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Here is a small adjustment that GMs could make to Tyrant's Grasp in order to offer PCs a more compelling reason for the final suicide mission.

Arazni is a lich; and she was obliterated by the Radiant Fire. Twice, in fact. The first time she re-formed. The second time is unclear. Certainly she hoped to die a true death, but the adventure leaves it open as to whether or not she succeeded.

When she prepared her spells for that final battle against the Whispering Tyrant, Arazni abandoned her protections against divination. It was at that point too late for her graveknight jailors to stand any chance of stopping her; and she would need every spell slot for the fight to come.

Thus, when she went to face the Tyrant, she did so knowing that anyone at all might watch her doing it. Perhaps she even voluntarily failed her Will saves against scrying effects. Let them watch! Let them see that for all their posturing, she was the one taking the fight to the Whispering Tyrant! She was truer to her vows than all those fools who spent these last millennia condemning her for things that were never her choice!

And so, when the Tyrant invoked the Radiant Fire and wiped Arazni away, one of Lastwall's strongest diviners saw it happen. They saw the faint smile of hope cross her face before the white energy washed over her. They saw her dissolve away.

The diviner was struck by a thought: "I am watching the dissolution of a lich. Her phylactery must surely be performing its perverted task at this very instant. But that weapon ... it's so powerful ... I wonder if ..."

And so, in that moment, they cast: Discern Location targeting Arazni's phylactery.

And it worked.

No one has ever been able to find Arazni's phylactery. Arazni herself doesn't know where it is, despite being one of the most powerful wizards in the history of Golarion, and having it bound intimately to her very soul. But the concentrated burst of positive energy resonated along the magic threads binding her tattered soul to her phylactery, and the sheer power of it momentarily disrupted the protections that have for so long shielded it from detection.

The diviner noted down this startling information immediately. When he tried it again, less than a minute later, the spell failed, as it always had before. Perhaps the phylactery was destroyed. Perhaps its protective wards reasserted themselves. Regardless, what that diviner learned was that when the Radiant Fire strikes a lich, it can reveal the location of its phylactery -- even one hidden by extremely powerful magics.

This did not seem terribly important. Arazni was gone from the battlefield. The location of her phylactery -- while certainly of great interest -- seemed moot. And the diviner couldn't really think of a good way to induce the Whispering Tyrant to vaporize himself with the Radiant Fire. Surely he would simply teleport away via a contingency, as he did when destroying Arazni.

But then the PCs return, with the obols gleaming in their hearts, and the assurance that the feedback will turn the Radiant Fire's power back on the Tyrant regardless of whether he has teleported away or not. And suddenly it becomes very relevant indeed ...

That is what the PCs are buying with their souls: information. The location of the Tyrant's phylactery. The hope that some day, someone might be able to destroy it and finally put an end to the vile lich who has warped millennia of Golarion's history.

Now, I don't know a lot about 2e lore so far, but I gather it presumes that the Whispering Tyrant is still around. If continuity with 2e world lore is important to you, then you can't just assume that all the armies in the world converge on the phylactery's location following the PCs' heroic sacrifice. There has to be a reason that can't happen.

Naturally any GM can invent reasons for this; I think, in my case, the reason that it's impossible for people to just go there and destroy it is that it's not on Golarion at all.

It's on Eox, buried deep in the heart of an airless mountain guarded by a ton of powerful constructs and warded by about a thousand layers of spells, including some unique ones of the Tyrant's own devising. When he reforms there, he has to prepare Interplanetary Teleport to get back to Golarion. He thought many times about destroying himself in Gallowspire just to get out, but wasn't sure whether the wards his enemies put in place would trap his soul there and leave him disembodied forever. If he tried it and it failed, what would that do to his connection with his phylactery? Would it even still work? He opted not to find out.

Once they know the location of the phylactery, the leaders of Golarion may not immediately launch an expedition to go deal with it, especially if the Tyrant goes and sulks on his island, as per the default outcome of the AP. A failed attempt on his phylactery would instantly alert the Tyrant that his secret got out somehow, after which he can just relocate the phylactery. He can put up more wards to conceal its location, and this time there's no more Radiant Fire, so their trick for finding out its location won't work again. They get one shot at it, and so they're not going to commit until they've done everything they possibly can to prepare. In the meantime, the Tyrant can continue doing whatever he does in 2e lore, and all is well.

So there you go. This little scenario gives you:

  • A better reason for the PCs to sacrifice themselves.
  • A hook for a high-level campaign to destroy the Tyrant's phylactery.
  • Plausible continuity with 2e world lore.

And it requires minimal adjustment to the AP as written -- basically, the addition of one high-level diviner NPC to cast Discern Location and later brief the PCs on just why it is that they're laying down their souls.

I hope this helps future GMs.

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I have long thought of this as the "too many cooks in the kitchen" phenomenon. Although they have gotten much better at managing it over the years, having as many as six authors working simultaneously on different parts of the adventure frequently leads to some jarring shifts in tone, awkward transitions, or occasionally continuity errors. I believe that the OP is correct in their assertion that such things are an inherent weakness of this production process. They can, and have, done a great deal to minimize it, but there's just no way to eliminate it altogether.

