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While my response is surely too late to be of any help, it's still a worthwhile conversation, in case others have similar problems with the lack of explicit motivation in the source material. I'll answer your questions with how I interpreted the setting:

What is it that he thinks Issrah wants and intends to do to Kovlar?
I think it's narratively more interesting if Chiselrock really has no idea what Ilssrah's true intentions are. He's aware of her affiliation with the Scarlet Triad, but beyond that I don't think he's clued into Droskar's Forge or Veshumerix or why he needed to smuggle the Antimagic Rune out of the vaults. She's just someone with a little bit of power and a complete lack of scruples, who can help him gain power in the Court by creating problems that Kelda can't solve but he can. I actually rather like your suggestion that Ilssrah can dangle the cultists as a potential poach.

There's a line in the description of the prison that suggests Chiselrock doesn't want to murder anyone inconvenient to his pursuits, which to me indicates he probably wouldn't be kosher with unleashing a dragon to destroy half the city and then bringing in Duergar to enslave the other half. I think he believes he's a good person with righteous goals and wouldn't sign up for the full conspiracy, but is motivated and hungry enough to eagerly swallow a lie about getting just a little quiet assistance climbing the political ladder in return for one tiny valuable object gathering dust in a vault.

How does he think he is going to come out of things looking like a hero?
I have a post slightly higher up on this very page that touches on this, but I think it makes sense that Chiselrock's vision involves him gathering a Dwarven crusade to march on Saggorak and liberate their ancestral homeland from the "evil" lich king. That's how he'd become a hero, the brave warrior who cut through the Court's red tape and finally took decisive and victorious action. Maybe they'd even rename it after him.

How exactly is he weakening the walls? And why would he want to weaken the walls?
I think your interpretation matched mine, which is also what I think is the most sensible read of the source: Droskar's Forge is what's quietly weakening the wall, nothing proactive on Chiselrock's part. His indifference about the wall's integrity could be chalked up to believing Ilssrah's found a way through and uses it to move herself and her agents into and out of Kovlar.


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Barushak also escaped (by the skin of his teeth) the tower in my game and appeared with Laslunn. My group just didn't seem to have a problem with this combat, aided by their reliance on heightened Invisibility + Rogue combo. Laslunn doesn't pump out a lot of damage, so they kind of occupied the interlocutor and power-healed through the damage while the Rogue essentially solo-ed the rest of the fight.

The flood was triggered, so after Laslunn went down I had Barushak escape again and jump into the water and get flushed down into the main central chamber, hoping to use the shadow giant and drowning captives to buy himself more time. The ticking clock on the water levels plus the giant plus a now flying Barushak tossing out what remained of his spells turned out to be a pretty epic encounter, way spicier than the Laslunn portion, and my group was far more pumped about this victory than any other in the campaign before or after.


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Your "very clever and experienced" player is trying to get around the deliberate limitations of being unable to get a full bonus Grab with his second action and is preying on your inexperience.

Assuming we're talking about a Fighter, there already exists a feat that does something similar to what he's looking for: Combat Grab. It's easily attainable at 2nd level. It does exactly what he wants to accomplish. But, alas, it has the Press trait so he can only use it once he's already at MAP. He can also just...Strike and then Grab, but again that's MAP on the Grab. I think this is part of the intended system design. Even a Flurry of Maneuver Monk can't do what your player wants to do by twisting your arm. Further, compare what he wants versus Knockdown as a 4th level feat. Why should he be able to replicate that power at 1st level?

Alternatively he can also take Snagging Strike at 1st level which also imposes off-guard, and gives him most of what he wants too minus the actually grabbed component. This is all easily attainable core stuff that doesn't require special rules modification. Hold your ground.

As for the kinds of attacks you can make once a grapple is initiated, there is no such limitation beyond being unable to attack with 2-handed weapons you're no longer wielding in 2-hands. If I had to wager, it seems like your optimization-focused player is probably going to make the first attack of his Twin Strike using the bastard sword's 2-handed trait and then free action drop his grip to complete the activity. I'm not 100% clear on whether RAW untriggered free actions can occur in the middle of an activity, but I'm not against the idea enough to put up a fight about it.


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The closest similar power seems like Tumbling Lumber, which is a 30' line that's 10' wide and has a push effect and very similar damage. That feels right to me for a mudslide, but I wouldn't go out of my way to argue against a 30' cone either.


