Spires of Xin-Shalast (GM Reference)

Rise of the Runelords

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Is it possible to cast instantaneous spells (like Fireball) during round 1 of a 4 round Time Stop effect?

Shadow Lodge

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No, but it is possible to cast Delayed Blast Fireball set to go off in X rounds. So unless you guess exactly how long the spell will last, either the fireballs go off harmlessly during the Time Stop, or the targets get maybe a round to run away.

"Askar Avari wrote:
Lamia coolness

Awesome stuff! Did you Stat the Lamias? I'd love to shamelessly steal your work for my campaign even if I'll be at book six much later.


Also @Askar Avari...
I was just thinking if I use your version of Ceoptra, I may have Lamashtu send a proxy of sorts to punish her. I was thinking of the end boss from Mike Shel's Tomb of the Iron Medusa (maybe with an added level or two of cleric for a powerful group).

This could give the PCs a high level ally or enemy while at the same time adding a another sub plot. Along with my SotS changes (a certain Blue thing showing up), it's one last bit of chaos in the form of a power struggle to add to the city just before Karzoug is awakened.

Assuming the party of PCs I'm DM'ing wins out over Karzoug, what happens next? The adventure path isn't really clear on the subject.

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Well, Return of the runelords kinda assume that Karzoug has died in Rise ... (and it's part of the plot).

Dark Archive

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Shattered Star is the next in the series, 2nd AP of the Trilogy.
Rise of the Runelords -> Shattered Star -> Return of the Runelords

Honestly, you don't need to run Shattered Star next. It's not as good of an AP as RotRL and has a lot of save-or-suck monsters and things in the module that bypass players' abilities just for the heck of it. Just assume it happened and start the players with new characters in Return of the Runelords.

The biggest problem with Shattered Star, to my mind, is why the Runelords, who really didn't want Xin to be reborn, didn't hide their shards in their Runewells. Leaving them in lesser locations to be easily stolen was, to put it politely, not what I would expect from people with Intelligence scores in the 30s.

Most of the NPCs are not at all connected with the 'plot' of the AP other than that they exist in it. And the disjointed nature of a variety of mini-dungeons is not nearly as fun as one mega-dungeon would have been.

The AP does have a few neat bits, like the Doomsday Door, but even that would have been a more interesting adventure or short AP on its own, not just thrown in as part of this AP, leaving the DD plot to feel rushed and unfulfilling. It's a jarring shift in focus from the rest of the AP and the shard found there almost an afterthought.

I haven't played or run the AP so I can't say what it's like in practice, but Tangent's problems are in general more in the 'feature not bug' category for me.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
I haven't played or run the AP so I can't say what it's like in practice, but Tangent's problems are in general more in the 'feature not bug' category for me.

I'm running it now and my group is really enjoying it. Beyond the Doomsday Door is taking forever, so it's definitely not felt like a jarring shift.

As for where they were hidden—it seems some have moved around a lot over 10,000 years, and I'd imagine at least some of the runelords were studying the shards for a way to exploit their power. My players haven't had a problem with where the shards have been found.

Grand Lodge

Zane Smith wrote:


Assuming the party of PCs I'm DM'ing wins out over Karzoug, what happens next? The adventure path isn't really clear on the subject.

Beyond the recommendations that the book provides, there's a few things that CAN happen (but canonically don't) and a few things that do happen (unless your table does something to thwart it).

Things that do happen:
1. After returning to civilization, the party's discovery is conveyed to Brodert Quink and the Pathfinder Society of Magnimar.

2. A year or less later, Runelord Sorshen awakens beneath Korvosa, and begins to watch matters of the world without interference.

3. Interested in the discovery of Xin-Shalast, the city-states of Varisia organize expeditions to establish footholds in the city. However, they first must contend with the barrier of Leng, which takes some time. After a few months or years, they solve this primarily through 2 methods; a) elixirs that induce a 'mad' state which allows one to cross over into Xin-Shalast, and b) taking people from asylums and using them as guides to follow the phantom river of Avah. Brodert Quink is a member of one of these expeditions, and during his time in Xin-Shalast, he writes a book about Xin-Shalast, which spurs on greater interest in Thassilonian history throughout Varisia.

4. After hearing the party's encounter with Karzoug, every Varisian government either fails to acknowledge that this ever happened, or states that they're unconcerned about any other Runelords rising. Following their inaction, Sheila Heidmarch of the Pathfinder's Lodge in Magnimar decides to take matters into her own hands, and spends a great deal of money searching for the legendary shards of the Sihedron, hoping to use the reforged artifact to face any more resurrected Thassilonian threats.

5. Sheila Heidmarch assembles a team of newbie Pathfinders to collect the shards. After their tremendous success, the lost city of Xin rises from the sea, and the revived King Xin is slain.

