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GM Thoughts on Hommelstaub

Played effectively, Hommelstaub would be impossible for a party to fight - at least under normal circumstances. If he were used for the Ambush against the party the night before, then there is a significant balancing of the scales (as Hommelstaub may be able to see through snow but it being night does cause him the same problems many PCs would have (he has low-light vision and it's overcast at night).

Given the fact "heavy snow" is falling (I went with blizzard to reduce the visibility of the group and create a more claustrophobic feel to the fight - and having Teb looming out of the 20-foot range of sight for the group did ramp up tension for the players), it actually makes sense to have reduced daytime visibility for Hommelstaub (and for that matter the adventurers). Then again, if they'd chosen to attack at night, it would have allowed for a stealthier approach to the Portal.

Still, I have no regrets having Hommelstaub slain by the Black Rider. My depiction of him is of a strong powerful warrior who continues to move by force of will (and Baba Yaga's favor). Part of me is actually tempted to give the group a touch of Mythic - have them only die when they reach double their Constitution bonus, and automatically stabilize.

The amusing thing is, if this had been a level 2 group and I'd not modified Teb to have a level of Unchained Barbarian, then he honestly would have fallen probably after two rounds of combat. My players had some really lucky damage rolls. I'd have been left with the same problem with Hommelstaub however - a sniper who can attack from beyond the visual range of the players. And once the players got within melee range, his ability to go invisible and flee just made him into a true aggravation. Given the hour we were at and the fact I honestly didn't want to delay yet again having the Black Rider appear... using him to end the fight was for the best.

Besides. The game is about having fun. Of the six members of the group, only the Barbarian was at half hit points. Everyone else was within four hit points of being full up. All Hommelstaub would have been was that annoying final foe that is sniping you from a hidden location that you find in the occasional video game. It's better to just cut-and-run in those cases.


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Stop children, what's that sound? Everyone look what's going 'round...

Pregame note: Using the Blizzard rules in the Wilderness rules, visibility increased to 20 feet. However, ranged attacks suffered a -8 to hit due to wind and snow. Also, I increased Hommelstaub's level by one but to be honest it was a moot point. Also, Teb was provided with one level of Unchained Barbarian and the Feat Dodge so that his armor class wouldn't be badly hurt by Raging. A third Sprite was also added to the group, which had grown to include a sixth member:

Zvezda: 3rd level Catfolk Monk

As I mentioned, in my previous game I had a player from my Discord game join in to watch and run Fawkes. She enjoyed the camaraderie and ended up joining us, and went with a Catfolk Monk for her character. However, she chose to go with a most interesting background. Zvezda was a magical experiment. A high-level Winter Witch tortured and broke her before using her to be her Familiar. She did this to further empower her magic but before she was finished, Queen Elvanna required her to go after the Black Rider.

She failed to kill Black Midnight, who in turn killed her and her minions but chose to free the chained catfolk whose life essence was used to empower the ice spike that had broken through Black Midnight's magic resistance and essentially had killed him. He gave her the name "Zvezda" (Star in Russian) and after giving her a strange crystal tiara that had been on the Witch (along with some other belongings) continued toward the south and the Winter Portal he sensed there.

As he approached the Portal, an ambush was sprung. Several Winter Wolves and a couple patrols of guards from the Pale Tower attacked. He told Zvezda to go through the Portal and secure it as she would only be underfoot in Irrisen and risk his life further. She plunged through the Portal, not knowing that a fight was already underway on the other side.

Meanwhile, on the Taldor side of the Portal, the group soon came upon the guardians of the Portal. Aravel made first contact, moving up far enough to see Teb and then calling back to the others. Between Araval's warning and Teb speaking, the Winter Fae sleeping in the igloo soon realized that there were enemies and woke to prepare for battle.

Teb actually offered to negotiate initially. He praised the adventurers on coming this far and offered to let them live if they left... and he would even pay them a reward should they but hand over the "white-haired witch and the Sacrifice he travels with." (The group misunderstood at first and thought I'd said "small sacrifice" - Alak's fox. No, they were referring to Ciri.) Alak joked about if he'd get the reward if he turned himself in but the group basically didn't even think things over. (Alak also put Fortune on Araval while Ciri started up a Bardic Song.)

Just as the fight was preparing to start up, on the other side of the battlefield Zvezda emerged from the Portal. Hommelstaub had just flown off to join with Teb so Zvezda was able to hide and then start sneaking up following the footprints Teb left behind.

Round 6, the fight started up. Araval started out by Raging and using Power Attack. He hit for maximum damage - however, Teb had also started Raging and his Temporary Hit Points soaked most of the damage. In fact, once he started regenerating, it essentially negated the entire damage taken in the first round (though temporary hit points don't regenerate). As Araval was using his longsword and shield, Teb got an Attack of Opportunity and promptly rolled a 1. Fortunately, he failed to "confirm" the critical failure so I didn't need to draw from the Critical Failure deck.

Freya used her entire move to get alongside Araval (and avoided an AoO as Teb had already used his against Araval).

Alak buffed Thelin with a Fortune spell. Unfortunately, while Thelin managed to his with an Acid Dart spell, Teb managed the one successful Concealment spell for the game and avoided taking damage.

Hommelstaub then used a Thunderstone against Thelin. However, everyone in range of the blast made their Fortitude saves. Finally Teb returned the favor of Araval's blow and easily did as much damage in return.

And things basically repeated themselves next round. Araval hit the troll (and remembered he had Rage Sprites, but they missed), Freya used Touch of Acid on it only to learn this type of troll still regenerates when exposed to acid, and the Troll did maximum damage in returning a blow on Araval, and Hommelstaub started a summoning for a fiendish Eagle. Finally, not wanting to miss because of concealment again, Thelin cast Faerie Fire on Teb... and was struck by the arrow of a Sprite who held its action for spellcasting. Fortunately, Concentration Checks were made and the spell went off.

Fortunately, things got mixed up with the next round.

First, Araval nearly missed. In fact, he did miss but his player burned his Temporary Hero Point and successfully struck Teb for max damage. Freya though decided to go and do something... interesting and proceeded to Intimidate Teb, rolling a modified 29 to Intimidate. This proved handy as the penalty to saving throws came in before Alak (who had finally gotten close enough to see Teb) cast a most nasty Witch spell: Boneshaker. The spell inflicted 4d6 damage on Teb (thank you Horror Adventures) and brought Teb to 6 hit points.

That's when Ciri burned a Permanent Hero Point and threw a vial of Alchemist's Fire to impact on the troll. It did exactly 6 hit points of damage and set the troll ablaze. Zvezda launched a sneak-attack on Hommelstaub and used her Temporary Hero Point to successfully hit the Atomie Oracle and afterward cursed herself for forgetting to use Stunning Fist. And Teb stopped, dropped, and rolled, putting himself out.

After that Thelin used his last spell (Soften Earth & Mud) to trap Teb in a quagmire, Araval smacked him down into negative hit points, and finally Freya lit him up again to end Teb's life.

As it was 10:20 at that point and I knew that Hommelstaub was going to be a huge nuisance nickel-and-diming the players to death, I Deus Ex Machina'd an ending - in fact it was the same basic ending of my first run of RoW. Black Midnight charged through the Winter Portal, he chucked his spear at Hommelstaub, hit, and one-shotted him. (To be honest, Hommelstaub probably would have survived but it was dramatic and drove home the power of the Black Rider.

Zvezda joined him as he got off his horse (which evaporated) and confronted the group. And while I answered a couple questions, I also had him state outright other things and insist that the players were the ones who could save Baba Yaga and thus save their world. When asked how he could trust them, he told them outright about the Geas and the blessing of Baba Yaga. The group had full disclosure of what was going to happen - and seeing that the Riders Three are in fact Lawful Neutral, it makes sense for him to tell them.

Eventually the group chose to work with him. Finally he extended the offer to Zvezda (who had basically "adopted" Black Midnight as her new lord after he'd slew her cruel mistress) and as one last request had her pull the ice spike from his chest. His life's blood poured forth and empowered the two Keys for the Dancing Hut.

We also had roleplay as the group "met" Zvezda officially (and started debating burning Zvezda's stuffed bunny which she has the Attached Drawback for, seeing that they just saw "creepy doll" - I swear, they will freak whenever a doll appears in the game in the future! Heh...) and the game ended with the group having looted Teb and the cave, and approached the Portal to see what awaits them on the other side.

Next game in two weeks.


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Okay. It's the first time I've had a druid in my group, so shapeshifting hasn't come into it before. Though given that the group would be pushing level 10 when they hit the Eon Pit, that once again raises the question on if an elemental-shaped Druid would age in the pit.

Given the group is likely to roleplay through encounters if possible, they will hopefully learn enough about the Pit ahead of time not to just rush right in. There's other methods of getting the Key - including summoning an Air Elemental to retrieve it.


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Serum wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
Here's a question. If a Druid shapeshifts into an Elemental, does the Druid suffer the aging effects of the Ebon Pit? After all, Elementals don't have biology or age.

Polymorph effects don't change type or subtype. The druid is essentially just wearing an elemental costume.

That is, yes, the druid still ages.

So then, does the Druid suffer from the effects of precision damage if a rogue sneak attacks them?

Because this is where it gets iffy.


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Here's a question. If a Druid shapeshifts into an Elemental, does the Druid suffer the aging effects of the Ebon Pit? After all, Elementals don't have biology or age.


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Artofregicide wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
Stuff

Originally I would agree with you on occult but I've come around. I really like the flavor, reminds me of Blades in the Dark a little. I guess just don't expect occult to really be proper psionics, Dreamscarred and other 3pp has pretty faithfully recreated that so there's not a reason for Paizo to reinvent the wheel.

Btw I love the idea that Rasputin is using the Great War to mimic what's happening on Golarion.

But whether you have her be the final boss or betrayed by Rasputin, has anyone built up Elvanna other than what's in the book? Because having Rasputin pop out and drain her makes her appearance even more of a footnote.

Regardless I'll be stealing this idea though I may have my party fight both Elvanna and Rasputin (with some CR adjustment).

Oh, she'll be a major boss fight for the end of Book 6... it's just that she is going to escape at the last moment thus allowing the Witchwar Legacy be the final chapter of Elvanna (and Rasputin).

Then again, I do plan on a few other modifications in the game. For instance, I'm going to include Elvanna's forces in Books 3 and 4 so that the group doesn't just feel like it's a plotkey quest but that this world-encompassing threat is real. Because while I love the concept of Reign of Winter... there are problems with it.

