Spires of Xin-Shalast (GM Reference)


Rise of the Runelords

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hopefully others can use this thread to clarify questions arising in this adventure. If you happen to see another thread, please link post a link in this one to try and keep things tied together.

Chapter 1: Burnt Offerings
Chapter 2: The Skinsaw Murders
Chapter 3: The Hook Mountain Massacre
Chapter 4: Fortress of the Stone Giants
Chapter 5: Sins of the Saviors
Chapter 6: Spires of Xin-Shalast


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In the next week or so, we're expecting to ship the next volume of your subscription.

As always, if you find something that should be here, link away!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

For those interested, I've also created a "GM Reference" set of threads in the Curse of the Crimson Throne boards.

Enjoy


Its mentioned in PF #6 that Karzoug's awakening is just the beginning of all of the Runelords coming back. Will Paizo be using the other Runelords in future adventures or paths? Or is that just thrown in there for the GMs to run with?

Sovereign Court

blackotter wrote:
Its mentioned in PF #6 that Karzoug's awakening is just the beginning of all of the Runelords coming back. Will Paizo be using the other Runelords in future adventures or paths? Or is that just thrown in there for the GMs to run with?

I don't think paizo would make more runelords adventure paths, but I sure will. That is, if I am not running another Pathfinder adventure path, which I will probably will be doing because THEY'RE SO GOOD.

Liberty's Edge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mr. Slaad wrote:
I don't think paizo would make more runelords adventure paths

I've hastily read the 2nd AP preview section in the Spires of Xin-Shalast PDF, and it contained some plot about

Spoiler:
Queen Ileosa and Runelord of Lust.
It isn't exactly a Runelord's AP, but

it demonstrates how the Paizo guys are smartly using the world they've created so the PCs can actually save the world in a different way every time and meanwhile be diving in Golarion's history without repeating the same plot structure every time...
Well, we'll see when the 4th AP comes out, but I really trust them.

-Aritz

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

The Denizens of Leng have too-low saving throw bonuses. I suspect that the bonus listed is just from their ability scores and not including their bonus from Outsider HD, but in this case, they're still inaccurate. They should be Fort +13, Ref +13, Will +10.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Q & A: What's with Rune Giants' size and space/reach

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

This is really a general rules question, but how often can an intelligent weapon use it's dedicated power?

This is relevant because Karzoug's Glaive likes to fireball things and I can't find the limits on how often and how many times it can do so.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Ross Byers wrote:

This is really a general rules question, but how often can an intelligent weapon use it's dedicated power?

This is relevant because Karzoug's Glaive likes to fireball things and I can't find the limits on how often and how many times it can do so.

The glaive can use fireball at will as long as its using the fireball to fulfill its special purpose.


Karzoug Question:

Spoiler:
Can anyone clarify where Karzoug's Hit Points come from? I've done the math and there are a hundred or so more HP than I can account for from HD & Con Bonus alone - help!

Cheers,
C.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Cernunos wrote:

Karzoug Question:

Spoiler:
Can anyone clarify where Karzoug's Hit Points come from?

Cheers,
C.

Spoiler:
They probably come from Karzoug's 12 Emerald Ellipsoid ioun stones, which each grant him +5 bonus hit points. They all stack with each other.

(see page 63)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Tamago is right.


Oops, didn't read the sidebar.

Thanks!
C.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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For those interested about those hit points...

Spoiler:
As a one-man bad guy, it doesn't matter if Karzoug's a 20th level wizard. He'll get pasted by a large group fast, simply because a 20th-level wizard doesn't have the hit points to last against so many foes unless he gets really lucky on his area affect stuff. To help make him a better one-man foe, he's got a lot more gear than he should (to help his defenses like saves and AC), and I invented the new kind of ioun stone to boost his hit points. It's a better solution than I came up for with Iggwilv (I accidentally gave her d8s for Hit Dice... and when I noticed it was too late to change and even if it was, I probably wouldn't have fixed it because hey! She's Iggwilv!).

Liberty's Edge

Here's a question about Altitude Affinity feat. The listed prereqs are Con 19 and Endurance, but none of the creatures or NPC's having Altitude Affinity in the adventure have the Endurance feat. I take it including Endurance as a prereq is a typo?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Wasteland Knight wrote:
Here's a question about Altitude Affinity feat. The listed prereqs are Con 19 and Endurance, but none of the creatures or NPC's having Altitude Affinity in the adventure have the Endurance feat. I take it including Endurance as a prereq is a typo?

That's an error, unfortunately, and not an easy one to fix, since Altitude Affinity SHOULD have Endurance as a prerequisite. The simple fix is, of course, to delete Endurance as a prerequisite, though. Had we the time and resources, I would have gone through the adventure to make sure that all the NPCs in the adventure who HAVE the feat properly qualified for it... but we didn't have that kind of time.

So the easiest solution is to just knock Endurance off and have the only requirement for the feat be Con 19. Even that's pretty high, in my opinion.

Frog God Games

Let me just add that the Altitude Affinity feat can be a bonus feat for the creature even if it does not have the necessary prerequisites. Such is the case with the crag spider that receives no feats due to its non-intelligent vermin status (and therefore cannot have Endurance--unless it too is a bonus feat), yet receives Altitude Affinity simply as a natural trait for its species.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

We played out the Haunts sequence from Spires last night and were left with a number of comments and questions:

(1) GMs should be aware that the cabin map has curtains that look a lot like walls, and that a tense haunted-house scene is the wrong time to be saying "Oops, those rooms are connected after all"--check the map carefully first. The ramp down below and the non-connection of the two lower areas are also potential trip-ups.

(2) The haunt with Mass Suggestion is labeled as "obvious" but its description has it using its Suggestion as soon as the PCs see it. This conflicts with it moving on 10 in a surprise round. I'd suggest either letting it go first, or showing it eating gold and having it speak its dialog only on impulse 10.

