quistar's page

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More great advice. I'd forgotten about the rules for crafting "on the road" but they are useful. I'll keep all this in mind when I get back to running stuff.

Thanks for the input. I'm looking specifically at the Skull & Shackles AP. While there is possible time for MIC while sailing, the PCs all have duties on the ship so I can see them maybe taking a day or two each week for that purpose while sailing. At port that's another story, but it takes them out of the action for a day per item IIRC. So it's still fairly limited but possible the way I see it.

Apologies if this question has already been asked, but it's not easy to sift through all the board postings. This would apply to AP style of play rather than PFS.

I think the question explains itself, but to elaborate...I can see it being rather tedious to track every single in-game day in a campaign to track when and if a magic item could be created. Needing a full day with no other activity is a limiting factor, of course. But I can see this becoming nit-picky rather quickly if it is used a lot, even for scrolls or potions.

So how do GMs out there handle it? Advice is much welcome.

A few observations after reading the last five pages of posts.

My plan for the "Evil Twins" fight was to save the version of each PC as they were when they first entered the Dreamlands as a separate file on Herolab, then import both versions for the final battle. The program really makes this kind of thing very easy to do, though I do like the idea of alternate build versions of the PCs.

I had been wondering in the back of my mind, "Did the PCs lose only their memories, or also their prior class levels?" I did that once to a starting PC in a home campaign who asked to start the game as an amnesiac. It turned out he lost his memories due to severe trauma from being level drained by vampires down to level 1, but that came out many sessions later. But I hadn't considered alternate class builds until I read this thread.

Regarding motivation to enter the Dreamlands/regain their memories...while I don't blame any PCs or players for not wanting to remember what the PCs had done in the past, it's also a dodge to avoid dealing with the consequences of their prior behavior. In a more practical sense, it means they will keep having problematic Thrushmore-like encounters without being forewarned by their memories. It also gives them no way to know what they did wrong, or how to make up for it, or to whom. So there are good arguments in favor of regaining their memories, however unpleasant they may be to live with.

But just to be safe, I will remove the note about Lowls' next stop from their handout.

Doppleman wrote:

Hi, I would like some suggestions from you guys.

My party managed to dismantle the apostles in orpiment and they captured Zandalus(permanently blinded). Zandalus is restrained in the cell the players started the game, there is always 2 people watching him and they did their best to fortify the survivor camp.

Now, I'm wondering if I should make some kind of attack on the cells before the players decide to kill Zandalus. He's been sitting in the cell for two days, while the players were trying to get informations from him.

What do you think? Should I let my players end Zandalus and proceed to the next fight? I'm also thinking the Tatterman could have prepared an escape plan by speaking to people in their dreams, but I'm not sure what is best for this situation.

I'm a bit late to this party, but...I would just have Zandalus thrash his head into the cell wall until he dies, releasing the Tatterman to do as he will. He is loyal enough to do this if he has no other means of helping the cause.

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Gawain the Sponge wrote:
Regarding the memory loss throughout the first book. How much of a backstory are the PCs creating. (I am in a group which backstory is almost as important as the current campaign.) They are very interested in this concept, and I am just confused on what they should know and not know about their characters and the situation.

The Player's Guide mentions that only the last few years of the PCs' lives are erased, but that doesn't have nearly the impact as total personal amnesia. Lots of knowledge, but NO memories or emotions to connect to them. I prefer that approach. Tabula rasa on personal memories. No names. No nothing. Freaky.

The approach I plan to take when I run this adventure path is to tell the players NOT to plan character backgrounds at all. Instead, as they begin to remember things from before, or learn about them from others, I'll let them reverse-engineer some of their history based on what they learn. It'll be a way to give them some control after taking it away in the beginning and it should produce interesting results...especially after they find out some of the nastier things they did while in Lowls' employ.

YogoZuno wrote:
quistar wrote:

He does have three suggestion spells to toss off as spell-like abilities, though, which can be used to devastating effect.

"Your god has abandoned you. Your divine gifts and spells no longer function."

"Your arcane power is gone. You cannot use spells or magic items."

"Your strength of...

Those aren't really valid for suggestion, imo. Suggestion specifically says 'You influence the actions of the target creature by suggesting a course of activity'. None of your examples are a course of activity - they are simply statements of status.

My own regular group likes to use such suggestions as 'Go have a swim', particularly while located in a desert, or 'It's so hot, you should take your clothes off to cool down', particularly when dealing with humanoids in armour.

