Green Dragon

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Another year past, and the malaise that has sapped my pre-pandemic reading habits continues.

Books Read in 2021
1. Rage of Dragons (The Burning Book 1) by Evan Winter
2. Rhythm of War (Stormlight Archive Book 4) by Brandon Sanderson
3. The Night Without Stars (Commonwealth: Chronicle of the Fallers Book 2) by Peter F. Hamilton
4. Iron Sunrise by Charles Stross
5. The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth Trilogy, Book 2) by N. K. Jemison
6. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
7. Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg
8. The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth Trilogy, Book 3) by N. K. Jemison

My Top Three::

Rage of Dragons was definitely my favorite from this list, and screams for an adaptation as either an action film or a anime series. I'm sure later books in the series will probably slow down as the main character acquires some maturity, but for now, this is an adolescent power fantasy firing on all cylinders, set in a dark world with a great deal of potential for future stories.

N. K. Jemison's Broken Earth Trilogy is a literary work with complex characters, distinctive magic, solid science-fantasy worldbuilding, and unflinching real-world allegory. While I'm more of an escapist reader, I respect these books for what they bring to the genre and they deserve, collectively, the #2 spot on my list.

Spinning Silver is a superior sequel to Uprooted, a feminist remix of Eastern European faerie tales and mythology. While there are some aspects I wasn't extremely keen on, this was an enjoyable read that took some interesting turns.

I started off this year not feeling up to reading anything particularly challenging, and then things actually got bad. While I'm lucky to have been able to work from home, something about being stuck in my house annihilated my desire to curl up with a book vs. other media. Because this list is so short and I found all of the entries unremarkable, I'm not going to mimic Lord Snow's best and worst lists this year either.

Books Read in 2020
1. Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons (Chorus of Dragons Book 1)
2. Pirate’s Honor by Chris A. Jackson (A Pathfinder Tales Novel)
3. Pirate’s Promise by Chris A. Jackson (A Pathfinder Tales Novel)
4. Pirate’s Prophecy by Chris A. Jackson (A Pathfinder Tales Novel)
5. Liar’s Island by Tim Pratt (A Pathfinder Tales Novel)
6. Liar’s Bargain by Tim Pratt (A Pathfinder Tales Novel)
7. The Redemption Engine by James L. Sutter (A Pathfinder Tales Novel)

Started but did not finish due to life disruption:
1. The Wolf and the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky

I also re-read parts of the two short fiction anthologies of stories for Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved:

Selected Short Stories
1. Children of the Rune
2. The Dragons’ Return

Here's hoping next year is better in every way.

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With a little adjustment you might be able to run Curse of the Lady's Light from the Shattered Star AP. Canonically, it takes place after the CotCT AP as a direct sequel, so the connective tissue is there, you just have to invert the timeline. So the Grey Maidens in CotLL aren't remnants, they were specifically sent by Ileosa to try and find the Everdawn Pool, but they got the wrong ruin. Or maybe they are looking for another piece of Kazavon's relics, and you can replace the Shard of Lust with that. Doing so would hint that perhaps Ileosa is under Kazavon's influence much earlier in the AP, but that could be cool to foreshadow more.

The main thing is, while you'd have to tweak how they fit into the AP a bit, you could still use most of the meat of the encounters and module-specific plot as-is.

Mr. Nelson,

I am also interested in seeing the director's cut. My party is intrigued by Ismaizade and the Pleasure Palace of Nex, and I would love to see what you originally intended for these locations.

Thank you!

My Email:

Here Be Dragons Games has launched a Kickstarter for Monte Cook's Diamond Throne setting for the Cypher system.

The Diamond Throne is the setting that first got me actually interested in gaming back in 2003, so of course I've already backed the kickstarter. I've not had any actual play experience with the Cypher system, but I own and have read some other materials for it, and my group has bandied about trying it for several years. While I have some concerns about whether the things I love about the AE rules and setting will be mechanically implemented in a more rules-light system, I have some hopes that it will turn out well. This may also be the tipping point which leads to my gaming group finally trying Cypher after years of putting it on the back burner. I'm looking forward to playtesting it when the materials become available.

There's been some hints that if this Kickstarter does well enough, they might consider doing versions for other systems (5e) down the line. If enough people express interest, maybe they might consider a PF version?

Anyone else interested in more Diamond Throne content?

This has been a rough year, so I mostly just focused on finishing series I already like rather than expanding my horizons.

Books read in 2019:

1. Tales Before Tolkien edited by Douglas A. Anderson
2. Forerunner by Andre Norton
3. Dzur (Vlad Taltos Book 10) by Steven Brust
4. Jeghaala (Vlad Taltos Book 11) by Steven Brust
5. Iorich (Vlad Taltos Book 12) by Steven Brust
6. Tiassa (Vlad Taltos Book 13) by Steven Brust
7. The Phoenix Guards by Steven Brust
8. Five Hundred Years After by Steven Brust
9. The Paths of the Dead (The Viscount of Adrilankha Book 1) by Steven Brust
10. The Lord of Castle Black (The Viscount of Adrilankha Book 2) by Steven Brust
11. Sethra Lavode (The Viscount of Adrilankha Book 3) by Steven Brust
12. The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, Book 1) by N.K. Jemison
13. Dancer’s Lament (Path of Ascension Book 1) by Ian C. Esslemont
14. Forge of Darkness (Book 1 of the Kharkanas Trilogy) by Steven Erikson
15. Fall of Light (Book 2 of the Kharkanas Trilogy) by Steven Erikson
16. Hawk (Vlad Taltos Book 14) by Steven Brust
17. Vallista (Vlad Taltos Book 15)by Steven Brust
18. Deadhouse Landing (Path of Ascension Book 2) by Ian C. Esslemont
19. Kellanved’s Reach (Path of Ascension Book 3) by Ian C. Esslemont
20. The Last Wish (Stories of the Witcher) by Andrzej Sapkowski
21. Sword of Destiny (Stories of the Witcher) by Andrzej Sapkowski
22. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
23. The Fuller Memorandum (The Laundry Files Book 3) by Charles Stross
24. The Apocalypse Codex (The Laundry Files Book 4) by Charles Stross
25. The Rhesus Chart (The Laundry Files Book 5) by Charles Stross
26. Blood of Elves (The Witcher Book 1) by Andrzej Sapkowski
27. Time of Contempt (The Witcher Book 2) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Books Abandonded in 2019:

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
The Etched City by K. J. Bishop

Next year I will try for a more diverse list.

I meant to post this list of everything I read in 2018 a few weeks ago. In fact, I rushed through the last book on this list to make sure I finished it before midnight on NYE, just so I could include it.

Books Read in 2018:

Books I read again in 2018
Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Books I abandoned in 2018
The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany. I still intend to get back to this one one day.

Books I read (for the first time) in 2018
The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler (The Shadow Campaigns Book 2)
The Price of Valor by Django Wexler (The Shadow Campaigns Book 3)
The Coming of the Terrans by Leigh Brackett
The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett
Earth's Last Citadel by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Doomstalker by Glen Cook (Darkwar Book 1)
Warlock by Glen Cook (Darkwar Book 2)
Ceremony by Glen Cook (Darkwar Book 3)
Urth of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
Issola (Vlad Taltos book 9 by Steven Brust)
Viscera by Gabrielle Squalia
Death's Heretic A Pathfinder Tales Novel by James L. Sutter
League of Dragons by Naomi Novik (Temeraire Book 9)
City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty
The Drowning City (The Necromancer Chronicles Book 1) by Amanda Downum
The Bone Palace (The Necromancer Chronicles Book 2) by Amanda Downum
The Kingdom of Dust (The Necromancer Chronicles Book 3) by Amanda Downum
Brokedown Palace by Steven Brust
The Guns of Empire by Django Wexler (The Shadow Campaigns Book 4)
Port of Shadows by Glen Cook, (A Novel of the Black Company)
Infernal Battalion by Django Wexler (The Shadow Campaigns Book 5)

With so many series on this list, I hesitate to have a top 5 because all the individual books blend together into one long tale with their ups and downs. That said, the Shadow Campaigns and the Darkwar series were both entertaining, and the Vlad Taltos novels have been fun for me so far.

However, I can say that in my personal opinion, the worst book on this list was Port of Shadows by Glen Cook. I finished it only because of nostalgia for the rest of the Black Company books, but it was far beyond my worst expectations of how bad an author returning to a series after a long absence could be. The common complaints of everyone acting out of character, of continuity-muddling interquel storytelling and rampant misogyny are all true in my estimation, and make it a thoroughly unpleasant read.

