dwtempest's page

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Honestly my reaction is one of very heavy skepticism. What makes Pathfinder good is how well it works out for a tabletop game. I suppose it could also work in a CRPG (ala Neverwinter Nights). However, unless you are somehow going turn based/pause button, too much has to be modified/sacrificed to get it into MMO form. SO much in fact that it resembles the rule-set in only superficial ways. See DDO as a classic example of this.

Also, every MMO has started out with the exact same hype I am hearing here. How players are going to make a difference, shape the world, yadda, yadda. Heard it all before and nobody has really delivered that I know of. While I wish you success in this endeavor, until I hear how exactly you plan on achieving this, I'm keeping both feet firmly on the ground.

Erik Freund wrote:

It's a neat place that sets a neat mood. Don't throw it out for the wrong reasons.

Just a thought.

Great ideas! Yeah it is the grinding combat that is the biggest culprit. The exploration of the setting is fine.


I'm wondering how much of the plot would be ruined if I skipped most of the second book in this AP, focusing just on the recovery of the scroll. I ask this not because the second book is bad, simply that my players prefer to have very little dungeon crawling.

A little background:

My players all started at level 4 (they hate the early levels) and I adjusted the first book's challenge accordingly. I also had the group start in Katapesh so even using slow progression they just hit level 7 at the end of the first book.

What I am thinking is that I could do just the important bits of House of the Beast and pop them right into The Jackal's Price.

So my question is, what do folks feel are the most important things to hit in book 2, and do you foresee any issues with skipping most of the second book?

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Thanks very much for the feedback! I've decided to go ahead and post the changed Ziggurat on Google Docs. I've made a few changes based on your suggestions and other feedback garnered so far.


Note that these changes assume a larger than normal party. It was designed for 7 characters of 7th level. You can always adjust the serpentfolk accordingly to tone it down or up as needed.

It assumes that the old aqueducts run to the Ziggurat and come up in room X4. This gives PCs a way to sneak in if they wish.

Tazion Ziggurat

"Bob790 wrote:

However I used the "clues" that each idol was meant to give as a password the PCs had to supply to it to receive the information it was storing (a hidden Azlanti inscription in the relevant room told them what the password was and a knowledge(religion) check could link the idol's colour to a concept) and replaced some of the guards with the warriors you provided...
Nullpunkt wrote:

My group is currently at Tazion's doorstep so I took a good look at your challenges. It's an interesting take and I like how you found some way to make Issilar work much better within the story and implemented some way for the PCs to find out about his motivation. But here are my two cents:

In a nutshell, I am not going to use it as written because it's a riddle that is solved by the *players* and not by the characters.

** spoiler omitted **...

Thank you both for the very constructive feedback! It is very much appreciated!

Daviot wrote:
As an alternative to just going "me too", would it be possible to have dwtempest's fan-expansions posted or uploaded somewhere? I'd love to see what he's done as well, but from experience, it's somewhat irritating to email things out repeatedly.

Sorry, but since I've received zero feedback on this, I can only conclude that it really isn't worth sharing out anymore. Part of the reason I did share it was to get ideas on how it went and how it can be improved. That unfortunately never happened.

Being able to just d/l it anonymously would make for even less incentive to provide feedback. Plus I am very reluctant to put anything up for download even remotely related to Paizo.

BudAV wrote:
dwtempest wrote:
XCountry DM wrote:

I'm frantically trying to prepare for GMing Racing to Ruin in one long marathon pathfinder weekend next week and have been using Hero Lab to prepare the encounters. Unfortunately, I'm not yet familiar with entering new content into the system. Has anyone created the various new beasts and/or NPCs for RtR yet? I tried contacting dwtempest but haven't heard back from him.

Thanks for any help anyone has to offer!

Sent them to you. Hadn't checked mail in awhile, sorry.

Would you still be able to share that portfolio? I sent an e-mail to your address.


Sent your way!

Iron-Dice wrote:

If your generosity and time can stretch far enough, I'd love a copy as well. Thanks!

crphoto at me dot com

Sent to all who requested it.

Akumamajin wrote:

Hello everyone,

so now my PCs managed to invade the battlemarket, kill Kardswann and liberate Kelmerane. Yeah! :D But one after another.