The fact Elvanna is an afterthought for Book 6 is just the icing on the cake. You also have the fact that after Book 2, Irrisen and its plots are forgotten. The cold weather in Book 3? Completely unrelated to Elvanna. And hell, it would be fascinating if we had come across signs of the White Witches in Book 4, perhaps "harvesting" the cold of the planet. Book 5 could have had more obvious links between Elvanna and Rasputin.

But none of that happened. Reign of Winter is 3.5 disparate parts, with Elvanna's plots only being important in Books 1, 2, and the last half of Book 6. Sure, part of it is this was never about Elvanna and was all about Baba Yaga but... it could have been better crafted for a more contiguous story.


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Serum wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
Serum wrote:
If it doesn't benefit her to turn the world to a winter wonderland, then what is Rasputin going to say to convince her to do it?

Rasputin is incredibly charismatic. Don't forget, the RL version of the man basically charmed his way into the royal family through the force of his personality alone, and was convincing the royals to do things that he wanted them to.

That said, he probably played onto Elvanna's ego. First, he tells her about Baba Yaga's attempt to devour his essence and how this is what Baba Yaga has in store for Elvanna and her children. Second, he says that by working together, they can overthrow Baba Yaga and that they will be able to "share" Baba Yaga's power but only if certain things get done - a lot of death is needed to empower his magitech to strip away Baba Yaga's near-divinity. He may even express it as "intellectual curiosity" as to if it could be done. Finally, he points out "Baba Yaga could have frozen the entire world if she wanted... but she gave up." In short, by expanding winter across all of Golarion Elvanna is able to do what Baba Yaga "couldn't" do - freeze the entire world.

Also, it doesn't matter if it benefits her or not. What matters is this: does she believe it will benefit her? If so... if she drinks her brother's Koolaid, then that can explain what's going on here.

And again, Rasputin was a far far more interesting and intriguing antagonist for the group than Elvanna. All she is is an end-boss that you never actually run into until the end. Compare that to Karzoug in Runelords or other truly memorial villains... including Rasputin himself in Book 5 of RoW, who is a constant threat for the PCs.

The idea is decent, . I'm just throwing it questions to develop the idea.

How do the souls of people dying of cold, starvation, and war on Golarion get to Rasputin? Is he doing something similar on Earth?

Are you keeping Rasputin as an oracle or changing him to one of the psychic classes similar...

I'll keep him as an Oracle. I do not like the "Occult" rules. If you're going to do psionics you do it right. You don't turn it into a reskinning of the Pathfinder magic system with its own magic missiles "spell" and the like.

You do have a good point on how the other souls are getting to Rasputin. But I can set the groundwork early - the device in the Winter Portal that is helping generate the Portal will be a device of Rasputin's and uses the Portals themselves to draw souls of the dead in and then send them to Earth. As for on Earth itself, Rasputin is using the Great War itself (and has set up for its sequel by manipulating certain people of power using his magic remotely to ensure war happens) to empower his Ascension into Godhood.

If it takes every life in Golarion and Earth to do so? That's a small loss to him. He'll be a God after all.


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Bellona wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:

I'm contemplating an "after-the-end" with Elvanna fleeing the end of RoW (as there's another module set for level 17 characters involving Elvanna and her plots) but at the end the group finds Elvanna herself has been snared in another plot of Rasputin's - a posthumous effort to ensure he is brought back using a certain Demon Lord's torq and his sister's life in sacrifice. Because let's face it. Rasputin was a far far more interesting and enjoyable villain than Elvanna ever was... and having him be the puppetmaster behind everything makes more sense than Ms. "I want the world to freeze"

I have both the RoW AP and the Witchwar Legacy module, but no immediate chance to run them myself. However, when I eventually do so, I'd like to link them up too.

Is your plan that Elvanna resurrects Rasputin, who then kills her, or that she tries to use the torc, but Rasputin's ghost/whatever interferes and uses both torc and Elvanna to resurrect himself? Or a completely different idea?

I'm not entirely sure yet. Having him return in all his glory while draining Elvanna of her power and life essence would be quite dramatic (and reminiscent of what Baba Yaga had in mind for Elvanna) and would allow the grandiose return of a far more memorable foe... but his "working with" Elvanna and then stabbing her in the back at an opportune time would also work.

To be honest, my group is taking its time with this... we're lucky if we get through two encounters a night and meet every other week (usually). So even if I start cutting unnecessary content (stuff unrelated to the plot - I tend to level up on fiat so "missing out" on experience isn't a big thing) it's likely going to be another three or more years before we get to Book 6... and that doesn't include a plan of mine to incorporate the third-party mid-level campaign "Wrath of the Jotunn" which will add even more to the game.

Of course, as the players learn the system more and get to know their characters better, things might speed up. But even so, I still likely will have quite some time to make up my mind.


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Serum wrote:
If it doesn't benefit her to turn the world to a winter wonderland, then what is Rasputin going to say to convince her to do it?

Rasputin is incredibly charismatic. Don't forget, the RL version of the man basically charmed his way into the royal family through the force of his personality alone, and was convincing the royals to do things that he wanted them to.

That said, he probably played onto Elvanna's ego. First, he tells her about Baba Yaga's attempt to devour his essence and how this is what Baba Yaga has in store for Elvanna and her children. Second, he says that by working together, they can overthrow Baba Yaga and that they will be able to "share" Baba Yaga's power but only if certain things get done - a lot of death is needed to empower his magitech to strip away Baba Yaga's near-divinity. He may even express it as "intellectual curiosity" as to if it could be done. Finally, he points out "Baba Yaga could have frozen the entire world if she wanted... but she gave up." In short, by expanding winter across all of Golarion Elvanna is able to do what Baba Yaga "couldn't" do - freeze the entire world.

Also, it doesn't matter if it benefits her or not. What matters is this: does she believe it will benefit her? If so... if she drinks her brother's Koolaid, then that can explain what's going on here.

And again, Rasputin was a far far more interesting and intriguing antagonist for the group than Elvanna. All she is is an end-boss that you never actually run into until the end. Compare that to Karzoug in Runelords or other truly memorial villains... including Rasputin himself in Book 5 of RoW, who is a constant threat for the PCs.


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NobodysHome wrote:

Yep. Yet again a “horror-themed” AP goes for the good old, “Rob the houses of anyone asking for help.”

Looks like group is going to fall well behind on loot... AGAIN...

At least when my RoW group was behind the curve with loot, it was because they decided to negotiate with Rokhar (who had not yet been defeated but they were between him and the corpses he wanted) rather than because it would be robbing someone who wasn't their enemy.

Hell, wasn't there a bit in Rise of the Runelords where if you return the loot to its owners, you got a reward that was worth less but was customized for each player? That seems to me to be the best way these APs should handle treasure.


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I've been thinking about patrols in Kintargo and the Devil's Nursery.

It doesn't make sense for guards to be patrolling the Devil's Nursery, at least not at first. First, this is the slums we're talking about. The guards are going to be more concerned with richer parts of Kintargo, while the Militia will be probably marching around loudly closer to their homes (and few of them would live in the Devil's Nursery). Also, you have to consider: Barzillai wants the Tieflings to rise up so he can raze the slums. That's the whole point why

Spoiler:
he had one of his minions sacrifice the tiefling child to bring the Tooth Fairies into the slums in the first place.

Once the situation in the slums is taken care of? Then sure, I could see him starting to send the guard into the slums more, especially with the increased popularity of the Silver Ravens (who hopefully deal with the problem). But even then, that's going to happen closer to the end of Book 2. The only reason the dottari would bother going into the slums at night is if there was something flashy happening down there.

So once the heroes get into the Nursery (unless they're being pursued), I'm going to have encounters be less guard-related and more generic.


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Hey, I just wanted to say how much I've enjoyed reading this journal. I especially love the fish-out-of-water tales of Ice here, and she is an absolute delight to see. Thank you for sharing these journals with us, and have a good break. :)


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I get the feeling that at the end, Heldren is going to be blowing on traps or locks and disarming them with just his breath. ;)


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Snow slows a lot of things... including combats

Alak: Level 3 Aasimar Witch (Secondary Class Gunslinger)
Ciri: Level 3 Varisian Bard (Secondary Class Rogue) (GMPC)
Thelin: Level 3 Dwarvish Mountain Druid
Freya: Level 3 Kitsune Oracle of Stone
Aravel: Level 3 Half-Orc Barbarian

The game started a little bit late today unfortunately as everyone thought the game was next week even though last week I'd reminded them when the game was going to be. I suspect this is partly due to my e-mailing character sheet PDFs to everyone without reminding them about the game. Fortunately, everyone was able to make it, along with a potential new player from my other game (who listened in and "played" Alak's familiar).

We started off with the continued debate over staying out in the wilds or returning to the Lodge for the night. Fortunately after initially stating he wanted to stay out, Alak changed his mind and everyone headed back to the Lodge. That's when I saw my opportunity and struck.

While crossing the icy bridge, I had Alak make a Reflex Save. He failed and dropped Rokhar. I had him do a second check at which point he rolled a Natural 20, so I had him successfully catch the unconscious priest rather than have him fall into the stream below. Thelin helped pull him up, but unbeknownst to almost everyone, Rokhar's wounds reopened when he was dropped and caught. Thelin made his Perception check and chose not to speak up about the bleeding as while Thelin may be good-aligned, it is anathema to create the Undead according to his religious beliefs. (The player has stated outright his Druid finds necromancy abhorrent. While the Green Faith doesn't state outright it is anti-undead, it makes sense to me.)

Alak carried him into the Lodge and put Rokhar to bed where he noticed Rokhar was bleeding out. He'd already been wrestling with his conscience about Rokhar, especially given how much his sister was speaking about letting Rokhar die or abandoning him. This provided the group with a means of eliminating Rokhar without breaking their direct promise to him as allies of convenience. He felt guilt over letting Rokhar die and it bothered him, but after going through Rokhar's belongings, found the Unholy Symbol to Norborger and chose not to save Rokhar because of Rokhar's allegiances. Upon revealing this to the group, everyone agreed they would leave Rokhar in the Lodge to recover or die in his sleep.

The group slept uneventfully with Fawkes keeping an eye on things for the night. When they woke they realized they had learned new things (with both Alak and Thelin learning 2nd level spells). They also identified all of Rokhar's gear. Freya gained the Cloak of the Yeti while the scrolls of Magic Weapon were given to Freya and Thelin, and the oils of Magic Weapon given to the non-casters. The group then started forth and headed toward where the map Ciri had taken from the Lodge previously and Rokhar himself had said was where the Winter Portal was located.

