Kyle Smith 700's page

Organized Play Member. 15 posts (1,347 including aliases). 1 review. No lists. No wishlists. 6 Organized Play characters. 19 aliases.

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PF1 CRB: $49.99, 576 pages ($9.99 for PDF)
PF1 B1: $44.99, 320 pages ($9.99 for PDF)

Total cost: $94.98 (or $19.98 for PDF)
Total pages: 896
Cost per page: 10.6¢ (or 2.2¢ for PDF)

DND 5E PHB: $49.95, 320 pages (no PDF)
DND 5E DMG: $49.95, 320 pages (no PDF)
DND 5E MM: $49.95, 352 pages (no PDF)

Total cost: $149.85
Total pages: 992
Cost per page: 15.1¢

Purely from a value perspective, I'll take Paizo's business model in a heartbeat.

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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Pretty much. Vote with your wallets, friends.

Yep, and after the disdain Lone Wolf has shown their Realm Works backers, I fully intend to do so. They've made it abundantly clear they do not want my business.

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The thing that bothers me the most is that Lone Wolf has proven they're incapable of meeting timelines and completing features for a product besides HLC - Realm Works is still not complete nearly 5 years after the Kickstarter. They've been promising that the Content Market was coming "soon" and is "nearly done" for almost two years now - the "complete Pathfinder library" was promised to be released in early 2016.

Their reasoning always seems to be that the Hero Lab and Realm Works teams are separate. Well how about before launching an entirely new product, you first lend some people from that project to Realm Works and get it completed?

Their HLO FAQ has a lot of commentary about features that are not going to be in the initial release, but are "planned" for the future - kind of like how the Content Market was planned. Like custom content (a hugely important feature)...sure, they may say it will be released soon after HLO is released, but can we trust Lone Wolf to make that deadline? I could easily see it slipping to 2018, then 2019, then who knows if it will ever be released?

Lone Wolf has squandered every bit of goodwill I had for them, and HLO is not what I want. I want Realm Works to be completed, and Starfinder to be supported in HLC. I have no need whatsoever to run it on a multitude of platforms (I use PCs/laptops), no need for online access (I use Dropbox to store my portfolios), and no desire to pay a subscription to access content I've already bought.

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Anzyr wrote:
You know every possible Legend about it. Which should just about cover it.

Please show where legend lore says you know every legend about the target. The idea that the plural of a word (legends) means the entirety of that word is...odd.

Also, legends are by their very nature full of inaccuracies. So even if you know every single legend ever told about Cthulhu, you'd get plenty of disinformation.

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I don't understand how knowing legends about Cthulhu somehow means knowing every last bit of information about it.

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If you want exotic and new places, I don't think anything is going to beat Reign of Winter. The players start in Taldor and end up traveling to:

Reign of Winter spoilers:

Irrisen (land of eternal winter)
Iobaria (largely "uncivilized" country not in the Inner Sea)
Triaxus (another planet in Golarion's solar system)
Multiple demiplanes within Baba Yaga's hut

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Inspired by this thread, how about something like this:

Easy to read version

Those who dedicate their lives to the art of fighting are unmatched in the ways of combat. Legends of great heroes abound – slaying a dragon single-handedly, deflecting magic back on those who cast it with a swipe of his sword, the ancient warrior able to turn anything he held into a deadly weapon – these are the tales of an age’s greatest fighters. From the humble farmer who picks up a plowshare and ends up saving the kingdom to the weapon master dedicated from childhood, being a true fighter is more than simple training. It is a passion, a calling, and the stuff from which legends are born.

Role: Fighters are the masters of the battlefield. Their incredible martial techniques and sheer versatility allow them to shape combat to best benefit them and their allies. Through nothing more than perfection in combat, they are capable of truly astounding deeds that seem mystical and can confound even the greatest shapers of magic.
Alignment: Any
Hit Die: d10

Class Skills
The fighter’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int), Knowledge (engineering) (Int), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str).
Skill Ranks per Level: 4 + Int modifier

Class Features
The following are class features of the fighter.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A fighter is proficient with all simple and martial weapons and with all armor (heavy, light, and medium) and shields (including tower shields).

Bonus Feats: At 1st level, and every 3 levels thereafter, a fighter gains a bonus feat in addition to those gained from normal advancement. These bonus feats must be selected from those listed as combat feats, sometimes also called “fighter bonus feats.”

Upon reaching 6th level, and every 3 levels thereafter (9th, 12th, 15th, 18th), a fighter can choose to learn a new bonus feat in place of a bonus feat he has already learned. In effect, the fighter loses the bonus feat in exchange for the new one. The old feat cannot be one that was used as a prerequisite for another feat, prestige class, or other ability. A fighter can only change one feat at any given level and must choose whether or not to swap the feat at the time he gains a new bonus feat for the level.

Expertise: Fighters are experts in combat, capable of handling any weapon with a great deal of skill. When making an attack, a fighter adds a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls. This bonus increases by 1 at 5th level, and every 4 levels thereafter. This bonus is also added to the fighter’s CMB and CMD.

Once per day, a fighter can focus his expertise into one devastating attack. As a standard action, he can make one attack and double his expertise bonus for that attack. After the attack is resolved, the fighter’s expertise bonus is reduced to 0 until his next turn.

Martial Technique: As a fighter gains levels, he becomes more versed in the ways of combat. Starting at 2nd level, and every 3 levels thereafter, a fighter gains a martial technique. Unless otherwise noted, a fighter cannot select an individual power more than once.

Aim for the Heart – As a full round action, make one attack. If the attack hits, it deals normal damage and the target must make a Fortitude save (the DC is 10 + the fighter’s BAB) or die. This ability may be used once per day. A fighter must be at least 7th level to select this technique.

Alert – Add the fighter’s expertise bonus to his Initiative.

Armor Training – Increase the maximum Dex bonus allowed by the fighter’s armor and decrease the armor check penalty by an amount equal to the fighter’s expertise bonus. If this reduces the armor’s ACP to 0, the fighter may move at full speed while wearing the armor.

