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The current campaign I'm running is gonna wrap up soon, so I've started planning for the next one. One of my players has said that he wants to be an assassin.
Now, I've used assassins quite effectively as NPCs, but NPCs generally only need to be good for one or two encounters, so they've always been useful that way, but as I'm looking at the class as a playable PrC . . .
Yeah, it doesn't look very useful. It's primary gain is the death attack, but the DC for it is going to be significantly lower than the fortitude saves of many level appropriate monsters and needing to watch an opponent for 3 rounds beforehand takes you out of the fight for a long time unless you're sneaking up on a solo enemy outside of combat. Add to this, you give up a lot of extremely useful rogue abilities in exchange for that death attack, especially if you go by the unchained rules (which I do, because why wouldn't I?).
Am I reading this right? Also, if I am, what would people suggest as viable alternatives?


So, this goes along with something else I'm preparing. I'll spare you the full details, but I've decided to have the final boss of a tomb have an enslaved genie at his command. He mainly just uses the genie to perform menial tasks and make sure all of his deadly traps are functioning properly, but in the final fight, when the players get really pressed, he might panic and risk making wishes to try and help himself.
He's loathe to do so, though, because the genie does not appreciate its servitude and will screw around with his wishes. The idea is that the wishes will help him some, but not much. Here are some ideas I've come up with.

“I wish these intruders were not here!”

The genie grants this by teleporting the players back into the hallway. It takes them 1-2 rounds to get back, depending on how quickly they move. This gives the boss a little time to heal himself and then he's surprised when they show up again.

“I wish that I and my servants were at full strength again!”

The genie grants this, reviving any slain bodyguards, but also resets them to their normal full strength. This heals them to full HP and restores all of the boss spells, but undoes all the spell protections he cast on himself, meaning he has to cast them all again or risk fighting without them. He's extremely vulnerable without his spell protections, so this is more likely than not only going to delay the inevitable.

“I wish these intruders were not so dangerous!”

The genie grants this by creating a mass reduce person effect. They are technically less dangerous, though it helps very little.

"I wish these intruders could not harm me!"

He only makes this if he gets extremely desperate and it will not be the first wish he attempts and I'll let him make an intelligence roll to realize the mistake before he does. The genie will grant this by turning him into a statue made of adamantite.

So, posing this to the community here: does anybody here have other ideas of wishes a panicked bad guy might make if pressed and ways the genie might muck them up?


Okay, I found some ideas I like. A third puzzle is a room where the players have to walk a path between four statues that point towards a specific tile to reach a key. An inscription reads "To reach the key, you must let yourself be judged. Woe unto he who's beauty lacks."
Anyone with a charisma score lower than 16 (most of them) who tries to cross the path is struck by four consecutive enervation traps when they cross the tile the statues all point to. As a twist, though, once you get the key, you have to walk back through the statues again, but whoever picks up the key is struck by a bestow curse trap (-6 to charisma).
And for the other, there is a series of tiles on the floor, each with different glyphs of warding of varying levels. The glyphs contain spells that range from Inflict Minor Wounds to Energy Drain. To get the key, they have to pick out the path that does the least amount of damage to them.
To make sure the players follow the rules, the tomb has a curator - an enslaved genie - who makes sure they don't do things like fly or teleport across, or try to dispel or disarm the traps. That said, the genie is enslaved and therefore not happy about this, so if they come up with a really clever workaround solution that doesn't involve an obvious cheat, the genie will totally let them do it, obeying the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law.

Yeah, these are kind of unfair, but this is an high level party that will include both a cleric and a paladin, so they're good for healing and the puzzles are intended to weaken the players so the lich doesn't have to fight intruders at full strength. And the one thing the puzzles mainly have in common is that they'll do spells that the lich is immune to (negative energy or energy drain), or produce enemies that he can easily command (low level undead), so if he ever has to do his own puzzles for some reason, he himself is under no real threat.


Quixote wrote:
Stuff

Searching online, I found two that I like. One is a room with a mirror that has a riddle engraved on it saying "Use your head to paint me red, inside of thee, you'll find the key."

Coating the mirror in blood causes the mirror to disgorge a duplicate of the person who's blood coats the mirror that attacks them. After killing the duplicate, they have to cut open the corpse to find the key.

The second is a sliding block puzzle that takes a minimum of 10 rounds to solve and simply requires a DC 10 intelligence check each round to determine the correct way to slide the block. The problem is that the puzzle is only raised up when a platform hanging form a chain is weighted down with the equivalent weight of four adult humans. Also, once the platform has been so weighted down, four sarcophagi open and spawn mummies that either try to push people off the platform, or attack the person solving the puzzle. The mummies are weak, but each time a mummy is killed, it respawns in its sarcophagus, and the person solving the riddle must take a full-round action making the intelligence check and then moving the block, meaning they can't take part in the fight. This continues as long as the platform is lowered. The mummies disappear as soon as the platform raises back up. So the players have to weight down the platform (either using their own body, or the equivalent weight in objects) while also protecting the person solving the puzzle.

Those feel right for this kind of place. I still need two more though.


So, my players are finally at high enough level to face the Big Bad lich that's been the main bad guy of the campaign since very early on. But I've hit a bit of a snag.
The lich is hiding out in a tomb from ancient Nethyr (an Ancient Egypt expy). The Nethyrese are known for filling their tombs with deadly traps and puzzles.
But I'm kinda bad at coming up with puzzles. Part of advancing past the first level of the tomb requires them to find four keys and I want each key to be protected by a puzzle that they have to solve.
Anybody got any ideas?


blahpers wrote:

adviceadviceadvice

Lots of good advice there.

For telegraphing its' power, like I said I've been hyping this thing up for months. It was still early winter when I first started dropping hints. The first time they heard of it, they heard of the Wendigo, which the northern tribesmen talked about constantly with pure dread, talking about how they can turn you into them by driving you insane, how their howl fills you with fear (the PCs know that fear is one of it's most powerful weapons, so the cleric will probably prepare lots of anti-fear and will save buff spells). They also listened in while the shaman told of a Great Wendigo that was responsible for the ice age until they found the rituals needed to drive it all the way back to the polar north. They talked about this thing as being similar to the wendigos, but MUCH BIGGER and MEANER. For size, I described how some people have seen it peaking out over the polar mountains on cold nights (specifically evoking the image of the abominable snow monster from that old Rankin-Bass special), so they've got an idea of its size.
Then I had the mage stumble on a book specifically about this creature (how he found the ritual that can make them invisible to it). So, he knows the specifics of its major powers (it's spell-like abilities are still a mystery, but it's not a huge leap in logic to think "tons of ice related spells").
They also suspect it will be vulnerable to fire, so they've bought lots of fire-related equipment. The rogue in particular has a flaming burst longbow, and the monk got a special ability from a prestige class that lets him use ki to breath fire as a ranged touch attack. They'll have plenty of time to figure out that fire will make it drop a player if grabs someone.
The halfling cleric with the protection domain has the most absurd will save for her level (+21 against fear before she applies buffs from her spells), so she's almost guaranteed to save against its fear. The monk is immune to fear, so he'll only get shaken instead of panicked (great old one's fear can partially overcome immunity), so that's one character to grab a player who does panic, and another to cast remove fear. That means she'll be able to cure them if they do move fast enough to find them (I've made sure it's doable, they just can't delay).
And even if it does carry someone off, I've left clues for them to find that will lead them to people who will be able to guess where Ithaqua will most likely drop them off, so if they hurry, they can find the players before the wendigo psychosis destroys them.
They are, I think, about as prepared as they can reasonably expect to be.

Although, "devourer of giants" does give me an idea. They could find a half-eaten giant corpse discarded somewhere to give them a sense of what they're dealing with. Especially when they see the bite marks are so big they suggest the beast's mouth is almost as large as the giant's upper torso.

The chance of killing it is minimal, as this thing's CR is 10 above their level, but I do have a win condition planned. Of course, Ithaqua, like all great old ones, is immortal, so it won't die, but if they do by some miracle manage to reduce it to 0 HP, it will become inactive for 1d4 weeks, giving them lots of time to explore without fear. That's a super longshot, though. Mostly, if it comes to combat, the best they can get is doing 200 HP of damage and making it decide it's not worth the bother.


So, this weekend, I'm going to run an encounter like I never have before.
The set-up is that the players are going into the polar mountains searching for the only known gate to Leng. There are no known maps of the region, so they're going in blind. I'm using that as bait to get them to go into this abandoned cabin they find. The cabin once belonged to some people who got trapped there, but they were since driven mad by the Wendigo that haunt the area. There are indeed maps, so they'll get what they want, but the place is a trap. It's haunted by lingering memories of the horrible crimes committed there as its residents went slowly mad, which will slowly increase in intensity, though they'll start mostly harmless and easy to resist.
The final confrontation will be that Ithaqua (the Great Old One) will be drawn there. There's no chance in hell that they'll be able to defeat Ithaqua, I'm aiming for this to be a survival encounter. In their preparations, the mage in the party managed to find a ritual that involves using a bonfire and some mystic incantations to make anyone who stays in the light of the fire invisible to Ithaqua and its followers. However, Ithaqua already knows that they're there and it will trap them in the cabin with a massive blizzard.
The progression of events that I've got planned is that the blizzard and hearing it howl from a distance (I'm basically using a gargantuan advanced wendigo with more spell-like abilities for Ithaqua's stats), signalling that they have an hour to prepare for its arrival. It will start by basically stalking around the cabin at first, then start breaking down doors and windows to peak in to look for them. If it doesn't find them, it will try to use it's howl to panic them and force them to flee the cabin. If they run out of the light of the protective ritual, it might see them and snatch them up and try to prove their minds to find out who they are and what they want. If they can't do enough damage to make it drop the character before it finishes, it will carry them off to some other location before returning.
The two ways of escaping this encounter are a) doing 200 HP worth of damage (but with epic damage reduction, ridiculous spell resistance and regeneration, that's going to be difficult), or b) finding the root of the haunt (the spot where the first murder happened) and cleansing it, thus breaking the wendigo's ties to the area, or c) simply surviving long enough that Ithaqua decides it's no worth the bother and leaving.
They'll have a cleric in the party who can buff them to resist fear, so they'll have a chance of saving against the howls and I'm going to play the monster as being contemplatively slow in the process of destroying the players. It could destroy them in an instant, but it knows they're not any danger, so it will take its time to find out what it can about them before deciding what to do with them. Doing any fire damage to the beast will surprise it enough to make it drop characters, so they'll be capable of rescuing people who get snatched up.

That said, this beast is . . . well, a beast. It's a CR 25 creature as I've built it and it's only because of the ritual I've given them that they even stand a chance of surviving. The idea is to basically scare the s%~! out of them with the threat of complete annihilation, while leaving them some opportunities to have some potentially heroic moments. I've been building up Ithaqua (calling it the Great Wendigo) for months now and I think I've got them well-aware that this is not a creature they have the slightest hope of killing, so surviving this encounter is down to how clever their preparations are, how thoroughly they explore the cabin to find out what happened there, with a bit of luck on the saves against fear (boosted by the cleric's buff spells) and quick action to save those who fail.
But something like this could go really out of hand if I do something that gives the players the impression that they actually could defeat it (it's got around 600 HP on top of everything else, that's pretty impossible).

