Spires of Xin-Shalast (GM Reference)


Rise of the Runelords

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Scarab Sages

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TheOrganGrinder wrote:
1) Its effects are noted to cover the whole of the Spires of Xin-Shalast, but I don't know if it's specifically mentioned anywhere that this extends into the extraplanar Eye of Avarice.... Or is it intended that PCs who find out Karzoug's identity early in the adventure path should be able to peek into the Eye of Avarice with no more than normal difficulty for scrying on a powerful NPC in an extraplanar space?

Either way, frankly I'd never let Karzoug fail that will save. My players greatly enjoyed the reveal of Karzoug upon Mokmurian's defeat and I wouldn't let anything spoil that. But yes, I'd say that the barriers to scrying extend to the Eye.

Quote:
2) Does possession of a Sihedron medallion or Sihedron ring allow a character to bypass the occluding field's otherwise absolute barrier to divination effects, or does it 'merely' protection the character from the field's other effects (teleportation block, vertigo, damage, wisdom drain, blindess)?

I can't imagine any reason why Karzoug would make it easier to scry on him through those objects. In my game, they provided protection from the physical effects only. I didn't see anything in the AP to suggest otherwise.

Quote:
I'm toying with the idea that a Sihedron ring protects the wearer from all of the occluding field's effects, while the less-powerful Sihedron medallion does not - from an in-setting perspective, I feel as though Karzoug wouldn't carelessly hand out items that, if captured, would allow...

Xin-Shalast can be a bit of a slog. The occluding field wasn't a particularly fun thing, and there really isn't any reason to make it a major plot point. The main thing it does is it potentially forces some of them to wear the Sihedron medallions, which provides some entertainment when Karzoug speaks through their voice.


TomParker wrote:
Either way, frankly I'd never let Karzoug fail that will save. My players greatly enjoyed the reveal of Karzoug upon Mokmurian's defeat and I wouldn't let anything spoil that. But yes, I'd say that the barriers to scrying extend to the Eye.

This is about what I was leaning toward too. :)

TomParker wrote:
I can't imagine any reason why Karzoug would make it easier to scry on him through those objects. In my game, they provided protection from the physical effects only. I didn't see anything in the AP to suggest otherwise.

The description of the occluding field on page 342 of the Anniversary Edition notes that "the occluding field renders the entire area shown on the Spires of Xin-Shalast map on page 343 impenetrable to divination or scrying of any sort (though use of the Eye of Avarice to scry upon the outside world is not similarly barred)," and goes on to state that "a character who wears a Sihedron medallion or Sihedron ring can ignore the effects of the occluding field," and what I'm trying to determine here is how those two statements interact - whether the scrying/divination barrier is included in the effects that the Sihedron items allow the wearer to ignore, or if it's only the dangerous effects of the field (teleportation block, vertigo, damage, wisdom drain, blindess) that are ignored.

Khalib (p. 357-358) has arcane eye prepared, and has made several divination spells permanent upon himself, so either it's his Sihedron ring that allows those permanent spells to function (and makes his choice to prepare arcane eye a meaningful one), or those effects are suppressed until he leaves the occluding field, or "impenetrable to divination or scrying of any sort" applies only to spells and effects that pass into or out of the occluding field, rather than those that take place entirely within it - that last part is something I don't need to think about for many months though!

TomParker wrote:
Xin-Shalast can be a bit of a slog. The occluding field wasn't a particularly fun thing, and there really isn't any reason to make it a major plot point. The main thing it does is it potentially forces some of them to wear the Sihedron medallions, which provides some entertainment when Karzoug speaks through their voice.

Apologies if I wasn't clear about what I was considering here - if it's intended (or if I decide, for my group/table) that the scrying/divination barrier is among the effects that wearing a Sihedron item allows a character to ignore, then I was thinking about having that property apply only to Sihedron rings, not to the less-powerful Sihedron medallions - both types of item would allow their wearers to ignore the dangerous effects of the occluding field.

My players are a long way from Xin-Shalast and I don't know enough to anticipate what their reactions will be - could be that they want to press on immediately toward the Spires only to find themselves turned back by the occluding field until they've accumulated a sufficient number of Sihedron items, could be that they're happy to explore the sprawling lost city until events propel them onward.

Thank you for your thoughts on this!

Shadow Lodge

About Khalib, you can use divination spells while within the field, as long as their targets are also within the field. He could always cross the field's threshhold, Teleport somewhere else, then do that again to go back after doing his divinations to see where the PCs are.

