I'm just starting on this module now. My players are having a good time with the AP, but tend to skip clues and focus on improv RP and tabletop gaming. I've had to be charitable so they stay on track, e.g. letting them roll for answers, or get NPCs to help.
In that spirit, I'm scrapping the raven's vague clues for something more explicit, so that the players get the sense that the story has turned a corner. It hope it also helps with their frustration around being continually confounded by Baba Yaga's own guardians.
The Oracle ravens Moc, Rozum, and Tryva (from Maiden, Mother, Crone) by this time recognize the mantle of the Black Rider in the players, so they are willing to help, in their own cagey and whimsical way. They know that Baba Yaga knew of her daughter's betrayal at this point, and was on some mission here to shut down the wintry power behind Winter Witches of Irrisen. But she was interrupted by "her only son" and left, but not before quietly instructing the ravens to deposit the two keys, one each to two opposing commanders, continuing her trail of breadcrumbs.
So, while laying out the visual clues -- two-headed eagle, bearskin etc. -- the ravens chant, trading couplets among themselves:
Baba Yaga has gone on,
Seek you now the two-headed eagle,
Then find the bearskin that finely adorns,
From there I hope things will fall into place when they meet Bescaylie and others, who can help with these clues.
I will. Just wrapping up a complete move of both our home and business. I hope to get some maps up in a few months.
As another grateful recipient of your Reign of Winter maps, please do let me know if you intend to make the rest of Maiden Mother Crone and the other modules in the AP. My players are about to enter Artrosa.
Market Square: I changed area M8 to a fire variant Dawn Piper with a Fire Elemental Font, so that all four elements are represented. The Fire one was inside a circular hut, all the snow around the area was melting and the whole hut was smoldering with smoke and heat. Inside was a pit where the smoke funneled down, echoing the weird gravity effects in the other elemental areas. Smoke trap inside required a DC 20 Fort save or Staggered 1d4 rounds from coughing, save reduced Staggered to 1 round. The Fire Piper had a Hellfire Ignis as a mate, and his tactic was to lure the party into the hut and unleash Fireball and sonic attacks, while the ignis attacked with magma.
Globally, I treated the whole Market as a Wild Magic area per Wild Magic rules, with every spell or SLA having a chance to require a roll on the table. If four Dawn Piper elemental fonts were up, the percentage was 80%, if three elements, 60%, etc. down to 0% for no fonts active. Knowledge [arcana] rolls in area M4 revealed this, although I let casters make rolls after each Wild Magic effect to figure out the connection with the elemental fonts.
Logrovich's Clock Tower was another difficult fight for the party, and tons of fun. They effectively had to fight all three levels at once, due to tactical choices and some bad luck. Three of four characters were at negative HP at some point during the fight. I took the advice of this board to increase Logrovich to Juvenile, and he patiently used Fog Cloud to control the encounter. 8d4 dragon breath every round without retaliation is nasty, even with cold resistance.
Next step is the Market.
Update: one mindslaver mold was enough to drive off the PCs. After they took out Finngarth, the mold attacked the melee ranger with dominate person, and he made his will save despite being reduced to 3 Wisdom from the mindslaver spores. They killed the mold and hauled the unconscious Finngarth away, and had no interest in pursuing the cave.
My three PC, 25-point buy, optimized party (two rangers and a cleric) is not going to be challenged much by the adventures as written, so I'm upping the early encounters slightly.
For Little Boy Lost, four (not two) Boreal Wolves are being shadowed by two Fey Wolverines looking for opportunistic scavenging. The Wolverines will Charm Person the boy to lead him off into the ambush, then rage attack anyone who is weak.
Wood-wife's Plight, I will add a nest of two or three additional mindslaver molds in the cave, and turn the cave into a two room mini dungeon, with a pit trap and extra treasure.
Haunted Churchyard, I am adding the Negative Energy Charged template to both Huecuva. Really nasty. Upping the treasure accordingly.
For the Falconers and the White Wolf, I am thinking one of them gets another two levels of Ranger to get favored terrain bonuses and full HP for his bird.
