So, my regular group is into the final stretch of Skulls & Shackles, and I'm looking at what I want to run next. After some discussion with the group, several of them are quite interested in Jade Regent, but after some consideration, I've had an idea that I'd like some input on.
So, to preface: Most of my group are... not especially familiar with Golarion or related lore. they play a lot of different games, and are good roleplayers, but the Skulls & Shackles campaign was basically this group's introduction to Pathfinder (as a system) and Golarion (as a setting).
Now, having played part of Jade Regent myself, I admit I wasn't overly impressed with the first portion of The Brinewall Legacy; while Brinewall Castle itself is awesome, the section poking around in the swamp just didn't catch me. Furthermore, it doesn't do a very good job of actually introducing any of the NPCs or giving the players reason to be invested in them.
So, what I'd kind of like to do would be cut out the swamp section of the book, and replace it with Burnt Offerings (book 1 of Rise of the Runelords), edited somewhat to remove the RotR-related plot stuff and add in Jade Regent-related plot stuff.
At its most basic, here's the changes that I think would need to be made to Burnt Offerings:
1) The Catacombs of Wrath are irrelevant and distracting, so cut them entirely.
2) Similarly, the lower level of Thistletop (where the barghest is) is also irrelevant. However, in this case, I think it would be workable to replace it with a passage into a cave sequence where the Kaijitsu's Blossom ran aground, and where the party can encounter Tutsamu and related plot hooks.
I don't think Nualia or her plans really need to change: on their own, they're not really directly linked to the overarching plot of RotR, and stand pretty well on their own. Tweak Orik to use Tien equipment (scavenged from the Kaijitsu Star) and have Lyrie be studying records and objects taken from the wreck of the Blossom (below Thistletop), things should be pretty straightforward.
After Thistletop, the PCs would then get the letter from Rokuro and the plot hook to proceed to Brinewall, and the adventure path would continue as normal. This would probably involve boosting the CR of Brinewall Castle and book 2 to account for the extra content early on, but I'm fine with that.
I'd like some input, though: How well do folks think this would work? Would more changes need to be made? If so, where would be good places to tweak in additional foreshadowing/plot hooks for Jade Regent-related stuff?
Seaweed on Grindylow cave is listed as 5-8 ft thick on the cavern floor on page 47. Now is it on the cavern floor and when the high tide comes in does it floats to the top of the water line or does it stay on the bottom?
From my read of it, it looks like the seaweed remains attached to the floor at high tide.
This also means that the party going in at high tide and swimming along the surface would let them avoid the hook traps - at the cost of greatly hampering their general mobility and combat capability.
So, cost issues in regards to basebuilding:
It hasn't come up yet (my players are still en route to Sumitha), but they're already laying plans for basebuilding after they've secured the island. They're not planning to use the fort (current plans involve tearing it down for building materials); I'm tempted to try to convince them to renovate Sumitha, but they may end up making their own castle/base/whatever on the Eastern bay instead.
The reason they figure they can get away with this is that the party Sorcerer has Craft Wondrous Item, and as they were sailing from Drenchport to the IoEE, she made a Lyre of Building. The party bard (who is also the captain) has a +17 to Perform: Strings, and since nat 1s aren't auto-failure for skill checks... As near as I can tell, he can pretty much play the thing ALL DAY to get the effect of, oh, 4,800 man-days of construction labor in a single day. Once per week.
Granted that they'll still need to acquire some materials and furnishings and stuff, but that still leaves them with a lot of leeway in terms of what stuff they can build. I'm wondering if anyone would have any suggestions regarding how to handle the listed repair costs in the "prepping for the party" section in regards to this.
The party is now level 6, on their way to Mancatcher Cove after defeating Captain Inkskin. Further developments:
Jazi's player left the group over some drama issues (bleh), and so Jazi retired to Senghor to work as a scholar. She has been replaced by:
Zadia (CG FM Merfolk Sorcerer). A Strongtail merfolk from a merfolk tribe more closely linked to sea snakes than fish (the player wanted to use a snakegirl-style lamia as his character art), Zadia was sent out on a scouting mission after her tribe noticed the increased aggression of the area's Sahuagin. She met the party when they came upon a fishing vessel that had been attacked by the sahuagin, and in the aftermath of the fight she agreed to work with them.
In addition, they picked up a second ship (an Aspis Consortium schooner that chased them out of Bloodcove after some mischief they pulled in the city), which they have put Sandara in command of with Rosie Cusswell as her first mate.
