Spires of Xin-Shalast (GM Reference)


Rise of the Runelords

251 to 300 of 412 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | next > last >>

Quick question as I couldn't find an answer to with Google.

What happens to any planar bound creatures when their binder dies? There is a good chance that Khalib will die before his bound creatures in the last parts of this adventure.

Do they stay bound to service until the spells time ends or does the spell break?

Silver Crusade

There are bound creatures in earlier chapters that are stuck in their rooms, despite the original binder being long dead - on at Skull's Crossing and one in the Greed section of Runeforge. Of course, the death of their binder could change their loyalties and motivation, but I'd say they're still there.


I have been wondering on this one for a while:

When Karzoug dies and he explodes in a flash of light, does his gear and equipment go with him?


Monkeybox wrote:

I have been wondering on this one for a while:

When Karzoug dies and he explodes in a flash of light, does his gear and equipment go with him?

In looking at the anniversary edition text, I don't see any hint of an answer. I think you're free to make up any answer you want (which I suppose you could do even if there was an explicit answer.) If you're asking the question, it implies your planning on carrying on with the pc's. Just choose which items you want the pc's to have and voila! those are the one's that survive!

Yea, that's not a very insightful answer. But it's all I've got.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

His stuff probably doesn't go with him, which undoubtedly annoys the Runelord of Greed beyond contemplation. Otherwise, wouldn't Karzoug's burning glaive go with him? The Sihedron tome is a symbol of Xin-Shalast as much as it is Karzoug's, so I imagine that and many of his other items are the regalia of Shalast.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Misroi (or anyone else for that matter), did you do haunt cards for Spires?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I did not, actually. I thought about it, since the haunt handouts for the Misgivings went well. However, I think the haunts in the Vekker cabin aren't quite as "personal horror" as the haunts in the Misgivings. Since they didn't target anyone in particular, it made more sense to direct the haunt effects to everyone affected.

Silver Crusade

Same here. The haunts in the Misgivings are only seen by one person at a time, so handing out slips of paper that only one individual saw was fun. In the Vekker cabin, everyone sees the haunts when they appear.


My group found the haunts at the Vekker cabin more annoying than anything else. The saving throws were not very difficult for them and they decided to simply leave near the end. They ended up in a fight with the undead treant. And I had the sane brother's ghost appear outside after that. Haunts are an interesting mechanic but I don't think they're very dangerous for pc's of the Book 6 levels. If I had to do it over, I'd probably change it up - fewer haunts in the cabin, have the Wendigo attack while they're dealing with one, perhaps draw the pc's into a fight with the treant. Have the ghost appear after the Wendigo is dead and still ask for his brother's bones, etc.

Silver Crusade

I ran it by the book, with surprisingly funny results.

You're right that the haunts were harmless. They gave them some story, but that's it. The final bit about the ground shaking and everything scared them into all running out of the cabin, afraid it was going to collapse. Then they met the sane ghost, went hunting for his brother's body, and retrieved it after fighting off the ghost and its pet.

That's when things got funny. They decided to teleport back to the cabin, but the party sorceress can't teleport everyone at once (there's a horse mount and badger companion on top of 5 PCs), so she just did half the party at a time. They hadn't fought the undead treant yet, so I pulled out the map of the cabin and asked where she was teleporting to. Still a little nervous about the stability of the cabin, they decided to teleport right next to the tree I'd drawn on the map that they hadn't approached earlier.

The treant fight was easy, even with only half the group, but it still surprised the heck out of them.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Every time my party saw a lone tree... EVER... they blew it up with extreme prejudice.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Misroi & Fromper - I see your point, I think I have a solution. The fact that they were very personal, does make a big difference. Perhaps I'll craft a few different haunts and let people see things from different angles? Maybe a PoV for each of the brothers, some players get one, some the other?

Latrecis - I think we have very different players and characters in our groups! I have a few characters that I'm expecting to have +7(ish) will saves going into the Vekker Cabin. The cabin to me really doesn't need to be that dangerous. Given how my players ate up the first set of haunts, and really enjoyed it, I expect that experiencing part of the story is what will drive my players.

I've also been thinking about the Horror corruption rules, perhaps using a combination of the Accursed and the Ghoul corruptions to represent the Wendigo slowly getting into their head.

I'm also thinking of an encounter & haunt at the landslide location where the brothers lost most of their baggage and porters. There's no mention of the spot causing problems in reaching the cabin, but it seems like there should be. Perhaps a "wandering encounter" with some of the advanced yeti while the party is trying to get past it (should be trivial, but possibly interesting in that it could involve only part of the party as they all try to show off how cool they are getting past the landslide). A risk of triggering another landslide and falling if they try to climb over. Then a Haunt at the other side, including a ghostly landside experience.


the Lorax wrote:

Latrecis - I think we have very different players and characters in our groups! I have a few characters that I'm expecting to have +7(ish) will saves going into the Vekker Cabin. The cabin to me really doesn't need to be that dangerous. Given how my players ate up the first set of haunts, and really enjoyed it, I expect that experiencing part of the story is what will drive my players.