------------

The trip from the Lodge to the Winter Portal was uneventful. During the night, the Winter Fey chased off various goblins and other monsters that lived in the area, even as the weather cooled further. Finally, when starting to approach where the Portal was located, Thelin cast Resist Cold on himself while Ciri put Feather Step on Araval and Alak cast Mage Armor on himself.

Seeing I'm using Roll20, I chose to modify the map as it was... rather short otherwise. Given Hommelstaub's Perception and placement, it makes sense for the pathway leading to the Portal to be longer and I extended it by around 20 by 30 feet (and added trees to create a "path' for the group to see).

The group actually decided to be stealthy. Unfortunately, stealthy ran into the fact most of the group has penalties to Stealth and Hommelstaub has a significant bonus to Perception. The only two that Hommelstaub didn't notice was Fawkes and Ciri. This is where I chose to deviate from the written combat plan, because Hommelstaub noticed one of the intruders was a... "person of interest" that needs to be taken alive.

The group continued being stealthy until Araval scored quite nicely for Perception and overheard voices from Hommelstaub and Teb about the intruders. He gestured to the others and they started to cast buffs or add Magic Weapon Oil to their weapons. Likewise, Teb drank his potion and started toward the intruders while Hommelstaub cast the first of his buffs... and Araval once more rolled quite well with Perception and then a Spellcraft/Knowledge Arcana check to notice the casting sounded... similar to that he'd heard from Freya. (This wasn't to determine what spell was cast, but rather the type of casting. It makes sense that Oracles would cast spells similar to other Oracles and it wouldn't sound similar to what Witches cast like or how Wizards cast spells. Or at least it makes sense to me.

Five rounds have passed since the group entered into the Winter Portal, with Magic Weapon being cast/applied in the last two rounds.

My friend who listened in for the game (and watched through the eyes of Fawkes) seems interested in the group. We'll talk over the next two weeks and craft a character for her... and she may very well join in during the next game. :)

The next game is planned for in two weeks.


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I'm trying to figure out when the Golarion Summer Solstice would be on the Golarion calendar. The books don't actually tell, and given that the Golarion leap year is every eight years instead of four as on Earth, I've no clue if it is the equivalence for Earth, the very first day of the Season (on the 1st of Sarenith), or something else.


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As a brief aside, back when I was first running RoW for my old group, I saw a Kickstarter for an interesting Norse-themed adventure called "Wrath of the Jotunn" for five to six adventurers of levels 9 to 15. After glancing through this... well, I'm more than halfway tempted to have another stop for Baba Yaga's Tardis - er, I mean Dancing Hut - and then increase the difficulty of encounters for foes in the fifth and sixth books to compensate.

I'm not quite sure how to incorporate the adventure into things... perhaps Baba Yaga was helped by the Demigoddess that plays a part in WotJ and promised she'd manipulate some foolish heroes to help out, or maybe the Demigoddess is a black sheep daughter of Baba Yaga who was more decently-minded and thus dismissed as a failure by Baba Yaga. I'm not quite sure.

There's also plans on how to explain more of Elvanna's plot as I mentioned in a posting on Elvanna's motivations in the RoW forum. That'll involve modifying the stand-alone module "The Witchwar Legacy" to act as the ending of the campaign... assuming I don't go the Mythic Route and start building an after-the-end campaign with ending Irrisin's Eternal Winter. But we'll have to wait and see on that.


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Given my use of premonitions and dreams in Reign of Winter, one of my players suggested that every time Freya levels up and/or gets a new Revelation, she should get a new Dream. I rather like the idea as I can hint at things to come. In addition, I can slowly build toward some odd twists I'm including in the game.

Character Background plans and twists:

One such twist is the fact that Alak is Nazhena's half-brother. Alak's player has been trying to get me to incorporate that he's an "Irrisen prince" for a bit and personally I don't like that idea. But for Alak to be a great-great grandchild of Elvanna? That works for me. While he might not like it, another thing I'm going to include is the fact his mother intended on sacrificing him and Ciri (Alak's adoptive sister) to become more powerful. All Alak ever was is a means of increasing her own power - his Aasimar blood having plenty of potential and a threat as the "divine" nature of his heritage could lead him into rebellion against the "way of things" in Irrisin.

Nazhena doesn't agree with this. Part of the reason she insisted on having Radosek as her apprentice was she barely remembered the pale toddler that was in the Pale Tower before she was sent to Elvanna's Court. Part of the reason she rose up against her mother was when she learned not only her mother's plans to sacrifice her baby brother, but that Varisians managed to steal him away and disrupt that ceremony. Nazhena doesn't know yet what she wants to do with Alak - further her mother's rituals to use Alak's life essence to increase her own power, or have Alak rule at her left hand even as Radosek is at her right. Events in the Pale Tower will, of course, decide which path she chooses.

The dream itself hints at things. Thora ends up being a good vessel by which to impart the dream to Freya, and is actually the first almost uplifting premonitory dreams that Freya has had (in that Freya doesn't end up covered with snow and feeling like something bad is happening). It may also be that Freya won't share this with the others. Given that I don't actually name the "brother" there is a hint of ambiguity here. For all she knows, this may be about Araval or even Thelin. But there's enough that she probably will realize the truth.

Freya's Dream:

The wind intensifies and snow is crusting on your fur as you struggle to head toward shelter. You can smell smoke in the wind and the glimmer of light coming through windows guides you, while behind you the chill intensifies. Each step becomes heavier than the last, snow weighing you down, threatening to bury you. It is starting to feel warm... it would be so easy to just lie down. Just for a little while.

"Don't quit now"

You're startled by the whisper, your ears perking up and flicking snow off of them. The lodge is only a little bit ahead. Finally you're on the porch and you struggle with the door, pulling it open, and step through. The doors struggle, not wanting to shut, wanting to allow the cold and wind into the lodge to smother the fire and kill the warmth, but you finally pull them shut and then turn.

The warmth is painful at first and you shiver as cold rivulets of water start to run through your fur and drip from you. It takes a moment for your eyes to adjust but you see a small form by the fire. She tosses a log into the hearth, her blonde hair tinted red in the firelight.

"Freya! I'm glad you could reach me!" the girl says. You recognize the voice... it's Thora. Only instead of a doll, you see a young girl. She looks the same as the strange apparition you saw by the strange hut where you first found the Thora-doll. You feel a sense of unease for a moment remembering that hut. It is not a good place. It should have been burned. You shake your head and smile back at the girl.

"We don't have much time. But I had to warn you. You must protect the brother. They will try to turn him, to take him from you. He will be tempted as he's always wanted to know who his family truly is, but you and your companions are his family now. Let him know that. He can be full of himself and believe his views are the only valid ones, but his pride may be his downfall lest he be careful. "

The wind rattles the windows and sparks blow out of the fireplace as the wind tries to descend the chimney. Thora steps back, waving her hand as she coughs. "They will use him and discard him when he's served their purpose. But if you follow the path, if you free the Queen of Witches, he'll find his true destiny."

With that you wake, feeling warm and content for the first time in days.


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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back...

It's amazing how dangerous a foe can be when you start running them effectively. Case in point: in my previous game session, the Guardian Doll Thora Petska was... fairly ineffectual. Her attacks did minimal damage, she went after foes with Cold Resistance, and she was more of a nuisance than anything else. This time around she used her magical abilities effectively and did the most damage to the group of any foe... and not only brought the main group down to nearly single-digit hit points but also brought Rokhar to negative hit points. In fact, if not for a lucky Constitution check he would have died.

Of course, the other reason why things turned dire for the party is I maxed out the hit points of the Air Elemental and gave Thora a level of Sorcerer and extra hit points to boot. If they had normal hit points the fight would have ended at least one round earlier, if not more.

The game started out with Freya choosing to attack Thora with her club. Sadly, Thora has damage resistance and the blow bounced off... well, it bounced off one round later when I realized she had damage resistance! I also forgot she has include Magic Resistance so given how the dice were rolling... she probably would have lasted a couple more rounds. Seriously, of all the foes she was facing, one (Araval) would be able to hit her regularly and effectively ignore her DR, and that would only be if he was attacking her with a melee weapon. Unfortunately for him, Thora was in his square. He was using a Lucern Hammer and couldn't attack her.

Meanwhile, Squald (the small Air Elemental) chose to try and save Izoze, not realizing she was dead. He turned into a Whirlwind and while he couldn't attack anyone in that form, he could create an area of dust you couldn't see through... and he hoped Izoze would be able to escape. Unfortunately, the previous round Izoze was coup de graced and was dead. (Fast Healing ends when the target dies.) Squald then got pounded on by several people, including Rokhar (who actually did damage for once in his life), especially after Alak put an Evil Eye on the elemental to reduce its armor class. Thora used the cover to escape into the trees and did her first Stealth Check, rolling a modified 17. Seriously, that "girl" can't hide worth a damn.

The next round Freya chose to cast Magic Stone with her final level 1 spell and targeted Thora (who she successfully detected) while Ciri went with resuming her Bardic Song as the Lingering Performance was wearing off. Squald chose to resume his fly-by attacks, this time hitting Rokhar. Alak and Thelin chose to hold their actions with Thelin doing 3 damage, while he waiting for the Elemental (and also directing his Summoned Fire Beetle to charge Squald, hitting it for 3 hit points) while Alak was going for either the Elemental or Thora. Araval also detected Thora and fired an arrow at her but it was... not that effective. Thora then rolled a Natural 1 for a Stealth Check while Levitating into the tree above her, and Alak was alerted to her presence, hitting her with a crossbow bolt. Rokhar used his Invisibility spell and moved closer to the old campfire hoping to be avoided by foes.

Next round, Freya missed with her Magic Stone against Thora and Ciri fired her crossbow at Thora. Alak used an Evil Eye hex on Thora to make her easier to hit, and Squald focused its attack on the Fire Beetle. This is when Thora used her Frost Fall spell. Everyone took 8 damage (except for Araval who had 2 points cold resistance and Alak with his 5 points cold resistance). This knocked Rokhar to 2 hit points. No one rolled Spellcraft to identify the spell and thus no one moved away from its source. Thus when the next round came about, another 3 hit points of damage were inflicted and Rokhar fell unconscious. Fortunately for him (but not me) he immediately made a Constitution check and stabilized.