(3) We had a ton of trouble with haunts for high-level PCs. The PCs felt they should be able to interact with them, given their wide range of magical abilities, but the rules are silent on most possible interactions. What does True Seeing see? Does Break Enchantment work on the animated chain? (If not, does Dispel Magic?) Does Consecrate have a useful effect? How about Magic Circle Versus Evil? If the PC has Rebuke rather than Turn, what is the effect of a success? An overwhelming (control) success? If a PC goes etherial, what happens?

(4) During the extended haunt sequence, does leaving the cabin prevent the Balance checks? Does it prevent ghostly possession? Does it overcome existing possession? If not, what can overcome this possession?--Break Enchantment? Magic Circle? Mind Blank? Is there any way other PCs can affect the possessing spirit at all? (My player found this extremely frustrating and felt it was a cheat--a fiat decision that his PCs could do nothing, whereas with "real" ghosts they would have had many options.)

I'm thinking that Haunts are a good mechanic for low-level characters, but not necessarily for high-level ones, unless a lot more of the mechanics can be fleshed out.

(5) At what altitude is the cabin?

Mary


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Having a lot of trouble with this module.

The "Giants in Xin-Shalast" sidebar says that every giant in the city is dominated by, and mind-linked to, a Rune Giant. But the giant rebels are supposedly loyal to their leader--how? And he is claimed to be safe from the Rune Giants because he's not a giant--but he *is* a giant. (Or does their power only work on things with "giant" in the name?)

He also tries to get the PCs to assassinate lamia leaders in order to take their rings--which they don't have. (We are given the location of every ring in the lower city, and the lamias have none. Doesn't make sense, admittedly, but it's true. I think a lamia encounter may have been lost in editing here.)

The Hidden Beast is a Large in the text and a Huge on the map. And its "guards up above" are undescribed--I guess the GM is supposed to improvise them? My PCs insisted that once they'd killed it, they needed to take out those guards.

The Golden Road is described as running all the way to the Spires, but on the Spires map it's missing, and the road from the Harridan's tower to the main tower is described as the only way up from the city. (That road is clearly not the Golden Road, as it winds.)

The detail map of the area around Xin-Shalast and the text description of this area are really dissimilar. (The dotted line is supposed to be the dead river, but then what's that river-looking thing?)

The text about the Lower City says that the PCs can learn things to help them defeat Karzoug. I wish they'd let the GM in on some of that information. I can't find any, other than that they can test-fight some of the monster types they'll meet above.

What happens to the Champion if her sword is sundered, taken from her, or put into an anti-magic shell? Is there a person there that can be reached? For that matter, what are the stats for Chellan's mind-control, in case a PC picks it up? It doesn't look like the RAW behavior of an intelligent weapon--it's a lot stronger than that.

I'm afraid this plays more like an outline of an adventure than an actual adventure. The problem, I suspect, is the oversized encounter blocks necessary for creatures of these levels--things like the Hidden Beast and its followers take up way more room than their importance to the adventure really justifies, and then something else has to be removed to make space.

Mary

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

Mary Yamato wrote:

Having a lot of trouble with this module.

The "Giants in Xin-Shalast" sidebar says that every giant in the city is dominated by, and mind-linked to, a Rune Giant. But the giant rebels are supposedly loyal to their leader--how? And he is claimed to be safe from the Rune Giants because he's not a giant--but he *is* a giant. (Or does their power only work on things with "giant" in the name?)

He also tries to get the PCs to assassinate lamia leaders in order to take their rings--which they don't have. (We are given the location of every ring in the lower city, and the lamias have none. Doesn't make sense, admittedly, but it's true. I think a lamia encounter may have been lost in editing here.)

The Hidden Beast is a Large in the text and a Huge on the map. And its "guards up above" are undescribed--I guess the GM is supposed to improvise them? My PCs insisted that once they'd killed it, they needed to take out those guards.

The text about the Lower City says that the PCs can learn things to help them defeat Karzoug. I wish they'd let the GM in on some of that information. I can't find any, other than that they can test-fight some of the monster types they'll meet above.

I didn't see any reference to the Hidden Beast having any "guards above", just "lax security", which could very well be implied to mean the former. I'd assume it would be more vampire skulks, if anything.

The Giants of Xin-Shalast sidebar doesn't really jive with the info we're given about the encampment, and doesn't make all that much sense, regardless. There's a very finite amount of rune giants, and with dominate monster 3/day, they probably haven't had enough time to dominate every single giant, especially in that huge encampment. Mass charm, however, makes sense to do for the mass of giants, saving the domination for their leaders. So the ogre mage is now technically trying to convince the giants to betray a trusted friend - a difficult task, but not an impossible one.

I believe that the info the PCs can use to defeat Karzoug is primarily the importance of the Sihedron rings. I, however, am going to add more allies for the PCs, in the form of ruin chanters (from MMV). These mysterious fey have moved into Xin-Shalast in the past 10,000 years, and view its state of partial decay and emptiness as a natural and just one. If the PCs befriend them, they'll inform the PCs as to the capacities and resources of the Pinnacle of Avarice, as well as telling them what allies Karzoug's been courting and who has a Sihedron ring. As for the lamia + Sihedron problem, make sure the lamia harradrins that your party encounters are emissaries from Ceoptera in the Pinnacle, so they'd be equipped with Sihedron rings to protect them from the occlusion field.

A few problems that I noticed:

1) The kuchrima lamyros has a BAB of 11, but only has one attack listed for their manufactured weapon. This is a mistake, and should be rectified with iterative attacks.

2) In the "Xin-Shalast at its Height" sidebar, Khalid, the apprentice of Karzoug, is listed as a cloud giant transmuter 14, as opposed to the human transmuter 16 that appears in the finished product. Presumably, the stat block was changed for length and CR reasons, and this is a mistake. I, however, like to think that Karzoug, in his pride, named all of his chief apprentices Khalid because he liked the name.


Here's a quick question for Mr. Vaughan:
Does the upper level of the Dwarves cabin exit onto the ledge of a cliff which continues up the side of a mountain (effectively isolating access to the cabin to the lower entrance unless one is keen on climbing or flying up to the ledge); OR, does it let out onto a plateau that may be accessed from other mountain habitats?