Battle Commander – As a full-round action, a fighter can lend his expertise to his allies by issuing commands and providing insight into combat. Allies within 30 ft. who can hear or see the fighter gain a competence bonus on their attack and damage rolls equal to the fighter’s expertise bonus for 1 round. The fighter can extend the duration of this effect with a standard action each subsequent round. The maximum duration of this ability is a number of rounds equal to the fighter’s Charisma modifier (minimum 1).

Counter – When a fighter successfully parries an attack, he may use the attack roll used to parry to make an attack on the opponent he parried. A fighter must have the Parry martial technique to select this martial technique.

Defensive Expertise – The fighter gains a dodge bonus to his AC equal to his expertise bonus.

Deflect Rays – A fighter can attempt to deflect any ray that targets him. As an immediate action, make an attack roll and compare it to the attack roll of the ray. If the fighter’s attack roll is higher, the ray is deflected harmlessly away. If the attack roll of the fighter exceeds that of the ray by 5 or more, the ray is reflected back at the caster, who becomes the new target. A ray cannot be deflected in this manner if the original attack roll was a natural 20. This ability can be used a number of times per day equal to the fighter’s expertise bonus. This ability can be chosen more than once. Each time it is chosen, increase the number of times per day it can be used by an amount equal to the fighter’s expertise bonus (these extra uses go up in value when the expertise value goes up).

Forge Master –The Fighter is not only a master of wielding weapons and armor, but also a master at their fabrication. He gains Craft Magic arms and Armor as a bonus feat, even if he does not meet the prerequisites. For the purposes of this feat, treat the Fighter's BAB as his caster level. Choose Craft (weaponsmith), Craft (bowyer), or Craft (armorsmith). The fighter gains a bonus on this skill equal to his expertise bonus.

Graceful Steps – Fighters can assess the flow of combat and move through it with effortless grace. A fighter that selects this maneuver can make a number of additional 5-foot-steps per round equal to his expertise bonus.

Improved Defensive Expertise – The fighter gains DR/- equal to his expertise bonus. This damage reduction stacks with other sources of DR/-. A fighter must have the Defensive Expertise martial technique to select this martial technique.

Fearful Reputation – The fighter gains a bonus to Intimidate equal to his expertise modifier. In addition, he can attempt to demoralize an enemy as a swift action.

Mental Focus – Some fighters focus their training on strengthening the power of their mind. A fighter who selects this martial technique adds his expertise bonus on all Will saves.

Parry - As a swift action, a fighter may prepare to counter an attack made against him. The next time before the fighter’s next turn a creature he threatens attacks him, he may make an opposed attack roll. If the fighter’s attack roll is higher, the original attack misses. A natural 20 on the attack roll of the opponent can only be parried by a natural 20 by the fighter. Regardless of the success of the parry, it uses an attack of opportunity. This ability can be used a number of times per day equal to his expertise bonus. This ability can be chosen more than once. Each time it is chosen, increase the number of times per day it can be used by an amount equal to the fighter’s expertise bonus (these extra uses go up in value when the expertise value goes up).

Powerful Jump – When making a long jump, a fighter may add his level to the distance he jumps. When making a high jump, he may add his expertise bonus to the height he jumps.

Quick Reflexes – Fighters who select this martial technique have honed their reflexes to a razor edge, and gain a bonus to Reflex saves equal to their expertise bonus.

Skillful Manuever – Choose a combat maneuver from the following list: bull rush, dirty trick, disarm, grapple, overrun, reposition. The fighter gains the related Improved feat as a bonus feat. At 7th level, the fighter gains the related Greater feat as a bonus feat. The fighter does not need to meet the pre-requisites for these feats to receive them. This ability can be chosen more than once. Each time it is chosen, it applies to a new maneuver.

Skilled – Not all fighters focus their training exclusively on combat. A fighter who selects this martial technique gains a bonus to one skill equal to his expertise bonus. This ability can be chosen more than once. Each it is chosen, it applies to a different skill.

Spell Resistance – A fighter gains Spell Resistance equal to 10 + the fighter’s level. A fighter must be at least 11th level to select this ability.

Tactical Assessment – A fighter can use Sense Motive in place of a Knowledge skill to ascertain the abilities of a creature. The fighter must have witnessed the creature in combat for at least 2 rounds before he can use this ability.

Weapon Training – Some fighters focus their training on one type of weapon. Choose one weapon group. The fighter gains a +1 bonus to hit and +2 to damage with all weapons from that group and gains proficiency with every weapon in that group. This ability can be chosen more than once. Each time it is chosen, it applies to a new weapon group.

Bravery: Starting at 3rd level, a fighter gains a bonus on Will saves against mind-affecting effects equal to his Expertise bonus.

Versatility: At 6th level, a fighter learns to be more adaptable in combat. As a move action, he can gain the use of one combat feat for which he qualifies for a number of rounds equal to his Expertise bonus. At 12th level, a fighter can activate this ability as a swift action, and at 18th as an immediate action.

Indomitable: At 9th level, a fighter’s toughness allows him to shrug off many attacks. If he makes a Fortitude saving throw against an attack that has a reduced effect on a successful save, he instead avoids the effect entirely. A helpless fighter does not gain the benefit of the indomitable ability.

Improved Expertise: At 12th level, a fighter can expend his expertise one additional time per day, and the expertise bonus is tripled rather than doubled.

Tireless: At 15th level, fighters become immune to fatigue and exhaustion.

Greater Expertise: At 18th level, a fighter can expend his expertise one additional time per day, and the expertise bonus is quadrupled rather than tripled.

Mastery: At 20th level, a fighter becomes a true master of combat. Once per day, he may gain the use of any Martial Technique for which he qualifies for 5 rounds as an immediate action. In addition, he may select one weapon group to master. When wielding any weapon from that group, the critical multiplier of the weapon increases by 1 (x2 becomes x3, for example), and he cannot be disarmed.

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I have this idea for a campaign that I've been toying with that involves Lamashtu. The background being that at one point, Aroden did something to anger Calistria (haven't figured out what yet). Calistria, furious, plots her revenge and finds an ally in Lamashtu. With Calistria's aid, Lamashtu seduces Aroden and at the height of their union, Calsitria appears and the two goddesses kill Aroden. His power flows out of him and into Lamashtu's new pregnancy.

