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Goblin Squad Member. 1,574 posts (3,408 including aliases). 2 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 6 aliases.


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

As soon as the tentacles slither back to whatever horrific pocket dimension they call home, Mel emerges cautiously once again.

The wizard's body lies on the floor, covered with the wounds of their fight: burns, cuts, arrow wounds, and finally the constriction of the tentacles he himself conjured. That was Greater Invisibility, as he used burning arc and remained invisible. It was cast 1 round before the black tentacles, so he should become visible again moments before they vanish.

She looks down upon him, feelings tumbling through her head and heart:

Relief, to be alive.

Sorrow, at Túrion's fate.

Thankfulness, for Ostara's blessing during the fight.

And that is all. She puzzles over this. It feels as though she is missing something. Something she should be feeling and is not; but it evades her, and after a moment she shakes her head, dismissing the concern.

"Kelian, help me take him into the null magic zone, please," Mel says, gesturing to the wizard. "If the Council checks in on him with divination magics, I want those to fail. Let them wonder what became of him. Or even better, let them waste resources on an expedition to discover his fate, after we are long gone."

Together, they haul him into the hallway where magic holds no sway, and leave him there for later inspection.

Returning to the main chamber, Mel says "Laeg nél,Throid tú go cróga. Lig dom tú a leigheas ..."

Sylvan:
"Nelly, you fought bravely. Let me heal you ..."

Approaching the great wolf, she takes out her healing supplies and begins binding her wounds, chanting a quiet prayer of thanks to Ostara under breath as she works, hands aglow with pale green foxfire.

Heal: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (3) + 18 = 21

Nelly regains 5*HD hit point (25, I believe) and heals 4 ability score damage if any.

The wolf keeps nudging at her as she works. "What's this?" Mel asks. She finishes, and reaches for the satchel Nelly was so persistently nudging at, opening it and examining its contents.


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

Don't worry. It's not the suspense that kills you; it's the wizard.


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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.

Advantages:

- 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.

Disadvantages:

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

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


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

Well, it also says things like "The god of cities is stern, but rewards those who work hard and whose actions benefit others as well as themselves, though his morally ambiguous enough to recognize that not every person can benefit from every decision" and that his temples also serve "as a bank, currency exchange, and moneylender, which helps keep interest rates reasonable and consistent [...] The banker in charge of the temple watches the local economy and adjusts interest to stimulate growth, encourage investment, or help recover from a disaster."

So they're less like Wall Street and more like the Fed. ^_^

it'd be an interesting character development if Savvy turned out not to be a cleric of Abadar after all. Maybe Savvy has been lying to Brolin all this time, and actually serves someone else.

Or -- and I think this would fit better -- Savvy genuinely believes she serves Abadar, but is actually self-deluded, and Savvy serves no one but Savvy, drawing her power from the one faith she holds above all else: her limitless, unwavering faith in her self.

Oh, and Brolin -- I think you are very mistaken about one thing! You do have a copy of Inner Sea Gods. I'm quite sure if you double check your digital assets you'll find it's listed right there.


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

Knowledge (religion): 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (17) + 13 = 30

Mel's eyebrows rise further and further up as she listens to this declaration.

"Well. All right then. Let me see if I've got everything straight." She ticks off on her fingers.

"First, you were so terrified of death that you spent your entire life pursuing deliberately unattainable goals in the hopes of incurring so much regret that your spirit would be incapable of moving on, thus cheating the law of death."

"Second, just so you wouldn't regret your pursuit of regret, you used magic to blind yourself to your own plan, thus living almost an entire lifetime in a state thwarted ambition born of self-deceit."

"Third, having succeeded in your plan, you view Captain Brolin as convenient proxy for pursuing your own ends."

"Fourth, your ultimate goal is world domination because you seek utter freedom from compulsion. You believe that you cannot trust anyone but yourself; and if you ever attain the power you seek, you have no plan to use it for anything beyond what seems like a good idea at the time."

"Finally, you claim to be a cleric of Abadar, Master of the First Vault, a well-known deity who values justice, truth, and law above all else, and who expects his followers not merely to honor the law both in spirit and by the letter, but to actively seek out and destroy agents of chaos in the world."

She lets her hand fall.

"Brolin," she says. "You know she's quite mad, don't you? And if she's a cleric of Abadar, I'll eat my scarf."


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

My personal to-do list:

- Mel and Kazador -- topic redacted
- Mel and Brolin -- interview with his cleric spirit
- Mel and Túrion -- general getting-to-know-you stuff really, he hasn't been around long

And of course I'm open to anyone who wants to have a conversation with Mel.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

@Túrion - Nelly got healing from Kelian's channel energy, so I think the half-speed thing is fixed.

The Spike Growth says "This speed penalty lasts for 24 hours or until the injured creature receives a cure spell (which also restores lost hit points)." So, technically, nothing will fix it but a Cure spell or that 10 minute Heal check it mentions in the next sentence.

But that phrasing dates back to 3.5 and wasn't updated for PF, so it predates the existence of Channel Energy. So I think it should be treated as "receives magical healing" kind of thing, rather than specifically and only a cure spell working.


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

Sometime before the campaign began, far away from Kazad Gravr, Mel's mother Ariala makes a discovery ...

"What's this?" Ariala says to herself, pulling a sheaf of slightly browned papers out of the chest. She sits back on her heels, knee deep in the detritus of spring cleaning.

"Ah!" she says. "It's one of those papers Melira wrote in college. Let's see ... yes, sophomore decade. What's this one about?" She settles more comfortably and starts reading.

A Novel Theory on the Nature of the Arcane:
[larger]A Novel Theory on the Nature of the Arcane[/larger]

By Melira Elenariel

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the course requirements for Elementary Arcana, part the Third.

