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Organized Play Member. 816 posts. No reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 3 Organized Play characters.

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Demoralize comes to mind

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OsmoticFerocity wrote:
The Gleeful Grognard wrote:

As said by others general archetype dedications existed before and in the same book that ancient elf came in. It isn't an oversight.

Interactions with stuff like Eldritch trickster however...

Oh no, don't start that up again!

Thanks folks! Appreciate your input! I'll see if the GM wants to relax it, as mentioned. In case anybody was curious, I'm afraid I'm not trying to do anything interesting (OP). It's just a matter of prerequisites not lining up and one of the APG archetypes has a lower prerequisite and offers the feats I was after.

Yeah definitely RAW I don't believe it was an oversight. If one of my players wanted to do it though, I'd likely allow it as long as it didn't seem to be overly cheesy. (Which is of course very subjective).

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One of the Age of Ashes backgrounds gives it too I believe -- Dragon Scholar.

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Claxon wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
I'm not sure telling the OP to optimize their party and tactics is really helpful, or even necessarily a counterargument against implementing the kinds of houserules they're talking about. "Optimize or die" isn't as fun for some people as it is for a lot of us here.

Agree strongly here.

Parties have to be designed to cover the various roles and skills which means you can't always make your character exactly the way you want.

Very good point. PF2 does seem to really rely upon the party being able to cover a lot of different bases. The monsters definitely hit more frequently and harder than the PCs, but they tend to not have the same set of tactics available to them (though sometimes they have other abilities that PCs wish they had).

Just as an example, in my current party my barbarian was initially conceived as being a somewhat typical "angry" barbarian. Reach, Athletics and Intimidation were going to be the main schtick. The only real outlier was he had Battle Medicine from his background, though still was not particularly great at it (Wis of 12). Then our large party saw a couple of players leave, including the cleric. So, I decided to focus a bit more on the medicine aspect and take Medic Dedication. Obviously not an ideal choice as a barbarian, but it got my medicine skill up high enough at level 2 to not have to worry about crit failing (except on a nat 1) and still be good enough to almost always succeed. This also frees up the alchemist to be able to do a bit more in combat than just run around healing people.

Then some ugly demon decided it didn't like my polearm and completely destroyed it. (stupid demon). Unfortunately, still being level 2 I don't really have enough cash to buy a new polearm, but I do have a long sword I found and can afford to pick up a shield to increase AC. Not ideal, but its rolling with the punches until I get some more coin. Flexibility is king I think in PF2. This will also be handy as I am really the only true frontliner in the party at the moment. So the shield, while not ideal, will at least help me from getting hit as often (or at least fewer crits -- the party has nicknamed me the Crit Magnet).

As for the suggestion of No PC deaths by Puck, certainly different strokes for different folks can apply. I will say though, that a PC death doesn't, in and of itself, have to be the end of the story so to speak. My barbarian I mentioned above? Actually my second character in the campaign because my bard was crit by an acid arrow at level 1 for massive damage (just the start of the crit magnet). So I had my barbarian come from the same community as the bard. The barbarian had received a vision of the bard falling through space and took it as an ill omen. He set out in search of the bard only to arrive just a little late (the vision was several weeks prior). So now the barbarian has reason to suddenly be there and has some connection. There's also an NPC from the same quah in the campaign already, so there's plenty of connection and means to continue the story of sorts. Doesn't always work out that way of course, and certainly I can understand the desire to keep stories going. One thing to keep in mind for the GM of any game is that a failure by the party need not mean a tpk. Some enemies will want hostages, or captives to interrogate, or just to be left alone to continue there evil schemes, etc. Just because you can kill the party, doesn't mean you need to.

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If you go back and look at my posts what you'll see that my argument is simply that the rules here do not provide a clear cut answer. You claim that dedication feats are more specific than arcane trickster's dedication feat feature and the feature of ancient elf, yet your interpretation of how to come to that does not appear in the book. It simply says specific trumps general. It does not say determine it the way you do. Hence the reason there are a number of people on both sides of the issue.

These issues come up a lot in rpgs because the designers don't think of all possible outcomes or combinations and certainly don't describe specifically how to adjudicate all of those outcomes. On top of that, they then use language that doesn't always clear up the issues. Even "too good to be true" is far from clear because that's very much in the eye of the beholder.

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That's exactly my point though, I don't see the double dedication as increasing the power level very much. On their own, dedication feats offer a slight boost but not much. Certainly an extra feat at first level is noteworthy, but still not major given the limitations IMHO. As an example, it's not so powerful that everyone who wants an arcane trickster will also be an ancient elf and certainly not so powerful as to make every rogue a trickster or ancient elf, etc.

I still disagree with you on specific vs. general. Dedication feats limitations is a general rule but we'll have to agree to disagree. I would definitely agree with you if the wording on trickster was "gain a feat". That would be a general rule wherein the limitations of dedication feats would be more specific. But as I said we'll have to agree to disagree.

Regardless, as I said earlier, I agree with you on what the likely intent was, but as written it leaves ambiguity.

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thenobledrake wrote:

Dedication feats have a special clause, the spirit of which is that you can't have a 2nd dedication before you've invested more feats in your 1st.

Yup, a perfect example of a general rule since it applies to every single dedication feat.

By contrast, there's literally nothing general about either ancient elf or arcane trickster.

As for too good to be true, that's entirely a matter of opinion. I personally don't see it as a case of too good to be true, but of course YMMV.