The result of the union is a mythic demon/human hybrid named Nazael that seeks to supplant his mother. He finds an artifact empowered by Azathoth while searching for ways to increase his power and it drives him insane. His insanity drives him to believe freeing Rovagug will grant him the desired power.

Nazael, through years of research, finds a ritual that will free Rovagug. The clues to it are hidden in the following verse:

The lifeblood of a virgin
And the beast that defiled her.
The get of their union,
Anointed by She who abhors it.
The irredeemable priest of the Dawn,
The unfaithful priestess of the Prince.
The Last Azlanti’s last,
And She who took it.
Ninshabur calls thee,
And the Rough Beast shall answer.

Each pair of lines refers to a requirement for the ritual:

The lifeblood of a virgin
And the beast that defiled her.

- A virgin’s lifeblood is not terribly difficult to come by. The best that defiled her refers to a horrific coupling after the virgin is already dead. Not immediately apparent is that the lifeblood of the beast is required, not the beast itself.

The get of their union,
Anointed by She who abhors it.

- The dead virgin becomes pregnant by the beast that defiled her, and an undead creature is born from her. This creature (some kind of unique ghoul?) must be anointed by Pharasma. The creature must be at the ritual, willingly taking part.

The irredeemable priest of the Dawn,
The unfaithful priestess of the Prince.

- A priest of Sarenrae fallen so far as to be irredeemable – he must now worship Rovagug.
- A priestess of Asmodeus who breaks contract by laying with the former priest of Sarenrae during the ritual.

The Last Azlant’s last,
And She who took it.

- This refers to Nazael himself.

Ninshabur calls thee,
And the Rough Beast shall answer.

- The ritual must take place at a specific location at the Pit of Gormuz.

The party would get different bits of the ritual at different times and not in order, so they'd only slowly begin to get an idea of what was going on. Since Nazael is seeking to supplant Lamashtu, at one point, they'd be all but required to ally with Lamashtu's worshippers for a time. There'd be an NPC cleric of Calistria that seems like an ally would eventually turn on them when it became clear they were getting close to discovering Calistria's role in Aroden's death.

That's about all I've worked up on it.

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"Weak" encounters drain resources

Others have touched on ways to make sure the PCs aren't able to do one encounter per rest, so I won't go into that. What I've found is when you have multiple encounters, you don't need all of them to be hard. Encounters that are APL+0 often see PCs use higher level spell slots and resources to finish quickly. APL-1 or even -2 can be great for expending AoE spells. Several of these encounters can quickly drain some of the over-the-top power of the PCs in preparation for the big fights.

If your players are really smart and conserve their precious resources, then have a "pre-BBEG." Something that can definitely be considered a threat that will make the PCs want to use their big guns. A powerful demon, or dragon, or similar creature is a good way to do this. Then, after that fight, the BBEG can make his presence known.

More is more

Instead of one big enemy that is APL+3, why not a pair that are each APL+1? A pair of CR 19 dragons is a much more interesting battle than a single CR 21.

Oh, the memories...

Remember that one monster that was a horrifically difficult fight for your party earlier in their career? The one they only managed to kill by the wizard desperately firing off his crossbow and rolling a nat 20? Now that the PCs are several levels higher than that monster, have them encounter 2-3 of those guys. The memory of how hard the monster was will likely cause them to take the battle much more seriously, even if individually the monsters pose little threat to them now.

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I really enjoyed how they've showed the brotherly affection between Jaime and Tyrion these last few episodes.

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After spending way too many hours converting Shackled City to Golarion and PF, I've finally been able to run it. So far, it's going great, although it's taken some unexpected turns.

First off, I decided I wanted Vhalantru and Thifirane Rhiavadi to play bigger roles in the adventure. I made Lord Vhalantru in charge of Cauldron's adventuring licenses. No license means no adventuring, and to get a license requires the sponsorship of a noble house. Vhalantru was able to get Thifirane to agree to sponsor them (after the party took care of a nasty rat problem for her). The party didn't much like the arrogant Thifirane, but they seemed to like Vhalantru. Exactly the result for which I was hoping.

The party wisely explored all of Jzadirune before heading down to the Malachite Fortress, but unfortunately for them, they quickly found Kazmojen while still level 2. They started running when Kazmojen knocked Fario and Fellian unconscious with one attack each. The last person out saw Orbius teleport in, claim Terrem, and teleport back out.

After that mess, they decided to prepare more carefully, and perhaps explore the Malachite Fortress first. Seeing as how Kazmojen stomped them so thoroughly, I figured he wouldn't bother increasing the guard - the clearly incompetent adventurers were no threat to him.

The party found Fario and Fellian in the prison cells and rescued them, as well as the other slaves, and with careful preparation, stomped Kazmojen as easily as he did them the first time. Unfortunately, however, the remaining three children - Deakon, Lucinda, and Evelyn - were no where to be found, since after driving off the party the first time, Kazmojen finished the sale to the durzagon. I left a receipt on Kazmojen, however, stating the children were sold to "Pyllrak Shyraat, denizen of the Darklands."

My players weren't exactly keen on the idea of venturing into the Darklands until Jenya told them the reward was for rescuing the children. Still, they detoured off to Kingfisher Hollow to investigate Kingfisher Sendings. That didn't turn out to be very useful for them (although they did meet Lord Aslaxin there, and informed him about the slavery ring and the entrance to the Darklands).

So with a rather timid attitude, they decided they needed to venture into the Darklands. At this point, I decided the rescue of the children was going to completely replace Drakthar's Way. Pyllrak would end up taking his new slaves to various Darklands residents and attempt to resell them.

The party has had to cope with numerous Darklands hazards, and rescued Evelyn from a rather insane derro vivisectionist alchemist, managing to sneak into and back out of the small derro village without attracting notice.