6. Using the now-reforged Sihedron, members of the Pathfinder Society prevent a new cult of Lissala (commanded in part by her old herald) from unleashing Runelord Krune.

7. At this point, Varisia, and the Pathfinder Society especially, are incredibly aware that Thassilon is no long-forgotten threat, and scholars from many parts of the world come together to understand Thassilon's history better. Many of them flock to the Therassic Library underneath Jorgenfist, hoping to preserve and translate the many thousands of texts within.

8. Knowledge of Thassilon hits the mainstream, and cults dedicated to Thassilonian deities begin to spring up throughout Varisia - especially to the Peacock Spirit. The library was part of its order, after all!

9. Recognizing the need to be even more prepared for Thassilonian threats, Sheila Heidmarch, as well as members from both the Rise of the Runelords crew as well as powerful Pathfinders form the Sihedron Society, which exists to protect and use the Sihedron, as well as more thoroughly explore the ancient cities of Thassilon.

10. Pursuant to these goals, members of the Pathfinder Society and (I believe) the Aspis Consortium explore Hollow Mountain, the remnants of Xin-Bakrakhan. Their work there fills the prime runewell of wrath, returning Runelord Alaznist to the world without notice.

11. Runelord Sorshen is contacted by a newly-deific Nocticula, who urges her along on a path of redemption.

Stuff that CAN happen:
1. Goodly heroes rise up to protect Sandpoint in the absence of the Sandpoint Heroes (who move on protect the world from greater threats). In order to protect the town, they are coerced into releasing Uvaglor, the Misbegotten Prince, son of Pazuzu and Lamashtu. Somehow??? He is defeated.

2. A taiga giant lich assembles 2 of the 3 pieces of Runelord Zutha's phylactery. His army of giants and orcish Lissala cultists are ultimately defeated by... someone. Or these pieces are stolen and, I believe, retrieved by the Pathfinder Society.

Hope that helps! If you're just looking for a 'next step' for your party, I might recommend traveling to Leng to destroy the Leng Device, facing off against the taiga giant lich (found in Book 6 of Shattered Star), making peace amidst the anarchy that surely breaks out with Karzoug's defeat, or handling the curses of a deeply pissed-off Lamashtu.

Grand Lodge

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Here's a letter I wrote on behalf of Mesmina, addressed to the PCs (but not quite right - she addressed the specific PCs that started the campaign, not the ones who are finishing it). I drafted it specifically to give the players a hint about what happens if they simply wait for Karzoug to return or, more specifically, fail to slay the Denizens of Leng.

To Masters Lioneye, Meridia, Hin, Marcellus, Yllemsa, and Rodripal:
If this letter has made it to your hands, then I am confident that my prophecy has come to pass. The yoke of the Hidden Beast has been lifted, and the scourge of vampirism may yet be purged from Xin-Shalast. For that, I must thank and congratulate you.

However, I must confess that my prophecy was something of a fabrication. I needed to reach you at all costs, for it was not a return to slavery that I most feared for my descendents, and it was not as liberators that I saw you in my dreams, but as assassins. Bearing violet weapons of the Runeforge, you came to strike down Runelord Karzoug, and to claim the power of the Runelord for a new age.

But in the moment of your triumph, you and Karzoug alike were slain. The great Mhar Massif was laid low, and Xin-Shalast was engulfed in fire and lava once again. I saw the world consumed by a second darkness, and creatures from my blackest nightmares ravaging the land. I know not why this came to pass, but I know it came on the day of Karzoug’s return, on the day of your fateful battle. I cannot believe this is a coincidence.

On behalf of my descendants, as well as all those in the lands below, I beg of you: find the source of this calamity before Karzoug’s return. Five of my disciples have agreed to aid you in this endeavor through the scrolls you should find alongside this letter, and I entrust to you my staff, to seek Lissala’s wisdom. I pray that it will be enough.

May the path of runes guide your way.


My specific flavor for the scrolls Morgiv hands over is that they are the tatto'd flesh of disciples who essentially donated their skin to the project before their deaths. I also gave the party a non-functional staff of revelations to provide confirmation of Lissala's death. Both of these details could be changed for your specific party, of course. Feel free to use any of this if it suits you.

Grand Lodge

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Apologies for the triple-post. If anyone would like access the Advanced Bonus Progression stat blocks I created for Book 6 Part 4, you can find them here.

It includes some original characters and redesigns (such as a Dwiergeth Hidden Beast), but most people should be able to get use out of stat blocks like Vampire Skulk Unchained Rogues and beefier Abominable Snowmen. The Priestess of Divine Consumption, Krak Naratha Soldier, and Cloud Giant Bard stat blocks are also useful for random encounters. :)

Thanks Askar Avari :)

How does the ramp that leads up into the Pinnacle of Avarice work? The ground floor is "a huge circular room" with "a 200-foot-diameter polished stone circle on the floor surrounded by 16 immense pillars that rise up...to support a central column that itself extends all the way up to Karzoug’s personal chambers more than 2,000 feet above. A spiraling ramp wraps around the outer circumference of the lower 16 pillars up to the central column, continuing up its length". But on the 'Pinnacle of Avarice' map showing the chambers at the top, the ramp is only 120 feet across in total, made up of a 40-foot-wide ramp spiraling around a 40-foot-diameter central shaft.