Over the next couple of rounds the group wiped out the Elemental and finally used Alchemist Fire on Thora. I actually had a roleplaying moment with Thora apologizing to Freya about attacking her and how she was forced to do so. When Freya asked where her body was, Thora explained she was dead. This doll was her body. She begged Freya to break the gemstone eye (and Freya guessed on her own the mirror eye was used for scrying and broke that as well). Thora also asked if Freya could tell her mom she loved her and that she lived in Waldsby. She then died and Freya broke her gemstone eye, freeing Thora's soul.

--------

There was a bit of roleplaying at this point as the group learned Freya was a Kitsune (well, they learned at the start of the combat but now got to talk about it) and decided it didn't matter. She was still Freya. So Freya's secret is out of the bag and she is remaining in her furry form for now as it's a little bit warmer.

The group had a spirited discussion afterward about Rokhar. Half of the group wanted to just kill him. Ciri (the GMPC) was fully part of this "kill Rokhar" sentiment as Ciri dislikes necromancy something fierce, while Thelin, a Druid, felt necromancy was unnatural. Freya could go either way, while Alak was all "we need to keep him alive so he can bring us close to the Winter Portal with the passwords he knows and the like!" (Alak doesn't realize that Rokhar was a "contractor" at best who never approached the Winter Portal and just knows approximately where it is located.) It was Avaral who gave the most impassioned argument stating that Rokhar had done nothing against them since they've been allied and thus they should not kill an ally. Ciri's next argument was "loot him as payment" and both she and Thelin stated outright they would not provide healing for Rokhar. Freya said she couldn't provide healing (as she's out of spells) and thus left it ambiguous.

Alak was uninterested in looting an ally until Ciri pointed out he might have a healing potion on him at which point Alak started examining Rokhar's gear. He didn't bother identifying Rokhar's cloak, but figured out he had Unholy Water (for Infernal Healing though the group doesn't know that) and three oils of Magic Weapon. As he didn't have Read Magic he didn't bother with the scrolls.

The group then debated what to do next. Ciri suggested going back to the Lodge and Araval and Freya agreed. Alak wanted to create a cold dark camp a mile away from where they'd been ambushed until I pointed out hypothermia was a likely result. Alak talked the others into setting up a campsite anyway and the group hid their trail while going deeper into the woods to rest. Seeing they had gotten two hours of sleep before the initial ambush, they chose to set two watches. One would be Araval, and the second would be Fawkes, Alak's familiar.

That's when I rolled for random encounters. Four hours in and just as Araval was nearing the end of his watch his perception check noticed three beings moving quietly through the snow. (I forgot about snow and perception checks, but I also wasn't using the penalties for snow for ranged attacks during the ambush so I figure a lull in the snowfall happened while the Winter Portal pushes out more cold air - all of the moisture has been squeezed out of the air around them while the snow starts to fall on Heldren itself. Not that they know this.) He immediately thought "Goblins!" and woke Thelin but didn't bother with anyone else in the group.

Seriously. Goblins are approaching and you don't wake the group.

He had this crazy idea of trying to intimidate the goblins. Fortunately when the goblins came across the camp, Alak woke up. He grabbed the musket he'd looted from the lodge (he is choosing to do a secondary class of Gunslinger using the Pathfinder: Unchained Secondary Class rules) and moved a little further away and fired a shot into the first Goblin that appeared. (Honestly, I should have forced him to load the gun itself first but it was late and I wasn't thinking all the way through.) The retort woke Freya but Ciri slept through it by rolling a Natural 1.

Freya (who was still fuzzy) bit the goblin (using a Hero Point for a reroll) in the leg while Alak considered using his sling. At that point as it was late I told Alak's player to read the Hero Point rules. He stated he knew the rules, but wanted to use them only in emergencies. When I pointed out there were three Goblins around his character's sister, any of which could coup de grace her, he finally chose to burn his temporary Hero Point and re-cast the Sleep spell. Four goblins were caught in it while the Goblin Warchanter fled the battlefield.

The group proceeded to interrogate the goblins, pretending to prepare to cook them while killing and gutting one goblin who gave an answer that was inappropriate to scare the others into listening... maybe it was an evil act but their previous actions have not been that cruel so it won't adversely impact them (excepting for the Druid who is going to have some nightmares about this I think). They learned that goblins hate each other and when told if their answer wouldn't align with that of their other cohort that that cohort would die, they started telling wild stories and getting each other killed off. It was the Commando who basically told them about being chased off from an area by scaring ice critters.

With that I ended the game. The Goblin encounter was enough to level everyone up to 3rd level. Ciri leveled up in Bard and chose the Secondary Class of Rogue (and thus didn't get a Feat this level) while Alak leveled up in Witch and chose the Secondary Class of Gunslinger. Araval leveled up in Barbarian (and took the Cleave Feat), Thelin went with Druid (and the Spell Focus (Conjuration) Feat), and Freya took a third level of Oracle (and the Acid Touch Revelation and the Extra Tail feat making her a three-tailed Kitsune).

The next game will be in two weeks.


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Or the GM could choose to use the Automatic Bonus Progression rules. In that case, a dearth of treasure or magic items is immaterial because the players still get the equivalent bonuses for magic weapons, armor, rings of protection, cloaks of resistance, and so forth.

Also, the GM should reward good roleplaying. The players chose to run intelligent and insightful characters instead of murder hobos. They missed out on treasure... and then at the end saved someone and were rewarded because of that. Even better, they got items that are well suited for those characters. That's the sign of an intelligent GM instead of someone who blindly follows the rules.


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I recently got into a spirited discussion with a player concerning the Whirlwind ability. He feels that my interpretation of Whirlwind makes it OP and would result in the wipe of a party.

Here is the scenario. You have a Small Air Elemental. Its actual size in the Bestiary is "Small" but when it turns into a Whirlwind it can grow to be 20 feet tall. To me, that makes it a Large-size creature and thus if PCs fighting it fail a DC 12 Reflex save they can be swept off their feet. When I pointed out the rules allow them to attack it even in Whirlwind form he dismissed it as "everyone would be prone and unable to fight effectively."

His view is that for a CR 1 encounter, this makes it too powerful. The Air Elemental can turn into a whirlwind, pass through a dozen squares, get attacks on everyone in those squares (if they fail the first Reflex save), and then can get pulled into the vortex. This counts as multiple attacks. It does not need attack rolls to get these attacks on foes, it does not provoke attacks of opportunity, and could grab someone and drop them in trees or other terrain that makes it almost impossible to fight the Elemental.


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I was chatting with a friend tonight and he was puzzled as to Elvanna's motivations in RoW - not in trying to freeze Golarion, but as to what she had to gain by doing so. And we honestly couldn't figure out what she had to gain... but did realize there is one other character who in fact had the perfect motivation and may in fact be the mastermind behind the entire plot.

That being our old Mad Monk, Rasputin himself.

Think for a moment... when we come across Rasputin, what is he doing? He is trying to drain his mother's Mythic power and imbue it on himself. In fact, he's built a strange technomagical device that utilizes souls and the like in order to try and steal his mother's power.

Well, what if Rasputin had talked Elvanna into rebelling? Elvanna was already suspicious about her sisters. She couldn't find any evidence of them. Meanwhile we have Rasputin who, for some bizarre reason, keeps coming back from the dead. What if he had his own life essence drained by dear old mother? But he came back from the dead and then when he comes across Elvanna he fills in the missing pieces and Elvanna is suddenly wanting to kill their mother.

Rasputin doesn't want Baba Yaga dead. He wants to become God. So he needs to harvest a lot of energy... souls... to devour his mother's Mythic power. But Earth alone isn't enough. So he talks Elvanna into spreading Irrisen's winter across all of Golarion (as Rasputin was always said to be quite charismatic) and plans on using the souls of Golarion along with those of Earth to finally pull Baba Yaga's power from her and claim it for himself.

I'm contemplating an "after-the-end" with Elvanna fleeing the end of RoW (as there's another module set for level 17 characters involving Elvanna and her plots) but at the end the group finds Elvanna herself has been snared in another plot of Rasputin's - a posthumous effort to ensure he is brought back using a certain Demon Lord's torq and his sister's life in sacrifice. Because let's face it. Rasputin was a far far more interesting and enjoyable villain than Elvanna ever was... and having him be the puppetmaster behind everything makes more sense than Ms. "I want the world to freeze"


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She is probably not allowed to actually touch her own contract. She might not be allowed to have someone else who's not a Sarini carry her contract around for her. I mean, let's face it - she has hands. She knew where it was located. She could have opened the crate, summoned a rat, and had it carry the contract for her... if there wasn't something in the contract that prevented that.

You know, I like your thoughts about the Temple of Abadar and their ruling on the contract. That said, the player already has it in his safety deposit box so I'm not sure how I'd go about and do that... I might ask the player privately about this and do a private roleplaying session on the Contract.


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DM Livgin wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
Blosodriette

So, I had an experience that was a little similar that might provide inspiration. campaign journal link.

So my question is; assuming that these clerics of Abadar are attentive, cautious, and competent characters with access to detect evil and invisibility purge, what will they do when they discover an Imp trapped in their Vault? Will they kill it or interrogate it? Will they consider killing the Imp destroying property that was entrusted to them?

If they interrogate it and learn of the ravens, how do you want them to react to this in your story? Imagine a contingent of Abadar clerics making a very public return of the lockbox to the Ravens, declaring that they operate a Vault, not a prison.

I actually read up on your situation with Blosodriette during a Search for her name to see what other folk did. It's interesting... but sadly she's at the Temple of Abadar so... even so, I like the concept of having this early hint of the Soul Anchor and its potential impact.

Given the Imp is Lawful Evil (even if her behaviors are... stretching the line of Lawful), she could easily fit in at the Temple. She could even start whispering in the ear of various clerics working on contracts. But... I'm not sure.

One thing I did do was contact a player from my other (Reign of Winter) campaign as he's got a good head on the rules and also can do the Lawful Evil mindset. (He's the one who pointed out Bloso is a bit... more akin to Chaotic Evil than Lawful Evil from her basic write-up.) I'm tempted to have him "run" Bloso and decide what she's going to do, especially as much of this will be from behind the scenes for a while :)

That said? The safety deposit box isn't the property of the Silver Ravens but rather of one man who has then used their services to help establish a soup kitchen in the Devil's Nursery. They would be more likely to approach Jack quietly concerning this issue. :)


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captain yesterday wrote:
Freehold DM wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:

Sadly, I don't get rest for awhile, we're almost out of coffee and I didn't have enough time to pick up the car today.