Point. I need to reference rules on occasion. But those strategies can work by directing the PCs to the desired actions.

Btw, I've been reading through this forum and definitely reassessed the Tatterman. The two DC 17 Will saves definitely make a difference in paring down the party through running away fear effect. I'm still disappointed with most of the spell choices, but what he has to bring to the table is still enough to cause extreme pain.

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Maligannt wrote:

Trying to reconcile the BBEG melee stats & plan tactics against a fully optimized group of six characters, many of whom have played together for 2 years+ across multiple AP's. A single spell caster BBEG without mooks as the last foe in an ap is anti-climactic and not fun for anyone, even with his auras, DR and regen this foe won't challenge them - none of these players will be in an ustalav based AP without weapons to negate his regen/dr.

BBEG current melee stats in the AP:
+1 war razor +9 (1d4+4/19-20) or 2 claws +3 (1d8+1)

Default doppleganger has +8 to hit with 2 claws, BBEG has +3 to hit with his claws? Why? His class bab? Why then does he have the appropriate +9 with the war razor?

His strength is 16 two lower than a default doppleganger, which is added correctly to the war razor but he's only doing 1d8+1 on claw attacks?

Shouldn't he be at worst:

2 claws +7 (1d8+3) ?


I've found occasional errors in stat blocks for Adventure Path modules by re-entering every NPC into Hero Lab. Since I run combats off that program it makes sense, and definitely finds those little mistakes. In Tatterman's case, he gets 2 claws +8 for 1d8+4 damage each.

Maligannt wrote:
No tactics are specified for him. He has a 15 int and he's going to take on a full party of foes about whom he already knows a great deal, since they've just killed his host, he's been in their dreams, etc. I see no reason not assume he's going to fully utilize his abilities to their utmost to end them.

I have to agree, as written he's not terribly powerful. His spells are largely ineffective for facing an adventuring party that is awake and ready for combat, even if they're softened up. He does have three suggestion spells to toss off as spell-like abilities, though, which can be used to devastating effect.

"Your god has abandoned you. Your divine gifts and spells no longer function."

"Your arcane power is gone. You cannot use spells or magic items."

"Your strength of arms is gone. You cannot wield weapons."

Maligannt wrote:

His most powerful/dangerous ability is shadow walk(DC20) combined with his regeneration. He would engage the party using his war razor, take some hits and then I see him withdrawing into a dimly lit area (if the players pursue but don't manage their light sources properly and let him get them into melee in a dimly lit area) using his shadow walk to take the most heavily armored PC into the air of a room/courtyard nearby and dropping them. He has a fly speed so this seems an obvious tactic.

At that point sleep the pc he dropped and coupe de grace if necessary. Then cast touch of fatigue / vanish coming back and attack the least armored/most dangerous foe while invisible with his most powerful melee attacks, which should be claw/claw +7 for 1d8+3.

I would not think he uses any of his sorcerer spells unless he feels...

I would agree. His spells really aren't the best to use in a group combat, especially as a 3rd level sorcerer. Three 1st level spells don't go far and the 0's aren't much use overall either. His claw and knife attacks are more effective.

I like your idea for separating the party one by one to take them out. Something I will consider when I eventually run this module. I'll be scouring this forum for further ideas.

Minor update for the Raven's Rage crew.

Devir's player had to bow out for now due to work scheduling conflicts, as did his brand new sorcerer undine cohort.

All three players aside from myself decided to take Leadership and get a cohort. The captain took Sandara Quinn, giving us much-needed clerical magic and healing. Our halfling PC took Rosie Cusswell. Both are now 5th level in their respective classes. Excellent way to fill out a small group of players/PCs.

We just finished the three tests for our leader to become a Free Captain and will be dining with the Hurricane King next week!

Andrew <:-(}

selunatic2397 wrote:

They already have a barbeque pit big enough for a butchered out dragon!

Dragon BBQ and jerky seem to be their trademarks...any giant crayfish or crabs are also hungrily gobbled up!

Sometimes I wonder if my players are a secret cult of foodies led by the galloping gourmet.

That or Martha Stewart followers...any expensive furniture or odd items seem to be of more interest than the random magic stuff they capture.

Oh well...it's always interesting and we always have fun!

In my Skull & Shackles group I have one player that insists on bringing a bunch of critters to Fishguts to cook for her and the others. So far they've sampled the manticore and sea cats among others. I wonder where this will take them, but at least they draw some lines. No sahuagin...

