Andoric - you are right! My mistake, I just assumed the mythic hex would be limited by the number of mythic power uses per day. Well, there you go. It will work out. I have a good group, and we will discuss it if becomes an issue.
Tangent - thanks for the suggestion, but I will try to keep the mythic enemies rare. Just as the PCs are rare.
My players have just turned mythic, and I must admit that I am worried about the "mythic hex" ability. The witch of the group is using the slumber hex to great effect. This has not been a problem so far - the monsters have made their saves a couple of times, and other times the player has been able to shine, as he should.
But the mythic hex automatically works against non-mythic enemies in the first round. And so they will fall down for 1 round, with no save. And it can be used 5 times a day. There are many mini-bosses that will be sleeping, let me tell you :). And then AoE'd while standing up again. Or just coup de grace'd.
And that leaves the mythic, epic fighting. The players should be the shining heroes, but I must admit that I fear the saving throw of
Spoiler:and the end boss.
Clarification: I have tried the suggestion in the last post for rather low-level fights (up to level 6). If a PC puts in money and feats to raise his AC really high in later levels, it would undermine said PC to just raise the attack modifiers of the opposition. The PCs should be allowed to shine in their speciality.
Here's what I have tried lately:
- add one or two enemies to the encounters
- INCREASE the melee and ranged attack modifiers for all the enemies. When the enemies actually hit the PCs with some regularity, the combat gets intense. I change it so that most monsters hit the well-armored PCs with a 10 or better.
I don't follow the rules in this. I decide that the monsters in my game world have nice attack modifiers :). Not everyone's thing, of course. I guess it won't work with players that know their monsters, and question why the attack modifiers are higher than usual.
But our combats have changed from non-exciting walkovers to dynamic fights.
Thank you for the quick response. Also, thanks for a great adventure. We are really enjoying the AP thus far, and Sword of Valor looks amazing.
To the topic at hand. Your suggestion makes a lot of sense, and will work for my players I think. It will serve to highlight their mythic status, and appeal to their sense of duty. It will also be awe-inspiring for them to realize that their characters have to protect the 3rd level paladins.
In short - it will make them feel like the true heroes of the tale. Exactly where they should be.
Regarding the paladin army. I think my players will want to use them outside the mass combat situations. They will roleplay it, and think how their characters would react to having an army as traveling companions.
They will look at the 100 paladins and go "We should bring 10-15 of them when we explore the Lost Chapel over there". And if the camp is attacked during the night, they will probably want to wake up some people :).
I can of course tell them that the army is to be used in mass combat only, but that would be bad for the suspension of disbelief.
My players will probably want to explore things on their own, so they can use their abilities (not the least their shiny new mythic ones). But they will need a plausible in-game excuse to do so. And why they can't put the armor of killed paladins to good use in the fight against demons.
The Lost Chapel can only be reached by making DC 15 Climb checks, if I remember correctly, so that would perhaps serve as explanation for not bringing extra help. And an ambush in the night could highlight the PCs' encounter, while they hear fighting going on elsewhere in the camp.
How would you handle this?
A question of exploration.
My players have just finished the mongrel lair. Next session will begin with the group climbing up to the surface, witnessing the Kenabres devastation.
I'm looking for advice on how to arrange the exploration of the city. Something between the close-up of a dungeon crawl and the bird's eye view of a peaceful town-exploration, where the players indicate where they want to go, and they arrive. Also, I would like to avoid moving minis on a map.
This might be GM-ing 101. Does anyone have a tried and true mechanic for this kind of exploring? Do you use a hexagon map? Is it all in the mind?
A side note: I would like to create an atmosphere where you have to move quietly, and you feel hunted. A Walking Dead sensation, if you will. It would be nice to reverse the chase mechanic, making the enemy the hunter and the PCs the hunted. But that is a thread for another time.
Any and all thoughts are appreciated.
Thanks for the suggestions. +50% number of enemies, max HP, dire rats for the wizard. Check :).
I'm not adverse to scrapping the XP from my game. Less book-keeping, and my players are ok with it. Seems like a good idea to keep them behind the curve from time to time. I will try that out.
Also, good tip about the mythic templates. Dual initiative sounds perfect.
I am getting ready to GM Wrath of the Righteous for six players. Do you have any quick-and-dirty techniques for adapting combat for the extra players? Do you use +50% monsters? More HP? What works best for you?