They got their infamy up enough that I let them sequence break a little bit and visit Port Peril for the first couple events of Tempest Rising before triggering the attack on Tidewater Rock and the assault on Mancatcher Cove. In the process they managed to catch Caulky Taroon and convinced her to join them, and she is now serving as the second mate on board the Owlbear's Roost.
They also took Isabella Locke alive, and found and removed the poison spine from her mouth. They're holding her prisoner with the intention of eventually social-fuing her into redemption.
Speaking personally, I'm fortifying the sandbox section of the second book with some more structured content - partially due to not wanting it to feel to samey, or like a string of small, mostly-disconnected encounters, and partially because there's a certain number of the encounters listed that I don't want to run for one reason or another - my party aren't going to want to attack any villages, and ship attacks, while iconic, will get old fast. Throwing in a smaller module or a couple scenario-level events will help carry the load through that section.
Currently GMing the AP, with a nominally good-aligned group, and my players are doing a pretty solid job of it so far.
They're taking a very solid anti-slavery stance; refusing to sell captives themselves, accepting surrenders and healing injured, then releasing prisoners at the next port. They're also being more choosy about their targets, specifically going after slavers, and shipping from the Aspis Consortium and Cheliax. Finally, they make a point to push for diplomatic solutions to problems, using nonlethal damage and disabling techniques rather than killing opponents - this has, in at least one case, won them a tentative ally.
I've been playing up the Chelish involvement in the region to foreshadow the eventual confrontation, and since the players have decided to specifically target Aspis Consortium interests, I'm also bringing in some extra content and events to give them the opportunity to have an effect on the region.
If they keep going as they have been, I rather anticipate that by the end of the AP, the Shackles could be a very different place, politically speaking.
Currently in the planning stages, and not sure when we'll actually start, but so far, our party is looking something like:
A human Mastermind Investigator, Noble Scion of one of the generally neutral noble houses. Raised a noble and very much interested in organizing & leading people, as well as gathering and handling information/spy networks type stuff. Probably going to be the party leader, as such.
My character, a human Chiurgeon Alchemist. Also a Noble Scion of one of the Thrune Loyalist noble families; affianced to the Investigator at a young age, broke with her family over social issues when her boyfriend started getting involved with political dissidence.
An Aasimar Paladin of Iomedae (I think), who has been sheltering with the Investigator's family as a retainer; unhappy about the political situation but worried that there is little he can personally do.
A Changeling Unchained Monk (not sure about background)
An Infernal bloodline Sorcerer (not sure about race or background)
Some kind of rogue or trapmonkey
I'm more familiar with the first three characters mostly because we intentionally tied our three characters' backgrounds together. In fact, the assumption is that at the start of the game, we three are all living in a wing of the Investigator's family's estates.
OK. I know it's a horrible idea, but I find the idea entertaining, and my inner optimizer is tickled by the challenge.
So, I want to create a Kitsune build that meets the following criteria:
1) Is PFS legal
I've got a couple different ideas mostly-formed, not entirely sure which one will prove most practical in the long run, though.
So, without further adieu:
Str: 10 Dex: 18 Con: 12 Int: 12 Wis: 12 Cha: 14
Level 1: Weapon Finesse
Thoughts: Focuses more on multiattack and getting several hits in per turn with less damage per hit. Needs an Amulet of Mighty Fists with Agile ASAP (~level 4 at the earliest, probably).
Prior to level 7, sneak attacks rely heavily on stealth. Stealth rules state that when fighting an enemy two sizes larger than you are and sharing a space with them, you can hide from them using their own body as cover, taking only a -20 penalty; with the size bonus for being tiny, dex 22+, full ranks, and a cloak of elvenkind, that's nominally possible.
That said, I'm not entirely clear on whether restealthing under those circumstances requires an action or not - if it follows the same rules as sniping, then it's a move action, and I can only make one attack per round (which is why the feat progression puts Multiattack after Lunge; since I'll only be using my Bite up until I can benefit from flanks). If it's a free action or not an action, then I can full attack and restealth, in which case I would move Multiattack up to level 5 and drop Shadow Strike and Lunge down to 7 and 8, respectively.
