At least 3 PCs a month can make the diplomacy check to increase trust.
Aha! I had read that as only one PC (of the three) could make the checks. I knew there was a disconnect there. ;)
That's where we're at as well: finished the Run, at 16 points. I doubt that they'll want to quest during the winter, so I'll probably run either the Gargoyles or Talon Peak in the springtime. I'm really excited for the mountain climb -- I think that's going to be a GREAT session or two.
Hey Dudemeister, something's occurred to me in our last few sessions and I wondered how you were dealing with it in your campaign. It involves the Trust additions to the Nomen: My PCs have accrued about 16 trust, and they're getting ready to start spending time with the tribe. However, every month the trust they earn from the time spent with the tribe is offset by the trust they *lose* from Vordekai being active.
Short of immediately undertaking the quests (which I feel a little strange offering since they're currently Disliked by most of the tribe), I can't see any way to continue accruing Trust. On top of that, even if they gain the maximum Trust from all the quests, I see no way for them to get to the levels required to unlock all the information on V, etc.
Am I missing something? My quick fix is to just ignore the trust loss each month, which would allow slow gain over time. How did you go about this in your campaign (since I recall your party having reached 20-plus)?
Thanks as always! Our Inquisitor accepted Talonquake as a spirit last night, which was pretty great given that he was the one that rescued the owlbear cub as well. Next up -- Kankerata Part Two and Talon Peak! :)
I think it subtracts from the cumulative total. So say you've amassed 140 so far for your total. You fail the next check by only rolling a Climb check of 10 against your DC of 15. Your new total is 135 (DC 15 - 10 from the failed check). This doesn't seem too bad, until you consider that each check is four hours and Dudemeister has put a *cumulative* wandering monster check in.
Cumulative DC: Ten checks, each DC 10 == DC 100?
Yes. It's like crafting, where each check is applied toward a running total. Bear in mind that your PCs may not have to make ten DC 10 checks -- if it's DC 10, but the first two checks are Climbs of 18 and 22 (both successful), then their total "altitude" is 40, not 20.
This one I was going to ask about myself, Dudemeister.
Couple of other questions:
1. The Captain in the observatory -- does he have gear? I think I'll wind up using an appropriate NPC from the GMG, but I wondered on your input.
2. Do you have any mechanics (or thoughts on mechanics) for transporting the giant egg back down the mountain? I think when the Roc attacks, it's going to make an attack or two and then try to grab the egg and go back up the mountain (much to the dismay of my players, I'm sure), but what about failing checks, the ice elementals, etc?
3. You and I have been talking about the "spirits" of the world, and I know that the Black Roc is one of them. Any more thoughts about this? We had talked about "riding" the Roc and surviving being the condition that must be met -- would surviving a Grab (and presumably the inevitable fall afterwards) count? I'd like to let interested PCs do both of these at the same time -- since climbing this mountain again is a big slow down (though not necessarily a bad thing).
THANK YOU AGAIN FOR ALL OF THIS! You're a gentleman and a scholar, Dudemeister. ;)
The race went great! My PCs loved it, and it had some high drama at the end, as one of the PCs ran back onto "the field" after having finished the race to save the life of another PC (who had been dropped due to a nasty crit from K). They're really excited about how to earn trust with the tribe.
Also, the race wasn't as complicated as I expected -- the rules and mechanics work very smoothly with one another, and the index cards helped a lot.
Thanks again, Dudemeister!
Finally, to everyone: the above can be a very complicated encounter. So be prepared. You'll be juggling new rules, a series of Centaurs, Kankerata and keeping track of whether PCs have marked the stones.
This won't be the first chase I've run, and in previous chases I've found it VERY helpful to set up the chase cards in sequence across the gaming table. Then let each PC and monster mini (assuming you use minis) serve as a marker as to where that PC is in the race. That helps a lot.
What I'll probably do with the stones is have index cards connected to the chase cards with stones attached, giving me something to jot down checkmarks, notes, etc.
We ran the first part of the Varnhold exploration last session. My players, surprisingly, decided to push through and explore the entire village -- including stockade -- in one day. I had assumed they'd explore the town, retreat and regroup, and them come back to the stockade fresh.
