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First, I want to say that it's a wonderful idea to help add a personal link between the PC and the story development.

And while I think Fumarole's drop-in makes sense in a thematic way, it may be difficult to explain or justify the dragon's activities and interest in current events if it's been imprisoned in the Red Pyramid's sub-subbasement for thousands of years.

Given the stated inclination for brass dragons to actively participate in humanoid social life and politics, and their emphasis on valuing independence and liberty, and this particular dragon's specific interest in Triad activity, I think it would make a lot of sense for the party to encounter it leading up to or during Book 5's slave auction at the Bhetshamtal Estate. The dragon has likely been monitoring Triad enslavement operations across Garund (including in the Mwangi) but has a hunch there's something off about the more recent events. Mekrem's missing shipment of skymetals, the head of the Jewelers Guild's capture, various artisans being smuggled into and out of the Red Pyramid...it can sense there's a larger plot, but needs to get more hands-on with the investigation.

I don't think I'd be able to resist making it a disguised guest at the event itself, someone for the party to have a conversation with during the infiltration, both suspicious of the other's intentions. Perhaps it can then quietly tail the party into the basement and then provide material aid during their rushed escape after freeing the captives. Given how freeform the heist is, you could play it out any way imaginable.

The dragon would then also be a resource of roleplay and knowledge for the party to interact with throughout the majority of Book 5, and you could decide when to make the big reveals to the summoner in question and how much help it lends to the party, or whether its trust has to be won first. Personally I would probably stretch out the ambiguity of its intentions across the full chapter, making it receptive to conversation and would offer advice but wouldn't fight or reveal itself until it had been sufficiently convinced of their righteous intentions (maybe integrate into existing influence system? Or maybe just leave as roleplay on demand.) or until there was a critical moment of dire need.


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I'm in the minority that generally disallows "attacking the limb". It opens up doors to other questions like whether you can ready an action to no-reach attack a creature that's attacking you from reach, or whether other PCs can attack that grabbing foe from squares utilizing its phantom body extension, or whether other allies can flank those mystery squares, whether they can be included area spells or determine spell targeting range, etc.

If the creature has specific rules about severing tentacles or something, then that's okay, but typically it's easier for me to just let a creature's hitbox be its hitbox without adding complicating factors, and it adds an interesting wrinkle to combats with reach + grab enemies. I don't think it breaks the illusion too severely to say the relative size and violent jostling of the enemy's limb prevents effective attacks upon that limb.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

If they're willing (or unable to resist), I'd allow a PC to grab another PC or NPC and try to jump, subject to encumbrance and weight limit rules. You cannot carry anything that would bring your bulk above 10+str-mod. If your PCs are like mine they're usually hauling around 6 or more bulk of gear, so you're looking at 9-12 bulk of added capacity, which is generally going to prevent most similarly laden PCs from picking up a second body and performing heroic athletic feats. A high strength PC with some empty bulk capacity can maybe pull it off.

If they're not willing, no, everything is subject to the standard rules of grabbing and forced movement and the actions and activities that employ them.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

There is no "swallowed" condition to parse what is "primarily" or secondarily anything. There is a grabbed condition, which conveniently is explicitly applied upon the successful utilization of Swallowed Whole. There is no "grabbed but normal grabbed not weird grabbed" status to hem and haw about when you can use what abilities.

It's unambiguous. If you are swallowed whole, you are grabbed. Greater Constrict doesn't have the attack tag. You can use it when things are grabbed, and also when they are swallowed whole. Like when they're in your gullet.

If you want to talk about RAI I think it makes perfect sense that an apex predator like the Froghemoth which is "capable of devouring dinosaurs and even dragons" would have an ability to render that prey disabled rather quickly upon consumption, rather than give it a chance to claw its way out.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Having a rigid or complicated mid- or late-level "build" as your heart's true end goal and then complaining about the length of time it takes to arrive there strikes me as foolish in a system designed to allow characters to grow piecemeal into strength and retrain nearly every aspect of their development. If you can't extract enjoyment from the journey there, or satisfactorily tell the tale of your character's advancement in that direction over the course of a campaign, that's a player problem, not a system problem.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Does the Champion have the Affliction Mercy feat? If he's a healer-y build then it's possible he's taken a deep dive down the Mercy chain.

Otherwise yeah, securely restraining and gagging the Halfling for the long, hot ride to Katapesh is probably their best bet, where there should be access to scrolls, services, or even retraining. Considering that as written Katapesh is limited to 13th level spellcasting and 7th level spells, and the curse is a 9th level effect, you'd still need a critical success on the counteract check, which would be an expensive challenge at DC 38. I might let higher level divine services be available at The Immaculate Repository (Church of Abadar) as part of the "seek uncommon items" Katapesh downtime check. Or maybe Whahar learns about their cannibal halfling problems and dangles some occult help in front of the party in exchange for a small business transaction with a certain Seer.