Also, I feel like it's implied that the protection the Sihedron objects give in relation to the occluding field relates to being inside it, instead of divining/conjuring through it. Though I'd say, if a PC manages to Detect Scrying, and successfully make that caster level check, feel free to take that player aside and tell them they get a mental image of Karzoug offering a round of sarcastic applause.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The occluding field "feels like an invisible force, almost like gravity, that seems to push against the intruders" (RotR AE p. 342).

Should I take this as flavour text, backed up by the effects described in the rest of the paragraph, or should I take it as an actual Repulsion effect (like the spell)?

I'm currently favouring the first option as there is no accompanying DC for a Will saving throw.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I personally wouldn't, but you can if you wish, though if you went that route, I'd recommend the Sihedron rings and amulets allow the PCs to ignore the repulsion effect as well.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks for the answer. Like you suggested, I think that I'll skip defining it as a Repulsion effect mechanics-wise, and just go with the mechanics already delineated in RotR AE.

Liberty's Edge

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Self-pitying sigh.

Just finished the last session of my home Runelords game before driving our daughter to her first year of college, and my ability to deny she's leaving has come to an end.

My wife, daughter, son, their friend, and I started this AP on New Year’s Eve, 2014; tonight, we got through the Fen of the Icemists and the fight with the giants guarding the road to Xin-Shalast. The night ended as the PCs started up the gold-tinted path and caught their first glimpse of the city, much of it built from green marble, sparkling in the early dawn.

They got it, and I played "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" as we packed up for the night.

I hope everyone took good notes, because we probably won’t get to play again until December. #IcastSunriseSunset

Scarab Sages

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Tusk the Half-Orc wrote:
They got it, and I played "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" as we packed up for the night.

Nice. I played The Ecstasy of Gold from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly when they first saw Xin-Shalast.


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My players nicknamed Karzoug "Ruby Slippers" for some unknown reason back in book 4 or so. We've just made it to Xin Shalast and the group flipped when the Oz reference came out.


It's mentioned in the description of the Leng Device (p354 of Anniversary Edition) that it's similar to the ring of stone in Magnimar. However, even after flicking through the "Magnimar, City of Monuments" book, I can't find any reference to a ring of stone.

Can anyone tell me what is this actually referring to? Thanks.


It is refering to the ring stone in Riddleport, the Cyphergate.


Adjoint wrote:
It is refering to the ring stone in Riddleport, the Cyphergate.

Ah, thanks. That makes a lot more sense.

Liberty's Edge

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I’m starting to prep for the final battle (still a few months off, but I want to be ready). Am I missing a reference to the roof height above the various surfaces in the Eye of Avarice? I’m not sure how much good a prismatic wall will do if the party can fly right over it.

Scarab Sages

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I assumed the throne was tucked into an alcove of sorts, so the prismatic wall sealed off that section. I considered the rest of the room to be at least as high as the distance to the lava.

Liberty's Edge

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Thanks, that makes sense. I’ll probably do the same.

Liberty's Edge

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Welp, I just did a mock run through the final fight with my party at their current level (16, just entering Xin-Shalast), and it did not go well for the heroes of Sandpoint. I ran it just with the party (4 PCs, 1 GMPC fighter), no minions (the rogue is now the Highlady of Wrath and has four surviving warriors of Wrath following her around who are currently at level 12), no called or pre-summoned allies, and no hero points. I prebuffed the PCs with all of their usual end-of-book boss fight buffs and had the cleric and wizard prep their usual spells. I gave big K one round of buffing to cast Mass Bear's Endurance before they arrived in the Eye, figuring he would have seen some of the fight with Ceoptra. Other than that, I mostly stuck to the tactics as written.

It did not go well for the party. Karzoug and the dragon rolled well for initiative, going first and second. Meteor Swarm was surprisingly effective thanks to a few good attack rolls for K and bad saving throws by the wizard and cleric. The cleric has 20 points of fire resistance, but the wizard took the full damage from being whacked in the face with two of the meteors and in the range of all four explosions.

The dragon used its breath weapon and I rolled to determine which two PCs would be caught in the line; he got the monk and the wizard. The monk has improved evasion, made the save, took no damage; the wizard failed this save, too, and was left with 7 hit points.

It went downhill from there. By the end of round 2, the dragon was dead, but the wizard was unconscious (before his turn), the fighter was in a Maze, the cleric was on the wrong side of a Wall of Force dividing the Arrival Platform, and the rogue and the monk were badly injured and had retreated to the Arrival Platform to guard the wizard's body until the cleric could get there.