That said, the actual assault against the spriggans has the chance of being drawn out into a loooong, relatively boring encounter. Most of the spriggans' SLAs won't function against 7th-level PCs (Scare can't affect them, and Shatter won't work against magic weapons). In the end, it comes down to rogue-tactics or enlarged, try to do more damage than the PCs tactics. Not the most exciting encounter.
So, halfway through, I upped the ante a little bit. As the module suggests, I had Agai kick over the barrel of oil and set fire to the building (with four or five spriggans still inside, no less). He made a comment about the PCs not being able to save those inside, and we stopped the session there. I'm adding a family of fisherman that avoided the original Vanishing because they were fishing eels out of Lake Silverstep (these fishermen will be the same that later supply the Eel Bake quest). They've been captured by the Spriggans and are being held in the first floor bunkhouse.
So next session the PCs have a bit of a problem: Agai is going to run, the building will be on fire (I'm using the rules for fire in the "Catastrophe!" section of Council of Thieves), and a minute or two into the encounter I'll have the building start to collapse (using the collapsing building rules from the same section). I don't expect my PCs to have any trouble with these spriggans, but adding the environmental hazards, a rescue attempt, and a fleeing BBEG should divide them and make a boring encounter a lot more interesting -- especially since they'll have to move fast or get creative if they want to explore any of the rooms inside the blockhouse.
Not exactly an addition, mind you, but I thought it warranted commenting nevertheless. Next up -- the Nomen (and hopefully Dudemeister's Trust additions!). ;-)
That's why I'm changing the Nomen to require Trust. Improving their attitude can only be tried once a month, completing tasks, quests and challenges for them will give bonuses.
Ooooh. And Trust is from Carrion Crown (right?), which I've stayed away from.
Now I'm eagerly awaiting your additions, Dudemeister. ;)
As always critiques, comments, questions and tweaks are welcome.
My PCs just entered Varnhold last session -- I left it mostly as written, preferring to let the creepiness of the abandoned town sink in. I'm going to let the Spriggans stand alone (though I always use the 6-player conversion, so they'll be a little harder than as written).
My big concern is that the trail really leads straight from one event to the next to the next. After two modules that are totally open, this one took me a little by surprise. My PCs are crafty enough that once they'll head to the Nomen next, probably hand over Skybolt, learn about the Valley, and beeline right there. They're eighth level, so they won't be out of their element, but still...I wish there were a way to slow them down. I may have some event happen that recalls them back to their kingdom, so as to draw out the timeline a little bit. Otherwise this module isn't lasting two months in-game. ;)
Ditto! My PCs *loved* the changes in RRR, and we're getting ready to start VV (tonight, as a matter of fact!). I'd particularly love to see a write-up regarding the trust points, since I've refrained from reading any of CC (planning on playing it as a PC after we finish up Council of Thieves).
I know that I'm concocting a reason for the PCs to visit Varnhold, rather than have any NPC ask them to investigate. Right off the bat, it seems much creepier if they just stumble into an abandoned town, rather than knowing something is up beforehand.
Name: Katya Grigorovna Borocova
The Gory Details:
After narrowly escaping a nighttime ambush by a barghest, the party was exploring the Kamelands near "A Cry For Help". Stumbling across a mated pair of basilisks, General Katya (not having any clue what the creatures were) valiantly charged in...and though she made her first two Fortitude saves, she succumbed to the petrifying gaze in the next round. The pair of basilisks went on to petrify three horses and the druid's baby mastodon animal companion before they were put down. The blood of the pair was enough to restore both the General and the mammoth, but not any of the horses (and Katya's horse was wearing horseshoes of speed, too!).
Highlights of the really entertaining random encounter include the Witch's familiar -- a weasel -- charging in against the two creatures to deliver inflict spells (since weasels are naturally immune to their petrification). The party does intend to return to claim Katya's horse...but one of the other "statues" will have mysteriously vanished, claimed as yet another "art object" for Nyrissa's gallery.
In the 4th Crimson Throne adventure there's a nifty potion (Elixir of Shadewalking) that basically replicates Shadow walk.
Aha! There's what I'll use. I didn't want to give him a Word of Recall item or something similar, because knowing my party, had they punked him early, one of them would accidentally teleport themselves right to the BBEG ("Uh, hi there..."). But the potion is legitimate (ie, I can point to a stat block later), thematically appropriate, and in the event they paste him before he can use it doesn't unbalance the treasure load (because let's be honest - it already hurts to give out that ring).