Andrew <:-{}

Ravenloft differs from Call of Cthulhu and similar games in that it is a fantasy/horror hybrid. This violates one of the key rules of horror literature, in that your protagonists are supposed to be weak...always weaker than the Things That Go Bump in the Night. In D&D/Pathfinder, the heroes are always empowered, moreso as they advance in level. This makes bringing in the fear/horror aspects harder...but not impossible. It requires a change in focus.

If you have trouble effectively threatening the PCs, threaten NPCs. To make this really stick, get them to love certain NPCs before threatening them. You won't have any trouble motivating them to do the adventure.

2nd Edition D&D rules made threatening PCs a lot easier. The energy drain rules were a lot nastier and more permanent, and even a single wight would scare the crap out of most players. Spells like magic weapon and items like silversheen were not commonly available, making special weapons harder to acquire to beat the monsters. Third edition rules removed a lot of that. You either have to limit the spells and silver/magic access, or take sidereal routes to scaring the PCs/players.

- Andrew <:-{}

Stefan Hill wrote:

Perhaps the Complete Psionics Handbook - but for me psionics = Sci-Fi not fantasy.

The "Van Ritchen's guides" at least in 2nd edition D&D were a great read and I personally couldn't help making an adventure based around each Guide that came out.

Oh and Masque of the Red Death, again fantastic in a sort of D&D meets Call of Cthulhu way.

Opinions of course WILL vary...


If you like psionics with a gothic horror bent, check out the Occult Handbook for PF. It restructures and uses ideas for psionics (and more) and relabels it as "Occult." Definitely a good fit for Ravenloft, and ruleswise, a perfect fit for PF.

- Andrew <:-{}

I came across these mods online, saw that it was a drow/Darklands series, and snatched them up at great prices. Obviously this was in part due to them being 3.5 edition books, but since I make a habit of inputting all NPCs into Herolab (which is great for finding errata), converting into PF is not that big a deal for me. It's just one extra step in what I'm already doing.

I'm sorry to see that it was so poorly received. IMHO anything involving a major drow plot arc should be awesome slathered in awesome sauce, with awesome on the side. Nonetheless, I expect there's a lot of fun to be had with Second Darkness, flaws and all. When I get around to this one and take a serious look, I'll see what needs tweaking.

Andrew <:-{}

Oh yes...Giles needs Extra Grit unless I give him a Wisdom bonus. 1 grit point isn't a lot to work with.

Andrew <:-(}

Errant Mercenary wrote:
I would consider Making Giles a Bolt Ace.

Since I had already input his stats into Hero Lab, I changed it around to give him Gunslinger (Bolt Ace) 8 and Ranger 2. BA 8 because it gives a bonus feat, though I may may go higher because my group is pretty tough). I lost favored terrain (urban), weapon specialization, and one other feat (I chose to ditch Great Fortitude because his Fort save is already very good). He still functions much the same, gets the grit abilities, and has 16 more skill points to play with.

The original build is fine...I love the way the author built an assassin without using levels of rogue or assassin! But since one of my PCs is a bolt ace, I figure I can show her a few tricks with a higher-level version of herself.

Andrew <:-{}

The Mad Comrade wrote:

The dastards will not want to have her scratched (contracting ghoul fever especially with all of the flies around), paralyzed and inevitably becoming a ghoul too fast. If she resists succumbing to ghoul fever while paralyzed, given the time it takes to travel in-game, there's a decent chance she may die of thirst before her rescuers arrive.

Plugg and Scourge I suggest being undead pirates. They've not been ghouls too long it seems - a few months ? - so they're likely to still be thinking more like pirates and less like undead cannibals.

Agaste gets scratched and paralyzed once the dastards sight the players' ship, locked into a "Walk that Plank" scenario. Perhaps she is in the 'cage' suspended above a drowning pool of some sort? The rope suspending her cage is obvious as one of them will be adjacent to it, cutlass in hand.

The ambush is both expected and inevitable. Some place with lots of elevated platforms and concealing foliage should do the trick ... ;)

Edit: the PCs are pirates too. Depending on the specifics of the marriage, they may well "accidentally" leave her to her fate to claim Tidewater Rock by right of surviving spouse inherits the estate...

Now I'm thinking of the final encounter with the Brinebrood Queen and the Whale, and the two NPCs suspended over the raw soup pool...

Yeah, I'm thinking a Batman-style death trap too. Just a matter of the details.