I managed to finish Urth of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe back in April, and made an unsuccessful run at Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter before I suddenly found myself laid off. For two months I didn't read anything for fun, until I finally got a new position, working in one of the libraries of my Alma Mater. Since then, I've resumed reading and gotten through the following on my lunch breaks:

Viscera by Gabrielle Squalia
Death's Heretic A Pathfinder Tales Novel by James L. Sutter
League of Dragons (Temeraire Book 9) by Naomi Novik
City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty
The Drowning City (The Necromancer Chronicles Book 1) by Amanda Downum

I'm currently carrying around a copy of The Bone Palace (The Necromancer Chronicles Book 2) by Amanda Downum, but my enthusiasm is low.

Overall, I'd say I haven't enjoyed any of the books in this post very much (as much as I had high hopes for all of them), but I'm hoping to break the streak soon.

Divine Disciple looks like a very good option, and to be honest, I can't come up with a better one.

The best alternatives I can come up with are:

1. Go back to cleric for one level, then two levels of Thaumaturge, grab divine reach twice to give your cure spells a range of 60ft rather than touch. This will require you to invest 6 more ranks in Knowledge religion and you'll need to take a metamagic feat at 15th level.

2. Take Combat Casting as your 15th level feat, take one level of fighter and pick up Dodge as a bonus feat, then go into Combat Medic. DC 21 Sanctuary as a kicker on your healing spells won't keep the BBEG from killing your recently downed teammates, but it might keep the minions off them.

Yes, please don't forget Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed / Arcana Evolved , as that remains my favorite version of d20.

A few others that have gone unmentioned:

Monte Cook Presents: Iron Heroes
Conan the Roleplaying Game (OGL version by by Mongoose Publishing)
Eclipse: The Codex Persona
Call of Cthulhu d20
Big Eyes, Small Mouth d20
Swashbuckling Adventures (7th Sea for d20)
World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game
Trailblazer: New Horizons in 3.5 Roleplaying
Legend (the one by Rule of Cool games)

There were also a large number of 3rd party D&D settings that changed so much about the core mechanics you might as well consider them separate, but compatible RPGs, such as:

Rokugan d20
Nyambe, African Adventures
Northern Crown
WarCraft the Roleplaying Game (The D&D branded 1st edition of the WoW RPG)
Iron Kingdoms (the first edition was d20/OGL)

...and probably a lot more I don't own or haven't played.

This January and most of February have been super quiet and I've had plenty of time to read, so it looks like this year I will well outpace previous ones for number of individual books read, if not the final page count.

Books Read in January-February 2018:

The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler (The Shadow Campaigns Book 2)
The Price of Valor by Django Wexler (The Shadow Campaigns Book 3)
The Coming of the Terrans by Leigh Brackett
The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett
Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson (re-read)
Earth's Last Citadel by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Doomstalker Darkwar Book 1 by Glen Cook
Warlock Darkwar Book 2 by Glen Cook
Ceremony Darkwar Book 3 by Glen Cook

Currently 66 pages into
The Urth of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

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The books I read in 2017:

Books I read for a second time:4
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Scar by China Mieville
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (The Stormlight Archive Book 1)
Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (The Stormlight Archive Book 2)

New books I finished: 22
Crusader Road by Michael A. Stackpole (Pathfinder Tales)
Reign of Stars by Tim Pratt (Pathfinder Tales)
Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick
The Dark Lady by Mike Resnick
Walpurgis III by Mike Resnick
The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan (Riyria Revelations Book 1)
Avempartha by Michael J. Sullivan (Riyria Revelations Book 2)
Nyphron Rising by Michael J. Sullivan (Riyria Revelations Book 3)
The Emerald Storm by Michael J. Sullivan (Riyria Revelations Book 4)
Wintertide by Michael J. Sullivan (Riyria Revelations Book 5)
Percepliquis by Michael J. Sullivan (Riyria Revelations Book 6)
The Face in the Frost by John Bel Airs
The Glasshouse by Charles Stross
The Thousand Names by Django Wexler (The Shadow Campaigns Book 1)
Changeling by Roger Zelazny
Singularity Sky by Charles Stross
The Wall of Storms by Ken Liu (The Dandelion Dynasty Book 2)
The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross (The Laundry Files Book 1)
The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross (The Laundry Files Book 2)
The Burrowers Beneath by Brian Lumley
Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson (The Stormlight Archive novella)
Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (The Stormlight Archive Book 3)

Books I started but failed to finish: 4
The Dimension Next Door edited by Martin H.Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes (short fiction anthology)
Madwand by Roger Zelazny
Donnerjack by Roger Zelazny
The Transition of Titus Crowe by Brian Lumley

Thanks to everyone in this thread for sharing their reading experiences. I've sought out many of the fantasy and sci-fi books I've read in the last several years because they were mentioned in this thread.

Richard Pett's infamous adventure The Styes from Dragon #121 seems fairly similar, although the creature in question doesn't have implosion as written.

Styes Spoilers:
The adventure involves a plot by an aboleth (which utilizes human, skum and chuul minions) to corrupt a sea side city and fuel the growth of a fiendish kraken. If the PCs act quickly, it is only huge, but left unchecked it will grow to a colossal size with 60HD, packing various nasty spell-like powers.

Ambition, Solidarity, Strength, and Zeal appear in Planeshift: Amonkhet.

Knight of the Chord was a prestige class in Monte Cook's Complete Book of Eldritch Might. They also appear in his Ptolus setting and the Banewarrens module set there.

I tend to read about two books a week, not counting dry spells. A good number of these are gaming books, which don't seem to count for this discussion, which leaves me with just short of 40 books I read this year.

38 Books I Read In 2015:

The Reluctant King (The Goblin Tower, The Clocks of Iraz, and The Unbeheaded King) by L. Sprague DeCamp

The Chronicles of Amber 1&2 by Roger Zelazny

The Book of the New Sun 3&4– Sword of the Lictor, Citadel of the Autarch, by Gene Wolfe

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

Godlike Machines (anthology)

Ringworld by Larry Niven

The Merchant Princes Books 1-6 by Charles Stross

The Summoner, Chronicles of the Necromancer Book 1 by Gail Z. Martin

Myths and Sagas of the Nosemen by H.A. Guerber (Nonfiction, inaccurate as hell)

The Goblin Corps by Ari Mammel

Cold Copper, Book 3 of the Steam Age by Devon Monk

Mirrorshades the Cyberpunk Anthology edited by Bruce Sterling

Halting State by Charles Stross

Zendegi by Greg Egan

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

The King in Yellow by Robert Chambers

Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie

Jack of Shadows by Roger Zelazny

Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons

The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem

The Abyss Beyond Dreams by Peter F. Hamilton

Small Gods, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett

Pathfinder Tales: Prince of Wolves by Dave Gross

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Pathfinder Tales: Fire Soul by Gary Kloster

The Chronicles of the Black Company
The Silver Spike and Shadow Games: First Book of the South by Glen Cook

Books I Read Part Of, Then Put Down in 2015:

The Chronicles of the Lensmen Vol.1 by E.E. "Doc" Smith

Thieve's World

The Wanderer's Necklace by H. Rider Haggard

The World Set Free by H.G. Wells

The Arabian Nights (Barnes & Noble Classics Edition)

Arbitary Lists:

Top 5 Books I Think Were Worth Their Hype
1.Lord of Light. I don't care how many times they failed to make this as a movie. Try again, Hollywood! Amazingly visual, action-packed, and over-the top. Plus it contains one character I cannot think of as anyone but Benedict Cumberbatch, though he's probably too big a star for the role.

2.Hyperion- But not the sequels. I've never seen a book that has managed to juggle so many genres, doing each so well, and then combine them into a single narrative that also works as a whole.

3.Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. There are parts of this book that drag, and several times I almost put it down...but ultimately, I think this book has a lot of great ideas and sympathetic characters. Best. Faerie. Curse. Ever.

4.The Cyberiad- A collection of stories I could only describe in terms of things that payed homage to it. Classic.

5.Small Gods- When I started reading Pratchet, I wanted to do them in chronological order. Now I see why everyone told me to just skip ahead and read Small Gods first. An excellent inspiration for how gods theoretically work, and a story that allows faith in the same religion to drive both its hero and villain, without condemning religion in general.

Book I'm Surprised As Hell That I Enjoyed As Much As I Did
1. Prince of Wolves (I'm not a fan of werewolves, but this worked. Kudos to Mr. Gross. Also, a shoutout to 'Sara', who got this copy signed by the author, and then sold it to HPB, where I bought it. Desna smiles, indeed.)

