Shield Guardian

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RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16. ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson 1,602 posts (1,643 including aliases). 4 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 13 Organized Play characters. 2 aliases.



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RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

I'm trying to get myself up to speed on 2nd Edition, so please forgive this question if it's dumb...

I'm building an Elven (Cloistered) Cleric of Sarenrae for my wife. She has always enjoyed running woodsy archer clerics.

I was going to take Ranger Dedication at second level, but do not understand what comes from "You become trained in ranger class DC". Could someone please clarify? Would she pick up additional weapon or armor proficiencies?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Have any of you folks put together reference sheets (AKA Crib Notes) to help GMs with particular situations? I need to run my first playtest session in a few days, and think some additional reference materials would be helpful.

5/5 RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

What are your favorite PFS adventures for Halloween games and how do you amp up the fear factor?

My favorite horror-themed adventure is Black Waters by Time and Eileen Connors. The scenario's horror elements are easy to build on: Check out all those soggy Japanese horror films like Ringu or Dark Water and you'll see what I mean...

Please share any "tweaks" you have for bringing out the horror in your PFS scenarios...

(I know similar threads exist. I just didn't see them when I was planning games for Halloween.)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

One of the young men that my wife teaches is a regular Pathfinder player. He graduates from high school this month, so she asked me to find an inspiring quote suited for a graduating gamer.

I would appreciate any suggestions that come to mind!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

A few more masterwork tools might come in handy...

Bardiche Body Spray for Men
Manufactured to exacting standards in beautiful Cassomir, this musky, exotic cologne grants a +2 bonus when attempting to influence lower-class Taldan women (and some men). Women of other nationalities and social classes generally look upon its wearers with scorn.

Finley's Custom Flannels
These sturdy plaid tunics are the height of fashion among Andoran lumbermen, granting a +2 bonus when dealing with members of the Lumber Consortium and natives of rural Andoran communities.

Wisdom of the Barbed Ones
This solidly-bound collection of bon mots and witty comebacks reflects the cruel sense of humor common to devils and their Chelaxian worshippers. It grants a +2 bonus in dealings with such creatures.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

If you want to avoid being victimized, the following suggestions are based on commonly-available information, such as the frequency of crimes committed in various settings.

To reduce frequency of vehicular crimes, such as auto theft or burglary:
- Live in a house, not an apartment or townhouse
- If you live in an apartment or townhouse, garage your car
- Don't park your vehicle within 1/4 mile of a bar
- Don't park your car within 1 mile of a college or university
- Don’t park your car at or near a movie theater.
- Park your car in lighted locations where it will be under frequent observation
- Do not keep cases or bags visible in your car. Criminals will think they can steal a laptop or newly-purchased goods.
- Have a car alarm with a little blinking light.

To reduce the frequency and severity of home burglaries:
- Do not live within ¼ mile of a bar.
- Do not live within 1 mile of a college or university.
- Do not allow strangers (workmen, door-to-door salespeople, or neighbors you don’t know well) into your house.
- Install a home alarm system. Failing that, install a large siren or other obvious alarm device where it is inaccessible, but clearly visible. A key pad near the front door is also good.
- Keep large and ferocious dogs. Even if you don’t have frightening dogs, leave a large dog bowl and large, battered chew toys where they can be seen from outside the house. (Write a frightening name on the bowl… “Sampson”, “Garm”, “Deathfang”, or the like)
- Leave lights and appliances on when you are not home.
- Have neighbors check your yard two or more times each day when you are not home. Prospective burglars will sometimes place something askew in the yard to see whether anyone notices.

To reduce the frequency or severity of personal assaults, home invasions, or carjacking:
- Avoid being alone at night. Get a roommate if you live alone.
- When outside the home, avoid areas where criminals could plan an ambush, such as poorly-lit parking areas or streets.
- Be alert to your surroundings. Many criminals will observe prospective victims before deciding to strike.
- Only resist criminals if necessary to protect yourself or your family from bodily harm.
- Never go anywhere with a criminal, especially when you are already somewhere relatively public.
- When resisting criminals, wait for the optimum moment to startle or surprise them, then strike with all possible savagery. Your goal should generally be to escape and evade.
- Separate yourself from the criminals’ apparent goal. For example, if a criminal demands your wallet/purse, drop/throw it in one direction while you flee the other. They then have a choice between going after you and their original goal.
- Avoid shows of bravado, taunts, or hysterical outbursts that may make the criminal feel forced to escalate the situation. Instead keep a level head and speak reasonably, even in the face of threats.

When Dealing with Law Enforcement
- Report suspicious behavior to Law Enforcement early. Criminals often reconnoiter an area before committing crimes there, and may choose to go elsewhere if the police already show an interest in their activity.
- Write down any relevant details and descriptions as soon as possible. If the police catch a criminal weeks later, you won’t remember important details. Your notes then become a critical resource.

If you wish to maintain a weapon for self-defense:
The use of firearms in self-defense is generally associated with lower rates of injury or death to victims of violent crimes. Although martial arts training may teach valuable self-defense skills, the use of typical martial-arts weapons or other hand weapons has not been generally associated with lower rates of injury during crimes.

In order to effectively use a gun in self-defense, make sure that you personally keep control of the firearm at all times. A gun in another room or tossed in the bottom of a purse or backpack is worse than useless: It cannot be drawn for defense, but it could still accidentally discharge or be found by inquisitive children. Make sure that any adults AND children who are present in a household with firearms are familiar with the basic principles of firearm safety.

Do not use or keep firearms under the following circumstances:
Certain circumstances astronomically increase the chances that a firearm will "accidentally discharge", be stolen, or turned against its owners. DO NOT KEEP A GUN IF THESE FACTORS APPLY.
- Anyone in the household periodically uses illegal drugs.
- Anyone in the household has been convicted of felony offenses.
- Anyone in the household has serious mental health issues or suffers from suicidal ideation.
- Anyone in the household has a history of domestic violence.
- Anyone in the household suffers from substance dependency (especially alcoholism)

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

I need to adjust the planned schedule for a convention, as the Con's schedule guy banked on four-hour slots. I was able to get extra time for some time slots but not others.

Based on this, which Year Four scenarios can be played through the fastest? Which adventures need the most time to do them justice?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Suppose that a gun wielder lacks the quick clear ability and suffers a misfire (giving the gun the broken condition). Someone with the Gunsmithing feat can fix the broken gun in an hour. Couldn't someone fix the weapon by using the mending cantrip? How about the spell make whole? Are there some other spells or abilities that might help?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

I'm working on a Mysterious Stranger / Dawnflower Dervish for my daughter. Obviously, such a character is built more for versatility than optimization. Do you guys have any suggestions for keeping her from lagging too far behind the power curve?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

The Shield Focus feat requires Shield Proficiency as a prerequisite. I have a guy whose cleric isn't proficient with a tower shield using the feat to bump up his AC. I feel that the feat can only be used with a shield someone is proficient to use.

