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A purely anecdotal story:

Recent events (and promotions) enticed me to check out some PDF material.
Found something that looked interesting for $4.95 (50% off) and bought a download.
After a few days of perusal, I decided I definitely wanted a hard copy.
Checked with the FLGS, not in stock. The print run has apparently been exhausted, and the publisher is not planning on reprinting material several years old now. (I did pick up some stuff while I was there... but that's another thread.)
So I do the dirty thing and check Amazon. Nope.
A more exhaustive internet search turns up a few copies, and I order one at a decent price.
Something about the purchase nags at me a little. A bit of deja-vu.
So I browse back to paizo and check around a bit, a stumble upon this thread (again).
Turns out my PDF-inspired hard copy purchase was made from Titan Games in Battle Creek, MI.
Which I just found amusing, considering the original post in this thread.


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Dragnmoon wrote:

I am glad I took a look at my account... I thought I did not have anything... But I Had 1.. and I downloaded it... I swear I bought some old 1e, 2e books from somewhere other then paizo.. but I can remember where..

Who else sold Old D&D PDFS?

I got some Greyhawk box sets shortly after the PDFs became available from a place called SV Games, I think. It's long defunct, at any rate (afaik). Other than here and that other big download store, I'm not aware of any.

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Thanks for the comments.
As I said, the Halfling in my game hides just fine as it is (at around 10th level, a +30 skill modifier, no significant cheesiness involved either) - all there needs to be is somewhere to hide. I do think I should respond to a couple of comments, mostly those saying rogues don't need another buff. The whole reason I allowed this for my game was that by 10th level a rogue could already easily have this ability by dipping into one level of Shadowdancer. (Granted, two of the prereqs are ranks in dancing and the mobility feat, not common rogue stuff, but not exactly a burden to get either.) Alternatively, instead of using this ability, a rogue could make a bluff check to create a distraction to hide (there still needs to be cover of some sort; HiPS does not negate the need for something to hide behind) and have the same effect, assuming the check succeeded. This is not a hide-for-the-whole-combat ability either. Rogues still have to make a hide check (at a -20 penalty) after each attack to snipe, with or without HiPS. It's also not a hide-in-the-middle-of-the-corridor ability either, since there still needs to be some place where you can hide. It basically just negates the need for that bluff check. Anyway, it's not as potent in my experience compared to, say, Crippling Strike.

Um, poodle, that kinda sounds to me like what theives do.

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So Rangers can Hide in Plain Sight at 17th level (in natural terrain).
Why can't an experienced Rogue do something similar?
They already have Fast Stealth as a Rogue Talent, so how about an Advanced Talent such as

Stealth Master (Ex): A rogue may use the Stealth skill even if being observed.

Yes, something similar can be accomplished by using Bluff to create a momentary distraction, but this seems like a natural extension of rogue abilities, to simply fade away into the shadows.

Playtesting: As it is generally impossible to notice the halfling in the party unless she rolls a three or lower, this does not make hardly any difference in my game. YMMV.

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James Jacobs wrote:
Todd's work is indeed super awesome... but it's my understanding that he's a bit out of our price range, alas. :(

It's probably already been done, but perhaps, just in case, somebody should check the going rates for Jason Engle and/or Sam Wood these days. Jason Engle produced some of my very favorite art in Dungeon and Dragon mags. Very moody and atmospheric stuff that, at least for me, excites the imagination. Or Arnie Swekel's excellent line art for each chapter of the core books.

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I finally got sucked in...

Sedan Chair of Stately Transport

This distinguished personal vehicle features detailed woodwork, fine upholstery, and two sturdy poles on each side of the enclosed seating area that two bearers may use to convey a single occupant in dignified comfort. In lieu of bearers, the occupant may speak a command word. Upon doing so, the poles of the sedan chair of stately transport animate to become sturdy legs that tirelessly carry up to 500 pounds as swiftly and surely as any fine courser across any terrain.

A sedan chair of stately transport does not fight but otherwise has the statistics of a large animated object. Persons attempting to attack the sedan chair of stately transport must first succeed at a DC 11 Will save or find themselves unable to harm so magnificent a vehicle for 24 hours. The occupant of the sedan chair of stately transport, however, may still be attacked normally.

Strong transmutation; CL 14th; Craft Wondrous Item, animate objects, freedom of movement, sanctuary, spider climb Price 25,000 gp; Weight 1,000 lb.

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Any possibility of providing a link to an example of a delve format that made it through the publishing process rather than the example used for the con at the beginning of this thread?

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Sounds like you might need some table rules. Have a chat with your players at the beginning of the next session. Explain that you want to establish some conventions your group will use to help speed up play. Avoid open-ended questions. Yes/no and multiple choice works best here. Questions like that keep you more in control while still allowing player input. (Use similar tactics in the game too. Instead of asking, "What else does anyone want to buy while you're in town?" try "After the shopping trip, you get everything loaded and are ready to set off again, unless there was something important anyone forgot?" Then glance around the table. If no one contradicts, proceed with the action.) Remember to plan for at least one break. The pizza, movie chat, joking, or whatever happens during the break.

Some other things to consider:

If you haven't done so already, have the group pre-plan a marching order and a standard way to open doors or enter rooms once, then stick with that until they need to make a significant change. Keep these decisions handy to reference during play. Remember to keep the questions focused while planning. Don't ask "What order do you march in?" Instead ask, "Who goes first?" By pre-plan I mean something like this:

The party marches in this order, fighter-rogue-wizard-ranger-cleric, unless someone states specifically otherwise (like the rogue sneaking ahead searching).
The rogue sneaks up to the door and listens.
If something important is heard, sneak back to the group and report.
Abandon the rest of the standard plan if what was overheard requires it.
If nothing is heard, check for traps and open locks if necessary.
The ranger gets out his bow.
The rogue hides in shadows.
The wizard puts a bull's strength on the fighter.
The cleric casts bless on the group.
The fighter kicks in the door.
Roll initiative.

Also, I use note cards to keep track of initiative. The Game Mechanics produces some very nice initiative cards you may want to check out that are free for downloading. These or a similar aid may help quite a bit. Personally, I can work with the cards more quickly and accurately than working it out on paper.

Second, if combat is really bogging down, institute some kind of time rule. Talk with your players a bit beforehand and agree on the length. In my games players generally have no more than 10 seconds to announce their actions. If something significant happened just before their turn, then they can have a little longer. If they don't come up with anything, that means the character is delaying and the next person in the initiative order acts. The delaying character acts whenever the player finially decides what to do. This also works well if one or more players diverts his attention away from the game. I've actually had a couple of players at times engaging in conversation and completely ignore me when I called on them for their actions. At that point their characters go into delay mode. A couple of rounds later they realize their characters haven't been acting. That's usually enough to bring the players' attention back to the game. Just don't let anything really bad happen to other characters just because a couple of people weren't paying attention to what theirs were doing.