By the end of round 4, the cleric and monk were dead, the fighter was still in the Maze, and the rogue was hiding in a cloud of smoke she had unleashed from an ever-smoking bottle.

In round 6, the rogue managed one successful sneak attack on Karzoug that took out most of his temporary HP.

Round 7, Karzoug casts Temporal Stasis defensively and freezes the rogue in mid-air, forever.

Ten minutes later, the fighter reappears from the Maze. I didn't bother to run it, but I'm confident he will die quickly.

In reality, they will be at least one level higher by the time they get there, maybe two. The cleric plans to ask an angel for help before they head into the Pinnacle, using greater planar ally, and I'm sure they'll have hero points saved up to use in the Eye, which will help with the bad saving throws, but while I expected the party to lose, I was surprised at how quickly it all went south. I may run it all again in a couple of months, using the same initiative rolls and enemy tactics, to see how much of this outcome depended on the dice.

Scarab Sages

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I think some of it depends on how you run the prismatic wall. I ran it as a defensive tool that wanted to stay behind, and didn't allow him to quickened D Door through it. (There are varying opinions on this, I think.) In retrospect, after reading his tactics again, I think maybe the intent of prismatic wall was to be cast amongst the PCs to split them off.

My party was 5 people, plus a semi-reformed Viorian Dekanti. I don't use XP, so they were whatever level the AP said they should be entering the Eye. They all had dominant weapons, which Karzoug knew, so he didn't squander actions on things like disintegrate. Their stats were also a bit ridiculous due to some whining 6 years previously when we'd started. They were used to modified stat generation methods that made them grossly overpowered, but that was offset quite a bit by the fact that they're not remotely optimizers.

I also took the map as 10' scale. There was a conversation, probably in this thread, about the correct scale. I think the map says 5', but the descriptions of the Runewell imply that the squares are 10', and it seemed silly that Karzoug would create the Eye where his guards on the platforms would be squeezing. (If you're treating it as a 5' scale, keep that in mind—in many areas the giants will be squeezing.) Also, based on the model I built, Karzoug didn't have line of sight when they arrived on the platform, and stuck to long range spells due to the distance.

I probably didn't run Karzoug as well as I should have (and it's been a year, so some details are foggy), but they also made some key saves. I did completely forget about the glaive until pretty late in the combat, but it was close enough as I ran it. If I'd run his tactics better, I think he would have beat them. Ultimately, it felt like an epic conclusion and no one felt like any punches were pulled.

Everyone played to their strengths. The rangers worked on the giants, their favored enemy. The paladin smote the dragon. Twice. The combat ran 12 rounds over 5 hours or so. As they closed in on Karzoug, he killed the sorcerer and Dekanti with Wail of the Banshee, and then the paladin closed on him and smote him.


I'm thinking of skipping Sins of the Saviors and taking my group straight from Fortress of the Stone Giants into Spires of Xin-Shalast. I don't think my group will enjoy Sins of the Saviors, as it's mainly a long dungeon-crawl with little to liven it up, and nothing significant in terms of the story other than gaining dominant weapons (which can be achieved some other way). Would this be a foolish idea? Are there any problems that you can foresee?

Of course, this would mean that I would have to scale down the encounters in Spires of Xin-Shalast to be appropriate for a party of 13th-15th level. Is that do-able? Has anyone tried something similar?

Grand Lodge

I know people have skipped Sins of the Saviors by re-directing their party into Book 5 of Shattered Star, but I don't know enough about that AP to recommend that or know how to merge them.

While the story of Book 5 is pretty light, it is massively important for Golarion. You find notes on how several of the Runelords aimed to survive the Cataclysm, meaning other potential Runelords could be stopped before they ever influence things as much as Karzoug has. Additionally, you get confirmation of when the Cataclysm was (10,000 years ago, not 8,000), how each sin is connected to a school of magic, and a glimpse of just how much has managed to survive from Thassilon without people's notice.

That said, my party is primarily motivated to answer questions they have - if your party is a little less engaged with the history, then I think you have two options (other than leveling down Xin-Shalast, as you'll find that much harder than you'd like it to be: )

1) Find another pre-written adventure for Book 5 dealing with Thassilon, and shape the information found there to match what's in Book 5. I don't know the APs that well, but I would, as mentioned, start with Shattered Star Book 5 for this.