So, just thought I'd check and see if anyone here's run an encounter like this, how it went and if they've got any advice on how to run it.


So, the sorcerer in the party just leveled up to 15 and gains this ability: https://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/core-classes/sorcerer/bloodlines/bloodline s-from-paizo/undead-bloodline/
The page indicates that in the incorporeal form, he takes only half damage from physical sources if they're magical, including spells, but it says that non-damaging spells function normally. However, it says that they gain the incorporeal subtype and the subtype says that spells and effects that do not do damage have only a 50% chance of working.
So, how would you rule? Should I go with the 50% rule of the subtype, or the specific wording of the ability?


Working up stuff for the next series of adventures (going to Leng). There will first be a section of going through the polar mountains. Naturally, wendigos are a problem.
However, I wanted something a little more like the actual wendigo legends. So, I'm basically treating the wendigo in the bestiary as a greater form (an alien being that came down from the stars with Ithaqua). Only ithaqua itself can create true wendigo. People who are overcome by wendigo psychosis from other wendigo instead become lesser wendigo.

Senses: The creature gains darkvision 60 ft.

Defensive Abilities: Immune to cold. The creature gains damage reduction, Spell Resistance and regeneration as noted bellow
1-4 HD: no DR or SR, Regeneration 5 (fire); 5-10 HD: 5/cold iron, SR=CR+5 regeneration 5 (fire); 11+ HD: 10/cold iron, SR=CR+10, regeneration 10 (fire);
Vulnerability to fire

Stats: The lesser wendigo gains +2 to Str and Con.

Spell-Like abilities: The lesser wendigo can use wind-walk 3/day.

Attacks: Wendigos gain a gore attack appropriate for their size.

Monster Affinity: A lesser wendigo gains an affinity for monsters that worship or serve ithaqua, including Gnoph-Keh, other wendigo, and cultists. Such creatures will not attack it. Lesser wendigo may choose assist such monsters in their goals, and vice-versa.

Ice-walking: Lesser wendigo are never hampered by snow or ice.

Sunlight Powerlessness: When standing in direct sunlight, a lesser wendigo reverts to its original form, losing all of its wendigo powers. Most lesser wendigo take sills in bluff to befriend people during the daylight hours, leading them back to their lairs to be devoured at their convenience.

Lesser wendigos retain all class abilities from their former life and memories, but their personalities undergo radical change, causing them to become chaotic evil and hunger for the flesh of their former humanoid type.

Challenge Rating: +1 if bellow 4 HD, +2 if 5+ HD.

Not entirely sure on the CR increase.


avr wrote:
That curse is a 6th level effect, right? Or so my reverse engineering suggests. Since a bunch of spellcasters worshiping him can cast it it might be worth mentioning this somewhere.

Yes, I did put the curse as a 6th level spell. I didn't take the time to work out the full, formatted spell entry, though; I usually don't when I'm just making stuff for myself.


TheGreatWot wrote:
If the party knows what they're up against, they won't fall victim to the panic effect (or will likely have some way to mitigate it). If you have a paladin in the party, they might not fail their saves at all, and the paladin definitely won't be panicked. My current party has a paladin, so I'm always wary of adding big fear effects.

The party includes a Monk, a sorcerer with an undead bloodline, a cleric of Corellon with Protection and Azata domains, and then they could hire 1 or 2 NPC hirelings to round out the party. The hirelings include a rogue/spymaster, a bard/duelist, and a paladin. I don't know which characters they may bring along, but they always have at least one along so the party is full, choosing a hireling based on what they think will best fit the situation.

Okay, for spells, maybe Hold Monster and Charm Monster 3/day, Dominate Person and Horrid Wilting 1/day? That'll give it some power to disrupt party dynamics by turning the party against itself. And Horrid Wilting is devastating, considering the avatar casts spells at 20th level.

Also, in this encounter, Chaugnar Faugn is going to have a small village of degenerate halflings worshiping it. As soon as Chaugnar Faugn becomes active, they'll be subject to its aura and will begin following its instructions. That includes the women and children, who, while not a threat as individuals, can create a wall of bodies working together to disrupt the players and create the moral dilemma of do we/don't we kill women and children?


TheGreatWot wrote:
His damage, AC, and hp are really low for CR 16. That grapple strategy won't mitigate this- it'll actually make him weaker by lowering his AC even more. Draining temporary hp will boost his hp, but if he's spending every turn maintaining a grapple, he won't be doing much else and he'll still drop quickly.

Even with 10 points of fast healing and epic damage reduction reducing all hits by 5? (DR 10 seemed a bit much since none of them are going to have epic weapons at this point). Plus, some members of the party have a good chance of panicking and fleeing for the first 2d6 rounds and after that, everybody is at -2 to all rolls (which doesn't seem like a lot, but I find every little bit adds up and it drastically reduces the chance that secondary attacks will hit - tertiary attacks generally only matter for the chance of critical hits against creatures of this level).

I'm a bit out of my depth here, as most of my campaigns don't usually get this high level before we wrap up - the prep time for high level campaigns is absurd and we all have jobs, you know? I can easily bump up the AC (the natural armor of most great old ones is closer to +15, so it's not unreasonable that I could raise it). And increasing his hit points is a simple matter of raising Con.

Artofregicide wrote:


I don't think the CON drain should have a save. It's basically the Chaugnar Faugn Avatar's primary attack. It's brutal but against a party of high level PCs it means the Avatar actually poses a serious threat.

I suppose that's true.

Artofregicide wrote:
Would it make more sense to measure the sacrifices to awaken the Avatar in HD not CON?

Probably.

Artofregicide wrote:
This might not fit the fiction Chaugnar Faugn was based on, but the Avatar really could use some more offensive SLAS especially since they can't fly and at this point the PCs almost certainly can. Or at least some way of dealing with that. Also the create pit line of spells are going to be a problem.

He still has tons of skill points left for me to give him. I could give him climb. From what I was reading about him (can't find the original story anywhere), he mostly was a weirdly persuasive deity who talked individuals into doing his bidding, but disguised himself as a statue so that most people didn't know what he really was. He then was mainly active at night, when people were mostly sleeping. In fact, part of how he was defeated in the story was that his weight caused him to sink into the mud on a beach and he couldn't get out fast enough.

What kind of spells would you recommend?


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So, my players will soon be going to Leng. They've got one more quest they're finishing up tonight and then after that, it's moving into endgame. They're going Leng because one of the players has become obsessed with it (at this point, I'm ruling behind the scenes that he's thought about it so much that he's attracted the attention of Nyarlathotep and it's planted a suggestion in his brain that he's coming there). He's justifying it by using a prophecy that they will find the phylactery of the Lich who's been the running villain of this campaign "in a place none living remember." So, he's thinking they need to ask someone who's not living and has decided that means that they should talk to the ghouls of Leng. The other players' characters aren't so sure this is the correct approach, but they know that the sorcerer is going to go to Leng either way because of his obsession and they're basically going along to try and keep him out of trouble.
Rambling a bit, sorry.

One of the encounters that I've had set up is that they're going to run into a village near the entrance to Leng where the people there worship Chaugnar Faugn. From what I understand of my research, Chaugnar Faugn is a lesser great old one (he was actually defeated in the book where he was created - true, by some b@!*##@$ sci-fi tech that reversed entropy, but he was still defeated). But it was also made clear that Chaugnar Faugn had dozens of copies of himself all around the world and each was linked together, so I'm treating Chaugnar Faugn's physical representations of himself as avatars - a bit like Nyaralthotep, except that each avatar is the same instead of a different form. This means that each avatar is significantly less powerful than the rest of the great old ones, but his spirit, which holds the greater amount of his power, is basically unreachable by normal means. There character's are going to be either level 15 or 16 by the time they get there.

There's no entry for this old one that I can find (I find it a bit funny that the entries contain a really obscure one like Ran Tegoth, but don't have some of the more well-known ones, but whatever). So, I made my own. I want a few suggestions on where I should put his CR. Once I've got that set, I can adjust his stats to account for whatever level the players are at when they reach him.

Some notes, his HP and AC might be a little low for what I've currently listed his CR at, but I figure this is counter-balanced by his primary attack strategy to be grapple/pin (using the greater grapple feat) and then drain his victims, which gives him temporary HP, so his actual hit points can go up on top of having his other defensive abilities. Plus, there's that unspeakable presence that leaves people shaken if they make their save, panicked if they don't. Anyway, here are the stats

Avatar of Chaugnar Faugn CR 16
XP: 76,800

CE Large Outsider (Chaotic, Evil, Great-Old-One)

Init: +12;
Senses: darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, tremorsense 120 ft, true seeing; Perception +26

Aura: unspeakable presence (300 ft., DC 24)

DEFENSE
AC: 29, touch 14, flat-footed 27 (+2 Dex, +10 insight, +8 natural, –1 size)

hp: 202 (15d10+105); fast healing 10

Fort +19, Ref +10, Will +18

Defensive Abilities: immortality; DR 5/epic and lawful; Immune ability damage, ability drain, aging, cold, death effects, disease, energy drain, mind-affecting effects, paralysis, petrification, poison; Resist fire 15, electricity 15; SR 26

OFFENSE
Speed: 30 ft.

Melee: 2 Slams +25 (1d8+10)

Space: 10 ft.; Reach: 10 ft.

Special Attacks: drain, blessing of Chaugnar Faugn


Spell-Like Abilities (CL 20th; concentration +29)
Constant—freedom of movement, true seeing

At will—dream, greater dispel magic, nightmare (DC 20), scry

3/day—feeblemind (DC 20), suggestion (DC 17),

1/day— curse of Chaugnar Faugn (DC 21), Geas

STATISTICS
Str 30, Dex 15, Con 25, Int 24, Wis 26, Cha 20

Base Atk +15; CMB +26 (+28 bull rush, +30 grapple); CMD 38 (40 vs bull rush 42 vs. grapple)

Feats: Improved Grapple, Greater Grapple, Improved Natural Attack (slam), Power Attack, Improved Bull Rush, Awesome Blow, Toughness, Great Fortitude

Skills: Bluff +23, Diplomacy +23, Intimidate +23, K(arcana, History planes) +25, Perception +26, Sense Motive +26

Languages: Aklo; telepathy 300 ft.

SQ: otherworldly insight

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Drain (Su)
If Chaugnar Faugn pins a foe, he latches onto the foe with the lamprey-mouth on the end of his trunk. This attack deals 1d4 points of Con drain each round. Every point of constitution that Chaugnar Faugn drain grants him 1d10+8 temporary hit points.
This drain can be negated with a DC 25 Fortitude save.

Blessing of Chaugnar Faugn (Su)
At will, Chaugnar Faugn can designate any of his clerics to be blessed by his spirit. This blessing grants one half his charisma and wisdom bonus to his chosen cleric’s ability scores. This blessing causes a hideous transformation to take place. The nose extends into a small trunk, while the ears flare out, causing them to resemble the great old one. Chaugnar Faugn’s clerics usually cover these deformities if they have need to hide their true nature.
Chaugnar Faugn’s blessing is permanent and irreversible. If someone who has ever received Chaugnar Faugn’s blessing should betray the great old one, they instantly die of a heart attack. There is no save against this death effect.