I have a work truck (I'm what's called "essential", a weird feeling) for getting to and from work but I'd rather not chance it breaking down at the grocery store, so it's another 3 mile round trip walk for me today

Good luck to you, Cap. My van's fuel pump died so I feel for you and having to walk to the grocery store. You stay safe.

You're alive!?!?!??!

Good for you!

Good to see you around again!

Thankfully, it's a safe neighborhood. :-)

Yeah, I'm kicking around the Reign of Winter and Hell's Rebels (and Campaign Journal) forums still. I finally got a tabletop group running again with the help of my flatmate (who moved in last year). The Skype group (now on Discord) is doing Hell's Rebels, while the tabletop group is having a grand old time in Skyrim - er, I mean Reign of Winter. They're about to hit the Winter Portal in fact.

It's fun having a group with players who actually dare think rather than rest on their laurels and say "I don't want to dominate the group" and then have "scheduling issues" until I cancel the game.

With me, it's probably a safe enough neighborhood (even with the occasional rowdy firing off an entire clip of their pistol into the night) and hey, going to the store with a backpack encourages me to buy less while getting in exercise. :)

...whut.
She said she likes getting exercise.

I mean, I might be a gamer geek girl, but I don't have to be stereotypical. ^^ (Okay, to be honest these days I have no idea what a stereotypical geek girl would look like. Not me though, I'm more your middle-aged woman type.)


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NobodysHome wrote:

If you ever want to find Tangent101, just follow my campaign journals.

Man's a serious stalker, he is...

Girl, actually. I realized I'm transgender a year ago and have started transitioning.

And I figured that if I stalked you long enough Cap would show up. Besides, you have a fun campaign journal :)


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captain yesterday wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:

Sadly, I don't get rest for awhile, we're almost out of coffee and I didn't have enough time to pick up the car today.

I have a work truck (I'm what's called "essential", a weird feeling) for getting to and from work but I'd rather not chance it breaking down at the grocery store, so it's another 3 mile round trip walk for me today

Good luck to you, Cap. My van's fuel pump died so I feel for you and having to walk to the grocery store. You stay safe.

You're alive!?!?!??!

Good for you!

Good to see you around again!

Thankfully, it's a safe neighborhood. :-)

Yeah, I'm kicking around the Reign of Winter and Hell's Rebels (and Campaign Journal) forums still. I finally got a tabletop group running again with the help of my flatmate (who moved in last year). The Skype group (now on Discord) is doing Hell's Rebels, while the tabletop group is having a grand old time in Skyrim - er, I mean Reign of Winter. They're about to hit the Winter Portal in fact.

It's fun having a group with players who actually dare think rather than rest on their laurels and say "I don't want to dominate the group" and then have "scheduling issues" until I cancel the game.

With me, it's probably a safe enough neighborhood (even with the occasional rowdy firing off an entire clip of their pistol into the night) and hey, going to the store with a backpack encourages me to buy less while getting in exercise. :)


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captain yesterday wrote:

Sadly, I don't get rest for awhile, we're almost out of coffee and I didn't have enough time to pick up the car today.

I have a work truck (I'm what's called "essential", a weird feeling) for getting to and from work but I'd rather not chance it breaking down at the grocery store, so it's another 3 mile round trip walk for me today

Good luck to you, Cap. My van's fuel pump died so I feel for you and having to walk to the grocery store. You stay safe.


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Okay, things with my game just took a truly odd twist. To be honest, I'm not quite sure how to react to this. You see, the group put Blosodriette's still-unidentified Contract in a Safety Deposit Box in the Temple of Abadar.

First let's give some backstory here. A fifth player (someone who has a truly inquisitive mind and has already done some truly amusing things to put the game on its ear) joined my group a couple games back. First, Jack helped the group open up a soup kitchen at the location of the empty Cloven Hoof Society building. While doing that, he got himself a safety deposit box at the Abadar temple and I didn't blink an eye at that as they've been in existence for over 150 years and honestly, I could see something like that happening in Golarion. (Not to mention we have the First Vault, so the concept does exist in-game.)

Jack then took time to go through the party's treasures, including unidentified magic items. Seriously, they didn't bother casting Detect Magic on anything they had found, and even though they knew the boots they'd gotten off of one body were magical (as one was retrieved from the belly of a sewer gator without signs of wear) they never bothered trying to identify anything. (Rexus helped with this task as he was feeling rather useless, seeing he's just busy deciphering old documents.) So they realized after a couple days (and the purchase of an actual Identify scroll for use on the Silver Raven) that they had four magic scrolls, a cloak of elvenkind, daredevil boots, and a Silver Raven Wondrous Figurine (I limited them to finding one Silver Raven as I want to make finding each Raven into its own adventure).

Detect Magic only determines there is a faint magical aura on the paper. Being unable to figure out if it was important or not, Jack decided to keep the document in his safety deposit box to keep it secure. (I actually hadn't done anything yet with that storyline - the group didn't go on any official adventures in the first two weeks. Then while they group was busy with the Salt Works and were hiding out for the night at the Devil's Nursery, I figured the timing was perfect to finding out about the murders by the tooth fairies.

I have started part of that encounter sequence though - when Jack was leaving with Blosodriette's contract, the wall collapsed... on him. He made his Reflex save and only took half of 4d6 damage. The group quickly figured out it was sabotage and are now suspecting their teams might have someone working against them, or that this was something done by the Dire Corby before she got herself killed.

As for what to do next... I'm not sure, to be honest. First, the group didn't take up residence in the Wasp's Nest, outside of Rexus. While the Fushi sisters are still staying in the Wasp's Nest and a team of Street Performers has started gathering at the Wasp's Nest to discuss rumors and the like, it's been basically dead. Blosodriette probably feels quite bored and disinterested. These "rebels" aren't doing anything serious outside of trying to learn about the old Silver Ravens. It's only been in the last couple of days in-game that things got more exciting with Blosodriette learning about the planned raid on the Salt Works and Jack showing up to kick things into overdrive.

And then she got moved. She has no intelligence left - only that there's a guy calling himself Jack who dons various disguises who actually seems to be able to think, some woman who wears a mask all the time so she can't identify her, a half-orc Scald and her drinking partner who act like the whole thing is a wonderful diversion, and a crazy halfling who calls himself "king under the mountain." Really, the only two who would be a significant concern are Jack and the masked woman.

She also knows about the Wasp's Nest and its location, and that the group may have a second hideout that this crazy King offered the group.

And I have to wonder... how much would Blosodriette truly care at this point? She is in a temple to a LN God. It's far more active here with lots of people moving back and forth. While she's kind of stuck there, it's far less boring than other places where she'd been. (And she no doubt has to worry about being detected. There are multiple priests there.)

(On the plus side, Blosodriette was quite lucky. Jimmy decided after the collapse to use his Detect Evil ability. He failed to find anything as she was in a different area. Jack was also planning on using his Inquisitorial ability to detect evil once he had a second level in Inquisitor, and was going to be far more active in seeing out evil to make sure no one in the group is possessed or a shapeshifting spy. So she kind of escaped detection here by pure happenstance.)


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Plans for the Thursday game fell through as one player has to work. Seeing that the next game likely will have campaign-vital information and roleplaying (and the player in question just revealed to the group during this current fight she's a kitsune and we definitely need to RP that part of the game out), the next game will be a week from Sunday (after Game of Thrones is safely done with and I don't have to worry about players deciding to skip game to watch the show).

Fortunately, my Roll20-based Hell's Rebels game is this Sunday so I won't suffer GMing withdrawals. ;)


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I still think that the Automatic Bonus Progression system from Pathfinder Unchained would work well for this AP. But yeah... I've noticed several APs where the players get no real treasure (unless they are lucky or look everywhere) and then suddenly a slew of treasure all at once.

Was the Ahool a planned encounter or something you tossed in there to provide your players with some treasure? (I mean, having an "assassin" sent to kill them is handy as they can have magic or the like the players can be 'rewarded' with along with the monetary advance to try and kill the PCs....


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Actually, given the nature of Sacred Summons, I see it more that when a Cleric or other Aura-bearing class casts a Summon Monster spell, if the Summons is of the proper alignment then the Divinities responsible for ensuring the spell goes off put a rush-order to get it out quicker compared to a normal Summon Monster or Summon Nature's Ally spell. Your character has invoked the spell and is now holding still, waiting for it to release (focusing on the spell) which is why you can be hit by effects and disrupt the spell - you're not chanting the entire time but you ARE trying to direct the spell.)

A similar effect would hold with a Quicken Summon Monster spell, but in this case it's a low-level summons that has an extra "kick" of power to encourage the PTB to push out the summons at that moment. Similarly, Mythic Archmages are able to use their innate divine nature (as a Mythic character) to "push" the spell to completion more rapidly.

Think of it as akin to an Amazon delivery. A Sacred Summons would be something that benefits from Amazon Prime delivery and is overnighted instead of taking several days to arrive.

In the case of some entities not meeting the criteria? You could rule that the entities for Sacred Summons show up after the Standard Action and can immediately act, while the other entities arrive afterward as they were not in the same "summons warehouse" - the character is still focusing on getting the Summons to arrive, even as part of the "order" arrives promptly.


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The rules state that "At the beginning of the next turn, you can move in a different direction than you did the previous turn without making a check." If at the start of the turn the flier chooses to turn 180 degrees, would that still cost the 10 movement? And is that 10 feet of movement just turning 180 degrees, or does that include the 5 feet of movement back in the direction it started from? (I'm assuming turning a full 180 degrees uses the full 10 move before actual movement, but want to make sure.)


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Okay. First... read and use the tactics provided for the enemies even when the tactics are stupid. For instance, the Lodge is a lethal encounter for 1st level adventurers. I made sure my group was level 2 before going through it... but it seems most groups got wiped because the GM had Rokhar use Channel Negative Energy for an AoE attack that did 2d6 damage to 1st level characters... while the tactics said "he only uses this to heal his undead." It's a stupid tactic. But it lessens how lethal Rokhar is.

Another thing is, use Hero Points. Further, allow the Hero Point ability to avoid dying to ONLY cost 1 Hero Point instead of 2 as is in the rules... as the players otherwise don't use Hero Points for things like boosting saving throws or rerolling natural 1s. In fact, I give my players one Temporary Hero Point every new game as well as the permanent Hero Points - this encourages their use and has kept me from fudging rolls (which two of the players hate).