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The Gleeful Grognard wrote:
Gargs454 wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Old folk are onery and set in their ways, which means they're unlikely to be tricksters anyhow. :P
I dunno man, my grandfather was a trickster until he died at the age of 84. :p
That is what you think. Reality is he is still alive and tricking you.

Man if only. :)

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Ravingdork wrote:
Old folk are onery and set in their ways, which means they're unlikely to be tricksters anyhow. :P

I dunno man, my grandfather was a trickster until he died at the age of 84. :p

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thenobledrake wrote:

As for the difference between "choice" and "granted" - this game is not written to be read in such a legalistic way, so whether you gain a feat by choosing it directly or by choosing a feature that includes it, you have still chosen.

Actually, this is really a notable part of the problem with RPGs in general. The game designers are generally not lawyers, or often even particularly skilled in english/grammar. However, the term "rules lawyer" exists as much because of the fact that gamers, absolutely, will oft times twist the wording of the rules in such a way as to argue that they work the way the gamer wants them to.

In the instant case, you end up with a rule that reads as follows: "Choose a multiclass archetype that has a basic, expert, and master spellcasting feat. You gain that archetype's dedication feat as a bonus feat . . ." However, if the character is an Ancient Elf that has already chosen a dedication feat, you instead interpret the rule to read: "Choose a multiclass archetype that has a basic, expert, and master spellcasting feat. You don't actually gain that archetype's dedication feat as a bonus feat . . ." Essentially you have to decide that the phrase "gain that archetype's dedication feat" means "Do not, gain that archetype's dedication feat" in order to disallow the choice.

All that said, what I imagine really happened here is that for whatever reason, the designers just did not consider the possibility of somebody choosing Eldritch Trickster AND Ancient Elf (probably because in the current ruleset, this is literally the only way this question comes up). Unfortunately RPGs have long had instances of things like this happening where it was clear that the designers just had not considered something. WotC in particular was really bad about this back in 4th Ed (and yes, I realize Paizo is not WotC). All that said, my guess is that the intention was that you not be allowed to take two dedication feats at 1st level but rather, to provide another avenue to taking a dedication feat at first level.

But yes, a lot of players will try to twist the rules to read what they want them to. I saw a player recently try to argue that they could use their skill choices on armor proficiency to raise, for instance, their proficiency in unarmored from trained to expert at first level. The argument (which obviously I disagree with) was that armor proficiency has untrained, trained, expert, master, and legendary just like skills do, and therefor, armor proficiency is a skill. Hence, the player wanted to be a rogue because they could quickly raise their armor, weapon, perception and saves since they get skill increases every level. Nevermind the fact that armor, etc., is clearly not listed as one of the skills in the skills chapter. Ironically, that's not even the worst example I've seen of a player arguing a rule doesn't mean what the rule clearly states.

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The Gleeful Grognard wrote:

** spoiler omitted **...

I think different groups have different expectations and that might also be in play here. For instance,

your comment that "no group would really go into the outcropping" is very much at odds with the groups I've played with for 20 years. They always want to explore everything. To be fair, our encounter with the cockatrice didn't play out the way you list the book describing it. It actively attacked our group, charging in from afar, so the GM it sounds like changed it up a bit, but I've also never seen a group leave stones unturned unless it was at a convention where there was a time limit to keep things moving. To each his or her own of course.

The water mephits, we were told there was something in the woods down that way. Maybe that was GM ad libbing, maybe not. Regardless, you are correct that the mephits didn't pursue after the bard was insta killed. While the chance of a crit was only 15% on the bard, the average hit on a non crit would have still knocked him right at about unconscious before the persistent damage.

The bear there really wasn't any way to avoid though as mentioned, it stopped attacking quickly and wasn't much of a problem. The cockatrice we were told there was a body down that direction and the rest of the circus didn't feel safe going to bed until we had cleared it. Could well have been an ad-lib, but as I said, regardless every group I've seen would have fully explored that area anyway. All this was after the snakes in the circus show almost knocked one character unconscious and the rabble rousers knocked two others unconscious after failed attempts by two party members to calm them down. True, the fight became fairly easy once the party started to use deadly force, but it seems fair to expect the party to begin with non-deadly force.

Now, all that said, I'm not suggesting that the system is broken. Certainly it appears as though Plaguestone is particularly difficult from descriptions here and is probably a bad outlier (something that can happen with an early adventure in a new system). I'm also very cognizant of the fact that all of these encounters in EC are at 1st level when PCs are, of course, going to be especially fragile and susceptible to a crit.

I also think that its entirely possible different groups have had different bouts of luck, especially early on. The fighter makes just one of his fort saves against the cockatrice? No problem, everyone comes home. The mephit hits the 35% miss chance on the bard? Great! The rest of the encounter probably goes smoothly. Either of the two characters who tried to talk the rabble rousers down succeeds? Excellent! Snake misses the bard so he doesn't have to use up both first level spells in the first encounter just to stay upright? Yeah, things go a lot smoother.

The take away for me so far though has certainly been that things hit harder and more often than in PF1 or D&D. As such, it is absolutely going to require a different approach. Maybe the new norm is to not explore everything. That's fine, though some of our players will have to change their up to 40 years or so of experience in that case. I also agree that once you get a level or two under your belt, things will likely go smoother simply because you have more margin for error. I don't think you necessarily need to min/max in PF2, but I do think you need to be a lot more careful in your build and approach than in PF1 from what I've seen.

The most important thing though is that we've still had plenty of fun. At the end of the day, that's all that really matters.