Immortality (Ex)
Chaugnar Faugn is immortal and his essence exists in the far reaches of space. The statue forms he inhabits on any given planet are merely extensions of himself. If any avatar is reduced to 0 HP, that form immediately begins to deliquesce into a viscous, silvery, foul-smelling slime that remains behind for 1 hour. If a sacrifice to Chaugnar Faugn is made in the presence of this slime, that avatar immediately reforms, but remains in a dormant state for 1d100 years. Further sacrifices made in the presence of this avatar reduce this duration by 1 year per 10 Con worth of creatures sacrificed.
If a sacrifice is not made within an hour after the avatar’s destruction, then this slime evaporates, leaving behind no trace.

Unspeakable Presence (Su)
When Chaugnar Faugn opens his eyes, all within 300 feet of him are subject to his unspeakable presence. Failing a DC 24 Will save against Chaugnar Faugn’s unspeakable presence fills the victim with overpowering awe and dread. Creatures inclined to worship such a being immediately fall prostrate and await his instructions. Such creatures are usually drained unless Chaugnar Faugn has some particular use for them. Beings who have been affected by his unspeakable presence in this manner offer no resistance as he drains them.
Those not inclined to worship panic and flee for a minimum of 2d6 rounds. Thereafter, they continue to be shaken for 24 hours. Those who succeed, or who are normally immune to fear, instead are simply shaken for as long as they remain in Chaugnar Faugn’s unspeakable presence.

Curse of Chaugnar Faugn
When this spell is cast, it forms a psychic link between Chaugnar Faugn and the target. Succeeding a will save breaks this link; otherwise, Chaugnar Faugn becomes able to use his nightmare ability on the target regardless of distance. While under the effects of this curse, the target does not get saves to resist these intrusions. After one night per point of wisdom that the target has, these dreams begin having terrible suggestions implanted in them, ordering the victim to travel to Chaugnar Faugn’s nearest avatar and offer himself up as a sacrifice. This is treated as if it were his suggestion spell, although it allows the great old one to bypass the usual restriction against ordering targets to do harmful things, and only suggests they offer themselves to him. If traveling to Chaugnar Faugn’s avatar takes more than one week, they get to make another will save to shake it off.
This spell continues in this manner until the victim has successfully resisted three consecutive suggestions. Chaugnar Faugn can teach this spell to his worshipers; however, it is a secret spell which they are forbidden to write down. Attempts to create scrolls of this spell automatically fail. If Chaugnar Faugn’s worshiper is a caster who prepares spells, then they can prepare this spell without a spellbook, as if they had the Spell Mastery feat.


Awun wrote:
stuff

A lot of these are decent suggestions I could go with.

Poison Magic - I could in theory just bump the beast's charisma score to make its spell-like ability viable that way, but I like the idea that it's injecting spells through its poison rather than casting them. What if I added the spell-effect working like a poison in that it could also be cured by "Remove Poison" or a magical/alchemical antidote and that bonuses against poison apply to the save? I was already thinking of adding that anyway, but since I'm finally getting some discussion on that, I guess I can ask what people think of that.

Familiar and Natural Invisibility - The balance point is one I've been thinking on. I don't know why I didn't add in the point about the familiar being caster level -5. It's how I factored it when I actually made an NPC with this. Maybe I was assuming it worked that way automatically? I don't know.

As for invisibility as an at will power, I guess that could work. I was thinking of these things as spirits. I went with natural invisibility on the idea that it's visible only on its terms. To go with an at-will power means it has to keep casting on itself, which it would have to do because in the setting, it is hugely illegal to create these beasts (penalty of death). I suppose we could just consider that part of the risk of having one within the setting.

As for the imbue with spell ability, I suppose it's like that. I just liked the idea that caster could change what spell power it's 1/week ability was at high enough level. Giving you an option to tailor your beast to your liking.

And I did suggest in a later post I could change it so the familiar selection was limited to one of the 5 noxious beasts (scorpion, spider, snake, toad, centipede) at the first-6th level.

Black Spellcasting - Yeah, see this is the one that's the most bothersome. I didn't want to have to come up with a new spell list (because that's super tedious work), but I can't seem to come up with something that fits what I have in mind that ISN'T too subjective. I mean, it's fine if the only ones doing it are NPCs, because I just pick to prepare spells that I want them to have, but my players are liking the whole fantasy China setting and want to do their next campaign there, so they may have playing this class as an option. So, now I gotta come up with something that's clear.

Frankly, I'm stumped. I like the idea of the class being heavily focused on magic that harms, but no matter what way of wording it I come up with, it just leaves too many problems. And the extra harmful spell per level does not seem to counterbalance them having to expend two extra slots to prepare a helpful spell, even if you could find a clear way to word it.

What other possibilities do we have? I've already been altering the material components required for the spells to all be centered around poisons extracted from plants an animals, but that's just flavor, not mechanics.

You suggest limited spontaneous casting. Something like that might work, but how to frame it?

How about this as an idea? Instead of black spellcasting, we call it Poison Spellcasting. The caster is drawing their magic from poisons, so they are able to spontaneously convert prepared spell energies back into poisons. They can sacrifice a prepared spell to instead cast a version of the poison spell as a touch attack. The save DC is treated as a spell of the level sacrificed, but is otherwise identical to the poison spell.

But then, what's the trade-off?


Joynt Jezebel wrote:
Stuff

Well, I suppose I could change the familiar restriction to just one of the five noxious animals (toad, snake, scorpion, spider, centipede) at the first level, so it mechanically works better with the improved familiar feat.

You say you shouldn't have to be evil and I don't technically require that for the archetype, but the style of magic is very suggestive of others. Part of the style of magic involves the torture of living creatures just for your own benefit, and it's all about using poisons to harm others. You could, in theory, be neutral and still qualify (though it's hard to justify a good caster being willing to do this sort of stuff), but there's definitely a strong tendency towards one direction on the good/evil axis.


I keep bumping this thread, but now that I've actually finished building a character out of this, the witch spell list is way more restrictive with this build than I thought. So, the spell list needs reworking a bit for it. For starters, gonna add some more illusions - major image and programmed image for one. For a style of magic that's supposed to be strong in causing hallucinations, it needs more illusions. When I get more time, I'll have to sit down and go over all the spell lists and see what else to add that looks good. I'll be playtesting this class as the NPC who's got the maps and notes the characters are looking for as a part of their main quest, so we'll see just how well it plays then.
If anybody else has any suggestions, I'm still open.


Making some changes again, I think. Natural Invisibililty is a hell of a thing, so I'm gonna bump the wugu beast familiar up to 6th level.

Wugu witches still prepare spells as normal for witches, but since they don't get their familiar until sixth level, I should explain that their studies of poisons and the will to use them for evil magic draws the evil spirits that become wugu beasts, who teach the witch spells until they become powerful enough to actually create the familiar body for them. Also, I'm going to specify that the spell you can cast into the familiar to change its once a week spell-like ability must be of a level three below the highest level you can cast.

Also, for black spellcasting, I'm going to specify that "Helpful spells," which require two spell-slots to prepare, means any spell that heals damage, removes negative conditions, or that grants a numerical stat bonus to them in some way. "Harmful spells" for the bonus spell-slot are the opposite, causing damage, bestowing negative conditions, or imposing numerical stat penalties. Spells that don't do either of these things are neutral and don't count either way.


Thinking I might need to reword the Black Spellcasting thing a bit. "in any way helps" is waaaaaaaaaay too vague and restrictive. Maybe I should just leave it at healing and buffing? As in healing damage or granting statistical bonuses? I don't want to take away the ability to use divination spells (because divination is all over every kind of Chinese folk magic), and there are plenty of witch spells that don't heal or buff, but are just general utility (Like message, or spells with similar effects). If anybody can help me come up with some more specific guidelines, that'd be great. I still want this variant to be extremely focused on causing harm over doing anything helpful, because it's POISON magic.


My players are on the way to Fantasy China as part of their current main quest - I may have mentioned this in other threads. While looking up some details on Chinese culture, folklore and mythology for world building purposes, I came across their folk magic. One specific type of magic is Wugu - poison magic. It's a form of black magic focused on deception, curses, causing hallucinations and confusion, and harming others. Thought I'd make some stuff around it.

If anybody wants to offer some advice - specifically on the archetype, feel free.

Wugu Beast
CR 6
XP 2,400

NE diminutive outsider (evil, native)

Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., detect good, detect magic; Perception +7

DEFENSE
AC 18, touch 18, flat-footed 14 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge, +4 size)

hp 30 (4d10+8);

Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +1

Defensive Abilities DR 5/good or jade; Immune Acid, poison; Resist fire 10, cold 10; Natural Invisibility

OFFENSE
Speed 5 ft., fly 50 ft. (perfect)

Melee sting or bite +11 (1d4-3 plus poison)

Space 1 ft.; Reach 0 ft.

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 7th, Concentration +9)
Constant—detect good, detect magic

1/day—augury

1/week—bestow curse (16)

STATISTICS
Str 4, Dex 17, Con 14, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 4

Base Atk +4; CMB -7; CMD 18

Feats Dodge, Weapon Finesse (sting or bite), Improved Natural Attack (sting or bite)

Skills Fly +11, Knowledge (arcana) +5, Knowledge (planes) +5, Perception +7, Sense Motive +7, Stealth +18; Racial Modifiers Fly +8, Stealth +12

Languages Common (cannot speak)
SQ Poison Magic

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Poison (Ex)
Sting—injury; save Fort DC 16; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d2 con; cure 1 save. The save DC is Constitution-based, and includes a +2 racial bonus.
At its option, a wugu beast can forgo using its normal poison and instead use its bestow curse spell like ability.

Natural Invisibility (Su)
A wugu beast remains invisible even while attacking. This ability is constant, but the wugu beast can suppress it as a free action.

Poison Magic (Su)
A wugu beasts’s powers come from the poison it absorbs from its grisley feeding. Its primary spellcasting score is constitution and it must sting someone to inject a spell it casts into them.

Familiar Service
Wugu beasts are created through a year-long evil ritual. A caster wishing to summon one must gather one each of the five noxious animals (toad, scorpion, centipede, spider, snake) and put them into a sealed wicker basket until all but one of the animals has been killed and devoured. Once only one of the animals remains, the caster must gather 4 more of the noxious animals (one each of the types that did not survive) and add them to the basket again. This process must be repeated for a year. Once this has been completed, the caster performs the familiar summoning ritual as normal, transforming the final surviving animal into a wugu beast.

Wugu beasts are evil spirits of poison and corruption created by evil spellcasters. It takes a form that is an amalgamation of the five noxious animals used in its creation. No two wugu beasts look alike, though they all have some means of delivering their poison, either through a stinger, or through venomous fangs.
Wugu beasts are small, frail, and mentally weak, but make up for this frailty with their natural invisibility and their resistance to physical damage sources. However, as evil spirits, they are weak to both good-aligned weapons and jade. Wugu beasts hate jade and shy away from any object made from it, or any person wearing jade on their person.
Although summoned to be familiars for wugu witches, sometimes foolish or impatient witches try to summon one before they are powerful enough to control it, causing the beast to break free and go off on its own (usually after cursing the one who attempted to summon it). Such beasts travel the world spreading curses and causing misfortune wherever they go.
A wugu beast must devour a noxious animal once per month to maintain its powers. If its master forgets to feed it, or if it cannot find food on its own, it gains one negative level until it feeds again. If its total negative levels exceeds its hit dice, the body dies and the evil spirit is banished back to the spirit world.

