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Silver Crusade

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Several years ago, I posted my observations of what worked and didn't work to make Savage Tide amazing in my DM Notes. Those notes ended when we had a party wipe during the Lightless Depths, a beloved player had to leave for a new job, and it didn't feel right bringing a new player in at high levels.

Anyhow, years later, I moved to a new community, found a great gaming community, and we're venturing into this one again! So a few things:

1) If anyone is still active here, I'll post my notes and hope if we can to share notes. This is a classically fun campaign path, wish I could've finished it. My other posts give credit to the DM who inspired me quite a bit. I aim to follow his intent and expand Vanthus's role (his group never finished as well, alas!)

2) If you've run it into the City of Broken Idols and beyond, I want to know what worked and didn't work! I don't have DM notes generated yet, and given we're just getting started, plenty of time.

3) If you've got notes for 5E, great! If you have little things that worked, lemme know! (e.g. art for Lavinia, Vanthus, Avner, tips on running them). I've scoured this directory but might have missed something. I remember my first group absolutely hating (and thereby fondly remembering our campaign) Vanthus and Avner...

Silver Crusade

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Drawing from what others have done and my own touch, laying out what seems to be working and not working as far as style and personal touches for future DMs. As we're just getting started (using 5E rules if it matters), a work in progress.

A Matter of Honor

- Largely running as-is, with a prologue that I call Session 0 to allow players to create a story to unify them without any dice rolling. Ours dealt with surviving the events of Kyuss that gave rise to the Wormfall festival. During that event, they saved Vanthus, who was a jerk making inappropriate comments about paying them with his sister since he thought they were "mercs."

- Lavinia, using the princess from Braveheart, thick French accent. Having her cover up her loss of wealth, a fancy dinner to start but then when the party visits next, Kora is making stew. It's so important to get the party to like her, to play her not as a damsel in distress but a person whose life has imploded as her parents have recently died, her brother struck her, and now she's head of a declining household. Played up her memories of Vanthus (a laugh describing the good old days of the elixir of love and then a somber description of him hitting her).

- Playing Kora as the matron (she knows one PC already), concerned about their weight and health. The sole servant / messenger / seneschal, she's also a great cook who likes to have some blueberry scones handy for her favorite visitors.

- Changed Soller Vark to being in the act of getting it on (we're all adults and things like this are a lot more interesting than monsters just waiting in a room to be killed) as the party navigated a boat rented from a jilted noble whose girlfriend never showed up. Since it was his stepdaddy's boat, he didn't care. Later, the party lamented they didn't keep his fishing poles on board to make it look more authentic as they snuck up on the Blue Nixie.

- Burning monkeys curling up into little balls as they died really, really got the party fired up and angry at the smugglers on the Blue Nixie.

- The vault below Teraknian Castle has a unique puzzle lock; DMs should carefully read it to understand the sequence. If your PCs are really having a difficult time, maybe allow them to hear a "click" if they've gotten a tumbler in sequence.

- Sasserine is such a troublesome setting. Love making it come alive, but 90% of the path takes place somewhere else. Wouldn't overplay the city.

- Factions (affiliations) didn't grab everyone's attention as I thought they might. Different strokes for different folks.

We will pick up after clearing the vault. The party talked Lavinia into taking her last chest of coin in case Vanthus (whom they suspect) comes back to clean her out. Party is invested in her cause, and since she's a big part of the story line, this is important.

Silver Crusade

In two weeks we're beginning our foray into the Savage Tide adventure path, using 5E rules (though I'm more concerned about the story than the rule set). I'm big on prologues and feel the setup (you've done something to gain fame in town, so Lavinia seeks you out) is too generic for my purposes. I like to use pure roleplay for each campaign start (e.g. in Kingmaker, it was "you received a charter to scout the Stolen Lands, so how did it happen?" We started at a wedding 6 months prior and everyone invented why they were there until we had intervened in an politically motivated assassination attempt).

Has anyone worked something like this for ST?

Having read the whole thing and scoured the forums, I'm very aware having the party like Lavinia is probably key. Tips or special encounters to make this happen?

I've read, but obviously not played, that after the battle of Farshore, the quality of the adventures (routine dungeon crawls) wanes. True? If so, fixes? The story seems strong.

I'm always on the lookout for home-brewed handouts, enhancements, etc., if you have a recommended resource. I've taken a lot of inspiration from Vermilleo's campaign journal and google site, though unfortunately his group fell apart.

Silver Crusade

Need help on a ruling. Would the Talisman of Ultimate Evil work on a Paladin who took the archetype "warrior of the holy light" which sacrifices spellcasting for enhanced uses of lay on hands? For reference the Talisman instantly kills a "good divine spellcaster." The user saw his holy symbol and made an educated guess.

I've made a preliminary ruling of "yes" because the Paladin still has other divine spellcasting abilities such as detect evil and divine bond. However, the archetype notes the paladin has no caster levels, gains no spellcasting abilities, and cannot use spell-trigger items. Note that I've already checked and Paladin is listed as a "spellcasting" class.

Thoughts? Given there's a PC on the line, insight appreciated.

Silver Crusade

Can a player "drag" (let's say with a lasso) someone in an Antilife Shell so as to force its collapse by pulling them within 10', or will the shell prevent any further "dragging" under the premise the caster is not the one being aggressive in forcing the barrier?

Also, I saw an inconclusive post on Antilife shell and people teleporting into it. The consensus seemed to be that since it's an "emanation" teleportation would not work as intended; the emanation effect would serve to push the offender outside the shell. Any additional insight?

Antilife Shell
Area 10-ft.-radius emanation, centered on you

You bring into being a mobile, hemispherical energy field that prevents the entrance of most types of living creatures.

The effect hedges out animals, aberrations, dragons, fey, giants, humanoids, magical beasts, monstrous humanoids, oozes, plants, and vermin, but not constructs, elementals, outsiders, or undead.

This spell may be used only defensively, not aggressively. Forcing an abjuration barrier against creatures that the spell keeps at bay collapses the barrier.

Silver Crusade

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I like the Pathfinder system, but I hold a fear it's drifting from what made AD&D special. I've puzzled out what attracted me to AD&D in the first place (it wasn't the "to hit" system). It was the creative spirit of the game that I fear is being buried under the crush of rule after rule, and added power after power. While more rules have pros and cons (e.g. Pathfinder item creation, a pro compared to hazy AD&D rules), I want to capture the creative social spirit rather than creative mechanical effort.

I compare the RPG creative spirit to the "lunar crash exercise" many did as a kid.

Spoiler:
You've crashed on the moon and need to get to the lunar base. You've got your suit, limited oxygen, and a list of 15 items salvaged from the crash. As a team, choose what you'd bring, why, and which would be the most important. If you have questions about the Moon, you can ask the instructor.

It's an RPG. You've got a class (Astronaut) which gives you knowledge of the moon and how to use certain equipment. You've got a GM (the instructor) to describe anything. You've got an "equipment guide." Above all, you've got your ingenuity. The purpose of the puzzle is to think outside the box, to fit a square peg in a round hole, to creatively make use of the items in perhaps unconventional ways (use the crashed ship's fire extinguishers for propulsion, etc.)

You work as a team, you get creative. Here's the key: There was less emphasis on the mechanics and more emphasis on the creative aspect. I saw a lot of creative attempts in AD&D, not all successful, but attempted because there wasn't a rule saying you can or cannot succeed. For example

Spoiler:
An illusionist in AD&D runs into a golem, immune to spells, and needs to get it away from a door. He knows his spells won't work on it. He tells the DM he's using his fly spell and making an illusion of the cliff stretching out a few more feet. He's hoping if it looks like he's running on the cliff, using fly, the golem might pursue and fall into the chasm below. Won't destroy it but gets him past the door and buys a lot of time. He's using an illusion in an unusual way. Was creativity rewarded? Absolutely. The AD&D caster didn't have a lot of spells (and no abilities) to work with, so he was forced to think in an unconventional way that didn't have a rule saying it would or wouldn't work, or might work with a % chance. A fighter without the +3 weapon in those days might have pretended to play dead (would the golem keep attacking a dead foe or move onto something else?) While some DMs might have finished him off, who knows. He's desperate, trying something creative, and there's no "bluff" check back then that makes him think this will or won't succeed.

Meanwhile, a Pathfinder caster would use a supernatural ability, or pull out a Wand of Intensified Snowballs, or any number of preset "trump" abilities to get past unlimited spell resistance. He doesn't need to get creative; the game has a built-in selection of preset options, press button A, B, or C.

.

The AD&D player had a very limited set of abilities and unlike Pathfinder, there wasn't always a rule of A trumps B, B trumps C (e.g. spells that would bypass spell immunity). Like the lunar exercise, sometimes you had to take an unconventional, creative approach. Now I'm not saying players can't or won't today, but a continued slew of rules may be a disincentive to pure creativity. In the above spoiler, there's a preset "trump" mechanically in place. One doesn't have to get creative, one just has to know which rule to apply. Note, I'm not talking about pure combat mechanics. The game isn't all about combat, and I grasp combat is about mechanics and math, always has been, not where I'm headed.

