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Jimmy of the Sad Panda wrote:
A) A person in my group who only plays rangers is playing one (shocking) and is using the order of bow initiate and I allowed it. He is always hitting, his skills are through the roof and his Hp(90) is rather high for a d10/d8. His damage though is what bothers me and he crits often with a only nat 20 weapon, what do I do?

Okay, HP seem to be really high. With CON 14, that would be his max possible HP. Could it be that he misunderstood how you handle HP and simply took max every level?

I'd start with collecting all character sheets and checking everything. It's easy to make a few mistakes, so simply check and correct the sheets to begin with. Do it for everyone, because it's just as easy to end up with too few skills as it is with too many and you are far less likely to notice it during gameplay. So just make sure everything is fair. It will also give you a good idea of what weaknesses each character has.
If the player has indeed taken max HP each level, have him reroll his HP at the start of the next session. Unless at least two other players verify that he rolled max. Although in a normal group there should have been cheering each time he did and you would remember.

If you believe the player cheats actively with dice rolls, that is another issue that needs to be dealt with. It could be that he's just lucky or that the crits is all that you remember because triple damage tends to kill the target.
With 10 players it's almost impossible for you to see every roll. Several players are probably beyond what you can easily see and that's a problem I'm not sure you can deal with. Not without specifically asking one player to ensure nobody cheats. And that can break groups and friendships.
I'm not certain how you seat 11 people, but maybe a rule about all rolls having to be done at a central location and only after they announce what they are rolling could help. It'll probably slow things down as players need to move around, but without knowing your location, that's the best I can come up with.

Jimmy of the Sad Panda wrote:
B) The current levels in my game are close but still all over the place. 4 level 5's, 3 level 6's, 2 level 8's, and a level 9. How should I get them all up to level 8 or 9 within 2-3 sessions in order to balance it out for a big battle? Also what should my groups CR be?

Don't level quickly. That just leads to players getting a lot of powers they don't know how to handle and slows things down. Plus a lot of the races are more powerful than normal, so the level only is deceptive.

You are in quite a mess though, and I can't help but be curious how you ended up there.
Regardless, low level characters need less XP to level, and they will end up much closer together before long. Before the first character is 12th level, all will be at least 10th, so that problem solves itself.
As mentioned before, the group is too big for CR to be useful. Combat with hordes of minions and some leaders would probably work best. When facing BBEG, there should be at least two major enemies and a good number of minions.
You could/should also introduce encounter effects that require several PCs to spend their time dealing with stuff other than combat. Maybe a magical portal that summons unlimited amount of monsters and shutting it down requires skill checks at three different locations. So three players are busy with that, and the others need to protect them and keep too many enemies from massing in the center so they can't simply rush a group in overwhelming numbers.
Or maybe they need to collapse a mine shaft to at least delay the hordes of undead from below. Or maybe bless a place to stop the unholy artifact from summoning more demons.

Jimmy of the Sad Panda wrote:
C) A couple of my players are new and have picked difficult starting classes, (i.e summoner and cavalier)so should I have them scrap their characters or have them do a complete overhaul?

Classes are not that difficult, if they are willing to invest some time. They just need to learn one class, after all. It's much tougher on you, as you need to learn all races and classes.

Jimmy of the Sad Panda wrote:
D) 4 people (a level 5 inquisitor, level 3 cleric/6 sorc, level 8 oracle, and level 6 paladin) are focused/can do healing. So how do I keep the fire on and make it more challenging?

AOE attacks. Not just from one source either. Swarming them (either with swarms or lots of enemies) so that they have to make checks to cast at all. Limit line of sight so they have problems to get to whoever they want/need to heal. Use poisons or other damage that is more difficult to heal. Fear effect and other means to divide the party can be useful.

Jimmy of the Sad Panda wrote:
E) I'm looking for a way to challenge this group of 10 players(currently a dragon hunting campaign, but will go into demons soon). So does anyone have any ideas of what I can throw their way for a challenge?

Hard to say without knowing what kind of world you are playing in. How about a family of dragons that has a visitor or two (other types of dragons). Every dragon has AOE damage, and it's different types, so their protection won't fully work.

Add a tribe of kobolds, complete with a few draconic sorcerers that can throw fireballs and other AOE spells. Don't forget poisoned arrows. I'd also throw in a summoner specialized in elementals hiding well out of sight. Depending on the color of the dragon, there are other creatures that would serve in the lair.

If they go on another dragon hunt, they may instead of a lair stumble upon a draconic disco with dozens of young dragons of all types present.
Or maybe a clan hall maintained and protected by hundreds of minions and dozens of dragons. And once they realize they have more trouble than they can deal with they need to flee, hunted by the most ambitious of the younger dragons trying to make a name for themselves.
It might also be a good idea to throw in a few class level for the dragons; either normal classes or specific draconic classes.

When you switch to demons, stay with numbers over individual power. And if it looks too easy, have another few show up. There are endless numbers in the Abyss, so use them. Maybe even swarms of them.

Jimmy of the Sad Panda wrote:
F) They are all in a guild and the Inquisitor is leader and likes to boss everyone around. He has sent them (without going himself) on dangerous missions(one of which got them arrested). How should I deal with him?

Well, obviously he doesn't get XP for missions he doesn't go on. I wonder how often he will stay behind then. Also, if he isn't with the party he shouldn't be involved in the RP at all and keep quite. If nothing happens at home and the mission takes the rest of the session, consider sending him home early.

Mostly this is up to the players though. If they are okay with him as a boss, that's their problem. Talk to them. If they aren't happy but don't want to create problems for the group, there may be a political upheaval in the guild and the Inquisitor isn't trusted by the faction now in charge. Or maybe the gild leadership evaluates him and blames him for everything the party did wrong and then chew him out for not having been there - clear proof that he isn't suited for a leadership position.

Jimmy of the Sad Panda wrote:

I'll go ahead and post their classes, races, and levels below, thank you.

Level 5 Fetchling summoner
Level 5 Suli Inquisitor
Level 5 Human Druid
Level 5 Catfolk Cavalier
Level 6 Aasimar Paladin
Level 6 Goblin Rouge
Level 6 Ogre Barbarian
Level 8 Human Oracle 3/Fighter 2/ Sacred arrow 3
Level 8 Ranger 5/Order of Bow 3
Level 9 Wayveran Sorcerer 6/Cleric 3
I don't want to have another restart, but if required I will.