Since the dawn of time, magic, the arcane, has coursed through our world, and through us. It is many long millennia since our ancient ancestors first mastered the arts that allow us -- or at least, a properly trained practitioner -- to produce specific magical effects on demand. Any new apprentice learns to conjure light. Any journeyman can walk unseen. Any master can cross the span of a continent in the blink of an eye. And every one of them is confident in their ability. If they make the same gestures, and speak the same words, then they produce the same effect. Every time.

But they are wrong. Or, at least, not as right as they believe themselves to be. As I intend to show in the remainder of this paper, the nature of the arcane in our world is mutable. The apprentice can indeed conjure light; the journeyman can spin a cloak of invisibility, and the master can carry them all three from Lywelas to the capitol of Iustia in the blink of an eye. Those spells work reliably -- for now.

It is not in the moment that spells, or the arcane, change; it is over vast stretches of time. Let us take, for example, the spell commonly known as glitterdust. Under current practice, the mage casts a handful of mica into the air with one hand, while gesturing with the other to indicate the target area, and speaks the invocation that conjures glittering specks of dust imbued with the might of the arcane throughout the indicated space. These settle and cling to anything in the area, and often render the targets temporarily blind, though it is possible that a strong-willed individual may shake off the effect before the spell naturally expires.

However, the spell has not always worked in quite the same way. It may not even have been known in the First Age; or if it was, then no record of its existence then has come down to us. Glitterdust didn't exist in D&D 1e.

It is only in the Second Age that we can be sure that glitterdust was known amongst our ancestors. The ancient master Niryn, of the early Third Age, reports in Ars Invisibilitatem et Contrariae that:

Quote:

Yea, and during the Second Age it became known amongst the learned that an admixture of mica, laid upon by the Art and cast unto a space, might cling upon the forms of those therein, and by that means reveal their presence. The walkers thus afflicted do often find that the bright and sparkling motes darkeneth the sight of their eyren; and this becometh a great calamity unto them, for that they standeth shewn to all and sundry, while that their own eyren seeth not the light of Sarenrae, and thus blindness maketh all the world invisible unto them. My own master, Gariveth the Golden, imparted this spell unto me, and spake wisely saying 'Thus do the tables turn upon those who would cheat the sight of their fellows.'

Yet it is strange, for my master did teach unto me that the dimness of sight should last a variable passage of time, from 12 to 30 heartbeats; that few but other practitioners of the art could resist the blindness; and that no creature stands immune to the particles. But in my experience, it lasteth a set span of time which groweth in proportion to the skill of the caster, the servants of the gods more easily resist the blindness, and some powerful creatures may win free of the effect altogether.

In D&D 2e, the blindness lasted 1d4+1 rounds, required a save vs spells to negate (which was easiest for wizards), and everyone is subject to the glittery-nes.

In D&D 3e, the blindness lasted 1 round/level, and required a Will save; but the spell allows SR, so if the caster fails a spell penetration check some creatures are entirely unaffected.

Later in the Third Age, it is well documented -- and numerous surviving grimoires attest -- that none can resist the basic effect, and that any creature of strong will may resist the blindness entirely, but that once subject to it there is no remedy but to endure the blindness until the spell expires or is dispelled. But Master Niryn's claim that the blindness lasts for the full duration of the spell seems to have raised no comment among his contemporaries; which is very peculiar, for current practitioners can well attest that a strong-willed individual may often throw off the blindness well before the motes of dust fade out.

In D&D 3.5e, the blindness lasted the full duration of the spell and only allowed an initial save. Spell resistance no longer applied.

In PF 1e, Glitterdust is the same as 3.5e except that it allows a save against the blindness at the end of every round.

What can account for these discrepancies? It seems clear: the magic changed its nature. Although it may be stable for long periods time, magic is not static and unchanging. How could it be? The arcane, by its nature, changes the nature of the world. Is it then so surprising that it can change its own nature, as well? Perhaps the only real surprise is its mutability is so little remarked.

"Oh, Melira," Ariala says fondly. "Always so confident."

At the end of the essay she finds some notes from the professor.

The "since the dawn of time" opening is seriously overused, and makes implicit claims of universality about the subsequent paper. Avoid that rhetorical gambit at all costs; it's trite and overplayed. Although you've clearly done some serious research, your evidence is much too thin to support your conclusion. For starters, to seriously support such a large claim you would need to show a pattern of change affecting far more than just one spell. For another, you would need to account for alternative explanations for the discrepancies you have found. For example, perhaps Master Niryn misremembered things his master told him -- Ars Invisibilitatem et Contrariae was composed in his dotage, after all. And particularly in older texts, we are reliant not just upon the words of the author, but on the fidelity of the transcription. The more times a text has been copied, the greater the chance that the scribe may slip and introduce an error -- then faithfully transcribed by subsequent scribes, who may introduce errors of their own. I advise narrowing your claims to something more readily defensible. Also, bear in mind that as you are not a trained practitioner of the arts -- nor show any particular facility for them -- publishing a paper along these lines would likely gain you nothing but derision from our wizardly colleagues. See me during my office hours if you wish to discuss the matter. B."

Several words in a language Ariala doesn't know have been scribbled at the end. "Melira! Really," Ariala says, knowing they must be something rude in some dead tongue. She smiles fondly. "I hope you're well, out there in Brookside."

She packs the essay away again and continues with her spring cleaning.


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

As arrows flash past or rattle off the battlement, Mel spares a cool glance for Túrion. Then she turns her gaze back to Kazador even as she reaches for her next arrow; and she speaks in an old dialect of Dwarven:

Þær wæs stið gemot. Stodon fæste
wigan on gewinne. Wigend cruncon,
wyndum werige; wæl feol on eorðan.
Oswold and Eadwold ealle hwile,
begen þa gebroþru, beornas trymedon,
hyra winemagas wordon bædon
þæt hi þær æt ðearfe þolian sceoldon,
unwaclice wæpna neotan.