2) Find a way to increase drama of Book 5. For instance, I'm planning to have lamia minions of Karzoug's follow the PCs into Runeforge, trying to take them out when they're weak, as well as figure out how other Runelords managed to survive the Cataclysm (especially Alaznist, as I think either she stole her idea from him, or he stole his idea from her). He's got to be thinking more than a step ahead here, and his next big threat after the PCs are his fellow dormant Runelords. The politics of Runeforge are something I think is a lot of fun, but I'm sure there are other ways to spice up the Runeforge for your players.


Callum wrote:

I'm thinking of skipping Sins of the Saviors and taking my group straight from Fortress of the Stone Giants into Spires of Xin-Shalast. I don't think my group will enjoy Sins of the Saviors, as it's mainly a long dungeon-crawl with little to liven it up, and nothing significant in terms of the story other than gaining dominant weapons (which can be achieved some other way). Would this be a foolish idea? Are there any problems that you can foresee?

Of course, this would mean that I would have to scale down the encounters in Spires of Xin-Shalast to be appropriate for a party of 13th-15th level. Is that do-able? Has anyone tried something similar?

I outlined replacing Sins of the Saviors with Into the Nightmare Rift (chapter 5 of Shattered star). Basically keep everything from Sins up to and including Arkrhyst (because fighting a dragon is always awesome), then head to Guiltspur (which conveniently is owned by Karzoug anyway and makes sense that he stole Runeforge (the greedy bastard) and hid it here.

part of the chapter 5 portion of my outline:
Fighting a Demi-Lich (Tomb of Horrors), and a Drow (Descent into the Depths of the Earth) side trek ticked all the boxes of my 1st Edition Grognardism. I also replaced the Hill Giants and their leader with Fire Giants (they were working in lava tubes after all) for better flavor (think Against the Giants, I was even renaming the Fire Giant leader to Snurre as a homage to that old module), as well as eliminating part of the sihedron shard/infinity stone angle. This leaves the only shard in Leng to the drow to be handled either off-camera (see my outline) or if the PCs take the optional planar side-trek to help them.

Campaign changes.....

1) Lamashtu’s Shrine- The catacombs and/or Scribbler will point to the statues/map room at Rimeskull as the place where the PCs can discover the location of Runeforge.

2) Rimeskull- Arkrhyst as a Dragon, makes for a perfect servant of Greed. He serves as the guardian of Rimeskull. The statues there (when pointed in the proper directions) reveal the location of Runeforge, instead of the separate dungeons of sin. At the GMs option, Arkrhyst can flee to Xin-Shalast if things go poorly for him.

3) Guiltspur- This is the new location of Runeforge. The two items (of Enchantment and Illusion from Karzoug’s opposition schools) needed to forge Dominant weapons will be located here (see #5 below). The Whisperstone is replaced by reasearching within the Runeforge or getting Mesmalatu to talk somehow.

4) Runeforge is now just a huge library chamber (see area D just seal off the tunnels leading to the separate wings). The fear-faced portal behind Mesmalatu, the awakened demilich cleric of Nyarlathotep (E9) is the only entrance, which is still functional. The walls are filled with books and tomes of various nature but most deal with magic related subject matter. Mesmalatu is the only surviving disciple in Runeforge, the other servants of the Runelords are long dead, having destroyed themselves over thousands of years after their masters left to go into their hibernation. Being that the portals to each dungeon are gone, all the information the party needs pertaining to Karzoug, his method of returning, the process of making Runeforged weapons, etc can be researched here, or by somehow getting Mesmalatu to talk.

5) Possibly keep Delvahine the Succubus (Sins of the Saviors H7) as another surviving disciple somewhere in Guiltspur, her locks of hair can be the Lust/Enchantment components needed for Runeforging. Dust from Mesmalatu (or a scale from Cadrilkasta if the PCs decide to take a side trek into Leng to help the Drow and stop a future threat) can be used for the Pride/Illusion components in Runeforging. The Curator can reveal these facts as can research within Runeforge.

6) Xaivanshee and the Deep Hunt of the recently destroyed House Rasivrein, are after a powerful item rumored to be in the Realm of Leng, or could be after Delvahine herself (at the DM's option) who is largely responsible for the destruction of her house. She is willing to assist the PCs if they clear the Embassy of Leng and help her reactivate the portal. She won't reveal that she has already tried to enter the Embassy and lost two of her Hunt Mistresses to the Flying Polyp in E2. She will instead divulge that they have tracked Delvahine to the Embassy and were preparing to enter it. Unfortunately, they lost two Hunt Mistresses to the Purple Worms in D7 before they could do so.

