It may well be better that they don't. Every player sits down to game with expectations as the GM we have to manage them. This AP is great and has a lot of Genre theme to it, but it is still a Pathfinder AP. Those expecting something more akin to Call of Cuthulu or similar games will likely be disappointed.
That said don't let a lack-of nor lots of experience with the genre deter you. There is great writing here don't miss it!
In the late stages of STAP, while facing a cavalry charge in some now forgotten layer of the abyss, my PC was all excited about readying a spear to brace for a charge (Doesn't happen regularly in our games). Imagine his surprise when he realized the cavalry had 5ft more reach than him. Which he should have known!!
He took a spirited lance charge and went from max to neg a zillion in one round!
Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!
This biggest problem in our game is that death, especially at low and mid levels can be beneficial. With wealth-by-level returning PC's can cherry-pick their hardware, where as the surviving PC's have live with what's found in treasure hoards/player created/purchased in the campaign world.
My group doesn't have any real solution to this but as a GM and Player I don't like it. Next time I'm in the DM chair I think I will have a house nerfing this
Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
Thanks I'll have to do something similar or bring her back to life. My PC's would scour the multiverse for her otherwise lol
I cool question. It's so hard since demon lords are both my favorite protagonists as a player and DM, they're all my favorites lol, and why STAP was my favorite AP of the first three.
1. Demogorgon - He was a protagonist in my first ADD campaign from my childhood then again in STAP.
2. Graz'zt - Of all the great Grayhawk legends; the Graz'zt & Iggwilv legend is my favorite. Having Iggwilv actually appear and interact with the PC's in STAP was the highlight of the campaign for me.
3. Lamashtu - Of the new PF demon lords Lamashtu really stands out to me.
There are a lot of things I miss from the Paizo Grayhawk and Dragon Magazine days. Grayhawk and Dragon Magazine were never better! If I could see one series return to print it would be James Jacobs' Demonomicon of Iggwilv.
I agree with justaworm. When I gm'd I came up with a pretty detailed escape since my party had lots of questions, though I allowed her fugue state keep all the plot spoilers enticingly close but still so far away.
Juliver became a more important NPC for the party than I initially thought when I was scripting the adventure helping drive the plot with sudden memories of her time in Ilmurea, though by 1000 fangs she was a behind-the-scenes player.
I guess if you're players are any faction other than PFS then removing/replacing E Kane seems appropriate.
Funny, I was thinking about this just yesterday. I prefer individual initiative both when I GM and as a player; though I must admit to often using group initiative when GMing just for the convenience factor.
Reference Initiative in general one thing I've noticed with a couple of groups I game with is the habit of staying in Initiative rounds for convince and order. I soooo hate this and discourage it whenever possible, as I feel is penalizes rogues and other classes in which surprise rounds are important.
This is a great thread topic.
How have these spells been used in your games?
What personal limits have you put on them as a GM?
I just finished Gm'ing SS and a I severely nerfed all magical transportation because it is severely disruptive to the narrative I wanted to tell. I did not however outlaw it all together simply limited its range making it more of a tactical spell than a strategic one.
Mind reading is always a difficult subject, and GM's with players who have and intend to use the ability should speak with them about each of the specific spells, actually this is a good thing to do with all divination's since they are so subjective and rarely meet player expectations. It can be tricky but if the players make a good choice they should be rewarded.
What interesting combinations have you come up with as a player?
In CotCT the bard player used "mind reading" divination's on several occasions to gain some useful information but nothing plot destroying. It was particularly useful in ferreting out the plot behind the Yzahnum character. The surface thoughts of the thugs betraying them while they "faught" Yzahnum and the party watched.
How would you determine if someone was or wasn’t thinking about something so your player could read their surface thoughts?
In the example above it was easy the thugs were thinking about the deception they were actively perpetrating at the time. However, had the player waited until later, when the thugs were have an ale at a nearby tavern, that deception isn't necessarily on the surface.
Franz Lunzer wrote:
It isn't covered. On my first read through I found the "rules" chapter enlightening. I was particularly tickled to see that how our group handled most of our underwater situations were pretty much in line with the clarifications and insight in the printed text.
Not certain why it was felt a detailed buoyancy rule set was required, but whatever.
The chapters on spells and items gave the usual-suspect list of thematic splat crap met to allow PC's to completely overcome all the negative-effects of operating in a strange environment.