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thenobledrake wrote:

But then, there's also the GM side of the equation. A GM can create a wide range of difficulty within the same encounter parameters simply by making different choices. I think a lot of GMs are going as difficult as they can all the time and not realizing that being a little less optimal with many of their encounters would smooth out the experience for their players (which I know reading that a number of GMs are going to accuse me of suggesting they "pull punches" - which, sure, that's technically true; but it can also be phrased as "adjusting difficulty to suit your players" if the reason they are having such a hard time is because they can't execute perfect teamwork but their enemies always do).

Actually, as a long time DM/GM, I would argue that this is precisely the GM's job. Not every group consists entirely of players that want to optimize. Some groups, do. Many groups have a mix. Some players/groups just want to play a certain type of character, even if that character is not only "not optimized" but maybe even below average. The GM's job is to provide the players with fun, challenging encounters and to create a fun setting for the group. Not to just "run the standard encounters". Sometimes that means that the GM has to make encounters "more difficult" because her players have made a group that works very well together. Sometimes, you have to tone things down though.

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Watery Soup wrote:

You guys realize you have taken a thread entitled "Probabilities and dice rolls" and somehow made it nittier and more pedantic than the nitty, pedantic thread I was expecting based on the title?

I expected high pedantry, but this is above average!

But is "above average" moderate or high or extreme? ;)

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Draco18s wrote:
Gargs454 wrote:
<stuff I can't adequately trim down to a concise point without inadvertently misrepresenting, but which boils down to "some bad luck, several times">

Yeah sorry about that. In part I was trying to be vague so as not to get too spoilery and in part I don't have all the stats (intentionally not looking things up after the fact since I am a player, not the GM). Some of the figures we were able to extract though as a result of playing on Roll 20.

I think the bottom line is that we certainly ran into a combination of bad luck and bad tactics, but also, there's certainly a fairly high chance of PC fatality. The water mephit example, the average roll on the acid arrow would leave the bard at .5 HP as a result of being an elf and a bard (even with spending a boost on Con) then would have persistent damage coming on top of that. The "problem" there is that "tactics" can't really avoid that. But throw bad tactics into the equation as players learn the system and you get more problems.

That said, I think the more poignant question you raise is "How difficult should the game be?" Personally, I do think that a realistic chance of PC death is a good thing for the game. One of the things I disliked about 4ed for instance was that it was near impossible for a PC to die. 3.x/PF1 on the other hand made it so that PC death became quite a bit more likely at higher levels by virtue of PCs on low hit points being very susceptible to one hit taking them straight to dead. That was mitigated by fairly easy access to resurrection effects after the first few levels.

As for PF2, even though our group has struggled early on, I actually feel like it may end up ok in the long run. Bad luck will happen regardless, and few systems can entirely eliminate it. But, with proper tactics PF2 does feel like it can bring a nice blend. Low hit points do not necessarily imperil you anymore. However, the wounded mechanic does make it so you still have to be careful and you can't play the unconscious yo-yo that 5ed sees. The key for all groups will be figuring out the right tactics for their group.

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The Gleeful Grognard wrote:

I am far happier with diverse foes than sticking to anglo centric mythos only.

More to the point, why should anglo centric mythos be exempted from protection? Or conversely, wouldn't a system designed entirely around anglo-centric mythos, at the exclusion of all others, be equally racist?

"Sorry Bob, you can't play an assassin, people might take that the wrong way."

"No, you can't play a spirit shaman type either, sounds too much like someone else's culture."

"No, please don't flavor your cleric to be akin to a buddhist/native american shaman/imam/etc. Please, still to caucasian priest."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that people shouldn't be respectful, especially when gaming with people of different backgrounds, but as pointed out, it can very easily and quickly get out of hand. Rather, I would say that if you do intend to use something inspired by a particular culture, do some research and truly learn about it. Learn about it so that you can portray it as accurately as possible. Who knows, you just might learn something and enjoy the process.

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Saedar wrote:
Salamileg wrote:
Yeah I should have clarified, "highest AC I can afford". We're still kind of low level and the first couple chapters of Extinction Curse seem to be a little tight on cash.

My group just finished book 1 of Extinction Curse. We struggled real hard to get it into our heads how important tactics are. Some of the fights in that first book are rough if you just kind of...walk in.

My group: Bard, Druid (Animal), Fighter (One-handed), Fighter (Unarmed)

So, we aren't the tankiest of groups. I suspect that changing how your group approaches fights would go a long way to increasing your survivability. AC is important, but it isn't the end-all. Trip, Demoralize, and Grapple are all incredibly useful tools in your survival.

Yeah my group is in the early stages of Book 1 and dang if that wasn't a really long first day, lol.

But yes, the point being that PF2 is very much a highly tactical game. Small bonuses and penalties are actually a fairly big deal.

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As Warped Savant says, you really do need to read the entire AP, possibly twice if you can. I would start with that and then look at some of the various threads around here for how to make changes to better the overall experience. The biggest thing of course is that Nyrissa really doesn't appear in the written modules until the last book. You will almost certainly want to start hinting at her earlier and there are a lot of good ideas around these forums for that.

In my game I'm running now, I started by having her make the Stag Lord's Helm and she uses it to occasionally communicate with the wearer/scry on the wearer. I actually made it cursed as well so that wearer didn't want to take it off. He eventually broke through the curse, but still wears it since it has extra abilities, etc.

The other thing I would tell you to pay attention to is weather. The wilderness aspect of this AP can really be played up early on. My party got caught in a blizzard early on while out exploring and it really reinforced the wilderness/nature aspect of the AP. Someone on here made a random weather generator that you can use as well.