What do you guys think?

(BTW: He is sucking up a mighty -10 penalty on his attack rolls. He's a caster who doesn't care)


For long centuries have I peered down upon the squabbling mortals of surrounding lands, witnessing the follies and foibles of the living. I can stand it no longer!

Foolish mortal worms, cast your troubled queries unto the chill winds which blow ceaselessly past Gallowspire and the fell power of my necromancy shall draw them forth for my amusement. Those I deem worthy of an answer may be granted the boon of my ancient wisdom. Those who prove unworthy shall have the living essence drawn from their bones, then used to nourish my Abyss-spawned Mwangi violets.

Delay will not be tolerated! My violets' blooms wither!

5/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm very excited to see Echoes of the Overwatched released and can't wait to hear how the adventure plays out for everyone!

Looking at the adventure, I thought I'd chip in my thoughts about running the various acts. A few details were cut in development, generally to improve the pacing of the adventure.

In the first act, the PCs investigate what's gone wrong in the Blakros Museum. When they poke around in the attics, I'd have the dangerous floor section creak ominously, but hold until violent movement collapses it (such as when someone rushes in or out of the chamber). The nature of the threat within the observatory may be unclear at first: If the party fears that they face an invisible opponent, they may try to retreat from the room or rush in. (In one of my rough drafts, the haunt had a fear effect to drive victims onto the trap, but that just wasn't nice!)

To give the party the sense that time may be of the essence, I'd mention that its about 2 PM when they wrap up in the museum. Dark clouds churn above the city, promising rain in the evening. Gusty winds carry the scent of the sea, as the forlorn cries of birds draft above. (Yes, I like a bit of purple prose when setting the mood...)

To keep the party from spending too much time on their investigation, that section of the adventure was abbreviated. I agree entirely with the developers' decision to get the PCs into the "meat" of the adventure, but gamemasters who wish to extend the PCs pursuit can include rumors of additional murders committed by the Devourer of Reason as it navigated the city. Additional encounters may make the scenario run quite long, so GMs should be wary of including them.

Some PCs may want to involve the local Watch: The Learned Guard protects the Wise District, headed by Mendhir the Colossus, a member of the Society and semi-retired venture-captain. Those seeking him out find him sympathetic: He assigns a squad to watch over the area near the museum, but lacks the resources to give further aid.

(I'll add more later, if people are interested...)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

One of our local players has an 8th-level lion shaman druid with a big cat as his companion. He indicated that his cat can pounce and rake on a charge, then use grab with every attack that hits. Is that the rules' intent? A pouncing charge followed by up to five grab attempts pretty much guarantees most foes end up wrestling a lion.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

The text of the spell reads as follows:

This spell enables you or a creature you touch to move and attack normally for the duration of the spell, even under the influence of magic that usually impedes movement, such as paralysis, solid fog, slow, and web. All combat maneuver checks made to grapple the target automatically fail. The subject automatically succeeds on any combat maneuver checks and Escape Artist checks made to escape a grapple or a pin.

The spell also allows the subject to move and attack normally while underwater, even with slashing weapons such as axes and swords or with bludgeoning weapons such as flails, hammers, and maces, provided that the weapon is wielded in the hand rather than hurled. The freedom of movement spell does not, however, grant water breathing.

This came up during this weekend's PFS game. There seemed to be two points of view about the spell: Since "The spell also allows the subject to move and attack normally while underwater", some players concluded that the subject could swim at his full land speed, almost as if he had some sort of underwater flight.

I prefer the interpretation that the PC can move at his full swim speed (normally 1/4 his land speed) without making Swim checks, and can move at full land speed along the bottom. He would be immune to underwater currents, poor footing, or magical impediments.

What do you guys think?

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Pathfinders come from many walks of life, and their Profession skills should reflect that diversity. Some professions might actually be helpful during the adventures we tend to encounter. To start things off, I'd like to suggest...

Sewer Maintenance Engineer An occupation suited for those with strong Fort saves, max ranks in Knowledge (dungeoneering) and the inclination to engage otyughs in friendly banter.
Appropriate Quote: "There's some lovely filth over here!"

Gutter Extortionist When Intimidate is your only social skill, it's good to have a reason why. You can be the sort of person who considers Grandmaster Torch's droogs social climbers.
Appropriate Quote: "Yer gonna talk, or I'm gonna show yer how my Shoanti uncle us'ter clean his earth breaker."

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

Has Nigel's picture appeared in any scenarios or supporting texts?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

9 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

This weekend, we had a 6th-level lion shaman druid as part of our Pathfinder Society games. This guy was painfully potent, dishing out a crapton of damage (80+ points) with his pounce. It left me with a few questions that I would love to see addressed officially.

1.) Rhino hide armor gives +2d6 damage on a charge. Since a cat form pounces for five attacks (bite, claw x2, rake x2), that's a potential total of +10d6 from armor that costs only 5,165 gp (A bargain at twice the price!). I interpret the rules' intent to mean +2d6 on one attack per charge, which must be designated prior to the roll. Is this correct?

2.) The druid assumed an equine form and was shod with horseshoes of speed. He then assumed a lion form for battle, indicating that he gains +30 ft. movement in all animal forms because the shoes are a continuous item merged with his form when he is not a horse. Is the druid considered an animal for the purpose of the horseshoes? Do items assumed in one animal form merge into the body and continue to function in other animal forms?

3.) Rake attacks normally require a foe to be grappled for one round first, but are also allowed as part of the creature's full attack on a pounce. In the past, I had thought that rake attacks required the creature to successfully strike and grapple with whichever attack grants improved grab. On a Pounce charge, the creature can then rake in the same round. On a normal full attack, the creature would rake during the next round of grappling. (I may be grasping at straws with this one...)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

This question was discussed on another forum, but I thought it would be profitable to raise it here. My rulebooks aren't handy, so I haven't checked for

A wizard took a 5-foot step back, then successfully cast daze on his foe. Daze has a 1 round duration.

On his next turn, the wizard would like to move past his dazed foe. If the daze effect ends when the wizard's next turn begins, he provokes an Attack of Opportunity. If it ends when the wizard's turn ends, he can move by safely.

Do the rules clearly address this?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

I recently started a Pathfinder game set in the Judges' Guild Wilderlands. Seeking adventure on the "Pagan Coast", the heroes are fated to become embroiled in the tumultous politics of the region, where treacherous Skandik reavers struggle for dominance and the distant Invincible Overlord seeks allies. Will they rise to find fame and power, or fall, destroyed by the snares of corsairs and kinglets? Only time will tell...

