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Matt Hardin wrote:
Adam Smith wrote:
Spastic Puma wrote:

I wonder if the DM altered the number puzzle. I ran it as written and my players figured it out in around six minutes.

(Edited for accuracy)

As with everything, we played it just as written. Haha, thanks for rubbing it in on them, Puma! ;-)

Haha. That is too funny.

Although, I will say it is very different getting a puzzle after a couple hours into a session, as opposed to days into a massive marathon session. Folks are pretty spent and brains are pretty taxed by then. And sometimes the last thing you want to do is puzzle out a brain teaser the DM/module throws at you. Still, gotta suck it up and do it though!

That's a good point. Even after playing for three hours my brain starts to feel like it's slowly being microwaved.

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I wonder if the DM altered the number puzzle. I ran it as written and my players figured it out in around six minutes.

(Edited for accuracy)

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Have you ever played Mechwarrior: Mercenaries? I felt their modular, color-based weapon system was really cool. It might pretty cool when converted to tabletop. However, a chassis-with-modules system might be too complex, so perhaps different classes of mechs based on weight and role?

Long-range light: Sniper
Long-range medium: Missile "boat" type mech
Long-range heavy: Uses high-caliber heavy artillery

Medium-range light/Medium-range medium/Medium-range heavy: These use all sorts of plasma, beam, and gauss rifles and maybe have some supplemental rockets

Short-range light: Skirmisher that uses shotguns
Short-range medium: Swordfighter
Short-range heavy: Punches stuff

Utility light: Recon mech that can paint targets to assist other mechs' targeting
Utility medium: Shieldbearer
Utility heavy: Drone Carrier

Idk, just an idea dump. Hopefully it gets you thinking.

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"Hey you! The way you enjoy the game is different and I don't like that! You should feel bad!"

Let the number crunchers crunch. A lot of people like that stuff. It's okay. I promise :)

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I haven't gotten through all of this yet but it's pretty incredible

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Without modifying the campaign's flow, I would say there is really only one chance for the PC's to do some serious crafting. Because of that, I would probably advise against investing feats or skill points into it. However, there's some potential for cohorts, so if you don't mind the balance issues that can sometimes come up with Leadership, I would encourage it. Nothing quite ups the scare factor more than seeing an NPC meet a grisly fate. I'm not saying you should purposefully annihilate their cohorts, buuuuut they do serve as a potential source of loss and horror should something... ahem... end up happening to them.

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My party used a (later acquired) method to return to the Dreamlands and use their dream gold to buy mentally restorative items. Because your psyche carries over, it seemed like it made sense to me. Plus, I thought it was a creative loophole -- especially considering shops get scarcer throughout the AP.

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Outrage porn? In my TTRPG off-topic forum? It's a lot more likely than you think!

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Maybe make it difficult decision-wise. Perhaps the alchemist has a clone they just finished working on. That way the Assassin could kill that one and take credit for it while the actual alchemist goes on living. Could create problems down the line but it definitely mixes the mission up and gives an interesting choice.

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(Cue Hastur's theme song and take a bite of this occult dessert I baked for our finale session.)

If someone told me I'd actually finish running this adventure path (much less in 7 months), I would have laughed in their face. AP's are a serious commitment, and getting several adults' schedules to align on a weekly basis can be damn near impossible. The other two AP's my group has completed each took a year a piece -- with the 6 player roster changing constantly, so I started this one off by mostly expecting the group to fall apart halfway through the first book. You can imagine my surprise as the group chugged on and life managed to stay out of the way. Miraculously, we had few absences and only had to cancel around three times.

I owe a lot of this good 'fortune' to just how well-written and exciting this adventure path really was. I never got the impression from the players that they were just going through the motions and showing up because they had to. I think all of us on this forum have been in a group where showing up as the player or the GM can feel more like an obligation than actual fun, but that was not the case here.

It's been a blast. Thank you to the writers and everyone at Paizo for continuing to churn out the best TTRPG material there is. Being a GM can be a lonely and sometimes frustrating experience, but thanks to the thriving community on these boards, it's that much easier.

Here are our thoughts. Remember, everyone's group is different, and I took a few liberties with some elements of the AP so YMMV in your own run-through. I hope you have as much fun as we did. :)

The Party:

Investigator (Empiricist): Norin, the Investigator of the party functioned as a high AC "Bufflord" who dominated nearly every skill check the party encountered. MVP extract: Echolocation.

Bloodrager (Aberrant): What can I say? This guy was death machine with a ludicrous amount of reach. He might as well have had pounce. Combined with the free spells upon rage activation and a meaty chunk of hit points, the group agreed that "Jeffrey the Fishman" was the most dangerous physical threat in the party.

Brawler: Getting out of the Bloodrager's shadow was hard, but Ronan had plenty of shining moments. Pummeling style meant his damage was nothing to scoff at, and there's something be said about the DM stealing all of your gear for one part of the adventure and not even being fazed by it. A few key bull rushes, spontaneous step up/disruptive combos, and grapples saved the party when things were looking dire.

Medium: I had never seen this class in action before, and both me and the player using it were very underwhelmed by its capabilities. Versatility is great, but some of the class abilities he gained upon leveling up were laughably bad. However, once the Marshall spirit reached a certain point, Simon became quite possibly the most incredible buff-totem I've ever seen. Using the halfling favored class bonus, copious spirit surges, and auras that ended up providing a +6 (!) bonus to saves or attack and damage, Simon kept this very martial party a razor-sharp killing machine.


I'll keep this section short because the GM reference sections are already filled with my blabbering about tips and tricks I used.

-Don't be afraid to turn up the heat on the players. When an eldritch monstrosity shows up, you want the players thinking about whether or not they should run -- not whether they should bother blowing any of their spells. Add some HD or throw on some templates if you're worried one of the more dramatic encounters is just going to be a speed bump.

-Find a way to give the player's a sense of accomplishment at the adventure's milestones. (As I get into in the complaints/compliments section, there's a lot of "Whoops! Just missed him!" moments, and I think it would go a long way to really play up the whole 'unraveling the mystery angle'.

-The adventure changes locations a LOT, so bringing NPC's like Dr. Elbourne, Winter, etc. can really add some continuity and feeling of development.

-The only other thing I wanna add is that freedom of movement took a lot of the drama out of some of these fights. Many monsters depend on grappling or swallowing/impaling to bring down players (Shrike Worms I'm looking at you). Even worse, the last set of encounters all took place within a 2 hour time frame -- meaning the party was able to have FoM on them at ALL times. I attempted a few dispels, but they're not a guaranteed success, and trying to remove it ended up wasting the few precious monster actions that I got.

There was a lot of great stuff in this AP. Here some of the elements the players said they really enjoyed.

-The amnesia element and the initial hook is fantastic. There's no adventure quite like it, and Paizo's writers should continue taking bold risks like this.

-Locations. The Asylum, Neruzavin, Carcosa (Paris!) -- They were all amazing. However, the players agreed that Dreams of The Yellow King was the strongest chapter by far. Bokrug's arrival, the people being abducted by webs at the ball and NO ONE saying anything about it, the whole fighting yourself thing at the oasis-- it just had so many memorable scenes and places.

-The Sanity system. While it was often times a lot of book keeping, and, like everything in pathfinder, trivialized at higher levels, I got a lot of positive feedback on it. The madnesses forced the players to concede weaknesses in their characters' personalities and it drove a lot of role playing which they liked.