Third, roll attack and damage at the same time. Compare:
*Player rolls attack*
Player: I got a 15.
DM: That's a hit.
*Player rolls damage*
Player: 6 damage.
DM: "The orc looks badly wounded, but he keeps coming. Next?"

*Player rolls attack and damage*
Player: "6 damage on the orc if a 15 hits."
DM: "The orc is wounded but keeps coming. Next?"

As DM you can do the same, even with multiple creatures. I have 6 or 7 d20s, each a different color, that get assigned to a specific creature or a specific attack if the critter gets multiple attacks. (When there are multiple attacks, I usually roll all attack dice first then damage dice as necessary.)

Finally, if at all possible, avoid reading from notes or the magazine. Yes, all adventures feature read-aloud text, and all DMs seem to enjoy giving verbose descriptions of the areas their players encounter. My experience indicates that you get two or three short declarative sentences to describe what is going on, less if you are reading verbatim from notes, before attention wanders.

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It seems consensus has largely been reached, but did the cleric ever say why she thought that was a good tactic or what in the rules suggested it should work other than "water puts out fire?" And what made the the decision unfair?

Unless I knew more I would say she was hoping for a Quench-like effect, maybe on a smaller scale. Create Water and Quench are very different, though; they're even from different schools. Quench has the capacity to completely engulf something in water. As a transmutation spell, it sort of implies that the nature of the environment or target itself is being altered. Create Water, according to the spell description, just creates some water, and would probably make a light rain shower in this situation.

Was the spell intended purely for damage? Then the 1-3 or 1-6 damage plus a reflex save people are probably right. In other circumstances I'd probably rule that the elemental was distracted by the spell, thus allowing someone to run away or grab a fallen comrade near the elemental without provoking an attack of opportunity. Stretching the rules a bit more, fire elementals can't move into water, so maybe the rain makes steam surrounding it and keeps it in place for one round. It bellows and rages and strikes at everything around it but doesn't try to move toward anyone or anything until the next round, thus giving someone a little extra time to do something. Or the distraction gives it a small penalty on attacks. Something like that.

It's very much a small cookie situtation - no more than the equivalent of a +2 circumstance bonus. I'd allow the creative use of a spell to help someone accomplish an important or heroic action, but damage... not really.

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Krypter wrote:
Hand-drawn maps is my preference. If there are illegible scribbles, mysterious symbols, coffee stains, fold crinkles, blood spots, "Here Be Monstres" monsters, compass roses and other paraphenalia, that's a bonus.

Exactly. Handing the players a treasure map or something that looks like it just popped out of photoshop kind of spoils the mood at the table. I guess I've liked that kind of map ever since reading The Hobbit years ago. That said, I rarely find a map I want to use exactly as-is as a player handout. Those with a digital look are much more problematic to scan and modify though.

As for the usual maps for a single dungeon level or house basement that are more common in Dungeon and have little use beyond conveying information to the reader, I really don't care as long as they are clear and labeled.

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I can't help but wonder if any holdup is simply because of conflicts with long-established metaplots for the campaign settings. I recall some rather unpleasant things happening in major established campaign cities in AoW as well as a little shakeup in the cosmology. Especially considering how metaplot driven FR can get, for example, it wouldn't be so surprising for this to be one major concern holding up production. After all, SC happened in a new out-of-the-way city in an out-of-the-way place and as such had virtually no impact on the campaign worlds as a whole. AoW, not so.


I doubt that I would get a HC anyway as I already have the mags. Let the conspiracy theorists continue....

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Half-celestial nymph paladin with every CHA boosting item you can get your tiny little hands on.

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I'm rather fond of the Monster Mythology.
I'll also sometimes look at the Demihuman Deities book.
Helps with inspiration about what bad guys and NPCs might be doing.

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Break out the card games:
Chez Geek
Chez Goth
Apples to Apples

Watch Monty Python's Holy Grail or The Gamers (again)

Play whatever board game is handy

Crank up the karaoke (and by this time I'm heading for the door...)

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jasin wrote:
ultrazen wrote:
Forgery - very cool idea poorly executed. And it's opposed by one of the most common skills in the game, spot.

Forgery is opposed by forgery.

Which means that if you do happen to take it, you could probably be fooling people left and right with DIY search warrants, land deeds, special dispensations from the king...

Sure, some people might not trust you or listen to you even if the believe you have proper documents, but if you do take fogery, it seems like an easy way to get yourself some little advantage in practically any civilized social interaction, if you can prepare ahead of time.

doh! you're very right. must have been thinking about spot opposing disguise.

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I usually try to find some way to give a synergy bonus if someone takes a "weak" skill like profession. Usually someone has an idea for a little roleplay for their character (like a hobby or something similar) for when they are in town, so I try to set up situations where they can help someone out or make a new friend and receive some useful advice or information. For example, the Druid with profession (cook) helps out in the inn when the usual cook falls ill (or turns up dead...), then the group gets free rooms and social skills used in the tavern get a +2 bonus if the meal was reasonably tasty, plus the innkeeper remembers them should they stop again.

One of the few things that would make me really interested in D&D 4.0 if and when it comes out is a skill system that doesn't become increasingly useless at higher levels when the wizard and cleric have lots of extra spell slots but also that doesn't hose a player that doesn't keep a certain skill maxed out either. And while I'm ranting, why limit cross-class skill ranks to half class skill ranks when they are already being penalized by being twice as expensive to purchase? Is it really so difficult for wizards to search for things when they supposedly spend so much time in libraries and build elaborate trap-filled dungeons?

Particular skills:

Disguise - I don't think it's unreasonable for a large city to pay the wizard's guild for a few pairs of goggles that could detect magic and pass them out to the gate guards, or maybe that's part of an arrangement with the guild to help with city defense. Then a magical disguise has a much greater chance of being detected than a mundane one. It could also be useful for long-term undercover work where a spell is likely to expire at an inconvenient moment. Still, it's not the greatest.

Decipher script - usually trumped by comprehend languages, but that spell won't work unless the script is really a language. Figuring out cryptic or coded messages might still very likely require this skill.

Forgery - very cool idea poorly executed. And it's opposed by one of the most common skills in the game, spot. I'd be inclined to give a penalty to any spot check to notice a document created by a trained forger... maybe equal to half the ranks the forger has purchased. No one ever takes it, so I haven't had reason to think about this one a lot.