The description is vague on this point but I assume the dwarves put the cabin up on a ledge for defensive reasons. It makes sense "to me" that the upper cabin is on an isolated ledge. Otherwise it could be accessed more easily by PC's (and lord only knows what else) from across the plateau (the long way around so to speak).

Anyway, I was just wondering what the concept was here to see if I've interpreted things as intended.

Cheers,
C.

Frog God Games

Thanks for the comments and questions, all.

Some of the issues have arisen during the editorial process of transforming from my original manuscript to its final published form. As such, some of the questions arise from things from the mind of James Jacobs rather than my own, and I don't necessarily know what he was getting at. So on those I'll just comment that James will need to answer them in order to do them justice.

Other than that I'll do my best. :-)

I'll break it up over a few posts so none of them are so big.

Frog God Games

Mary Yamato wrote:
We played out the Haunts sequence from Spires last night and were left with a number of comments and questions:

Okay, Mary. Here goes...

Mary Yamato wrote:
(1) GMs should be aware that the cabin map has curtains that look a lot like walls, and that a tense haunted-house scene is the wrong time to be saying "Oops, those rooms are connected after all"--check the map carefully first. The ramp down below and the non-connection of the two lower areas are also potential trip-ups.

I concur. Normally curtains are more of a wavy line on maps I've seen. These are pretty subtle. Plus I drew the map as a full page and it has been scrunched down to a quarter page, so you must indeed look closely before proceeding.

Mary Yamato wrote:
(2) The haunt with Mass Suggestion is labeled as "obvious" but its description has it using its Suggestion as soon as the PCs see it. This conflicts with it moving on 10 in a surprise round. I'd suggest either letting it go first, or showing it eating gold and having it speak its dialog only on impulse 10.

This is probably a good idea. When I wrote the adventure it was with actual ghosts (i.e. big stat blocks). This was before The Skinsaw Murders had been published and James had introduced his mechanics for hauntings, so the switch was made after the fact. So I am not intimately familiar with exactly how the inner workings of hauntings should work as demonstrated by your next question.

Mary Yamato wrote:
(3) We had a ton of trouble with haunts for high-level PCs. The PCs felt they should be able to interact with them, given their wide range of magical abilities, but the rules are silent on most possible interactions. What does True Seeing see? Does Break Enchantment work on the animated chain? (If not, does Dispel Magic?) Does Consecrate have a useful effect? How about Magic Circle Versus Evil? If the PC has Rebuke rather than Turn, what is the effect of a success? An overwhelming (control) success? If a PC goes etherial, what happens?

Good questions all (see answer #2 above). I'll have to leave this for James to answer since I'm not really sure myself.

Mary Yamato wrote:

(4) During the extended haunt sequence, does leaving the cabin prevent the Balance checks? Does it prevent ghostly possession? Does it overcome existing possession? If not, what can overcome this possession?--Break Enchantment? Magic Circle? Mind Blank? Is there any way other PCs can affect the possessing spirit at all? (My player found this extremely frustrating and felt it was a cheat--a fiat decision that his PCs could do nothing, whereas with "real" ghosts they would have had many options.)

I'm thinking that Haunts are a good mechanic for low-level characters, but not necessarily for high-level ones, unless a lot more of the mechanics can be fleshed out.

Okay, now I'm just sounding redundant. See answer #2 above.

Mary Yamato wrote:
(5) At what altitude is the cabin?

Aha! I know this one. The cabin's altitude should be considered "low pass" per page 90 of the DMG (about 4,500 feet).

Frog God Games

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Mary Yamato wrote:

Having a lot of trouble with this module.

The "Giants in Xin-Shalast" sidebar says that every giant in the city is dominated by, and mind-linked to, a Rune Giant. But the giant rebels are supposedly loyal to their leader--how? And he is claimed to be safe from the Rune Giants because he's not a giant--but he *is* a giant. (Or does their power only work on things with "giant" in the name?)

This is one of the manuscript changes. Originally, not all were yet dominated. Many were still gathering at area G and slowly being picked off by rune giants for indoctrination by the harridans. Thus Gyukak is still among those awaiting indoctrination that have heard the call of Karzoug to Xin-Shalast but are still trying to figure out what's going on while Karzoug's servants act as ambassadors to them and keep them in the city long enough for complete indoctrination. I think this is maybe what James was trying to get at because area G is still the new arrivals to the city and only their leaders have necessarily been dominated. I think the sidebar probably refers more to the tribes indigenous to the city than these guys.

Mary Yamato wrote:
He also tries to get the PCs to assassinate lamia leaders in order to take their rings--which they don't have. (We are given the location of every ring in the lower city, and the lamias have none. Doesn't make sense, admittedly, but it's true. I think a lamia encounter may have been lost in editing here.)

This is an inclusion by James, so I will leave it to him to give the definitive answer. Though it is possible that Gyukak just assumes that the lamias have rings, having seen one on a harridan one time or something. It is even likely that the bejeweled lamias wear replicas of the rings, and the ogre mage is simply not sure which ones are real and which ones are fake without being able to examine them up close.

Mary Yamato wrote:
The Hidden Beast is a Large in the text and a Huge on the map. And its "guards up above" are undescribed--I guess the GM is supposed to improvise them? My PCs insisted that once they'd killed it, they needed to take out those guards.

The Hidden Beat was Huge when I wrote it. James changed it to Large. It appears that the final maps were completed before James completed his final edit of the adventure and it shows how it was originally drawn. Change the Hidden Beast on the map to Large.

All the Hidden Beast's guards that the PCs might encounter have the same stats as his vampire skulk minions.

Mary Yamato wrote:
The Golden Road is described as running all the way to the Spires, but on the Spires map it's missing, and the road from the Harridan's tower to the main tower is described as the only way up from the city. (That road is clearly not the Golden Road, as it winds.)

The Golden Road ends at area S (which is technically part of the Spires--basically the front gate). Access beyond them is controlled by the Harridans' Compound (the Fugue Towers' pinnacle should be more remote from area S). At the very southern edge of the map you can just see the last steps of the Golden Road as it reaches the Teeth.