Out-of-the-box, this adventure took WAY less love than Kingmaker or Skull and Shackles to make it run smoothly. This was very helpful -- considering that I was running these books AS they came out and didn't have time to overhaul very much. Despite this, the players did have a few complaints.

-Your Lowls is in another castle. Chasing this guy around is well-justified considering the whole revenge and (later) doomsday angle, but everywhere the players went they just missed him. It got disheartening at times, and I couldn't do much to fix it because I didn't know a lot of the story's details because I was running the AP as it came out. Early on we would approach the end of an arc and the players would begin excitedly discussing what they were gonna do if they ACTUALLY caught up to him. After a few near-misses, they got discouraged and started making defeatist remarks like "don't get too excited he's gonna TP out as soon as we walk in" or "I swear to god if we don't see this guy until the last book I'm gonna cry." (sorry about that, btw).

-Okeno. Everyone pretty much agreed this arc of the AP was a complete tone-break. While slaughtering your way up a gnoll slaver tower would be awesome in some storylines, it just didn't fit the feel of the adventure. The location was well-fleshed out, the descriptions great, and the Gnolls were well-statted, but The Whisper Out of Time could have just ended at the Mysterium and it would have made a lot more sense.

-The Necronomicon. There was a lot of hype for this item, so when the players finally got it, they were not that happy when they heard what it actually did. From a more objective power-level standpoint, it has a ton of abilities and bonuses so it fits in alongside other artifacts. However, my players weren't having it. To them, unless you're a wizard who is in need of a scary-looking new spellbook, it's pretty underwhelming. On top of that, the ability drain you get trying to unlock its power makes it even more unattractive.
It's the NECRONOMICON for god's sake! It should tempt you. It should make you want to risk permanently losing a piece of your wisdom score or undergoing irreversible damage JUST to get a TASTE of its power. I'm not sure how I would even begin building an item like that with Pathfinder rules, but I agree that it was a missed opportunity.
As one player put it... "I was more excited about finding a +2 short sword at level one with a cool name than I was about getting a hold of the most infamous occult tome of all time. There's something terribly wrong with that."

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We're approaching the end! Last night the party finished the once-beautiful city of Paris in one fell swoop. Hearing them put on their best French accents and reference Croissants incessantly was pretty great and I think they really like that there was a "real-world" city they could play around in. They diplomatically made it past the Gendarme's and met with Armel who wasn't very pleased to find out that the party had a way to bring Zane back to power. Funny enough, Armel didn't get very much done during the encounter because he made the mistake of thinking the mirror-imaged Medium wearing a ring of Displacement was actually killable. However, the squad of Gendarme's were pretty gnarly. That many attacks vs. touch AC with deadly aim chewed the party up very quickly.

I decided to make the Eiffel Tower encounter even more of a set piece by making it a straightforward 11-turn "defend the ritual" type thing. Zane offered 9 Gendarme's to aid the defense but the first wave of attackers (a pack of Shantaks) kept them occupied and unable to assist party in beating back the rapidly ascending Bhole. I made the Bhole rotate around the tower every round and use only its bite attack to make it more of an environmental attack that kept them moving. Meanwhile, they focused on the true enemy of the encounter -- an ancient void dragon that I added. I decided to include it for 3 reasons. It fit the space theme. One of the players was really hyped for a dragon after seeing (what he didn't know was a) shantak on the awesome cover art. Lastly, book six of a pathfinder AP didn't feel right without one. I realized during the fight I may have gone overboard with the CR here, but before the party's luck ran out (no, seriously, they were dealing with back to back prismatic sprays and suffocating breaths) the Ancient Void Dragon rolled a natural 1 on its save vs. possession and it was easy breezy from that point on.

I sincerely doubt we'll finish the campaign next session as there's a lot of stuff in pet 5 but it's getting very close to the end!

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I ran it benignly but one of the players was so disrespectful things ended up escalating into combat anyways. To up the challenge, I designed the fight so that the rows of foliage "pulsed" every round for 8d6 negative energy damage to nearby PC's. That let the Kudimmu use its drag ability to greater effect by repositioning them in the "blast zone". By the way, they need to make more monsters with the Dimensional Agility tree because that is just way too much fun :).
Edit: As a side note, there's a lot of potential to make the Kudimmu even more awesome. Lots of undead buddies would make awesome healing targets for the negative energy bombs. You could also make any bleed damage the players take in the field end up healing the Kudimmu as it absorbs the blood through its roots. You could also make the bleed damage retrigger each time they pass through the shrubbery as well.

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Another week another step further into Carcosa. The group arrived at Avaric's mansion and did their best to behave in a civilized manner. A lot of hilarious roleplay exchanges took place, with Medium getting put in time out for attempting to steal the ioun stone, Brawler attempting to woo Delamaria, Bloodrager attempting to socialize (while rendered deaf from a greater madness), and Investigator attempting to avoid Avaric who took a great liking to him. I do wish the published material had a more detailed, hour by hour outline of how the night goes (kind of like the museum auction portion of SWRPG's incredible Jewel of Yavin adventure) but I managed to whip up a series of events that created some immediacy and conflict to the way the night played out. Half the group teleported Delamaria out after convincing her to leave, but they also made the mistake of bringing the "poor, innocent twins" who were in danger as well. Fighting them 2v2 was rough but they managed (even though sticking a couple levels of antipaladin on most monsters is sadistic, thanks to CHA bonus-to-saves).
Unfortunately, back at the mansion, Avaric caught on to what they were up to, and him and his appointment of four guards managed to isolate and wallop the Bloodrager and the Investigator. Bloodrager barely managed to escape with the unconscious investigator via burst of speed. The next day they got their revenge and raided the mansion during the "day", killing Avaric and his undead allies using the element of surprise (and the power of buff stacking).
Next session, they activate the stelae and head into the elder thing city. I'm not sure if I'll have them fight the Kudimmu. It's such a cool, memorable creature with fantastic abilities but I don't think it stands much of a chance against a fully rested party -- even with a surprise round. The chances of it lasting 11 rounds so that its Larvae buddies can join in is very unlikely as well. I may make it a benign encounter.

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I decreased the number of encounters and smushed them together/rearranged them to make it less repetitive/predictable. One thing I found was effective was making some encounters a bit over-the-top CR-wise but giving the players a way or two to avoid that fight through stealth, puzzles, diplomacy etc. That way they don't get the impression that everything they meet is easily dealt with by just clubbing it over the head.

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We kicked off book six last night and I thought I'd share some of the highlights. I ended up swapping around some of the initial encounters so that Cassilda could help them before they encountered the Pallid Mask.
-I added some chasms to the Mad Trumpeter fight to give it some more opportunities to send the PC's into the depths below. I also added a treasure cache recessed in one of them that had a cumulative 10% chance every turn of being dislodged from the wind and falling in. Needless to say, that raised the stakes a bit. However, the arc de triumph had to be my music choice. "Fanfare" by Liturgy was so awful and just plain weird that it ended up making players really feel like they were being driven mad.
-I didn't expect much out of the Pallid Mask, but between Displacement and his damage-halving touch attack, he was deceptively tanky. The fight stretched out about 5 rounds or so and one player was driven insane by the yellow sign and the other was erased from reality by his CHA drain. Rather than force them to burn the Luck Blade wish they just got to bring him back, I offered him a deal in private away from the players. Cassilda could bring him back, but his new form would leave him forever tied to Carcosa like she is.
-They met with Eldarius and agreed to help him retrieve his daughter. They opted to take a Death Coach to get there quicker. Little did they know, this Uber driver wouldn't be a pushover. Round one it successfully feared 1/2 of the party and closed in. I clearly remember the hilarious exchange I had with the party investigator when it made its attack on him.