When I have the time, I will of course calculate XP and CR, adapt tactics and use the environment in my preparations, but sometimes there just isn't enough of it (time, that is). So I am looking for a tried-out quick fix. Is there such a thing?
The first two parts of WotR are looking really really good, by the way. My thanks to the authors.
I'm sure you are right. There are probably other factual errors in my posts above. The examples are meant to illustrate the mindset, nothing else. But I will say this: RAW is the structure that we use to play. It is a tool, not a master.
If the group agrees upon a different interpretation, that is the new rule.
I think this brings up an important point. You cannot be expected to think fast and create a great result all the time. Especially if you play after a long day at work, and the mind is tired beyond belief. Sometimes the ideas won't come. And sometimes the extreme result gets old if you use it over and over.
It is often enough to just picture it as if it was a movie (that helps me), and describe the consequences as if they were important. Even if the octopus just falls down and dies. If there always is a real result, the players will come back for more.
Sorry for the rambling. Here's what I would do, I think.
1. Let the player roll a d20. A high result leads to better things. A low roll leads to worse things. This is because the action is unexpected and maybe involves an element of chance. It also gives me a suggestion of direction, and time to think.
2. Describe what happens before the octopus. The hand gestures, the stillness in the air, the sudden smell of the ocean. Static in the air.
3. Let it land. And let the bandits react. Not with combat actions - that happens in their round. But with shouts or laughter or surprise.
4. Let the octopus die. And describe the stillness afterwards. A lonely crow in the distance?
5. Remember that you have a dead octopus in the middle of the clearing for the rest of the fight.
The result is exactly the same, but the player has effected the world.
You make a good point, Snow. A dark and realistic setting doesn't lend itself very well to giant squids or ninja-esque leaping across barrels. The examples above are taken from my own way of playing, based on the players in my particular group. In another group it could be totally wrong, and break the illusion.
My point is not the crazy stuff, really (although I do so like it), but the mindset of running with player suggestions and avoiding empty dice. Agreeing upon the kind of mood you and your group want in your game, and then make the players' the center of it. And that works equally well in a darker setting. Your players are of course just as creative, in ways that match the mood of your world.
It is not the craziness that is golden, but the player ideas. If someone suggests a PC will spend a few hours looking through the books in the local archive, that is – without any doubt – just as important as a suggestion to make an attack against the goblin lair.
Thanks for the feedback!
Another thing. I wrote about what could happen if the players make bad rolls (or unadvised decisions). The same thing goes for when they do something well, of course. An excellent roll of the dice should always lead to impressive results. Let the players be rewarded for a critical hit. Don't mourn your well thought out monster. There are always more monsters. Describe the result so that the player feels like Aragorn throwing a torch at the ring wraith.
Someone wrote (I think maybe it was the above-mentioned Brian Jamison) that the DM always should look into what the PCs are good at. That's probably what the players want to do in the movie. Give them the chance. Let them excel. And punish them in exciting and fun ways when they fail.
Some time ago I started DMing again. And, filled with the fervor of the newly converted, would like to share some suggestions and insights. Taking the risk of stating the unbelievably obvious to most of you ... Also, taking the risk of sounding like a selfimportant preacher.
These suggestions are not unique - they draw inspiration from other posts on the Paizo messageboards. And from the excellent "Gamemastering" by Brian Jamison:
A long post. Fair warning.
Here's the thing. Most players want to feel that they are part of something epic. A movie. Where their actions influence the world, and where they are in the center of the story. Easy to say, sometimes hard to create.
I try to do it in two ways:
And, connected to this: everyone should listen to everyone else. One speaker at a time. Enforce it.
Example A: You have planned for an encounter in the woods. A company of bandits, say. And the party druid summons a giant octopus in the center of the clearing. Don't say "An octopus? Really? Well ok ... it falls down and dies. Next." Run with the suggestion. This is an opportunity to create a cinematic, glorious scene. Don't raise an eyebrow, just describe the result. Let it be awesome, if at all possible. I guarantee that the players will remember it. And I really don't think they will abuse your leniency, by summoning a giant octopus every time. They want to keep being creative. It's a drug.
Example B: A player decides she/he wants to "jump into the room, over the top of the goblins and land behind the barrels at the back". This should probably not be possible (unless we're talking about a lvl 20 ninja, perhaps). But it is a player impulse, and therefore gold. Let the person try, and don’t punish her/him with instant dismemberment. Let them fail like in a movie. By, for example, crashing into the barrels, thereby pouring wine out over the fire. Filling the room with smoke and alcohol mist. And then roll initiative.