After they secured the help of the Three Jaws Tribe and the nymph Bashvari they set the second part of their plan in motion: some of the NPCs hat been ordered to harvest pesh flowers that Father Zastoran (Alchemist in my campaign) brewed into a highly concentrated drug. In the evening they loaded one of the caravan wagons with a few trade items and chained the barbarians and the paladin to it, the Sarenrae Dervish would pose as a shady slavetrader.

I let them get through with the ruse: they where searched through and allowed into the battlemarked, where Ugruk talked to the Dervish for a while, asked for 100GP charge for a stand and showed him to a room for his slaves and himself.

Meanwhile the rogue and the bard sneaked into Kelmerane under the cover of darkness. The bard hid in a ruin in the upper town, the rogue sneaked into the old tavern, where I ruled the main larder was situated. He stumbled over a mistreated halfling cook and convinced him to season the breakfast with their pesh extract. This done he joined the bard and waited.

Everything went well and most of the Gnolls in the lower part of the town were drugged. Then, one hour before noon the Three Jaws tribe, the four mercenaries and house-guards sounded the attack in lieu with Bashvari, who summoned several animals of the dessert. The gnolls in the lower parts reacted in a rather uncoordinated manner to this attack and soon a dozen better armed and fresh gnolls from the battlemarket made their way down to the lower city. This was the moment that the 'slave' barbarian and paladin got rearmed and started their own riot, but before the bard and rogue could join into fray, the doors of the battlemarket closed.

A battle royal ensured, soon to be joined by the bard and the rogue. The Dervish and Paladin hold the stairs against gnolls from upstairs, the rest fought the gnolls in the mainroom, Kardswann...

Thanks for your updates, I'm enjoying them!

ziltmilt wrote:

My group is about to wrap up this first volume, or so I thought, when they ran out of the Tidestone dungeon after their first encounter with a trap door. Something inside told them they needed to advance another level before finishing this dungeon off.

So, they went out, did more island exploration and earned a little XP. They're 3rd level now and these wandering monsters aren't a challenge to them; they're actually pretty tedious to run. Plus, when you factor in that we only play 1/week for a few hours, and I'm tempted to speed things along a bit ...

Here's an idea I had: go ahead and bump them up to 4th level and reveal a good bit of what's left of the island, with the hopes they finish off the tide stone map. Either they do, or a ship arrives to get them off the island.

I don't normally like forcing things along like this, but it feels like it's past time to get things moving again. What do you think?

I'd think the players will determine when they are bored rolling over stuff and go back to the dungeon at that point. Unless you're under a time constraint to finish the module, I'd let them set the pace. It can be fun to kick ass and take names for awhile. :)

XCountry DM wrote:

I'm frantically trying to prepare for GMing Racing to Ruin in one long marathon pathfinder weekend next week and have been using Hero Lab to prepare the encounters. Unfortunately, I'm not yet familiar with entering new content into the system. Has anyone created the various new beasts and/or NPCs for RtR yet? I tried contacting dwtempest but haven't heard back from him.

Thanks for any help anyone has to offer!

Sent them to you. Hadn't checked mail in awhile, sorry.

matiez wrote:

Looks like you've got quite a following, dwtempest.

I'd also like a copy of those puzzles.
** spoiler omitted **

Sent. I've also updated the Ziggurat/puzzle based on actually running it. So if folks I've sent it to earlier want the update let me know via email as you should have my address now. :)

Kerobelis wrote:

Hi All

I am about the DM this part of the adventure in racing to ruin. How did other GM's find this part of the adventure.

I find it a bit vague as to the order of events and the challenges. It took me a while to understand how the PC's are even to talk to the priest, but I think i have figured out that order of events.

the challenge of wind is the part I am the most unsure of. How are the PC's to get to the nest? It is a 500' climb at DC 20 in bad weather. Am I reading this right? That is a lot of climb checks to make and it seems pretty tough to do.

I am debating about changing the challenges around, but I am not sure. What did other GM's do?