Dwarven:

There was fierce fighting. Stood fast
the warriors in battle. Warriors died,
overcome by wounds; the slain fell to earth.
Oswold and Eadwold all the while,
the two brothers, rallied the warriors,
their cup-brothers they bade with words
that they should endure in this time of need,
use their weapons unceasingly.

Her voice starts low, but rises in volume as she speaks, growing louder and louder. Orcish orders and responses echo from the hard-carven walls of the fallen city. Arrows fly and are answered as Mel speaks on.

Byrhtwold maþelode, bord hafenode,
se wæs eald geneat, æsc acwehte;
he ful baldlice beornas lærde:
'Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre,
mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað!'

Dwarven:

Byrhtwold spoke, shield in hand,
he was an old retainer, shaking his ash-spear;
'Mind shall be the harder -- heart shall be keener,
bravery shall be greater -- as our might fails!'

Her voice rises to a full-bore scream as she comes to the end, crying out the bitter wisdom of the ancient dwarves: that there is honor in endurance, that there is redemption in the faith of comrades -- and that blood washes away folly more cleanly than ever water could.

"ᚦᛖᚱᛖ ᚨᚱᛖ ᛖᚾᛖᛗᛠᛋ ᚨᛏ ᚦᛖ ᚷᚨᛏᛖ᛬ᚹᚨᚱᚱᛁᛟᚱ᛬ ᚱᛁᛋᛖ! [larger]ᚱᛁᛋᛖ -- ᚨᚾᛞ -- ᚠᛁᚷᚺᛏ![/larger]"

Dwarven:
"There are enemies at the gate, warrior. Rise! [larger]RISE -- AND -- FIGHT!"[/larger]


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

Solid RP from Kazador. Who is not named Kassie despite what my phone thinks.

Does the axe become size large when Kazador takes it, because of the Enlarge Person spell? Or is he wielding a weapon one size category too small?


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

The absence of the ladder tipping them off hadn't occurred to me. But you know? I think I'd rather risk it and not leave a ladder they could use to get to us.

Also, I ... uh ... did a thing. It's a very different style from the last one, but it is in a 4:3 aspect ratio, so hopefully it woudn't get squished too much in Google Slides. I sure hope not, anyway, that axonometric grid would look weird if it got squished.


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 67/67, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 6:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

I have deep reservations about the current plan, which as I understand consists of:

1. Melee types use Dimension Door to get behind the barrier.
2. Fyrtor casts Obscuring Mist.

I'm inclined to think this is a grave tactical error which could easily result in a TPK, particularly the Obscuring Mist.

[larger][larger]Analysis[/larger][/larger]

1. Once they're in place, the melee types have no way to fall back. They're on the wrong side of the barrier for it. Reinforcments are likely to come from that direction if any, and, as Kazador pointed out, he can't extract them.

2. Obscuring Mist would shut down the archers. All of them. Including Mel, who will not be able to target any enemies in the area of effect.

3. Túrion won't be able to see the foes to target spells. That makes his life a lot harder. Many spells he won't be able to use at all; and other ones he would run the risk of injuring party members because he can't see where they are.

4. Obscuring Mist will impose miss chances on all the melee combatants. That goes both ways, of course -- it reduces their effectiveness, but also ours.

5. In particular, the mist will diminish the effectiveness of the surprise round. Kazador will have no action that round, because Dimension Door ends his turn. Fyrtor will burn his action casting Obscuring Mist as soon as they arrive; and then anyone who came with them has miss chances while the orcs are surprised and easier to hit, which is the worst possible time to give yourself a miss chance.

Effectively, it splits the party, leaving our ranged types unable to support the melee types. Meanwhile, the orc archers undoubtedly have melee weapons. After they recover from their surprise, the ones who have adjacent foes will probably drop their bows, pull their melee weapons and start stabbing people. They can still see creatures in adjacent squares -- it only cuts off sight further away.

The other orcs -- who don't have adjacent foes -- will probably try to get out of the mist. The way to where the sounds of melee would be coming from is blocked by the barrier and their allies; so they'll probably back up into the corridor: directly into Mel, Nelly, and Túrion.

So then everything devolves into two separate fights -- one inside the the mist behind the barrier, and the other in the hallway between the squishies and whoever walks out of the mist, probably starting with those two axemen who are standing at the front of their formation, supported by any archers who emerge from the mist behind them.

Part of me wants to let this play out because Mel doesn't know that Fyrtor is planning to cast Obscuring Mist. He hasn't mentioned it in character. The other part of me wants to live.

I have two alternate plans.

[larger][larger]The Trojan Orc[/larger][/larger]

I do not want to fight a battle on this map. The terrain favors them. Therefore, we take away the terrain.

We are currently somewhere around a corner from them, out of sight and a out of easy hearing range. Here's what I propose:

1. We cast buffs we're going to use (if any).

2. Brolin and Kelian assume a position well away from the intersection leading to the choke point, with Kelian in front and Brolin behind.

3. The others assume positions close to the intersection, with Kazador, Fyrtor and possibly Nelly in front, Mel and Algric behind them, and Túrion safely in the back.

4. When everyone's in position, Túrion signals to Kelian and Brolin -- could be a hand wave, uncovering a pebble with the Light cantrip, whatever.

5. Brolin and Kelian begin booking it up to our position at top speed, making as much noise as possible, with Kelian yelling "Stand and fight" or similar in Common.

6. As they get to our position, Brolin starts yelling in orcish something along the lines of "Invaders! To me, warriors! TO ME!" and the two of them "fight" by clashing their swords together and such. They do not emerge into the intersection. They remain out of sight, around the corner with us: Kelian stops in with the rest of the melee front line, with Brolin right behind him in between Mel and Algric where he can either join melee or fall back and cast as the situation demands.

