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I made a Human Rogue. It is generally the first character I make in every new system, as it’s one I’m familiar with. He’s a scoundrel, a con artist, etc. iconic. He ended up with a +1 Intelligence after assigning ability scores - giving him 11 Trained Skills at first level. I was eyeballing the Human Ancestry feat to pick up two more, but 11 was actually way too many Skills. I picked up everything I thought he should be able to, plus Craft and Arcana, because I guess why not. I had a similar experience making a Half-Orc Ranger (5+Intellligence Skills).

Next I made a Dwarf Monk to try something different. He ended with a +0 Intelligence. It’s not that I ignored it, just that other things seemed more important. He got 3 Trained Skills. That feels so few that I can’t really get to all the things I feel like he should. A Barbarian: same deal. Being Trained means so much, it opens up any baseline fears and grants a +2 swing from being untrained. It means a lot more than the difference between Expert and Trained.

At higher levels, it felt like no one got enough higher level training and/Expert and Master ranks don’t seem to do as much as I hoped. They unlock Skill Feats, but those have seemed unimpressive and only get an extra +1.

Overall, I think that the number of Skills should be slightly closer, Skill feats should be easier to get into, and many of them should just be granted as an aspect of being an Expert, Master, Legendary with that skill.

I made a Human Rogue. It is generally the first character I make in every new system, as it’s one I’m familiar with. He’s a scoundrel, a con artist, etc. iconic. He ended up with a +1 Intelligence after assigning ability scores - giving him 11 Trained Skills at first level. I was eyeballing the Human Ancestry feat to pick up two more, but 11 was actually way too many Skills. I picked up everything I thought he should be able to, plus Craft and Arcana, because I guess why not. I had a similar experience making a Half-Orc Ranger (5+Intellligence Skills).

Next I made a Dwarf Monk to try something different. He ended with a +0 Intelligence. It’s not that I ignored it, just that other things seemed more important. He got 3 Trained Skills. That feels so few that I can’t really get to all the things I feel like he should. A Barbarian: same deal. Being Trained means so much, it opens up any baseline fears and grants a +2 swing from being untrained. It means a lot more than the difference between Expert and Trained.

At higher levels, it felt like no one got enough higher level training and/Expert and Master ranks don’t seem to do as much as I hoped. They unlock Skill Feats, but those have seemed unimpressive and only get an extra +1.

Overall, I think that the number of Skills should be slightly closer, Skill feats should be easier to get into, and many of them should just be granted as an aspect of being an Expert, Master, Legendary with that skill.

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I agree. Choosing Skill Feats at the lower levels are interesting enough, but I found that the options were limited - particularly with the requirements to be Experts, Master, or Legendary of the skill in question to be able to select many of them. That really starts to limit the options for higher level skill feats.

Compounding this is that characters get so many Skill feats compared with the other feats. I feel that the rate at which characters get skill feats and the rate at which they get the ability to access the higher level feats don't move at the same rate. There either needs to be a LOT more options, which likely they will eventually make with future books, etc. But in the meantime, the choices are just not there.

In building a 10th level Half-Orc Ranger - one that I played in 3.0; 3.5; 4E; Pathfinder without problem. He elevated to Master in Survival, which fits the character well, then was up to Expert in Stealth and Intimidation. I ended up taking Skill feats that didn't relate to the character but were the least offensive option. Assurance for Survival is pretty phenomenal, and that was the first one I picked up. The other Survival feats are just lackluster. Experienced Tracker is worse than the class ability that my Ranger got a few levels later. Planar Tracker is...fine I guess, but just not who the character is. Legendary Survivalist looks cool...so I'll wait for 15th level for that.

So I picked up Terrain Stalker, which looked okay. Quiet Allies, and the ran out of options. I chose Intimidating Glare and Underwater Marauder because of the options those at least sounded useful and interesting.

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So the group discussed what they knew about the area, and determined that heading to the Sanos Forest to seek out Gnome druids would be the quickest way to get Zeldu back on his feet. I determined that they would agree to help them as long as they dealt with the haunting in the Shimmerglens. I figured their connection with the First World would perhaps make this disruption important to them, and ultimately: it was a way to refer the group to Chapter 4. Additionally, as Laurelai had outleveled Rosie, Rosie released her as her cohort. She decided to search for a new one, and decided that a gnome bard would be useful to the party. The group dealt with the haunts, and I added in an encounter of a pair of mad treants which was actually fairly harrowing. They made a lot of their saves so didn't have to deal with a large number of the challenges.

They were completely sympathetic with the nymph, and really approached her to help put her at ease. Even after she started screaming and raging at them, they kept calm. I used the opportunity to have the nymph lock onto Rosie, our cleric who had just connected with her long-lost love. The nymph saw her as a kindred, as she had also knew love that had been taken away by another. This was foreshadowing to a plot that would be coming up when Rosie would learn that her long-lost love is actually married to someone else!

Rosie swore that she would find Lamatar and reunite them. As they returned, the gnomes followed through on their bargain and revived Zeldu. Around this time, they heard the dam breaking, and left the forest in time to see Turtleback Ferry getting flooded with water. They decided to head straight to the dam rather than searching for survivors, thinking that unless something happened with the dam, there would be less chance for survivors.

The ogres on top of the dam gave them little to no trouble. Yulah decided to take a level of Barbarian and now, wielding a Giantbane Orc Double Axe, while raging, and power attacking she can easily drop over a hundred points of damage on a single target. The next chapter will definitely be interesting to see!

Grazuul harried the group with a handful of nasty hits. The cleric, though, planning ahead, cast Hydrophobia on him, causing him to intensely fear the water and leap outside. In addition to removing his cover bonus to AC, this cut him off from his ability to regenerate, and made the fight considerably easier.

The group ran into the Pit Fiend, and ultimately decided to set him free. They did convince him to tell him how the dam worked before letting him go. I'm not certain how I'm going to play the Pit Fiend coming back at them due to the humiliation. I think I'm going to tie him in to their backstory plots. Perhaps he might become a scourge of the criminal underworld in Korvosa, perhaps he might possess one of the NPCs they have relationships with, and inflict some havoc that way?

On to Hook Mountain, the group dropped off some supplies at Fort Rannick, before beginning the trek up the mountain. Everyone could ultimately make the climb with assistance, except for the gnome. They decided to saddle him up on Yulah's roc while the rest made the checks. The fight with the roc proved to be the most dangerous of all. He swept in and hit Rosie, pulling her off the mountain. The group had to use a combination of Hero Points, creative thinking, and some strategy to save their cleric from being flung off the side of a mountain.

Getting to the top, of the mountain. They quickly regrouped, and began exploring. The ogres, while they pack a punch, melt in the face of Yulah and her orc double axe. The group skipped right past the hags, who I believe promptly fled, reading the writing on the wall. I debated bringing them back in as a foil later on, but decided to just have them leave. The group was about to run back in to Lucrecia fighting alongside Barl, they have a Pit Fiend out there with some enmity against them, as well as other individuals from their past who may come back.

The group destroyed Lamatar with little effort, and moved on to Barl. Having Lucrecia here made the fight a bit more interesting, as she divided the fight up slightly. Additionally, while Yulah was focused on the giant, the others found beating on Lucrecia to be much more personally satisfying. I'd changed Barl to be a Hill Giant, so as to connect it with Yulah's back story. Additionally, there are a few Stone Giant wizards that I felt this would make it slightly less redundant. I also changed up his spell list to try to counter some of their tactics. This was a mistake, as I didn't know the spells well enough to make full use of them. After the fight, I looked back on some of the choices and realized how much smarter I could have played the fight. Ultimately, the heroes won the day. They had one party death at Fort Rannick, and a few other times where their hit points got close. In all: this was probably the best adventure for the group.

Trying to catch up on how the group progressed!

The group, with their three surviving Black Arrows went to Fort Rannick. They took some time to form a strategy, deciding that they would use the caves that the Black Arrows told them about, as well as having Lorelai, Rosie's cohort to create a distraction to draw out the ogres. They had a rather inspired idea to have the rogue sneak down under the cover of an invisibility spell to rig the bridge after the ogres left so that if they attempted to come back in, it would collapse underneath them. They actually mentioned the trap that the goblins used at Thistletop! After successfully drawing them out, the group had the sorcerer riding Balyx the Roc and hurling fireballs at the recovering ogres. She single handedly dismantled most of the outside forces in an impressive display of sorcery.

The rogue roleplayed to perfection! He didn't trust Orik at all, and attempted at every turn for the group to turn on him. This led to a near confrontation between Orik and Zeldu, which Dax to cower, and earn him some sympathy from all involved. Orik, to his credit, played a total red herring! Except that Rosie, the cleric trusted him implicitly. I'm still not sure why, except that perhaps the player (who is my wife) knows my style, and thought that Orik was too obvious.