Honestly I skipped that section entirely as it felt like filler to me. Nketchi initially refused to speak with them, but Gozreh intervened by sending huge waves and a couple sea creatures to attack the party. By driving the creatures off, Nketchi grudgingly figured they passed Gozreh's test and let them up. Of course he still did the spirit journey to see if he was to go with them or not once they stated their need and intention.

Maha-Sam-atman wrote:
Has anyone entered the encounters from the island into Hero Lab? I'd like to try them out but don't have quite enough ambition to do the whole thing myself.

I have entered most of the creatures and NPCs from Smuggler's Shiv (that were not already in Bestiary or Bestiary 2) and Racing to Ruin in. I have encounter portfolios as well but I don't use the encounters as written since my group is non-standard. But if you want the custom user data file shoot me an email


Sent to all who have requested it.


Erik Freund wrote:

I'll work on a review of the entire AP at some other point in time, but for now I've put my review of book 3 up on the corresponding product page.

I was perhaps too long winded, but from what I've seen, low-rating reviews tend to be extremely shot, and people tend to dismiss them as some PC holding a grudge. Feel free to push back or argue against me if you think I was too harsh.

I don't think it was too harsh at all. It needed to be a big climax and reading through it made me feel like it was playing an MMO with the killing x number of y beasts to complete this quest. Certainly not filled with wondrous sights or puzzles or cool ancient knowledge to unlock.

While I think the GM can fill in a lot, those who don't have time to prop it up could very well have players drop out from lack of interest.

mbauers wrote:
dwtempest wrote:
Sannos wrote:


Can I get a copy of the puzzles too?

** spoiler omitted **


Can I please have the puzzles too?

mbauers1 at yahoo dot com


Sent :)

Sannos wrote:
dwtempest wrote:
Sannos wrote:


Can I get a copy of the puzzles too?

** spoiler omitted **

Thank you. I did a quick read last night and they look awesome.

Glad you liked them! Thanks for the feedback :)

Sannos wrote:


Can I get a copy of the puzzles too?

** spoiler omitted **


Talon Stormwarden wrote:

I'd love to see your puzzle as well!

** spoiler omitted **


Certainly. Sent. :)

aeglos wrote:

One of my biggest problems with City of seven spears is the map.

It seems completly random, what are all this buildings?
What are the dozens of small square ziggurats in strange places?
What are the dozen square buildings blocking the way to one of the spears (the one left of the lake?
What is the strange stairway in the upper left corner?
What is the strange grey round thing in the upper right corner?
What are all the round things?

How can the PC's explore a city the DM knows NOTHING about?

Has anyone fleshed out this things?
i will try but I am short on time to do so

I plan on spending my summer break from DMing doing just that. I think it will be a fun challenge to come up with a huge city that functions in the heart of the jungle. I'm thinking the Azlanti had hydroponic gardens/farms for food, magical transportation about the city, intricate aqueducts, etc. All sorts of cool & wondrous stuff for the players to discover.

Yeah, I wish that the AP had fleshed it out, but they only have so much space in an AP. It would have been a cool chronicle or something though.

Erik Freund wrote:
me too?** spoiler omitted **

Sure thing. Sent.

Demiurge 1138 wrote:

Mine is:

** spoiler omitted **



theneofish wrote:
I'd love a copy of that too, if it's still going the rounds? Anything I can use to plug in sounds good. Addy is colin dot fisher one at the old gmail dot com.

Sent. :)

Laithoron wrote:

Could I please get a copy of that puzzle too? That sounds like a much better method for what I had in mind...

** spoiler omitted **


Demiurge 1138 wrote:
dwtempest wrote:

I like the way you think! I've done something similar with the plot.

** spoiler omitted **

Could you perhaps post the puzzle? My PCs are in Tazion, and I've been looking for something to spice up the ziggurat.

I'm not sure how to post a pdf here. I would be happy to send you a copy of it if you let me know the email address to send it to.

Asphesteros wrote:

I still have to give a thorough peruse to the last books, but I think I know one tweak that would set this AP on course in all the places people may feel it tends to go off it:

** spoiler omitted **...

I like the way you think! I've done something similar with the plot.

The group killed Yarzoth, but I have it that Ydersius is calling all his people to him through dreams and omens, to return home. Unfortunately those sepentfolk still left outside of Savinth-Yhi and Illmuria have forgotten their way. Many have heard of the legends and know that Savinth-Yhi is the way home.

