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Warped Savant wrote:

Lanathar -- You haven't done anything wrong.

The rest of Warped Savant's post is most excellent, but this part is most likely not correct.

If you hadn't done anything "wrong" you wouldn't have posted here seeking help. Or consolation.

I had seen your post ahead of your group's latest session and had intended to post some advice but my life went sideways and... So maybe it's my fault?

The challenge of GMing this game as the levels go up is that the permutations of possible outcomes expands exponentially (not to go all mathematical) and the GM difficulty scales accordingly. But just because its harder doesn't mean it doesn't need to be done.

First thing that can help is the players themselves. Player groups, at least within the bounds of one campaign, tend to fall into patterns that they repeat over and over again (because they work.) So if your group has used combat to solve every problem, you can be confident they aren't going to suddenly try to use Diplomacy to convince Thrune to leave the city. (Very simple and weak analogy.) This should make it easier to predict what they're going to do.

Does your group have a history of scouting ahead? Did they before entering the Temple? They isn't to say that they should have or shame on them for not doing it. Everyone plays their own way and it's neither right nor wrong that they did or did not scout out the Temple ahead of time. But if they didn't, you (the GM) need to scale back accordingly. They didn't prep for specific enemies, they don't know how many enemies are there, they don't know which enemies are there, etc. You need to be judicious in hogpiling them with waves of opponents. Here, written tactics - alarm responses, etc. - in a published adventure can be most harmful. You need to consider whether your group is ready for all the respondents the AP suggests should show up and when they show up.

Here your players did you a massive disservice - does your group normally try to exploit 3 dimensions? The game system makes that hard so I would guess not. One pc moving from the balcony to the main floor when the rest of the pc's had either no means or interest in following is simply suicide. It violates the Golden Rule of D&D - Never split the party. At that point, you needed to go All Stop - no more NPC's join the fight until the party is re-united, regardless of what the published response dictates.

This is why the AP appears to encourage the pc's to explore the rooms around the perimeter, maximize the number of encounters that are static. This is in part because rousing the entire Temple is a bad idea, but also because describing all the various possibilities of response would be impractical in a published adventure. Sadly that means the work of figuring out that response and its cadence falls to you. And it's on you if you get the cadence wrong - dump too much on the pc's.

Warped Savant and roguerouge gave excellent advice - get some of the NPC's off the field immediately. Thrune took 100 hp? That's half his hp! Have him retreat to safety - he's got a wand of cure critical wounds - time to burn through those charges. Have other NPC's flee/retreat while calling out for reinforcements. This a) gets them off the battlefield and b) gives your players a hint - there are more enemies in the area. You also need to figure out some way for the group to be re-united. Without knowing a lot more about them, that's hard to suggest, but it's literally your #1 priority.

Whether the pc's retreat or press on, you need to organize the Temple's residents into logical groups (patrols in Warped Savant's post) and only send them at the pc's as they can tolerate. If the pc's vaporize 1 group in 1-2 rounds, feel free to sent two groups at once, but if they get bogged down with one group (bad rolls, poor tactics) do not send two more groups at them after 2 rounds just because "the schedule says so."

If the pc's do retreat, you need to find a way to make the schedule work to get rid of those negative levels. They both weaken the party in practice and, as your own words suggest, leave them skittish in play. The AP has a weakness - perhaps a better word would be ambiguity - and I think this may have been making things harder for you. But you can turn it to your advantage. The AP provides information about the Mephisto Manifestation but it doesn't tell the pc's important information like how long it takes or that the Temple residents start it immediately after Thrune retreats there. So unless the pc's have run missions against the Temple or otherwise scouted it, they don't know those details. Here I will assert my own GMing principle - it's okay if the players assume there is urgency when there isn't, and it's okay if the players assume there is urgency when there is, but if there is an actual clock ticking down, with BAD outcomes if it reaches zero, that clock had damn well better be visible to the pc's. Otherwise the GM is a Richard. So regardless of what the AP says, the ritual in your version had better take longer than it will take your pc's to mount at least two assaults on the place. And any effort your pc's expend to find out the details - scouting, rebellion missions, commune etc. should pay off with accurate information.

If your pc's picked up the negative levels as a result of horrible decisions (reckless, selfish, stupid, etc.) it's perhaps okay for them to carry them forward as a form of punishment, but otherwise the campaign should be paced to let the pc's get to full health before taking on one of the most important structures in the entire AP. Just because the AP says Grivenner can start making caster level checks after 3 days doesn't mean that's how it has to work in your campaign. Maybe it takes 12 (I mean he is summoning 6 pit fiends to do his bidding) - your players haven't read the AP they don't know you changed it. (Umm, hopefully they haven't read it :)

An observation - if Thrune dies first, it doesn't mean the rest of the Temple has to surrender or stop fighting. The Temple's new leader will be a high level cleric - there is significant incentive to recover Thrune's body so that it can be raised or resurrected. Might be interesting having a raging battle with ever more desperate waves of Temple residents and a grand prize = the Lord Mayor's corpse! (Which the pc's will eventually realize is an even greater prize than they could ever imagine - given the information, etc. that they learn from it.)

(I don't remember if Thrune can even be raised or resurrected given his diabolic "entanglements." But even if he can't, the pc's don't know that (yet) and Thrune's minions in the Temple may not know that either.)

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roguerouge wrote:

So... the Song of Silver. What were the boards' alternatives for this again? The only thing I've been able to find in my notes is:

• Add a longer ritual for 1/year to powerfully ward of forbiddance and teleportation by devils negation for all Kintargo lasting a month

Were there other ideas for alternatives?

I didn't think the Song was as valuable as the buildup and effort to get it implied. So I've come up with this:

The Song of Silver can be performed 1/month for free and a second time in a month for 15000gp in sacrifices. The second performance cannot provide the same boon as the first. When performed it can have one of the following affects:
- The DR of all evil outsiders is reduced by 5 and they cannot perform or initiate any dimensional travel while within Kintargo, incoming, outgoing or within.
- Up to 100 people (named or visible to caster within the boundaries of Kintargo) can receive +4 sacred bonus on saving throws against charm and compulsion effects and become immune to fear effects for the duration of the song’s effects. As an immediate action, a character can end these to automatically succeed at a saving throw or to gain the effects of breath of life (CL 20th). Once this action is taken, the character loses the immunity to fear and bonuses on saving throws.
- The entire city is affected by a Hallow spell and up to 10 people can choose 1 affect for themselves: bless, death ward, endure elements, freedom of movement, resist energy or tongues.
- All affects last for 1 week

This seems more consistent with the role of the original Silver Ravens which were not really a rebellion but rather a para-military outfit that fought off multiple threats to Kintargo, many of which where not diabolic in origin. I also wanted to give the players some choice and a need to think strategically, etc. given any affect only lasts a week. And, of course, give them something else to spend money on.

Note: not play-tested or necessarily even final. My group is still a distance from Book 4.

Thanks for the replies. I like it when my assumptions get confirmed! The pc's in my group don't have backgrounds or classes that encourage that kind of skill point investment. Their focus is more on secrecy and stealth and resistance and less on social interaction of that sort. We'll see how the Dance goes - coming up soon, they're about a third of the way into Book 3.

Lanathar wrote:
Warped Savant wrote:

Rizovair roars and starts attacking the town, that will draw out the PCs.

They're going to destroy all of Thrune's allies and then let him rest and recover for a week?!? While other reinforcements can arrive from other parts of Cheliax?!?
Damn, if they're serious about doing that they deserve to have the ritual work and the 6 Pit Fiends getting summoned.
Possible fix: Have NPCs argue against the PCs waiting around as Thrune will obviously be getting more devils and likely some other allies.
Also, I assume they have the ritual notes from the Records Hall that talk about the Mephisto Manifestation, right? (Book 4, sidebar on page 18).

I don’t know that they plan to rest up for certain. I just know they are incredibly jittery about doing anything when not at absolute full power. And when it becomes obvious that they have to go to the temple....

I just know they are already tracking when they next qualify for a restoration spell. I am not paying attention because I know the answer is “not this book or if it is this book then things have gone very very badly”

They have also taken to teleporting to Vyre to buy stuff. Her-Fen is still around but I don’t want the skinsaw cultists to be back so soon

Allies convincing them to act will help I think on both counts but shouldn’t be necessary

I guess the book assumes the song is active for the rivozair fight even if it is done last...? I just wonder how much of a window to do that (if any) to give them


As it stands there could be two fights with rivozair as I don’t think all the spells necessary have been prepared such as ways of getting into the air . This witch also plans stricken heart and rime spell frost bite (really looking for those no save spells now) but doesn’t have those prepared (but some scrolls).