A lot of powerful races mixed in. I'd guess that the Ogre will become a problem later, because it's more powerful than any other race. And it's just about perfect for barbarians. High STR plus bigger weapon means a lot of damage. But keep in mind that they are large and will have problems in civilization - everything will be very cramped to them and they'll often take minuses because there's not enough space for them to fight.

DM_Blake wrote:
danielc wrote:
This sounds more of a problem with how you have elected to play and less about how bad the rules are.

I disagree completely.

Sure, a GM could completely ignore the CR rules and select encounters that are easy enough for characters to win without having any "save or die" spells thrown at them, without having to hit really high monster AC, without having PCs die because monsters always hit their low AC, without having monsters always survive every spell the PCs use because the PC spellcasters have pathetic save DCs, etc.

This usually means sticking to encounters that have CRs below the party's ECL. That means getting really low XP, so the GM should probably ignore the XP and Leveling rules too.

So, sure, a GM could "elect to play" in a style that utilizes very little of the "must have" magical items. But to say that it's not a problem with the rules is going too far.

The only way to "elect to play" such a style is to completely ignore the "bad" rules and replace most of them with houserules that work better, so I would say this is very much a problem with "how bad the rules are".

Okay, I have to disagree with your post. What CR rules need to be ignored? The guidelines that CR=APL is a usual encounter? Sorry, but that's a guideline and suggestion; a guideline of how difficult a creature/encounter is to defeat with a standard group. Nothing more, nothing less. There is no rules that a party must only encounter creatures within a certain CR range. In fact that believe is one of the perversions that has started with 3rd Ed D&D - players can encounter anything, including things they have no hope of defeating should they not run away or be very polite.

So there are no rules to ignore. At least non I am aware of.

If your party is weaker (or more powerful) than a standard party, for example because they have ineffective but flavorful designs or magical items that are cool but not useful, this falls under the Ad Hoc CR adjustments rule in Designing Encounters (p.398). While the rule only mentions NPC gear and Terrain specifically, it applies to anything that modifies encounter difficulty - including PC gear and build. So using lower level creatures and awarding XP for a CR higher is actually covered in the rules.
More straight forward would be to judge how difficult an encounter/challenge was and then determine the CR using table 12-1 and award XP accordingly. No need to even look at monster CR if you don't want to.

Not that it really matters. IMHO leveling is already very fast and slowing it down would be a good thing, but I accept that other people think differently.

Okay, low RP group. That has it's advantages. They will know/care little of the background, so fudging is easier. I guess elaborate plots where they need to figure things out are out. So be blunt.
The next time they visit I. for interrogation the Charm spell has expired and he tells them that a monster took control of his mind. Convincing the party may be hard, but I guess you don't use too much subterfuge, so they should go along with it, right?
Ironbriar wants them to defeat Xanesha (the only person who knows what truly happened), so he points them in the right direction and supplies them with potions of protection from evil and deals with all the legal/public aspects for them. (Of course he will take a lot of credit and gain more influence in the city, instead of loosing any, so as long as the players stay quite about what happened, they have a powerful ally in the future.)
He may also tell them about the monuments and what boni they grant or at least those he considers most useful against Xanesha.
He could/should warn them that the monster gets around because it can become invisible with its magic, so your cleric could learn invisibility purge. Maybe a scroll of see invisible for the Magus. If they were struggling, think about some more one-use items for them. I would think that your GF for one would appreciate some oil of lamia-bane for her weapon to do 'awesome damage'.

All that should give the party the power to deal with Xanesha and let them get to the fights without too many distractions. Oh, and just to drive home the danger, think about killing your GMPC. I doubt they would expect that. Afterwards you could suggest that one of them ought to take leadership to get a healer in the future. Or they can hire a new healer for a lot of coin... with only sharing treasure three ways they have the extra gold. Anyway, they should know their party dynamics well enough to see the need for a healer and have the resources to handle it without a GMPC.

Apollo Randasian wrote:
Okay, and how would I roleplay that? Just say she takes them all to Turtleback Ferry...which I think is the next chapter (need to read ahead).

Not necessarily. Remember that Xanesha is in Magnimar for a reason. If she gets all PCs and they didn't tell anyone that they were going after her, she could very well stay and use them to restart her operations. Fleeing Magnimar is admitting defeat and may cost her life.

And Charm Person doesn't give her full control over the PC anyway. They are merely friendly not her slaves, so taking them anywhere is problematic at best with her support structure dismantled.

Apollo Randasian wrote:

The other thing is, Justice I charmed the fighter to keep going at the kid in the party, eventually knocking out both the Rogue and kid Magus with Drow Poison, with the strong fighter still attacking the downed kid as I fled the building briefly (I had him backing down the stairs constantly, to deal with them one at a time).

I is meant to fight to the death and with his blade upstairs, he could only fire his crossbow. The PC's didn't get one attack off on him (after his buff's his AC is like 31) and not being able to hit my GMPC every time he tried, with my GMPC failing to hit him also, he decided to go for the one he charmed, breaking the spell and ending up being captured by my GMPC, with the fighter putting manacles on him.

I'm not entirely sure how to get the PC's to notice he's being charmed by X, or where to take this, as the law in Magnimar...I'm assuming will arrest the PC's for holding a Justice in cuff's, and with I's high Bluff check, it's likely he'll say the PC's are holding him against his will and that they are really members of the SS cult.

Currently they have him on lockdown in the Sawmill and have attempted to talk to him twice with no answer...so if they try again I think I'll have him answer, but am a little stuck on what to do with this.

I don't know how the trial would go if taken to it, and he still has a command spell left, so could probably escape outside in time.

I. has good bluff and the guards will give him the benefit of the doubt, but the players will have some physical evidence and I. is certain to have political enemies. At worst I. would talk himself out of trouble, but there should be enough uncertainty that others would accept the actions of the party. He'd be free and even free of domination may seek revenge later if his career was hurt/ended, but that's an adventure seed for the future.

As for how to reveal information, the Charm Monster spell only lasts 13 hours, unless I'm mistaken, so it must be renewed twice a day (makes timing interesting, when you think about it). So it's entirely reasonable that the spell expires at some point. And once it does, Ironbriar would be willing to make deals anyway. He's certainly no longer loyal to Xanesha. Of course he remembers to past failed interrogation attempts and would probably try to use the party for his own advantage. ("As I see it there are two options. Sooner or later the guard will find me and I tell them you attacked me without provocation, or you let me go, and I call the guard to clean this mess up and we tell everyone that I hired you to back me up as I investigated what was supposed to be corruption in the city guard, but turned out to be an attempted assassination on me by the murder cult.")