7. They pop around the corner and we gank them as they come, well away from their stupid barrier. If even one or two of them come, chances are good we'll get most of them to follow once the fight breaks out in earnest. They will be eager not to give up a share in the glory -- or perhaps want to support their clan-mates. Either way, they come say "hi" and we say "hammer to the face".

Now, this plan has upsides and downsides.

Upsides:

1. It doesn't use any spell slots (unless we want buffs).

2. It works around Kelian's abysmal Stealth score, but still gets everyone into position for an ambush.

3. It lets us engage on our terms, not theirs.

4. It makes the enemy come to us, probably in ones and twos as they can get away from their own terrain.

Downsides:

1. The orcs will immediately sound the alarm. I don't think there's any way to avoid that anyway. We're out of silence spells. If we fight them at all, in any way, at least one of them is going to blow a signal horn and every orc in Kazad Gravr will know that something is up. This is not a stealth operation any more.

2. We won't get all of them. Chances are good that some will slip away to report in to whoever is in charge here. Again, I think that's likely to happen no matter how we approach this.

3. If the commander on that side has his head on straight, he won't let all his warriors charge in. So we may wind up assaulting the barricade from this side after all -- hopefully after getting rid of at least a few of them. In this case, Fyrtor lays down that Obscuring Mist over the barrier. As long as they are in it and we are not, that's fine.

Once the mist is in place, they have limited options: come out and fight us; fall back and let us through; wait it out; or find a way to clear it.

If they come out and fight us, good -- they've given up their terrain advantage and the ones in the rear won't be able to fight us effectively.

If they fall back and let us through, well, then we press the attack. As soon as we have a clear path to leave, we book it for the vaults as fast as we can.

If they try to wait us out, we go to Plan Fluffernutter, discussed below.

If they have a way to clear it, well, we just assault the damn barrier as best we can.

[larger][larger]Plan Fluffernutter[/larger][/larger]

We have a keg of black powder. I see two ways to use it here.

If we have already tried The Trojan Orc and they're waiting us out, we light the keg, throw it into the mist, plug our ears and hope the roof doesn't come down. That should either force them to emerge and fight us or else fall back.

[larger][larger]Plan Fluffernutter (Alpha Strike variant)[/larger][/larger]

The other option would be to skip The Trojan Orc and proceed directly to Fluffernutter Alpha Strike, like so:

1. We assume our positions in the hallway around the corridor.

2. Kazador gets on Nelly, holding the keg of black powder behind him with one hand. It may be easiest if he's mounted backwards.

3. We light the fuse.

4. Kazador uses Dimension Door, dropping himself, Nelly, and the keg directly in front of the barrier.

5. Nelly runs back to us at top speed, carrying Kazador, who lets the keg roll off onto the floor as Nelly flees. There will be no AoOs because it's the surprise round -- and really, what's more surprising than a dwarf with a lit keg of black powder riding a giant wolf backwards suddenly appearing out of thin air?

6. We hold our ears and hope the roof doesn't come down.

Ideally, the survivors will charge after Nelly, straight into the readied strikes of our other melee types. If not, we take the fight to them.

Thoughts?


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 67/67, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 6:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

Think of it instead as an opportunity to make a stand, both feet firmly on the ground, unmoving in the face of the enemy's onslaught. You are the wall, and any who wish to pass must bash you down first.

This message brought to you by Noble Self-Sacrifice Flakes, the best breakfast for the doomed defender!


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 67/67, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 6:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

Said the fly to the spider ...


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

Combat log so far. Because Brolin charged during the surprise round, he can't have cast Silence the same round. Therefore I'm assuming he cast Silence one round before the surprise round.

Pre-combat: Brolin casts Silence (7/7 rounds remain)

Round 0 (Surprise)
Fyrtor charges
Mel moves and shoots
Kazador charges
Algric falls prone and gets up
Brolin charges
Kelian charges
Nelly moves for position
Túrion casts Spiked Pit
---
Silence: 6/7 rounds remain
Spiked Pit: 7/7 rounds remain

Round 1:
Orcs do stuff, mostly falling in pits or hitting people
Kazador full attacks
Algric full attacks
Fyrtor attacks
Mel moves and shoots
Túrion readies to cast Grease
Brolin attacks
Kelian attacks
---
Silence: 5/7 rounds remain
Spiked Pit: 6/7 rounds remain

Round 2:
Orcs do stuff
Túrion's readied action goes off, casting Grease
Mel shoots twice
Fyrtor studies and readies an attack when target flanked
Algric pulls axe, charges into flank position
Kazador full attacks
Túrion casts Magic Missile to tickle boss
Brolin casts Haste
Kelian attacks with smite
---
Silence: 4/7 rounds remain
Spiked Pit: 5/7 rounds remain
Grease: 7/7 round remain
Haste: 7/7 rounds remain

Round 3:
Orcs do stuff
Mel attacks twice
Kazador full attacks
Algric full attacks
Fyrtor full attacks
Túrion casts scorching ray
Brolin rushes into corridor, makes attack
Kelian attacks
---
Silence: 3/7 rounds remain
Spiked Pit: 4/7 rounds remain
Grease: 6/7 round remain
Haste: 6/7 rounds remain

Round 4:
Orcs do stuff
Fyrtor takes AoO on orc's turn
Mel full attacks
Kazador full attacks
Algric coup de grace on orc lieutenant
Brolin falls back, casts Chains of Perdition
Fyrtor moves and casts Winter's Grasp
Túrion readies toppling magic missile
Kelian attacks
---
Silence: 2/7 rounds remain
Spiked Pit: 3/7 rounds remain
Grease: 5/7 round remain
Haste: 5/7 rounds remain
Winter's Grasp: 6/6 rounds remain
Chains of Perdition: 7/7 rounds remain