Furthermore, the 'Pinnacle of Avarice' map appears to have 16 pillars around the outer circumference, but this is 460 feet in diameter. To further confuse matters, on the overland 'Spires of Xin-Shalast' map, the Pinnacle of Avarice is shown as being 600 feet in diameter.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It's described as the central column, not the entire structure. I ignored the environs map, as it's clearly out of scale. I also decided the 200 ft diameter on the floor is a typo—it says it's all that's left behind after the runewell was plane-shifted—so I assumed it's runewell-sized.

So you think the 16 pillars are around a 40-foot circle, and the column is 40 feet across, too? The description of the circle as 200 feet across comes from the first edition of RotR, where the whole of the Eye of Avarice was 200 feet across.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

My players didn't take notice, so I haven't given it a ton of thought beyond your question. But if it matters, I'd assume there's a central column where the spiral stairs run up the center, and the wider column or walls of the Pinnacle. Essentially, that there is some amount of space between the central column and the circle of 16 pillars. You could also assume that the column is the full width of the Pinnacle and that the Eye roughly fit in the bottom prior to plane shift. But I was assuming that the only thing that started here was the runewell, since that's the only thing that ends up here when the PCs win.

But we didn't detail this place out in my game or have any encounters there—I described it and they went up the stairs and that was it.

The Eye of Avarice is an entirely different issue. You'll see discussions in this thread about how big it is and the scale of the map. While it says it's 5' scale, I was bothered by how that didn't align with the description of the runewell and it made all the stairs oddly steep after I plotted out the elevation. So I treated the Eye as a 10' scale when I built a model for the finale of my game.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

After 7.5 years, I'll be running our party's final battle with Karzoug the day after tomorrow - I'm taking the day off of work so that we can start around noon and go late if needed. They're going in with 4 PCs (all 18th level) and a GM PC Big Dumb Fighter, Viorian Dekanti (separated from Chellian, cured of her insanity, and desperate for revenge), Sarenrae's chief servitor Sunlord Thalachos, and the sole survivor of the original eight Sisters of Wrath who pledged their loyalty to the party rogue who killed the Highlady of Wrath in Runeforge (now a cohort, level 15). My 4 players are running the GMPC and the NPC allies along with their own characters for the final fight.

I am making several changes to K's prepared spells and tactics based on his knowledge of the party's usual tactics, including several castings of teleport trap to protect his throne area and the runewell/soul lens platform, sending anyone who tries to teleport out of or into that area back to the arrival platform. Any other last minute advice?

Just lean into the idea that he's been watching them for months, knows each PC's "go to" tactic, and has prepared his defenses accordingly. If the PCs are one-trick ponies, he'll be ready for their tricks.

Without knowing the power and tactics of the PCs++ I can't give much specific advice. In general, I ran all the Runelords with significantly more spells of their chosen School than the official write-ups had.
Perhaps my game has some useful ideas.

The short version was that he honey-combed the walls of the Eye with Tiny-sized tunnels, hid in the Runewell with a custom spell and used a 2e spell called Sandform to inhabit a pile of sand and slither around the map, preventing people from finding him easily and peppered the PCs from miniscule holes while being functionally invisible to the intruders..

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Thanks, @GM Jhaeman and @Bjørn Røyrvik.

Trying to figure out what happens if the wizard casts Maze on K, or hits him with the Plane Shift color from Prismatic Spray? Karzoug can’t leave the Eye voluntarily, but could he be made to leave?

Dark Archive

If it were me, if K fails his save against a planar effect (highly unlikely with his saves), I'd let the effect happen for a round. At the start of the next round, probably timed to the start of the player's turn that used the effect, K pops back automatically because of the pull from the Eye. Explain it as such. The PCs Spellcraft should be high enough to understand what happens from the effect. It gives the players a bit of satisfaction that a powerful spell worked, albeit temporarily.

The less fun but more in-line with existing rules option would be that anything that tries to shunt Karzoug to another plane fails. Think of it like K having a personalized Dimensional Lock in his Eye.*

I wouldn't have him shunted out and pulled back, but I might, if I was feeling very kind, have him dazed or even stunned a round as the conflicting energies were at play. More likely he'd grimace and say something like 'pitiful mortals, don't you think I've already tried better stuff than that to get out of here?"

*I'm AFB and it's been a little while since I read the book, so I may be wrong.

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