Wugu Witch Archetype

Patrons - Must choose deception, enchantment, insanity, or revenge as a patron

Black Spellcasting
Wugu is the blackest of black magic and cannot be easily be turned for a good purpose. Any spell that heals, buffs, or in some way aids another creature or herself takes two spell slots to prepare. However, a wugu witch gains one additional spell slot that can be used to prepare a harmful spell. A wugu witch also may not take any hex that helps or aids another and must focus on harmful hexes. This ability replaces the witch’s familiar.

Poison Use
Wugu witches are skilled in the use of poisons. At the first level, they gain the ability to apply poisons without risk of poisoning themselves and a +2 resistance on saves against poisons. This replaces the witch’s first level hex. At the 10th level, the resistance bonus increases to +4.

Wugu Beast Familiar
At the fourth level, a wugu witch gains a wugu beast familiar as if it had taken the Improved Familiar feat. At the tenth level, the wugu witch gains the ability to cast one spell upon its familiar once per week. This spell replaces the wugu beast’s bestow curse spell-like ability until the witch casts a new spell into it. The first time the wugu beast uses this new spell-like ability, it uses the wugu witch’s intelligence score to determine the DC; thereafter, it reverts to using its constitution score.
This replaces the witch’s fourth level Hex and tenth level major hex


Ryze Kuja wrote:
Stuff

Yeah, that does.


Now that I think about it, there's probably a "rules questions" board I should have put this in.
>.>


So, last session, a player used locate creature to find out where the most dangerous monster in the dungeon had gone. At the time, in favor of keeping up game flow, I didn't check exactly how it worked and treated it as detect magic (silly me).
Well, in an upcoming session, the players are going to be trying to hunt down some aranea who have infiltrated a foreign government for main quest reasons. The player specifically took locate creature because he knew he needed it for his plan and didn't want to buy lots of scrolls or wands for it.

Now that I've read the description, I know a couple of things. I know they can have trouble detecting a specific aranea because they have to see the individual creature up close, and even if they do see the one they're looking for up close, he'll be in his human guise at the time. Polymorphs fool locate creature, so when he reverts to his true form, it won't find the specific one.
However, the fortress where the aranea are based from has about 20 of them in it. The spell says that you can detect a kind of creature (but not type, which I interpret as "creature type" like aberation, animal, etc.). So, I figure that the spell can detect araneas if he specifies that creature kind.

But a few things come up.
1). the spell is apparently directional. You turn around and know when you're facing the creature you're trying to locate. Soooooo, the aranea they need specifically to find has a secret room where he hides in an alcove above the entrance to it, using illusions to draw enemies in (making them think he's at the back of the room) and then raining some spells down on them from above. So, if they're walking down the hall towards this room and the mage is using locate creature, will the fact that it's above mean he won't detect it? Or will it just detect as straight ahead until he passes it? Or will he know it's ahead and slightly above?

2). If he's detecting all araneas in the area, does he then get readings in every direction?

3). The spell is not concentration, but minutes per level, so my reading is that he can keep rechecking the position of what he's searching for as long as the duration lasts. But what kind of action is it to check? It does not say in the spell description that I've got pulled up. I would assume that it's either a swift action or a move action, but that's a huge difference in what you're able to do in the round you check.

Or is there something about this that I'm just completely getting wrong?


The Warden of the North is something I'll be setting up next session, but they won't actually fight it then because they're just passing through and they'll placate it with scrimshaw talismans. It's an advanced Ijiraq with some variations I'm putting on it and it guards the entrance to the mountains where a path to Leng can be found. The warden's goals are as much about keeping people out as it is keeping the monsters in. It can be placated if you're just passing through, but it won't allow anyone near the pass into the mountains.
Based on the monster creation rules, the simple numerical stats would place this as a CR 13 creature, but it's got some unusual unique abilities I've given it that I think make it a bit tougher, specifically the traumatic variant of its control winds spell, and its skin thief ability. But it also has a significant weakness in the inuksugaq. I'm not sure if one balances out the other, or if one tips the scale.
What do others think?

The Warden of the North (Advanced Variant Ijiraq) CR ???
XP ????
CN large fey (shapechanger)
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +27

DEFENSE
AC 28, touch 12, flat-footed 25 (+2 Dex, +1 dodge, +16 natural -1 size)
hp 189 (20d6+120)
Fort +12, Ref +16, Will +16
Weakness The Inuksugaq

OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +17 (3d4+5), bite +17 (3d6+5), gore +17 (3d6+5)
Ranged javelin +12 (1d8+3)
Special Attacks disorienting gaze
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 18th; concentration +27)
At will—dimension door, fly, hallucinatory terrain (DC 21)
3/day—baleful polymorph (DC 22), traumatic control winds (DC 23), cure critical wounds (DC 21), ice storm (DC 22), quickened sleet storm, summon nature’s ally V (Summon 1d4+1 megaloceros with +4 to str and con)

STATISTICS
Str 20, Dex 15, Con 22, Int 15, Wis 19, Cha 24
Base Atk +10; CMB +17; CMD 26
Feats Acrobatic Steps, Augment Summoning, Blind-Fight, Dodge, Gruesome Shapechanger, Lightning Reflexes, Mobility, Nimble Moves, Spell Focus (conjuration), Traumatic Spell-Like Ability (control winds), Quicken Spell-Like Ability (sleet storm)
Skills Bluff +21, Escape Artist +24, Handle Animal +18, Intimidate +20, Knowledge (arcana) +16, Knowledge (nature) +19, Perception +27, Stealth +21, Survival +16
SQ Skin Changer, Skin Thief, hide in plain sight

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Disorienting Gaze (Su)
The warden of the north can level an icy stare at a creature within 30 feet. That creature takes a –20 penalty on Perceptionchecks and Survival checks for 24 hours (Fortitude DC 27 negates). The save DC is Charisma-based. The warden can use this ability while in any shape.
Hide in Plain Sight (Su)
The warden of the north can use the Stealth skill even while being observed. As long as it’s standing in terrain covered in ice or snow, the warden can hide itself from view in the open without actually hiding behind anything. The warden can’t use this ability while flying, and the ability has no effect when the warden isn’t in icy terrain.

Skin Changer (Su)
The warden of the north is not a normal shape changer, but a skin changer. It can transform into any creature it wishes, but it must do so by wearing the skin of that creature. This functions as a polymorph spell, but only allowing forms for which it has skins. The Warden’s favored form is that of the caribou (elk) and will always have a skin for that form. Generally, it will have two or three other skins for animals that live near its home (arctic hare, arctic fox, snow weasel, lemming, musk ox, or other arctic animals), and at least one human skin.

Skin Thief (Su)
When the warden of the north uses its baleful polymorph ability, it steals that person’s skin by swapping it with that of another, leaving its victim trapped in another form and allowing it to change into that person. This spell can only be reversed if the victim’s original skin is recovered. Using this ability requires a full-round action.
When it uses this ability, it can no longer change into the shape of the skin it switched out for its victim unless it has another skin of that type.

Gruesome Shapechanger (Su)
When the warden of the north changes form, it tears off the skin it’s wearing, leaving behind the former shape’s skin and a pile of blood and viscera. Moving through that space requires an acrobatics check of 5 + the original DC (7-10 on snow and ice).
Additionally, witnessing the transformation must make a DC 24 fort save or be sickened for 1 minute (10 rounds).
Traumatic Control Winds (Sp)
When the warden of the north uses its control winds power, any character who feels the winds must make a DC 23 will save or suffer the effects of the nightmare spell. For each failed will save, the character must make another will save (DC decreases by 2 each time) or suffer another nightmare the next night until they make a successful save.

The Inuksugaq
According to local legends, the warden of the north once played its tricks on a powerful medicine man, keeping him lost in its domain for over three months. Annoyed, the medicine man came back next summer and built a stone cairn in the middle of its territory and embedded a cold iron needle into it. This monument (called the inuksugaq) is enchanted with special medicine. If anyone touches the nail in the inuksugaq, all of the powers the warden has used on them are immediately undone and the warden becomes unable to use its disorienting gaze on them for 1d4+1 days, giving them enough time to get out of its territory. The warden cannot use its hallucinatory terrain within 1 mile of the inuksugaq, and if it stands within 100 feet of it, all of its spell-like abilities become non-functional.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
I don't think I'd let the hags form a coven without line of effect.

Yeah, probably for the best.


MrCharisma wrote:

They should get a perception check even if the players don't think of it.

If they automatically get a perception check for this, then it's pretty much a moot point. The DC to spot the sensor is 20+level of the spell (23). The party is 13th level at this point (these aren't standard hags, one is a witchfire the other two are winter hags, long story on the witchfire), and the party rogue has put a rank into perception every round. If he takes ten, he'll spot it for sure, but if he rolls a regular check, he can only fail on 6 or less (even lower if his trap senses get to be added).

But, as someone else helpfully reminded me, they do have access to veil and animate dead. They aren't going to get a surprise round, but some clever usage of the veil will allow them to have a chance that the players spend most of their first round focused on some skeletons. That should give pretty close to the same advantage.

Oh, that raises a thought: the witchfire is an incorporeal undead. If she hides herself INSIDE the wall, but is still within 10 feet of the other two hags, does that enable them to coven cast? Or would the fact that she can't see them prevent that. Or, hell, maybe the barrier prevents them from making a connection. Still, an interesting idea.


Pizza Lord wrote:
Lotta lotta stuff.

Clairvoyance has a duration of 1 minute per level and doesn't say it requires concentration to maintain, so I assume that the hags could have it active, take a round to put up the forcecage and then go back to checking the sensor to make sure they know when they're about to step through the teleport pad.

The pyrotechnics plan is interesting. I'll work that in, probably. The rest I'll have to think about. I have time to rework the plan, so I might make that work.

I did forget about the check to spot the sensor, though. My main concern here was that the encounter was fair and if they have a chance to spot the sensor, then it seems pretty fair. Especially since the cleric has put lots of ranks into perception, so the chances of not spotting the sensor are low if they think to make perception checks - which they probably will, seeing as they're in a hostile location.


So, here's the situation. The dungeon I will be putting my players through is currently occupied by a trio of hags. One of the hags in this coven has had difficulty with this group before, so they are not going to take it lightly. The only way into the top chamber where the hags are is to use a teleportation pad and the hags know the players are coming. They will be watching the teleportation pad with clairvoyance. As soon as the players look like they're about to use the pad, they'll cast forcecage around the arrival point (I'll put the duration on that at 1d4+4 rounds to account for a couple of rounds delay in them going up.
The way I have this encounter planned out, the hags want to first get rid of the mage (because he can dispel their magic as well as disrupt their casting and do serious magical damage, but will be the easiest one to take out with their spells). What I have laid out is that when the players teleport in, the coven will immediately target the mage with baleful polymorph to take him out of the fight. If the mage is polymorphed, the two melee focused characters will not be able to get to the hags, and the cleric will have to dispel the polymorph in order for him to be able to dimension door them out, or she'll have to try taking the hags on in a spell fight for a couple of rounds while the melee characters have their thumbs up their butts. If the mage gets initiative on them, he can cast dimension door and get the party out of the forcecage, meaning the hags will go for different tactics, since trying to use coven magic while in easy melee reach of adventurers is not a wise tactic for several reasons.