Kitsune Unchained Rogue
Str: 10 Dex: 18 Con: 12 Int: 12 Wis: 12 Cha: 14
Level 1: Finesse Training, (???), Sneak Attack +1d6
Thoughts: Not entirely sure if there's much more to this one; obviously, continuing to boost Sneak Attack damage is good, but unlike the Slayer build, this one is mostly just one attack per round, hitting as hard as possible. With Finesse Training, I don't need to rely on an Agile Amulet of Mighty Fists to get Dex to damage - downside though is I can't get it on more than one attack type until level 11+. I'm unsure about Piranha Strike; the damage bonus would help, but the attack penalty might be problematic, since I won't have much in the way of enhancement bonuses on my attacks. Of course, I also get a size bonus to hit, so that will balance it somewhat.
Tactics for this are the same "Attack from stealth, hide in enemy's square using them for cover with -20 penalty" as outlined above, except with only one attack per round, I don't have to worry about balancing multiattack and lunge.
Featwise... I'm tempted to throw a whole bunch of feats in this build at Magic Tail, because the actual combat end of things can mostly be covered by unchained rogue class abilities, so getting a whole bunch of SLAs could be fun. As an Unchained Rogue, I don't need Shadow Strike. I'm unsure about going for Vulpine Pounce - it would come online shortly after I'd be getting iterative attacks, but I'm not sure a two feat investment for one extra attack on a charge (and only on a charge) is really worth it in this case.
Could theoretically splash 2 levels of ranger at 11 and 12 to pick up Aspect of the Beast just in time to take Claws as my second Finesse Training weapon (and Multiattack) at 13, but that's getting high enough that it's out of PFS play range. In this case, Vulpine Pounce would be more worthwhile, but not sure it would really see play.
Possible further builds that I haven't thoroughly examined yet:
Ninja; unsure if there's any way to get dex to damage other than the Agile AoMF, but I'm given to understand there's easy invisibility and some other useful stuff here. Something to consider.
Mesmerist, maybe? Could fit well with the whole trickster & illusionist role of kitsune without needing Tail feats, and could probably get decent damage leveraging Painful Stare.
Other things? Maybe?
I'm GMing this at the moment - the party is about a week out of Rickety's Squibs at the moment, in their newly renamed ship, the Owlbear's Roost.
Yeah, they took a shine to Owlbear in a big way.
The crew consists of:
Captain Zander Blacksword (CG M Human Sea Singer Bard); the grandson of the famous free captain Alezan Blacksword, who vanished decades ago. Kept his ancestry a secret while on the Wormwood to avoid getting killed early for being to ambitious. Still hasn't revealed it to the crew, but will probably do so soon. Hopes to reclaim his grandfather's namesake blade, a magical cold iron Falcata.
First Mate Kotaro Hattori (TN M Kitsune Ninja); A spy from the predominantly-Tien island of Shenchu Bay in the Shackles, he was in Port Peril keeping an eye on a local merchant the Shenchu's ruling council had an interest in when he got press-ganged. Took the feat the lets him use his shapeshifting to turn into anyone he examiens, then posed as the very bland human "Michael" until after the mutiny and return from Bonewrack Isle, when he revealed his true form and name to the rest of the crew. Murdered one of the hostile crewmates on the Wormwood in his sleep, with what he thought was Zander's approval.
Jewel, ship's arms master (CG FM Human Swashbuckler); the daughter of a wealthy merchant house, she was never content with the life her parents planned out, and after studying fencing for years, she skipped town and ended up in Port Peril. A terror in combat, she is the party's primary melee fighter, and death walking with a cutlass. Her player is new to RPGs, so he gets a bit of help sometimes on exactly how some of the Swashbuckler abilities work.
Radabeh Velkari, ship's gunner (TN FM Undine Hydrokineticist); daughter of an extensive Undine merchant house, the Wormwood is the second time Radabeh has been press-ganged to join a pirate crew. She got away from the first during a failed boarding action against one of her family's ships - unfortunately for her, she was recognized by the captain and is now considered a traitor to her kin. Theoretically capable of single-handedly trivializing a bunch of the underwater encounters, but she's also designated lifeguard so she frequently ends up skipping out on killing things to save other people from drowning.
Remnann, ship's surgeon (CG M Human Oracle - Time mystery, Powerless Prophecy curse); Spends most of his time drunk to avoid dealing with premonitions he can't - and doesn't want to - do anything about. Joined the crew of the Wormwood late, after they found him floating in dinghy in the middle of the ocean (after a shipwreck) with a monkey and several half-empty barrels of spoiled food that he'd been living off of thanks to Purify Food and Drink. May start turning to harder drugs soon (He's considering picking up Sahir-Afiyun at level 7).