Example A: The PC leans into a room, tries a perception check and rolls a 3. Make up an explanation for it. Smoke in the eyes, afterglow from the recent spell casting. A ringing in the ears from the fighting. Let them see a giant spider, where there is none.
Example B: The PC tries to influence an innkeeper with a diplomacy check. Trying to find some facts about the ruins outside of town. She/he rolls a 1. This doesn’t lead to "the innkeeper doesn’t seem to know anything". It leads to an innkeeper annoyed at the all-too-obvious attempt at sweet talking. And an appropriate consequence that lingers long after the end of the encounter.
Example C: The PC makes a Knowledge: religion check to remember the details about an obscure ritual to please the local river god. She/he rolls a 1. You deliver a made-up, totally wrong answer. The PC seems to remember that the ritual involves the burning of seven different flowers above a waterfall. If the players know about the bad roll (and I think they should), they will know the answer is false. But the PCs will not. And it will lead to interesting things above a waterfall of your choice.
So there it is. It's a mindset if anything. And I can almost guarantee that it will lead to a flood of suggestions, ideas and movie scenes around the table.
Seems to me they do the con damage the same round they hit: touch attack - attach - blood drain.
"When a stirge hits with a touch attack, its barbed legs latch onto the target, anchoring it in place /.../ A stirge drains blood at the end of its turn if it is attached to a foe, inflicting 1 point of Constitution damage."
I hope so. The sheriff came across as a strict and incompetent man. Like a school bully that is in over his head. The PCs have absolutely no trust in his ability to look into the professor's death, and their superior crime-solving skills have made the sheriff lose face in front of his deputies. And so ... he will now recruit additional disgruntled farmhands to handle the "disrupting ELEMENTS in town".
Thus endeth the self-indulgent tale of my own campaign for now. :) If I find the stamina, I will write a campaign summary and post it in the right place.
I can report that the carriage ride went down nicely (mentioned in an earlier post). The PCs introduced themselves, and got a chance to fight against a common enemy right away. Thanks for the suggestion about the stirges, Murphy. It led to some good foreshadowing when they told an old lady in Ravengro, and got the reaction "Ah ... seems like you've attracted the Piper."
Also, the arrival of a beaten up carriage and a dead driver led to some interesting questioning by Benjaen Caeller. Starting the long road of mutual suspicion and loathing between the party and the Ravengro Sheriff's office.
Thanks for the tip. It's a good idea to give the PCs a chance to get to know each other a little bit before the funeral.
A thought: I also want to start the module with an action sequence that binds them together as a group. And set some sort of rural european Dracula mood at the same time.
Someone on these forums suggested a carriage ride, where the PCs are travelling together to reach the funeral in Ravengro.
Again, a wall of text. Thus, a spoiler tag to give people a choice :). Here's what I'm thinking:
A closed carriage with small windows. A driver and some horses in front. The ride gives me an opportunity to describe the land and the setting. "The woods close in on either side of the carriage, barely leaving room to pass. Dry branches snap against the walls, making the horses nervous. The afternoon light does not reach all the way down through the trees. Small clearings of farmland show low cottages, yellow light in the windows. And then more forest. Dark and still, except for the hooves on the hard packed ground."
The PCs will get a chance to describe and introduce themselves. Then something happens to make the horses panic. The PCs don't know what. The driver is gone, and the horses are galloping hard. Everybody rolls initiative. The carriage gets initiative 10. Creative solutions are rewarded. Skills and abilities will be used.
On the carriage's initiative, it will crash into trees (reflex saves), be on the verge of falling over (strength checks to stop it).
The key to this, I think, is to keep it hurried. Each player only has a couple of seconds to decide what to do. Then a fast dice, and a fast outcome.
Example (I apologize for all possible cheeziness here):
GM: The carriage hits something, and is thrown to the left side. X, what do you want to do? You have 3 seconds.
And so on.
Nice touch that Grimburrow exorcised Father Charlatan. Almost makes you feel sorry for the ghost - after all that planning and waiting ... :) I will use the same methods for hurting the haunts as you (clw, positive energy). Will try to increase the creepiness of the haunts by removing the initiative round. All PCs that make the perception roll will have a hurried chance to act. No placing in initiative order. Maybe too chaotic. We will see.