Sneaking into the Fort was easy enough. They dispatched the ogres outside with relative ease. Moving inside, they were cautious. The minute any of the ogres went toe to toe with Yulah, however: they ended very quickly. Zeldu, similarly dished out respectable sneak attack damage. Until they got upstairs. The rogue actually attempted to slip past one room, and jumped right into the room with Jaagrath. Simultaneously, someone backed down the hallway alerting Dorella and Hookmaw. Now they had a fight on their hands!

The PCs rolled well, with Zeldu and Yulah working together really well. Having drawn Jakardos up as a Hunter, he had a bit more healing to contribute, which helped considerably. Unfortunately, his leopard got on the bad end of a ogre hook, and died. Which led to tears from everyone. This group doesn't like it when people die, but when animals die: they mourn. Then Zeldu caught a critical hit from Jaagrath for over 100 points of damage! Essentially, the rogue was cut in half. As this was his first ever experience with gaming, I thought he took it incredibly well! He picked up Orik and ran him as his PC until the group could find a way to bring back Zeldu.

In the fight, Dax found his opportunity to slip out. Yulah started piecing things together, and realized that likely he was a traitor. Everyone else just figured that he was a coward, or perhaps he was captured by the real big bad.

Heading upstairs, they found Lucrecia and Dax - the traitor. Yulah got angry at her friend who had betrayed them, and unleashed holy hell on him. The poor bastard didn't stand a chance, dying in the second round without doing much. Lucrecia did a bit better, before Yulah rounded on her. After taking a bit of damage, she was able to disappear. It mirrored so well what her sister had attempted to do, only Lucrecia was successful.

The group had retaken Fort Rannick, but had lost their stalwart rogue. The player offered to roll up another character, but the group refused. They were going to bring him back, come hell or high water. High Water it was, because their quest was going to delay them stopping the dam from breaking. Additionally, the group said goodbye to Lorelai, as she had outleveled her mentor. They determined that she, Orik, Jakardos and Shalelu would remain at Fort Rannick and attempt to rebuild the Black Arrows.

This led to what I can only imagine was a tremendous spinoff from our Heroes of Sandpoint adventure! A gruff elven ranger who is trying to lead, her human mentor imparting wisdom and trying to build confidence in his protege, a human fighter with a shady past, and a beautiful sorceress. What a party!!! That storyline would be so entertaining!!!

Digital: That was my initial plan, (using the map you posted, as a matter of fact. ) however they spent several rounds dealing with the Giants at the front gate. Additionally, my group is much more focused on the dragon than they are on Mr. T. Additionally, they spent a lot of time studying the Old Light early on, and I had them find the stone. They don't know yet that that's what the Giants are there for, but they posted Brodert Quink at the Old Light as he was assisting with the research into what it does. I have a feeling they're going to spend a lot of time tangling with Longtooth, and Mr. T is going to end up killing Brodert and running off with the stone. So a showdown at the Old Light is very possible.

The group traveled up to Fort Rannick. I had them pass through Turtleback Ferry, but they were not terribly interested in the stories about the casino. They did notice some of the tattoos, but didn't follow up on them. They were focused on getting to Fort Rannick. They were so focused they were about to pass up on the Graul homestead in order to get to Fort Rannick, but ultimately the sound of an animal in pain intrigued the ranger enough that she was able to convince the group to stop.

Additionally, when she finally got to fight some giants for the first time in the campaign: the Ranger showed just how deadly she could be. They killed the dogs quickly, and one hit from her axe was enough to send the ogrekin running. They took some time to heal up the leopard, and then followed the tracks. They were moving slowly, but didn't attempt to hide. Have I mention that my group is relatively inexperienced?

When the Grawl jumped out of the corn field, I actually shouted a bit and made everyone jump. It was a fun moment. One of the things that I noticed throughout this module, is that it was definitely compressed for space. One of the downsides of that is that you have these different Grawl characters, but their feats often are uniform, and thus don't fit best to the tactics of the situation or (my perceptions of) their personalities. So I changed them up, and it worked out a lot better. Giving this one Spring Attack and Vital Strike made it a much tougher fight. Giving others Toughness so that they could set up and do what they needed.

The ranger led the way into the house, setting off the traps at the door (which did a little bit of damage, but nothing world-ending) which prompted me to remind the rogue of his role to check for traps. For the rest of the house, the rogue took point. The group was incredibly freaked out by the house. My wife kept saying that it reminded her of the episode of the X-Files, and of course the Hills Have Eyes - which meant that I was doing well in setting up the feeling.

When they met Mammy, that's when they lost it. I added in an ick factor, that when they came in, she was nursing the ogrekin that they'd met on the road, who of course was fully grown. This added a whole level of gross for them. They killed Ruccus, and fought well against Mammy, who dimension doored away to the barn. They searched the rest of the house, and found the bones in the closet. My ranger killed a Knowledge: Nature check and identified, based on the hip bones, that these were all female. Our rogue (played by a male) didn't really understand the full scope of what this meant. Our cleric and ranger (played by females got furious).

They went out to the barn and had probably the biggest fight of the house. The ranger ran past the other threats to get at Mammy, who had also raised a few of the family as zombies. The team fought smart, though, and despite a few hot rolls by the enemies: they cleared them out. Heading to the basement, I had them hear some of the sounds of abuse. They went downstairs and killed the captors and freed the Black Arrows.

I changed the makeup of the Black Arrows in order to tie in with the various backstories, as well as making slight changes to the classes and abilities of the members. Jakardos was there, but I redrew him as a Hunter. It still allowed him to do all of the archery that he was known for, but also created a reason for the unusually strong bond that he had with his leopard. I changed out Vale for Orik VanCaskerkin. He had been sent to serve out his sentence at Fort Rannick. He had a great rivalry with our rogue, and it also created a believable red herring to draw away from the real traitor.

The real traitor I changed as well. Instead of someone they never knew before, I had it be Yulah's half-orc friend, Dax who reforged her double axe. I'd set up earlier that he had the Sihedron rune tattoo. He was also someone who had experienced abuse at the hands of giants earlier. It created a really interesting motivation: I thought. He loved Lucrecia, because she promised to protect him from the giants, as well as pleasures, and whatnot. It also showed this reasonable person who had a crappy life who became obsessed with anything who made him happy. Additionally, I described him as having bared the brunt of the abuse from the Grauls. This, again, threw the group off from suspecting him until the very end.

I statted up Ameiko (Swashbuckler), Sheriff Hemlock(Fighter), Shalelu (Ranger), and Bethana (Investigator) to the same level of the group, or one behind. They would get to choose at early levels who they wanted to take with them. This enhanced the relationship with the NPCs, and let them strategize who's skills they needed more for each mission. I debated on Father Zantus, but they had a stellar cleric, and so didn't really need him.

It worked really well at lower levels. At higher levels, I found that it was too much work to keep the characters up to the level, and they went with Ameiko 9/10 times so I just leveled her up.

Hythlodeus wrote:

give me five minutes, I'll see what I can come up with

Edit: alright, it took me a while to find a host for the picture. so here it is now.
Keep in mind, I don't have the book nearby, so, if I remember correctly: round ancient tower near cliffs?
that's certainly not the best I can do, but with the limited time I gave myself, call it a first draft:
Old Light Version 1
if you need changes, I happily try and give my best to change it

This is awesome! Thank you!

The plan was to tell everyone they could that they were heading to Fort Rannick, by way of Foxglove Manor (which is now technically theirs, but still totally haunted). They had gotten in Magnimar a scroll to Hallow the house. I decided that there was no way that the evil spirit was going to have that. Hallow has a long casting time, so he would attack them and hope to disrupt the ritual. First off was Fear, cast on the Cleric. Rosie rolled a Will save in the stratosphere: no problem.

Second, the windows burst out, spraying the cleric in glass and dealing 3d6 damage. She needed to make a concentration check to keep going, which was close - but a success.

Lastly, a flaming skull flew out the door at her casting Phantasmal Killer. She made her Will save again, no problem, but once the player found out the spell was Phantasmal Killer: I'd succeeded in demonstrating to her that the house was playing for keeps.

After cleansing the spirit from the house, the group met up with their new pirate friend: Aidan! Rosie's old flame had agreed to smuggle them into the city, as he had a specialized ship (the Rosalita) designed for this. Because he's a pirate.

Zeldu had been in Drago's manor before. He'd not been given much chance to roam, but he did have a rough idea of the layout of the house. The group decided that they would prepare invisibility spells on everyone, including Yulah's animal companion who was now large size. Additionally, Rosie would cast Ant's Haul on Balyx so that the bird would be able to carry the whole of the party. They would fly up (invisibly) dodging the Sable Marines. Rosie would cast Fly spells on everyone, and they would dive from a reasonable height. They (correctly) assumed that the guards would be better equipped to defend against attacks from the ground. So the group flew to a second floor window and snuck their way in.