A system composed of too many rules stifles the need for creativity. You simply apply X ability to Y situation. Problem solved. And that's my personal observation. In AD&D, I saw players try all sorts of imaginative, crazy things, like leaping off a 20' ledge onto a dragon's back hoping it would count as a backstab since they couldn't get behind the dragon. I see far far less in Pathfinder, with some of the exact same players.

So, what to do about it? I'm certainly not going back to AD&D; I like the Pathfinder core classes, the fixes. Nor am I buying the beginner box. My thoughts: simplify the game again as much as possible.

Spoiler:

1. Restrict players to the Core and 1 accessory book of their choice (that reasonably ties to the character). Discourage character creation to be all about mechanics. Encourage players to generate characters based on concept, not mechanical benefit (how many archetypes are considered "useless" by players? How many choose the clerical "Travel" domain because they're genuinely enthused about Travel and not the awesome "dimensional hop" ability? How many dip into a class simply to get Evasion or Rage?)

2. Skills. 4th Edition encounters can simply be an exercise in mathematics by making a series of skill checks. How fun, a computer program with a dice generator can run that for you. Pick ability X, apply to situation Y. Don't substitute role play for skill play. While some skills are math (a knowledge check), others have a social game aspect that should be played. Unless purely mechanical, players should have to describe what they're doing, and if it's unclear if it'll automatically succeed, we can apply a skill check.

3. Don't stop the game to look up a rule. I'm sure there's a rule for everything. I had my AD&D books memorized, but that'll never happen in my lifetime for all the Pathfinder rules. Grappling even has a flowchart because it can get so insanely convoluted. If the player doesn't have it before them and I don't know, just do what players did for 30 years before: adjudicate it with what seems fair and reasonable.

4. Restore some Core concepts. Make those golems immune to all magic (not everything has a "trump"). Put some (not all) traps in that can only be uncovered by player action, not a generic "perception" check. Don't be afraid to ban something that the group has found to "bend or break" the game.

5. Look for more "open-ended" adventures that inspire creativity. Stolen Lands (Kingmaker) has a great 3-dimensional bandit fort that can be taken in a dozen different ways, none necessarily better than the other (players might spend an hour discussing how to take it and not once roll dice, make a skill check, etc.) Dungeon's Challenge of Champions presented meta-game challenges to make the players use their own ingenuity and creativity.


Maybe I'm behind the times. But I'm always on the lookout for ways to improve the game I run.

Silver Crusade

For those who have converted it (I plan on remaining fairly true to the 1st edition roots, the 3.5 conversion is weak, the treasure is lame), have you treated the final "boss" as a creature or more like a trap? The 1st edition creature resembles a trap that requires a specific way to defeat it with a built in timer.

Spoiler:
Once the lich's skull is disturbed by an attack, it rises and looks around for 1 round, then on round 2 sucks soul (no save) of "strongest PC," round 3 looks around, round 4 sits down. If attacked, it repeats the 4 round event. Can only be harmed by listed spells and items, some of which are in the room. A clever party will not attack it, though it's instinct in RPGs to defeat the boss. Plus, if it steals a soul, the party will need to destroy it lest the soul remain trapped.

If a trap, given the lethality, was considering a save (although this could lessen the encounter to negligible if the party figures out the above way to bypass the trap), and/or a "clue" by someone (e.g. through much sacrifice we have taken to the chamber the tools to destroy the horror once and for all, but for me, there will be no escape from his hell...)

If a creature, have considered a construct (3.5 conversion used this) and the converted demi-lich (CR 14 encounter), which seems pretty succeptible to a paladin but is nasty otherwise. As a creature, there is pretty much a guaranteed fight. As a trap, the encounter is much more subtle.

Silver Crusade

Can this be done and if so, how? Let's assume a bear "grabs" a weaker player and decides to make a snack. Can a stronger player intervene to free him? Only focusing on using grapple to break another's grapple.

Silver Crusade

Magus player wants to use the Feat to create a tattoo that stores Magus Arcana points (3 + Int modifier) and allows him to use points as follows:
* 1 point as swift action +10 land speed for 1 minute;
* 2 points as immediate action the ability Evasion for 1 round;
* 2 points as move action gain benefit of 1 magus arcana for 1 minute that he meets criteria for.

No clue where to begin calculating costs. Help? Is this even feasible? I've seen the costs (10,000gp) for storing a 3rd level personal spell. Seems this does so much more.

Silver Crusade

I've merged the two as I've been wanting to run my group through RHoD and AoW but didn't want two campaigns just to give them a whirl. Largely AoW can live without Blackwall Keep and Hall of Reflections with a little nudge.

First, borrowing from forums, heavier foreshadowing with use of Faceless One letters so the party knows by the end of the Ebon Triad encounter that they've routed a cult that seeks the creation of an Overgod if they can make the Age of Worms come to pass (and they're apparently close).

Next, to skip Blackwall Keep and incorporate RHoD, had Allustan contact Marzena from the swamp during "down time" to share notes. She enters town with a representative of the lizard folk. The lizard folk were betrayed by a black dragon named Ilthane that sought to make them stronger by combining eggs but instead unleashed worms into their clutch. They lost over half their tribe, and a captive taken by the garrison was infected and killed most of the soldiers there before being hacked to pieces.

The swamp is too infested to continue to be a home for the lizard folk, and the source of the worms has yet to be ascertained. Allustan proposes the following: the party goes to Elsir Vale where Eligos (I changed it to Seriteren the Wise but kept the Eligos description) now lives. Eligos is a font of arcane knowledge but was banned from the City for liberating some tomes from the royal library. [Given that my party killed Filge, Allustan will mention Eligos may be the only person still alive who would know more about these worms].

As another hook, I have Allustan's estranged daughter as Captain Soranna, who should be able to help them find Eligos. Allustan also proposes they try to negotiate compromise for the lizard folk to relocate to the swamps of Elsir Vale.

From there, it is a simple matter to run RHoD. If Eligos dies, there is Immerstal the Red in Bristol that he may have given his notes to. Once Elsir Vale is safe, Eligos can divulge what he knows.

To hook Loris Raknian, Eligos may hint (if the party doesn't think of it) to look for anyone trying to obtain one of the scrolls/books he mentions. Given the notes they have, there is a rich patron in the City who was funding the cult. Some basic hunting turns up Loris Raknian and the hook develops to enter the party into the games to get some concrete evidence and find out what else the Ebon Triad is up to. Buff that adventure up a level (given the party should be 10th level after RHod) and we're back on track.

Silver Crusade

Player is running a dhampir magus with a background that tampering with magic beyond his control as an apprentice opened a portal to the shadow plane, forever changing him (into dhampir). He's now seeing if his exposure might have done more and is asking about the lich template. While the full template is insanely powerful for a PC and I can't let that in, looking for thoughts on other options and game balance.

Silver Crusade

We're engaged in the death-friendly adventure path "Age of Worms" and the 3rd level party has charged into a dungeon, guns-a-blazin', and ran out of spells and daily abilities. It's a reactive dungeon, and the bad guys are on notice there's invaders. As a GM, I'm inclined to not let them sit idly by and let the party "rest up." (they tried, and the bad guys tried smoking them out with fire).

The bad guys don't know the party's low on fuel. The party knows it can't leave the "dungeon" (a mine with cultists) lest the cultists scatter to the winds or get reinforcements.

As a GM, I know the bad guys have more than enough firepower to mop the floor with the PCs, but I'd like a realistic option to give the party a fighting chance to "rest" safely. Just can't figure out a reason the bad guys would sit idly by for 8 hours in their own compound, much less not seek reinforcements or set more things on fire.

Silver Crusade

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Purely a praise post, but Ultimate Campaign is one of the best supplements I've invested in for quite a while. Has added a fresh dynamic to the gaming table.

Silver Crusade

After many months, finally beginning this (classic?) campaign in the setting of Taladas (Dragonlance), League of Minotaurs, 352 AC (Age of Despair).

The Cast

Marcus (magus) - son of Dietrik Cicaeda (cartographer) and garrison soldier who secretly learns magic from Allustan

Duncan (monk) - monk of the Twilight Monastery who upon adulthood has cut loose from his peers with only a handful of coins in his pockets to expand his pursuit of drunken master techniques

Blue Sky (barbarian) - an exotic tamire elf from the north, last fighting member of the Wolf Clan, who makes ends meet by feats of strength at local bars. She seeks more from life than a day-to-day existence.

Garook (wizard) - goblin tribe outcast who earns his keep in Chaum's mines. His blood burns for the study of magic rather than the poisoned air of the iron mines.

Ten years ago a group of Diamond Lake children got lost following one of their peers to spy on an old cairn rumored to be an unexplored sorcerer's tomb full of magic and treasure. The other children became lost and tired, and their peer laughed at them. These children taunted her back that if she were so brave, she should spend the night at the tomb. They would spend the night in the girl's "secret base," an abandoned mining base.