But as I was thinking about this, it brought up a question. If the hags are watching through clairvoyance and cast forcecage enough ahead of them coming up that it could have as many as 4 rounds of its duration expended, would that mean they could get a surprise round here? Because the players won't know what is on the other side of the teleportation pad, but the hags will be watching and preparing to act as soon as they arrive. If they get a surprise round, that kinda changes everything, because that means the mage has no chance to get initiative on them and it is totally a matter of making a fortitude save (the mage's worst) to avoid being removed from combat for at least 1 round - potentially longer if the hags can disrupt the cleric on the next round.
The surprise round can be avoided, obviously, if the players expect the hags to be on the other side of the pad, which they might. They know who they're going after in this fight (it's a dangling plot thread I've been meaning to wrap up for a while) and they're smart enough to guess the pad might go directly into an ambush, especially since there is the hag's charmed troll servant bellow that they could force to reveal the secret. If they state they prepare to attack as soon as they arrive, initiative will definitely resolve normally.

So, all that in mind, surprise round: yes or no?


Oops, forgot to put the DC on the glitterdust SLA. It should be 15.


Boy, Slavic folklore is a goldmine of interesting fairies. I think Paizo has missed a huge opportunity by using only a couple of slavic creatures in their bestiaries. Anyway, here's another one I found. Pretty confident on the CR of this one. It's not much of a fighter, but it could make a fun encounter for role-playing, and good role-play with it could lead to getting some good treasure.

Patuljak
CR 4
XP 1,200
CN Small fey
Init +4; Senses low-light vision; Perception +9

DEFENSE
AC 18, touch 15, flat-footed 14 (+4 Dex, +3 natural, +1 size)
hp 38 (7d6+14)
Fort +4, Ref +8, Will +6
DR 5/cold iron; SR 15

OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Melee dagger +5, 1d3+1, 19-20/x2
Ranged dagger +8 1d3+1, 19-20/x2

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th; concentration +9)
At will—expeditious retreat, invisibility
3/day—dimension door, ghost sound (DC 14), obscuring mist, glitterdust

STATISTICS
Str 12, Dex 19, Con 14, Int 9, Wis 13, Cha 16
Base Atk +3; CMB +6 (+8 to steal and disarm); CMD 17 (19 vs steal and disarm)
Feats Agile Maneuvers, Combat Expertise, Improved Steal, Improved Disarm, Run
Skills Acrobatics +11, Bluff +10, Disable Device +10, Perception +9, Sense Motive +8, Sleight of Hand +18, Stealth +17; Racial Modifiers +4 Sleight of Hand
Languages Common, Sylvan
SQ Change Shape, Rumormonger

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Change Shape (Su)
A patuljak can take the form of a frog at will as a standard action. This functions as beast shape III. Reverting to its true form is a swift action.

Rumormonger (Ex)
Patuljaks love to hear the latest gossip, and traveling invisibly allows them to overhear conversations others wouldn’t. They use all knowledge checks untrained and gain a bonus equal to half their HD, similar to the Bardic Knowledge ability. Three times per day, a patuljak can make a unique knowledge check to know some obscure bit of gossip, or rumor about a specific person, place, or object if asked. The DC on this check is 15. If they fail by 5 or more, then the rumor they know of is untrue and believing it may possibly be a detriment to those the patuljak shares it with.

Environment any land
Organization solitary or gathering (2–6)
Treasure double standard (stolen valuables and magic items, most of which are stored in a hidden burrow)

It is said that long ago, when the gods were trying to make man, they first created the patuljak. But it was too small for their liking, so they threw it away without thinking. Since they gave the patuljak no purpose, this fairy creature is lazy, self-interested, and troublesome. It travels the roads invisibly, looking for people to steal from, or to pester with mischief.
In apperance, the patuljak is similar to a dwarf, but shorter and less stocky. They dress in green tunics and wear tall, pointy hats topped with lily blossoms. They are quick and impulsive, but not very brave or skilled at fighting. Their laziness makes them unlikely to put much effort into anything other than minor mischief and theft, though some stories tell of patuljaks who dedicate themselves to the study of magic and become potent sorcerers.
Patuljaks are most likely to ambush someone on the road and steal from them. Although it would be incredibly easy for them to slip in and out unnoticed while invisible, patuljaks are compulsive troublemakers and will often announce their thievery to their victims, leading them on merry chases through fields and forests and laughing the whole time. If captured or cornered, they are most likely to try and bluff their way out of it, promising to give treasure to the players in exchange for letting them go, but giving them complicated directions that send them on wild goose chases after treasure that doesn’t exist. If this bluff is seen through or simply refused, they are quick to apologize and may be persuaded or intimidated into leading someone to the hidden burrow where they keep their stolen goods.


This is a being from slavic folklore. I can't decide where exactly I should put the CR. It's general stats put it around 16, but it's got a couple of abilities that I feel make it worthy of a higher rating, but I'm not sure how high that should go. He also is short on a few skills, but damned if I can think what else he'd need.

Lesnik
CR 18
XP 153,600
CN Medium fey
Init +8; Senses low-light vision; Perception +28

DEFENSE
AC 31, touch 14, flat-footed 27 (+5 armor, +4 Dex, +12 natural)
hp 250 (20d6+180)
Fort +17, Ref +20, Will +17
Defensive Abilities DR 10/cold iron and magic; SR 27 Immune poison; Resist acid 30, cold 30, fire 30

OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Melee +2 silver bewildering greataxe +18/+13 (1d12+9/19-20 x3)
Special Attacks: Change Size, Tickle
Special Abilities: Grant Spell Knowledge

Druid Spells Prepared (CL 20th; concentration +25)
9th—shambler, foresight, summon nature’s ally IX (2)
8th—control plants (DC 24), repel metal or stone, sunburst (DC 24), whirlwind (DC 24)
7th—control weather, creeping doom (DC 23), heal, sunbeam (DC 23)
6th—antilife shell, greater curse terrain, greater dispel magic (2), liveoak
5th—baleful polymorph (DC 21), commune with nature, cure critical wounds, deathward, wall of thorns
4th—bountiful banquet, cure serious wounds (2), giant vermin, rusting grasp
3rd—call lightning (DC 19), cure moderate wounds, neutralize poison (2), remove disease
2nd—sickening entanglement (DC 18), fog cloud, heat metal (DC 18), lesser restoration, resist energy (2)
1st—calm animals (DC 17, 2), cure light wounds (2), pass without trace (2)
0—create water, mending, purify food and drink, read magic

STATISTICS
Str 20, Dex 18, Con 28, Int 19, Wis 20, Cha 14
Base Atk +10; CMB +15 (+17 to sunder); CMD 33 (+35 to sunder)
Feats: Blind Fight, Cleave, Great Cleave, Great Fortitude, Improved Critical, Improved Initiative, Improved Sunder, Intimidating Prowess, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (greataxe)
Skills: Climb +14, Craft (metalsmithing) +15, Diplomacy +13, Handle Animal +15, Heal +10, Intimidate +25, Knowledge (geography) +17, Knowledge (nature) +27, Knowledge (nobility) +9, Perception +28, Perform (sing) +10, Ride +16, Sense Motive +18, Spellcraft +14, Stealth +27, Survival +20, Swim +14
Languages Common, Elven, Sylvan; speak with animals, speak with plants

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Change Size (Su)
Once per round, a Lesnik can change its size at will as a move action. It can become any size from fine to huge, adjusting all of its stats accordingly.

Tickle (Ex)
As a touch attack, a lesnik can tickle any person he chooses. If the attack is successful, the target is staggered by laughter for one round unless they succeed a fortitude save (DC 25). If the lesnik chooses, he can make this attack fatal. If he tickles someone for three consecutive rounds, they will die if they fail their fortitude save. The save DC is wisdom based.

Grant Spell Knowledge (Su)
Once per year, a Lesnik can grant spell knowledge, allowing it to teach a single druid spell to any individual it chooses. If the character is a caster who prepares spells, then the individual is able to prepare it as if it were on his spell list. If the caster casts spells spontaneously, it is added to his list of spells known. If the individual does not have a spellcasting class, then the he gains the ability to cast it as a spell-like ability once per day, using his wisdom modifier to determine its DC and his total HD as his caster level.
A lesnik generally only grants this boon to those who do great deeds to earn it.

ECOLOGY
Environment any forests
Organization solitary, couple (1 plus 1 dryad wife), party (1 plus 1 dryad wife, 2-4 pixies, 2-6 satyrs, possibly other fey as well)
Treasure standard (+2 silver bewildering greataxe, masterwork hide armor, other treasure)

The lesnik is the great protector of the forests. The animals and trees of the forest respect him and follow his wishes, and in return he keeps them safe.
The lesnik appears as a tall, barrel-chested man with pale skin and blue cheeks (because his blood is blue) and a beard that resembles moss and grass. He can choose to be any size he wishes, from as small as a blade of grass to as tall as the oldest oak tree. He carries a great, silver axe which he uses to cut down enemies of his domain, just as they would cut down his tree-friends. However, one should not assume that is his deadliest weapon; he is highly knowledgeable of the ancient magics of the forest, which he may teach to those who befriend him and prove their worth.
Lesniks tend to be friendly and warm towards visitors who show no ill-intent and has even been known to make pacts with nearby shepherds to protect their flocks. Despite this, he is fond of mischief and will use his magic to play tricks on those who enter his domain. It is said that if someone is lost in a lesnik’s forest, the best thing to do is to put on their clothes backwards. This always amuses him and he is more likely to aid those who make him laugh.
Two things are said to make him angry above all else. The first is knowingly harming any animal or plant in from his forest. Such creatures know of his protection and often show no fear of humans, making them tempting targets for strangers hunting in his domain, but woe to he who kills a friend of a lesnik, for his wrath is swift and deadly.
Secondly, the lesnik disdains those who steal from him. Anyone who picks the fruit from a tree, or a root from the earth, or takes any his personal possessions from his forest can expect him to track them down to retrieve them, or exact some form of repayment for the loss. They can surely expect some form of magical punishment if they make him go out of his way to reclaim his property.


New Stats
In addition to a couple of additions to his spells, I also realized that the quarterstaff is a two-handed weapon. I decided to just have him two-hand it, which adds 3 to his attack and damage, and changed his weapon focus to it (after all, his staff is mentioned specifically in the song this creature is based on, so why not focus on it? This song: https://youtu.be/etj46q2rYu4). I also noticed I'd forgotten to factor in his size to his attack and CMB/CMD, so I adjusted that accordingly.