On at least one front, you're on the right track. My group is Fighter, Cleric, Bard, Wizard. So 3 of 4 have +10 will saves (at 16th level) out of the gate. The Fighter has taken Iron Will (he doesn't like the lack of control from failed Will saves.) And they are all wearing some kind of cloak of resistance. It's not just Will saves either, their initiative bonuses are higher, perception skills are higher, etc. - it's easier for them to notice the haunts and for the cleric to neutralize them with channeled energy. One item in the AP's favor - not all the haunts hit Will saves, at least one is Fort based and another hits AC, so there's variety there. (Though you don't want to know the dwarven fighter's AC or Fort save bonus :)

One other observation on this topic: the haunts in Misgivings are more complicated (interesting?) as they tell the three different horror stories of the Foxglove generations: Vorel, Traver and Aldern. The fall of the Vekkers is by comparison much more straightforward.

Silver Crusade

I wouldn't worry about the haunts not being dangerous. They're there to tell a story, not to hurt the players. At that, they were effective, so I was fine with all my PCs making the saves.


Fromper wrote:
I wouldn't worry about the haunts not being dangerous. They're there to tell a story, not to hurt the players. At that, they were effective, so I was fine with all my PCs making the saves.

Totally agree on all that. I think I'm the one that introduced the issue of the haunts relative danger by way of explaining my players annoyed vs interested response. I think they were focused on getting to Xin Shalast and Karzoug and frustrated at the grind it out nature of the cabin encounters. Or I didn't present them well enough ;)

Silver Crusade

I think my group enjoyed the cabin. But my group is also paranoid, so they didn't realize how harmless the haunts really were until after it was all over.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Speaking of not being dangerous... This may have limited interest to the community but it happened the last time we played and I was struck by... well, you'll see what I found striking.

Background: my pc group has been kicking around Xin Shalast for a few days. They encountered Gyukak and he encouraged them to hit the yeti's and Krak Narahta to agitate the giants enough for his malcontents to escape in the confusion. My group needed little prompting in that regard. The players possess good system mastery (as you will see) and the pc's are well optimized so I often need to beef up encounters. Example: for the yeti, I had Khalid visiting in yeti form (as hinted in the AP) and had a second set of yeti's return mid-fight. The players' eyes bugged out when the yeti chieftain started hurling 8th level spells. Good times :) They took out the yeti and Khalid fled. They subsequently ran into Morgiv and took out the Hidden Beast (important safety tip: a high level cleric of Sarenrae and vampires are not a good mix.)

With that, the pc's were ready to take on the dragon who they had seen flying over the city early after their arrival. And who had started doing so more frequently since they hit the yeti and kuchrima. (My version: Khalid recruited Ghlorofaex to patrol aggressively by telling him the intruders had killed Freezemaw and looted his hoard - Khalid promised the blue dragon all the treasure the pc's possess.) Both Gyukak and Morgiv had previously pointed out the dragon's lair. So after resting overnight in a magnificent mansion at the northern edge of the Lower City, they began a dragon hunt.

Right off, the cleric player says - I'm going to cast greater planar ally and call a planetar. I groan inwardly - just what I need is another 16th level caster in the party. Fortunately, they are working on other pre-casting/memorization plans so I have a few minutes to find info on Sarenrae's herald - Sunlord Thalachos. He seems more thematically appropriate and while a tough cookie in his own right, not a 16th level cleric. (Thank you Internet!) The party chucks out the 17.5k gp out of loose change and voila! the party has a Sunlord. (I can hardly argue Sarenrae won't answer the call - Karzoug is rising!)

The wizard casts locate creature and off they go. I've determined (outside the text of the AP) that if Morgiv is with them, he can lead them through the city in a way that reduces the chance for wandering encounters. So they get near the dragon's lair without much trouble. The wizard has a wand of clairvoyance and he starts spamming it to reveal the inside of the dragon's lair. Eventually he comes up with the idea of targeting the clairvoyance on the dragon, whose location he knows from the locate creature. Since he can see the building and the dragon is in it, this seems consistent with the clairvoyance spell description. The inside of the lair is pitch dark (my ruling) so he can only "see" in a 10' radius. Again he spams charges off the wand and "reveals" the area around the dragon. I assume many of you can see where this is going. "Let's buff up and teleport next to the dragon."

Two things now conspire to seal the dragon's doom. 1) While the dragon knows there are intruders in the city - indeed he's been consulting with Khalid and Gamigin (and I've pre-determined that Gamigin will teleport in himself 2 rounds after a dragon fight begins), I can't in fairness say the pc's shouldn't get a surprise round. And 2) he rolls a 3 on his initiative check.

Thalachos goes first: flame strike. Dragon saves. 26hp damage.
Bard goes next: brilliant inspiration on fighter (which could have been pre-cast)
Cleric goes next: firestorm. Dragon saves. 26 hp damage.
Fighter attacks with dwarven waraxe. 39 hp damage (this is foreshadowing.)
Wizard: moves away from group.