They of course need to get through mirror image and SR but would be pretty potent if they get through

Just an observation: if your players are not aware of time pressure - like the Mephisto Manifestation, you're not obligated to have it follow any particular schedule. The pc's can learn about the Manifestation at the Hall but it doesn't tell them when it will start. They might assume it starts when Barzillai retreats to the Temple but there isn't an obvious way for them to know that (at least I haven't seen one in the AP.) I think the AP assumes the pc's will follow up as soon as practical after Thrune pulls back. So if the pc's think resting a week (or running out the duration on a Restoration delay) is what they need to do to win, there isn't any particular reason to prevent that. It could be the Manifestation takes longer to execute. Maybe (contrary to the rules) some reprisals continue until the pc's attack the Temple. Or perhaps the reprisals mysteriously stop for a couple days and the pc's try to figure out why and that gives them a clue about the Manifestation (the residents of the Temple are busy doing something BIG!)

Same with Rivozair. If the pc's take control of the city without being exposed to a dragon attack, you could simply have the dragon attack sites meaningful to the pc's to draw them out over the next couple days. The Long Road Coffeehouse, etc. Maybe the Opera House. All pending on what locations are important to the pc's in your campaign.

roguerouge wrote:
...They racked up 37 Masque points mostly through dancing.

Did one or more pc's have ranks in Perform-Dance? My analysis suggested Masque points would be hard to acrue without ranks in that skill. Winning the dance competition without ranks seems highly unlikely otherwise (as an example.)

Warped Savant wrote:
Latrecis wrote:
What's the premise behind the boost in supporters - the pc's demonstrated they're good dancers? I would think it's because the pc's saved people from Thrune's massacre.

There's a difference between saying that Thrune was going to kill everyone and him actually attempting it and the Ravens saving most of the attendees.

The 300 people are a mix of everyone from around town, including people that support Thrune. Having them turn on him because the "anarchists" have "proof" should be nearly impossible. Saving them when Thrune tries to kill them, that should change their minds.
This late in the game most Kintargans have chosen sides. I would assume that the swell in supporters is because a bunch of Thrune supporters suddenly backing the Ravens and telling their friends to switch sides too has "unlocked" a new set of people to recruit. Whereas, if you go in beforehand, the Ravens would have to get their people to spread the word and that would kind of only appeal to the type of people they've already tried recruiting.

As for the Ravens using a fake Thrune as proof, sure, that could get people to wonder. Bring out Jilia and/or Shensen... wait... what's to say they're not fake too? And if they're fake then maybe the Ravens made the fake Thrune!
Hats of Disguise? No one saw those devils with hats on.... they must have been planted on them. Or maybe they just wanted to fit in and look more human without being attacked by all these anarchists!
Dottari know the plan? I figured they were just told to lock the doors and not let anyone out. (I changed the scenario a little and changed his speech so maybe the dottari do know about the plan, but I don't remember the book saying that).

Hitting the Opera House early is morally the right thing to do.
Strategically though? You haven't convinced me of that yet.

The AP never distinguishes between the initial bias or lean of those Kintargans who join the Rebellion. So that some attendees are Thrune loyalists and unlikely to be swayed by a cancelled Dance and some evidence is perhaps irrelevant. That some attendees were supporters or neutral is sufficient because if they believe, they influence others to join. At this point, additional supporters must be coming from word of mouth through the many supporters and not direct recruiting from the Silver Raven leaders. Further the "Upswelling in support" is from dancing with friends and rivals. Are rivals actually Throne loyalists? Since each pc can only dance with one friend and one rival, is it safe to assume half the support come from friends who were already inclined to the Silver Ravens? And therefore willing to believe the Silver Raven version?

Arguing living beings who can be tested like Jilia or Shensen (who would each have to be restored to be used as a witness) are fake is a bit flimsy. The dead, transmuted Cizmerkis can be magically identified as a transformed bone devil. Jilia and Shensen can be magically confirmed to be who they claim to be. And its the preponderance of evidence that would be convincing - not just the former mayor and diva but the hats and the dead fake Barzillai and the testimony of any surviving Dottari (if available.) The Dottari know enough - if they testify they were ordered to lock in the citizens by Barzilla at the conclusion of his closing speechi, that's pretty much all you need to know to assume that Thrune was up to something. Also some of them were ordered to unleash the cockatrices on the attendees. I'd also argue that the Silver Ravens have been recruiting supporters to the Rebellion for the entire AP by countering Thrune's narrative with stories of their own that didn't have any more evidence than their possible post-Masquerade information about Barzillai's scheme.. Thrune didn't stop the Red Jills we did. Thrune didn't stop Varl Wex, we did. Thrune didn't stop the CCG's excruciations, we did. Thrune didn't stop the Tooth Fairies in the Devil's Nursery, we did. And so forth.

Of course recruiting supporters and a PR campaign is somewhat of a moot point because regardless of what happens, civil war erupts in Kintargo the day after the masquerade. A few hundred supporters (if the pc's were lucky enough to execute the various maneuvers to earn them) probably won't make much difference given Thrune's Reprisals start the next day.

Perhaps "strategically" is not the right word? Tactically? It doesn't make sense for the pc's to walk into Barzillai's obvious trap and get into a fight with him on terrain, timing and terms of his chosing. That's how you lose battles and wars. Especially when they can forestall the entire event and foil the trap by hitting the Opera House with surprise. Not to mention keep innocent bystanders out of harm's way.

Warped Savant wrote:

See page 40 of the book, under "An Early Start" for general ideas. If they're caught and Thrune finds out the next book starts right away and the masquerade is cancelled. If they kill anyone they had better be sure to clean up after themselves as a dead body would raise a lot of concerns and might prompt an early start to book 4.

As for evidence, Thrune going nuts or rescuing either NPC in the basement of the Opera House should provide enough proof for the general population that Thrune isn't to be trusted.
But the rebellion probably shouldn't get the "Upwelling of Support" mentioned under "Concluding the Adventure" on page 56.

I would think they should get the benefit. What's the premise behind the boost in supporters - the pc's demonstrated they're good dancers? I would think it's because the pc's saved people from Thrune's massacre. If the pc's hit the Opera House early and prevent the massacre, seems like there should be the same benefit.

There should be plenty of evidence - any surviving Dottari will know what the plan was. Why did those 7 devils have hats of disguise? Why are these devils here in the first place? Jilia knows the plan. What's the explanation for the fake Barzillai? Evidence of Barzillai's intentions should not be hard to find.

I've argued before - hitting the Opera House ahead of the Masquerade is the morally and strategically right thing for the Silver Ravens to do. They know its a trap. They know Barzillai is ruthless and will kill anyone to get his way (see Night of Ashes.) They know 300 citizens will be in grave danger. Why should they fight Barzillai on his terms with 300 innocent bystanders in the same room/building?

Warped Savant wrote:

I kept Strea in the Silver Star and the only change I made to the place was that Hetamon wasn't there.

But I ran Hell's Rebels are an incredibly heavily modified Kingmaker and I had told my players from the beginning that I wasn't planning on changing much and that some things (at least one) might stand out as odd/out of place.
Once they did the Silver Star they laughed and asked if that was the one that seemed out of place compared to everything else and we all had fun with it.

A game is about fun. If something is occasionally out of place or doesn't make all that much sense most people don't actually mind, so long as the GM can make fun of it too.

I think this is a great approach. And I like odd, "I would never do that" encounters in AP's since it keeps my players from zeroing in on my own tendencies. However... I try to pay attention to what encounters tell the players about the world/story line. The Silver Star encounter comes just as the pc's/players are about to learn everything isn't what they thought it was and a half-succubus worshiper of an obscure demon lord engaged in trying to create an undead hag by sacrificing a son who's relationship to her is utterly out of the blue creates a lot of potential confusion. Having Strea, who presumably has been a prisoner of Thrune since the Night of Ashes, be there in thrall to Natsiel is even harder to explain. Or rather keep players/pc's from using for conclusions that are completely wrong.

But it's really a matter of play style. And for Lanathar who may be ending at Book 4, it may not make that much difference.

Lanathar wrote:

Some questions where I would appreciate some opinions:

I succeeded in feebleminding the witch at the silver star (which shocked me)
This was after the player used a lucky clover and was given a second chance (with the final use of the clover) from the freedom domain cleric power. So I think he had 4 goes and rolled under 8 every time

Now they are in a place that they can restore in order to heal him

So should I rule that they do this and wait tough out thrunes reprisals (probably nets one or two extra days - probably only one due to the hallow) whilst they prepare to revive their ally

Or should I let the player play a backup or one of the NPCs ? To me that seems like freedom from consequences (especially as the solution is there). Or am I being harsh? I think it might come down to if my players insist on pushing on - then give him Octavio or Strea perhaps? (No level changes). Even then it feels generous


Connected to the above wasn’t Strea Feeblemined rather than charmed in the early write up. It makes more sense because otherwise where would she have been for several month? I need to re read to see if it says why Natsiel has her.