I'm not a fan of adding bespoke countermeasures to the rewards to bail the party out of gaps in their build coverage, so I personally wouldn't dump a high level Remove Curse scroll in the Finderplain reward table, but I guess that's also an option if anyone in the group has Trick Magic Item. And if they don't, well, maybe they've learned a lesson about the dangers of adventuring while underprepared.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Again not permanent (after a year of player requests I gave them access to Raise Dead) but noteworthy and costly:

Name of PC: Qedrueltu
Class/Level: Sorcerer 17
Adventure: Against the Scarlet Triad
Catalyst: "I'm going to cast it right next to her. What's the worst that could happen?"
Story: After nearly three full weeks of taunting, Bshez "Sand Claws" Shak finally agreed to a fatal duel against the PCs to reclaim her public honor. After the horns blared, the Blood Blades and party melee ran at each other (as the melee typically do) and engaged in the middle of the arena. Meanwhile, Bshez bided her time, rotating west and looking for a soft target to pick off. That soft target ended up being the Sorcerer, who also drifted westward seeking to create distance from the Blood Blade mosh pit. The next round, Bshez carved him up fairly well, but confident in the party's healing throughput the sorcerer decided to risk the AOO by casting Hideous Laughter right in Bshez's face. Bshez critically interrupted that idea with more heavy damage, leaving the sorcerer bleeding and gravely wounded, easy pickings for another crit and finishing blows the next round.

Name of PC: Gurk
Class/Level: Alchemist 17
Adventure: Against the Scarlet Triad
Catalyst: "Let's just clean up these minions real quick before focusing on the boss."
Story: Later in the same combat as above, the Rogue & Ranger melee combo is experiencing single-digit blues, and are struggling to finish off the Blood Blades now that their major AOE damage source is dead. The Bard has spent all his higher level spell slots Maze-ing Bshez from the fight, but now he's out of juice. Fearing Bshez's coming return and onslaught, the party elects to try to focus down the remaining Calikangs with all their strength in the next rounds, so that they can concentrate on avoiding and debuffing Bshez as a coordinated unit. This left Bshez wholly unoccupied upon return to battle, and with the sorcerer's lifeblood still dripping from her kukris she ran around the tangled melee cluster and charged at the isolated bomber Alchemist, who had already been weakened from incidental Calikang damage. Another flurry of critical and normal hits left him bleeding and dying on the floor, and despite the medic Bard's best efforts to Soothe him from afar, there was nothing left to stop Bshez from chasing, knocking down, and brutally executing another so-called hero.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

If my players tried to dig into this, I'd say that The Extraplanar Registry allows him (and only him, because of handwaive NPC magic) to perform Planar Binding at a higher level than he's personally capable of casting. I'm enamored with the idea that Barushak is also personally responsible for teaching Belmazog how to summon and bind the Vrock and Nessian Warhound in Book 2, and the stuff guarding the Red Pyramid in Book 5.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

To move the adventure along? Because the Weathered Wail, after having its ass kicked multiple times, is worried that the PCs might figure out or accidentally trip over its weakness too? At some point it needs to cut its losses, and at some point you need to continue the main story.

Incidentally, my party's just reaching the end of Chapter 2, with only the arena battle against Bshez and some final few days of influence-mongering with the Apsis Consortium before the Council of Guilds. They are a bloodthirsty bunch, and I suspect they're going to execute Bshez without a second thought. I'm considering increasing the DC to convince the guild of the party's takeover if they kill Bshez. After that whole bit about Bshez instituting increasingly deadlier fights, I have played up that the gladiators want to tone down the quantity of death, and killing Bshez just like Bshez killed Magnus Boldheart may give the guild pause about the party's intentions and fitness for leadership.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Quote:
Anyone have some feedback on if I just made this into a tougher fight then it should have been?

I think you made it slightly tougher by not giving them an opportunity to notice that the tree was a hazard. If noticed, they might take the other waystation path and end up with the correct dreamstone when they circle back around, or they might coordinate their approach and attack a little better, or investigate from afar and identify the easiest ways to disable it before it's trying to actively kill them.

When I ran it, after rolling secret perception checks, the Rogue did notice the branches twitching ever so slightly in a spider-like manner. Incidentally this is the encounter that made me rework exactly how up-front I am with my players about when something is a hazard and when something is a creature, because my group are eager to battle, and charged right in without a second thought, and all ended up grabbed. Spellcasters and the Ranger kept trying to attack the tree trunk itself, like a creature, and I had to describe how ineffective their attacks were while waiting for them to Seek or Identify/Recall to give them more information, but they just wanted to full-attack. Finally they figured out the attacking branches thing, but by this point we're three rounds deep and it's a near-TPK. I did modify the fight by removing broken branches from the AoO pool, regenerating one per round, so that everyone felt slightly less useless.

At this point I let the Rogue know about the runes at the trunk, and the disc-shaped indentation, and he finally got enough escapes and Mobility moves in to spare the actions to disable the hazard. It would never have occurred to him to do anything but stab, so I had to push him in the right direction.

Going forward, I decided that I'd break the fantasy veil and just flat out say when something is a hazard instead of a creature since there's a different suite of expected actions for handling them, and this ended up useful because there are a lot of things in Book 3/4 that could go either way based on descriptions.


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I'm pretty sure fryguy was single-handedly responsible for it, and driving himself crazy maintaining it as the number of adventures grew, and gladly put it in maintenance mode the moment Paizo committed to professional Foundry modules for all future APs.

There are similar projects, also singularly maintained, for other official content. But I'd be shocked if anybody commits to continuing the AP importer or similar projects outside of map remakes.


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I'm with Megistone: Everyone rolls initiative and we see what happens, with PCs taking social actions or delaying until after the Gunslinger, and the enemies having the opportunity to possibly sniff out the ambush and/or seek out the hidden sniper.

