Farshore Graveyard (Spoilers)


Savage Tide Adventure Path


In Tides of Dread, one of the victory point goals is Hallowing the Farshore Graveyard. It is in this very graveyard that Vanthus is buried after his attack on Farshore.

But in Serpents of Scuttlecove, Vanthus rises from his grave as a death knight. So here's my question: any body interred in a hallowed graveyard can't come back as an undead, even if exhumed and moved out of it afterwards.

So how did Vanthus do it? I don't like saying "because I needed it to, so all your work hallowing it was actually worthless". I assume Demogorgon himself punched through the relatively flimsy protections that a lower level spell like Hallow offers. I just don't want to give too much away to my players, but I don't want to not say anything and make them feel like their efforts were wasted/cheated.

So, any advice from the Paizo crew and other board-bards?


If the PCs were present when Vanthus was buried and if they return to check on his grave after a month or two has passed, they may notice that surrounding vegetation is withered near his grave. This could be enough for them to put together that maybe more is going on with this guy than they had thought.


I think you're exactly right: Demogorgon consuming your soul and turning you into a death knight bypasses the effects of the Hallow. If the PC's gripe about it, I think I will just say "trust me--when you find out what actually happened to Vanthus you will understand." Then later in the campaign if they find out that Demogorgon himself turned him into a death knight they will probably be ok with the getting around hallow effect.


You could always allow an appropriate knowledge check to give a little info as to what happened. I wouldn't reveal the entire truth, give them just enough to get their wheels turning. Once they learn the entire truth they'll appreciate that knowledge check.

I'd only give it to them if they ask though. They don't ask, the get the chance to gain the info. You could go either way with it though honestly, just depends on what you prefer.


ronin wrote:

You could always allow an appropriate knowledge check to give a little info as to what happened. I wouldn't reveal the entire truth, give them just enough to get their wheels turning. Once they learn the entire truth they'll appreciate that knowledge check.

I'd only give it to them if they ask though. They don't ask, the get the chance to gain the info. You could go either way with it though honestly, just depends on what you prefer.

I would say the opposite. It'd be much more intense to simply find a grave effectively burst open and no clues as to why it's happened.

~ Bryon ~

Paizo Employee Creative Director

HA! Interesting little error that crept in there! Wish I'd remembered that... in any event, here's how I would handle it.

The Simple Way: Demogorgon's power is enough to blast through the protection granted by the hallow effect. This is cheesy, but it's simple.

The Complex Way: Demogorgon attempts to raise Vanthus as a death knight and can't, since Vanthus's body is in a hallowed site. He commands a demon on the Isle of Dread to then sneak into the site, use an unhalow spell to corrupt the graveyard (which actually just knocks out the hallow effect), and then creates the death knight.

James's Prefered Way: Vanthus is a half fiend. Burying his body in the Farshore cemetery rattles the locals, and they start shaking pitchforks and torches, saying "We don't want a demon buried in our graveyard!" So instead, his body is buried outside of the graveyard, elsewhere.

NOW: All of this is somewhat academic, since Demogorgon's got mad skillz when it comes to making death knights. The process of HOW he creates them is somewhat vague. Perhaps the process requires only the original person's soul; Demogorgon certainly has this, in the form of the larvae that Vanthus became when he died. In a way similar to how true resurrection doesn't require a body to bring someone back to life, Demogorgon might not need a body to turn a corrupt soul into a death knight. He can just magic a new one up using his powers. This is certainly the best route to take if Vanthus was killed in such a way that no body was left behind (via disintegration, for example). The open grave element is mostly there for atmosphere, in any case.


James Jacobs wrote:

HA! Interesting little error that crept in there! Wish I'd remembered that... in any event, here's how I would handle it.

The Simple Way: Demogorgon's power is enough to blast through the protection granted by the hallow effect. This is cheesy, but it's simple.

The Complex Way: Demogorgon attempts to raise Vanthus as a death knight and can't, since Vanthus's body is in a hallowed site. He commands a demon on the Isle of Dread to then sneak into the site, use an unhalow spell to corrupt the graveyard (which actually just knocks out the hallow effect), and then creates the death knight.

James's Prefered Way: Vanthus is a half fiend. Burying his body in the Farshore cemetery rattles the locals, and they start shaking pitchforks and torches, saying "We don't want a demon buried in our graveyard!" So instead, his body is buried outside of the graveyard, elsewhere.