The haunts are a really good storytelling device, as others have said. Looking forward to this.
Thanks for the suggestions, and for the feedback! I like the idea that the mob is keeping the pall-bearers away.
It would be great to use the skin stealer like you suggested. Could be a good finale, especially if the PCs and the Sheriff are heading for a showdown of some kind. And if Mirta has been a visible opponent throughout the adventure. A tense moment when they bring the news (or the body), and the sheriff "just saw her a moment ago". I would have to give the skin stealer some good motivation for doing it, though. My only worry is that it would lessen the effect of the revelations in Trial of the Beast. Maybe I will save the gist of it for that module, and expand the Vorkstag character in more ways there. Skin stealing could lead to some nice paranoia ...
Thanks for the advice concerning the haunts, as well. I like the mechanic, and want them to set the mood for the prison. Did they work out in your game?
I am getting ready to run this for the first time. I have looked through the threads for ideas, and there's A LOT of good stuff. I have made some plans that I would like to share. Maybe they can give ideas to someone else. If you find something that you recognize - let me know, and I will give due credit and apologize sincerely. A long post, and so I have hidden it behind a spoiler tag. And of course - all of these things will change immediately when the PCs decide to burn down the prison, take Kendra prisoner and travel to Korvosa.
The PCs will find Kendra abandoned by the coffin at the entrance to the Restlands. Her hired helpers have not arrived. There are not many guests at the funeral. This will instill some compassion in the party, hopefully. And a sense of isolation in town.
The ceremony will be held at dusk. In my mind, Pharasmic burials show the journey from day to night. It is considered bad luck if the sun disappears before the ritual is complete. The thugs will delay the proceedings, father Grimburrow will be uncomfortable and this will foreshadow the return of the Professor later on.
An adversary in Ravengro
Mirta Straelock will be a strong, visible, outspoken adversary to the PCs. She is on good terms with the sheriff (a small-minded man). Together, they try to hinder the PCs progress. "We cannot have these strangers go stir up evil in the ruins. Let the sleeping ones be left alone."
There will be a confrontation at the end of the module. Mirta Straelock, angry (or perhaps horrified after she has seen the truth): "I have told them. I have told them everything. They know you are coming."
Straelock is not evil. More of a tragic persona.
A worsening mood
Depending on the PCs actions, Gharen Muricar (councilmember) will oppose the sheriff. And make the PCs "marshals of the county" or something. This will be useful in the next module, and motivate their role as defenders and investigators in the trial of the beast.
And, on a side note: As the mood in town grows worse, the PCs will be affected as well. They have to make Will saves to avoid anger management issues. Kind of like a fear effect.
Thanks for sharing these. I like the fact that the PCs are news. Makes perfect sense. Your postings have more of a journalist-feel to them than mine. I will give this some thought.
Nice touch to show underlying conflicts in town via the postings.
And it is absolutely possible my PCs will fly through town as well, not pausing to look at all the nice messages ... :) Ah well.
I would like to use the Ravengro Posting Poles in the Haunting of Harrowstone. To help create the small town atmosphere, and maybe to foreshadow events. Here are three suggestions, misspelled words and all. My plan is to make each posting a lot of short notices, of large and small subjects. Something for the PCs so sift through, ignore or explore. Kind of like a message board. Did anybody else use the Posting Poles for info or handouts? Ideas for text or events?
No 1: Wedding
Council Woman Mirta Straelock oficiator
No 2: Market
Events and special wonders:
And: The BEST PUMPKIN CONTEST, with judges Hearthmount and Muricar
No 3: Death of livestock
Neighbours be adviced
I am planning to GM Carrion Crown in a couple of weeks. I really like the AP, and think the authors have done a brilliant job.
That said, I'm thinking on making some changes to Broken Moon, to make it more claustrophobic. And closer to the horror theme, in my eyes.
I would like to make the Ascanor Lodge/Shudderwood section more of an old-fashioned werewolf story. Where there are not packs of wolves, but only two individual werewolves instead. And one of them now dead, missing a heart. Horrible and powerful. More of the animal and the fury, so to speak. No weapon-wielding.
I'm trying for an isolated-in-a-cabin-in-the-woods-feel to the Ascanor storyline. We will then skip the Stairs of the Moon and move straight to Feldgrau.