Good luck, and remember - the game is suppose to be fun! :) That goes for you as the GM as well as the players.


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The GM can always run a GMPC. They could go with an Uncanny Rogue with the Rogue Ability of auto-trap detection (thus not having to worry about metagaming about traps).

Alternatively, the GM can use the Mythic Rules for your group. If you have one Mythic Tier, that will massively increase your survivability while helping lessen the lack of a fourth player (action economy is your friend and being able to occasionally use a Swift Action for an extra attack or the like does help). And staying at 1 Mythic Tier helps prevent the overpowered nature of Mythic from coming out (1 Tier isn't tremendously overpowered, but once you're in the 2nd or 3rd Tier you start see the rails coming off of things).

If you don't want to go with Mythic, then the GM could give each player three Hero Points for every game session - Hero Points actually are at the core of the Mythic rules when you get down to it, seeing they can be used for extra actions, boosting die rolls, or the like.

Amusingly enough I've the opposite problem - my group is now four players, the GMPC Bard (support role), and Rokhar tagging along leading them to the Winter Portal (though fortunately all his zombies are now re-dead so he's not too useful for the group these days). They're getting ready to assault the Winter Portal camp itself with our next game so... finger's crossed on killing Rokhar! ;)


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Given the release of the Ultimate Wilderness book, I've chosen to alter the (to be honest... insane) whiteout rules at the Portal and instead assume that the valley itself is suffering from a blizzard condition.

Quote:

Blizzard: A combination of severe or stronger winds with heavy snow can create blizzard conditions. Blizzards reduce range of vision to no more than 20 feet, and even then, creatures takes a –8 penalty on Perception checks within that range. In a blizzard, the snowfall increases to 4 inches of snow each hour, and travel in more than 3 feet of snow is usually impossible without snowshoes or an ability such as waterwalk. Furthermore, the high winds make it feel (and affect living creatures) as if the temperature were 20° F colder.

Having lived in New England, I can legitimately state that some areas suffer wind tunnel effects and never truly accumulate much in the way of snow. That said when the wind slows, the snow will start to accumulate, so having snow hexes be Very Difficult Terrain (four squares of movement to enter into a square) makes sense. I would also allow for a stronger player to push through the snow and reduce its effect to just difficult terrain for those behind them. (No doubt a spell like Feather Step would negate the snow's impact, but the bard can only cast that three times before she's out for the day).

(Though to be honest, the map for this was... not exactly thought out very well. You would have the igloos facing away from the source of constant wind and snow, especially as snowbanks would build up on the side facing the Portal so if anyone wants to get into or out of the igloo they would need the entrance away from the snowbanks.)

The impact of a blizzard condition (though I'll "downgrade" the winds to strong from severe) will be a -8 to hit with ranged attacks (-2 from the wind which will impact our fey Winter Oracle) while still allowing the Sprites to get ranged attacks without being hit by attacks of opportunity for using a ranged attack five feet from the PCs. The fey will suffer a -2 penalty to Fly checks and will need to make a DC 20 check each turn to be able to fly toward the Portal. Perception checks will be at a -8.

In addition, given where the Sprites are located, it makes sense that they are the "night watch" for the Winter Portal, seeing that the Atomie Oracle and Teb are stated to watch during the daylit hours. Thus they would need to make a Perception check to wake up when the Thunderstone is thrown. (I'd say the Thunderstone can be perceived as "combat noises" thus between the snowfall, approximate distance, and the ice wall (which I think would add +5 to the difficulty), the Sprites would need to roll a modified 6 while Teb, who is likely 100 feet away, would need to roll a modified 8. In short, unless 1s are rolled they will hear the Thunderstone thrown.)

One other thing to consider is this: Teb and crew know that there are Adventurers in the area. Radosek is stated to have been looking through doll-Thora's mirror eye using Irriseni Mirror Sight and also that he's in contact with Teb through HIS mirror. It would make sense for Radosek to warn Teb, which is why Izoze or the fey Oracle was sent to ambush the group in the night before the push on the Portal.


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Okay, thanks!


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If you are in Very Difficult Terrain (such as snow over three feet deep or snow with brush (snow and brush being terrains that "stack")), does the spell Feather Step negate the entire difficult terrain, or just lessen its impact?

Or does the spell Feather Step negate all types of hampered terrain?


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That said, the Automatic Bonus Progression system might work well for the AP seeing that you would halve the amount of treasure and the PCs would still get increases to armor, weapons, and saving throws. Seeing all the magic items from the Dreamworld are ethereal, they could even still come across them in the Dreamworld and they just don't show up in the "real world."

BTW, does the AP mention at any point if the Dreamworld loot is used again or brought to the 'real world' at some point?


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So. I've been thinking... and going to post this under a Spoiler tag in the off chance my players go on here. I can trust them to be mature and not peek. Unlike a certain nameless player in my old Runelords Skype group... ;)

Spoiler:

After a bit of thought, I've decided to play the encounter at the Portal and its defenders as-written. In many ways, the Winter Portal is a military encampment (even if guarded by fae and a troll). There are no humans currently from Irrisen on this side of the Portal. Rokhar's Raiders are not allowed near the Portal. Thus any humans approaching the Portal are to be treated as enemies and attacked on sight. And seeing this "military" isn't bound by laws preventing the accidental deaths of civilians, they don't need to "hold their fire" to ensure hostile intent. Any humans or human-like beings on this side of the Portal are the Enemy and are to be killed.

While everything guarding the Portal is Chaotic Evil, they are following dictates of a more powerful and threatening "overlord" and thus are not likely to just wander off or lessen their guard - and in fact, two of the defenders (the Sprites) are in fact "slacking off" in one of the shelters, though there is a logical reason for them to do so if they are the "night watch."

Teb is watching over the Portal pretending to be a tree. His main concern is the Portal and making sure that anyone going through is allowed... and he's slacked off in allowing a giant mantis to stagger through it within the past day. (I so could see him chatting away with Radosek as the bloody thing lands behind him, quirks its head, and heads through the portal... with Radosek going "did something just go through the portal...?" and Teb turning and going "I don't see anything.") He's probably snoozing and has half an eye open but doesn't care one way or the other about the Winter. He's got a job, he's being paid for that job, and if he pisses off his bosses enough he's dead so that's reason enough to do it (not to mention the fact a 9 intelligence isn't dumb while a 12 Wisdom gives him enough "inner smarts" to avoid pissing off the White Witches).

Hommelstaub on the other hand has brains and wisdom... and a purpose. He wants to coat the world with ice. This Portal is furthering everything he desires. He is going to be watching intently and ensuring nothing that could stop his desires gets to the Portal. And seeing that in Pathfinder the fey need to eat and sleep, come nightfall he's going to rely on the two Sprites currently in one of the igloos for a "night watch" rather than just hope the cold and dark keeps adventurers at bay.

There is one other factor at play here. It has been stated that Radosek can communicate through Teb's mirror (I'm actually going to add a Magic Mirror embedded into the wall of the Pale Tower that acts like a crystal ball with telepathy that can only be used with the Irriseni Mirror Sight spell to explain how Radosek is able to "talk" to Teb and to Nazhena Vasilliovna, seeing nothing in the spell description suggests it has that capability). It has been stated in-game that Radosek was looking through Thora's mirror-eye when the PCs first arrive in the valley and find Thora's hut. Thus there is an in-game reason not only for Radosek to know about the PCs ahead of time but to also warn Teb of incoming adventurers.

The ambush on the PCs' campsite? It was because of Radosek warning Teb. When Izoze fails to return Teb knows that the group of adventurers will likely be heading to the Portal and is on alert. Hommelstaub will know that Rokhar is still with the PCs, and that the PCs consist of three humans (aasimar and disguised kitsune being indistinguishable from humans), a half-orc, and a dwarf. The moment Hommelstaub sees this group? He will throw a Thunderstone at the group and warn the encampment that PCs are incoming.

The only way around that would be stealth - if the PCs managed to sneak up on Hommelstaub and surprise them. My group? Is not likely to try that route. And while I could set up an ambush or the like, keeping the encounter as-written makes the most sense.

Also, seeing as one of my tabletop players has to work Sunday the game will be delayed, possibly to Thursday the 16th.


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In comparison, Reign of Winter gives 2nd level players a +2 to any one stat (at which point they level up to level 3). And they also come across a bit of loot at that point. And they have the ability to find loot leading up to that (especially with the (often lethal) Lodge encounter which also provides them with some nice magic unless they actually negotiate with Rokhar.

So that +2 to any one stat is not in fact worth much, especially when the previous game that did the same exact thing gave it in the FIRST Book while also giving plenty of loot. (Admittedly, RoW when run by a competent GM tends to be lethal even with that +2 to one stat...)


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NobodysHome wrote:

GothBard put it nicely: She's a video game designer. Imagine how popular a game would be if every few fights the controller stopped working and you just had to sit there taking damage and possibly losing, with the idea that it was making the game more "exciting"...

I had that happen in Assassin's Creed: Odyssey recently. The laptop power connector had gotten slightly loose right in the middle of a lion attacking Kassandra. Needless to say... she got et. :/ While standing still being attacked. :/

For all my issues with Pathfinder 2, at least they modified Save or Suck spells so they have varying levels of impact depending on how well or poorly you made (or failed) your save.


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So, on an amusing note, my group is becoming philanthropists.

My fifth player has finally joined the group and has done so in style. He joined just after the group learned about murders in Hell's Kitchen (seeing one of the players lives there I figure they would know about the murders). Unfortunately, their attempt to lure in the culprits failed because the dice gods said "Nope!" and then a roll on my part to see if someone else died (it was Day 3 so a murder was due) came up.

The group started discussing how to get people off the streets and realized the empty Cloven Hoof Society building would make for a great soup kitchen. So they went to the Church of Abadar to see about setting up a soup kitchen, bribed some members of the Church of Asmodeus, and called in their Silver Raven teams to help set up the soup kitchen. They also used Knowledge Local to know which merchants were in the area and could use more business or had goods that needed to go quickly.

While the soup kitchen won't have a huge draw that first night, it's also immediately after a murder so the culprits won't likely murder right off the bat again. I'm going to give the PCs a bonus in luring out the culprit, and an added extra 1d6 for the first week or two for gaining new supporters, seeing they are going out of their way to help the community.