The Corsair's Deceit

The party began aboard the Naga, a cog bound out of ice-shrouded Valon. Eager to escape the northlands before Valon’s harsh winter froze them in, they were forced to dare the cruel tempests of the Uther Pentwegern Sea. Winter’s icy claws raked the ocean, its frigid waves covering the ship's decks and rigging with ice. Weary crewmen slaved watch-and-watch, endlessly battling the shifting, treacherous winds.

Fortune favored the battered vessel, safely carrying them into Skandik-held waters near Armagh. The grizzled Avalonian captain had bribed the Skandik king to secure safe passage through the waters of the Pagan Coast, gaining a writ that protected his ship, passengers, and cargo from being despoiled. Captain Vani still felt uneasy when a Skandik-built galley overhauled the Naga east of Armagh, for many of the region’s corsairs refused to honor Ossary’s king.

When the raiders sent their men aboard the Naga, the Naga's crew was briefly relieved to discover the corsairs’ captain was kinsman to the King of Ossary. Their relief turned to dismay as the avaricious man reviewed the king’s writ, declaring that since the ship’s crew was not mentioned, he would press the most skilled hands to bolster his own ship’s complement. Some of the Naga's crew considered resisting, unwilling to become thralls of a cruel Skandik reaver. A few Skandik sailors actually looked forward to the change of ship, prefering a cut of pirate loot to the meager seaman's wages paid by Captain Vani.

Angered by the reaver’s betrayal of his kinsman’s promises (and fearful that the remaining inexperienced crew would wreck them upon a lee shore), the party furiously scrambled onto the deck. The Skandik reavers fearfully fell back as a demi-giant squeezed out of the companionway, howling with battle fury. A holy maiden of Athena followed, her bow flinging bright death among the reavers. An acolyte of flame appeared behind her, his arrival shrouded by billowing smoke. Humble sailors revealed themselves as hardened adventurers, their weapons slashing cruelly into the reavers. Moments later, a cheer rose from the embattled cog’s crew, their foes’ ship fighting for distance before the vengeful adventurers could carry their battle aboard it.

The World Tree Inn

Forced to change course to avoid potential retaliation from other pirate vessels, the Naga’s crew faced a grim choice: The northwestern winds carried dark clouds, suggesting stormy weather ahead. To find shelter from the storm, they would need to seek a Skandik port. Captain Vani preferred to try his fate against the storm, but the ship’s exhausted, wounded crew left his passengers with little confidence in such a plan. Begging the captain to make port, they urged him to seek shelter in Croy’s harbor. The rulers of Croy held little love for Ossary’s ruler, so the Naga might find a safe harbor there.

Arriving in Croy just as the storm's arctic winds broke overhead, the Naga's company slogged through damp snow to take shelter in the World Tree Inn, gratefully lifting warm horns of spiced hypocras. They shared the inn with several other groups, including a band of nobles from the City-State. The party had barely shaken the cold from their cloaks when an elderly Skandik entered, a priest of Wotan hefting a spear of blackened iron and carrying a massive raven on one shoulder.

Intrigued by the stranger’s arrival, the party idly listened to his conversation with the nobles. The main speaker had first seemed a servant or hanger-on, his garments plain and unadorned. In a hoarse, conspiratorial whisper, he warned the priest of treachery among his sect's ranks, traitors bringing a warband to Croy to slay the island’s leaders and seize control of the island's famous temple, the Seat of Wisdom. Unfortunately, before more could be learned, the strangers noticed the party members eavesdropping. They moved across the tavern to a more private location.

Seeing a chance to ingratiate themselves to local leaders, the party members introduced themselves and offered their services. The aged cleric was hesitant, reluctant to involve strangers in his church’s affairs. Eventually, the party prevailed upon him to hire them to cross the island and reconnoiter an inlet on the far side, discovering whether Skandik drakkar longships had landed there recently.

Into the Storm

Frigid winds howled through the hills, the winter storm rising as the band trudged through the snow. Nearing the inlet, they spotted a flicker of light from nearby ruins, half-hidden in a stand of snow-covered pines. A band of orcish brigands rested within, their master a huge, brutish ogre with an equally-massive mongrel dog for a pet. Mangy rat-kobolds scurried among the brigands, eager to curry their favor. A brief battle followed, after which the party seized a surrendering kobold as their thrall and torchbearer. The frightened creature knew little, but made it clear that his fallen masters were soon to join several other bands in an assault against the temple of Wotan and its masters.

Resting among the ruins until dawn, the party found the inlet. A sharp-eyed guard among the invaders shouted a warning, and two longships pulled swiftly away from the shore. Only a handful of mariners crewed each one, and the party soon spotted tracks in the snow, the trails of four separate groups. The bands had headed in separate directions, some headed for the valley stronghold of the Wotan worshippers, while another headed for the village of Croy.

Hastening to return with their news, the group noted a raven ominously watching them. They weren’t sure what to make of this omen, but suspected that it was the priest’s familiar bird, monitoring their progress.

The party soon spotted signs of one of the war bands, taking the same trail they had chosen. Noting from the tracks that they faced a group of over 20 hardened warriors, the adventurers hesitated to tackle such daunting odds. Staying hidden, they waited until their foes reached a narrow defile, hiking along the bank of a half-frozen stream.

The Raiding Party

Planning an ambush, the party raced to take their positions. Unfortunately, the archer-maid of Athena stumbled as she clambered up one of the defile’s steep slopes and an alarm cry rose among the Skandiks. Racing to the choke point, the demi-giant unleashed his hellish, pent-up rage onto his onrushing foes. They stumbled in the snow, crushed and dying with every mighty blow of the titanic warrior’s huge warclub. Magical webbing and supernatural grease trapped the invaders, throwing their ranks into disarray.

Seeing their men fall before the party’s wrath, a pair of heavily-armored leaders flung themselves into the fray. Their breastplates graven with runes promising battle glory, they rushed forward to face their foes. All their battle skill came to nothing, however, as the party’s elvish enchanter drew upon the ancient runesongs of faerie to bedazzle their minds and blind them with strange flashing colors.

Unwilling to be trapped in the party’s killing ground, a mighty pair of berserkers struggled out of the defile, one charging the archer maid while the other fought through tangled briars to get behind his stubborn foes. All looked bleak but, in desperation, the archer executed a cunning throw to knock one frenzied warrior back down into the defile. Before he could recover, magical power bound him motionless, sinking down through the stream’s shattered ice. His compatriot fared little better, leaping downslope upon the demi-giant, only to lose his footing on the icy stones of the defile and fall to the ground in the midst of his foes.

With their leaders slain, the remaining raiders broke and ran, yielding the defile to the adventurers. Not long afterward, the heroes stumbled back into Croy, sharing their warning of raiding warriors in the nick of time. Three of the party members were sorely wounded, but all lived. Given warning, the temple’s guardians repelled halfhearted sorties by several groups, raiders unwilling to press home their assaults against forewarned foes.