Thanks for all the great ideas, gang! As always, I love our community and all its collective brilliance!
I'm prepping the first encounter of CoBI, and I can't figure something out. In Onailati's tactics, it says that if he is reduced to < 30hp he teleports back to Khala so preparations can be made for the PCs arrival (the adventure even goes on to say that it assumes that this occurs).
My question's pretty simple: How? He doesn't have it as a SLA, it's not a typical ability for a maurezhi, nor a Julajimus, and the Acolyte doesn't have the spell on his list of spells known. Am I missing something (which is entirely possible)?
Did anybody else catch this, and if so, how did you work around it? I doubt my PCs are experienced enough to catch it (and I know I sure didn't the first time I played Tide as a PC!), but I like being fair anyway. Darn Lawful alignment! :)
Thanks for the help, fellow STAPers!
AMF will kill the Barb's Freedom of Movement, and I've found (mostly through getting the crap beaten out of me or other PCs) that it's a great tactic for big ol' dragons -- suddenly, size matters a LOT.
Imagine Redfang roaring a challenge to your Barbarian, who answers with a charge only to realize that the last 20' between him and the wyrm is anti-magic'd. And then tell us all about it on the obit thread. ;)
Don't I know it. Did you know -- and I swear I'm not making this up -- that there's a time in the middle of Spring/Summer where you have to look out for a particular kind of caterpillar in Nola? They breed in big numbers, fall out of trees, and can bite/sting you.
Seriously. If this is in the Apostolic Scrolls or New Orleans winds up overrun by wights during a Saints game, I'm gonna be pretty pissed. ;)
Back on topic: FOR HEXTOR!!!
Flirted with, though? Eeenteresting... I guess I shouldn't judge, though.
When you're the Blackguard with the 18-Charisma, Negotiator Feat, and more ranks in Diplomacy than the rest of the party put together, you can pretty well win over anybody you want, however you want. I guess she thought he was endearing. :)
My favorite aspect of these forums is the opportunity to observe what choices other parties made, what their group dynamic was like, and how that affected the campaign. I suppose a party affiliated with Hextor would have a pretty clear chain of command, though I would guess personalities still came into conflict periodically. Concepts like a consistent leader and easily identifiable chain of command are quite foreign to our band, much to the consternation of our knight.
Oh, our group can get into conflict with the best of them. Corbin, the warlock, is a greedy, cowardly, Mephistopheles-worshiping jerk (that's my PC); he just happens to be more or less loyal to Durnan, our Cleric/Knight/Ordained Champion of Hextor -- both of those characters are the only ones that have survived from first level.
The Ex-Paladin/Knight/Blackguard of Hextor, Melinde from Diamond Lake (yes, we corrupted one of the NPCs), is technically Corbin's cohort (there was a great scene where she sealed her fate by cutting down Balabar Smenk after he tried to escape from prison) -- there's a lot of Emperor/Vader going on with the two of them. She's MUCH more loyal, though, to Durnan -- to the point where she almost constantly throws herself in harm's way to defend him. It's almost comically tragic, really -- she's "hold the line, defend the Captain" so much that it's almost as if she's suicidal, trying to die in battle to escape her corruption...except that she always manages to prevail, which just brings her more strength(XP) and solidifies her standing with Hextor.
So those three are pretty well inseparable -- the other PCs (and there have been several, we have two other players that seem to have bad luck with dying) get along more or less with the party depending on who they are. The Red Wizard was the only one to call Corbin's bluff, refusing to pay him for item identification (which is the kind of person Corbin is, if that gives you an idea). The Dread Necromancer had to endure our constantly making jokes about how he was already dead -- then he died and came back with the true ghoul template, or something, and we laughed even more at him because now he actually WAS undead (and, of course, in the back of our minds we were ready to kill him if he started acting even the slightest bit wormy). Turns out he secretly worshiped Vecna, and had built a lair in the Faceless One's wing unbeknownst to Corbin, who had taken over the mine and founded a cult to Mephistopheles there.