The movement skills - climb, jump, swim - in almost every situation, magic totally beats them. To a lesser extent this happens with skills like move silently and hide and spot and listen once spells like invisibility, fly, and silence start getting cast a lot.

Handle Animal - occasionally a druid, ranger, fighter, or barbarian will take this. It would be neat to train an unusual mount, but by the time you have enough ranks to bother working with unusual mounts, your enemies are so powerful that most mounts would just get in the way. If someone takes this I'll go out of my way to work in an out-of-control wagon they can hop on and bring to a stop.

Knowledge - I really wish these were taken more and implemented better. The suggestion about giving insights into various creatures is good, but if you go strictly as written then every low-level mage can tell you anything you want to know about wyrmlings but hasn't a clue what that large flying red thing is should an old red dragon show up. Again I'll try to find some way to work a synergy in or give some little bit of extra information to players taking these sorts of skills.

Appraise - potentially useful but not worth the game time to use, and even if you do use it, then what? So the group tanked their appraise checks and sold off some art and jewels for a fraction of their true value. Are you going to give them more stuff or just let them run around underequipped for their level? Or if they end up selling something for way more than its actual value, does that mean the merchant just shrugs his shoulders and forgets all about it, or does he do the reasonable thing and report the apparently deceptive and fraudulent transaction to the authorities?

Craft - I've been in only one game where this was ever used: a ranger (my character, actually) used it to keep himself supplied with arrows. I suppose I could also count the time a DM heavily bent the rules to allow a character with alchemy to identify potions without having to set up the lab and run experiments.

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Saern wrote:

All this boils down to, however, was my desire to tweak orcs to promote them as a player choice and make orc druids a more common options, because I like that view of the race.

That's it. That's all I'm going for. Eliminating the Wisdom penalty seems fair enough.

I am currently working on developing all the "evil" humanoids into more advanced societies that don't simply exist to serve as PC sword-fodder. And I like the thought of orc druids, and yes, orc rangers (finally, get an orc that actually uses that racial weapon familiarity!), moving farther away from the Tolkien-esque brutes. I've even toyed with the thought of making Gruumsh Chaotic Neutral, rather than evil, to make the race more capable of integrating on the whole. They would still be ancient enemies of dwarves and elves, but more than just a mindless horde of savages.

Ah, so the orc bards still don't get any love?

You know, those guys running around the battlefield screaming at the top of their lungs (Perform - oratory), encouraging their comrades, yelling at that barbarian that just got Commanded to snap out of it and whack that wizard's head off, the guys who regale everyone around the campfire at night with tales of elf-smashing and Gruumsh and sundry pillaging and plundering, so the warband is ready to head out for more bashing the next day?

Pity for the poor orc bard. Even elite ones have at most only CHA 13...

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Tequila Sunrise wrote:
It has been noted before, and I agree, that Gather Info is meant to replace roleplaying dozens of conversations with an equal number of Joe Nobodies. When interacting with specific NPCs, roleplaying is the answer, but who wants to roleplay a day of tavern hopping and buying the local yokels drinks and getting them to talk?

Very true. I'd hate to spend much game time runnning around inns and taverns and shelling out spare coppers for ale for all the Joes.

One way to increase the value of Gather Information is to have the character attract the wrong kind of attention on a very poor roll or find a regular, reliable source (at least on a given topic) for a spectacular roll. For example, not only did you not learn about any secret entrances to the castle, but you notice a couple of guards looking at you with suspicion. Or, not only did you find that there is a secret entrance to the castle, but Joe Somebody is an ex-guard with a grudge against the present guard captain.

However, if the players do some really great roleplaying or come up with a really good course of action to get their information, I'd probably let the roll go, at least for that time. I don't see the point of allowing a potentially bad roll get in the way of a good idea and good roleplay.

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I'd either use half-orc stats or leave the orcs stats as presented in the monster manual alone, but introduce a racial feat that must be taken at first level if it's taken at all that decreases strength bonus to +2 and eliminates the penalty on any one mental stat and the light sensitivity.

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The cleric is probably my favorite class to play because of the diversity you can go with. Even "inefficient" builds are still playable because the class is so strong to begin with. Since you've been playing for a while, I doubt that any of this would be a totally new revelation to you, but I'll try anyway.

Have you or your friend considered a "nontraditional" cleric? By that I mean something other than the full-plate-clad mace-wielding heal monkey? One of my favorite clerics was a highly dexterous elf cleric who favored the chain shirt over full plate and a longbow over the mace. He had the travel domain and magic domains, giving him a lot of versatility.

Another was a mildly selfish, neutrally-aligned (but positive-energy channeling) cleric of a god of wealth who charged modest fees for anything above the basic cure spells. He also expected unspecified donations according to the other characters' consciences about how much his deity's other blessings (healing or otherwise) were worth. If the donations weren't enough, he was sure to begin working on the consciences of the offending characters for the next time they arrived at a temple. He also gave up good strength, dex, and con in favor of mental stats and took a couple of rogue levels, mostly for the skill points, which he dumped into social skills. This was more of a role-playing difference than anything; he was actually a horrible fighter, but I got a kick out of it and the other players did too.

If I could change anything about the class it would be to give it more skill points. As it is, you just about have to put all skill points into spellcraft, concentration, and knowledge religion/arcana. Going up to 4 skill points per level probably won't break anything, and if it makes your player a little happier and the other player's don't mind, I'd probably implement it without change. More than that would require giving up something though.

Also, you may have the option (depending on your group and game) to go with a negative-energy channeling cleric. No spontaneous cures for you! This would force everyone in the party to look at healing a little differently. This doesn't have to be an evil cleric or cleric of an evil deity. This could be a LN cleric of Wee Jas, for example. Probably dark, perhaps sometimes morally questionable, but not inherently evil.

Finally, I'd say to get a wand of CLW to the party right away and give it to someone other than the cleric if at all possible. Druids, paladins, rangers, and bards can all use the same wand, even if they can't cast the spell. Rogues with high UMD can also. The rationale behind giving it to someone other than the cleric? Reduces the perceived healing obligations of the class and gives someone else easy healing abilities if the cleric goes down for some reason. This also frees up the cleric to make more interesting use of his spell selection. It's a great way to make a bard useful after he finishes inspiring the party and puts away his little lute or whatever, for example.

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markforabit wrote:

Forgive my stupidity - if it is. I'm about to start DMing scap, from the magazines, but in the Forgotten Realms. Is there a conversion guide somewhere? Have I missed it in Dungeon?