Inside, the group ran into a disguised Erinyes devil. As Drago was a noble of Cheliax, he had ties with devils and this one owed him a favor. They fought against the devil, but were not quick enough to prevent her from raising the alarm. Drago's bodyguard and concubine, a human mute brawler came out next, and pummeled the party fairly efficiently. They ultimately dispatched her as well as a few of the guards who'd begun arriving downstairs. Next they went into Drago's chambers.

They found Drago in his bath, dying from old age. He had an amulet which I decided was a sort of panic button. It alerted the city guard that he was under attack. He had used the Soul Soap, and gloated with Zeldu. As Rosie could see sins, however, she noted that all of his were still there because he didn't truly repent (so Catholic). Zeldu decided not to wait for time, and dispatched him on his own, earning a Wrath point. And then things got weird.

I had time stop and a character wearing all white address Zeldu. He didn't introduce himself, but noted that he'd been following Zeldu with some interest. He stated that he had a position available for Zeldu if he was interested. Zeldu realized that this person was considerably powerful, and decided that it would be good to play along. With a flick of his hand, he produced a shadowy hood from Drago's chamber. He gave the hood to Zeldu by way of a contract. The player concluded that this was probably a devil of some kind - which was what I was hoping. In actuality, this being was Uriel: an Archangel who specializes in subtlety and intrigue.

Essentially, he's grooming Zeldu to overhaul the underworld of Korvosa into a force of good. The hood granted Zeldu a +5 bonus on Bluff checks, nondetection, and 1/day he could cast invisibility, cat's grace, or silence as spell like abilities. I'm deciding that this is going to be a part of a set of items called Mantle of the King of Thieves. Each will be unique, and when he wears them with one another, they'll unlock other effects.

The escape from Korvosa was interesting. The guard was approaching and so the group had to run out while being shot at by the guard. I rolled in front of everyone, and rolled really well with a couple of critical hits that dropped our cleric. Zeldu gave her a potion, earning a couple pot shots at him as well. Ultimately, they made it to the water where they'd prepared potions of some spell that allowed them to see and swim underwater. The Sable Marines arrived and followed them a bit, but they were able to lose them in the dark, coming up in a special chamber in Aidan's boat designed for this purpose. The pirate hid them in smuggling compartments and they remained undetected, even when his ship was searched by the guard.

They left the city, and Aidan took them to Palin's Cove, where they began their trek to Fort Rannick. Aidan and Rosie shared one passionate kiss before they departed: their first in years. Oh, do I have plans to ruin that. Mwahahaha

So, it's been over a year since I last posted. The group has completed Hook Mountain, and then me and my wife moved out of state. So: to recap what happened.

We had the group return to Sandpoint, once again as heroes. Kaye, the owner/operator of the Pixie's Kitten decided to throw the party a fancy party. There would be of course some of the companions doing their thing, but it was also a lot more like a prom for the party. Zeldu (the party determined they were definitely still calling him Zeldu) had patched things up with Ameiko, and the two were planning on attending together - though she would have to leave a bit early to watch the Rusty Dragon.

I introduced a former flame of Rosie's named Aidan Oakheart who was an honest-to-goodness dwarven pirate. He showed up with an expensive bottle of whiskey for Ameiko, as well as other supplies to sell. Zeldu was so happy, he decided to play matchmaker and pay Aidan to pick up Sven: Yulah's beau from Magnimar and bring him back for the party. When they arrived, Aidan also saw Rosie, and the two had a reunion. It was very sweet. All seemed happy with the world, as they went to the party at the Pixie's Kitten (which I had changed so that it was immediately out of town).

Bethana got Yulah's attention, and asked her to meet her away from the party with news of what she'd learned by tailing Zeldu. When Yulah met with her, just as she was about to tell her about Drago: snipers' arrows hit her, three in the chest. Bethana was dead. (Though the group decided that they wanted to use hero points to save her) So we had a fight against the assassins with no weapons or armor. The group won, and looked on as a fire erupted at the Rusty Dragon.

The group quickly grabbed some weapons and rushed to the Rusty Dragon. They found more assassins outside waiting to dispatch any survivors. One ran away, calling that they would see them at the Fatman's Feedbag. The group quickly took care of them, and Zeldu ran to the flames to find Ameiko pinned under a burning timber. With the help of Yulah, they freed her and got her outside.

Zeldu jumped right in, believing that Jubrayl was behind the attacks. When they got to the Feedbag, vengeance in his eyes. They found that all of Jubrayl's men were dead. Inside they found Jubrayl chained up, being tortured by an assassin. He gave Zeldu a cold stare, and said "Drago sends his regards, Pavo." They fought, and it was close but ultimately the group won.

Zeldu tried to intimidate Jubrayl, as he once again assumed that Jubrayl had attempted to cut a deal with Drago (he hadn't). In actuality, it was Ven Vinder - still pissed at Zeldu for defiling his daughter. As Jubrayl had just been tortured, all it did was piss him off. The group regrouped. Bethana was coming around, but despite being alive: she was paralyzed permanently from the attack. The Rusty Dragon had burnt to the ground. Yet again, there was another attack, though this one had much less loss to the populace at large: they targeted anyone who had helped Zeldu previously. After some discussion, they determined that it was time to deal directly with Drago.

They began to plot their raid on Drago's manor in Korvosa.

Fromper wrote:
It's just the ruined exterior of a tower. He'll be walking around the outside. Put a rough circle on the map and call it a day.

...sure. We can always do that. Ultimately, you can always just draw shapes on a map and call it a day. But as someone who's visually inspired, having a map that actually looks like the place where the characters actually are helps to maintain the suspension of disbelief.

I've started the battle for Sandpoint, and I've run into a slight snag. Teraktinus is headed for the Old Light to grab the stone. I haven't found a single map of the Old Light as it seems that's where they're likely to run into him. Does anyone have any Old Light maps they would be able to share?

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I keep thinking that this class would work better using the variant Multiclassing rules rather than standing on its own. Imagine a character who is a rogue, and gets his second identity at 3rd level instead of a feat. You wouldn't have to fight with archetypes, or think up talents for all the permutations of characters. Someone wants to play a Paladin/Vigilante? Go for it. A Brawler? Why not. It gives the flexibility and the flavor without shoehorning in.

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I actually really love that you made the call not to send it back. Us fans know just how much time and effort go into building this product, and how much I would want it to be perfect - but as you mentioned, that would be such a colossal waste to have all of those otherwise flawless books in a landfill. Now, 1)Those of us who get our hands on the first run of these books have something obvious to point to, and 2)It's like home cooking. There's lumps, but that's how you know it was made, with love, by people.

When I imagine an Unchained Fighter, I imagine two things.

-First, I imagine a series of trappings that the Fighter could put on herself in preparation for the day. This might be a suite of combat abilities to make the most of her weapon, the terrain, her teammates abilities, etc. Mostly I would like to see these as a set of combat and/or out of combat options - not just +x bonuses.

-Additionally, I think that a Fighter could have the ability to set and change the tempo of combat. Imagine if a Fighter had a contintency or two set up, like a perpetual readied action. The first person in combat who hits me is getting smacked in the face. If a spellcaster targets me with a spell, I'm charging him/her. The fighter would be able to determine if this was still a good tactical decision, but it would create a chance for more the Fighter taking more actions and directing the flow in combat a bit more. I think that would make them unique.

Ignoring any previous posts potentially attacking, or defending a definitely-non-attack, and posting my thoughts about Basic D&D:

Things I liked:
-I really like a save for all the ability scores. I think it makes a certain amount of sense, and opens up for some really good social interaction. "Lord Soand'So is attempting to expose how little you know about the subject, make an Intelligence save to roll with it or a Charisma save to maintain composure."
-I liked the simplicity of finesse weapons, and also the viability of Dex-based warrior types with Dex to damage.
-It was really simple to make up characters, and they were rather evocative. I definitely didn't feel like my rogue was going to be the same as everyone else's rogue.
-I enjoy that magic is special, and incredibly helpful but not necessary. I really dislike +x magic items.
-I really like advantage/disadvantage as a mechanic. Elegant, dynamic and well-done.

Things I'm neutral about:
-Ability scores capped out at 20. While I get that it sometimes gets excessive in 3.x or Pathfinder (I once played a half-dragon fighter with a strength in the 80s!) I think it does limit those people who do want to play super-heroic characters.
-In addition to the ability scores, the math overall is really flat by design. It makes monsters like goblins viable for a longer time which is cool, but making up a higher level character, they don't feel necessarily more powerful than the first level nobody, except for hit points.
-Multiclassing. I like that they're doing it, but there really weren't any rules for it in the basic rules (understandable), other than proficiency bonuses remain constant for character level, and you only get a few of the proficiencies.

