Pathfinder Module D4: Hungry Are the Dead (OGL)

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Pathfinder Module D4: Hungry Are the Dead (OGL)
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A dungeon adventure for 6th-level characters.

The logging town of Falcon’s Hollow has been through rough times—first a kobold tribe abducted the town’s children for an evil ritual, then an unknown force reanimated the defeated kobolds to attack the town. Now a horde of zombies approaches and a mysterious evil gathers power in the north, tainting wildlife and the buried dead, its presence hinting at ancient evils better left undisturbed.

Hungry Are the Dead is a dungeon adventure for 6th-level characters, compatible with the 3.5 edition of the world’s most popular roleplaying game. Within its pages you’ll find an introduction to the town of Falcon’s Hollow, a detailed overview of an undead-filled tomb hidden under an abandoned monastery, and a new ghoul-like monster that crosses the line between man and beast.

This adventure is set in a remote forest in the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting, but can easily be set in any game world. It can be used on its own or combined with other adventures in the D series to create an even greater campaign arc.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-120-6

Pathfinder Modules are 32-page, high-quality, full-color, OGL-compatible adventures for use with the world's most popular fantasy RPG. This Pathfinder Module includes four pre-made characters so players can jump right into the action, and full-color maps to enhance play.

Written by Tim Hitchcock

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Subscription.

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I had fun, but then again I changed a lot of stuff.

3/5

So, we did something weird in this Pathfinder era: we went back to the D&D 3.5 edition books (which this module was written for), rolled up D&D 3.5 characters, and played through the module as it was originally intended. This has a huge effect on the game, as D&D 3.5 characters are much weaker than Pathfinder characters. So, PCs died. Some fights are tough, and the D&D characters couldn't survive it all. Using Pathfinder characters would certainly make the module a little more survivable. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the module as we played it.

Here is a general summary of the module concept, for potential players. You're in the town of Falcon's Hollow, and stuff's gonna go bad, again. As this is the 4th or 5th module in this series (Hollow's Last Hope, Crown of the Kobold King, Return of the Kobold King, maybe Carnival of Tears, and finally this), your characters should be well versed in the town and its trials/tribulations. The local gravekeeper is going to seek you out, giving you just moments of advanced warning before a horror scenario strikes the town. And then, if you survive that and want the town to survive too, you'll head out to discover who was behind it, and put a stop to things once and for all. The stakes are very high. It's entirely possible to lose every single soul in town. You can screw up that badly. (Technically, that's the ending my players earned, but I did shenanigans to help them out.)

Whatever you learned from the previous modules, and whatever you fought in the previous modules, and whatever feats/spells you needed in the previous modules... it's just more here. If you know what was happening in the previous modules, then brace yourself, and dive in for another helping. Don't expect anything surprisingly different.

And now here is a summary of the module for GMs:

Spoiler:
The gravekeeper runs to town to warn the PCs that his graves are all dug up, and a zombie horde is incoming. Then the players do "town defense" as five separate waves of zombies hit the town gates. You can make this feel like a zombie survival horror game. I actually took the town map into a photo editing program (The Gimp) and overlaid a grid on it. I made the well in town fill a 5' square exactly, which makes most houses about 20' on a side and makes the gates into town 10' or 15' wide, or so. Then, we let the players drop minis onto this huge map and run from gate to gate trying to keep the zombies from getting in.

Once that's done, it's a race back to the same monastery that the PCs have been visiting in the previous modules. Here they discover that the lower levels are now unblocked, and the entire rest of the module is a dungeon crawl. The dungeons is, just as with the previous modules, inhabited by undead. Unlike the kobold modules, there aren't a lot of traps. The interesting effect for this module is that the ultimate villain can see the PCs as they move through the dungeon, and he constantly taunts them through the undead that they fight. This also makes the final fight incredibly hard, if you as the GM want it to be. Why? The module says that having watched the PCs fight, he knows their fighting style and does whatever foils them. He seems to be weirdly able to predict their "theme" of fighting (lots of fire? all martial attacks? lots of spells that can be countered? -- whatever it is, he will be aware and try to spoil it).

Now for the biggest problems:

Spoiler:
The previous 4 modules in this series established Sharvaros as the gravekeeper for the town. So when this module has Verrin as the gravekeeper, I was all confused. What happened to our friend? I mean, we saved Sharvaros's kid in a previous module. We know the gravekeeper. What is this new guy doing here? (It turns out on the forums that they made this clear: the module was written by people who didn't know they were writing the 5th module in the series -- it was adapted for that -- and edited by people who were new hires and didn't know the lore or backstory.)

Aside from some initial role play with the gravekeeper, almost all the rest of the module is combat. If you have not played the previous modules, you may have no vested interest in saving the town, and no connections to the NPCs of Falcon's Hollow. This module isn't good enough to connect you and make you care, so you kind of need to play the prior modules in order to appreciate things.

The entirety of combat in this module is almost exclusively undead. Not 100% but it's a VERY high percentage. If you run this module using the old D&D 3.5 rules, rogues will be miserable here. Why? Because in 3.5, rogues cannot usually sneak attack undead. But forget about rogues. Here's the real issue: your players will be sick of fighting undead by the end of this module. One of my players actually had an outburst of sorts about this, just complaining about the endless waves of undead.

The other thing in abundance here? Ability damage. There are so many poisons, diseases, and similar effects. I just checked and there are at least 6 encounters that will damage your STR, DEX, CON, INT, or CHA. No wisdom damage that I saw. This got so bad that the PCs decided to leave and get gear to handle incorporeal undead and ability damage. Unfortunately, they wanted big-ticket items that would not be in Falcon's Hollow. So, they went to Olfden, but this meant they were gone for weeks.

(That is where, previously in this review, I wrote that the players "earned" the ending with the town utterly destroyed. The module states: "If the PCs fail to defeat Drazmorg, he continues to build his undead armies and fortify the Vault. When its residual energy is depleted (taking 3 to 4 weeks) he goes on the offensive, trying to gain additional followers by attacking Falcon’s Hollow." So technically my players should have been told the town was destroyed, or at least it was attacked while the PCs could not defend it, and virtually all citizens were killed or turned to undead. Instead, I had Drazmorg still gathering power. This was fun. I had the final fight be MUCH more difficult, but also much more of a slaughter for the PCs. What I did was to apply skeleton & zombie templates to animals and have Drazmorg having raised up a small animal army. They were VERY easy for the party cleric to turn, but there were so many that the PCs still had to move in and just clear a huge swath of them via attacks.)

Also, because there are a lot of poisons and such, there are a lot of Fortitude saves. And... in my group we had a lot of strong martial types, all with high Fort saves. So guess what? Not once were they paralyzed, sickened, or any other number of effects. The module has maybe a couple of Will saves, a couple of Reflex, and then a metric TON of Fort saves. It lacks diversity so much that the module can either be a cakewalk or sheer Hell, just depending upon the party composition.