The next morning, the peer did not return, and the children became lost trying to find her and the hidden cairn. Adults from Diamond Lake would eventually find them but not the girl who took the dare. To this day, no one has run across or found an overgrown tomb with a particular sigil on it that seemed to breathe air out of its entrance.

Modern day, these children and the adults have stayed in touch, some becoming good friends. All seem destined for life in the mines or drudgery in the garrison. The thought of the cairn has bothered Blue Sky, who helped find the children a decade ago. She is certain the tomb still exists. After hearing an offhand story retold by Duncan about an explorer from the metropolis of Kristophan named Uluvant who, 60 years ago, bragged he'd found a cairn and would be rich (the story being told to discourage foolish errands since Uluvant never came back), she told her idea to her friend Marcus. Marcus snuck into his father's maps and after many days found a map with a notation "for Uluvant" and a cairn location. They recruited Garook on his day off and presented the idea: this cairn may be unexplored and contain riches that could allow them to leave this life, find a better one.

Further, they discussed that the expedition needed to leave earlier than later. A trio of adventurers from Kristophan, who by rumor were skilled and had won the Champion's tournament last year, were in town bragging they'd be clearing out some of the deadly tombs. Blue Sky heard the first they'd try was the Stirgenest, which she knew had been looted years ago. But, every possibility existed that they waited, the more likely this trio would come across some map leading to their tomb!

So it began. Four intrepid adventurers visited Taggin's General Store and invested in gear. Taggin, twirling his moustache ends, applauded their vigor and zest for what appeared to be a great expedition, though as everyone knew the local cairns were probably all empty.

Silver Crusade

Looking for people to provide features they would prohibit from play (or significantly alter) and a short snippet as to why so that I may see if I'm missing anything.

Before our next campaign I'm drafting a character creation guide that lists prohibited/altered material (generally things that have been identified as unwieldly in play or creating substantial problems). Some of my thoughts are taken from Society play, others from tabletop experience, and others from these forums.

My Proposed Lists-

Race and Classes

Spoiler:

For setting only, there are no firearms, samurai, or eastern weaponry.

Alchemist: Poison Conversion & Siege Bomb discoveries barred. No
Vivisectionist Alchemists allowed.

Barbarian: Wild Rager archetype not allowed.

Clerics, Druids: Nobility domain Leadership feat replaced with Persuasive feat. No Undead Lord clerics allowed.

Fighter: Gladiator archetype not allowed. (try reading it and you’ll see why)

Ninjas: Bombs are Supernatural, not Extraordinary abilities. For setting, ninjas use rogue weapon list and are a variant.

Rogue: Driver archetype not allowed and black market connections talent
barred.

Summoner: Banned.

Witch: No Gravewalker Witches allowed.

Wizard: Siege mage and spellslinger archetypes not allowed.

Drow do not exist in our setting.
Elves: May not select Darkvision racial trait, no arctic or dusk elves.
Half-elves: No drow-related options allowed.
Humans: No feral child druid archetype.


Feats
Spoiler:

Master Alchemist (APG) can only be learned by Alchemists &
Poisoners.

Clustered Shots is not allowed. Please use Penetrating Strike.

Antagonize is not allowed.

Leadership is not allowed.

Dazing Spell metamagic feat not allowed.

Animal companions may not take weapon proficiencies.


Traits
Spoiler:

Following traits are banned: hedge magician, magical knack,
natural born leader, rich parents, and all Campaign Traits.

Spells
Spoiler:

Banned Create Pit spells, Emergency Force Sphere, Cacophonous Call

Charm/Hold Person not effective against trolls or giants. They've been monsters since the Red Box came out and will always be to me.


Crafting Magical Items
Spoiler:

Allowed, but at 100% cost for anything but potions, scrolls, and wands. Items occupying the same slot can be "converted" into raw materials at 100% value towards the crafting price of the item being made.

Silver Crusade

Played through much of Jason Nelson's original draft material (all except the final battle with Irovetti) and here's what we experienced:

Spoiler:

Summary: great stuff. Players need to be kept on their toes and taken outside their comfort zone from time to time. I used the Tower of Jewels, Jousting Rules, and altered Whiterose Abbey ambush.

- Tower of Jewels: Entertaining even without a rogue. Slow and steady is the best way since one just needs the 5,000gp gem to win. The barbarians climb at an insane pace but just snatched random gems before they fell. Our player used survival to turn her clothes into a climbing device after falling, despite the catcalls. She couldn't appraise worth a darn though.

- Jousting is hard. Our cavalier went down to a hedge knight in the first round. Ouch. Of course, rolling a 3 and a 5 in the same round usually does one in... I liked the idea that players can't just get on a horse and be successful, but unless one is mounted-combat full bore, winning the Joust probably isn't in the cards. Even then, it's at best a 50/50 proposition.

- The Whiterose Abbey ambush was tremendously more satisfying than as written in the module, but one must know their party before springing it. If I didn't think any of the players had a way out, I wouldn't spring it. Environmental hazards are great to shake things up. The rat swarm is plain nasty (the distraction DC is brutal). Still, it gave our travel domain cleric who usually supports a chance to use his offensive spells for the first time since he was the only one who could get out before the rats came.

Silver Crusade

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Based on inspiration from Kolokotroni, the Christmas Tree effect, I have converted Pathfinder's WBL system to a version akin to the 4E fixed enhancement bonus system.

Finding magic items should be interesting and exciting, make people sit up and take notice. However, the Pathfinder system is geared around scaling one’s abilities with magic items, and inevitably players will be using 75% of the same style slot equipment as last campaign. Cool items, such as a +1 flaming sword that hurls fiery hay bales on a critical hit are eventually thrown aside in favor of the +3 sword with no special abilities. Players shrug when another band of bad guys are all geared with routine Rings of Protection +1 and carrying a dozen +1 short swords, all churned out at the magic-mart mill of bland items. Players should not have to chart a proscribed arsenal of "must-have" equipment in order to have success with the game. Neither should they be disinterested when magic items are found.
So, the question becomes: can we adjust a system dependent on magic item upgrades to make magic special while preserving player power against escalating challenges?

(The answer, by the way, is yes).

As Kolokotroni said, it's not a bash against handing out magic items. Rather, it puts the focus back on player abilities, solves the Christmas Tree effect, and opens doors to more creative magical items.

Fixed Enhancement Bonuses Rules for Pathfinder, using WBL mechanics

Spoiler:

Rules: Starting at 3rd level, players get training points to spend on a list of non-magical, permanent fixed abilities. Players are not obligated to spend points and may accumulate them, but a player can only gain the abilities when advancing a level. If it isn’t obvious, bonuses must be purchased in ascending order (+1 before +2, etc.)

Mechanics: All slot items with a "plus" are removed from gameplay. Spells and class abilities remain unchanged. Fixed enhancements do not stack, so a +1 resistance training would not stack with the +1 from a resistance spell. However, these abilities cannot be suppressed or removed from a player, unlike items. Weapon Training Enhancements do not allow a player to overcome DR. Weapon enhancements such as flaming are treated as the equivalent “plus” they cost to add for purposes of bypassing DR. Crafting will subsequently be slightly easier as there will be no +1 requirement on a pre-existing weapons/armors to begin adding other enhancements. Items will be more vulnerable to sundering, but a character’s battle capability isn’t entirely tied into one weapon.

Wealth by Level: This system takes the value of the boost by comparing it to existing gear and assigning a point cost at a ratio of 1000gp value to 1 point. This accounts for the cost of each boost. The training points gained is based off a 75% principle, drawn from the WBL tables in which it is presumed 25% of wealth goes to offensive items, 25% to armor, and 25% to miscellaneous (generally “plus” items). The below table gives players 75% of WBL in training abilities. Pre-requisites are also built in to assume that no more than 25% of a character’s wealth is generally spent on a single item (an exception is made for weapon training, bumping it up by 1 level). All point costs for abilities include the cost beforehand, so if you tally the entire Weapon Training line to +5, it would convert to 50,000.

As such, GM’s using this system should adjust in game wealth accordingly to 25% of normal if using standard disbursement. Obviously this is a VERY rough formula, but much of the reduction should come from eliminating bad guy "plus" gear and assuming they have corresponding training. Because not all points must be spent, not all bad guys will have maximized their training (if you're getting really specific).

The below chart has been converted off the WBL table by multiplying the WBL by .75 and reducing to a ratio of 1 to 1,000. For example, by level 4, a player is expected to have 6,000gp. We reduce that to a flat 6, times .75, and come up with 4.5 (rounding down) to 4. We ensure we’ve accounted for WBL from last level by subtracting 2 more, coming up with a grand total of 2 points to spend. If we jump to level 20 and have 880 x .75, we get 660. We then could subtract everything before it and that would tally 146.

