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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.


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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.


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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.


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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?


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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.


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Let's check the math. I'll assume the pc's have allied with the aquatic elves, allied with Vyre and taken out Menador Gap (including finding the war notes.) And I will assume the pc's did NOT finish the Ruby Masquerade with more than 20 Masque points as my check of the math suggests that unless one of the pc's has Perform (Dance) as a class skill, that Masque point total is unlikely. Under these assumptions, Barzillai starts the Streets of Blood portion with 70 Authority Points.

So on Day 1, he gets 3 reprisals.

Next I'll assume the pc's take the missions in order.

0: Defending the Hideout: No authority point reduction
1: Rescuing the Rose: Jarvis End District. -10 AP
2: Reclaiming the Records Hall: Greens District. -20 AP
3: The Skinsaw Factor: Villegre or Redroof District. -10 AP
4: Bleakbridge Blockade: Yolubilis Harbor District. -25 AP
5: Jailbreak at Kintargo Keep: Castle District. -20 AP
6: Dragonslayers: Villegre or Redroof District. - reduce to O.

The attack on the hideout comes first and the dragon attack comes last. My rough guess of time would be: the hideout attack and rescuing Hetamon takes 1 day - the investigation etc. that leads to the Silver star takes some time.

So on Day 2, he has 60 +4 (+1d6) = 64 AP and 3 more reprisals

The Skinsaw encounters seem intended to be spread out over time. And the Bleakbridge encounter could take some time if they recruit help. Let's say on Day 2, they reclaim the records hall and push themselves to hit the bridge, maybe fighting off one of the Skinsaw encounters along the way.

So on Day 3, he has 19 +4 (+2d6) = 23 AP and 1 reprisal (but maybe 2 if the d6's were with him)

That day they hit Kintargo Keep and have another skinsaw encounter.

So on Day 4, he has 3 +4 (+1d6) = 7 AP and 1 reprisal

That day they finish off the Skinsaw cult and fight the dragon.

Authority points are gone, Barzillai and the few survivors retreat to the temple and the siege begins.

That sequence seems to me to be about the best case scenario so yes the players should be able to do it in less then a week and Kintargo should face about 8-10 reprisals. Note: my math doesn't include AP he might/will gain from Reprisals nor does it account for possible delay's to accomplishing the missions that might be introduced by the reprisals (like abductions or additional attacks on the hideout.) Or condition damage - death, curses, drained ability scores, petrified, etc. that the pc's might take that extends their recovery time and delays the process.


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An observation someone once made to me: If you ask someone who their favorite Doctor Who is or favorite James Bond, it very often turns out to be the first one they saw. So how you read this rule is probably driven by how you first read it and that makes it hard for you to understand the other interpretation.

I suspect the reason this has never gotten addressed by a FAQ (which I assume simply because if it had someone would have quoted it by now) is that the answer is irrelevant. All that matters is that everyone at the table agree on the interpretation and follow it consistently.

It really just comes down to how bursty you like your math. One roll for all targets produces a lot of all or nothing results; while one roll for each target will rarely produce all or nothing results. In time they both should average out. So how bloody do you like your battles?


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Sometimes when I read your posts I get the sense you and your players are not on the same page. Players should be free to take their characters where they "think the character's story goes" or "wherever their whim takes them" pending how the player views the game. But there is a caveat - the players have a responsibility to consider the impact on the GM. If the players have pc's go wildly off the rails, they should expect there may be consequences when the GM has the world react however he/she deems "authentic" to the story/world (or his/her own whims.)

When the AP player's guide says you shouldn't play evil characters without extensive consult with the GM if at all, that means something. It's a message to the players that evil characters will make the GM's life more difficult, make the story hard to sustain and might just piss him off. If they do it anyway, they don't get to whine about the consequences.

Beyond the fact that none of the NPC's allied with the Silver Ravens and none of the rebellion's supporters should willingly tolerate evil characters in a position of leadership, why are the other pc's tolerating it?

Casting fleshworm infestation is an evil act. It should move the caster's alignment to evil after the 2nd or 3rd casting (at the latest) and that should have consequences - rebels should leave, gods should withdraw support, etc. It isn't really all that interesting of a spell either.

No one is going to want to risk their lives to replace one megalomaniac sadist with others. For that matter, protection of the populace from such things is exactly the PR message of the Church of Asmodeus.

Pretty significant spoiler for the AP ahead - if you're not GMing it, don't read it.

Spoiler:

One of the challenges here might be a flawed but reasonable assumption your player's could be making: they might assume the entire AP is a total war against Thrune and are adopting maximum ruthlessness. Except the AP isn't a 6 book fight against Thrune at least not in a convention sense. Starting in Book 5, the Silver Ravens need to actually lead the city, something they can't really do if they are widely despised and feared schmucks.


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I'm making this up as I type so take it for what it's worth. First, I think you need to decide whether the crowd is environment/terrain or a creature. If you try to give them characteristics of both - like the crowd is difficult terrain yet can take damage resulting in deaths of citizens that individually ding the Ravens for Masque points, etc., you'll run into corner cases in the rules and perhaps some complaints from the table when certain pc abilities that should work on creatures don't on the environment made up of creatures.

I suggest they are creatures and they are creatures the pc's should care about preserving, so should follow the rules for creatures. Ergo, I suggest you make them a troop and give them the Rabble CR adjustment for troops. I'd give them the frightened condition at the beginning of combat and move that to panicked if the troop takes magical damage (or is hit by magical fear). While frightened the troops avoid damaging and moving through other combatants if possible while moving toward an exit, including morphing their shape as troops are permitted to do to avoid combatants. If panicked, they move through other creatures to get to the nearest exit. The "terrified partier" troop doesn't normally attack or take attacks of opportunity but does do damage to any character that is in its space when the troop's turn ends and imposes the troop caster level check for spell-casting on such creatures (but not on adjacent creatures as is normal for a troop.) These troops always adjust their shape to make as much of the troop closest to an exit as possible if one or more sides of the troop are adjacent to a door/exit regardless of the presence of other creatures. If the troop is frightened, a diplomacy or intimidate check can be used to change the direction of the troop to an alternate exit or in the direction of obvious safety (like "go that way to avoid the cockatrices".) If the troop is panicked, only an intimidate check can be used.

Play with this math as desired: 4 troops form on the 1st floor, and 2 on each of the 2nd and 3rd floor of the Opera House - this would have them moving through the combat in waves as they try to get to the exit. This apportions 40 citizens to each troop (making the total attendees 320 - slightly above AP headcount.) Each troop that exits the Opera House with 50+% of its hp equals 30 survivors and 10 dead. Each troop that exists with less than 50% of its hp equals 10 survivors and 30 dead. Any troop that loses all hp before exiting represents 40 dead if the pc's lose the battle and 30 dead/10 survivors if they win. Magical healing such as channeling positive energy can adjust these numbers including getting a fallen troop back into action.


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I think you might be fighting against the tide. The pc's are dying and if your players are investing into their pc's that's going to bug them. (And you really want it to.) So they are going to look for ways to prevent that. Their only answer is: build stronger characters. Also as they build system mastery over time, they are going to want to use those skills.

I'm going to show my heretic leanings here but "non-optimized characters" is often just a euphemism for weak characters. Weak characters aren't fun to play. What I think most people really mean or want when they say non-optimized characters is well-rounded characters. You can build a fighter with the social skills of a wooden post and the brains of a rock that can take out an entire tribe of orcs on his own. And if the campaign is all combat encounters, all the time, that will work out awesome for you. Other players with classes that force character development into skills or other non-combat features may struggle to compete for glory.

But, at least in this AP, you have an ally. This AP actually makes skills mean something and does it throughout the entire AP. There are critical diplomacy and bluff checks to be made in social encounters in Book 6. So I would encourage you to go full blunt with your players - take the player's guide and turn it up to 11. "If all your character can do is fight, you are going to spend whole sessions doing nothing. Or making it worse/harder for the rest of the group. Your character had better be good at stealth or social or knowledge as well as combat. If you dump stat charisma or get 2 skill points a level, you're going to hurt the team and spend time being bored. It will be like your pc died, only we won't be working to a spot where you can introduce a new one."