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Dwim wrote:
What is it then ? Never anyone, or sometimes someone ? I'm confused.

I never noticed the discrepancy, but I've been operating under the assumption that nobody has access to the vault or the private archive just before it. If anybody had access to the vault it'd be his trusted advisor Emaliza, and if she ever had access then she wouldn't need the party to steal the orb shards. Also if anybody ever had access to the vault then they'd have access to the archive, where they could easily piece together Mengkare's nefarious plan, which would be problematic for Mengkare.

I ended up establishing a kind of 4-tier access system. Sometimes people are allowed into the entryway to maintain the access ledger. Less often people are allowed into the first archive for sensitive administrative bookkeeping. Incredibly rarely people are let into the citizen archive (Ingnovim for cleanup purposes, probably Emaliza at some point), and nobody but Mengkare gets into the private archive or vault.

Incidentally, my party just started their confrontation with Mengkare last week, and despite discovering the truth about Emaliza Zandivar's name they bought her BS about being powerless to move against her brother without documented proof of the Triad's extracurricular activities, and brought her with them to the debate. Yada yada yada, two PCs died before they could take down Emaliza. I don't plan on penalizing them during the debate for this conflict because I changed some of the information drip to slow-play Emaliza's evil and amp up the conspiracy mystery angle, expecting the party to dig into trying to sniff out NPC motivations a little more thoroughly, but they mostly didn't react.


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The table may be conflating the AoO rules with manipulate rules while grabbed, which does require a DC 5 flat check.


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I would think that the urgency of dealing with Big Bumble and the trapped Cinderclaw invaders would eclipse rummaging through the bookshop. And maybe Helba has a soft spot for Pib & Zarf, similarly trapped, starving, and holding out against hostiles.


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I had to contend with similar questions after my group, via a sequence of impatience and misunderstandings and critical failures and a CN rogue doing CN rogue things, ended up killing all the Oakstewards in the plaza and getting caught and imprisoned after discovering that the (fake) aiudara were not an easy escape vector. Here's my input:

Quote:
Does the alarm summon more Oakstewards?

I imagine Underbrush patrols are closer and more prevalent in the city, and could be there within a minute. Five minutes later, some Oakstewards would arrive from Vinehall to reinforce and question the perps if apprehended.

Quote:
If the party manage to get the readings without hurting the Oakwardens they have still broken the rules, so what should the punishment be if they are caught?

Depends on their explanation for why they were messing around with the aiudara. If it was simple academic curiosity, probably just a fine, surrender of the arcane sensor, and expulsion from Sevenarches. If they drop Fianara's name and her involvement in the plot, the Oakstewards are on high alert right now about elven incursions poking around their territory so they likely end up imprisoning the party and sending a unit to apprehend Fianara for further interrogation to determine if there are deeper links to Kyonin.

Quote:
What would the penalty be if they do hurt the Oakwardens?

A public beating and deportation. I see Oaksteward governance as very much eye-for-an-eye, trending more severe than not considering they've controlled these lands for millennia through the rise and fall of multiple empires. In the case of murder, well that calls for the Voice of the Wind to make a personal appearance and cast judgment. Probably the death penalty + reincarnation into some kind of small animal.

Quote:
Even if they get out of the city to deliver the device, they will have to come back in again, and will now be 'wanted' so again what penalties should be imposed?

As long as things have remained relatively non-violent, continued deportations with increasing fines, perhaps coupled with increasingly heightened castings of Tree Stride to deposit them further and further from Sevenarches. Any nation with locked down borders is going to have some familiarity dealing with unwanted visitors, so by this point the Oakstewards would deal with it as a routine nuisance, and perhaps a guard could be persuaded or bribed or intimidated into letting an infraction slip by. Between that and Fianara's disguise kit, as long as things stay non-lethal it shouldn't be a severe problem for the PCs to operate in the city.

But if they kill someone, well, that's a different story. In my particular story, while the party was imprisoned in Vinehall awaiting the arrival of the Voice of the Wind, two members of the party who missed game 1 staged a prison break just as, coincidentally, the city's first Gorga direct attack was happening at the same time. After the interior guards were eaten by a Temagyr out of view, the party busted through an exterior wall and jumped into the river to escape and avoid the increasingly chaotic Underbrush patrols on the city roads. After an underwater encounter with some mephits and their pet eels, the party made it back to an incredulous Fianara, who later lured Lemma out to the caravanserai to continue the AP. The party plans on avoiding the city now that they're on the hook for the original murders and are now also linked to the increasing Gorga attacks. Their goal right now is to capture Bolan and trade him for a clean slate with the Oakstewards. It'll make for a tense negotiation with Lemma.