They will be fifth level by Fishcamps. I'm hoping that I can talk them out of full battle readiness with an early patrol of ice trolls in the distance, and maybe a Wanted poster. That should help equalize.
Thanks for the kudos, will pass along to my players. Having the melee ranger calling out distances, and shouting "fire at my voice!" and then ducking out of the way, so his blinded brother could critical Radosek in the throat with an arrow, when six seconds earlier Radosek was bragging about how he was going to make a necklace out of the ears of all the party in revenge for Valstoi.
I fist-pumped when that Blindness spell landed. I honestly thought it was over. I don't like TPKing but I admit I was caught up in it - Radosek was a great villain to RP. But the two rangers fought on, and won.
Thanks to the staff for a great module, and thanks to all the GMs here with great ideas I stole, too many to list. I'll see y'all in The Shackled Hut gm thread.
Finished the Pale Tower. The top level with Radosek was as close a fight as I have ever seen. I animated two ice statues described in the ritual chamber, using the Ice Nymph stats from the second floor, and granted the maximum Small Ice Elementals from summon monster + cauldron (6 Ice Elementals). I made the area around the portal slippery with wet ice. Other than that, the encounter was as written.
Radosek lobbed spell after spell while the ice critters gnawed away at the PCs. As the elementals were killed off, so did the PC's party. First the animal companion, then the main melee ranger dropped. The dwarf cleric teamed up with the last PC standing to destroy one of the two ice statues before he also fell. Nadya went down to the last ice statue, which only had 6 HP remaining.
At that point, Radosek had spent all his non-touch spells. His last big save or die spell, Blindness, goes out to the only standing PC, the bow ranger, who finally failed his save and was blinded. With only one blind PC and all others unconscious, and Radosek, and an ice statue still standing, I figured it was over. TPK.
Ice statue attacks the blind ranger, hits, brings him down near zero, he retaliates with alchemist fire, needing max damage to bring down the construct. Rolls it. Still, Radosek's only opponent is blind, so looking good, right?
Radosek begins monologuing about what horrible things he is going to do to all the helpless PCs. The player makes a miracle bluff roll to pretend he is weeping hopelessly over his dead brother, while rifling over his brother's body for a heal potion. Radosek rolls miserably for both perception and sense motive. The PC gets the CMW potion into his brother's mouth, and restores him to 1 HP. So fine, Radosek is only down 15 HP out of 61, this is still in the bag, Radosek will flee after this round and go animate that big ices statue in the courtyard. Players' turn in the round: melee ranger leaps up and attacks, hitting for near max damage. The blind archer ranger follows up with his bow, rapid shot, hitting both times including a critical, which confirms for triple damage. Concealment for being blind? Yeah, both hits stand. Radosek goes down before he can withdraw and heal up. No player roll under 17 in that last round, all damage dice near maximum.
Encounter, and module, over.
Holding the Spriggan in reserve depending on how the fight goes. Doppelganger is not present, it was successfully "rescued" by the party in Part 2 and is now at court in Taldor somewhere, quietly strangling nobles in their sleep, and otherwise sowing chaos.
I'm thinking of reviving Izoze from Part 2 to fight with Radosek (she fled the battle at the Winter Portal), or possibly the Spriggan, in addition to Valstoi. The 2d3 ice elementals will use their burrow speed to rise up out of the ice around the PCs all at once, flanking them. Radosek will stand more of a chance if the archers are dead or blinded, so he can fly around and cast spells with impunity.
Electric Cat wrote:
My best suggestion is to play the bad guys smart. Have them group up or prep possibly better than before. If the party is having an easy time of it some additional prep or combined encounters can be key. Make them switch up tactics every now and then. Tricky part is letting the PCs shine while still giving them challenges.
I agree with doubling up. In Waldsby, the Pale Tower guards conscripted the barkeep and spellcasting wife after Nadya refused to come quietly. On Pale Tower second floor, I will combine Captain Orlov with other combatants (suggestions?).
Yes, tactics helped in Waldsby, first with an ambush, then I had the mooks working in concert with the spellcaster. They set up a firing line at the edge of an Obscuring Mist so the crossbowmen were concealed while the party was not. The melee character still one-shotted Sergeant Sertane though, and the battle was over quickly after that.