That said, I would point out that the same process also offers some major strengths. For one thing, a single author necessarily thinks in just one way. Having multiple authors adds variety, and makes it more difficult for players to anticipate the plot overmuch. Also, it is invaluable to have other people to bounce ideas off as you are in the process of developing an adventure.

There are other ways to produce adventures. The necessity of producing fresh content every month without fail or delay is a major factor in producing adventures in the way that they do. With a less driven time frame, you could produce an adventure using a process in which development takes a year or more and the entire thing drops all at once as a finished book-length campaign. That would likely make it easier to smooth out the transitions and make for consistent tone and so on. But it would also be risky. If you sink a year into developing a full-length hardback adventure and it sells poorly, well ... that could be a serious problem for the business. To make that model work, the stakes on any one product are a lot higher. You have to be Pixar, not Vogue.

So Paizo has good reasons for using the process that they do. It offers them a more predictable revenue stream. It shields them, to some extent, from mis-steps: if one month's adventure is poorly received, well, there's always next month. For those reasons, it's baked into the core of Paizo's business model. At its heart, Paizo is still publishing a monthly magazine. Just as they were when they published Dungeon Magazine all those years ago.

A tangent:
As an aside, may I just remark that it is deeply weird to be in a hobby where you can't read most of the monthly magazine for fear of spoilers?

I came up with stats for the Root of the Tangle. Leaving a link here for future GMs who may need such a thing.

My players have decided to venture into the Tangle, in the hopes of finding an ally who can help them fight Karzoug's minions in Xin-Shalast. So I came up with a stat block for the Root of the Tangle, who does not have one in the adventure as written.

RP notes: It knows Thassilonian but has no mouth and thus cannot talk. In order to speak with the PCs, it's going to puppeteer one of its yellow musk zombie minions -- a lamia matriarch musk zombie, I think -- who has the rotting mouth and vocal cords it needs to form words.

Mechanical notes: It has Power Attack, but the stat block shows the values for when it is NOT power attacking. When power attacking, it takes -5 on each attack roll and adds +10 to each damage roll.

Also note that it has grab, allowing it to grapple as a free action on a hit, and a unique ability that allows it to do an Awesome Blow combat maneuver as a free action on a hit. Obviously it has to choose between one or the other on any given hit, as you can't knock someone away while also grappling them. Still, this should make it possible to do things like move squishy casters closer and knock pesky martials further away and such. Oh, and it has 30 foot reach, so there's a good chance everyone will start combat in range of it, and Combat Reflexes so it can make 4 AoOs per round.

Hopefully this will be useful to some other GM at some point.

Stat Block for the Root of the Tangle:
Root of the Tangle CR 19
XP 204,800
Unique yellow musk creeper
NE Colossal plant
Init +7; Senses low-light vision, tremorsense 60 ft.; Perception +42
AC 35, touch 5, flat-footed 32 (+3 Dex, +30 natural, -8 size)
hp 312 (26d8+104); regeneration 15 (negative energy)
Fort +18, Ref +13, Will +15
Immune mind-affecting effects, paralysis, poison, polymorph, sleep, stunning; Resist acid 10, cold 10, fire 10; SR 28
Weaknesses vulnerability to negative energy
Speed 0 ft.
Melee 6 tendrils +27 (2d8+16 plus grab)
Space 30 ft.; Reach 30 ft.
Special Attacks pollen burst
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 26th; concentration +28)
. . Constant—speak with plants
Str 42, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 20, Wis 21, Cha 14
Base Atk +19; CMB +43 (+45 awesome blow, +45 bull rush, +47 grapple); CMD 56 (58 vs. awesome blow, 58 vs. bull rush, can't be tripped)
Feats Awesome Blow, Combat Reflexes, Greater Awesome Blow, Improved Awesome Blow[ACG], Improved Bull Rush, Improved Initiative, Improved Lightning Reflexes, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Sense Motive), Skill Focus (Stealth), Toughness
Skills Bluff +28, Diplomacy +28, Intimidate +28, Knowledge (nature) +31, Perception +42, Sense Motive +37, Stealth +30
Languages Thassilonian
SQ create yellow musk zombie, lush vitality, pollen spray, whiplash
Special Abilities
Create Yellow Musk Zombie (Ex) As a full-round action, the Root of the Tangle can bore dozens of tendrils into the brain of a helpless creature within reach, such as a creature entranced by its pollen. This attack inflicts 1d6 points of Intelligence damage per round. When a creature is reduced to 0 Intelligence, it dies, and the tendrils break off inside its brain. One hour later, the creature animates as a yellow musk zombie.
Lush Vitality (Ex) The Root of the Tangle receives maximum hit points for each of its racial hit dice.
Pollen Burst (1/1d6 rounds, DC 26) (Ex) The Root of the Tangle may spray yellow musk pollen in a 60 foot cone once every 1d6 rounds. This functions as its usual Pollen Spray ability, but targets every creature in the area of effect. Furthermore, it can use its Create Yellow Musk Zombie ability on any creature within its reach. This is a poison effect. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Pollen Spray (DC 26) (Ex) As a standard action, the Root of the Tangle can spray a cloud of pollen at a single creature within 30 feet. It must make a +10 ranged touch attack to strike the target, who must then succeed on a DC 26 Will save or be entranced for 1d6 rounds. An entranced creature can take no action other than to move at its normal speed into a space within the yellow musk creeper’s reach, at which point an entranced creature remains motionless and allows the creeper to insert tendrils into its brain. This is a poison effect. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Whiplash (Ex) When the Root of the Tangle strikes an opponent with one of its tendrils, it may choose to perform an Awesome Blow combat maneuver as a free action.