NOW: All of this is somewhat academic, since Demogorgon's got mad skillz when it comes to making death knights. The process of HOW he creates them is somewhat vague. Perhaps the process requires only the original person's soul; Demogorgon certainly has this, in the form of the larvae that Vanthus became when he died. In a way similar to how true resurrection doesn't require a body to bring someone back to life, Demogorgon might not need a body to turn a corrupt soul into a death knight. He can just magic a new one up using his powers. This is certainly the best route to take if Vanthus was killed in such a way that no body was left behind (via disintegration, for example). The open grave element is mostly there for atmosphere, in any case.

I most humbly disagree with the Complex and Preferred strategies you list. Demogorgon is an epic level character, and as such isn't forced to play by the normal D&D rules. A spell cast by a mortal, while effective at stopping normal undead from getting up and shuffling around should hardly be a barrier for the Prince of Demons. If anything, I think Players would be more alarmed if they came back to the graveyard and discovered only a smoking crater. When they shout (and if they're like my players, they will) "But we cast the Hallow spell!?" and your reply as a DM is simply "I know. Judging by the smoldering grass, the reeking stench of rotted flesh and upon closer inspection the deep ruts clawed into the muddy earth by bony fingers, it seems that it was of no effect." would freak out players significantly more. If the DM takes the time to have Vanthus buried elsewhere, the PCs may suspect their foe will be making another appearance. Making it so that an epic level character has to rely on local minions or can be summarily defeated by a frankly minor protective spell is rather lame.

~ Bryon ~

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Perhaps, but it depends on your players. Some groups might enjoy having their hallow spell canceled out by a mysterious power from beyond the edge of the Material Plane... but others would just rebel and get cranky. If your group trusts you, go for it. If they're number crunchers who demand that everything works exactly by the rules as written, tread carefully. Or better yet, in that case, get a better group! :)

Of course, if no one in your party can cast hallow, no problem! No one else in Farshore can, after all...


I, too, like the first way. Demogorgon is not to be stopped by a little Hallow spell. Now, maybe one with a very high caster level (epic) would stop him but not one from the PC's level at this point. If they check to see if the Hallow is still in effect, I think there are three options, all cool in their own way:

1. The hallow is still exactly as they left it, but it seems as if whatever brought Vanthus back just ignored it.

2. The hallow is in effect everywhere BUT Vanthus' grave. Whatever brought Vanthus back got rid of the spell just for that area.

3. None of the cemetery is hallowed anymore, and possibly it all has become unhallowed! EVIL!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

cthulhu_waits wrote:
2. The hallow is in effect everywhere BUT Vanthus' grave. Whatever brought Vanthus back got rid of the spell just for that area.

That'd be my vote. But remember, don't pull this trick too often. If all of your PCs spells keep getting ignored or made useless arbitrarily, you'll have a lot of (rightfully) cranky players. Doing something like this once or twice in a campaign is okay, I suppose, when it's justified (and it is, in this case), but don't make a habit of it.


James Jacobs wrote:


That'd be my vote. But remember, don't pull this trick too often. If all of your PCs spells keep getting ignored or made useless arbitrarily, you'll have a lot of (rightfully) cranky players. Doing something like this once or twice in a campaign is okay, I suppose, when it's justified (and it is, in this case), but don't make a habit of it.

I completely agree. My players will probably think its wierd or even cheesy when they first hear about it, assuming they've hallowed the graveyard. But later on, when they find out it was "Big D" himself who turned Vanthus into a Death Knight they will understand why the hallow didn't work.

Actually, if I know my players they will be surprised to kill Vanthus at the midway point of the campaign and might suspect that he's gonna be brought back. They will probably burn the body and possibly bury the ashes in a hallowed out location. If they do that, I may add some flavor the description of Vanthus as a Death Knight to reflect his flame-broiled history.


Bryon_Kershaw wrote:
Demogorgon is an epic level character, and as such isn't forced to play by the normal D&D rules. A spell cast by a mortal, while effective at stopping normal undead from getting up and shuffling around should hardly be a barrier for the Prince of Demons.

I know my players would be upset if I made this argument to them- they'd want to circumvent the rules at epic levels, as well. The truth is that Hallow definitely isn't an effective barrier to Demogorgon... emphasis is on effective. James threw out a simple way around it when suggesting that big D would have a minion sneak in and cast the appropriate counter to the Hallow spell.