Books That Get A Lot of Hype, But I Just Didn't Enjoy Very Much

1.Ancillary Justice-This book is fine, I just don't see what the fuss is all about. The gender politics of it are progressive, and I applaud that, but the plot and action are only okay. Intensely disliking every character who doesn't die in the first Act makes it really hard to care about what happens to them.

2.Leviathan Wakes-This book was amazing for about 200 pages until the two plotlines intersected for the Big Reveal on Eros. Then it just went sideways for me and I stopped caring about this plot and these people.

3.The Lensmen- I read this because it inspired most of modern action SF in some way. Unfortunately, it inspired Star Wars' need for unnecessary and boring prequels, which were included in this edition. I barely suffered through Triplanetary, skimmed First Lensman, and skipped head to Galactic Patrol before just dropping the book.

Worst Catastophe As A Book Owner
My copy of the collected Book of Amber was destroyed when a toilet leaked in a room above my hotel's main office, soaking the book and forcing me to throw it away. I have yet to obtain a replacement copy.

Overall, it was a good year, although I didn't manage to read as many first-run hardcover novels due to having other things to spend my cash on.

I agree with the idea that it probably means "The Cage" in some ancient language, although I favor one of the planar languages. The gods would have needed some sort of name to call the dirt-ball they were sealing Rovagug in, and it makes sense for a divinely defined term to stick around even if it is cumbersome for mortals to say. This is especially true when high level divine casters can call up the gods' servants to check their spelling. Perhaps, stored deep in Hell's libraries is the original contract that spells out Asmodeus' role as keeper of The Cage,and Golarion's name is specified in the legal definitions?

Real World Speculation:

In real life, after hearing that Varisia is a play on avarice, and aiudara are from the Spanish word ayudar for "to help", I've chosen to believe that all proper nouns are clever wordplay until proven otherwise.

So for all the planets in the system:

Aballon the Horse caballo is Spanish for horse.

Castrovel the Green Not sure, but I'd call it a reference to Castrovalva, either the Escher print or the Dr. Who episode.

Golarion the Cage it easily anagrams into gaol iron?

Akiton the Red an aketon or acton is a quilted layer worn under armor, and as the local equivalent to Mars, this has an appropriately martial flair.

Verces the Line it is a stretch, but it makes me think of vertices in the geometrical or astrological sense.

The Diaspora - what it says on the tin.

Eox the Dead - a simple letter transposition for the prefix exo-, appropriate for a planet with no atmosphere where exo-suits would be needed.

Liavara the Dreamer no idea.

Bretheda the Cradle The obvious thing would be for a gas giant to have a name derived from breath, but I'm uncertain.

Apostae the Messenger I think this is deliberately meant to evoke the root word of apostle or apostate.

Aucturn the Strange I think this creepy and strange world probably got its name from the creepy and strange words Nocturne and Autumn.

Aranna wrote:
Wow the same thing happened to me while playing Dragon Age: Origins. I got as far as landsmeet with my elf rogue when ~sizzle~ my laptop fried itself... first playthrough was with an elf rogue too, coincidentally.

I have had the worst luck with Dragon Age:Origins.

I played this game for 70+ hours twice, getting as far as the Landsmeet, only to have my computer die, requiring OS reinstallation and hardware replacements. The second time this happened, I upgraded to a newer OS, rebuilt most of the machine, and gave up on DA:O for over a year.

Finally, some two years after buying the game on release, I completed my third play through. I ignored most of the sideplots, took mostly evil/callous options in the name of expediency, and completed the game in 53 hours. It wasn't so much a fun experience as a monument to my bitter determination to just finish the thing.

During this year's Steam Summer Sale that I picked up the Awakening expansion and the various DLCs. Earlier this week, I dusted off my third playthrough's warden(completed in 2011) and took him through the Witch Hunt DLC for a bit of closure. Now I'm considering generating a new character for Awakening...but I'm still too bitter to try playing through the main game with a new character again.

Araxiss wrote:
So for D20 material there are at least 4 versions of Dagon at this point? ... Are there any more? :P

Green Ronin has used Dagon at least twice, although neither version is a demon lord.

The Book of Fiends includes a statblock for Dagon as a powerful unique devil and favored servant of the Archdevil Leviathan in that book's cosmology.

Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era includes Dagon in his real-world role as a deity. While not given stats as a creature, this does give him an alignment, domains, favored weapon, etc. so that priests of him are playable.

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Dorvae: My original list had these guys as Dirae, the Roman furies. A combination of bizzare but cool art and a pagination issue meant that they got renamed and moved. Sometimes that happens (sometimes both things happen), and a new monster gets invented. Necessity truly is the mother of invention.

Ah, okay! I was wondering if these had any mythological origins, but couldn't find anything. Still, I quite like the creature. Appearing as it does alongside the nemesis devil and the immortal ichor, I was curious if there was a conscious "theme" of having monsters that seek out mortal worshipers in this bestiary? Even the flavor text for the magma drake mentions it being worshiped, which I found odd. Probably a coincidence, but it never hurts to ask.

In my local groups, World's Largest Dungeon has always been seen as an opportunity to play anything and everything, so we have had some odd ones.

During the first, incomplete run through WLD in college, I played a Rune Animal Wolf (template from the Arcana Unearthed/Evolved supplement Legacy of the Dragons) with levels in the variant bard class from The Book of Eldritch Might. Although he didn't get much use out of his wolf empathy/command powers, he was able to blast things with sonic darts (barks) and disorient his enemies with subsonic vibrations.

Other notable weirdness in that party included a grippli rogue, an anthropomorphic baleen whale druid, a rakshasa, and a human mummy with the feral template.

After college, I and a couple players from that game made another run at WLD, and our group more or less committed to everyone having a weird character.

1. Litorian (Lion-men from Ptolus) rogue 4/barbarian 2/samurai 1/ronin PrC. His schtick (aside from changing alignments whenever it suited his build) was to rage, power attack, bonzai charge to trade AC for damage, and run into flanking positions. Generally his AC was around a 6, but with his high hitpoints and reasonably good saves, he survived for quite a while before a room with a collapsible floor ended his reign of kiai-shouting terror.

2. Blink dog with levels in monk and rogue

3. Winged kuo-toa cleric (Good and Healing Domains, IIRC)

4. Half-celestial changeling (Eberron half-doppleganger) cleric/sorcerer/mystic theurge (luck and healing domains)

5. Human saint (Book of Exalted Deeds) paladin (using PF version of pally) who had a cloak that gave him various silver-dragon themed powers based on his devotion to Bahamut.

When the litorian died the second time, I replaced him with a duergar knight (PHB2) dwarven defender who was a follower of Bahamut. Likewise, the blink dog perished and his player replaced him with a half-silver dragon elf sorcerer who followed Bahamut. It was pretty easy to convince the Paladin we were legit and get ourselves into the party that way. When the sorcerer died, he was replaced with a shadow creature elf scout, who died to a wail of the banshee trap one room later, and was replaced in turn by his twin brother we found in the next room. Eventually, the duergar, the scout and the two clerics managed to get out of the dungeon alive, along with our NPC monster hangers-on that included a Huge Water Elemental, a ravid, a redeemed nightmare, and a horned devil who agreed not to attack us if he could leave the dungeon with us.

And that is the weirdest party I've ever seen at my table.

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I bought a few of these at an auction held by my old college gaming club a few years ago, although in all honestly, I did so mostly to help out the club rather than out of any desire to own them. That said, I did read them, and the bad reputation of the series is probably well deserved, at least from a mechanical standpoint. I don't recall ever incorporating anything from these books into my own games in the 5+ years I have owned them, although a few have some interesting flavor text and ideas. Granted, I may be missing some hidden gem in the series beyond those that I have read, so I can only speak for the eight titles that I own (listed below). It is also notable that some of the authors in this series also worked for WotC on official D&D products at some point in their careers, notably Mike Mearls (Quintessential Wizard) and Robert J. Schwalb (Q. Witch), so if you are a fan of their work, they might be worth having on that basis.

The books I actually own/have an informed opinion on are...

Book # - Class Focus
3. Cleric
4. Wizard (does have some amusing random mishap tables if that is your style)
6. Dwarf
7. Monk
8. Witch (Includes their version of the class)
9. Psychic Warrior (I think this is the 3.0 version, published 2002)
10. Druid
11. Samurai (Includes their version of the class)

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Brad Chazington.

At least that's what some of the local players I've hung out with call him.

My approach to running CotCT has been...atypical in the extreme. But without boring you all with excessive detail, the current leader of Korvosa is Queen Daenazha Arabasti I, daughter of Venster Arabasti by an unknown mother.

For those curious...

