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Nevarre's page

Goblin Squad Member. ***** Pathfinder Society GM. 42 posts (58 including aliases). 1 review. 1 list. No wishlists. 19 Organized Play characters. 1 alias.


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Shadow Lodge

Later on in the campaign Hexploration basically became a background feature, we still did it, but didn't focus on it as much - certainly random encounters were more focused and less 'random' We found that by book 5 there was very little.
What I did do was give the players the Kingmaker Maps later on. They came across them in various places and, though they didn't know the specifics they knew generally where to go.

They airwalked to Whiterose Abbey for example, and and pretty much took magical means to get everywhere. The wizard had Greater teleport so it was never really an issue. In fact it made the campaign feel suitably high-magic as they swiftly moved about it. Of course their armies couldn't but they could take a more strategic view.
It all worked out.

They never hexplored the Forest of Thousand Voice - wasn't ever a problem.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Definitely! As I said though - RAW states it's what you Know, and makes no mention of what you can recall. Either you know something or you don't. If you know something, but can't recall it, someone can help you, but that's not what the rules say.

Now if we interpret the d20 roll as an indication of the amount of knowledge you can recall then certainly someone can jog your memory. So let's say, I have a knowledge arcana skill of +5. The maximum roll I can get is 25, so this is the sum of the knowledge I have locked away? (perhaps) Under this interpretation when someone aids me to jog my memory (not teach me something new...), then they give me +2. If the target number is 20 and I roll a 14 then that +2 makes it 21 (after my own +5 of course) and that equals success - because of the memory job aid.
Random thought - However, should the maximum I can get be 25(?) Of course this is not now the game works, but it's interesting though..

It's fair to say that, IMO at least, there is no explicitly clear answer about this.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

My opinion on Aiding Knowledge checks:

I don't generally allow it (certainly not for in-combat know checks for monsters) RAW (under Retry?): No. The check represents what you know, and thinking about a topic a second time doesn’t let you know something that you never learned in the first place.

Since it represents 'what you know' then aid other is not possible.

Now, it could be easily argued that people working together can better recall information, or perhaps piece together bits of individual to build up better collective knowledge. I'd argue though that is 'Research' not 'knowledge' but it's a fine line and pedantic. :)
That is where the context is important - and there are various examples in PFS where Knowledge skills are used for research (Blackcros Connection for one) and aid other is used.

Unfortunately the same is true for a number of skills Including Perception.
So, IMO
Perception to 'spot things' = no aid other.
Perception to 'find things' (eg searching a room) = yes to aid other.

Shadow Lodge

Andostre wrote:

Very nice! I agree wholeheartedly with your "General Comments" section at the end. Adding content based on the PCs is key.

I love that your campaign lasted 8 years. It looks like my KM campaign is fizzling out, but I had looked forward to seeing how things developed as the years passed by.

I was hoping that I could make it last 10 years, but am very happy it made 8 (actually nearly 9 - Nyrissa is slain in Neth 4718 and they started at the beginning of 4710). Towards the end it was hard to extend the timeline (pretty much from the end of book 4 onwards really), but there's certainly a lot of time in the early books - in fact we agreed to allow 2-3 years between the books at the beginning - giving lots of time to build the kingdom. This appealed to the players because they could also create items, and get involved in subplots - as well as the most 'trivial' of things (arranging a birthday party for the Leveton children, or creating a festival to acknowledge the founding of the Kingdom, etc.)

One thing that I'm glad I did was have Oleg and Svetlana have children in year one (there was even a rumour - as per the Kingdom events that one of the PCs was the father!). If nothing else, it's a great way to 'track' the passing of the years (Stasya's first word was..."Briar" - this was long before they knew of the sword :D )

By the end, there were various children of various ages. I resisted the temptation to target them (no kidnapping by fey etc) - there were threats though, and that was enough to motivate the PCs into action.

Shadow Lodge

thenovalord wrote:

Well done to you and your group.

By far the best AP we have done. Nothing else got close thus far sadly

Thanks!

Yes, KM is unique in that respect, and I'm struggling to decide what to run next. I have Skull & Shackles and understand there are sandbox elements. For the moment though, I think it's fair to say that I'm not looking to try and outdo it and in fact I suspect I'll try something smaller before diving back to an AP.

Shadow Lodge

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Chemlak wrote:

Awesome.

Sounds like you did an awful lot of extra work to make the adventure more cohesive, expand on it, and generally more interesting.

I love the extra bits you put in, sounds like they helped a lot, and I really love the epilogue.

Thanks! The key for me was not rewriting the AP, just supplementing it. The brilliant thing about KM is that the GM (and players) have the space to make it their own whilst supported by the overall framework.

Shadow Lodge

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Yesterday, after 4 years of playing (on and off - my group is also playing ROTRL and other games), I finally finished my Kingmaker campaign. I thought I would summarise the game, and highlight some of the changes I made throughout, and their effects on the game. Hopefully this will be of interest to other GMs.

Suffice to say that this has MANY spoilers. I'm not going to call them out, so if you're playing or going to play, then probably not a good idea to read on.

So...

I had PCs in the game:
Human Cavalier (became the King)
Human Cleric (Gorum) - died, not raised, and replaced with an Aasimar Rogue
Human Druid
Human Ranger (who later took Leadership and brought in a Cleric of Erastil companion)
Human Wizard

Before I started I read a number of the forums and identified that the BBEG was not obvious enough throughout the campaign, which became disjointed as a result. In addition I wanted to include closer ties with the broader history of Brevoy. To this end I added to significant changes to the metaplot:
1. Nyressa was 'allied' with Choral the Conqueror. She added him in uniting Brevoy, but at a cost. 300 years after he united the country his entire line (the Rogarvia house) as well as Choral himself - who is a Red Dragon in my version) were all pulled into Soul Jars and Nyressa and remain in her Fable.
2. Nyressa has a mirror which she smashed and then sent the shards into the Stolen lands. She could spy through them and over the course of the campaign the PCs learnt that there was someone behind this. Shards ended up in the possession of most of the bad guys in the AP:
Staglord
Hargulka
Witches of Gyronna
Vordakai
Irrovetti
etc.
3. The Druid PC regularly had dreams about a boy lost in the woods. From time to time he could hear someone (a girl?) calling 'Briar'!) He had not idea what or who Briar was but knew it was important.
4. The Aasimar came in the world with a prophecy that she was here to protect Briar.

Other adventures
Partly because I had 5 players and partly because I wanted to tie more of the fey aspects of the campaign together stronger, I incorporated a few other modules into Kingmaker:
1. Carnival of Tears.
A wickedly evil module which works with little effort. The carnival came to their capital city and then people started to die. They learnt that someone was behind the events and gained at least one mirror shard. The varisan harrower left behind a single harrow card with a blue dragon on it (The Tyrant I believe?)
2. Realm of the Fellknight Queen.
I incorporated the locations from the module into the Narchmarches (which was easy) and then started the adventure when the PCs were 6th level. Pretty much ran this as is. By now they add enough circumstantial evidence to believe that the Fellknight Queen was behind the shards and the attacks. They were wrong - it's Nyressa and Roswyn is her daughter(!) Of course they would find no broken mirror in the Fellknight Realm, which confused them.
3. The Harrowing
Two of the first KM NPCs - Oleg and Svetlana Leveton had twin children in the first year of the campaign. They were kidnapped on there birthday and taken to the Harrowed Realm. behind was left a harrow deck with one card missing. As soon as the PCs brought it together with the one left from the carnival of tears they were whisked away. They had to find the twins and return. It was during this time that tazlford was attached and razed to the ground.
4. Revenage of the Kobold King
Chief Sootscale (who was originally an ally of the PCs, but was convinced to cause them issues by Hargulka and was 'put down') returned in undead form to raise an undead army using the magics in an ancient Azlant tomb (taken from the module) and discovered in the plans to the east of the Narlmarches.
5. Dragons Unleashed - Eranex
I added in both the Fey Dragon and Vespyrs Blade. The PCs helped her and she returned the favour by telling them about Briar and Nyressa. They gained Vespyrs blade which helped them later in the campaign.

Comments on the individual parts:

Stolen Lands
1. Ismort betrayed the Staglord and ultimately became a member of the PCs Council.
2. There is a much bigger Gyronna temple under the hill - this would be found later...