Mary Yamato wrote:
The detail map of the area around Xin-Shalast and the text description of this area are really dissimilar. (The dotted line is supposed to be the dead river, but then what's that river-looking thing?)

This is another case of map completion prior to final edits. The printed map is as drawn by me. That dotted line was once a path that no longer exists in the adventure. Just ignore the dotted line south of the fens. I noticed that myself but haven't yet caught any other dissimilarities on that map. Let me know if you find more, and I'll see if I can figure them out.

Mary Yamato wrote:
The text about the Lower City says that the PCs can learn things to help them defeat Karzoug. I wish they'd let the GM in on some of that information. I can't find any, other than that they can test-fight some of the monster types they'll meet above.

Another poster has commented on some of these things. Others include the relationship between the rune giants and their dominated minions and how the numbers of Karzoug's giant-soldiers can be whittled down (or was that what the other poster said? I can't remember now.). In addition, originally Garavar's Gorge (area N) once played a much larger role in allowing a way to reach the Spires without being under observation from above and perhaps allowing a bit more of the element of surprise.

Mary Yamato wrote:
What happens to the Champion if her sword is sundered, taken from her, or put into an anti-magic shell? Is there a person there that can be reached? For that matter, what are the stats for Chellan's mind-control, in case a PC picks it up? It doesn't look like the RAW behavior of an intelligent weapon--it's a lot stronger than that.

James added the champion, so I'll have to defer on this.

Mary Yamato wrote:
I'm afraid this plays more like an outline of an adventure than an actual adventure. The problem, I suspect, is the oversized encounter blocks necessary for creatures of these levels--things like the Hidden Beast and its followers take up way more room than their importance to the adventure really justifies, and then something else has to be removed to make space.

You're not far off. James mentioned on this thread or some other, that originally Xin-Shalast was written as a Backdrop article (kind of like Sandpoint, etc.) to go along with encounters and the plot in the adventure. For space reasons the backdrop was combined into the adventure and some additional encounters added. So that is what gives it that "outline" feel. The Lower City is meant to be a large free-form adventure area where DMs and Players can do what they want before heading up the mountain to tackle Karzoug.

The Hidden Beast was once an integral part for the discovery of Garavar's Gorge as mentioned above. His role has changed somewhat in the final edit.

Frog God Games

Demiurge 1138 wrote:

A few problems that I noticed:

1) The kuchrima lamyros has a BAB of 11, but only has one attack listed for their manufactured weapon. This is a mistake, and should be rectified with iterative attacks.

2) In the "Xin-Shalast at its Height" sidebar, Khalid, the apprentice of Karzoug, is listed as a cloud giant transmuter 14, as opposed to the human transmuter 16 that appears in the finished product. Presumably, the stat block was changed for length and CR reasons, and this is a mistake. I, however, like to think that Karzoug, in his pride, named all of his chief apprentices Khalid because he liked the name.

1. You are correct. You should add iterative attacks unless the kuchrima is using its catastrophic shot ability.

Also of note, the kuchrima is a magical beast and a type of lamia-kin. As such it should have some spell-like abilities, but they were cut for space in the final edit. I recommend adding the following abilities to the kuchrima:

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 11th):
At will—feather fall
1/day—shield, true strike

Using these spells makes both the kuchrimas' immunity to magic missile listed in their stat block and their spellcasting at area E make sense. You will have to add in the shield bonus to AC yourself, though, as it was editted out.

2. Ah yes, you noticed this too. Khalib was indeed a cloud giant when written and was changed to a human (presumably for space reasons as you suggest). In fact there was originally another apprentice vying for Karzoug's favor as well in the original version. However, he didn't make the cut, and Khalib got transformed into a human. Your explanation is as good as any, I suppose.

Frog God Games

Cernunos wrote:

Here's a quick question for Mr. Vaughan:

Does the upper level of the Dwarves cabin exit onto the ledge of a cliff which continues up the side of a mountain (effectively isolating access to the cabin to the lower entrance unless one is keen on climbing or flying up to the ledge); OR, does it let out onto a plateau that may be accessed from other mountain habitats?

The description is vague on this point but I assume the dwarves put the cabin up on a ledge for defensive reasons. It makes sense "to me" that the upper cabin is on an isolated ledge. Otherwise it could be accessed more easily by PC's (and lord only knows what else) from across the plateau (the long way around so to speak).

Anyway, I was just wondering what the concept was here to see if I've interpreted things as intended.

Cheers,
C.

Both are correct due to a slight change in the manuscript.

As originally written, the cabin was on a higher, forested plateau that provided access to other parts of the mountain (hence the hunting trophies) but was isolated from the area below without a very long and treacherous walk. The original did not include the rampant infestation of yetis that appeared in the final version, so the rest of the mountain wasn't such an issue. The Vekker's primary concern was claimjumpers tracking them back to their cabin to get at their gold stores which would bring such intruders to the lower level with no idea of where to go to access the higher plateau (giving the brothers plenty of time to prepare a proper welcome).

With the advent of the prolific yetis (it just takes to long to type abominable snowmen), it makes more sense for the cabin to be on a more isolated ledge since claimjumpers are the least of the brothers' problems around those parts.

Frog God Games

I hope that is all helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions or comments.

Thanks, Greg.


Greg,

May the wind always be at your back,
May you always walk downhill,
and may you be in heaven a half an hour before the devil knows yer dead!

Cheers,
C.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Although I'm answering these at home, where I don't have a copy of Pathfinder 6 handy to reference, I'll do what I can to answer them anyway.

Mary Yamato wrote:
(1) GMs should be aware that the cabin map has curtains that look a lot like walls, and that a tense haunted-house scene is the wrong time to be saying "Oops, those rooms are connected after all"--check the map carefully first. The ramp down below and the non-connection of the two lower areas are also potential trip-ups.

Yes... the curtains could certainly have been clearer on the map. That's something we'll try to communicate with our cartographer more. Printing the map as a full-page map would have ceratinly made things more clear, but a full page map was beyond our budget AND would have resulted in us cutting 500 or so words from the adventure. Hard to see curtains is the best option in this scenario.