Round 5:
Orcs do stuff
Algric attacks an orc
Kazador full attacks
Mel looks for target, moves for position
Fyrtor heals Brolin
Brolin directs Chains of Perdition to drag orc
Túrion continues holding readied toppling magic missile
---
Silence: 1/7 rounds remain
Spiked Pit: 2/7 rounds remain
Grease: 4/7 round remain
Haste: 4/7 rounds remain
Winter's Grasp: 5/6 rounds remain
Chains of Perdition: 6/7 rounds remain

Round 6:
Orcs wait
Túrion consumes a 2nd level spell slot
Mel moves and starts Healer's Hands on Kazador
Fyrtor moves and begins Summong Nature's Ally III
Kazador stands still for healing
Algric?
Brolin?
Kelian?
---
Silence: 0/7 effect ends
Spiked Pit: 1/7 rounds remain
Grease: 3/7 round remain
Haste: 3/7 rounds remain
Winter's Grasp: 4/6 rounds remain
Chains of Perdition: 5/7 rounds remain

Round 7:
Mel finishes patching up Kazador
Kazador has to hold still until she's done
---
Spike Pit: 0/7 effect ends
Grease: 2/7 round remain
Haste: 2/7 rounds remain
Winter's Grasp: 3/6 rounds remain
Chains of Perdition: 4/7 rounds remain


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 67/67, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 6:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

Depends on the initiative rolls. If it comes up:

- Party
- Orcs

Then it would go:

Surprise round
- Party teleports
- Orcs are surprised!

Round 1
- Party stabs
- Orcs turn out to be piñatas

But if the initiative goes the other way:

- Orcs
- Party

Then it would go:

Surprise round
- Orcs are surprised
- Party teleports

Round 1
- Orcs smash
- Party discovers they look terrible in red


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

This is the part where the Concordat Council and King Stephen decide to settle their differences with a round of mini-golf, right?


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

sleeping:
Mel's armor is light, so she sleeps in it. However, she lacks a bedroll, as it has never before come up. She had one, but it got incinerated in the house she was renting.

Fort save: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (20) + 5 = 25

For the record, that nat 20 is a great big raspberry at the GM from the dice gods. :-Þ

Mel takes first watch, peering out into the darkness while the others find their rest. The waxing moon, half-full, lends a bit of light to the landscape of rolling hills and scrub. The wind seems a constant companion. She is grateful to note that there are few mosquitoes this far from the river -- too dry for them.

Kelian's words from earlier in the day come back to haunt Mel. If that thing eats me because you wouldn't put the ring on, I'll never speak to you again.

She takes the ring from her belt pouch. Holds it up to the pale moonlight. "Olenko itsekäs?" she whispers.

Elven:
"Am I being selfish?"

The wind offers no answer.

She spins the ring slowly between her fingers. "Jos käytän sitä, olen hyvin ja todella petturi."

Elven:
"If I wear it, I am well and truly a traitor."

She looks up at the night sky. "Jos en tee, kumppaneitani voisivat kuolla, koska välitän enemmän mukavuudesta kuin heidän elämästään."

Elven:
"If I do not, my companions could die because I cared more for my comfort than their lives."

She sits a long time, listening to the wind murmuring around the cliff. "Olen petturi jo. Mutta kumppanini elävät."

Elven:
"I am a traitor already. But my companions live."

She closes her eyes a moment and lowers her head. "Voi Ostara, miksi se on, että velvollisuus ja helppous eivät koskaan jaa polkua?"

Elven:
"Oh Ostara, why is it that duty and ease never share a path?"

She slides the ring onto her finger and spends the rest of her shift sitting in silence, pale face peering out into the gloom, solemn, clear-eyed.

The damned don't cry.


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

Listen, it would take a pretty damn cool light saber to get Mel to turn to the Dark Side.

(Purple, please.)


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

Okay! Plan #1: don't die.

Plan #2: Gentle Repose.

Plan #3: TPK and then resurrection isn't an issue?

I like Plan 1.


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

On a note totally unrelated to everything else, my brother introduced me to this game:

Seedship

It's text based and plays pretty quick -- you're the AI on a ship full of frozen colonists fleeing the smoking remains of the earth. You have to find a suitable planet for humanity to make a new home -- before your systems fail. Mildly addictive. Works well on mobile devices.


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

Mel looks at Kelian in surprise. "No," she says. "Of course not. I haven't been okay in some time."


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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.


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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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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

Just a heads-up -- I'm probably not going to be able to post much today. It's election day, and I volunteered to help get out the vote for a candidate in my area, so I'm going to be out knocking on doors pretty much until the polls close or my feet give out, whichever comes first.


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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!


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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.


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

Just as a reminder, here's a list of languages Mel currently knows, with equivalents for use in Google Translate:

Common = English (obviously)
Celestial = Sinhala, picked for its pretty script
Dwarven = Lithuanian, picked for having lots of guttural consonants
Elven = Finnish, because that's what Tolkien based Sindarin on
Sylvan = Irish, because fey


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

A wardrobe? Oh, that accounts for it! The kid's just wandered off into Narnia. Don't worry, he'll be fine.


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Female half-elf Incanter 3, HP: 25/25, 3 temp HP, AC: 11:11:10, CMD: 10, Saves: 5:2:3 Skills: Diplo +11, Sense M +3, Spellcraft +7, Stealth +8 (+9 in forests), Craft (glass) +9, Prof (gardener) +6

Hrm. I don't see it that way; not every fight needs to be potentially lethal. I've had some fun encounters where the baddies never did any damage at all, because they were focused on some other goal (such as keeping the PCs from getting ahold of an artifact, etc).

It does suck when you're out of the action, but I think it's less an issue in PbP. At a regular table you have to sit there and do nothing while everyone else keeps playing; but in a PbP you can go do other stuff and just keep an eye on the thread until you're either back on your feet or its time to roll a new PC.