As for our PCs, they're pirates, but definitely not evil. Even the neutral ones subscribe to a "kinder, gentler pirate" philosophy. So no, the captain (and crew) will not take kindly to the missus being threatened, or their (temporary) home being threatened.

- Andrew <:-(}

I may have mentioned somewhere that my group, at the end of The Wormwood Mutiny, decided to strand these two hooligans on Bonewrack Isle with nothing more than loincloths and a dagger each, and no hints about the dangers of ghoul fever and botflies. It was a suitably nasty punishment for the dastards. It also gave them one hell of an escape clause: ghouldom.

I figured these two had enough skill and power to eke out a basic survival, since most of the worst critters were now dead and gone. The ghoul fever, however, they had little defense against aside from sleeping on a raft over the water each night, which only delayed the inevitable. So they came up with a strange suicide pact.

The villains knew it was only a matter of time until they got infected, so they tried to plan it so they were private long enough to expire from the disease and come back as ghouls (in Plugg's case, a ghast). This made hunting for meat hella easier, and they began lighting signal fires from the beacon fire atop The Fist to draw rescue ships. Of course, they ambushed landing parties to get more ghouls (and some food), and used the launches to bring the attack to the ships, create a ghoul crew, and take over. Now they sail an all-ghoul crew on "The Foul Feast" as they plunder and plot their revenge.

I've decided to throw in an extra mini-adventure involving this revenge plot at the start of AP 3 "Tempest Rising" before the PCs get to Port Peril to officially start the module. I'm looking for ideas and feedback from the community. Ideally this will take one game session of about 4 hours to complete.

Since the PCs have been spreading word of their adventures and conquests all over the Shackles, it makes sense that the undead know the name of the PCs' new ship and their base-by-marriage at Tidewater Rock. I can't see these dastards being nice about that.

My basic idea is that the ghouls went to kidnap Agasta Smythee as a hostage to lure the PCs back to Bonewrack Isle ("Where you last saw us...") and rescue her. Here's where I could use some help.

I was going to have a confrontation on the beach, with a half dozen or so ghouls with the Warren Digger feat burrowing up underneath the PCs to attack with roguish sneak attacks and tanglefoot bags. But that seems a tad straightforward, and I'm not sure what to do with Agasta.

Now I'm leaning towards a paralyzed Agasta being in some danger (trap, a big fall) and the PCs having to save her up by the fort, the one near the only freshwater spring on the island.

I'm pondering how to set this all up and execute it, so input is welcome.

Andrew <:-{}

BzAli wrote:
Ben Ehrets wrote:

I'm coming to the Brineshee Banshee section of the adventure and realizing the party is gong to have some serious troubles going underwater. I'm not sure how much I should help them. Granted, in a pirate campaign, they might have wanted to give thought to underwater possibilities - and they do have plenty of water breathing and they'll be able to deal with the cold - but Freedom of Movement is 4th level. They don't have a whole lot of 4th level spells at 7th level. Dealing with the combat penalties is one thing, but the pressure damage might keep them from being able to go down to the stern section.

I suppose they can sail back to port and spend some gold on scrolls? But I might have Doc Fitch pull a scroll or two out of his carry-on bag.

Did anyone else have trouble with this?

Going through the sahuagin lair at Mancatcher Cove (which we just finished) was a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. Four PCs, one was an undine with normal movement in water. The other three had to make DC 10 Swim checks every time they wanted to move in combat situations or potential danger (I handwaved rolls for basic getting around because the water is still in the complex). Sandara Quinn set them up with water breathing spells, supplemented by scrolls (Scribe Scroll, good choice for this NPC!). So the PCs were not hosed, but had to work a bit harder than normal against foes without these hindrances. They still tore through the lair for the most part. I replaced some generic sahuagin with ones with some class levels and that didn't make much difference.

Anyhow, your situation later in the series is in deeper water with more challenges (stronger currents, pressure, more cold). But a lot of that depends what the PCs do to plan for it.

After the partial underwater lair of the grindylows and the near-total immersion at Mancatcher Cove, some of us decided to take some initiative with the treasure dump we got at the end of Raiders of the Fever Sea. The locathah's gift of the helm of underwater action was quickly snatched up by our halfling, who was sick of being stuck with a movement rate of 10 while underwater. The freebooter spent virtually all of his haul to get a lovely new cloak of the manta ray for future use. I expect the bard captain will do something similar. The undine is fine as is.