It would probably be useful to remove her or feeblemind her as well since I didn’t have her come out and help her “friend” in the combat last session. She could be under a different effect I suppose

Where have others put her? Keep or temple seem like good choices

I don't think there is a right or wrong answer on how to proceed with the feebleminded pc. It's more about what your group playstyle is and what makes it more fun. Not very helpful but you should do what supports that - if your players would be unhappy if they stayed idle long enough to get the witch fixed, letting Kintargo take its lumps from Barzillai's reprisals all the while, then let the witch player play other known NPC's - introducing a backup character seems a big stetch (where has this character been during the previous 3 books, etc.) On the other hand, if the witch player doesn't want to play an NPC or the players like playing the same character each time until the story is over, then skip forward in time, hit Kintargo with a number of reprisals and play on.

On Strea, it's just another blemish on what is the most incoherent encounter in the entire AP. You are correct, in Book 1, this text appears: "On the Night of Ashes, Strea was one of those identified as a potential threat, and agents of Thrune abducted her, confiscated her belongings, and turned her over to the Church of Asmodeus, where she was subjected to a feeblemind spell and imprisoned—the PCs can learn her fate and possibly rescue her in “A Song of Silver.” How exactly did she go from the Church of Asmodeus to Natsiel? Her write-up in Book 4 doesn't show the Int and Charisma score of 1 from being feebleminded. It makes absolutely no sense for her to be there. Seems far better for her to be a prisoner in the Keep or perhaps the Temple itself.

My plan is to have her and Hetamon as prisoners of Tombus -he and the Chelish Citizens Group are going to lynch them as part of a Reprisal to burn down the Devil's Nursery. Hei-fen and her Norgorberites will be the one's who attack the Lucky Bones - since no matter how secretive the pc's are, she knows all about it.

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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Latrecis wrote:
Sure she's dealing with the Glorious Reclamation but she can't have Kintargo going off the deep end at the same time. Keep in mind, Barzillai teleports to Egorian to recover prior to the Kintargo Covenant coming to light.

Ravounel (as written, implausible as it is) has about thirty thousand people in it, has no worthwhile industry to speak of, and has no strategic value either defensively or offensively. It is backwards and useless. There is no particular reason, other than prestige, for Cheliax to bother keeping it. The idea that Abrogail is at all concerned with what goes on there is fallacious in the extreme.

The subtle flaw is that the pc's don't need to take out Barzillai and slog through the Tower of Bone to do it. Abrogail will be just as interested in taking him out as the pc's, so they can recruit her to get it taken care of. He's a Thrune after all and her minion. She should clean up her own messes.
It's a nice thought, but the PCs have no means to make Abrogail do this, and she doesn't exactly have a strong sense of duty compelling her to do the right thing of her own accord. Even if she did agree, as Artofregicide pointed out, why should the PCs trust her to do things their way, and not to twist the situation to her advantage?

I think you might be undervaluing Kintargo and Vyre as trading ports, sources of economic advantage/income and as strategic naval assets, giving Cheliax access to the growing markets in Varisia and Arcadia. If Abrogail has any ambition for expansion, those are very likely the best targets.

I suggested recruiting Abrogail more as a passing fancy than a serious strategem. While Barzillai endures in Hell, the haunts and other manifestations would likely continue in Kintargo, much to the pc's dissatisfaction. And they have no reason to trust Abrogail except where self-interest guides her. The description of a genius loci provided in Book 6 sounds awful for both Ravounel and points beyond - namely Cheliax. It seems very likely if not obvious that expansion beyond Ravounel and encompassing all of Cheliax would be Barsillai's goal. If he did, he would not view himself as Abrogail's servant but the other way around. So while it's still a long way off, the outcome for her and House Thrune seems decidedly unpleasant. Especially as it is clear Asmodeus and Mephistopheles deliberately engineered this event, almost certainly to force her to renegotiate the Cheliax Covenant to terms even more in their favor. If we're asking why the pc's should trust Abrogail, we should also ask why should Abrogail leave dealing with Barzillai to the Ravens? My most serious suggestion, if player's considered this line, would not be to defer to Abrogail in dealing with Barzillai but instead get her to aid them in defeating him. With allies or magic items, etc. Or help in destroying the Soul Anchor.

Lanathar wrote:

2. Are there enough clues that will make the queen suspicious if he rocks up there ? Or is it more committing to staying under the radar?

3. What is the subtle flaw? I might be missing it?

Anything that calls attention to Ravounel is bad for Barzillai.

"Wait, Barzillai was in town?"
"Yep, he was holed up in some estate."
"And he never stopped in to see me... Hmm, I wonder what he is up to. I think I'll send some devils up there to find out."

Sure she's dealing with the Glorious Reclamation but she can't have Kintargo going off the deep end at the same time. Keep in mind, Barzillai teleports to Egorian to recover prior to the Kintargo Covenant coming to light.

The subtle flaw is that the pc's don't need to take out Barzillai and slog through the Tower of Bone to do it. Abrogail will be just as interested in taking him out as the pc's, so they can recruit her to get it taken care of. He's a Thrune after all and her minion. She should clean up her own messes.

Warped Savant wrote:

Why I don't like the idea of him teleporting away and returning later to his imminent death during the Silver Span Celebration:

1) It's disappointing for the players when an enemy flees, especially since they killed a version of him a book ago only to learn it wasn't really him
2) They haven't killed him yet so the PCs/players are likely expecting him to return and having a celebration seems out of place unless you wait a long time, in which case him coming back exactly at the right time seems too contrived
3) Going through the Temple of Asmodeus likely used up a lot of the party's resources whereas attacking the celebration they'll be at full strength and he won't have many (if any) allies with him as back up
4) Teleporting away only to return to what he should realize is certain death makes him look stupid whereas not running from a temple of his god makes sense. (Especially if you have him plead for assistance from Asmodeus right before the players kill him)
5) It's disappointing for the players! (because it's worth repeating.)

I agree with all of this and would add two points.

1. The obviously suicidal return at the bridge is forced after the teleport by story. The pc's need his body (and the Chelish Crux, etc.) to connect to/kick off Book 5. This problem can be prevented by simply taking away the teleport ability. Simple solution: make it Dimension Door instead and he flees within the Temple. He has a wand of cure critical wounds - he doesn't need to go far away to heal up - he just needs a few minutes of safety.
2. He really shouldn't teleport to Egorian in any event. Up until late in DoD (and maybe even later) the greatest threat to Barzillai's plan is Abrogail. She will be even more passionate about preventing his proto-god ascension than the pc's (if that's possible) and she has a lot more power to bring to bear. Everything about his plan to become a genus loci is based on secrecy. Once the plan is known his goose is cooked. He needs to do everything in his power to keep her from paying any attention to him at all. (Not to mention he needs her focus to be on defeating the Glorious Reformation - if they win, Cheliax won't be what he expects to find as a god-of-the-land-thing.)
3. Which by the way points out a subtle flaw in Book 6. The pc's arrive at the Tower of Bone, get the info from Oughorthan, say "Thank you very much" and go home. And write Abrogail a letter - "Thought you might like to know... Pretty sure you don't want this to happen and this seems more in your backyard than ours... Looks like Asmodeus and Mephistopheles are trying to screw you... Let us know if we can help... How are the kids... Etc."

Disclosure: I haven't run this yet - my group is early in Book 3.

As I look at it, you'll probably need multiple options because a lot is going to depend on how the pc's enter the temple and what path they take through it. The AP "suggests" the pc's enter through the main door and make their way around the outer perimeter before confronting the large group in the main chamber. But the pc's might directly confront the high priest to prevent him from completing the Mephistopheles Manifestation, especially if they know about it already. Or they might enter from the balcony (E34.)

I would probably not put him anywhere. The pc's/players don't know where he is supposed to be/where he is (and if they try to use scry or other divination to find out those simply fail. "Hey, you build an immense Temple to your god and you too can have protection from divination." Instead have him join whichever fight looks like a good candidate to be the last one. Either he's in the next room the pc's explore or he and some neighboring allies join a fight already in progress. And don't worry about how many of the Temple's occupants are "left" - some of them can join in waves to make the fight more interesting - but when Barzillai goes down, the fight (and as you're running it, the campaign) is over. Any surviving Temple defenders surrender or flee.

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Getting an unaffiliated player to run an enemy NPC is a great idea. I've done that before myself. And your consultant/recruit is right - Bloso's tactics are self-defeating. Dropping walls on Silver Ravens and manipulating team members seems highly likely to provoke a confrontation with the very people who run the place/defeated the lemures, etc. And that seems very likely to lead to her death or her return to Hell, both of which should be low on her list.

One of the troubles with extrapolating Bloso's actions outside the scope of encounters in the AP is that her encounter structure is built on the assumption the pc's have very low spell power. So the assumption is that the nature of the contract (secret page, etc.) is lost on them and they don't have the ability to do much about it themselves. (And even that is a stretch - given where the pc's find the contract and the other items in the same location, at least one of the pc's is likely scanning the entire haul with detect magic and if so the GM is deliberately obfuscating things if he doesn't divulge the faint magic from the secret page. The GM is assisted in this "deception" by the AP itself which does not mention the contract when describing the treasure in A7, only introducing it later in an "oh by the way" fashion.)