Jazibelle, ship's quartermaster (TN FM Gnome Unchained Summoner); a scholar of Ghol-Gani history and local languages, Jazi was a passenger on board the Man's Promise when it was captured. Encouraged to blend in by a friendly crew member, she got pressed into the crew. Assigned to the prize crew, she met Kotaro and Remnann in the bilges when she went in search of a safe place to summon her eidolon, a three-eyed dog-like daemon. Tends to be a bit bloodthirsty, and enjoys watching her "puppy" rip people apart.
Gerhardt Schmit, bosun (CN M Human Unchained Rogue); former PC whose player had to leave the game (was replaced by Jazi as a PC). Older, and a bit on the stolid and unimaginative size, but quick with a blade.
Sandara Quinn, second mate (CN FM Human Cleric of Besmara); no major changes here, though Zander is considering recruiting her as his cohort once he can take Leadership.
Owlbear Hartshorn, ship's mascot (TN M Human Fighter); Zander, Jewel, and Kotaro all took an early shine to Owlbear. Not only did Kotaro go easy on him during their fight (and earn his friendship), but Zander and Jewel regularly snuck him food and other goodies in the hold. Since he turned on Plugg during the mutiny, they've given him the front cabin for himself (and cordoned off the front end of the mid deck as the new officers' quarters).
Selissa, passenger (TN FM Water Naga, young); when she attacked Rickety's Squibs, the party knocked her unconscious rather than killing her (courtesy of Remnann casting Admonishing Ray), then with some truly excellent roleplaying backed up by some very good Diplomacy rolls, were able to get her calmed down and get her disposition up to Friendly. She is currently traveling on board the Owlbear's Roost until the party fulfills their promise to help her find a new nesting grounds (or if they wait to long, in which case she'll get annoyed). Kotaro has floated the idea of possibly recruiting her as a cohort, if things work out.
So, I'm running this for a group, and the players just left Rickety's Squibs, but they've managed to pick up an... ally of sorts that was quite unexpected - Selissa the water naga.
During the attack, the party oracle hit her with an Admonishing Ray (his only real damaging spell) for a pile of nonlethal damage... so at the end of the fight, she was quite unconscious but in no danger of actually dying. The summoner rolled really high on her knowledge check to know about water nagas, so the party determined that she was intelligent and not fully grown, and also that water nagas generally aren't evil.
So they hauled her up out of the water, carried her over to a small shed, restrained her, then healed her to she was conscious again and started talking. In the ensuing conversation, both the Captain (a sea singer bard) and the oracle pulled off back to back 30+ diplomacy rolls.
So now they've managed to get Selissa on board their ship, at least temporarily, with the promise of helping her find a new nesting ground. When I gave them the feeder for Tidewater Rock, they immediately latched onto the protected harbor there as a possibility. And the first mate is debating the possibility of snagging the Leadership feat and taking her as his cohort.
So my questions here would be:
1) What effects will Selissa's presence have on upcoming events? I'm expecting that she will not participate in boarding actions or raids that the party executes, but she will defend herself and her home, so if they get her moved into the harbor at Tidewater Rock, then she'd probably help defend against the attack later in the module. Any other notable affects that her presence would have?
2) As far as the Leadership/cohort thing goes... my gut instinct is to put her (young) as level 9 equivalent, so available when the party hits 11. Then have her grow up to her adult stats when the party is around 14? And possibly advance from there. I admit, those are complete guesses, though, so if others have a better handle on where those breakpoints should fall, I'd appreciate the advice.
I've got a few ideas of my own as to my mistakes... but I'd like to hear other people's thoughts on it.
Saddle of Erastil's Blessing
Any animal equipped with the Saddle is easier to train. Training a mount using a Saddle of Erastil's Blassing halves the time required to teach new tricks and allows the mount to learn two more tricks than normal for its Intelligence score, though the extra tricks can only be used while wearing a Saddle. These benefits do not function for a mount which is an Animal Companion, Familiar, Special Mount, or similar.
In addition, the saddle grants the mount and rider an instinctive understanding of each others' movements, allowing both mount and rider to make Aid Another checks targetting each other as swift actions. This can only be applied to physical ability or skill checks and can only be done while the mount is actually being ridden.
Druids usually craft these saddles for their allies and companions who lack their bond with nature. While the vast majority of such saddles come from Erastil's sects, druids worshipping other gods occasionally create similar saddles, which are named for the creating druid's patron, but are otherwise identical.