What you do depends a lot on what edition you are playing. There are massive differences between the original AP and the anniversary editions when it comes to this encounter.
I haven't yet had the time to study the anniversary edition in detail, but the original version was pretty light in details and hints about the cult. Is there still time to send them on a side adventure, perhaps another murder they have to investigate before they can confront her? You could use that to fill in a bit more background and give the players some warning as to what they may face.
Charm Monster is powerful, but once combat has begun, it's +5 to the save. And if you drop some hints the party could go out and get Protection from Evil scrolls; if cast at the right time it will render the ability useless. And she won't know about it, so she should waste at least one, maybe two actions before she realizes that they didn't just resist her, but were magically protected. You need to keep track of durations though, and maybe should encourage them to buy/make higher level (longer duration) scrolls.
Deep Slumber can be nasty to very small parties, or parties that are very spread out (Don't split the party!), but since it's just a powered up sleep spell, slapping the target will wake it up. So Xanesha's action can be so easily undone, that casting the spell is a waste of an action in most situations.

If you are filling out the background some more, especially if you are playing the original edition, you should also consider to level the party before they face her. Sure, they'll be a bit ahead in XP for the rest of the AP, but that won't matter all that much. And to deal with her AC (an issue mostly in the original version) you should drop a lamia-bane weapon. Maybe the latest murder victim had divined who was responsible and tried to bring Xanesha to justice, only to die; a lamia bane weapon should certainly intrigue the party when they find it.
By now there's also a lot of extra stuff about Magnimar. Like the monuments you can honor for various bonuses. Encouraging the players to visit some of them could also give them a bit of a temporary boost specifically for this encounter.

Of course the make-up of your party is also relevant. And how well they have been doing so far. If you want more specific ideas of what to do, we will need more information.

Well, at the point the animal becomes intelligent it would already have spend some of those feats... and allowing it to retrain... okay, I don't think your GM will have any trouble with you using leadership to improve your familiar.
There's two points you should pay careful attention to though:
1. The familiar/cohort should not outshine any PC. So you might need to be careful with how many levels it gains.
2. Your familiar is mostly a trickster and you should select spells accordingly. Prank and debuff spells should be the spells of choice. Of course if you have established another personality, that might be different, but don't simply go for combat spells like you do for your own character.

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Well, let's see.
8. (evil->NPC) It's a rather drastic action. I know you aren't the GM, but I would recommend going with realistic responses to actions before you bring down the hammer. If the PC does evil things, it's very likely against the law. There is law enforcement even in fantasy games. And evil actions may well attract the attention of heroes that come and start hunting the group. Or it might disrupt the plans of other evil groups and they might deal with the disruption before it attracts too much attention.
If some of the players persist with the evil, try talking with other players that don't like it and then have your characters leave the party and seek assistance with the church/authorities to hunt down the band of criminals and execute them. Maybe then the problem players will realize just how much they bother you. There's a chance they'll use their next characters to get revenge; if that happens talk with the others about splitting the group. Your interests are just too different for any game to please everyone.

9. (item creation) You are actually creating more of a problem here. In most campaigns there is not enough downtime to craft an item. It takes a day per 1,000gp, and how often do you stay in a place for a month? I'd simply add the requirement of a lab to craft any items and remove the rule. Certainly being able to sell everything for the full price will leave the party with a lot more money during the campaign.
Also remember that during character creation you pay full price for every item even if you could craft it yourself. So unless you have a campaign with very long downtimes the rule ridiculously favors the players.

10. (guns) Depending on your interest in guns in the game, it would be reasonable to give guns more realistic reload times. Even emerging guns assumes late 19th/early 20th century gun tech.

11. (age) Drastic. Not sure if I agree. Each age category lowers how much you can carry, lowers AC, lowers reflex and fortitude save, lowers attack roles, less hp, and so on. That's a lot to give up for more spells... perhaps the problem if less with the spellcasters and more with leaving them unmolested at all times. Spellcasters are already more fragile than other classes, with high age that just becomes more severe.

12. (ability scores) The array is the equivalent of 36 point buy. Making the 18 a 16, it would still be a 29 point array. I can't see anyone taking 25 point buy as an alternative, even if the array is less than ideal. They would surrender a lot of power doing so.
That said, even a 25 point buy produces very powerful characters that require adjustments from the DM. Essentially the party would be about two levels more powerful than their party level indicates. Maybe three with your array. And that assumes their wealth is within the expected level. Which going by your other points happens regularly in your games.
In short, you are stressing the Pathfinder rules to the breaking point. As a quick rule, encounters should be three levels higher (four if they have more wealth than recommended) than party level suggests (before even taking templates into account), without giving extra treasure or XP.
Go 20 point buy or better 15 point buy. You will notice a massive drop in power from the players and far more balanced or much squishier casters. Even 25 point buy would be far better than the array.
In fact I suspect that most of your troubles come from too generous ability scores.

14. (dm rolls) A good idea, but slow if you use dice. You almost need to setup a computer program to roll the check for everyone at once or you will slow down things a lot.
I'd also add stealth to the list. Maybe even knowledge skills, spellcraft and other reflexive skills (that don't take an action to use) so you don't get the 'oh, he rolled a one, so I guess I see what I know' effect.

15. (metamagic rods) Marginally useful at best. Given the prices for the rods and their limitations, the effect isn't that great. Be sure they are used according to rules before you start banning them.

17. (full bab) Okay, why would anyone play a fighter now? Or a ranger? Or a barbarian? Even a Paladin becomes questionable. Unless you want a party that is mostly rogue/monk. I'd give the full bab classes at least 4 skill points/level and a feat to compensate. And even that might not be enough to keep things level.

19. (free two weapon feats) Combined with 17, you will have an awful number of sneak attacks every round. That's what? Up to seven sneak attacks per round at level 16... before any tricks. A rogue would expect to do 45d6 + 40 (or more) in damage every round. That's an average of ~200/round with potential to do more than twice that.
Utterly unbalanced!
If anything, I'd think about removing the feats completely to increase balance. Making them free would certainly make two handed weapons and shields utterly useless. And probably every ranged weapon expect thrown weapons.