Personally, I plan on using the "Angry Villager" solution if it comes up. It gives some great personality to Farshore. And when my players smugly go about casting Hallow on the new spot they go to bury him (they're darn clever), I'll remind the party cleric that being buried in consecrated ground is supposed to be a boon for the faithful (bringing them closer to such and such god), and not something she should grace upon a half-fiend, parricidal SOB. If they do it anyway, then I revert to the "Minion Counterspell" tactic. I like the smoking hole visual, but I see the enemy being cunning enough to cover up the fact that they just stole Vanthus away for future use, rather than flaunting it.


I've finally decided, as my players are wrapping up City of Broken Idols (and heading into a subquest to give them a little more XP, and give the sorc time to complete his elemental phylactery) that heres what I will do with Vanthus (and the "hook" for Serpents of Scuttlecove):

The cleric who cast the hallow will feel (probably at some inconvienient time, like midcombat) a nagging sensation in her head. She'll get a wisdom check: below 10, nothing, 10-14, something just happened to one of her "good works", 15-19, a breif flash of the farshore graveyard, 20-24, a breif flash of V's grave (undisturbed), 25+ (unlikely) a flash of demogorgon, then of V's empty grave.

A decent roll will give the party motivation to get the heck back to Farshore, and if she rolls well, they will eventually return, then feel even worse because of the delay. Investigation of the cemetery will reveal a "bullet in window" effect. Unlike how a unhallow acts like a rock, shattering the whole "window" of the hallow, whatever happened here acted like a bullet, punching right through a specific spot with little "extra cracking". Which of course means it had the respective power of a bullet compared to a thrown rock.

As for Vanthus, since I did a bit of restatting him to challenge my PCs well, he's a nasty tempest/dervish. I'm thinking when the time comes to fight him, I can add the evolved undead template from Libris Mortis, and here's my "fluff" for why: when negative energy and demogorgon's powers started blasting out of the grave during his transformation, the hallow breifly held them back, rebounding them into Vanthus and granting him even more power, ironically.

I was also thinking the hallow might have actually physically affected the deathknight. (Especially because the cleric hallowed the graveyard TWICE.) Maybe as he crawled out, the second hallow tried it's best, and he had to claw on the barrier of it so hard he wore off his own hands. Think of a dervish/tempest deathknight who grafts bone scimitars onto the stumps of his hands! So creepy!


The Black Bard wrote:


As for Vanthus, since I did a bit of restatting him to challenge my PCs well, he's a nasty tempest/dervish. I'm thinking when the time comes to fight him, I can add the evolved undead template from Libris Mortis, and here's my "fluff" for why: when negative energy and demogorgon's powers started blasting out of the grave during his transformation, the hallow breifly held them back, rebounding them into Vanthus and granting him even more power, ironically.

I was also thinking the hallow might have actually physically affected the deathknight. (Especially because the cleric hallowed the graveyard TWICE.) Maybe as he crawled out, the second hallow tried it's best, and he had to claw on the barrier of it so hard he wore off his own hands. Think of a dervish/tempest deathknight who grafts bone scimitars onto the stumps...

Would you mind posting your version of Vanthus once he's finished? I was thinking about doing something similar in my campaign but we just finished up "There Is No Honor" so it's a little ways off for me yet. My group generally has characters who are real good at what they do and work fairly well as a team so they can be tough to challenge at times. Sounds like your group is similar. You'll have to post how they fair against Vanthus once you run the encounter with him.

Good luck!


Sure, gimme a minute to "convert" him from my DM Chicken-Scratch to actual statblock format. He's the same CR, technically. By that I mean he has the same point buy (redistributed), same levels (reallocated, along with feats and skill points), same gear (some weapon plusses swapped for ease of play, you'll see what I mean) and same template (not messed with at all).

But he's a brute. He nearly TPKd my party, and my party is REALLY strong. Lets put it this way: he won't miss, which means he can generally hit everyone in the party at least once per round, unless they spread out a lot. His damage is decent, but with his high accuracy, it adds up to scary fast if he concentrates on one character. His AC is excellent, especially if he wins initiative and combat expertises.

Granted, this is the Tides of Dread Vanthus. The deathknight vanthus will probably be even worse.