Things I didn't like:
-I really wanted to like backgrounds, but they felt so limiting. I imagine that this will be an area that is really expanded upon with splat books and Race Highlight books (Dwarves of...). There would need to be a lot of backgrounds for it to feel like I can actually have it reflect my character. I prefer Pathfinder traits.
-I didn't like the Skill system. while I started gaming with 2nd Edition, I really cut my teeth on 3.0, and I use skills quite a bit to help me define my characters. Choosing a finite number that won't change, and being trained in skills don't really make you all that much better than someone who isn't, for instance, just isn't evocative to me.
-While the majority of the game is set up to be intuitive, there are a couple of instances where that breaks down. I think because the system is designed to be pretty simple otherwise, these stick out a bit more. An example is the Arcane Recovery for a Wizard who can study her spellbook for a short time and then recover a number of spell levels-ish equal to half her level (rounded up), where a third level wizard can recover one second level spell, or two first level spells. It just feels a bit awkward.

In all:
-I think it's a solid game. Not enough to make it my primary game, but I think it was a solid effort. I would definitely try this out at a Con or if a friend wanted to run it as a one off. I think that one of the things this highlights is that WotC, with both 4th edition, and with this edition is attempting to 'get the math right', so that the 'sweet spot' for the game runs longer, and so that there is less that has to be modified/nerfed/banned for different games. I think Pathfinder expects that the GM will do that on his/her own. I still feel that Pathfinder has much more space to craft a character using the mechanics of the game, and not just the story. That brings in a level of unpredictability with the mechanics, but also more freedom. Those are my 2 cents (or more, if we're paying by word count. Sorry!)

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I agree that there's got to be a sense of consequence to the behavior. You would be within your right to execute them, but when I've been in that situation, there were groups where following through on that (justified or no) would not only end the gaming group, but several friendships.

Another suggestion:
Have them to wait in the Hells and inform them that they're going to be executed. Justice Ironbriar comes down to inform them they have a visitor. Down comes Xanesha, disguised as a beautiful noble-woman. She offers to get them out of their predicament, as well, if they prove useful, that they will be lavished with riches beyond their comprehension. If they agree, she'll give them charms that change their appearance and they'll be smuggled out of the cells. She'll give them the name of a guardsmen who's abused his position, accepting bribes in both gold and flesh from those he's charged to arrest. (Giving them the illusion of revenge) She wants them to bring him to her alive. If they do, they get 1,000gp, and another name. If they fail, they see her anger and get a sense that she's more than she seems. Keep this going, rewarding them way more than they should for their level. Eventually, (around 4 names or so) she'll give them name of the mayor. If they succeed and she'll offer them 5,000gp. Each time they accept the money, give them a greed point. If they've done all five jobs, they're ready to be harvested themselves. She invites them to the Shadow tower, where Justice Ironbriar is waiting outside with cultists. The rest should fall out from there.

If they refuse right out, you can always kill them. If any of them have a noble background, they may be able to attempt a trial by combat. I imagine in Magnimar that would be one of those things that so few people enact it, that they simply forgot that it was never off the books - which happens. You could always add in some other quest in place of a direct trial. Good luck!

I agree with a lot of what's said above, and I hope this won't be too repetitive:

-This adventure is awesome for Wizards. None of my players bit on the opportunity to play a Wizard and are doing fine, but they would be so much better off with a Wizard or a Sorcerer.
-I agree that it has to work for both you and your players. The game is collaborative. My recommendation is to sit down with your players and to explain why the things are important to you are important to you, and to listen to them. If you limit them, and they don't get it, they may grow to resent you. That's not good for a game. If you get their buy in, then you can get a lot more trust - which breeds role playing, risk taking, and all around good times for everyone.
-I went 20 point buy. It's less important for the class options you presented, but I just find 15 point buy really limiting, and there are some options (bard, monk, etc.) that just can't be done to the level that I and my players enjoy.
-My players like rolling hit points. It made it dicey for early levels as our ranger rolled minimum, but we're going into the third book and they're all still alive without me pulling punches. Smart play can do a lot, but again: I'd talk with them. I'd say high average (6 on d10; 5 on d8; 4 on d6) would work plenty good. I'm hesitant to tweak rules like give bonus feats, etc. as I trust a lot into playtesters to have a good sense of balance.
-We use hero points. I didn't give them out to start, but handed them out after the first session. My players really enjoy them. We have a printed set of rules and it allows them to be brave, and to do heroic stuff which is why we set down to game in the first place.
-I've offered average starting gold, or people can roll it. Most have rolled it and been okay with the results. I also handed out prizes (masterwork backpack, throwing axes, a packmule, a coil of silk rope, etc.) for prizes for the various games. That did a lot to make sure they were prepared.

What about the Starstone test? Additionally, I think it would be neat to see an adventure where a number of tasks must be completed against a count down mechanic. As to locations in Golarion: I don't have a strong preference.

Im currently running RotRL, and my players are loving it. We have a mixed group of old hat gamers, people who've played in a handful, and a brand, spanking-new player. The classic elements and monsters are picture perfect (IMO). I'm looking ahead to what I'll run next. I'm leaning towards Legacy of Fire, because the Arabian Nights feel is really evocative, but I'm hot sure about how rail-roady it is. All the APs are rail-roady, but some fake it better than others. Anyone have any advice on Legacy of Firem or want to steer me towards a different AP?

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I would actually say that it might be easier to get them to understand, "Great! You found a ruleset that allows you to break the game. We can't do that anymore. Your fun can't trump anyone else's fun - including the ranger, and mine as the GM."

It's a collaborative game. If they don't get that, which they may not. Then, I would go to rule 0. "Xanesha is imbued with power of her Runelord master, and she turns on you. Karzoug turns your ogre zombies into necrotic bombs which literally blow up in your face. Save for half." Bottom line, as was mentioned above - while I don't think it's solely the GM's game to do whatever the heck they want, s/he is definitely the arbiter and charged with ensuring fun for everyone at the table.

Alternatively, I may be misinterpreting your issue: you may be fine with them doing this as long as you can do it back to them in turn. In which case, I would rewrite Mammy Graul as a Gravewalker witch, and she can take over the undead they create if they're within her aura of desecration. They send in the lamia, only to have it coming out and attacking them in kind. At least that might ruin their picnic. Or all of a sudden people have undeath to death scrolls on them. "Great tactic, you got them to spend a round not smacking you. Who's next?"

I think he would only get +3 to Int, Wis, Cha for age.

In 3.5 I ran an intelligent sword with our Warpriest. I spent approximately 3 sessions talking with him about how impressive he was. I called him "My lord", in the passed notes to him. The weapon used its magic ability to alter his appearance so that his sword and armor appeared plated in gold, and that he stood a few inches taller so that he would be more impressive to friend and foe alike.

The player himself was a strong strategist, and a Cleric of a War deity. When discussions came, I would tell him that he was the one most fit to make the call, and that he needed to assert himself. Then I would encourage him, that they needed to see demonstrations of his power in order to understand how much greater he had become. Then he had to start making Will saves, or he would be offended if they didn't call him, "My lord". By the end, he had adopted the moniker "Lord Brendan the Majestic" or some other pretentious thing.

The thing I liked about it was that, though the player realized fairly early on that the sword he'd adopted might have been trying to negatively persuade his character, he also saw how insidious it was, and how it played on the character's desire to be powerful and worthy.

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I would probably get overly ambitious with this scenario, so please bear with me, or disregard entirely.

I would talk with the player of the monk first and foremost. I would tell him that there was an opportunity for him to continue with the character if he wanted, but that it would (at least initially) as a ghost. Not everyone would want their character to be a ghost, and I'd want to get buy in first.

If s/he agreed: I'd run a separate session. Foxglove would be a bit of a nightmare. If you haven't, read "Ghost Story" by Jim Butcher. The main character becomes a ghost, and has to learn the rules in a world of hungry ghosts, and the like. Good read, as were the 13 books before them (imo). I would run solo haunt encounters where the monk runs into the various souls who've died in the manor - including the Foxglove family, but also various passers-by, construction workers, etc., and maybe an allip or something for an actual fight. I would have lots of foreshadowing moments - the floor opening up underneath you, as you see Aldern murmuring the name of his haunt victim. Every now and again, the face of Vorel will appear in mirrors, windows, the floor, etc. Every time, there will be a fear effect, and the monk will go running - perhaps blinking out, and appearing back where s/he died. If successful, the monk would gain knowledge about exactly what Vorel has become and how to destroy him. Additionally, if Vorel can be defeated before the sun rises on the third day (or whatever), he will be raised. He died by a haunt, and if they're able to exorcise the House: he'll be able to come back, but the clock is ticking.

Now, back to the group. I would add in times when they can hear the voice of their friend, or see his visage in the mirror, etc. Attempting to warn them, but it's garbled, allowing them to continue through the house. I would attempt to time it so that they broke right before they got to Aldern (if possible). In the next session, I would bring the monk back - materializing to fight with Aldern (since that or the Skaveling are one of the toughest fights they face). The monk could then impart what he learned, and then the race is on. It takes Hallow spell to exorcise Vorel. That's generally going to be higher level than a cleric in the party can cast, so they may need to run back to town to get a scroll, or someone else who can assist. Alternatively, and my suggestion, would be to make it a ritual. You'll need blood from one in his family. Despite Aldern's transformation: that should probably do. Holy Water. A silver Holy Symbol. An item of importance to the spirit (his books, the broken phylactory, etc.), and then you'll have to withstand the wrath of Vorel attempting to disrupt the spell - earthquakes, sudden cold snaps, fear effects, etc. I'd say 4 rounds should cover it.