Brazillai and crew probably won't notice immediately what happened - I suspect the Cloven Hoof Society was just shut down because the owner vanished and the guard could just loot it at move on, rather than for a specific purpose. They probably will eventually try to shut down the soup kitchen by declaring the building unsafe, but that won't be for several weeks or even months in-game.


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What annoys me is that they came up with animated environmental tools for in Roll20... and if you go off-screen and then back onto it, the page will often go black. I spent $10 on two environmental programs and both glitch on me and force me to delete them. I mean, sure, I could always set up a SECOND laptop to only use Roll20 on and that would fix the issue... maybe... but I spent good money on these tools and they screw things up. I don't want to be refreshing the screen every few minutes just to have snowfall. Grr... and it also impacted my remote player (probably for the same reason).

The Thursday game went off with the remote player not available because of Game of Thrones. That's okay. We got to joke that his dwarf put a gimp suit on the Creepy Doll in The Snows of Summer (Reign of Winter). Fortunately the other two players (who had postponed the game because of a family event) brought Fireball whiskey (this girl likes her cinnamon whiskey, what can I say?) and bought pizza this time around so they're forgiven. :)


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Once More Unto the Missing Player!

The game was delayed to Thursday as initially one player wasn't sure he could make it and the couple who come to my home to play were going to a family event. Game of Thrones prevented the remote player from joining in, so Thelin the Druid was played as mostly an NPC (with some input from Alak's player as he's best friends with Thelin's player). The gift of alcohol earned two players an additional Temporary Hero Point (thus they started out with 2 temporary Hero Points each).

The game started off with the Creepy Doll - er, I mean the Strange Hut. No one made their Perception check to notice the Irriseni Mirror Scrying spell - Radosek Pavril gets a good look at the six people traveling toward the Winter Portal. The group moved up with the zombies taking point, and soon came across a shivering girl among the ice boulders who said "I'm Sorry! Don't hurt me! I never meant to call you names!". They were immediately suspicious. Freya made her Diplomacy check however and asked "What are you doing here?" Thora responded with "I have to watch the path." She moved away.

They decided not to pursue and instead headed toward the northerly part of the clearing. I had Haunt-Thora appear again and a second successful Diplomacy Check had this exchange: "Please don't keep me here. It's so cold. I miss my mother." "What's your name?" "Thora. Thora Petska." She moved toward the south again and the group didn't follow.

Guardian Thora cast Ventriloquism to try and get them to leave, but Alak had a Detect Magic up and realized an illusion had been cast and succeeded in a Spellcraft roll to determine what spell was used. Thora also tried twice to cast Charm Person - once on Freya and once on Avarel. Both made their saves. Alak detected one of the Charm attempts.

They had Rokhar send one Zombie up the hill to wait at the base of the hut and then went along the north of the hill to climb the hill the other way and all met at the hut. Freya insisted on going into the hut because of her dream (from the second session of the game). Alak followed and she kept trying to get Thora to talk. Alak "joked" about wanting to dig the gem out of the doll's eye socket but Freya refused to let him (and Thora remained silent).

Freya actually realized the doll was Thora (or was tied to the doll somehow), but Alak was of the opinion that Thora was casting through the doll. They chose to carry the doll with them as they continue along the path.

Leading the group is one zombie and Avarel. They see the message in the snow but don't think of checking for traps (and honestly couldn't have stopped it anyway). Aravel makes his Reflex Save and only takes 8 damage, but one more Zombie bites the big one... just one left!

After traveling for another half hour or so, the group realize it's getting late and see an area that seems like a clearing. They send the zombie in first and it triggers aggro on a Giant White Weasel... yes, that Great White Wha-- Weasel! It fails to hit in the surprise round, but in the first round it hits twice, once a crit, and the final zombie ends up a pile of parts and Rokhar is left cursing once more.

Ciri starts up a round of Bardic Song (with her feat that lets it linger for two rounds), and Rokhar casts Magic Weapon on Aravel's hammer (seeing everyone had been talking about camping for the night he figured now was the best time to cast it as he could memorize it again in the morning). Then Aravel moves up and attacks it for close to half of its hit points with his Lucern Hammer.

Alak's attempt to Misfortune it failed (he has bad luck with that Hex, amusingly enough!) while Thelin used his Acid Dart ability on the weasel and Freya used a Magic Stone spell on the beast but missed. Ciri then cast Freedom of Action on Aravel as I was thinking tactically for Ciri and the snow prevents five-foot steps. It was a moot point though. The weasel attempted to move up to attack Aravel (having only a five-foot reach) and provoked an Attack of Opportunity. Aravel left the beast with a crushed side and a decision to skin the beast so to vindicate Dryden Kepp's name.

The group dragged the weasel off a little ways and set up camp in the clearing where the weasel had been resting. They skinned the beast and there was comments on having some of its meat so they probably had fresh weasel for dinner which probably tasted rather unpleasant but hey, who can tell what half-orcs and crew like for meals.

----------

This actually set up the perfect opportunity for the Ambush. Originally I'd planned on having two Air Elementals attack with Izoze. But the elimination of all the zombies and the inclusion of Thora had me rethink things and it was probably for the best that I went with the original encounter as things were somewhat tough even with some lucky rolls. That said, I maxed out Squald's hit points and boosted Thora's by 8 (and gave her a level of Sorcerer).

The group blindfolded Thora just in case she was being used as a scrying tool (there was some talk about shoving her into a sack but Freya was insisting on being polite to the doll). Well, they didn't say "scrying" but they thought the "shivering girl" (the haunt) was looking through the doll's eyes so close enough.

Freya was on watch, which means Aravel was out of his armor. She failed to beat a 21 for her Perception check, which allowed Izoze and Squald to get quite close to the group. The fight started with Squald descending as a whirlwind to destroy the group's campfire while Izoze puked ice all over the camp, getting everyone but Alak and Thelin. Alak's player tried to claim his fox was on watch as well so I let him weasel(!) out a Perception check for the fox, but it failed to roll above an 18. Seeing I'd rolled twice on Roll20 and the results were there to see, he didn't have any reason to further contest the ambush. Well, for the moment. Thora drew her weapon and prepared to attack.

First round, Freya started. She immediately transformed into her full Kitsune form and used her Dancing Lights ability to ring the campsite with four floating torches, illuminating the area. Squald flew off, smacking Alak (who protested being targeted until I explained his foes had previously identified each member of the group and knew he was a caster). Seeing the most heavily-armored player was wearing Studded Leather and she was right next to that character, Izoze chose to claw Freya, hitting once. Thelin made a Wisdom check and realized that this foxgirl wearing Freya's clothes was Freya (and said as such) and then chose to sacrifice Entangle and cast Summon Nature's Ally.

This is where things got dicey. Alak's player chose to cast Sleep and I grinned as Thora promptly shanked him. He was upset that he didn't notice the doll was next to him (I pointed out that Freya wouldn't have been holding the doll throughout the night and we also had a discussion about the Haunted curse of the Oracle where if you carefully put something down it doesn't scamper off, otherwise Haunted Oracles would basically be naked as they could never claim their clothes, eat food, or the like) and that with the camp being disrupted by a whirlwind they wouldn't notice.

He insisted on a Perception check so I said "heck with it, go for it." I had Thora (with her Stealth of 15) take 10 for being quietly near Alak (who had talked about pulling her eye out) and he failed his Perception check and accepted his fate... of taking 1 point of damage and thanks to being Aasimar taking NO cold damage at all. He then made his Concentration check to avoid spell disruption and cast Sleep on Izoze... who failed her save and fell to the ground in a deep slumber.

Aravel Raged and used his longsword against Thora but learned she was somehow resistant to the attack. He still hurt her, just not as much as he could have. Thora's action came up and she went after Alak again with her blade... and did one temporary point of damage. Once more, Aasimar cold resistance proved the bane of the Guardian doll. Ciri started up Bardic Song (despite being right next to Thora) and Rokhar, noticing a sleeping Izoze, got up, pulled out his short sword, and moved up to Izoze in preparation to do a coup de grace.

The second round started with Freya burning a Permanent Hero Point (having used up her Temporary hero points earlier as her brand new dice? Kept rolling 1s - I mean I saw that die roll a 1 five times out of a half dozen rolls) while she cast Mighty Pebble and threw it at Thora. Despite throwing into combat (and in a snow storm), between the Bardic song, the Hero Point's +8, and the spell's bonus, she easily hit Thora and her enchanted pebble did full damage against Thora.

Squald did a second fly-by attack, going after Thelin this time. Fortunately a natural 20 was rolled for a Concentration check and a Fire Beetle was summoned to go after the Elemental... and promptly missed. Thelin's Acid Dart spell likewise missed. Alak's player got into a disagreement with me over my refusal to have given Thelin a Temporary Hero Point... I pointed out that Thelin's player wasn't here so he didn't get the Temporary Point. Aravel's player agreed it was only fair so Alak's player let it drop.

Alak put Fortune on Aravel's player (though looking back, technically I don't think he should have been able to do so, I think he did so earlier in the day - it is sort of a moot point though) and shouted to Aravel to coup de grace the mephit. Aravel grabbed his Lucern Hammer and did just that, dragging Izoze to -9 hit points from full. A nature 16 was not enough of a save to prevent death. Seeing it was a coup de grace, I don't think her regeneration would help in this case. Even if it did? It would be five rounds for her to wake up so it's a moot point.

Thora took the attack on Izoze poorly and went after Aravel. She did one point of damage. Her cold damage failed to penetrate his Northern Ancestry cold resistance. Thora is having a very bad day it seems. Ciri chose to hold her action with her crossbow while waiting for the air elemental to return - when she gets the chance she'll snipe it as it heads in for another attack. Finally, Rokhar (having lost his chance to murder someone) tried casting Hold Person on Thora. She made her save.

Seeing it was 1 a.m. at that point on a weekday, the game is paused and will resume a week from Sunday.

------------

Hero Points spent: Freya spent both Temporary Hero Points for rerolls of Natural 1s. Her new dice hate her. I think they're poorly balanced or something. She also spent a Permanent Hero Point bringing her down to 2 - seeing she'll be leveling up next game, that will max her out again and not be a problem. I don't recall but I think Aravel also spent one Temporary Hero Point but I don't recall for what. Seeing Thelin's player wasn't on, he didn't get a Temporary Hero Point and thus didn't spend it on a reroll despite grousing of Alak's player.