My main thoughts are to do with deities and subtlety.

There are numerous threads about conversions. They may have reached the archives by now, but a search should still turn them up. For deities, consider Oghma replacing Wee Jas rather than Kelemvor. Why? Well... going with the most common conversions, you'll have the largest temples associated with some very nice gods like Helm and Lathander and the other associated with the death god, Kelemvor, possibly with some Cyric holdover baggage hanging around in a moldy basement somewhere. Gee, wonder where the bad guys are gonna show up? Kelemvor is narrowly focused - the fair judgement of the dead. Oghma is neutrally-aligned and has broader interests, especially the gathering of knowledge. It opens up opportunities to explore the corruption of the church of Oghma as its controlling priests and priestesses become more and more obsessed with secrets and power, while those lower-ranked and the acolytes are shouldered with more of the day-to-day responsibilities of running the church, research, teaching, whatever, and don't really have the time or opportunity to figure out what their superiors are up to. You can still toss in a small church of Kelemvor somewhere with a low-level cleric just for flavor and a possible red herring if you want.

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It's a refreshingly rules-lite book that is still extremely useful for running a game, even if you don't follow Realms canon closely. Basic changes to 3.5 for the classes would mostly follow similar changes in the PHB core book; any conversion work shouldn't be that difficult.

There is an errata and a FAQ that you can download from the WotC website. These are not 3.5 updates though. Dracolich updates were in Draconomicon, but the rest of the 3.5 monster updates for FRCS were provided in the web enhancement to Player's Guide to Faerun, also available from the WotC website.

While you're looking at web enhancements, the FRCS web enhancement gives added deity information, and the various freebies they put up for the Waterdeep book are worth downloading if you plan to spend any time near there.

If after you get the book you find anything that you are really worried about, the Player's Guide to Faerun is the source to go to, though you will want to get the errata and other downloads from WotC to go with it. I've thumbed through this one at the FLGS and decided I didn't really need it myself.

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Not quite 20th, but worth a look:

Root of Evil, an 18th level adventure in issue 122.
Basically, an evil hag goes to the abyss, makes a deal with a demon lord, and obtains a seed for a very nasty tree. Much chaos and destruction on the prime material follows.

The Harrowing, for 15th level, back in issue 84. Lolth's daughter makes a power grab. If the PCs don't stop a sacrifice, a good chunk of the demonweb may become hers. This may need more conversion work (issue 84 was in the very early 3.0 days, will need increased levels), but there looks like an awful lot of potential if you want a starting point to develop planar politics and power struggles.

The only other very high level non-AP-related adventure that comes to mind was in issue 100, where 18th level PCs storm the Githyanki's lich-queen's palace for sundry goodies and artifacts.

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ericthecleric wrote:


Most of it is in very good/mint condition (except for the stuff I bought second-hand); I take care of my books. If anyone wants to know what a particular product is, take a look at the Paizo “products” list for a more detailed description.
Aside from the RPG stuff, can anyone recommend any good second-hand comics websites so I can investigate prices?

No comic info, but you might look here: http://www.acaeum.com/

Some info is good, some out of date.

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dodo wrote:
The prisoners have already told the PC's that they've been tortured by a mummy, so I'm going to use him, but I just wanted to clarify this. Am I reading the mummy wrong? Is there something about him being soaking wet somewhere?

The room he's in is described as being lit with a floating wood and brass brazier, and if he hears the PCs, he's supposed to hide under the water. One may reasonably assume he's a bit soggy. You may want to check out the bog mummy that Skip Williams designed for an archived WotC website article. It looks like it would work nicely if you still want to go with a mummy-type thing.

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I'm not aware of stats, but there is a general description:
A magical obsidian object (CL 15) about 70 feet high.
This would give it saves of +9, and hardness and hit points like a stone object (DMG 214).

Stone has hardness 8 and 15hp/inch of thickness (PHB 166).
We are not told how thick the statue is. The map of the temple suggests 15-20 feet, though, and that sounds about right for a 70-foot tall statue. That works out to 2700 to 3600 hit points.

One could be generous, I suppose, and let them attack, say, a leg, and destroying that causes the statue to topple, with much ensuing mayhem.... A 5-foot thick leg would have 900 hit points.

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1. Recycle NPCs and Mooks Have one stat card for ordinary 12th level fighter bodyguards. You can describe them as human, orc, half-orc, lizardfolk, whatever, and even vary the weapon from longsword to morningstar to handaxe. Just so long as they have the same basic stats and fighting abilities, your group will probably never notice you are playing a little fast and loose with the mooks. Do something similar for other classes. Have you tried using the NPC tables in the DMG?

2. Collate and Reduce Enemy support spellcasters are often similar, and they usually don't stay around for more than 5 or 6 rounds. Just make a basic character card and note differences (maybe domain features for clerics, for example) and then have 5 or six rounds worth of spells noted. If things last longer, they run around doing cures, fireballs, and magic missiles.

3. Player prep If they don't have stats prepared in advance for their nifty new buff spells, they either can't cast them or spend a round or two out of the action working them up. Its just a basic thing they need to bring to the game, like dice and a character sheet. Naturally things will come up from time to time that will need to be recalculated, but having a precalculated base to start with when the characters are healthy and free of curses and other afflictions should help to keep things moving.

4. Spell Counters To keep track of spells, try something like this: Get some cheap poker chips and tape common spell names to them (invisibility, bull's strength, etc.). When a player buffs with that spell, they get a chip with that name on it. If they get dispelled, they lose that chip. It's a fairly simple visual way to keep track of who has what. Also, for spell effects that last a number of rounds, count out a number of chips equal to the number of round and put that stack of chips next to the spell chip. Each round, the player removes one chip from the stack. When they all go, so does the spell. Also, it should be more difficult to "forget" to note a round of duration when everyone at the table can see whether or not a chip got discarded before the player started taking actions.

5. Go Digital There are plenty of NPC and PC generators on the web. Find some you like and use them to generate the basic stats of your main NPCs, then fill in the details after you print them out. This saves a lot of time and number crunching.

6. More Dice! Finally, roll attacks and damage at the same time. If possible, you might try using different color dice for each attack and damage. Red for the first attack and damage, blue for the second, etc. This should also speed things up a bit.

Since it sounds like you've already tried suggestion #1 and were rewarded with snide remarks, you might try more emphasis on the second. Just note barbarian changes from breastplate, handaxe, and shield to halfplate and greatsword. Makes a bit more variation than his fuzzy helmet, but still not quite as much work as a totally new stat block. Also remember his skills in animal handling and Craft (fuzzy helmet making) are probably not going to matter one bit when the PCs are encountered, so don't bother with them. If you must, just wing it with some reasonable skill rank.

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Heathansson wrote:
So....is there any place on the 'net where they have these little potential rules foibles codified?

Doubtful, though the euphemistically titled "Character Optimization" thread over at the WotC message boards may give you some insight to the most problematic race/class/ability combinations and creative rules interpretations.

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If your group likes the puzzles, you may want to check out the Challenge of Champions series in back issues. CoC 4 and 5 were in isseus 91 and 108. CoC 1, 2, and 3 were back in issues 58,69, and 80 during the AD&D days, so they may need a bit of conversion work. It would be easy to run these in Waterdeep, and you could inject any number of NPCs as competitors, judges, sponsors, etc.

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How to discourage?

Simple. An audible permanent alarm spell begins ringing at some point when she crosses some part of the property. She has a round or two to run, but V's guards are on their way. Soon the property has town guards on it as well.

If she gets away, good for her. V may or may not use some magical means to determine who was on his property and take action later. If she is captured, she gets taken to V for a little chat.

Should she persist and manage to enter the home, she finds V flanked by 2 very burly guards. All ways out of the room are locked except for the way she came in; she must bolt immediately or talk.

Assuming she talks, V has a nice little chat with her (he's taken note of the party's recent actions and knows her name). He asks what the party is up to, how their investigation is going, etc. He has imbibed a potion of glibness beforehand, so this should go quite smoothly for him. He congratulates the rogue on her bravery, daring, and tenacity, but tells her he values his privacy and art collection very much. He also mentions that if in the future she would like to see him, please arrange an appointment in order to help prevent any unnecessary misunderstandings between her and the town guards. Then she is allowed to leave.

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Mostly option #3.

In addition to the PCs who may bring in items, there is also the Stormblades. Eventually the Stormblades get their name on the outside of the shop as well. I have a list of a few things they do, including a few situations where they can 'clean up' after the PCs and spread rumors that the PCs do sloppy work.

If the PCs frequent the store to drop off their +1 goodies often enough and tell Skie what they're up to, all those +1 shortswords may eventually get converted into a +4 periapt of wisdom the cleric has been looking for, or a cloak of resistance +5 for the fighter. Anything too expensive to be on the Medium Wondrous Item chart won't show up at Skie's, nor will she buy it, though she may trade a few less expensive items for it.

Skie's inventory value does not increase significantly as the PCs level up (too video-gamey for me) except for the occasional +4 or so item a PC has been looking out for. Anything very expensive the PCs leave at the store will either be snatched up by the Stormblades or converted to smaller items that have a better chance of being sold or traded by the folks around Cauldron. Cauldron nobility will buy less expensive items from time to time, particularly minor items in the form of jewelry or anything that could pass for a little art bauble.

Other relatively common items not at Skie's that the PCs really want I usually make available through a treasure or defeated NPC bad guy somewhere. Once they are high enough level to have the gold or trade items to obtain really powerful or obscure magical goods, I figure they also have the ability to teleport or plane shift somewhere larger than Cauldron (shopping trip to Sigil, anyone?) to get them.

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This is one of those little D&D things that make me twitch from time to time. So far it has never actually come up in a game I've run or played in, but if I dwell on it for very long, I can't think of a good reason that it shouldn't, except that it may have repercussions that aren't all fun, so you just metagame the situation and ignore it so things are fun.

Anyway, the clever rogue picking a lock or bypassing a trap to get to the loot is a D&D staple, especially at the lower levels of the game before the characters can smash or blast their way past most mundane obstacles. My problem with it is this: strictly by the rules, the locks and traps are often worth as much or more than the treasure they guard.

For example:
A goblin adept keeps a few herbs, mushrooms, ceremonial vestments, and a ceremonial dagger in a small chest. She has an average quality padlock on the chest to discourage the rowdier goblins from getting at the 'shrooms before temple services properly begin. Then some first level adventurers show up, clean out the goblins, and start looting.

The rogue gets to the adept's stuff and either picks the lock or does a thorough search and finds where she hid the key. Nobody back in town wants Maglubiyet vestments, and the 'shrooms probably need a bit of refining before they are worthwhile to take to the seedier side of town, and there may be alignment issues with such an endeavor anyway. So unless the rogue has Craft (narcotic) and/or modestly evil tendencies he takes care to hide from the paladin, they probably get left also. That leaves the ceremonial dagger. A quick Appraise suggests it can probably fetch about 75gp from a jeweler or curiosity shop. Not bad for first level.

The vanquished goblin king also kept a locked chest, his equipped with a deadly (well, at least inconvenient) CR 1 poison needle trap. Inside is the majority of the goblins' wealth: a small bag of gold, two bags of silver, a few scattered platinum pieces and small gemstones, a gold chalice or nonmagical ring or necklace, and perhaps a potion of cure moderate wounds. Total value: about 1,000 gp. Combined with the goblin king's +1 magic sword, the masterwork chain shirt off the guard captain, plus a few other valuables here and there, it's been a decent haul for our mighty first level heroes.

They head back to town, leaving the lock and trapped chest behind. But wait a minute. An average lock is worth 40 gp (effectively 1/3 of the adept's treasure) and the poison needle trap in that chest is worth a hefty 1,300 gp according to the DMG, worth more in fact than the treasure it did so little to protect. Presumably the lock on this chest is also at least of average quality, most likely built into the chest. By leaving the two chests and locks behind, the adventurers have abandoned materials worth about 1,400 gp if purchased on a market, or probably about 20-25% of the goblin's wealth.


Why are locks and traps left behind by so many adventurers when some of them scrounge around for every last silver piece (and won't pass up the coppers if they're already bagged up)?

As a side note, what if a party stumbles onto that game-breaking combo of bolt cutters (Arms and Equipment Guide, 6 gp) and the Mending spell? Encounter an amazing padlock on a thick iron door? Rogue: "Somebody get my bolt cutters off the pack mule and have the cleric mend this thing so we can try to sell it to a locksmith back in town. He could probably make a key and still sell it for a profit. Mr. Barbarian, help with the cutters, please?"

Sure there are ways a DM could just try to hand-wave the issue away. The internal mechanism of the trap breaks when it activates, for example. Replies the rogue: "I know how to make traps. We'll take it anyway and I'll see if I can fix it up; otherwise I might know a guy that knows a guy...."