7) Vraxeris’s gear (Sins of the Saviors I3) can be found as treasure in the Curator’s tomb (Nightmare Rift room C11).

Guiltspur changes (for flavor as well as eliminating Jubbek and the sihedron shard plotline).....
A1) Four Fire Giants. Two in the tower, the other 2 behind the wall.
A2) Eliminate the Mastodons.
A3) Three Fire Giants, each can man on Ballista if alerted.
A5) Two Fire Giants toil below.
A6) General Stom and three Fire Giants.

B1) One Giant is on guard duty at all times, the other is sleeping in western spur of the northern lava tube (B2b). They take turns mining, resting, guarding with the Giant in the lava tubes (B2 and B2b).
B2) One Fire Giant mining one of the lava tubes at all times (Currently B2).
B5) Two fire Giants.
B6a) One Fire Giant, remove the other two Hill Giants.
B7) Two Fire Giants and another Rift Drake pet.
B8) Replace Jubbek with a Fire Giant Fighter 4, all the Hill Giants with a Fire Giant guard and a Fire Giant Concubine, and Skullcracker with a standard Nessian Warhound. The two guards are ordered to fight first. If one dies, the concubine is ordered into the fray. After another Giant is killed, the Fire Giant leader enters the fray.

Feel free to steal if this helps/inspires you in any way.

Late Edit*** I should add that I had some backstory developed concerning Delvahine and the now-ruined drow house Rasivrein and helping the drow now would have them show up later in force during their progress through Xin-Shalast. I was going to use a small drow army fighting Karzougs minions (which included frost giants) in the background making it easier for the PCs to head to head to Mhar Massif with less hinderances, as well as an occasional bailout from certain death as needed. But my chapter 6 spins and twists are stories for another day.


That's fantastic, Sunderstone, and very helpful!

Spoiler:
One thing I'm not clear on is the transition from Rimeskull to Guiltspur. The sequence in SotS is that the PCs must cast appropriate spells on the stone heads (B), which cause them to release keys. These keys must then be taken down into the frozen cathedral (C3-5) and put into the pillars there. This opens a portal that leads to the demiplane of Runeforge (D). In your version, does this portal lead to Guiltspur?


Callum wrote:

That's fantastic, Sunderstone, and very helpful!

** spoiler omitted **

No it just tells them where it's located. They have to head there on their own. I'm toying with the idea of eliminating Rimeskull altogether and replacing it with a reworked Giantslayer #4 but on a smaller scale. The frost giant village will be almost abandoned and at the base of Rimeskull as most of the giants have already been sent to Xin-Shalast.


Sunderstone wrote:
I'm toying with the idea of eliminating Rimeskull altogether and replacing it with a reworked Giantslayer #4 but on a smaller scale. The frost giant village will be almost abandoned and at the base of Rimeskull as most of the giants have already been sent to Xin-Shalast.

Yes, I think I might leave Rimeskull out and just have the Scribbler's rhyme lead to Guiltspur.

Spoiler:
I also feel as though the portal behind Mesmalatu, which leads to Runeforge, should need to be activated somehow. Maybe something like casting a spell of each school at the portal?


Callum wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

Getting past Mes will be hard enough. Defeating her will activate the portal or she can activate it for them depending on how things go. Your way is as good as mine.

:)


Hey, Sunderstone, one more question, if I may: why have you removed all the hill giants "for flavor"? To remove the Sihedron shard plotline, you could just remove the shard, couldn't you?


Callum wrote:
Hey, Sunderstone, one more question, if I may: why have you removed all the hill giants "for flavor"? To remove the Sihedron shard plotline, you could just remove the shard, couldn't you?

The Shard will be replaced by some other item of power for story purposes. Probably some forgotten minor artifact of Zura. Also, my group would probably ask a lot of questions, and the possibility of them finding out there are other shards between chapter 5 and 6 may send them elsewhere. OR after some research (which my group may do afterwards), "OMG, what did we give the Drow? We have to go after them..."

TBH, the latter was the original plan in my first few outline drafts. Delvahine the Succubus from Sins of the Savior is Karzougs mover and shaker. Not only is she overseeing his awakening, but she's also restarting his last plan from before the hibernation. Xin-Shalast's location was not random when it was built. Its is miles and miles above a long forgotten city... Ilmurea (from serpent skull). That is the Drow's endgame. They know Delvahine is trying to awaken the serpent god which will serve as Karzoug's engine of destruction, The Drow want to harness it for their own use, the artifact will give them limited control of it. Delvahine will simply unleash it destroying Ilmurea in the process before Karzoug is awakened and takes control of it once she retrieves the artifact from the drow (off camera) or from the party.
The main drow force is already down there dealing with the serpentfolk waking up. Basically I already replaced every Urdefhan with a similar CR drow unit, the party just gives the Hunt the last item they needed once they clear it.