Next up was a duergar city, where Pyllrak sold the dwarf child Deakon to a wealthy merchant, who also happened to be a wizard hoping to sacrifice his new purchase to convince an imp to become his familiar. That fight was particularly brutal, but they just barely managed to save Deakon. Oh, and they hired away the wizard's slave kobold chef, Jean-Pierre (complete with outrageous French accent and attitude).

They found Pyllrak's discarded journal in a guest room in the wizard's house, in which he states he was planning on selling the last child, Lucinda, to the drow, though he hates to deal with them. They used the wizard's library to research the drow city and found that to get there, they'll have to pass through a dangerous fungal forest.

Our next session is tomorrow, in which they'll find the fungal forest and eventually discover that Pyllrak succumbed to the many spores floating in the air, and turned into a weird fungal version of himself (Fungal Creature template from Bestiary 4). Lucinda managed to sneak away and is hiding just past the forest.

Once they find Lucinda, they'll have to trek back. They've already been in the Darklands for around 2 weeks, and it'll probably take about the same amount of time to get back. But, unfortunately for them, the duergar have discovered they killed the merchant, and when the party passes by the city, the guards alert their superiors, who will send out several squads to apprehend the murderers.

Even worse, when the party returns to the entrance to the Malachite Fortress, they'll find it collapsed. Lord Aslaxin, upon hearing about such a potentially dangerous tunnel, had the Stormblades collapse it. Now the party will have to turn around (back towards the duergar squads they don't know about yet) and find another exit.

The plan is for them to just barely escape the vengeful duergar by the skin of their teeth through a narrow tunnel that leads to the surface. Just before they're gone, a duergar wizard will cast a fireball at them, which ends up collapsing the tunnel behind them.

I think when the party miraculously returns to Cauldron with the three missing children, I'll have Vhalantru reward them somehow; maybe a piece of treasure tailored to them, or perhaps a piece of property in the city. Just something to help them remember him as a good guy.

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Something I threw at my players awhile back:

Darth Maul CR 19
XP 204,800
Demon-Spawn Tiefling Eldritch Knight 10/Fighter 1/Sorcerer 9
CE Medium outsider (native)
Init +10; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +2
AC 34, touch 21, flat-footed 28 (+8 armor, +6 Dex, +5 natural, +5 deflection)
hp 213 (11d10+9d6+49)
Fort +17, Ref +17, Will +14; +4 vs. poison
Resist cold 5, electricity 10, fire 5
Speed 30 ft.
Melee +1 brilliant energy, spell storing two-bladed sword +23/+18/+13 (1d8+10/1d8+10/17-20)
Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 18th; concentration +28):
9th (4/day) weird (DC 29)
8th (6/day) mind blank, power word stun
7th (7/day) deflection, resonating word (DC 29), spell turning
6th (8/day) chain lightning (DC 26), disintegrate (DC 28), mass suggestion (DC 26)
5th (8/day) fickle winds, hold monster (DC 25), telekinesis, waves of fatigue
4th (8/day) charm monster (DC 24), crushing despair (DC 24), fear (DC 24), greater false life, stoneskin
3rd (8/day) greater magic weapon, haste, heroism, rage, suggestion (DC 23)
2nd (9/day) bear's endurance, blur, bull's strength, detect thoughts (DC 22), ghoul touch (DC 22), resist energy
1st (9/day) cause fear (DC 21), feather fall (DC 23), jump, shield, shocking grasp, true strike
0 (at will) arcane mark, detect magic, ghost sound (DC 20), mage hand, open/close (DC 22), prestidigitation (DC 20), read magic, resistance, spark (DC 20)
Str 24, Dex 22, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 28
Base Atk +15; CMB +22; CMD 43
Feats Combat Casting, Double Slice, Empower Spell, Eschew Materials, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (two-bladed sword), Greater Spell Focus (transmutation), Greater Two-weapon Fighting, Greater Weapon Focus (two-bladed sword), Improved Critical (two-bladed sword), Improved Initiative, Improved Two-weapon Fighting, Spell Focus (transmutation), Spontaneous Metafocus (telekinesis), Two-weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (two-bladed sword), Weapon Specialization (two-bladed sword)
Skills Spellcraft +23, Stealth +26
Languages Abyssal, Common
SQ bloodlines (abyssal), fiendish sorcery, spell critical
Gear +1 brilliant energy, spell storing two-bladed sword, amulet of natural armor +5, belt of physical might (str & dex +6), bracers of armor +8, cloak of resistance +5, headband of alluring charisma +6, page of spell knowledge (vampiric touch), ring of protection +5
Special Abilities
Fiendish Sorcery Tiefling sorcerers with the Abyssal or Infernal bloodline treat their Charisma score as 2 points higher for all sorcerer class abilities.

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Whew, this took quite a bit of time. I have created Hero Lab portfolios for every single encounter in the Shackled City hardcover.

Shackled City Encounters

Installation Instructions:

Extract the files. Copy the Shackled City.user and 3.5 monsters converted.user files to the Hero Lab Pathfinder data folder. You can find this folder by opening Hero Lab, selecting Pathfinder, then clicking on Tools -> Explore Folders -> Game System Data Folder.


- I don't currently have a full list of all the sources required for all the portfolios. Suffice to say, there's quite a few, and I'm pretty sure you'll need at least all the Bestiaries (except maybe 4) and most, if not all, of the core line. You will also need Shadow Chemosh's adjustments, which are available at

- The Shackled City hardcover was written for DnD 3.5, which has a different way of calculating CR (A human fighter 1 in 3.5 was a CR 1, whereas in Pathfinder it is CR 1/2). Due to this, I added a class level to a large number of the NPCs.

- I did not convert the Pathwarden prestige class, as it was, frankly, too much work for my talents with the Hero Lab editor. Instead, I generally used the Pathfinder Delver prestige class from Seeker of Secrets.