But this limitation doesn't apply to the Temple of Abadar. I might argue the priests of Abadar should have some pretty stringent examination rules for things being stored in their vault. Given the tremendous variation in awful things in small packages in a magic world like Golarion, everything going into the vault should have fully explained magical aura's or be rejected for placement. "This piece of paper has a faint magic aura - please explain." "Oh you don't know what it is either? We can't accept that. Would you like me to dispel it for 210gp?" (CL 7 x 3rd x 10gp) "Rather, attempt to dispel it for 210gp?"

I don't know that I ever read an explanation for why she doesn't suggest Morgar simply steal the contract and bring it to her? Then she could leave and go do whatever she wants. Or why she spent 70 years stuck in a dank basement with her contract in a locked crate? Okay she doesn't have disable device nor the ability to do more damage than its hardness... But come on, she had 70 years to find a solution. Including getting the lemures to carry it to the ground floor where she could manipulate some passerby into breaking it open for her. She should definitely start searching for a morally weak priest of Abadar who can be seduced to the dark side.

It's not an AP but the Emerald Spire "mega-dungeon" is also in the nearby vicinity.

Warped Savant wrote:
Does that make sense or am I talking crazy talk again?

Not sure. (Note: I haven't run this - just going off how it read the AP)

My understanding is that when the fighting begins, the devils start killing civilians (well, after a round for both the Erinyes, who is summoning on round 1 and the Bone devil, who teleports.) On round 4 the cockatrices join in (exactly why the Dottari aren't prepped to release them at the start is unexplained.)

Each round after the fighting starts 2d6 attendees die plus whatever the devils and cockatrices do. And they continue killing until either the pc's (or allies) stop them OR the pc's take out Cizmerkis, which triggers the Dottari to flee and the devils to refocus on the pc's.

Each round in which at least one exit is unlocked/unblocked, 1d6 attendees escape per unblocked exit.

So some attendees die and (pending pc actions) some escape each round until the point where Cizmerkis is dead. Even if the pc's take out the devils and the cockatrices 2d6 die each round (presumably from panic and Dottari.)

And when the fight is over, a number of dead attendees equal to the number of Masque points the Ravens have earned is moved to the escaped column.

I agree there is a potential window where the Dottari have fled, leaving the exits open and the devils have turned their attention to the pc's and some number of attendees remain in the building. They should continue to escape at 1d6 per exit per round. During this time, it's possible additional attendees could die pending how they are depicted on the battlefield. I'd argue in this case, Masque points could save these casualties as well should the Ravens have any to spare.

Put more simply, there are 300 attendees. Each round some of them die and some of them escape. Until either they are all gone or until the pc's take out Cizmerkis and the killing of attendees stops. But even in this case the escaping continues until they are all gone or there is no need to escape because there's nothing left in the Opera House but Silver Ravens and attendees.

This seems the relevant section from DoD, p. 56. "At the adventure’s end, reduce the number of fallen attendees by an amount equal to the PCs’ final Masque Point total, and add this number to the number of attendees who fled to safety."

In your case your group had 50 masque points and only 47 dead/fell. So in my view the 50 masque points result in everyone escaping.

At the start of the fight there are 300 people in E1 and D3. Each round some fall (2d6 plus whatever the devils/cockatrices do until the pc's distract them) and each round some escape (1d6 for each exit the pc's make viable). This goes on until all 300 either fall or escape. Presumably if/when the pc's win the fight, all of the as yet unassigned 300 move to the escaped category. So the final survivor count is 300 - those who fell + the pc's Masque point total. In your case no one died, all 300 lived and the xp award is 25600.

I'd be interested in any kind of narrative you'd be willing to provide on how the Masquerade went for your group. That seems a high amount of Masque points (unless someone in your group has ranks in Perform (dance) which seems the only way to win the Dance of the Damned.) And this is a complicated encounter and finding out how other GM's approached it is always valuable.

The succubus energy drain can be used on an unwilling victim who is grappled. Which I believe Hetamon is (or otherwise restrained.) So he may not have been a cooperative participant. Still grotesque. But Natsiel intends to convert one of her dead hags into a witchfire and sell Hetamon to the Barzillai where he will become a host for a hellswarm host and grant Barzillai 40 AP. All three of which are pretty awful. Of course she could have dominated or charmed him to make him cooperative...

Capturing the Order of the Torrent? One advantage - even though they might be playing evil characters, their orders will be to capture not kill.

Taking out the Thrashing Badger and some Milanites? Not many spoilers and might explain why Hetamon was originally slow to engage/trust/ally. And why there aren't many Milani worshippers around to help.

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Hardest AP to run: the one you're not passionate about running. If you are genuinely interested/committed to running it, any challenge caused by its design can be easily overcome. If you're not, even the smallest difficulty will appear mountainous.

Lanathar wrote:

I now have one player who has been dropped twice by a full attack round from a mace in the last 3 sessions and it seems like that number could go up before the end of this book

Why would you want to change it up? It's working :)

I'd agree with Vrock and Warped Savant, the mace wielders are all either clerics or inquisitors or various forms/derivatives thereof. Mace is the classic weapon for those types of characters.

If you replaced them with longswords, the same thing would have happened to the example pc as the longswords do the same damage as the heavy mace. Would you have asked this question if they all wielded longswords instead?

Yes. Very Awesome (for all of it.) I'm about a book away but might use this as inspiration.

Artofregicide wrote:

I've planned for control of Jarvis End to be predicated on control of the opera house, meaning they have further motivation to clear it out beyond loot, experience, and curiosity...

I'm planning on having Hei-Fen and crew attack the Lucky Bones, actually. Tombus and the CCG will absolutely be doing atrocities in redroof headquartered in the Cloven Hoof Society. I've built some of his more elite goons as hangman vigilantes...

Totally agree the Opera House seems a much more appropriate control point for Jarvis End.

And I am also planning on having Hei Fen attack the Lucky Bones instead of Tombus. He and his goons will be threatening to lynch Hetamon and Strea as part of a pogrom against the tieflings in the Devil's Nursery. Don't see any reason not to make Barzillai and his minions utterly despicable. (I don't think the Natsiel encounter makes a lot of sense either.)

Artofregicide wrote:
Latrecis wrote:

Why is Luculla and her throng at the Silver Star? If she hates Barzillai and hates the pc's there seem like a lot more interesting spots for her to pursue revenge...

Certainly agree the Silver Star encounter in the AP is very disconnected from the rest of the AP themes/story elements. And if your pc's have history with Luculla and won't be doing Book 5 and 6, the witchfire and cultists look like good answers.

Fair point. I was mostly reusing the map/encounter out of laziness. Where do you think would make a more fitting place for them to set up shop?

Never let it be said I don't support GM laziness - it's one of my defining features!

Are you still planning on using the Authority Point system? Dealing with the Silver Star and its occupants gives the Ravens control of Jarvis End. If you move the encounter, you may need to solve for control of Jarvis End. You could put Hei-fen and her cast of characters there instead...

Luculla and her minions could attack the headquarters (assuming the Ravens are using the Lucky Bones in your campaign) - she knows all about it. And Tombus and some CCG thugs with Dottari support could be doing bad things to the tieflings in the Devil's Nursery or ambush the pc's while en route to another mission.

Luculla could also be hunting for Barzillai. She could attack the Opera House not knowing he's moved. Or she could attack while the pc's are trying to setup to use the Song of Silver. She could show up late in the assault on the Temple of Asmodeus seeking to kill the pc's and Barzillai. She could kidnap Setrona and Octavio as bait for an ambush of the pc's - she knows Setrona and probably knows she is allied with the Ravens - this would happen at the Tooth and Nail.

Why is Luculla and her throng at the Silver Star? If she hates Barzillai and hates the pc's there seem like a lot more interesting spots for her to pursue revenge...

Certainly agree the Silver Star encounter in the AP is very disconnected from the rest of the AP themes/story elements. And if your pc's have history with Luculla and won't be doing Book 5 and 6, the witchfire and cultists look like good answers.

While the exchange between InvisiblePink and Gray Warden is an interesting philosophical discussion about how to approach differing levels of system mastery within the same group of players, and it might be a small part of the OP's problem, it isn't the group's real problem.

If you read this thread and the reddit InvisiblePink linked to above, you can clearly see what the real problem is. The OP played whack-a-mole with rules he couldn't adjust to in order to respond to player optimization and now he's in a corner - he can't nerf or eliminate to-hit and AC (or he's basically thrown the whole game out the window) so one of the pc classes combined with the associated player's system mastery has created an unbalanced group. Indeed some of what the OP has done makes Gray Warden's approach harder - the other players may not be able to step up their game because the OP has changed the rules they might use having already prohibited flight, metamagic, crafting, and at least some combat maneuvers (among other things I might have missed.) Further the other players may have tried to step up their game but the OP responded by nerfing the associated rules and now they're frustrated.

Or one of the Silver Raven teams. Those groups are specifically part of the Rebellion, take actions on the Raven's behalf - accepting risk
to themselves to do so, etc.

Could even permit individual NPC's to lead teams in this one instance as the pc's will be too busy to do so.