Again, I'd say the key is for the players to be proactive in planning for underwater adventuring in a pirate-based AP. I mean, did they think they were done holding their breath after Part 2? ;-)

Thanks Cuup...I got Peril and Plunder and it gives some good rulesy guidelines for handling a Diplomacy effort with difficult opponents. I am thinking of adding a cyclops mystic/oracle type to possibly help make this possible, though the party bard will have to push his Diplo-nut powers to make it happen.

Andrew <:-{}

My group chose to go this route as well. We have strict but fair rules for conduct while committing piracy: no fighting or killing unless necessary, accept an honorable surrender (once), no slavery, no raping and such. We wanted to build a good reputation to make the job easier and also to get support from the locals, as well as less resistance. We're happy to recruit from ships we defeat, or let them go if the sailors are not suitable for our "kinder, gentler" form of piracy.

What it comes down to is we don't enjoy playing the nasty, odious kind of pirate that is probably more typical of the reality.

Andrew <:-{}

Cuup wrote:
Wilken wrote:
I'm probably missing something really obvious but...If the skeleton crew takes the Man's Promise to Port Peril and sells it, how are they getting back onto the Wormwood?

Well, that's all but irrelevant since the AP wholly assumes they don't make it to Port Peril (between the storm, and Plugg's plans, the GM would basically need to force it to happen for some unknown reason). However, if I were forced to come up with an explanation, I'd say the full plan Harrigan gave Plugg was to return to Port Peril and sell the ship, then hang out there for a week or so while they wait for the Wormwood to catch up (possibly targeting some fresh new press-gangees while they wait). Meanwhile - and if you haven't read the full AP yet, you wouldn't know this detail - Harrigan swings by his hideout on Gannet Island to drop off supplies, let the dog out, water the plants, etc. and then returns to Port Peril to pick up his loyal crew and have himself another press gang.

Honestly, it's not a great plan, considering how small his crew is. You'd be justified in scratching your head over it if you were on such a crew.

The plot purpose is to take Harrigan and most of the high-level officers out of the plot long enough for the PCs to succeed in a mutiny. In-character the rationale is seriously lacking.

- Andrew <:-{}

martryn wrote:

How did any PC live when sent to the bilges to fight against two pirates at once, and unarmed at that? I sent my fighter down there, thinking that'd be the best bet for a character living through the encounter, and in three rounds he was stabbed to death because he didn't have any weapons with which to defend himself.

I went through an entire thing where the fighter stabilized and was dragged on deck with -5 HPs, they declared him dead and tossed him overboard, where he was fished out by another PC, but... still.

How is any unarmed character going to face off against two armed NPCs and make it out of the encounter alive? How did this go down in other campaigns?


I allowed Perception checks for the other PCs to see what was happening and take a "potty break" to go help the PC in the fight.

If the PC in question has Improved Unarmed Fighting, they at least have a fighting chance (pun intended). Thus a Monk or a Brawler would probably manage okay. The NPCs in question aren't that tough even with weapons, and they have no armor.

- Andrew <:-{}

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tbug wrote:
Have any of you who have Plugg and/or Scourge show up later as a recurring villain explained how they got off the island? I assume it would be a passing ship seeing the signal fire, or some such. Any thoughts on which one might be the most fun to pick up stranded PCs? Or on how to get the PCs in possession of a ship after they fail to get the Man's Promise?

My group took Plugg and Scourge alive, and left them on the island with nothing but a loincloth and a dagger each. Then they told the rest of the crew that the island was infested with botflies infected with ghoul fever and asked if anyone wanted to join their former commanders instead of joining the crew. They heard the crickets.

Obviously, there's a high chance that the two of them will become a ghast and a ghoul, respectively. They also have enough experience between them to build and navigate a raft. So my plan is for them to come back, more dangerous than before, and seek revenge. I almost included them in the crew of Whalebone Pilk on the Bell, but at the time they would have been too much for the PCs to handle in the listed CR.

Now I'm thinking of having them meet up with the Brinebrood Queen, who fled to the ocean with the devilfish after her son, the Whale, was killed by the PCs. With a mutual foe, I can see them all joining forces to seek revenge. The only thing I haven't figured out is where, when, and with how many minions. It will be sometime after Inkskin's attack on the Rock if anyone has suggestions.

Oh, and the undead pirates have a plan. They're going to press gang a bunch of people by dumping them on Bonewrack Island, where they'll either become ghouls or ghoul food. Once they have enough, they can staff a ship full of pirate ghouls for their pleasure! Most likely with the Brinebrood Queen providing clerical support and assistance.