Mary Yamato wrote:
(2) The haunt with Mass Suggestion is labeled as "obvious" but its description has it using its Suggestion as soon as the PCs see it. This conflicts with it moving on 10 in a surprise round. I'd suggest either letting it go first, or showing it eating gold and having it speak its dialog only on impulse 10.

I replaced the ghosts with haunts because of the positive reception the haunts recieved back in Pathfinder 2... and because all those ghost stat blocks were taking up a fairly sizable chunk of room. Haunts "go" on initaitive count 10, and you should interpret "using its power as soon as the PCs see it" as "the haunt begins when the PCs notice it, roll initiative and proceed from there."

Mary Yamato wrote:
(3) We had a ton of trouble with haunts for high-level PCs. The PCs felt they should be able to interact with them, given their wide range of magical abilities, but the rules are silent on most possible interactions. What does True Seeing see? Does Break Enchantment work on the animated chain? (If not, does Dispel Magic?) Does Consecrate have a useful effect? How about Magic Circle Versus Evil? If the PC has Rebuke rather than Turn, what is the effect of a success? An overwhelming (control) success? If a PC goes etherial, what happens?

Part of the fun (and frustration) of running a high level game is that it increasingly becomes the GM's job to adjudicate strange mixes of spells as they come into play. We can't spend pages and pages detailing the interactions between all these effects for you... there's just no room. It's really not anything that can be fixed by good old "practice." As in, the more high-level adventures you run, the easier they get.

To answer these questions, though, here's how I would rule they work.

Interactions with haunts are, to a certain extent, interactions with programmed illusions. Haunts don't necessarily have the intelligence to react to interactions, any more than a trap does. If you want a haunt to have more meaningful interactions with a PC, you're better off replacing that haunt with an actual undead creature.

True seeing reveals thigns as they actually are; if you use true seeing on a spectre or a ghost or a trap... you see nothing unusual. The same goes for haunts. Unless the haunt SPECIFICALLY uses an illusion effect, true seeing doesn't reveal anything unusual about a haunt.

The animated chain is animated by a haunt, which transforms it into a monster. Break enchantment won't affect it anymore than break enchantment would affect any construct. The same goes for dispel magic.

The chain is not technically undead, but since it's powered by a haunt, I'd say that consecrate would impair its rolls as if it were undead. Magic circle vs. evil doesn't do much, though, since it's not a summoned creature and it's not trying to possess a character. If the chain was given an evil alignment (can't remember if so or not) then a character protected by magic circle vs. evil would get the deflection bonus to AC against the chain's attacks.

Rebuking a haunt has basically the same effects as Turning a haunt. If you get an overwhelming (control) result when turning a haunt, you control the haunt in the same way a rogue can "control" a trap. You can basically reprogram the haunt to trigger whenever you want, however you want, and to affect whoever you want.

Going ethereal does not give any advantages over a haunt, apart from being a great way to escape the haunt's effects. Their effects are wholly contained in the Material Plane, like most creatures, objects, and traps. They do not extend into the Ethereal.

Mary Yamato wrote:
(4) During the extended haunt sequence, does leaving the cabin prevent the Balance checks? Does it prevent ghostly possession? Does it overcome existing possession? If not, what can overcome this possession?--Break Enchantment? Magic Circle? Mind Blank? Is there any way other PCs can affect the possessing spirit at all? (My player found this extremely frustrating and felt it was a cheat--a fiat decision that his PCs could do nothing, whereas with "real" ghosts they would have had many options.)

I'm a little lost here since, again, I don't have access to my copy of Pathfinder 6 here, but basically, it all boils down to what possession is. It's a mind-affecting effect, and thus one that mind blank and the various protection from alignment effects offer total protection against. The possession effects ARE limited to being inside the cabin. As for getting rid of the possessing spirit, if you don't want to follow the adventure's expected course and defuse the haunt by returning the brothers, I'd say that spells like dispel evil could get rid of a haunt, as could something like a lot of high rolling Turn Undead checks or the like. Remember, if when you're running a game and you detect that the players are growing frustrated, you CAN adapt and change things on the fly if you want; that remains one of the advantages pen-and-paper RPGS have over computer RPGS, after all; they can adapt quickly to changes and frustrations.

Ugh... that whole answer felt a little wishy-washy, but without being able to look at Pathfinder 6 I can't really get into more detail since I don't remember the encounter well enough to answer most of these concerns from memory (doing a new one of these adventures once every 3 to 4 weeks tends to muddle the mind).

Mary Yamato wrote:
I'm thinking that Haunts are a good mechanic for low-level characters, but not necessarily for high-level ones, unless a lot more of the mechanics can be fleshed out.

You can say that about most game effects, alas. D&D has never been the easiest game to run at high level. Weirdly, with 3rd edition's more complete rules and less reliance on GM interpretation, it's an even MORE difficult game to run at high level than 1st or 2nd edition were. Again... the only real way to make it easier is to run lots of high level games and get in more experience at it.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Mary Yamato wrote:
The "Giants in Xin-Shalast" sidebar says that every giant in the city is dominated by, and mind-linked to, a Rune Giant. But the giant rebels are supposedly loyal to their leader--how? And he is claimed to be safe from the Rune Giants because he's not a giant--but he *is* a giant. (Or does their power only work on things with "giant" in the name?)

Greg's right. The giants in this area are still awaiting "indoctrination" and haven't yet all been processed by the rune giants. Many of the giants here are thus not dominated; the sidebar should have said that every giant EXCEPT the new arrivals are dominated. In time, the rune giants will absorb these guys into their dominated army, but when the PCs first arrive in the city, they're still able to think for themselves. When exactly the rune giants come in to take over is left to the individual GM to determine, as best fits the drama of his game.

Mary Yamato wrote:
He also tries to get the PCs to assassinate lamia leaders in order to take their rings--which they don't have. (We are given the location of every ring in the lower city, and the lamias have none. Doesn't make sense, admittedly, but it's true. I think a lamia encounter may have been lost in editing here.)