Reading this felt seriously weird considering what happened to Shalelu in the RotRL I've been running for ... oh, god, nine years and counting.

We're in Book 6 now.

Rocks quietly in corner, muttering "The end is in sight. The end is in sight. The end is in sight ..."

How is "Klrau" supposed to be pronounced?

Because if I can't find a way to pronounce it that doesn't make me sound like a dying cat, that name is going to get changed.

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So after the PCs defeat the Hidden Beast, a day or so later their new skulk friends find a hidden shrine and give them a Bag 'o Loot.™

My PCs just defeated the Hidden Beast, and I've decided on a mild twist: the shrine was deliberately hidden by Mesmina, the prophetess who foretold the PCs' coming. She knew that it would be rediscovered when the time came, and so she left a letter for each PC. The letters will contain cryptic hints/warnings about things in Xin-Shalast.

Except for one: our ranger, Micah, is about as shallow as you can possibly get. He has basically decided that everyone in the entire world who's taller than about 6' 5" deserves to die. He has Favored Enemy: Giant, and just cannot get it through his head that some of them are rather nice if you can refrain from eviscerating them. He's firmly in the "kill them all and let Pharasma sort them out" camp, and flirting with an evil alignment as a result.

So his letter is going to be: "To Micah Valian Arneseph: the true measure of a person is not whether they are tall or short, but whether they are small-minded. Be a bigger man. -- Mesmina"

It's probably within my skillset to make a new model of Castle Scarwall. But it would be a ton of work, and it's made much more complicated by the fact that I'm not the GM. Pulling it off in a reasonable manner would basically require me to read most of Book 5, which I'd really rather not do.

Hi, player here. My party just reached Castle Scarwall, and my GM has expressed a heartfelt wish for some kind of prop he can use to point out features rather than trying to describe it all. He struggles with description, which has at times in the past has led to some miscommunications and frustration when the players fail to understand the scene.

Some quick googling revealed a YouTube video of a Castle Scarwall model from 2013, probably done in Sketchup. That's already very helpful and we will be using it, but I'm hoping to find the 3D model file itself so that I can print out a copy on a 3D printer (small; say, about 5 inches side-to-side). The creator shared a dropbox link to the model in the comments on the video, but it's long dead.

Does anyone have a copy of that model kicking around? If so, would you mind sharing it with us?

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For a while I've been trying to figure out: how is Karzoug feeding his army of giants? It's been established that it's really hard to get to Xin-Shalast, even by magic, and there's not exactly a lot of arable land, and giants obviously have to eat a lot because they're big. Plus it's cold so they burn a lot of calories just staying warm.

I thought about maybe putting goodberry bushes in the Snarl, or introducing a bunch of giant druids whose job is just to cast goodberry over and over.

I thought about giving them lots of sustaining spoons.

But what I finally settled on was: they're having their food shipped in by Denizens of Leng, who are of course famed as traders (and slavers). When the Rune Giants go out to collect new tribes of giants, they also kidnap any humans/elves/etc that they find, and trade them to the Denizens of Leng in exchange for vast shipments of curious fruits and unsettling meats, all procured in the distant dreamlands and brought to Xin-Shalast in the holds of the black ships sailing the dream-oceans that touch every mortal shore.

This gives me a way to introduce new PCs in the event of permadeath -- they were captured and brought to Xin-Shalast to be traded to the Denizens of Leng.

For example, consider the now-defunct campaign called A Tiny Little Frozen Village. The campaign name gets printed into the document as part of the <main> tag, thus:

<main class="ctf online campaigns - a tiny little frozen village-ctf subtier"></main>

The entire contents of the document now have the class "tiny", a CSS class designed for use with the [smaller] BBCode tag. Thus, the fonts for the entire page render at size 0.8125rem, making them very difficult to read.

I'm not sure why the campaign name is being added as a class, but to avoid this kind of unexpected collision, I recommend adjusting your code to replace all the spaces in the campaign name with hyphens. Or, failing that, just don't add it in the first place.

Cheerfully submitted in the hopes that you will find this bizarre edge case amusing.

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There's mainly one guy who just would not let go of 3.5.

Well, and the other guy who still pines for the good old days (which he defines as AD&D). But he bowed out and has been running games for his family. I kind of pity their boy being raised on THAC0 ...

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I am pleased to report that I finally persuaded my group to convert to Pathfinder!

Specifically, to Pathfinder 1e from 3.5. Now I can finally quit converting between grappling systems in my head on the fly when running PF1 content for 3.5 PCs!

... Eh heh.

The timing may be a bit ironic. See you all in another decade or so! ^_^

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I am very glad to see the 1e bestiary added. I think that will smooth a good many ruffled feathers.

Question: if you get the 1e bestiary, will it include stats for the companions detailed in the Companion Guide?

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I'd just like to add a voice of support for incorporating Dudemeister's changes. They improve the adventure substantially.