No. The details are known or at least guessed at by the few people that care about what happened so many thousand years ago. With appropriate knowledge checks the players should even figure out that the asteroid is the Starstone and now rests in Absalom. Of course that knowledge is far more common among PF players than among the people living on Galarion, but it's not quite secret history.

Three PCs should be able to handle most situations, since they'll level faster, but keep in mind the action economy. They have one action per round less than a four person party; if one goes down they'll loose a third of their power, rather than a quarter.
Simply using somewhat higher point-buy or a re-roll during stat generation should give them enough of an edge.
Of course if they don't optimize their characters for hack and slash, adding an NPC might be a good idea. Perhaps the best organized player could get a free cohort. I wouldn't use a humanoid for the cohort, but some animal or creature that doesn't play into roleplaying too much, but the details would depend on backgrounds.

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Well, if the player is somewhat decent, then attempting to redeem the evil character, especially an evil cleric, would make for a lot of good RP. As long as the character can convert to neutral (or even LE), this should make for a lot of fun.
If you run that, I'd give the paladin player a heads up that she had a dream/vision from her deity that she should redeem the evil character and try to convert the character to another neutral or good deity that's a somewhat decent fit for the believes of the evil character.

Of course this requires a well thought out background for the evil cleric, but I'd require that for any evil character anyway. And for any chaotic one, for that matter.

How to handle eight players depends on how much time you can invest. The ideas given are decent, but as mentioned they will make for long combats. Even without summoning spells and the like.

Most important, avoid unnecessary combat. So no random encounters. If they are facing a trivial encounter, don't use the combat system to solve it, but tell them that they encounter ten goblins and ask them how they killed them; award XP based on how well they told the story. Nothing if it was boring, full XP if it was a good story; if they tell a compelling story and maybe use up resources (spells, potions, ...) maybe as much as twice appropriate XP.

I'd suggest you leave the mook fights as they are. The size limitations in most places will hinder a large group enough that they'll have problems bringing their numbers to bear. At most I'd add 50% more mooks to somewhat increase the challenge - maybe more, but then I'd combine several fights into one.

Important fights I'd have a good look at and decide to either boost the encounter by adding more critters, or replacing them with thematically fitting creatures of higher CR. For example, instead of stone giants, they might be facing Frost Giants or even Fire Giants.

The real problem will be Boss fights. That's where you'll need to do the most work. As a general rule of thumb I'd add a level; if you have high damage PCs, perhaps 20% extra HP. Don't forget to give them appropriate extra treasure - some one use protection items would be especially useful. For spell users, give them extra AOE spells - browse the SRD and look for new AOE spells you don't commonly use to keep it fresh. Every baddy may use AOE spells, but they use a wide variety of them.
Then add a lieutenant. Someone (or something) that's a CR lower than the original BBEG should do. This might be a friend, a spouse, a pet, a construct, or whatever.
Then add mooks. Nothing harsh, nothing that takes too long to dispatch, but something to soak up attacks and generally hinder player movement, especially if the BBEG has good ranged capabilities.

In general I wouldn't increase the size of places. The limited space will restrict how much the PC and monster can do, and that will speed up combat. This will probably result in more than average use of ranged weapons, so consider your ranged options ahead of time.

Without question Runelords.

Kingmaker is an AP that can be great, but it requires the players to not only buy into the campaign, but actively drive it and create their own story. Without a good background and ambitions beyond following the plot, it becomes rather mediocre.

From a DM POV, Runelords is also a lot easier to run. Kingmaker needs a lot of modification to make sense (foreshadowing the BBEG, far more random encounter in the wild to show why these lands are unsettled, foreign relations, several earlier Rushlight festivals, political developments in Brevoy, attending the council of the River Kings, many new NPCs to give player neighbors, etc). In a way Kingmaker is a good outline of events that will happen in the campaign, but after the first book the main drive of the campaign will/should be on players (and NPCs) creating their story. The books tend to become background to the real focus of the story, and the DM needs to make up/go along with that story.

This makes Kingmaker the perfect AP for experienced groups that want to create an epic story and know how to create characters that allow for great roleplaying - and how to create characters that form a good group.

Oh, and an absolute must for Kingmaker is enjoyment of intrigue and ability to build characters that are suited for combat and social situations. Building your kingdom means a lot of interacting with NPCs. And politics. Various religions vying for influence (mostly peacefully, but some aren't above covered actions). Courtly intrigue, possibly including assassinations and other attempts to get ahead. And let's not forget the bureaucracy; and all those that may buy influence there. Or ideological clashes among its members.

It can make for great games, but it will take a lot of commitment from the players and isn't really suited as introduction. You can easily end up with over 100 important NPCs and several hundred more named NPCs.

Runelord on the other hand is classic roleplaying. You are a band of traveling heroes working against a big evil. It's a great story, but the scope is limited enough that it's easy for players and DM to keep track of everything. There aren't really any important NPCs that will be there from beginning to end; the closest will be Sandpoint based NPCs the players want to hang out with.

Which is my point. The Kingdom roll was an abstraction of the numerous rolls your leaders would be making throughout the month, an abstraction for charisma based skill checks. It would be more realistic to average several skills and take that as modifier, but Paizo went for simply attribute instead. Since the circlet adds to every roll involving CHA, adding it to the abstraction of all those rolls makes sense to me.

And yes, penalties would stack. Ability drain, negative levels, long lasting effects from critical hits, curses, whatever. The penalties they impose would affect the kingdom.

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Essentially, the AP, like all others, is designed for 4 PCs, but playing with 5 makes almost no difference. If the DM simply leaves things as they are, the reduced treasure and lower XP will keep everything working.

Of course, if the DM prefers to run for only four players to allow for more roleplaying or simply does not feel capable of running five PC, that is his right. Or if he simply doesn't want more people over at his house.

Direct your DM here, if he has any questions about running it for more than four players, but respect whatever decision he makes.

While the idea of straight income is a decent one, keep in mind that there is a strict limit of how many items you can sell each month. With simple income, the players are far better off. FAR BETTER!

I've just reread the actual rule; you have the chance to sell one (1!!) item each month per district you have, for a maximum income of 14.25 BP/district/month. So if you turn items into direct income, you'll have to be very careful, or you will end up giving them far too much money.