The funny thing is, the PCs have been warning EVERYONE about the ghoul fever infestation and to give the island a wide berth. Which means it's very likely that there will be no interference as the ghouls build their crew. Gotta love it!

- Andrew <:-{}

Shaun wrote:
There is assumed to be railing on the ship, and I know the bullrush rulee state an enemy can't be pushed through an obstable, but everything that I've read regarding bullrushing off of a ship must assume the rails are insignificant to stopping a bullrush. During the Man's Promise encounter this is even listed as a preferred tactic of the defending sailors. I don't imagine that the AP would suggest doing something that won't work.

In this case, the Rules of Cinematic Expectations should win out. After all, this is not a simulation of actual historical piracy...it's a simulation of pirate fiction in books and film, which stretches "realism" farther.

Andrew <:-{}

Shaun wrote:

I'm additionally thinking that the Queen will just have the captured NPCs in a gibbett suspended from the ceiling and I may drop the lacedons in that room entirely. The Queen, the Whale and possibly the devilfish all in there together seem like enough.

I'm also planning on propmting the PCs to make an intelligence or nature knowledge check to determine that it'll be to their advantage to attack the Cauldron at low tide.

Anyway, so far, we're having a great time.

By the time my group got through to this encounter I had decided to drop the lacedons as well. Besides, why does her "baby" need competition for the giant chum pool of food? ;-)

Low tide was an easy decision considering the amount of swimming. You could have players make Intelligence checks or Profession: Sailor checks to figure that out.

Our group ended up with a really weird and quirky resolution for this encounter. The Whale won initiative somehow and went first. He swam to the cave entrance to attack the PCs there, blocking them from getting inside. He also blocked Momma and the devilfish (who fled here wounded) from attacking them. So the PCs focused heavily on Baby and he was out by the start of round 2. In the meantime Momma cut the rope, dropping the hostages into the stew.

At this point, the grieving, raging momma fled the scene as written (I assumed there was an underwater route out of the caves at the bottom of the Cauldron since it was impossible to get past the PCs without a fight). The wounded devilfish, not wanting to take on the PCs after a thrashing AND seeing the Whale taken out in less than two rounds, followed her out to sea.

Combat over.

The PCs missed her loot, but were able to get a fast and quirky victory!

Oh, and the captives?

As soon as Whale went down and the way was clear, our daring freebooter (a fighter/rogue hybrid from Green Ronin's Freeport: City of Adventure book) did his usual "fookin' stoopid!" thing and dove in after them. Swimming and grabbing them wasn't too hard, but then he stopped to think, "Oh, shite, how do I get us up and OUT of here?"

And then he remembered he had the Steadfast Grapple. Once he broke the surface, he pulled it out of his pack, tossed it towards where the PCs were watching in amazement, and it automatically attached itself to the wall. "A little help, please!" he gasped, and they reeled in both him and the NPCs.

One of those great encounters where the odds looked overwhelming until everything just fell neatly into place.

Andrew <:-{}

Erithtotl wrote:

I think it's worse than you are making it sound. By your own admission you have a roleplay centric group, and yet you had to condense the 20 days to 12. And even then, I think asking even a roleplaying group to spend 6 sessions essentially near-powerless victims of tedious lashings will stretch their patience to the limits. 10 sessions definitely would.

As for the swarms, lets be clear here. Swarms have always been one of the more broken parts of Pathfinder/3.5 rules, and placing these in a scenario where there is no clear way of combatting them is beyond 'deadly', its malpractice by the adventure designer. As mentioned, without a very specific type of PC in the party, this is a near certain TPK, especially in the scenario where the party is attacked by the ankheg at the same time as the swarm.

Finally, the overuse of monsters with improved grab and high-damage output means that you are likely taking multiple PCs out of each fight, not only threatening a lot of deaths but also being constantly frustrating.

Not even mentioned is that the group supposedly only has 48 hours to get through the island the only fresh water source is miles from the coast.

A more creative selection of opponents on the Island (no flying creatures? how about some goblin primatives?) would have presented challenges to different character types without making it a cakewalk.

My party is a veteran group of 5 members and is on 25 point buy and if I hadn't removed the swarms and fudged in a few cases they would have been wiped out. I question if this was ever successfully play tested without many player deaths as written now.

Actually, it is possible in the context of the module to handle the swarm creatures. There are vials of acid and alchemist's fire available for purchase in the Wormwood's "store" from Grok. It requires some initiative from the players, but those that make the purchase are rewarded for it.