"The Death Coach delivers it corrupting touch! Does 34 beat your touch AC?"
"Okay roll a will save"
"I made it"
"Okay you take half of 19d6"
"Now roll a fort save. It's attempting to extract your soul"
"Yeah, roll!"
"I made it"
"Okay, you still take 3d6+18"
"What would have happened if I failed?!"
"Just 180 damage"

I had it run away so they could follow it once it hit half health but two rounds was enough to convince the players that this creature was likely the most powerful thing they'd fought so far -- and it was just their taxi!

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Closed the fifth book out the other night with the big fight with Xhamen-Dor's husk. I decided to take a great deal of liberties in redesigning this encounter, mostly because I wanted a battle with even the husk of a Great Old One to feel different. I'm sure the mechanics of the fight may seem a little too MMO-ish for some and they require a lot more prep and upkeep for the DM than the as-written version. However, I figured I'd put them up because the group had a good time with this encounter. Enjoy!

Stat Block Changes:
Maximized X-D's hit dice in order to make the fight last enough rounds for counterplay/strategy revolving around its mechanics to come into play. To compensate, I made some changes that overall lowered X-D's damage output as I'll get into below. Also removed fast healing 10.

Party must be near the crater lake and call him with contact entity. At the beginning of the encounter, Xhamen-Dor erupts from the ears and mouths of the party and swirls around them forming a 80 ft. diameter hemispheric "thunderdome" made of fungus, plant matter, and hair (Gross!). This triggers the unspeakable presence save and X-D begins lifting this enclosed arena into the air over the lake at a rate of 10 feet per round. Because drama.

Around The Wheel We Go...:
Eight evenly-spaced nodes form along the inside wall of the dome (Think like the places where the spoke meets the rim on an 8-spoke wheel). At the top of the round, X-D uses one of his spell-like abilities as a swift action on a single target, and the DM rolls 1d6 for each node.

- On a 6, Xhamen-Dor's serpent-like "head" appears at that node's location, allowing the players to damage him. At the end of the round, a head uses X-D's bite attack at a foe within reach of its position.

- On a 5-2, a seeded one appears at the node (Same stats as the seeded lamia but has no attacks, only 15 hp, 30 ft. movement, and has evasion). At the end of the round, any seeded ones take move actions to get as close as they can to a PC. If they reach one, they use their standard action to explode, dealing 1d4 wisdom damage in a 5-ft radius (DC 20 reflex to reduce to 1).

- On a 1, Xhamen-Dor consumes a 10x10 patch of floor in that node's general area and heals 10 hit points. That area is now a "hole" in the floor, where PC's and seeded ones can fall through.

Tentacool or Tentacruel?:
Lastly, I modified X-D's 4 tentacle attacks and made each of them "own" a quadrant of the hemisphere, where they attack at the end of each round. This punishes groups that spread out too much, but also allows for a 20x20ish area in the middle where they are free from all of X-D's attacks (except the seeded ones, of course).

This all obviously changes the fight a great deal and your mileage may vary unless you adopt it with the party's composition in mind. The players will have to constantly run around "chasing" where ever X-D's head may appear to get in a hit or two before it changes location. My group did not have a ranged character but had a 20 ft reach bloodrager and a pummeling style brawler, letting them full attack adjacent nodes in certain cases. Feel free to knock down X-D's hit points if your party lacks any options to full attack outside of a 5-foot step or encourage that member to focus on eliminating seeded ones. If your party has a powerful ranged archer-type that you feel may negate the whole point of this mechanic, feel free to grant X-D's heads the 50% ranged concealment that his true form has to encourage that player to focus on seeded ones.

The seeded ones are there to threaten groups who bunch up to tightly to avoid tentacle/bite attacks, and their guaranteed wisdom damage means that even the mightiest of parties will eventually succumb to madness if left in this fight too long. Having a player or two dedicated to cleaning them up (they go down in about 1 solid hit) will be necessary.

The 10x10 holes that constantly appear are there for a number of reasons. I added them as a way for the battlefield to change as the fight went on. They begin to limit movement, making chasing the heads more difficult and may make reaching some nodes impossible without the aid of flying magic or ranged attacks. Lastly, they interact in a nasty way with his unspeakable presence and his 3 single-target Sympathy spells he gets. Affected creatures will be compelled to move towards the "heads" that appear, which might not matter if one is a fighter-type who's chasing them around anyways, but may be problematic should any 10x10 chasms be in the way. A reflex save to avoid falling through is recommended.

If the fight is going too well, or if one of the players doesn't really have any job to do, feel free to have the "create a 10x10 square" roll also create an actual seeded lamia or any other comparable large creature to up the challenge. Bull rushing one of these creatures into a hole could be a lot of fun.

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'Sani wrote:
The Imperator wrote:
Adam Daigle wrote:
redondo15 wrote:
Hey guys, I have one question. If my players will discover early how to use a Star Stelae, they could teleport inside Iris Hill, if I understood correctly!?
No, for two reasons. First, no two Star Stelae are within range of each other, and secondly, the PCs likely aren't aware of the one under Iris Hill.

But wait, the section on Star Stelae says you can travel within 200 feet of other Star Stelae:

By touching one of the Star Stelae, a user can create a temporary portal on a wall within 200 feet of the stone. The user can then travel to another wall within 200 feet of one of the other two Star Stelae as if via dimension door.

My players grabbed one of the unholy symbols of Hastur, which I presume counted as a Yellow Sign to allow them to understand the Stelae, and made the assumption that there was a third Stelae, based on the shape of the town and the fact that there weren't cultist bases that they could find near the other two stelae.

Was that the wrong call?

I play on Roll 20, which means everyone in the game can draw on the map. It took less than five minutes after finding the locations of the other two Star Stela for them to have trigonometried out that there was another stela under Iris Hill.

Mine did the exact same thing but trig'd its location in the other direction after they heard about the glowing witch lights across the lake. Funny how too many clues at once can confuse an investigation.

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After obtaining the Necronimicon and realizing that their Lowls was in another castle (again) the party encountered the angered spirit at the stelae. I gave the party medium the opportunity to communicate with it and they opted to go retrieve it's sword rather than slay it. They left the tower and immediately were set upon by the archons who interrogated them on whether they had found the Necronimicon. Unfortunately, their gauntlet of lie detection techniques were too much for the party's bluff checks and the conversation turned violent. They put up a good fight (considering they were a 3-person party because the investigator had to miss the session) but the archons quickly chewed through their hit points with flame strikes and fireballs, forcing the medium to teleport his two unconscious allies back to the Ash giant camp. I later remembered that the Necronimicon was supposed to prevent teleportation, but considering Lowls did the same with it in the Mysterium. I just left that particular restriction off of the artifact.