So the end of Runelords, the group has 2 paths, stop the serpent god from being unleashed AND stop Karzoug from awakening.

Hill Giants in general are kind of "meh" for me, and too close to Ogres IMHO. Chapter three does Ogres to death and I didn't want a a revisit in chapter 5 flavor-wise after fighting all those Kreegs. It also enhances my GDQ series goal... Stone Giants, Fire Giants, Frost giants in Xin Shalast.
TBH, I'll likely skip Leng totally and have Mesmalatu guarding the Zura artifact as well as the portal to Runeforge and an additional working portal to Ilmurea below if I use it. Also if I use the frost giant village in Giantslayer 4, ill make sure the group doesn't try to fight the stone giant encampments and use the stealth way in and peacefully disband them via Conna (the female stone giant IIRC). In GS4 they have to invade a Frost giant town, and I'd rather not invade two giant towns back to back, that's repetitive.

Late Edit*** to me Guiltspur is an arcane museum. Delvahine, Mesmalatu and Curator are staff of sorts. Karzoug is the king of greed and adding a dead serpent god/engine of destruction would be the centerpiece of his collection, not to mention an advantage should any other Runelord awaken and find out he stole Runeforge and had it moved.

Grand Lodge

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Runeforge in Sins of the Saviors ended up being one of my players' favorite parts of the campaign.

-Skeld


Skeld wrote:

Runeforge in Sins of the Saviors ended up being one of my players' favorite parts of the campaign.

-Skeld

That is awesome IMHO. It would be less work that way for me... Maybe ;). I always like to expand things.

My group would tire of the video gamey dungeons and would be looking for a shortcut to the end. Tbh, they like dungeons in general, but the novelty of the themes of each sin would bore them. I can see them saying "finally the last sin dungeon" or by the halfway point they would ask to get ported straight to level 7 so to speak. From a GM standpoint, I found a total of three interesting wings, the rest were “meh". YMMV.


Skeld wrote:
Runeforge in Sins of the Saviors ended up being one of my players' favorite parts of the campaign.

What did they like about it?

Liberty's Edge

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Our 9.5-hour New Year’s Eve game - the 5th anniversary of our Runelords campaign - began where our post-Christmas session left off: in The Tangle in Xin-Shalast, fighting the Root of the World (which turned out to be quite a brute once I statted it up). My wife (the cleric) summoned a treant (a beautifully painted mini, but it was turned to splinters in two rounds), a cloud giant (entranced after two unsuccessful attacks), and a genie (obliterated in one round), and after six rounds of combat (over 4 hours), the party had killed two advanced fiendish yellow musk zombie hill giants but only managed to inflict a net 25 hp of damage to the Root of the World itself, even after the wizard hit it with enervation twice for 4 negative levels and bestowed a major curse on it. The Glassworks Gang wisely decided to withdraw, courtesy of Getaway, vowing to return once Karzoug has been dealt with.

In the morning, they met Gyukak and got some information from him, then moved on to the Heptaric Locus. At about 2am, still facing Gamigin, one scarlet walker, and one summoned bone devil, we decided to call it a night and will pick up the combat over the weekend.

Happy New Year, one and all!

Liberty's Edge

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(Spires of Xin-Shalast, part 4: Xin-Shalast) Last week, my players finished their fight with Gamigin and the Scarlet Walkers (which will be the name of my next band), meaning I had one night that I could run straight from the book. Last night, they were back to continuing their exploration of the parts of Xin-Shalast described in the AP as "beyond the scope of this adventure." They went into Shahlaria, which I described as having once been "Evil Giant West Point." I'm making up the map as I go along, and I plan to just throw increasing numbers of cloud giants and storm giants at them until they decide they've had enough and leave or get to round 20, at which point a rune giant will arrive. I've been keeping them in initiative the entire time - in 4.5 hours of playing time, we got to (checks notes) the top of round 9. So far, they have encountered and killed:

- 1 cloud giant guard at the front entrance who lasted less than one full round, but managed to shout a warning heard by the giants inside
- 2 more cloud giants who tried to corner the party in the front hallway (length of combat: 1 round)
- A storm giant and another cloud giant, who were waiting for them in an enormous assembly hall (length of combat: 1 round). The dwarf ki mystic monk took down the storm giant in one turn, dealing 205 hp of damage by punching it very hard, many times. Buffed with heroism and haste, but still, jeez.