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 53/59, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 5:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

Yaaay! *claps and sings*

We're splitting up the party, the party, the party!

We're splitting up the party, so grab your boots and hat.


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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.


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Female half-elf Incanter 3, HP: 25/25, 3 temp HP, AC: 11:11:10, CMD: 10, Saves: 5:2:3 Skills: Diplo +11, Sense M +3, Spellcraft +7, Stealth +8 (+9 in forests), Craft (glass) +9, Prof (gardener) +6

Katsa picks up the head of the fallen caryatid, studying it. "So strange that Kegan would fill his entry chamber with such terrible guardians," she says. "I wonder if he was expecting to be attacked?" She gently places the head back on the floor.

Brushing her hands free of stone-dust, she stands and looks about. "I don't like the idea of leaving things behind us that we don't know about," she says. "We should tackle them in an orderly fashion."

Her mouth quirks. "Hey, Hob," she says. "Remember this from the games we played as children?" And she chants:

When in danger or in doubt,
Deisul is the path to flout!
Turn the luck the other way --
Widdershins will save the day.

"So ... I suggest this one." She moves to the southwest door and examines it carefully without opening it.

Perception: 1d20 ⇒ 18

Deisul is "sunwise" or "clockwise"; widdershins is counter-clockwise. So she's proposing tackling the doors counter-clockwise from the entrance. And we don't have a rogue any more, so I hope traps are not a huge thing, but she's going to look at it for anything obvious, and probably let one of the others open it because she's got terrible AC and shouldn't be in front.

Also, ninja Ganzorig is a ninja. I had to completely rewrite this in between finishing it and posting it because he snuck in while I was composing the first draft. XD


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Female half-elf Incanter 3, HP: 25/25, 3 temp HP, AC: 11:11:10, CMD: 10, Saves: 5:2:3 Skills: Diplo +11, Sense M +3, Spellcraft +7, Stealth +8 (+9 in forests), Craft (glass) +9, Prof (gardener) +6

Noting that Thurin is still wounded, Katsa plucks another flower from her hair and drops it. Pale green leaves coil out of nothingness, covering over his wounds. When they vanish moments later, his wounds have vanished as if they never were.

Healing for Thurin: 2d8 + 3 ⇒ (8, 1) + 3 = 12

That should bring Thurin to full. Katsa has 5 SP remaining, and has taken 3 nonlethal damage.


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Female half-elf Incanter 3, HP: 25/25, 3 temp HP, AC: 11:11:10, CMD: 10, Saves: 5:2:3 Skills: Diplo +11, Sense M +3, Spellcraft +7, Stealth +8 (+9 in forests), Craft (glass) +9, Prof (gardener) +6

Perception: 1d20 ⇒ 19

Woo, I rolled high! GM, since Hob explicitly mentioned the pillars, I'm going to take that as an "Aid Another" for +2 so I can hit the DC 20 spoiler. If you think that's unreasonable, please let me know.

Peering into the dimness of the mansion, Katsanóron studies the pillars Hob mentioned. She starts back a little as one of them moves.

"Hob, those statues are moving," she says, tugging on his sleeve. "Maybe they can be reasoned with."

"Um, hello?" she calls into the room. "Err, we're terribly sorry about the abrupt entrance. And the damage. Is Kegan here? We'd like to speak with him if he is."

"Um, and I can buy him a new door," she hurriedly adds.

Diplomacy: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (15) + 11 = 26


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Female half-elf Incanter 3, HP: 25/25, 3 temp HP, AC: 11:11:10, CMD: 10, Saves: 5:2:3 Skills: Diplo +11, Sense M +3, Spellcraft +7, Stealth +8 (+9 in forests), Craft (glass) +9, Prof (gardener) +6

I'm not wedded to any specific initiative mechanics. As long as it's clear and keeps things moving briskly, it'll be fine.

EDIT: Oh, and heads-up, I'm going to be at GenCon. I'm flying there this coming Tuesday, then flying back the following Monday. I'll try to keep up on posting, but if I go silent it's because there I'm GM'ing on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and there are 12,000 other events to attend during the convention as well. So I may be busy.


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Female half-elf Incanter 3, HP: 25/25, 3 temp HP, AC: 11:11:10, CMD: 10, Saves: 5:2:3 Skills: Diplo +11, Sense M +3, Spellcraft +7, Stealth +8 (+9 in forests), Craft (glass) +9, Prof (gardener) +6

May I make a suggestion? Don't use standard Pathfinder initiative in PbP games. It's too prone to this wretched thing we call "life", with the result that when Player C gets busy and can't post for five days, everything grinds to a halt because nobody else can go.

What I have seen used successfully in other PbP games is group initiative: you roll initiative for the baddies as a group, the players as a group, and any allied NPCs as a group. When the players are up, any of them can post in any order, when and as they can. When the baddies are up, the GM does them all in a block, and ditto for allied NPCs.

Everyone gets to go quickly, and if there's one player remaining who hasn't posted, the GM can step in and "bot" their action, usually by taking some obvious action such as attacking the same monster as last round, or moving for a flank, or whatever.

The primary advantage is that it keeps things moving, which is vitally important for keeping players engaged in this medium.

The primary disadvantage is that it allows the baddies (and NPCs) a greater degree of tactical coordination than what they might otherwise have been able to achieve. When the GM is free to arrange the their actions in any order they choose, it can make them significantly stronger.

To combat that, the GM could either just be careful not to over-use that power; or, if it really becomes an issue, you could roll an initiative list for the baddies distinct from the overall initiative, which determines the order of their actions within their own group.

For a good example of this in practice, go read The Defense of Brookside. You'll see some good botting by the GM during the first combat, when the character Titania was unable to post for a while. Later the adventure leads up to a large scale fight with somewhere on the order of 60 or so combatants that only took a couple of weeks to finish.