While his allies recovered, the party Medium eagerly cracked open the ancient text and opened his mind to madness. While he saved vs. the ability score drain, the sanity damage sent him over the edge and he crumbled to the floor, Catatonic. This unfortunate turn of events slowed the adventure to a halt as the party debated for about 30 real-time minutes on how to best deal with this complication. Eventually, they settled on leaving the medium under the care of Grim Mother Moon until he recovered enough sanity to participate again. The remaining members set off back towards the city. Along the way, they encountered a Lammasu paladin named Amrivast. To brighten the mood, I played the creature as an over-the-top, Lawful-Stupid crusader who was eager to kick some evil butt. This ended up working out because the Medium's player got to run this NPC rather than sit on the side and watch.

The party dodged the fog of death encounter and headed into the Snarl (or as my players affectionately titled it, "the nihil-zone"). After a depressing history lesson from aept, the broken soul, the party got to meet the area's twisted inhabitants. They appeased the Saffron King but his escalating violent demands eventually causes both sides to draw swords. The encounter with the Heresy devil didn't go much better. I role played him like a sleazy used car salesman -- obsessed with getting his hands on the Necronimicon. The party was afraid he'd betray them and steal it so they passed on his forgery offer. As written in the aventure, I had him ambush them later but even with the element of surprise, he didn't stand a chance against the Brawler's pummeling charge.

Miles away, the Archons tracked the party medium to the ash giant camp and threatened the Giants to hand over the medium and the book. The Giants resisted, but crumbled to the Archons, forcing Mother moon to take the catatonic medium with her and escape.

While they still had not activated any of the stelae, they decided to head to the under city to address Kaklatath's concerns about the polyps. There were some nasty encounters down there but the most memorable fight involved the hunting horror. I stripped it's advanced template but had Weiralai ride it into battle. She sent the bloodrager tumbling into the abyss by crushing the bridge. Luckily, he had a magical flight method and floated back up to join the fight. Quickly after, the brawler jumped up and whiffed his knock out punch. She responded with a bestow curse (50% daze curse, of course) and severely hampered his ability to contribute after that. The horror spent its turns laying the hurt on the party. I was saving it's limited wish spells for later, but that ended up being a mistake. Amrivast's charging smite pounce of holy awesomeness absolutely pulverized the hunting horror and it only got one more round before succumbing to the bloodrager. Weiralai attempted to greater dispel the bloodrager's flight source but missed the check by 2. After that, the fight turned sour, as Weiralai abused her flight to single out the party members. Amrivast was relegated to ambulance duty, and had to save the bloodrager from tumbling into the abyss again after Weiralai cut him down. Afterwards, she sent a horde of animated objects after the paladin to keep him busy and turned her attention to the investigator who had been quietly buffing in the corner this entire time. They clashed and spent the next 5-7 rounds mostly missing but occasionally getting in a hit on one another. Unfortunately for Weiralai, her damage potential without being able to utilize her sneak attack was pretty low, and she had to burn her heal to keep up. By then, Amrivast and the brawler had regrouped and closed in to seal her fate. Before dying, she managed to take the brave Lammasu with one final rapier strike and both of them dropped to their deaths on the cold, distant stones below. Amrivast's noble sacrifice was not in vain, and they cleared out the under city and sealed the polyps below with the Lightning gun. Unfortunately, the party investigator's knowledge check wasn't high enough to obtain Kaklatath's original body from the leng ghouls. They reluctantly traded the slave woman's body as food but soon realized they lacked the capability to restore the Yithian's body. Kaklathath informed them that the seeded corruption in its original body will soon overtake it's mind much like the slave woman's. They will have to find whatever remnants of Xhamen-Dor rest in Neruzavin's crater lake. Next session, they will eradicate the Inmost blot, once and for all... ... well, on Golarion anyways. They'll have to contend with it later in the next volume.

I'm making some additions to the Husk of XD fight so I'll let you know how those work out.

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I was musing over ways of making the ending even darker. This is just brainstorming but what if the fact that knowing so much about Xhamen-Dor creates a problem for the PC's who have enjoyed immunity to its effects throughout the AP? That protection must wear off at some point -- meaning that they're ticking time bombs. They may have temporarily banished him but eventually their intimate knowledge of him will make them succumb to his influence and spread him further. Perhaps this will cause them to have to surrender a portion of their minds once more to the Mad Poet in exchange for blissful ignorance.
The drama could be upped by requiring one PC to make the sacrifice and remember forever -- remaining in Carcosa as a sort of guardian who is dedicated to stopping X-D when he makes his millenia-later return.

When the rest of them return to Golarion, they will not remember the great deeds they performed and neither will the townsfolk who they saved from being absorbed into Hastur. However, their minds will be scrubbed clean of X-D's influence and they can live happily from that point on -- probably with some inexplicable nightmares occasionally. You could make the final scene of the AP them emptying their bags of holding and celebrating all the treasure they "somehow" came across. Of course, that's when they stumble across a scrap of paper that they missed when ripping up and burning Lowls' notes on the Inmost Blot. On it is a strangely familiar name...

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Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
Spastic Puma wrote:
Perhaps I shouldnt have said Marx completely neglected identity politics because that's clearly not the case.

Well, I agree with this part anyway.

I'd argue about almost everything between that and "Marx is bae," but it doesn't seem to have much to do with the thread or your original point.

I'll just link over to the Fun-Timey Revolutionary Socialism thread in case you'd like to discuss it more:


Workers of the world, unite!

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Knight who says Meh wrote:
Spastic Puma wrote:

Man, I love social theory but I don't quite buy this whole "you're all increasingly living in our echo chamber" effect I see pop up in every discussion (usually to paint the other side as close minded). Sure, Web 2.0 lets you see and consume content that only you want to see/hear. But can we really say for sure that the past few years are anymore echoey than the ones before it? I would love to see a study showing this, but I wouldn't even know what methodology you would employ to prove that. You can speculate all you want, but without some sort of literature backing it up, it's just speculation.

People have always preferred to talk to people that agree with them. I don't think that will ever change. Furthermore, extremist positions at pushed even further into the spotlight, thanks to online social networking. We're bombarded with content and ideas. Just look at your Facebook feed and you'll no doubt stumble upon two Internet randoes futility yelling at each other from very different ideological sides.
The way I see it, technology has given us more control over our lives. Some individuals will use it to hide from opposing viewpoints but I would make the case that pre Web 2.0 they probably would have done that anyways. Individuals actually interested in seeing the other side now have unprecedented levels of access via the web to go and browse other opinions. Imagine trying to access groups of pro-self-harmers and gain insight into their perspectives in 1995. Good luck! Nowadays we can locate communities like that in seconds.
It's not so much ignoring things that you disagree with so much as being able to find people telling you you're right regardless of the facts of the matter. That's much easier now then it has ever been.

I'm gonna have to cite the Online Disinhibition Effect here and say that's not quite the case. People are way more willing to tell you off and shove things down your throat in virtual space for a variety of reasons. Considering the Internet is a public forum, ideas are proliferated and spread at a rate we've never seen before.

Suler, J. (2004). The online disinhibition effect. Cyberpsychology & behavior, 7(3), 321-326.

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I think dropping an all-sizes-fit label of "the racist" or "the sexist" is not reqlly getting at the heart at what the push for equality is about. Like I was mentioning before, it's not a conversation at that point. Furthermore, the new racist rhetoric is shrouded behind code words with nice little principle back doors that make calling someone a racist really just not that effective.

As for the president, Donald J. Trump is far from your garden-variety old white dude who has some bigoted positions. He's high-octane, and the stuff he's said is unprecedented for any president to say.