Yarzoth had discovered the clue about Tazion and so did Isslar (independently). However Isslar was informed in his dreams that he was to find and prepare the way for those serpentfolk that would follow. He managed to find Tazion, but has been stymied by a puzzle left by Savith to prevent her ancient enemies from using Tazion to know what route her army took to Savinth-Yhi.

I changed the Ziggurat in book 2 so that the Idols were a puzzle (not just something to hack through) and also included a testing room (a trap/puzzle) that all of Savith's warriors had to pass to join her on her campaign. By passing the puzzles and traps they can make it to the map room and find the way. (BTW the puzzles are color based and thus have stymied the serpent folk (Isslar) since snakes have limited color vision)

I plan on doing similar things to what you mentioned for the remaining books with the exception that I don't have a recurring villain at this point. I might introduce one in book 3 while they are doing their kingmaker thing to claim the city and surrounds...

Asphesteros wrote:
I'm think of it as the PCs being partners/vassal of the faction, under Sargavan law. The Sargava info and sourcebook detail how Sargavan law is convoluted and protects while putting very few limits on colonizing institutions. Part of the nations problem is they can't tax the most profitable companies exploiting the land and people, as their own laws don't allow it. So for the PCs it's the best of both worlds. A PC owned Saveth Yhi could have both political autonomy and the legitimacy and protection of Sargavan law. However Sargava would profit in any event if only from the economic boost of all that new traffic that has to pass through their ports and markets, which are the only connection for this new city to the rest of the world.

Have you thought about how goods will eventually get in and out of Saventh-Yhi?

With the magical wards the goods would need to flow out by road or by river. The 3rd book mentions that Saventh-Yhi is located at the source of a nameless tributary which must eventually go to the sea or large body of water since an Aboleth managed to swim upstream to the city. Looking at the world map I would guess that the tributary empties into Lake Ocota to the west, and could reach the sea via the Vanji river with major port at Bloodcove in the shackles. So the most efficient route would not lead the goods through Sargavia at all.

Of course the other option would be to build a road to Tazion and from there follow the route they took from the Upper Korrir river, dropping off goods in Kalibuto.

captain yesterday wrote:

why is everyone ripping on serpent's skull?, personally i love it. i really enjoyed fleshing out parts of saventh-yhi that weren't covered. i had a couple of problems with it (tho easily fixed).

the random encounter table was a little underwhelming (i made my own incorporating bestiary 2 and misfit monsters (pretty much just wolf's in sheeps clothing).

the treasure was also disappointing (again easily fixed, the mantis blade is no longer axiomatic and works for regular assassins too).
a gazetteer or more info on azlanti culture would have been great but no problem.

overall i loved it and we are having a blast (we are currently part way thru vaults of madness).

it should be noted that this is the second adventure i've gm'd after a 20+ year break (the first 3.5 castle ravenloft) and my first for pathfinder (i'm also running an erractically gathered kingmaker campaign).
also i realize the term "everyone" is an exaggeration. it just seems a lot of people aren't happy with it.

Overall I am happy with it, but they really needed to punch up the Indiana Jones vibe. I've had to pretty much rewrite several encounters and much of the plot.

There isn't nearly enough supernatural stuff, puzzles, traps, riddles and the like to feel like an Indy adventure. Especially Tazion. The first big Azlanti ruin and it was essentially a bunch of rooms with just different monsters to fight. The Serpentfolk mage there was a huge plot hole. Exiled from Saventh-Yhi? Really? Then why the heck does he need the map to go back? He should already know how he was marched out. Not like he was teleported out with the wards. It just makes no sense. Needless to say I changed why he was there, punched up the ziggurat with traps and puzzles so it actually felt like a climactic end to the book.

I imagine that Saventh-Yhi will be the same way and require a huge amount of work to make it come alive.

My group is just finishing book 2 and then will take a break for several months before starting book 3. So I have time to retool how the campaign goes. The more I have read book 3 the more I like your idea of having the group actually try and settle and control it.