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A couple observations:

1) it's interesting that a thread about the Worst AP's has devolved into a discussion about the end of one of the best (Hell's Rebels.)

2) Using a spoiler tag since my comment reveals much about the HR AP.

Spoiler:

The discussion above assumes the pc's/Ravounel accept the ridiculous terms initially offered by Abrogail II/Cheliax, which range from horrible for Ravounel to not good for Ravounel. I expect some (most?) pc's would tell Abrogail to farq off. That most players go along is testament to the metagame/railroad of participation that AP's create by their very nature. The only outcome of failed negotiations is that the BBEG of Book 6 becomes more powerful - except the pc's have no way of knowing that and even if they did, would probably say "Bring it on!" given it's exactly the type of challenge they are best suited to address.

But even more broadly, regardless of the outcome of negotiations between proto-Ravounel and Cheliax, House Thrune is grievously wounded by the Kintargo Contract. Every enemy of Thrune or devil-bound Cheliax has been searching for a way to end the Cheliax Covenant since the day it was created/signed. Now they have one. A method, as Odexidie and Mephistopheles make clear in the AP, that was either deliberately engineered or tacitly accepted by Asmodeus. Meaning, HE thinks there is a reasonable chance the hidden clause will be invoked. Every tom, dick and harry with a grievance against House Thrune will be looking for a way to put Abrogail II into breach of it.

If the Kintargo Contract is breached, the consequences for Cheliax might be severe, but for House Thrune it would be lethal. "I move that we all work together to make Thrune extinct, and then have our civil war. All in favor?"


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Latrecis wrote:


Don't get me started about the silliness of the treaty negotiations in Book 6.
Oh no, please, I insist. I've gone on elsewhere about how the terms of the treaty establish a basically servile relationship, and would like to hear your thoughts.

Okay. You asked for it :)

Before I start, I would like to say that while the following seems highly critical of the AP, I am running a group through it (near the end of Book 2) and we're having a great time. The AP is different than most other adventures in my experience - because it's so ambitious in what it tries to stretch the game system to do. How many other AP's encourage threads to discuss comparisons of the adventure to various era's of the French Revolution? But there are some incongruent parts. The treaty negotiations would be an example.

First challenge: The Oakrib Inn is not a valid location for the negotiations. I assume here the Ravens have destroyed the keep at Menador Gap with the Anvil of Unmaking (as is strongly encouraged by the AP.) Book 3 includes this description: "...not only would the keep be destroyed in a massive landslide, but the gap would be erased in a cascade of rock and stone closing the path to land bound traffic for years - perhaps even decades - before the damage could be repaired." DoD, p. 28. How long in Golarion time separates the fall of the keep and the beginning of negotiations (basically pre-Dance until post-Contract)? Two months? More? With traffic on the road from Cheliax totally gone (and no matter what happens during the negotiation its not coming back for a long long time, if ever) - the Inn is out of business. If the Innkeeper is still there when the time for negotiations comes, he will be in no mood to host the people that destroyed his livelihood regardless of his political leanings. Let alone have the staff, etc. to handle the proceedings.

More compliments - the Treaty set piece is a well constructed high-level encounter set with notable things to accomplish with role-playing and social skills. The NPC's are interesting, diverse and have nuanced plans and reactions. And the combat sections are also interesting. But when looked at in its context, it has some... flaws.

First while I appreciate the effort to use the in-game social skills to create a "negotiation" - it's a rather poor model of negotiation with each topic addressed in isolation where true negotiations would involve give in one dimension and take in another. The Ravens are not really given a chance to choose which items are of more or less interest to them. Further the Ravens address each topic through simple force of will or personality. Which high level characters that have gone through 5 AP books of social encounters will not struggle with. And the DC/level of the challenges doesn't make Nereza look like the Empire's top negotiator rather an average or mediocre one.

But (and this is probably the most serious issue) it's not clear why the Ravens/Ravounel are negotiating on these topics at all let alone be starting from a weak position. If the pc's don't make multiple social skill checks, Ravounel ends up on the bad end of the deal - three failures is the same as not participating at all. This makes it seem like Cheliax holds the upper hand when in fact the opposite is true. Abrogail II has almost no ability to make her wishes come true. Without the threat of military aggression, all her posturing is just that, empty bluster. And the Ravens know that.

Pause for assumptions. The Cheliax Covenant is under documented (to be generous) but one item seems clear - it binds Asmodeus and Hell to support House Thrune. And it's that support that sustains Thrune's rule. Without it, other Houses would almost certainly pursue civil war and given the one item everyone else can agree on (House Thrune needs to go away) Thrune would be finished. Abrogail knows this. And she knows something else - as Odexidie suggests and Mephistopheles confirms at the end - Asmodeus exploited/manipulated this situation. For him it was a win/win - either Barzillai Thrune becomes a proto-god over Cheliax (and subservient to Asmodeus) or Abrogail gets a wake-up call. She needs Asmodeus way more than he needs her.

House Thrune doesn't have a lot of options here. They can't invade, they can't hire mercenaries to invade (including tricking/bribing/cajoing Nidal to do so because how would that be different than using their own troops, they can't blockade Kintargo (why not? Because a Ravounel flagged vessel is Ravounel territory - attacking a Ravounel ship is just like attacking Ravounel.) Maybe they could get away with some assassination but even that's dicey. If it turns out to be a government official, that might be an act of war. A deal with Asmodeus isn't like a deal between us humans - if one of us doesn't meet our obligations to another, we can choose to keep living under the agreement, let bygones be bygones. But Asmodeus can't do that. Ever. He can never let it be said that he sometimes lets people out of his deals without facing the full consequences of their agreements.

So Thrune's only option if she wants some of these things is to use some sugar. Make reasonable and valuable trade offers. But the mechanic in the AP doesn't suggest that at all. And given everything Barzillai has done and House Thrune has done over time, why shouldn't the Ravens and Ravounel give Abrogail the finger? What are the consequences in the AP? The hauntings in Kintargo get more powerful. Except the pc's have absolutely no way to know that. And even if they did, that probably would entice them not discourage them - those challenges are the exact situation they are built to deal with as opposed to economic trade deals with Evil Empires.

Lastly, the items Cheliax pursues are odd.
- Menador gap is years away from re-opening and Ravounel should have no interest at all in it re-opening.
- Ravounel is years away from being of any value in a military alliance. And the Nidal thing is an empty bluff. Further Cheliax can't protect Ravounel - to do so would require a Lord Mayor to invite them in and then they would never leave.
- A non-aggression pact seems very similar to alliance.

And some items that absolutely should be on Abrogail's list are not:
- assurances Cheliax flagged merchants can dock at Ravounel ports. Indeed a discussion of Vyre is entirely missing. One could argue the Queen of Delights should be present.
- demands to turn over the traitor Sargaeta and the Scourge of Belial, a Chelish warship that belongs to Thrune
- she does not want Ravounel to become a haven for every aggrieved, would-be rebel including whatever might survive from the Glorious Reformation or that miserable scum from Pezzack.
- and she does not want details of the Kintargo Contract to be come widely known. Her enemies now have a horrible weapon to use against her. Get her into breach of the Kintargo Contract and the Covenant ends. Shortly there after so does House Thrune.

So in short, the treaty negotiations take place in an Inn that should have been long abandoned, they place Cheliax ascendant when it should be Ravounel and they don't cover several topics that should be top of everyone's mind. And don't let the Raven introduce their own topics, demands for compensation, etc.


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Gorbacz wrote:

A game that requires a group of new players to spend X hours researching trap options AND doesn't even tell them that - is a bad backbone of your business if your biggest competition is a game which you can pick up and make your character without worrying about shooting yourself in the foot with stuff like setting out to play a or a multiclass Monk/Druid/Rogue.

In other words, a game that hands you a 576 page rulebook and you're also expected to read guides and forums to enjoy it without worrying yourself about jarring discrepancies between people who, by pure fluke, made better and worse choices in building their characters, will always lose to a game that doesn't do that - and it does, as we can see with 5e trouncing PF1.

How is 5e trouncing PF1? Is this a reference to outselling PF1? I think you're arguing that 5e is superior or more accurately, has broader appeal and offer economic measures as evidence. But economic success may not be entirely attributable to product quality. Other qualities like brand recognition and marketing influence sales success as well. You could get a good chuck of people (in the US anyway) to buy refried cow manure if the marketing campaign used Beyonce in a bikini but that wouldn't mean refried cow manure tasted good.

Of course I think you're right 5e is both easier to pickup (but for me not more interesting) and has name recognition. But that only suggests Paizo is more dependent on its existing customer base (as opposed to expanding to new customers) and they had better hope a hefty percentage of them follow to PF2 or they could be in trouble. I hope PF2 is wildly successful because that increases the chance they'll continue to let dinosaur, stick-in-the-muds like me continue to buy the electronic versions of PF1 material (and maybe the occasional print version as well.)


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There is nothing that requires the Board of Governors to continue after appointing a Lord Mayor with the right to invoke the Kintagro Contract. Indeed it is in Ravounel's interest for the Board to be permanently disbanded so no future Lord Mayor can reverse the stance on Thrune's presence. The Contract swings both ways - if it takes a legally correct (in Contract terms) Lord Mayor to invite Thrune out, it takes a legally correct Lord Mayor to invite them in. If there is no Board to appoint such a Lord Mayor, Thrune is out permanently.

The AP assumes a certain amount of civility on the part of the Ravens that probably isn't justified by conditions on the ground. If the Contract isn't invoked, Cheliax is going to show up and curb-stomp the entire city - the Ravens and their followers will either be dead, enslaved or in exile. It's going to make the worst of Barzillai's excesses look like Mardi Gras. The Ravens don't have anything to lose. So their proposition to reluctant Board members could simply be: "You may think holding out gives Abrogail time to save your butt but if the Contract isn't invoked, the rest of us are all dead. If that's the road we go down, we'll see to it you and everything you know and love is destroyed first. Sure you don't want to get on board (pun intended)?" Given the flimsy precedents of other legitimate Board members, the Ravens could adopt a simpler solution - kill Delronges and Tanessens until they find one that says "Yes."

Don't get me started about the silliness of the treaty negotiations in Book 6.


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So let me get this straight - significant spoilers for RotRL follow

Spoiler:

A few decades ago granddaddy, who was member of a organization (Brotherhood of the Seven) that fronts a cult of serial killers, built a mansion as homage to his quest to become a lich. When his wife finds out, she stops him, they both die and his spirit fuses into the house as some kind of undead plague thing (perhaps because the house was built on top of "an ancient complex devoted to the worship of Urgathoa, the goddess of undeath.")

A few years later, daddy moves into the house, attempting to refurbish it (perhaps unaware of granddaddy's life choices.) This doesn't go well - daddy kills mommy in a horrific murder-suicide in front of his children. Who are then dispersed to Korvosa and points beyond to attempt to rebuild their own lives.

More recently, brother returned to the house, got married and tried to restore the property. If anything this goes even more wrong that what came before. He kills his wife and a local carpenter in a fit of misguided jealousy, falls in with Brotherhood, dies trying to harvest plague poison from the house, rises as a ghoul and starts sacrificing local Sandpoint residents in a effort to restore one of the most powerful and corrupt wizards to ever dwell on Golarion. He also unleashes a plague of ghouls in the farmlands outside of Sandpoint, killing several local citizens.

Meantime, the cult of serial killers which is led by one of the lead judges in the city has fallen prey to an agent of said ancient wizard and has started sacrificing Magnimar residents in pursuit of the same goal, with the Lord Mayor of the city at the top of their target list.

The pc's track brother back to the house, dealing with various undead he has unleashed - including auntie who has risen as a revenant and give him the release he so desperately deserves. And at one point actually begs for. They then follow the trail back to the Brotherhood, uncover the cult of serial killers and the corrupt judge and the Agent behind it all. In the process they save the lives of many citizens of both city and town including the Lord Mayor. And probably arrange for granddaddy's spirit to be finally expunged from the house.

The pc's then travel to central Varisia (perhaps encouraged to go by government officials embarrassed by their own failures) where they stop a marauding group of ogres being manipulated by the sister of the previous Agent and prevent the destruction of a 10,000 year old dam that would have killed hundreds if not thousands of people and devastated much of central Varisia.

Then they travel back to Sandpoint and save it from an invasion of stone giants and dragons led by a maniacal stone giant wizard who also serves the ancient Runelord. Without their intervention, many citizens would have died and many more would have been carried off to serve the stone giants in abject slavery.

And at this point, little sister shows up and has the temerity to ask for recompense for the trinkets the heroes have taken from her family's festering black hole of suffering and death? Really? First off, both sisters should want nothing to do with the property nor have it associated with them in any way. Their only complaint should be: why didn't you burn it to the ground?

But if little sister does make such a claim, why isn't the response of local governments: "Shut up and go away or we'll ship you to Arcadia." Or: "We'll certainly be willing to investigate your claims once you have compensated both Magnimar and Sandpoint for your family's crimes." Or: "I'm sorry, Ms. Foxglove but that property isn't yours any longer. It's been seized to help pay for a long list of suits and damage complaints raised pursuant to acts performed by your family. Unfortunately, we've found it utterly inadequate to cover the needs of so many plaintiffs. But now that you're here, we're sure you can fill the gap."

And if the local governments do support little sister's claims, why isn't the pc's response: "Oh, that army of giants on the Storval Plateau? You guys got that? Okay, we're good. See ya."


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A couple ideas that both simply skip the idea she's trying to raise or uplift a dead minion. My view of the encounter is that the pc's are "expected" to encounter her mid-ceremony so what she's trying to create (as published - a witchfire) doesn't matter too much unless the pc's are foolish. Even if the pc's don't make the knowledge check to recognize exactly what she's doing - leaving a succubus and a couple hags to complete a ritual of some sort in a former temple to Saranrae should be something the Silver Ravens oppose on general and urgent principle.

1. She's trying to consecrate (desecrate?) the entire facility as a Temple to Belial. Pending your campaigns level of darkness, she is going to sacrifice Hetamon as part of the process. If she's successful, Barzillai gets +20 Authority Points and the Silver Ravens cannot take over the respective district without reconsecrating the facility to Saranrae. Or perhaps Milani. Or another good deity your pc's favor. This will take them precious time, time they will not be spending dealing with Barzillai's reprisals or tackling other districts.

2. She's trying to uplift (?) herself. She's sacrificing Hetamon to become more powerful. Some kind of devil or mythic tier or something else truly horrible. If you need an answer tell them she's trying to become a pit fiend. Again the purpose is to get the pc's to react with: Holy Crap! We need to stop her right now! Note: this is a theme in another AP

Spoiler:
Rise of the Runelords.

Or both.


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Aunders wrote:

So my PCs party make up has changed greatly before they started book 2, and so far there are zero surviving PCs from the opening of book 1, which makes the Skinsaw Man's letters a lot...harder for me to put together? What are some suggestions on how to handle these notes left behind?

Also, opinions on replacing Grayst (the lead taken the the sanitorium) with Orik, since he was spared in their encounter and allowed to leave?

My pc's met Aldern and survived to Book 2 but I didn't like the obsession with its sexual overtones so I had Aldern be angry with the leaders of the town for not helping him rebuild his house, sending workers that seduced his wife, etc. So his notes targeted the mayor and the leader of the carpenter guild, etc. This also made it more plausible for Hemlock to ask the pc's to investigate which makes him look weak or foolish if the pc's are directly implicated in the murders based on evidence at the scene. Even if it appears to be a frame.

Replacing Grayst with Orik sounds okay, pending the terms of his "release." My pc's also sent Orik on his way with a "don't let us ever see you again" - indicating he should leave the region entirely. It does strike me as entirely plausible that Orik would fall in with the thieves Grayst is with when attacked by the Skinsaw Man. Orik's singular ability seems to be: making bad choices.