I don't allow for wordsmithing of free attacks. There's already a really great system in place to adjudicate whether ambushes work, and I have PTSD about PCs begging for surprise rounds after our years with 5e.


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If I were to run Age of Ashes again from the beginning, with a fresh batch of players who don't know anything about Golarion lore, I still wouldn't give them much at the outset. I might loosely explain what exactly is "The Age of Lost Omens" and what Earthfall was, show them a labeled map, and *maybe* explain Isger's relationship to modern Cheliax, but that's about it.

I think it makes sense for players to learn setting-relevant information organically as they ask NPCs and derive it from AP developments and exposure to new areas. It strikes me as fitting for new level 1 PCs to just be some local nobodies who don't have a ton of scholarly world lore outside of their small corner of the world, and grow into the AP's scope.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

My group utterly failed the vision of Dahak scene. It wasn't even close. Not a single successful roll (granted half the party missed this session, but still 3 players went 0-for-the-scene).

I think I should have been more up front about which skill checks were permissible in response to each phase. I ran it as a descriptive roleplay thing, and gave them unguided freedom to respond or act as they chose to named NPCs in immediate doom and Dahak's taunts, and then prompted a skill check based on their words and actions, which often forced them to roll skill checks they weren't even trained in. There was a lot of defiant bluster in phase 2 by people who've never rolled an Intimidation check in the campaign before. I guess that's kind of a roleplay result, though...in the stress of the moment they (players or PCs or both) forgot to play to their strengths and reverted to a kind of atavistic aggression in the face of peril, like cornered animals.

And then the Promise of Fire rolled a 48 initiative and it was all over. Absolutely brutal in the best possible way. I'm considering running the scene again for the 3 players who missed the last game, because it's so much better live than in an e-mail digest after the fact.


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Quote:
1) Can you carry the shield around with the agile grip while not in combat, or does it assume you default to the regular grip when not in combat?

I'd say "grips" are fine to maintain outside of combat, similar to how you can maintain a 1- vs 2-handed grip on a Two Hand trait weapon. There's no language saying you have to reset grips to a base state during Exploration mode like for Stances.

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2) When you pick up or equip your shield, can you pick it up with agile grip already activated, or do you need to use one action to equip the shield and then a second to shift to agile grip?

The action cost, for me, implies that you have to equip normally first and then shift into the agile grip. It's a modal thing you have to actively swap into.


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I think the line "These are somewhat different from the normal undead creature abilities to better fit player characters" under Basic Undead Benefits covers the deviations from common sense concerning effects that require blood or lungs. From a balance perspective it puts all PCs in the same boat. I don't mind hand-waiving that bleed becomes spreading cracks in the bone, or that a cloud of poison affects the rotting marrow inside.

By RAW I think the above supersedes the Bleed text. Skeleton PCs don't follow skeleton monster logic for balance purposes.


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We're only nearing the conclusion to 4, but thus far the clear group favorite has been Tomorrow Must Burn (3).

It's had the most consistent plot trail of all the chapters we've played, with the Triad being the enemy at every step of the way, which led to strong motivations to pursue the investigatory leads. Some of the other books suffer for having empty sections of dungeon-crawl fighting random selections from the Bestiary for no real reason other than that's the obstacle they've been presented with. Tomorrow Must Burn keeps a tighter focus on who the enemy is, and how you need to hunt them, and doesn't get bogged down in too much distraction showcasing the system/bestiary.

It had strong NPCs and NPC integration into the storytelling that the other installments have lacked. Nolly's the only scripted NPC (so far) since Alak who actually actively helps the party and puts her neck on the line. One of the big complaints my group has is that they always end up in these urban centers full of people who, for balance purposes, cannot materially help with the major calamity occurring under their noses, but Book 3 bucks that trend. Nolly fights with you, Halleka can heal you whenever you need him, Laria Longroad has agency in her own escape, Lady Docur took care of her own business during the attack. They are important NPCs with agency and strength and interesting personalities and motivations, which leads to a lot of roleplay development and story engagement by players. Access to uncommon archetypes after the book's conclusion was also a much more meaningful reward than just another item. It really makes these particular NPCs actual, long-term allies. My group will never go back to Akrivel to talk to the Ose twins, but they've been to see Docur and wouldn't leave Kintargo without Nolly and Halleka relocating to the citadel.

It had opportunities for creative roleplay and skill usage outside of scripted challenges. There are multiple ways to handle the warehouse and interacting with Sedranni. The way Cypress Point and the quarry play out is entirely up to player decision-making and there's a ton of latitude for creative exploration or interaction. It's just a good mix of investigation, setup, and execution of set pieces.

And the enemies are fantastic. Laslunn's been in the background since book 1, so it's satisfying to finally have a showdown, with a very creative trap that adds some severe urgency to the encounter. Barushak's encounter is designed to have him escape, which gives the party extra juice to hunt him down and slay him later. Fighting the Bullbutcher and his pirates on the deck of a ship is fun. Fighting a Triad boss on a rooftop with drakes is fun. Killing slavers who are in the middle of enslaving is a great romp. I never needed to add extra motivation for the party to move forward with extreme expediency. I never needed to remind them of the plot's twists and turns to keep them on the path. They were entirely engaged and self-motivated, all due to the very strong cohesion of the adventure.