Questions that crop up are: Would it be a vassal to Sargavia? Would it be an independent city state? However it turns out I am thinking that there would need to be enough wealth in gold/resources to make it worth the effort to conquer and claim it. The group is currently allied with the Pathfinders who could help them settle it in return for setting up a lodge there and being granted license to perform archaeological study.

Sargava would want the wealth naturally, as would Aspis and others. But Maybe Sargava would offer a deal for the city to become part of the kingdom, giving PCs noble titles and of course rule over the city state in exchange for a portion of the wealth flowing into Saragava's coffers.

I definitely like the idea of giving the group something to care about. Beyond simply searching for wealth and oh by the way there are some serpent dudes who pose a very abstract threat.

cibet44 wrote:
Your post count is about to be eclipsed by Carrion Crown (which is only on part 1) putting you squarely in last place in the AP post count race. Is no one playing you? No one talking about you? Why?

I would venture to guess that being on the heels of the extremely popular Kingmaker AP, SS was put pretty firmly in its shadow. Looking at the sheer number of Kingmaker posts still going on, I imagine there is a large number of groups still playing in what is a very open and time consuming AP. They haven't moved on to the next thing yet.

Plus yeah, Carrion Crown did get a lot more hype, both good and bad.

Erik Freund wrote:

Honestly, I was very underwhelmed by Serpent's Skull. I wish that there was a place that people could post reviews for entire APs, rather than just chapter-by-chapter, because I would like to express my sadness there.

Furthermore, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that both Kingmaker and Carrion Crown are blockbuster APs that were tremedously hyped and had strong built-in audiences that wanted to love them before they were even released.

Serpent's Skull didn't have much buildup. And the sorts of things that it appeared to promise and would have been its built-in audience (that being "pirates" and "Indiana Jones") didn't actually end up appearing in the way that fans of those genres were hoping.

I've been enjoying DMing this AP, but I think it certainly could have been better by fleshing out what makes such a setting cool. Something that I am trying to fill in the gaps on. For example the Mzali and the child god, are barely used, and with the exception of the main exploration sites there really isn't much in the way of more minor exotic jungle ruins to explore. Plus the AP tries to be both plot focused "railroad" and "sandbox" and I think it falls a bit short in both as a result.

Granted I'm just now finishing up book two with my group, but so far, with a little fleshing out and polish it has been a fun ride.

I'm not sure Carrion Crown is going to be a blockbuster. It gets a lot of hype because of inevitable comparisons to Ravenloft, but if not handled carefully horror themes can go really really bad.

Akumamajin wrote:
... The next morning they awoke in the lab room without harm, but unable to open the portal again. The following night the Dawnflower Derwish, who ate first from the pomegranate tree, dreamed strange dreams...

This is an excellent idea. I really love the flavor of it! Thank you so much for sharing!

Quiterjon wrote:

Here's part of what one player said

"And frankly, being stuck in the Amazon is not the main story we are trying to play through; it's nothing more than a minor element of the big story. We've been stuck in the Amazon for weeks, if not months for those that have been playing from the beginning, how long does one have to be stuck in the Amazon in order to tell a story about being stuck in the Amazon (which is not what the story/theme/atmosphere is even about in the first place)?"

I agree with the player, in fact I don't see that the story is about being stuck in the jungle at all. The story is more about exploration, digging up ancient treasures, and ultimately a greater threat. Of course every GM will put emphasis on what they want to. I just think that the jungle aspect is mostly window dressing which after awhile (after the first 3 books characters have learned to readily deal with jungle hazards) can be glossed over.

As a side note I don't plan on letting anyone teleport in and out of Saventh Yhi. After all it is magically hidden and was warded to prevent Serpent Folk who would likely have teleport from invading. So the only way in and out is to hoof it. Of course if they take the time to walk to Tazion they can teleport from there. That way I'm not nullifying the spell, just restricting its convenience.

Nullpunkt wrote:
Trickster wrote:

I had a moment of hilarity with Encounter C - The Fzumi Salt Mines.

** spoiler omitted **

I stumbled across that as well.

** spoiler omitted **

As I understand it, the party also has another duty.

They are supposed to be clearing a path for the supply train, which would be difficult to get over the mountain. By clearing the salt mines they save the supply train a good amount of time.