- I converted the gods in the book to Golarion gods, as follows:

St. Cuthbert -> Iomedae
Kord -> Kurgess
Wee Jas -> Nethys
Pelor -> Sarenrae
Olidammara -> Cayden Cailen
Moradin -> Torag
Yondalla -> Chaldira Zuzaristan
Garl Glittergold -> Nivi Rhombodazzle
Fharlanghn -> Ketephys
Hextor -> Achaekek
Blibdoolpoolp -> Dagon
Vecna -> Kabriri
Nerull -> Norgorber
Erythnul -> Kostchtchie

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You're standing in a plush room with three other people. Comfortable chairs dot the room, and a roaring fire fills it with a pleasant heat. The walls are lined with bookshelves, all empty. The east wall – somehow, you know it is east – holds a large iron door. In a small niche in the western wall stands what is clearly an illusionary man dressed in robes.

How did you get here? Why are you here? Your thoughts are fuzzy. The last thing you can clearly remember is...well, nothing. Vague flashes of memory pass through your head, but no matter how you try to hold and inspect them, they slip away. All you can truly remember is your training, but even that seems incomplete. Like you once knew so much more than you do now.

The illusionary man catches your eye. He nods and twirls a finger, and a few thoughts - one might almost call them rules - enter your mind.


  • 1) Your goal is to reclaim the power you once had.

  • 2) Through the door lies the means to do so.

  • 3) This room is called Haven.

  • 4) Once you leave Haven, the door will close and you may not return for 12 hours. Attempting to do so will result in failure with extreme prejudice.

  • 5) Each time you return to Haven, you may rest for 12 hours before you must leave.

  • 6) Through the door lies peril in many forms. Though there may be areas that seem safe, none are guaranteed. Haven is the only secure area.

  • 7) You must cooperate fully with the other people currently in Haven.

  • 8) The illusionary man will trade for any items you might acquire, and can provide you access to just about any item or spellcasting service you can possibly imagine. For a price.

  • 9) Death is a setback, not a failure.

  • 10) Attempting to leave the test means failure.

  • 11) You have one year to complete the test.

So, this should be an interesting experience. The characters in this game were once level 20 and are attempting to become gods by passing the Test of the Starstone. The test in this case is to be reverted to level 1, dumped in an inescapable dungeon, and live to level 20 again. This is meant to be a pure dungeon delve, with some…interesting twists. *cue evil GM laughter*

Character creation

  • 1) 1st level characters.

  • 2) 30 point buy. Yep, 30. You’re trying to be a god – you better be powerful. However, no stat can be higher than an 18 or lower than a 10 before racial modifiers (30 points means no need to dump!).

  • 3) Core races only. Don’t ask to be an aasimar, a catfolk, a tiefling, etc. They will not be allowed.

  • 4) Almost anything from the CRB, APG, UM, UC, and UE automatically approved other than variant rules (such as piecemeal armor and words of magic), but see below for exceptions.

  • 5) Nearly any Paizo published Pathfinder material is fair game, but please be sure to call it out as such and link to it on I reserve the right to veto, but doubt I’ll need to.

  • 6) 3rd party material will be considered with a link to the full rules. My preference is to go with Paizo only material, but I can be swayed.

  • 7) 150 gold at character creation for all classes.

  • 8) Max hp at 1st level. All following levels will be Max HP -2 (so d10 would be 8 + Con mod).

  • 9) Two traits allowed, with the standard trait rules.

  • 10) All alignments allowed (but see Campaign Specific Information #6 below).

  • 11) If you ask me a question about character creation that’s already answered in this post, it will greatly harm your chances of getting into the game. Careful reading of the rules is important.

Banned (not necessarily a complete list):

  • 1) Noncore races.

  • 2) Blood money spell.

  • 3) Antagonize feat.

  • 4) All crafting feats except for Brew Potion, Scribe Scroll, and Craft Wand.

  • 5) Leadership feat.

  • 6) Raise dead, resurrection, and true resurrection spells.


  • 1) Vital Strike, Improved Vital Strike, and Greater Vital Strike can be used in combination with charging, Spring Attack, Flyby Attack, Cleave/Great Cleave, and Ride-By Attack.

  • 2) Breath of life is renamed cure deadly wounds, and Clerics can cast it spontaneously like any other cure spell.

  • 3) A character that dies can only be brought back by party means through cure deadly wounds (or class features duplicating that spell). Raise dead, resurrection, etc. are not in the game. Rather, one round after a character dies (ie after cure deadly wounds will no longer work), the character appears in Haven and loses an amount of experience equal to half that required to advance to the next level. This means level loss is a possibility. Examples:
  • 3a. Adam is 8th level with 69,400 experience and dies. To progress from 8th to 9th level, a character needs 24,000 experience, so Adam loses 12,000. He now has 57,400 experience, but is still 8th level.
  • 3b. Eve is 4th level with 10,650 experience and dies. To progress from 4th to 5th level, a character needs 6,000 experience, so Eve loses 3,000. She now has 7,650 experience, which drops her to 3rd level.

  • 4) Spells that take longer than 12 hours to cast can only be cast outside Haven.

  • 5) Monks are proficient with all monk weapons.

  • 6) For every hour past 12 you do not rest (typically at Haven), you will have to make saves against fatigue. The save starts at DC 15, and goes up by one every hour. After 24 hours of no rest, you gain the fatigued condition with no save.

  • 7) After 6 hours of being fatigued, a character will need to start making Fort saves to avoid exhaustion. The save starts at DC 20, and goes up by 2 every hour. Being fatigued for 12 hours automatically gives you the exhausted condition.

  • 8) Gaining a level will be done inside Haven. You don’t gain the level until you return to Haven and rest.

  • 9) Spells and effect that outright kill characters are modified. Instead of death, they bring you to negative hp equal to your Con score + 2. You are dying and must make saves to stabilize as normal. So if Chris, who has a 13 Con, fails both saves against phantasmal killer, instead of dying, he is brought to -11 hp and gains the dying condition. The only exception to this rule is a coup de grace – if you fail the save from a coup de grace, you die.

Campaign Specific Information

  • 1) The illusionary man is your vendor. He has unlimited money and unlimited access to mundane and magical items. He will buy anything of value at normal prices (half the sell value) and sell you anything at the price in the books. In addition, he can cast any spell requested for standard spellcasting rates (see Equipment section of the CRB).

  • 2) Attempting to leave Haven or the area beyond by means of Teleportation or any other unforeseen-by-me methods is strictly forbidden and means your character has failed the test.