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Lanathar wrote:

Additionally has everyone else run the first part as written? So dangling a really tough combat encounter enticingly in front of the players , expecting them to walk away and then having Setrona know about Octavio’s hiding place?

I saw it mentioned in a different thread that it seems unlikely that he would tell her and they had the information with the armigers. Either way it is intriguing that either she hasn’t been rounded up and questioned or if the armigers are given the info that they haven’t revealed it in the face of kyton torture (the latter is less unlikely)

Perhaps it should be exactly that kind of double bluff - no one would expect a cousin to know so they don’t bother. But I would imagine the Hellknights are nothing if not methodical ...

It didn't make sense to me that Setrona would know about the Torrent's alliance with St. Senex. So she approaches the Ravens asking for help in finding Octavio. She suggests the armigers might know where he is, so the Ravens end up needing to rescue the armigers to find him. I also changed the backstory a bit - I didn't like that Octavio knowingly abandoned his people to prison and torture. Instead he was leading them in an attempt to leave the city just ahead of Barzillai's proclamation (with the help from the followers of St. Senex) when they were attacked by Hellknights, etc. Some armigers died, some were captured and he was grievously wounded. The seers take him back to their shrine to recover (remember they have wands of water breathing.) When the Ravens rescue the armigers (they are literally in the middle of that right now - the fight with the kyton is likely this very evening) they'll find out where he might be. When they get to the shrine, they'll find it under attack from dottari and Hellknights etc. (This part I added just because more conflict with the supporters of Thrune is good :)


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The following are my opinions based on reading material about Golarion, Asmodeus, Cheliax, etc. I can't point to specific references (so don't ask :) Though Inner See Gods has a good writeup on Asmodeus.

The worship of Asmodeus has never taken hold as thoroughly in Kintargo as elsewhere and the previous administration did not encourage or support his temple as much as other government/noble structures in Cheliax. But there's only so much tolerance for such things even prior to the Glorious Reformation and martial law and the Temple of Asmodeus was the largest and most powerful in Kintargo. Other temples were small and of reduced influence. And on the Night of Ashes, three particularly troublesome temples/worship centers were destroyed and a few survivors are hiding in the Temple of Shelyn. It helps that the worshippers of Asmodeus are actively encouraged and rewarded for informing on their neighbors should their outward shows of piety lapse or stray. So most people in Kintargo pay lip service at least to the worship of Asmodeus (and on some level that's all Asmodeus wants - he doesn't care about your faith, he wants the proscribed forms and obedience to his authority.) As the AP begins, the Temple and Thrune work to extend and enforce Asmodeus power - keep in mind Barzillai is an Inquisitor of Asmodeus. And this unleashes a cadre of zealots (the Chelish Citizens Group) who have long bristled at Kintargo's failure to fall in line with how the rest of Cheliax serves Asmodeus and House Thrune.

The devil-worshipper angle is misconstrued for Golarion's mythology. Asmodeus is not a devil (unlike in previous editions of the game.) He is the god of contracts, pride, slavery and tyranny. His servants are devils and his domain is in Hell (and he has the title of Prince of Darkness) but those things are a bit of cultural appropriation as his history and motivations are not the same as The Devil of western religions. And Golarion's deities relate to one another more similarly to pantheistic eastern religions including a measure of tolerance for each other despite opposed alignments. In the mythology Saranrae and Asmodeus work together to imprison Rovagug for example. So faiths/servants of various gods are not engaged in open warfare in the streets as one might expect given their alignments.


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I have not explicitly picked an event - amusingly Increased patrols came up randomly at a good time. However, I have told them I would roll the event secretly and reserved the right to choose something "narratively appropriate." (Note: they make all the other rolls including the event chance roll in the open.) I might never actually change the roll - the randomness of it adds a "you can't plan for everything" feature to the AP. In this AP the pc's have a lot more control over how and when they will tackle challenges and have many opportunities to scout encounter locations and learn about their opposition, etc. which creates a more deterministic feel (in my opinion.) A little randomness in the midst of that is good.


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The Rebellion mini-game has worked well for me so far. It's given the players a connection to the larger city - tracking population, etc. and provides some firm benefits for the many people and groups they've rescued and allied with. I've used Events in the game to tie in to what's happening to the pc's and their actions. "So you killed some Dottari? Well this week's event is Increased Patrols." And I've let the pc's interact with their teams in non-mini-game ways - so the pc's wanted to purchase some weapons and armor without it being tied to them so I let them get Forvian and his crew to do it. Wasn't a mini-game action but seemed a reasonable thing they could do.

The rules were published in the player's guide so the players can see what they can get for rewards. And when. That can give them some motivation from a simple greed perspective. Bonus feats and skill points and treasure are nothing to scoff at. I wouldn't try to figure out what the pc's should get - make the players figure it out. Give them the 1200gp budget and tell them to come up with the idea. If armor or wands don't work, let them get anything else (or combination) that fits the budget. And don't let them sell the gifts - that would be like selling your birthday present from your Mom.

Did I read correctly? You ran some turns without the players involved? That seems a fast ticket to disengagement. That will make it less something they do and more something that is inflicted upon them. Or even something that provides rewards they didn't "earn."


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I assume it's equally hidden on both sides since you wouldn't want intruders who approached either side to find it. Given it's not provided, I would use the DC for the secret door B10 which seems similar - 25.

The presence of an alternate path into/out of the Keep would seem like knowledge the Black Arrow leadership would have. Jakardros was second-in-command and should know and given Vale was good friends with the Black Arrow architect, seems reasonable for him to know. Kaven? Probably not.


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I wasn't thrilled with the idea that Rexus knew where the Sacred Order's hideout was from the beginning either. So in my version he got the key along with the other items from his mother but did not know where to take it. I made this part of his mother's compartmentalization of information - the message she gave to Laria could not betray the archivists alone.

Portia had (again in my version) a working relationship with Mialari Docur (for having helped out one of her girls who'd run afoul of the Sarini's in the past.) She asked Docur to provide the location information to Rexus in the event of her death.

The AP is not clear whether Rexus is a wanted fugitive or simply an ignored orphan. But he's the scion of one of Kintargo's noble houses and unless the Victocora's have been stripped of rank, he's entitled to the estate, their incomes, etc. So in my incarnation of HR, it's more clear the Victocora's were targeted for being enemies of the state and Rexus is an actual fugitive. In the first days after the Night of Ashes, he's presumed dead. And he was in hiding for several days/weeks after the Aria Park protest, in part to focus on decoding the Silver Raven documents. Therefore Mialari assumed he was dead and it was only later when she learned Rexus was alive did she approach him with the information about the Many Steps Monastery. She also provided a warning - she strongly suspected Thrune and the Asmodeans had already taken action against the Archivists. This was supported by the pc's who had seen Redactors, etc. in the area while out and about on other missions. This, to some extent, modified Rexus' hope for his parent's survival. He still didn't take the news about their eventual fate very well at all. It's one thing to be killed by government agents; it's another to have your corpse raised as zombie thrall for said agents.


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One thing Disguise doesn't hide is combat skill. Four people attacked us - one guy with a rapier, another with a long bow, a wizard and maybe some kind of cleric (just to pick on my group.) Just because the set of four looks different every time, eventually people are going to catch on to what to look for. And unless the pc's are disguising their gender and race (with ensuing increase in skill DC), etc. it's not going to take too long.

[For some reason the same scene from an obscure movie keeps running through my head: at one point in Zorro, The Gay Blade the fill-in Zorro attacks different caballeros in various fruit-colored outfits.]


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I've portrayed them as a para-military civilian group driven by cultural angst - they don't like the free-wheeling individualism of their fellow Kintargans (insert your own comparison to alt-right militias here.)

Given this is exemplary behavior from Barzillai's Inquisitor of Asmodeus point of view, he's readily adopted them and used them to supplement his own forces.