Since the ACP doesn't apply to ability checks, no. If you replace the ability modifier with a modifier based on the average of various relevant skills, ACP would naturally apply as normal.
Of course the General using STR in the first place is very odd.

I'm not sure I agree. I guess it depends on what you believe the kingdom roll represents. For me, it's a summary of numerous interactions over days (or even months) resulting in certain outcomes. The leader weights in through numerous CHA-based checks, and he'd get the competence bonus on all those checks, so shouldn't he get it on the check that summarizes them all? If it were just a limited number of times a day, I would say hell no, but the bonus is always active. Of course the roll is so abstract in that it doesn't reference any skills at all, that you can read whatever you wish into it.
So by RAW it probably shouldn't apply, but I'd grant it. It's not really going to matter one way or the other in 99% of all cases.

Okay, I like those events, but the time limit is ludicrous. Even a ten round combat is only a one minute delay. For overland travel that's nothing.

I don't see why the Circet wouldn't work, so I'd say yes.

As for spells, they will work, if you maintain the spells for at least 8 hours per day. That means if anything happens during a 'normal work day', like a kingdom event, those spell slots will be used up. So it's beyond the resources of a low level (<8) party, and by then they would probably have items than increase their key stat already, so castings would not give much, if any, benefit.

The bonus, without any downside, is too much. I'd say add a -4 AC and a concentration check if she wants to cast a spell instead of just attacking with her weapons, and perhaps a will save if she tries to peacefully interact with any goblins. Unlike a barbarians rage, she does not control her rage and should not be able to call it up at will It controls her and forces her into actions that might not be optimal.

As for NPC boons, Paize has a whole list of them published. It's from one of the NPC books, I think. Check the SRD for details. In general, cheaper accommodation and minor discounts are possible, but remember that the NPC covers the cost out of their own pocket, so how much would you discount your friends? A good meal costs 5 s/day in game, in modern terms I'd guess a days worth of good food costs between $25 and $50, so keep that in mind.
A out of jail free or a potion is well beyond simply friendship. If the sheriff or priest/brewer is a good friend, it might be an option, depending on the circumstances.

Book six is for 4 14th level 3.5 characters. Pathfinder characters are inherently more powerful and the number of players is so far off, that I'd be very surprised if anything could challenge you.

The hardcover will still be for 4 characters, so without conversion it still will be very easy for you.

You may want to suggest to your DM to use the 6 player conversion as base, and make it yet a bit more difficult, so that you get some challenge from the adventure. It would be a shame for such a great AP to be remembered as cakewalk. If nothing else tell the DM about your concerns.

The only problem I see with your version is that once things start happening in the capital, the Jade Regent and his terror troops won't care if the PCs show themselves in the public, but will start extremely harsh measures against any suspected rebel. While it does incite more hate, it also leaves those most able to oppose the Oni dead. Or worse, replaced, be it by oni, shapechangers, wizards, or whatever. All the time Ameiko's name will be all over the city; of course those that use it in a positive fashion when the Oni aren't distracted by something the party did, tend to disappear the same day.

What you are assuming is that the Jade Regent uses reasonable measures of reprisal and terror. You discount the fact that the final goal has precious little to do with a prosperous or healthy country and that humans and other races are to be about to become slaves, badly treated slaves at that, should Ameiko die and the seal be captured. The Jade Regent is literally willing to raze the city and slaughter all the people to find and kill the party. There are enough slaves elsewhere in the country, after all.

I wouldn't be surprised if 1% of the population was killed every day once the Regent realizes that the party has entered the capital. But maybe I see the situation a bit harsher than it truly is.

On another note, I'm not sure I would share the exact mechanics of Rebellion Points (or any other points in the AP) with players. The daily point loss would simply be the party seeing the bodies of sympathizers being burned on public squares and the smell of burning flesh thick in the air. But again, that image is probably harsher than what you imagine.

Yes, I know. So was I. But just because the murders are grisly doesn't mean that the population would see them as unjustified, especially if there was a lot of incriminating evidence found on site against the first two or three victims. The cult would be established as bringers of justice against rich criminals that use their money to evade justice. And every future victim would be assumed guilty, because they drew the attention of the vigilante cult.
And since the Skinsaw cult goes after greedy people, rich criminals would exactly fit their prey.

So while the cult would be seen as evil in Sandpoint, once the players reach Magnimar, they could find the cult seen as some kind of local heroes that see justice done, even if many would consider them a tad brutal - however with rumors about mutilation being necessary to prevent certain magic, a surprising amount of people would be accepting of even that.

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I can imagine Restov being happy to fund an evil city. I however couldn't see them happy funding a chaotic city; you never know what those kind of people would do.

And lets be realistic here, if the PC are psychotic, they'd never manage to get together a city, let alone a kingdom. But realistic evil groups? Isn't evil the alignment of politicians anyway?

magnuskn wrote:
Thanks, Rob, that makes getting the best result possible. I'll probably still devise a few more of my own events for the last module, so that it doesn't feel as rushed, but it will keep the pressure on. :)

If you're adding more points, I would also introduce more chances to loose them. The very best end should be something that is almost impossible to reach. I'd even go so far and say it should only be reachable if the players come up with ideas on their own that you think are worth points. Only very dedicated players that take the time to understand the local people and work with them, work for them, should really be able to get a great success.

But that's just my take on it, of course.

As I see it there are two options. First is to go with Sloth, as mentioned above. Summoners were an 'elite' group among the forces of Sloth. Or maybe they are the result of breeding experiments done by that faction, like an attempt to create a conjuration sorcerer bloodline, or something.

Alternatively summoners could have been created by the first rune lord and served the nation as a whole, before they split into sub-groups.

A third option would be that Eidolons' are the remains of runeslaves and that descendants of runeslaves can somehow command the essence of rune slaves and use it for their purpose. Over the centuries the essence has been trained to act in certain ways and the Eidolon was born. The original discovery and training of the essence was probably done by Sloth-mages, but the results endure to modern time.

In any case, I'd completely redo the festering maze in the runeforge and rebuild it around summoners and their magic. Maybe create a few evolutions that the summoner could learn there with enough study, or even Eidolons that do not obey modern rules.