(Six third-level characters had overcome a force of two third-level fighters, 17 second-level warriors, and two sixth-level barbarians… Luck was definitely with them!)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Someone From Another Thread wrote:
I'm glad that it's worked well for you; in fact I'd be interested to try a game with a group that DOES do it well.

I've always been comfortable running fights without a battlemap, since I played for many years without ever touching one. In fact, complex or confusing scenes sometimes seemed to work better without one.

Unfortunately, some folks have had the opposite experience...

They also wrote:
My frustration with the lack of a map is the inability to get creative regarding positioning. I would liken it to how I sometimes feel when I'm playing an Interactive Fiction game, feeling like I have to sit there and try things and being told "You can't do that", "That's not allowed" over and over again. Sometimes it's felt like that in mapless combats. If you just drew me a map I'd know who was close enough, how far I needed to go, what position to put myself in relative to my allies, etc.

Battlemats are a tool, but there are ways of providing the same information without them. There are ways to approach fights without them.

Set the Scene!
The Gamemaster needs to constantly help the players keep oriented. Start with a picture or sketch of the area, either a quick drawing to help them get oriented or (even better) a picture or photograph.

"A towering ruin looms before you, the remains of an ancient keep." Shows photo of old keep cribbed from the Internet) "Goblin figures clutching bows can be seen scrambling up the walls. Roll initiative, everyone."

As each player's turn comes up, let them know how far they are from the nearest foe, whether they have a clear shot or the enemy has cover, and hint what options might easily work for them.

"Five of the goblin archers are still climbing and don't have cover yet. The other three have found cover and are getting ready to shoot. The gateway is about 35 feet from you. You can hear something big approaching, but it hasn't reached the gate where you can see it yet. Rory the Northerner is still out in the open, but the rest of the party has some large boulders between them and the enemy, so they have cover."

That sounds like a lot of description, but once everyone visualizes the scene, things speed up quite a bit.

Empower the Players!
This is one of the most important points! Let your players have as much right to describe the scene as you do. If they're in a bar, they don't need to ask if they can find a tray of pewter tankards, they just grab one! If they're in the ruin of an anceint keep and need fallen stonework to leap upon, let them. As long as it doesn't contradict something needed to make the scene work, let them fill in the details themselves.

It takes a bit of encouragement to get players to this point, but it's worth it. Once they get the idea, they'll pull out all kinds of cool moves during fights. Battles become wilder and more creative.

There are some players you need to keep in check, or they'll try to abuse their freedom. If something just doesn't make sense or is wildly self-serving, you're still the GM and should veto it. "I grab a skull from among the old bones in the graveyard and heave it at the sorcerer to interrupt his spell" is good. "There's an old composite bow and arrows that were left in one of the tombs" is abusing things. In a castle armory, such a find might not be inappropriate, but not in a graveyard!

Keep Moving!
Some GM fiat is needed, but you should have a good picture of the villains' and heroes' positions. Don't bog down about details, just decide and keep moving. Keep the players moving along, too: When you're running things in a free-form manner, you shouldn't agonize over every detail. You know what seems fair: Go with it!

What tips do you guys have? Let's help some folks throw off the shackles of their battlemats!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

I'm about to start a new Pathfinder campaign, setting it in the Judges' Guild Wilderlands. While deciding what to include in the game, I considered setting an adventure near the village of Lightelf (described in Spies of Lightelf), a largely-gnomish community with some serious issues.

Spoiler:
Agents of the Invincible Overlord seek to stir up trouble between the locals and the Skandiks of Ossary, who have traditionally been the major market for lumber and agricultural products from the area.

Unfortunately, the local gnomes and their human associates are not a nice bunch. Many are chaotic and evil, while others are barely neutral. Their loyalties seldom stretch further than their own households and they apparently switch allegiances with every change in the political wind. I picture the place as "The Gnomes of Twin Peaks", with seething corruption and treachery held in check only by their awareness that exposing such would be "bad for business". I don't see the community as the sort of wild and wooly anarchy typical of traditionally sinister races, instead picturing a sort of superficial respectablity. They keep their wicked side well hidden.

How would you picture this area? How does a community filled with self-centered evil remain intact?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

2 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

I thought I had a solid working knowledge of the darkness spell and its effects, but a recent disagreement during a game session suggests that some people still find darkness a bit... obscure.

The spell's description, for reference:

Spoiler:
Darkness
School evocation [darkness]; Level bard 2, cleric/oracle 2, inquisitor 2, sorcerer/wizard 2

Casting Time 1 standard action

Components V, M/DF (bat fur and a piece of coal)

Range touch

Target object touched

Duration 1 min./level (D)

Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance no

This spell causes an object to radiate darkness out to a 20-foot radius. This darkness causes the illumination level in the area to drop one step, from bright light to normal light, from normal light to dim light, or from dim light to darkness. This spell has no effect in an area that is already dark. Creatures with light vulnerability or sensitivity take no penalties in normal light. All creatures gain concealment (20% miss chance) in dim light. All creatures gain total concealment (50% miss chance) in darkness. Creatures with darkvision can see in an area of dim light or darkness without penalty.

Nonmagical sources of light, such as torches and lanterns, do not increase the light level in an area of darkness. Magical light sources only increase the light level in an area if they are of a higher spell level than darkness.

If darkness is cast on a small object that is then placed inside or under a lightproof covering, the spell's effect is blocked until the covering is removed.

This spell does not stack with itself. Darkness can be used to counter or dispel any light spell of equal or lower spell level.

My interpretations:
1.) If someone casts darkness on a small object he's carrying, an onlooker with darkvision could sense the darkness "radiating" from the object, much as he would sense light emitting from an object with light cast on it. If someone destroyed the object, the spell fails.

2.) A nearby lantern would not brighten the darkness, even if brought into the area. A light spell carried into the darkness would fare no better, but could improve the illumination in one section of the darkness spell effect to "dim" if kept outside the darkness spell's area of effect.

3.) An everburning torch brought into the area would supress, but not dispel the darkness. To use darkness to dispel (not just supress) magical light, a character would have to touch the object with the light spell cast on it.

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

The Chapterhouse Baja Pathfinders are still going strong, meeting at Hat's Games in Tucson. This month's get together is scheduled for Sunday, March 27. Scenarios include:

Murder on the Throaty Mermaid

Murder on the Silken Caravan

The Pallid Plague

Tide of Morning

Sign up on Warhorn.net.

Discussion and planning of future meetings will happen at The Tucson RPG Guild's web page.

- James ("Sir Wulf") MacKenzie

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

Fetch whiskey for my men, and beer for my horses! (1)

At the request of Cayden Cailean's boldest adherents, Thursday night's "Pathfinder Classic" scenario will be Hall of Drunken Heroes, another great adventure from the twisted imagination of Tim "That Wasn't MY Drink" Hitchcock. Only the greatest and most foolhardy Pathfinders need apply!