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Female half-elf Incanter 3, HP: 25/25, 3 temp HP, AC: 11:11:10, CMD: 10, Saves: 5:2:3 Skills: Diplo +11, Sense M +3, Spellcraft +7, Stealth +8 (+9 in forests), Craft (glass) +9, Prof (gardener) +6

I'm a little puzzled as to what the illusion of Kegan is supposed to accomplish.


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Female half-elf Incanter 3, HP: 25/25, 3 temp HP, AC: 11:11:10, CMD: 10, Saves: 5:2:3 Skills: Diplo +11, Sense M +3, Spellcraft +7, Stealth +8 (+9 in forests), Craft (glass) +9, Prof (gardener) +6

Katsanóron emits a startled "Eep!" and flees at top speed.

Katsa has no ranks in Knowledge (Arcana), and hasn't done anything to interact with the illusion, so no Will save. I don't think she's going to stop till she gets home.


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Female half-elf Incanter 3, HP: 25/25, 3 temp HP, AC: 11:11:10, CMD: 10, Saves: 5:2:3 Skills: Diplo +11, Sense M +3, Spellcraft +7, Stealth +8 (+9 in forests), Craft (glass) +9, Prof (gardener) +6

Mechanics:
Katsanóron has no ranks in Knowledge (arcana), and thus cannot roll it. She would fail the Survival check on a natural 20, and can pass the easier of the two Perception checks only on a nat 20. Banzai!

Perception: 1d20 ⇒ 18

Katsanóron observes without comment.


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Female half-elf Incanter 3, HP: 25/25, 3 temp HP, AC: 11:11:10, CMD: 10, Saves: 5:2:3 Skills: Diplo +11, Sense M +3, Spellcraft +7, Stealth +8 (+9 in forests), Craft (glass) +9, Prof (gardener) +6

wrapping up the previous evening:
Katsanóron makes her way home, bidding Hob and the other orcs goodnight when they part. Walking up the snowy path, she opens her door, steps inside, and closes it behind her. It latches with a definitive snick, leaving Katsa standing alone in the quiet darkness of an empty house.

She hangs her shawl on a peg by the door. Water drips from it as the snow begins to melt. As is her custom, Katsa runs a hand over her head, and the flowers there begin to glow with pale light -- enough for her to see by. She had adopted this custom simply because it saved on candles, and remains totally unaware that some of the younger villager children think her house has a ghost living in it due to half-seen glimpses of a glowing female form drifting from room to room.

As Katsa turns away from the coat rack, she finds her path blocked. A cat, brindled grey and black, sits in the hallway with his tail wrapped about his feet. The tip twitches as he looks up at her. "Mrrowww," he scolds her. He's on the large side for a house cat, and his tufted ears and broad paws suggest a hint of lynx somewhere in his ancestry.

"Hello, Yarrow," Katsa says. "I'll bet you're hungry. Sorry, I had things to do."

"Mrrowww!" Yarrow agrees, rubbing up against her legs. She pets him a few times, then walks to the kitchen and serves him a bowl of kidney meat that Trygve Olafson had sent along for her assistance with easing his gout.

Leaving her cat devouring his late meal with gusto, Katsanóron walks into her greenhouse. Even in the dark of night and winter both, the room is still warm, kept that way partly by capturing the few southern rays of sun during the day, but also by the fact that the enormous hearth of her glass-craft workshop backs up on the greenhouse. When in use -- as Katsa had used it earlier that day -- the withering heat in the forge seeps through the shared stone wall as a gentle, radiant warmth.

Plants fill the room, growing from a hundred pots in addition to a few flower beds. They slumber, sent to sleep by the wan rays of the winter's short sun; all but one. A small witch-hazel bush blooms vigorously, bright yellow flowers in the middle of winter time. Its branches press up against the glass despite the chill without.

Katsa stands by her witch-hazel and stares out into the darkness, absent-mindedly tapping the back of her thumb against her lips, the other arm crossed in front of her. "So," she murmurs to her own translucent reflection in the glass pane before her, "Kimarl tried to enter Kegan's manor. I will have to keep an eye on him. Just in case..."

Reaching up, Katsanóron pulls her green hair forward into view. She looks at it dispassionately a moment, then lets it drop. "It's time I found out what happened!" she announces to her plants. "It's time."

And with that, she attends to her evening ablutions, dims the flowers in her hair, and curls up to rest in the welcoming embrace of a patch of dark earth against the back wall of her greenhouse.

I decided she has a cat. Not a familiar or anything -- he's just a cat. She got lonely. Oh, and the glowing flowers bit is her Cantrips feat.

In the morning, Katsa makes her way to the inn. Not knowing what to expect, she brings a pack of supplies: chalk, candles, pen and paper, soap, some food and a water skin, a folding shovel, and her dagger (for all the good it's like to do me, she thinks as she settles the sheathe on her belt).


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Female half-elf Incanter 3, HP: 25/25, 3 temp HP, AC: 11:11:10, CMD: 10, Saves: 5:2:3 Skills: Diplo +11, Sense M +3, Spellcraft +7, Stealth +8 (+9 in forests), Craft (glass) +9, Prof (gardener) +6

Katsanóron lets out a merry peal of laughter. "You're right, conjuring an entire house out of nothing is practically the first thing any magic-user learns," she assures Morrow.

"As for Kegan, I don't think any of us really know him very well. As mentioned, his house appeared out of nowhere one day. He stuck around for several years, apparently working on wards against fey; and then ten years back he vanished again, leaving his house sealed up. We don't know if he's gone, or if he's still in there and just hasn't come out for a decade. Ordinary people might need food or companionship, but who knows about Kegan?" She shrugs.

Eyeing Morrow, she puts a hand on his shoulder and says "It's getting late, and you've had a terrible day. Go get some sleep. For that matter, we probably should all do the same," she adds, yawning. "Hob, Kimarl, Bojarn, shall we walk together, for safety?"