I think all of us had plans to kill the others, if necessary, and there wasn't EVER a time when someone died when Corbin and Durnan didn't sit down and talk about whether or not they were worth the expense of bringing back. Durnan only died once, in the mother of all grand melees with another evil party (which I won't spoil, since I don't think you're there yet), and Corbin raised him at Melinde's insistence -- but kept a good portion of the treasure for himself before he did.
As you can see, I love to get into the social dynamics of parties, too! :) Ours is basically summed up by that silly RPG motivational poster that's on the 'net somewhere: Lawful Evil -- bringing order to the galaxy, even if we have to choke the $#!+ out of it. ;)
How did your party's alignment/affiliation affect your interaction with some of the ... more or less evil NPCs?
Well, let's see...
-- Filge we killed (we thought he was pathetic and weak); we threw his body into Diamond Lake so the murder wouldn't be traced to us. His dinner party, on the other hand, we found *hysterical*, so we left it intact. His hideout was used by our Red Wizard for a while, until he died later on. Eventually, our Dread Necromancer raised Filge as some kind of undead.
-- Zyrzog the mind-flayer we (eventually) killed, because the dude was a mind-flayer. That was really enough reason.
-- Moreto, I believe, we let go about his business -- but I know my Warlock ended up with his lantern, so maybe he bartered it to us? I honestly don't remember -- but by that point, any undead who weren't "on our side" were suspect.
-- Anybody involved with the Ebon Triad was killed without mercy.
-- We figured out Loris Raknian had it in for us pretty early on, so when we went into the Games we called our group "Raknian's Heirs", both implying (to the Games) that we were going to be champions of an equal caliber *and* implying to Raknian that we were on to him and had plans to kill him and take his stuff. He escaped.
-- AGoW we absolutely loved, and the dungeon in that module became one of our secret hideouts, since it's SO lawful-aligned. One of the critters inside (which I won't mention in case you haven't seen it, but is a LE monster) our Blackguard actually flirted with and wound up befriending. He stayed in the dungeon to help guard our stuff.
The really interesting interactions came a little later, but they involve people/spoilers that I don't want to mention if you're only at AGoW! :)
When my group landed in the Sargasso, we had no idea what we were doing. After the first wave, we spent Day Two using every available hand to seal the inside of the hull with pitch, trying to create a safe place for the passengers and crew (we were goodie-goodies, what can I say?). None of us had the ability to summon a bajillion Unseen Servants, but I think the thought and feeling from the players was the same.
So toss them a bone, and let that swarm hold off the majority of the vines -- until, as you say, 10pm, at which point the Horrors begin undoing everything the PCs worked on. The players get rewarded for their efforts by significantly decreasing any lives lost, but ought to realize very quickly that the stalemate they've worked out will only last for as long as they have food and water. After a couple of days, the pressure should be from the crew and passengers to get out there and be the heroes they're supposed to be.
I think you've got a great set-up for the "against the odds" theme of the Sargasso, all in all. Have they checked out the Rage yet?
I would love to hear about your LE AoW experience. Sounds like a blast. The picture of the Ordained Champion in Complete Champion is just so friggin bad@$$...
Okay, lots of spoilers here. Read at your own peril.
Goodness, what to explain...we started off as characters living in Diamond Lake, just like most every other party. My character (the Warlock) was the primary imtimidator for Balabar Smenk. The cleric of Hextor was sent to DL to determine if it could be used as a foothold for the Church, since it's so close to the Free City and already has that sort of reputation. Originally, our goal was to find something out in the hills that would let us gain control of one or more of the mining operations, and then ruthlessly take over the other mines one by one. The only major change that our DM made to the beginning of the campaign, I think, was setting Allustan up as a secret Hextorite, who was in the city trying to find some way to get the Heironeous garrison out the door. This set him up as the same ally he is in most every other campaign.
Of course, once the Ebon Triad made its appearance, it got personal. :) And by the time the party learned of Kyuss and the Age of Worms, we were trying to save the world like anybody else -- sure, we were evil, but we didn't want to become worm-infested undead any more than the next guy.