Granted, some of the market prices and the Craft skill mechanic don't hold up well to close scrutiny. But even with judicious DM tinkering with them, it still seems like there are a lot of valuable locks and traps laying around. I'm curious if the idea of taking the treasure chest as treasure has ever come up in somebody else's game, and if there are groups that make sure to recover the locks and traps they encounter. If so, how did such thorough scavenging work out in game?

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Ditto what The Soulforged said.

There's a chunk of Celestia there, and demons don't like it much, and they can't really control it well either. Perhaps their abilities 'blink' kind of like the cathedral in some places, or there are a few other quirks that can sometimes leave them more vulnerable or less powerful. At any rate, any notable demons who tried to establish themselves there had unusual things happen to them or met unfortunate ends, so the denizens of the lower planes consider it cursed (even for a demon) and mostly leave it alone. At most I'd have a band or two of fiendish goblins or a pack of hell hounds or something like that running around after fiendish buffalo and smacking each other around occasionally. Only the low rungs on the ladder go there; no one else wants it.

It's a desolate, empty, and oppressive place; it's bleak and hopeless. Emphasize this with the Saureya character. Perhaps there is a constant moaning or rumbling from the skies that begins to wear people down after they've been there for a few days (make DC 10 Fort or Will save or nonpaladins are at -2 for all rolls that day). There is no wind on Occipitus, but perhaps there are still dust storms of a sort - very thin, windless clouds of dust that on close examination are revealed to be tiny bone fragments.

I find the lack of politics and factions on Occipitus extremely interesting because it reinforced the difference between this layer of the abyss and others. If you want to have a little narrative, consider tossing in a few things that Kaurophon can explain if he is with the group: "Oh those? The nearest translation in your tongue is 'ulcers.' Best not get too close. They're highly acidic. I think the last would-be ruler of this place, a rather nasty marilith, was swallowed by an unusually large ulcer that suddenly opened up beneath her. Those goblins might be the last of her forces. They probably don't have any way to plane shift so they're stuck here." Or, "Those are probably just bones left over from the battle that formed this place. I'm kind of surprised no one has tried to animate them yet."

Otherwise just speed up the session by describing a few bits or rubble that seem to have some sort of celestial quality to them or maybe a boneyard or two with celestial and abyssal remains intermixed. This is all the party sees of note over several days of journeying, and roll for random encounters only a few times. If you want to have a significant number of factions vying for control of the place, you need to figure out why no one has completed the Test yet; it really isn't that hard since you don't have to actually go through all parts except for the last one. The cursed nature of the place keeps many demons away, so that is a neat way of explaining why there have been few attempts.

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Flyby Attack = gives opponent attack of opportunity (probably) for moving through a threatened square.

Adroit Flyby Attack = no attack of opportunity.

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Would you mind saying what setting you are using and where you are placing Cauldron? That could make a difference, though I like your idea of a 500 year planar cycle. If you take a cue from AoW, Cauldron is near Kyuss' former metropolis of Kuluth-Mar. I can see druids being interested in keeping the "unnaturalness" of Kyuss, the spellweavers, etc. hidden and repressed. Maybe the area has always been a focus for unusual activities that they would like to prevent happening again.

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There are several threads here in the SCAP forum about this. A few may have been archived by now; try a search if the thread titles aren't helpful.

The most common conversions seem to be:
St. Cuthbert -> Helm
Wee Jas -> Kelemvor
Kord -> Tempus
Pelor -> Lathander
Striders -> Harpers
Ebon Triad -> Bane, Bhaal, Myrkul
Cauldron in or near Chult.

My own basic setup was a bit different:
St. Cuthbert -> Torm
Wee Jas -> Oghma
Kord -> Kelemvor
Cauldron placed in mountains northeast of Neverwinter and Mount Hotenow.
(A few minor liberties with local geography and the Neverwinter Woods were also taken.)
werebaboon -> wereboar
dinosaurs -> dire boars

The nature of some of the changes meant the focus of some of the temples changed from what was presented in the adventure, but this had to do more with my group than anything else. However, I did think it was a bit old and tired for a church associated with death to turn out to be harboring some of the bad guys, so I went for something a bit different but still plausible. Since Age of Worms makes reference to a few things from SCAP, you may want to check the Age of Worms Overload and other conversion notes for a few of those details, but that's really not needed. I don't have the HC, just the mags; there may be more notes there.

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About anything by Rammstein. They have the right feel even if you don't speak German. Or if you sometimes go for the surreal and twisted, you could do a really unusual combination like playing The Smith's "I am Human" during a certain encounter with an Ulgurstasta. Yeah, I'm like that...

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If you check the spells entry in the dragon description in the monster manual, it says that some dragons can cast cleric or domain spells as arcane spells.

Hookface's spells like shield, protection from good, and cat's grace will all add an armor boost. These aren't included in his stat block (at least not in the mag, not sure if you're using the hardcover). Hookface would definitely cast dispel magic on any flying characters as well. Flying gives him a huge advantage, and he wouldn't likely give that up. Also, one of the game designers (I think Monte Cook) is on record as saying that dragons are a little tougher than most other critters of their challenge rating because it was assumed that characters would research any significant dragon presence in an area and prepare for it. I think it's on his website somewhere. If that still isn't enough, you can always just tack on some more hit points, and/or give him another item like a scarab of protection.

Also remember that dragons are extremely intelligent, and Hookface is there just out of curiosity. If he takes a lot of damage he will use every trick he has to escape and seek revenge later, not become random encounter fodder for some adventurers.

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Can I plug Creative Mountain Games' PDF bundles? I have the complete 3.5 SRD. It's indexed, hyperlinked, searchable, easily printable, and I can cut and paste into my word processor too. I've found it a great prep time saver since there's almost always stuff to look up, even with published adventures.

I'll write down about 5 rounds of combat tactics for the spellcasters the PCs may face, plus any stats the spells may change. That may sound like adding work, but I personally find being able to ignore most of the spell info included with spellcaster stat blocks simplifies the things I'm keeping track of enough to be worth it.

Finally I'll scan any page from the mag that looks like I will reference a lot, usually a map or NPC statblocks, and print it out and write notes on it both during prep and during the game. This makes it easier for me to keep track of what happens during week one, creating less work getting ready for week two. It also helps to eliminate flipping back and forth at the table.

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Erik Mona wrote:
I'd love to hear which adventures didn't knock your socks off, and why.

Since the editor has asked, I'll try to do this as constructively as I can. None of these I think are inherently bad, but each missed the mark on some important element that made the adventure frustrating for the DM and/or players to prepare for and/or run/play.