Rivers Run Red
1. Grigori was arrested and forced out the Kingdom. He returned to Pitax and was later encountered.
2. I expanded on Cult of Gyronna. Niska actually ingratiated herself with one of the PCs. Became his wife, had a son, and then was exposed and the PCs had to stop her from sacreficing the boy to the hag-goddess. She had a shard.
3. Kundal was saved and cured of Lycanthropy - he married one of the PCs and became the General of the kingdoms army.
4. Hargulka set up his one competing 'monster' kingdom. He had a shard.
5. I used the Ultimate Campaign Kingdom building rules rather than those in KM. Fortunately for me a couple of my players really like the crunch of this system and I encouraged them to spend time outside the game doing the numbers (they developed a spreadsheet). The rest of the players preferred the 'fluff' of naming cities, people, etc.

The Varnhold Vanishing
1. Pretty much run as is. Vordakai had a shard of the mirror.
2. The found a copy of Zuddigers Picnic but made no connection that this time.

Blood for Blood
1. I already mentioned that I used the Harrowing as a distraction whilst Tatzlford was attacked.
2. In Fort Drelev, Stroon became an ongoing villian after he escaped the battle, he would return time and time again before finally being killed in the battle for Pitax.

War of the River Kings
1. I started with invitation to the Outlaw Council for the King and his council. It was there that Irovetti delivered the invites to his Tourney.
2. I used Hex Maps the KM Map book, and Carcasonne board game components to represent the citys, and Game of Thrones Boardgame components to represent the armies. We used Jason Nelsons Ultimate Battle PDF to expand on the War rules in Ultimate Campaign.
3. The Siege of Pitax involved the thieves guild and the noble houses. The PCs allied with some that wanted a return to a time before Irrovetti. They destroyed the thieves guild that was controlled by the king and then organised a coup. Pitax became a vassal city-state and Irrovetti was killed.

Sound of a Thousand Screams.
1. By now they knew of Nyressa (and her relationship to Roswyn and Shards, and all the events that had happened throughout the campaign) and Briar and the Eldest.
2. The used Zuddigers Picnic to navigate Thousandbreathes and slew Nyressa.
3. They found the broken mirror.
4. The destruction of the house released all the Rogarvia house and Choral! He 'thanked' them and returned to reunite Brevoy.
5. The story officially ended with the wedding of a PC and Tamary Numesti of Drelev. It was a fully wedding of Erastil.

Epilogue
The campaign lasted 8 years. Three of the PCs had children during this time.
1. At the end I let the players tell me how they leaved out their lives. None of them adventured again.
2. Finally I accelerated forward 11 years and gave out 2nd level characters - the children of the original PCs. They had an encounter in the Narlmarches and found a shard of mirror with a flickering light within.
The End

General comments.
Kingmaker is not, in my opinion, an AP you can just read and run. Due to the sandbox nature it needs to be customised to suit the group. It also needs more 'story' in places and incorporating other modules helps.
The PCs NEED to care about the Kingdom and do everything possible to encourage that. Create loads of NPCs, some important, some not. But breathe life into them and then kill them later (or marry them, or whatever).
Encourage the PCs to enjoy the kingdom building, and don't make it all number-crunching. All know when to stop using it.
Do the same with the Army/War rules. Use it to create an epic story, but don't let it get in the way.

In Review.
I loved Gming this. It was a lot of work but hugely rewarding. The sandbox nature made it easy to customise and therefore personal to the players. I suspect that Kingmaker will be remembered for many years.

If you want to find out more check out - https://the-conquerors-legacy.obsidianportal.com It's not complete, but there's an adventure log and NPCs there.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

nosig wrote:
Nevarre wrote:

Interesting topic, and circumstances like this have come up before in both my home game and in PFS. This is one of those situations where the structured nature of the rules as written don't allow easily for an IRL series of events to happen 'logically'.

I think the first thing you should decide is why the swarm doesn't attack until they get within 4 squares...? Because it isn't aware of them, or because it is, and isn't threatened by them?
If the swarm hasn't seen them, treat it like an ambush; roll for stealth to get to the square they want to, then roll for initiative and give all the PCs that weren't noticed a surprise round in order of initiative to throw their flasks. The continue as normal.

If the swarm isn't threatened by them, ask yourself what they need to do for it to be threatened. I assume it's proximity (rather than the swarm recognising pots of alchemists fire! ;) ) and again roll stealth to see if it notices them, or maybe even bluff(?)

Though there's no 'readying outside of combat' rule, we all know there is implicitly or ambushes could never be resolved using the Pathfinder rules.

In summary, at my table I would make it a surprise round.

bolding mine:

Could you please expand on this part - as I do not think this is how the rules work. I was under the impression that Perception should be used to determine encounter distances (how close the two groups when one detects the other). Then the encounter is resolved from there (perhaps going into INIT, etc.).

From the rules for Surprise:

Surprise
When a combat starts, if you are not aware of your opponents and they are aware of you, you're surprised.

Sometimes all the combatants on a side are aware of their opponents, sometimes none are, and sometimes only some of them are. Sometimes a few combatants on each side are aware and the other combatants on each side are unaware.

Determining awareness may call for Perception checks or other checks.

The Surprise Round: If some but not all of the combatants are aware of their opponents, a surprise round happens before regular rounds begin. In initiative order (highest to lowest), combatants who started the battle aware of their opponents each take a standard or move action during the surprise round. You can also take free actions during the surprise round. If no one or everyone is surprised, no surprise round occurs.

Unaware Combatants: Combatants who are unaware at the start of battle don't get to act in the surprise round. Unaware combatants are flat-footed because they have not acted yet, so they lose any Dexterity bonus to AC.

As per the surprise rules, the swarm is not aware of all the PCs, combat starts, some or all of the PCs get a surprise round.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Interesting topic, and circumstances like this have come up before in both my home game and in PFS. This is one of those situations where the structured nature of the rules as written don't allow easily for an IRL series of events to happen 'logically'.

I think the first thing you should decide is why the swarm doesn't attack until they get within 4 squares...? Because it isn't aware of them, or because it is, and isn't threatened by them?
If the swarm hasn't seen them, treat it like an ambush; roll for stealth to get to the square they want to, then roll for initiative and give all the PCs that weren't noticed a surprise round in order of initiative to throw their flasks. The continue as normal.

If the swarm isn't threatened by them, ask yourself what they need to do for it to be threatened. I assume it's proximity (rather than the swarm recognising pots of alchemists fire! ;) ) and again roll stealth to see if it notices them, or maybe even bluff(?)

Though there's no 'readying outside of combat' rule, we all know there is implicitly or ambushes could never be resolved using the Pathfinder rules.

In summary, at my table I would make it a surprise round.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

No. There's nothing in the scenario.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

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Not had a problem either time I've run tihs.
I used the priest of Sarenrae when I ran it first time. It's a great RP encounter with this overly aggressive cleric spoiling for a fight! :)
I used the cleric of Pharasma the second time. This was because one of the PCs was also a cleric of Pharasma and it gave them a moment to shine (RPing).

rknop wrote:

I'm confused about Handout #4. Doesn't the underlining telegraph a substantial portion of the puzzle? Figuring out the area of concern doesn't seem to be that hard anyway, and with the underlining there, it's pretty bloody obvious.

If I remake the handouts to remove the underlining, would that be naughty?

I'd leave it as is. I've run this a couple of times now and one group breezed it and the other struggled. The underlining is a useful clue that's not sooo obvious IMO. :)

Shadow Lodge 4/5

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Here's how I run combat:

1. I use a custom GM screen (The Savage World one). I have clips on the top and I clip pictures of NPCs and monsters on the outside for the players to look at. On the inside I clip scenario specific rules and printouts of the Monster (so I don't need to keep referring to the books)

2. For Initiative I use the Combat Pad and I control it rather than one of the players. This is so that I can control the momentum of the fight - there's nothing that breaks pace more than having to wait for someone to tell the table whose going next. I prefer to point at the next player and say 'OK <name>, go!' - I always refer to the PCs name, never the players name.
I track time effects on the pad (poison, spell effects, etc)

3. I track monster HPs on a scrap of paper and track upwards, not downwards as I find it quicker to add rather than subtract.

Eg

Ogre 1 - 35: 4, 15, 24, 31, 36(dead)

4. I do use the Condition cards but only when I know that there will be an effect coming up (eg I know there's a grappling monster). I keep them nearby,

5. I have wipeable index cards (thanks 'All Rolled up'!) that I also write PC conditions on and throw them on the table to remind the PCs (eg Bard Inspire +2/+2, Bless +1/- +1 saves/Fear)

6. I typically print out the maps beforehand (and cut them into the rooms) - I can then lay them out - rather than waste time at the table drawing on plain flip-maps. They look far better too ;)

7. If I'm using flip-maps (eg Warehouse), I lay them out before the game and cover them with either black card, or the map of Golarion because....