Beyond that, the game proceeded a lot like you would expect. We had a blast being gladiators in the ring, the Spire was as tough for us as it was for anyone else, Darl Quethos was the scariest encounter ever, etc. We hit another big change in Prince of Redhand, of course, since we could walk around openly. I actually think our affiliation helped quite a lot, since instead of being the usual "pilgrims in an unholy land" theme, it became more of a game of trying to figure out who was heretical and who wasn't, and maneuvering through a city (one, btw, that we absolutely LOVED) without convincing Zeech that we were out to take his place. My warlock also discovered the Blessed Angels, of course, and developed a new goal to gain control of the Eyrie somehow.
Lashonna was a bit of a trickier spot, since we were NOT inclined to work with a silver dragon -- which is funny, when you think about it. It was almost like that module was set in reverse for us, thematically.
Tragically, our game was cut short at the end of Kings of the Rift, as I moved to New Orleans. Hopefully we'll get to finish it one day!
We ran an almost entirely LE party through most of AoW, including a Cleric/Ordained Champion of Hextor, an Anti-Paladin/Knight/Blackguard of Hextor, and a Hellfire Warlock. I wasn't DMing, so I don't know how much my DM had to change, but my impression was not a lot at all. We had a TON of fun, and some of my best D&D memories are in that campaign.
So I'm a wholehearted recommendation, I guess. Smite them all! FOR HEXTOR! :)
Anyone thinking of trying the STAP with the Pathfinder rules? If so how would you adjust the adventures (or perhaps not at all!)?
The group I'm DMing for switched from 3.5 to Pathfinder just recently. We had a lucky break, and the switch coincided with the transition between SWW and HTBM, which was just perfect. The Isle, it changes everything.
So far, I love it. Then again, Paizo had me at Alpha 1. :)
There's a bit of conversion, but not too terribly much. I'm transitioning the major NPCs, good and bad, over to the new ruleset -- most of the critters and monsters I'm leaving alone, as I have some fairly inexperienced players and the lack of "upgrade" makes for a good balance.
hmm, the hezrous' Blasphemy power has the weakness of being acoustics dependent _sonic_ effects. What you cannot actually hear cannot harm you
Vikingson makes a really good point here. When our group ran this encounter, the Cleric/CombatMedic was already packing Silence on a regular basis, and both she and our wizard had Rods of Silent Spell. Add a tank with a Holy, Outsider Bane weapon, and we made pretty short work of the three Hezrou. Of course, we had learned our lesson by getting jumped by a Hezzy in an earlier random encounter -- in the middle of our repairing of the Sea Wyvern, no less. Those poor, poor NPCs... ;)
So yeah, smart tactics can counter the TPK threat pretty easily. It fails to diminish my irritation at how many critters in the AP have at-will Blasphemy SLAs. Who wants to star in a silent film these days? ;)
As the Alpha was coming out, my STAP group moved en masse cross-country (there's only three of us). We left the AP at the end of SWW, after the shipwreck.
We picked it back up a few weeks ago, after converting everyone to Pathfinder. The notion of these heroes washing up on the Isle of Dread slightly altered and with new powers was just awesome; it was a great transition -- but I'll admit I had all the stars align for me.
And of course, now they trust that Tiefling (Abyssal) Sorcerer that much less. But what're ya gonna do? ;)
** spoiler omitted **
That's definitely an issue with those critters in particular - well, really the issue is with the spell, and the fact that they can use it at-will. I've always imagined those guys as big, brutish, "I have all these abilities but I'd much rather beat you to death with my enormous fists" kind of monsters -- and played like that, your players have a fighting chance. If you play them as intelligently as possible, I agree your players are probably toast unless they specifically prepare tactics against the method you describe (which isn't necessarily outside expectation for a group of 13th level characters, but still).
Shameless promotion: Alternately, this would be a great encounter to play-test the Pathfinder adjustments to that spell, which are in the Alpha document and thus available as a free download. ;)
Due to this I would conclude that any other interpretation of ray of stupidity than that it can reduce the target's Intelligence to 0, and thereby cause unconsciousness, is a house rule. It may be correct to house rule this for balance reasons, but it is a house rule none the less.
Oh, absolutely it was a house rule, and isn't at all the way the spell is worded in the SC. But it did (does?) seem to be one of those spells that needed a house rule for balance, as you say, and its extreme effectiveness in the Isle of Dread portions of STAP led to discussion of the spell's power level, which in turn led to the suggested house rule. S'all I was saying -- you're absolutely right as far as the RAW interpretation of the spell goes.