The fighter and wizard rolled 2 and 1 respectively on init checks so they assume the dragon will be going before them in future rounds. Ergo the wizard moved out of breath weapon targeting area. But even with the low rolls, they both are ahead of Ghlorofaex and his initiative of 6.

Next round starts:
Thalachos delays to get the benefit of what's coming next.
Bard starts singing and brings up a shadowbard. (Because really, if one bard is good, two must be better.)
Thalachos full attacks. One hit for 20hp. Dragon saves against stun.
Cleric casts destruction. Dragon saves. Takes 33hp damage.
Fighter full attacks. First attack hits for 36 hp. Second attack roll (two 20-siders recall from Brilliant Inspiration). One is a 20 (which ends the spell for all that matters.) Fighter confirms critical. 119hp of damage. Dragon is dead before acting.
Wizard moves up and smacks it with his staff - just to be sure. And to mock the now dead dragon.

299 hp of damage in less than 2 rounds. Gamigin does not join the fight and may soon leave Xin Shalast. No one told him about fighting arch angel Sunlords...

Hopefully the Pinnacle and Eye will present greater challenges, though Karzoug is effectively trapped and pc's can hit him on their timing...

Silver Crusade

Yeah, my group has been steamrolling most of the AP other than boss fights. They only just took out the weak lamia gate guards at Xin Shalast, so we'll see how the fight against the dragon and everything will go.

They aren't nearly as coordinated as your group, though. I'm actually very curious to see how they react to the dragon, since it's part of the back story of one PC. The elven sorceress originally came to Varisia in search of the blue dragon that killed her grandfather. She'll know him when she sees him due to two missing toes on his front left claw. It's Ghlorofaex. As a Calistria worshiper who most aligns with the sin of wrath, I can almost see her wanting to challenge that sucker to a one on one duel. But she's smart enough to want the backup from the rest of the party.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

On a related note to the Vekker cabin haunts, my PCs ended up getting the Warriors of Wrath to submit to them after killing Highlord Athroxis, and brought them with them to the Vekker cabin. While the saves were hardly a challenge to high level PCs, lower level NPCs have a good chance to fail. So, to recap, a bunch of characters that the PCs won't care if they die were brought along to a haunted cabin in a remote location.

Yeah, I murdered about half of them. Brutally. One died immediately from arsenic poison, another was killed by the undead treant, and so on. I think I cut the number of Warriors in half by the end of the Vekker cabin.


My players have been discouraged from doing the teleport and attack scheme because I've made it clear their enemies can do the same thing. Khalid and some lamia with Dimension Door could get the drop on the PCs and fight for a round or two, then blip away again. Of course, this assumes that the PCs can be located via magic. (My players have been constantly maintaining a Detect Scrying spell since adventure four.)


Narsham wrote:
My players have been discouraged from doing the teleport and attack scheme because I've made it clear their enemies can do the same thing. Khalid and some lamia with Dimension Door could get the drop on the PCs and fight for a round or two, then blip away again. Of course, this assumes that the PCs can be located via magic. (My players have been constantly maintaining a Detect Scrying spell since adventure four.)

This is the first time they've used the tactic and as I look back there weren't that many other options to use it in the campaign. Of course their taste for teleport was altered when the first time the wizard cast it, they had a mishap and ended up a couple hundred miles off target. I, of course, thought that was hilarious - they were less keen. So they used it sparingly until the wizard had greater teleport. And at this point there won't be much use of the tactic in the Pinnacle or Eye, what with the Occluding Field.

In many ways teleport was a minor contributor to the dragon's death. I didn't list the spell buffs they were dripping with (too numerous to mention even now.) The dragon was vulnerable because the pc's knew what he was and where he was and could prepare accordingly. With a high level wizard (with immense spellbooks) and high level cleric with a large spell list, the pc's can tailor their approach to the enemy and it dramatically increases their strength. Protection from Electricity spells seriously crimp the dragon's breath as an example. Being able to cast even 1 round per level spells ahead of the fight is a big advantage.

Silver Crusade

So my group is finally in Xin Shalast. The killed the lamia-kin guards at the front gate, but upon entering the city, they played ultra-paranoid, sneaking around the city invisibly, and intentionally avoiding the two random encounters I threw their way. They managed to get around the city enough that I handed them an unlabeled map to look at for the general layout.

They took an interest in the largest building on the map - the Heptaric Locus. After spending a few hours scouting invisibly (going through a LOT of Invisibility Sphere spells), they decided to rest for the night in an abandoned building near there, and head in to explore the large building in the morning. Invisibly, of course.

This also means that they spent the night less than a mile from Ghlorofaex. Our party's elven sorceress has a back story that she's seeking out the blue dragon who killed her grandfather, and she's a Calistria worshiper (focused on revenge, obviously). So I told her that she awoke feeling as if she'd had a dream about dragons, but couldn't remember the details. The player's first thought was the dragon she was seeking to kill, as it should be. So the goddess of revenge gave her a hint, and it worked in getting her thinking in the right direction. Now I have to figure out how to lead her to him.