If I was a PC: that would be sufficiently epic as a way to bring me back. Again, I know that it's really ambitious, so disregard as necessary. Good luck!

I've actually stolen your idea, and I'm going to remake Mammy Graul as a Witch. Additionally, I've made Jakardos a Hunter - mostly due to the bond between him and his Animal Companion, and also to try out the new class. Orik has survived two books so far, and so I'm going to have him replace Vale Temros, and I'm going to level him up with a couple of levels of Slayer. I'm rewriting Teraktinus as a Bloodrager - which I dearly hope won't make him too powerful.

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For me, the biggest thing to remember is rule 0. I would advise asking your GM about it, rather than attempting to get support on the forums. None of us are your GM: we can't speak to why he made the decision he did. And ultimately: it is his call. I would be frustrated, too, if I never got to use a really cool ability. I think that sharing that with your GM will help to make him better, and is the only chance of getting anything changed in your game.

After reading a lot of posts on the forum, I was prepared with a sliding scale of goblins. I had two of the group of goblins immediately run out to grab "Boss". My group didn't have much area of effect, so the fight was a bit more time consuming - so Tsuto showed up with the pair of goblins to join the fight and still had a few of the rest set up to flank. He ended up dropping our rogue with a critical stunning fist. If we had a caster with burning hands, sleep, etc. I would have had a few more goblins come in from the other side.

Having a GM PC is probably the easiest. Changing numbers like level, hit points or point buy gets so tricky because some encounters those things matter more than others. I'm about to start Hook Mountain with 3 players, and I chose to draw up various NPCs (Hemlock, Ameiko, Shalelu, etc.) to have them accompany the PCs. It's worked out really well, since a large part of the Adventure Path (at least at first) is building a strong connection with the town and the townsfolk. It's also allowed them to choose which companion they want with them so it's always felt like it was their party, and not the GM PC to the rescue!

I've found myself re-reading the character descriptions for Nualia's mischievous gang and chuckling. I never really got much into the sub-motivations of who was attracted to whom, but it reads like a reality show. I imagine it was somewhat destined to implode soon anyway. To recap:

Orik had a crush on Lyrie - who didn't reciprocate.

Lyrie had a strange crush on Tsuto - who didn't reciprocate.

Tsuto was head over heels infatuated with Nualia - who pretended to reciprocate.

Nualia was all about Lamashtu.

Bruthazmus had a weird mommy-thing for Nualia, but mostly: Bruthazmus liked killing things.

How did these sub-motivations work for you in your game?

My party were captured before taking out Ripnugget and Nualia. She sent them downstairs to attempt to free Malfeshnekor, which they lied saying they would. Meanwhile, Nualia led an attack on Sandpoint with Ripnugget and all remaining goblins. Her plan was to free Tsuto, and to kidnap Brodert Quink - the eminent scholar on all things Thassilonian to assist her with freeing Malfeshnekor in the likely event they failed or double-crossed her.

The PCs got out, and raced home - killing their horse by forcing it to sprint the whole way to Sandpoint and began marshalling some troops to meet Ripnugget. The end of the book mirrored the front with a goblin siege of Sandpoint, this time they were prepared and wiped out the goblins once and for all. Nualia retreated back to the Catacombs where she was confronted with Tsuto, her Yeth Hounds, and a small mob of Sinspawn.

It was pretty darn epic. In order to convince them to go back, Brodert became hell-bent on going to Thistletop to examine the site, and he likely, would have opened the door for Malfeshnekor. I played Malfeshnekor as very bright, but ravenously hungry and psychotically vicious. Pairing him with the Scribbler would be nice, but I couldn't imagine him being that patient.

In falling action, the alerted the mayor to the plot. Initially, as Pavo had surreptitiously pocketed the list of names, the mayor found it somewhat difficult to believe. Then, Pavo asked to speak to him aside, and produced the list, and also disclosed that he had been ordered by the courts to leave town earlier that day. The mayor invited them to a feast which allowed me to showcase the vast difference in wealth, and the rampant corruption. They did however have no problem accepting their 6,000gp reward, earning them all greed points.

The mayor also spoke with Pavo. I decided to play the mayor as someone who would be able to quickly get information, even hard to come by information. So he knew, of course, about Drago hunting Pavo. I determined that he wasnt ready to intercede on Pavo's behalf, but he certainly wouldn't assist Drago in finding the man who just saved his life and lifestyle. So, as way of another reward, he offered Pavo Fort Rannick provided he could assist the Black Arrows with their ogre problem. Of course his teammates agreed to help, particularly with the mention of Fort Rannick in Lucrecia's note.

I plan on playing out the journey some, with Drago's men making attempts on Pavo's life at every turn. My thought is that, for now, run and hide has worked well for Pavo. But as he's getting more renown, and more settled in Sandpoint: it should become more apparent that the evil old man isnt going to let it go. If Pavo's able to take out Drago, he may just be able to insinuate himself as the head of the criminal empire. The Wild Card that I haven't figured out yet is Jubrayl. Pavo outted him during the trial, which he will not take kindly to. At the same time Jubrayl is aware that everyone who's gone up against the party so far has ended up dead, or at least in worse shape. If he waits to long, Pavo's only going to get more powerful, at the same time: murder isn't much his style.

Conversely, I was thinking that Drago might make an example of Jubrayl, and possibly the Rusty Dragon. If your quarry goes to ground and all that. Thoughts? I haven't had a ton of luck with comments, but here's hoping.

We finished off the Skinsaw murders last night. The players played smart, with one noted exception: Our cleric forgot to buff again going into the final fight. Mainly, she's wearing the Sihedron medallion, and forgot to use its false life ability. It almost made the difference, as she was the target of Xanesha's opening attack, which dropped her into negatives.

I had Xanesha use her Major image ability to create a decoy to do the talking. Bating them, and getting the party to move further into the room, while the real Xanesha was invisible and waiting. This did 2 important things: It allowed Xanesha to get behind the frontline fighters to target the cleric. Additionally, it allowed her to be positioned near the opening to make her getaway.

Xanesha used Vital Strike for her first attack, dropping the Cleric, and triggering the Impaler of Thorns' despair ability. Everyone except Sheriff Hemlock failed. The rogue tried his magic missile wand, and learned some more about Spell Resistance. The Ranger's dice went cold in conjunction with the despair, leading to a lot of swings, but no contact. Next Xanesha turned her sights on the Sorcerer cohort who was inching over to try to heal the Cleric. She triggered the Medusa Mask, and due to the despair effect, the party was knocked down to 3.

Belor had the best luck, landing a few hits. The ranger decided after round 2 to put some of her dice in timeout. The rogue force fed a potion to get the cleric back on her feet, who promptly cast Blessing of Fervor, which is a fantastic spell if you haven't checked it out. This allowed her to stand up immediately without an AoO, and to give her allies some more optionsfor their benefit.

The ranger landed a few hits, whittling Xanesha down. The rogue moved in, but missed his attack. Xanesha unloaded a full attack on Sheriff Hemlock, bring him close. I had this fantasy of killing off the Sheriff. I'm not sure exactly why, but I thought it would motivate them. No such luck, as the ranger found her dice, landing a critical hit and getting Xanesha into prime run the heck away zone. She withdrew off the edge, casting feather fall onnher way. This is where our ranger got badass.

Yullah had 2 spells. I'll admit that I never put much stock in ranger spells. Her first spell was Glide. Allowing her to dive out the hole and continue the chase. Her animal companion, a Roc, also attempted a Fly-By Attack, but missed. Expecting pursuit, I figured that Xanesha would cast Invisibilty. The entire table groans. Until the ranger casts Hunter's Sight. Amongst some other killer benefits, it allows her to see invisble and ethereal creatures. Xanesha thinking she's in the clear, strolls off into the darkness of night; only to be charged by a vicious screaming half-orc out for blood! Everyone cheers.

But Xanesha has one more trick up her sleeve. Charm Monster. The ranger has failed almost every Will save she's been presented with in this campaign, and everyone is nervous. She rolls the dice...success! Next round Xanesha is dropped unconscious. Not fully satisfied, Yullah coupmde graces the unconscious creature, taking her head and earning yet another Wrath point. It was fantastic.

I planned on whenever someone mentioned the Misgivings for locals to make a sign for Desna to protect them and ward off evil spirits. Sandpoint is often described as a superstitious lot, and I figure that you can get away without spilling the beans yet, while still foreshadowing. I also figured that while someone who grew up in Sandpoint would assuredly know about the haunted house, and the running bet for some brave teen to spend the night in the Misgivings: Aldern had only just returned after spending more than 20 years being brought up in Korvosa, it would be a higher check to figure out that it was also the name for Foxglove manor.