Also, I think its a great idea to introduce the party to the other adventuring groups that are sent into the Stolen Lands early on. The beginning to VV becomes a lot more interesting if the party already has a connection with Varn for instance. In my game I had all four groups together when the Swordlords handed out the charters and let them mingle with the others. Varn came over to the group and immediately talked about setting up communications between the two groups in case either needed assistance. I then followed up after book 1 and before book 2 with another meeting of the four groups where the Swordlords gave them their kingdoms . . . except of course for the Wolves who didn't show up (for obvious reasons).

Finally, this is less a prep thing, and more a "be aware of" thing. As written, the AP has the party engaging in hexploration for five full books. Odds are that while the hexploration is fun initially, it will eventually get tiresome. I would be prepared to just kind of roll with it when your party gets tired of it. For my group, by the end of the second book, they were pretty much done with it. There's still the "discovery" aspect of going into new areas and not knowing what is there, but making them take the time to fully explore every hex just seems like punishment. The only thing to be wary of is if you use XP leveling as opposed to milestone. The party gets XP for exploring hexes and may end up a bit behind the 8 ball if they stop exploring and you don't make up the XP elsewhere. If you use milestone then this won't matter of course.

There's obviously a lot more that can be said, but I think a lot needs to be digested first and then a lot will just vary from group to group. Most important thing to remember is that this is a great resource here in the forums with tons of great ideas. These particular forums are not quite as active right now (though that will likely change when the updated AP is released) but a lot of us are still running games and checking it out semi regularly. Good luck and most importantly, have fun!

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And actually a giant instinct barbarian suffers a -2 AC penalty (1 for Rage, 1 for Clumsy).

As for what to play that would give more defense, a lot is also going to depend on your group make up. As HumbleGamer says, most classes can get to the same AC, but their durability will ultimately depend on whether or not there's somebody in the group able to take hits. Champion is probably the best defensive class (though monks are pretty much right there too), and a dwarven Champ is going to be pretty close to the barbarian in terms of HP too. They will give up a bit of offense though to achieve that. Some of that (like with the fighter) can be made up in reactions though.

Ultimately, if you do end up going with a new character, I would suggest just trying to find something that looks fun to play with the group you have. After all, the ultimate goal is to have fun! If you do, then you did it right.

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To be fair, attacking with familiars has never been a particularly great option in the past either, so I don't see this version as really being all that much worse. 5e has made the penalty of losing the familiar less of an issue, but historically, it was rarely a great idea to use the familiar to attack.

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Ubertron_X wrote:
Gargs454 wrote:
On the bright side, it could be worse. You could be a level 1 character that gets crit by an attack that deals 3d8 normally. Massive damage (what happened to me) skips the dying condition altogether and goes straight to dead. :(
*laughs in dwarven barbarian with con 16*

Yeah, that would have been nice. Still would have put me unconscious but at least alive. My elven bard on the other hand . . .

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Boumxyz wrote:
Salamileg wrote:
Aratorin wrote:

A free action is listed as a type of action in the crb so yes I would say it counts as your action.

The Metamagic Trait actually calls this out.

Thanks for the answer! And I suppose it would be pretty busted if you could combo either of the things above with Inspire Heroics. I'm continually impressed by the lack of cheese/overpowered combos in this edition.

Unless I'm wrong, metamagic actions are not actual actions per se. They increase another action by 1 action.

So Yes lingering composition works with Harmonize.

I think the issue is that a free action (which is what Lingering Composition is) is still an action. Its not actually a metamagic action, just a free action (no metamagic trait, etc.). Both Harmonize and Lingering require the next action to be a composition.

That said, you can cast a Harmonized composition and then use Lingering Composition to cast a second composition on the same turn which would linger. Only problem would be when your next turn came around if you wanted to recast your harmonized composition you would lose the lingering one. So in reality, they don't work all that well together. You might as well just Harmonize and then cast a second composition if you are really wanting both to stay up.

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beowulf99 wrote:

I contend that Dirge only states that you can't reduce your Frightened value below 1 to avoid creatures who have Bravery like effects from being immune. The duration of Dirge still applies to the effect of Dirge.

That's a really big assumption, and one that is made without any evidence. I mean things like fire giants, dragons, elementals and golems exist (just to name a few). So clearly, Paizo does not mind having enemies immune to PC abilities.

But here' the thing, the very existence of this part of Dirge is what required a duration entry at all. Were it not for this sentence, then putting a duration on dirge is redundant since the rules for when Frightened 1 ticks down are crystal clear (at end of turn). Adding this sentence though required a duration because without it, a foe could in theory be permanently frightened if it couldn't get out of the area. Thus, logic dictates that the duration applies to the area, not the frightened condition. Frightened doesn't need a duration as the rules for it going away are already baked into the description.

What seems far more likely is that the devs wanted to ensure that the whole party would have an opportunity to benefit from it without having to play games with delaying turns and the like. Consider the scenario:

Bard: Ok, so here's the thing guys, I can either make it so that when the creature attacks you it might have a penalty to hit you. Possibly. Depends on whether it moves first or not. I mean, it would at least force it to give up one attack even though the odds of the third attack hitting are likely pretty minimal. Also, its possible, but not really guaranteed that it could have a small penalty to its AC when you attack it. Though it just has to move to avoid that. So yeah, my thing might help you, might not.