The Demonskar Legacy (#104) and Test of the Smoking Eye (#106)
Demonskar had a very railroady feel in that one Alek Tercival had to die no matter what, even if the PCs defeated his attackers. The characters are told that returning to Cauldron would mean certain doom (though nothing terribly doomful seems to have happened once they do return later) and that they should immediately go plane hopping with a suspicious character who appears under suspicious circumstances. If a group likes the mysterious and unexplainable then I suppose this could work. There were redeeming virtues though like the Cauldron tax riots and NPC encounters on Occipitus. I was happy to see that the Age of Worms avoided another situation that could have been similar to this by giving several ways to handle the doppelgangers in The Hall of Harsh Reflections.

Iron Satyr (#108)
Why is the demon still around? Shouldn't it have returned at the end of the battle as stated in the Gate spell description? Or do I not understand how Gate works? How could a village forget a near epic spell battle and the resulting iron demon left behind? It's a 30-foot tall iron demon. Why is it called a satyr? Does it have a pan flute or something? Why has this never been investigated before? Long-term exposure produces petrified stone? Wouldn't a simple divination or good knowledge check tell someone what it is? Can't the whole problem be solved by a few Rusting Grasp spells or somebody's pet rust monster? It's a neat creature and the planar encounters and locations like the tower are different and interesting, but the entire setup seems implausible.

The Clockwork Fortress (#126)
This one introduced quite a lot of things that I found difficult to accept in the given setting. There wasn't a lot that could be adapted or replaced; either you took the adventure as written or left it. Most troubling though was the Clockwork Fortress itself. Why was it built that way? What advantage was there to it? The design seems more of a hindrance to defense and basic functionality than an asset. For something originally connected to law and logic, it doesn't seem to make much sense. I don't mind the occasional foray into steam or clockwork items (Kambranex's Machinations in #91 was great, for example), but I think they work better when driven by mad genius (like Kambranex) or well-planned cause-effect. Clockwork and steam simply for the sake of clockwork and steam doesn't really cut it for me, though I understand they could be quite appealing for others.

Vampires 1: The Blood of Malar (#126)
I thought it was difficult to follow, and the chief antagonist's name I have yet to figure out how to pronounce. I got the feeling while reading this that anyone playing it (and possibly running it) risked accomplishing very little except a lot of frustrated running around trying to figure out what they could or should be doing. Perhaps a bit more space, or at least more space given to the adventure instead of explaining how it fit into Realms canon, would have helped. (But I wouldn't have wanted that little gem of The Managerie cut to make room.) The adventure seemed to assume metagame knowledge of the Realms to figure out what was happening. Either that or the DM was expected to know a lot about the metaplot and explain it after Knowledge rolls. Personally I've found the former to be unsatisfying in play and the latter quickly forgotten. However, the second part of this story arc was absolutely fantastic. If only every villain used his minions so effectively. I'll likely run this story arc if and when I get a high-level group in Waterdeep for a while, but the intro will need a bit of a rewrite. Otherwise I'm afraid I'll end up with players sitting back wondering just why they should be trying to take out the bad guys who seem to be trying to take out some other bad guys.

Other minor stuff -
Oriental adventures aren't for me. The feel, action, and behavior of creatures and/or NPCs don't adapt well to other settings. However, if you're going to do these, you might as well do them right and not water them down so that they are little different from traditional fantasy. They don't show up often enough to detract from the value of the magazine.

Mostly ditto for epic adventures since I have little interest in running or playing in epic campaigns. These are sometimes interesting to read though.

I would also like to say that any watered-down Eberron adventure that might be published would be a bad thing. If it's Eberron, make it Eberron. Even though I don't run or play in that setting, I find lots of good stuff to steal when material is published. I also understand that there are others who will have the exact opposite sentiment.

I'm so glad I'm not the editor.

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May I suggest some classic issues?

Dungeon #82 is worth tracking down for early low-level wilderness adventuring. It was the first 3rd edition issue, so you will need to do a bit of conversion if you use 3.5. Still, good stuff in three standard adventures and one non-standard. Includes a poster map of Sherwood Forest and Nottingham Castle (yes, as in Robin Hood, Prince John, etc. for the nonstandard adventure) that may or may not be useful to you.

Natural Selection in #85 presents some interesting ethical quandries for your Druid once you get up to around 5th level or so and stabbing goblins has become a bit stale.

I would like to run Tears for Twilight Hollow from issue #90 but have never gotten around to it. Quite a bit of dungeon delving and messed-up clerics, but also activities in the wilderness. Conceivably this could make a good base of operations for low level adventurers who finally manage to root out the real evil in town at around 7th level.

Buzz on the Bridge (#110), Swamp Stomp (#93), Fiend's Embrace (#121), and Throne of Iuz (#118) may also be worth checking out for low, mid, and high level adventurers.

Wizards of the Coast has some decent free stuff available as downloads. Check out Adventures like The Ettin's Riddle, The Eye of the Sun, and The Road to Oblivion; Random Encounters such as Denizens of Stone Bog, The Twisted Wood, and Fharlanghn's Garden; and the Vicious Venues articles for adventure seeds and ideas.

Also remember that for new players, trade caravans being ambushed by a gang of goblins controlled by a low level drow wizard is darn good stuff.

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Archade wrote:

I went through my Dungeon collection to no avail. The problem isn't coming up with a side adventure (I had one prepared). The players are hot and heavy to find out about the Cagewrights and the Soul Pillars. I need an 'obstacle' adventure, rather than a 'side' adventure (which they're avoiding).

Oliver, those are great adventure ideas, but my players aren't going to be easily dissuaded from their investigations. I need something tied to the Soul Pillars, the recovered soulcage, or the half-orc mercenaries in town, or the Blue Duke, or something beyond their ability to say no to (since they did that to my nice political intrigue side-adventure).

How much do they know about the soul pillars?

If they still need to do a bit of research, let them find clues pointing to old spell weaver ruins, but not Karran-Kural. Perhaps these other ruins contained soul pillars at one point, but the magic has faded or they have been damaged and no longer function or something like that. The group battles a few critters and an ancient guardian or two and perhaps finds a scrap of parchment pointing to Fetor and the "real" soul pillars at Karran-Kural that he inadvertantly left here when he researched this dead end. You could perhaps use parts of the Dungeon Delve map in issue 109. Just collapse parts you don't need to keep the size manageable. It's a bit more prep work than a published adventure, but it shouldn't be too difficult if you keep classed opponents to a minimum.