They serve a social order based on worship of the LE Prince of Darkness. Of course they have a hierarchy. Hierarchy-free groups are just the kind of thing they hate.

I haven't fleshed them out much (yet) and I also noticed they disappeared after Book 1. I'll probably have them running around bothering NPC's in Book 2, attending in force at the Ruby Masquerade and reinforcing the Dottari in Book 4.


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I think the OP's point was less "the books of each AP are not well connected" and more "the GM has to reference all of the books in multiple locations to figure out the overall plot structure." In this sense, having the various authors work together more isn't really the solution. Instead the OP is looking for an outline writeup of the entire story and something like that has to exist or the books wouldn't fit together at all - the authors have to be working against some kind of framework. Something like "A GM's Guide to <AP>" akin to the player's guides.

It might be that such a thing isn't commercially viable - where do you put it - page count/word count, etc.? How much does it enhance sales of the AP? How much effort does it take? Does it form an artificial constraint on the consumers/users of the AP - to some extent such a thing would express this is how the AP is "supposed" to go. That might be as inhibiting to some as it is an enhancement to others.


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Mr. Grogg wrote:

I love this! The research rules in Ultimate Intrigue are my favorite chapter of that book.

My players will be getting to Jorgenfist in about a month to six weeks. It's been over a year since I quickly read the book through, and I haven't gotten to the library yet on my detailed re-read studying of it as we go. So I'll just ask:

Once they find the library, assuming the story is going as per the expected plot, will they be in a position where they are likely to feel like they can hang out for weeks studying? Or will they be rushed off to some other emergency?

The answer to that really affects how much of this we'll be able to use. (I'm hoping they can hang out.)

As with other junctions in the AP, there is some appearance of urgency but it's not all that real. The pc's learn about why Mokmurian sent the raiding party to Sandpoint and when they find out the answer isn't to be found in the Library, they'll need to journey there themselves. When they do, they find the sinkhole etc. that leads them to the Scribbler, and then to Runeforge, etc. Even if the pc's "need" to leave, they have plenty of leeway to return. Indeed the pc's in my play through used the Library as a base of sorts during the transition between Books 4 and 5 until the journey to Rimeskull and Runeforge (the wizard had the teleport spell.) They wanted to avoid any retaliation from Karzoug or his minions and also prevent them from re-taking it. And they returned to it again when trying to find Xin Shalast (even though per the AP Mokmurian has removed all information about Xin Shalast from the Library - but the pc's don't know that.)


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James Jacobs wrote:

She's only "sitting in a room waiting" if that's how you run the adventure. The inhabitants of the temple should be dynamic and they SHOULD move around and react. How much they do so depends on you, the GM, and your interest in maintaining a fully dynamic dungeon. Note also that throwing too many bad guys at the PCs at once can overwhelm them, but having neighboring encounters come to investigate combat is my favorite way to adjust difficulty. If you find the players are cakewalking through encounters, have neighboring foes come and join the battle midway through so that the PCs don't have time to recover.

And also, the main reason I like giving my NPCs in adventures I write detailed backstories is precisely TO inspire GMs to run with them and give them more of a role. You know what NPCs will work better with your group, not me, though, and customizing things like that is part of the fun of being a GM.

Can we make this a sticky in every AP Forum? I'm only sort of kidding. This is great advice and every GM would benefit from reading it. And it has a hidden charm - less work for the GM. No need to re-engineer NPC's with advanced templates or redoing class levels, etc. Simply have other nearby encounters bleed together by having the NPC's react more effectively to pc invasions/conflict. And voila! difficulty increased for minimal GM effort.


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First off, thank you for providing your opinion/review. Earnestly provided feedback even if negative should be welcomed. I think you make a lot of valid points (background: I recently finished GMing RotRL as well - we only took 4 years:) And I think any GM who intends to run RotRL should read your review and think about what you have to say.

However... there a a couple points of context I think should be provided. Not as argument but perhaps as explanation.

Most important: Paizo is a business. They publish AP's to sell them. They need the AP's to appeal to the broadest range of customers as possible. Ergo, NPC's/Monsters in ALL published adventures have mediocre tactics. Tactics that are not completely foolish but also no tactics that make best or even good use of abilities. Why? Because the challenging tactics for one combination of player system mastery/pc builds would be a brutal TPK for other groups of player system mastery/pc builds. And brutal TPK's are bad for business.

The passage of time for players and progression of pc abilities exaggerate this problem. The complexity of the rules forces players to acquire at least some system mastery as their characters advance and as they play together they learn ways to synergize their abilities across the pc group to be more effective. If the group of pc's/players stays the same across the entire AP, they are much more deadly than just their level jump would explain by the end. You are correct: Karzoug's tactics as written are suicidal. I'd be stunned to find a group of players/pc's who played together across much/all of the AP who would find his tactics even a minor annoyance. (Game rule babble: he still has targeted Transmutation spells memorized for crying out loud and the pc's probably have Runeforged weapons - complete waste of his slots to saying nothing of an action. Of which he has a decided shortage of supply, even with timestop.)

Which leads to the next critical point: the only one who can solve this problem is the GM. He/she has to tailor and update encounters to the specific pc's in the group. And as you rightly observe, the most common method GM's try is to throw advanced templates or more hp at the NPC's. And just as commonly, it fails. There's no solution but hard work of changing tactics and spell selections and feat selections, etc. It has been a truism about every edition of the game: high level adventures are hard/challenging/frustrating/boring and the problem 9 times out of 10? The GM. They are very hard to do and frankly most GM's struggle (myself included.)

I agree that Sins of the Saviors might be greatly enhanced by offering role-playing options for solving the pc challenges. But the business side kicks in again: how many groups would be interested in that vs how much of the page count is taken up to make it happen? I would also observe that RotRL is one of the first AP's Paizo did and was deliberately an echo/homage to the classic D&D adventures of the past where using diplomacy to solve a problem was not "a thing." Lastly, in game observation: the occupants of Runeforge are utterly reprehensible. Literally no one from Varisia regardless of alignment or religion has any interest in any of them returning to Golarion to release yet more Runelords. Scorched earth is the best solution.

I also agree that Xin Shalast is underserved by the AP but again, page count vs value shows up. The parts are there to tell more of a story (hint: develop the Spared more) but see also: More Work for the GM. Oh and I agree the Leng elements were not foreshadowed in any meaningful way in the first 5 books.

I agree though not so strongly as on other elements on the nature and role of the Sihedron, etc. Yes, it is true the AP does not go out of its way to grab the GM by the throat and say "Make sure your players KNOW THIS" Also true, the AP provides all kinds of background to the NPC's without providing the slightest hint for how the pc's might ever learn it. But...

Spoiler:

The narrative thread is there. Karzoug is literally the cause of all evil in the AP. The pc's have literally been fighting him the entire campaign (and even before.) When Mokmurian breaks in to the Pinnacle and activates the Runewell of Greed, that triggers the Late Unpleasantness in Sandpoint including messing up Nualia, triggering Kaijitsu family dysfunction, unleashing a serial killer on the town and the temple getting burned to the ground. Karzoug sends Xanesha, Lucretia and Mokmurian out to sacrifice living creatures by the dozens/hundreds so he can harvest their greed for his resurrection machine. You want more engagement with Karzoug - well in one way or another the pc's have been fighting Karzoug since they were first level.)


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Yes, D&D originates from Chainmail - Gygax and the rest were playing a fantasy-based miniatures war-game and were looking for things for the leaders of their armies to do. (That's one version of the story at least.)

No, D&D (across the editions) is not a war-game as that term is commonly used. However it is a conflict game, in which physical (as opposed to social/verbal) violence is the most common type of conflict and the rules for which form the preponderance of the game system's documentation. The sheer volume of combat oriented rules (including 6 Bestiaries) encourages violence-based encounters and conflict resolution methods.

Yes, non-violent conflict resolution was possible in previous editions but there were almost no (2E) or absolutely no (1E) rules mechanics for how to resolve them. Social skills such as diplomacy, intimidate, sense motive, etc. along with set DC's for various outcomes were not introduced until 3E.