Gyukak's operating with some faulty information and assumptions here. His important purpose is to let the PCs know that the rings exist. He's an unreliable source of information on that account. That said... if you want to give out more rings to more lamias, by all means go for it! You'll note that there's not a LOT of rings... if you have a big party, you probably SHOULD add more into the adventure to get found.

Mary Yamato wrote:
The Hidden Beast is a Large in the text and a Huge on the map. And its "guards up above" are undescribed--I guess the GM is supposed to improvise them? My PCs insisted that once they'd killed it, they needed to take out those guards.

Yeah... If I remember correctly, the hidden beast is indeed Large (his stats for being Huge were just TOO HORRIFIC to inflict on even a 15th level party, if I remember right)... but the map was done earlier and we missed getting that 15-foot square changed to a 10-foot square. One more thing to beat myself up over and to scold the rest of my editing team about missing, I suppose...

And yes, it's guards do all indeed have the same stats as the vampire skulks. If your PCs want to hunt those guards down and finish them off, you're unfortunately in one of those areas that are "beyond the scope of this adventure." If you have time, you can even build up some new vampire guardians for the PCs to fight, and can utilize maps swiped from old issues of Dungeon, GameMastery mods, or other modules from your library to stand in for the hidden beasts' other tunnels.

Mary Yamato wrote:
The detail map of the area around Xin-Shalast and the text description of this area are really dissimilar. (The dotted line is supposed to be the dead river, but then what's that river-looking thing?)

Yeah, as Greg says, those are unfortunate discrepancies between the text and the adventure. See the answer above about me feeling bad and then picking on my editors for not catching the discrepancies as well.

Mary Yamato wrote:
What happens to the Champion if her sword is sundered, taken from her, or put into an anti-magic shell? Is there a person there that can be reached? For that matter, what are the stats for Chellan's mind-control, in case a PC picks it up? It doesn't look like the RAW behavior of an intelligent weapon--it's a lot stronger than that.

If the champion's separated from the sword, you have a really fun opportunity for some roleplaying stuff. Separated from her sword, she reverts to her true personality, but retains all of the skills and powers she gained while under the sword's influence. Of course, Karzoug's got some influence over her as well. An interesting way to handle this would be to actually treat it as if she were going through some powerful withdrawls for losing the sword, forcing the PCs to use some restoration type magic to heal her mind. Once she's free COMPLETELY from the sword's influence and able to resist Karzoug's influence, she could make for a really powerful ally against him. As for how the sword works, it does work under the rules as written. It's got a REALLY high Ego score, which makes it pretty easy to control someone. In the case of this Chelish woman, it controlled her for months or years, during which time she leveled up as a fighter quite a lot, making choices on how to spend her feats and skills and all that as the sword commanded.

Mary Yamato wrote:
I'm afraid this plays more like an outline of an adventure than an actual adventure. The problem, I suspect, is the oversized encounter blocks necessary for creatures of these levels--things like the Hidden Beast and its followers take up way more room than their importance to the adventure really justifies, and then something else has to be removed to make space.

That's certainly a fair assessment. During Runelords, we were working with MUCH larger adventures than we were in Dungeon, but we overestimated just HOW much additional room we had to work with. The giant stat blocks certianly do take up a lot of room, but so does, for example, the entire Vekker Cabin sequence. In the original outline for the adventure, the Vekker Cabin wasn't present; that was almost all Greg's addition. I loved it, and thought it made a great addition to the adventure, but it's a pretty sizable chunk of adventure and it really doesn't hook into the rest of Xin-Shalast that well as all. I probably should have told Greg "No, don't do all that stuff with the Vekkers, since you'll already be running low on room to do stuff in Xin-Shalast," but it was so fun I couldn't say no to it. As a result, yeah, it takes up a huge chunk of the adventure that we could probably have used to further flesh out the part that took place in Xin-Shalast. Personally, I think the adventure's actually STRONGER with the cabin stuff in there. Had I had another month to develop the adventure or to have Greg do some rewrites, I probably would have asked him to integrate the cabin sequence more solidly into the city itself and to strip out other elements like the Hidden Beast... but it is what it is. I suspect we'll do a better job of all this in Curse of the Crimson Throne... I hope so, at least!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Demiurge 1138 wrote:
1) The kuchrima lamyros has a BAB of 11, but only has one attack listed for their manufactured weapon. This is a mistake, and should be rectified with iterative attacks.

Yup. She should have iterative attacks.

Demiurge 1138 wrote:
2) In the "Xin-Shalast at its Height" sidebar, Khalid, the apprentice of Karzoug, is listed as a cloud giant transmuter 14, as opposed to the human transmuter 16 that appears in the finished product. Presumably, the stat block was changed for length and CR reasons, and this is a mistake. I, however, like to think that Karzoug, in his pride, named all of his chief apprentices Khalid because he liked the name.

He's a human transmuter. In the original draft, Khalid was a cloud giant, but we changed that because Karzoug (or any self-respecting Thassilonian wizard, for that manner) would NEVER take on a member of the slave caste (to which ALL giants belonged) as an apprentice. Therefore, his apprentice had to be human (or, at least, humanoid, and again, since the Thassilonains were kind of bigots... human it is!).

The "Xin-Shalast at its Height" sidebar should have listed Khalid as a human, in other words.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A suggestion on the haunts:

It's true that high-level play makes more demands on the GM, but the adventure can simplify the GM's role considerably by making new things conform to existing patterns. The patterns for "thing that the PCs interact with" are creature, spell, item and trap. If the GM knows what haunts are, a lot of the interaction questions are immediately answered.

In this case, creature is too much pagecount (though you could consider adding "haunt" as a creature entry in an upcoming issue). Item doesn't make much sense. But you could do them as traps, or perhaps even better as spells. Then you would need either to specify CL and spell level, or give a formula for them--but the GM would have access to a well-developed set of rules on how spells interact. And CL+spell level is not much extra text.

I really have trouble making consistent calls on the fly for "It's not a spell, item, creature or trap--in fact, we don't know quite what it is--all we have is a short list of things that work on it." Saying "It's a programmed illusion plus a linked spell effect" would solve a LOT of those problems instantly. In play, I kept going back and forth between "It's a kind of ghost" and "It's a kind of spell" and didn't manage any consistency in my rulings.