The Messy Details:

Korvosa entered my homebrew campaign setting because I was running Conquest of Bloodsworn Vale and parts of RotR. I made Korvosa the capital of one of my homebrew nations so that I could easily reference the backstory provided in the adventure. When one of my PCs suggested as part of his character background that he had been part of another adventuring party, I decided to go one further and establish that said group was running through the CotCT AP and would occassionally share stories about their adventures. The big-picture details like Eodred's death, the plague, Ileosa killing Endrin and disbanding the Sable Company, etc. were known to the PCs as "other stuff in the campaign world that doesn't involve us".

Then, when they were about 10th level, during downtime, the PC decided to catch up with his friends via a sending spell, found out they were about to storm Castle Korvosa, and then promptly offered to help, serving as a distraction.

So my PCs teleport to the steps of Castle Korvosa, put a spear through Sabine's brainpain before she can get a word out, send the dragon packing, wipe out the Erinyes, and to my shock and awe, smack the cornugon down and proceed into the castle to aide the NPCs in their final battle against Ileosa's simulacrum, which I more or less glossed over as if it were a cutscene, since these NPCs didn't actually have stats. They shook hands with the NPCs, who thanked them for being such a great distraction, and then went back home and never gave Korvosa another thought.

Three years IRL and two campaigns later, I decided that in my current game I would tie up loose ends in Korvosa and run parts of the CotCT that I had never mentioned. I established that Korvosa had suffered a five year Interregnum, with the Seneschal barring anyone from seizing the throne, and the Korvosan Guard and Hellknights struggling to keep order. Rolth had escaped to another city where the PCs encountered him (repurposing events from Edge of Anarchy, and then homebrewing a second encounter). Capturing him alive, they dragged him back to Korvosa for judgement, and found that the real reason Rolth was expelled from the Academae was that he had killed one of Toff Ornelos' favored apprentices, which put the PCs on his radar, (thus laying the groundwork for running Academae of Secrets later).

The PCs also got the attention of the Seneschal who asked them to try and assist him in ending the interregnum by recovering an artifact called the Scepter of Succession from a dungeon complex beneath Korvosa. (running Monte Cook's "Vault of the Iron Overlord" adventure). While attempting to do so, they lost a party member and gave up the quest. When on a later date, we had a game cancellation due to missing players, I ran a one-shot where a group of "evil" PCs working for the Church of Asmodeus finished the job. One of the four bastards emerged triumphant from the dungeon over the corpses of his allies and handed off the scepter, which identified two blood heirs to the throne.

The first was The Black Duke, a known vampire overlord of a neighboring nation who happened to be related to the Porphyria family. (Stats from MMV, and replaces the Conte Tiriac as Ramoska Arkminos' patron)

The second was Daenazha, a tiefling woman working as a guard at the Academae. Hoping to hedge his bets, Lorthact long ago plotted to have Venster Arabasti secretly sire a child, who he hid close at hand in case he should ever have cause to put a puppet on the throne.

When the normal PCs had reason to believe that the Church of Asmodeus was involved in some underhanded plots, they returned to Korvosa to investigate, and were invited by Toff Ornelos to the ball in which both candidates would be politicking for support. Seeing a good opportunity to gather information or confront the leaders of the church, the party agreed to attend, as neutral guests. Ornelos was firmly behind Daenazha, and the Black Duke was being given a cool reception due to a monster who is nonetheless a legitimate ruler of a neighboring nation. During the ball, the PCs discovered that, surprisingly, the Asmodeans were not involved in the plot they were untangling, but before they could leave, a creature attacked and killed one of the Black Duke's retinue, and then fled into the basement levels of the castle.

The guests were herded together under guard for their safety, and the PCs elected to investigate the matter themselves. Pursuing the creature, they ran into Ramoska Arkminos, who had slipped away from the party and opened up the sealed doorway into the Runelord of Lust's vault, inadvertantly unleashing the monster. Ramoska revealed that his true purpose was to investigate the vampires believed to inhabit Sorshen's tomb in the hopes that they might be close enough to the progenitors of vampirsm to hold the secrets of a cure. The PCs were moved by his plight, and they worked together to hunt down the undead-eating monsters in the catacombs below (rot reavers from Monster Manual 3, and a Ghorazagh from Bestiary 3). Satisfied that they had cleared the area of dangerous creatures and running into another sealed door, the PCs convinced Ramoska to return to the surface and make their report to the authorities.

It became abundantly clear after this adventure that the majority of the PCs had no real interest in pursuing the Sorshen/Cure for Vampirism plotline any further and that they wanted to just leave Korvosa to sort itself out.

Officially, then, the PCs washed their hands of the matter, leaving the way open for the Black Duke and the Church of Asmodeus to launch their own expedition, which succeeded in killing Sorshen in her eternal sleep, and resulted in the death of Ramoska Arkminos and the domination of Sorshen's vampire minions by the Black Duke, who subsequently renounced his claim on Korvosa's throne, and returned with them to his own realm, all the more powerful.

Without a competitor, Daenazha is scheduled to be made Queen, although she insists that the Crimson Throne be destroyed and a new one be commissioned in hopes of avoiding the Curse.

Despite my hopes of running Academae of Secrets, my PCs seem pretty much fed up with Korvosa, and are unlikely to return.

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Honestly, it is your game, and your decision as to whether gods, godlings, demigods and demon lords can be killed, and by what level of PCs they can be killed.

That said, if you want a really epic encounter where 20th level PCs feel like they took on a god, I recommend the following, which I would set as roughly CR 26:

Effectively, this character is a complicated gestalt build of an Human Lich Oracle 20 (CR 22) and a 20 HD generic "outsider". It is built with a 20 point array and has at least PC wealth by level, before you count any artifacts it wields. As a (presumably evil) godling, it has one "villain point" per 10 HD, allowing it to execute the following ability:

Epic Plot Protection (Ex): The villain is too important to die yet! When the creature is dropped to 0 or fewer HP, or is subject to a death effect or otherwise slain outright, it may spend a villain point as an immediate action to prevent itself from dying. Time seems to stutter for a moment as the villain heals 150 damage and instantly relocates to a location within one move action. (If necessary, treat this as a 1 round Time Stop during which a beneficial Heal/Harm spell is applied to the character at CL 20th, and then the character physically moves). If the BBEG has no villain points, she is incapable of activating this ability. Generally activation of this ability is accompanied by a brief recounting of the thing the villain did to earn the villain point. i.e. "Mortal Fool! I have slaughtered legions of angels, what chance do you have?" or "Such a wound cannot end that which has blackened the suns of worlds beyond your ken!"

The reason I suggest this instead of just flatly making the villain immune to darn near everything is that this way, the villain is expending resources when your PCs kill it to keep itself in the fight. Also, this follows the idea of the Rule of Three / Three Strikes You're Out, which is a concept that a lot of PCs can get behind if they understand what is going on. Plus, it is a lich, you would have to kill it twice anyway, right? :-)

Godling Lich

A godling lich is effectively a gestalt of Outsider HD with a Human Lich, gaining most of the traits of both types, and possessing the better HD, BAB, Saves and skill points per level from either Outsider or Oracle. For simplicity's sake, I'm going to go ahead and post all the relevant information about the creature here:

Godling Lich:

Gestalt Outsider/Undead Oracle
• d10 Hit Dice.
• Base attack bonus equal to total Hit Dice (fast progression).
• Two good saving throws, usually Reflex and Will. (Or all three good saves, since it says "usually" you could get good Fort and Ref from Outsider and good Will from Oracle)
• Skill points equal to 6 + Int modifier (minimum 1) per Hit Die. The following are class skills: Bluff, Climb, Craft, Diplomacy, Disguise, Fly, Heal, Intimidate, Knowledge (arcana), (history), (planes), (religion), Perception, Profession, Sense Motive, Spellcraft and Stealth. Due to their varied nature, outsiders also receive 4 additional class skills determined by the creature's theme (plus any bonus class skills from oracle mysteries or feats).

• No Constitution score. Undead use their Charisma score in place of their Constitution score when calculating hit points, Fortitude saves, and any special ability that relies on Constitution (such as when calculating a breath weapon's DC).
• Darkvision 60 feet.
• Immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms).
• Immunity to bleed, death effects, disease, paralysis, poison, sleep effects, and stunning.
• Not subject to nonlethal damage, ability drain, or energy drain. Immune to damage to its physical ability scores (Constitution, Dexterity, and Strength), as well as to exhaustion and fatigue effects.
• Cannot heal damage on its own if it has no Intelligence score, although it can be healed. Negative energy (such as an inflict spell) can heal undead creatures. The fast healing special quality works regardless of the creature's Intelligence score.
• Immunity to any effect that requires a Fortitude save (unless the effect also works on objects or is harmless).
• Not at risk of death from massive damage, but is immediately destroyed when reduced to 0 hit points.(* the Epic Plot Protection ability can prevent such destruction however)
• Unlike most living creatures, an outsider does not have a dual nature—its soul and body form one unit. When an outsider is slain, no soul is set loose. Spells that restore souls to their bodies, such as raise dead, reincarnate, and resurrection, don't work on an outsider. It takes a different magical effect, such as limited wish, wish, miracle, or true resurrection to restore it to life.