  • 3) This being a pure dungeon delve with characters whose memories are heavily fogged, there will be a strong focus on combat and relatively little on roleplaying. This does not mean, however, that you shouldn’t have an interesting backstory or personality for your character, as you never know what you will find.

  • 4) Portions of your ordeals will be randomly generated. This means there could be some days in-game where little of interest happens, some days where combat is a complete breeze, and other days where it’s a terrible struggle for survival.

  • 5) If, after one year (365 days) in-game time has elapsed, the entire party is not 20th level, then you have failed the test.

  • 6) You must cooperate with the party. Any attempt to betray, backstab, murder, harm, etc. a fellow player means your character has failed the test and is lost to the void. The player will be thanked for their time and promptly replaced. The definition of betraying the party is under my sole purview.

  • 7) The test will successfully end once the entire party is 20th level. Or will it? *Cue evil GM laughter again*

  • 8) Time measurements:
  • 8a. Search a room or hallway for hidden objects, doors, etc. - 5 minutes.
  • 8b. Thoroughly search a room or hallway for hidden objects, doors, etc. – 20 minutes.
  • 8c. Both a & b assume roughly average sized spaces. If a room or hall you’re searching is of considerably different size, the time to search may change (just ask).
  • 8d. Other than in combat, time will be kept in mostly 5 minute increments, unless it’s important to keep track more granularly.

I will be taking applications until January 7th, 2014. That should give people enough time to create characters over the holidays. Posting expectations are minimum of once a day during the week. Applications will only be considered if a full statblock is submitted. Again, detailed backgrounds are not required, but be sure there's some hooks I can use.

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Don't forget about the Midnight Peddler. The night before the party enters Tsar, he is supposed to give them this hint:

“Sleep not in the city or to darkness awake. Not light to the eye but to the soul at stake.”

Once my group heard that, there was no chance they'd spend a night int he city.

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I would say that your spell would have been affected by antimagic field. While you created an effect like resilient sphere, the spell in place was actually shadow evocation, which has no inherent protection from antimagic field. Further, I would argue that if you used shadow evocation to create a wall of force, it would still be vulnerable to dispel magic.

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I don't know if there was errata changing this since the original post, since the wording is different, but a Zen Archer monk most definitely cannot take vows:


PRD wrote:
The ability to take these vows replaces the still mind class feature, even if the monk abandons all his vows.

Still mind is already replaced by the Zen Archer monk, so vows are not legal.

Against the shoggoth:
How is the monk moving through the ocean? It's a broom of flying, not swimming. A fly speed does not allow you to move through water as if flying.

Against the pit fiend:
The OP states that wind wall wouldn't work, but he ignores the better version of the spell: fickle winds, which creates a cylinder around the pit fiend just like wind wall, except that it moves with the pit fiend. At CL 18th, the cylinder is 90 ft. high, more than enough to reach the ceiling of the 60 ft. room. Now all the monk's arrows are deflected unless he's directly above the pit fiend. But how would the monk know that's where he has to go? He has no Spellcraft, so he has no idea what spell was just cast, and all he sees is his arrows being deflected. He's got an Int of 7, so he's probably not smart enough to conceive of shooting his arrows directly down on the pit fiend.

Against the ancient gold dragon:
I think other people may have mentioned it, but if the ancient gold dragon uses antimagic field and moves adjacent to the monk, the monk is in a lot more trouble. Changes:

Loses Ki pool (Su)
Loses Quivering Palm (Su)
Loses Evasion (ring of evasion)
Loses flight ability (broom of flying)
Ability to haste (boots of haste)
-5 to hit and damage from enhancement on bow
-3 to hit (Wis) and damage (Str) from belt/headband
-6 AC/CMD (Dex/Wis) from belt/headband
-2 to hit from not having enough Str to use the longbow properly
-8 AC from vest of armor
-5 AC/CMD from ring of deflection
-5 AC from barkskin
-2 to hit and -1 to damage from greater bracers of archery
-5 saves from cloak of resistance
-1 saves from luckstone
-1 AC/CMD from dusty rose prism ioun stone

Add it up:

-12 to hit
-9 to damage
-25 AC
-12 CMD
-6 saves

So, the monk is now adjacent to the dragon with no magic. What's he do?

1) If he full attacks, the dragon's 39 AC is not being hit. Perfect Strike doesn't help here.

2) If he moves any distance at all, he can't use Pinpoint Targeting, so the only way to use that would be to stay still (and by the way, Pinpoint Targeting and Vital Strike do not work together). If he stays still, that means the dragon gets a full attack on him with his suddenly not so impressive 28 AC.

3) Withdraw? The dragon gets one attack of opportunity, which will hit. The monk moves away and then what? Lets the dragon charge him and, oh, how about trip on the charge? 44 CMB + 2 from charging and a automatic 10 = 56, which is the monk's new CMD. Now that he's tripped, he's really screwed - can't use his bow, can't move away without provoking, can't do much of anything. Or, even better, the dragon can sunder the non-magical bow on the charge. Good luck doing anything with your stack of twigs that was once a bow.

4) Move away (take the attack of opportunity) to get out of the antimagic field and use empty body to go ethereal to wait out the spell? Antimagic field has far longer duration - 150 minutes per casting.

5) As 4, but take one shot at the dragon instead of going ethereal. The monk has his full magic arsenal at his disposal in terms of to hit and damage, so he's at a +32 to hit. He fires the arrow, which would hit on the assumed 10, but as soon as the arrow enters the antimagic field, it loses its +5 enhancement modifier. Does that make it lose the +5 to hit? If so, it misses. If not, it still hits, but does not bypass the dragon's DR, considerably weakening the attack. Now the dragon can charge and trip or sunder - again rendering the monk near helpless.

Against the solar angel:
The monk has a Knowledge: Planes check of +20. Assuming a 10 on a single die roll (as per the rules laid out in the original post), he gets a 30 to know about solar angels, which, being a CR 23, requires a 33 to know them. He knows absolutely nothing about them, and therefore all the knowledge he uses to prepare for the fight is null and void. End.

