Souls for Smuggler's Shiv (GM Reference)


Serpent's Skull

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Yarzoth fight would have been a TPK, but we managed to flee.

She dominated the barbarian, but we managed to get him back due to a protection from evil.

The combination of blur and absurdly high SR (at that level) more or less meant the wizard and rogue could do next to nothing.

So we all stood there aiding other and so forth while the barbarian kept rolling poorly. She pulsed and then our cleric pulsed.

After like 10 rounds of the worst rolling I've ever seen four PC's make, the rogue and barbarian were poisoned down to like 6 str each and the cleric and wizard were out of spells. We'd hit her like twice and left.

Bad luck, sure, but God high SR and blur is annoying at level 3.


Finished running shiv twice now, and yea, the end fight has a huge swing depending on what happend with the NPCs earlier in the adventure and whether they can get the drop on Yarzoth. It's much more of a strategic challenge than a tactical one, in the sense that the battle can be won or lost before the door is opened.

But also, and maybe more so, the dominate is one big random element that can make or break the encounter. In both my runs, the PCs made the save, and in both, that was crutial to success. Having so much turn on one die roll was dramatic and exciting, but good thing for my game the dice played along.

The domination power of Yarzoth is such a strong theme of the story, controlling the Captain, controlling undead, controlling Klorak, etc. it might be a good idea to incorportate some kind of countermeasure the PCs can figure out how to employ against that power. Maybe have the Captain's confession talk about how the 1st mate would daily sware an oath to failfully protect and defend the passengers & crew and this is what gave him the extra save against the dominate. Then if the PCs likewise sware to defend each other as a means to bolster their will against Yazoth's mind control, give the dominated PC a save each round the others remind him of it.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

The party rogue got dominated in my playtest of that encounter, and that made for a pretty harrowing monkeywrench to the party's tactics. The sorcerer ended up getting a charm person onto the rogue so there were opposed Charisma checks each round to keep control over her. Good times!

Liberty's Edge

unrelated to the current discussion (though I am concerned about that fight); any suggestions for if a player gets a nat20 on the "fortitude" save at the beginning of SfSS? You know, the one that actually determines the order they wake up. The chances are slim that that will happen but seeing as a nat20 is always a success on a save I hate the idea of a player rolling what they think is a save, getting a nat, and then me saying "ya, but you are unconscious anyway."


Part of why I didn't risk starting things on the boat, and why it's good the AP's set up that you don't. If you start on the boad it's Deus Ex, if you start on the beach, it's background.

I made sure everyone knew who everyone was and where they were and where they were going by reveiwing the player's guide, and then just told them to roll a fort save. I didn't even say what the save was for. Then, starting with the highest, I described it as like he's woken up on a beach with a terrible hangover, and go right into something's trying to eat his foot. Let them think maybe there was a drinking contest or something, who knows? Leaving it vague, giving out the bits of information, simulates them slowly coming to realise what's happened. By the time they even think poison, they already know the 'saves' real purpose, and there's no issue, since doing it this way, getting poisoned is as much a given as that they wanted to go to Eleder or got on the boat in the first place.

Mechanically, you can explain they got dosed with Tagit every time they took a bite and every time they drank, so the actually would have had to roll multiple saves - it was like a reverse 'take 20' - failure was inevitable.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

yarb wrote:
unrelated to the current discussion (though I am concerned about that fight); any suggestions for if a player gets a nat20 on the "fortitude" save at the beginning of SfSS? You know, the one that actually determines the order they wake up. The chances are slim that that will happen but seeing as a nat20 is always a success on a save I hate the idea of a player rolling what they think is a save, getting a nat, and then me saying "ya, but you are unconscious anyway."

If you think that some of your players will freak out that they basically start the adventure auto-poisoned, you should do one of two things—

1) Just have them roll Initiative checks instead of Fortitude saves to depend who wakes up first.

2) Start the adventure while they're eating their poisoned meal. And have Yarzoth feed them multiple doses of poison, so that they have to make multiple saves. And just be ready to handle what happens if there's a PC or two who keeps making their saves.

Frankly, the reason why I chose to start the adventure on the beach was because you can get away with things like "you all fail your saving throw" in backstory—the excitement of waking up on a beach and being eaten by bugs should distract players enough that they're not worried about how unfair it was that they got into that situation in the first place.


Jinx!

Liberty's Edge

Asphesteros wrote:
Jinx!

Thanks fellas! Sound and concise advice. I have been preparing/obsessing over the 1st book for months! I am playing in a Kingmaker game right now so I have until that is over to get everything together.

Asphesteros, I noticed that you said you have run through SfSS twice, any pit falls or stumbling blocks I should be thinking about?

Mr. Jacobs, thank you for your response as well. The involvement and interaction of the Paizo "brass" was a big factor in my switch to Pathfinder.