Anyhow, I'll try to get that posted soon. I'll make a thread called "Black Bard's Variant Vanthus (ToD)" when I do.


Vanthus should be someone the party won't forget once they fight him. I want the characters to win the battle. What I don't want is for them to leave the table afterwards with clean undergarments!

Sounds like your version of Vanthus will fit the bill. Thanks for sharing.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

<necrothreadery>Resurrect Thread</necrothreadery>

We've finally made it this far!

Now, when Lavinia said she wanted to bury Vanthus my players immediately screamed,

"NOOOOO!!! He'll definitely come back, he's done it before and he'll do it again."

Their proposal is anything along the lines of 'dismember him, bless the pieces and drop each into a different volcano'. If Lavinia won't go for that, then at least cremation, followed by Disintegrate, a Bless on the ashes, then scattering them in Hallowed ground.

Now, the whole graveyard being ravaged is the coolest but possibly the cheesiest/ most railroady to my paranoid players! Nothing the Big D can't handle, but I'm wary of bringing back V this way. I'm leaning towards Big D just using the larva to make his Death Knight, so when they protest I can say that his body has definitely been safely disposed of. Any other ideas since 2007? I can't think of any other worthy candidates for Death Knighthood, so it will have to be V.

PS: Anyone want my CR14 very buff Vanthus the Fighter/Knight of Vengeance? He kicked butt in my game :-)


carborundum wrote:

<necrothreadery>Resurrect Thread</necrothreadery>

We've finally made it this far!

Now, when Lavinia said she wanted to bury Vanthus my players immediately screamed,

"NOOOOO!!! He'll definitely come back, he's done it before and he'll do it again."

Their proposal is anything along the lines of 'dismember him, bless the pieces and drop each into a different volcano'. If Lavinia won't go for that, then at least cremation, followed by Disintegrate, a Bless on the ashes, then scattering them in Hallowed ground.

Now, the whole graveyard being ravaged is the coolest but possibly the cheesiest/ most railroady to my paranoid players! Nothing the Big D can't handle, but I'm wary of bringing back V this way. I'm leaning towards Big D just using the larva to make his Death Knight, so when they protest I can say that his body has definitely been safely disposed of. Any other ideas since 2007? I can't think of any other worthy candidates for Death Knighthood, so it will have to be V.

PS: Anyone want my CR14 very buff Vanthus the Fighter/Knight of Vengeance? He kicked butt in my game :-)

Go ahead and post it here Carbo, there's always likely to be someone interested, even if it is a Zombie thread (or is it a ghast?)

I know I will read it. ;)


carborundum wrote:

<necrothreadery>Resurrect Thread</necrothreadery>

We've finally made it this far!

Now, when Lavinia said she wanted to bury Vanthus my players immediately screamed,

"NOOOOO!!! He'll definitely come back, he's done it before and he'll do it again."

Their proposal is anything along the lines of 'dismember him, bless the pieces and drop each into a different volcano'. If Lavinia won't go for that, then at least cremation, followed by Disintegrate, a Bless on the ashes, then scattering them in Hallowed ground.

Now, the whole graveyard being ravaged is the coolest but possibly the cheesiest/ most railroady to my paranoid players! Nothing the Big D can't handle, but I'm wary of bringing back V this way. I'm leaning towards Big D just using the larva to make his Death Knight, so when they protest I can say that his body has definitely been safely disposed of. Any other ideas since 2007? I can't think of any other worthy candidates for Death Knighthood, so it will have to be V.

PS: Anyone want my CR14 very buff Vanthus the Fighter/Knight of Vengeance? He kicked butt in my game :-)

My players did exactly the same! Cremate, disintegrate, then scatter the ashes in seven widely spaced locations all over the Isle (no Blessing or Hallowing though)

We're still not up to the point where he comes back, but I've really got to decide what to do. I was considering restatting him as a variant undead rather than a death knight a) to reflect the state of his body, I've got a precedent with this via another death knight in the campaign, and b) because Death Knight Vanthus, as has been repeatedly stated, is a big wuss.

I'll probably go with a regular Death Knight (because Death Knights are what Demogorgon *does*), arbitrarily drop his CR by a couple of points (call it the multi-template discount...), give him Unholy Toughness or whatever it's called to boost his HP, and then mess with his class mix/spell like abilities to reflect the fact that he was burnt and disintegrated. Maybe some ash, dust, or fire-related abilities might add some extra flavour as well as punch to him...