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There's an image in the Players Guide on page 4.


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Here's some limited information.

There's also a cool chapter in Age of Ashes Book 5 (Against the Scarlet Triad) titled Lost Aiudara that has some information about elf gates which aren't actively used (to my knowledge) by existing content, the red links in the above page with missing content. It includes specifics about their activation keys.

Gatewalkers book 1 has some information about a cluster of aiudara in the River Kingdoms. I imagine books 2-3 might have further data, but I haven't bought those yet. We're only one game in to that AP.


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This is one of those situations where if I applied the same linguistic backbending logic to the enemies, and have some minion carefully backpedal twice away from the scary reach Fighter, my players would lose their minds screaming about how I was being an a*!%#&*.

IMO the measure of "expediency" applies to the task of running away in terror as quickly as possible, avoiding obstacles and not getting trapped in corners, and not carefully backstepping to maximize the combat efficiency of dealing with what's supposed to be a severe condition. As in, the practicality of the method of movement applies to getting away ASAP and not in the AoO or other combat concerns. The compulsion of the fear or other terrifying effect should overwhelm tactics and self-preservation. You are "forced to run away", not "suggested to run away when it's convenient for your HP".


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There may be soon opportunities within the game to gain some insight on the matter and make the decision without spoilers.


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The links from this post should generate accurate lists of what's immune/weak/strong to what. As far as I can tell, there are only two enemies that are outright immune to bludgeoning damage, and they're both from AP content. Versus the ten Ooze/Jelly/Pudding types that are immune to both piercing and slashing and are maybe more typically common in fantasy gaming, along with skeleton-type stuff which same story for resistances.

It's not a significant difference, but when you combine it with the critical specialization edge for hammers and flails I could see where somebody compelled to optimize for one physical damage type might recommend or opt for bludgeoning.


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I don't think it's too far fetched to suggest that Voz wasn't looking to pick a fight or make a public splash. She ran away from the skeletons in the crypt, afterall. Risking exposure by confronting the Bumblebrashers directly was unnecessary, since she had the tunnel to do it quietly and Roxie's loose complicity to stay hush. And by that point, the stairways had already collapsed from the grauladons, so the direct path was longer an option.

Voz couldn't confirm the precise location or even the veracity of Alseta's Ring without her necromantic ritual in the crypts. She had suspicions from historical record of the Goblinblood Wars, but needed more information. So she'd have had no impetus to scope out the stairs, however recklessly, until it was already too late.


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I made them white robes wearable by good-aligned casters. Mechanically speaking I think it sucks to dangle powerful but completely unusable rewards in front of players. And I think making Harral a formerly good-aligned king adds a nice wrinkle to his current state, and might give a party second thoughts about mindlessly exterminating the undead thing. My own group was dead-set on betraying and attempting to kill him, even after being warned that he essentially was Saggorak and had already reanimated at least twice that they knew of, until the white robes twist.

It puts an interesting spin on his devotion to the city and its "people" even in descent to lichdom, and it added complexity to the grander scheme of impending Saggorak-Kovlar politics or warfare in the post-adventure landscape.

I had earlier played up Chiselrock's ambitions for Kovlar as derived from the core desire to complete the crusade his ancestors had started in cleansing Saggorak, which had stalled out over the last few centuries, and that it was the Scarlet Triad who promised him the power to accomplish the task. It led to some fantastic group RP after his interrogation where some PCs had a moment of "Wait, is Chiselrock right?" which informed their expectations of Saggorak, so the later subversion of those expectations after meeting Harral, and the subsequent reinforcement after finding the robes, led to a great in-character argument about the ultimate fate of the undead city. This led them to spend an extra day in Kovlar interviewing the Regents for their take, which let me demonstrate some more of the fractured politics of the city and add a lot of flavor to the setting. Ultimately the party realized that the situation was far more complex than "just kill the evil guy" and that reckless intervention could spark violent repercussions in multiple facets whose echoes would impact the region long beyond the party's brief stay.


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I would personally rule that Blade Ally falls under the standard "magical staves can't have property runes" rule and that the Spellstrike Staff is a unique exception.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.

Quote:
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.


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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.


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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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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

Quote:
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.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

"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?


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

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.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

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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