Thanks so much for the answers! It's amazing to get this level of feedback.

Mary

Frog God Games

James,

Does that mean I need to remove "Vekker's Cabin Part Deux" from the Crimson Throne adventure? ;-)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

For the high-altitude section, where did you come up with the list of altitude-immune creatures? Some are obvious, like undead, constructs, and Air subtype creatures. But others, like Dragons and Aberrations, seem like they could have gone either way.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Well, since many dragons would roost in the mountains, and they're known for soaring to dizzying heights, I'd say that explains them. Aberrations, its probably playing up the whole 'utterly alien physiology' aspect.

Frog God Games

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Hi Ross, I used some (what I hope is) logical reasoning on the altitude resistant creatures. Dragons have an extremely hardy physical existence being basically the pinnacle of mortal creatures. They also have always seemed to me as if they should be high flyers--the most powerful creatures in the world can't fly to the top of that mountain because the air's too thin? Pishposh, that's a dragon, man! Plus I knew I wanted draons to have been guardians of old Xin-Shalast without everyone of them needing the Altitude Affinity feat.

As for abberations--well, they're just wierd. Their physiology is so whacked out that I figured there was a decent chance that they just wouldn't give a rip about air densities and such. I mean, if you can survive the Far Realm, Everest probably isn't all that challenging to you. Plus in many mythos, particularly Cthulhuesque ones, they're often depicted as from outer space--or at least close anaologies to them are. So, once again, I figured space travelers probably don't sweat a little pulimary embolism.

This brings up my greatest disappointment with Pathfinder #6. It is indeed an excellent product and James did a fine job editting it, but he took out the rules I created for pulminary embolisms and cerebral embolisms as side effects of altitude sickness at extreme altitudes. This made me sad. :-( He did, however, keep the High Peak Hack in there. :-)

Frog God Games

Dangit, Revan! Stop reading my mail. :-)


Greg A. Vaughan wrote:


This brings up my greatest disappointment with Pathfinder #6. It is indeed an excellent product and James did a fine job editting it, but he took out the rules I created for pulminary embolisms and cerebral embolisms as side effects of altitude sickness at extreme altitudes. :-)

by all means, share man.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
As for abberations--well, they're just wierd. Their physiology is so whacked out that I figured there was a decent chance that they just wouldn't give a rip about air densities and such. I mean, if you can survive the Far Realm, Everest probably isn't all that challenging to you. Plus in many mythos, particularly Cthulhuesque ones, they're often depicted as from outer space--or at least close anaologies to them are. So, once again, I figured space travelers probably don't sweat a little pulimary embolism.

Not all abberations are Far Realm, though. Pseudonatural creatures are, as well as Denizens of Leng and Hounds of Tindalos. But Chokers, Chuuls, Driders, Nagas, and Rust Monsters, for instance, are just freaks. Mind Flayers, and Aboleths can be debated either way, I suppose.

(I'm not trying to argue: I have no issue with the choices you made. I just love trying to tease out the design process for potentially sticky issues like this.)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Heh, can't help what the Force shows me. ;)

I imagine the main problem for aboleths would be the lack of water...

Frog God Games

It's there. It's just all frozen. :-)

I agree, Ross, it's far froma scientific breakdown. But then are choker's really distintly related to aboleths? Where's Linneus when you need him. ;-) But yeah, that's what I was thinking and certainly along the lines of the more freaky-deeky abberations from the Far Realms genre. I did create a Mountain Choker for the bestiary in "The Coming Storm" in Dungeon that would have certainly fit the bill, but alas, it did not make the cut.

Frog God Games

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cwslyclgh wrote:
Greg A. Vaughan wrote:


This brings up my greatest disappointment with Pathfinder #6. It is indeed an excellent product and James did a fine job editting it, but he took out the rules I created for pulminary embolisms and cerebral embolisms as side effects of altitude sickness at extreme altitudes. :-)
by all means, share man.

Sorry, edema, not embolism. I misremembered, as Roger Clemens would say. Anyway, ask and ye shall receive...

"In addition to the threat of high peak hack, some deadly complications from fatigue and altitude sickness can develop at extreme altitudes. An individual that is fatigued while at extreme altitude has a 10% chance per day of developing high altitude pulmonary edema. In this instance, the individual’s heart increases blood flow to the lungs to get as much oxygen from the air as possible. This causes blood vessels to leak into the air sacs of the lungs. When this occurs, the individual develops a gurgling sound to his breathing and begins to cough up bloody sputum. High altitude pulmonary edema causes exhaustion and deals 1d4 points of Constitution damage per hour until treated. Treatment involves removing the individual to an altitude below 15,000 feet or providing the individual with a constant source of air that simulates oxygen levels at lower altitudes (i.e. a bottle of air, necklace of adaptation, etc.)
Another hazard from altitude sickness is high altitude cerebral edema. Each time an individual takes ability damage from altitude sickness while at extreme altitude, there is a 10% chance of developing high altitude cerebral edema where the increased blood flow to the brain to offset the lack of oxygen causes leakage and cerebral swelling. Instead of taking only 1 point of damage to all ability scores on a failed Fortitude save, those suffering from high altitude cerebral edema take the normal point of damage to each score but to Intelligence take 1d4 points of damage instead. In addition, the victim becomes nauseated until all the Intelligence damage is healed. If the victim’s Intelligence drops to 0, he is killed as his brain squeezes out down the hole at the base of his skull (the foramen magnum) into his spinal column. Treatment for high altitude cerebral edema involves removing the individual to an altitude below 15,000 feet after which the ability damage heals normally.
Spells such as heal and restoration can remove the effects of the various altitude afflictions (other than death of course) but do not prevent them from returning normally. It should be noted that altitude sickness and the associated disorders described above do not constitute diseases in the normal sense, so immunity to disease (mundane or supernatural) or remove disease spells provide no boon in dealing with them."

The Concordance RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Finally got #6 yesterday and what I have read so far generated a few questions. Here they are, hopefully someone can help me figure out the solutions.