Alternatively, I can guarantee that you get a bonus to your AC and resistance to physical damage from everything that attacks you. Or I could guarantee that I can give you a bonus to hit everything and a bonus to damage everything. Plus is the bigger fights, I can, for a time at least, guarantee both of those things (bonus to hit/damage/defense/resistance to damage) [Yeah, this assumes the bard doesn't take Dirge and instead takes Harmonize]

So which would you rather I do?

Half the people I've played with over the years would say give me the guaranteed defense buff. Half would say give me the guaranteed offense buff. None would pick the possibly a help, possibly not.

What this comes down to is that you are arguing that Dirge creates a condition called frightened 1 that does not actually behave like frightened. They called it frightened, have you look to the rules of frightened, but not actually follow them (as it pertains to ending it) without specifically telling you to ignore those rules completely (as you suggest we are supposed to do). If that was the outcome that the devs wanted, then Dirge should read:

"While within the area, foes take a -1 status penalty on all checks and DCs until the start of your next turn."

Simple. Clear. Concise. Has the exact outcome you call for. Even gets around bravery.

But they didn't do that. Your position seems to be premised on the belief that they decided to make the entry far more complex in order to prevent a few potential foes from being unaffected by it even though Paizo has no problem allow foes to be unaffected by PC abilities.

For what its worth by the way, I've enjoyed the discussion. I think everyone has been very mature about it and its a refreshing change of pace from a lot places on the web right now. :)

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beowulf99 wrote:
Gargs454 wrote:
Frightened doesn't reduce AC it reduces DCs and checks. As for fear, the duration applies to fleeing.

AC is a DC.

CRB PG. 447 "Armor Class" wrote:

Armor Class

Attack rolls are compared to a special difficulty class called
an Armor Class (AC), which measures how hard it is for
your foes to hit you with Strikes and other attack actions.
Just like for any other check and DC, the result of an
attack roll must meet or exceed your AC to be successful,
which allows your foe to deal damage to you.

So Frightened applies.

Edit: As to Fear's duration only applying to the Fleeing condition, why? I've heard that before too, but I don't recall ever seeing a reasoned argument supporting that. And why would Fear have a duration of "varies" if the options are no duration (meaning it would be the only spell with a duration that can also be instant) and 1 round on a Critical Failure.

Gargs454 wrote:
Frightened is the specific rule. It is a condition with specific rules for when it reduces/ends. It is not an effect. The rules for spells and effects being cited are general.

I disagree. Dirge of Doom is the Specific Rule that you are applying to a creature, which uses and modifies the general rule that governs Frightened. The spell would be the "more specific" rule in this case, as it is the actual ability being used, and only references Frightened. And Conditions are frequently the Effect of various spells and abilities. It says so in the section titled Effects.

CRB PG. 453 "Effects, 2nd Paragraph" wrote:

While a check might determine the overall impact or

strength of an effect, a check is not always part of creating
an effect. Casting a fly spell on yourself creates an effect
that allows you to soar through the air, but casting the spell
does not require a check. Conversely, using the Intimidate
skill to Demoralize a foe does require a check, and your
result on that check determines the effect’s outcome.
Gargs454 wrote:
It would

Yeah I caught the part about AC, my bad.

That said, you are literally arguing that the specific wording of Frightened doesn't apply because of the general rule of spell duration. That's where my point about ancient elf comes in. Both ancient elf and frightened have specific wording that is contrary to certain general rules, yet you claim the general rules (duration) trump one while general rules do not trump the other.

Dirge applies a condition. That condition has specific rules for ending it. Dirge's specific wording actually extends the condition potentially rather than reducing it. Nothing in frightened ends the condition by having the foe move. Nothing in Dirge does either. Nothing in Dirge says it ends at start of next bard turn either. You are relying on the general rule of duration, which is why I personally disagree. Also Dirge doesn't apply the damage resistance, so it really wouldn't be as good.

Regardless, as I said the GM is always free to rule how he or she wants.

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Dirge would have no advantage over inspire defense. Seriously. Inspire defense gives a bonus to ac and saves in a larger area for a longer duration AND gives resistance to physical damage. The bonus to AC and saves is the same as the penalty from frightened.

If it were to be interpreted as you suggest you are literally getting a shorter effect in a smaller area over a lower level (feat-wise) composition. By far, the better play would be inspire courage plus Demoralize, especially since a bard is going to have a fairly easy time getting Demoralize to work.

The whole argument is premised on the position that the general rule of spell duration Trump's the specific rule of frightened. But specific trumps general, not the other way around.

Seriously what would be the advayin ever choosing dirge over defense? To make it more likely the foe slips on a slippery surface? Make it more difficult for a for to climb up a wall? These are extremely corner case scenarios.

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That's just it though. Frightened is a condition with specific rules for how long it lasts, only to be changed if a spell or effect specifically states otherwise. In other words, the specific wording of Frightened, trumps the general wording of spell duration. If they wanted frightened to last for less time in the case of Dirge of Doom, they would have to specifically state so. Instead they actually added wording that increases the duration of frightened (in that they cannot get rid of it while still within the emanation). Ruling otherwise renders the language under Frightened regarding its duration meaningless.

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"Extrapolate this out and I believe that Dirge of Doom behaves similarly: it is active throughout the casting Bard's turn as it has a duration of 1 round, and would end if they cast another composition spell without harmonize or if Dirge of Doom were to be dispelled or countersong-ed. When Dirge ends, so would it's effect. I believe the, "can’t reduce their frightened value below 1 while they remain in the area," rider is there to prevent things like Aura of Courage or the Fighter's Bravery from reducing the fear effect. So a creature moving out of the area would also lose Frightened 1. This line was what led me to mistakenly believe that the creature had to shake their frightened condition naturally, which really doesn't make sense upon reflection."