Something's afoot in Cayden's Hall, and true heroes are needed! Venture-Captain Osprey's pet demonologist suspects something SICK AND WRONG (2) might be going on in the temple-pub of the Accidental God, and we just can't have that! Who better to set things right than the Pathfinders? (3)

Notes:
1.) Use of this phrase is not to be construed as an endorsement of Hall of Drunken Heroes by Toby Keith or Willie Nelson, although I suspect that they WOULD endorse it if they go to NeonCon. If anyone sees either of them while we're in Vegas, grab him, slip him a pregen, and sit him down at my table.

2.) Worse than near beer.

3.) Preferably ones of 7th through 11th level!

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

One of the GMs who has run this one was kind enough to share his feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of The Jester's Fraud. I'd like to present the information he gave, in the hope of maximizing other players' experience.

Spoiler:
At Tier 8-9, the tactics for the hag coven mention this: "Two of the hags fight the PCs in melee while the third uses her coven abilities, such as blight, baleful polymorph, and forcecage."

The coven abilities should require all three hags' participation. In the original draft, I had the hags animate dead guards as zombies (finding a fancy onyx holy symbol to use as their material component), disguise them as living men under mind control (so the inn's defenders would be hesitant to just cut them down), and hang back as a group to use their coven powers.

Alternatively, the hags could hang back, obscured by the mists. Seeing the Tribune run into the inn and correctly concluding he has reinforcements there, the coven casts mirage arcana to transform the area around the inn. With echoing cracks and pops, tortured stone and churning earth reveal an ancient Keleshite necropolis slowly rising from the ground. Sounds fill the air, the grinding noise of tomb lids and crypt doorways slowly opening. While the party deals with this strange vision, the coven hides within an illusory shrine. They can then cast to their heart's content, protected until someone sees through the illusion. To add to the confusion, they can cast veil on themselves, appearing as wan, beautiful spectres.

One note about the tracking: I have no problem with occasionally having an artificially high DC for a skill check -- one so high that it's nearly impossible for the PCs to make. I've found that in organized play (Living Greyhawk, Living Arcanis, Dave Arneson's Blackmoor, and, of course, the Pathfinder Society) my opinion is not shared by all. There was some grumbling at both tables when their high skill checks didn't make the required DC 40. It wasn't that big of a deal, but I have been at tables where it has been.

My original draft included a lower DC, but the DC was still very high: The Jester drinks a potion of fly for one stretch, eliminating all tracks for over a mile. He hides his tracks in spots, ducks along a stream, and has his homunculus lay false trails (into lion dens and patches of irritating thorns).

According to the mod, Wager just gets increasingly angrier when the PCs deny knowledge about Baran's whereabouts. After the 7th or 8th PC question/denial about Baran, I simply had Wager and his men attack.

Wager is normally reasonable, but believes (correctly) that the PCs have been manipulated into serving as pawns of his hated enemy, the Tribune Bourtze. Concluding that the PCs have something to do with his brother's disappearance, he could be calmed by cunning diplomacy but is more likely to conclude that the PCs are lying. Like many others, Wager underestimates the Jester's abilities. He doesn't suspect how his brother could have fallen to Sabas' influence.

Both groups killed Gaunt Blackfist without a second thought and neither found Pauva's journal. Both groups of Andorans made an effort to find it, but the first didn't toss the inn and the second could not make the Perception check to find the journal.

Gaunt's a psychotic killer, and could be given more menace by allowing him more tactical flexibility. To increase the challenge posed by Blackfist (at night or in fog), he could sick the lion on the PCs and retreat, luring them into fighting another band and bushwhacking the party when they're otherwise occupied. Based on his interests, luring two groups into fighting each other would be just his style.

The Osirion player in the first running got 0 faction points. He couldn't make the Knowledge (nature) check for the lilies and the Andoran dropped a fireball on Gaunt Blackfist as his opening diplomatic statement. Based on the size of the building, I ruled that the sage was caught in the fireball and died. (He failed his save -- natural 1 -- and was described as having been tortured -- i.e., down hit points.) The second Osiriani fared better and got both faction points.

The challenge of the water lilies is meant to be "do I dare go fetch them from the slug-infested waters?" I'd allow Knowledge (nature) deprived PCs to ask their faction contact or someone in the village what the lilies look like so they don't miss out. If they don't think to do that, they're probably out of luck.

Interestingly, of the two factions trying to learn the name of the Bourtze heir, neither were represented in either running of the mod.

Hmm. I suggested an alternate scene that would allow the PCs to recognize her on the boards. I hope people notice it.

Both groups wanted to go directly to Disaren Village upon realizing that they couldn't track the Jester using Survival.

The encounter with Wager was originally designed to occur wherever the PCs headed. His role is to give them a heavy hint that the Disarens have no clue what happened, either.

The Ruins of Rhoetius could have included more information about the various bandit groups. Or, probably more accurately, more general information about the names and size of the groups not listed in the mod. At least one person from each group had the idea to kill 'em all and let the gods sort 'em out.

Other bandit groups in the area would have been represented by one or two bandits, without substantial treasure. Their main groups would be camped somewhere else (with their gold), suspicious that the whole arrangement is a trick. As soon as the party starts wreaking havoc, those bandits would bolt in a dozen different directions. The original draft had another faction present in force in the ruins, a group of necromancers and undead secretly affiliated with the urn's original possessors. The necromancers were cut from the final, but could have made such a clumsy assault on the camp rather perilous.

The description of Blackfist's camp was a little confusing to me. On the map, it looked like a roofless building, but the text mentioned a number of columns scattered about and a pen. So, I improvised and said the wall was low to the ground and counted as difficult terrain to cross.

The building was supposed to have a pillared portico, which had fallen. The pens would be built haphazardly nearby, where Blackfist could torment the animals before staging fights.

I hope people find this information helpful!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

When I'm at the computer, I enjoy listening to Radio Rivendell, a site which streams music from games and movies, intended as background music for gamers. Unfortunately, SoundExhange.com has finally latched onto their site, politely pointing out that US law requires them to pay royalties.

From what I've read, small not-for-profit Internet broadcasters in the US are required to pay $500.00 annually (which some can do) and report numerous details about every song they play (which becomes very burdensome without specialized software they can't afford). This is in addition to any royalty agreements reached with the recording industry.

Radio Rivendell is based in Sweden, so they could just shut down any stateside servers carrying them, but it's only a matter of time before word goes to whatever organization serves the same purpose in Europe. It's my understanding that stifling bureaucracy and crushing royalty fees on web-based broadcasting have effectively shut down most small Internet broadcasting operations in England; I don't know how things fare in other parts of Europe.