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Erich_Jager wrote:

I think that I am just going to go over the critters that are imune to magic and give them a high SR. Maybe 10 or 11 plus CR or something similar. That will make the fight tough but not make the sorcerer completely useless.

FYI, high SR is not 10 or 11 + CR - that's standard. Very, very few creatures in any of the 3 Bestiaries with SR have less than 10 + CR, and the vast majority are 11 + CR. The few that are very resistant, but not immune, to magic have 15 + CR.

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Just finished running a playtest game with 14th level/7th mythic tier characters. The characters were taken from a Slumbering Tsar game I'm running in which they're currently 14th level (with 20 point buy) and the players added 7 tiers. I had them increase their treasure/wealth up to 400,000.

The Party - APL 21

Gobby Firebomb
goblin alchemist 14/trickster 7.
Focuses on versatile bombing, has wings discovery, and had a dragon simulacrum.
Notable mythic abilities: Enduring Elixir

Gnaww Breaker
goblin barbarian (true primitive) 14/champion 7
Focuses on absurd damage output and has the superstitious rage power. To stick with the superstitious theme, he refuses to use most magic items that require activation (so no flying ability, generally).
Notable mythic abilities: Fleet Charge, Critical Master (twice), Precision (several times), Power Attack (mythic)

Isis Avanne
human wizard 14/archmage 7
Absurdly high Intelligence, focuses on conjuration magic, and has extreme bonuses to spell penetration and caster level checks. She also uses planar binding to keep a movanic deva around, and has an improved familiar that uses wands like crazy.
Notable mythic abilities: Dual Path (hierophant), Metamastery (4 times), Sustained by Faith

Lily the Condemned
human cleric 14/hierophant 7
Doesn't really focus on any one area too much, just a well-rounded cleric.
Notable mythic abilities: Inspired Spell, Dual Path (marhsal), Rally, Faith's Reach, Sustained by Faith

Encounter One - CR 18

Advanced Giant Agile Froghemoth (CR 16)
Advanced Giant Savage Froghemoth (CR 17)
Advanced Invincible Black Scorpion (CR 18)

The group took this encounter with ease, although that's to be expected with the CR difference. Isis used prismatic spray and sent the agile froghemoth to another plane before it got to use its dual initiative. The black scorpion's poison would have wrecked the creature it attacked, the dragon simulacrum, but it was also removed by a save-or-die spell (I can't remember which), and Lily was able to neutralize poison (just barely making the caster level check). Gnaww beatdown and destroyed the other froghemoth.

This was just a warm-up fight that was supposed to be easy and deplete party resources. Mission accomplished - Isis used 2 prismatic sprays very early. Gnaww got an auto-confirmed crit thanks to Critical Mastery - this did huge amounts of damage.

Encounter Two - CR 21

Agile Magicbane Bandersnatch (CR 21)

The bandersnatch was able to sneak up on the party and charged/pounced in the surprise round. It randomly targeted the movanic deva. It shredded her in the first round (after the surprise round). The rest of the party had a very difficult time with it because of the magicbane ability, but Gnaww's extremely high hp and damage output eventually put it down.

The acting twice in one round really made the bandersnatch's offense much more potent. However, the real difficulty in this fight was from the antimagic field the creature radiated. I don't think this was a good playtest encounter because the field changes everything so drastically.

Encounter Three - CR 21

Mu Spore (CR 21)

This was the first non-mythic creature, and it got steamrolled. It had one turn in which it breathed its spores (which the party was barely fazed by thanks to mythic saves). It's ability to grapple as an immediate action was nice, but again, Gnaww auto-confirmed a critical hit.

A non-mythic creature gets wrecked by the absurdly high initiative modifiers of mythic characters, and mythic saves makes their abilities kind of lackluster.

Encounter Four - CR 24

Mythic Wyrm Black Dragon (CR 24) - see this post for its stat block.

This encounter was the final one of the adventuring day. The party came across a lake in a swamp with an island in the center, and a small building on the island. Situated throughout the lake were pillars that rose up to 15' out of the lake. Little did they know that the entire lake was hallucinatory terrain. Most of the party was flying, and the dragon simulacrum carried those who were not. It set Gnaww down on the island, and he fell into the 200' deep pit the illusion was covering.

Down in the pit was swamp water 60' deep. The party followed Gnaww and healed them, while the dragon watched and cast spells in preparation. It burst out of the water and breathed acid on several of them.

This encounter saw a lot of uses of mythic power on acting twice in the same round. It eventually ended with Isis dead, Gobby about to die, and Lily plane shifting herself and Gnaww away.


The dragon was overall too powerful for the party. Its AC was too high, its SR was too much, the Combat Expertise (mythic) feat was utterly brutal (+9 AC for 1 minute at the cost of 1 mythic power!). A dragon acting twice a round is pretty nasty also, although it didn't make a ton of difference, since the party was mostly doing the same.

Final Encounter - CR 25

Treerazer (CR 25)

This was an interesting fight. Treerazer's defoliation ability should have hurt the party a ton, but thanks to mythic saves, it wasn't that bad. Treerazer also suffered severely from action economy - most of the characters were acting twice per round, some of them twice before he even acted once. Antiplant shell was dispelled when he put it up, so one of his primary defenses was negated. Even so, he very nearly killed Gnaww, and would have if he hadn't rolled a natural 1 twice in a full-attack routine.

Non-mythic creatures are really at a huge disadvantage against high mythic tier creatures. Amazing Initiative and Mythic Saves really wreck them.

Overall thoughts

1) Amazing Initiative - I think it's probably too strong. Why would characters not use it every round in just about every difficult fight, especially when they've got quite a few tiers and tons of mythic power?

2) Mythic Saves - I get that mythic characters are supposed to be on another level than non-mythic creatures, but this ability just about wrecks every non-mythic creature that relies on any ability that allows a save.

3) Metamastery - This ability is kind of weird right now. For a mere one mythic power, all your spells are, say, persistent, or heighten, or dazing, etc. Isis used it on quicken, which brought up two issues: first, you only get one swift action per round, so quicken with it doesn't really work, and second, is it really intended for all spells to be able to go past the 9th level limit? A maximized wail of the banshee, for instance.