Tomorrow Must Burn gets an A+ from me.


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I love these kinds of simple setups because it forces a party to think tactically about how teamwork and synergy can help defeat a mundane obstacle, and dissuades selfish action planning, both of which seem to play into PF2's strengths. I'm another vote for strict rule interpretations.

1) At my table, no, the Barbarian doesn't have room to plant himself in front of the Graveknight to prepare a shove because his Fighter buddy is occupying too much room and waving his weapon around menacingly. He's stuck behind the Fighter unable to engage with the Graveknight until somebody's placement changes.

2) The Rogue remains on his or her feet, in the Fighter's square, and can spend more actions to Tumble Through until he has no more actions, at which point he expends the remaining movement of his final Tumble action to retreat backwards to the closest available square. Thematically it's like the entirety of the Tumble check sequence is trying to get through not just the Graveknight but also the conga line of martials blocking the way, and failures represent an inability to navigate the entire blockage.

As others have mentioned there's maybe a hundred different ways to work around this, whether it's utilizing other movement skills, some magical assistance from the back lines, the Fighter opening up space somehow, etc.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Not permanent deaths, but close enough to write about belatedly.

Name of PC: "Earthfall" Erny
Class/Level: Goblin Bard 11
Adventure: Tomorrow Must Burn
Catalyst: Pimpslapped to death by a lich
Story: Overwhelmed by Jaggaki's AoE damage output and clever tactics, after battling through many minions on their way to his lair, the party was depleted and called for a retreat. Erny's fellow goblin ally, an Alchemist, lingered behind to try a hail mary shot from the Rod of Wonder, causing Erny, the party medic, to also linger back to cover his escape. Jaggaki's advance and critical backhand slap proved that to be a poor choice. The party did eventually defeat the lich and recover Erny's body, and after a very tense ritual on Kite Hill surrounded by their Kintargo allies the party managed to claw him back from the River of Souls.

Name of PC: Qedrueltu
Class/Level: Elf Sorcerer 14
Adventure: Fires of the Haunted City
Catalyst: Ripped in half by a bug
Story: A Blade Barrier was not enough to dissuade a Mukradi from targeting a juicy clothy when he stood too close to the wall, pulling him apart very briefly before a Breath of Life sewed him back together.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

If your group takes a consistent month of downtime between books and doesn't ever slow down you're looking at maybe nine months in-game? Five months of downtime, each adventure averaging maybe two or three weeks.

My group takes a bit longer, 5-8 weeks of downtime (they like to retrain and develop the citadel) and sometimes a mid-chapter week to craft and retrain. Under two years should be an easy timeframe for any table, but it very well could take more than one.


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PG-13 in the modern entertainment sense of there being a lot of cartoonish violence but not necessarily gory violence. When the rogue hits a 90 damage crit he stabs someone through the neck, but I don't go into detail about the pained and panicked screams drowned out by the gurgling aspirated river of blood leaving his victim's weakening body. I'm running an AP that involves many captured NPCs being treated poorly by a slaver ring, but all that violence happens off camera and is evidenced through bruising rather than more severe physical or psychological trauma.

As for other mature themes, there is one player who is absolutely down to flirt and possibly explore a relationship with an employed NPC, but everyone else at the table practically flees in terror when those moments spring up, so I haven't played that angle up much.


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My group had to retreat from the Krooths the first time around. The alchemist got completely baited by the shiny thunderstone embedded in the broken and very obviously bitten walkway, went for it anyway on his own, critically failed his jump, and landed in the water where combat immediately kicked off. By the time the party hauled him up, everyone was on the edge of death (they came here last after all the other Cypress Point encounters, so thoroughly depleted), and I didn't have the Krooths pursue them outside of the boathouse.

When they came back a second time they were at full everything with only one combat on the plate for the adventuring day, and they baited the Krooths up onto the southern wooden walkway to fight them terrestrially. It wasn't particularly hard at that point.


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Tuskhead v. Posandi has been one of my favorite background bits in my campaign, but my players refuse to take any bait I put in front of them. Every downtime session I make it a point to dangle something, no matter how overt or subtle, that pushes that particular storyline along but when my group's in downtime mode it's just accounting and then rushing back to kill stuff mode.

At one point a Phistolphilus even showed up in front of a PC, saying she'd heard about his [backstory plot] from an acquaintance in town and offered to help, but the player shot that down immediately and nobody followed up on why anyone in Breachill has contact with devils. Maybe I'll get to use your map someday, though.


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No, the fact that it comes from a spell's magical propulsion doesn't change the fact that the base damage is still slashing, piercing, or bludgeoning and would still be mitigated by raw physical resistance.


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Laslunn: Her discovery of the Eye of the Wise is kind of what kicks off the whole AP. Tomorrow Must Burn says she receives it from "her contacts elsewhere in the organization". I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that she received it from Emaliza, the same way that Uri got his key. Mengkare probably had a bunch of the access keys stored away to limit access to Breachill, which Emaliza had discovered and is slowly distributing to assist with her overarching plan of taking over the world. Laslunn is exactly the kind of ruthless *and* careless middle management that Emaliza needed to really militarily secure Alseta's Ring, something Uri probably cautioned against (thus explaining why Laslunn is operating in a rogue capacity against official [Uri's] Triad orders).