My Kingmaker experience lasted seven years. I started as a player in 2010, and the GM did not have the benefit of much added community material, because precious of it had been invented at that point. We made it to the end of Book 3 before the campaign fizzled (the GM developed a severe case of Real Life).

About a year after that, one of the other alumni of that group decided to start a fresh Kingmaker with a new group, and I joined in. By that time, Dudemeister had invented the Monster Kingdom and a couple other modifications, which the new GM integrated, and they made the play experience much better (even though I was going through stuff I'd already done for the first half of the second playthrough).

Later, I circled back and played out the remainder of the original Kingmaker campaign as the GM, for one of the other original players, finishing it as a part of a solo campaign -- though honestly, by that time it was so heavily modified as to only vaguely resemble the original campaign. I cherry-picked bits of Book 5, notably the Rushlight Festival; and ran a good bit of Book 6, but the plotting was drastically different.

Lately, I've been listening to Sugar Fuelled Gamers' Kingmaker, an actual play podcast by a GM running the AP for a solo PC played his wife. He integrated a lot of Dudemeister's additions, as well as some of his own; it's far and away the best run Kingmaker I've seen.

Anyway! Please consider integrating Dudemeister's modifications. They make the entire thing much better.

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A really modular approach would be to remove the stat blocks from the main text of the adventure entirely and issue separate bestiaries for each supported system.


- The main text would be easier to read when it's not split up by stat blocks.

- Having the stat blocks in a separate book would reduce flipping back and forth while running the adventure, because you could keep the adventure open to the encounter area, and the bestiary open to the relevant stat blocks.

- You could have PF 1e, PF 2e, and D&D 5e bestiaries.


- It would definitely increase the costs of production and printing.

- It might increase shipping costs, due to extra weight.

I'd love to contribute, but after getting TPK'ed eight times in a row by those Numerian slavers, I gave up and wandered off.

Hmmmmmm. Well, I suppose that means the kingdom building rules will have to be updated. I guess that's nice.

If there's a stretch goal to get 1e in there, I may pledge. Otherwise, pass.

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Zombies would work fine for the dead giants; but zombie alu-demons? Don't waste those high charisma modifiers on basic zombies. Azaven is plenty high enough level to do things like Zombie Lords and Skeletal Champions, which would let them keep a lot more of their abilities.

@TomParker -- Count me as very interested in getting the designs for Karzoug's throne and the runewell. My PCs are approaching the end of Sins of the Saviors, and it's time to start thinking about Book 6 things.

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I just ran this encounter, and wanted to report back on how it went with my modifications.

The setup I settled on went as follows:

1) I put 12 numbered tokens out on the map to represent the PCs and the Vraxerises (5 PCs, one cohort, and six Vraxerises). Their positions were basically random -- I did not roll for positions or anything, I just sort of spread them around in the available space.

2) Players drew a token from a bag at the beginning of each round, which defined their position on the board and their order in the initiative. The one with the cohort drew two tokens. All the ones remaining in the bag after that were Vraxeris.

I did not re-randomize the positions of the tokens between rounds. After conducting a short experiment on my own, it was immediately clear that that would have been far too complex and slowed things down a ton. Besides, since the PCs were drawing randomly from the bag, that effectively randomized their positions anyway without actually moving any tokens.

3) I did NOT add initiative modifiers to anything; we just counted down from 12 to 1 each round.

4) The source of the effect was the giant peacock statue. I described it as having six gem-encrusted feathers. Each round on Initiatives 8, 4, and 0 two of the feathers lit up, one on each side of the peacock. When all six were lit, we would re-randomize tokens. Each of the six feathers had AC 5 and 15 hit points; once they were all destroyed the effect ended.

5) I used the stock dialog from the book for Vraxeris, but tacked on "Let's dance!" at the end, and described the entire place as flashing bright colors the whole time. I also played "Stayin' Alive" on loop for the whole encounter.

6) I did use a shared pool of hit points for the Vraxerises (600, 100 each) and killed one off each time they crossed a 100 point threshold. The Vraxerises did some damage with scorching rays, and got in a few Phantasmal Killer spells, with no effect (four passed will saves, and the one failed will save was the Barbarian, who got a 40 on the fort save to avoid death). The shared hit point mechanic was odd mechanically, because it effectively prevented the party from focusing fire on one enemy; but the players rolled with it and it worked okay.

It was a fairly complicated combat just because it forced the players to figure out who was who each round. But they quickly adapted. The one complaining about how terrible these robes look was obviously the incredibly vain ranger, while the barbarian had been enlarged earlier and was therefore obvious because he was the only large-sized Vraxeris. I described all of them as holding wands; but when the archer proceeded to fire some shots using her bow, and appeared to be firing small wands from another wand that implausibly bent like a bow, it became pretty obvious that she was the archer.

The PC who had the hardest time with this encounter was the bard, many of whose abilities (Inspire Courage, for example) rely on being able to distinguish between friend and foe. It was the first battle in a very long time when they didn't have Inspire Courage giving them ridiculous attack and damage bonuses.

The PCs very quickly figured out that the peacock was what was shuffling them around, and they destroyed the last feather towards the end of round 3, at which point I had the peacock open it's beak and say "Organic lifeforms have no sense of fun". After that things went pretty quickly.