If someone is well versed in Swedish and European law regarding such matters, Radio Rivendell could use some help.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

I've seen what Reaper has to offer in the way of hags. I've seen WotC's DDM minis.

What other minis are out there that would make a good annis hag?

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

My plans for the Missing PaizoCon Pity Party continue toward fruition!

Bwahahaha!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Spoiler:
In one of my games, the party fought Mokmurian to a standstill: He teleported out, but they were on their last legs. Afterward, the PCs evaded stone giant search parties, grabbed the freed townsfolk, and headed for Sandpoint.

I'm looking for suggestions for the giants' next moves. Mokmurian's a smart cookie and they've given him the chance to resume tactical initiative. I'm brainstorming up unexpected ways he may try to eliminate these dangerous humans before a better-prepared expedition returns to again challenge his power.

Rather than sending a group of giants to pummel them, how about some lamia matriarchs to trick them into battling other forces that would normally ally with the PCs. Perhaps some Hellknights might be manipulated into a violent confrontation witth the PCs?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

I have a few villain ideas that I just don't have time to properly develop, so I thought that I'd drop them off here. Hopefully the kind readers here will find them as mighty and impressive as I did...

Baba Gamph, the "Fish Freezer"
A menace of the waterfront, this gilled dwarven matriarch wields a pair of frozen salmon (+2 frost brand clubs) as her signature weapons. Leader of the "Bachtis", a gang of waterfront toughs, her webbed fingers find their way into all sorts of illicit activity. Her gang extorts protection money from waterfront businesses and runs the seediest brothels in the region. The icy corpses of those who oppose them are often found frozen solid on the waterfront, gasps of horror fixed on their frozen features. Sometimes, Baba wants others to know she personally finished off one of her gang's foes; she leaves a half-chewed haddock behind as her "calling card".

As vicious as she is goggle-eyed, few learn enough about Baba Gamph to suspect the slimy dwarf's true plans for the region: Priestess of the forbidden sect of Dribpisp, dark goddess of shrimp, Baba slowly works toward the day when she can openly declare her devotion to the sinister shrimp goddess.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

From the moment they first met, my group suspected the Scarnettis of unsavory doings. I expect that the opening of Skinsaw (probably this week's game) will see them investigating the suspicious nobles' estate.

Spoiler:
I'm looking for suggestions: Floorplans or details that might keep them from detecting they're after a red herring.

I expect that this could really derail the Adventure Path in interesting ways, as the "Heroes of Sandpoint" come into conflict with this family of ruthless, greedy gentry. Antagonizing the Scarnettis will make them a variety of interesting friends and enemies, especially since I've previously emphasized the Scarnettis' heavy connections in town and in Magnimar.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

I'd like to hear about what people want to see in the next round. Unique monsters? Intelligent races? Evil incarnate? Minor critters tht scurry underfoot?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

The Time of the Auroch People, 580 years ago…
The shamaness Kaltia squirmed fruitlessly, struggling to free herself from the priests’ grip. Her efforts only caused her grim-faced captors to hold more tightly as the bowl of anathema was carried forward.

“For your betrayal of your clan… Drink!” intoned the priests. Vile liquid poured into her mouth, making her gag. Death claimed the shamaness, but oblivion was denied her.

The Aurochs People were not a merciful folk.

KALTIA, THE HAUNTER OF THE HEIGHTS, LAST OF THE AUROCHS PEOPLE CR 6

Female dwarf vampire druid 4
NE Medium undead (augmented humanoid)
Init +7 [+3 Dex, +4 Improved Init.]; Senses 60’ darkvison; Listen +22, Spot +22

DEFENSE

AC 24, touch 13, flat-footed 21
(+3 bracers, +3 Dex, +8 natural)
hp 38 (4d12); fast healing 5
Fort +4 [+4 base], Ref +6 [+1 base, +3 Dex, +2 Lightning Reflexes], Will +8 [+4 base, +4 Wis]; +2 vs. poison, +2 vs. spells or spell-like effects, +4 vs. spell-like abilities of fey
Defensive Abilities +4 AC against opponents with the giant type, stability, +4 turn resistance; DR 10/silver and magic; Immune undead immunities; Resist cold 10, electricity 10, resist energy spell (fire 10)

OFFENSE

Spd 20 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee masterwork sickle +9 [+3 base, +1 masterwork, +5 Str] (1d6+5) or
slam +8 [+3 base, +5 Str] (1d6+5)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks +1 on attack rolls vs. orcs and goblinoids, blood drain, children of the night, dominate, create spawn, energy drain
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 5th):
At will-gaseous form
Spells Prepared (CL 4th):
2nd (3/day)Ñ barkskin, fog cloud, resist energy
1st (4/day)Ñ detect animals and plants, obscuring mist, produce flame x 2,
0 (5/day)Ñ detect magic x 2, light, resistance, mending

TACTICS

Before Combat Kaltia will generally prepare for combat by casting barkskin and resist energy (fire) upon herself: These spells are reflected in the information above. She picks her fights carefully, choosing to fight where her spider climb ability and alternate forms will allow her to easily escape.
During Combat Her vampire powers are her strongest abilities, so she will primarily rely upon them. Her fog cloud and obscuring mist will be used to neutralize foes with powerful magical or missile attacks.
Morale Kaltia is a skittish opponent; she prefers to “hit and run”. When she faces effective resistance, she will leave, planning to return soon, fully healed.

STATISTICS

Str 20, Dex 16, Con -, Int 15, Wis 19, Cha 14
Base Atk +3; Grp +8
Feats Alertness, Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Disarm, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes
Skills Appraise +2 [Int] (+2 to appraise stone or metal items), Bluff +10 [+2 Cha, +8 vampire], Concentration +8 [+2 Cha, 6 ranks], Craft +2 [Int] (+2 to craft metal or stone items), Diplomacy +6 [+2 Cha, 4 ranks], Handle Animal +6 (+4 when handling her Animal Companion) [+2 Cha, 4 ranks], Hide +11 [+3 Dex, +8 Vampire], Jump -1 [+5 Str, -6 20 ft. move], Knowledge (nature) +11 [+2 Int, 5 ranks, +2 Survival synergy, +2 Nature Sense], Listen +22 [+4 Wis, 7 ranks, +8 Vampire, +3 Alertness], Move Silently +11 [+3 Dex, +8 Vampire], Search +10 (+12 to notice unusual stonework) [+2 Int, +8 Vampire], Sense Motive +12 [+4 Wis, +8 Vampire], Spot +22 [+4 Wis, 7 ranks, +8 Vampire, +3 Alertness], Survival +15 [+4 Wis, 7 ranks, +2 synergy, +2 Nature Sense]
Languages Common, Druidic, Dwarven, Giant
SQ alternate form, animal companion, nature sense, stonecunning, undead traits, wild empathy, woodland stride, trackless step, resist nature’s lure, vampire weaknesses
Combat Gear masterwork sickle; Other Gear bracers of armor +3

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Alternate Form (Su)The Haunter can assume the shape of a bat, dire bat, wolf, or dire wolf as a standard action.