8. I start EVERY PFS game showing the players the World, explaining where they are and, if necessary showing them the journey they have taken. It surprises me the number of players say they've never seen the map before!

9. Back to combat. I don't tell the PCs the AC of monsters for the first couple of rounds - once a couple of people have hit, then I tell them - this speeds things up and doesn't remove the mystery of how hard the monster is to hit.

10. I never name the monster ('a goblin attacks you'). I either show the players a pic or describe it and wait for a Knowledge roll.

11. I always roll my dice behind the screen - but I do ask the players at the beginning if they want me to roll in the open (as some people don't like it otherwise). This is only to maintain the mystery of how hard the monster hits (players can't work out the to hit + or the damage dice rolled).

12. I use descriptions of the damage, but most on the killing blow or when the monster looks really weak.

13. Though I have an iPad I try not to use it - I always have a physical copy of the Core and Bestiary with me anyway - everything else I tend to print out.

14. I prepare the minis beforehand and try to match them up as much as possible. I keep them behind the screen - this means I don't waste time looking for an appropriate one.

15. If a Monster has multiple attacks I will roll multiple d20s (different colours) at the same time after mentally assigned each one (red=bite, black=claw1 etc). This speeds things up a lot. I never roll damage until I've confirmed a hit though - not sure why. :)

16. I have 2 A3 sized transparent perspex sheets which I bought on Amazon for a couple of £ each! I put these over paper maps to hold them flat and they also allow me to write on them.

I think that covers it.

Basically i try and make the rules/numbers/wait time disappear into the background so that the Players aren't waiting for me, and also so that combat feels a quick as possible.

I hope that helps.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

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One dawn morning in the month of Rova, just as the leaves were stating to fall from the trees, my druid Nev arrived in Absalom with his wolf Kira, after a voyage from Andoran, his homeland. As he climbed down from the boat and looked back with a smile across the bay, a wind picked up and leaves were swept up the road further into the city, whirling and dancing to a song that could only have come from Gozreh.

Nev followed and the leaves ended up clustered around the gate to a grand building set in wide green grounds. The gate was emblazoned with a sign that he would soon learn represents The Open Road.

Nev doesn't know why he was led to the Pathfinder Society, but then, he's never been one to question Gozreh, who can be mean and works in mysterious ways...

He is loyal to the Grand Lodge. He doesn't really understand the politics, but he knows that Gozreh has a plan for him and the society. That's all he needs to know.

Shadow Lodge

Widjit wrote:

We can't see anywhere in the rules PFS if you can. The DM says you can't because there is the threat of falling. Have there been any official rulings on this?

Thanks~!

Yes you can.

Re Taking 10:

PFSRD wrote:
When your character is not in immediate danger or distracted, you may choose to take 10. Instead of rolling 1d20 for the skill check, calculate your result as if you had rolled a 10. For many routine tasks, taking 10 makes them automatically successful. Distractions or threats (such as combat) make it impossible for a character to take 10. In most cases, taking 10 is purely a safety measure—you know (or expect) that an average roll will succeed but fear that a poor roll might fail, so you elect to settle for the average roll (a 10). Taking 10 is especially useful in situations where a particularly high roll wouldn't help.

The Climb skill does not state that you can't take a 10, therefore you can.

The need for interpretation unfortunately comes from the statement 'When your character is not in immediate danger or distracted,' Most GMs I know interpret this as when not in combat, but certainly other factors could be considered 'distracting'

As for climbing, I do not consider the threat of falling to be 'immediate danger' or a 'distraction'. Let's not forget that falling isn't the problem, it's the rapid deceleration at the end of it that causes the harm. ;) If one starts to interpret the rules like that, it just leads to an ever increasing set of exceptions eg. I'm wearing a Ring of Featherfall, so can I take a 10 because I'm not afraid of falling then? Yes? So the ring comes comes with the a 'free' assumed ability ("You can take 10 when climbing"). Or, I grew up as a thief on the rooftops of Absalom, so I'm not afraid of heights right? I'm also so skilled at climbing (+20) that most things are trivial to me. So, that all allows me to take a 10 whilst climbing a tree? Great, so writing climbing into your background and having a high climb implies that you can take a 10 then? Where's the limit? Do you have to take a trait, or have 10+ ranks in Climb? None of these are in the RAW but you would expect them to be if there are circumstances outside of 'immediate danger or distracted' where taking a 10 is not possible.

Those are a couple of examples where interpretation can lead to complicated rules exceptions IMO

The Take 10 rule is designed to simplify and speed up play IMO. Some things are just so trivial that you shouldn't need to roll - doing so just slows the game to a crawl.

IMO if a GM wants to make climbing really difficult, they can easily do so by making it clear that it's very hard to climb (smooth wall) so that only the best of climbers can do it with ease (and they deserve to, they've invested all those points in Climb), or by adding other dangers (falling rocks, harpies, etc.)

Shadow Lodge

The Harrowing

I had the PCs find all the Harrow Cards except for the Tyrant card in the aftermath of The Carnval of Tears (great mod and it works perfectly with KM).
Five Levels later (at the beginning of Blood for Blood) the two children of Oleg and Svetlana Leveton disappear and all that is left is the Tyrant card...

The PCs are thrust into the trap and have to get out again, after saving the children.

Why..?

Spoiler:

The BBEG through her influence on the mortals of the world used the time the PCs were trapped to instigate the Drelev attack on Tatzlford. By the time the PCs got back to the Stolen Lands, Taztlford was mostly destroyed and the castle besieged.

Very memorable and a worthy inclusion in the AP! :)

Shadow Lodge 4/5

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BigNorseWolf wrote:
mental note to add drunken pathfinders at a table arguing whether the whisp or the pigs paunch is where it really started. This being the whisp of course anyone mentioning the paunch has to buy the next round.

Re-playable season 6 Special? - 'The Gangs of Absalom' In which a street war breaks about between rival gangs of agents, with one side shouting 'Pig Pig Pig!' and the other shouting 'Wisp Wisp WIsp!'! :)

Which side will the PCs take to end the violence..? ;)

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Furansisuco wrote:

In the part.

** spoiler omitted **

What do first?
Leave and returns to its shape or returns to its original form in front of the PCs and leaves?

I ran this recently and just said that she left (walked out). Later, when they used the item at the end they spotted her in Dragon form - this proved more of an oooh moment.

I don't think there's any 'correct' way of doing it though.

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The Human Diversion wrote:
I'm running this tomorrow night, and even with running many PFS adventures and running home games for years, I'm intimidated! I've read it over twice, copied Nevarre's notes, and I'll be prepping all night tonight!

:) Cool! Let us know how it goes!

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I had the same problem, and have found this - http://www.extractpdf.com/

It works perfectly - provides a zip file you can download with all the images you need. :)

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Thanks for your responses everyone! :)

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I'm sure others have had the situation at PFS table:
You're just getting started and players are deciding which characters to bring. Inevitably there are discussions about APL and class makeups.

I recently ran a scenario which definitely benefited from having a certain type of character (click Spoiler for the name of the scenario)

Spoiler:

Scars of the Last Crusade.
It's definitely one for diplomats and more subtle characters, as well as providing potential benefit to the Silver Crusade faction members.

During the initial 'which character should I bring?' discussion I outright said that this is a roleplay focused scenario requiring fast tongues over fast blades.
The players considered this and some changed their choice of character
The result was that all all the PCs were engaged with the plot and it was clear that everyone enjoyed the adventure. I should add that one player said that he didn't have a character 'like that' (he had a straight fighter), but he played the game anyway and roleplayed his less that subtle approach to things brilliantly; his altercation with the name NPC was great and both of us obviously enjoying the verbal posturing involved. It's fair to say though that he knew by then that the situation would be better fought with words rather than with weapons...

In my opinion, my decision to 'warn' the players of the style of the scenario added to their enjoyment, but others might suggest that I gave them an 'unfair advantage'. My counter would be that reading the scenario introduction, which is typically part of the con sign-up (and obviously available on the relevant page on this site), would provide a similar hint to the kind of adventure ahead. I also don't consider PFS 'competitive' in any way, and make my style of GMing clear in my introduction at the begining ("...I want us all to create an exciting story together and have fun!")

My question is, strictly speaking is it legal to suggest or offer advice on the types of characters that someone should play in a game?

Or should I just have let them bring potentially wholly inappropriate PCs without any of the skills needed? To be clear, I'm not suggesting telling them to bring a certain class, items, etc.

Thoughts?

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doc the grey wrote:
GinoA wrote:
Each point is one re-roll. If they have three points, the first three rolls need to be re-rolled.