All in all, I am very pleased with how it went, and the players seemed to enjoy it. So I'm going to account the session a success.

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Good points all round. And yes, it is going to be complicated.

1. I'm going to give everyone a Will save to resist the Seeming effect. If they pass, they don't look like Vraxeris, and get to put their regular mini on the board instead of the wood token.

2. I think I'm going to replace the big pillar in the middle of the room with an enormous statue of a peacock, and have that be the source of the randomization/seeming effect. They'll be able to see it "powering up" right before the effect goes off each time. If the ready an action to cast Dispel Magic on the statue, they can interrupt the effect. I probably won't make them roll for it, even -- hit it with Dispel and the effect fizzles for that round.

3. Detect Magic would show strong illusion for the Seeming effect, and a lingering aura of illusion for the teleportation effect -- it's based of Shadow Walk, because Thassilonian pride specialists don't have access to conjuration spells (and thus cannot use more normal teleportation effects).

4. Faerie Fire and Glitterdust would persist across randomizations. The targets would still look like Vraxeris, but they'd be shiny. It'd be a good way of marking people. I'm inclined to think that non-magical means -- like paint or flour -- would get covered over the next time the randomization effect occurs.

I'll consider hand signals.

I'm planning on reducing their offensive spell loadouts. The goal of hte false Vraxerises is to trick the party into fighting one another, so there will probably be a bunch of Bluff checks as standard actions to try and get them to do so. That should help reduce the lethality.

Thanks for the feedback!

Hrm, based on the toponyms, I'd have guessed Welsh rather than Nordic.

Ideas are percolating. Updates soonish!

Interesting ideas. I've been thinking about this some more, and I think maybe I could do something like this:

1) I get a bunch of little one inch wooden disks at the local craft store. I would need 24 of them.

2) I make two sets of twelve, numbered 1-12.

The wooden circles are going to be used for two things.

One set of them will be minis, placed on the map to show where creatures are.

The other set will go in a bag. At the beginning of a round, each player draws one token from the bag, and that's who they are that round. Once they've drawn them, they pass me the bag and I use the rest as Vraxerises.

I am contemplating replacing the ordinary initiative mechanic for this encounter, and instead having the number you draw from the bag serve as your character's initiative. I'd start from 12 and count down, with the result that creatures would go in a different order each round.

Randomizing the Vraxerises would make it really hard to track their hit points. So I might do a health pool -- give them a total of 600 hp, and every time the party reaches 100 damage, one of the Vraxerises goes "pop!"

For added mayhem, I'm also considering randomizing every creature's position each round. As written, the map is just a big rectangle: 24x18 squares, which I will label 1-24 along the long axis and A-P on the short axis. Then -- before game time -- I would roll out a series of positions, thus:

Round 1: 1 to A3, 2 to E12 ... etc

And then move all the tokens. I'd probably roll out 5 or 6 sets of positions and if the fight goes longer than that start looping or roll a d6 to pick a set of positions.

Now, the problem with all of this is that the Vraxerises also would have no way to tell friend from foe. So I'm thinking of giving them all True Seeing scrolls that they would pop right before the fight, while the party is dealing with the Mirror of Opposition.

At least one of the PCs also has True Seeing, and has already announced that they intend to use it, so that would give that PC a major advantage. And that's 100% okay.

Our next session isn't till Nov 11th, 16 days from now, so I've got time for prep. Any thoughts or suggestions? I'm excited by this idea, even though it's going to be super complicated to run.

I've got a pile of five totally different enchanters at this point. Waiting to learn a bit more about the world before I finalize anything. I like to make characters that fit the world.

On a totally unrelated note, it annoys me when Paizo's site tells me that there are two new posts, and I click the link to go there, and wind up staring at old posts because the two new ones are the top of a new page and the site has inexplicably sent me to the bottom of the old page.

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My PCs are about to go into the Illusion wing. I'm down for the Mirrors of Opposition, that seems like good illusion-based defense.

But the Vraxeris simulacra rely almost entirely on evocation and enchantment spells, which seems odd for illusionists. Then I went and read every illusion spell on the sorcerer/wizard list up to 5th level, which reveals the problem: there are precious few illusion spells that they *could* use offensively. I mean, there's Phantasmal Killer, but that's about it.

I'm toying with the notion of using a custom effect that blacks out the room, shakes everyone up to change their positions, and then when the lights come back on everyone looks like Vraxeris and there are six new Vraxerises in the mix. Ideally, the PCs would wind up fighting one another under false pretenses.

But it'd be difficult to pull off. I could replace everyone's minis (I have a ton of Vraxeris minis, I bought a case of the Runelords minis way back when). But each player has to know which mini is theirs, and as soon as they move the mini, that reveals (in a metagame way) that that one is a PC, not an enemy. It'd be hard to avoid metagame knowledge influencing player actions.

I don't know, this encounter bugs me, I guess. Maybe I should ditch it and put in something else entirely.

I'm tempted to make a chain-smoking alchemist who sees no problem with dumping failed experiments into the closest stream. Just for the drama. ^_^

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plane lee marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a quay and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
It's rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
It's letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

Ah, so you think I'm trapped in a thread with two "awiatic" ecologists?