Essentially, if you treat this as a black/white, racist/non-racist thing, you're gonna get some weird categorizations going where Trump of all people is now just AS bigoted as any other person who's made a discriminatory commen or microaggressiont. There's definitely degrees to this.

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Mix one part Racial Resentment with one part Good Ole Fashioned American Individualism(TM) and you get a large portion of the white population that always thinks that minorities are pushing for too much, too soon.

Much like that, the argument against the "rise of political correctness" is nothing new. (Huge generalization incoming) Behind every wrong side of American history you'll find detractors of it. Jump back a couple decades and read how universities back then were becoming too politically correct for right-wing politicians! Those damn leftist think tanks! My favorite thing to do when I hear someone complain about PC culture is ask them what they want to say that they feel they're not allowed to. 9/10 they clam up. The tenth time they say it and angry feminist harpies DONT descend from the sky to carry them away. Imagine that. It's almost like having to consider other people's feelings when interacting with them is more a mark of good character than any conspiracy pushed by the matriarchy/cultural Marxists/regressive leftists/feminazis/virtue signallers/whatever-buzzwords-those-alt-righters-are-calling-people they-don't-like-nowadays.

Now don't get me wrong. I certainly find it irritating when I see some random blogger use concepts like Cultural Appropriation like a crude club to attack anything they see without really understanding it's intricacies. Fortunately, everyone is discussing equality. Unfortunately, some of the zeal gets a bit misplaced. As someone who researches this stuff on the academic level, it's pretty rough to see the literature go through the online telephone game. However, this is honestly blown out of proportion by neo-reactionaries and their ilk. Occasionally drawing e-flak from a few misguided kids who didn't do their research is well worth bringing discussions on inequality into the spotlight. We need more substantive talks on these topics if we want to make lasting progress.

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This whole blame the liberals thing is straight outta the playbook of the 90's detractors of affirmative action.
"Those damn liberals keep bringing up race when talking about equality. You know, theyre the whole reason this country is divided. If only they could present their policies in a color-blind way (by sweeping race under the rug via mental gymnastics) they would garner more support!"
Go ahead and read Carmines and Sniderman's Reaching Beyond Race from 1997 (try not to internally scream while doing so) to see that this approach is really nothing new.

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Ran the second session of this last night and got to kick off the exploration of Neruzavin. It was difficult to do the weird geometry of the city justice on a battle mat with markers so I relied on the vivid details the adventure provides to make up for it. The whole 'wind coming from below' bit got a great reaction. They encountered the Otyugh and had a series of debates on whether or not to sell the chain of nights from the first volume of the AP for some extra cash. The pair of Juggernauts interrupted their discussion and I blasted some Mad Max:Fury Road OST to get them pumped. Because I designed the streets to be 20 feet wide in some places, the juggernauts were incredibly deadly and did a number of the group. Of course, other groups may have had a flier with ranged attacks and easily be able to take them out but that wasn't the case for my group so they had to deal with some gnarly overrun checks and vicious trample.
After using half of their CLW wand charges on a single encounter, they made their way to the tower (led by the echoes of Lowls party) and ran into the archons. It was a tense exchange and they managed to lie through their teeth without getting caught. However, the Archons remain suspicious of their motives and I foresee some flaming sword attacks in their future.
I wanted the inside of the tower to feel trippy and MC Escher esque. Hilariously enough, my laziness of not wanting to erase the city map on the playmat grid led me to flip it over and draw the tower map on the hex grid side. It was surprisingly effective and really added for the strangeness of the building's architecture. After all, my group has been playing on a square grid for 8 years now.
I combined the two encounters that consisted of Lowls party into one fight to up the challenge a bit. Fighting 6 level 10 characters is no joke, and it was a close battle but they managed to pull through. The Brawler locked down the Sorcerer by temporarily learning the Improved Step Up and Disruptive feats, saving the group from a constant fireball barrage. Thala the seedborne fighter stole the show with her monstrous disarm and trip build but her 140+ hp wasn't enough to withstand an optimized bloodrager.
The session ended with them finding Lowls notes and the Necronimicon(!). I dumped a bunch of plot info on them and called it a night. Overall, a pretty productive, if short, session.

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From what grows within:
Lowls is obsessed with one or more eldritch masters, whom he seeks to serve by completing a number of occult rituals. He has planned to take Xhamen-Dor into his body and journey to Carcosa to offer himself to Hastur so that the King in Yellow can gain enough power to become an Outer God.
• Much like Thrushmoor, the accursed city of Neruzavin holds three Star Stelae that the count awakened in order to perform a ritual he learned from the Necronomicon: the path to the black star occult ritual.
• Upon completing the ritual, Lowls planned to travel to the unholy domain of the King in Yellow, where he hoped to attune its Star Stelae and offer Golarion to his new master.
This is the plot info the party is informed when they come across notes and journal writings in that AP volume. I thought it cleared a few things up.

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Baval wrote:

You seem to not even understand that you can make examples of other things that follow the same logic as someones justification to prove why its wrong, and think you can only literally respond to exactly what they say, so i agree i dont know why im bothering to answer you either.
I find this hilarious because you did the exact same thing you're accusing me of when I wrote my Pete the Paladin example.
Baval wrote:

No you did not directly say torture. Good for you! But in this example, were going to compare torture to letting your ally bleed out. See, thats because theyre both bad things. Grr. Now were going to compare catching a bad guy with saving the world. See, its because theyre both good things. Yay! Now, is it ok for a paladin to do a bad thing, like torture or letting your allies die, if it means you get to do a good thing, like save the world or catching the bad guy?

I hope you understand how similes work now.

That's not even a simile. A simile is comparing two unlike things to describe something, a la "being a paladin when your GM has a poor grasp on pathfinder's morality system is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place." I love it when someone tries to be condescending and it just backfires. I also have to point out how you've once again left out the fact that choosing to heal your ally could cause more deaths when the villain escapes. That's allowing evil to happen. That's evil by your own definition.

Baval wrote:

I didnt make a personal attack on you out of frustration. I called you an idiot because you were being an idiot. I would like to believe that my above mocking retort explaining to you how similes work wasnt actually necessary and you were just being bull headed to avoid admitting you are wrong, but correct me if im wrong and you actually thought that people can only respond to things you actually physically type and not extrapolate on your logical conclusions.

I can't read your mind so I have to go off of what you type. Also, insults are personal attacks and are not okay here. Please review the community guidelines below.

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I can just imagine it now. Pete the Pally kneels before Iomedae herself. "Your holiness, I have vanquished the reawakened Tar-Baphon and saved all of Golarion from an age of darkness and despair."

"Yeahhhhhhh, about that. I noticed you spent that final round full-attacking him and killing him before he got away instead of moving away, taking an AOO, and using Lay on Hands to save the party rogue who thought dumping con was a good idea. Hand over your gun and your badge."

"But... but..."

"Yeah yeah, he woulda escaped and wreaked untold havoc on the world. But here in Baval-land, the power of friendship is more important than stopping ancient evils from reawakening. Don't let the heavenly gates hit you on the way out!"

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Baval wrote:
no, the paladin was NOT able to go after the villain because an innocent was dying.

Sure she could. Especially if the villain's escape would have led to many more deaths.

Baval wrote:
He had a moral obligation to treat the definite case of said innocent, who was also a comrade of his, dying rather than going after an enemy who only might go on to do more evil.