But back to the Heptaric Locus, which they'll be exploring first. The building description in the anniversary edition of the adventure path says:

page 334 wrote:
The PCs might decide to explore the Heptaric Locus on their own. An exploration of the locus should involve encounters with summoned bone devils, ancient traps, and periodic encounters with the scarlet walkers that haunt the place—these monsters are drawn to the lingering psychic pain that suffuses the arena, as well as to the legacy of bloodshed that has indelibly stained the grounds.

I've got until Friday to prep for next session, and I'm trying to decide on the details that aren't provided in the book. I figure I should draw maps for specific planned encounter areas in advance, but how many encounters should it be, and how should I direct them towards Gamigin's luxury box where he lives? Has anyone layed out details for all this stuff?


Fromper wrote:


But back to the Heptaric Locus, which they'll be exploring first.

I've got until Friday to prep for next session, and I'm trying to decide on the details that aren't provided in the book. I figure I should draw maps for specific planned...

My party is (finally) at Xin Shalast, just a few steps behind yours.

My plan is to improvise all of this, I draw floorplans on the go using a very large pad of paper with inch-grid lines and a bunch of pens.

I've impressed upon my party the urgency of their mission at this point, so they don't have much time for sightseeing. I'm going to be continually reinforcing this via things like:

- Odd pyrotechnics and noises coming from up the mountain. Growing in intensity.
- Talk amongst the denziens of Xin that 'its imminent'.
- Increasing (but very occasional) attacks on them staged indirectly via Karzoug. His transmutation specialism helps with this type of encounter.
- Signs that the armies in the city are getting closer to mobilisation,

And so on...

So my players have to stay as hidden as possible, whilst finding the rings quickly. Hopefully that will stop the sandbox having to be too detailed out beyond what's written.

I'm most of the way through preparing a variety of wandering monster / mini events to play out to fill the moments between the listed encounters. I'll share them if i have the time to make them presentable - they're inspired by the Raging Swan approach (who i highly recommend), but written from the ground up to play up the themes above and feel very Xin-Shalast.

Good luck!

Silver Crusade

I definitely like having most maps drawn in advance. If we're just having a fight in a street, and I can draw some lines to represent the sides of buildings without needing detail, then I'm ok doing those on the fly. But for this building, I'm trying to plan number of encounters, decide on what types of setting I want for each, etc.

Also, it mentions "ancient traps", and I have no idea what to do for that.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Fromper wrote:


Also, it mentions "ancient traps", and I have no idea what to do for that.

Give the traps arthritis.

Silver Crusade

The PCs are level 16. I'm hard pressed to come up with a trap that will matter. Between their wings, fire resistance, evasion, insane saving throw bonuses, etc, I just have a hard time imagining that any trap that would keep out the riff raff will matter to them in the slightest. At worst, they may have to channel energy once to cure everyone after they get blasted by something, and then move on.

Maybe it's just me, but it almost doesn't seem worth the effort.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

How about a trap that gives them arthritis? Though in that case, they may just stop to cast Remove Curse or Restoration before moving on.


So don't build traps that directly harm the PCs. Instead, build traps that put them at a disadvantage.

Example: triggering a trap causes a room to start filling with water. Make sure the ceiling is too low for flight, and their objective is down low. They'll probably be able to teleport out, but hey, at least the rogue will have to hold their breath while picking the lock.

Slightly more annoying example: Get a two-tone floor -- say, black squares and white squares. Once the trap triggers, black squares are subject to reverse gravity, and white squares are subject to normal gravity. Randomly flip the polarity periodically -- say, every 1d3 rounds they swap.

Neither of these are especially dangerous to high level party, but they will make their lives more challenging, especially if there are monsters in the area that can deal with the changed environment -- say, degenerate fish-men in the first scenario, and incorporeal things that don't care about gravity in the second.

Alternately, if you do want to cause them some serious grief, there's always the old "symbol spell behind a door" thing. I suppose you could even put several of them behind one door -- say, a Symbol of Vulnerability, a Symbol of Death, and a Symbol of Insanity. Have people roll to determine which they see first.


Fromper wrote:

The PCs are level 16. I'm hard pressed to come up with a trap that will matter. Between their wings, fire resistance, evasion, insane saving throw bonuses, etc, I just have a hard time imagining that any trap that would keep out the riff raff will matter to them in the slightest. At worst, they may have to channel energy once to cure everyone after they get blasted by something, and then move on.

Maybe it's just me, but it almost doesn't seem worth the effort.

It's Thassilonian magic. Spell traps can duplicate any spell in the game. The problem isn't coming up with traps that matter, it's being sufficiently restrained. Aside from dispel or disjunction traps, your best bets are teleportation traps that split the party, in conjunction with summoning traps to dump enemies on the victims. Or you can pair an encounter with magical traps which synergize. Even the humble Symbol of Slow can do a number on a party if it goes off at the right time.