Short version: 20d10+(Cha mod per level) HP, +20 BAB, all base saves +12, 6+Int skillpoints with the combined class skill lists of the Outsider type and the Oracle class. All Undead traits, but instead of dying at 0, it can use Epic Plot Protection as above, and unlike an undead, it cannot be returned to "the living creature it once was", but rather has the whole "Body/soul is a single unit" feature of the outsider type with regards to coming back to life via magic. Although the creature is theoretically a lich, the unified body/soul bit from Outsider trumps that.

If you want to be especially evil, you may consider the idea that when destroyed, the Lich can simply return to her home plane and reform there as if the entire plane were her phylactery and/or she was a summoned outsider, but this is counter-intuitive to making sure the PCs can feasibly kill her permanently. Alternately, her phylactery could also be a specific piece fused with the plane that could be smashed or disintegrated by the PCs, resulting in the plane's implosion and her final death. Nothing says "Epic" like beating on reality until it breaks ;-)

You may also consider allowing the godling to have a wider variety of spells at hand than a normal oracle would. As a godling, she may be capable of granting 2-3 cleric domains to its followers. Add all the spells on these domain lists to her spells known for free. Heck, treat all basic cleric/oracle spells as known, and then add the spells from these domain lists that aren't on the normal cleric/oracle list as well. Options are power, but actions are also going to limit how many of these spells get used, so your players may not notice (and if you do, you can always point out that the cleric followers of the godling had to be getting their powers from her somehow, right?).

Finally, if after all this you still think the result is too squishy for CR 26, change the Lich DR to /epic and maybe add some more Outsider HD or another class.

Hope this helps

Robert "Heck with Canon, Killing Gods Should Be Possible" Ranting

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22. Catfolk
71 Darkfolk
78 Vodyanoi
79 Ghoul
99 Mul

Alright, here's my attempt (with sincere thanks and apologies to David Eddings, China Mieville and Stephen R. Donaldson)

Creation Myth:

When the lands of Aegys first emerged from the primordial chaos, there were three brother gods who sought to give it shape: Ul-Ra, Vod-Ya and Na-Gho. The all-consuming fires of Na-Gho forged the chaos into a molten orb, which Ul-Ra shielded beneath the Great Sky Dome, and Vod-Ya's waters quenched into a solid mass of land. Upon this stone the forces of fire, air and water worked their will, and brought forth from it the shape of Ysos, the mother goddess. Each of the brother gods embraced her in turn, and brought forth a child. From Ul-Ra came Sekhat, feline goddess of mystery. From Vod-Ya came Gebeth, god of craftsmanship. From Na-Gho came Zoth, god of understanding.

Together the seven gods set about filling the world with wonders, but all was not well. Na-Gho was possessed of an overwhelming hunger, and even as the others created, he set to devouring their creations. Aghast to find his works destroyed, Gebeth appealed to Vod-Ya and Ul-Ra to stop the depredations of their brother. Yet their efforts were in vain, for when they attempted to reason with their sibling, he gnashed his teeth and threatened to devour them as well. Having no recourse, the two set upon the third, and trapped him within a hollow in the earth.

As the great stones ground in place, the son of the entombed, Zoth, the All-Seeing stepped forward to confront his uncles. "No man or god knows better than I how necessary this action is, but only a fool would consider this the end of the matter. Know this; One day the teeth of my father shall rend the belly of Ul-Ra and make such a terror on the land that he shall flee to the farthest skies rather than look upon it. And yea, Vod-Ya shall by his own hand offer up all he holds dear as fodder for my father's gullet. Only then shall Na-Gho's hunger be sated." This dire warning delivered, the god of scholars retired to his studies, leaving his family to continue their work in the fervent hope that his vision would prove false.

The Age of Conflict:

For millenia, the mortal races created in the image of the gods lived in relative peace along the banks of the sacred river Vod, their lives in tune with the rhythm of the River's flooding, and paid homage to their gods with the construction of great monuments in the sands beyond the river banks. Then came the age of conflict, as the Northern Kingdoms of the Ur-Uls (humans) spread into the Southern Kingdoms of the Mur (dwarves). A terrible war erupted, and the Ur-Ul aggressors were forced back, but the Mur, ever a proud people and keen to hold grudges, were not satisfied with mere victory. They pushed forward into the Ur-Ul homelands and made slaves of those they captured before being driven out in turn. The hostilities between the realms would continue on and off for centuries, and all the while both sides accumulated large numbers of captured slaves. Inevitably, this cultural interaction resulted in the first minglings of the two races, and thus were born the Muls, children and slaves of both races alike.

Two thousand years ago, Epophys,a powerful serpentine being from the Primordial Chaos succeeded in piercing the Great Sky Dome and found its way into the realms of Aegys. Seeing the great works of the gods filled it with a sense of both awe and revulsion, but most of all it was moved by the plight of the enslaved mortals who toiled to build in the name of gods who seemed to care not a whit for their creations' individual accomplishments. Insinuating itself among the slaves, it planted the seeds of rebellion, doing what it could do defy the will of the gods. In time, it became revered as a god itself, inspiring legions of slaves to throw off their shackles and rise up against their masters.

One such slave was a Mul gladiator named Nurg, or "Slayer" in the Mur tongue. After leading a successful slave revolt,he engaged in a campaign of guerilla warfare against the corrupt system that had enslaved him. In time, he gained a great number of followers, a veritable army mustering in caves beneath the desert sands. Yet even if he should succeed in defeating the armies of nations, he knew that he was no match for the gods which stood behind them. Thus, he began to search for signs of the great hollow in the earth in which lay the dark god Na-Gho.

When Nurg finally discovered the dark god's resting place, it took him days to make the mad god listen to his pleas. Ultimately, Na-Gho agreed to give Nurg two of his teeth to be fashioned into a terrible weapon, and to instruct some of his followers in the ways of dark magic. Armed with these powers, Nurg lead his armies against the kingdom of the Ur-Uls, crushing them utterly. When Ul-Ra appeared to end the warlord's reign of terror, the two engaged in a deadly battle. Impossibly, the god fell beneath the blade of Nurg, the teeth of Na-Gho from which it was crafted biting deeply into Ul-Ra's body as the prophesy of Zoth had foretold. As Ysos carried Ul-Ra into the sky to recouperate, Nurg licked the god's blood from his weapon, absorbing a piece of his divine essence into himself and began his ascension to divinity as Nurg-Ul, the Slayer of Gods.

As Nurg-Ul's armies tore the lands of the Ur-Uls assunder, the Mur prepared a desperate plan. Expecting no mercy from the Mul hordes, the Mur set about a plan to dam the River Vod, preventing its life-giving waters from reaching the lands that Nurg-Ul had conquered. That it cost the lives of thousands of Mul slaves, preventing them from joining the rebellion once Nurg-Ul's forces arrived at their doorstep only encouraged the unforgiving pace of the project's construction.

With the life-giving flow of the River Vod cut off, Nurg-Ul's army found themselves in an untenable situation. If the dam were not brought down, the lands of his hard-won kingdom would wither and die under the desert sun, insuring an pyrhic victory for the fallen Sky God despite their accomplishments. Yet already his men were tired and running low on supplies, in no shape to launch an assualt across hundreds of miles of desert.

As if in answer to his unspoken prayers, the priests of Na-Gho set about reanimating those slain in past battles as an army of the undead. Those Ur-Uls who survived the Mul rebellion were denied food and water, and systematically infected with a virulent disease which gave terrible unlife to those it slew, creating a plague of ravenous dead who would serve as shock troops for Nurg-Ul's armies. These terrible once-men they called Ghouls in honor of dread Na-Gho. In short order, the swollen ranks of the dead legions marched across the empty desert to lay seige to the Mur.

The seige wore on for years, the numbers of the living slowly adding to those of the undead in a terrible attrition. When at last their defenses were breached, Nurg-Ul called out to Vod-Ya to face him in combat, but the god would not be goaded. "You have been nothing but a pawn in my brother's revenge, slave-born, and now you stand victorious over a kingdom of ghouls. How long do you think it will take before they consume you as well? No, I will not fight you today, Nurg-Ul, godling of madness, for you have already destroyed everything you fought for and all that I sought to protect. There can be no victors today, only victims."