Level - Training Points Gained
3 - 2
4 - 2
5 - 4
6 - 4
7 - 5
8 - 8
9 - 9
10 - 12
11 - 15
12 - 20
13 - 24
14 - 34
15 - 41
16 - 56
17 - 72
18 - 90
19 - 116
20 - 146

Weapon Training (2): The character receives a +1 fixed enhancement bonus to attacks and damage with a class of weapons (select from Fighter class), unarmed attacks, or natural weapons (must select one type of attack, such as claw or bite). Must be at least level 4.
Increase bonus to +2: (6), must be at least level 7.
Increase bonus to +3: (10), must be at least level 10.
Increase bonus to +4: (14), must be at least level 13.
Increase bonus to +5: (18), must be at least level 15.

Defensive Training (1): The character receives a +1 fixed enhancement bonus to the effective armor bonus of any one type of armor, shield, or bracers worn, or the character receives a fixed +1 resistance bonus to their Fortitude, Reflex, and Willpower saves.
Increase bonus to +2: (3), must be at least level 6.
Increase bonus to +3: (5), must be at least level 9.
Increase bonus to +4: (7), must be at least level 11.
Increase bonus to +5: (9), must be at least level 13.

Protection Training (2): The character receives a +1 fixed deflection bonus to AC, or a +1 fixed natural armor bonus to AC. Must be at least level 4.
Increase bonus to +2: (6), must be at least level 7.
Increase bonus to +3: (10), must be at least level 10.
Increase bonus to +4: (14), must be at least level 13.
Increase bonus to +5: (18), must be at least level 15.

Ability Score Improvement: Note: players cannot use the Double Focus or Full Package improvements to mix and match mental and physical increases. The Double and Full must be all mental or all physical attributes.

Singular Focus: select a mental (Int, Wis, Cha) or physical (Str, Dex, Con) attribute to apply a +2 fixed enhancement bonus. Costs (4) and must be at least level 6.
Improve the attribute to +4 (12). Must be at least level 11.
Improve the attribute to +6 (20). Must be at least level 14.

Double Focus (must have Singular Focus): increases a second mental or physical ability score beyond the Singular Focus. The second score increased can never be higher than the Singular Focus attribute.
Increase secondary attribute to +2: (6). Must be at least level 9.
Increase secondary attribute to +4: (18). Must be at least level 14.
Increase secondary attribute to +6: (30). Must be at least level 17.

Full Package (must have Singular and Double Focus): increases a third mental or physical attribute score beyond the Singular and Double Focus. The third score increased can never be higher than the Singular or Double Focus attribute.
Increase third attribute to +2: (6). Must be at least level 11.
Increase third attribute to +4: (18). Must be at least level 16.
Increase third attribute to +6: (30). Must be at least level 19.

Silver Crusade

Because (from my experience) scry n' fry can be abusive in a campaign, when the party can repeatedly scry until the save is failed at some random odd hour, proposing a variant: each use of the Scry on a target reduces the DC check by 1 permanently for that target.

Thoughts?

Silver Crusade

I'm planning ahead to the next campaign, and in it I hope to bring the spirit of the game closer to its roots using "the most important rule": THIS IS YOUR GAME. My singular criticism of Pathfinder is not novel: system mastery is superior. Players who master the system have a superior advantage for in-game contribution (combat, skills, solving problems using abilities) over those who do not OR choose to build characters based on concept.

Given that 1/2 my players can recall 1st/2nd edition, and 1/2 have no clue, I'm looking for those magic words to convey (remind?) my players that it's the teamwork, the player ingenuity, and the story that matters, not how mechanically well-built a character can be. I'm tired of seeing everyone have the Trait "reactionary," the feat "improved initiative," and no one ever dreaming of taking an archetype or style that doesn't have a distinct combat benefit. I feel my game has lost its flavor, that we don't have characters in a great story contributing to a fantastic fictional experience but rather walking stat blocks.

I don't feel "burned out," but I want to "cure" where I think we've strayed from what could be an amazing experience. What do I say?

Silver Crusade

How have GMs run with Pitax's armies and strategies in Book V?

If all the armies of Pitax (except the reserve) invade at the same time, it's unlikely the players could raise enough armies either of quantity or quality to challenge their foes in time to avoid losing most of the kingdom cities.

Silver Crusade

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Has anyone worked with their players to encourage them to not over-optimize?

To clarify, I'm not looking to apply the "advanced template" to every encounter to provide a challenge. Rather, it's my observation that optimized characters are...dull. Optimized characters tend to be mechanical, so much so that there are "guides" to creating the superior combat engine whose sole goal is to ensure the enemy is not just beaten but shellacked.

Anyone have gentle ideas to nudge characters away from the notion that they must optimize to survive, that they must take the Reactionary trait, that certain spells should never be learned because they are 24% less effective than another, that if you don't take Pounce as a barbarian you're a fool? I'll never impose straight-jackets (play how I want you to play), but I'd like to encourage players that it's ok if they take an archetype or make a build that is only 82% as effective as another.

Silver Crusade

Just sharing an odd deja vu moment.

Months ago I posted our group's 40-round combat with Vordakai, and our last session the players returned there - now at 12th level - to face down a former PC who turned bad.

Spoiler:
The PC replaced his eye with the Oculus and gave in to temptation (all with the player's consent!) As a conjuring wizard, he teleported away and has been in hiding ever since, never forgetting that when he first replaced his eye, the other players paralyzed him magically and cut the Oculus back out (after which he stole it and fled). Years later, he's recruited Ngara the Naga who is also being hunted by the PCs, and with a Teleport Trap finally at his disposal, is prepared to set a final lethal lure. He'll use the naga and himself as bait, not giving their location away but requiring teleportation. Combine that with using the Oculus to empty a village and promising (via sending) to summon demons on random PC villages, he's ready to end this on his terms.

We stopped last session mid-battle, with another battle that is already past 25 rounds. No other place in the entire campaign has any battle ever lasted this long, and now we're twice in.

To find this comrade after scrying, and after puzzling out there is a Teleport Trap in place, they chose, in an insane move, to intentionally fail the Teleport Trap save and try to break the trap, having buffed and prepared for this. Otherwise, they might never find their comrade's lair (see spoiler as to why time was of the essence) and they didn't want to be split up.

Teleport Trap deposited them individually into sealed stone sarcophagi (W22), with the entire area flooded and a Wall of Stone over the only door in and out. Miraculously, the players escaped (I should never underestimate them!)

Had the makings of a TPK, but the ally bound by the Oculus was dismissed on a fluke roll making the BBEG battle a little more fair. Still, conjurers make great enemies. With dimension hopping, illusions, and pit creation to compliment a slew of nasty monsters, this one has survived and now both sides are down to their final spells. One player has "died" twice (Breath of Life saves), and the players have itchy trigger fingers to get ahold of this guy once and for all. They've taken down his grunts, his shadow demons, and his illusions. They've withstood blasts of his ally Ngara's fireballs raining down on them. They've played the "dispel" game on various nasty enchantments.

Spoiler:
What will be most frustrating is that they don't have any way to stop this BBEG from teleporting away after all the fighting...I'm likely to get an earful, but that's what bad guys do sometimes.

But alas, time got away from us, and the battle will wait one more week, wherein my players are likely to surprise me yet again.

Silver Crusade

My players have discovered the fun of "scry & fry" and are in pursuit of a foe who is a 13th level wizard (they are 12th), a former PC consumed by an evil artifact. He's tired of hiding from their scry and fry, and has the resources for Teleport Trap. Am I right in thinking this is a very lethal spell if someone fails a will save?

For example, BBEG designates a trapped, sealed, lightless coffin (may be a Rules Question as to how this works if multiple people are teleporting and they all can't fit in the coffin, are they shunted to the next open surface, and a Rules Question that if the caster saves but someone else doesn't, does that other person teleport or is the spell thwarted completely?)

Even if a character can find a way out before suffocating, the BBEG can have this coffin in a room filled with water, lava, etc. (a room he seals and fills after permanizing the spell).

This is what BBEGs do, but on the other hand (if part of the group can be trapped that fails saves) not sure I should go so hardcore. Thoughts?

Silver Crusade

I love my gamers (this is part rant and seeking the best way to address a problem that has compounded), but we've hit a few snags that slow gameplay. The campaign is 30 sessions in and is hitting higher (12th) level, where the issues have become noticeable due to increased options.

1. IPad/Tablet use. One player, whose first foray into PF is this campaign, uses a tablet for his character. He has no clue what his character's stats because the tablet is powered down and displays only one limited page at a time. He relies on the machine to do the math for combat adjustments, leading to everyone sitting as he hits different tabs, misses keys, and so on. He constantly forgets useful abilities such as Improved Iron Will's reroll and Deadly Aim (though an archer-spec'd fighter hardly needs more damage...). It takes 30 seconds sometimes to get a reply on a Perception check because he has to find the right tab and scroll down.