Wrong. As DrDeth pointed out, calling an adventurer "innocent" is a bit silly. Also, this is a villain we're talking about. By definition, they are going to commit more evil. Given that the paladin's friend was near death, that villain was obviously able to take someone's life. Thus, more lives are at stake other than the party member's.

Baval wrote:
Even if he was 99% sure the villain would cause more trouble before the Paladin caught up to him, he was 100% sure his comrade would die.

Both are LG options. Both would probably cause the Paladin to feelsbadman and have restless sleep. However, in that situation, neither choice is an evil act.

Baval wrote:
It also would have only taken a single round for the Paladin to heal his comrade, 6 seconds wasnt going to change anything in his pursuit of the villain.

We don't know that. If that's true, sure. Maybe the town guard is after them. Maybe some other party members could pick up the tab and lack any healing magic. However, that was not given in the example so making details up to support your argument is out of the question.

Baval wrote:
If the Paladin couldnt heal his comrade, or legitimately thought the other person would heal, he could get away with it, but were told the Paladin chose not to heal the dying because he disliked them, and that he knew the other person would not heal them either. That is literally allowing someone to die because you dislike them. That is evil.

Wrong. We were told the CLERIC didn't like them and refused to heal them for blasphemy. Check upthread and adjust yourself.

Baval wrote:
I didnt take your point anywhere past where you took it.


Baval wrote:
You argued it was ok to let someone die because in the Pathfinder world its temporary thanks to magic. I said if its ok to let bad things happen to people because they can be fixed, you have to apply that logic across the board. Ergo torture is fine because it can be fixed. Or how about human sacrifice, thats fixed in the exact same way. Is it ok to sacrifice a woman if the villain says he'll come quietly if you do? After all, death is temporary right?

Yeah, there you go doing it right after you said you didn't. I was pointing out that resurrection magic does exist in pathfinder, and death can be only temporary. Especially for adventurers. I could imagine my 13th level group scolding this very same paladin for allowing BBEG get away and kill more people just to avoid a 5000g fine and a few casts of restoration. However, the DM has added that they were low-level and this magic was not available. So my point doesn't apply to this situation given the new information we were provided. Also, the whole "sacrificing a woman" thing makes it sound like you think they're vulnerable simply by being women. That's just silly.

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Baval wrote:
Spastic Puma wrote:
Also, letting your party member die to stop the villain in a world where resurrection magic is very available to adventurers has different ramifications than in "real life", no matter how you spin it.
By this argument, torture to save the world is ok because there is healing magic. Paladins are allowed to torture.

If you want to take my point past its limits to caricaturize it there are a lot more entertaining ways to do that. My example was given in the context of a greater good dilemma. Yours is lacking any greater good dilemma and attempting to take my reasoning outside the bounds I presented it in. Please take my words as I give them to you and refrain from running off with them.

Also, as fun and dramatic as your own paladin code may be, it's really not relevant here at all. The paladin WAS able to go after the villain. Thus, the villain escaping is the paladin ALLOWING evil to happen.

These ideas of what constitutes LG behavior are extremely narrow and honestly ridiculous. There are so many examples in AP's and modules where LG beings (including paladin's and heavenly outsiders) perform much more egregious actions in the name of the greater good.

In summation, you're allowed to have your own personal idea of what paladinhood and lawful goodness are in your own games as a GM. Hell, you can make the sky green and trolls ride around on motorcycles. However, as long as this discussion is taking place in the canon pathfinder universe, these restrictions are out of touch with what the literature has presented.

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Perhaps my most effective moment of horror in TT came from playing with the concept that the players don't know who they were. For instance, the party investigator in my group named Norin (yes he was based off of the magic card) is easily frightened by even the slightest noise. This is, of course, fun to see him role play, but I took that concept and fit it with the revenant segment of the adventure. It started with him getting strange visions when they passed the lake front. Something was calling to him from the ground. Later, when they entered the butcher's shop I had his character experience a flashback from when he was one of Lowls' lackeys. His job was to snoop around and "investigate" townsfolk when Lowls called for taxes, contraband, rare texts, etc. This meant most citizens didnt like him very much and when he entered the shop, one of the butcher's assistants jumped out to scare him, wearing a pig "mask". They all had a good laugh when Norin ran out the door nearly pissing himself.
Later, Norin kept looking over his shoulder and noticing that a man kept silently following him through town. Unfortunately, the butcher's assistant following him was mute, and Norin's paranoia meant that seeing a man in a bloodied apron chasing him around the city with "something" in his hand led him to run screaming through the town. Eventually, the mute caught up with him and surprised him again. Norin panicked and stabbed him, fearing for his life. As the life drained away from the poor man, Norin realized he was only trying to return Norin's coinpurse that he left at the shop when they scared him earlier. Ashamed and horrified at having killed an innocent person, he hid the body and buried it without a marker. This resulted in a revenant that came back for revenge wearing a bloody butcher's apron and a pig head.
I revealed this story at different points and saved the twist for when the revenant actually showed up. Essentially, the point was to take the personalities the players had given their characters and twist them to fit their dark backgrounds. I think challenging their heroic identities and creating cognitive dissonance in how they see themselves can lead to some good "What have I done?" moments and some awesome cooperative storytelling. Of course, you have to make sure the players are okay with you pinning things like murder on one of them.
Edit: Some examples would be if one of your players is a gung ho crusader type, maybe they led a witch hunt at one point and mistakenly killed a bunch "cultists" Lowls told him about that were really just a nightly book club. That way, Lowls could have their texts. Maybe if one of your players was a scholar they could have gone too far with their studies. They could have released a terrible monster on the town by accident, or were responsible for the deaths of children who were playing in the arcane waste behind their lab. Maybe the party ranger's quest to convince the townsfolk that the skum were really just misunderstood creatures led to the abduction and murder of several townsfolk. I'm just spitballing here but hopefully those get you thinking.

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Running this as it comes out is exhilarating but issues do come up. For instance, Weiralai's background is kept under wraps until book 5 so weaving her into the story was a bit odd for me because I didn't fully understand her motives and drives. I remember one of the players saying something along the lines of "Did we miss something? She seems important." Also, I tripped up a few times when explaining to the players in-character where Lowls is going and what he is up to. Why is he going to the mysterium? To get the Necronimicon. Should they know that yet, or should I wait until they get to Munn's lab? Should they know about the Necronimicon? What about Neruzavin? When do I drop that bomb? Is the Mad Poet the plot dump I used him to be?. Also, I had trouble understanding exactly what Xhamen-Dor and Hastur were up to. Were they working together? Was one using the other? How aware of this relationship is the Count?

All of these questions probably have clear cut answers within the text but running the adventure as it came out muddled my own sense of what key plot points and reveals were supposed to be. Timing them for maximum effect and drama within the story would have been a lot easier.

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If I could run Okeno again I would find a way to force the players into the sweat ways. Those are basically the tunnels they use to transport slaves under the city. Their walls are caked with blood, filth, etc. and there is a horrifying corpse orgy monster that awakens down there from time to time -- born from the awful suffering that the slaves have been subject to. Playing off of the claustrophobia and grossness of these tunnels would be very unsettling, and even encountering that creature in passing would be a memorable scene. Just picture it -- a misshapen, roiling mass of broken bodies, filling the tunnel and clawing around as they let out the tortured screams of the damned... Man, I really missed out not using this haha.