Then, in a final act of desperation to ensure that the kingdom of Nurg-Ul would never again enjoy the flow of the River Vod, Vod-Ya shattered the earth beneath the dam, sending the river's waters plunging along a new course deep into the hollow places of the earth, where Na-Gho waited with an open maw to receive this final offering. It is said that even as the water fell in a torrent, Nurg-Ul stood in the deluge, raging at his fate like a madman before the flood, until at last he was swept away and never seen on the mortal plane again.

The Modern Day:

In the two thousand years since the end of the Age of Conflict, the survivors of the great wars and plagues have rebuilt their lives. On the islands beyond the northern shore, in the depths of the earth, and amid the shifting sands and ruined monuments of a dead empire, life goes on, and history is lost to living memory in a world where gods fear to tread.

Sekhati (Catfolk)- While never the most numerous of Aegys' races, the children of the goddess of mystery have managed well for themselves, and can be found in virtually every forested isle, desert oasis, or bastion of civilization. Aloof and self-centered, prone to sudden mood swings and fickle affections, the catfolk are simultaneously familiar and unknowable to the other races, and they revel in it. Consumate manipulators and explorers, Catfolk do well in any occupation that involves constant change and activity to keep their interests, often becoming merchants, sailors, thieves, assassins and perfomers. Adventuring Sekhati often favor the Bard, Rogue,and Sorcerer classes, and despite their reputation for a lack of wisdom, a surprising number are clerics of Sekhat or rangers.

Mul (dwarf/human hybrid) While the Muls owe their current freedom to the revolt of Nurg-Ul, most modern Muls recognize that in the end, his quest to bring down the gods only resulted in his own ruin, and that they are all lucky to be alive after the disaster he caused. Hardy and practical to a fault, the Muls nonetheless still carry with them a sliver of the resentment against a world that allowed them to be enslaved, even centuries after the last pure blood Ur-Uls and Murs have perished.
Muls tend to be stoic and suspicious around other races, and expect a certain amount of distance in their interpersonal relations, literally and physically. Generations of living in crampt quarters have lead the Muls to place a great value on personal space. Muls excel as crafstmen, laborers and warriors, but if given an opportunity to expand their horizons, many can find surprising talents they never knew they had. Adventuring Muls often favor the Barbarian, Fighter, Monk and Ranger classes, although they might excel in any field they choose. Mul clerics understandably are rare and often misunderstood by their peers.

Ghouls True to the words of Zoth's prophecy, the terrible hunger of the dark god Na-Gho was sated by the flow of the River Vod into his subterranean realm. As a side-effect, the ghouls found themselves for the first time not driven by a supernatural hunger that could not be supressed. Although no ghoul remembers its life before its unholy transformation, they slowly began to realize that they were in fact just as much people now as they had been before. Free to choose other pursuits, the ghouls slowly rebuilt their kingdom, eventually reaching out to the living races for trade, with hands now devoid of a paralyzing curse. While the ghouls are no longer tempted to nibble on their neighbors at the drop of a hat, they do occassionally practice cannibalism, which has lead to a surreal arrangement in which the living races employ the ghouls as undertakers. More commonly however, the ghouls use their long lifespans and clinical detachment to serve as clerks, scribes, physicians and other such scholarly pursuits. Adventuring ghouls often seek to explore their unique condition through magic, often becoming alchemists, magi, witches and wizards,and occassionally clerics.

Ulramog(Darkfolk) Not all of the Ur-uls were exterminated or transformed into ghouls during Nurg-Ul's rise to power. A few managed to seek shelter beneath the earth after witnessing the fall of Ul-Ra in the climactic battle, only to find themselves cut off from the surface when the River Vod was redirected into the Earth Hollows. Lead by fanatic priests of Ul-Ra, desperate to maintain their power in the face of their deity's defeat, these poor souls were fed on a steady diet of guilt. It was their fault that Ul-Ra had fallen, their doubts and faithlessness had made the god falter and strengthened their enemy. Only by committing themselves fully to the cause of Ul-Ra could they hope for their god to recover and forgive them for their transgressions.
Many generations passed, and in time, the Ur-uls became the Ulramog, the Forsaken of Ul-Ra. Stunted and misshapen, they wear heavy concealing layers of shabby clothing, adding new layers as the old ones rot to tatters, believing that they are unfit to be seen until the Sky God forgives them. More disturbingly, as each Darkfolk dies, their bodies discorporate in a burst of light, which the priests of Ul-Ra insist is their soul being transformed into healing light that strengthens Ul-Ra in their sacrifice. The most fanatical sect of the Ulramog believe that the Sun is Ul-Ra's dying light, and that it never shown in the sky until the day he was laid open by Nurg-Ul, the Enemy. In any case, no Ulramog wishes to see another's dying light, for to do so is to capture a fragment within their eyes and memories, thereby denying it to Ul-Ra. Likewise, to look upon the Sun is to take power from Ul-Ra, and thus is forbidden to all but those chosen for holy missions on the surface world...
Of course, any society as fanatical as that of the Ulramog's has its runaways, rebels and detractors who live peacefully on the surface well away from their more zealous brethren. These Ulramog often find employment in positions where discretion and wariness are strengths, such as couriers, guards, bounty hunters, guides, private investigators, customs inspectors and tax collectors. Adventuring Ulramogs often pursue the roles of clerics of Ul-Ra, Inquisitors, Monks, Rangers and Rogues.

Vodyanoi The Mur survivors of Nurg-Ul's assault followed the sacred River Vod as it plunged deep into the Earth Hollows, and like the Ulramog, they were changed by the long centuries spent in the dark. Although superficially they resemble the Mur from which they descend, their slimey skins, wide mouths, goggle eyes and tendril-like beards lend them the look of dwarf-newt hybrids.
Although the largest numbers of the Vodyanoi can be found along the twisting subterranean path of the River Vod, over time they have spread to the sea coasts and major lakes throughout the surface world. It is said that "Where there is water, there are Vodyanoi", and this is not far from the truth, as a Vodyanoi far from a body of water is probably carrying a substantial amount of water with him, both to keep himself moist and to sell to other travellers in the desert.
Cantankerous and contrary at first brush, Vodyanoi take some getting used to. They enjoy trading insults and practical jokes, and are not above petty acts of property destruction when their enemies displease them, although they tend to avoid direct violence if at all possible. Vodyanoi, like their watery god, prefer to let their enemies struggle futily against an enemy unmoved by their demands for a fair fight. Most vodyanoi make a living from the river or the sea, diving for pearls, fishing, ferrying travelers, sailing and loading cargo for ships, and occassionally selling water in the desert. Adventuring Vodyanoi favor the Barbarian, Cleric of Vod-Ya, Druid, and Ranger classes, and are seldom arcane casters.

My suggestion is to look at the canon material, find out what Lorthact has done, and then figure out how he managed it. If he's an Advanced, Giant Pit Fiend Fighter 3 with a unique Infernal Duke power, how did he...

Do this?:

1. Pretend to be a human wizard. (Pit Fiends have no inate ability to change shape, so he needs a spell, item or special ability to do this. If someone gives him a scroll, he can't just add it to his spells per day if he only has SLAs, so that would look suspicious.)

2. Fight a hit-squad of Pit Fiends and Cornugons, in public, while keeping the ruse that he's a wizard. (Lorthact could not do this with just a normal pit fiend's spell like abilities. Devils are immune to fire spells and his poison, the types involved have too many HP for power word stun as an opener, and they have good SR and saves.)

3. Escape the hit-squad, and fake his death such that Asmodeus didn't send another. (This says Project Image, Simulacrum or some other means of making it appear he died while being elsewhere, and some nice anti-divination spells that can fool gods who aren't looking too closely.)

4. Create a demiplane. (This one requires an 8th-9th level spell or special power, but is awkward as an SLA...I mean, how often do you need to use it?)

Conclusion: At the very least, you need to customize his list of spell-like abilities and give him the Master of Magic supernatural ability from the Infernal Duke entry so that he has the required spells. Alternatively, you could give him actual levels in wizard, which would at least grant him the ability to use items of spells off the wizard list, and to effectively fake having a bonded item/familiar and a spell book.

And Mark, I'm not saying your build is not a good framework, just that it needs a few more adjustments and maybe some equipment to account for the stuff he's done in canon.

I'm 27 years old and I've been playing D&D for about 12 years. I am male and have never served in the military.