2. Access to the PRD. We don't own all the books but I said pre-campaign anything new would be ok. Mistake. Players have added abilities, items, and spells that they don't know how to use when I ask about them, and I don't always have my tablet to reference the PRD app. Given a redo, I'd limit things from books we don't own. Assuming the players are not keen on change and lose notecards, how to address it mid-campaign (30+ sessions)?

Silver Crusade

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After many lengthy forum discussions on Raise Dead mechanics and how it affects gameplay and storytelling, finally found a fine article in Dungeon #342 by Rodney Thompson. Gives 6 alternative ways to Raise the Dead for those who feel that game systems cheapen what should be a dramatic event in storytelling and make it more a nuisance that transforms tragedy into economics. It also provides more game-friendly options that incorporate the below so a player doesn't have to sit out indefinitely while a hard-to-find Raise Dead is obtained.

#1. Keepers of the Dead.

Spoiler:
Raise Dead magic is restricted to the gods of death/healing. Each Raise Dead is uniquely tied to the individual, so no Raise Dead scrolls. Alternately, Raise Dead scrolls capable of raising anyone may be rare holy artifacts, jealously guarded by the church. Finally, gods of death may require quid pro quo, a soul for a soul.

#2. Eve of the Dead.

Spoiler:
The dead can only be raised at times/dates relevant to the diety when the barrier between the world of the living and dead are at their thinnest. A god of nature may only allow raising on the equinoxes, moon god during full moons, etc. To avoid players sitting out too long, the GM should make more frequent options available (no worse than 1x a week).

#3. Land of the Dead.

Spoiler:
Only at certain locations can the dead be raised, such as rifts where the spirits cluster or a site consecrated by the diety itself, possibly leading to an entire adventure to secure such a site.

#4. Mark of Passing.

Spoiler:
Raise Dead leaves a permanent and noticeable mark on the character that shows them as unnatural, returned from the dead. In cultures where death is respected, this causes a cumulative -2 on CHA-based skill checks.

#5. Familiar Soul.

Spoiler:
Raising the Dead creates a bond between the caster and the subject. The caster gains +5 to overcome subject's SR and the subject suffers a -4 on saves to resist the caster's magic. With unscrupulous casters, this can be abusive. Lasts until the target dies.

#6. Resuscitate.

Spoiler:
Raise Dead is reduced to 1 hour per level from time of death, making the Breath of Life spell extremely important. Incorporated the Revivify Spell from 3rd edition that was the same as breath of life except with 1,000gp cost that raised the dead to stabilized -1 hp.

Optional: To avoid impossible measures, a character gains one of the below conditions until the full requirements of the Raise Dead variant are met. For example, if using Keeper of the Dead, other clerics could cast the spell, but only a cleric whose diety oversees death (or healing) could complete the ritual so that there is no "penalty."

Foot in the Grave. The soul is partially here and in the afterlife. The character seems listless, is always fatigued and upon negative HP begins to bleed out at 2hp a round.

Stagnant. The soul is locked into a limbo, repetitive state in which no XP is gained.

Silver Crusade

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My take after some brainstorming, based on what little there is known of the Boneyard and how it all works.

Spoiler:

Those who enter the Boneyard cannot leave (excepting Pharasma's messengers, consistent with Greek & Sumerian myth). Easiest method seems to be to ride the River of Souls to the Boneyard by locating it on the Astral Plane, though a conflict with angels seems to be in order as they're tasked to protect the souls. Assuming they can bypass this challenge, the living cannot enter the Boneyard with physical belongings, for those in this realm have nothing.

The exception would be the sword because it is a soul, creating a loophole. Once in, finding a gravestone in the midst of millions may be impossible without aid.

Option 1: "Cut" to the front of the soul's line to be judged (the souls don't care), and it could offend Pharasma that one not dead wishes to be judged before their time, leading her to direct them to be buried in the graveyard. While they are being committed to a dire eternity here, they can strike the sword on the gravestone).

Option 2: Wielder now lets Armag possess him, and in this place, Armag as a soul enters the body rather than simply control it. The player's soul is free to find its gravestone. Once located, it must overpower Armag and reclaim the body in order to strike the gravestone before the Boneyard saps all memory and desire. Of course, the player can never leave this realm under its own power. In the alternative, Armag may, however unlikely, be reasoned with as he's got no escape except through death, but try convincing a warlord who thought himself immortal...

Escape: Resurrection or the like to petition the return of the soul. However, if this is done, because the soul entered here willingly, another must take its place (the Inanna myth).

Silver Crusade

It needs to be tested but takes the AD&D Battlesystem basic combat rules and blends Kingmaker's system to building armies. The conversion mainly turns on building and maintaining armies (which was not really a part of Battlesystem) and a cost for such. I also attempted to add a handful of resources that seem to work. Siege combat was troublesome as I don't want advanced rules that will take hours for players to understand.

In any case, after taking so many hours to build up a kingdom and carefully choose buildings and locations, my players deserve an epic feel to their battles where movement and morale really matter.

Anyways, here's the link to our google library, which is also our Kingmaker campaign site, and the file can be viewed without download here.

Criticism is appreciated! I have no skill at graphics, so the word doc is about as good as it gets for me.

*Note: I have left all Battlesystem combat rules alone except for an attempt at a super-basic siege system.

Silver Crusade

I'm not knowledgeable on how the Boneyard works, but I am getting queries from my players on how to deal with it.

Spoiler:
In a Kingmaker campaign, an artifact sword containing the soul of a champion of Gorum can only be destroyed if taken to Pharasma's Boneyard and struck on the wielder's gravestone 3 times, shattering the sword. While the designers have left this intentionally vague, my players have the thought that one of them is going to have to die, perhaps permanently.

Because Pharasma is a goddess of fate, does she already have gravestones for those entering the Boneyard, or just for those souls who are unlucky enough to be buried there?

Can outside entities "enter" the Boneyard while still alive, or is it reserved for souls only? I would assume Pharasma would have the power to allow or deny access to mortals entering her realm. In short, can physical items enter the realm?

What is the significance, if any, of the gravestones being struck? Are they subject to damage, and if so what happens to the soul if its gravestone is damaged?

Silver Crusade

Scenario: Gyronnan cultists replaced several babies in the community with changelings, which will mature into hags, developing traits of cruelty over time. The players uncovered the plot, gathered these changelings and sent them to a monastery to be raised.

Thoughts: given that the changelings will become hags, will they grow up evil no matter how they are raised (is it in their blood), is there a spell that can modify any corruption in their souls, or something else? One of the players, a cleric, is hoping to avert the changeling's normally inevitable course.

Silver Crusade

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Has anyone worked out a good way to do kingdom building while away from the gaming table (by email or online posts)? I'd prefer a way that does not require dice rolling to speed things up. The kingdom needs to be over double in size ideally before we resume play, and ideally taking years of game time.

Silver Crusade

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Probably starting War of the River Kings after the Christmas holiday, and think this one is going to be a winner (well, they're all good).

In retrospect, what advice do people have after running it through? Ways to connect it better to players and/or the final module? Any encounters that need modifying, or ways you would have handled things differently?

I've already perused the sticky forum and adding Jason's challenges that didn't make the module as well as using his archetype stats for Irovetti to make a better challenge. We'll be kingdom building for 2-3 game years after having slacked off.

Silver Crusade

I'm choosing which Pathfinder classes to be allowed in an Age of Despair setting (War of the Lance era). Because the setting is Taladas, we won't have Knights of Solamnia, and I'm not keen on the Dragonlance core classes as they seem more suited for NPCs. My greatest struggle is whether to allow sorcerers ("primal magic") as I hate to deprive a popular option. However, to keep flavor, they just don't fit in this time period. Proposing:

Banned Classes
*Samurai, Ninja (flavor)
*Sorcerer (primal, just don't see a way to work it into the era)
*Summoner (primal, still broken)

Limited Play Only Classes
*Gunslinger, gnome experimental archetype (gnomoi only)
*Alchemist, gnome archetype saboteur (gnomoi only)

Allowed with Note
*Bard (must worship Branchala and receives power from this deity to explain allowance of spontaneous casting as heralds of the arts, cannot multi-class into any other class that gains divine power)
*Oracle (must choose appropriate deity)
*Witch (must directly worship a god of magic, closest thing to clerics these deities have and no one is quite sure why)

Everything else seems to work. Thoughts?

Silver Crusade

Has anyone run a scenario for if the characters manage to get an invitation? My players plan on dressing up with forged invitations and keeping a low profile to scout out the Baron and his fort before they try anything as major as liberating the town or freeing Lord Numesti.

Silver Crusade

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The next campaign I run is going to be Age of Worms, which had we not been sidetracked by an excellent Kingmaker campaign, would have already begun. Still, gives me time now to read through the adventures, forums, and try to iron out what I like and don't like. Really looking for (1)feedback on what did or didn't work, and (2) feedback on my adjustments, some taken from these forums. Also, if anyone's substituted an adventure or slipped some appropriate side adventures in, ideas on those.