Gark the Goblin wrote:
Those were my thoughts when I made the changes.
I wanted to maintain the sense of isolation and privation I imagined an expedition of this type would feel throughout the AP so I invented this mini game for my players. It melds together rules and ideas from the Shiv mini, and other Paizo products. It worked very well for us. I put it all in a spoiler tag so players don't ruin your fun and peek. Please feel free to comment.
Base Camp Mini
Once the PC’s arrive at Saventh’Yhi they need to locate and establish a base camp from which their expedition can explore the city.
A DC 25 survival or knowledge (geography) check reveals the following information.
1. The valley in which the city lies has only one logical entrance though which an expedition can enter, and that is along the north side of the unknown river, and even this will be difficult.
a. Defense – At a minimum each the base camp must be clear of any hostiles with in one hex (600ft) of its base hex.
Once PC’s have chosen a site they can prepare the site for the arrival of their expedition. This requires an additional survival check and a full day (16 hours) of work. Once the 16 hours is completed PC’s are fatigued, and must make a DC 25 survival check. For every 5 points by which the PC’s fail the survival check they require an additional 4 hours of labor and gains +2 on the subsequent roll. (Note: If the PC’s choose a water hex (any hex which is > 1/3 water) the DC is 30.
Daily Sequence of Play
i. Morale < 7: -2 all defense and discovery rolls.
B. Determine Supply bonuses
C. Determine Defense bonuses for the day
D. Determine daily Discovery bonuses
E. Start/Continue/Complete improvement
Once the PC’s expedition arrives, they have 5 base camp points with which to establish their base camp. As long as the base camp stays In Supply they receive 1 base camp point a week to improve their camp.
Points are spent to purchase base camp improvements from the following list. An improvement takes 1 week/point to build and represents the expedition working, along with their other duties, on improving their living conditions. PC’s must make a DC 20 diplomacy check to convince the Expedition leader to start/continue work on an improvement.
Base Camp Improvements
1. Aid Station (cost 2): Once established an aide station reduces the possibility of disease by 10%.
In addition to base improvements, PC’s may, with a successful diplomacy check and use TPA/CPA to aassign/hire experts to aid the expedition as they see fit. TPA/CPA costs are monthly. Using diplomacy is a DC 20 Diplomacy check to convince the Expedition Leader to task/hire the NPC in this manner.
Each NPC and his/her specialty is listed in the chart below. PC’s may also request 1 NPC accompany them on expeditions into the ruins. This requires the expenditure of TPA/CPA. DM Approval since there are now six players.
NPC Name Specialty Cost Benefit
Gelick Discovery Adds +1 to discovery
Pezock Defense Adds +1 to defense
Cheiton Supply Adds +2 to supply or +1 to repair roll
Nkechi Morale Adds +1 morale
Abbot Morale 10TPA and 4CPA or 40gp/mth Adds +1 to morale
Guard Captain Defense 10TPA and 5CPA or 50gp/mth Adds +1 to defense, reduces random encounter by 5%
Doctor Repair 10TPA and 5CPA or 50gp/mth Adds +1 to morale and repair, reduces chance of disease by 5%
Sage Discovery 10TPA and 3CPA or 30gp/mth Adds +1 to discovery
Steward Supply 10TPA and 3CPA or 30gp/month Adds +2 to supply roll and +1 to repair roll.
Master Metal or Wood Smith Repair 10TPA and 5CPA or 50gp/month Adds +1 to defense, +1 to repair, Craft 1 masterwork item per week.
Master Engineer Defense 10TPA and 6CPA or 60gp/month Adds +1 to defense, +1 to repair, reduces cost of palisade and watchtower by 1, must be present to purchase redoubt. Together with master smith can craft siege engine. Must be present for siege engine use or -4 on siege engine Attack rolls.
Anytime PC’s are in the base camp players must choose one of the downtime activities. Each activity takes 8hrs or longer to complete. A minimum of 8hrs must be expended to gain any benefit from the activity unless otherwise noted in the activities entry.
Craft Magic item – providing the PC meets all the requirements he may spend 8hrs working on crafting a magic item. Requires appropriate base camp improvement (exc potions/scrolls)
Craft Mundane Item – providing the PC meets all the requirements he may spend 8 hrs working on crafting a mundane item. Requires appropriate base camp improvement
Heal Others – Per the heal skill. Additionally, spending 8hrs a day and making a DC 15 heal check at the end of the week adds +1 to the repair or morale roll.