You can also create your own traps. Dump a Mind Fog spell trap right before a Confusion or Envious Urge spell trap and even a party with good saves can get into trouble.

A trap on its own will be uninteresting; you need traps paired with encounters or traps that trigger other traps that trigger encounters.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Page 31, Kraka Naratha Pathfinder #6 (the old version)

Entire stat block for this section

Quote:

Krak Naratha Soldiers (12) CR 8
Lamia kuchrima (see page 80)

TACTICS
Before Combat The kuchrimas cast shield on themselves before entering battle.
During Combat The kuchrimas avoid melee combat, hovering within 30 feet in order to gain the Point Blank Shot attack and damage bonuses.
They use their flaming arrows first. They use true strike on their initial attacks to make a catastrophic shot. Creatures successfully climbing the sides of the ravine or who separate themselves out are subject to grab attempts to carry them up high and drop them.
Morale The kuchrimas fight to the death at their leaders’ commands.

Bwuh?

Neither the stats on page 80 (nor the newer PFSRD stats) give them any spellcasting ability whatsoever, they don't have any gear listed aside from the mow and arrows (what flaming arrows...?)

I haven't been able to find any errata or anyone mentioning it; I cant be the first person to notice this can I?

(The newer PFSRD stats also don't have grab; from a google search, the tactics section still wsasn't fixed completely, as apparently it still has a reference to them tryng to drag PCs up high.)

I was going to buff them anyway (since CR 8s are just not going to be anything other than a laughable speed-bump to my projected level 15 PCs, so maybe I'll use this as an idea (+[x] fighter, +low-level caster)...

But even so, I figured someone on the interwebs ought to note this oddity.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I created some semi-fluff details for adding during the lower city traverse. Might be useful if you want to add some colour.

1 Low grey clouds roll in between the mountains and snow begins to fall, reducing the distance you can see and quieting sounds.
Easy to move unseen (see core rulebook), but afterwards leaves tracks. Melts quickly due to Xin Shalast’s warm(ish) stones, heated volcanically.

2. A long palisade of weighty icicles hangs from a the golden road.

3. You smell smoke, sharp and with a strange acrid odour.
If the PCs investigate they see the smouldering remains of a pile of bodies that have been burned. Investigation shows them to be humanoid (The Spared if the PCs have encountered them already), no clue over who burned them.

4. Trees and grass grow in a rubble-strewn courtyard. The place feels sheltered and secluded, unlike the rest of the threatening city you have been moving through.
This is a good place to hide out. The trees and grass manage to grow due to the protection from the elements the courtyard gives, and an ancient source of positive fey energy. PCs resting here will not be interrupted by wandering monsters.

5. A very deep humming sound comes from the north, in the direction of the highest tower along the mountains ridge. It lasts for 5 minutes. The sound is so low you feel it more than hear it.
Karzoug is up to something - can create a sense of urgency if the PCs are procrastinating.

6. Desiccated bodies of mice, birds and other small creatures hang around a half collapsed doorway.
Inside the doorway is an abandoned den of some beast.

7. The sound of galloping horses clatters between the tall buildings, somewhere in the distance.

8. A long crack across the path. Between 3-5 feet across, very deep.
Can’t see how far… climbing own gets into tunnels that lead to the spared.

9. Steam is rising from cracks in stone paved roads.

10. Looming ahead, you see one of the great towers has cracked and half fallen - now leaning precariously against another tower.

11. The wind is picking up, howling between the massive structures of the city, sending chills through you.

12. You see a blue spec high in the sky near the structures atop the mountain ahead. It descends slowly towards the city, and you see that it is a great blue dragon. It circles several tall towers and descends further, you lose sight of it.

13. The buildings tower above you, the scale of them build for creatures much larger than you. Now you know what it’s like to be a halfling.

14. You hear the barking of what sounds like large dogs echoes between the towering buildings.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I've prepared the Haunts as I described above, trying to give two different points of view and some "generic" haunts to fill things out so that everyone experiences something.
I also added an encounter at the landslide that trapped the dwarven expedition (and extra haunts for that as well).

The intent is not to make the cabin (much) more dangerous, just to provide a bit more information on the background of what happened, to fill out some of the story and the generic filler haunts hint at the influence of the creature behind the tragedy at the cabin.


First of all, I really appreciate all of the comments and insights that so many have shared in this thread - thank you all!

So as my players are nearing the north end of the city, and facing Gamigin for the first time (the paladin is out of Smite Evil, so it should be a tough fight), I would like some input on the following idea before I implement it near the big finale at the Pinnacle...

We have a large party as some of the players can't make every game (we play just once a month, and have gone through RotRL over the course of several years now). So one of the players took the Leadership feat to gain a cohort, and has over 60 followers. After the Vekker cabin, they wisely realized they shouldn't take all of the followers into Xin-Shalast, and left most of them to resupply at Guiltspur, and then come back to the cabin, while the main party sought out Xin-Shalast. They left behind over 30 followers and their mounts, along with a young ward they saved back in Chapter 3, and one of the PC's (the bard) that has missed the last several games, and has said he likely won't complete the campaign.