There are other spells from Spell Compendium that pretty much invalidates certain encounters on IoD. After reading Larissa's journal the sorcerer in my party looked through SC and then decided to take Ray of Stupidity. I didn't think much about it until the T-Rex encounter when he wipped out the spell and the T-Rex went down immediately (1d4+1 Intelligence damage on an Int 2 creature). After that I concluded that all animal encounters where totally pointless.
Ray of Stupidity, like Raise from the Deep, is another spell that's been talked about on the STAP boards for a while. I think the general consensus was that it should not be able to reduce a creature's Intelligence to below 1 -- making it nigh-useless against animals, and more effective against humanoids and spellcasters. YMMV.
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
This is indeed a typo that will be fixed in the Beta. Thanks for the catch.
Any hint at what the replacement skill will be (for those of us working with Abyssal sorcerers in our playtests)? I'm currently working with Knowledge: Planes as the replacement, since the Skill Focus offered on the list of the bonus feats seems to line up with this -- but I'd love to get the official word! :)
I actually played a Dervish in AoW (as a secondary PC) and I gotta say, I don't think the build works for the game at all. It was fun in the fights my DM made up on the side (we had a whole gladiator bit as a sidequest), but against the modules as written I had a *really* tough time with it -- and I had even taken feats like Mage Slayer to make myself more effective as a spellcaster harrier.
Ergo, my $0.02: Take the other custom PrC and don't look back. ;)
Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
OK so is your Warforged Juggernaut immune? I'm not certain. Your immune to 'Necromancy Effects'. The problem is I can't seem to find a definition of what a 'Necromancy Effect' is. Harm and spells like that are 'Negative Energy' which might be synonymous with 'Necromancy Effect' but I can't really find rules that explicitly state that.
Granted, the following theory comes more from my experience playing D&D minis (see: Living Construct), but it seems like there's an easy litmus test for this one: is the Juggernaut healed by positive energy? If so, it stands to reason that (without the proper protections, like Death Ward) he would be damaged by negative energy as well.
In a related thread-jack, it's always bugged me that Cure spells are Conjuration (healing), while Inflict spells are Necromancy. Where's the symmetry? :P
In fact I think that would be the best tactic for dealing with the ninja, pick him up from across the room and pin him to the wall.
If you're going to pin him anywhere, I recommend the fire pit. :D
I do think there's a point where you have to dumb-down Olangru's tactics a little bit, or he can just smear most parties that attack him. The abduction ability, plus pounce+skirmish, is pretty awful.
Professor Frankln Von Wolfstien wrote:
This power should be adjusted. 100% immuneity is a little much for the price.I think it should be 25% light armor,50% medium armor,75%heavy armor.I dont think padded armor should be allowed to have heavy fortification if you see my point of this thread.,but adding light fortification would be fine to padded armor.
Having playtested this one with the Professor, I'll throw in my vote for this change as well. The progression should go 25% -> 50% -> 75%, with an additional restriction that the level of fortification cannot be higher than the type of the base armor* - light for light armor, light to medium for medium armor, and all three as options for heavy armor.
(* - Unpacking that a bit: While something like mithril full plate is considered medium armor, because the base armor (full plate) is a heavy armor, it should be allowed heavy fortification. I'm sure there's a better way to phrase it, but I'm not the guy to figure it out. *g*)
Hence - the finale of AoW happens roughly a year before STAP. No idea as to the corelation to the events in SCAP, but I seem to remmebre a reference inlater installments to Adimarchus lost pockert realm...
The biggest reference to SCAP by AoW is probably...
...the eruption of Cauldron's volcano, which is mentioned as one of the signs of the impending Age of Worms.
The Wormfall Festival also mentions AoW *and* implies the SCAP - there's a mention of the Spire of Long Shadows erupting with undead that move on Sasserine (presumably somewhere between Spire of Long Shadows and Dawn of a New Age), only to be stopped by a group of heroes from Cauldon.
I seem to recall someone saying that each AP was assumed to take approximately a year of real time (though both AoW and STAP seem to move faster than that), so you're probably looking at ~3 years between the beginning of SCAP and the beginning of Savage Tide.
My $0.02! :)
Joseph Jolly wrote:
My big question is still, did you allow the group to rest from the time they invaded Gaping Maw, or was it one mad dash to Wat Dagon?