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In the fight versus Xanesha, I added that she created a Major Image of herself to monologue with the party, laying on her pillow bed. When they attack it, it will disappear, and she'll attack the cleric from invisibility. It'll force them out of their rote tactics, and also give the opportunity
to taunt the PCs, while not giving up her advantage.

Another option would be for Ironbriar to have them arrested. Then, he can offer them "riches beyond their wildest dreams" for their silence. If they agree, he offers to take them into the fold, and introduce them to his mistress. They're in the business of sacrificing the greedy, maybe she'll take a page from her sister's book, and cultivate it some before attempting to sacrifice them.

There's actually a few that will last longer than a round: Dance of Ruin lasts for a d6 rounds, but once it's run its course. Worried Wife can last multiple rounds. Misogynistic Rage lasts a surprise round +1d4 rounds. It varies by haunt.

We began our last session with the interrogation of Justice Ironbriar.

-I think I roleplayed him well. He was convincing, and focused on the elements of his story that were true: This wasn't his idea. He had no idea how many of the cultists were under her domination. He shared that Xanesha was a monster - a lamia, but he wasn't very knowledgeable about what that meant. Just that she was powerful, had magic, and the body of a snake. Interestingly, our cleric made a knowledge: Arcana check on lamia, to know that they had the body of a lion, but not enough to know about lamia matriarchs, so she believed he was lying. Which he was: just not about that.

-The group did successfully call him on a few of the discrepencies: He used a holy symbol of Norgorber to channel energy and cast spells. If he wasn't evil before, it was unlikely that a temporary spell like Charm was going to give him suddenly these abilities. He tried to downplay the Brothers of the Seven involvement, but they had so much evidence against the Brotherhood that he had a hard time not spilling the beans on some of that, including the names of a few more of the brothers.

-Rather than handing him over to the City Guard, Rosie used her connections with the Pathfinder Society to ensure that he would receive justice. I'm unsure exactly what the Pathfinder Society would do. I set them up that they were attempting to get to the bottom of this, and here's a major lynch pin in the murders: part of them would very much like to see him brought to justice. Additionally, the Pathfinder Society, while not evil, also doesn't necessarily bat their eyes at agents who use less than good methods to accomplish their tasks. He's talented, smart, and could see working for the Pathfinder Society as a way to continue to honor Norgorber, as well as get his fill of assassinations. I'm just unsure on that end.

-The group headed to the Shadow Tower. They scouted it out a bit, I added in some of the awful things that would happen in the Underbridge area of Magnimar: drug dealers, a homeless man dead in the street, an 11 year old prostitute attempting to solicit a member of the party. It left the whole of the group feeling uncomfortable, which meant that I was pretty successful. The group entered the tower, but due to an outstanding Stealth check by the Scarecrow, he remained undetected until they approached the stair, which he popped out and made a Power Attack Vital Strike against Sheriff Hemlock for about 40 points of damage. It pretty well terrified the whole of the group as they realized two hits on any of them could drop them.

-The rogue attempted to use his Magic Missile wand, which was a good idea for the newer player: staying back from the larger threat to allow the front line guys to get in place before he tumbled in for sneak attack. It did provide him to learn first hand that some of his enemies are immune to magic, however, and all of a sudden tactics once again had to change. Rosie did a phenomenal job as a healer, and once the Ranger cast Lead Blades on double axe, and she was Enlarged by the new Sorcerer cohort, she brought the monster down quickly. The Scarecrow was able to knock her to -8, which gave the whole of the group another proper scare. I found out afterward that it was the closest that the player has ever been to death. I didn't have the heart to tell her what was coming. We'll see if they get out alive.

-The group advanced on the terrible stair, initially leading with the enlarged half-orc, who fell immediately through. So they dismissed the spell, and spread out. The bell dropped on Rosie. I rolled the 6d6 of damage, worried that I was going to drop her then and there. I rolled almost minimum (10 points), however she did fail her Reflex save and took more damage from the fall. It happened to pretty much the best person, however, as she was able to cast Fly the next round and rejoin the party almost immediately.

-The fight with the Faceless Stalkers was a lot of fun, as they balanced on the support beams over the bells. There was one near fall, but all in all the party crushed them.

-We'll pick up next week with Xanesha, and deal with the falling action from the story. The group is playing well, having fun, and getting really hooked in the story. All of that makes for one happy DM.

After the session with the trial where no combat occurred, the next session was the raid on the Seven's Sawmill. Having been given 24 hours to leave town, the group was motivated to get working on it that night.

-My wife rolled a random backstory for her cleric, Rosie. In the backstory, she got the Revelation Cleric background, and fleshed it out further that she had a vision of a powerful relic from ancient Thassilon. This is what prompted her to head to the surface, and become an adventurer. When they defeated Nualia and found her Sihedron amulet: I informed her that this was the item of her vision (because I'm sneaky).

I also made the decision that I would make the amulet an Item of Legacy, using the rules from the old 3.5 rulebook. So as she hit 7th level, she gained the ability to see the sins of people she interacted with. She sees them emblazoned with a fiery Thassilonian rune on their forehead whichever is the most prominent sin (or virtue). I determined that this would also give her a +5 bonus to Sense Motive.

-I debated on changing up some of the encounters now that Ironbriar knew they were on the trail, but decided that I liked the encounter in the Sawmill too much to change it. I did however add in that they were speeding up the murders further, and they were able to hear the screams of a victim as they carved the rune into his chest. As soon as they through open the door to the Undermill, the Cultists pushed a merchant, now emblazoned with the rune, into the splitter with a spray of arterial blood.

-Only the rogue managed not to get caught up in the machine and get dropped into the river. The cleric, I somewhat expected. But our ranger rolled back to back 2's on her Reflex saves. Additionally, they had Sheriff Hemlock with them who also fell into the machine. All told it was perhaps the most effective opponent of the party in the whole mill, save perhaps Ironbriar.

-The rogue succeeded at the Disable Device after the fight to shut off the mill - which allowed them to search the bodies uninterrupted, but also, the sudden lack of sound alerted the cultists above of their presence. They attempted to sneak upstairs to find three cultists waiting for them with readied hand crossbows pelting the ranger, and then falling back into the work room. As the group closed in on them, another group of cultists from above came down and joined the fight, almost dropping Rosie's new cohort - a Sorcerer sent to her from the Pathfinder guild.

-Then Ironbriar joined the fight and things got interesting. Rosie was able to succeed on the Sense Motive check to determine that he was enchanted, and attempted to hit him with a Protection from Evil spell, but it took her several rounds to hit his touch AC. In the mean time, the whole party spent a few rounds confused and bashing themselves in the head. The sorcerer actually fell unconscious as she bludgeoned herself with a handy piece of timber laying around.

-Finally succeeding on the touch AC gave him first a will save against the effect, which he failed. Then a will save against Xanesha's Charm Monster - which he succeeded. I determined as the group was still largely confused, he would go invisible and attempt to leave the mill. The cleric roused the sorcerer who promptly dropped glitterdust on him and the whole of the party, leaving him and half the party, including herself blinded.

"Worth it." she says while lying on the ground. Hemlock and the cleric who were able to see proceeded to smack down Ironbriar and knock him unconscious.

This weekend, we'll pick up with the interrogation of Justice Ironbriar - who will of course spill almost everything about Xanesha, and attempt to blame her for the murders. The group however is already dubious, because Ironbriar was witnessed casting spells with a holy symbol of Norgorber. They're already starting to wonder how far gone he was already. Additionally, they're planning on turning him in to assist with overturning the decision on Pavo - getting them more time in town, if need be.

We've had two sessions since I've last updated (so sorry for the long post). The group finished off Aldern. The monologue break in the middle was awkward. For us, it went sort of like this:

(Yullah hits Aldern, dropping him below the threshold to trigger his monologue)

Me: "Yullah's axe cuts a swath of blackish blood on his forearm, and he yelps. Suddenly his eyes become a bit more clear, and he drops to his knees"

Zeldu: "Attack of opportunity?"

Me: "No. He begins to stammer, 'It wasn't my fault! The Brothers...The Brothers of the Seven were supposed to help me!" Then, just as quick, his eyes narrow and become predatory again. He stands up..."

Rosie: "Attack of opportunity."

Me: "No, guys I know that this is a bit outside the rules, but it's important to the story, alright? He bows..."

Rosie: "Now can I hit him?"

Me: "...and says 'I wonder how your deaths will affect your loved ones. Wonder what all you might have accomplished. Pity.' Then he puts on his mask...

Yullah: "When did he get a mask? Show me the picture again!"

Me: "And he snarls at you all moving with renewed vigor."

Rosie: "..."

Me: "Now you can hit him."