Ilssrah Embermead: Yeah this one is a little more of a stretch, with the Guiding Chisel and the Orb shard just happening to reside in the same location. In my game I'm going to try to play up the idea that Ilssrah securing the Chisel is another part of Emaliza's game, something Uri would consider careless and needlessly attention-grabbing at this stage in the Orb's reconstruction. I don't think it's a huge rewrite if you want to say that Ilssrah was given the Chisel by Emaliza to magically build the Triad's hideouts in what's otherwise very hostile territory where that kind of construction would be nearly impossible.


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If I were in your shoes I'd look for any possible way to maintain running the content as-is while acknowledging the party's efforts in at least attempting to loop in the city guard. I think there's an opportunity here for the PCs to show up as heroes and flex their mid-level power in front of the authorities, lending them some credibility with the Silver Council that would come in handy later.

Off the top of my head, possible reasons Tanessen Tower could not be slow-sieged:

-Guards are currently stretched too thin responding to haunts or securing populated locations against more demonic arrivals. They can post a couple of people outside the tower but don't have the available manpower to storm it without further concrete evidence of criminal activity. Maybe have two lower-level NPCs accompany the party if they decide to charge in.

-Guards are busy dealing with the Order of the Torrent hellknights trying to reestablish order in the panicked city.

-Guards don't have the authority to breach the tower due to longstanding contractual agreement with the Alabaster Academy, which has its own (dismantled) security apparatus.

-Guards don't trust the PCs because of the various bodies that seem to show up wherever they poke around.

-It would take a while for a sufficient guard force to muster and there are screams coming right now from the upper floors.

-Nolly Peltry believes the Triad has the means for magical transportation and there isn't time for a downtime phase, or thinks they might be torturing Laria for questioning and she can't sit on her hands and wait.

Having said that, if you still want to press forward with the siege plan, I think the Triad would respond rather poorly to being discovered and trapped. They are ruthless and, IMO, wouldn't hesitate to threaten to execute captives to secure a way out. It could lead to an interesting showdown or hostage negotiation on the 8th floor. I could see the guards letting the Triad walk to spare a dozen lives. And if the PCs are there maybe it gives them a nice little bit of conflict roleplay.


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Just ran this segment last session. I leaned pretty hard into the spy thing because it added a lot of rich context to the kind of behind the scenes political maneuvering the Regents might get up to, and adds another wrinkle to the grand Kovlar mystery. My party's still trying to sort out whether Archmage Nalruven is on the level or not, and now they're thrown for a further loop realizing that Commander Hammersong (who they met and liked, maybe more than any of the other regents, due to his forthright nature) might have some underhandedness to him.

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Does Dolgindir know she is on the case?

My read is no, he's a pawn in the proxy battle between Hammersong and Chiselrock. It's easy to see another member of the Guild of Arms coming, but someone deeply embedded in another guild entirely might evade notice. The corrupt guards probably wouldn't have headed towards the Earthfire district with another guard on their tail, but a lone tailor is a different story.

My players also visited Algret's house, which I placed under "guard" by Chiselrock's corrupt guards. They were permitted to search the place, and found a hidden dagger which bore a mark of the Guild of Arms underneath the hilt wrappings. When they left, the guards reported to Chiselrock to trigger the guard encounter (they just barely missed qualifying during the council meeting), accusing the party of theft.

Later my party then tried to get into the prison using deception to bluff that they were also on Chiselrock's take, not remembering (from the street encounter with the corrupt guards and subsequent questioning) that the guards had already been warned about the topsiders and were already under orders to take them prisoner. The whole party came into that small entryway and closed the door behind them, and allowed the guards to slowly encircle them until combat ensued. It didn't go well! First combat my party has lost and had to retreat from since book 1.

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What does a spying tailor do anyway?

Could be spying on Dolgindir. Hammersong doesn't know who's corrupting his guards, just that they're on someone's take. Could be the deliveries/fitting thing, gaining access to private locations and poking around. Could be monitoring supply chains. Could just be for the deep cover, to monitor street activity under a less conspicuous visage.


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HumbleGamer wrote:
I am not sure I am entirely following you, since it doesn't feel winnable, as well as affordable for a standard party.

As someone who ran the encounter, I assure you it's extremely winnable. My own group won.

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Indeed we could have opted to save the hostages before go to Laslunn knowing that since it's an AP enemies remain within their room waiting for the adventurers and things don't change regardless the time the adventurers spend resting and doing stuff, but what I was referring to was the approach to the fight without having freed the slaves.

As Fumarole notes, static enemies waiting in rooms for their individual slaughter seems like a poor way to run or experience an otherwise well-written adventure path with dynamic, intelligent enemies that have motivations and senses and resources. To reduce this tense, dangerous end-chapter assault on an enemy stronghold to a series of unlinked combats with infinite sleepytime doesn't sound like fun or immersive roleplay.