I believe we rested once, following the attack on Arendagrost and the destruction of the totem -- after that fight, the armies were able to move in and set up for the siege (and since sieges usually take a while, we figured we could afford the eight hours).
Once we moved against Wat Dagon, though, there was no more resting. So we fought Urbala, Ghorvash, Kargoth, that annoying sorcerer guy, and Big D back-to-back.
Joseph Jolly wrote:
My plan is also to start Prince of Demons on a countdown clock, ie, the group has one day to complete the entire thing. This way, asset management will be key for the PC's so they haven't blown everything by the time the meet Big D. Ellequa, how did your DM handle this?
We pretty well knew, going into Wat Dagon, that it was all-or-nothing from there on out. It made the fight with Kargoth more interesting, as we knew we needed to conserve some of our bigger spells for Big D (the glab, IIRC, didn't put up much of a fight - we either held him or hit him with a CL24 Holy Word, and as such he didn't get much action at all before he was wasted). We also had our own gated in help (a Solar), which helped balance things out.
If your PCs have successfully navigated the Bag/Tetra issue, I'd shy away from bringing in another clone -- it would make me feel like all that work was for nothing. Instead, I'd go with Belcheresk, the Balor captain of D's navy, who would be perfect as an advanced Balor or one with associated class levels.
Joseph Jolly wrote:
Yeah, I've been wrestling with this myself. The group I DM is fast approaching PoD's. I've run this same group through the previous two AP's, and both times, I tweaked the BBEG's at the end, resulting in TPK's on both occasions. I vowed I would not alter a thing this time around, but as the time draws nigh, I'm beginnin to wonder if Demogorgon will be a cake walk if I play him as-is...
I think the downgrading him round-by-round will work really well for you, even if that's the only thing you do. If he surprises you by being TOO effective on the first or second round, you can always elect to immediately apply ALL the weaknesses your players succeed at causing (and thus mitigate some of the problems).
Similarly, you can also hold Gwyn back a round or two and bring her in as last-minute help if needed, etc. As both a player and a DM, I think it's preferable to have a hard-fought victory for the players rather than a one-sided slaughter, whether that's by the PCs or the BBEG*.
(Though I know there are some Killer DMs out there that disagree with me! *grin*)
Joseph Jolly wrote:
Couple of questions: If Demogorgon was weakened "3 steps," how was his AC still above 50? Also, why did the Gate he came through stay open? In the module, this is addressed. The Gate should have shut behind him.
I think the quick answer to this is "DM Fiat". Now that our campaign is over, I've had the opportunity to look at Prince of Demons myself, and I noted that the Professor definitely changed some of the encounter as written. The big changes: D's AC stayed higher than it should have, the Gate was held open so that the possibility of more demons coming to aid was a real threat, AND despite the Gate remaining open, Gwyn never arrived on the scene to fight with us, either (though Celeste made a VERY brief appearance before getting annihilated). Additionally, Demogorgon began round one at full strength, and only weakened one step every round.
So why was our DM so "mean" to us? Simple: as written, we would have smeared Demogorgon up and down Wat Dagon without breaking a sweat. Many of us managed to keep the same character through the path without level loss -- with sidequests, this meant that Darius (my character) and Skelthane (Rakshaka's wizard) were somewhere around 23rd level at the time of the throwdown. All of us were equipment-optimized demon-killing machines, since we made sure to have a very good working relationship with the mercanes in the later parts of the module. Etc.
So I think that the Prof made the right call, ESPECIALLY with the weakening of one step each round. The first round, I made an good, solid attack on Demogorgon and missed, and my jaw hit the floor. "His AC is that high? We're screwed, fellas..." Then every time a "step" manifested (Malc's whispers, the wounds from Orcus reopening as he fought, etc), a cheer went up from the players. Honestly, it was one of the most tense, exciting, FUN encounters I've had the privilege of playing, and looking back, it was those tweaks that made all the difference.
So yeah, the Professor was sometimes harder on us than the module suggested (don't even get me started on Khala and the CoBI), but for good reason - the fun of a decent challenge. YMMV, as per usual.