And hit him she did. They kicked the snot out of him, actually. Ameiko was the only one to fail any of his saves. And with Yullah having Undead as her second favored enemy: she whooped on him pretty solid. Despite having only three players, they do a great job with dispatching single foes. A wizard or sorcerer would be vital for some of the larger scale fights, but the team does a great job.

Rosie is played by my wife, and she was incredibly creeped out by the stalking behavior. Aldern was obsessed with her based on Envy - had drawings of her in heroic poses, but also stole some of her stuff, had drawings of her sleeping and had cut off a lock of her hair. They decided to burn the painting, hair, and anything else that Aldern had done.

Having not gone through the upstairs, they were still at a loss at how to get rid of the haunting on the house, and so they left with it still standing. They may go back to it, but I doubt it, which is a shame. It was the thing I was most excited for in running this book, and I don't think they got to experience all of it.

Leaving for Magnimar, they decided to swap out Ameiko for Sheriff Hemlock. I had already alerted the PCs to the killings in Magnimar, and with Aldern gone, the Sheriff wanted to go with them to see if he could help in tracking down what was now looking like multiple killers working for this Xanesha woman.

I decided to describe the townhouse as under repair, but not derelict and abandoned as was initially described. The faceless stalkers weren't too difficult of an encounter at the townhouse, but surprisingly to me, seemed to continue to creep out the party. I had one of them looking like Iesha Foxglove. They never found the revenant upstairs (and I was unsure what would happen to her once Aldern was killed) so they actually didn't know what to do, until they heard Aldern's voice from the next room. They followed Iesha into the room, who then gave the code word and both resumed their natural forms and attacked. Only the entryway and parlor looked normal, the rest of the house was ransacked as described. They found the secret compartment and were prepared to leave for the Seven's Sawmill.

That's when I went a bit off book.

I determined after Thistletop, Orik went to Magnimar with a grudge. Their first trip, he saw them and hid because they kicked his butt last time and he was alone. He then got in touch with Drago back in Korvosa who came up with the plot. Orik went to the authorities saying that one of the so-called heroes of Sandpoint wasn't who he said he was. He was a thief and a murderer named Pavo.

In Pavo's backstory, he'd stolen the Soul Soap and fled. We'd worked out a brief timeline leading up to him getting to Sandpoint. Orik was filled in on the details of the job by Drago. Orik claimed to be the lookout for Pavo, and that when Pavo met up with him, he was covered in blood. The person Pavo stole from was a paladin of Aroden, and after Pavo fled, Drago had him killed just for this instance. While Magnimar probably wouldn't get bent out of shape for theft of a minor magic item, murder was something else.

The city guard, as well as a hellknight from Korvosa were waiting outside the townhouse when they showed up. They arrested Pavo, and took him to jail to await a hearing before the 13 Justices to determine what they would do. I told them that based on the report, if they found him guilty of murder, they had the right to hang him, imprison him, or to extradite him back to Korvosa. Additionally, the hellknight informed him that his father (whom he didn't get along well with) was imprisoned in Korvosa in his stead and has been this past month while they were searching for him.

Pavo copped to the theft, but denied being a murderer. Since that's what they were most concerned about, they arranged a trial. I said that it would take 2 days to set up the hearing - which admittedly was rather expedient, however, I felt that longer than that and the rest of the game would fall by the wayside while they waited. 2 days seemed to be an appropriate amount of time that would still fill them with anxiety for the missed time, but still be reasonable that they could confront Xanesha before she completed more of the ritual and/or moved on.

I work as a conduct officer at a University, and so I used some of that knowledge in setting up the hearing. Pavo named Rosie as his representative, while the complainant was the hellknight. I gave them access to the evidence (Orik's statement before getting shipped off to Fort Rannick, the investigator's notes on the crime scene, as well as Pavo's account of the night). It was a lot of fun watching Rosie trying to pick holes in the account. Her initial plan was to attempt to attack the character of the target - based on the fact that he had the Soul Soap in the first place, meaning he intended to fall.

In Pavo's backstory, we'd worked in that one of the factors that led him to fleeing was that in addition to the Soul Soap, he'd also found the paladin's diary: detailing the death of his son, and being consumed by grief. Pavo refused. He refused to let her attack the character of the man, which was a neat moment for the character. Next they wanted to bring up Drago. They tried to find out who Drago was to be able to portray him as the crimelord that he was. That was when they discovered that, in addition to being a crimelord, Drago was also a Senator.

So they had to pick apart the case. I'd left little details. The victim had been struck on his right temple (Pavo is left-handed making this unlikely). The door to his bedroom had been opened with a hacksaw, but his safe had been picked. Additionally, and most convincingly, the murder weapon was a statue of Aroden commissioned by a local artist worth an estimated 1,000gp. Pavo is a greedy thief who would never have left it behind.

This left Yullah with little to do, until they found out that Orik was being sent to Fort Rannick. She promptly mounted a horse and chased down the merc, doing a forced march to get him back in just in time. She also had a tense encounter with Orik who didn't want to hurt her, but very much wanted Pavo to hang. Ultimately, the half-orc broke his fingers and they began seeing a bit more eye to eye.

The verdict was challenging for me, because Justice Ironbriar was on the panel and he very much wanted to send Pavo and the gang far from Magnimar. However, they did a very thorough job in exonerating Pavo that I felt he didn't have much of a choice. It would have showed his hand too much to continue arguing. So I determined that he would instead say that there wasn't enough to imprison or extradite him, however they would let him know that he had 24 hours to clear town for his admission to the crimes. I felt that this added the impetus to hurry through, and if there are injuries, they'd still have to move quickly. I also, will move Justice Ironbriar to Xanesha's side and send the Faceless Stalkers to the Sawmill. This will make it a bigger reveal when he's shown to have turned. Also, if they're able to throw off the enchantment, they'll have another ally and target for Xanesha which might make me a little more confident going into that fight.

All told, there wasn't a single attack thrown, but it was a very enjoyable gaming experience.

I just ran a trial in Magnimar for one of my PCs. In his backstory, he stole a magic item for a crimelord in Korvosa, but ran off with it instead of turning it in. Orik had actually recognized the PC, and after escaping Thistletop: gave false testimony to the officials there that the rogue had not only stole from a paladin in Korvosa (true), that he murdered the paladin (false).

I work as a conduct officer at a University, and this shaped the way that I set up the trial. First, the PC was arrested and detained. He was given the opportunity to confess, and to accept the punishment immediately (which would in this case have been deportment back to Korvosa). As he denied the charge of murder, a hearing was set up. I determined that in Magnimar particularly, some of the crimes outside of their borders they wouldn't have cared about. If it was just the theft of a minor magic item: they wouldn't have gotten involved. But murder, and other offenses they would see as threats to their community and have more of an investment in addressing.

Prior to the hearing, the PC was able to state who his legal representative was. Initially he wanted Sheriff Hemlock, but as an officer of the law: he couldn't. So he selected the cleric in our party. The cleric reviewed the evidence (I made a statement from Orik, notes from the murder scene in Korvosa, as well as the opportunity to interview the PC.) A hellknight from Korvosa served as the complainant and presented the case against him, which was thorough.

Additionally, a Zone of Truth spell was cast to ensure honesty. With Zone of Truth, it's interesting because it doesn't compel answers, and like a polgraph: you have to ask very specific questions. If you ask, "Did you burgle and murder the paladin Gallonicus?" The PC could simply answer "No" truthfully, so a lot of time was spent to asking narrow questions.

Ultimately, in my hearing, they were able to exonerate the rogue, but as he admitted the theft and consort with criminals - he was given 24 hours to leave the city. This puts the heat on a bit because they're still in the middle of a murder investigation. It was also interesting because Justice Ironbriar was on the panel - and he was arrested coming out of Foxglove manor.

I would imagine that a Sandpoint trial might be a bit less formal

Drago was the name the person playing our rogue came up with. Neither of us has played Curse of the Crimson Throne, but now I will definitely have to research it.

The best advice I have to not railroad is to build ties with the town before hand. Even the Chaotic Neutral merc or Rogue needs to have a reason to defend, and stick around this town. As to creeping out the noble: watch any movie where an actor portrays a stalker (Cable Guy, Single White Female, Fear, the Fan, Fatal Attraction, etc.) I think at the time of the boar hunt, though, I played him as a helpless loser. He was more pitiable, which made the next events more dramatic (IMO).

Continued going through Foxglove manor last night. This is by far the portion of this book that I was looking most forward to. The group decided to clear the first floor before heading to the basement. Our ranger, Yullah took lead, prompting her to be affected by the Worried Wife haunt amongst all the others she was targeted by on the first floor. I've never seen someone's dice turn on them quite as much as hers. She rolled fantastic for Perception checks, but abysmally on saves and attacks (noted exception below). Needless to say, she failed her save and swept up the rogue, Zeldu and started to drag him outside. The cleric thought quickly, and channeled energy in the room, ending the effect. They found the washroom and were grossed out hy the diseased rat, but skewered it before it could clamor its way out of the tub.