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I’ve Got Reach wrote:

Piety has told the PCs that he has never lost a fight, and that the gods have cursed him to eternal victory.
This task probably would include combat where “winning” is the goal, and it might be something that Piety could have never accomplished because he could never lose. This is where I need the help – what type of quest might something like this be?

Could you elaborate a bit?

Are you talking about a situation where the true winner must lose? The text doesn't seem quite clear. Perhaps something like the Test of the Smoking Eye back in issue #107 where one possible way to "win" the test was to lose one's life?

If so, what about some series of tests or trials (really a sort of pilgrimage) that would be of significance to Heironeous? Battle a monster or two, visit a shrine here and there, perform an act of kindness/chivalry, etc., but the next to last test is a test of faith. He must enter a sacred pool and "breathe the waters of his justice" or something like that. In other words, drown. He can only "win" (complete the quest) by "losing" before he finishes. At the instant of death Heironeous immediately restores him back to life and favor and also removes the curse. The last task is simply to pray at a shrine or temple. There his unnatural life will peacefully end.

Also, what about this possible snag:
"Hey, Piety, we know of this great undead menace thing that's about to take over the world. Here's a sword. Thanks."

I like the general idea, just not sure about a really good way to set it up.

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My own thought is that the special inks and such used in a spellbook make them reasonably weatherproof and smudgeproof. (I also consider scroll/map cases watertight.) There isn't anything "official" I'm aware of to back that up though. If you are really worried about it, provide a small, watertight bag or pouch of some sort for the spellbook. If the standard spell component pouch can be watertight, I don't see why it should be a big issue to protect a spellbook.

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Corrections for issue #103 were posted in issue #105.

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Sean Halloran wrote:

I really see two options here: 1) The temple of Bocob takes the cult threat kind of seriously and hires some adventurers to check it out or convinces the temple of Kord to help them out. Perhaps they could dangle the chance to enter the arena in front of the grandar? But that still leaves a weak hook for the other PCs. If they are told to check out the Cairn it kind of works, but at this point I don't know how they can find the Ebon Complex without someone doing the research for them. 2) I suppose Auric and his band could be hired to go to the Whispering Cairn. This might make some of the PCs jealous but I'm not sure how I to use it to motivate them.

Any suggestions are still welcome.

Or a little of both?

A different adventuring group checks out the Cairn for the temples since the PCs seem to want to have nothing to do with it. You run some other adventures, get them to Blackwall Keep somehow for that one just to let them know strange things are happening even though they are ignoring them, then back to the city. They get into the arena and you run those encounters but without the investigation. When a rather large and nasty worm erupts from the ground and tries to eat them and spit them back up as zombies... well if they don't take an interest after that (they can get the info the need from the churches) then it seems to me you can pretty much write the whole AoW off.

I would have an OOC chat with the group though. Your second post seems to indicate a rather tougher position for you as DM than your first. I'd be inclined to just tell them I was having difficulty devising a compelling hook for everyone at the same time and ask them, "What would motivate your character to go back to Diamond Lake and/or investigate a squirmy undead menace?" with the understanding it may take an adventure or three to weave it all back together.

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DrWaites wrote:
Why was Cauldron built in a volcano's crater? I know that this is a dormant volcano, but what rationale did the town's founders find for building on such a hazardous site?

Mostly what Mr. Jacobs said.

Natural defenses, water, and rich local mineral resources.

However, I nixed the whole chisel organization (what is an earth elementalist anyway? do i need an old planescape supplement or something?) and modified the backstory of the place appropriately. Didn't have the HC, just the mags. Basically, divination magic revealed the volcano is really extinct, not just dormant, so there is no chance of eruption. At least not without powerful magical intervention to reawaken it. I also prepared some answers to obvious divinations I thought the party would end up performing based on my own questions that arose from preparation, party in-game comments, and OOC table-talk. Just about anyone in Cauldron (like Jenya) will tell them the same thing.

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If sounds very salvageable to me.

Cleric - What sort of artifact? Could it possibly be a piece of the rod of 7 parts? Maybe the pieces have minor properties, and this particular one confers a small strength bonus on whoever possesses it or something like that. Perhaps the Ulgurstasta is drawing strength from it to feed its growth.

Ranger - Wants to clean the city up... so get the party into the sewers or nearby abandoned mine where they find the lair of three cults that bear a suspicious similarity to those in 3FoE. The corruption of nature (the lizardfolk and dragon eggs) is further motivation for such characters, though perhaps a bit cliche.

Grandar - Their problems dont improve. Perhaps the only work they can get is as a lowly escort for some supplies going to a garrison or fort. Things get worse when they find the fort under attack by lizardfolk. However, they have the chance to prove themselves by helping to settle the issue. Afterward someone associated with the fort is able to put a good word in for them, they are treated a little better, and they get a break in the arena.

Rogue - Perhaps a barkeep has seen some suspicious characters or heard something that sounds like it is coming from the sewers under his place and wants someone to check it out to see if there is trouble in store for him. Someone from the city guard is looking to hire a few people to escort some supplies. Normally they would do this themselves but perhaps they have had some problems with undead recently and don't want to spare the soldiers just at the moment. If the Grandar manage to get into the arena, they could certainly use some help winning; just think of the fame and fortune. Perhaps the cleric finds a lead on the artifact (its with the triad) and the temple offers a reward plus any loot to whoever recovers it. I think after a certain time that he (the character) should realize that he can pick up some neat stuff by adventuring with the rest of the party and will accompany a hero or two even if he refuses to consider himself one.

You'll have to ditch The Whispering Cairn, but I think most maps and NPCs from the other adventures are still usable. You'll just need to change some details like place names and geography, maybe throw in a few new NPCs and hooks. Perhaps they never return to Diamond Lake but instead some other little out-of-the-way place? Just give it a different name and change some details.

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You don't have to open any of the gear doors to complete the mission; you can use secret doors and pulverizer tunnels to get to all the major areas, though not every single room. It's possible for a first level rogue to open the doors, but skill focus and/or masterwork tools will be required. The traps are the tricky part, and the divination riddle the PCs can get from Jenya warns of this, though it may not be obvious until two or three doors are encountered.

I don't recall any mention of a lock inside the rooms; just decide yes or no depending on how hard you want to be on your players, then be consistent. I do recall that there was a key for each room. Make notes of key locations before the game as you prepare, or just place them yourself wherever you think appropriate.

The only other real consideration is the size of the place. It's so large. I ended up ignoring a few areas and instead placed stone walls (from Stone Shape) that sealed a couple of smaller exits from the complex. You may also want to come up with a reason why the main entrance to this huge magical enclave came to be under the stairs of a locksmith.

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