For players that didn't take that option, there is always the option of using smoke to drive away the botfly swarms.


Gluttony wrote:

I've not yet begun it myself, but a fellow GM I'm friends with claims his group is 2 levels ahead of where they're supposed to be at the end of book 1, despite missing a significant number of XP opportunities along the way. He also said that he's added nothing to the adventure, running it exactly as-written.

I'm inclined to believe he's made mistakes in XP calculations.

My group had some incomplete encounters on the island (a group of three was a tad weak at the time), and they skipped close to half the grindylow caves first time around. They had to go back and complete those encounters to make level three, and it wasn't by much.

I'd say your report is accurate for the available XP. Skip too much and you'll need some remedial adventuring to pop 3rd before Book Two.

Andrew <:-{}

I was thinking more specifically for advice relating to the cyclopes in mod 4. I have some ideas on how the PCs could try making peace, though I'm certain it wouldn't be easy...the cyclopes would certainly attack on sight, for food if nothing else, making that method an uphill struggle. They'd also have to pass up on a lot of loot, which for them is a secondary consideration, but they'd be willing to do that.


Story Archer wrote:
Terrivar wrote:
I probably missed it some where, but what happens to the crew assigned to take "commandeered" ships to port to sell? Any ideas on how to get them back to the ship or are they released from service (and if that's the case, what happens to the money)?

We usually only take Chellish and slaver ships, the others having been given 'The Maiden's Promise', and usually only have one by the time we're ready to make port and sell plunder, so we escort it to port ourselves.

Incidentally, the 'Maiden's Promise' is both the name of our ship and the means by which we've been gaining infamy. Our female captain (who personally prefers female company) has had the story spread about her that she is a virgin (lie) and that she and her ship will only by captured by the man who tames her heart. The 'promise' is one given to every non-slaver, non-Chellish ship we take, that if they surrender without a fight we will only take their cargo and their captain for ransom, leaving all of the rest of ship's officers free to sail their ship home. It took a while for the tale to spread, but at this point we've already had three ships surrender to us without a fight and in two cases the ships mutinied against their captain to do so.

Our 'Maiden' captain has become something of a minor living legend already, and now that she has become the frequent if clandestine lover of Tessa Fairwind, the two have worked together to make that legend grow.

My group has a similar policy on pirating. They're honorable compared to most pirates, attacking and killing only if opposed, but accepting an honorable surrender...once. Usually they just settle for the plunder and items taken from combatants, if any. Chelish and scummier pirates can expect to lose their ships to sale, which helps finance both upgrades to the ship and personal purchases for advancement. Since all the mundane loot goes into the Quartermaster's Room I'm totally fine with that. They pass up a lot of money by keeping it well stocked.


The catch-all GM answer:

"Yes, that is mysterious isn't it?"

(And then say no more, leaving the answer a mystery)

My group never questioned it.

This response is great, because players will usually come up with their own answer to the question if given time to think about it. Saves the GM the trouble.


I have an unusual question to pose for folks familiar with this module. It revolves around Severe Diplomacy, or attempts at it.

My gaming group is one that, if at all possible, will always try diplomacy if it seems feasible. They're also not the bloodthirsty types and avoid combat if it doesn't make sense to them. Looking at the dire circumstances the cyclopes of the island face (extinction via starvation), it makes sense that, if the heroes are able to figure this out somehow, they would try to ally with the cyclopes, offering food and general weal in exchange for their help defending the island against intruders.

The problem is, I'm not sure if it can happen, or how easily.

I've only started really reading this module (I'm 1/3 of the way through the second one in the series, I have a ways to go before they get to the Island) but I'm not seeing any indications of plot points that cater to a diplomatic approach. Our bard may just have the mad skills to make peace with at least some of the cyclopes, in which case they might be able to get an audience with the Great Cyclops. If they do, however, I don't have any guidelines for handling it. I can probably come up with a few things on my own, but I'd welcome any suggestions from readers on the board that are familiar with The Island of Empty Eyes. Thanks!

I started running this series recently. My group is temporarily shrunk due to real life issues to two players and myself; we've since added one and hope to get two more. We just hit level five about 1/3 of the way through Part 2: Raiders of the Fever Sea.

Our initial group was:

Jarod Stormsailor, male human freebooter. This is my PC/NPC character, inserted to fill out the group and also to enjoy playing a freebooter in its natural habitat, a pirate-filled campaign. He's the pilot of the ship and the only real front-line fighter.