With his spells, I'm aiming for theme. Stone was originally what I went for, but mountains are also known for crazy weather, so I added some weather themed spells, as well as entangle because why not? Also added goodberry to show he can be helpful as well.

Followed the suggestion for his spit lightning attack. I also added bull's strength, but I wonder if that might be overkill now that he can use his lightning attack more often. Also increased the size of his earth elementals. I'm not sure if that's overdoing it, too, though. I mean, a large earth elemental is only CR 5, so they're more of a nuisance than a threat for an 11th level party, but they can get in the way and give the old man the chance to flank, or put enemies between himself and the players to slow them down for a round or two.

I do wonder now, though, should I even bother keeping the rock throwing thing? He's far less likely to hit with rocks than his Spit Lightning attack, so there's not much reason to bother with rocks. I only put it in because I wanted it to seem easier to confuse the creature with a common giant.

The Old Man of the Mountain
CR 11
XP 12,800
CN Large fey
Init +4; Senses low-light vision; Perception +20

DEFENSE
AC 25, touch 13, flat-footed 21 (+4 Dex, +12 natural, -1 size)
hp 147 (12d6+84+12)
Fort +13, Ref +12, Will +13
DR 10/cold iron;

OFFENSE
Speed 40 ft.
Melee 2 slams +12 (1d8+7), quarterstaff +16/+11 (1d8+10)
Ranged rock +11/+6 (2d8+10)

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 12th)
constant— speak with animals
at will— charm animals (DC 16), commune with birds,
3/day— magic boulder, spike stones, entangle (DC 16), goodberry, thunderstomp, gust of wind
1/day— wall of stone, greater aggressive thundercloud (DC 19), bull’s strength (self only)
1/week— earthquake, control weather

STATISTICS
Str 25, Dex 18, Con 24, Int 10, Wis 21, Cha 12
Base Atk +6; CMB +14 (+16 grapple/bull rush); CMD 28 (30 grapple/bull rush)
Feats Great Fortitude, Improved Bullrush, Improved Grapple, Power Attack, Self-Sufficient, Toughness, Weapon Focus (quarterstaff)
Skills climb +17, heal +11, knowledge (geography and nature) +13, perform (dance and sing) +13, perception +20, sense motive +20, survival +18
Languages Common, Druidic, Dwarvish, Giant, Sylvan, Terran
Special Attacks: Spit Lightning, Summon Earth Elementals, Rock Throwing

Spit Lighting
As a swift action, the old man of the mountain can spit a small bolt of lightning as a ranged touch attack that deals 4d6 damage if it hits once every 1d4 rounds. This attack has a range of 100 feet.

Summon Earth Elementals
Once per day, the old man of the mountain can use his staff to summon 1d4 large earth elementals. This functions as a summon nature’s ally spell, caster level 12.


Dasrak wrote:
His defenses look perfectly on point for a CR 11 monster, but his offensive capabilities are basically non-existent and his spellcasting options aren't sufficient to make up the difference. I would give him actual druid spellcasting to compensate, rather than just a couple spell-like abilities he has now. Perhaps the casting power of a 10th level druid?

I'm torn on that. I initially considered giving him druid spells, but I wanted to go for a more physical combatant with some magical backup. But it seems the fey's base attack bonus just doesn't want go there and his strength is already as high as I would be willing to put it. I suppose I could bump his HD up to boost his attack, maybe add Improved Natural Attack on his slams to give them more damage, add a few more spell-like abilities, make the elementals he summons large instead of medium.


Do people think the CR of this is appropriate? Also, any suggestions are welcome.

The Old Man of the Mountain
CR 11
XP 12,800
CN Large fey
Init +4; Senses low-light vision; Perception +20

DEFENSE
AC 25, touch 13, flat-footed 21 (+4 Dex, +12 natural, -1 size)
hp 147 (12d6+84+12)
Fort +13, Ref +12, Will +13
DR 10/cold iron;

OFFENSE
Speed 40 ft.
Melee 2 slams +14 (1d8+7), staff +13/+8 (1d8+7)
Ranged rock +11/+6 (2d8+10)

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 12th)
constant— speak with animals
at will— charm animals (DC 16)
3/day— magic boulder, spike stones
1/day— wall of stone
1/week— earthquake

STATISTICS
Str 25, Dex 18, Con 24, Int 10, Wis 21, Cha 12
Base Atk +6; CMB +15 (+17 grapple/bull rush); CMD 22 (24 grapple/bull rush)
Feats Great Fortitude, Improved Bullrush, Improved Grapple, Power Attack, Self-Sufficient, Toughness, Weapon Focus (slam)
Skills climb +17, heal +11, knowledge (geography and nature) +13, perform (dance and sing) +13, perception +20, sense motive +20, survival +18
Languages Common, Druidic, Dwarvish, Giant, Sylvan, Terran
Special Attacks: Spit Lightning, Summon Earth Elementals, Rock Throwing

Spit Lighting
Once per hour, the old man of the mountain can spit a small bolt of lightning as a ranged touch attack that deals 4d6 damage if it hits.

Summon Earth Elementals
Once per day, the old man of the mountain can use his staff to summon 1d4 medium-sized earth elementals. This functions as a summon nature’s ally spell cast as a 12 level druid.

Environment Any mountains
Organization solitary
Treasure half standard
——

With his long white beard and a crooked staff
He tramps along while the folks all laugh;
With a twinkle in his eye, he passes them by;
The Old Man of the Mountain

The old man of the mountain is an ancient being of the mountains. He stands 9 1/2 feet tall, with long, white hair and a beard that goes down to his waist. Dressing in only bear-hide loincloth, he is often mistaken for a giant, but he is actually a fey creature.
The old man of the mountain is a carefree wanderer, living in total contentment in his mountain home. Fond of music and dancing, he is often seen capering over mountain paths to a hummed tune. While not exactly evil, poems and songs describe him as a randy fellow - “mad as an old march hare” - and prone to taking young women he finds on the road back to his cave. Such women always return with tales of amusing songs and dances that end in thrilling, if somewhat frightening, midnight chases. Occasionally these women give birth to hardy children with magic powers.
The old man of the mountain is not prone to violence, nor is he bothered by visitors to his home, but if forced to defend himself, he is fierce in combat, hurling boulders and laying into his foes with his fists and staff. If especially pressed, he can even create earthquakes to send his foes toppling off narrow mountain trails into the ravines below, where they will shortly find boulders rolling down from above if they survive the fall.
If met on friendlier terms, the old man of the mountain knows his mountains well and can help lost travelers, providing them with directions and provisions, as well as a little entertainment. He usually asks for little in return for his aid, though female travelers should be wary of the twinkle in his eye; it may mean he’s taken a fancy to them.


Sooooooo, one of my players has decided that his character has become interested in going to the plateau of Leng. His funeral, I guess. I'm working up some stuff for it and I've got this artifact idea that I want to make. What do people think and does anybody have any suggestions?

Crown of the Prince of Leng
Minor Artifact
This crown is the symbol of authority for the Leng Ghouls. It possesses several powers.

First, the wearer is immune to all mind influencing effects.

Second, the wearer is continuously under the effects of True Seeing.

Third, the wearer cannot be spied upon by magical means. All such spells and effects automatically fail.

Fourth, the crown grants leadership of Leng Ghouls to its wearer. When in the presence of the wearer of the crown, Leng Ghouls gain a +4 moral bonus to all saves except those caused by the powers or abilities of the one wearing the crown, and a +4 bonus to attack rolls. Additionally, the wearer can command Leng Ghouls to perform a task. Thereafter, the ghouls gain a +4 bonus to all rolls related to completing that task until the task is complete (this stacks with the previous bonus).

However, the crown does not grant inherent protection against other Leng Ghouls. Leng Ghouls understand that leadership comes with great risks, including the risk of that power being stolen. Only leaders who are smart and strong enough to protect the crown deserve it, and Leng Ghouls frequently attempt to take the crown from the current wearer.

Destruction
The Crown of the Prince of Leng is an artifact handed down by the outer gods, created by Nyarlathotep in the times and dimensions far remote from this. Only the strange beings who exist beyond the Chrysanthemum in the farthest reaches of the Dreaming have the tools capable of destroying it.


Expanding on Doug's advice, I've created a random list of items that the protean may pull out of its pouch. Feel free to add items if you've got any good ideas.
1. An eyeball (it will call it a piece of candy).
2. A pair of bronzed frog’s legs (grants the ability to cast jump once per day).
3. A miniaturized campfire (looks like orange and red beads on a wooden asterisk-shaped frame). It will dispel the effect, dealing 1d6 fire damage to the person holding and making the players drop it, which will start the carpet on fire on the next round if not extinguished.
4. A religious pamphlet about the glory of chaos.
5. Cranberries.
6. A small, polka-dotted creature the size of a mouse, with a body like a seal, a frill that looks like flower petals, a duck’s beak, and a long, thin tail with a flag that has a screw and a baseball on it. The protean will remark, “I don’t know where that came from,” before putting it back.
7. A shiny rock (grants a +2 bonus on a single skill check).
8. A piece of moldy bread.
9. A live and very angry badger that will proceed to attack anyone in the room for 1d4 rounds before fleeing.
10. Mushrooms. Eating them causes the effect of enlarge person (1-50%) or reduce person (51-100%).


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
A lot of text

Yeah, I'm being careful with the warp wave for the first encounter. The players will be hired to deal with it because the owner of the museum has done a lot of business with them in the past and he trusts them, but when they go in, the Protean will appear and offer to give them a tour of the "new temple." It will be totally polite and friendly in this encounter unless they directly attack it. It won't even object to them fighting with some of the museum pieces it's made dangerous (because, honestly, that's what danger is for). They're high enough level that nothing in a single warp wave will kill them, but I'm going to use it sparingly, maybe only once or twice and never on the same character twice. The next encounter with it, it will go all out, but this first time is just testing the waters. And to make it even more weird, if there's a third encounter, it will treat them like old friends and dismiss their last encounter as a just a spat, nothing worth bringing up again.

I'm not entirely sure how the whole thing will play out. I don't even have a specific resolution, I just have a scenario and a setting and the players will be put in it to react. The thing is actually in a summoned state. I'm sort of parodying Hellraiser - one of them found a rubix cube and messed with it, and that's why the protean is here. If they kill it, it's only banished back to the maelstrom, but can reappear wherever the cube is once every 24 hours until the cube is solved. So, I'm literally just seeing what they do.

Good idea about the shrunken camp fire bit. Make it a little less obvious what it's doing. Also like the touch of comical undershorts for shrinking the clothes.

Pizza Lord wrote:
Also a lot of text

Yeah, there's a lot going on in the museum. Just a few things I have set up that aren't dangerous are the wax models of the cavemen have all been animated and given the personality of posh, British gentlemen, a couple statues in the outer garden have been altered to be making rude hand gestures, and all the machines in the engineering exhibit have been fused together into a single rube-goldberg-esque machine that appears to have no purpose other than to make silly noises and move around a lot. Also, the music hall has been filled up with monkeys that were taken from the zoo (I will mention them having disappeared during the downtime before the encounter begins, while they're selling the goods from their previous adventure). The monkeys are not very musically inclined.

I do like the idea of the tiny hero model and the minotaur tapestry. I might use that.