Pedantic history lesson over - please resume your regularly scheduled thread.


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Jakardros provides three things: one you may not care about, one you cover by replacing and one you might miss.

May not care: The Shalelu/Jakardros story line shows that there are other stories going on in the world - the world does not revolve around the pc's. You or your players may not care.

Covered: Jakardros and the Black Arrows provide additional firepower to aid the pc's with the various enemies in the Turtleback Ferry area. The encounters assume some help beyond the typical 4 pc's (as I recall.) As long as the replacement player is comparable to Jakardros (and you could rebuild him to fill other gaps in the party if an archery focused ranger isn't what they need) this should be good.

Might miss: the story also justifies Shalelu accompanying the party - she too adds to their ability to tackle additional or more potent encounters. If her father isn't at Rannick, she has little reason to go -though you could find another reason for her to go...


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roguerouge wrote:
roguerouge wrote:
With Jackdaw in the secret levels of the prison, I kind of like the implication that--no matter how good the mayor is--the underlying system makes them a bit of a figure head, as she has no idea that this area, and the LICH, are even there.
Fair point--why would this go unknown? The module lists the following reasons:

  • They were hoisted by their own petard--redactions of that time in history have her listed as an unnamed, unremarkable prisoner.
  • It takes a DC 30 Perception check to find the relevant file naming that prisoner as Jackdaw in the records hall.
  • It takes a DC 30 Perception check to find the secret door to Jackdaw and the lich.

Basically, there's no ostensible reason to visit that level except for the Maximum Security cells, which haven't been used or visited in so long that they retain the skeletons of its inhabitants. (That alone is evidence that no good-aligned or particularly religious Mayor ever came down to this level.)

Except that's not exactly what's written.

Yes, it's DC30 perception check to find the secret door to the hidden file room. And again to find the reference to Jackdaw. (See room D7 and 7a.)

And yes, D10 has this quote: "A successful DC 30 Perception check is required to find the secret doors leading into this room." Except if you look at the map, there is one non-secret door that leads into the room.

Even if we assume the map is mistaken and all doors into D10 are secret, a DC30 perception check is not really much of a challenge for characters of 11th level (likely level of pc's at this point.) Taking 20 makes success almost guaranteed. Further, if the corridor leading to D10 ends in a wall, the layout, given the other wings of the level virtually screams "SECRET DOOR HERE!" Sure, typical Dottari couldn't find it but many NPC's with a few levels have a good chance. Kyrre for instance, certainly could. And over 70 years no one has? Not to mention, the First Warden's description states she was caring for all the prisoners on this level - implying she moved about the entire level. Again and no one has seen her in 70 years?

My solution: make the entire level hidden behind a magically hidden secret door with a much harder DC, such as 40 so it takes someone really rare or true seeing, etc. to find it. And it takes a long neglected object, say a baton of authority that is passed to each leader of the Castle to open.

Apologies as the ensuing rant is off-topic.

Frankly the AP is inconsistent about Jackdaw.
Page 9: "This adventure assumes that the PCs managed to restore either Jilia Bainilus to life or Shensen to flesh. Either of these NPCs can report something shocking: Jackdaw, the original leader of the Silver Ravens, has been kept as a secret prisoner deep below Kintargo Keep since House Thrune first seized control of Cheliax decades ago. Both NPCs learned this information from Barzillai before the lord-mayor saw to their silence (via vampirism or petrification,respectively)"

Page 29: "Fortunately for the PCs, House Thrune’s thorough redaction of Kintargo’s history was quite efficient, and while both Kyrre and Barzillai know that one prisoner remains under guard by an ancient Hellknight lich in the dungeons below, neither of them realizes Jackdaw is a significant figure to the rebellion."

Page 37: "In the so-called “Hall of Triumphs,” the temple displays works of art commemorating the defeat of Thrune’s enemies in Kintargo. It’s a place where priests can relax and meditate, as well as a place to bring potential enemies to warn them of the foolishness of opposing the church. Among the works of art here are depictions of Jackdaw’s imprisonment and the defeat of other members of the original Silver Ravens."

So does Barzillai know Jackdaw was part of the Silver Ravens or not? If he doesn't think she's significant, why is he even mentioning her in front of either Jilia or Shensen? And both the Lord Mayor and the leader of the Hellknights in Kintargo know an elf who predates House Thune's ascendancy in Cheliax and was the leader of the original Silver Ravens - the same group that inspired the current rebellion - is a prisoner of a Hellknight LICH(!!!) in the bowels of the castle but neither think she is important???

I'm okay if Barzillai has the classic BBEG weakness - monologue in front of the wrong people, but let's work toward consistency. Either:
- neither Barzillai nor Kyrre has the slightest clue that either the level or Jackdaw exists OR
- Barzillai knows Jackdaw was sent to the Keep and lost forever and he boasts to both Jilia and Shensen that that will be their fate. But Jilia (or Shensen or someone else long-lived in Kintargo) knows there was a hidden level in the keep that predates Thrune rule. OR
- Barzillai knows Jackdaw is there and intends to use her in some way against the Silver Ravens. Perhaps as a hostage. Or as an excruciation target.


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A voice of dissent...

Players who do seemingly silly things often don't know they're silly because they have fundamentally misunderstood some information. And that's partially on the GM. Are you sure they understood the implications of the dragon's flight? How far away were they - all they saw was the dragon fly away in the direction of the cave and disappear? Do they know it was dimension door - could have been invisibility or teleport...

And when they got to the cave, they had to fight elder earth elementals to get in. Not completely ridiculous to conclude - "Hey, the dragon didn't go this way - he'd have faced the elementals first." The pc's probably didn't see the dragon come from the cave so they might assume the dragon came from elsewhere in the neighborhood and the cave is simply part of the Runeforge path. Heck is it possible the players think that if they leave the cave and come back they will have to fight the elementals again?

The dragon fled the fight presumably because it was low on hp. Again not a foolish conclusion to assume a dragon doesn't typically have much access to healing. So thinking the dragon won't be much healthier by tomorrow morning is not insane. Now it turns out in this case, it is. But I'm not sure it's fair to fault players/pc's who assume a white dragon in the middle of a frozen mountain doesn't have dozens of cure potions at its disposal. I'd also observe the AP tactics for the dragon do not reference using the potions, in part because the potions aren't really for the dragon, they really for the pc's as an extra boost before they head into the one-way door into Runeforge. [Full transparency: I had Arkhryst use the potions when he retreated. But my pc's teleported back to Sandpoint and rested there. The fight at the statues was very challenging, one pc died (averted with hero points) with the dragon catching them by surprise while in flight. Next day with them spell-prepped for a white dragon and trapping him in his lair? The dragon got pasted.]

So hit 'em hard if you want but be sure it's reasonable for the players to have anticipated it as a likely outcome first.


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One other point you may want to think about that shows up in Book 5 and 6...

Spoiler:

At the end of Book 5, the pc's can add the dominant special feature to their weapons. This is a particularly potent feature for defeating Karzoug. And if I understand the rules for the Black Blade correctly, neither a Black Blade's "typical" magical weapon nor a major artifact like a Sword of Sin can be so enhanced. At least according to RAW. You may want to think about how this might affect the pc, etc. One particularly nasty feature (for Karzoug) of the dominant weapons is it absorbs the first three transmutation spells each day. This means the Runelord should not even memorize such spells if all the pc's have one. But if one of them doesn't... You could weave those powers into the Blade Blade's development, etc.


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Ashtok wrote:
Alright I have decided on Barakett, due to Pride being opposed to Greeed, and also because a rapier fits her better than a double edged greatsword. The final question is, Chellan has official stats, but none of the other blades seem to, various websites have similar but different stats, so unless I can find an official source im planning on just taking a little column A and a little column B

Do your players know much about the swords of sin? Probably not. So I would think you could use whichever sword you wanted in whichever form fit the pc (instead of picking the sword of sin because its form fits the pc.) So if you wanted to use Wrath, and the pc's preferred form is rapier - Voila! the Sword of Wrath is a rapier (in your version of Golarion.) For that matter, they are major artifacts - maybe they just assume the form most suitable for their wielder. Which doesn't mean Pride is a bad choice - you just need to explain how it comes to be in the pc's possession...