Oh my friend, you are so very wrong.

What we have here are two aquatic ecologists trapped in a thread with an English major.

Well! Considering mustache was kind enough to add some keywords pointing at things I'm interested in, I should reciprocate. My next keyword is:


So this country/region will be quite mountainous, perhaps with dark pine forests blanketing their slopes, high altitude glacial lakes, and many tiny settlements squirreled away in tiny flash-flood prone canyons. That should get some wilderness into the picture. We can have one big city in a larger valley.


Could be on any scale -- personal, social, environmental, etc.

Yeah. I'm basically not a gnome fan. The way they're flavored in D&D and Pathfinder -- the obsessive curiousity, the mad alchemy and tinkering, all that stuff -- strikes me as unbearably twee.

There may be a reason why, when my soloist got turned into a werewolf, I arranged for her first group of victims to be a bunch of gnomes. Ah, it was a glorious session. One of them survived (as a gnome werewolf bard) and is now, essentially, the PC's spymistress. She spends a lot of time lurking in the shadows and not on screen.

Tell us about this ancient prophecy that might be finally coming true. What's commonly known about it? Who prophesied it? What is it commonly thought to portend?

Oh boy, gnomes. Well ... at least they're not kender?

And unfortunately I have zero interest in any of the occult classes.

The character concept that first came to mind is an enchanter-psychologist, who uses mind-affecting spells to help people. That includes things like using Detect Thoughts, Detect Anxieties and Detect Desires to diagnose assorted mental illneses, using Calm Emotions to help people face trauma they've suffered and deal with it, or in extreme cases Modify Memory to blur the details and take the raw edge off. It might include behavioral modification counseling, like helping people kick addictive or destructive habits using Sow Thought to build in persistent thoughts like "No, I don't need drugs to get through this". In the case of extreme violent offenders who have proven resistant to any other rehabilitation, the spell Amnesia could be used to make them a whole new person who could then be given a new identity and reintegrated into society somewhere far away from their past offenses.

Unfortunately, something like that sounds like a profession you would only find in a really big city, probably one verging on modernity. It doesn't fit especially well in a medieval forest kingdom.

So I took a long hard look at the Feyspeaker druid archetype, that switches spellcasting to Charisma and lets you pick up enchantment spells from the sorcerer wizard list. That would fit the setting better, but ... what would I use those enchantment spells for? Why would my character want them? I keep coming up blank on the answer to that question. Besides which, I've made literally dozens of druids over the last seven years, and I'm kinda tired of them. It's a powerful class, but the mechanics can get nightmarishly complex once wild shape kicks in.

Third attempt involved a witch, and it kinda worked, but was also rather spooky. I'm okay with spooky, but if I'm going that route there are other things I'd go to first.

Basically -- I don't think the enchanter is going to work. I may need to scrap it and come up with something else.

It's true, the system does generate some good setting info. If we were sitting around a table in person, we could easily build a playable kingdom in one session.

In a PbP, however, it might just delay things longer than we'd really like.

I've spent some time looking at enchanters, and boy, they have a ton of obstacles to surmount.

1. Many of their key spells are restricted to a particular creature type (e.g. humanoid).
2. One of the most common enemy types, undead, is totally immune.
3. A common low-level buff, Protection from Good/Balance/Evil, can instantly negate large quantities of their abilities.
4. Many of the key spells are also language-dependent.
5. I count 310 enchantment spells across all classes, of which all but 24 allow spell resistance.
6. Enchantment tends to be all-or-nothing; there are few enchantment spells where a successful save results in a diminished effect. Most of the time it just negates entirely.

There are ways to address all of those -- class features, feats, and so on -- but cramming them all into a build is really freaking hard and tends to push you to weird niche things. I've built three so far, and it's telling that I've never even considered human, ordinarily one of the stronger and more flexible racial choices. The best one I've come up with works pretty well mechanically, but comes with the sharp downside of not having legs (Merfolk!), which basically renders the build unplayable barring an aquatic campaign.

It would be nice to work out some more about the setting. I vastly prefer making characters that make sense within the context of the world they inhabit.

I just realized that Paizo's site can't handle nested lists like I used in the above post. Sigh.

Okay, so I've reviewed the Kingdom rules. If we want to do it, I think we could. We could probably get by with just one of us having the PDF, but if you guys wanted to get yourselves a copy, that would definitely be helpful.

Just to give you a quick idea of the system, we would:

  • Create a kingdom
  • Make a short description -- about 3 sentences.
  • Come up with three threats to the kingdom.
  • Each player contributes two places in the kingdom; locations to set scenes.

  • Make characters

    • We each pick a role: Power, Perspective, or Touchstone. No overlaps.
    • Come up with a character concept, description etc.
    • Identify two of the locations in the kingdom where your PC may commonly be found.
    • Pick a wish or fear your PC has about the kingdom's future.
    • Give your PC an issue -- some kind of ongoing problem.
    • Create a bond to the next PC over.

  • Play the game.