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Be careful with the NPCs - if they're not in the action, they can become a burden or irrelevant, if they are in the action they can steal the spotlight, and they're 5 more balls for you to judggle whenever they're around. However, they're also a great mechanism to move the story along, they have skills and languages the PCs need and quests to move them forward.

Don't overdo disease and environment - hit them with it in act I (loosly, it's played out as kind of - Act I survive and pull together or "how to make a sustainable camp", Act II exploration and personal quests, Act III Cannibals! ...and Ghouls! Act IV the Lost Temple and confronting Yarzoth), then defacto let them get 'acclimated' when the other story elements come to the fore, and they get a routien down.

With the Cannibals, both times I've gathered them all up in one massive group and sent them after the PCs. Yarzoth tells them, and they go after the lightning, intending to appease the red mountain devil with their blood. Both times this played out well - it gave them PCs a real threat to cope with, rather than just a string of conventional combat enconters. I gave the PCs warning they were coming via perception checks, describing the war party's numbers, and gave them the opportunity to observe them from hiding and evade their search. Think the opening scene of Raders of the Lost Ark if they're spotted. If they have to fight, the cannibals want to take them alive, so there's no danger of a TPK - it actually just gets them to the Lighthouse faster, as the adventure turns into an escape. Ishirou, at least, can break the rope bonds taking 20, so they can get out of the stockade, and the Cannibals are overconfident and insane, so you can run the village as written, with their gear in the supply shed. If somehow they botch all of this, just toss them down the hole with all their gear as an offering to Mother Thrunefang (Malikadna and Klorak so impressed with their resillience), and give them time to recover, but not so much time to get comfortable, before sending some ghouls to prod them along.

In Act IV, I took pains to try to play Yarzoth smart and wanting to survive, since IMO the rest of the AP works a lot better with her as the central villian, linking all further serpentfolk encoutners as her associates and minions - so she's trying to get to Ilmuria parallele to the PCs trying to get to Saventh-Yhi, and She's their final showdown boss in the last book. Otherwise her whole story is just a coincidence and superflous. I have her using the gasous form to escape rather than pulling any impersonation shenanigans, and pulling out when it's pretty sure she can survive that last round of attacks before she vanishes through the vent holes. If they do kill her, you can also have the Coils of Ydersius res her.

Liberty's Edge

A thousand thank yous Asphesteros. All fantastic advice. I like the Act synopsizes

I really love the idea of Yarzoth being the final showdown boss in the last book.

Having her use the cannibals in force seems more thought out and entertaining, but only if I can get my PC's to be actively pursuing her by that point and and for her to suspect that they are. If that works it could help solves some trouble I was having trying to find ways to drop info and plot points to the PC's. If the party is captured and Yarzoth is still in the cannibal camp she can reveal some things in a cocky Bond villain sort of way before she departs assuming the cannibals will consume the party. (escape or toss them down the hole ensues)


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The island map and NPC quests are really well done is a very inobvious way, with the cliffs being a 100' DC15 check, the path of least resistance got both my groups starting along the beach, from the Jeniver wreck, then east, which takes them right into Yarzoth's abandoned camp at F. On the way there's nests for Sasha's quest.

Prepped by the Dreams, and the captain's journal from the wreck, by the time they learn that Iaena and the captain lived, they're ready for a quest for revenge. I describe the easy DC to track the captain as from him using his rapier to cut a path through the forest leaving permenant marks. Presented with such breadcrumbs to follow, PCs usually go for it. I have that trail going to the river, which takes them to Mavato's quest at E, then I have the trail follow the course of the river to G which is Jask's. Ishirou's quest is right at the top of the hill, and I have the trail end, implying they went along the beach again, taking them to I3. Then they're at the path, and after jungle travel taking so long, and the path moving so fast, it becomes a litte like a large scale dungeon crawl after that, with them follwing the path like a dungeon corridor. All roads lead to Yarzoth at that point.

I had Yarzoth's stay with the cannibals only a couple days before going to the tide stones, so the lighting show can happen to remind the PCs of bigger things when they're maybe getting distracted by all the NPC personal quests. My players like to take captives, so could give them a lot of the story via interrogaton when they defeated the cannibals. I also gave them a good deal of overheard conversation when they were spying on the canibals, but that can also happen if they're captured, while two of Thrunefanges are butchering a body while the PCs are tied up.