Lastly, the module has a ton of editing problems. The conclusion talks about how things might go if the PCs are allied with Yras Nine-Eyes -- but that's a name that literally doesn't get mentioned until the module is over, in the Conclusion. It comes out of nowhere and is a condition that the PCs cannot have met. The module imagines a setting that really doesn't exist. This may be in part due to the module originally being intended for something else instead of being the Falcon's Hollow conclusion.

Another editing problem: Drazmorg can control all the "ghasts" that are near him, except... there are none. The module put ghouls around him. Another editing problem: room 16 says it's a CR 6 challenge, but they put 2 zombies there, instead of 12, so it's a CR cakewalk unless you know to fix it.

I did swap out a few monsters, just to increase diversity of fights. I did run some things differently, just to keep it from being monotonous. However, overall it was an OK conclusion to the Falcon's Hollow story arc. But it certainly could have been better.


Mediocre at best.....

1/5

Most of the points brought up by The Good Brother are right on. It starts off with good hooks to get your party involved, then degenerates quickly into a very poor dungeon crawl. The descriptions of the rooms and in particular the traps are extremely poor, leaving the DM back pedaling trying to figure out how to explain the worst descriptions put on paper. There is very little thought given to the dungeon at all with the layout and rooms seemingly tacked on at random with the explanation that "xxxx undead was placed here as a guard", oh nice dungeon ecology! The end boss has a ton of potential as does the imagination for some of these rooms, but the execution and descriptions are awful. The best you'll get is a couple of paragraphs. Not to mention the totally bizarre magical items, and ZERO treasure will make your party wonder why they even bothered to go in there in the first place! With a few of the right turns your party can bypass everything including all the lore as to WHY the quest is even happening, let alone the lore behind it. You'll wind up being frustrated and confused, and worst of all, your party will shrug in a confused manner not caring at all about the poorly described traps, rooms and doors. Most DMs will try to end this poorly written fiasco as quickly as possible. Smart players will probably turn around and leave once they realize that this dungeon makes no sense, and their PCs have zero reason to be there.

Also beware the encounter levels. This is supposed to be for 6th to 8th level characters right? Ok so why is there a CR 10 encounter with the 'boss", and then the PCs get jumped with a CR 9 wizard with an empowered fireball (9d6 add 50%) specifically to attack the PCs after they are drained from their fights inside the dungeon? That makes no sense at all.


A Rather Generic Undead Module

3/5

This adventure starts with a good hook, but sadly loses steam quickly. I am afraid I would not run this again without some substantial reworking.

The Good: The adventure begins with a classic and well-done hook that is remniscent of many horror movies. Further, its back-story is unique for undead stories, and the final villain reflects this. Indeed, the ultimate villain is a refreshing change to the whispy necromancer tropes, and could become a recurring enemy if not dealt with. The production values are excellent. It has good artwork, good maps, and quality printing. You should find nothing technically wrong with it.

The Bad: After the hook, there is little to keep the adventure going. Rather than being a "town under seige" as I had initially thought, it became a rather classic dungeon crawl. And that leads to the major flaw of the adventure. The first two levels of the dungeon are part of an earlier adventure, but there is very little to change, repopulate, or otherwise make it interesting. They easily could be done away with if you do not have the adventure.

The dungeon maps provided are very poorly laid out. There is no flow and rooms feel simply tacked on. A party could easily walk from beginning to end without encountering 75% of the dungeon. This includes the major plot-points that could explain the background; my party missed that and simply assumed the undead were part and parcel of a fantasy world. Coupled with many of the monsters being common undead simply placed in a room, it makes for an underwhelming experience.


Good Ideas, Bad Execution

3/5

This adventure isn't terrible. It has some good descriptions and ideas, but has cumbersome crunch, bad maps, and repetitive opponents. The weirdly shaped maps make it very hard for the Game Master, the promised handouts don't exist, and the primary undead opponents - festrogs - really aren't that interesting.

Overall, I would recommend it to hardcore fans of the undead or Tim Hitchcock, but no one else.


the party loved it

4/5

well i ran it as written, with PF rules, and the party loved it, i as a DM was a little weirded out a little at cetain points, but other than that, the module was great.

this also gave the party a chance to get back their roots, this was a good addition to the D series!

i rate it 4/5 stars.


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Liberty's Edge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Oh my, finally all will be revealed...hopefully...
Can't wait to get this in my hands, so I can finally start the Falcon Hollow series.
And the cover looks so cool!


Dryder wrote:

Oh my, finally all will be revealed...hopefully...

Can't wait to get this in my hands, so I can finally start the Falcon Hollow series.
And the cover looks so cool!

I swear Falcon's Hollow must suck to live in, Doesn't Carnival of Tears happen there aswell?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Stewart Perkins wrote:
Dryder wrote:

Oh my, finally all will be revealed...hopefully...

Can't wait to get this in my hands, so I can finally start the Falcon Hollow series.
And the cover looks so cool!
I swear Falcon's Hollow must suck to live in, Doesn't Carnival of Tears happen there aswell?

Yes... but at least there's a carnival before... you know... the tears.


Hello All,

Does this adventure take place before or after the Carnival of Tears?

Actually what is the correct sequence of Falcon's Hollow events with all the current available adventures in the area?

Thanx!

Erik

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Erik Walraven wrote:

Does this adventure take place before or after the Carnival of Tears?

Actually what is the correct sequence of Falcon's Hollow events with all the current available adventures in the area?

Because the adventures can take place any time, there is no set order for them. That said, running D1.5 before D1 doesn't really make sense. The best way to determine the order of events would be to look at the APL the module is designed for. In that case, you're looking at D0, D1, D1.5/E1, D4.


If I preordered this, can I download the pdf?


heheheh....Falcon's Hollow is domed.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Golarion Goblin wrote:
If I preordered this, can I download the pdf?

If you preordered it as part of an ongoing subscription you will get an email when it ships indicating that the pdf is available in your My Downloads page. If you preordered a print copy of it a la carte, you will get the dead tree copy as ordered, but not a free pdf. Those are a benefit of subscribing. The for-sale pdf should be available in a few weeks.

Liberty's Edge

Spanky the Leprechaun wrote:
heheheh....Falcon's Hollow is domed.

I think they hit doomed a while ago, especially with what the carnival churned out (oh and the horrendous taxes from the lumber consortium :P)

Now with this little gem about to have its way on Falcon's Hollow... it's safe to say all bets are off! I cant wait :D


yoda8myhead wrote:
Golarion Goblin wrote:
If I preordered this, can I download the pdf?
If you preordered it as part of an ongoing subscription you will get an email when it ships indicating that the pdf is available in your My Downloads page. If you preordered a print copy of it a la carte, you will get the dead tree copy as ordered, but not a free pdf. Those are a benefit of subscribing. The for-sale pdf should be available in a few weeks.

Gotcha, dankou very much.

Silver Crusade

as a fan of the undead, I must say this is excellent module. Thanks guys!!

Now I just need to try & convert the main villian into miniature form.

RM

Liberty's Edge

Except if you run them all, you'll have to adjust some adventurers encounter levels. There's a large swath of them that run at the 5th-6th character level.


"Cause this is thriller, thriller night; And no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike!"

Sorry... had to. Looks like a great module!


When will the pdf be available? Do you get to download the pdf immediately if you purchase the print copy? I have a camping trip coming up with my friends next weekend and would love to run this but need time to prep.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Theophilus wrote:
When will the pdf be available? Do you get to download the pdf immediately if you purchase the print copy? I have a camping trip coming up with my friends next weekend and would love to run this but need time to prep.

The PDF will be available for sale to non-subscribers on the product's retail release date, which is November 12. Subscribers (and only subscribers) get a free PDF when their subscriber copy of the print edition ships. I see you just started your sub with this module, so you'll be getting access to the PDF when we fulfill your order—which should happen within the next couple of days.


Uh, D4: Hungry Are The Dead? I didn't see this was set in Darkmoon on Wednesday. I don't think I saw it Wednesday at all. A new adventure for the Darkmoon Vale mini-setting? BAD PAIZO! BAD! BAD! PAIZO!! I haven't even gotten my Gazetteer yet! BA(thanks PAIZO!!! for making the world's most famous RPG into The World's Most Exciting RPG!!!)D Paizo!!! We love you ALL!!! I can't wait. 'Course, there is this weird thing called a "holiday" coming up with "None Shall Pass" written all over it. I CAN"T WAIT!!!!!


Great module - we played an abridged version of the module last weekend. Two criticisms in an another wise entertaining module:

1) No room dimensions in the opening room descriptions. The players need to know this anyway - it would be helpful to add this into the decription paragraph.

2) The monsters were way too hard for the pre-gens - and, I expect, way too hard for a similar party of 4 x PCs.

That being said, loved it (after some editing to fix the aforementioned problems), as did the PCs. Can't wait for the "Vault of the Whispering Tyrant," (which I know is already a Paizo miniature...).

Liberty's Edge Contributor

SunKing wrote:

Great module - we played an abridged version of the module last weekend. Two criticisms in an another wise entertaining module:

1) No room dimensions in the opening room descriptions. The players need to know this anyway - it would be helpful to add this into the decription paragraph.

2) The monsters were way too hard for the pre-gens - and, I expect, way too hard for a similar party of 4 x PCs.

That being said, loved it (after some editing to fix the aforementioned problems), as did the PCs. Can't wait for the "Vault of the Whispering Tyrant," (which I know is already a Paizo miniature...).

Thanks SUN KING!

Glad you liked the adventure!


cool cover

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6

I liked the adventure, but I'm afraid the editing is not up to snuff. The monster numbers and types are wrong in several places, and there's a plot item that's nowhere to be found in the actual text of the adventure. The stat blocks appear to have a lot of contradiction as well (for an example, compare the item that gives flight with the flight speed listed in the relevant stat block). I'm perplexed by the references to the "High Academae", as the NPC in question doesn't appear to be from Korvosa, the name isn't right for Korvosa anyway, and I don't see why on earth the PCs would think to bring something back there from an adventure set in Andoran. Seems like an excised plot thread that was incompletely removed.

Some more specific problems:

Spoiler:

I mentioned monsters being wrong, a specific example is page 7, where the stench attacks of ghouls are referred to. Another is the final battle, in which ghasts are referenced, but listed as ghouls.

Room 16, with a "large number of undead", has 4. I assume with an EL 6 there's probably supported to be 12 zombies rather than 2.

A quibble, but the module errs on how incense of meditation works. It's not used when you prepare spells. It is used while you pray and meditate, after which you prepare spells.

Mechanical problem: There is a creature who lies to the party early on, with no mention of Sense Motive checks. This is a bit of a sore point for me in module design, as Sense Motive is a reactive check: you should not need to constantly ask the DM for Sense Motive checks just to avoid being tricked by a lie, it is a waste of valuable game time and interrupts the flow of play. This isn't a case of information being left out (the usual hedge to avoid a Bluff check), it's an outright fabrication. The creature in question has a miserable Bluff score for the expected party level, which is another design issue.

The missing plot item is the Whispers of the Immortal. It's obviously important to the backplot and should be found in the final encounter, but it is not listed as treasure, and I'd expect to see more about it than small amount in the introduction (such as a value).

I'm really hoping to see a step up in the quality of the Pathfinder Modules. Pathfinder itself sets the gold standard, and nearly all of the Chronicles and Companion products are good, but the modules continue to struggle.

The Exchange

I have to agree with Russ on this; both this module and the Pact Stone Pyramid have been major dissapointments for me. Neither of them are inspiring in anyway. I have started to notice a recent trend of linearity with the modules where a lot of the plotting is very pre meditated and rely a lot on an endgame that seems forced on the PCs.

I would love to see more modules along the lines of the Lost City (B4), the Sinister Secrets of Bone Hill etc. which might be more skeletal but provide a lot of open endedness. If any of the older modules are similar to the ones i have mentioned, please do let me know- I would love to pick them up.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Russ Taylor wrote:

I liked the adventure, but I'm afraid the editing is not up to snuff. The monster numbers and types are wrong in several places, and there's a plot item that's nowhere to be found in the actual text of the adventure. The stat blocks appear to have a lot of contradiction as well (for an example, compare the item that gives flight with the flight speed listed in the relevant stat block). I'm perplexed by the references to the "High Academae", as the NPC in question doesn't appear to be from Korvosa, the name isn't right for Korvosa anyway, and I don't see why on earth the PCs would think to bring something back there from an adventure set in Andoran. Seems like an excised plot thread that was incompletely removed.

Hey Russ,

Glad you liked the adventure.
I haven't seen the final edited version yet (and I'll take the lumps for some of the flubs), however I'm going to say this: Publishing a module isn't like publishing a novel or something when you get a lot of proof readers and a lot of passes. Everything's still very much run at a breakneck magazine-style pace.

But you'll find that out soon enough. :)

(PS: Shoot me an e-mail so we can coordinate our own upcoming inconsistencies)

Liberty's Edge Contributor

prashant panavalli wrote:

I have to agree with Russ on this; both this module and the Pact Stone Pyramid have been major dissapointments for me. Neither of them are inspiring in anyway. I have started to notice a recent trend of linearity with the modules where a lot of the plotting is very pre meditated and rely a lot on an endgame that seems forced on the PCs.

I would love to see more modules along the lines of the Lost City (B4), the Sinister Secrets of Bone Hill etc. which might be more skeletal but provide a lot of open endedness. If any of the older modules are similar to the ones i have mentioned, please do let me know- I would love to pick them up.

Thanks...

I would have expected a little more support from one of my own faction members.

Not inspiring in anyway huh,
Dang. That's pretty harsh.

Actually, HatD takes off where the earlier Falcon's Hollow stuff leaves off, plus it was originally going to be part of the gen con dungeon crawl. That's why its linear.
Then again, last time I did a sandbox adventure (Carnival of Tears), folks complained the structure was too non-linear.

You can't please everyone I suppose.

The Exchange

Tim Hitchcock wrote:


Thanks...
I would have expected a little more support from one of my own faction members.

Not inspiring in anyway huh,
Dang. That's pretty harsh.

Actually, HatD takes off where the earlier Falcon's Hollow stuff leaves off, plus it was originally going to be part of the gen con dungeon crawl. That's why its linear.
Then again, last time I did a sandbox adventure (Carnival of Tears), folks complained the structure was too non-linear.

You can't please everyone I suppose.

Carnival of Tears seems to be one of the most discussed modules in recent times for 3E and also to have had a lot of positive feedback ( I saw a thread on it on Enworld too). :) I absolutely love the Great City CS and the related adventures- A Pound of Flesh and Road to Revolution. Well done on both; i'll write up a review on both in due time.

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6

In terms of faction support, I thought Pact Stone rocked :) I like that it's not just Entombed repeated. Looking forward to more about the countdown clocks in the future.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

prashant panavalli wrote:
Tim Hitchcock wrote:


Thanks...
I would have expected a little more support from one of my own faction members.

Not inspiring in anyway huh,
Dang. That's pretty harsh.

Actually, HatD takes off where the earlier Falcon's Hollow stuff leaves off, plus it was originally going to be part of the gen con dungeon crawl. That's why its linear.
Then again, last time I did a sandbox adventure (Carnival of Tears), folks complained the structure was too non-linear.

You can't please everyone I suppose.

Carnival of Tears seems to be one of the most discussed modules in recent times for 3E and also to have had a lot of positive feedback ( I saw a thread on it on Enworld too). :) I absolutely love the Great City CS and the related adventures- A Pound of Flesh and Road to Revolution. Well done on both; i'll write up a review on both in due time.

Gratsi!

Glad to hear liked the Great City Stuff.
It happens to be very open ended, something I'm trying to mantain for that series.
In fact, if the cards play out a certain way the BBEG may very well turn out to be the PCs (or not)...

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Russ Taylor wrote:
In terms of faction support, I thought Pact Stone rocked :) I like that it's not just Entombed repeated. Looking forward to more about the countdown clocks in the future.

ha!

actually, I was talking about the fact that we're all a bunch of Qadirans, and you just creamed me. :)

But yeah, Mike's stuff is always killer. FYI He secretly wishes he was a Qadiran.

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6

Tim: I know not your email, but mine is rtaylor@cmc.net.


Loved this adventure -- can't wait to run it with a group. Absolutely loved the gravedigger as a NPC -- will introduce him as early on as possible in our run through Falcon Hollow!

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Doomlounge wrote:
Loved this adventure -- can't wait to run it with a group. Absolutely loved the gravedigger as a NPC -- will introduce him as early on as possible in our run through Falcon Hollow!

Thanks Doomlounge!

I had a lot of fun with that character myself.

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6

I get a real Marty Feldman vibe from the gravedigger. I'll probably run with that when I GM the adventures.


So ... how is it? So far I've only seen one mixed review.

-The Gneech


Does anyone know more about the location of Falcon's Hollow and Darkmoon vale in the world of Golarion? I think it is kept intentionally vague as located "in a remote forest" for modular compatibility with other settings, which I appreciate; however, I am curious as to where in the world it is located. I am considering using the D series of modules as a jumping-off point for my exploration of the world of Golarion, and I'd like to know where it's situated.


Russ Taylor wrote:
an adventure set in Andoran.

Oh, I see now. Helps to read the whole thread before posting, I guess. ;)

Liberty's Edge Contributor

A 2E Floppy-Eared Golem wrote:
Does anyone know more about the location of Falcon's Hollow and Darkmoon vale in the world of Golarion? I think it is kept intentionally vague as located "in a remote forest" for modular compatibility with other settings, which I appreciate; however, I am curious as to where in the world it is located. I am considering using the D series of modules as a jumping-off point for my exploration of the world of Golarion, and I'd like to know where it's situated.

I think what makes Falcon's Hollow such a great jumping off point, is no one in their right mind would want to spend their entire lives there.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

John Robey wrote:

So ... how is it? So far I've only seen one mixed review.

-The Gneech

Yeah, I was kinda bummed about the review myself, not because I can't take criticism or deal with plain old "I think your adventure sucked".

I actually really like constructive feedback, or useful feedback.

I kind felt like the reviewer missed the point on how many of the elements in adventure were constructed, and without looking into why I laid stuff out the way I did, chalked it up to poor understanding of the d20 system.

Perhaps its just me, but I kind of think if there was anything in the adventure that pushed the mechanics envelope too hard (or poorly), Sean would have caught it during his editorial pass. Niether is Sutter a slouch in the mechanics department. So really, with all the editors that took a pass at the text (and there were plenty of revisions), I think the reviewer's comments weren't entirely accurate.

Spoiler:
In otherwords,
True- some of the traps don't have Disable Checks... that's because they're already disabled. Thus providing clues to adventurers as to which way the undead are traveling in the dungeon.
True- some of the traps don't have CRs... that's because the monsters have modified them for use as weapons, meaning they're no longer traps. Therefore, the CR is determined by the monster, especially since said critter isn't attacking with his natural attack.

Anyway, if you like Falcon's Hollow, slightly gross undead, and a dungeon crawl- that's what the module does.

Admittedly, It's probably more than a little frustrating for rogues, being as there's a lot of undead (no back stab), and...

Spoiler:
they've already set of most of the traps or modified them for use as weapons.

but hey, it was supposed to be the Halloween mod.

I could definately talk it up more for you, but I'll assume you want someone else's opinion aside from mine. I mean seriously, I'll have only good things to say about it. However I've kinda been feeling the need to say something about a few of the charges of that review.

Contributor

I agree with what Tim said.

Funny how many poor reviews actually stem from things having nothing to do with the product in question, like unfamiliarity with the d20 rules, a bad GM, and so on. :/

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

I agree with what Tim said.

Funny how many poor reviews actually stem from things having nothing to do with the product in question, like unfamiliarity with the d20 rules, a bad GM, and so on. :/

Well, when you open reviews up to the public, that's sort of what you get. How many negative movie reviews can be attributed to people who had noisy people sitting behind them or a lazy projectionist? If you want all reviews to be from experts, there shouldn't be a "Please write a review for me, even if you're unqualified" button on every product page. :-P

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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yoda8myhead wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:

I agree with what Tim said.

Funny how many poor reviews actually stem from things having nothing to do with the product in question, like unfamiliarity with the d20 rules, a bad GM, and so on. :/

Well, when you open reviews up to the public, that's sort of what you get. How many negative movie reviews can be attributed to people who had noisy people sitting behind them or a lazy projectionist? If you want all reviews to be from experts, there shouldn't be a "Please write a review for me, even if you're unqualified" button on every product page. :-P

Interesting you should say that about lazy projectionists... that, or theater management under the misguided idea that turning down the brightness of the bulb in the projector will lengthen the life of the bulb. It doesn't; all it does is makes your theater's movies look muddy and dark and washed out, which makes the movie's makers look like morons.

I once saw, over on ENworld, a really REALLY scathing and hateful review of Red Hand of Doom. Curious, I went to check it out, worried that I'd made some horrific error in writing the adventure, but no... turns out that the guy who wrote the review had a list of a dozen or more legitimate complaints, but none of those complaints were things from the adventure. They were ALL things his shabby, poor GM added to or subtracted from the adventure, but since the only window into the adventure for the player was his GM, he had no way of knowing that his GM sucked hard. Lame.

Liberty's Edge

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

I agree with what Tim said.

Funny how many poor reviews actually stem from things having nothing to do with the product in question, like unfamiliarity with the d20 rules, a bad GM, and so on. :/

Ah, yes! This is one of my pet peeves. It's like Amazonians (patrons of Amazon.com) who give a product one star because it got held up in the mail.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Tim Hitchcock wrote:

Yeah, I was kinda bummed about the review myself, not because I can't take criticism or deal with plain old "I think your adventure sucked".

I actually really like constructive feedback, or useful feedback.
I kind felt like the reviewer missed the point on how many of the elements in adventure were constructed, and without looking into why I laid stuff out the way I did, chalked it up to poor understanding of the d20 system.

Perhaps its just me, but I kind of think if there was anything in the adventure that pushed the mechanics envelope too hard (or poorly), Sean would have caught it during his editorial pass. Niether is Sutter a slouch in the mechanics department. So really, with all the editors that took a pass at the text (and there were plenty of revisions), I think the reviewer's comments weren't entirely accurate.

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

I agree with what Tim said.

Funny how many poor reviews actually stem from things having nothing to do with the product in question, like unfamiliarity with the d20 rules, a bad GM, and so on. :/

Hello.

Chris Mortika, the reviewer in question here.

Tim, if you felt the need to talk, why didn't you shoot me an email?

The Paizo product review area is fairly restricted in wordcount, and I didn't want to spoil anyof the encounters in a new release. So, those were my reasons for being brief and vague.

Here are some of my concerns, spelled out:

Many of the encounters read well, but the descriptions leave out important crunch.

For example, in the initial assault on the town,

Spoiler:
ghouls walk slowly within a small pack of zombies, trying to blend in among the lesser undead. That's an innovative technique, but difficult (ghouls are, among other things, purple). It's important to give the Dungeon Master the mechanics to tell if they succeed. (Spot check, or Knowledge (religion)? What DC?)

Lucimar is an interesting character,

Spoiler:
but a terrible liar. He only has Bluff +5, and his lies are almost certain to be immediately transparent. You note that he detects as evil, but suggest that the PC's could shrug that off as the pervasive evil of the area or his physical form. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the area isn't unhallowed or desecrated. Nothing else is triggering a detect evil. And detect evil isn't confused by an outer form. An angel, bent on doing evil, shows up as evil. A goblin, intent on doing good, doesn't. He's also undead, which the party might notice -- but what's the Spot DC? (What kind of undead? An intelligent corporeal undead that doesn't paralyze or drain levels?)

More to the point, Lucimar has magic jar prepared. However inconvenient his current form, he's only in it for so long as he wants to be.

You write that Lucimar can tell when Drazmorg dies. How? There's nothing in his stat block that gives him that kind of awareness.

And, as he's a Wizard, he has a spellbook full of spells the PCs will want to get. When the party Ranger tacks Lucimar back to his hide-out, what spells are in the spellbook? What other gear does he have?

The sidebar on page 11 notes that a trip back to town "is probably out of the question". Why? There's no sense of urgency.

First trap I'm concerned with, page 12

Spoiler:
"Drazmorg ensorcelled the lower end of the chamber with scrying eyes to alert him of living intruders."

This is listed as a trap, and the next paragraph allows that the party might disable the trap. What's its DC?

The second series of traps I'm concerned with, page 13

Spoiler:

It's reasonable for the party to be moving through the dungeon under the effects of a hide from undead spell. So, when they get to this encounter, the ghasts and festrogs might not immediately trigger the pendulum and spike throwers. I liked that idea, because it (a) made this encounter challenging even for a party that was hiding, and (b) gave the party rogue a chance to shine.

Even if the party is not undetectable by the undead, it's possible that the PCs may surprise them, and wipe them out before they get a chance to act.

Now the party's in the chamber of gears and needs to pass through without setting off the traps. What's the CR for defeating them? But that's a minor issue. The Search and Disable Device DCs are listed.

Your comments read as if these were the traps I had problems with. Nope.

One more: Cilos and Grimbal

Spoiler:
Cilos has blindsense, but because he's seeing out the slits of his sewn-up eyes with normal vision, he has no miss chance. Fine and good. Someone who looks blind, but isn't. He delivers a blinding sickness. Creepy.

Grimbal is a wraith without a head. He has blindsense. Is he blind? Does he have a 50% miss chance on every attack? If so, he should probably not be CR 5.

--+--+--

As I said in my review, there's a lot of crunch that is missing, that the Dungeon Master either has to handwave or determine herself.

If you and Sean still think I'm ignorant of the d20 rules, I apologize. I should probably stop writing reviews.


I can't fit my review in a measly 2000 character count so I'll post the entire thing here:

Wow I almost skipped over this module because the reviews are so low compared to others. That would have been sad because I almost overlooked a module I really like. Hopefully this review will prop it back up to where it belongs. I also will throw out that I play 4th edition (sacrilege!). So I look at these adventures differently than the normal 3.5 player. I ignore mechanics like Challenge Ratings traps etc. and could care less about typos. I look for pure story, characters, and things that would spark my players' imagination since I'm re-creating all the combat encounters.

Usually in an undead heavy adventure there are little opportunities to role-play since so many undead are un-intelligent. This adventure avoids that completely. There are many opportunities to role-play as well as very interesting characters. The characters are fleshed out enough to capture my attention and get me intrigued enough to plan how I will act out each one. In my opinion they need a tad more personal touches but the seed of personality is definitely there to make me want to do that. It doesn't hold your hand and tell you which ones to best employ though. It's up to you and your style of DM'ing.

Spoiler:

It starts out with the classic scene of zombie hordes unleashed on the unsuspecting town. The party has to stop them from eating the commoners. If you enjoy putting commoners in peril to create tension this works beautifully. I absolutely love that type of zombie scene and wish it showed up more often in modules, think "Dawn of the Dead", "Planet Terror". The party then has to travel to an ancient tomb created by some holy knights to imprison a great evil presence. Seems like it might fall into being a dungeon crawl but there are lots of talking encounters and characters amply mixed throughout.

The plot is somewhat simple so I will go into the things that I like about the module: the characters and the scenes depicted.

Spoiler:

While the gravedigger is probably one of the better characters to be in a module in a long time, my favorite encounter is with the mage transformed into a worg. A voice calling out from behind a tree stating "Please do not attack me, my appearance may disturb you" just sparks the imagination like no other way. I would enjoy if the transformed wizard could offer tangible help like a helpful clue, potion, or something if befriended but info is valuable too. 4th edition got rid of detect evil and I only allow "Sense Motive" to get a general sense that an NPC is "hiding something" so the worg/wizard works great for me.

There are some great scenes created from Tim Hitchcock's imagination that jump from the pages: One room is filled two feet deep with loose re-animated eyeballs and combined with a gibbering mouther. I would hate to walk through that room stepping on eyeballs.

There is a severed undead head in a magic cage that enables the head to speak. It is a dwarf who figured out all the traps in the tomb. That is a completely awesome idea! I plan on having him know about all the traps and layout of the dungeon but be very angry at being trapped in his cage and not helpful at all unless the party is extremely diplomatic. This is exactly the sort of stuff that is in the module that holds so much potential but the module doesn't tell you how to use it, that part is up to you. It's great, but for novices and DM's that lack creativity it might have been easier for the author to give more character traits to those NPC's. I think it's awesome that the party has a good chance to carry around an angry dwarf head that knows all the secrets of the dungeon but might be unwilling to help them and complains alot.

The main villain has an ability to be able to see and speak through all of his minions. This allows for a constant dialogue of threats, taunts etc between the villain and the party. I absolutely love love love this, I haven't seen any other adventures where you get to dialog with the main villain the entire adventure. Again it's personal style how a DM wants to use that but the power is mentioned once and not told explicitly to a DM to take advantage of it. Maybe paizo should write a "How to be a good DM guide"

My only criticism is that while the adventure does put forth a short backstory on the main evil guy, it could use more. I added a small story of an evil lich who lived 800 years ago and had an obsession with eyes because his eyesight was failing. He abducted people from town and ripped out their eyes and performed experiments to craft himself new eyes. This is the evil force that the knights put a stop to and made the tomb to entrap. I let the players uncover this eloquent story with a knowledge history check. I like how history checks let you flesh out the story and characters even more. Even if they failed the check they might be able to read it in the library of the adventure. I would add something like that to improve this adventure.

Usually a dungeon crawl is room full of monsters, followed by next room full of monsters. This module is totally not like that, you get to speak with and encounter different personalities, but you as a DM, have to expand on the excellent seeds that Hitchcock wrote.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Chris Mortika wrote:


Hello.

Chris Mortika, the reviewer in question here.

Tim, if you felt the need to talk, why didn't you shoot me an email?

Sorry about that Chris, perhaps next time I will. I didn't mean to offend here, however a public criticism can be publically countered I suppose. Basically I was was just trying to clarify a few points for someone interested in the Module.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

James from NYC wrote:

I can't fit my review in a measly 2000 character count so I'll post the entire thing here:

Thanks James! Glad you liked the Mod!!!

BtW where in NYC are you? I'm in SI right next to the ferry terminal.


Brooklyn here btw :)
Sheepshead Bay to be exact, hello Staten Islander!

Dark Archive

I have not played it but read this adventure and I liked it. I am with what some of the others have said. I don't mind a few typo's or bad stat blocks ect. I buy adventures for good stories that are interesting and fun to play. I can tweak the other stuff and typically do anyways so thats not a problem.

But then i am in the minority of I would rather adventures have no stat blocks other than for mobs not in the main MM to save space for more adventure other than obviously ones that have class levels or are a one of a kind then they have to. I feel I can get a index card and fill it out for stat blocks before the game and stick them in the adventure pages for when i run it and save space.

Anyways just thought I would chime in.

Contributor

{ghouls walk slowly within a small pack of zombies, trying to blend in among the lesser undead. That's an innovative technique, but difficult (ghouls are, among other things, purple).}

Since when are ghouls purple? I don't see anything in their description saying that.

{It's important to give the Dungeon Master the mechanics to tell if they succeed. (Spot check, or Knowledge (religion)? What DC?)}

Untrained Disguise check would easily cover that.

{but a terrible liar. He only has Bluff +5, and his lies are almost certain to be immediately transparent.}

In which case he runs away. Not all villains have to be masters at everything.

{You note that he detects as evil, but suggest that the PC's could shrug that off as the pervasive evil of the area or his physical form. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the area isn't unhallowed or desecrated.}

Page 10, "He detects as evil, though the entire area is faintly suffused with evil, and his alignment could easily be a result of the dark power embodying him."

{And detect evil isn't confused by an outer form. An angel, bent on doing evil, shows up as evil. A goblin, intent on doing good, doesn't.}

Where in the rules does it say that an evil goblin doing a good act doesn't detect as an evil creature? Or that a good outsider doesn't detect as good?

{He's also undead, which the party might notice -- but what's the Spot DC? (What kind of undead? An intelligent corporeal undead that doesn't paralyze or drain levels?)}

It's obvious that he looks pretty undead ("the wolf looks unhealthy, perhaps even undead"), and him being "cursed" into that form is a perfectly suitable explanation for why he detects as evil.

And why do the PCs need to have a DC to determine exactly what kind of undead he is and what his powers are? "He looks undead, you aren't sure what kind" is a perfectly acceptable answer.

{More to the point, Lucimar has magic jar prepared. However inconvenient his current form, he's only in it for so long as he wants to be.}

No, Luc has that spell in his spellbook. He doesn't have it prepared... probably because he lacks the focusing crystal needed to cast the spell.

{You write that Lucimar can tell when Drazmorg dies. How? There's nothing in his stat block that gives him that kind of awareness.}

Not every ability requires a one-paragraph writeup in a stat block. "Lucimar can detect when Drazmorg dies" is a perfectly adequate explanation for this sense, it doesn't need to be in the stat block.

{And, as he's a Wizard, he has a spellbook full of spells the PCs will want to get. When the party Ranger tacks Lucimar back to his hide-out, what spells are in the spellbook? What other gear does he have?}

That's all listed in his writeup on page 28, under Gear.

{The sidebar on page 11 notes that a trip back to town "is probably out of the question". Why? There's no sense of urgency.}

Perhaps if you read the very next sentence, which says "unless the PCS are willing to give whatever controls the undead two full days with no interruptions to work on its plans." That, and the unknown risk that the evil force might animate another army of undead.

{This is listed as a trap, and the next paragraph allows that the party might disable the trap. What's its DC?}

It's not a Disable Device check. You'd have to use darkness, pass the eyes with invisibility, cast dispel magic, etc., that's why there's no DC listed.

{Now the party's in the chamber of gears and needs to pass through without setting off the traps. What's the CR for defeating them? But that's a minor issue. The Search and Disable Device DCs are listed.}

Because they're not traps any more, they've been repurposed as weapons. They don't go off automatically.

{Grimbal is a wraith without a head. He has blindsense. Is he blind? Does he have a 50% miss chance on every attack? If so, he should probably not be CR 5.}

"It can see and hear perfectly well without eyes and its darkvision allows it to spot almost anything that enters this room."

The wraith has no head ... but it also doesn't have a body, it's an incorporeal undead. Being headless isn't really a hindrance. And there's nothing in the stat block that says it's blind. Blindsense does not mean blind.

{As I said in my review, there's a lot of crunch that is missing, that the Dungeon Master either has to handwave or determine herself.}

Fortunately, GMs are not robots, they are humans with brains, and sometimes they have to make rulings on things, even obvious things.

Dark Archive

First let me state that I really like the adventure!

One of 3rd editions innovations was that every effect had a rule/mechanic behind it.
So from a "correct" 3rd edition view Lucimar can not detect if Drazmorg dies unless an extraordinary/spell like/superantural ability, a spell or an item says he can.
Lucimar's ability is introduced like it would have been in a 1st edition adventure.

I love it!

It always irked me that, if I wanted to stay true to 3rd edition spirit, i would have to find a speicific spell or make up an ability for the monster to do XY.
Of course any effect that has a direct effect on the players or might mess with existing rules should have a mechanic written up.
But Lucimar's ability does not take away power from the players nor does it mess with existing rules. And the space that a spell/item/ability would have taken up could be used more effectively. In the end, the players never most likely will never even know that Lucimar knew of Drazmorg's death.

I have one thing to Nit-Pick though:

Spoiler:
There is not spot DC for the players to notice the magic eyes in the well wall. There is also no AC, hardness and HPs stated for palyers who want to destroy them. Lastly we don't know if the eys have darkvison and what their spot check is. An experienced DM can wing it, but a Newbe might struggle here.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Good day, Sean. Thank you for the courtesy of a reply. I really never intended to engage on this kind of level about the module. Tim wrote it, you, Chris and James developed it, and I bought it. I put up a review. I never intended to dig this deeply, or this publicly, into my misgivings. Among other things, this kind of discussion makes it seem as if I didn't like the adventure, and that's not the case. I gave it a generally favorable review, and that remains my position.

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Since when are ghouls purple? I don't see anything in their description saying that.

Monster Manual, page 119. You can speak to this more definitively than I, but I have assumed that the reason Wizards paid so much for artwork is to show people what creatures look like.

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Untrained Disguise check would easily cover that.

That's a reasonable ruling, but certainly not the only obvious one. For one thing, it gives the ghouls only a +1 modifier against the party's spot checks, which means it's very likely to immediately fail. Is that the intent? "You see a couple of ghouls shuffling among the zombies, laughingly trying to blend in"?

If I were writing the encounter, I think I would rather require a Knowledge (religion) check, because the trick is to identify the creatures as not-zombies, rather than to see them, and that requires a familiarity about zombies.

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
In which case [Lucimar] runs away. Not all villains have to be masters at everything.

Fair enough; it even says he runs away if threatened. But that's a single sentence after a half page of description and interaction providing the DM with information about how to run this as a non-combat encounter. I can't help thinking that Tim expected this to be a creepy conversation talking with a mysterious, ambivalent creature. Why, then, does the stat block not support this?

Lucimar certainly doesn't have to be a master at everything, but he's not very good at lying, which is his chief m.o. here. What's a DM to make of this?

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Page 10, "He detects as evil, though the entire area is faintly suffused with evil, and his alignment could easily be a result of the dark power embodying him."

That text is my point, Sean. I'd be happy to be corrected, but that's not the way I understand detect evil to work. He shows up as strong evil, for the simple reason that he's a 9HD undead. No other reason is needed. And --again, correct me if I'm wrong-- all undead in Golarion really are evil, with the possible exception of some ghosts. Anybody passing a knowledge (religion) check would know that there's no such thing as a whiny, angsty undead.

Spoiler:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Where in the rules does it say that an evil goblin doing a good act doesn't detect as an evil creature? Or that a good outsider doesn't detect as good?

I cock my head to the side, a little puzzled. Sean, I was talking about a goblin gone good, not an evil goblin attempting a single good act. Likewise, a hound archon gone bad.

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
And why do the PCs need to have a DC to determine exactly what kind of undead he is and what his powers are? "He looks undead, you aren't sure what kind" is a perfectly acceptable answer.

Why do they need to have a DC? Because that's how the d20 system handles knowledge (religion) checks. Maybe the players, by fiat, don't get any information about him. But for the DM, what kind of undead is he? (My best guess would be vampire spawn, but that doesn't quite fit, either.) I think it's great when something like a "maggot mummy" shows up. It's frightening and different, but it's explained as a variant mummy, and it's got all its rules behind it. It would have been great if Lucimar had gotten the same, brief, explanation.

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
No, Luc has that spell in his spellbook. He doesn't have it prepared... probably because he lacks the focusing crystal needed to cast the spell.

True: I was looking at the wrong place on the stat block. My mistake.

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Not every ability requires a one-paragraph writeup in a stat block. "Lucimar can detect when Drazmorg dies" is a perfectly adequate explanation for this sense, it doesn't need to be in the stat block.

Not the stat block, no. But, seriously, how? Is this part of the kind of undead he is? Is it part of the evil miasma, that everybody can tell how it ebbs and flows? Is it because he made a high-DC Spellcraft check?

(For what it's worth, Tharen the Damned, I agree with you; this has an early AD&D feel to it.)

When I wrote:
The sidebar on page 11 notes that a trip back to town "is probably out of the question". Why? There's no sense of urgency.
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Perhaps if you read the very next sentence, which says "unless the PCS are willing to give whatever controls the undead two full days with no interruptions to work on its plans." That, and the unknown risk that the evil force might animate another army of undead.

Sean, I did read the end of the sentence. The party has no reason to believe there's anything working its plans. At this point in the story, the party has no idea what's down there, except for some zombies. Undead are not the most time-sensitive of opponents, and there's no reason at this point to suspect that rushing in unprepared is called for. (And indeed, there is no time pressure. The party can withdraw, heal and recover multiple times, and Drazmog will just wait for them.)

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
[Drazmorg's scrying eyes are] not a Disable Device check. You'd have to use darkness, pass the eyes with invisibility, cast dispel magic, etc., that's why there's no DC listed.

Thank you, Sean; that's good to know. The trap is supposed to trigger "as soon as any living creature reaches the water" If lack of light sources, or invisibility foils the trigger, the adventure should have spelled that out. In any case, Sean, it's a magical trap, and rogues should be able to bypass it. (Rogues don't get to do much in this adventure; let's not take away their few chances to shine.)

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Because they're not traps any more, they've been repurposed as weapons. They don't go off automatically.

They don't? But they do have Search DCs and Disable Device DCs. So, a party using hide from undead can just pass through and not worry about the tripwire? Okay. Do you see how that's confusing?

This room reads fine: the undead spring the traps, which is a cool idea. And no module can address the myriad party strategies. But this description doesn't cover what I understand to be fairly common PC tactics.

Sean wrote:
Fortunately, GMs are not robots, they are humans with brains, and sometimes they have to make rulings on things, even obvious things.

Of course. And in my initial review, I said I liked the module. It's atmospheric, with a lot of cool characters and creepy scenes. It's fun to read. And as other reviewers noted, if you're not worried about the mechanics of 3.5, it's fantastic. I wholeheartily stand by that.

But when I reviewed this adventure, I believed that "GMs have to make ruling," while absolutely true, isn't sufficient to leave a module with this many rules gaps and plot holes. When I run this adventure, yes, I can make up a DC for disabling the trap in the stagnant pool. I can determine how the party can make a Healing check on someone they can't touch. But there comes a point at which I say, "This adventure simply needs some better rules support." And, for what it's worth, I felt that "Hungry are the Dead" had reached that point.

My uppity-ness yesterday was from Tim's, and your, assumption that my complaints stemmed from my ignorance of the d20 rules. You're welcome to disagree with me; obviously, you do. But I'd appreciate it if you didn't just presume that I don't know what I'm talking about. You took the time to reply to my last comment, and I appreciate the courtesy and respect that implies.

Contributor

{Monster Manual, page 119. You can speak to this more definitively than I, but I have assumed that the reason Wizards paid so much for artwork is to show people what creatures look like.}

One piece of art does not define what the entire race looks like.

{That's a reasonable ruling, but certainly not the only obvious one.}

Funny, it's obvious to me that when someone is trying to pretend to be something else, it's either a Bluff check or a Disguise check. ;)

{For one thing, it gives the ghouls only a +1 modifier against the party's spot checks, which means it's very likely to immediately fail. Is that the intent? "You see a couple of ghouls shuffling among the zombies, laughingly trying to blend in"?}

Why do you assume that the ghouls assume there are Xth-level adventurers hiding in this little logging town? Most commoners wouldn't know a ghoul from a zombie, and that's who they're expecting to fool. And for that purpose, Disguise +1, perhaps with a DM's Best Friend Modifier of +2, is more than enough to fool a commoner. If it doesn't fool a PC, oh well.

{Fair enough; it even says he runs away if threatened. But that's a single sentence after a half page of description and interaction providing the DM with information about how to run this as a non-combat encounter.}

I'm sorry you had to read an entire half-page to know how to handle this encounter. :p

{I can't help thinking that Tim expected this to be a creepy conversation talking with a mysterious, ambivalent creature. Why, then, does the stat block not support this?}

I'm sorry that you think a +5 Bluff check is insufficient to support this encounter. Personally, I'd rather have Luc be statted as an effective necromancer first and a non-master liar second (which fits his backstory better than a master liar who happens to be a necromancer).

{That text is my point, Sean. I'd be happy to be corrected, but that's not the way I understand detect evil to work. He shows up as strong evil, for the simple reason that he's a 9HD undead. No other reason is needed. And --again, correct me if I'm wrong-- all undead in Golarion really are evil, with the possible exception of some ghosts. Anybody passing a knowledge (religion) check would know that there's no such thing as a whiny, angsty undead.}

I contest your blanket assumption that all undead in Golarion are evil.

And it seems you're ignoring my point that it's plausible that (as he suggests) the dark power that has changed him has made him evil (explaining why he detects as evil), and he is fighting it for as long as he can, but it is a losing battle, and that's why he wants the PCs' help. Golarion isn't a black-and-white world.

{Why do they need to have a DC? Because that's how the d20 system handles knowledge (religion) checks.}

It sounds like you have been bullied by players into coughing up information about monsters, because all the Knowledge skill actually says on the matter is "A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster." For what it's worth, "it's a maggot mummy" is more than "a bit" of useful information. And not every undead has to fit into a cookie-cutter categorization of skeleton, zombie, ghoul, vampire, wraith, wight, lich, ghost. Sometimes "you can't tell anything about this creature because there's nothing definitive about it to define it into a particular category."

He doesn't eat corpses, so he's not a ghoul. He's not mindless, so he's not a zombie or skeleton. He's not bodiless. He doesn't have a fear aura or a phylactery so he's not a lich. He doesn't drink blood or create spawn or drain levels so he's not a vampire or wight. He's simply "an undead worg," and that's all the PCs would learn by trying a Knowledge check on him. Just because the rules allow you to build and sort things with and into little boxes doesn't mean that everything has to be made of and fit in little boxes.

{Not the stat block, no. But, seriously, how? Is this part of the kind of undead he is? Is it part of the evil miasma, that everybody can tell how it ebbs and flows? Is it because he made a high-DC Spellcraft check?}

Why does it matter? I don't know how Luc got accepted into necromancy school, or where he learned the magic jar spell, or where he grew up or what spell was used to imprison him in this form because it doesn't matter for the sake of the encounter.

{Sean, I did read the end of the sentence. The party has no reason to believe there's anything working its plans.}

Not true. They have no proof that something is working its plans. That is far different than having "no reason to believe" something is working on a plan. An army of undead attacks a town. Another army heads north toward a ruin. The PCs don't know why, but the fact that there's another undead army out there should give them cause for concern.

{And indeed, there is no time pressure. The party can withdraw, heal and recover multiple times, and Drazmog will just wait for them.}

But the PCs don't know there is no time pressure on them.

{Thank you, Sean; that's good to know. The trap is supposed to trigger "as soon as any living creature reaches the water" If lack of light sources, or invisibility foils the trigger, the adventure should have spelled that out.}

Fair enough.

{In any case, Sean, it's a magical trap, and rogues should be able to bypass it.}

It's not really a magical trap, it's a bunch of magical sensors created by an item.

{They don't? But they do have Search DCs and Disable Device DCs. So, a party using hide from undead can just pass through and not worry about the tripwire? Okay. Do you see how that's confusing?}

Ah, I misread what you were saying last time. Technically the listed traps should have CRs, but as in most cases they're used as weapons by the undead, in which case their individual CR is folded into the overall EL for the encounter. Which means if you bypass the encounter with invis or hide from undead, rather than nitpicking your PCs out of some XP, you should just give them XP as if they had defeated the entire encounter. After all, if they trigger the traps while invis or whatever, the undead are going to react and you're going to have to run the whole encounter anyway, so you either (1) handle the encounter normally, or (2) bypass the entire encounter; either way, you'd get full XP for the encounter.

{But when I reviewed this adventure, I believed that "GMs have to make ruling," while absolutely true, isn't sufficient to leave a module with this many rules gaps and plot holes.}

How many is "many"? You mentioned these things:
1) Ghouls pretending to be zombies. That's an obvious thing for the GM to rule on.
2) Lucimar. I've pointed out your errors and the things you missed, what remains is "he's not an expert liar," "he's a unique undead my PCs can't identify with a roll," and "I don't know how he knows when Drazmorg dies," all of which aren't significant or relevant.
3) No DC for the scrying eye "trap." Fair enough.
4) Questions about the undead & traps encounter, which I've addressed.
5) Questions about Cilios and Grimbal, which are addressed in the text.

So of your five comments, only one of them is an actual flaw in the adventure.

I never accused you of being uppity. However, you are letting yourself be straightjacketed by assumptions that the NPCs are metagaming their awareness of the PCs (like ghouls trying to fool PCs rather than commoners), limiting yourself to only EXACTLY what the rules say, and in some cases by things the rules DON'T say (like identifying undead from a Knowledge check), and requiring a rule for EVERYTHING (Luc's sense of Drazmorg).

The game can't be 10,000 pages long with a rule for EVERYTHING; we have to assume that the GM knows the basics of the system and can do what the DMG says: make rulings based on what is a reasonable interpretation of the existing framework of the rules. Much of the beauty of the d20 system is that it boils down to "make a d20 roll, either opposed by another creature's roll or against a set DC." The game tells you how to set DCs and gives a page of example DCs for all sorts of things. If a situation comes up that isn't explicitly expressed in the rules, the GM is supposed to be able to wing it; you have a 300-page book telling you how.

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