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While I largely agree with RumpinRufus, this isn't first player thread I've seen here...

To Etob:
- which player's guide? The one that came with the original edition had more information in it than the one with Anniversary edition. You may want to check both out.
- it's very hard/bordering on impossible to give you tips without spoilers. And since we know nothing about your GM's style or plans for running RotRL, our tips might be very poor or dangerous for you.
- that said, your party is short on arcane casting ability. It's called Rise of the Runelords. Might be a hint there.


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Just my two cents... Doesn't make a lot of sense for Chellan to serve a pc whose entire career will be defined by opposing and destroying the Runelord it was created to serve. Perhaps Garvok, the Sword of Wrath would be more appropriate. Certainly plenty of antagonism there. The blade could be found in the Cathedral of Wrath or hidden with Malfeshnekor. It might harbor powerful resentment against the Scribbler (a traitor) and behave very erratically in the Halls of Wrath in Runeforge.


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Since it appears the OP is still in Book 1 and comfortable introducing additional material - the role of Jakardros stepchild could just as easily be played by someone else. In Book 1, no one knows this detail about Shalelu so any other NPC could have that connection and no one would know a change had been made.

Shalelu's connection to the Black Arrows serves two roles: a) it makes the world seem more complete if there are story plots that don't revolve exclusively around the pc's or their major plot objectives and b) gives the pc's some extra firepower if needed for the challenges of Book 3.


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My pc's encountered Khalib 3 times. Per the AP, he sometimes visits the yeti in the form of their chieftain to keep them under control. So I had him there when the pc's entered the yeti lair. When the biggest yeti started hurling 8th level spells, their eyes bugged out. Then I had him and Viorian teleport into the Heptaric Locus while the pc's were fighting some scarlet walkers (Gamigan had been otherwise dealt with - long story) - she has boots of teleportation that are otherwise useless. I wanted the pc's to have more than one encounter with Karzoug's apprentice and champion. And lastly they encountered him in the Pinnacle along with a called Marilith and a few cloud giants - under form of the dragon III. I had both him and Karzoug drop any transmutation spell that involved saves or targeting the pc's - since both were well aware the pc's bore dominant weapons. He fled that encounter as well and died alongside Ceoptra in the Chamber of the Anima Focus.


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blahpers wrote:

James Jacobs would be a better person to answer this, seeing as he wrote it. : ) Here's my understanding of the relevance of Book 2.

The Skinsaw Murders is the first real establishment of the concept of the Big Bad's plan--cultivating greed in the souls of mortals, then extracting that greed through the sihedron ritual and the Runewell of Greed. A large portion of that power is gathered via the murders referred to in Book 2, via X's "quantity" plan in Magnimar and L's "quality" plan in Turtleback Ferry. The rest comes from the Big Bad's own marked minions dying and from the explicit sacrifice of particularly greedy souls, such as the captured dragons referred to in Book 5 (I think? Maybe Book 4).

In short, The Skinsaw Murders directly links the events of Book 1 to the plan for the Big Bad to escape his Sealed Evil in a Can, and whether they realize it or not, discovering and/or upsetting that plan is the PCs' goal at that point.

Mostly right - except X's plan in Magnimar is about the quality of greed (example: the Mayor) and L's plan is about quantity - the large number of people in TBF that have tattoos. X is the BBEG of Book 2, L is sort of the BBEG of Book 3. There are also plenty of minions of the BBEG of Book 4 with tattoos/markings, including dragons. In the latter case, the pc's themselves fuel the BBEG of the AP by killing said minions.


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Wheldrake wrote:

Or... perhaps... look at nearby groups of critters, and arrange to have the PCs face several encounters at the same time, for whatever reason. No need to keep all your critters static, helplessly waiting for PC death to descend upon them.

This is an easy to implement solution - the default tactics in the AP are borderline silly and suicidal for the NPC's. Mostly a lot of inexplicable - so-and-so waits in his room for the pc's (so he will be easier for them to kill.)

Want to have Wrath be harder? The Iron Archer sounds an alarm for the whole wing at the start of battle so everyone knows the pc's are coming. Assume all the warriors of wrath have cast all their buffs before the pc's get there (depending on how long the fight with the Iron Archer takes.) And the sinspawn are all hasted. And they all have readied a fireball for the first appearance on the teleport circles. And some of their friends from the fleshwarping lab have joined them or do so a round or two after the fight starts. Ditto on Highlady Athroxis and her pet glabrazu.


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The previous two posts appear to have jumbled up a couple items, at least as I understand them.

The Kintargo Contract is part of the Cheliax Covenant - they have the same date/time stamp. The Kintargo Contract is (as implied by the AP) just one of multiple portions of the Covenant, one for each region/duchy of the Empire. This was done to bind all of them to House Thrune and justify the Church of Asmodeus' ascendancy across the Empire.

Except the Kintargo Contract has a hidden clause that exploits a legal nicety - Ravounel was never properly annexed by Cheliax. To the humans of Cheliax and Ravounel, this subtle point was irrelevant. The rulers of Cheliax had military and political power (both pre- and post-civil war) and its legal justification wasn't all that important - might makes right, possession is nine-tenths of the law, etc. But such things matter to devils/Asmodeus, this enabled Odexidie to give a properly ensconced Lord Mayor of Kintargo the right to refuse Thrune domination and threaten the Covenant.

Odexidie has no interest in Ravounel or Cheliax other than for his high quality work in creating the hidden clause to become well known and increase his reputation. Ergo he is just as willing to tell both the rogue Asmodean, Barzillai and the CG pc's all about it. There is no gate from Kintargo to Hell other than the talisman and if the pc's never invoke it, it is harmless.

There might be ways for the pc's to learn about the Hidden clause and the Board of Governors without a trip to Hell. And the only purpose of that part of the AP is for the pc's to get that information. If they learn of it from other sources, they can skip the trip. The GM may need to provide additional xp awards - or make a story award based on discovering said information. There should be no need to change the consequences to the Covenant based on how the pc's learn about the Hidden clause.

It is true the pc's might have an incentive to trick or manipulate Abrogail II into breaking the Covenant. But this is true regardless of how they learn about the Kintargo Contract. They could reform the Board of Governors, properly elect a Lord-Mayor, declare independence and wait for the Empire to invade to re-establish their rule and unwittingly break the Covenant. In other words - don't tell Abrogail about the clause, and don't have a Lord-Mayor formally reject Thrune occupation prior to it happening. But that would be an extremely risky course - Civil War would very likely engulf Cheliax and that would probably be just as bad for Ravounel as a Cheliax invasion to crush their rebellion/independence (dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!) Unless... the pc's knew who would win that civil war. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Glorious Reformation. I don't have (and don't want) Hell's Vengeance, but it seems likely that even late in that AP, the Reformation has a chance to win. If at the wrong moment, the Covenant were broken - that would turn the tide to the Reformation, probably decisively. Breaking the Covenant is probably #1 on the Reformation's to-do list but they just don't have a way to do it. This is one of the key reasons the Hell's Rebels AP goes out of its way to keep the Silver Ravens and the Glorious Reformation from linking up.

The Board of Governors pre-dated the civil war. It's unclear whether the Lord-Mayor at the time of House Thrune's victory was appointed by the Board or by House Thrune in disregard of the Board. But it's also not relevant. The Lord-Mayor would need to both be elected by the Board AND know about the Hidden clause. I can't accuse you of breaking the law if I don't know the law exists. I think the Lord-Mayor in question was from House Sarini and wouldn't have invoked the Kintargo Contract even if he knew it existed since House Sarini is/was a Thrune ally.


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First, I think you're free to go whichever way seems best/more interesting to you. Rexus has a role in getting the pc's going in the AP but certainly after Book 1 he can fade entirely into the background or be a critical element based entirely on how you and your group perceive him and his role. In other words...