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I think the success of this AP comes down to two elements

1) NPCs - give them value/relevance
I think if the group doesn't bond with the NPCs early the GM loses an interaction tool and the players miss out on a resource and quest source. Without the NPCs its largely just a exploring crawl with little game world interaction. After reading through the book 1 thread I made the NPCs more friendly and willing to help with a sort of "stick together, help each other out and we all survive" mentality. I set up the first night watches with at least one NPC was paired up with a PC so they could share backstories and bond. I'd also recommend adjust the NPC skills list with craft ones so they can help supply the PCs with ammunition, armours and weapons. Any time your group comes back to camp highlight how there is food and fresh water ready and have the NPCs willing to help with healing, identifying, crafting, etc. Basically small stuff that enables the PCs to keep adventuring and exploring. If the cannibals haven't clashed with the PCs yet you could even have the NPCs showing the PCs a dead cannibal that died in their camp traps.

2) The Story - why are we here
The survival and exploring elements tends to draw the focus so after the initial dreams the PCs can forget why they ended up on the island. Theres plenty to do and not all of the encounters close to the campsite link up to the AP story. I ended up repeating the dreams with different players and added in some of my own to remind/draw the group to the key story spots and share some of the backstory. Its easy to get caught up in the explore and crawl elements and forget the story plot that sets up the AP and I think its important to keep the whole "Snakes" element fresh in players minds.

Other tips:
* Mix up the shipwrecks - break away from undead as it gets boring real fast. Plus this is where GMs can have some fun and use their creativity. Theres a thread ("Changing up the shipwrecks") that has a number of good ideas. Also add in normal equipment for the PCs to grab when looting the wrecks (eg: Hammer, pitons, barrels, rope, backpacks, etc) as it adds to the "Lost/Castaway" feel of the adventure and gives the PCs a chance for creativity.

* Diseases can just break PCs so I'd recommend having an npc identify a herb/plant that if they eat every day they get a +2 save vs disease. Or throw in some potions/scrolls in the shipwrecks.

* I added in an RE with locathah (Bestiary 2: 179) partly for the bard to use his social skills and partly for the PCs to trade and use their gold. It went well enough that the PCs are returned to camp to look at what they could use to barter/buy from the Locathah and to search for tubers (delicacy for locathah).

* Gelik jokes - were a hit. He was hated initially, but after using some of the jokes in this thread they took to him.

Liberty's Edge

Thanks BQ, all good stuff.
I have been incorporating "Changing up the shipwrecks" in my notes actually, so thanks for that as well! I haven't read up on the Gelik jokes yet (got caught up in mini and map prep) but definitely plan on it. Your avatar reminds me I need to catch up on oots.


yarb wrote:

Thanks BQ, all good stuff.

I have been incorporating "Changing up the shipwrecks" in my notes actually, so thanks for that as well! I haven't read up on the Gelik jokes yet (got caught up in mini and map prep) but definitely plan on it. Your avatar reminds me I need to catch up on oots.

I cannot recommend making the npcs more helpful and really toning down/ignoring the diseases. So many of the encounters have con draining poison, that added with the disease is crippling....


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I gave each NPC a distinct personality and upgraded them to player level stats. I also didn't tell the players what class the NPCs were (well, Gelik broadcast his and Jask's was easy to figure out), which caused the players to treat them as individuals rather than "a thief, a ranger, a bard, a fighter and a cleric".

I played hard with the diseases, often having several PCs down at once, but the explorations continued, as those players played an NPC, breathing more life into them and making them more important. Which also meant that story mood wasn't broken.

At one point, the PCs asked the NPCs why they weren't getting as sick as often. Jask pointed out that sleeping in armor caused minor scrapes and skin irritation, which made them more prone to getting sick, and that they needed to use presdigitation more often, especially after every fight. After the PCs started doing that, their infection rate dropped. This got them over the metagaming aspect of sleeping in armor, cause the rules say they can (from experience I can say that it is very uncomfortable), made Jask shine, and provided the players with a sense of accomplishment when the infection rate dropped.

I don't have the NPCs waiting around for the PCs to do everything. Ex: Using a large saw blade recovered from a wreck, Aerys is working hard in a sawing pit to make a longboat sturdy enough to make it to the mainland, with at least one other person with her (depending on who is available). Ex: Sasha, using all the black mamba snake skins that they have, is making leather armor for all the females in the group, or as she put it "killer skin tight attention getting outfits".


Mistwalker wrote:
stuff

I didnt call out classes either but they figured most out, sort of. They pegged the old Tian guy (whos name escaped me) as a rogue, the bard as a bard, the cleric as a fighter, the ranger as a rogue assassin, and the fighter chick as a fighter.


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Mistwalker wrote:
At one point, the PCs asked the NPCs why they weren't getting as sick as often. Jask pointed out that sleeping in armor caused minor scrapes and skin irritation, which made them more prone to getting sick..

After running this adventure, I came to realise this as a much more plusable explanation than just the heat for why 'jungle natives' would generally not wear armor. Not so much the knicks and scratches and disease but for the fact that parasites are so prevelent. It taking SO long to remove and don armor, trudging through bug infested jungles and water, someone in armor is a walking hotel for parasites. Imagine a leech that's worked it's way under your breatplate in the middle of your back. Imagine botflies. Someone in no armor can swat or brush off such pests before they have a chance to dig in. In armor, things will burrow in like a rot grub before you can get to them.