The swarms downstairs were another story, however. The group fought smart, but rolled so low on their saves, prompting all the PCs to get infected with Phorell's Phage, which should make for an interesting next few days. Zeldu surprised me with rolling fantadtic and picking the DC 30 lock to the lab. I described the stained glass, the rain running in rivulets creating an illusion of movement. The rogue however noticed he genuine movement, and combined with our cleric, Rosie experiencing the haunt. The dwarf decided to take a swing at the window, dealing minor damage. The window cracked slightly, but shot shards of glass back at the dwarf, dealing the same damage back.

Moving through the hall, they found the stairway to the caverns below. They wrestled with figuring out Aldern's M.O., but determined that whether he needed saving or killing, they would need to head below. The group, having skipped the upstairs accurately described that they felt they were only getting half the story, but continued on. First they confronted the Skaveling, and had a nasty battle. The ranger never rolled above a 5. We were very nearly at a TPK, with the ranger, rogue and Ameiko all paralyzed, but Rosie was able to keep the group up and attacking. Zeldu dropped to negatives, but stabilized. They found the body of the one-armed bandit, and our rogue identified the possibility of a reward. You could almost see the dollar signs swimming above his head. They made short work of the ghouls in the next room, but several failed saves against ghoul fever. The ranger again demonstrated an inability to roll above a 4.

Against the goblin ghasts, the ranger was able to get at least a 10, and hit once, cleaving one head from its owner's body. The cleric moved up and finished a second but was swarmed by the remaining two, leaving her paralyzed. Ameiko tumbled past and dispatched one of the creatures. Then things got very interesting. Zeldu decided to pick Rosie's pocket rather than engage. He rolled well, but not as well as Yullah who saw him. A quick swing of an orc double axe dispatched the remaining ghast, and then she rounded on Zeldu. She asked him what he was doing. He attempted (poorly) to play dumb. She demanded that he give the ring back, to which he replied "Make me." (So unwise). A natural 20 confirmed by a natural 19 and Yullah fed the rogue his teeth (47 points of nonlethal damage).

Then the group searched him. In addition to the ring, they found an unseemly amount of gold, a letter from Drago asking for Jubrayl's helping tracking down Pavo, and the item he stole at the beginning to get him in the mess: Soul Soap. The cleric revived him, and they questioned him. He attempted to spinna few tales, peppered with the truth, but they were largely on to himat this point. He dididn't spill all the beans. They still don't know that his name is Pavo, but they know the name of the man who's after him, and they know he's working for Jubrayl. Amongst other things, he betrayed his teammate in front of Ameiko, and despite her warnings not to trust Jubrayl, she found out about his cahooting with the crime boss. Any attempts at romancing her from here are going to be slim to none.

I was planning agents of Drago to ambush them in Magnimar anyway, but I think it will be much more interesting at this point. The cleric, based on the item made a not unreasonable assumption that it belonged to a fallen paladin or cleric. I may have Ironbriar arrest him for the murder of a Paladin and theft of a small fortune, including the Soul Soap. Orik will provide testimony (falsely) that the two worked together to pull off the caper, but that murder wasn't supposed to be a part of it. It'll take some sleuthing, and Zeldu getting honest for them to get him out of hot water. Of course, first, they still need to deal with Aldern and the mansion. Interesting things ahead, to say the least.

Our group captured Tsuto, attempted to get information from him, but ended up with him stalling for time and sending them on a wild goose chase. Nualia launched a secondary assault on Sandpoint, and freed him. The pair of them along with a mess of Sinspawn confronted the party in the Catacombs. Ultimately, our rogue knocked him unconscious and executed him in front of Nualia and Ameiko-whom he was trying to romance.

I remade Nualia as a Warpriest, Lyrie as an Arcanist, Bruthazmus as a Slayer, Ameiko as a Swashbuckler, Grayst and the Tiefling orderlies as Brawlers. So far, they've all worked out really well. I plan on transitioning more - but haven't done so yet.

We had, I guess interesting development is the only term I have at present. I'd attached the various haunts to PCs based on the descriptios in the AP, and also trying to make it even between PCs. The rogue, I'd assigned the suicide compulsion haunt to has in real life, had someone very close to him commit suicide. The last thing I want is to be the insensitive prat that retraumatizes my friend during a game. I was thinking about swapping it out for the Blood-Writ Name haunt , but I was wondering if ahyone had other suggestions.

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We finished off the Hambley farm encounter today. I'm pleased to report that I had a game with considerable less blunders than the last few. The group had cleared out the barn in the last session, and were approaching the house. I placed a scarecrow ghoul hidden under the porch which grabbed the ankle of the ranger as she walked up. They dispatched it quickly, but lost the surprise. I added some description to the house that worked well: A puddle of blood atthe doorway and drag marks towards the kitchen and a full bloody handprint in the kitchen, strange meat and a leg bone on the counter. I also added a room that they were converting to a nursery, which caused the whole group to slump their shoulders, knowing that they had dispatched the lady of the house last week.

Rogor was hiding in the bedroom, where 2 bodies were hung up. My thought was that the smell of the rotting meat would somewhat mask the ghast's stench. He burst out of the closet and unloaded full attacks on the ranger. At the same time, I had more of the scarecrows break through windows to attack from behind. It was a great horror movie moment. One grabbed the rogue and pulled him through the kitchen window back outside. A feint and confirmed crit later, that ghoul was dispatched. Another paralyzed Ameiko guarding the entrance. Before getting to pull off a coup, however, the rogue made it around and landed another crit. His dice were hot last night.

The ranger also got paralyzed, but the cleric was able to fix it. The cleric did contract ghoul fever, but all in all, they made relatively short work of them. It was a nice, scary and brutally quick fight. The group elected not to search the rest of the farm, but did find the life savings. One interesting side effect of having kne of the children be the one to report what happened was that there was a very obvious heir to that money. It made the rogue's attempt to keep it all the more significant as he was now stealing from a child who'd just lost his whole family.

The group headed back to Sandpoint to identify the key (as no one had Knowlege:Nobility). I had Bethana figure it out, as I'd drawn her up as an Investigator with lots of Knowledge skills. They debated taking her with them, but elected to stick with Ameiko. I had them arrive at Foxglove manor at sunset, but the storm had made it prematurely dark. It was important for me to set the horror movie tone. Lightning flashes outlining the gothic architecture of the manor. The caws of the ravens gathering on the stone skeleton of the former servants' quarters. It paid off as I could see the anxiety rising on my players as they entered the house.

The group entered the dance hall first. Our ranger was the target of the haunt. She'd taken Tsuto's flute, and even invested a rank in perform. Of course she went right over to the piano and played an out of tune note. I used handouts for the subject of the haunt, as well as descriptions on what everyone else saw. It worked well as they saw her get visibly freaked out as she got sucked up in the dance. I need to organize the handouts for the future, however as it did see the potential to get them confused. I also found that in assigning the haunts, with three PCs as the targets, our ranger so far has been the target of all of the haunts - which was commented on. Mostly this was by the cleric who felt overlooked as the true threat to the undead in the manor. Little does she know what's coming...mwahahaha

I ran Burnt Offerings for a mixed group - my wife has played since 2E, one player who had run in one Pathfinder group prior to this, and one brand-spanking new newbie. We focused a lot more on role playing due to inexperience with rules, and preference. The upside is that backgrounds and motivations for the different characters provide rich opportunities for rp. There's not much use parlaying with the general goblin grunt, but Gogmurt, Lyrie, and Orik can be made an allies rather easily. Ripnugget could easily be adapted to beseaching a tyrannical king to switching sides. Nualia is largely unflappable from her motivations, but I even had her make a deal with the PCs to free Malfeshnekor in order to save their lives. They ended up double-crossing one another almost immediately, but there was definitely the ability to make deals if that's your group's speed.

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You know the group better than anyone else on the boards, but the issue seems to me, and I'm hearing a similar thought from others, to be much bigger than just losing out on xp. At best, as you explained, it's laziness. But as I assume they are aware that they themselves don't have to climb back themselves and hoist their friend out of the water. That this would be accomplished by rolling dice. If this is laziness, it's meta-laziness, as if the character is not worth the breath spent by uttering the words, "We go back for the cleric."

At worst, this is bullying by exclusion, and needs to be addressed swiftly and directly. I would recommend saying simply and directly in this situation that this course of action is unacceptable. If they truly don't want to go back, then the game will not progress. If you want to use the story, I would have obviously insurmountable odds (read Nualia, Ripnugget, Lyrie, Bruthazmus, Orik, Yeth Hounds and the hordes of goblins wsitin for the party with the obvious conclusion that they're wiped out. The cleric can swim back to shore, and go searching for new adventurers to travel with.

Because it's not just lazy, it's not just dumb: It's mean to someone who is supposed to be a friend, or at least a teammate.

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