Shouldn't that be CHA 19 until level 8?
And -2 damage on all attacks, with small weapons? Sneak attack compensates somewhat for that, of course, but it's still a lot of damage lost. I guess this goes to show that even 35 PB characters can have massive weaknesses.
You mentioned in the first post the desire for large/reach weapons. Weapon Finesse works only with light weapons. Not to mention that you can only carry 15 lb; leather armor, short sword, backpack, and clothing are already 11 lb. 12 lb with thieves tools. Forget about taking rope or pretty much anything else without carrying medium load and reducing max dex bonus to +3. A ranged weapon is probably too heavy to take along...

The best equipment depends on what you want to do with the character and how you want to develop him.
The character build so far seems... useless. Sniper is about getting ranged sneak attack, yet you don't have point blank shot or precise shot. The level division also seems to be the weakest possible; another level of Sorcerer would give you second level spells, another rouge level +1d6 sneak attack.
I'd also seriously think about reducing CHA to 17 and boosting STR to 11, if only for carrying capacity and buy a headband of CHA to boost it to 19.

I guess that depends on the murder cult. If it appears that the murder cult goes after slavers and other criminals, especially if they are going after rich criminals (even if there are just rumors supporting so called crimes), the murder cult could be seen as the good guys by a large number of people.

Things to keep in mind when considering Varnhold and Drelev:

-lots of BP go towards supporting an army from the beginning.
-very militarist building, little value on economy
-area run as military outpost
-probably starts with more BP and gets regular support from Restov

-Vastly mismanaged.
-high unrest.
-Drelev probably pulls out BP most turns to finance his lifestyle.
-initial war against barbarians.

So both domains will develop very differently from the players kingdom.

Or the bridge may simply have been washed away. The Stolen lands should be riddled with hundreds of bridges (or their remains), but the land is pretty hostile to any kind of structure. So a flash flood washing away a bridge or a few houses wouldn't be unusual. And people seem to love building on natural flooding zones.

Goblins hate horses. There are going to be a lot of horses in Kingmaker.
Goblins hate dogs. There are going to be even more dogs in Kingmaker.
Goblins like fire. There are going to be a lot of wooden houses in Kingmaker. One could say whole cities to burn down.
Perhaps worse of all, there is going to be a lot of writing in Kingmaker that is going to try to devour the poor goblin soul.

And if you ignore these four core goblin aspects, would you be playing a goblin?

Ameiko is going to be the queen, so it makes more sense that she actually does stuff. It certainly is better than her waiting at camp for the players to solve every problem. And it's certainly better than introducing yet more NPCs.
Sure, two more players would be better, but if that was an option the OP wouldn't be here.

Uthak, how does your group handle absent players or replacements XP wise? I've seen a number of groups where everyone always has the same XP so that everyone levels at the same time. That certainly seems to be the norm by now, even if some of us don't agree.
Another issue could be that the XP was intended to be story XP reward for getting proof, rather than any single action. Story awards are always a bit nebulous, because you can always find other places where there should also be a reward but isn't. It certainly sounds like there was little to no actual danger in the house itself.

I can only recommend that you talk to your GM in private if it really bugged you and ask him to consider such situations carefully in the future.

I'd go a slightly different route. Two characters is too little to withstand any AP. If one character is taken down or paralyzed, that's half the party. That makes it far more deadly than it would be for a normal 4 PC party.

So the PC should have higher point buy or an extra +2 to any attribute if you roll and I would also make him gestalt.
The oracle is generated normally (i.e. without better attributes or gestalt).
In addition Ameiko and Shalelu should come along as well. And I'd go so far as to say that the player should control both during combat. You'll have enough to do with monsters and your oracle.

I'll second the idea of having the players have regular contact with Varnhold and have them come to an agreement for the western hexes on the Varnhold map before the vanishing.
I'd also use the opportunity to provide additional adventure content. VV always seems to leave parties with too little XP at the end, so some custom content may be a good idea.

It was certainly intended to be 25 xp/player/hex.

If the party is low, take the opportunity and introduce some custom content fitting for your party. Maybe they find the entrance to a dungeon or a group of (not hill-)giants comes from the mountains and causes trouble. If you can tie it to the players backstory or aims in the campaign it is even better.

I would certainly give them at least a year between books.

Magic Items:
I'm not sure I still remember it correctly, but I believe it was one item per type per district, so max 4 minor, 4 medium, 4 major. That has however been known to give players BP too fast. We used the following rule:
1 minor/district
1 medium/district in a city with at least two districts
1 major/district filled completely
We also reduced medium items to 6 BP, I think. And it would probably have been better to limit it to just 1 item/district as well, but with quite a few extra costs during winter it worked out alright.

You should also remember that the AP is about Greed. In the second book there is a cult sacrificing greedy people... there's a good chance that anyone involved in locating/kidnapping slaves is a potential target. So the ranger may find a target already dead or a third party may drive him off when he tries to kill a target and he learns the next day that the target is now dead. Xanesha may even recruit him, giving him intelligence and perhaps money if he performs a certain ritual scarring before killing his targets.

* Only a cleric needs to be within one step of her gods alignment, so a N druid is no problem, though a druid of Desna in this region is an oddity.
* The water trap is difficult, but any strength based fighter with power attack will have little problem destroying the portcullis. In fact anyone with adamantine weapon will have a very easy time. Not to mention spells like dimension door, teleport, and so on.
As for the strength check, if there are three assists (take ten guarantees it for anyone without negative strength mod), for example two from characters and one from a summon on the other side of the bars, there is a chance between 40 and 55 percent each round, probably 50 percent, each round to beat the DC.
* I can't remember anything about the power not working for other characters, so I'd say they would want to pluck out their eyes as well. But no benefits, unless they are NE. And they'll find information as normal for artifacts, which means Analyze Dweomer.
* It wasn't. Flash of Insight is listed under special qualities (SQ) right above gear and below skills. I guess you missed it because of the page turn within the stat block.

Party composition:
Since a lot of stuff is outdoors, there will often be the opportunity for long range combat, so I'd advice every player to consider a method of ranged combat.
There's also a lot of potential for mounted combat, if desired. Combat can however get more complicated, especially when you mix mounted and not mounted characters.
A heavy hitting martial character is extremely useful. If you don't have someone who can stand and fight, and deal damage even without flanking, there's a number of trouble spots. You can work around them, but it'd be better not to.
Rogues can be useful, but they aren't needed. While you need a high perception character to find secret doors, rangers or druids can cover that easily.