Replace Companion/Familiar – Requires 24hrs of uninterrupted time and the correct environment.
Research Spell/Lore – Cost for spell research is 100gp x lvl of spell; time is spell level x 7 days, Spell Craft DC is 10 x (2xspell level); Spend 8hrs assisting in research of Saventh at the end of each period make a DC 20 intelligence or knowledge(history) check. If successful add +1 to the daily discovery check.
Full Days Rest – Rest for 24 hours. See heal skill.
Retrain – Ask GM - Requires appropriate base camp improvement
Train Animal – See handle animal skill - Requires appropriate base camp improvement
Base Camp Economics
One of the first offices established in any exploration base camp is the trading post. Here you can buy and sell items just as if you were in any other town or city throughout Golarion. The gold piece value of your faction trading post is directly related to your prestige level. The higher your total prestige award (TPA), the more funds your faction is willing to budget into your expedition.
Any magic item which has a market value less than the Base Value is available 70% of the time. This is 5% less than normal and reflects the austere conditions. Additionally, the item will not be available until your faction’s next weekly supply run arrives.
The purchase limit is the weekly market value of goods your Trading Post can accept. Once this limit is reached no additional goods will be accepted for purchase. This value resets Oathday each week.
The incidental limit is for expendable magic items potions, scrolls, wands, alchemical items, etc. This is once per week personal limit (no combining) for each PC.
The spell casting limit identifies the level of divine/arcane spell casting available for purchase from NPC’s in the base camp. Requires appropriate base camp improvement.
Additionally, certain minor/medium/major items will come available from merchants the DM will provide a list these items.
TPA Base Purchase Incidental Spell Casting
* Limited to alchemical, special materials, potions, wands of <3rd lvl, scrolls of <4th lvl, magic items <1001gp
Expedition Mini Goal
In the City of Seven Spears I updated Grugonoth
I converted the Racing to Ruin encounter which occurs just prior to arriving in Kalabuto to a haunt.
Gallows’ Tree (CR 6)
XP 2,400; NE haunt (30ft radius of leafless boab tree); Caster Level 5th; Notice Perception DC 16 (to notice frayed ropes begin to sway in the breeze); hp 10; Trigger proximity; Reset 1 hour
Using his fast strike ability Ydersius charged and crit on both bite attacks for upwards of 100pts. The hunter attempted to acrobatics out of the threatened area but failed and is awesome blowed with a tail into a nearby brazier taking some fire damage and knocked prone. On Ydersius next turn the hunter fails a save vs the ongoing poison and gets hit with fast strike again, one a crit and dies. Ydersius swallows him whole! An epic death at the epic conclusion of this awesome AP
My players succeeded in completing the this AP last night in an epic conclusion which ended with only a single PC death and a confirmed critical god slaying blow from Eroeme. The final confrontations created a feeling of impending doom and death for my PC's and great fun was had by all. This is an outstanding entry in the AP series and I highly recommend it. Here are some stats from our Serpent's Skull odyssey.
9ea party deaths (2 permanent)
- Seven Days to the Grave - Best in show for the CoCT AP which is full of outstanding installments. Could easily be worked into any urban campaign.
- Souls for Smugglers Shiv - My single favorite opening chapter. The fact that as a DM you have your party completely isolated from civilization is great. My party spent 80+ days on the shiv and it was tense.
- The Haunting of Harrowstone - Best bring the party together of all time. I like the fact that as a PC I had a large dungeon crawl with an actual goal and my support was not necessarily a friendly force. The mix of dungeon crawling and roleplaying with in the village make this one great.
- Wake of the Watcher - How good was Carrion Crown? It has two of my all time favorite installments and several others are close. No single chapter resonated more with me and my fellow adventurers than this chapter. I played an inquisitor of Iomede and we had a paladin as well and our alignments were sorely tested.
- Here There Be Monsters - STAP was a great great AP but this installment was the pearl. I mean come on folks its the Isle of Freaking Dread! Nothing else to say.
-Three Faces of Evil - The Whispering Carin gets an honorable mention from me, but I've run this AP twice (though never finished) and both times the second installment was the highlight.