Setting: Taladas (Dragonlance).

Spoiler:
Want something a tad different from traditional settings, gives a different take on cultures (e.g. barbarian elves, minotaur league, tinker gnomes) without a headache on major conversions. The only drawback is that the Age of Worms really is a limited geography adventure; you don't venture far out in the world, and Taladas has a lot to share. The geography of Taladas doesn't perfectly fit the modules, so I'll have to add a marsh and a rift or two in Northern Hosk, with Kristophan as the "city."

Changes- Campaign Hook:

Spoiler:
I'm going to work with the players on backgrounds by providing a unique bit of history, inspired by Erik Mona's backgrounds. This shores up the reason to hit up the cairn. Intermixing backgrounds, the players get a lead off the name "Ulavant," a bragging adventurer from the city who came in 60 years ago and never came back. This leads to the idea maybe the tomb he went to was never uncovered, and a search of old maps confirms he was headed to the "Whispering Cairn" as well as an old mine nearby that would make a good base of operations.

Allustan:

Spoiler:
Giving Allustan a permanent limp and more of a non-combat, non-adventurer role. He got the limp from surviving the Test that wizards on Krynn (though Taladas has no official Tower of High Sorcery). Haven't resolved how to use the Test of High Sorcery with split classes like the Magus, but that's another day.

Kyuss History Changes

Spoiler:
It's actually a great story, my adjustments are mostly for flavor. Kyuss was a mortal priest of Chemosh, god of undead, who, after being banished from the Aurim Empire, delved into the magical arts of transformation as part of a cult of elemental sorcerers known as the Jezulein. He relocated his fanatical followers into the jungle city of Kuluth-Mar (in modern Neron). There, driven by a combination of Jezulein extremism about shedding the mortal shell and prophecy about an apocalypse that only his loyal followers would survive, he came across metal plates of ancient spellweavers that detailed the Age of Worms. One such spell-weaver, an ancient lich named Ma’Kar, aided Kyuss with in his quest for immortality by providing a single greem worm that would become his legacy. His powers grew immense as he created hordes of new undead, all bound to him. Soon, he turned his powers upon the Jezulein, eradicating most of them and sacrificing their power and magic to his ascension. However, the ritual failed, and Kyuss was trapped in the monolith that had focused his ascension.
The Jezulein (known as "mud sorcerers" due to tendencies to command earth and water) elite, never resting on their laurels, had divined their destruction and the strongest of them constructed tombs to hide in stasis, compelling followers to later seek them out and awaken them once the danger had passed. This divination would come true, at the hands of Kyuss.
One of the Mud Sorcerers, Tzolo (from adventure mud sorcerer's tomb) also divined tools to combat the destruction, but knew she would be unable to accumulate them in time. She secreted the knowledge and scattered a handful items to her most loyal of followers to be held in their tombs in case she were destroyed. Two of these items would end up in the tomb of Zosiel, her first apprentice, in the Whispering Cairn.
I just didn't like the final Kyuss battle and spontaneously discovering at that moment that maybe certain artifacts could help. While Tzolo won't be a complete spoiler, a few bits here and there might encourage the party to hang onto a few things.
The rest of the story flows like the path states.

Removing Wind Dukes:

Spoiler:
Removed the Wind Dukes from the Whispering Cairn and replaced with mud sorcerer history. While the story ties in later, it's too much distraction and might even lead one to think they're out to find the Rod of Seven Parts. Plus, the Wind Dukes' battle was with the Queen of Chaos. While Kyuss has a Chaotic alignment, just seems too much focused on the Dukes. Replacing their story with the few surviving Jezulein that Kyuss eradicated.
Changed Zosiel from a wind duke to mud sorcerer, apprentice to Tzolo. He was a rare master of air and obsessed with Vaati history, even shaving and modifying his appearance to look like one. Changed some sigils and the murals to reflect a mystery behind building of the tombs and emphasize importance of the circlet to Zosiel (the circlet absorbed his life essence to empower itself while Zosiel was in stasis). Modified the tomb cover to reflect his greatest feat, mastering a sphere of annihilation with Tzolo's gift, the talisman.

Changed Alastor from having Vaati heritage to rather being descended from mud sorcerer followers who scattered to escape Kyuss and could not safely restore their masters. Magically compelled to awaken their masters at one time, the compulsion passes down to children, skipping some generations. It has led to the Land family being drawn to settle in this area, and for Alastor to seek the Whispering Cairn, not understanding fully why a trap or two parted for him. Ultimately, though, without the "Scrolls of Liberation" provided thousands of years ago to the followers to bypass all the traps, Alastor fell prey to one. As a child, he does not fully understand, but later as a plot devince, he'll mature and share more knowledge with the players at much, much higher levels, concerning the destruction of the Jezulein.

Three Faces of Evil:

Spoiler:
The hooks on this one are a joke (e.g. Allustan just happened to research a carefully hidden holy site and its location?) Based on forum posts, changing to have rumors of abominations in hills with green worms in them. Recently, three garrison soldiers killed in hills, fourth came back raving about green worms. He was found with throat slit in an alley (courtesy of Ragnolin's toughs). Smenk had gotten suspicious of all the shipments going into the Dourstone mine and sendt in his right-hand man Mestal with invisibility. Mestal found the green worm and secreted it away with his glove of storing, then put it and a short report in a drop box which Smenk later retrieved. Mestal was tracked by the Ebon Triad who ended up killing him. At this point, Smenk brought in Filge to help him. When he learns of the party's involvement with Filge, he decides to kill two birds with one stone. He can get the party to infiltrate the mine, eliminating them or whatever's in the mines. If all goes well, he might put a claim on the mine...

Changing layout of mines to have the Temple level accessed by elevator directly, then adding a lift within the temple that connects to the other two levels just as the original map entails.

Based on a forum post, changing Theldrick to be a fallen local priest who turned to the Ebon Triad (Hextor replaced with Taladas god Sargas, god of vengeance). Ebon Triad's powers are fueled primally by the leaking powers of Chaos, an overgod that lies trapped but would certainly adhere to worship of anything that would seek to destroy three established gods of this world. Chaos, however, is an entirely separate campaign, and this is purely to explain how the Ebon Triad is getting its powers.

Blackwall Keep:

Spoiler:
May add motivation that Marzena is a family or even romantic interest, sending note to both PC and "smartest man" Allustan. Looking at 30 lizard men occupied with defenders in a keep and I'm thinking a 5th level party should handle them with relative ease. Since we've done Kingmaker, thinking of combining "mass combat" rules with the battle "missions." Using DM fiat to have the party arrive at the keep near sunset when the lizard men regroup, then run a mass combat. Also, with Allustan a non-combatant, would have him volunteer to "dimension door" inside and help however he can. Would grant a bonus to army defense if he makes it in.
- First foray - party is engaged by lizard men attempting to drag away staggered soldiers into the swamp. These soldiers can tell about others being taken.
- Second Foray: party assumes control of guards inside the barricaded keep. Three lizard men manange somehow to penetrate the upper tower and are seeking to remove the barricade. They come down the stairs. If guards defeated, barricade is removed and army loses Fortification bonus
- Leaders emerge: Behind enemy lines, party can spot enemy leaders. Defeat of leaders will demoralize lizard man army.. If the lizard army still "wins", the party may need to clean out the keep of survivors.

Looking to Replace:

Spoiler:
Particularly looking for a replacement for Gathering of Winds (11th) that gets the party to 12th level, at which point I'll plan on having Ilthane attack Diamond Lake but replace Icosiol's tomb with Mud Sorcerer's Tomb (14th), applying adventure hooks as above.

Pretty pleased with the rest of the modules as written, just a few minor changes. On a side note, has anyone run into a party that recalled that blocked passage in Whispering Cairn and tried to clear it out on their own?

Silver Crusade

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Had to share, longest combat I've ever run in Pathfinder.

Caution: spoilers for players ahead

Party was 8th level - inquisitor, cleric, archer fighter, wizard - when they met Vordakai. Spells and abilities were half gone. This one took 40 rounds and over 3 hours of real-time, and it came down to a tense back-and-forth, resulting in the inquistor, last person standing, beating in the skull of Vordakai with a bone club from his own throne.

Early going: The plan was simple, figuring Vordakai was a caster thanks to catching him scrying, the party would use Silence on an arrow and take away his spells. However, the silence arrow was botched when Vordakai dominated the archer fighter, who shot his ally and spent most of the battle fighting for the enemy with 3 arrows a turn. Seemed destined for a wipe, but I can be surprised.

The wizard shut down the fighter with "mad monkeys" (a swarm), as the fighter couldn't make a save to save his life this day. A few clerical searing lights and magic missiles (once the shield was dispelled) and things looked good early on, but Vordakai had some nasty attacks. When Vordakai managed to close ranks and paralyze 3/4 of the players, leaving only the archer (who finally, finally rolled a natural 20 to break the domination), things looked dire.