I'm not sure how Blindness is a particularly awful save or suck spell, of which there are an abundance - sleep, hold person, dominate person, disintegrate, etc. Though I will admit the fort save targeting casters whose fort saves may not be the best and permanent duration are nasty features. Basically it's a non-hp targeting disabling spell of which the system has plenty. If a caster is paralyzed, unconscious or turned to stone or dust they're just as unable to cast spells.

If you think there won't be optimum tactics in 2E, I wager those will be discovered by the interweb optimizers shortly after publication. And I'm not sure everything that was in the playtest is guaranteed to make the final cut (but I might be wrong on that.)

But most importantly, it's been a while since I've used Blindness on my pc's - Thanks for the reminder! (I won't tell them where I got the idea ;)

I have been thinking about something similar. I'd prefer not to run NPC's, I'm busy enough as it is and I'm not thrilled about having a player run an NPC. Though that could work. And I'm not thrilled about deus ex machina interventions - pc's have hero points for that. But I think that if the pc's attend, they'll have a hard time keeping key allies from wanting to join in. And while I'm not familiar with aid tokens, I was thinking of giving key NPC's a one-time intervention ability. Something like:

Make a lie of Barzillai - Rexus. Dispel/remove the illusions on one set of devils.
Recover lost citizens - healer like Vhast - recover 2d6 citizens lost in the previous round
Disable Dottari - Laria. She poisons (via food) some of the dottari and for 1-2 rounds (when declared) the Dottari are nauseated.
Eliminate Enemy - Tayacet. One enemy(not Cizmerkis, Nox or Jilia) can be eliminated.

If the NPC power is used, there is a % chance they are killed or lost. (Still not sure on that number) so there is risk for using their "ability." Or even having them attend. Of course, the Ravens have to be allied with said NPC to have them attend and function in this role.

Interesting perspective. I'm not sure how taking a crafting feat doesn't make the Summoner better at whatever role he/she is filling. Whatever the Summoner is doing, there are magic items that make him/her better at it or allow him/her to do it more often or keep him/her alive while doing it.

It's really a question of plausibility and mindshare. If the pc's want specific items it will seem contrived if they frequently get them via combat/treasure. And if they don't get them via treasure then they either need to buy them or make them. At that point, your focusing on one form of administrivia or another - either they're shopping at Walmart for a Plume of Pinache or they are getting someone in the party to make them one.

But I can acknowledge I'm pretty flippant about pc wealth. I don't adjust the treasure in the AP (and boy are there some BIG hauls available in this AP - the Lucky Bones is loaded!) and I let the players choose how they want to spend their resources including feats and money. And time. One key is to establish that time isn't infinite - the pc's can't wait around for weeks for magic items to get made (and it's a day per 1000gp of cost.) And if the pc's/players get more powerful because they used their feats and crafting smartly, it's my job to adjust accordingly. My players have pretty good system mastery and I have to adjust almost all the encounters anyway since the as-written tactics in most AP's are mediocre (at best.)

On a perhaps more helpful note about the number of crafters available, since the highest spell level available is 4th, I assumed that the highest level casters available for crafting are 7th level. Given the only casters we know about that are higher than that are almost all in Barzillai's retinue and therefore highly unlikely to craft items for the pc's that sets a cap on what items can be crafted. Of course, I don't have hesitation about limiting/discouraging crafting feats so that model may not be viable for you.

DM Livgin wrote:
1 - Taking crafting feats is a tax on the character, as a GM I'd much rather they took feats that they might enjoy more or help them perform their roles better.

I pretty much agree with everything except the above. (Yes, Hetamon's build is just wrong for what he's supposed to do and have done.)

Crafting feats aren't a tax, they're a boon. You could argue they are overpowered in comparison to other feats. Especially in a restricted magic item market such as HR.

The pc's get the magic items they want for half price. That's a pretty nifty outcome and all it costs them is downtime. Craft Wand and Craft Wondrous items are particularly powerful. The wizard gets wands of invisibility, fly and haste. Boom! The party has access to those spells much more frequently and the wizard can memorize other spells in those "slots" thereby increasing his flexibility and getting other spells into play.

To get the most out of them, it helps if the pc's/players have a communal approach to treasure, etc. and other pc's fund the item builds the crafter(s) take on, etc.

I think you have already diagnosed the source of your "trouble."

Balkoth wrote wrote:

And if the game was primarily story based with combat as an afterthought I'd be less worried -- but the campaign is primarily challenging combat. Hell, a few sessions ago a major enemy was in really bad shape after a long fight and I elected to have him flee when the party inadvertently gave him an opening to do so. The catch is this was quite late after a long session and I was so focused on the boss trying to survive that I didn't realize I could probably had TPKed the group if I had him be more aggressive. I was just worried about him living another round. So the next morning I get this message from an upset player...

"i see no reason why he even had to run, he could have just killed us. He had the upper hand on us. I get it if you dont want another TPK but still....It feels like you are pulling punches which I am fine with but I am rather you make that clear going forward that is how the game is going to be run."

This suggests to me that you have transitioned (or maybe just started there?) from a role-playing/story-based game to a wargame. That at least one player was disappointed you didn't "try to win" by killing all of them seems confirmation. In some ways it speaks to the flexibility of the system that it can be used as a wargame but underlying mechanics make it a challenge. The largest being it becomes the GM vs. the players. And each player is trying his best to make a better monster (or monster-killer.) And as is the case in any other more classic game, there are winners and losers. And some players are better than others. And eventually, there's a chance one or more players will be better than the GM. And then things get weird.

It appears your NeverMiss Inquisitor is a legitimate construct according to the rules. That player is winning. Your recently arrived Vivisectionist is just playing along in the arm's race. And now you have some players who are falling behind. Maybe they aren't as good at finding quirky rule synergies (I really wanted to say perverse rule synergies there just to show my bias) or maybe they're not as interested in doing so.

I don't have any practical advice other than to have an open discussion at the table about how and why everyone is playing. Because, as I think someone suggested earlier in the thread, this is only going to get worse as the levels rise. If you thought your level 12 Inquisitor was death incarnate, wait until the characters get to level 16 or 17. Have any full casters in your group? 9th level spells are world-breaking and potentially game-breaking. On purpose.

Joey Virtue wrote:

So I really dislike 1st and 2nd level as a GM and a player.

So what would the thoughts be on starting APs at 3rd level with the players having a small back story that accounts for the first two levels.

I already redo all the combats changing the CR of all the combats so I would just redo the base CR of all the encounters. I would keep the base of the encounters the same just advance the combatants to the proper CRs

Another bonus to this is players would get an opportunity to play some of the higher levels cause the APs usually stop at 17th or 18th now they would stop at 19th 20th.

So what are your thoughts on this?

Seems like a lot of work but I know you have some aptitude for it having seen your posts on the Rise of the Runelord forum on adding difficulty for more pc's, etc.

You wouldn't have to let them advance to 19th or 20th level - you could still have the XP end them at 17th or 18th. But if those levels appeal to you, great.

The only drawback I can think of - and I can't provide an example - is that advancing the NPC's may make certain plot or encounter elements irrelevant or incongruent. When the NPC only had access to 4th level spells his tactics maybe even story motivation reflected that limitation. If he has 5th or 6th level spells, challenges the NPC was facing may be much easier to handle, make it unlikely he'd still the lingering around waiting for the pc's to come and kick in his door, etc.

"Why didn't he just use teleport?"
"Maybe he can't cast 5th level spells..."
"No, he cast cloudkill."
"Maybe he couldn't afford it..."
"We just found 20000gp worth of loot in his bag of holding."

If you look at the city map, it is roughly (roughly I said) a mile wide east-west and a little over a mile wide north-south. So I've generally assumed it takes a couple hours to walk from one side to the other - one trip my pc's made a few times is Coffeehouse to Livery (which they've used as an occasional safe house) - one of the furthest apart point A-point B pairs on the map.

This speed assumes the pc's are dealing with roads that don't go straight from A to B, "traffic" and observing their surroundings which for both safety and information gathering purposes they should generally be doing. If the pc's are in a hurry - say they want to get somewhere before curfew begins, they can move twice is fast. Might increase their chance for an encounter. Or if they want to move in a way that deliberately avoids Dottari (and maybe Chelish Citizens Group) patrols, they move half as fast.

Here's the text from p. 11 (DoD.)

"During this adventure, the PCs may wish to utilize rebellion teams to take Covert Action or Sabotage actions before they begin missions. Normally, these are reserved for the end-of-the-week Rebellion actions, but the accelerated schedule of this adventure means that the PCs might not be able to wait. The PCs can use each rebel team capable of Covert Action or Sabotage once per week as they prepare to investigate a site. Once a team is used in this manner, it cannot be used again for another site until a week has passed."