Okay so it only applies 1 per roll and only last for a number of rolls equal to the amount of heresy points they have?

i.e. 2 points means that they reroll the first 2 rolls they have and then no more correct?

That's how I ran it.

Makes the final encounter very hard, especially at low levels. I've not had it myself, but have heard of TPKs because of this effect.

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It could be argued that creatively avoiding the trap doesn't mean that they are entitled to the 100gp by default. As you say:
"But the PCs found the trap, safely set it off, and navigated around the pit without looking in."

Not forgetting that Pathfinder Society is 'Explore, Document, Cooperate' ;)

The PCs managed to avoid the pit but by choosing not to look in it, they missed out on what was within. The pit could have contained something important or useful to the mission (As seen in a certain popular S5 scenario with a Minotaur..) and so they should be encouraged to check out pits generally.

HOWEVER, IMO the spirit of the creative statement applies, as David H mentions and I, personally, would find another way later to reward them with the same gold. The glint of gold, suggestion of a corpse at the bottom, etc.

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This is new to me and I didn't even think it was a subject of debate!

As the guide says...

The Season 5 Guide wrote:

What Is a Game Master?

A Game Master (GM) is the person who adjudicates the rules and controls all of the elements of the story and world that the players explore. A GM’s duty is to provide a fair and fun game. In Pathfinder Society Organized Play, a GM must also help players fill out their paperwork, ensuring each player has an accurate accounting of his character (PC), and must report the results of each game to the event coordinator or on paizo.com/pathfindersociety.

As I might say to a real judge - "I rest my case, your honour" ;)

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Prethen wrote:
Nevarre, I might just have to "borrow" a thing or three from what you've posted here. I did a lot of "winging" it to fill in odd details during my last run but I like the idea of having a few more of those details already filled in. I did do things like give names to the bartender and server at the inn but I didn't go into quite the detail you did here. Good job!

Thanks, and feel free to!

Shadow Lodge 4/5

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I ran this over the weekend at Paizocon UK and prepped this more than any previous PFS scenario, but it was worth it. Or to put it another way, I would never dream of running it cold!

Here's a list of things I did:

1. Use separate sheets covering the 2 tracks so you can quick update progress - there are good ones in GMPrep for this.

2. I printed off the rumours on card and cut them out. Shuffled them into false and true piles and read them out before giving them to the players. This worked really well as they could sort through the rumours on the table.

3. The letters were a victim of a strict word count and I recreated one in the scenario, plus the letter to the Society and the letter to Tobias. This worked really well and drew in the players to the investigation. The letter to the PFS read:
"Sirs. I’m a pilgrim travelling North through Mendev. I have discovered something that will be of interest to the Pathfinder Society. On the North Road on the crossing of the River is the village of Dawnton. In the farmland northwest of the village I have found an undisturbed ruin which I think is of Sarkoris origin. Tomorrow my journey takes me further North. I am hopeful that you find this information useful." Joral gave the PCs this.
The letter to Tobias read:
"Sheriff. Help me I’m scared. Last night I saw a man killed by three ruffians near Ottos farm. One of the killers was a halfling and the other two were dwarves with black braided hair. One also had a scar on her right arm. What I saw was too terrible to describe. I am scared that they might have seen me. Please do something!"

4. I printed off a 'timeline' of the days the PCs had so I could track the phases accurately.

5. When the PCs arrived in town I briefly explained the investigation system to them as follows:
Each day is split into 3 phases: Morning, Afternoon, Evening and you can investigate one location per phase - more if you chose to split up.
At each of the locations you can obvious ask specific questions and you can also ask for rumours. Rumours will require a skill roll, but this will vary depending on the location and how you decide to approach the situation. For example, there are games at the fairground and participating in the games will give you a chance to get to know people and overhear rumours.
No doubt that there are many rumours flying around so you might want to return to a location later.
VC Joral made it very clear that you have to tread carefully when in Dawnton. The more ‘obvious’ you make yourselves the more chance that trouble will result. If you want to you can take steps to keep a low profile by making bluff, disguise, or Stealth checks every day. It you’re successful you can keep a lower profile.
Locations in Dawnton are:
* Village streets (includes the Inn)

* The General Store

* The Fairgrounds

* The Beer Garden

6. I printed off a map of the town and laminated it for the PCs to draw on.

8. For the house encounter I used a Teraclips 3D house (it drew some attention). There was only one real fight and these (I hope) focused the PCs on it.

7. GM Notes. Added my own notes to create the mood I wanted in the adventure (which I should add, is based visually on the movie 'Solomon Kane' - go check it out).
I added:
Boxed text covering the journey and arrival:
"Your journey takes you North East through the Hinterlands of Mendev under a sky the colour of dull steel.

The road is rough, churned to mud by the passage of thousands of crusaders and pilgrims travelling to fight the demons of the World Wound. On either side you see stark evidence of previous crusades; the dark shells of castles long since abandoned. Empty villages, devoid of life beyond that of scavenging dogs and crows.
And The gallows, and stakes, the pyres. How many people died in the Third Crusade? How many lives destroyed because of the fear, suspicion, hatred that covered this land in the name of Inquisition. Now cruel structures mar the road like ugly scars left over from the failed attempts of healing the wound in the world. They creak in the wind.

The weather is gets colder; snow floats in the air dreamlike and the wind numbs exposed flesh. This is a colourless land. There are few travellers on this road, and those you see are of an ugly cast - dirty and scarred. Distrustful. They are travelling in the same direction as you. To Dawnton they say. To witness the executions.

Late in the third day of riding you arrive at the village; sitting at the crossroads of the road and a dark listless river and accessible by a covered tunnel-like bridge. The buildings are dark, the gabbles black, smoke rises from stacks, and wooden piers stand out on the water to the east like blackened teeth.

Dawnton is far from empty though. Beyond the buildings to the east you can make a crude tent-city swollen with carts and horses and people. As the light fails, camp fires light them up with a hellish glow. You can make out the muted sound of music coming from a large well-lit Inn to your right, the rain-swollen sign hangs from a metal frame and reads ‘Heath and Harvest’.

Somewhere off in the distance you can hear the lonely sound of hammer against wood, the sound, you suspect, of a new gallows frame being constructed... "

Mood Notes I wanted to evoke:

Snow floats in the air like cotton, later in the plot it turns to driving cold rain. Lashing down. Mud everywhere.
Cold mud everywhere.
Gallows in the market near Tobias Luins House. Room for 3...
Worn buildings look near collapse. Lean against each other.
Air of suspicion and fear
Tense. Will not take much for things to turn violent.
Dirty children play ‘Crusaders vs Pathfinders’ - play fighting, ‘Burn the witch’ - hide and seek
A bard in the Inn (‘Valik’ M Human - Bard1) plays a mandolin and sings 'Song of Sarkoris’ and 'The Ballad of Prince Zhakar’
Dark Streets at night.
Buildings are lit only by greasy smoky candles
People huddle together in the darkness.
People are plain, scarred, generally ugly.
The life of the village is at the tents.
Mobs with torches and pitchforks
Scrawled symbols on the doors and fetishes hang from the windows to ward off evil.

Sample NPCs:

Valik - Human Bard. Old, and grey eyed. Friendly and talkative.
Jezibel Sacha- Leader of a gang of children (includes Jera, Musk, Henrik, Red). Proud but fearful. Is awed by magic.
Torben Sacha- Leader of the villages Toughs. Others include: Alex, Ranse, Markus, Tomas, Orest.
Josiah - Pilgrim of Erastil. Heading to the War. Young and plan. He looks for the good in people.
Nelly - waitress. Friendly and crude.
Crowthorn - Merchant. Sly and eager to spread rumour. Likes the PF. Has two guards - Elra and Pord.
Gill - Drunkard. Will say anything for money to buy beer.
Stone - Blacksmith and builder - scarred and ugly. Building the gallows. Believes the PFs are guilty.
Malachi - Low templar. Stopped here for the execution. Trying to make money.
Garrick - Owns the Heath and Harvest. Married to Fara and has one boy (Henrik)
Tobias Luin - Mayor and Sheriff. Likes Tea, Cake, and an easy life.
Dirk - Militia guard. 1 armed - fights with a short sword and spiked fake arm.
Veldak - Militia guard. Horribly burnt and wears a leather mask.
Catherine Dumis- Runs the games at the fair
Lilianne - Elven traveller enjoying the fair.
Faris and Jorg. Two dwarves brewers. The local beers are 'Crusader' and 'Old Forest'. There is no wine or mead available.