Animal Companion (Ex) The haunter has a disease-ridden Dire Weasel as her animal companion. It is a hideous creature named Ghuld.

Blood Drain (Ex) The Haunter can suck blood from a living victim with her fangs by making a successful grapple check. If she pins the foe, she drains blood, dealing 1d4 points of Constitution drain each round the pin is maintained. On each such successful attack, the vampire gains 5 temporary hit points.

Children of the Night (Su) Vampires command the lesser creatures of the world and once per day can call forth 1d6+1 rat swarms, 1d4+1 bat swarms, or a pack of 3d6 wolves as a standard action. These creatures arrive in 2d6 rounds and serve the vampire for up to 1 hour.

Create Spawn (Su) A humanoid or monstrous humanoid slain by a vampire’s energy drain rises as a vampire spawn 1d4 days after burial.
If the vampire instead drains the victim’s Constitution to 0 or lower, the victim returns as a spawn if it had 4 or less HD and as a vampire if it had 5 or more HD. In either case, the new vampire or spawn is under the command of the vampire that created it and remains enslaved until its master’s destruction. At any given time a vampire may have enslaved spawn totaling no more than twice its own Hit Dice; any spawn it creates that would exceed this limit are created as free-willed vampires or vampire spawn. A vampire that is enslaved may create and enslave spawn of its own, so a master vampire can control a number of lesser vampires in this fashion. A vampire may voluntarily free an enslaved spawn in order to enslave a new spawn, but once freed, a vampire or vampire spawn cannot be enslaved again.

Dominate (Su) The Haunter can crush an opponent’s will just by looking onto his or her eyes. This is similar to a gaze attack, except that the vampire must use a standard action, and those merely looking at it are not affected. Anyone the vampire targets must succeed on a Will save (DC 14) or fall instantly under the vampire’s influence as though by a dominate person spell (caster level 12th). The ability has a range of 30 feet.

Energy Drain (Su) Living creatures hit by the Haunter’s’s slam attack gain two negative levels. For each negative level bestowed, she gains 5 temporary hit points. This ability can be use once per round.

Fast Healing (Ex) The Haunter heals 5 points of damage each round so long as she has at least 1 hit point. If reduced to 0 hit points in combat, it automatically assumes gaseous form and attempts to escape.

Gaseous Form (Su)As a standard action, the Haunter can assume gaseous form at will as the spell (caster level 5th), but she can remain gaseous indefinitely and has a fly speed of 20 feet with perfect maneuverability.

Nature Sense (Ex) The Haunter has a +2 bonus on Knowledge (nature) and Survival checks.

Resist Nature’s Lure (Ex) The Haunter has a +4 bonus on saving throws against the spell-like abilities of fey.

Spider Climb (Ex) A vampire can climb sheer surfaces as though with a spider climb spell.

Stability (Ex) A dwarf gains a +4 bonus on ability checks made to resist being bull rushed or tripped when standing on the ground (but not when climbing, flying, riding, or otherwise not standing firmly on the ground).

Stonecunning (Ex) This ability grants a dwarf a +2 racial bonus on Search checks to notice unusual stonework, such as sliding walls, stonework traps, new construction (even when built to match the old), unsafe stone surfaces, shaky stone ceilings, and the like. Something that isn’t stone but that is disguised as stone also counts as unusual stonework. A dwarf who merely comes within 10 feet of unusual stonework can make a Search check as if he were actively searching, and a dwarf can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can. A dwarf can also intuit depth, sensing his approximate depth underground as naturally as a human can sense which way is up.

Trackless Step (Ex) The Haunter leaves no trail in natural surroundings and cannot be tracked. She may choose to leave a trail if so desired.

Vampire Weaknesses Like other vampires, Kaltia tolerate the strong odor of garlic, recoils from a mirror or a strongly presented holy symbol, and cannot enter a home or other building unless invited in. She is also unable to cross running water, although she can be carried over it while resting in their coffins or aboard a ship.

Wild Empathy (Ex) The Haunter can improve the attitude of an animal. This ability functions just like a Diplomacy check made to improve the attitude of a person. The druid rolls 1d20 and adds her druid level and her Charisma modifier to determine the wild empathy check result.

Woodland Stride (Ex) The Haunter may move through any sort of undergrowth (such as natural thorns, briars, overgrown areas, and similar terrain) at her normal speed and without taking damage or suffering any other impairment. However, thorns, briars, and overgrown areas that have been magically manipulated to impede motion still affect her.

Winter’s winds almost obscured the quavering voice beyond the hut’s iron portal. ”Please, open the door for poor Kaltia! I’m so cold! Sooo very cold!”

The Winter Nights Are Long
When winter’s first snowfalls arrive, the people of Zavaten Gura’s isolated highlands fear the snow more than the season’s deathly chill. Huddled in their huts of stone and unyielding iron, they shiver through long nights, dreading the arrival of the Haunter of the Heights.

A being of insatiable hungers, the Haunter craves the blood of the living, descending with the first snowfall to claim their warmth. An apparition of ancient death, she appears as the frozen corpse of a dwarven woman, desiccated by the mountains’ frigid air. Her withered features are those of the Aurochs People, the land’s earliest inhabitants. A ragged shroud, stained with rust-tinted gore, is her only clothing; a blood-painted sickle of ancient iron, her weapon.

Priestess of the Aurochs People
When dwarves of the southern lands first settled in Zavaten Gura, the Stained Peaks, their hunger for land set them against the Aurochs People, native tribes of migratory herdsmen. Few of Zavaten Gura’s mountain valleys are suitable for grazing, for many are tainted with subtle toxins. The Aurochs People called these places “gods-blighted”; those who disturbed them risked the gods’ anger. Where the Aurochs People saw danger, the newcomers saw opportunity; mines soon dotted the land.

A shamaness named Kaltia sought peace between her people and the newcomers. She offered friendship, but her deeds were seen as treason by her kinsmen. They condemned her to drink of the bowl of anathema, an accursed draught that transformed her into a night-dwelling horror, unable to leave the snow-covered heights. Perpetual cold claimed her soul, and only living blood brought ease to her frozen flesh.

The rifts between her people and other dwarves are nearly forgotten, but Kaltia, eternally accursed, still hunts with the snows.

The Curse of the Frostblood
The hellish curses laid upon Kaltia transformed her into a vampire and bound her to remain in lands covered with snow, just as other vampires cannot cross running water. She can enter structures, but such places must be surrounded by snow. If she violates this restriction, she suffers an effect equivalent to a geas/quest spell. (Treat her curse as equivalent to a miracle from a 17th level caster for the purposes of break enchantment or similar remedies.)