At what point should the blizzard that hits the dwarves' cabin start to be felt? It isn't even mentioned until the description for area B8.

One spell is incredibly useful and extremely hard for me to run. That spell is divination. It always takes me a few minutes to come up with a suitable couplet or triplet to answer their questions. If any of you out there have some divination phrases to pass on, I know I would appreciate them.

Is the trap in B6 active or not? I was unable to tell.

The Haunted chain is a really nifty creature. One thing I would like to add that if someone tried to sunder the animated chain, the GM should half the hit points of the chain at that point, reduce the reach by 1/2, and then have two animated chains in the melee.

I was unsure how to handle a turn on the chain. Does it turn as HD 7 since it is a CR 7 haunt, or HD 14 'cause it has 14 HD? The text say this: "The chain is haunted, and as such can be affected as a standard CR 7 haunt by turn undead checks. Its effective Hit Dice against turn undead checks is 14 HD." That wasn't very illuminating.

There may be more questions as I continue to read.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

catdragon wrote:
At what point should the blizzard that hits the dwarves' cabin start to be felt? It isn't even mentioned until the description for area B8.

The blizzard is called up by the wendigo at about the time the PCs first arrive at the cabin.

catdragon wrote:
One spell is incredibly useful and extremely hard for me to run. That spell is divination. It always takes me a few minutes to come up with a suitable couplet or triplet to answer their questions. If any of you out there have some divination phrases to pass on, I know I would appreciate them.

Yeah, divination is a pickle. One thing I do in my campaign when a PC casts the spell and I can't think of a witty rhyme fast enough, I instead have the divination give the PC a weird metaphorical vision or dream to answer his questions indirectly.

catdragon wrote:
Is the trap in B6 active or not? I was unable to tell.

The trap is active.

catdragon wrote:
The Haunted chain is a really nifty creature. One thing I would like to add that if someone tried to sunder the animated chain, the GM should half the hit points of the chain at that point, reduce the reach by 1/2, and then have two animated chains in the melee.

The haunted chain is actually a creature. You can't sunder it any more than you can sunder a dragon's claw or a wyvern's bite. If you're interested in having the split into two chains trick, I'd suggest using rules like those for ochre jellies or black puddings.

catdragon wrote:
I was unsure how to handle a turn on the chain. Does it turn as HD 7 since it is a CR 7 haunt, or HD 14 'cause it has 14 HD? The text say this: "The chain is haunted, and as such can be affected as a standard CR 7 haunt by turn undead checks. Its effective Hit Dice against turn undead checks is 14 HD." That wasn't very illuminating.

The chain is treated as if it had 14 HD if someone tries to turn it.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
catdragon wrote:

One spell is incredibly useful and extremely hard for me to run. That spell is divination. It always takes me a few minutes to come up with a suitable couplet or triplet to answer their questions. If any of you out there have some divination phrases to pass on, I know I would appreciate them.

If you have a Tarot deck or Harrowdeck and are moderately familiar with the interpretations, this can be a very quick and easy way to give a divination. Or you can make cards up on the fly.

My PCs go to Madame Mvashti somewhat regularly, and she will turn over a couple of cards for them. They believe (correctly) that she invents the cards as she turns them over, as her cards are very specific: one of them had a picture of the giantess from #4, for example. I've found it very easy to rapidly improvise divination-like results using the card theme.

PC Question: What can we do about the impending destruction of the dam at Skull Crossing?

Mvashti: Well, here are three cards that will stand in your way, and three that will help you. Here's a death knight (means Mokmurian), a cornucopia (means the Cauldron), and a miser clutching coins (means Karzoug). Here's a giantess on a mountain (Conna), here's a ghost (her husband), and here's a kind of spiderweb across the sky (a spirit journey).

She tends to hand out the key card (Conna in this case) for the PCs to keep. This enabled them to recognize Conna when they met her, which was helpful.

The PCs got enough out of this to proceed. I'd have had to interpret more if they knew less.

Mary


Greg A. Vaughan wrote:


Sorry, edema, not embolism. I misremembered, as Roger Clemens would say. Anyway, ask and ye shall receive...

good stuff there, I may just have to use it in my game.

The Concordance RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Thanks Mr. Jacobs! You're a prince!!

Okay, two more questions: :)

Area E. Krak Naratha. The kuchrima's tactics state that the creatures "...use true strike on their initial attack..." Yet the description of the kuchrima mentions nothing of true strike. Was it something that was edited out?

Area G. The Golden Road. In the description the chance of an encounter on the road is 20% as opposed to the 10% in the rest of the ruins. And wearing a Sihedron Medallion increases the chance of an encounter in the ruins to 40%. So what does a Sihedron Medallion do to the chance of an encounter when on the Golden Road? Does it make it 4 times as likely (a whopping 80% chance on an encounter!!)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

catdragon wrote:
Area E. Krak Naratha. The kuchrima's tactics state that the creatures "...use true strike on their initial attack..." Yet the description of the kuchrima mentions nothing of true strike. Was it something that was edited out?

Yeah... the reference to true strike should be cut; Kuchrimas can't cast spells (I believe at one point they could but we cut that ability because it made them too powerful and didn't fit their theme).

catdragon wrote:
Area G. The Golden Road. In the description the chance of an encounter on the road is 20% as opposed to the 10% in the rest of the ruins. And wearing a Sihedron Medallion increases the chance of an encounter in the ruins to 40%. So what does a Sihedron Medallion do to the chance of an encounter when on the Golden Road? Does it make it 4 times as likely (a whopping 80% chance on an encounter!!)

The encounter chances don't stack. Just use the one that's the highest chance for the region; a character wearing a medallion on the road would still only have a 40% chance of an encounter.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

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I've got a small question about the Wendigo. In the morale section in the adventure text, it mentions that it assumes snow form and flees. However, in the creature stat block and description, I'm not seeing an ability to turn into snow. I'm assuming that this is a minor variation on the standard wind walk power, which for the Wendigo manifests as turning into a cloud of swirling snow instead of a cloud of vapor.

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