So what you are saying is that when the devs said:

"Foes within the area are frightened 1. They can’t reduce their
frightened value below 1 while they remain in the area."

What they really meant was:

"Foes within the area are frightened 1 for the duration of the spell or until they leave the area, whichever comes first."

Those two statements are not at all the same. If this were a statute (and yes, I realize it is not), common statutory interpretation by a Court would not give those two statements the same meaning.

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So in looking at the Dirge issue, I think both sides are, kinda-sorta, correct.

First, let's look at Frightened:

"Unless specified otherwise, at the end of each of your turns, the value of your frightened condition decreases by 1." So normally, after the creature takes its turn, it would no longer be frightened, but

Dirge of Doom:

"Foes in the area are frightened 1. They can't reduce their frightened value below 1 while they remain in the area."

So, there's two possibilities:

1. Bard plays Dirge of Doom, Monster A is frightened.
2. Monster A takes his turn, is frightened 1 and doesn't move. Monster A is still in Bard's emanation area and so frightened doesn't decrease and Monster A is still frightened 1.
3. Bard takes his next turn and doesn't play Dirge. Dirge "ends" but Monster A still has frightened 1.
4. Monster A takes its next turn, at the end of which, Monster A is no longer frightened.

Option 2:
1. Bard plays Dirge of Doom, Monster A is frightened.
2. Monster A takes his turn and moves out of the emanation before the end of his turn.
3. End of Monster A's turn he is no longer frightened.

All the 1 round duration really does is determine how long the emanation is active. The duration of the frightened state isn't affected by the duration of Dirge per se (except for the monster still being in the emanation).

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RobRendell wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
In my game a PC stayed to keep the Kankerata distracted, and another cast levitate on a Centaur to get them out. The den is really a morality test.

Ok - that's cool. I hope they earned some bonus Trust Points for stopping and helping their opponents out of a sticky situation :)

Yeah I didn't really think of it as a morality test (though in hindsight that seems pretty obvious) but I certainly did give them some bonuses for helping the centaur out.

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Absolutely. A lot will depend on how they build their characters, etc. but as you know, most of the AP revolves around the 5 minute work day, and by the time they get to the tougher, longer drawn out dungeons, they should be able to summon in help, have followers that can help, etc.

At most, you may want to monitor how the combats go and potentially alter some fights in order to make them more suited, but honestly, I'd say its more up to them to figure out how to survive in the wilderness.

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My party takes a trip to Restov when they want to access higher priced items. For me, this works well as it still allows access to a wider variety of items, but also reinforces the fact that they are very much a fledgling kingdom. They've had a few run-ins with Surtova too, so it also keeps them a bit humble so to speak.

Even then, if they want a specific item, I still roll to see if its available in Restov or if a merchant has to put in a request. There's enough down time in KM that making the PCs make a second trip to the big city isn't a huge problem.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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My party has finally made it into VV after running through Realm of the Fellnight Queen (real life gets in the way of so many sessions sigh).

Anyway, I ran Varnhold pretty much as is, though my party decided to negotiate with Agai and the spriggans in an effort to determine what happened to the Varnholders. Agai let two of them come into the stronghold and search it, and after they didn't find anything of note they decided to leave and seek out the Nomen.

We just ran the first part of the Nomen and completed the Kankerata run this weekend. All in all I think it went well, though my players are not particularly up for a very lengthy series of negotiations, diplomacy, etc. On the plus side though 4 of the 7 PCs did complete the Run, including one winning it, so they got a bunch of trust points from that. I will probably reduce the trust tiers a bit to allow them to more quickly gain the trust they need to put the pieces together.

As for the run, I felt it worked pretty well, though some of the DCs can be pretty rough. The paladin had to bow out early because he couldn't make either the Acrobatics or Perception check needed (in second or third stage, don't recall). I did allow them to take 20 with the caveat that it would then take two turns to move to the next stage. I also set each stage as an hour, with the explanation that the Run represented a very long, overland challenge with specific obstacles along the way.

As for Kankerata, hoo boy, he can be brutal. He landed two crits in a row on the party, the first one taking out the cleric (who was already down a bunch of hit points from bleed -- I did the 1d6 someone proposed upthread given the length of the stages). Fortunately he was able to be brought back quickly though. I also allowed healing magic to not count against the "no magic" portion of the test. I did this mainly because I saw even before the crits that Kankerata could be pretty deadly if the PCs got in a tussle.

All in all I think the players had a fun time, though were maybe a bit frustrated by a couple of the DCs -- that said, I actually think the DCs were fine, it was just that in a couple of areas a few of the PCs were not kitted out right for the particular challenges while others were able to breeze through them, which is fair enough in my book.

Next up: More negotiations followed by probably the Manticores and Talon Peak. Hopefully those will go just as well! As always, thank you to everyone, especially DM, for all the ideas on here. All these threads have really enhanced our campaign imho.

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First off: Awesome back story!

I too, have often struggled with foreshadowing enough to lead them down the path without doing so much as to have them run straight for the end. As for Shyka, I think that Dudemeister (as always) has some great ideas there. You could also go throw in something along the lines of:

"This is the beginning of the end, or is it the end of the beginning?"
"When that which was lost is found then shall that which was stolen be returned." (or you could replace stolen with taken if you want to leave it a bit more vague with regard to the Stolen Lands).