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Torag is your typical dwarf god. I think that's kind of lame so I probably hate him the most.

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Storyteller Shadow wrote:
Thomas Seitz wrote:
I voted for Death.
Death The whole band or any members in particular?

Sean Reinert. That guy is a wizard on drums.

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A great deal of people I hear that complain about millenials are actually millenials themselves (after the 1982 cutoff) and just use it to critique liberal attitudes or dismiss someone's opinion because it is 'juvenile' or 'unrealistic'. They also fail to account for the generation after millenials as well.

Generations are fun to talk about (like any huge generalization) because they simplify very complex demographics into bite-sized pieces. In reality, theyre not based on any rigorous social statistics and lack an approved-upon definition as to when they end and begin. Therefore, always take them with a grain of salt.

(Written by your typical millenial who hates being categorized)

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Whelp, book 4 has been knocked out as of last night. It ended on a good note, and was filled with more than a few laughs.

Misadventures in Okeno:
The party was not very enchanted with Okeno, and after I described the gazetteer tidbit about individuals being more likely to die to rusty nails than blades there, they made it their mission to find Biting Lash as quickly as possible. (After making the DC 25 check on gather information) One half of the group went searching at the black circus, the other half headed to the laughing fleshfair to find Princess Njano. The circus visit ended with a dead clown, a dead mastodon, and a pair of PC's running for their lives (I ended up using the circus encounter here instead of later when they gather information for Njano's request). The other two PC's were not much more tactful, and quickly drew attention to themselves at the Laughing Fleshfair. As guards closed around them to kick them out, they attempted to pacify the gnolls by telling jokes. Unfortunately, the laughing hyena trope did not work in their favor and things dissolved into combat. They managed to fight their way out and caught a glimpse of Njano being evacuated from the event. They chased her down and managed to convince her they meant no harm and just wanted information. When they met later at her palace, the party Brawler ran into Kisetz. I roleplayed her scorned lover angle as well as I could, and although the brawler's (deceptive) attempt to convince her he still loved her was admirable, she remained unconvinced. The party agreed to help Njano, and later that night, the brawler ran off to go find Kisetz. One dark alley and 3 rounds of studying later, he ended up paralyzed by her kukri and woke up the next morning face down, naked in an alleyway -- his only remaining possession being a nasty note. Because the party managed to complete Njano's request before he met up with them, they ended up running into Kisetz first, who was very pleased with herself. She overheard their goal of getting to Biting Lash so she went to tip her off. As a sidenote, I wanted to mention that I had no idea what a Doru was, so when I used the Div's summon ability, succeeded on the percentage roll, and rolled a 4 out of a possible 1d4 of them I was very excited to slam down some of my demon minis on the table. Upon actually seeing their statblocks I visibly facepalmed at how ineffective they were. Always do your research fellow GMs!

Blossoming Thorn:
While the party was 12th level at this point, their solution to breaking into Blossoming Thorn was a rather mundane and straight forward one: Bluff their way through the gates and go from there. Unfortunately, they were not aware that Kisetz had tipped Lash off to their appearances, and while the party medium was disguised as a rich gnoll, that didn't do much to conceal the fact that the other 3 PC's resembled Kisetz description. While I was surprised they didn't use the multiple alternate ways they had to get to the top of the building, it ended up being much more exciting the way they played it out.
Enchantment magic got the guards to signal to open the first portcullis, but as soon as they stepped in, it closed behind them and acid began to pour. A moment of panic occurred until the bloodrager and brawler used their combined strength scores to force the portcullis open. What followed was a bloodbath on the scale I haven't seen in quite a while as a GM. The first floor gnolls were hideously outmatched, and the Medium's high diplomacy score encouraged the slaves to stand down. The players broke in, found and freed Kaklatath and made their way up the fortress. The second floor fight was a cramped and surprisingly difficult one, with two party members dropping to the countless scorpion whip strikes and excessive amounts of gnoll warriors wearing them down. The top floor battle lasted only a few rounds. The pack lords were certainly effective at disarming most of the party, and I had a lot of fun using their teamwork feats. However, when Biting Lash showed her face the Medium took her mind over with a persistent Possession spell. Needless to say, the fight was over at that point. Kisetz high-tailed it as soon as things went south and the Brawler was pleased to retrieve his gear that she had tried to pawn off to Biting Lash (he did the entire fortress in nothing but a leather speedo). While they were deliberating whether or not to kill Biting Lash, the party investigator made a case for her life that had the entire table laughing.
"We actually don't know if she's evil."
"Dude, she runs a slave trade. Of course she is."
"Hey man, stealing in Pathfinder is neutral, okay? She's just stealing people's freedom."
They picked up on Lowls' trail and showed no mercy for Biting Lash before they left -- throwing her off the top floor to her death and savoring the sweet taste of victory.

All in all, the group had a good deal of fun over the 6 hours that we played last night. There was a few comments about how the Okeno section of this chapter was far from horrifying and kind of random, but they agreed that it was a nice change of pace to flex their level 12 muscles and cut swathes through an entire gnoll army. We discussed how A Whisper Out of Time was very combat-heavy (with its 3 'dungeons') but my group likes combat a lot so it ended up working out. Everyone is very excited to see What Grows Within. :)

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In a pirate adventure, our beloved (chaotic evil) captain baleful polymorphed his rival (a werewolf) into a harmless puppy. He then said that leaving him as a puppy forever would be inhumane... So he stoneskinned him and dropped him into the ocean.

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Last session the party did the entirety of the mysterium in one sitting. We had one player who couldn't make it so it ended up being a three-man-band going in. I was worried about the hounds of tindalos constantly wearing them down with their ripping gaze but hilariously enough the only party member affected by it was the bloodrager and his ludicrously high fortitude save meant he could only fail on a 1. The investigator had an echolocation extract which allowed him to close his eyes and still fight and the medium was blind from a greater madness so they both were immune. They rather quickly left the university floor and skipped exploring most of the rooms in favor of avoiding more hound patrols.
The dread wraith on the second floor consistently preyed on the blind medium who nearly died from it. However, the wraith got too cocky and when it emerged from the wall to finish the medium off the rest of the party swooped in and clobbered it before it got away. The protoshoggoths were solid foes, and managed to infect two of the party members. The investigator also has the touch of Xhamen Dor on him so that will be problematic later. Overall, however, the haunts were far from being deadly. I'm not sure if they were intended to just be flavorful additions, but he fact that they existed separate from encounters meant they just ended up being a CLW wand tax. The only haunt that had my players terrified was the arcane blast one that locked the medium inside. The party couldn't breakthrough the bars quick enough and all hope was lost. However, I reminded he medium that they could damage haunts and he used that to escape at the last second.
Out of all the encounters, the mysterium guards ended up being the most deadly, funnily enough. I don't know if it was just because the party was weakened or because they got lucky with crits, but it was almost a TPK. The investigator's sky-high AC was no match for their magic missile barrage.
When they got to the bottom, the investigator failed the puzzle check three times in a row so they ended up fighting all of the soul bound shells. The cloud kills were especially problematic and although the fights vs the shells were only 1-2 rounds, the party was nearly out of gas by the time they reached the keeper. The keeper was a short but lethal fight, with 2/3 party members going down in the first two rounds. I "wasted" a round using the wracking touch ability, rather than full attacking, and that gave the investigator enough of an edge to pull a victory out of a very dire situation.
The players were understandably bummed when they realized Lowls had already escaped and they really didn't have to had come down there and do all that fighting. They kept asking why the "mysterious figure"'s vision couldn't have told them where he was earlier. They ended up stealing the prized tomes in the mysterium's soul at the end of the session. Now I have to come up with 6-10 scary books for next session xD. I'm thinking of making some of them dangerous and/or powerful. Maybe a vacuous time thrown in for good measure...