My interpretation is that the Silver Ravens run a normal turn of the Rebellion once a week, even during Book 4. In addition, each team who is eligible to take Covert Action or Sabotage actions is permitted to take 1 such action per week. These would be additional actions over and above the number the Rebellion gets during each weekly turn. However if a team takes a Covert Action or Sabotage action during the regular turn it cannot take one the "bonus" actions during the week. During a regularly scheduled turn, the Rebellion might Recruit Supporters, Spread Disinformation, Reduce Danger, Special Order and Earn Gold (not saying these are good ideas, just example actions they can do) and then during the ensuing week any team that wasn't used for those 5 actions can take either a Covert Action or a Sabotage action. If however, instead of Earn Gold, the last action on their turn is to use a team of Spies to take a Covert Action, that team cannot take a Covert Action during the week.

Okay, I'm making up answers as I go and based on what I've read. Might be readily contradicted by others - though I'd like a page reference if I've gotten something wrong.

The transition from Book 3 is a little vague - I suspect to allow GM's to manage their own campaign pacing, etc. If a couple pc's died from the Dance, might take more than a day to get the Ravens back into action. A GM might want to delay the start of Thrune's reprisals until his pc's are ready to respond. I'm a full book away but I'll probably have the Masquerade on a Starday since that makes sense to me in general and because we've been doing the Rebellion turns on Sunday. I will probably encourage/permit the Ravens to hold their actions for use throughout the upcoming week. If they take them all at the beginning of the week, they'll have limited chances to use them to counter Thrune's reprisals or soften up the District encounters or to otherwise respond more tactically to things that happen in the first days after the Dance.

My interpretation is the city continues to function economically as before the reprisals begin though if you wanted to impose a harsher purchase limit given the Bleakbridge closure, etc. I think it would be justified. Given 4400 isn't much for characters of the Raven's level, a lower limit probably doesn't have much impact. Yes, the Ravens can use their market manipulation/special order actions if desired to acquire more/new magic items. Note: nothing changes anything about how long those actions take.

I assume the city is under an even more extreme form of martial law, what with the reprisals and all but it has not yet degenerated to Stalingrad level. (Though hinting at that direction is a good way to motivate the pc's to get moving.)

Given the Abduction event explicitly references the Rebellion rules, I would say yes, any immunity the Ravens possess would apply.

It seems reasonable to me for the Inquisition to last until Barzillai's Authority point total goes below 40 (narrative explanation: at that point he lacks the resources to sustain it.) This is a compromise between lasting a week or a day. (Which to your question is not explained well.)

Keep in mind, the Rebellion Rules still hold, at least until Book 5 (?) so a Notoriety increase does increase the chance for an event in the next Rebellion turn. Assuming the Ravens haven't defeated Barzillai by then.

As I mentioned above, I'm dumping the Tombus led attack on the LB. May have Hei-Fen and her cultists do it instead.

I'm not planning on running the Natsiel episode either but I don't see why the pc's shouldn't be able to leverage the abilities of their allies. If you find them moving forward too easily, you may need to increase the challenge, just as in other situations/combats.

I don't see any logical reason for Shensen not to go to her home, especially if the pc's believe something bad is happening there. Again if her presence calls for it - add challenge to the encounters.

My reading of the blurb on p. 11 is that each team can take one such action during the week. Note how all of sudden all kinds of teams can do those actions - Bellflower and Lacunafex can as can any team led by Molly Mayapple (who weirdly is referred to as an officer - I assume it means Team Leader.) The Bellflower network and Lacunafex are mentioned as joining the Ravens in the sections about Laria and Mialari (respectively) on p. 6. I don't see why the Order of Torrent is mentioned on p. 63 since the pc's have already recruited all the surviving Torrent members in Book 2. You could give the Torrent armiger team the Sabotage action to produce the same result. If Laria is dead and Mialari is inconvenienced those teams may not appear. Perhaps motivation for the pc's to get both those situations fixed.

The "too long" outcome is clumsy (in my view) as the pc's really have no way of knowing that's the danger and will be motivated to rescue Hetamon to the level of their engagement with him previously. And while I suppose there is some odd circumstance in some weirdly progressing campaign somewhere, where the Ravens don't care about the missing Rose of Kintargo, it seems utterly out of character for what the Ravens are "supposed" to be. This seems like it should be the first order of business. (Indeed I could see his disappearance disrupting the pc's attending the Ruby Masquerade if they find out he's missing before they go...)

There's a reference on p. 8 to the pc's or a saboteur team finding a tunnel to A8, though no DC is provided. That's how the pc's could find their way to the North door. It's also mentioned as the outcome of a Sabotage action against the Silver Star on p. 11.

The political or military connection between the various missions and the control of the respective districts is meant to be symbolic, not practical. Only taking out the Dottari on the bridge would reasonably give control of a district to the Ravens. There's a lot more potential resistance in the Greens (noble houses) and Castle than what the pc's take out at the Records Hall or Keep prison, etc.

Ideally, Chuko would be introduced prior to the Bleadbridge mission. Either earlier in the AP as a merchant or just after Shensen is restored but prior to the Silver Star mission. Really, if Shensen is alive and allied with the Ravens, she should strongly encourage contact with Chuko.

I'm interested in any alternate Norgorber cultist builds as well. I'm just beginning to play-up the soon-to-be burgeoning conflict between the Silver Ravens and the Norgorber cult in Vyre. They took down Wex and had Balgorrah destroyed. Lucella hired some additional muscle from Vyre to help her and the Ravens killed them. They've taken over the Lucky Bones and claimed all its treasure as theirs. When they ally with Manticce, she'll have them perform an additional service for her (while the dinner encounter is very cool, it's still a bit flimsy of an accomplishment for the Queen of Delights to so readily ally with the Ravens.) While performing this service they will run into (= kill) more Norgorber agents/cultists. I've created a cold war/tension between the various Kings and Queens in Vyre and the Ravens will be on Manticce's side and the Norgorber cults are on the other. At least for now. So in Book 4 Hei-fen will be sent with plenty of allies to Kintargo to take out the Silver Ravens. This will also explain the continuing antagonism all the way to Book 6. My plan right now is that Hei-fen will have a diversity of support in Book 4 - alchemists and assassins and rogues as well as Skinsaw Cultits. Indeed, it might be they who attack the Lucky Bones - since Hei-fen knows all about it. (Just thought of that while typing.)

I agree that Vannases could use some attention. She seems a better choice for a wyvern mount than Lucian (who will get limited benefit from it at Menador Gap.) So I might give her one.

I think the Natsiel encounter... leaves a lot to be desired. So gone she is. My plan right now is to have Tombus and a large number of the Chelish Citizens Group with some Dottari support holding Hetamon and Strea as prisoners in the Devil's Nursery, planning on executing them as the first step of a flaming purge of the Nursery. Part of early reprisals, etc. from Thrune.

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Gilium wrote:

So I've been running the campaign for a couple of years now, and one thing that has repeatedly caused a problem for me is that the villains in this campaign are quite mysterious about their large-scale goals. While I understand that part of the campaign is the process of figuring this out, it does mean that the party still doesn't have a real concept of what's at stake.

I've tried to address this through dropping hints at a larger-scale intent, including a correspondence between Lucrecia and Mokmurian that did mention 'gathering our forces' (as well as a few other campaign-specific adjustments I'd made). Most of the players seem to be content with the understanding that someone's been calling the shots with all this murder, and as of last session they've just found the note about the raid on Sandpoint. They seem to be mostly okay with the flow of information.

However, one player is planning to retire his character (he's playing a pacifistic druid, and all the deliberately going places to kill innocent creatures like ogres who lived here first doesn't sit well with the character). He wants to bring in a new character, but due to the fact that there hasn't been a lot of clear information revealed about Mokmurian or his goals at this point he can't find a strong character motive for joining the party, or caring much about any of what's going on. The opinion from this player seems to be that the villains so far appear to have been mostly of the mustache-twirling variety.

Have any of you had similar troubles with this AP, reluctant heroes not feeling like they had a reason to get involved? And how at this point could I help with that? My idea of a solution at this point is having Svevenka contact the players after Myriana is put to rest (one of the players had a familial tie to Myriana so I think I can sell it) and tell them about how Mokmurian travelled to Xin Shalast and returned, and that the city's been unusually active since.

Okay. I think I might be able to help. But I'll have to set aside some of my own baggage. Like: a pacifist pathfinder character is an oxymoron. And the idea that ogres can be innocent. Or that they were there first (note: the area was a human empire 10000 years ago...)

I also might point out to our reluctant druid that both the Skinsaw Cult and the Ogres had lived in some kind of balance/co-existence (albeit not necessarily peaceful or friendly) with their neighbors for decades until they were manipulated by a disruptive, external, evil force - the Lamia Matriarchs. That sure seems like something that should be stopped. If it helps him to view the Ogres as victims... well, whatever helps you make it through the day.

It also seems odd the character is planning to retire at the one moment when he realizes he's needed at "home." When the pc's find the note about the attack on Sandpoint, they should have the exact same expression and reaction as Luke Skywalker when he realizes that "If the Empire followed the droids here..." Get your butt in the speeder and get home before it gets torched.