We ended the session just as two more storm giants burst into the room. Next round, three more cloud giants will come in from another doorway. After that, I'll probably give them a couple of rounds to heal and maybe check around for loot or information before sending in a group of three storm giants, and so on.

They are VERY effective against giants, but they've said they want to check out the House of Divine Consumption next, where the lamia priestesses live. We'll see how they do in a series of rapid encounters with monstrous divine spellcasters.


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For a while I've been trying to figure out: how is Karzoug feeding his army of giants? It's been established that it's really hard to get to Xin-Shalast, even by magic, and there's not exactly a lot of arable land, and giants obviously have to eat a lot because they're big. Plus it's cold so they burn a lot of calories just staying warm.

I thought about maybe putting goodberry bushes in the Snarl, or introducing a bunch of giant druids whose job is just to cast goodberry over and over.

I thought about giving them lots of sustaining spoons.

But what I finally settled on was: they're having their food shipped in by Denizens of Leng, who are of course famed as traders (and slavers). When the Rune Giants go out to collect new tribes of giants, they also kidnap any humans/elves/etc that they find, and trade them to the Denizens of Leng in exchange for vast shipments of curious fruits and unsettling meats, all procured in the distant dreamlands and brought to Xin-Shalast in the holds of the black ships sailing the dream-oceans that touch every mortal shore.

This gives me a way to introduce new PCs in the event of permadeath -- they were captured and brought to Xin-Shalast to be traded to the Denizens of Leng.

Shadow Lodge

I ran into the same issue, and came up with a few other ideas:

In the Pinnacle, there's a banquet table that's a fixed magic item that can do a 1/day Bountiful Banquet or Heroes' Feast. You can also swap out one of Ceoptera's spells, and those of the other lamia, for them.

As for the lesser minions, give them a transmutation that makes garbage edible, as long as it's successfully eaten before the spell wears off.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I had to get creative when one of my (two!) groups in Book 6 got to the point where they realised that they needed Sihedron rings/medallions in order to scale Mhar Massif.

They'd destroyed the Hidden Beast and the dragon and looted them/their lairs thoroughly. Gamegin had 'ported out the first time he fought them and the party 'ported out the second time, so no ring (yet) from him. That put the ring count at only two. They have four full party members and one henchwoman, so they need three more Sihedron items.

How the party solved the problem (after being too clever and causing part of it themselves):

To date, they've found four medallions (Nualia, Xanesha, BB, Mokmurian - Lucrecia has succeeded so far in evading death because she can Dimension Door/Teleport away).

One medallion was still in their possession, in a Bag of Holding (it had been used to keep Enga Keckvia "fresh" until the CN Barbarian could take the Leadership feat). The other three had been sold to various sea captains in Riddleport after the party had finally discovered the "hidden feature" which allowed Special K to scry/contact them. (I'd treated that feature as a curse, and their item identification abilities hadn't been that good when they found the first one.)

The party has (at least for now) given up on finding Gamegin's ring, so they decided to track down at least two of the other three medallions. (While they do have the opportunity to meet a levelled-up Lucrecia with a medallion in Xin-Shalast, they don't know that yet.)

So where were the three other medallions?

I decided that one sea/pirate captain had retired in Riddleport. That required only some Diplomacy checks (to find him and to persuade him to sell it) and the cash to buy the item (he demanded full price for "the inconvenience").

No Diplomacy checks could find the other captains, other than to say that they were "at sea". So the party started throwing Divination, Commune, etc. at the problem. One annoying thing about the Commune spell is that if the user has a good grasp of geography, then he can basically quarter the world map until he homes in on the item's/person's location ("Is it north of the Inner Sea?", "Is it west of Riddleport?", etc.) unless the target is protected against that level of divination magic.

I told them that one location was on the south coast of Vudra, and then every time they checked up on it again, that it had moved. The other one was approximately 1,200 miles SW of Riddleport, and not moving. The party assumed that it was on an island, and that it was the easier one to buy/take back.

After some discussion, they crafted a Folding Boat and then Windwalked to the vicinity over the course of three days. (One of them also had Overland Flight active, so he could come out of Windwalk earlier than the others, activate the Folding Boat, and then everyone could land on it to sleep, etc.) When they got there, there was a big storm in progress and they had to anchor themselves two miles away.