One of the player's has chosen to play a Dragon Shaman, which has an aura that deals damage to anyone/thing that damages the character (or allies within 30'). The most obvious problem (of course) is that this pretty much makes the group immune to the effects of the Kyuss worms.
I played a Dragon Shaman through all of STAP recently, and this problem seems to be an easy fix / house rule.
The energy shield aura, IIRC, says that any creature that strikes you with a natural attack or a non-reach melee weapon takes the damage, not "anything that damages the character". The most obvious and efficient house rule to put the fear of worms back in the game is to rule that because Kyuss worms don't make an attack roll to burrow into someone, the aura won't affect them. Sure, the attacking spawn will take a few points of damage (unless it threw the worm as a ranged attack), but they'll still have to worry about getting the worm off them in time.
Even if you decide to rule in favor of the players and allow the aura to kill off infesting worms, this isn't as game-breaking as you fear. If the Shaman is unconscious, the aura doesn't function. If the allies get farther away than 30', the aura doesn't work (let's hope that shaman makes every fear save...). Hell, if the player has a different aura active, all is well. If he played at all like I did, he'll start with the initiative aura active and then will have to wait until his first activation to switch out -- in which case you have plenty of surprise rounds, ambushes, etc.
And even if your players get lucky and do manage to totally avoid the first few threats of worms from the spawn, etc...
...that will just make the worms hidden in the potions, the ulgurstasa, the swords of Kyuss, and all those nasty invocations that much more horrifying when they reach them. Those guys are practically guaranteed to get a character or two infested, and usually by then a party has had enough practice with the worms to know what to do...
Hope that helps!
James Jacobs wrote:
In the Savage Tide campaign I'm running, the beguiler's courting Lavinia, the archer/rogue's courting Skald, the bard WAS courting Avner but cut him loose when his secret journal became public knowledge, and the monk/cleric's courting Amella. Only the barbarian/druid's keeping her hands to herself, and that's mostly because she's really kinda scary...
In the one I'm running, the elf druid (male) is courting Liamae; while the female gnome rogue has really taken a liking to (of course) Urol Forol -- in fact, the party just hit 6th level and Urol was the first cohort of the campaign. Having already gone through this AP once as a player, I can't wait for HTBM and SoS because of the dangers and fates that await these particular paramours.
Our human half-Olman ranger, also a woman, hasn't gone with any of the possible options (and since that's Tolin, Zan, Avner, and Skald, can you really blame her?), but I suspect she'll go from zero to smitten in a heartbeat once she finally meets Jakara -- and if not then, I'm perfectly willing to consider Celeste a possible partner for her. I mean, they're CG Eladrin, for Pete's sake -- what'd you think the Witch Queen was referring to when she mentioned "unicorn giggles"? ;-)
Interestingly, everyone considers Lavinia 'hands-off' romantically but all of them have strong friendships with her -- especially the gnome, who bonded with her after Kora died. My player LOVED that particular NPC, and killing her off was the best thing I could have done as a DM. She'll follow Lavinia anywhere, I imagine, and will (of course) have to before the game is up.
James Jacobs wrote:
Furthermore, he's really got no real defense against foes who can maintain a ranged superiority (either by being out in the water, flying, or just being faster than him). A character who stands toe-to-toe with him and doesn't have freedom of movement up is probably hosed, sure, but that's not really the smartest way to fight a tyranosaurus.
Old T-T the T-Rex nearly killed one of our characters in what had to be one of the funniest tactical errors of our entire campaign. We had a flying Factotum who was thinking just along these lines -- I'll stay just out of range in the air, pepper him with aerial offense while he gets harried by the phanatons and other characters, and we'll never get scratched by one of the Infamous Seven. Then he made the mistake of stopping in the air just 10' above the beastie's reach.
...turns out that a critter with a strength of 32 can make a DC 20 standing jump pretty handily. Did we mention that the factotum, thinking he was safely out of range, hadn't bothered to cast FoM?
One bite, grab, and swallow whole later, and the whole group was suddenly racing to close so that we could finish the dino off before our friend was digested. This led to another PC being swallowed before all was said and done, and I think we would have been more horrified if we all weren't laughing so hard. ;)
Fortunately, we all lived, and the jump-bite-grab maneuver became known as "the August Simons" in honor of the factotum. Man, I wish I could have seen the looks on our faces.