At this point, I figured the party needed a desperate break, and a reward for having brought Xamanthe, the chief's daughter, this far. She had been digging in Vordakai's treasure pile after finding her flail (which could be used to overcome Vordakai's DR), and since the party missed (in the adventure as written) a really-essential Ring of Freedom of Movement, I ruled she spent 5 rounds finding it as part of the equipment she originally came in with. Vordakai's DC on the paralysis was just insanely high to not have this item in play.

Xamanthe put the ring on the paralyzed inquisitor, who used the last of her "bane" to unleash some lucky, well-timed, and high damage hits, enough to convince Vordakai to flee and heal himself. The ring unparalyzed everyone, and the party healed itself as Vordakai did the same. By this time, we were nearing the 22 round mark, and all 120 damage done by the players was about to be erased.

When he returned around 8 rounds later, the party was all over him, flanking and fighting on and around his bone throne. The inquisitor player asked if she could make improvised weapons from his throne, and I agreed. She then used a "judgment" to make her bone club magical to overcome his blunt DR while another player used Xamanthe's flail. I ruled on max damage or a crit, the bone would shatter (and it did, twice, resulting in her taking an attack of opportunity to break off a new one).

Still, Vordakai's paralysis is nasty. By round 33, he had used up all his spells of consequence, and he proceeded to paralyze the cleric, wizard, and then fighter. This left the inquisitor one-on-one, with no healing, nothing but her judgments, faith, and a lot of luck. Fighting on the throne bench, she swung bones from Vordakai's own throne at him. If he weren't so irritated with her, he declared earlier upon seeing it, he would be amused.

The last few rounds were telling. [note: I roll above table, so no GM fudging dice on this one...there were intakes of breath on each roll]. The inquisitor player had used up her "bane" ability, so it was purely a desperate beatdown with an improvised weapon. The club broke on a hit; she retrieved a new one. Round 38, she had 9 hit points left and no healing; Vordakai had 4 hit points but wouldn't risk a full-round action to heal himself. Whoever hit next wins. At this point, he hit on a 9 or better, she hit on a 12 or better. Round 38 comes and goes, no one connects. Round 39, a very tense exchange, but the battle would not end.

Round 40, I (the GM) roll an 8, just barely missing, as if somehow Vordakai saw his doom coming. Round 40, she swings twice, and with one lucky strike...the bone hits for maximum damage, breaks atop his skull, and the lich wizard falls, beaten into dust by his own macabre throne.

Irony, for sure, and helluva a battle.

Silver Crusade

After some character deaths, my players' 7th level party is pretty one-dimensional:

- melee paladin, non-casting archetype
- melee cavalier (since 1st level)
- melee inquisitor (since 1st level)
- archery fighter

They're now competing for much of the same loot, have only one character who can use a wand (aka one healer), no arcane ability, no ability to "restore" or revive the dead, and cross-over skill sets. The inquisitor player is beginning to resent having to be the only "healer" as she chose this class to not have to do so.

I've always been a "let the dice fall as they may" GM and I hate the idea of telling players what to play, but this seems a formula for disaster down the road. The inquisitor player is unhappy.

Should I take my own advice and let the dice (and players) land as they will, or has anyone ever had to step in and make some suggestions?

Silver Crusade

We just hit the 2-year anniversary of the founding of the PC's kingdom, and I'm not sure what we should be at for growth. I know by VV it should be @50 hexes, curious how others went.

Note: we're taking a role-play approach to building, so players know the cost but not necessarily the mechanical benefit to each building. E.g. they don't know in advance a castle halves the cost of a town hall, so they built the town hall first because that made sense to have a seat of government in a Lawful kingdom. The players wanted it this way to keep some mystery to building. The NPC councilors offer their input from time to time as do locals.

After two years, kingdom is 7 hexes, 1 city with almost every square full in one district, no unrest or consumption costs, and bringing in on average @6-7 BP a month. Moving too slow, just right?

Silver Crusade

Anyone had the party attack the Old Beldame and she escaped? Looking for ideas on how others have had her react later when met with violence initially.

Details of the encounter:

Spoiler:
Party, which is mostly good aligned or neutral, knew nothing about the Old Beldame and rang the bell on her hut fence. When she didn't hear it after one ring, the party's rogue walked in and the scarecrow attacked. Once it was destroyed, the group volunteered the party's rogue to enter her hut, so he just went in. The crone, shocked at a strange armed man entering her home and revealing he'd killed her only guardian, gave him a chance to get out and was not swayed that he was only "exploring." Her Scare spell sent him running, at which point all my good characters except one (a cavalier) charged in to kill the old lady in her home. She barely made it out alive and flew away in bird form.

Ironically, the group is in desperate need of a magister, and she would have been perfect...

Silver Crusade

I've poked through old posts to see what the community thinks about the Leadership feat, as I'm considering banning it from my game. What I won't use is the feat as written.

In the past: RAW. Everyone taking the feat chose a buff caster or healbot. Gee, big surprise. Multiple problems, least of which was that for 1 miserly Feat, players can get access to all cleric spells levels 1-4, all missing skills they didn't take, etc.

Last Game: Banned cohorts as combats took too long with one player adjudicating two characters. Indicated for this campaign I'd allow a non-adventuring cohort. Problem? Immediate proposal of magic-item factory cohorts. Rather than spend several feats to get crafting, player can spend 1 feat and gain access to 4+ crafting feats from the NPC, just funneling $$$ when needed.

Concern: Balancing my players who like the idea of having a "sidekick" (like an animal companion) with the possibility of abuse. I have considered: outright ban, monstrous cohorts only who advance with fighter levels, NPC class cohorts only (limiting crafting options). I could "hijack" the process but I really don't want to take over control of the Cohort and say they won't make items, etc.

Thoughts?

Silver Crusade

6 people marked this as a favorite.

To increase the "fey" feel to the lands and foreshadow some legendary things the party may encounter some day, I've been working in some dark faerie #"fey"# tales and poems, inspired by medieval style tales, whether it be told over a meal at Oleg's by a superstitious hunter, or heard by children playing in the streets of one of the newly founded towns, and so on. I plan to scatter these throughout the first couple of modules for flavor, and I'm not so concerned whether the tale or poems are the same as the real event as many such tales are mixed with legend and a sprinkling of truth. Here's my start, and hoping to build on it:

The Knurly Witch

Spoiler:
A child's game:

Knurly Witch, Knurly Witch, leave my bones alone!
Knurly Witch, Knurly Witch, don’t come in my home!
Knurly Witch, Knurly Witch, I won’t drink your tea!
Knurly Witch, Knurly Witch, oh – she’s got ahold of me!

At this point, the speaker acts as if being seized and dragged away, and the other children must catch up and surround the speaker while dancing and chanting “Knurly Witch, no!” until the witch stops dragging the child away. No one is quite sure of the origins of the chant, and locally children may substitute old crones or scary adults #e.g. Old Beldame#.

The Misbegotten Troll

Spoiler:
A popular tale, mostly amongst parents with young daughters.

The misbegotten troll lives in an ancient swamp and ventures out to kidnap young maids he finds travelling alone. The misbegotten troll takes the maids back to his swamp hut and makes them his wives. When he gets hungry he will eat one of his wives and make her skull into a lantern than he uses to travel his dark swamp at night or hangs outside his door to warn him of intruders. The misbegotten troll cannot stand the sight of a wedding ring worn by a virtuous woman.

The Wriggling Man

Spoiler:
A story of a greedy man, little known in larger cities.

The Wriggling Man was a greedy soul who one day crossed the path of a forest leshy and became magically lost. Knowing, as some people here do, that the only way to become un-lost was to turn one’s clothes inside-out and wear one’s shoes on the other foot, the Wriggling Man did so and found his way. The leshy, impressed at the Wriggling Man’s cleverness, offered him a three wishes. The Wriggling Man, in his greed, demanded he be granted the immortality of the fey, the magic of the fey, and the beauty of the fey. The leshy, bound to its word, granted the boon, saying “as ye wish to be like me, so it shall be, times three.” The leshy turned the Wriggling Man’s body to wood, and roots went from his toes into the ground. Thus was he made eternal. The leshy then gave the Wriggling Man his magic, but being made of wood he could not speak the words. Finally, the leshy called worms from the ground to burrow into the wooden body and rot it from the inside, for the beauty of the fey is but an illusion. The worms became the Wriggling Man’s body, and now he hides his form in deep robes and cloaks as he travels these lands looking to steal magic to restore his body #if children are too frightened, parents often some joking quip like: and to seek out small children who don’t do their chores!#

Kargstaad the Giant

Spoiler:
A rhyming game learned in childhood about the 100-armed giant #though the real Kargstaad does not have so many arms, it's myth#.

Kargstaad, with one arm… #insert phrase, the goal is to see who can rhyme the most phrases, if someone gets to 100, which no one ever does of course, the 100-armed giant Kargstaad will appear#.