You should check out the 3.5 Pathfinder adventure "Escape from Old Korvosa" which has rules for a brutal sport called Blood Pig. To get a feel for the idea, here's the blog preview for it...

Who's up for a game of Blood Pig?!

I too have experienced this problem! I had my cart filled with Planet Stories and Dungeon/Dragon back issues, but got the same error message. I'm not sure what the problem is...everything I have in the cart is an in-stock, non-preorder, print Paizo publication, so none of the exceptions listed in the blog seem to apply.

I will keep an eye on this thread, and I plan to call Customer Service directly on Monday if there's not a solution beforehand.

There is a Quickling template in Green Ronin's Advanced Bestiary which quadruples the creatures speed, grants a dodge bonus to AC, an extra haste attack, +8 Dexterity, and a rather ridiculous number of bonus feats related to being fast, all for the price of a +1 increase to CR. If you have access to the book, you could use that.

Or, you could use Set's version, which seems to be a little less powerful, especially since it doesn't mess with spellcasting mechanics like Quickling does (which would be useless stat-block filler on an animal incapable of casting spells anyway).

I run Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved hybridized with 3.5, Pathfinder and Trailblazer. Specifically, I use the following elements of Pathfinder:


Alchemist - I've used this class for low level NPC villains a few times, converting the effects of extracts from PF spells to AE spells as I go, and generally just fudging it behind the DM screen.

Class Features

Arcane bond – The magister gains this ability instead of the magister's staff ability

Trap spotter rogue talent – Since finding magical traps is not restricted to one class in AE, this ability replaces the text of trapfinding.

Favored terrain, shared enemy, quarry, improved quarry, and master hunter – My homebrew ranger variant (which has neither spells nor an animal companion) gains these class features.

Paired opportunists (after being specifically requested by two players)

Humans: +2 to any ability score of their choice

Non-humans are balanced around having +2 to one physical, +2 to one mental, and -2 to a single other stat, as the PF races do.

I use the basic rules for acquisition of skills from Pathfinder. (Skill points buy skill ranks on a 1:1 basis to the max of the characters HD, +3 bonus for class skills.)

Linguistics replaces speak language, decipher script and forgery.

PF inspired me to combine several other skills, but I did so in slightly different fashion.

There's a nation in the River Kingdoms called Tymon that is basically a city of gladiators, so that is the first place I would look. There is a four page spread on this city-state in the Pathfinder Chronicles Guide to the River Kingdoms, which is probably the most in-depth information you'll find. The Pathfinder Journal in Pathfinder #35 also features a short story set in Tymon, which might provide a few more details.

Everything from MM1 except the list quoted by Sizik is on the website and is open content.

Two monsters from MM2, the Razorboar and the Scorpionfolk are open content. They were originally made by a 3rd party publisher, and included in MM2 as an example of how to properly use content from another company under the OGL.

Everything in MM3,4,and 5 is Closed Content.

Something my own group realized last session:

Any 2nd level spell that has a duration of 10 rounds/minutes a level, set at minimum caster level (3) will last 30 rounds/minutes. Therefore, a D30 works well as a counter to mark how much of a duration is left on common buffs cast from wands and potions. You can also of course use it as a countdown timer for any number between 21 and 30 if your percentiles are not handy

Cesare wrote:

I found Karzoug to be kind a BBEG.

...since he never affected the PCs personally, they generally affected a very cavalier attitude.

I agree that the core of the problem is that the PCs are not personally connected to Karzoug, which is something of a fault of the entire AP. The only real remedy for this is to go off the rails and write those connections yourself.

For example, when I ran RotRL as part of my 2-year homebrew campaign...

I had the perfect hook handed to me by a PC who wanted to begin the campaign with partial amnesia, remembering nothing before being taken in by a tribe of savage humanoids who found him in the wilderness a year before the campaign began. Over time, I dropped hints that the character was a member of a culture from a distant land in the oriental region of the world, and suggested a connection between his people and the ruins of Thassilon. I also implied that his animal companion, a heron, was far more intelligent than normal, and it eventually began gaining strange semi-divine powers.

After defeating Mokmurian and learning of Karzoug's location, the party traveled to his homeland on the way to Xin-Shalast. Recognized by NPCs who had known him before his amnesia, he was kidnapped, and when the rest of the party went to his rescue, discovered his kidnapper was actually his former betrothed, and daughter of the nation's emperor. It turned out that he had once been a powerful monk who claimed to be the reincarnation of a dead god, and the leader of a party of 16th level adventurers who had confronted Karzoug with tragic results. Karzoug slew two of their company, and invoked a spell which expelled the divine essence from the monk's body, effectively erasing his memories and making him a level 0 blank slate onto which he had built his character. Loosed from his body, the divine essence of the dead god of nature had taken the form of a heron which became his companion, and it still retained the memories of the monk he had been. By this point, it had even gained enough strength that with the aide of telepathy or similar magic, it could communicate with the party, confirming all of this and encouraging them to defeat Karzoug, whose giant forces now threatened the princess' kingdom, and find a way to "fix" the situation, returning him to a humanoid body.

So the party, plus the princess, made the trek to Xin-Shalast, and were subsequently ambushed by the other surviving member of the the monk's adventuring party, a rival for the princess' affections. In exchange for sparing himself and the princesss after their previous battle, the rival had agreed to hand over his former ally to Karzoug, should he ever reappear from having fallen off the mountain and into a hole in time and space caused by the mountain's extraplanar nature. With the help of Glorofaex the dragon, the rival kidnapped the animal companion (who afterall, really *was* the person who Karzoug had stipulated in the deal) and gave him up to Karzoug, who promptly slew him and added him to the Runewell, leaving his broken bird-corpse at the entrance for the PCs to discover. By the time the PCs finally entered the Runewell to confront Karzoug, things were very *censored* personal for them, and the fight was quite epic.

I kinda like D&D 3.0, 3.5 and Pathfinder, and I jump at the chance to play with my friends...but I love Arcana Evolved. So much so that I hesitate to say more than that for fear of gushing out an impenetrable block of text.

Since Arcana Unearthed came out in late summer of 2003, I have played in one campaign from 1st to 20th level in the Diamond Throne setting. This was an adaptation of the Shackled City Adventure Path, with the city of Cauldron placed in the southern Elder Mountains, and set up as an unofficial Free City of the South. While I loved the races and classes, the focus on daily ritual and the implementation of ceremonial feats quickly became a sticky issue as the demands of the adventuring lifestyle required us to keep moving, with little time for rest or training. As such, first the time spent training, and finally the monetary cost of the rituals themselves fell victim to being houseruled out of the game. Ultimately, when it came to a conflict between flavor text and making the game fun for everyone involved, flavor text went by the wayside.

Since then, I have played in three other campaigns which made use of the AU/E system, and ran five campaigns as DM, as well as numerous one-shots and D&D games where bits and pieces of AE were allowed. Yet all of these have been in settings other than the Diamond Throne. While I and most of the 40+ gamers I have had the pleasure of playing AE with enjoy the classes, many of the races, and the magic system, over time we have allowed rituals, ceremonies and oaths to fall by the wayside for the sake of keeping the rip-roaring adventure feel of D&D with the mechanics we enjoy.

If you're curious about the current state of my AE/3.5/PF hybrid, feel free to look through my campaign wiki here

If you intend to publish these stories, you will need to make sure you aren't infringing on anyone's copyrights, which means consulting with a lawyer who specializes in that sort of thing. While I am not a lawyer, I can already tell you that "the races from Eberron as well as the ones from Monte Cooke's Diamond Throne, Vulcans, Klingons, Shiar, Illithids, Gith, Goa'uld" are all copyright their respective owners. Be cautious and take steps to protect yourself from legal unpleasantness before you put hard work into a creative project.

Beyond that, I would advise dividing up your world into clear geographic regions and focusing on direct conflicts between 1-4 races in each one, which you already have a good start on.

Consider also that while all these races are intelligent, that does not necessarily mean they are suitable as PCs. In particular, if two races are in a constant state of war with one another, it is probably a bad idea to have both available as PCs in the same party, unless they have an exceptional reason not to kill each other on sight. Generally speaking, it is better to have enmity between PC races as a result of old or simmering conflicts rather than active wars.

Also, some races just make terrible PCs. For example, Sahuagin can't survive for long outside of salt water, which severely limits their ability to participate in any adventure that doesn't take place under the sea. When underwater however, they have nearly overwhelming advantages compared to the standard PC races, who can't breathe water or swim well, let alone having racial powers to make friends with sharks and fly into a rage. You could design a relatively balanced fish-man race to serve as PCs, but then it wouldn't really be a Sahuagin. Basically, it is important to draw distinctions between the heroic, PC races, and those that are best left as NPCs and Antagonists.