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Female UC Rogue (Phantom Thief) 8, HP: 67/67, AC: 21:14:17, CMD: 22 Saves: 6:11:4 (+2 vs enchantment), Init +4 (+6 when bluff/SM involved); Status: darkvision
Skills:
Acro +12, Bluff +4, Climb +6, Diplo +6, Disg +8, Escape A +10, Heal +18, Kn(arc, nobles) +9, Kn(loc) +15, Kn(nat) +12, Kn(plan) +15, Kn(rel) +13, Kn(others) +8, Ling +7, Perc +18, Sense M +7, Stealth +24, Surv +5, Swim +6

I've been GM'ing a campaign for a soloist for six years now. Way back at level 7, the PC rolled a random encounter, and it came up three werewolves. Because it's boring to just announce, "Three werewolves jump out of the bushes and try to eat you," I asked the player to take a break for a few minutes while I worked out what was going on.

She went and got dinner for herself, and over the course of 20 minute I statted up Nevin, a natural werewolf fighter 4, Perry, a halfling afflicted werewolf wizard 5, and Elena, a natural werewolf ranger 2/rogue 2. They were refugees who fled the destruction of their original pack. Elena was the prime, and it was her intent now that they had shaken their pursuers to found a new pack. So they had started ambushing travelers and spreading the curse. That was their goal: not to kill the heroine and her cohort, but to recruit them.

The druid PC (Verdessa) was level 7 and her witch cohort (Ardulia) was level 5. The fight went all right -- both of them got infected, and all three werewolves got away (though Perry got a nasty case of periodic seizures off a Bestow Curse, the 50%-of-your-actions-fail variant).

After it was all over, I called for a Knowledge check to see if they knew how lycanthropy spread. I figured Knowledge (Arcana) would be appropriate, since it's a curse; and the same DC as the curse itself, 15. Verdessa did not have Knowledge (Arcana), but Ardulia had a +13. All she needed to do was roll a 2 or higher.

Natural 1.

And so a month later they transformed for the first time and slaughtered a camp full of gnomes alongside their new pack. Things snowballed and developed. They both eventually got the lycanthropy cured, but by that time it was too late. Five years of gameplay later, we are still not done dealing with the consequences of that natural 1. It led to the death of Jezelda, demon lord of lycanthropy, and to Verdessa's now impending ascension as the new demigod of werewolves (she's now level 19 and mythic tier 9).

I never intended to include werewolves in the campaign. At all. But ultimately that random encounter, and the natural 1 that rounded it out, came to be the most important arc in the whole campaign. If she survives the final battle, Verdessa is going to be able to rewrite the lycanthropy templates as she sees fit, and that will be canon for any game that player joins with me in future.

That's the kind of natural 1 I'm talking about. The kind where the entire campaign can unexpectedly take a turn that no one expected, not even the GM.


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Female half-elf Incanter 3, HP: 25/25, 3 temp HP, AC: 11:11:10, CMD: 10, Saves: 5:2:3 Skills: Diplo +11, Sense M +3, Spellcraft +7, Stealth +8 (+9 in forests), Craft (glass) +9, Prof (gardener) +6

"Take them into the inn," Katsa says. "The cold will do them no good."

Inside, Katsanóron examines the patients. "There's not much I can do about a missing leg, I'm afraid; but I can ease your other wounds," she is saying to them as the unknown dwarf stomps up and makes his demand. She shoots him a measuring glance but makes no immediate response. She nods a polite thanks to Morsel.

Standing up, Katsa places her hands flat on her chest. She closes her eyes, dips her chin down for one moment of stillness; inhales. And then:

A breath of warm air riffles through the inn, sending loose bits of paper fluttering and ruffling Katsa's hair. It smells of green grass on the long slopes of a spring dawn, with a hint of early-blooming flowers. Across the bar, one of the wooden chairs spontaneously sprouts a small branch, much to the consternation of the patron sitting in it, who goggles as the branch unfurls leaves and cherry blossoms. The chill of winter retreats -- the darkness outside is full of swirling snow, but for a moment, no one feels the bite, as a flood of warmth pushes back all their aches and pains.

Channeling energy, twice. Everyone in 30 feet of Katsa gets 4d6 ⇒ (3, 3, 6, 1) = 13 hit points.

Then it fades. The warmth slips away, the scent fades, and the branch struggles for a moment to hold on, then breaks into particles of light and drifts to the floor before winking out.

GM, point of clarification on arrival times: did Katsa and the wounded humans arrive at the inn at roughly the same time, or were the wounded humans here first? Also, did Thurin arrive before or after the injured humans?


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Female half-elf Incanter 3, HP: 25/25, 3 temp HP, AC: 11:11:10, CMD: 10, Saves: 5:2:3 Skills: Diplo +11, Sense M +3, Spellcraft +7, Stealth +8 (+9 in forests), Craft (glass) +9, Prof (gardener) +6

Sure.

1. When starting a play by post, if you're not starting immediately after recruitment, tell all the players to post a "dot" message in the gameplay thread. Their campaign pages won't show them the campaign until they've posted there. I didn't know that, and fell a bit behind because I kept checking the Discussion thread to see if we'd started (and still somehow missed it).

2. Starting in the middle of the action is good. I'm still not exactly clear on who these humans are who apparently fought with a Spirit Wolf and some of the local orcs, but I imagine that will be cleared up soon.

3. Doing separate scenes was very confusing; the spoiler approach that Thurin suggested helps a lot. If we wind up doing split-screen things later, we should do that.

4. Pretty soon the party is going to need to discover some common goal -- or at least interests in common -- so that we can form an actual party rather than a loose assembly of people working at cross purposes.

So ... a little rough, but I think we'll have our feet under us pretty soon.

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