Example would be:

Kargstaad, with one arm flattens a bee, Kargstaad with two arms breaks a tree, Kargstaad with three arms catches a flea, Kargstaad with four arms has some tea…. And so on.

The Nightmare Rook

Spoiler:
A tale of folly told to remind people of the importance of knowing the correct solution to an existing superstition.

Once upon a time a farmer who had moved from the city to start a new life came across a black-feathered rook with an injured leg. Being a kind-hearted soul, he cared for the rook despite his wife’s warning that the rook was an ill omen in the household. The rook healed and flew away, pausing to give the farmer one of its feathers. The farmer put the feather in his cap and went back to his chores. That night, he put the feather under his pillow for safekeeping. For six nights, his wife and children could not sleep for nightmares. The wife begged her husband to rid himself of the feather, for it was a dark omen. The farmer threw it into the fire. The next morning, a visiting neighbor found the family dead in their beds, faces frozen in fear. For what the farmer did not know is that the Nightmare Rook had chosen that week to ferry the souls of evil men from this land to the next world, and he would stop each night to rest on the farmer’s roof. The feather the farmer had burned was the only thing protecting him from the Nightmare Rook, and in his folly he rid himself of it.

I've also taken inspiration from slavic mythology #the leshy, the house domovoi, the week in the year no one bathes in a river or lake because that's when rusalkas are most active# and interperse those into the game. Feel it gives it more of a "living world." Curious as to other ideas people have implemented!

Silver Crusade

If any of my players at Valhalla's are reading, I'll see you all next session, but hit the 'back' button! Other players should probably not read past the 1st spoiler if they're just starting out. I'm covering events at the Thorn River camp.

First off, love the Adventure Path already. Things could have played out any dozen different ways with just one event (rather than a typical "I kick in the door, fight something interesting, and move on"), leading me to admire the quality of the project. Anyhoo...

Looking for some brainstorming ideas about the bandits. Here's the background to our current campaign:

Spoiler:
Borrowing an idea from online DM Olinder, I used a wedding between the daughter of an Aldori swordlord and an Orlovsky noble to introduce some NPCs and intrigue. We began at Oleg's with the charter, but I came to the table and told the group we were doing a prologue set 8 months earlier at this wedding. This was to spontaneously build some backgrounds. I asked the group to invent, on the spot (taking into account their campaign traits), why they were there. Had no clue what I'd get, but worked really well. By the time folks were done, we had someone who was good friends with the bride, another who contracted work with Maegar Varn, and another who just crashed the party for the free food. This entire prologue was roleplay, no dice, no skill checks. Old school.

Although another group already got the Greenbelt Charter, they were slain trying to stop assassins who slew the Orlovsky groom (party saved the bride, which resulted in her father working to ensure they got the charter). Meanwhile, the group wants to know "why," and the noble has said that while his fight need not be theirs, he'll do everything to find out why his daughter is now a widow on her wedding day.

And here's what happened with the bandits:

Spoiler:
At Oleg's, the group easily ambushed Happs and his crew. Although they took Happs captive (down & dying), they decided immediately to follow the bandits' trail before it got cold. Happs wasn't suriving the journey, and no one was going to waste a potion on him (party has no healing spells). They took the Charter seriously on how to deal with bandits. They also took to heart Svetlana's wedding ring as it means more to Oleg than "this old damn post or anything in it."

This resulted in them eventually stumbling into the Thorn Camp and facing half the camp, which was still expecting Happs back with some sweet loot. After a very interesting and tough battle involving lots of use of cover and sniping, the bandits broke rank and two (Kressle included) got away. Pretty beat up, the party set up camp, and the 4 bandits out hunting returned. After a very close battle, the party took 2 captive (1 escaped) and had 2/4 players and an animal companion down into negative hit points. We're paused this week to resume at this exact point, before anyone's talked to the captives.

I'm plotting what Kressle would do. Eventually, word will get out that Oleg hung some bandit bodies from his walls, and Happs's body will be found, without head, following his execution by the party for banditry.
Wouldn't mind getting more use out of the Flipmat for Oleg's, was thinking she might rebuild strength, get the lowdown on these new guys, and invade the fort. Thoughts on this, other thoughts??

Silver Crusade

Working on converting this from 3rd edition, but looking at the original design and small town and wondering if anyone, for flavor or otherwise, would prohibit or has prohibited any APG or Ultimate Magus classes?

Even if you haven't played, the premise is being a resident of a seedy mining town of 1,000 people, and being presented with the opportunity to have a better life in the form of an adventure. While the original adventure path provided reasons for each core class and race to be in town, I am still working on justifying the APG classes. Some are easier than others (like an alchemist, who surely would have a place in a mining town).

Silver Crusade

6 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the errata. 1 person marked this as a favorite.

Ice Tomb was used against a vampire for the first time in our campaign.

(1) If Cold Resistance negates all damage but the victim fails the save, can it be entombed? @HappyDaze: that's my understanding as well. In our instance, the vampire failed the save and took 3 damage after cold resistance applied.

(2) Can a vampire be subject to the paralyzation and unconscious effect? Could a creature that is immune to paralysis and/or unconscious effects be subject? Is it a sleep or stasis?

(3) Even if not subject to being knocked out, is the undead still trapped in the ice and immobilized, or can it take actions to break free? Does the ice last indefinitely as suggested?

Ice Tomb (Su): A storm of ice and freezing wind envelops the target, which takes 3d8 points of cold damage (Fortitude half). If the target fails its save, it is paralyzed and unconscious but does not need to eat or breathe while the ice lasts. The ice has 20 hit points; destroying the ice frees the creature, which is staggered for 1d4 rounds after being released. Whether or not the target’s saving throw is successful, it cannot be the target of this hex again for 1 day.

My ruling on the fly:

Spoiler:
Vampire bad guy took 3 points of damage after failing the save and having cold resistance take off 10 points. Vampire was encased, but I ruled not knocked unconscious or paralyzed. The vampire had been imbued with Righteous Might and possessed of tremendous strength, so I ruled, without really any guidance, that as a full-round action it forced its way free of the ice and was not then staggered.

Silver Crusade

4 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

Example, Ring of Blinking. On command, wearer "blinks" per the spell. Does he blink until he commands the ring to stop, or does he blink for a set # of rounds based on the caster level of the item (in this case 7th level, so 7 rounds)?

Silver Crusade

My question specifically touches on the "Misfortune" hex but could apply to others as well.

Party was up against "Helmed Horrors" (constructs with an Intelligence score). Normally constructs are immune to "mind" effects. Our Witch casts a "Misfortune" hex on one to subject it to a 50% failure on most actions. The Hex gives a Will save to avoid the effect.

Would you rule that Misfortune "bends" reality around the target so that it is not a "mind" effect despite the Will save? Or, would you rule the misfortune is all in the mind and therefore could not affect constructs? If you would rule that since the constructs had an INT score they could be affected, how would you rule on non-intelligent constructs?

My ruling on the fly:

Spoiler:
I ruled that Misfortune bends reality around the target, severely affecting luck, and that a Will Save best fit the nature of the effect. I also ruled that since the Horrors had an INT score, other Hex effects could work on them like Evil Eye, but I would not extend Evil Eye to other constructs.

Silver Crusade

Party:
Level 8 Witch
Level 8 Paladin
Level 5/3 Cleric, Bard
Level 4/4 Ranger, Rogue
Level 9 Monk

Setting is a massive city-state of LN tendencies in a state of panic with apocalyptic signs in the sky.

Silver Crusade

I haven't run Pathfinder up to level 20 (or 3.5 adventures) because combats seem to be getting longer and longer as the levels get higher, generally as I've noticed with melee PCs who may be rolling a boatload of dice for attacks and damage. As an example, a spellcaster might declare they're using a Haste spell. Their turn just took 6 seconds, literally. Then the melee player goes with 4+ attacks and a ton of extra dice for miscellaneous damage modifiers. Their turn runs 60 seconds to figure out all the hits and damage.

Anyone have advice for speeding up higher level combats when everyone's rolling a ton of dice? Our battles are taking twice as long as they used to, and I don't want folks sitting bored waiting for their turn.

Silver Crusade

Anyone have good ideas for a patron for a good witch of "transformation?" My player might be interested in someday taking a planar jaunt to meet the source of many of her secrets and powers.

Silver Crusade

Thinking of investing in these for my group's Pathfinder game. Even my players miss the *groan* of rolling a "1" and the thrill of something special on a critical hit. However, could use some input from those who have been putting them into use!

(1) What, if any, of the optional rules work best for people

(2) Has anyone homebrewed any optional rules for application (and why)

(3) Do the effects scale well with higher levels? I can't get much from card previews, but it seems at higher levels you'd just want the straight extra damage most times on the crit deck.

(4) Anything else you've come across that works well or doesn't work.

Silver Crusade

Seeking 2-3 players (or another DM) for Pathfinder / D&D 3.5 gaming with a casual group that can meet on Sundays. Current players are all 30+ and seeking (somewhat) mature players!

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