From what I've read of your description, I would say that the sahuagin, elder psionic race, and evil tieflings are probably not PC-friendly. The aasimar are somewhat borderline, as their role as rulers of a kingdom and position as a dying race lends them to being NPCs, but I can see some potential in the odd rebellious noble out to earn a name for himself as a hero.

The hobgoblins, drow, neutral tieflings, desert wanderering gypsies, and either the dragonkin or giantkin all sound like decent PC options. Assuming you keep the core races, that more or less doubles the number of options for your PCs, which is probably more than enough.

If it was me designing this world, I'd probably just make the gnomes or halflings the desert wanderers, and drop dwarves and half-orcs from the setting entirely, and have the hobgoblins take their "place" as warlike dwellers in mountain and underground fortresses who happen to be ugly...but that is just me.

Honestly Hogarth, I don't think you're in the minority at all when it comes to the setting material. In fact, I daresay that the setting is what has prevented a lot of people from embracing the product. It deviates so far from the "D&D" norm that it loses the broad-base appeal of vanilla fantasy, and caters instead to a very niche market, or rather a plethora of niche markets, from fans of Stephen R. Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series to fans of "Furry Fantasy".

In fact, with the exception of the very first Arcana Unearthed game I was in, I have not played in the Diamond Throne setting. That's saying something, especially since I've been playing and running AE for eight years, across seven campaigns as GM and three as a player.

Over time, my games have become increasingly hybridized with 3.5, Pathfinder, and Trailblazer, while drifting further toward D&D norms. I still have akashics, champions and totem warriors, but I allow barbarian, rogue, and ranger as well. I've dropped greenbond in favor of homebrewed versions of cleric and druid, and use an alternate monk instead of oathsworn. I've given the magister a spellbook instead of blanket access to all complex spells (simple are still free, but complex and exotic need to be scribed as a wizard does). I even dropped all of the anthropomorphic races in favor of elves, dwarves, and orcs once I realized that my players were never going to take things seriously and stop making fetish jokes so long as there were "furries" around. Ceremonial feats, truenames, and oaths almost seem like legacy code at this point, things have changed so drastically.

Yet for all these changes, I still consider AE to be my d20 game of choice and myself one of its more devoted fans, even if I haven't visited the Diamond Throne itself in eight years.

In theory, simply adapting the Pathfinder casters to having Readied spells and Spell Slots as in AE will make them more versatile, and therefore more powerful. In my experience it mostly just makes them easier and more enjoyable to play, and no more or less terrible in the hands of a power gamer than the standard mechanics already can be.

I might suggest picking up a copy of Trailblazer: New Horizons in 3.5 Roleplaying, published by Badaxe Games, which proposes using a unified casting progression for all classes. While I can't say I like what this system does to the bard, the treatment of the cleric, druid sorcerer and wizard is relatively sound. Essentially, all of the classes use the same casting progression for both spells known and spell slots. If you have four spells at that level, you ready four spells and have four slots. Clerics get their domain spells and cures as bonus readied spells, and druids likewise always have summon nature's ally prepared at every level in addition to their normal allotment. Wizards get bonus spells readied as a class feature, and sorcerers get bonus spell slots in the same fashion (I.e. "Bonus readied spell-1st level" written in the class feature column). Since all casters are effectively spontaneous with this change, it makes sense that sorcerers and oracles would no longer have slower spell acquisition. As for the 1st-6th level casters, I would keep their charts as written, with Known spells simply becoming Readied spells.

D&D's giant intelligent ants are Formians, not Fomorians, although the confusion is understandable especially when skimming text.

As for the various types of Fomorian...why not just make Fomorians a "family" of related monsters in their own right? If we can have multiple kinds of outsiders like Agathions and multiple kinds of fey like Gremlins, why not just stat up Deformed, Beautiful, and Baleful Eye Fomorians?

Fo-More the the Merrier I say. ;-)

1. Jabberwocky

2. I really don't know, but if I had to guess, I would say that the Nirvana Dragon has been redesigned.

3. Stygian Leviathan (CR 21, From the Tome of Horrors II). Sure, it looks like a shark and not a whale, but this seems much more frightening and in line with what the greatest predator in the River Styx should look like.

4. Giantess with wild hair, clothes and expression, vaguely knightly armor, two handed warhammer...Definately a Titan.

Gorbacz wrote:
Bear agathions could be called Arktonals (Arktos = bear in Greek)

Well, there we go. I vote for Arktonal and Bovinal then.

Any other suggestions?

Despite not making an appearance in Bestiary 1, Pathfinder products have specifically referenced the leonal, avoral and vulpinal agathions. I assume that these three at least will probably feature in Bestiary 2, but I wonder if this is meant to be an exclusive list, or if there are other types of agathion planned for inclusion in the Pathfinder rules?

While 3.5 had the cervidal, lupinal, equinal, ursinal and musteval, none of these creatures were made open content. This presents something of a problem for anyone trying to design new OGL agathions as replacements, especially since there is an obvious naming scheme at work. After all, what do you call a bear agathion but an ursinal? An ursal? Is that different enough to avoid legal issues? Would it be too confusing to call them vanara, since from what I can tell, the vanara of Hindu mythology could have either bear or monkey heads? Or are vanara just not really appropriate at neutral good outsiders thematically?

So I guess the question is...are there other kind of agathions we might expect to see from Paizo, and what kinds of animals would they resemble? My personal preference would be to see one for each of the animal themed buff spells (leonal= cat's grace, avoral= owl's wisdom and eagle's splendor, vulpinal= fox's cunning, ursal= bear's endurance, bovinal= bull's strength). I might suggest making the "bear" agathion a panda, but the scientific name for pandas, Ailuropoda means "cat foot", which could cause confusion. Not to mention the issues this might cause since Pathfinder books are printed in China, which has some strict policies on the depiction of pandas or panda-like creatures in the media, if I recall correctly.

So to my fellow gamers, what kind of agathions would you like to see, and what should they be called?

To the Paizo staff, if you have the time and inclination, what kinds of agathions can we expect?

I tend to agree with the masses on the first being an alchemy golem, the third a hippogriff and the fourth some sort of primordial dragon, possibly aquatic.

As for #2, I think it is one of the new Daemons, intended to fill in the lower CR ranks and likely a servant of Apollyon, Horseman of Pestilence, since it combines elements of a rat, ant, maggots and the fungus that wraithstrike linked to, all of which are verminous disease vectors that corrupt and consume.

Arcana Evolved also has a prestige class for the runethane base class or rune-children race called...*ahem* the runelord. However, I don't think this is what you'd be looking for, since AE's concept of runes doesn't really jive with that presented in the Rise of the Runelords.

Based on the size of the space it occupies and its reach, I would say roughly 40 feet in length. 15 (space) +15 (bite reach) + 10 (tail reach) = 40. I would also guess that an adult green dragon is probably a little more than 15 feet high on all fours, and about 30 when standing upright on its hind legs based on these same measurements.

Comparing that to a tyrannosaur, I'd say the dragon's head is probably about 3-4 feet long, with the eyes about the size of a golf-ball. Still, that is just a guess on my part.

The book essentially consists of nothing but templates and example creatures which are "Template + base creature from the SRD" to give you an idea of how it works. While there are some templates I found lacking (Elemental Infused didn't do much for me), others, like Amalgam, Blood Knight, Bramble, Devil-bound, Icey, Metal-clad, etc. have all added greatly to my game. As a resource for templates to be applied by DMs, it is certainly useful. If however, you plan on just using the sample creatures, you might find the book...well, not exactly wanting, but strange. I'm not sure how often I'd actually use an Amphibious Praying Mantis or Gigantean Dream Creature Chaos Beast, or a Transforming Construct ship/trebuchet golem, or a Quadropedal Succubus. Your mileage may very, of course.

Aha! Once I realized that the first preview creature had five arms and three legs, that helped narrow down the search considerably! I'm 99% certain it is a Derghodaemon from the Tome of Horrors.

As for the other one, I can't find anything in the ToH that is blue, goblinoid, and carries a club and crossbow, so I'm going to assume that at the very least the equipment has changed. The creature's size is also muddled, since we have nothing to guage it by. I almost want to guess that it is a Wood Giant, just because everyone else seems to think it is a small fey critter.

The shadowy, gaseous creature with the humanoid arms is probably a Soul Eater from the first Tome of Horrors. The art is very similar in any case.

The other two, being a bug and a goblin-like humanoid are a bit more difficult to pin down. *Goes to look through his books*

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