So, I'm trying to come up with some amusing ways to use the imentesh's (https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/outsiders/protean/prote an-imentesh) special abilities for an interesting encounter for the second time the players encounter it.
The first time, it appeared in the kitchen, looking through their cupboards ("Pardon us, sir, do you have any gray poupon?"). They didn't know what it was (first time players), so they didn't want to provoke it, so it just talked for a bit before using dimension door to leave without making any real trouble, aside from confusing them. The next time, I'm pulling a leaf out of the Daily Bestiary and having it cause chaos in a museum.
I want to come up with some creative and amusing things to do with it, though. I've already made plenty of fun with the museum itself, but I want the actual fight with it, if the players choose to directly engage it, to have more than just it attacking them directly. It will not at this point have use of Polymorph Any Object, as it's used that spell earlier to turn a 1/2 scale model of a dragon into a real dragon, but it's other abilities are free game.
Some ideas I've got so far are:

Shrink Object - it keeps a shrunken campfire in a pouch. It will pull it out, hand it to a player ("Hold this, please") and then speak the command word that reverses the spell. The player holding it will take 1d6 damage and drop it, which will set fire to the carpet on the next round if not put out.

Shrink Object - it will shrink an item of clothing a player is wearing, causing significant distress (still deciding how this might work mechanically; since it's on their person, I think I'll allow a will save to negate the shrinking effect, maybe they'll be stunned for one round due to the tightness if they don't make a fortitude save? Stunned seems a bit on the extreme side, maybe but I'm already allowing two saves to resist this). This will, as a role-playing element, also be somewhat embarrassing, as the clothes will rip after a single round.

Major Creation - messing with the rules a bit to make this usable in combat, as it technically isn't. I'm ruling that it can instantly create simple things, however they linger only a couple of rounds if it does not take the full ten minute casting time and the ability will still have a ten minute cool down, so it could only use it once per encounter. It creates a full ten cubic foot volume of rotten tomatoes in the air above a player, burying them unless they make a reflex save to avoid it. This does no harm, but they have to spend their next move action climbing out of the pile before they can otherwise act.

As you can see, I'm aiming for some of its actions to fall slightly on the cartoony side. Considering it's also got to be taking actions to defend itself, like using dimension door to keep out of range, grappling with its tail, etc. maybe I don't need any other ideas. Still, I'm curious to see what other amusing ideas other people might have.

Feel free to slide the rules a little bit.


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So, earlier in the campaign, the players had an interaction with a noble who dabbled in magic and accidentally summoned a chaos beast. Now, a couple months later, I'm making a callback. The noble's mistakes left the door open for more chaos creatures to come through, and now there's an imentesh wandering the city causing mischief.

If the players talk to it, it will at one point ask them if they want to know a secret. If they do, I roll a die and determine what it does randomly.
Here's what I've put down on the list so far:

1. It will paint a picture while singing a song in its own language. It will transform nearby objects into the canvas and paint to do this. After it is done, it will vanish, leaving the painting behind. Attempting to study the painting requires a person to make a DC 21 will save, or fall into a rambling fit for 1d4 hours. Those who make this save gain a +1 insight bonus to initiative (1-25%), a +5 insight bonus to linguistics (26-50%), will learn the location of an Amulet of the Planes (held by a Frost Giant Jarl in the mountains of Frjoslheimr, 51-75%), or gain 5 bonus hit points (76-100%). The effect is determined randomly for each player. The painting will turn back into the objects it was made from 12 hours.

2. It will reach into their body and remove their soul, then fly with it back to Limbo, where it will take the soul on a journey that lasts half a life-time, but to the rest of the party, only takes about a minute before the protean returns the soul. The player in question must make a DC 21 will save, or have their alignment shift one step closer to chaotic neutral. The journey costs the player 2 points of wisdom that cannot be restored by any means short of wish or miracle, but they gain two points of charisma in exchange.

3. The protean will say, “Azuran, The Cruel likes things to be organized in even numbers, or in multiples of five.” If asked for more information, it apparently doesn’t even know who Azuran, The Cruel is and is confused as to why they are asking it such questions.

4. The protean shouts “Well, I’m not telling!” and then flies away laughing like a maniac.

5. The protean says something in its own language, which the players cannot understand, but which makes them feel queasy and nervous (treat as sickened for as long as they remain in the protean’s presence). It will refuse to repeat itself and be annoyed if they ask it to.

6. The protean will offer them a hand mirror and ask them to look into it. If they succeed a DC 21 will save, they can make the mirror show them any one thing they want to see. If they fail, they will see a vision of the Maelstrom, causing them to act as if confused for 1d4+1 rounds.

7. The protean casts polymorph any object on the player who answered yes, turning him into a random animal to give them a new perspective. The effect lasts until dispelled, or until it wears off. If they make their fortitude save, it will respond with, “Well, if you didn’t want to learn a secret, then why did you say yes?”

8. The protean will reach forward and put a hand on their head. In a flash, they will suddenly know the exact route they need to take to find the dreaded Plataeu of Leng, and where the entrance to the catacombs beneath it are: legend says the secret of eternal life can be found there.

9. The protean will chortle evilly and disappear. That night, it will appear in the dreams of the player who said yes and will sing a song. When they wake up, they will not be able to remember the words of the song, but will feel as if it contained some deep, powerful secret that could solve a major problem in their life.

10. The protean will go into a lengthy spiel of mathematical formula. It speaks rapidly, but coherently and players listening must make a will save of 21 or be fascinated by this. It goes on for long enough that anyone listening gets lost. The only thing they can be sure of is that it all ends with “= 0.”

I plan on rolling a d10, but they can potentially have multiple encounters with this creature and as not all of its actions are hostile, it may ask them this question more than once, so I'd like to have some other options to replace items already rolled so nothing occurs more than once. Do you folks have any interesting ideas? I'm sure you do.


Dasrak wrote:

For dispelling magic, there is the 9th level spell disjunction which automatically succeeds. Setting that aside, CL 35 is practically impossible to achieve in the Pathfinder ruleset. Epic level play is not officially supported and there is no way to get more than 20 levels in a single class. If you want to play above 20th level, don't be surprised if some rules need adjustment.

Vital Strike feat is poorly worded (Paizo stopped using that wording after the core rulebook precisely because it was confusing). The feat only activates when you make a standard action to make a single attack. If you are full attacking it doesn't do anything, and if you're using another feat that involves making an attack roll it also doesn't work. Vital Strike is a terrible feat and is only used by very specialized builds.

Oh, disjunction. Right. Been a long time since I ran a campaign that got high enough level for anybody to know that spell.

Yeah, the useless interpretation you give on Vital Strike is another one I saw, in which case I couldn't for the life of me see why anyone would want to take it. It's so damned specific in its use that it just seems a waste when you could get more generally useful feats.


So, two questions. The first:
Well, it's about caster levels for dispel checks. The way I read it, the spell's DC to be dispelled is 11 plus the caster's caster level. Fine and good. Except that all the spells to actually dispel magic have caps on how much of your own caster level you can add (max of 10 for standard dispel, 15 for greater dispel and break enchantment). This means that if a caster is high enough level, the spells become nearly impossible to dispel. If a caster is actually above level 35 (unlikely to happen outside of epic game play) the spells are actually impossible to dispel, no matter how high a level you are. Even then, when you start to get above 15th level, the spells become increasingly difficult to dispel even for very high level casters, because of the cap. So, my question is, what is the game balance justification for the CL cap on dispel magic?

The second question is about the Vital strike feat. This feat is worded in a way that seems to miss some critical information, because every time I read it, I get a different interpretation of it. Those interpretations range from totally useless to so good there's no reason why any fighter with half a brain wouldn't want to take it.
The way I'm reading it now, it seems to be that every time you make an attack (whether it's just taking one attack, or doing a full attack), one of your attacks can deal double damage. It seems to be that you can do this once per attack action. So, if you do a full attack, one of those attacks deals double damage. But the way it's worded seems to suggest you could also use it for attacks of opportunity in the same round you've made a full attack, because it says once per attack action, and my reading of the rules is that attacks of opportunity count as their own attack actions. In that sense, if you combined it with combat reflexes, you could make a vital strike for every attack of opportunity, plus one for your regular attack. That seems like it might be a bit excessive. Does the book perhaps mean once per round?


Just what it says. Would you count algae coating a wet surface as slightly or severely slippery? I'm honestly surprised it's never come up before in all my years of gaming, but this is the first time. The enemies are in the middle of a raised platform surrounded by a 40-foot pool that is two feet deep with algea coating much of the ground beneath it. They are relying on the players being hampered by the water and slippery ground to keep them from getting to them immediately, giving their spell caster a chance to get off a spell before the players can get close enough to engage them.
My figuring is that the two feet of water makes them move at half speed, but an acrobatics check could allow them to move at full speed with a risk of slipping and falling because of the slippery ground. Depending on how slippery we'd consider algae, the DC is either 12 or 15. A very slight difference, but enough that it could matters, especially to characters without ranks in acrobatics.


Ah, air step. That sounds exactly like what I need.


One of my new players - first time gamer, actually - has been asking questions about things he can do with his character. I can answer most of them, but there's one thing he's looking for specifically that I'm not sure about.

Is there a class feature in either a variant class or prestige class that allows a sorcerer to hover a foot above the ground as opposed to walking? I remember a class (Elocar, I think it was called) in the 3E psionics handbook that gained this ability. I know that levitate can do something similar, but it only allows up and down, not horizontal movement.
It's not a big thing and I could probably come up with a house rule or something similar if there isn't anything, but if there is, that's easier on me.

Anybody seen something like this?


So, an adventure I'm setting up for some players is going to feature a small cult of Rovagug that's managed to take over a dwarf fortress with the help of a mid-level demon (who will be, for lack of a better term, the final boss of the dungeon).
I was looking into Rovagug and it says that his clerics get to prepare Baleful Polymorph as 4th level spell.

I'm curious if there's a reason for this. I mean, that seems like a really unusual spell for a god who's goal is the destruction of all life to grant to his clerics that other gods don't (I'd be more inclined to add Disintegrate, if anything). There is no explanation for it that I can find. I mean, for story reasons, I'm probably going to ignore that anyway (long story involving one of the NPC party members for our usually small group of only 2 players), but I'm still curious from an in-world perspective if there's a reason for it.


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I haven't read through everything you've put out so far and I don't have time to do it now. And I don't expect an answer right now, either, but this is just something that's been a problem I've had with D&D/Pathfinder since I started playing it and I'd like to know if any thought's been put into it. Maybe you guys can do a blog post about it if you haven't already thought of doing it.

The big problem that I have is that magic items are too necessary for the game at high levels. You NEED to have magic equipment at higher levels just to be able to deal with the higher level challenges and the end result is that so many items get boiled down to +(Insert number) to (insert stat) and they're all so common that it becomes mundane. In classic fantasy stories like The Hobbit or Connan the Barbarian, a single magic item was an awesome thing and you maybe only saw one or two in a single story. Hell, in The Hobbit, the turning point of the entire novel was a character finding a ring that, as far as he knew, did nothing but make him invisible. That one item changed the story's whole direction. That gives magic items a kind of thrill that's been lost in pretty much every edition of D&D/Pathfinder I've ever played.