Looking back, there were a few things I did wrong. First, I should have had everyone roll a Perception check to wake up. I figured having the entire camp hit by a whirlwind would wake everyone up anyway. Second, I should have had Thora Levitate out of combat and start using spells. The attack against Aravel though was in character as she is "human" and honestly, a little girl. She got angry. Having two Elementals might have worked better but the group is facing a CR 6 encounter between the boosted Thora, Izoze, and Squald. The group's effective party level is 3 thanks to Rokhar and Ciri but it'll still be a tough fight.

The next game will most likely see the group facing Teb and crew at the Portal. Originally I was going to have them all at level 3 for facing Teb, but given how the group is doing, I may keep them at level 2. They did avoid the encounter with the Haunt after all... and are 370 XP away from leveling up once they finish the Ambush. However, seeing I'm using the Incremental Advancement rules, they will have a bonus to their BAB (except for Alak), hit points, and saving throws so they won't be THAT poorly off.

Given Freya's interactions with Thora and her trying to befriend the doll... I am seriously thinking of giving Thora a "dramatic death" once they "kill" the Guardian Doll. In fact, it might be interesting (seeing Freya has the Haunted Oracle Curse) to have Thora continue to haunt Freya once the group hopefully releases her soul from the gem (and I will have her mention she is trapped in the gem).


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Sorry about that :(

My tabletop game went through something akin to that - after I sent out a reminder one player came back and said "I'm watching Game of Thrones with a friend, you can run me as an NPC" and then my other two players went "we have a family thing and would be getting back late so can we do this Thursday instead?" At which point the first player was "My Sunday thing got postponed and might be done Thursday, I'll get back in touch with you" (he hasn't).

Then again, we joke about sacrificing chickens to summon our always late player in my online game... and inevitably the game starts late as someone always has issues with Roll20. (Or Discord. Or Skype. I swear, there's always someone with connectivity issues...)


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Slowly whittling down the zombie horde...

Events conspired to delay the start of the game, with half the group off visiting family and not getting here until two hours after the game was set to start, and my flatmate suffering from a nasty toothache that left him in bed because being in pain is not conducive of roleplaying. Fortunately, we did manage to start and still got in over three hours of gaming. Further, we were more productive than I anticipated.

We started out with the continuing Zombies vs. Ice Skeleton fight. As I'd mentioend previously, I increased the number of skeletons to five to compensate for Rokhar and his six zombies. This was partly a cunning plan of mine to eliminate as many zombies as possible, seeing that skeletons are fantastic at zombie-control (and zombies are great at killing skeletons), and partly because of the larger party size.

Aravel started the fight and was inspired by Gorum in his attack (burning his Temporary Hero Point for a reroll so he'd hit his foe), with his blow smashing a Skeleton to splinters. In return, a blast of cold radiated from the skeleton, damaging the zombie next to it. Araval, having used a Lucern Hammer, was out-of-range of the cold blast and took no damage (which is perhaps ironic seeing he actually has cold resistance of 2 for a trait bonus).

Next, one of the remaining skeletons (that had helped kill the zombie scout) moved up to take the place of the destroyed skeleton, and then it was time for the zombie that had become the front line. The collective cold aura damage from three skeletons was enough to kill the zombie and it broke apart in the cold. Thelin fortunately was only in range of two of the skeletons, and took only four damage initially. Rather than retreat and risk weaker members of the party from facing the skeletons, he grabbed his Earthbreaker and struck... and was inspired by nature itself or somesuch as his player burned his temporary Hero Point to reroll a miss and also smashed a skeleton to shards. He took another four points of damage as a result of the cold aura damage.

Rokhar, seeing his zombies were at risk of being all destroyed, used Sleigh of Hand to bring out his unholy symbol and Channeled Negative Energy to heal his undead minions. No one noticed the unholy symbol's use and views of him as a necromancer (who apparently had some spell to buff the undead and used a short sword) continued without question. He healed one wounded Zombie of six damage. It didn't last as one of the skeletons finally got to do a full attack and hit once for six damage.

Avarel went next and used Power Attack in his attack against a skeleton (he honestly didn't need to but... Barbarians) and brought the skeleton to -11 hit points in one blow. The resulting blast of cold destroyed the zombie that had just been hurt and Rokhar continued to curse his vile luck. A zombie tried to attack a skeleton after that but proved ineffectual. Thelin went next, continuing his melee rampage against the undead, and took a total of five damage between the cold aura and the explosion of cold resulting from his striking down yet another skeleton.

In the end, the fight was finished with all the skeletons destroyed, three zombies destroyed, Thelin hurt (and then healed somewhat by Freya), Alchemist Fire was used to kill one skeleton (by Freya), and no loot found.

----------

The group moved on and after nearly two hours of trudging through the snow they came across a ridge. Before they could investigate they heard a scream and then realized there were wolves guarding a freshly-slain deer. Thelin managed to calm down the wolves (which were one step from Hostile) and encouraged the party to remain away from the wolves. They didn't mind because they'd seen a blood trail further up, and what looked like a partly-buried corpse... and came across the mauled corpse of Dryden Kepp. Aravel was able to identify the tracks as that of a weasel of unusual size, and Thelin found the hunter's backpack and read through the journal... at which point the party learned about the strange hut and creepy doll.

Let me tell you, they've not forgotten. They started talking about what they wanted to do to that doll, despite the fact that the doll they came across was in a vision quest. (I have to wonder if they'll still hate dolls and destroy them at every chance they get years from now when they get into Book 6....) They traveled for another half an hour and came across an odd section of the ridge where the snow was pulled away and something had been digging. Sadly, no one was able to beat the Stealth roll of the Frost Firs, and they went first.

To compensate for the zombies and extra member of the cast, I increased the number of Frost Firs by one and maxed out their hit points. This proved wise as it actually made the fight more interesting. Two non-temporary Hero Points were burned (by Thelin and by Aravel) to reroll Natural 1s. Alak continued to (through my running the character seeing his player wasn't available) use Hexes to put Misfortune on various foes (and then Evil Eye on one Frost Fir only to learn they are immune to mind-affecting effects - while I knew this, I figured Alak might not so it made sense), and another Skeleton bit the dust.

The group moved on from there and after quarter an hour found themselves descending into a valley. Bloodied pawprints warned them of something afoot, and the group soon found a triggered bear trap. I had Thelin roll a Wisdom check which he blew through easily (modified 19 for the roll) and he remembered the journal which mentioned several bear traps. He grabbed a length of branch and used it to find the remaining traps, and Alak successfully disarmed them while Ciri watched on intently, as she is finally starting to learn the tricks of the trade her adoptive parents had tried to teach her and had successfully taught her adopted brother Alak. After half an hour the group came across a field of ice boulders and glimpsed an odd-looking hut built on top of tree trunks... and that's where I ended it for the night.

The next game will take place in two weeks.


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Given two of the characters have as part of their story the fact they go out boozing all the time and get into various hijinks? Yeah. I can see that. Okay, thank you for your input! :)


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Lanathar wrote:
Warped Savant wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
We had a rather interesting game this time around.... [befriending Tengu, sneaking around, not killing enemies]

That's awesome!

Kossrani being punished would make sense... I'd suggest he's imprisoned for a little while and then eventually doghoused by Thrune, which would give the PCs a chance to rescue him and get him on their side, if you wanted. Which is a nice way to show that sometimes keeping enemies alive is a good thing.

Lanathar wrote:
I don’t think the AP is supposed to assume you dodge the main fights by sneaking around at night and there be no consequences for it

But it does assume that the players may attack at night and says that Kossrani would be asleep if they were to do so.

In Hell's Bright Shadow, page 30 wrote:
...if the PCs attack at night, the guards on duty attempt to flee to the barracks to wake Kossrani at the earliest opportunity.
And besides, if the players come up with a creative/smart way to avoid a fight, why not allow it to work?

It has been a long time since I read book 1 so I probably shouldn’t have commented on that part

Thinking on it more so few groups seem to make a party that would all succeed in sneaking around that they should be rewarded if they can move around during curfew. I would just be nervous about making it so straight forward from level 1 personally

Not least because whilst there are lines in some encounters about when it is dark there aren’t in all (and darkness is loads more work!). Of course there are bound to be times where doing this is far more dangerous

No worries on chatting about parts you've not seen in a bit - you had time to think about this and consider various flaws. My group actually mostly has Darkvision - everyone but the Halfling (and the future half-elf when my last player can join). When the encounter was wrapping up I was suddenly struck wondering how would a human do stumbling through the dark, probably without a lantern or candle, even while trying to reach the door to the outdoors.

Unfortunately, the map-makers didn't add wall scones or the like for hanging lanterns... seeing there are no windows in the place (likely to keep it as dry as possible), the only light is that which you bring yourself. Unless you have Darkvision of course. ;)

The guards are said to be in the main room, which is where I put the lights. Given that the only other way out is a locked gate, if Crowe and his crew had been able to escape on their own, they'd have to go through those guards. No doubt when a patrol checks on Crowe and his crew, they would bring a lantern with them. But I wish more detail had been given on that.

My group actually was fairly innovative in another way. They said they brought the Fushi sisters along as lookouts. The rules don't actually have anything to say about this and the Sisters don't count as Spies or Saboteurs, but as a basic lookout? I didn't see a problem with that. (They're all level 1 Rogues excepting for Korva who's level 2).

As for stealth checks needing a DC 15 once the curfew is in place? The rules for being out after dark don't deny the chance of an Encounter. The Stealth Check is merely to keep that chance from climbing from 20% per hour to 60% per hour. The primary difference between being out in the day or night is that there is a 75% chance outright that an encounter involves the Dottari or the CCG thugs. If the initial roll is over 75, then the normal encounter chart is used (giving even more chances of Dottari or CCG thugs).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Also, in Book 3 one of the quests prior to the Regional Quests allows you to try and get Noble Houses to support the Ravens. Four Houses are pro-Kintargo and thus not that hard to get the support of. Getting those four houses to support the Ravens garners the Ravens 600 additional Supporters (or however is needed for the next level of the Rebellion, whichever is the higher value), which on its own would catapult the Ravens from level 1 to level 13, and is likely to push the party through level 15 if they've been trying at all.

So at level 7, they will have that magic weapon or wand, magic armor or wand, and potion, guaranteed, along with three Feats each, three Skill Points each, 3,750 gold each, and 10,800 XP divided among the party.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I know about that. The question is: would "living with my parents" lessen the amount needed to live that level? (I suppose I could just start having the parents constraining their movement to "encourage" them to leave home... none of the characters made it home last night due to curfew and having to cross the heavily-patrolled bridge after-dark while they were in the southern part of Kintargo.)

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