Figuring that the storm was natural, the Druid just cast Control Weather in stages to "carve out" sections of the storm to calm. This brought them closer to the target location. A Commune let them know that they were roughly six miles from the target, so they continued onwards "towards the island". No island appeared. The next Commune let them know that the target was now six miles behind them. A few more questions later, and they realised that they needed to go deep sea diving. Yes, six miles down. Why, yes, now that you ask, the GM does have the Aquatic Adventures rules supplement. :)

Even with Life Bubble (I'm really starting to dislike that spell as it supplies too many "get out of jail free" cards), various magical light sources, and a Druid in giant octopus form, reaching near the bottom of the equivalent of Challenger Deep/the Mariana Trench is no joke. Particularly if the party hasn't been in the habit of diving before. I was nice and only demanded one DC 15 Will save to avoid being Shaken. (In retrospect, I should have started at DC 15 and increased it with every new zone entered on the way down.)

Six miles down they found a ship's graveyard. And a kraken. Luckily not a kraken with class levels, particularly not spellcasting levels. (Dispel Magic would have been ... deadly.) The kraken's ink cloud caused a lot of problems: no one had the Blind-Fight feat - except for the kraken - and I'd ruled that the Fog-Cutting Lenses didn't work underwater. However, three (!) criticals later and the kraken was history despite having maximized hit points. Two high-level Barbarians and an Intensified Vampiric Touch from the Magus are no joke.

Some successful Perception checks while searching produced the medallion (around the neck of a human skeleton). And now the party can return to Xin-Shalast.


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So after the PCs defeat the Hidden Beast, a day or so later their new skulk friends find a hidden shrine and give them a Bag 'o Loot.™

My PCs just defeated the Hidden Beast, and I've decided on a mild twist: the shrine was deliberately hidden by Mesmina, the prophetess who foretold the PCs' coming. She knew that it would be rediscovered when the time came, and so she left a letter for each PC. The letters will contain cryptic hints/warnings about things in Xin-Shalast.

Except for one: our ranger, Micah, is about as shallow as you can possibly get. He has basically decided that everyone in the entire world who's taller than about 6' 5" deserves to die. He has Favored Enemy: Giant, and just cannot get it through his head that some of them are rather nice if you can refrain from eviscerating them. He's firmly in the "kill them all and let Pharasma sort them out" camp, and flirting with an evil alignment as a result.

So his letter is going to be: "To Micah Valian Arneseph: the true measure of a person is not whether they are tall or short, but whether they are small-minded. Be a bigger man. -- Mesmina"


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
TomParker wrote:

So I ran the final fight this weekend.

...

Photos are here.

I'm prepping for the Pinnacle and Eye of Avarice for my groups, and was just reviewing recent (past few years) posts about those locations.

Your model is fantastic - I really envy your players!

And I just noticed your T-shirt in the photos (must have missed it somehow when the link was originally posted). The text looks hilarious, but I can't see all of it. Any chance of you supplying the entire T-shirt text, please? :)

Grand Lodge

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Callum wrote:
Skeld wrote:
Runeforge in Sins of the Saviors ended up being one of my players' favorite parts of the campaign.
What did they like about it?

Sorry, I just saw this....

They liked that each section had its own theme and feel.

They liked that it provided insight into the backstory of the campaign (payoff because i slow-dripped the details of the campaign through the first 3-4 chapters; they didn't even know what campaign they were playing until chapter 4).

And they also liked that I made sure to give each character an area where they were particularly impactful.

It's all about presentation. Go into Runeforge planning to run "just a big dungeon" and that's all it will ever be.

-Skeld

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Bellona wrote:
TomParker wrote:

So I ran the final fight this weekend.

...Photos are here.

Your model is fantastic - I really envy your players!

And I just noticed your T-shirt in the photos (must have missed it somehow when the link was originally posted). The text looks hilarious, but I can't see all of it. Any chance of you supplying the entire T-shirt text, please? :)

Thanks! The t-shirts were something I had made for the entire group when they finally reached Xin-Shalast. It's a reproduction of this t-shirt. I looked everywhere and couldn't find them sold anymore, so I had to recreate the design and produced a small batch for me and my players.


I came up with stats for the Root of the Tangle. Leaving a link here for future GMs who may need such a thing.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

@TomParker: Thank you for the link. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Tinalles wrote:

I came up with stats for the Root of the Tangle. Leaving a link here for future GMs who may need such a thing.

This looks interesting! If one of my groups gets too interested in the Tangle, it'll be good to have some real stats on hand. :)

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