In general, the AP can be run out of the book without real preparation like any canned adventure, but to really get the most out of it, you'll need to use the basic plot and begin your own story based on it. A good example is the very beginning. The AP assumes your party is together with the charter arriving at Oleg's. How they met, why they are together, and who gave them the charter or why is never touched upon. Yet that holds so much role playing potential that you should deal with it.
Likewise, the AP never touches upon other nations, diplomacy, and so on. If your players are at all interested, there's a lot of potential filling out the blanks.
I'd also strongly recommend running the AP on Slow progression and vastly increasing the number (and variety) or random encounters. The Stolen Lands are called that for a reason - they are very hostile to civilization, and the party should not be able to run around for days on end without encountering anything threatening. Instead of possibly one encounter a day, I'd go with numerous encounters every day, with at least three per day either hearing some monster in the distance or finding some kinds of tracks or combat site. There should also be numerous ruins - lone houses almost collapsed, the remains of ancient foundations, a few stones that are too regular to be natural and might have served as field markers, and so on. The area was settled fifty times or so and it failed every time, so let the party stumble upon both remains and dangers often! I'd also recommend at least one combat a day, but if possibly more; and even without set piece encounter the party should never feel safe using all their resources in a single fight.
Get weather. Find a site on the internet with historic weather reports for Poland or a similar country and use some real weather; then add some supernatural elements.
Ensure that the players have good backstories that work together and then plan to include their desires into the game. Remind players several times that they are playing a sandbox AP; they can do everything they want or at least try. They won't be prompted for the right actions - there are no right actions! The more they try to do, the better the game is! Build a guild? A merchant business? A new knightly order? Personal goals are essential to make the AP memorable. It's perhaps best as looking at the stuff in the AP as problems that will crop up while the players are trying to tell their tale rather than the core story.
Notes, notes, notes. Take them when preparing for the game, during the game, and after the game. Make a player write a diary or something so that they have something to reference for the stuff that might have happened a year ago. If possible get a recorder and record your sessions and listen to it; you might hear things you forget to write down or be inspired by something a player said that you missed because you were busy doing running the game.
If the players really get into kingdom building remember that the rules as presented are comparable to a computer game on very easy. The party has a lot of advantages over the non-players. So you may want to make the rules harsher. You might also want to do this, if you simply want to slow down the game to last several decades. If you do so, remember to have NPCs age and die - and provide ample replacement NPCs.

Xanesha is a rough fight, if the party decides to bash in through the front door. If they go through the tower, then yes, the fight is hard, and they will need luck to win.
If they are not properly prepared, for example if they do not have adequate ranged weapons or cannot fly, this combat becomes almost impossible.
However, if the party decides to scout the tower flying invisible first, or simply fly up to the top from the start, they will fight Xanesha without any of her prep spells on. That will mean a tough fight, but certainly winnable. It's her pre-combat buffs that turn her into an absolute AC monster that make her so tough.

If you think your party will simply smash through the front door and can't take her on, I'd add a wand of empowered dispel magic with a few charges.

While Shalelu is a NPC in Jade Regent, her background has no relevance whatsoever. Any generic NPC could fill her role, and just leaving her out wouldn't matter (except limit trait/relationship options a bit). So if you kill her off, nobody cares. Unless your players already like her, you might want to kill her off and replace her with an NPC the players care about anyway.

As for Ameiko, her role is more central, but there's an alternative NPC listed that can fill her role just as well. Maybe even better.

Turin, I would agree that such a subtle increase in their power would work, but was it really subtle? I mean, resurrecting thousands, practically rewinding time several hours (since that's how long some of them would have been dead) is perhaps something mortals would miss, but gods? Especially Pharasma should be very aware of what happened. So while I would agree that there is some taint in those returned, using that taint would actually attract more attention. Perhaps one of them will write down the play for future generations to find, but that's the extend to which I would use them.

Nothing the king in yellow touches remains pure... but I wouldn't call it evil. Corrupt, twisted, strange. Not evil. Perhaps more important, the Elder Gods are ancient and think far more long term. I'd build up the mood with all kinds of apocalyptic foreshadowing like Turin suggested, but when the time comes the demands are strange, minor, and apparently harmless.
The demand may even appear beneficial. Perhaps they need to craft an item based on instructions provided and then transport it to the Worldwound where it will close the dimensional rifts permanently.
Or they craft a weapon that is of great use to them and the price is that they have to use it to slay the BBEG.

The real horror is that the players know that something is going on that is beyond them, something they don't understand. The only price they see is the corruption from the artifact they created; maybe insanity, maybe a Warhammer style corruption (or gift of the ruinous powers) if you have access to the books. And yet it's too powerful and useful not to use. And try to present the supposed target as something good, something the players may already want to do.

The Elder Gods are not about open displays of power; no mortal can challenge them, after all. And where's the fun in destroying the campaign with an apocalypse? Even if the players win, they'd be left with ashes of a former kingdom.

The problem I see is that neither of the first two books is tied in any way to the Stone Giants. It's tied via runewells and sacrifices to power them to The Runelord. You will have to work through everything carefully to weave in new threats that tie everything together.

As for sins... that's an ancient concept based on a corruption of the virtues of rule. But it's ancient history, so ancient that we have only a few ruins remaining. It has no impact on the present. Or perhaps better, it has about as much impact on the present as ancient Egypt has on Earth now.

Maybe to tie everything together, the runelord isn't captures in his capital, but instead bound to an item than Mokmurian has acquired and he forced him to cooperate, somehow. And now the players end up with a runelord captive that is trying to escape and be reborn.

Goblin Squad Member

Talking about postage to Europe...
What, if any, shipping costs would we look at for Thornkeep?

redcelt32 wrote:

I have to agree with story point leveling. I know this reduces the XP incentive to explore, but XP leveling can causes problems with level advancement and side plots, which you should have plenty of, given the sandbox style.

Story points help make the AP stay GM friendly and not be even more time consuming than it already is. If the players are annoyed at getting stuck at a level, tell them to advance the story or grow the kingdom to a certain size if they want to level, whatever triggers the next story point.

Maybe I am fairly lucky, but my players are sort of pleasantly surprised when they level, since mostly they are focusd on the kingdom building and in game storyline progression and whether or not they are "leveling" in those areas.