So my question is this - since one of the PC's has been wearing a Sihedron medallion for months, is it reasonable to assume that Karzoug knows about the followers that were left behind, and to have Ceoptra send either a rune giant or Ghlorofaex to kill most of the followers and bring back a few survivors (like the PC and the young ward) to hold captive at area 17 (Chamber of Anima Focus)? That way, when the PC's come to assault the chamber, she can give them an ultimatum of surrender, or kill their companions. I imagine that creates quite a pickle for the paladin, especially after one of the wardens of wind dumps out a sack of two dozen heads on the floor.

Is this too evil, or too disheartening for the PC's? I figure that Karzoug would do SOMETHING as the evil villain to stack the odds in favor of his minions. Any thoughts or advice?


2 people marked this as a favorite.

First a couple "AP mechanic" observations - Karzoug's scry is focused on the wearer of the medallion. We might have a discussion about whether that lets him discover all inclusive information about a group as large as yours - but for now let's assume it does. He can learn about the group being at the Vekker cabin and then later learn the group is smaller and not at the Vekker cabin. He and his minions can infer the other group is at the cabin but all he really knows is they've split up. My interpretation - the medallion does not give him 24x7 closed circuit television with DVR of the pc and allies. He has to spend some of his time not scrying on them so it's a leap to assume he automatically knows where the other half of the group (without a medallion) is.

Any "survivors" from the cabin won't last long in the Pinnacle - without sihedron rings or medallions, the Occluding Field will kill them long before the pc's get there.

If Ceoptra or Karzoug could strike at the pc's at the cabin, why not do it when the real problem (the bulk of the pc's) are there? If they can put rune giants and Ghlorofaex anywhere they want outside the city, why don't they do that to the group inside the city - who's much more of a threat? Why not have the rune giant or dragon attack the pc's while they're fighting Gamigan?

I assume the group did not go from 0 followers to 60 in Book 6 alone, so have the bad guys deliberately targeted the followers in the past? In Runeforge or Jorgenfist? Has the previous experience in the campaign given them any reason to fear for the fate of the followers they leave at the cabin? If not, this starts to look like a <word that rhymes with trick> move. Have you presented the paladin with these kinds of moral quandaries in the past? Players have a right to expect some level of consistency and if unsolvable moral dilemmas for the paladin haven't occurred by 16th level...

My view is that it's always better for the bad guys to strike at the pc's when the pc's have agency. Anyone can handwave off-camera action to harm/discomfort the pc's when they have no chance to react or counter. Want Karzoug to be EVIL? Have him spam horrid wilting on the followers with the pc's. Have all his minions concentrate fire, battle after battle on the party's healer(s) which is probably what makes the group so resilient (as to have made it this far.) Karzoug doesn't care about the people left at the cabin, he wants to get rid of the people currently plowing through his city and obviously planning on killing him. If you like the hostage theme, Gamigan could capture some of the Spared, like Morgiv. The ice devil has been around for an eternity - he knows how to twist the knife on these arrogant paladins - this way it's not the pc's followers being attacked off camera and more plausible the long time residents of the city know about each other (Gamigan and the Spared.)


That sounds like a hell of a party, more of an army! I didn't allow my PC to take his cohorts on the road, so they're busy running a spy network for him plus several businesses in Magnimar.

I had Gamigin capture and torture a spared, then leave him tied up inside a large building where the PCs would pass. The ice devil figured, since the party is good, they're vulnerable to weaknesses such as the desire to help innocents in danger. He was right. The sound of pitiful moans and crying for help echoing between the tall towers, how could they ignore that?

Gamgin sprung a nasty ambush as the PCs were trying to save the spared. I +1CR advanced the Scarlet Walkers and they managed to take our cleric into negative hit points (though not below her Con fortunately)>

The ambush tactic worked so well, they fell for it a second time, with a stone giant bait and a party of giants waiting nearby. Those good people, so predictable! So weak. So easy to manipulate.

Silver Crusade

Before we ended last session, my group indicated that they wanted to go explore Shahlaria, the cloud and storm giant fortress in Xin Shalast. They had avoided an earlier encounter with a cloud giant while hiding invisibly and watched him go walk up there, so it got their attention.

The adventure (anniversary edition) doesn't give much detail, other than to say it's a military fortress for cloud and storm giants, with their leaders generally not home.

If my PCs do go there, I'd like to flesh it out a little better, so it doesn't look like something I'm just making up on the fly. Has anyone drawn their own maps or anything that I could borrow, so I don't have to do this from scratch?


Fromper wrote:

Before we ended last session, my group indicated that they wanted to go explore Shahlaria, the cloud and storm giant fortress in Xin Shalast. They had avoided an earlier encounter with a cloud giant while hiding invisibly and watched him go walk up there, so it got their attention.