- Test of the Smoking Eye - This installment of SS and much of the AP was wrongly criticized for its planar travels but my players loved it and so did I. An abyssal plane that's actually a piece of skin! I mean come on folks cool and icky at the same time.
- Hook Mountain Massacre - As good as all the chapters of this classic AP are this Deliverance meets the Giant Series was just to much fun.
Investment in Korvosa is paramount. Within what ever background the PC's come up with THEY must be able to find the motivation to want help the city and its citizens, if they cannot then they should a) role play their change of heart by participating in the events as they unfold or b) leave the city altogether and create a new PC with the proper motivation.
This was a very memorable campaign for me as the GM, and my players (all 7 of them) had a blast. Extra players always require special care. In combat the action economy is so much in their favor that you almost always have to make adjustments to keep things challenging. Two things I've learned over the three AP's of GM'd (all with 5 to 7 players) are
a) Economics can help a lot in balancing the situation. I did a post on the board way back demonstrating how the events of CoCT impacted the economics in Korvosa making the parties ability to procure magic items, services, etc more difficult and expensive. Also change the rewards from monetary to services or boons.
b) I often re-built the bad guys by giving them max hp, building them on a 20 or 25 point build, extra level etc. But I never increased their treasure, xp award, etc.
As far as build points go - I've always done 20 point. However, I would really love to make all my future games 15 points (I usually have 6 players and they are all very experienced). The only reason I don't is I truthfully feel it would restrict from play those classes which require half-way decent scores in more than one ability.
Korgan (Dwarven Ranger/Barbarian) - Charged up and climbed the cliff to reach the escarpment on the approach to the the Hunter's Maze, Pointe du Hoc style, all the while taking mass volleys of arrows and ray attacks from the Daemons from at both ramps. Succeeded in cresting the top and took down one of the Urdefharen Skirmishers before a final volley fell him. His heroic charge allowed the balance of the party to finish off the skirmishers in the ruins, reach the barricade and clear the escarpment.
I nerfed all the transportation magic for this entire AP. In my opinion it ruins the entire feel. When we started Marching Song didn't exist. I agree with Samish. PC's are supposed to be trailblazing and I assume trying to mess with their competitors efforts. The trip is more than a forced march with planned and random encounters along the way.
I was a player in this wonderful AP and my group had a lot of fun so from a players perspective here are my suggestions.
I think most of the changes people refer to involve injection of the options presented in the recent wave of Occult releases from Paizo. One of the great thinks about the Paizo business model is the release of new options months/years after a particular AP releases can breath fresh air into an older AP. I always customize the older AP's when I DM them it's fun and it keeps the players on their toes as many have read or played the older stuff before.
As a player I was not disappointed by a single installment of this AP and had a blast throughout. Trial of the Beast and Wake of the Watcher stood out for our group but all were great fun.
My PC's are nearing the completion of 1000 fangs now and are PF faction members, they didn't hate Gelik but he certainly was the least liked of the PC's I played him pompus and soft complaining about even the slightest inconvenience on the Shiv.
He gain some respect when the party overplayed their hand against the cannibals and he showed up with some timely Inspired Courage to get them over the hump.
Once they arrived in Saventh Yhi he was captured by M'Dgog and returned to the group, ostensibly having lost his eye in a fight. The PC's never caught on until they finished that particular vault, which the PC's have sealed with several walls of stone and abjuration until they can figure out how to reverse the process.
While the party was negotiating with Izon, the hunter PC flew off to take care of some personal business (in-game and out). He was forced to ground by a patrol of Udefharn and captured by the driders.
In an effort to force the PC's to do her bidding Vedavrex contacted the PC's and informed them she return their companion unharmed if they rescued her brother from Izon.
The PC's of course attempted to kill her O.K. Corral style. They failed leaving their companion to his fate!!!
All of them, honestly. Optimized, unoptimized, seen all the builds for the most part. Now I just look to see characters.
Exactly, tired of the words build and optimize all together. I would rather read 500 words about your PC's background, first adventure, last adventure or what ever!
I ran this start to finish switching to the hardback when it was released about 1/2 way through. To say it was fantastic for my group would be an understatement. They loved every minute of it and so did I. That said it has a very different feel to it than the AP's released now and those reasons are well defined by others in this post.
The biggest baddest reason to love this AP however is it's Grayhawk Baby! As much as I enjoy Golorion, GH will always be my first love and I miss everything Paizo did to bring her alive. So many stories left untold!