Do you guys plan on doing anything about that?


So, I'm prepping a campaign that I'm going to run this December. The overall tone is going to be Lovecraftian, where I reveal a connection between the Aboleth scourge and an ancient aquatic race that are now extinct but were once one of the four Great Races of my world - the backstory that the ancient race actually created the Aboleth, elder thing style, by drawing cells from a biological source they didn't understand (which turns out to be a Qlippoth Lord) and were ultimately destroyed by it. The only thing that prevented the Aboleths from conquering the whole planet was the domination of the dragons over the land at the time, who defeated and drove them back to the deepest depths of the seas.
The first adventure I'm running (starting the players at 3rd level) will be primarily using Skum (or Ulat-Kini) as the monsters that the adventure builds up to (only a few in this first adventure, maybe 3 total, but it hints at a deeper threat). The style of it will basically be Shadow Over Innsmouth meets Stepford Wives.

Anyway, to kinda play into the Lovecraftian tone, I want to develop a Madman's Intuition ability, by which an insane cultist can sometimes learn things he shouldn't be able to.

The first effect of it is that the madman is, naturally, irrevocably insane. Their wisdom is permanently reduced by 8 points and cannot ever be healed. But, in place of wisdom, the individual uses his charisma modifier for all related skills, saves, and spells (if a divine caster). This basically just switches what ability is used, although they are more at risk to spells or effects that drain wisdom.

The second effect is that a certain number of times per day, the madman can make a Sense Motive check to learn something he shouldn't know. This is opposed by a bluff check, but since the subject doesn't know what the madman is trying to learn, their bluff check is at -4. This could allow a madman to learn a dark secret about the character's past, a secret about a location (in this case, the Sense Motive check is at a base of 15, but can be increased depending on the how obscure the secret might be), or could even use Sense Motive in place of Perception to locate a character.
However! If the madman fails his check, his intuition is totally off-base and he "learns" something completely false, which might lead to them making wild accusations, or preparing for an attack that is not planned, or preparing for a real planned attack in an unhelpful way. In the case of using Sense Motive to spot a hiding person, he may become convinced that the hider is in some other room (or in a different building altogether) and suddenly feel a compulsive need to search them out in the false location.

My main question for you all here is this: does the failure result balance the usefulness of the ability, and if it doesn't balance it on its own, how many times a day should it be usable to keep it balanced? I'm thinking 3 times a day might be sufficient, but what do you think?


Oh, that's pretty good. Still not quite what I'm looking for, but perhaps I can make it work with some careful descriptions. And if not, I can use it for something else.


Yeah, generally just googling maps is what I do, but nothing I'm finding says "A rakshasa lives here and is proud to call it home." At best, they say, "A rakshasa might hide out here if it was ordered to by a higher ranking rakshasa as punishment." If it was anything other than a rakshasa's opulent home, the maps google gives me would work great.


I'm not sure if this is the right forum to post this, but I don't know what else would be more appropriate.

Anyway, I'm looking for a map to serve as a palace for a rakshasa. The idea is that the rakshasa has infiltrated a society where mages are all upper-class nobles. The rakshasa himself is a hedonistic bully who gorges himself human flesh, but he disguises himself really well and only eats people who won't be missed (homeless, vagabonds, street urchins, etc.), and never actually eats them in his own home. He even lets wizard circles and universities use his grounds for presentations and events and lets them study the animals in his private menagerie to make him seem like an upstanding member of their community. I want the palace to be really sprawling, with large rooms and unusual (but not strange) architecture. I've been scouring the internet and I found one map that looks like exactly what I want, but it's only found on a site that doesn't let me download the image. It's been published in a book from Wizards of the Coast, but they don't have a PDF version of that book available anywhere (I have checked) and I don't want to pay hardback cover price for something that I only know for certain I'd be using one map out of, so that's out.

Does anybody out there know where I might find a map that can serve my purposes? I'm terrible at making maps, but once I have maps, I'm pretty good at building adventures around them, so I just need the map.


I called it Lunar Butterfly to distinguish it from the actual Lunar Moth. Although, looking that up, it's actually Luna Moth and it's not called Great at all, so . . . Yeah, perhaps Great Lunar Moth would be better.
Giving the powder a fairy fire/glitterdust effect seems like a good idea, though. Gonna add that.

Hmm.
I know that the attack bonus is low for a magical beast. I originally built this creature as a fey, but considering I always played unicorns as being created by fey and they're magical beasts, I changed that (and also because being fey gave it way more skills than it needed to have). But if it's a ranged touch attack (bypassing armor), +12 seemed highly unlikely to miss anyway, so I left it at it's fey rating. I did forget to put a range on that though. I'll correct that.
I can bump the Con up, which will improve the save DC on its sleeping powder and its HP. I originally built it as a 15HD creature, but that seemed like it was overpowered for the CR I was aiming for.
I'm roughly aiming for a CR of 10, or somewhere between 9-11, with the idea being that if you're facing it as a part of the great hunt, you have a limited amount of time to hunt it down and kill it, bringing the body back as proof to win the prize (it's both a religious observance and a contest, because the fey are all about having fun). So, it has abilities that make it hard to track down (being invisible in daylight, being mostly in the air) and then having abilities that can slow you down and make spells less effective (because the fey gentry are extremely potent spell-casters) - namely putting you to sleep and draining mental ability scores.

It's behavior is pretty inoffensive on its own. It will only fight if provoked and it's most likely to flee if faced by a group of foes.

****

Revised:
Increased HD by 2 and adjusted stats accordingly (added Dodge as a feat for its increase in HD).
Increased Natural Armor.
Lowered its charisma, raised its Constitution (rationale: you are correct, it's sleep powder is really its primary ability, so it should be higher than its other two abilities).
Added Silent Movement as a special quality.
Removed the detail about being only partially visible in indirect moonlight (rationale, too complicated and, given its size and areal nature, is unlikely to really come up much).
Added a range to its moonlight beam attack and increased damage.
Increased spell resistance and damage reduction.

My one concern here is that I imagined the creature as being kind of delicate and light despite its immense size (it is a moth, after all). Giving it high armor and HP does't make a lot of logical sense to me in that regard. But anyway, what do people think now?

Great Lunar Moth

CR 10

N Huge Magical Beast 

Init: +9; Senses: low-light vision; Perception: +16

Defense

AC: 21 (+5 dex, +7 natural, -2 size, +1 dodge) 

HP: 107 (12d10+44)

Fort +8 Ref +13 Will +6 

DR 10/cold iron; SR 21; Immune: Illusions, Mind-Influencing effects

Offense

Speed 10 ft; fly 100 (average) 

Ranged Moonlight Beam +17 Ranged Touch Attack 8d6 plus drowsiness (non-lethal)

Special Attacks: Sleep Powder, Dream Eating

Statistics 

str 14 dex 21 con 18 int 2 wis 12 cha 14 

BAB +12 CMB +16 CMD 31 

Skills: Fly +13, Perception +16

Feats: Alertness, Fly-By Attack, Hover, Improved Initiative, Wingover, Dodge

Special Qualities: Moonlight Visibility, Silent Movement 

Environment: Temperate Forests, Eire (Fey Realm) 

Organization: Solitary, or Mating Pair

Moonlight Beam: The Great Lunar Moth attacks by firing a beam of moonlight at its attackers. The beam has a range of 30 feet and deals 8d6 points of non-lethal damage.

Drowsiness: Any creature struck by the Moonlight Beam attack must make a DC 18 will save or become drowsy for 1d4 rounds. Drowsy creatures are treated as fatigued, but also take a -4 penalty to saves against sleep effects. The save is charisma based.

Sleep Powder: As a standard action, the Great Lunar Moth can shake its wings, creating a cloud of magical powder that spills into a 15 foot radius cloud directly beneath it (if in the air) or around it (if grounded). All within the cloud must make a DC 20 fortitude save or fall asleep, as per the sleep spell, except that it affects creatures of any HD (CL 10). The cloud disperses after one round and the butterfly can use this ability once ever 1d4 rounds. The sleep powder even effects creatures normally immune to sleep effects. The save is Constitution based. Even if creatures make the save, they are outlined by a pale, shimmering glow, similar to the faerie fire spell.

Dream Eating: As a standard action, a Great Lunar Moth can feed on the dreams of a sleeping creature. The victim must succeed a DC 18 will save or take 1d4 points of int, wis and cha damage. A creature that has any ability score reduced to 0 cannot be awakened by any means until it recovers at least one point of damage in that ability. Ability points lost recover normally and the moth recovers 4 HP for each ability point absorbed. The moth must be within ten feet of the victim to feed on its dreams. Excess hit points absorbed become temporary HP and are lost at a rate of 1 per hour.

Moonlight Visibility: A Great Lunar Moth is only visible when touched by moonlight.

Silent Movement: Despite its immense size, the Great Lunar Moth is incredibly light and delicate. It makes no detectable sound when it moves, making it impossible to locate by perception checks that rely on sound.

*****

I don't really need much help coming up with role play stuff, but if people are interested I suppose I should also give some details for encounter.

Basically, the creature is created by fey Gentry for the purpose of hunting. The Gentry also hunt humans as a part of the great hunt (not to kill, they do let them go afterward, they just think of humans in the same light as General Zarroff did; their intelligence makes them incredibly dangerous and fun to hunt). But if you impress the fey enough, you may be given the honor of joining them in the hunt again, but as a hunter. So, that's one way you might encounter the Great Lunar Moth.

Or heck, you might even be someone who's being hunted and encounter it, in which case it becomes a threat because it may put you to sleep and make you easier for the hunters to find you.

There is the possibility that it might accidentally (or "accidentally," because the fey sometimes go for that sort of mischief) be allowed to escape the fey realm into the mortal realm, where it would become something of a nuisance, feeding on the dreams of mortals (who dream far more often and than fey do) and would be drawn to places where there are lots of sentient beings to feed on. It might be especially drawn to spell-casters, since they tend to have higher mental ability scores than most.

A possible adventure seed might be that one has escaped from the fey realm and has taken up residence in a forest near a town with a wizard academy, where it's feeding on the dreams of students, making them do horribly on their tests, unable to study, and also causing people who end up being stuck asleep until their scores recover to miss classes. This could lead adventurers being hired to track down and kill it (or possibly even discover what's causing it, although if we're talking a wizard's academy, somebody's probably already identified it with some divination magic; or maybe not, since it's probably making everybody stupid). This could of course lead to bigger problems when the Gentry get "upset" about some foolish mortal killing their pet. And I say "upset" in irony quotes because they invented the creature to be hunted and killed, so they haven't done anything really wrong, but sometimes it's fun to play the affronted master seeking recourse against the person who hurt a "beloved" pet - by inflicting minor, but annoying curses, demanding favors be performed to attain forgiveness, or maybe just turning someone into a squirrel, because if you're going to be affronted by something, you may as well have fun with it.

I mean, it's not really hard to think of possible encounters (and I have one in mind already for the campaign I'm running), I just want to get the stats down. I usually don't have much need to actually invent monsters thanks to having such a wide variety available. But just occasionally you have an idea that doesn't have any pre-made monsters that are appropriate.

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