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

LOL - bring him back as Metamorpho!


Do not forget that Vanthus has received a wish from Ghorvash to live forever. This gives you plenty of leeway to do whatever with Vanthus, as wish is much more powerful than hallow or other magic the PCs may have used.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

I forgot!

Awww.... in that case they can do whatever they like, and when he reappears I'll just shrug and say I don't know how it happened either.

Sometimes the story takes over... :)


On the other hand, if you don't like the idea of circumventing the hallow effect, you could always use someone else as the death knight.

I expanded Rowyn a bit and she was a thorn in the group's side. Demogorgon casts speak with dead, finds out she'd love another crack at them and wham-o! she's a death knight (use whatever stats are appropriate).

I used Slipknot Peet in TiNH, so he recurred in my campaign; he wouldn't be a bad choice either.

Or maybe Demogorgon death knights his own aspect after he takes notice of the group in CoBI.

There are plenty of corpses the group has left behind, someone else could just as easily be him; put Vanthus down for good and leave him there . . . if you think the players will get their knickers in a bunch over it. It just isn't worth it.

SIDE NOTE: My campaign just finished ToD, but the players never explicitly said what they were doing with Vanthus' body. I'm pretty sure that if I ask, they'll turn him over to a Zombie Master so Vanthus can be the benefit to society in his undeath that he never was in his life.


What I'm starting to think about doing is have some Demogorgon cultist sneak into Farshore under orders from the Big D in order to recover Vanthus's body for Death Knight-ifying. Though in the case of my campaign that might require a dustpan and brush (or possibly some sort of 'recover mortal remains' spell) But there's nothing about a Hallow that is ever going to stop a cultist sneaking into a graveyard with a spade and a big sack, and scurrying off back to a handy temple of Demogorgon with a bagful of Vanthus over their shoulder.

The time required to make this happen is actually something of a plus as well - gives us a bit more time for downtime and subplot activities. Cos otherwise Serpents of Scuttlecove is triggered pretty much straight after City of Broken Idols, and then it's full steam ahead until Into the Maw, with not much time for other stuff.


The biggest problem with that plan is the third effect of a hallow spell, which is, as usually for 3.5, maddeningly vague.

"Third, any dead body interred in a hallowed site cannot be turned into an undead creature. "

Does this mean a body removed from a hallowed site can be? Hard to say, I would have worded it differently in that case, like "Any dead body within a hallowed area cannot be turned into an undead creature. Bodies removed from hallowed areas can be made into undead normally."

You see part of the dillemma.


I would agree that if removed it no longer has the benefits of such.

But then, I would also rule that such things can be overcome with powerful enough magic. I really like the "bullet in the window" analogy myself. My party lacks a cleric, but between former PCs retired in Farshore after SWW and extra recruiting of NPCs done by one of the party members Farshore has a few extra resources compared to the original floor plan, so I'll need to check the NPCs' spell lists and see if they have that option available. If not, the players may not even think of it, but if they do they'll have to head back to Sasserine (somehow; they don't have Teleport either, unless the Sorc takes it at level 8) and buy a scroll and hope the Bard doesn't fumble his UMD.


Orthos wrote:

I would agree that if removed it no longer has the benefits of such.

But then, I would also rule that such things can be overcome with powerful enough magic. I really like the "bullet in the window" analogy myself. My party lacks a cleric, but between former PCs retired in Farshore after SWW and extra recruiting of NPCs done by one of the party members Farshore has a few extra resources compared to the original floor plan, so I'll need to check the NPCs' spell lists and see if they have that option available. If not, the players may not even think of it, but if they do they'll have to head back to Sasserine (somehow; they don't have Teleport either, unless the Sorc takes it at level 8) and buy a scroll and hope the Bard doesn't fumble his UMD.

You can work around the Teleport problem by adding a new magic item that Lavinia (or someone that better fits your campaign) possesses that can Teleport Object a certain volume and weight of material. This "Fed Ex" item can be used by it's owner to transfer coins and loot, magic items and other material to sell in Sasserine via a trusted ally and purchases can be requested and made, then sent back the next day via the same device. For my STAP, if I have to use this, it will be a small enough volume so as not to outshine the need for actual trade routes and ships.

I read about such a magic item in an issue of Dragon, but I don't recall which issue.

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