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I just let my players buy anything they wanted with the dreamlands funny money. However, this was before Adam Daigle revealed there would be no more dreamlands in the AP after book 3. They were kinda bummed they spent all that time getting excited for items they'd never get to use again

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This point may have passed a while back but I thought I'd throw my two cents in. Countries don't exist in vacuums, and the idea of a beauty pageant as it appears in contemporary society did not simultaneously spring up everywhere as a form of parallel evolution. Thus, using their similar results as an argument for a certain beauty standard is really not taking into account globalization or even smaller scale transfers of values and practices.

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The soundtrack was probably the worst part about the film. You could tell he only had a month to make it.

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Had my first session with this book last night. I wasn't expecting mun's lab to be very exciting but the PC's split up and things got scary real quick. By the way, Twain is a terror. She managed to get nearly every buff off and was nearly unkillable as a result. Without Echolocation and a few well placed glitter dusts to stop her greater invis, the fight would have gone sour but they pulled through.

I also got to use the Dragged To Your Doom trap to its full effectiveness. I usually think traps aren't very interesting. (Oh, you didn't check the door? Okay roll a save and take 4d6 acid damage that you're just going to heal away with your CLW wand). However as soon as the PC realized what was happening with this trap, there was genuine terror in the air. THATS what I call an excellently designed trap.

One more thing: The Cytillipede's aoe dc 22 save or stunned (1d4 rounds) is absolutely brutal. Combine that with its dc 20 poison bite that dazes and you have one nasty critter. CR 6 seems a little low.

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Did you find the denizens of leng to be challenging foes? I was really excited to GM them but the PCs in my group rolled them before I could do anything fun with them. Also, how did the Last Night In Sarnath dream quest go?

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So I knew that it would be hard to top the session before last. For those who didn't read it (it's earlier in this thread), it ended with Bokrug smiting the brawler who essentially sacrificed his sanity to grab the idol of Ib.

At this point, the party is suffering from at least 2 lesser madnesses each and doing an excellent job role playing them at that. Unfortunately, the Bloodrager who is suffering from the Ghoul corruption finally failed his save and ate one of the crew members overnight on the Sellen Starling. Fortunately, the party was able to cover up the grisly murder. The crew member's disappearance was convincingly explained away, but at the cost of straining the crew and captain's trust in them.

The Quests:
They did the remaining four dream quests, all within about ten game days. Some of them were very exciting, while others were conquered quite easily. For instance, the quest involving the Night Hag was short but sweet. The party quickly identified the confederate in her entourage but spent a great deal of time debating whether to take out the single assassin or fighting the much more difficult Night Hag. They finally decided on the latter, taking her out in 2 rounds and thankfully avoiding her fake heartstone trick.

The quest involving the Wamps was rather straightforward. None of the PC's were threatened they seemed to effortlessly glide through the encounters. On the other hand, the feline tail quest was a narrow victory, and quickly turned nasty when the pouncing tigers' full attacks took out the brawler and the bloodrager. The Royal Ghoul Skull was one of the easier ones. They managed to grab the relic and port out using the concentration check (or exploding themselves as they so affectionately call it) before the Ghoul Ranger and his posse arrived.

The Rescue:
When the party arrived at the Caravnserai I must admit I was excited to use the Denizens of Leng against them. Their sneak attack dice and dexterity-draining bite really got the sadistic side of my GMing mind rolling. However, due to my own tactical errors and the tight confines of the building, the denizens were quickly mowed down before I could anything really exciting with them.

Their foray into the moon prison started off dangerously, with the PC's attracting a great deal of attention from the Leng Ghouls and the Moon Beast. The Ghouls kept several of the party's member's paralyzed long enough for the moon beast to get off a Dominate Person on the party Bloodrager... who happened to have Protection from Evil cast on him. That mind control immunity probably won them what would have likely been a party wipe. After licking their wounds and burning through the rest of their CLW wands, they made their way to the second floor and encountered the prison torture "expert". I showed them the art for the character and somehow they gathered that the individual was a halfling from the art. Instead of correcting them, I played along. They were quick to attempt to browbeat the torture expert into giving them answers, but the halfling retorted with its own threats. Unimpressed, the party leader responded by saying that he has "taken down enemies who are twice your size." The halfling responded "Oh yeah?!" and took the opportunity to transform into his true form -- an adult nightmare dragon. Needless to say, that hilarious exchange will probably be referenced for many sessions to come.

Anyways, the party struggled but eventually cleared out the prison and rescued the Yellow King. Unfortunately, they stepped outside to find that their Shantak was no longer there. They made the mistake of releasing the Monster Hunter earlier and telling her to wait outside with the beast for them to come back. She took off and left them high and dry.

After much frustration and several dream days' worth of waiting, they made their way to the oasis. Roleplaying the Mad Poet was a lot of fun. The only thing better than playing as an impatient and irritated scholar is roleplaying an impatient/irritated scholar who is unhinged. Despite his abrasive personality, their jaws dropped when they received the permanent +2 bonus to the ability score of their choice. Unfortunately, I forgot to include the Jinmenju in my combat notes so the party never got to include that potentially unsettling fight. However, their encounters with their nightmare copies was a great deal of fun. I allowed them to run their clones, as well as their characters, and I must say it was a decision that turned out beautifully. Each player took the opportunity to enrich the fight with rich description and heated exchanges between their character and their character's 'shadow'. I had forgotten to snap a picture of their character sheets near the start of the adventure so I just had them fight the character sheet of their non-dreamlands self, which despite the gear difference, ended up being a sufficient challenge in and of itself. They defeated their copies but one member of the party fell into the oasis pool with their copy and emerged the lone victor afterwards. Already the party is starting question which version actually won.

Next session they'll be wrapping up the river travel and it will be off to the fourth book!

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Almost finished running this. I'll drop a recap later for anyone who's interested. This book was incredible :)

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You could always just use the range band system from FFG's SWRPG. I hated it at first but it grew on me. I realized that the more ranged combat there is, the less a grid really matters.

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The US as a whole should go metric. But that's a different argument.

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I ran this encounter and I'm of the opinion that it's a bit swingy. How well he's going to do vs the party is very dependent on how many players fail the frightful presence save.. The difficulty varies wildly if 3-4 members fail it vs. only 1 or 0.

If you're looking for fun changes to make him more memorable you could drop the frightful presence have his attacks or a spell force those who fail the save into the dreamlands. To escape they'd have to beat a low CR creature or two, or maybe even pass an ability/skill check, a la Maze. That would give players something to do when they fail their save rather than just watch their panicked character run away for 10 rounds.

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Long ago, Wizards began using shade spells like the ones above to copy reality. Pretty soon, those copies were copied by other wizards who thought they were real and they eventually became empty references in and of themselves. Now, no one can tell the shades from what's real.

Pathfinder: Jean Baudrillard Edition

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