Spoiler:

He has no official role or action to take after the pc's explore the Fair Fortune Livery and use his mother's key to get into Hocum's.

Second, his history is not much of a secret. Given his family's noble station it's reasonable to assume most members of Kintargo's major noble families (live in the Greens) know about him. And given her history with his mother, seems reasonable to assume Laria knows as well. Also (and this is more my interpretation) I think the intention is for most of Golarion to be much less hung up about this sort of thing. With many different species beyond humans with their own physiology and some deities demonstrating similar... fluidity in gender, probably not much of a surprise. Again my view - Rexus views his gender as normal and fully actualized so to him it's not an item that gets a lot of focus of his attention. He's male and that's how it is. He certainly would reach out to others on a similar personal journey and would not be ashamed or reluctant about his own background.


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Hog-piling a bit but RAW, he spends a point, he gets a language. It's not ridiculous to challenge that assumption on plausibility but (being a bit rule-lawyerly - that is too a word!) that would seem to be a restriction/caveat that should be explained when linguistics is first taken. Barbarian player seems well within his(?) rights to assume it works as described in the rulebook.

One underlying assumption with skills (all, not just linguistics) is that the pc has been working on skill X for some time, the arrival of the skill point is just acknowledging a threshold reached - not that the pc didn't know a thing about nobility before yesterday but after putting a skill point in Knowledge (nobility) today suddenly knows the whole royal lineage. You can establish some system where the players indicate what skills they are working on in advance of the next level jump or only let them add points to skills they actually used since the last level jump, etc. but that type of approach seems unnecessarily bureaucratic (to me.) Certainly more realistic but also more overhead.

I would also observe that Quink should absolutely be functional in Thassilonian - hard to see how he could be one of the region's known experts on Thassilon without it (regardless of how much other Thassilonian scholars think he's a nut.) It's reasonable to assume he's the only person in Sandpoint who is. Thassilonian is a rarely known, obscure language, not a dead one. It's also reasonable (despite what I wrote above) that you ask the player for an narrative explanation for how his character would learn Thassilonian. But if the pc's have introduced Quink to the ruins they find in the course of Book 1 (or promise to do so) he should have an extremely positive view of them and be more than willing to help teach the language.


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Samy wrote:
My guys also didn't take to Brodert Quink. Any suggestions for other avenues to plant Thassilon information? We're in Fort Rannick at the moment.

If the group is already at Rannick they probably don't need any more Thassilon information planted. At this point the path is pretty straightforward - Clear Rannick > Save Turtleback Ferry > Clear Clanhold > Find Mokurian's Letter > Save Sandpoint > Find Jorgenfist > Defeat Mokmurian > Take over Ancient Library. Between the Library (and the Librarian!) the pc's can learn everything they'd ever want to know about Thassilon. Except the answer to two questions: where is Runeforge? and Where is Xin Shalast? The first they learn from the Scribbler in the Lamashtu temple under Sandpoint and the second they can get started on with some info from Quink. Whether they like him or not, he could still be who they have to talk to (and if they tell him about the Library, he would probably do just about anything they would ask to get access to it) or you could substitute another sage in Magnimar who has info on the failed dwarven expedition or you could let magic like commune or legend lore work (contrary to the AP as written) or let the Revelation Quill tell them or let the Librarian find some obscure reference that Mokmurian missed in his purge of the info from the Library.


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mousmous wrote:
Fair enough. I'll just point out, in conclusion, that Ven is not calling for Father Zantus. No investigation is being conducted. No one is *trying* to catch the thief in the OP's scenario.

Well, this isn't exactly true... The paladin engaged Zantus for a diplomatic solution (not an investigation) but if I follow the OP correctly, Ven has rejected peace offerings and has said he will report the crime to Hemlock when he returns from Magnimar. That will trigger some kind of investigation. The GM introduced the Zone of Truth as an end-game for that investigation. To me, that is reasonable. I'm arguing past Outshyn's interest but my interpretation is Ven is pissed about more than the rope. A group of so-called heroes have entered his store, attempted some hi-jinks with his innocent daughter (okay - Ven may have a blind spot here) and in the ensuing tumult stole from him. He knows about the rope but what else did they take? Who else are they stealing from? This isn't really about economic cost trade-offs, it's a moral or principled outrage. And perhaps a fear the leaders and people of the town are being deceived.

Frankly my diagnosis is different from invoking a Zone of Truth - my suggestion to the GM would have been: take the Rogue's player out behind the woodshed for a spanking. Okay, perhaps a firm talking-to. This theft is direct player vs. player violence. It puts the paladin in an untenable position - he can't travel with thieves, especially ones that steal from upright citizens for no reason other than impulsive greed. This action is a thumb in the eye to the paladin and forces both him and the GM to perform mental gymnastics to hold the party together. If you can't live with the strictures imposed by having a paladin in the party, maybe you shouldn't play or maybe the group should talk about not having a paladin. Jiminy crickets, you didn't even make it past 1st level before doing something that threatened the paladin's code.

But even worse, the rogue apparently has the favored son trait and has been adopted/sheltered/mentored by Hemlock. You know, THE TOWN'S SHERIFF! And the first thing he does when Hemlock leaves is steal from the most important merchant in town, someone he's known for years, probably his entire life? Most of the town's citizens cannot afford to shop at the array of ritzy, boutique shops in town - most folk almost certainly do an overwhelming majority of their shopping at Ven's. Is the rogue evil? Does he hate Ven or Hemlock? Does he really want to be part of a certain "uncool kids from Sandpoint" group we happen to know a bit about?


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Absent outside factors I would agree - a Zone of Truth to resolve the theft of 1gp worth of rope is an extreme response. And I certainly agree that from the Swallowtail Festival events and until the threat to Sandpoint is resolved in the middle of Book 2, Father Zantus should be reluctant to use powerful magic (in his own scale) on such an endeavor - healing and other threats should probably take precedence.

However I would point out it doesn't actually cost Zantus 60gp to cast it - that's just an economic relative value. All it costs him is the opportunity cost of not casting anything else (see threat to Sandpoint above.) But the spell "goes away" if he doesn't cast it each day so not casting it also has a "cost."

Most importantly though, there's some narrative justification. Zantus isn't being asked to cast the spell for a random shoplifting accusation; he's being asked to cast it to determine if the "Heroes of Sandpoint" are thieves. Based on the OP's details, the confrontation is not likely to occur until Hemlock returns to town and that is likely only after the pc's have dealt with <problem of Book 1.> Zantus and the town's leadership have a vested interest in finding out how trustworthy the pc's actually are. (Or in this case, how criminally stupid.)

Lastly, the cost shouldn't be viewed just in terms of one theft, it needs to be viewed in terms of future thefts. This time it was rope - but if we don't stop it, what will it be next time? The town's leadership has a strong incentive to see to it that all crimes, regardless of scale, are quickly and accurately dealt with to prevent any hint of lawlessness.


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Hythlodeus has the right of it...

Spoiler:

Unfortunately I don't think the first bit about the location being missing is actually in Book 4. As best I can tell it's not mentioned until the beginning of Book 6. Mokmurian has explicitly removed all references to the location of Xin Shalast from the Library.

But the pc's should be focused on the Map in Mokmurian's possession that has a big X on Sandpoint and references both Runeforge and Xaliasa (Handout 4-2.) Using the library on Karzoug should turn up info on dominant weapons and Runeforge.

It's also possible there were captives from Sandpoint rescued from Jorgenfist - they need to go home.


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Tonyz lays out a good set of in-game reasons for leaving her in Thistletop - the losses she's taken don't really change her motivation: burn Sandpoint to the ground and become a demon. So, I'll add a meta-game reason: give your players a chance for revenge. Even if the new group of pc's doesn't have any connection to the old ones, there still is likely a sense of satisfaction for the players in defeating such a foe.


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Skeld wrote:

What's next, Latrecis?

-Skeld

Hell's Rebels. Very different sort of campaign than Runelords.

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