the time. Sure, there will be occasions when that just doesn't make sense, but those should be fairly rare. Now if nobody chooses to retreat . . . see #4.

6. GM screens are great for when things are truly going haywire. That 19 on the die? Ooops I only saw the 1. Or maybe the BBEG had a few less HPs than the notes say. Or perhaps one of those higher level spells was already use on something else.

7. BBEG's can be pretty petty, cruel, crazy, etc. So, as hinted by an above poster, when the BBEG kills a couple of PCs but a few other PCs escape, the BBEG sees the dead PCs for what they really are, an opportunity. Maybe they bring back the PC so they can interrogate them to learn more about the surviving PCs. Maybe they want to have a lot of fun torturing said PC. Maybe they want to make the PC fight her comrades when the party comes back, leaving the party with another moral dilemma. Maybe they just want to put the PC's head on a stake outside the gate as a warning. Naturally, this doesn't help with a full on TPK, but you get the idea.

8. TPKs can and occasionally do happen. For me, a lot depends on the group here. Some groups prefer to have the "entity" pull their hides out of the fire and thus, have the debt, etc. and carry on with the story. Others, "Well, that sucks, but it was a cool fight at least. What characters do you guys want to play next?" For that latter group, you can even start off at about the same level if you want.

Got a really cool campaign story going that you didn't get to finish? No sweat, start the next campaign in the same setting, but maybe fast forward X years. Now the players get to see what has happened as a result of their failure. BBEG has taken over the land, everyone is in service, etc. But there are a few beacons of hope, small pockets of resistance, etc., etc. Your story goes on, it just takes a different, unexpected twist. Best of all, you can pepper the new campaign with occasional tales of the heroes of yesteryear.

Finally, I have a table full of really long time players, some with some serious RPG cred. When they reach the level where things like Res are available, I fully expect them to do things like, give fingernail clippings, or hair clippings, to everyone in the party. Just in case. There's even some semi-historical sway in this. Japanese pilots in WWII cut their fingernails and put them in a box before going on kamikaze runs so that their families would have something to bury.


I am Nemesis wrote:

Gargs454- do your players read these boards &/or know your handle/screen-name?

if they don't i'd like to see what items your intending to give your other players? maybe we could help with those items, too.
mostly i'm curious about the party make-up; classes/races/play-style? it would help to design some truly iconic items.

They do unfortunately read the boards. :p

There is definitely a wilderness and divine theme going on in general. Not much on the brute strength side of things. Give me a bit and might be able to spoiler tag some of what's going on. ;)

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