Credit to the players though, they are very experienced.
I'm learning this. My party is three 3rd-levelers with 25 point buys, plus two wolves as pets, plus a GM PC (Nadya, currently), making six figurines on the board for "their" side. The encounters where I have a single bad guy are over quickly, but adding a bunch of mooks (for example, Pale Tower ground floor) hasn't added tension, just increased the length of the combat. Some of it has been luck, the main melee PC has ended four heavies with Power Attack & Critical for 30+ damage, and I have been rolling terribly on both attack and damage.
Yes, pretty much, but I have it a little different. Enlarged greatsword is 3d6. I have Power attack at +10 to hit, 3d6+16 damage (STR 22 = +9 THF, Power attack adds +6, Magic Weapon +1).
So far the party breezed through the ground floor, took out Bordegga in two rounds, one-shotted Sergeant Yultsev with a critical. Captain Orlov is tired of their shiz.
I'm GMing for a party of three, two rangers and a cleric. I gave them a 25-point buy and a wand of Cure Light Wounds instead of the wand of Magic Weapon. Each of the rangers has a wolf for a pet, under regular Handle Animal rules, to help with the action economy.
So far they are doing fine. Nearly TPK'd at the Lodge, twice, but have handled all minor encounters easily. Giant Weasel was dead in two rounds, Frost Fir took three or four. I have juiced some of the minor encounters a bit. They just leveled up to 2nd.
For a two person party, I recommend finding a way to have Ten-penny join them while they are still in Taldor, then Nadya in Irrisen. The risk is that your Paladin will blow a will save and TPK the party. It is nice to have someone else who can melee if that happens.
Also, help them out by reminding them to use the Paladar if they forget. Detect Evil saves lives.
EDIT: spoilers hidden
My party of three adventurers are in a similar place in the AP.
Session 3: They were beaten back at the lodge, barely, and unable to rescue Lady Argentea. They did not know it but Rokhar was out of spells and probably could have been taken, but they decided not to risk the TPK and moved off. Rokhar raised some zombies from dead raiders, then directed them to attack the party camp with three zombies and two Frost Skeletons. Meanwhile, unseen by the party but witnessed in secret by Ten-penny, Rokhar and Izoze squabbled over loyalties and the now-dead sprite Vrixx, then they hustled Lady Argentea away to the portal in the dead of night.
The party survived the undead attack, barely, but again waited to pursue until the next morning, after slaying the Giant Weasel (stand-in for a wandering monster) and looting the lodge. Ten-penny joined their under-strength party as a hireling, told her tale to get the party moving after Lady Argentea.
They made short work of the Frost Firs. The curtain dropped on Session 4 just as the Soulbound Guardian laid down Frost Fall on the party (cliffhanger). After that encounter, they will "catch up" to Rokhar, Fawfein, and a couple sprites who are seemingly guarding Lady Argentea. The way I have set it up, the fey despise Rokhar at this point so the fight might descend into a three-way mess.
The likely outcome is the party will kill Rokhar and drive off the fey, rescuing "Lady Argentea" at last. Strangely, she will not be at all wounded or shaken up by her ordeal. But the doppelganger can Detect Thoughts and will adjust, feigning injury, fear, and fatigue.
Starting Reign of Winter this month, I am really looking forward to it. Thanks to all who contributed to this thread, I feel very well prepared for it.
Variations I'm planning on using, all from this thread:
Party is short-handed. Three 25-point buy characters run by veteran players. It will be up to them to recruit NPCs as the story unfolds. Should be interesting.
My first Pathfinder Paladin, Core Rulebook Only. This Paladin is the only fighter in a party of four: Paladin, Cleric, Sorcerer, Rogue. My priority was consistent damage output while absorbing front-line punishment.
Human Paladin, Two-handed fighter
Int 13 was not smart (ironically), should have taken the 13 in Dex to get a bump in CMD.
Traits: Rich Parents, Aspiring Crusader. Both of these were taken for flavor, and wanted Half Plate at first level.
Leveling up plan: