Pathfinder Module: City of Golden Death (PFRPG)

3.70/5 (based on 15 ratings)
Pathfinder Module: City of Golden Death (PFRPG)
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An adventure for 5th-level Pathfinder Roleplaying Game characters.

The Price of Greed

In the center of Lake Encarthan looms the dreaded Isle of Terror, accursed land of mystery and treachery. Hidden within the island's negative energy storms, the secret treasure city of the wizard-king Tar-Baphon has lain sealed for centuries. Now masked cultists have opened the golden city of Xin-Grafar to claim the wealth of the legendary city for the Living God Razmir. Can the PCs track the cultists through the poisoned swamps and blasted wastelands of the Isle of Terror to the City of Golden Death itself? And what forgotten dangers will oppose them as they struggle to prevent a dark faith from spreading across the world?

City of Golden Death is an adventure for 5th-level characters; it is written for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is compatible with the 3.5 edition of the world's oldest RPG. The adventure features a mix of wilderness and dungeon sites and includes a race through a ruined, golden city to stop evil cultists before the city floods with molten gold!

This adventure is set on the legendary Isle of Terror in the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting, but it can be easily adapted for any game world. It can be used as a stand-alone adventure or as the final chapter of the Price of Immortality trilogy, following the adventures Crypt of the Everflame and Masks of the Living God.

Written by Joshua J. Frost

Pathfinder Modules are 32-page, high-quality, full-color, adventures using the Open Game License to work with both the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the standard 3.5 fantasy RPG rules set. This Pathfinder Module includes four pre-made characters so players can jump right into the action, and full-color maps to enhance play.

ISBN 13: 978-1-60125-225-8

City of Golden Death is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. Its Chronicle Sheet and additional rules for running this module are a free download (213 KB zip/PDF).

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

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Weakest of the Trilogy

3/5

For my group, this adventure was the weakest of the trilogy. The shortage of roleplaying encounters, the repetition with combat encounters and some illogical aspects of the storyline left a lot of work for the GM (me) to do before we could actually play. That’s not to say it was all bad, in fact parts were quite good and if your players are strictly hack-n-slash then you may not have as much rewrite time as I did.

For the details read on, but beware of spoilers. Do not read further if you plan to play in this adventure!

The Problems:

* Logic Errors

Spoiler:
Iramine and her priests are several days (perhaps a week) ahead of the PCs, yet the PC’s are instructed to follow the same route she took. Instead the PCs should trek across the lake rather than around it. Unfortunately only random encounters are given for the long voyage, so the GM will need to flesh this out. I changed the described boat entirely, making it a fishing vessel.

* Deja Vous

Spoiler:
Some of the encounters in this module closely resemble encounters in the first module of the trilogy, for example; wolves, skeletons and a crazy stranded NPC paralleled the first module too closely. If your group plays regularly, consider changing this up.

* Almost No Roleplaying

Spoiler:
The semi-insane Dusan is the only hope of non-combat interaction (well maybe you could start something on the boat ride, but that feels forced). To rectify this, I made Dusan friends with the lizardfolk; had Aglanda’s group join with the PC’s and had Tar-Baphon’s Dragon ask riddles rather than attack. Dusan has a lot of island knowledge, so I had him give crazy-sounding advice that would actually help. For example, rolling around in dung was one recommendation. Any PC that did so gained concealment from the Bullette later on.

* Encounter Repetition

Spoiler:
Too many of the same creatures are used (e.g. wolves, undead, fire elementals, etc.) As the GM you may want to switch these up. I used an Ettin for the wolves and Salamanders for the undead. I removed half of the fire elementals.

* Odd Pacing

Spoiler:
The adventure starts off with sparse combat at the beginning but ends with one killer encounter after another. I couldn’t envision my PC’s completing the 3rd ring of the city, so I spaced it out a bit more. As mentioned, Aglanda’s group decided to side with the PC’s as long as they were allowed to get out alive. The Dragon delivered riddles rather than straight combat and I removed Naramoc and his two priests entirely. This gave the PC’s a fighting chance against Iramine in the final battle.

* No Big Ending

Spoiler:
While the fight with Iramine was difficult, the end of this module came prematurely and without the big climatic ending I crave. Here are the PC’s, at the center of a flooding golden city, and they just have to saunter out? Instead I added a chase out of Xin-Grafar as it flooded and collapsed around them.

Here’s the chase I used for the escape (it gave the tension filled, dice rolling climax I was hoping for). Have each player roll once for each challenge and keep a running total of the results:

Escape Xin-Grafar
The ancient underground city begins to rumble and shake as cracks appear in nearby floors and walls. Bits of the ceiling rain down, threatening to crush you, or worse, bury you alive. Time suddenly feels short and the city exit is dangerously distant; making a run for it seems to be your only hope of escaping alive.

1. The Naga's Pit
Jump Across, Acrobatics [long jump] DC15 (+1/-1 & 1d6 fall)
Drop down and Climb Up, Climb DC15 (0/-1)

2. Crumbling Bridge
Pick your way across, Knowledge [engineering] DC10 or [dungeoneering] DC20 (0/-1)
React as you go, Reflex DC18 (+1/-1 & 1d6 fire)

3. Closed Gate
Jimmy the lock, Disable Device DC20 (0/-1)
Burst through the gate, Bull Rush DC25 (+1/-1)
Disassemble the hinges, Craft DC15 (-2/-4)

4. Toppling Buildings
Risk it and dash under, Willpower DC15 (+1/-1 & 1d6 bludgeoning)
Wait and squeeze through, Escape Artist DC20 (0/-1)
Hold the heavy stones up, Strength DC25 (0/-2)

5. Iron Cobra Swarm
Tumble through, Acrobatics DC18 (+1/-1)
Fight your way through, Automatic success (-2 & 1d12 bite)
Sneak past, Stealth DC15 (0/-1)

6. Steam Geyser
Study the area to avoid geysers, Knowledge [nature] DC15 (0/-1)
Cross your fingers and go, Luck DC12 (+1/-1 & 1d6 scald)

7. Noxious Fumes
Don't breathe, Fortitude DC18 (+1/-1 & sickened)
Find another route, Perception DC20 (0/-1)

A deep rumble ripples through the massive chamber as the jagged cavern ceiling plummets directly towards you. Only quick action will save your life...

The last PC (the one with the lowest final total) takes 8d6 points of damage (half, DC15 Reflex) and is buried. Characters in the slide zone take 3d6 points of damage (no damage, DC15 Reflex). Characters in the slide zone who fail their saves are buried. Characters take 1d6 points of nonlethal damage per minute while buried. If such a character falls unconscious, he must make a DC 15 Constitution check each minute. If it fails, he takes 1d6 points of lethal damage each minute until freed or dead.

Characters who aren't buried can dig out their friends. In 1 minute, using only her hands, a character can clear rocks and debris equal to five times her heavy load limit. The amount of loose stone that fills a 5-foot-by-5-foot area weighs 1 ton (2,000 pounds). Armed with an appropriate tool, such as a pick, crowbar, or shovel, a digger can clear loose stone twice as quickly as by hand. A buried character can attempt to free himself with a DC 25 Strength check.

The Good Parts:

* Island Hazards

Spoiler:
Hazards make for interesting encounters and the island has plenty of them, quicksand, poisoned rivers, negative energy storms and molten gold all make for tricky conditions that will keep players thinking.

* Tension Building

Spoiler:
The looming storms and flooding canals kept my players moving. No stopping in a safe location to prepare spells or heal to 100%. The players felt like they had to keep moving or they would fail. This sense of urgency can be difficult to come by in other adventures.

* Cool New Baddies

Spoiler:
The Golden Guardian was a favorite of the players. It was tough and memorable, and it felt unique. The terror template was also useful, adding a creepy twist to otherwise typical creatures. While not new, the summoned Babau demon was intelligently placed and had the players quite worried.

In the end, the adventure was a success, but I did have to make a lot of adjustments for my players. You may not experience the same issues we did, but if you do, the problems are not insurmountable. All the same, I had to give this module an average rating of 3 stars.

I have to wonder if maybe too much was squeezed into the 36 pages. Trying to describe a giant lake, a whole island and a huge underground city (with a complex history) is a lot in such a small space. Paring the scope down might have improved the final product.


4/5

The City of the Golden Death was not my favorite module but it was definitely not my least favorite. The module itself seemed like it had PC massacre potential---the skeletal dragon on the cover, negative energy storms, molten gold flooding through city streets, and the very names of places containing words like “terror” and “death”. In reality we waltzed through all but the last encounter.

The module had an interesting premise but after awhile the huge city/ruins we had to trek through and its puzzles and secret doors became tedious. Golden Death was also combat heavy though not oppressively so. My favorite combat was an interesting encounter with

spoiler:
a rude snake person
that my party particularly enjoyed.

The module was pretty good overall and other than a few dull moments was a good way to spend a Saturday. It provides plenty of connection to the current Rune Lords theme and was fun but challenging for all party members.


Ambitious premise, awkward execution

3/5

This final adventure tries for an Indiana Jones style conclusion to the trilogy with the players traveling to deadly Isle of Terror where Aroden defeated Tar- Baphon (in his mortal form). The adventure begins with another boat journey of random encounters before the characters begin their journey to the lost city and this is where the adventure falls short somewhat for me: The Isle of Terror is shown to be a vast nightmarish land mass teeming with savage monsters, evil trees and poisoned waters, plenty of opportunity for exploration and yet the adventure puts your players on a very linear track following the cultists to the city on a race for time. The character of Dusan was also an awkward addition as an almost useless companion; me and my players forgot about him completely by the time we reached the city. Once there however, the adventure becomes more contained and more focused, with the place threatening to flood with molten gold if your players aren't fast enough. The place is filled with deadly challenges and interesting monsters, though I found the naga encounter to be a little too deadly and tedious (with the creature re-spawning after the players defeat it) and ended up removing it. My players came up with a very amusing way of resolving the adventure and despite the module's faults, we ended up enjoying it (though not as much as the first two).


Encounters make this one

4/5

This one is all about the encounters, and history. Every encounter is memorable. Not much for roleplaying, but when your going to place called he Isle of Terror are you really expecting to talk to people?


to many encounters not enough time for roleplaying

3/5

i actually realy liked it i just wish there was more time for role playing in it like there was in the last part befor this one other yhen that i have to say there was to many encounters


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Contributor

Nadir-Khân wrote:

Hi there :)

Is there an information about the "Well Of Sorrows" included in this Adventure? I want to run a campaign, where the PCs enter the Darklands. And this Well is so full of history and adventure... I'd like to play that ;)

This adventure takes place entirely on the surface and doesn't involve travel into the Darklands. Sorry!


Sean K Reynolds wrote:


This adventure takes place entirely on the surface and doesn't involve travel into the Darklands. Sorry!

Thank you for the reply, Sean. What a pity :(

Better luck next time ;)

Sovereign Court

Zeugma wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
I wanna punch a Razmir priest in the face. This can't come soon enough.
Wouldn't you hurt your hand doing that? They all wear iron masks.

Not if you wear a spiked Gauntlet. HEH. HEH. HEH.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Aberzombie wrote:

Just finished reading through this adventure last night. Allow me to say Mr. Frost...

...You are a very evil and twisted man. My party will very likely curse your name after I run them through this.

** spoiler omitted **

Although, I've got to wonder....

** spoiler omitted **

Lastly, Isle of Terror -

** spoiler omitted **

I agree my party will be using his name in vain as well.

Dark Archive

ARGH! My FLGS still hasn't received my copy... I'll probably have to murder Aberzombie and steal his module!

Scarab Sages

Asgetrion wrote:
ARGH! My FLGS still hasn't received my copy... I'll probably have to murder Aberzombie and steal his module!

Bring it on! You'll just have to fight your way through the horde first.

Mwahahahhahahaha....


Technically, isn't it impossible to kill you?

Scarab Sages

Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
Technically, isn't it impossible to kill you?

Shhhhh.....

Dark Archive

Aberzombie wrote:
Asgetrion wrote:
ARGH! My FLGS still hasn't received my copy... I'll probably have to murder Aberzombie and steal his module!

Bring it on! You'll just have to fight your way through the horde first.

Mwahahahhahahaha....

Your wall of rotting corpses cannot withstand the unleashed fury of my legion of fiendish squirrels! Besides, I'm an Infernal Librarian, a favored son of the Most Blessed Asmodeus! Hellfire dances at my command, and flesh withers under my searing gaze!

Now, wait... dances... I feel like dancing...

Little Tim, wait! Daddy isn't going to dance! Don't go the basement - daddy was only joking!

Dark Archive

Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
Technically, isn't it impossible to kill you?

You should have more faith in my powers, dear Mairkurion! There are very few things a follower of Asmodeus cannot do, and burning things is *not* among them! ;)


It's not a matter of faith, but of logic.

Dark Archive

Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
It's not a matter of faith, but of logic.

And since when have you become logical, or even remotely coherent? :O


Funny you should ask...

Dark Archive

Dr. Double Honors, Ph.D. wrote:
Funny you should ask...

Blood and bloody hellfire! I must be dreaming... I just witnessed the deranged, poor Mairkurion polymorph into a civilized, educated human being! Beloved Asmodeus, let me awaken from this nightmare... ;P


I've been telling people for years that the greenman is a mask, but people either don't believe or they forget.

Scarab Sages

Asgetrion wrote:

Hellfire dances at my command, and flesh withers under my searing gaze!

What if the flesh is already withered?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Aberzombie wrote:
...You are a very evil and twisted man.

*bow*

Spoiler:

Aberzombie wrote:

If you can't take any gold with you, what treasure did Asar, Kassen, and Iramine take when they visited? Did they just luck out on the stuff that can be taken? I did see some of that in there, like the trapped treasure pile and the skeletal dragon's treasure....

Also, what was the point of Tar-Baphon placing all these guardians and traps, if most of the treasure couldn't be removed excpet by him? Just being an a#&#%!!?

A, K, and I took a lot of the treasure that could be removed with them when they looted the city the first time. There's still some of it there and the PCs can find it, but anything created by the gold floods or Tar-Baphon's jewel can only be removed from the city by Tar-Baphon. Also, yes, T-B is an a#&#%!!?

Spoiler:

Aberzombie wrote:


To start, pretty damn cool. I'd love to see something that explores it further, especially the corrupting influence it has on living creatures. I was surprised we didn't see more undead, however. You'd think a place with regular negative energy lightening strikes would be something they might enjoy.
I especially like the Shadow's Heart forest and the description of the trees. If the PCs go in there, what kind of stats could we use for a tree attack? Treant? Or, maybe something similar to the treant's animate tree ability?

I wish I had 64 or 128 pages just to write about it. For the forest, I had a new creature in mind for the trees. A treant would work, likely a treant with the terror template.

Dark Archive

Aberzombie wrote:
Asgetrion wrote:

Hellfire dances at my command, and flesh withers under my searing gaze!

What if the flesh is already withered?

Er... it will become... even more withered?

Dark Archive

Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
I've been telling people for years that the greenman is a mask, but people either don't believe or they forget.

All polymorph magics aside, I refuse to believe you're anything else but a deranged old treeman! ;P


My group finished City of Golden Death last night (we play by internet chat, so it's quite slow - especially as we can only manage a game once a week, with frequent gaps). The crowning moment, I think, was when the PCs were in the process of escaping from the Tabernacle, fighting the guardian there.

The naga, down to 6 HP, turned invisible and attempted to climb down from the ledge. She rolled a 1 on the climb check, fell, and took enough falling damage to kill herself off. Thus it ends - not with a bang, but a whimper.

Excellent module, though!


I created a map for the PCs to look at when they are ready to enter Xin-Grafar.

A map your DM should approve of:

Liberty's Edge

Russell, you are awesome!


Zonto wrote:
Russell, you are awesome!

Glad you liked it.

Liberty's Edge

I just picked this up. Have not read all they way through it. But after reading the summary I can see an issue with some groups.

Spoiler:
If the PCs figure out that Iramine and Her party did not see the warning that the whole city will flood with molten gold 72 hours after the came into city, I know some groups that will just say "well, they are dead and that will stop what they are doing. We leave."


CapeCodRPGer wrote:

I just picked this up. Have not read all they way through it. But after reading the summary I can see an issue with some groups.

** spoiler omitted **

Except that

Spoiler:
they are supposed to recover the two parts of the key to set Asar's and Kassen's spirits to rest, not just to stop Iramine from making Razmir rich. At least, that's the case if you've played through the previous two adventures.

Silver Crusade

ahhh razmer shall I ever tire of punching your masked priests in the face?
nope, now let me get my +2 gloves of sundering...

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Urath DM wrote:
CapeCodRPGer wrote:

I just picked this up. Have not read all they way through it. But after reading the summary I can see an issue with some groups.

** spoiler omitted **

Except that

** spoiler omitted **

Also keep in mind...

Spoiler:
The key is needed to get back out. By the time the PCs realize this, the outer doors should be closed!
Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I took some things a step further while running this adventure several months ago.

City of Golden Death Revision:

Firstly, with the scepter a creation of Tar-Baphon holding a fragment of his malign will, I upped the stakes for the PCs some. On determining what the scepter truly was they learned that it could, potentially, be used to liberate Tar-Baphon from Gallowspyre by way of freeing his consciousness from his corporeal form and using the key as a "channel" to enslave a host body.

If, somehow, the key were allowed to leave Xin-Grafar, that would be the goals planted in Iramine's mind. This urged the PCs on further towards thwarting Iramine, as we had not done the preceding adventures.

Secondly, I cut out the "timer" entirely and did not seal the PCs into the Golden City. The City of Golden Death's trap would become something all-together different.

Once the PCs dropped the scepter into the well at the end to destroy it, the magic that was used to channel the golden rivers from the elemental plane of earth collapsed in epic fashion. The well became a sinkhole that sucked downwards into the plane of earth and began consuming the central temple.

From here on out, it was an "inverted" chase using the Pathfinder chase mechanics. They were not trying to beat someone to a location, but rather trying to stay ahead of the collapsing city falling apart behind them. Sort of like the collapse of the treasure chamber in Disney's Aladdin.

Each obstacle on the chase represented things like fissures opening in the ground, rocks falling from the ceiling, geysers of molten rock, columns of smoke, collapsing buildings blocking of streets, etc. I made the chase 20 cards long and after they cleared the first card I had the "vortex" move up one card. If the PCs got mired for too long they would be caught up in the collapse of the city and take damage. If they became mired in the "vortex" card for one more round they were lost in the collapse of the city.

The PCs loved it and loved the "escape" chase out of the collapsing city. It turned a somewhat ham-handed timer mechanic into a more exhilarating and cinematic end, whereby the entire golden city was swallowed up into the plane of earth at the end, and didn't require finding a reason why the PCs couldn't dig it up for all its remaining worth.


I am running this for a group of 4. Last night we just finished the battle with the bbeg and things have taken an interesting turn. I have also come up with something regarding Dusan to make the way out interesting.

spoiler:
In the final battle Iramine never got the chance to use the septer to change into elemental form. She was cut open by a crit for 39 damage a turn before she would have changed. She slumped down against the wall and our party summoner wrenched the septer from her hands, instantly becoming cursed. The party then spent almost an hour trying to decide what to do with the septer. My cursed player RP'd his role wonderfully.

After a while the summoner ( still holding the septer) was drawn to the pedestal. The key to the city started to glow and revealed a golden jeweled helm/crown. All the while he was hearing the whisperings off the staff but not communicating quite everything to the party.

After convincing him to leave the septer behind and flee the city, the party triggered the naga again. At which point the summoner ran back into the back room, grabbed the sepeter and transformed into a huge fire elemental. He beat down the naga and we ended the session.

Now comes a bit more of my own invention. Dusan, who on his previous visit to the city ventured into the pit and became inhabited by a dormant portion of tar baphon (which has allowed him to survive the island and has driven him mad) is subconciously leading a horde of undead into the center of the city. The spirit of tar baphon wills him to claim the septer, crown and key, which will be very bad news for Golarion. The party will run into this encounter on their way out and I'm excited to see what happens.


Robert Brookes: in your spoiler, you are referring to

Spoiler:
"the well at the end"
.Where is it located on the maps?

Asmo


Holy crap this is awesome!!!!
I love Thassilon, and the fact that Tar-Baphon got so much of his ability from that old world knowledge and power. Didn't know there was a city from Thassilon on that old island though. That is AWESOME, but did Thassilon extend out that far or was it a wayward colony?

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