    Play proceeds as a series of Crossroads. Each of those is a question that we must answer in the course of a series of role-played scenes. For example, we might set up a crossroads of: "Will the kingdom outlaw the new religion?" With a three player game, there will be at least four scenes necessary before we can answer that question. So, for example, I might do a scene with my PC observing one of the new

    More on roles: The player who has Power makes things happen. They decide what the kingdom does. They might order someone arrested, for example, or impose a new tax on adherents of the new religion, or whatever. They can't control another player's actions.

    The player who has Perspective predicts the outcomes of the yes/no choices in the Crossroad. They're always right. They might say, "If we outlaw this religion, its faithful will just go under ground and work against us." And they would be right, because the have Perspective. The same player can issue multiple predictions, for either side of the yes/no equation. They might also say "If we do not outlaw this new religion, the crown will lose the support of the traditional faith." Followed by "If we do not outlaw this new religion, it will overtake our land within a generation." And again, they would be correct.

    The player who is the Touchstone always reflects public opinion. Whatever the Touchstone thinks about the current situation is the most common opinion on the matter. They might say "I don't know about this new religion, but I don't like the thought of persecuting people just for finding faith." And that would be an accurate read on the mood of the people. In essence, the Touchstone controls what the people of the entire kingdom, exxcluding PCs, think or believe. He could say "The new religion speaks to me so much more than all that old claptrap!" And suddenly, everyone in the kingdom feels that way. The people want the religion to remain legal, and there may be hell to pay if it's not. Particularly since Touchstone has the power to push the kingdom into Crisis pretty easily.

    Roles can change. You can abdicate in favor of a new role, or you can challenge another player and take their role from them. So it's not necessarily static.

    There are trackers built in for several things: Crossroad, Crisis, and Time Passes. At the end of a players turn, the get to put a checkbox on one tracker (and Touchstone can add or remove one from Crisis as well). With three players, those tracks are set at 4 each for Crossroad and Crisis, and 3 for Time Passes. When one of them fills up, we interrupt the normal flow of play to resolve the card. When the Crossroad fills up, Power makes the final decision of what to do, Perspective decides whether or not their predictions come true (they can change their mind on that point), and Touchstone defines the popular reaction (including, potentially, moving the kingdom closer to or away from Crisis).

    When the Time Passes track fills up, well, time passes. It could be months or years. The crisis track may or may not change during this time.

    When the Crisis card fills up, the kingdom has reached some breaking point, and there's a procedure to decide whether it survives -- or falls.

    If we're going to do this, I think probably we should just do 3 crossroads. The fastest a cross-road can potentially be resolved with 3 players is 4 scenes, and that's if everyone chooses to advance the Crossroad track at the end of their turn, instead of advancing Crisis or Time Passes.

    What do you think?

  • In terms of lethality, I prefer middle of the road. Death should be a real possibility, but I'm not a fan of every fight being deadly. Too many PC deaths makes it hard to maintain any kind of consistent narrative.

    It would be helpful for each of us to have the PDF, but it may not strictly be necessary. I've already got a copy -- let me review it and get back to you on whether anyone else needs a copy.

    I think it'd be cool to play a short game of Kingdom to build our setting. Then you'd take that and go off and add new stuff that we don't know about for the game proper.

    I like the feat taxes rules, and I'm game to try combat stamina, which I've never looked at before.

    There's no reason plants and cities have to be incompatible. It could be very much an arboreal city -- most of the buildings are grown rather than built, with only a bit of finishing here and there to make them livable. They could be built high in the branches of the trees with catwalks and rope bridges connecting them; they could be in gigantic fungi on the forest floor. They could be enormous gourds that are grown in a few years, hollowed out and lived in for a few years, then discarded and replaced with new ones, yielding an ever shifting array of streets as people grow new houses and discard old ones.

    The city might have a thousand and one problems -- but environmental issues ain't one of 'em.

    Have either of you ever played Microscope? It excels at generating collaboratively built worlds. Though for this scale, its cousin Kingdom might work better.

    @Asgetrion I don't think they're painted by people; they're mass produced. The painting is done by machine-driven airbrush; there is no washing or dry brushing, and any highlighting is done by more spraying. And the more layers and colors you plan on, the longer each mini has to stay in the airbrush booth, which pushes up manufacturing time (and hence costs).

    So the painting is just never going to be as nice as something done by a human. I paint minis, and I like to think I'm reasonably competent at it. But I spend about fifteen or twenty hours per figure. So I'm grateful to have some half-way decent prepainted ones to supplement my own work, because there's not enough time in the world to paint all the minis I need.

    Okay, here goes.

    Length: longer is fine. I am kind of wary of something the length of an AP, though -- those take multiple years even in normal at-the-table gaming, and PbP just elongates things even further. This may be a side-effect of the fact that it took me seven years to finish playing Kingmaker, and I've been GM'ing Rise of the Runelords since 2011 and we're not quite done with book 5 yet.

    One thing I've been thinking about is that since play-by-post games are inherently slower than other approaches, it might make sense to use the fast XP track. That is, if we're using XP at all -- I'm generally a fan of milestone leveling.

    Rate: That's fine.

    Pillar elements: eh? Pillars? This sounds like a bit of gaming theory that I'm not familiar with.

    Rules: I like playing with the feat tax rules in effect, and I love background skills. I generally like rolling stats rather than point buy, but point buy is better suited to online play because it's easy to verify. Either the numbers add up, or they don't. So point buy is fine. As for the point value, I've been accustomed to using the heroic NPC stat array (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) for almost all my builds for years, and that's a 15 point build. So anything higher than that seems like pure luxury to me.