Games at the Fair:
1. Swimming across the river- race (swim check to win)
2. Hay climbing (Climb)
3. Race (Acrobatics)
4. Arm Wrestling - contest (Strength rolls)

Details of the murder victims (as missing from the text)

The Murder Victims

1. 1st Victim – Trader ‘Brend’ and travels from village to village. Found skinned by Otto. (page 10)
2. 2nd Victim – Farm hand ‘Aldo’ young and dumb. Was drunk - found in front of the general store by Orug. Dagger found at the scene.
3. 3rd and 4th Victims - Fasil (older) and Uthanc (younger) Mummers. (Enc 3, page 13). Stabbed and the dagger is still in eye of one of them.

The prepping really helped me keep the scenario following and it was all about the story, the town, and the people.

I hope some of you find the above useful.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Thanks everyone. Based on what you've suggested and the level PCs now, here's my plan which will get them to level 7 and cover the main plots of S5 (I should note that I have 2 Sczarni PCs...)

The Glass River Rescue 
Destiny of the Sands Part 1 
Destiny of the Sands Part 2
Destiny of the Sands Part 3
The Wardstone Patrol
The Stolen Heir 
You Have What You Hold 
The Horn of Aroden 
Scars of the Third Crusade
The Merchant's Wake
The Stranger Within
Cairn of Shadows
Port Godless
Weapon in the Rift
Day of the Demon
Assault on the Wound

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Brilliant! Thanks for the advice guys. I will explore the various options and come up with a suitable plan. :)

Shadow Lodge 4/5

I've just started a new PFS group and, after completing three intro scenarios (Master of the Fallen Fortress, In Service to Lore I, The Confirmation) I really want to immerse them in the overarching plot for Season 5.

Apologies if this has been asked before, but is there a list of story arcs, or recommendations for ones to include, and in what order, anywhere?

It would be great to be able to use the Season to take the group up through the levels in a consistent and plot-focused way! :)

Shadow Lodge

Here's the flag in my campaign - the-conquerors-legacy.obsidianportal.com/wikis/aznagar

There was a lot of thought that went into it by the players:

Twin beasts of the rampant Bear and rampant Tatzlwyrm represent the influence of the Founders (the Druid has a Bear Companion) and the Tatzlwyrm which was the first threat that the Founders overcame when they set up the nation (the head of which in the council chamber in their capital.
The shield is divided per pale, the dexter green; representing the wilds of the Stolen Lands, the sinister blue; representing the Sellen River and it's influence to trade.
The stags antlers represent Erastil; the patron god of the country.

Shadow Lodge

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I've GMed CoT through to conclusion. I changed some things (nothing as big as changing around the order of the modules) and overall my players really enjoyed the AP

Here are my thoughts on why CoT is unpopular.

It's inconsistent:
The first book is low key; it doesn't really provide strong motivations in the PCs.
The second book (especially the play) is very very good, but the story is contrived (do this, to do that, to get there, so you can do this, etc.)
The third book feels like it should be a one-off module (it could easily be a PFS module TBH)
The fourth book leads to an epic conclusion that wouldn't be out of place as the climax to an AP (ahem! PIT FIEND?!) and leaves players with a 'ok, so what now...?' feeling.
The fifth book has to follow on from the fourth - a difficult thing to do - and focuses on dealing with the shadow beasts in the city - with the CoT sort of tacked on. The Shadowbeasts could easily be the main plot of the campaign (and my players actually thought they were!)
The Sixth Book is the reveal that basically explains the Drovenge family and their 'big plan' - which the PCs have disrupted (without realising it). It struggled with delivering a threat to the city greater than the one in book 3. It was dramatic, sure, but in danger of being an anti-climax, without proper prepping.

There are highs and lows throughout but it does fell like 6 modules that could easily be run separately with a couple of metaplots (Drovenges, AOHL, Shadowbeasts, Crux) tacked on as clue to hold them together.

The 'Council of Thieves':
My players are experienced gamers and the 'players guide' and name of the AP set expectations about the AP that took too long to really fulfil. Six months after starting the AP and they were asking me 'so what do the COT really have to do with this then?' - they were interested in the answer, but also frustrated that there wasn't as much interaction with the Council. Because there weren't answers coming, they started making up their own ones - some of which proved more interesting that the reveals later.
It's really not evident that the Council is involved and the players had to have faith that somehow they are. It's a bit of stretch. Even then, the CoT comes across as just a bit of tool used by Eccardian - and a weak one.
Rename it "Shadows over the Twilight City" and reset expectations :D

The Metaplot:
Or should I say plots. It felt like every author had their own plot and somehow these were all stitched together like some Frankensteins Monster (I know, thats Carrion Crown... ;) ) and in places it really showed. In fact some of the books contradicted each other and I got a really sense that the detail of the story wasn't actually fully understood by the authors until close to the publication of each part. Make sure you read the whole thing before playing (though I say what about all APs)

Each of the metaplots could have been a decent separate adventure, without muddying the waters each is trying to swim in...

The City:
It's all about Westcrown, and I really wish it had been given more love. As Garbocz said - Westcrown NEEDED a decent sourcebook. For the AP to be successful, the PCs need to care about Westcrown and everything needs to be done to make it come alive. In play it was what I spent the most time doing. "This is YOUR city and YOU are the only ones that can save it"
Oh BTW, do NOT use a roll to dictate the fate of the city in Book 6. I did, and it was a mistake. The ending was the best one, but that's not the point. All down to a dice roll (even with heavy mods) after all that effort by the PCs? Forget it.

Summary:
Look, I really enjoyed it and I know this comes across as hyper-critical. I haven't read many other APs and am currently running my second (Kingmaker), and CoT provided a year of fun gaming. I can understand why people consider it one of the weaker APs though.

If the GM puts a bit of time in (not a lot, I didn't rewrite it from scratch), there is a great adventure there to be enjoyed. That was my experience, and I really don't want any thinking I regretted running it - I didn't. If taking all the above into account, it's a hell of a lot of fun, with some great set pieces, and overall is a very memorable experience. I'm happy.

If you want to read my own recap its here...

Shadow Lodge

My advicee would be don't worry. As has already been mentioned, KM is hardly rife with traps and nothing (to date) that can't be circumvented. I'm running book 3 currently and though the party NOW has a rogue, she's hardly had any trap finding/disabling to do.

Diplomacy is KM is far more important than Disable Device as far as I'm concerned.

Shadow Lodge

I'm in the middle of GMing Kingmaker at the moment to a group of 5 players. We have started book 3 and, as I write this the PCs are investigating Varnhold.
Here are my responses to your questions:

How should I handle XP? Particularly if I want to add new content?
I have run one other AP (Council of Thieves) and I didn't track XP in that, I just levelled the PCs as per the recommended levels in the Books. It was quick, dirty, but didn't get in way of the game.
For Kingmaker though, I'm tracking XP as per the rules. What helps is that I have 5 players, so the extra XP from added content makes up for the fact that they are getting less XP per encounter (as written).
Additionally I'm reducing the number of random encounters when exploring. This is because that, when I run any game, I want each combat to be significant and random encounters don't always provide that. In fact I find that, unless you plan every one, they can just be a distraction and slow the game down. That's not to say that I remove them, I just reduce the number or make them very specific to the session.
The result has been that, even with the introduction of additional content, I still have PCs that are only slightly ahead with XP, and I know I can level that out.

How can I better foreshadow the events of the later books, major enemies, and the sinister First World influence? I'm considering starting early, with the Stag Lord's green herbal liquor - that sounds a lot like absinthe, AKA the 'green fairy'... For extra points, perhaps it was even made at Whiterose Abbey... or would that not work with the timeline?