Story- and XP-matters aside, here's my question: how would I create a single werewolf powerful enough to challenge a party of six level 7 PCs? What would be its immunities? Attacks? Strategy? It of course depends a lot on the individual PCs abilities, but if you were to paint a general picture? Truly grateful for all help.
First time writing about a specific AP. I guess there's no need for spoiler tags in the GM Reference, but better safe than sorry. Here's something concerning motivations in TotB, and the connection between book 1 and 2. Is this viable?
Other people have pointed out problems with the Wispering way's motivation in the second book. Why would they use the beast to steal the Effigy? It's an elaborate plan. There should be an easier way. Also: the link between book 1 and 2 seems a bit weak for the PCs.
I have not filled in all the blanks here. Maybe it is too complicated to work. Hoping for some feedback from the experts at the forum. Here goes:
I'm planning to cast Vrood as the BBEG throughout the campaign, as has been suggested elsewhere here in the forums. Vrood will be introduced in book 1, as an old friend of the professor. Like the Xavier/Magneto relationship that also has been suggested. He doesn't fear the PCs. Of course not. Maybe they can be unknowing assets later on? Maybe Kendra or one of the PCs is a descendant to the Lich King? Maybe he actually thinks he is doing something right, in a deluded kind of way? I will think more on this.
The PCs impress him with their prison-clearing skills. He keeps tabs on them, watches from afar. After the events in Harrowstone, he invites them to come to Lepidstadt. Why? Because ...
The Seasage Effigy is not in a museum. It is in the house of Count Caromarc. The Wispering way has caught the count, but cannot get to the Effigy. Since it is guarded by the Abberant Promethean. They need the Beast.
The Beast has been arrested without WW interference. For instance after the events in Hergstag. Maybe he "shuts down" after the death of Ellsa, not putting up any resistance. So that the villagers chain him down and deliver him to the authorities. (Too scared or unable to kill him themselves.) Vrood asks the PCs to do the groundwork. He wants to keep the wispering way in the shadows, and so doesn’t break the beast out of jail himself. If it is too strange that the professor's old friend is interested in the trial, maybe he introduces them to the judge, since they need more work. Out of the kindness of his heart.
The trial plays out as written. When the beast leaves the jail, he runs home to the castle, where the Wispering way is waiting with the control device. They kill the Promethean, and leave with the Effigy.
It's a different take on the situation. Unfortunately, it takes away the situation where the PCs get to control the beast (this might be a disappointment). And it doesn’t answer the question why the PCs go to the castle after the trial. But it ties the two books together I think, and helps with the WW motivation.
Thank you for taking the time to write. I assure you that I take the skill advice seriously - I am new to the game and have a lot of respect for the experienced players. The low intelligence is something I have decided to work in even though it hurts the build. But I play a human, and will take the +1 skill point when I level. So that makes the skill situation a bit better.
Also - the game we are playing is kind of stripped down. There are no traits allowed. Just the basic feats, skills and domains.
Thanks for the tip about luck domain. This is something I will look into if I make another cleric. This character follows Cayden though, so that domain is not an option.
I really like your take on the "clueless" character following (= helping) other people's ideas. It makes sense. I will try to work it in.
Thanks for the input. Good point with the skills, but I have already introduced myself in the campaign as kind of clueless :). The low intelligence will be its own RP challenge.
I will definitely take Combat Casting. And maybe rethink my rapier-approach for the long run. I guess it would be a good idea to discuss with the other cleric in the group as well. One of us can focus on buffing, and the other on inflicting.
I hope for your expertise with my cleric build. I want to focus on the roleplaying, not min-maxing. Still, I hope to be of use. And be able to survive. I don’t mind buffing and healing, but will also get up close with the trusted rapier. My background fits with leather armor. The group has two fighters, another cleric (!), a mage and a rogue.
So. I’m thinking a dexterity build, with the following stats, feats and spells on level 2 (I’m human, and we only use the core rulebook):
Stats: Str 12, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 9, Wis 16, Cha 12
Feats: Weapon Finesse, Dodge (to be followed by Mobility at level 3 – I hope to dash in-dash out with buffs, healing and pinpricks)
Domains: Travel and Strength (the last one for RP-purposes: Cayden Cailean will push me towards strength for whatever strange divine reason)
0-level spells: Guidance, Light, Stabilize, Detect Magic
Is this at all viable? And where should I go from here? Thankful for all advice.