But, again, setting the all that aside; this AP is a deliberate mystery. But it's not a whodunit sort of thing with clues and such that lets you jump to the end. It relies on the pc's caring about what happens to the people of Sandpoint (or perhaps the people of Varisia) and wanting to either stop harm in the process of being inflicted upon them or prevent it from happening in the first place. (For those "mercenary with a heart of gold" types there's also an almost unimaginable amount of wealth to be had.) The pc's need to be satisfied stopping one evil, seeing how it's connected to a larger even more awful evil, proceeding to stop that, lather, rinse, repeat. They need to be satisfied more with progress and less with "knowing."

Let's compare it with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (And pretend that the upcoming End Game is really The End :) Was Thanos' role clear in Iron Man or The First Avenger or even in Winter Soldier or Civil War? Nope. But is he really the BBEG of the whole thing? Yes. Would it make sense for Tony Stark to say "Well I don't know what all this Infinity Stone crap is all about yet so Pepper and I are going to Maui for a few years. See Ya!" No. (Okay a retirement in Maui with Gwyneth Paltrow sounds like a pretty good way to go.) The Avengers often had self-doubt about themselves, each other and whether they were doing the right thing or were up to the challenge but not because they didn't know what the real plot was. They dealt with the evils they faced as they arose and moved on to the next day. (Or in some cases didn't make it to the next day.)

Your Druid replacement pc needs some motivation? How about this? Somewhere in the Storval Plateau is a power-mad stone giant wizard who is building an army to curb stomp everyone his character has ever known and reduce every living being in Varisia to slavery. Or - there is someone out there organizing widespread human sacrifice to fuel some kind of greed magic on a large scale. The one small scale example that they know about was a tiny pool under Sandpoint that turned people into homicidal maniacs that burned churches, murdered family members and slaughtered innocents by the dozens. Maybe someone should make sure that doesn't happen again?

If you're concerned about continuity and it seems reasonable that you would be, I'd have the new pc be from somewhere else. Someone shipwrecked in the Dismal Nitch/Acisazi area, or a prisoner of an Imperial navy ship that's been fighting pirates or someone with family ties in Kintargo that has just arrived from Korvosa or Magnimar. Perhaps a one time worshipper of Asmodeus who is trying to change/be redeemed? Or someone fleeing the larger scale violence of the Glorious Reformation in the rest of Cheliax?

One thing to do for sure is give the player the challenge: Please explain why your character hasn't joined the rebellion already? Players are very inventive, let their imagination work for you.

Tangent101 wrote:

Also, in Book 3 one of the quests prior to the Regional Quests allows you to try and get Noble Houses to support the Ravens. Four Houses are pro-Kintargo and thus not that hard to get the support of. Getting those four houses to support the Ravens garners the Ravens 600 additional Supporters (or however is needed for the next level of the Rebellion, whichever is the higher value), which on its own would catapult the Ravens from level 1 to level 13, and is likely to push the party through level 15 if they've been trying at all.

So at level 7, they will have that magic weapon or wand, magic armor or wand, and potion, guaranteed, along with three Feats each, three Skill Points each, 3,750 gold each, and 10,800 XP divided among the party.

This is turning into a DoD Book 3 discussion but the IHBS thread might be a good place for it anyway since GM's should think about this stuff early on in the the AP.

I agree the Noble House alliances offer a very large boost in Supporters. And I'll grant the AP write-up encourages the idea the pc's should get all the alliances prior to starting the regional alliances, but it's at least possible the Noble family work could be interspersed with the regional work - deferring the boost until later in the book.

I'd also suggest the transition from Book 2 to Book 3 has an awkwardness. The pc's rescue the Aquatic Elves, who join the Rebellion as a bonus team. But when exactly? The elves have learned something Very Bad about the likely source of their problem and should want to go home very quickly to warn their people. Do they try to persuade the pc's to come with them? Or leave and come back later to get the pc's/plead for help? And the pc's have a bunch of loose ends, etc. to deal with in Kintargo. Are they going to want to leave Kintargo right away? Regardless, there should be some urgency all around to go deal with the elves' problems. So there's room to make the Noble alliances take longer/get spread out.

I would also agree the totality of the boons to the pc's is potentially significant when viewed for a Rank 15 Rebellion (or above) - the feats and wands most notably so. My post above was more narrowly focused - the Rank 8 magic items didn't seem that momentous for a 7th level pc. IF the pc's can get to Rank 15 by 7th or 8th level, the accumulation of all the boons could be a good size uptick in ability/power.

But I would add running the Rebellion exposes the pc's to some risk - some events call for them to take actions/suffer consequences. The boons are compensation for pc risks and player effort - the Rebellion also calls for the players do devote some mindshare to the endeavor. Running a turn of the Rebellion at Rank 9 (as an example) is not a trivial affair - there are 4 actions (assuming there is a Strategist) to plan and sequence, teams to manage/recruit/upgrade, Events to react to, etc.

I would argue that clause - the exceptionally pure bit - is bad game design. It's unexplained, has no game mechanic equivalent and can only lead to arguments. The nature of this very sequence of posts is my first exhibit, your honor.

If/when my pc's find it, I will simply inform them to ignore that clause and assume the target will always get a save. If they squawk (which I suspect they won't since they know how I work) I will say - "Oh you want that phrase left in? That means I can give the next evil divine spellcaster you encounter the Talisman of Ultimate Evil and simply declare he has been exceptionally evil and kill your divine spellcasters with no save? You good with that?" My guess - their answer will be No.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Along the lines of Warped Savant's comments, some of this depends on your point of view.

Keep in mind the AP is written for four 15 point pc's. With middling optimization. Basically the writing has the difficulty set to 5 (on a scale of 1-10.) So if your pc's are on a 20 point buy (or higher) the encounters will be easier. If they are well-optimized, the encounters will be easier. If there are more then 4, the encounters will be easier. So it's not surprising many groups can find the AP encounters as written easy - it seems most posters out here at least have groups with more than 15 point buy or well optimized, etc.

The Authority Point mechanic is a bit odd since it may be opaque to the players. Do they know about AP? Do they know how much each district provides? On the surface the math seems irrelevant, to take over the city they need to take over all the districts and fight the dragon. It really doesn't matter what Barzillai's starting AP are - when the pc's are done with all the districts and the dragon his AP is 0 and he retreats to the Temple of Asmodeus.

The less obvious feature of AP is it drives the daily reprisal volume. So the faster the pc's take out the districts, the fewer reprisals Kintargo takes. One key item- at this point, Barzillai is attacking Kintargo, not the pc's. The Silver Ravens need to defeat Thrune's forces as fast as possible. to keep him from unleashing more suffering on the people of Kintargo.

The other challenge is that the acts of DoD are setting the Silver Ravens up for SoS. And the alliances they make are undertaken in DoD on the assumption they will make the Ravens stronger or Thrune weaker. But until SoS, the mechanic for that is undocumented. And unless the AP point system is explained to the players, it's not clear that it pays off at the beginning of SoS.

There's also a timeline for the Temple - if the pc's don't shutdown the ritual, they will have a wave of Pit Fiends to deal with. So they have to proceed with urgency - they can't enter the temple, take out a couple rooms/groups, retreat and do it again the next day. They don't know how long until the ritual finishes, so they need to take out as much as they can before retreating - hence each encounter is "easier" than you might expect but the pc's need to take them all out (or a lot of them out) on their first assault. There's also an assumption that at some point the residents of the Temple mob the pc's - they just don't sit in their rooms waiting for the pc's come pick them off, one by one. So CR equivalent encounters could really scale up the challenge if they hog pile the pc's.

Tangent101 wrote:
I suppose it depends on the GM. If you don't find it overpowers things, then go for it. :)

I'd also suggest it's not that overpowering.

At rank 8, the gift is a piece of armor or wand worth 1,200 gp or less. Wands are fully charged (and cost the appropriate amount).

What level are the pc's when the Rebellion hits Rank 8? Probably 6th, maybe 7th?

A piece of armor worth less than 1200 is basically suite of +1 light armor given +1 costs 1000 and masterwork costs 150 so the base armor has to be 50gp or less. Pretty likely the characters who want magical armor already have some at 6th level. Could get a shield...

And a wand of less than 1200 is basically wand of a 1st level spell with a caster level of 1. (Because the cost is CL x 750.) Innovative players will find a way to make use of it but hardly OP. (Wizard in my campaign got a wand of disguise self.)

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Tangent101 wrote:
King of Vrock wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
Urheil, the potion/magic item/armor is for the entire group, as is the XP Reward. The Gold gift is per party member. It was talked about earlier in this thread, probably in the first five pages if I'm remembering right.

Per the Hell's Rebels player's guide...

Gift: At rank 3, then again at ranks 6, 8, 11, 13, 16, and 18, admirers among the rebellion’s supporters supply gifts and tributes to each PC.

--School of Vrock

Not quite. The wording is confusing, but the first two sentences help explain it.

Hell's Rebels Player's Guide wrote:

Gift: At rank 3, then again at ranks 6, 8, 11, 13, 16, and 18, admirers among the rebellion’s supporters supply gifts and tributes to each PC.