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If I forgot something ( as players of an ongoing campaign, we didn't dare to read the book, not to spoiler ourselves stuff ), or if there were an error in my reasoning, feel free to point this out, because still we can't see it

I get that you are hyperfocused on this thievery thing (were you the rogue?) and taking an L is keeping you up at night, but yes you're missing an entire universe of alternative solutions. I will highlight a few straight off the top:


  • -Blocking the sluice gates or drain pipes with Wall type spells
  • -Clogging the sluice gates or drain pipes with expandable items
  • -Clogging the sluice gates or drain pipes with conjured items
  • -Clogging the sluice gates or drain pipes with conjured creatures
  • -Clogging the sluice gates or drain pipes with defeated enemies or environmental furniture
  • -Summoning a creature with a decent thievery score to help disable sluice gates, or some other ability to prevent the flood
  • -Closing the drainways with spells that can shape matter (Stone Shape, for instance) or halt the flow of water (Control Water)
  • -Closing half the sluice gates to buy enough time to finish off Laslunn and the Interlocutor and then take the water slide down into the quarry and race to free the slaves around the Giant before the rest of the water initiates drowning conditions
  • -Scouting out the sluice gate hazard beforehand (invisibility, stealth, divination magics) and doubling back to handle the captives first
  • -Abandoning the Laslunn fight to rescue the captives first while Laslunn makes an escape, or maybe takes shots from the sniper perches while the party deals with the Giant

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Don't really care about "not being punished", because there's nothing neither interesting nor fun to face something we can't deal with, even if after having defeated the boss we can move further

On the flip side, I think never experiencing struggle or loss is also deeply uninteresting. There are so many rich ways to incorporate this whole quarry setup into future roleplay, lending extra motivation beyond "because this is what the AP is" to the party and creating opportunities to roleplay self-doubt or learning IC how to overcome odd/difficult circumstances or how to better prepare, strategically and emotionally, for showdowns with a vicious enemy faction willing to leverage innocent lives for their own survival.

You keep harping on about it being "unwinnable" but that's dead wrong. It was winnable. You just didn't "win". You lacked the resources or creativity or foresight or DM latitude to overcome a complicated and dangerous challenge, but that's simply the way it played out, not blanket unfairness. If you were in my group I'd say that I hope you can use this storytelling opportunity to help propel your character and campaign forward.


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"The first time you Sustain the Spell each round, you can either move the eye up to 30 feet, seeing only things in front of the eye, or move it up to 10 feet, seeing everything in all directions around it."

It only moves the "first" time you sustain it each round, and if you want to maintain all-around vision it's limited to 10' during that round. Seems pretty simple! Though you're right about the maximum duration being 10 minutes.


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You didn't do anything wrong, you just made decisions leading up to a bad situation that didn't end up in your favor. It happens. Some other parties have the resources or skills to handle that particular hazard, some parties choose to free the slaves before the final fight, some let Laslunn escape to rescue them, and some kill Laslunn quickly enough to rescue the drowning captives. You didn't. It's just a thing that happened, that maybe helps fuel your party's thirst for retribution later.

It's a tough setup, but I don't think it's unfair in a game-balance sense. I think the important thing to take away is that you, the player, aren't being "punished" by the AP or your GM with a no-win scenario. It was winnable, but also it was an evil mastermind boss enemy putting your characters in a no-win scenario.


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I like to think of it in the reverse: Isn't it way to easy to optimize yourself out of the game in the previous edition?


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It'd probably be fine, going by XP budgets, and if any enemy deserves a level+3 combat in the first half of the AP it's got to be Laslunn. That said, I tend to follow the recommendation to add enemies rather than buff them to accommodate larger party sizes.

When I (just recently) ran this for my group of six I added a Sacristan and also Barushak (he escaped the tower encounter), and I don't think it was especially difficult for my PCs. Though I did make Barushak waste most of his actions seeking the invisible rogue rather than dump spells into the healer cluster.


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It never occurred to me to run the quarry as anything but an undermountain mine. With the descriptions of the "cave mouth" leading into the area I just assumed the whole thing was underground and shrouded in darkness, which made sense for the Shadow Giants and for the manual torch illumination in the side passages occupied by humanoids.


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I was wary of replicating the same plot beat from the Heuberk Thropp encounter, so rather than attempt to hire the party I was going to have Barushak threaten to execute his remaining captives if the party didn't give him and his associates an opportunity to evacuate. But my murderhobos had buffs ticking down and didn't let him get three words out before initiating combat.


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This problem kind of solved itself for my party after they got their asses kicked by the Clay Golem, and they retreated to Akrivel to de-curse and recuperate.

But also I didn't really have a severe roleplay deficit going into the fortress because I played up what opportunities presented themselves during the pillar hunt. The Bida and the Kishi both involved 30 minute chats before my group's bloodlust kicked in. Pendergrast is obviously a hoot both times. One of the rescued Grippli turned into an NPC that helped my party at the mines, where they then got to interact with Hezle. They had long conversations with the kobolds and Edka, and a shorter one the demon hunters.

The roleplay was out there to be had. I don't really have any solid suggestions for squeezing more conversational blood from the Fortress of Sorrows stone. Maybe give some of the enemies common language proficiency and let them taunt the party during the fight, maybe they get captured alive and interrogated. Maybe the Spawns of Dahak have a rivalry going and boast to each other during their turns. Make the Izolith encounter easier to talk through. Make the Dragon Priests proselytize during combat. Sprinkling just a little bit of chat into the encounter slog could help get you through to the Kyrion/Belmazog payoff.


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AlastarOG wrote:
Real fast though, where does it say wood?

The part where it says "If it’s unclear whether you could use the Guiding Chisel to Craft an item, the GM decides." I think using a magical chisel to finely carve wood is a reasonable ask considering that's, you know, what they're supposed to do. I'd even allow it for gemcutting and runes. But definitely not for boots.