Casmar Dorylund, male human bard (sea singer), now Captain of the Raven's Rage. Our first spellcaster and only arcane one. He adopted Pluck the parrot as his familiar. He alternates between spells and weapon combat while maintaining lots of bard song bonuses.

Lara McBowdy, female halfling gunslinger (bolt ace). Scrappy and with an attitude. She's starting to live up to her reputation as a deadly sharpshooter. Our best climber, she's the bo'sun and manages the main deck.

Devir, male undine hunter. Despite his skills, he is frequently overshadowed by his hawk companion, the only other front-line fighter and frequent flank-buddy for Jarod. He just learned how to use a light ballista and is the ship's Master Gunner.

When necessary, they are supplemented with Sandara Quinn, First Mate and Carpenter/Healer. More often she just helps clean up with healing spells after fights on ship and providing some timely scroll spells when we need them. She only splits XP and loot when she actively joins the officers adventuring, though I keep her XP and level current with the party for when she is needed.

Other NPCs fill in slots for officers. Rosie Cusswell is our Master-at-Arms, Jack Scrimshaw (for now) our Cabin Boy, Conchobar Turlach Shortstone the Quartermaster, and of course Fishguts is still our cook.

With any luck, our two absent players will return and give us some necessary spell power. Despite that deficit, we've managed quite well so far. Surprisingly well IMHO. We have some phenomenal luck as well as our skills, so as long as that keeps up, I think we'll be very successful.

I think it isn't so much a matter of WotC trying to abandon their fans (which is absurd at face value...what company WANTS to lose sales in retail?). It's more that they were looking at the fact that they've been selling less product and trying to figure out why. Mind you, this is all speculation on my part so it's worth what you pay for it.

The influence of MMORPGs cannot be underestimated, especially since, given the choice of trying to arrange a weekly face-to-face game or just logging in and playing, it's easy to see which is more convenient and has more visual appeal. A lot of paper-and-pencil gamers have moved into this medium for many reasons, not the least of which is lack of a local playing group.

More importantly, D&D gamers have been, for many years, an aging population. The next generation has been drawn into other games that require a lot less preparation and work to play, like CCGs and MMORPGs. The old population dies out or moves on, but the younger gamers that might try out the hobby haven't been getting involved in the numbers of years past.

Looking at all this, it's easy to see why WotC opted to borrow elements of MMORPG game play in the new edition. If they don't bring young players into the game, they're fighting a losing battle of attrition and the game will end up dying out or being marginalized.

I think the source of any feelings of abandonment...well, truth, that's on us. No one can make us feel a certain way, that's how we choose to react. But I think what prompts many of us to feel this way is looking at everything that WotC chose to remove from the game which we consider to be sacred cows...several core classes (though many will appear later), but more importantly, certain concepts that have been in the game for a very, very long time. Dryads are a good example; gone is the seductive wood nymph, instead you have a combat monster critter. Saving throws are gone, now it's a defense rating against an attack. Magic missiles don't automatically hit, and can be dodged. Tieflings are a core race, but not the same as they used to be. Eladrin are no longer chaotic good outsiders, but rather an elven sub-race.

My immediate reaction to these name-switch changes is, "Were they not creative enough to just come up with a new name for the creature, instead of confusing the folks that have been playing for 10+ years?" This is the kind of thing that actually disenfranchises me as a long-time gamer, the feeling that they're not just changing the rules, but the very core concepts of features of the game.

I have yet to try playing 4e, though I will when the opportunity comes my way, just to see how it works in play context. But from what I've read so far, it looks like riding a bicycle...if the new bicycle requires you to pedal with your hands, steer with your feet, and use your tongue to ring the little bell. ;-)

Honestly, I'm not very taken with the new game on multiple levels, but that is only because I'm comparing it to what was. Taken on its own, it looks like a very playable game system. But time will tell whether or not I will feel like finishing creating my first character (which I kind of put to the side out of boredom, half-finished) or get into it at all.

3rd edition was about expanding play options and choices. 4th edition seems to be going back to 1st or 2nd edition standards, where a fighter is a fighter, a wizard is a wizard, and an elf is an elf...sort of. It feels far more restrictive than 3.X did, and that in itself turns me off. My first reaction upon looking at the core books was to notice what was NOT in these books, and that isn't good when you're looking to get a game that feels "complete."

I have no doubt that they cleaned up a lot of the rule complexity issues from 3.X. I just wish they hadn't thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

Andrew <:-(}