There are loads of great suggestions on this board. Here's what i have done in my game to foreshadow the first World influence and the BBEG:
1. Starting from the Stag Lord, everyone significant bad guy has had a shard of what looks like a mirror in their possession. This as a magical aura that fades in time (Enchantment and Divination). Additionally these have become more 'dangerous' later in the game. In one instance, as soon as one PC touched it, it caused a 2 point bleed attack that needed at level a 2nd-level healing spell to stem - there was a real panic as the Wizard was rapidly bleeding to death.
Using the mirror shard links the bad guys together somehow, but the PCs don't know why (the BBEG used them to communicate/spy on the NPCs). They know that they come from a mirror, but don't know what mirror. Of course, the plan is that they will find the broken mirror in the BBEG House in Book 6 - it will be the same looking mirror as the one owned by Rhoswen in the Fellnight Queen scenario.
2. From day one, one of the PCs has dreamt of two children lost in the woods. The girl is calling out the name 'Briar'. The PCs don't know what or who Briar is.
I worked with a player to create the background for a new PC introduced to Kingmaker after a PC death. She is an Aasimar and believes that she has come to the newly formed Kingdom to save 'Briar'. She believes that Briar is a child.
Svetlana and Oleg have had twins - a boy and a girl. The girls first word was (you guessed it) 'Briar'.
The have no idea what Briar is, but they know that it/he/she is important somehow.
3. I have incorporated two other modules - The Carnival of Tears and The Fellnight Queen (a popular choice I believe).
For the carnival of tears, I brought the carnival to the PCs capital (Stags Fort, the location of the Staglords fort in Book one) during a very very very cold winter. They learned from the Nymph that some other First World force has corrupted the carnival and summoned the Cold Rider. The module was great - especially since the PCs were seeing NPCs from their own capital killed - including one of their own Council.
The Fellnight Queen module is perfect for incorporation. I actually placed all the locations in the Narlmarches whilst the PCs were hexploring and introduced the gnome as part of the expedition in book 2. It was Tatzlford that was attacked by Spriggans and the same fey from book 1 and the Carnival of Tears. The PCs killed Rhoswen but have later learnt that the threat is not over. They don't know if she will return or something else. In my game Rhoswen is a divided part of the BBEGs physical and mental self.
I will do more, but what I have done so far as brought a coherence to the story that wasn't evident before.

How can I keep the kingdom-building fresh and interesting? From what I hear, entire sessions can go by of micromanagement. Not a single one of my players wants to run the "kingdom in the background" option, and they're all enthusiastic about the nitty-gritty at this stage. How can I keep that interest high?

The Kingdom building aspect is cool, but don't let it rule your game or take over an entire session.. This is how I have approached it:
I have 2 players that really like the kingdom building aspect, 1 that hates that metagame, 2 that are ambivalent to it. The 3 people less interested are happy for the other 2 get on with it, as long as they have a chance to review it. I have an out of game discussion with the 2 players about what they want to do, and make the rolls then for events. This is for the long periods between the books (2 years passed between books 2 and 3). For individual months i let them happen in game, but might leave it to the end of an evening so it doesn't interrupt play.
We use the Ultimate Campaign rules rather than the KM ones and I recommend you do also. We also use a spreadsheet and Obsidian Portal for our KM game which really helps.
As far as keeping it fresh is concerned, I do not 'GM' the kingdom building part - merely facilitate it. I ask the PCs to name every building, describe the NPCs that run them, come up with the flag for their kingdom and the uniform of their militia. They have just created a treasury and spent an entertaining 15mins deciding on the names for their coins! Basically I go out of my way to make the kingdom THEIRS. I also don't let them get away from hard choices. They created an alliance with the kobolds, but then starting farming the area around the silver mines. Suddenly there were skirmishes between the farmers and the kobolds that they needed to deal with. They had had to convince the Swamp Witch that she will be left alone, and the game with the Boggard.
I don't let it drag the game down, but they do have to act like they are running a Kingdom.
In short, play up the fluff in game and deal with the crunch separately.

A more general question - as I'm sure my party will be selling a lot of loot at Oleg's, what items get sold at full price, and what gets sold at half price? [/6]
I made them sell at 1/2 price until they made a point of dealing the Thorn River Camp - at that point they became firm friends with Oleg and he game them full price. It didn't make a massive difference and his purchasing power isn't that great. They've had to travel to Restov to sell bigger items; before they built up their Kingdom that is..

[b]How much should I increase loot for 6 PCs instead of 4? The community conversions handily provide updated gear for important NPCs, but how should I handle the rest?
I didn't. Including the 2 extra modules has brought in more gear, and two of the PCs are making their own magic items and armour. It's balanced itself nicely at the moment...

What third-party products can I look into to pilfer ideas? I don't have a lot of disposable income (most of it goes to my subs, because I have a problem), but I'd be willing to buy inexpensive products to improve the campaign.

I don't use any 3rd party products but have used:
Carnival of Tears
Fellnight Queen
The Harrowing (I'm using this very soon. Another attempt by the BBEG to upset the Kingdom..)
Revenge of the Kobold King (I'm using parts of the plot but upping the stats) - Chief Sootscale is going to be brought back from the dead and seek his revenge on the PCs.
Chronicles: Guide to the River Kingdoms - loads of juicy info on the lands around, as well as the Stolen Lands themselves.

Other comments:
NPCs! Flood your KM campaign with them from day one. The more the merrier. Keep a spreadsheet (you don't need stats really) and make them interesting. Make up a new NPC for every session (even if you don't use her). Find opportunities to connect them to the PCs.

Here are examples from my own KM game:
Mikmek the kobold fell in love with a PC priestess of Gorum. He literally worshipped her. The PCs made him the executioner for a while. He had a two-handed sword he could barely lift which he dragged around their castle make a loud scrapping noise. They had to remove him because he was too 'enthusiastic' to impress the Priestess and kept threatening to kill citizens of the city. He left one night after the priestess was killed (not by him) and has not been seen since. He's off to reform the Sootscale tribe after the PCs killed their king (Sootscale was talked into betraying the PCs alliance by Hargulka the Troll..)

The Werewolf event in Book 2. The PCs got the chance to capture the werewolf and removed the curse. He and a PC fell in love and are now married, he is the kingdoms 'general' and they have a baby daughter. This month mum and dad had a falling out when she wanted to 'go off with her friends' to Varnhold and he reminded her of her responsibilities too her husband and daughter. It's not all marriage bliss..
The Gyronna Cult in Book 2. I did this differently and introduced the lead cultist (changed to a Witch rather than a Cleric) as a woman who had lost her family in the Carnival of Tears (a lie). One of the PCs nurtured her and she played up to him. Ultimately they were married. Other NPCs warned him about her (a NPC priestess of Shelyn said she was rotten to core!) but he ignored them (love is blind). She got pregnant with his child. Then the PCs found evidence that the cult was in their capital and that she was the leader! There was a confrontation and she told him that, though she did love him honestly, she really only wanted his child. If a girl she would be indoctrinated into the all-female cult, if a boy. She was put under house arrest until the birth..
That subplot resulted in a midnight attack in their own castle by a number of servants that were actually cultists and a small dungeon crawl under the castle (remember, the fort was built over Gyronna temple in book 1). The climax was witnessing the birth of the PCs child, a boy, and stopping the mother and cultists from completing their vile deed. They also have found out that the 'Black Sisters are preparing the way for the Twice Born' (forshadowing book 4). The PC is now a single parent with a baby boy to look after...

As you can see, a lot of happened that isn't in the KM campaign. This to me is why Kingmaker is brilliant. You can make it your own. I enjoyed running Council of Thieves, and added some stuff to it, but KM takes it to another level. The PCs are running their kingdom, dealing with parenthood, making magic items, as well as investigating this mysterious threat and a sense of impending doom, that hangs over the country.

The NPCs, and getting your PCs to be emotionally tied to both them, and the kingdom, is the key to success I think.

I hope this was helpful (and thanks for your patience!! :D )

Shadow Lodge

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Conquerors Legacy

Just started RRR and really enjoying it. The PCs have just completed their first year of building - it's not been easy for them..

Check out the adventure log for a blow-by-blow account of the events, including hexploration.

Shadow Lodge

I'm actually playing Callistrian 'prostitute' in a RotRL game I'm in. The character is a 1/2 elf CN Witch that was brought up in Riddleport, where she learnt the tricks of the trade, as well as independence, and a keen interest in everything Thassilonian.

I've taken the Calistrian Prostitute campaign trait (from the APG) and the 1/2 elven skill focus in Diplomacy, with my familiar being the Thrush (no laughing!) giving +3 Diplomacy, as well as me taking the Charm Hex at 1st level, there isn't anyone I can't make 'friendly' if I need to. This has made some of the information-gathering aspects of the game very easy, and is also a lot of fun to play.

Personality wise my Witch is a hedonist that uses people for sport whilst she follows her own agenda. Her value is not in combat (she's only 3rd level), but the roleplaying has been rich and interesting so far (she's certainly getting on VERY well with the NPCs in Sandpoint!) and isn't above befriending goblins for as long as she needs them (which isn't very long, but it's certainly helped us along the way).

Not sure if that's the sort of thing you're looking for, but it's working for me. I've not played a Witch before, and enjoying the class a lot - a lot of the spells and some of the hexes really lend themselves to the Courtesan role IMO. Of course there's no reason why you could through in some levels of rogue as well, or perhaps bard would be even better!

Shadow Lodge

DMFTodd wrote:

I like it. I'm sure my players will be asking about that at some point.