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Also how would this synchronize with the ability to upgrade their Citadel? Could they build upgrades in 1/4th the time ?

Personally I wouldn't allow it for the upgrade activities. Those strike me as more furnishing and outfitting than physically shaping a space. Even the defensive upgrade is more "metal braces and skillful engineering". Plus those require teams of people to accomplish, and only one person can use the chisel. And it's not even item creation and shouldn't be beholden to things that modify item creation rules.


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Voomer wrote:
Thanks for this. I'm contemplating the same thing. Even if Laslunn's presence in Ravounel is not a coincidence, we need some way of communicating that to the PCs and connecting it to Dreamgate.

I've only reviewed books 4-6 loosely but it seems pretty clear that the Triad has a sense of where the endpoints of these aiudara are and have taken steps to purposefully establish operations nearby. Why else set up one of your slavery rings in a CG nation like Ravounel (in a city with an active Hellknight order, no less) instead of a far safer neighboring location like Nidal or Cheliax. The book indicates that Laslunn was originally unaware of the Dreamgate, and I'd like to think that Thropp/Cypress Point are her initial violent reactions to the news.

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But what about the circumstance that the PCs just happen to have the key for THAT gate? That's the kind of coincidence my PCs will wonder about.

Maybe the Triad discovers that their latest failed gold pickup in the Mwangi is because of Belmazog's demise, and they capture and interrogate an Ekujae scout who witnessed the handoff of Eclipse, which triggers sending Thropp to investigate, which then leads the plot into Ravounel somewhat more organically. They're not just happening to go through that gate, the people behind that gate came to them first, you know?

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Also, does Laslunn know the gate is near Cypress Point? I guess it makes the attack on Cypress Point make a lot more sense -- that Laslunn has learned from her research that the gate is near there and she is securing the town in plans to hunt for it.

That's my thinking. She's just pieced it all together, and wants to secure the gate's location to leverage more power within the Triad and also maybe fend off the marauding heroes who've taken possession of Alseta's Ring and are surely coming through Dreamgate any day. And Laslunn being Laslunn she sends in the slavers and kill squads because it's all she's got at her disposal, since she's not exactly working with full Triad backing on the gate operation. Killing and enslaving a whole village seems awfully risky for a clandestine operation, and adding a sense of desperation to Laslunn's motivations would help justify those actions and solidify the story IMO.

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Finally, in my game Voz escaped and presumably went to join Laslunn. Maybe Thropp's note should reference that fact... Any ideas how I can use Voz's escape to aid the narrative?

Voz's ambitions (establishing her assassination guild and necro lab) seem to mesh pretty well with the Tanessen Tower setup. I could see her lobbying Barushak to take over tower operations, with the poisoners as her assassination crew. Maybe sending Thropp and the Sneaks was her idea? Maybe she wrote the letter? Since she's familiar with Breachill and the situation there, and the party. I'd put her up on the 8th floor with Barushak, level her up to an appropriate difficulty, replace some of the Evangelists with undead minions. The moment they realize the tower's been breached Barushak immediately Dimension Doors out (to be found later with Laslunn), and that combat is run against Voz instead. You could give Voz some journal notes about being intimidated out of the quarry by a superior necromancer and tease the lich so that encounter feels less out-of-place.


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My group's close to the end of the neverending downtime between books 2 and 3 (not in a bad way, the roleplay has been awesome and they'll be less rich upon arrival in Kintargo) and approaching the Thropp encounter. I'm leaning towards Thropp being in possession of a letter from Laslunn (who seems to have an affinity for letter-writing based on earlier discoveries) which would ultimately indicate that the Triad knows that the Dreamgate terminates in Ravounel, and that Voz's disappearance could portend trouble for their (her) operations. I might even hint about the future attack on Cypress Point, and make it part of Laslunn's strategy to guard discovery/knowledge of the Dreamgate from this side since the other has presumably been lost.

I think it ties a tighter thread between Voz, Laslunn, and the Triad's ongoing interests in Alseta's Ring than what's written in the interrogation responses and serves as a failsafe for when my PCs ultimately kill Thropp before even thinking of capturing or questioning him. And gives the party a little more thrust to head through the gate sooner rather than at their leisure or at the behest of a worried council NPC or something.


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I used Morta Valaskin for that. Her description in the Breachill chapter (obsessed with death, traffics in rumors and secrets) suggested most strongly to me that she'd secretly have Necril proficiency as a hobby.


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Allowing shove to break grapples makes it a strictly superior maneuver to just escaping, which doesn't seem like RAI. I'm with Claxon on this one.


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There were two occasions thus far where I absolutely could have killed a PC (Ralldar in book 1, Racharak in book 2, and the party is only just now heading into the Fortress of Sorrows) but chose to pull punches and spread attacks. I felt that those particular combats were more challenging than their story contributions earned, and it wouldn't have been a satisfying narrative development to have the party lose an ally in those moments.

Especially the Ralldar fight, my group was still learning PF2 mechanics and working out the rough edges of their character personalities and motivations, and it would have been an awful time to smash the reset button for someone.

I would agree that 2e is far more lethal than 1e. It's way too easy to break 1e and make godlike PCs.