4) With no scaling of caster level inherent to mythic tiers, spell resistance becomes a huge problem. Isis failed a lot of these checks, even though she had a very high +22 to the check (14th level, +2 Spell Penetration, +2 Greater Spell Penetration, +4 from otherwordly kimono). The mythic wyrm black dragon and Treerazer had 35 and 36 SR, respectively, which was very difficult for her to overcome, and would be nigh-impossible for somebody less optimized.

5) Isis has a strong focus on summoning in the Slumbering Tsar game. Summoning loses all appeal with mythic tiers added in - the creatures you can summon just aren't worth it.

6) The mythic spell list is really, really small right now. I know it's just a playtest, but it's hard to get an accurate read on how useful mythic spells will be currently.

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Pg. 106 & 107

On page 106, the introduction to Alchemical Weapons states "the DC to craft the item is listed in Table 2-16: Alchemical Weapons."

Table 2-16 on page 107 does not list the DC for any of the items.

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I'm not complaining about the save or die situations, I was complaining about Chuck Wright's idea that any save or die encounters were added in by the GM (me). That's just blatantly false.

Tsar spoilers:

Just because the Crooked Tower is written as nearly the culmination of the 2nd Section of the book doesn't mean players will be 16th level then. The entire campaign is a sandbox, and its very easy for players to go there early - like mine have. And since the frieze is specifically called out as not magical, it's really, really tough to see any counter to it.

The Pall is stupidly easy for players to avoid. The Midnight Peddler specifically tells them not to sleep in the city, and not in a confusing manner either.

Again, I'm not complaining about these effects, just pointing out that they're in the adventure as written. I did not add them.

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Creature #1: hp XX/XX; AC/T/FF XX/XX/XX; Fort/Ref/Will +X/+X/+X; vs Feint X

Dorian’s spell causes Adolphus’s sword to give off a bright glow reminiscent of Valamont’s when he empowers his own sword while Diurn’s healing spell removes the gash the creature’s attack opened on Dreygard’s skull, and Darthal blesses Adolphus with the wisdom of Torag.

Adolphus, feeling more prepared for this combat than any he’s yet encountered, steps forward and unleashes a mighty swing. His aim is true, yet the sword is deflected by the creature’s stony hide (Natural armor caused the hit to miss).

Dreygard slides to the south and then west, nimbly avoiding any danger from the stone creature. Note – Total defense is a full-round action. You can’t take it if you also move. Dreygard, feel free to make an attack in this round after moving to H5, if you wish.

1d1d20 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 4 = 5 for 1d10 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 8 damage.

Valamont touches his sword and whispers, ”Strike true this day, mother,” (Using arcane pool to give sword +1 enhancement) before stepping forward and attacking the creature. His attack is horribly off-balance, however, and he angrily spits out a few words. "I said strike true, not through the floor!"

Creature attacks Adolphus:
1d20 + 6 ⇒ (8) + 6 = 14 for 1d8 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 4 = 5 damage. (miss)
1d20 + 6 ⇒ (15) + 6 = 21 for 1d8 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 4 = 6 damage. (hit)

The creature raises two arms above its head and slams them down at Adolphus. One bounces harmlessly off his breastplate, but the other catches him squarely.

Initiative Order - Round 2



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baalbamoth wrote:
ok so Alien are we all supposed to just go "ZOMG YOUR SO TOTALLY RIGHT, I'LL NEVER PLAY ANY OTHER RPG AGAIN!!!" because to say anything remotely negitive about a game someone is enthusiastic about is pissing in his breakfast, or marks you as being a "hater"?

Why do you have to say anything at all? Why be negative? He's excited to have found something that reignites his enjoyment of RPGs. How is it a good idea to then immediately start talking about all the problems of that system? What's the purpose in immediately saying, "Well, you may be happy to have found Pathfinder, but let me tell you about all the problems I have with it." Are you actively trying to drive him away?

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So the OP is happy and excited to have found a game system that reignites his love of gaming. Great! Why are there people in this thread trying to dampen his enthusiasm? Just because you have problems with the system doesn't mean you should discourage him.

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Morgen wrote:

If you want to run a game that is GM vs. Players, may I suggest trying out something like Descent: Journeys in the Dark? That sounds like it fits your play style more from what little I've seen and lot I've assumed.

Totally uncalled for. Did you not see my response in which I clarified the rules for the party and offered to retcon the combat?

For those wondering, the party is 5 characters (one of whom, the bard, was not there that day but his character was allowed to Inspire Courage and cast Haste for important combats) with WBL and 20 point buy.

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Since there's been a good bit of disagreement, I went ahead and clarified the rules of how knowledge checks will work in my game and offered the party a retcon on the battle. Thanks for the opinions, folks.

As for the people assuming facts not in evidence, assume all you want. Also, I never knew a dance required somebody staying in one spot.

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LazarX wrote:

Paizo barred it from PFS play. That should tell you something.

According to the Additional Resources list, Master Summoner is not banned from PFS. Broodmaster Summoner is, however.

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Scribe Scroll. With such a large number of situational spells available to a Cleric, it's hands-down one of the absolute best feats you can take.

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Aelryinth wrote:

NOte that Empower increases variable damage by 50%. It's basically DM's call if the fixed damage per die is increased by 50%, also. It's not much, but it's a possible detractor.

Not so. From the FAQ:


Empower Spell (page 122): If I use Empower Spell on a spell that has a die roll with a numerical bonus (such as cure moderate wounds), does the feat affect the numerical bonus?

Yes. For example, if you empower cure moderate wounds, the +50% from the feat applies to the 2d8 and to the level-based bonus.

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Zakur Opzan wrote:
I was thinking about giving it a try anyways until i got the, this is a win win situtation for me [him]. either you quit or obey my rules.

This tool's reaction to you having a calm discussion about the problems was to say that you obeying his (stupid) rules or leaving is a "win win situation"? Yeah, leave that group and be thankful you'll never have to deal with him again.

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Check the FAQ here.