My party is almost exactly in the same spot as yours by the way. They have finished Book 2 and just started Fellnight this past weekend. They are through the first two parts in the book, though I confess that I have not given the back story nearly as much detail as you have. I did though just drop the N word (no, not that one ;P) for the first time, so they are starting to think that N and Rhoswen are one and the same. They'll learn that Rhoswen is just but one layer in the line of enemies before them.

I have previously hinted at N by having visions of her visit the Baron when he put on the Stag Helm, an artifact that he wears still. She is using the Helm for her own benefit, but getting him to keep wearing it by making it more powerful over time. So far he is not entirely convinced that the beautiful woman with the lovely green hair is entirely bad.

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Welcome to the wonderful world of GM'ing!

The great thing about KM is it has so many hooks that you really can take it anywhere, to the point where the same group could, in theory, play through it twice and have a completely different experience with only a little bit of legwork from the GM.

The bad thing is that it has so many hooks that there is a good potential for a lot of unanswered questions that your group might want to have answered.

My group is currently in between Book 2 and 3 and will be starting Realm of the Fellnight Queen next session (though they don't know that yet).

For me, I too was really intrigued about Skywatch in particular and its seemingly obvious ties to the Rogarvia disappearance. As of yet, I have not fully fleshed out my idea on how to handle this, but I'm forming at least the basis of an idea. :p

The one adventure in the path that otherwise seems to come out of left field is VV. There doesn't really seem to be any real reason for the cyclops to be there except as a means for enabling the PCs to take over Varn. So what I did was to start to plant the seeds in Book 2 with Candlemere. I expanded Candlemere Island using the haunted Candlemere that somebody had posted up here (a search for Candlemere on the forum will likely produce the right hit). Obviously its a bit late for your group -- though you could always have it come up later. Anyway, when my group went looking, they found the signs of Yog-Sothoth on the tower (as described in the forum post) and continued to explore. I then created an underground section which ultimately revealed that the tower was initially built by the ancient Cyclopean empire before it fell. In the lower reaches of the Tower they found a room with more or less the history of the Cyclopean Empire on the walls but also some sort of mystic portal in the ceiling. The party was able to learn that cyclopes were fighting the "elder gods" (Yog-Sothoth, etc.) and that they key to their fight was located at Skywatch.

They also learned that the war with the elder gods started to go bad for them after the elder gods joined with a "mysterious power". That power is going to by N but the main source of her "power" was in the bodies that she could bring to the fight. So this will at least explain Vordekai's presence. I'm still not quite sure how to tie it all to Choral though. My main thought is of course the age-old pact. I'm leaning toward a pact with N who was more than willing to play the long game. She was willing to give him power to "stabilize" the region provided that he and all his heirs go bye bye X years later. Meanwhile, the elder gods sealed up Skywatch at the same time because they knew that the key to their defeat was there. (I'm thinking some sort of artifact -- though my players have yet to show a whole lot of interest in Skywatch as of yet, so it might remain unanswered).

All of this will get tied by to Vordekai in the sense that he was the last guardian of the Cyclopean Empire but in fighting N (a fey) he perhaps went a bit too far and associated her with all fey -- hence the reason the Nomen are standing constant vigil over him. Essentially, the idea is that the Cyclopes were actually more or less good (or certainly better than the elder gods) but that Vordekai went a bit crazy/power hungry.

As for what to make of Choral and his family, I'm thinking of just having them be servants, so to speak, of N -- or rather, sacrifices to be used to help break her out of her prison to be able to reclaim what she believes is rightfully hers.

Obviously this all needs quite a bit of work on my part, but hopefully it at least gives you some food for thought. I do agree that the idea of a pact is a bit overused but I'm also not quite certain what else to make of the disappearance of the family. I mean, its possible, in theory, that something like what happens to Varn happened to them, but as spread out as they were, that seems much more unlikely. Plus it wouldn't explain the sealing off of Skywatch. All of this is very interesting so I'm definitely interested in hearing what others have come up with.

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TheVastator wrote:
yeah, I'm mostly concerned about the pacing (when happens what?) and structure of the political intrigue. For example, most of the political stuff would happen after the first part is completed, I suppose, but I could really use directions on the timing and pacing of the political intrigue, or if you got examples from your tables.

For me, I kind of started off with some of the intrigue right from the outset. If you have the time to set up a campaign document ahead of time detailing very basic house relations (i.e. Surtova and Medvyed get along but are opposed by Lebeda -- just an example) that helps. Its not essential, and frankly, sometimes letting it grow organically can be good. Lets say you have one PC who chooses a connection to Lebeda in her background, and another chooses Orlovsky. Well, then it can be fun to have those houses opposed to each other and see how your PCs react.

So for mine, I didn't detail the actual houses too much prior to game start. However, my first session started in Restov and had the PCs being hired to "acquire" some documents from the Bank of Abadar (stolen blatantly from these boards). The documents turned out to be original deeds to lands in Restov showing that they really belonged to House Lebeda, but acknowledging that one of the Issian Houses had forged deeds to make it look like they owned the lands. Included in the documents in the deposit box was a letter from none other than Noleski Surtova essentially blackmailing the wrongdoing house. (In other words, keep me happy and you can keep these lands). That kind of set things in motion as far as that goes.