The adventure (anniversary edition) doesn't give much detail, other than to say it's a military fortress for cloud and storm giants, with their leaders generally not home.

If my PCs do go there, I'd like to flesh it out a little better, so it doesn't look like something I'm just making up on the fly. Has anyone drawn their own maps or anything that I could borrow, so I don't have to do this from scratch?

My PCs started to get interested in the fortress too. I discouraged them by giving indications that there were hundreds of giants up there - which could easily end up with the PCs being wiped out. The scare tactic was so effective that they ended up using control weather to summon a blizzard to hide their movements as they passed through the city beneath the fortress.

You could use one of the castles from the Castles of the Inner Sea Guide if they insist. Icerift castle in there looks fairly well suited for adaptation to giant inhabitation.

Silver Crusade

Given how much they've avoided being seen in Xin Shalast already (walking around in an invisibility sphere the whole time), I'm just glad they're showing an interest in interacting with anything. They avoided several random encounters and two areas that are supposed to be buildings of interest. They are fighting things here and there, but they're being choosy.

I kind of want them to get into the entrance hallway or whatever of that place, fight a few giants and win, but realize there are too many reenforcements coming at once. That should be enough to get them to back down. But they may try to explore the building invisibly or something, so I'd like to have a decent layout to present them with.


Giant Slayer has good giant based dungeons - I'm sure they could be used almost as-is with ignoring some of the story elements.


My own group checked it out but was readily put off when I described there were signs of a large number of giants in residence, plus their scouting of the city suggested the best giant soldiers resided there (from an encounter with Gyukak.) Additionally they assumed their main target would be the Pinnacle so they weren't interested in unnecessary combats.

But that's not all that helpful to you. What if the supposedly large number of giants in residence is a sham? What if the Rune Giants are making it look like there are a lot of giants to intimidate giants that arrive in the city? Or even to fool Karzoug about troubles they are having getting more giants. What if between the fiasco with Mokmurian and a few escapees from the domination effect, the giants of Varisia are hiding/fleeing from the Rune Giants to avoid being conscripted? You could have a large fortress with a Rune Giant, some fire giants working weapon/armor forges (to get some of fire giants in the mix) and a couple wardens of wind or thunder and a couple dozen stone giants, etc. Doable by the group if they handle it right and even another shot at a ring...


When my PCs were observing Xin-Shalast from a distance before attempting to enter, I had them observe a Rune Giant dominating a recently-captured Storm Giant. They quickly put together that the forces of "non-evil" giants in the city were under magical control and went out of their way to avoid killing any storm or cloud giants (unless it was obvious the latter were working for Karzoug of their own volition.) Because of that, they saw no reason to bother with Shahlaria. (Of course, they didn't bother with a lot of stuff. With the end in sight, they were focused on getting the required number of rings/amulets in order to storm the Pinnacle and put down Karzoug.)

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

My group hasn't seen a rune giant yet. I've hinted that there's something bigger than the normal giants, but I'm waiting for a good opportunity for a dramatic reveal. I also bought the "mini" for the rune giant, so I'll be able to pull one out and put it next to them on the battle map for size comparison, just to scare the hell out of them.


Beware Grease. It renders Rune Giants... less-than-impressive...

Silver Crusade

NobodysHome wrote:
Beware Grease. It renders Rune Giants... less-than-impressive...

Even greased, they still have the reach to hit anything, even while lying on their backs.

Besides, I don't think my party actually has Grease. The one arcane caster is a blasting focused sorcerer. They're very good at buffing and damage dealing, but battlefield control isn't something this group does much.


Fromper wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:
Beware Grease. It renders Rune Giants... less-than-impressive...

Even greased, they still have the reach to hit anything, even while lying on their backs.

Besides, I don't think my party actually has Grease. The one arcane caster is a blasting focused sorcerer. They're very good at buffing and damage dealing, but battlefield control isn't something this group does much.

It's not the reach... it's the damage output.

A rune giant with sword in hand can choose either a full-round at +23/+18/+13 (4d6+30) with a 17-20 crit range (important with Staggering Critical), or a single-round with Improved Vital Strike for a whopping +23 (12d6+30). This is damage that makes PCs go "ow". You can even turn off Power Attack, and the 17-20 crit range still wreaks havoc, plus 3 attacks per round.

They get Greased, blow their pathetic +6 Reflex saves, and their hopeless slams max out at +22/+22 (4d6+23), critting only on a 20 and only 2 attacks per round.

Trust me from having run them; the damage output from the slams doesn't bother PCs at all. All those critical feats thrown into the sword make their swords scary.

And that +6 Reflex save makes those swords go a-flyin'. I swear, my group learned that all Rune Giants had to be Greased the moment they approached...


The dwarven fighter in my group of pc's would literally giggle at a +23/+18/+13 attack sequence. The Rune Giant is hitting only on a 20 and therefore his enhanced crit range is meaningless. His only prayer will be to turn power attack off. If it comes down to melee, the giant is going to die very quickly. (The dwarf has a giant bane dwarven waraxe.)