Perhaps it should be a kingdom building roll to determine the number of hexes? Maybe a Loyalty check, is it makes the DC, divide result by 5 to determine the number of hexes that month.

That's not a bad idea! I'm not sure how big loyalty results can get later in the campaign though. Would <result>/5 end up with a silly number of hexes being explored?

I figured on 10 a month purely on the basis that it's an easy number to remember and that, assuming an average of a 30 day month, that each hex takes 3 days to explore - especially once you've included the time to travel to point of start and return to the rulers to report back the results.

Shadow Lodge

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Has anyone come up with any rules for automating hexploration later in the AP? I've read a number of posts about the 'issue' of the new kingdoms rulers being forced to explore hexes and how this ruins verisimilitude.

We've just completed Stolen Lands and my players are looking forward to the Kingdom building aspects of the AP, but they are already questioning whether their PCs are expected to continue to explore the land. From the conversation I think they are looking to see the kingdom grow, still deal with the threats/plots (I'm going to be bringing the threat of the fey queen into the picture sooner), but don't really want the relatively trivial task of exploring.

I was thinking of introducing a simple rule, something along the lines of:

In the Improvement Phase each month, spend 1BP to hire/outfit Experienced Scouts (emphasis on the 'Experienced'. These folks need to be good enough and equipped well enough to survive out the wilderness). They can explorer 10 hexes per month - they have to be adjacent to one another as chosen by the PCs.
The Scouts will not deal with Landmark sites/fixed locations, but can handle wandering monsters (I did think about % chance of them not coming back, but that seems a bit overly complicated tbh). They will map, identify landmarks, report on the types of monsters etc.
The PCs do NOT get the 100xp per hex explored (which is irrelevant really in my opinion) and obviously miss out on random encounter XP/items, but there are other ways to get XP so I'm not too concerned about that.

Obviously this could be extended by extending the Event Phase to include scout events, having the Marshal be in charge of extending the kingdoms boundaries, or introducing a Ranger position to do that.

So, has anyone tried something like this in their own KM games, or aware of any pitfalls of doing so? To be clear, I'm not looking to remove that aspect of the game, just allow it to happen once the PCs have bigger issues to deal with (like Pitax, Nyressa, rampaging Owlbears etc)

Shadow Lodge

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WARNING: CONTAINS LOADS OF SPOILERS!

I've just finished running Council of Thieves, and thought I would share my experiences and some of the changes I made to the AP. COT was the first Pathfinder AP I've run, though I'm planning on running Kingmaker next, and certainly others in the future.

The group make up was as follows:
CG Human Bard
N half-elf Cleric (Pharasma)
N elf Sorcerer (though became NG later - read on)
CG gnome fighter
LG elf Paladin

The players all had read the COT players guide and had bought into the premise of the AP. so no issues there.

Heres's my thoughts and changes:

The NPCs
Make more of the Children of Westcrown (or whatever they end up becoming called) throughout the whole AP. I used them extensively to help build roleplaying situations, then started to kill them off as the problems in the city grew. Get them caught up on the action, but really not being powerful enough to deal with it. Loads of them died when the COT attacked the safe house in book 6! I actually had Janniven possessed (as per the rules in the AP) by a devil for a couple of adventures then reveal it when the safe house is attacked in the last part.
Use the information at the back of the Bastards of Erebus to build up the Nobles and the Dotarri. The nobles have a part to play in book 6 - but theres no reason why you shouldn't detail these beforehand so that the events in that part have more impact.
The Dotarri have very little involvement as written, but should, so it's good to develop this, especially in preparation for the final book.
Understand the history of the mayors of the city; Dargentu Vheed is really interesting so it's worth understanding this to bring him alive (um not literally..)
Ilnerik - he's a great bad guy, but consider making a pathetic (in the literal sense) character. He's a victim of the Totemtrix and if the characters start to relate to him it makes the events that take place The Mother of Flies more interesting (especially if one of the PCs is connected to the Morrowfell - see below).

The City
At it's heart COT is about the city of Westcrown. Do everything you can to make the city come alive. Use the information in the back of the first book and supplement with your own information. Create NPCs, shops, descriptive encounters, let the players constantly see a map of the city. By the end of the AP you want them to live and breathe Westcrown as it's really important for the final part of the story to have maximum impact.

The Aohl
I always felt that not enough was done with the Aohl in the AP - it IS an artefact after all. The Totemtrix curses it's owner to Vampirism, and we know that Bisby was obsessed by the Morrowfell. What I decided to do was have the use of the Morrowfell have an effect on the owner. This manifested itself in a number of effects:
+1 Positive Levels (think of it of the opposite of negative levels), when it's power was used for good. This was temporary of course.
An obsession with it (think of it like Frodo and the One Ring - it becomes 'precious' to the owner)
A gradual shift towards LG alignment if not already.
Ultimately it's owners life is linked to Morrofell.

The beginning effects I allowed the PC a Will save to resist, after telling them what would happen ("you're going to get a positive level, do you want to resist?"). I did this a few times, giving them more each time, with the will save increasing by +2 each time, whether they chose to make the save or not, long as they kept using it. The effect on the game was great (I worked with the player on roleplaying the obsession with it). By the end the PC had shifted to NG from N and the will save needed to resist the effects was pretty much impossible since the PC had allowed himself to be bolstered by it for so long.

When they came to Ilnerik, I had the vampire look upon the PC with pity and say they were kindred spirits, stating that they were both used by the Aohl and would be destroyed if artefact was joined (bluffing??)
In my game, when the vampire was killed and the Aohl was neutralised by bringing both parts together the PC actually died (will save to resist), as by then his life force was linked to the Morrowfell. The Paladin in the party activity used his sacrifice spell to 'take the damage' and died instead! Poetically the group used the Philosophers Stone to resurrect the Paladin. It was a great moment in the story, especially as afterwards the originally obsessed PC (no longer affected by the Morrowfell now its power was suppressed) shed a tear as it was melted down.
The price for the end of the Shadowbeasts was high, but well worth it.

The Shadowbeasts
The existence, and therefore removal of the shadow beasts, is important to Westcrown and the story. Until they are destroyed I made it almost impossible to travel at night. When they are removed, I allowed the PCs the time to celebrate their success, but then had the final breakdown in authority take place, and the people started rioting and looting at night as well! Ironically the lifting of the 'curfew' just fuelled the (literal) fires of Anarchy!

Liebdaga the Twin
As written he can be a bit too easy - depending on your class make up. I raised the tension by having one of the PCs (with his amulet) having to make opposed rolls to keep him staggered.
Also consider having the pit fiend communicate with the PCs during their time in the Spiral - encouraging, or even helping them with clues. Knowing you're being 'added' by the creature that is being imprisoned makes for an interesting situation.

The Play
The Six Trials of Lazarod is one of the most memorable parts of the whole AP. My players actually read through the play and had a great time! I highly recommend you do this if your players enjoy the roleplaying aspects.

The last part
I found the non-linear aspect of The Twice Damned Prince required the most amount of preparation. I ended up changing quite a lot of it:
I put Thesing in the Nymmis tomb - which I extend downwards, because I didn't feel that dragging the PCs to another location in the Rego Cader made any sense. This fitted well because of Thesings previous obsession with Nymmis. I also had his Vampiric Spawns be the NPCs from the playhouse, including Robhl Nonan, as well as Nymmis' father (one was wielding the sword).
The undead army changed a lot - I through dozens of zombies at the PCs as they made their way through the streets. This gave them a chance to flex their muscle with things like fireballs etc. The encounters were not really meant to challenge them, just give an indication of the size of the problem. At the Sunset Gate I added a Graveknight from Bestiary 3 (I had previously made up a story about the Devourer that included a fallen Paladin) that was leading the army. This worked really well, and without realising it, the PCs put the armour in the Cheliax Crux; which was being used as a general storage container for loot(!) and yes, he came back to torment - literally "Where are you putting the jewellery?" "oh, just in the Crux" "No problem, roll for initiative!" "what?!"
I completely dropped the Rolan The Tinkerer encounter. It really added no value to the adventurer, nor any challenge.
The Blacknapes because a solely roleplaying encounter, when the napes realised who they were up against they pretty much surrendered.
Skarxs prison I extended and including Lhianna Strikis; the Duxotar from the back of the first book (who I made a lvl 11 Magus) that was aligned with the COT. I had told the PCs (via Ertein Oberigo) that Skarx was a lover of Chammady and the PCs, who had the contract, realised that if they could get to Skarx and convince her that Chammady would die then the tiefling might help them. That's exactly what happened.