Next, one of my PCs had a "rich parents" background and established his family as budding nobility wanting to get to the big leagues so to speak. So after the PCs get the charter from Restov, which it was made clear to them would not be taken kindly by Issia, said PC's grandfather contacted him saying that Surtova wanted detailed reports of what was going on (grandpa being Head of House). To quote the PC "Gee, Thanks Grandpa!"

As Book 2 rolled around, rather than just dumping all the BPs on them I went the Venture Capital route and had the Swordlords give a much smaller BP donation, then had a bunch of other interested parties contact them. House Orlovsky is clearly starting to set themselves up to oppose Surtova and both houses proposed deals which were more or less mutually exclusive (i.e. you need to anger one of them if you want anything from either). House Lebeda chipped in as well, etc. On top of that other entities like the Churches of Abadar, Pharasma, and Erastil all came a calling, etc. This all in the days after receiving the new charter. So from an early time frame the PCs are more or less drawn into alliances whether they like it or not.

With respect to Orlovsky, they have hinted that they will be open to a potential military alliance, but that they may also want to seal the deal so to speak with a marriage that aligns Orlovsky with the Baron's House (who also happens to be the PC with the Grandpa that is making deals with Surtova). All the while, I have had both Varn and Drelev making themselves well known as part of foreshadowing of future events. The PCs have so far come down on the side of Varn (more or less) and have royally ticked off Drelev (had a spy get captured -- using Ultimate Rulership).

So really a lot of it is more just having the issues there without really forcing them if that makes sense. You can have the guard that comes to Oleg's be allied with one of the Houses for instance, you can make the major houses simply a bit more vocal than they are in the published materials, etc., and then just see where your PCs go with it. I wouldn't force the Game of Thrones style on them if they don't want to go there, but the main idea is that I'm tossing out hooks left and right and letting them bob in the water should the PCs wish to bite. In the end, I'm sure that not all of my hooks will be followed but the idea is to let the players choose the story rather than cramming mine down on them.

BTW, you can check out our Obsidian Portal Page Here. Its not the most detailed by any means but it may give you a gist of what we have been doing. Sadly its hard for us to get together too often as we are now up to 7 players and trying to coordinate the schedules of 8 working adults is tough (note sometimes a PC will "wander off" which is code for that player not being there). :p

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I use a laptop at the gaming table so I can track the calendar, weather, etc., but I also have a "Campaign Binder" that I bring. Each session I have a one page "Session Notes" that I print out with suspected NPCs that will encounter the party, "events" (i.e. encounters), and a recap of previous session. In this I will also throw in print outs of added content (like the mini adventure in Candlemere Tower that somebody posted with a bunch of haunts), etc. That way everything is right there and the actual AP materials are on pdf for easy access. Now, if only my laptop were faster. :P

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Vlad: I send my eagle out to look at the ruins and watch through its eyes. Can I tell anything about the ruins?
Me: Make a Knowledge (History) or Knowledge (Engineering) check.
Vlad: Ummm, I have Knowledge (Geography)!
Me: Ahhh, well then you can tell that the ruins are to the West of your current location.

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My group has been slowly making progress into RRR, slow mainly due to such busy summer schedules for us all. However, they finally got their first taste of trouble from Hargulka. They were attacked by four trolls as they camped near the Mud Bowl (party set up capitol at Stag Lord's Fort) and after defeating them, they found a bunch of gold on the trolls. Each of the gold coins; however, had the letters "HMK" crudely scratched onto them.

Have to say that I am loving all the material that so many people have come up with for this campaign. We also used Venture Capital and as a result, the PCs started out with a ton of BP, so having the Monster Kingdom lying to the south will be a good way to help chew through some of those via armies to keep things from getting too out of hand with their kingdom (not that I have a huge problem with that, but a bit of a struggle would be nice).

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Name: Micka
Race: Samsaran
Classes/levels: Druid 4
Adventure: Rivers Run Red
Location: The Mud Bowl
Catalyst: Plant Food

Name: Mugwort Jones
Race: Half-Orc
Classes/Levels: Fighter 4
Adventure: Rivers Run Red
Location: The Mud Bowl
Catalyst: Plant Food

The Gory Details: Party had finally set out to start exploring the areas around the capitol of their newly found kingdom and decided to explore around the edges of the lake. After a briefly harrowing fight with Old Snapjaw, the party moved south and found an interesting pool of mud. After being ambushed by Snapjaw the previous day, Mugwort refused to go near the mud but Micka was more than happy too, passing the save to avoid becoming nauseated. The party summoner and his horse failed their save vs. nausea but the Cavalier/Druid made his but stayed well back. Micka gets close and is promptly bit by the tendriculous and swallowed the following round. Mugwort tries to come to Micka's aid, failed his save vs nausea and proceeds to get bit and grappled as well. Micka failed his save vs. paralysis and eventually is dissolved at which point Mugwort gets swallowed as well (also failing the save vs. paralysis). Summoner only gets back in the fight late (refused to fight while nauseated and the Cavalier just peppered the tendriculous uselessly with arrows. Mugwort is eventually dissolved as well. The Cavalier/Druid ends up losing both his horse and his animal companion to the plants stomach as well before he and the summoner finally bug out.

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Party is sitting around discussing what they want to order in the way of armor and whether or not the suit of magical scale mail is worth their while.

Vlad: Well my llamelar horn armor is better than this so I don't really need it.
Cice (female wizard): I'm sorry, did you say you're wearing porn armor? I'm picturing arseless chaps and suddenly I'm MUCH more interested in you!

And so shall it be that forever more will Baron Vlad Black be known to have worn Porn Armor.

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