I can see that working if the players stay very close to the printed material and don't go beyond it. But what happens if for ten or more sessions there's diplomatic meetings and intrigue in Brevoy and Mivon, with spy missions and other stuff they want to do thrown in? Kingmaker is a lot about being able to follow where the players want to go, and if you only level for story points that you predict, let alone only story points given in the adventure, you'll discourage the players from doing anything but passively following the plot. They should be rewarded, not penalized, for becoming part of the world! That's what makes Kingmaker better/different from other APs.

On the other side you have players that jump ahead. In Varnhold Vanishing they could buy a scroll and locate the tomb fairly easily and teleport to very near the big boss, before any other encounter or event takes place; so do they get two levels for the two spells they cast? Because that's where they are story wise now...
Blood for Blood starts at tenth, but after hearing about the barbarians they might decide to take their leader out first; again, they are supposed to be two level highers, so do they get two levels because they advanced that much story wise?

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I agree with Varnhold. Look at the army costs and it becomes clear that they couldn't build up further. And to make matters worse, farms were so exposed that Centaurs and other critters made all attempts at farming suicidal.

Drelev is even easier. Unrest. The Unrest is so high that not only do they fail almost all checks, but they've lost most hexes they had claimed and local critters have destroyed what farms there were. And like Varnhold, they needed more military power from the start to deal with local dangers - barbarians, bogards, etc.



Do not forget that there have been dozens if not hundreds of attempts to settle for Stolen Lands. All failed. The players are the first group that beat the odds and manage to create something that might last.

The kingdom building rules may make success too easy on the players, but that's necessary to allow casual gamers to succeed. Likewise the players are always confronted with only one or two situations at a time. That's the key here - the rules as presented are a simplification stacked in the players favor to allow casual gamers to enjoy kingdom building and succeed without any optimization and little planing; everyone else operated by the harsher rules. If you have a group that is willing to go beyond the basics, the rules need to be toughened up; toughened to the degree that success becomes a real struggle and repeated heroics are necessary just to starve of failure. That would be a far better representation of the Stolen Lands... but also too harsh for most players to enjoy; campaigns would fail not because of TPK or loss of interest, but because kingdoms failed. Would that be fun?
In a homebrew where you can simply move on and continue with the characters and see how they deal with such a failure? Absolutely. In fact it is probably more interesting than success. But for a published campaign that's the end.
Perhaps the best analogy is playing a computer game on very easy. You play basically by the same rules, but get so many things stacked in your favor that things can become too easy. Too easy to such a degree that the game would be stupidly boring were it not that it is just the background to the real game, the story of heroes slaying their foes.

First of I have to strongly disagree with xn0o0cl3. This AP is the worst suited for doing away with the XP system, because players can just jump ahead in the story and could end up leveling twice in a session with just minor combat and then not again for twenty more sessions. At the very best you would have very annoyed players.
In addition Kingmaker is supposed to be a Sandbox, so if you simply level them when the plot says, they have a hard time running into anything that's too powerful to deal with. And the other way around is also true; the players should be able to get ahead of the power curve and have an (fairly) easy time; if you add enough to the story that the players are far ahead of where they should be, chances are you have new villains anyway, so the book encounters become less relevant, and the group powering through them becomes desirable.

What XP progression is recommended? That depends on how you run the game. How much XP do you award for role playing? How interested is your group in role playing? How much time do you have? How much stuff will you add to the core the books present? How much will the players be into diplomacy? Into interacting with other kingdoms? How much do they invest in the larger story? What else will you add to flesh out the area and story?
Kingmaker as presented can be described as a solid outline. You can simply follow what's written in the book and have fun, but if you add to the world, get the players to interact beyond where you lead them by the nose, and tailor everything to suit your needs, it becomes a far better experience.

If you run as is, medium track works fine. If your players invest into the world and really use the sandbox to tell their own story and you give them the tools they need, Slow or even slower XP progression works better.

Well, XP are easy. It's a trap, a trap is worth it's CR in XP, no matter how you go around it, pass through it, or how many times you set it off.
The lions, being summoned creatures, have no XP value.

Now, if I were DM, I might give an RP reward, if the scouts blundered into the trap because they acted on their character knowledge alone and set off the trap because there was no way for the characters to know there was a trap. After all, just because the players just saw you fight lions three times does not mean that their characters have any idea what's going on. So that might be worth an award. But simple fighting is not.
On the other hand, the lions might provide a decent testbed for combat tactics after you cleared the area. If there are still coordination problems, a few simple fights might be a good way to straighten them out. Or to test the effectiveness of new feats and class abilities. If presented well in character and handled seriously, I'd give some reward.

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Having the sponsor of the exploration/settlement a sea voyage away would IMHO strengthen the settlement story, however I find it hard to believe that bandits would prosper... at least not until there are numerous minor colonies trading with one another.
Other neighbors of course need to be replaced as well. The barbarians could become natives of some kind, maybe non-human. All back stories should be reworked to account for their rather recent arrival on the continent, assuming the players are among the first pioneers.
Another thing to keep in mind is a much stronger naval theme. With ships being the only connection home and all major settlements in the early year at the cost (and even later still within easy reach from the coast), naval protection, sea monsters, storms, etc will play a more important role.

Stolen Lands:
I'd reskin the Stag Lord into some kind of anarchist/rebel with known leanings towards an evil cult - if possible one that some of the player characters hate.
Oleg's trading post obviously has to become a natural harbor of some kind; I'd also move an eccentric noble there, who pays for the rewards from his own pocket. As the story goes on the party can learn that things aren't as they seem, and the noble might not be a noble at all. It could be an ally, a red herring, or a major villain later on.
I'd also remove any signs of previous work from the Goldmine in SL.

Lonely Barrow should be clearly from an unknown culture.
Owlbear lair probably shouldn't have humans there. Whatever the natives are instead.

Varnhold obviously becomes another colony with its own port. So the city needs to be reworked a bit.
The Centaurs haven't encountered humans at all until recently and conflict comes from the fact they don't like any newcomers. But nothing major would change. Perhaps a few comments about how unusual the weapons seem, strange ornamentation, and so on. Of course they speak no language known...
Simply remove A, B, C

Obviously the Barbarians need to be replaces with natives

This module works worst... Pitax could be another colony or a native empire I guess, but I'm not sure how well it would fit. Or how different from the last module it would be. I'd ignore the plot and find a new idea to drive the story. The tournament just doesn't fir the colonial theme.

Module six needs very little if any modification.

Of course a lot depends on the background that leads to the story; where the continent is, what powers are trying to move there, etc.

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