”Ahhh… Warm,” the Haunter purred, as she spit the blood into her hand and smeared it onto her withered skin.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

Given the choice, which would you prefer to see in these submissions: Originality or applicability? Ideally, submissions will be both unique and easy to use in future games, but which is the higher priority?

Yesterday, I was discussing the competition with one of my friends. When I described one idea I had, he responded that it was original, but he couldn't see how most DMs could use it. On the other hand, I've occasionally found exotic ideas that inspired me to rethink entire games.

What do you all think?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Zavaten Gura: Land of the Stained Peaks
The Mountains Are Without Mercy.
– Old Zavaten saying

Ruler: His Steadfast Eminence, Voislav the Tenacious, Utograf (“Iron Lord”) of the Resolute, Dragon of the Peaks (N Dwarf Expert 10/Rogue 3)
Government: A council of leaders from the land’s five largest towns is chaired by the hereditary Utograf. In practice, the towns’ leaders are largely autonomous; they are known as the Iyregrafs (“Resolute Lords”).
Capital: Visheksrad (Population 12,400)
Prominent Towns: Smeikas (Population 7,200), Bovodport (Population 7,100), Zopotishto (Population 3,800), Utogstad (Population 3,300), and Slavstad (Population 2,500)
Population: 62,000: Dwarf 51%, Human 27%, Bugbear 10%, others 12%
Alignment: Predominantly Lawful Neutral

A Cruel Land
Zavaten Gura is a mountainous realm, harsh and inflexible as its unyielding inhabitants. A small country swept by the frigid winds of Chopodn Gulf, it is dominated by a forbidding mountain range, the Stained Peaks. The mountains’ wealth has drawn people from across the continent, but the land can be cruel: Many who seek their fortunes here instead end within the communal tombs of the dwarven towns.

Metal ores are found here in unparalleled abundance: Rich veins of silver, lead, black nickel, and even toxic arsenic. Among the inhospitable mountains lie veins of nearly pure iron, metal that hardly requires the refiner’s fire.

These minerals are not an unalloyed blessing: In places, toxic metals and wastes have contaminated the land. Acidic streams wind through poisoned valleys, their unwholesome water home to misshapen crustaceans and inedible, polyp-covered fish. In these places, toxins madden and destroy those unwary enough to ingest them. Contaminated water and foodstuff are a constant danger (Survival DC 10 to avoid). (A common Mineral Toxin: Ingested DC 12 poison; Initial Damage: 1d4 Wis; Secondary Damage: 1d6 Wis)

In some alpine valleys, plants and animals grow with unnatural vitality, adapting to their lethal environment. These hardy survivors are the “rust-tainted”, strangely distorted creatures resistant to the land’s frigid weather and toxic environment.

Along the coast, tidal marshes and scrubland divide the mountains from the sea. Unusually high tides make navigation treacherous, but the tidal flows power the areas’ many tidal mills, sprawling structures where triphammers endlessly pound the mountains’ metal into goods for export.

The People
The dwarves of Zavaten Gura do not dwell underground, where the land’s toxins accumulate. Instead, they build ornate structures of cast iron, covered with rusting gargoyles and bas-reliefs. Within these dismal halls, condensation drips and thin “rustcicles” weep from iron plates and rusting rivets.

Human enclaves are also found throughout the land, mining and trading imported foodstuffs and warm woolen cloth for the products of the peaks’ smithies. Bearded and dour, these men resemble the land’s dwarven rulers, even adopting their harsh tongue for everyday speech.

Bugbear clans haunt the Stained Peaks, formidable and treacherous. Seething with patient hatred, they do not war openly against the land’s dwarven masters, instead quietly ambushing travelers and isolated hamlets. Other creatures also lurk among the isolated mountain passes: Black-scaled kobolds chitter on high peaks, unnaturally resistant to the cold, while tribes of ogres trade with the dwarven towns, exchanging pelts for liquor.

Settlements
A road of windswept stone winds through the mountains of Zavaten Gura. Known as “the Causeway”, this well-patrolled path binds together the land’s major towns: The harbor of Bovodport; the land’s capital, Visheksrad; the market of Smeikas; and the mining town of Ugostad.

Ships of many nations call on the harbor of Bovodport. In its meeting halls, merchants and dwarves haggle and barter, exchanging metal goods for the many imports needed in the dwarven land. Only by constant dredging is the shallow harbor kept free of silt, and even then, vessels wait on high tide before navigating its channel. The city’s ruler is Iyregraf Tvormir, a lazy, dissolute dwarf whose loyal nephew, Harbormaster Osini, labors endlessly to overcome his uncle’s neglect.

The “City of Flame”, Visheksrad, lies under an eternal pall of coal smoke. Fires that once made the city’s ornate towers of gilt iron into a vision of golden beauty now encrust it in soot. Within the fortress-like palace of the Utograf, treacherous factions of dwarves and humans scheme with Machiavellian ruthlessness: Each hopes to claim the ineffectual Utograv’s throne when Vioslav finally steps down.

Deep in the mountains, the mining towns of Ugostad, Zopotishto and Slavstad are home to thousands of indefatigable miners and harried craftsmen, laboring constantly in the vain hope of riches. The grasping leaders of these places drive the miners hard, binding them with contracts little short of slavery.

Even more isolated, villages of “rust-tainted” dwarves, ogre tribes, and other races dwell, the land’s taint bringing them madness and hideous deformities. Only the boldest of traders journey among these unwholesome folk.

Secrets of Zavaten Gura

Spoiler:
  • Within the lands of the Stained Peaks, all know of the bitter rivalries between the dwarven leaders. Few realize that these rivalries have been intentionally exacerbated. Kisel Vioslavov, the Elder of Smeikas (Dwarven Wererat Rogue 9) has slowly spread agents of his household through the land, using the discord between its factions to disguise his own grab for power.

  • In the isolated mountain cities of Zopotishto and Slavstad, a new sect claims the allegiance of the embittered miners, a religion preaching dwarven dominance over all other races. Worshipping an unknown smith-god, the cult’s cruel leader urges his followers to take up arms and drive all non-dwarves from their lands in a great and terrible purge. This bloodthirsty priest calls himself “the Reaper”; he plans to begin his grim harvest soon.

  • In hidden valleys, bands of miserable slaves called “scorched ones” are forced to gather the rare minerals encrusted on the shores of the land’s most toxic pools and streams. These unfortunates suffer daily agony from the poisons eating at them, but their fate is known to few. Their heartless masters, dwarven slavers worshipping only avarice, force purgatives upon the slaves to clear the toxins, but these measures only delay the inevitable for a few months.
  • RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

    Is there some way to indent paragraphs, center text, or add boxes (similar to the way quotes are handled) to posts on these boards?

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