Silver Crusade

Yeah, the front liners in my group are over 40 AC, too. And it goes up when they buff (which they frequently do).

Luckily, rune giants have a "breath" weapon, too. :) Also, Karzoug has studied them well enough to know which ones to engage in melee, and passed that information on to his top lieutenants in Xin Shalast. So every rune giant knows to breath weapon the two guys in the heavy armor and save the melee for the sorcerer, oracle, and the ranger's bow (which is likely to be sundered in the not-too-distant future).


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I just ran the Last part of the cabin encounter.

A reasonably balanced party of 5: Cleric, evoker, druid, barbarian/ninja, unchained rogue. 20 pt builds, a stronger party so I keep them one level lower than they should be. Skilled, careful players but not huge powergamers.

The cabin's save dcs on the haunts were to low to hurt the party, but the haunts were successfully creepifying. The party talked to Silas and decided to search for his brother's bones. The druid cast a control weather spell to stop the snowstorm. The wendigo won the caster-level roll off that I did secretly, but ended the snow to lure the pcs out.

The ghost fight went very badly for the party. The ghost criticalled the cleric, doing a lot of con damage, and the worm finished him off. The party killed them fairly quickly. The evoker decided to teleport the party back to civilization. I had decided the wendigo would be able to cast dispel magic 3x day, and he dispelled the spell as she cast it. The wendigo now changed the weather back to blizzard conditions. The PCs could not see or use their air walk due to the high wind, so they tied themselves together with the druid in front, who used her survival skill and find the path as the PCs took a three hour slog through deep snow.

The wendigo made a flyby attack, severing the druid's rope. Next round, it flew by again and grabbed the druid, taking her up 200 feet over the next two rounds and dropping her. The one change I made is I did give the wendigo dispel magic 3x day. It dispelled the air walk on the druid and dropped her. She used wild shape to transform into a eagle, and managed to deal with the buffetting winds and and with little damage.

Back at the cabin the party decided to bring out the bones and give them to Silas' ghost instead of attempting a umd to raise the cleric. The enraged wendigo ripped off the porch door and howled, sending the druid, her animal companion, and the barbarian/ninja running down the stairwell in the cabin. The rogue and evoker held their own, using fire spells and a cold iron magic dagger.

Meanwhile the panicked party members run out the front door and are attacked by the undead pine tree. The flee back inside, and the panic ends as the tree rips the walls apart and attacks them. They run back upstairs to join the wendigo fight, rightly judging it to be critical.

They arrive as the wendigo rips open the wall of the cabin closest to the bones of Silas' brother. The tiger companion, barbarian/ninja and rogue all attack the wendigo as the wizard and druid drop spells on it, having a lot of trouble with the high SR. The wendigo bullrushes the party back from the bones, and grabs them. The pcs try to finish the creature off, but fails, and it retreats into the storm, mocking their failure.

At this point, the tree monster breaks through the wall on the other side of the cabin. It's climbed up and as the blizzard howls, the exhausted party throws the last of their magic against the undead creature. It pounds the barbarian/ninja and the druid to death before being burnt to a crisp by the evoker.

With 3 PCs down, the party uses their emergency recall spell to return to civilization.

So, what will the wendigo do to prepare for the pcs return? I might have him abduct and transform local shoanti heroes into undead servants. I want something new to challenge the players when they return loaded for bear. . . I mean wendigo.

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Fromper wrote:

Yeah, the front liners in my group are over 40 AC, too. And it goes up when they buff (which they frequently do).

Luckily, rune giants have a "breath" weapon, too. :) Also, Karzoug has studied them well enough to know which ones to engage in melee, and passed that information on to his top lieutenants in Xin Shalast. So every rune giant knows to breath weapon the two guys in the heavy armor and save the melee for the sorcerer, oracle, and the ranger's bow (which is likely to be sundered in the not-too-distant future).

For the final battle in the Eye of Avarice, Karzoug crafted his Rune Giant bodyguard a brilliant energy greatsword. That leveled the playing field a bit.

-Skeld


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Skeld wrote:
Fromper wrote:

Yeah, the front liners in my group are over 40 AC, too. And it goes up when they buff (which they frequently do).

Luckily, rune giants have a "breath" weapon, too. :) Also, Karzoug has studied them well enough to know which ones to engage in melee, and passed that information on to his top lieutenants in Xin Shalast. So every rune giant knows to breath weapon the two guys in the heavy armor and save the melee for the sorcerer, oracle, and the ranger's bow (which is likely to be sundered in the not-too-distant future).

For the final battle in the Eye of Avarice, Karzoug crafted his Rune Giant bodyguard a brilliant energy greatsword. That leveled the playing field a bit.

-Skeld

Oooooooohhhhhh! That sounds magically delicious. Probability is exceptionally high that I will be stealing that idea.

251 to 300 of 412 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Adventure Path / Rise of the Runelords / Spires of Xin-Shalast (GM Reference) All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.