BBEG
The Vacant Throne was run pretty much as is. But! I did give Eccardian a chance for a monologue. He's basically Ozymandis from the end of The Watchman - he wants to make Westcrown a better place; under his leadership. Hence the staging of the battle against the devils. In my ending he thanks the PCs for everything they've done, mentioning that everything was as he'd planned (though the killing of Liebadga was a little unfortunate). When confronted with the contract he retorted with 'Think of the songs that will be sung of my sisters sacrifice! Her legacy will live on far longer than any of us!'
Eccardian needs a chance to explain himself to the PCs really. When you're ready for battle to be joined, Chammady can turn up and force the issue by attacking him..

Once the battle is joined the most important thing is to get the PCs out onto the statue, because the cramped interior of statue is no place for a climatic battle. This was easy for me, as one of the PCs bull rushed Eccardian out of the 'eyes'. It's unfortunate that there is no tactical map of the head and shoulders, but it's not difficult to make one up.

All in all, I loved the AP. It's not without it's faults, but still stands as a very good campaign with lots of variety. I didn't deviate very far from the plot, and enjoyed the end result, as did my players.

I hope you found this useful.

Shadow Lodge

eleclipse wrote:

So, i have a crafting wizard and we're playing kingmaker, we just hitted lvl 5 and started building the kingdom.

I'm a LN mage follower of Abadar, the other party member are a paladin a LG oracle, a NG inquisitor and a N druid.

I decided to add a 10% fee on the creation cost when crafting item for the party (this mean that a belt of +2 str will cost them 2200 instead of 2000, which is still a lot better than 4000); this caused an unexpected reaction on the other players (not pg, players).

They now pretty much consider me to be a jerk, just suggesting this we're arrived to the point of them preferring to buy the items at full price and they said me this is not right since the don't make me pay for cure, tanking ecc ecc.

This was totally unexpected by this group since they are always very mature, am i missing something and being "that guy" without knowing? Is this some kind of delicate argument in the average group?

Some advice on how to deal with this situation will be most appreciated! :)

(Note: I've not read all the 1000+ responses to this, and this is a response to the OP)

Interesting situation!

This to me, is a metagaming vs roleplaying moral situation, and the solution is unique to you, your fellow gamers, and the game you're playing. Without knowing much more than we do, I'm not sure we can give you the best advice anyway.

Here's some thoughts, much of it speculative of course..

Roleplaying Perspective.
As a LN worshipper of Abadar, there's nothing I can see wrong with charging that 10%. This is especially true if your character intends to tithe this to the church, or somehow use it to further the edicts of Abadar.
Perhaps it is the Lawful thing to do because otherwise you're not encouraging fair trade and the other item-crafters in the area cannot fairly compete because you're undercutting them all the time (etc etc)? I would have thought the Paladin would understand the fairness in that. That's just an example.
How's your characters relationships with the other characters? Are they friends, how closely aligned are their goals? This would have an impact on your reasons for doing this, and their reactions as characters.
The fact you're doing this because of your faith should be made obvious to the other characters - ALL of which have reasons to be more religious than your wizard anyway!

Metagaming Perspective.
Pathfinder is not a competitive game and therefore the natural assumption (as made clear by many response here) is that the characters are all working together. This is reflected by the fact that the other players are upset by any suggestion that you are using your feat, against them, for any kind of personal gain.
If your reason is purely to end up with a larger 'capital' than the rest of them, then it's easy to see why they are upset. This is based on the assumption that the economy of the game your playing is based purely on monetary gain through adventuring and that the distribution is equal. That equality breaks down when you ask for 10%.
This is essentially then becomes an argument of Communism verses Capitalism in a closed economy..
Do the other players understand your reasons for asking for 10%. Do they think it's for metagame reasons or roleplaying reasons? (I'm guessing the later 'he's being a jerk and wants to screw us out of our money!' etc.)

In summary, it seems to be that you have a Metagaming vs Roleplaying issue. From what I can tell you've made the decision to do this because of roleplaying and the players have responded because of the metagame impact.

Some possible solutions seem to be:
Explain the roleplaying reasons for your characters actions, and ask the players to consider the roleplaying responses of their characters (NOT them as players). Ask them what they do during down-time so you can compare.
Sure you could remind them that they would necessarily know (unless you told them in character) about the costs of item creation. But the players would know and that just leaves bad feeling around the gaming table - as it's then more noticable that from a metagaming perspective you're definitely trying to make money from them.
You could concede that the impact to the metagame, and the enjoyment of your fellow players, is more important than the roleplaying decision you've made and change your mind about it.

Finally, I don't think you were being 'a jerk' at all. I just think that there has been a break down in communication and the expectations of the players around the table are different from each other.

Have an honest chat with them, I'm sure you'll work it out.

At the end of the day, it IS only a game, and we're all playing it to have fun. :)

Shadow Lodge

Stynkk wrote:
Nevarre wrote:
Does using a wand of Scorching Ray provoke an AoO?
Yes, it does. While you bypass the "spell component" AoO, you still have to make a Ranged Attack Roll which provokes an AoO.

As is my interpretation. Thanks.

Shadow Lodge

Fascinating thread! It certainly made me go back and look at rules I was taking for granted..

Here's a slight variation on the same question.

Does using a wand of Scorching Ray provoke an AoO?
On the basis:

PRD wrote:
Activation: Wands use the spell trigger activation method, so casting a spell from a wand is usually a standard action that doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity.

Scorching Ray:

PRD wrote:
You blast your enemies with a searing beam of fire. You may fire one ray, plus one additional ray for every four levels beyond 3rd (to a maximum of three rays at 11th level). Each ray requires a ranged touch attack to hit and deals 4d6 points of fire damage. The rays may be fired at the same or different targets, but all rays must be aimed at targets within 30 feet of each other and fired simultaneously.

Ranged Touch Attack

PRD wrote:
Ranged Touch Spells in Combat: Some spells allow you to make a ranged touch attack as part of the casting of the spell. These attacks are made as part of the spell and do not require a separate action. Ranged touch attacks provoke an attack of opportunity, even if the spell that causes the attacks was cast defensively. Unless otherwise noted, ranged touch attacks cannot be held until a later turn.

My assumption is YES on the basis that it's a Ranged Touch Attack, even though the wand activation doesn't provoke.

Shadow Lodge

Snow Crash, I've read your initial post, and the responses in this thread with interest. I am currently running the last part of Council of Thieves AP for my group of players and some of them have high ACs so this is a very familiar situation to me.

There are really a number of ways you can go about this, and many of them have been touched on in this thread. The decision to use any of them though depend on what you and your players want from the game; what you call consider to be fun. If your players differ from you then the current situation, and any solution you attempt, will lead to frustration by you or them.

For example:

If your players get fun from beating the challenge, and you get fun from creating the challenge, then the fun is had from that confrontation.
If on the other hand both you and the players have fun through collaborative story-telling then it's never about the challenge in a fight, it's more about how that fight adds to the overarching story.
Of course if you have fun from story-telling and they have fun from confrontation (ie combat) then there needs to be a compromise somewhere.

They are pretty much extremes, most of us are somewhere in the middle. In my own group one of my players is all about the story and another is all about building the best character. As GM I have to engage them in different ways.

Recently I got really frustrated because my players were trouncing my monsters. It really felt that the challenge had gone and the fights were almost mere distractions. I was in the mindset of 'I MUST challenge the PCs, I must threaten death, I must make them sweat'. Then noticed that they were actually having a load of fun! And these are mature gamers that have been playing many many years..

I changed my view of the game a bit and started to play up to it. In the last fight I ran (just this last weekend), they were storming a house protected by a load of guardsman. The guards had little or no chance of hitting the 2 melee PCs, so I just had fun with it, describing the guards increasing frustration, then desperation as the PCs cut them down, and they couldn't retaliate. Of course when they found the BBEG things changed a little because she used touch attacks and AOE spells..

So... (apologies for my long-winded response), in your position I would firstly ask the Paladin player if he's enjoying the game - recognising that his AC is making some of the fights easy for him? If he is, then don't change anything! Just have fun and don't feel the need to make every fight a challenge.
If he's bored because he likes the challenge of the confrontation, then definitely consider some of the ideas in this thread (personally I'd go with having the badguys go 'damn it! I can't hit this guy - let's kill that really annoying ranger that keeps firing arrows at us!'). Force him to move around, make some decisions - especially as he's a Paladin (my friends are under attack but those badguys are about to lynch that girl! Charge!!)

What I had to relearn recently (I've been roleplaying for nearly 30 years) is that if everyone is having fun (including you!) then we're going about it right, it doesn't matter if it appears to be too easy.

Hope that helps. :)