    Story elements: I'd like an urban setting. I've been running a campaign for a solo druid for years and years, which involves an awful lot of wilderness. Plus Rise of the Runelords involves a ton of dungeon crawls, which I don't actually like. It always struck me as crazy that all these enemies just sit in their own little rooms ignoring the sounds of fighting down the hallway and waiting for the PCs to kick down their door.

    So it'd be a nice change to just be in a big city and stay there, building up relationships with NPCs and getting to know the place well. Plus I like playing rogues, wizards, arcane tricksters and the like, which work nicely in an urban setting.

    Thinking of threats to urban settings, I think it would make sense to have some kind of internal threat rather than invading armies or similar. Maybe there's a succession dispute? Or perhaps the whole city has a general problem with corruption -- bribery, self-dealing by office holders, rampant crime and drug use, etc. Or maybe the internal threat is some new religion that's starting to take over. Or all of the above at once: a succession dispute in a corrupt city where a new religion is sweeping the land.

    I might want to play an enchanter. I've kind of wanted to for a long time, but never found quite the right campaign for it.

    Got mine yesterday, and unboxed about a quarter of it. Generally looking good!

    One gargoyle had a broken wing, but what really puzzles me is this green ... thing. It's a lumpy piece of green plastic about the size of a mini snickers bar, with brown streaks on it.

    I have two theories: either it's a shrubbery, or else it's something that an extremely ill dog left behind.

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    Sometimes the obvious needs to be stated. More's the pity.

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    For now.

    Paizo, seriously. Your site was down for a week. In the early stages of a vitally important playtest.

    Down time like that costs you revenue, tarnishes your brand and erodes your relationship with your customers. You have got to get a handle on the reliability issues. They pose a very real threat to the viability of your business.

    Sounds interesting, but I'm not sure I know what you refer to. My googling has turned up the Healer's Satchel -- which would be handy in this instance -- but nothing called a "specialized healer's kit". Could you elaborate, please?

    EDIT: Nevermind, I figured it out. Thanks for the tip!

    I think that makes sense. Thanks for the sanity check.

    The Healer's Hands feat from Planar adventures says:

    Benefit: You can use the Heal skill to treat deadly wounds as a full-round action. You do not take a penalty for not using a healer’s kit when treating deadly wounds this way ...

    So I don't need to use a healer's kit. But if I do use one, how many uses are expended?

    A) Two uses, because if you use it at all you have to use two uses as per the Heal skill description.

    B) One use, because if you don't expend at least one use you can't get the +2 circumstance bonus from the Healer's Kit.

    C) Zero uses, because the feat negates that requirement.

    For myself, I'd happily house-rule that your healer's kit never gets expended if you have this feat; it's just a set of tools, like a set of masterwork artisan's tools (which grant an identical +2 circumstance bonus at 55gp instead of 50gp).

    But I'd like to hear what other people think.

    Crud. It's gotta be Crystilan. And I've been planning on using that in my Rise of the Runelords game. My PCs are going to have to carve their way into Crystilan with a runeforged weapon opposed to abjuration to retrieve some ethillion from a laboratory in there, and it could easily happen in the next 1 or 2 sessions.

    Now there's going to be a whole bunch of new world lore to tap-dance around that I won't even know anything about until November at the earliest. That makes twice this month I've had to rejigger major plotlines to conform to published lore (the other was the update on Nocticula's goals in Planar Adventures).

    Sigh. Such are the risks of doing homebrew in a setting with ongoing updates. Maybe I'll luck out and they'll go a different direction, at least long enough to get my hands on this issue ...

    Touching base -- didn't get a chance to work on her backstory last night, but I can definitely do it tonight after work.

    GM, could I get a bit more detail about the town?

    Roughly how many people live in Issen?

    Is Kagen's mansion in the middle of town? At the edge?

    What did Kagen look like before he vanished? My PC will have interacted with him at least once in backstory.

    Climate: It's northern and cold obviously, but can I assume there is in fact a summer (however brief) when plants bloom and such?

    Terrain: What's the terrain like? Forested? Wide open plains? Hills? Flat? I'm looking at taking the Highlander trait (+1 stealth, and it becomes a class skill), but the flavor calls for mountains or hills to grow up in. If that doesn't suit the terrain, I'd be happy to just adjust the trait's flavor so it suits the area while keeping the same mechanics.

    Incanter. No specialization, currently. She has the following talents:

    Life Sphere
    - Ranged Healing
    - Restore Movement

    Fate Sphere
    - Truth (Word)

    Nature Sphere
    - Geomancing: Plantlife
    - Towering Growth
    - Thorns

    One of those came from the Extra Magic Talent feat at 3rd level. For her bonus feats from Incanter, Cantrips and Spellcrafting.

    I'm kind of considering taking the channel energy specialization, which would basically cost me one of those two bonus feats at this level. But I worry that we've got plenty of healing and not enough damage.

    Oh, and using Charisma as her spellcasting stat. I was tempted to go with the boon that lets you use Constitution as your casting stat, but it didn't really suit the character in my head.

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