At rank 3, the gift is a single potion worth 300 gp or less.

The gifts given at ranks 6, 11, and 16 are all provided as tributes of gold pieces in the amounts listed; each PC gains the listed amount.

At rank 8, the gift is a piece of armor or wand worth 1,200 gp or less. Wands are fully charged (and cost the appropriate amount).

At rank 13, the gift is a wand or weapon worth 5,000 gp or less. Wands are fully charged (and cost the appropriate amount).

At rank 18, the gift is any magic item worth 10,000 gp or less.

If each gift were for each player, it would specify that at the very start. But given the "single potion" in the first sentence and specifying the tribute in gold pieces is for each PC there is the strong case to saying it's only one item that the group then decides who would get what.

Given how much magic items and the like cost, it makes sense it wouldn't be for everyone. And it also allows the GM to custom-provide an item for a specific player (unless, like I'm doing, you're using the Unchained Automatic Bonus Progression rules).

Nope. I think you are misinterpreting it. In the very section you quoted the first line is:

Gift: At rank 3, then again at ranks 6, 8, 11, 13, 16, and 18, admirers among the rebellion’s supporters supply gifts and tributes to each PC.

The statement very explicitly states both gifts and tribute are given to each pc.

The next line reads:
At rank 3, the gift is a single potion worth 300 gp or less.

Meaning each pc gets ONE potion of 300gp or less. So they can't get three potions worth a total of 300.

"If each gift were for each player, it would specify that at the very start." But that's exactly what it says. In the first line.

DM Livgin wrote:
Through their own recklessness and paranoia, my PCs have never met Thrune. They started the protest riot before his monologue and never accepted his public recognition invitation. Any advice on how they would recognize that Cizmekris is a decoy? Tayacet could point it out but I'm looking for some way to make it a player accomplishment.

Are you asking about before or after they defeat him in combat?

Before seems very, very hard. Cizmerkis has +26 to his Disguise checks and a polymorph spell gives him +10 so he's at +36. (Unless the +26 is meant to include the +10 from the polymorph...?) Hard to see a 9th or 10th level character seeing through that with Perception. True Seeing seems the only way there. (Which by the way would be a good tactic for smart pc's. They have a lot of information deficit in this fight.) Arcane Sight might help too.

Afterward, you don't need to know much if anything about Thrune to spot the dead Cizmerkis is a fake - as mentioned previously his corpse radiates transmutation magic and a close (looting) examination reveals he was using Disguise to appear as something different.

Lanathar wrote:
So before I go into the details of the Ruby Massacre I ran last night - do the players have any realistic way of working out about Fake Barzillai? Polymorph fundamentally changes what they are and I assume detect magic doesn't pick it up technically?

I wasn't certain either until I went to the AP. From DoD, p. 59:

-"...used the scroll to transform into a human of approximately Barzillai’s size. Cizmekris then further augmented the deception with his own skill at disguises, becoming a duplicate of Kintargo’s lord-mayor."


"He plays his role as Barzillai to the hilt, and even in death the polymorph any object effect persists. Canny PCs will take note of the fact that his corpse radiates transmutation magic, or that once the physical disguise is removed, the resulting corpse is manifestly not that of Barzillai Thrune."

So if the pc's follow MurderHobo Post-Battle Procedure #1 - Loot the Dead, they should have a good chance of figuring out this Barzillai is fake.

Artofregicide wrote:

As an aside, since my PC's were extremely secrecy focused I ignored the whole "X NPC automatically locates your hidden location" and let the PC's be more proactive in finding allies. Two examples:

They found Hetamon Haace covered in blood from his murdered congregation member. Being a tiefling and fearing vigilante justice, he fled and I ran the chase rules. Eventually the party caught him and sorted things out.

Instead of Elia Nones magically zeroing in on the party, I had her asking around for them at the docks and some SR supporters overheard her and helped arrange a meeting on the PC's terms.

Both didn't take narrative control from the players. So that's what I did.

A bit off topic but since I did something similar with Nones and had interesting results just last night I thought I would mention it here. I had her searching for the Ravens instead of automatically letting her find them. I thought this gave the players more control about what events/threads they chose in which order.


Since the pc's knew about both Nones and the Lucky Bones, they chose to explore the Lucky Bones first. So they finished the Lucky Bones and then met with Nones and then Captain Sargaeta. Short version: they were 7th level by the time they got around to "rescuing" Marquel. Not much challenge for them: <bing> Urban Ranger is invisible. <bing> Urban Ranger can fly. Urban ranger flies to Marquel's window, gets his attention and delivers message. Marquel indicates he wants to be rescued. Urban Ranger commits that he and his allies will return that night. Says the group will send a message via Silver Raven if plan needs to change. Urban Ranger flies away. While the group discusses what to do, they come up with a plan. Why don't we have the wizard dimension door in and dimension door out then disguise Marquel and simply walk back to the Scourge? So they update Marquel via Silver Raven and it's pretty easy to find a discrete location to dimension door to and from from and bing, bang, boom it's done.

It was all good. I don't mind if players use their abilities smartly to overcome obstacles, etc. Just a cautionary note that if you make the AP more sandboxy, the players may take up the challenges in unexpected order which might lead to them being either under or over leveled for a particular encounter.

Lanathar wrote:
Latrecis wrote:
Lanathar wrote:

Thanks for the detective work on the stat changes

I agree on the loss of abilities and read this a while ago but herolab threw me

On the Hat I was more wondering whether a direct hit from one makes the glamer slip as it would be a glaive hitting them (for example)

Not sure what you mean by "glamer slip" - if the pc (or another character) interact with the glamer, the get a Will save to recognize it's an illusion. Nothing stops the glamer and making the Will save doesn't tell the pc what the creature actually is but if he makes the save, he knows it's definitely not an Azata. Disguise Self doesn't change tactile or audible features so the devils neither sound like nor do their weapons or armor feel or sound like whatever armor or weapons they appear to have. The Hat has a CL of 1, so hypothetically the Will save DC is 12 (since to have craft wondrous item you need to be CL of 3 and we can assume the minimum Int bonus there is +1). Not sure on RAW but my view every time the disguised devils attack (or are attacked) successfully should give the Will save chance.

If the pc's want to know what is being disguised they need to get the Hat off, hit it with dispel magic or use illusion piercing magic like True Seeing.

I didn’t realise they couldn’t see through regardless - I thought when faced with proof it wasn’t real - such as an infernal glaive wound or a bone devil sting they automatically disbelieved and then saw through it

Seems I got that wrong!

I was just thinking of the circumstance of my players running around with hats of disguise after this book - but it doesn’t matter so much after this book (except perhaps sneaking into the castle?)

Did this come up with anyone ?

I guess I'm not 100% I have it right either. Just how I've always understood it (if I got it wrong a long time ago, I still have it wrong.) I look at it like this: a little science fiction-y... If you realize something is a hologram, it doesn't disappear - you just know it doesn't have physical substance. If someone puts an illusion of a cliff wall over a cave entrance, once you realize its an illusion you can walk through it but you still can't see what's in the cave until you do. And everyone else still sees just a cliff wall, though they probably figure it out when you walk through it.

There isn't a right or wrong answer to the OP's question. The AP is written in downright contradictory fashion. There's a Notoriety score for the pc's/Rebellion that has negative (sometimes significant) consequences for going up and yet at many turns the AP assumes anyone who wants to talk to the Silver Ravens knows who they are and just where to find them. This is a deliberate feature of the AP - our friends from Paizo want the AP to be as flexible as possible (usable by the widest groups of players/pc's.) So it's left to the GM to decide how to handle it and which level of plausibility to sustain in the campaign. So some tables will be perfectly fine with both of those features and won't bat an eye at the ease with which quest givers show up at their door. Other groups would get freaked out or annoyed that everyone with a cat needing to be rescued knows exactly who they are and where to find them despite significant efforts to remain hidden/secret.

Quite simply, a pc with a dinosaur companion would be unhidable in a city of <12k people. Let alone a city ruled by Asmodeus worshippers and a whole cadre of Inquisitors and investigators, etc. Unless the pc's eliminate not just every participant in any Silver Raven encounter but every possible witness as well, a dinosaur is going to be the #1 thing everyone remembers about the encounter.


The fact that the most popular rebel in the city pre-Night of Ashes had one doesn't make that better, it makes it worse.

But if you want to turn the realism dial down from 10 so you can turn the fun dial up, that's a fair choice. The people at the table are going to have to agree that sometimes the outcomes of the campaign will not necessarily be the most realistic or plausible.

I'd also argue that an animal companion that has to be constantly hidden or left behind isn't very fun not to mention potentially weakening the associated pc whose class features assume he's getting support from said animal companion. I'd probably ask the player to choose another weird companion who can blend in easier - make it a challenge to the player's creativity. You could also point out without too much spoilery that a major NPC in the campaign already has a dinosaur companion so he wouldn't be very original. (Though this could have the affect of encouraging the player...)