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I've never been a fan of allowing players to carve up monster parts as free treasure, because in my experience when you allow it once they come to expect free money from every single thing they kill, and it throws off my already meticulously plotted award curve. What I do enjoy is letting them use recovered monster parts as flavoring for stuff they're already planning to craft, which lets them be more descriptive about their appearance and equipment (and pins that item to a particular campaign memory), which can lead to a better roleplay atmosphere. This is maybe less useful for potions and poisons though.

If I felt compelled to enrich my alchemist's life with this kind of material windfall I'd probably do something like "the membranes and gut flora of this creature will allow you to add a +3 circumstance bonus to any alchemical crafting check made in the next two weeks (after which your ability to preserve the flesh begins to fail) or add +3 task levels to alchemical-crafting-related Earn Income checks." It would still provide a small benefit, but my player would need to work for it.


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GimmeYourShoes wrote:
Any thoughts on what y'all would do if your players defeated the lower and middle floor of Tanessen Tower and then decided to leave for an eight hour rest?

I'm not in the habit of punishing my PCs over rest and resource concerns, but launching a strike at the tower and then withdrawing midway seems like exactly the kind of development that would force a negative story reaction, given the stakes and what's in the tower. This is probably what I would do:

Knowing that their location has been compromised, Barushak decides to cut his losses and evacuate. All currently shackled prisoners are executed and left to rot, unable to safely transport them in a timely manner in broad daylight. All surviving Triad relocate to the quarry to reinforce and investigate who has launched a counteroffensive, taking every resource they can carry. Barushak leaves the Evangelists (and a few extra) behind to ambush anybody that comes up to the top floor, and can be encountered again later with Laslunn. Maybe he leaves a taunting letter behind telling the party that the blood spilled here is on their hands, and many more lives are imperiled if they or the Tillers continue their pursuits.

Laria Longroad manages her escape however, and can be found later at the coffee house after notifying the Bellflower Network of her freedom, so she's still available to point the party towards the quarry. I imagine Nolly Peltry and Mialari Docur would cool a bit on the party after hearing of their tactical withdrawal for nappy time.


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Quick suggestion: A prompt for the number of PCs in the party, which would modify the output with more loot if there's more than four players.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

The first two books have some more Desna links that have not yet been listed:

Spoiler:
Book 1's most accessible and persistent NPC is a Desna believer (though not a cleric) and she'll likely be around for the full AP. It's easy to miss in the descriptions, but she wears the holy symbol openly.

The abandoned temple in Book 2 is also kind of Desna's in a really rich setting-specific way that could give devout worshippers a great avenue of roleplay with the temple's antagonist and local denizens.


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I'd say that the Gust of Wind might inhibit the expansion of the fire into the affected squares for that round, but it itself wouldn't put out any portion of the massive conflagration. A clever PC might be able to delay the spread into the room if they were in the right position on round 1 or 2, or push away the smoke and flames concealing the mephit for a round. Or provide a channel of fresh air for PCs or NPCs who might be choking on smoke in the later rounds.

I'd give some small benefit to reward that player for having that utility prepared and deploying it strategically, but not enough to completely subvert the design of the encounter.


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Everything before the semicolon is one set, from which only one is necessary. The party can use someone trained in Crafting (master) OR Medicine (master) OR hire an NPC with some Medicine training to oversee the construction. Regardless of the selection, they'll all need organized specialist workers to assist them.


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caps wrote:
Does anyone see any problems with this?

Problems? No, you do you. I'm personally not a huge fan of the plot-via-prophetic-vision route. Just to offer a small alternative that maintains some consistency with the Age of Ashes world:

Perhaps the burning of Cypress Point is enough to tickle Dahak's magical jimmies, causing a feedback of his essence's destructive energy to flow back through the Dreamgate. The next time the party lingers (after sufficient downtime) around Alseta's Ring they see it spark with weak energy. Within the ring they see a fiery glowing tableau of a village burning and its inhabitants slaughtered or slapped in irons. Not knowing if this happening live or in the past or future, the party would have to leap in to at least try to thwart the Triad.


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Operationally speaking, I'd like to think they'd have been explicit about allowing the trap to be impaired or wholly defeated via combat if that was an intended solution.

Thematically speaking: Six roots, six beds, six branches, six AoOs. As a hazard born of corrupted magic inside an extradimensional space designed to channel Desna's power, it would make sense to me that the tree would have very many branches but would be limited to affecting six creatures at once. I like the Lovecraftian imagery of this many-tentacled evil tree thrashing about with its unlimited tendrils until its magic is unraveled.

But also I'm not the biggest fan of "here's a really cool combat setup that's completely defeated by one Disable Device roll". I think I would probably settle on a middle ground where there's only six main branches but the tree can grow/animate 1-2 new ones each round up to a cap of 6. With the plethora of AoOs, the party would have to whittle them down enough to let the rogue get his Disable Device activity off without getting repeatedly slapped around. It gives everybody something to do and lets the combat-only folk feel like they contributed to the encounter instead of just surviving until the thievery check works.


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BeardedTree wrote:
I've been wondering... what's keeping Belmazog from having a Vrock in the fortress?

Cost? It's roughly 90+700gp every time you want to summon and bind a Vrock for a long term engagement via Planar Ally. And given the already voluminous defenses at the fortress, the request might be subject to decline by Dahak.

Also a Vrock probably likes to fly around and the fortress roof and rainbow forcefield are major impediments. It makes sense to bind one to catch runaways at the mines, less so to lounge around the fortress when you already have chimera and warhounds and golems.

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