Problem, of course, is armor is such an integral part of gear and melee class balance, playing that up to much can kill a game.

Liberty's Edge

Man I love this game! We're about to have our third session tomorrow and everything has been so enjoyable. At the moment their still exploring the northern expanse of the island slowly making their way to the south.

So far someone has dropped to the negatives in every encounter and since they don't have a cleric in the party they've been really stretching their supplies.

Roleplay has been incredible. So far only one character has a problem with the NPC's and it's Gelik. He tried to attack him after he found out he was messing with his rations. The rest of the group jumped on him quick.
Also since they have a lack of healing they made quick friends with Jask. However there was a near session long debate if they should since on of the party members took the "see the cargo through" trait and Jask was that cargo.
They've already gotten Aerys to helpful. They finally ran out of alcohol so she was sick and couldn't work until they could find her more. They never went to the viper nettles and instead gave her their potion of remove disease.
The best part about the NPC's is the the party thinks their all high level. They've all believe that Sasha is a red mantis assassin because of her tattoo. They know Jask and Gelik are a cleric and bard. and when a group of monsters attacked the camp Sasha, Aerys, and Ishiro all sprang into action; crt'd on most rolls and max damage on every attack.

Liberty's Edge

James Jacobs wrote:
When we build NPCs for adventures, we almost never build those classes to be fully optimized, since that results in the same statblock all the time. NPCs are unique, individual characters, and that pretty much always means that they'll have some quirks that make them non-perfect. Such as the case of a non-observant, easily distracted, foul-mouthed shipwrecked gnome.

Repeat after me : CON is NOT a dump stat nor should it ever be, especially for a healer (ie, Jask) !!!

BQ wrote:
Just wondering if people are/have level the NPCs? Right now my group has hit level 2 and have cruised about with Ishirou.

Through the last part of the adventure, I was joking that the whole world had advanced in level along with our characters, except for the castaway NPCs who were stuck at low level.

The fight with Yarzoth was hard because the party was split in half : one half dealing with her and the other half dealing with the mouther and the mini-mummies in the next room.

Blur + Mirror Image was definitely hard to deal with, but we could have done it thanks to the fishing nets we had been carrying around for the whole adventure. It was not necessary though, as one of the half-orc barbarians crited her with his earthbreaker, which promptly sent her to her cold-blooded god.

Mind you, the fight would have gone far worse if we did not have a near-doubling of our numbers thanks to our helpful and friendly NPCs.

Which makes in fact for a few too easy fights. The slaughter of the cannibals' village was a piece of cake with the NPCs in tow. The subsequent fight with the resident witch was a bit harder at first, mainly because our GM strongly reinforced both her level and magic gear to compensate for having 6 players around the table. Fly + Greater Invisibility (as a potion) + Lightning Bolt did hurt us. But with Jask healing and Gelik inspiring courage, there was not much of a doubt about who would win. Ditto while exploring the necropolis of Mother Thrunefang.

So, to the GMs who will read this, once NPCs begin playing their part in the fights, remember to strengthen the opposition accordingly so that the challenge is still there.


The black raven wrote:
Repeat after me : CON is NOT a dump stat nor should it ever be, especially for a healer (ie, Jask) !!!

I'll do no such thing - PCs are the heroes of the story, NPCs should never be built as well.

In fact many NPCs should be built broken to emphasise how superior the Player's own characters are to their NPC peers, and to define those NPC as characters in the story.

Jask's low Con was awesome. It defined him as an older man in poor health, guaranteed he wouldn't upstage the Party's healer, but it also made him an interesting mechanical element for the PCs to work with. On the one hand, he's got tons of healing with extra channel, but on the other hand he doesn't have selective channeling and he'll drop if he's hit. If he was build as just an optimised healer, first he'd be a boring heal bot, but also that much healing with no disadvantages is a 'greater that the sum of it's parts' power increase for a standard party that would already have a dedicated healer combined with their numbers counting the NPCs. Consider, whereas a 1d6 channel with a 4 PC group is a max of 1d6x4 total healing per use, in a 9 PC+NPC group it's 1d6X9. With two healers it's 1d6x18. Effectivly two healers in this scenario can get you four times the healing. Then, Factoring in how much undead action there is on the island, one healer could heal while the other AOEs the undead.

All told, whether Jask is there or not is a huge power swing. Mitigating that by having him build broken to drop easily, not exclude, have limited gear, etc., is appropriate, especially when it all supports his character description.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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The black raven wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
When we build NPCs for adventures, we almost never build those classes to be fully optimized, since that results in the same statblock all the time. NPCs are unique, individual characters, and that pretty much always means that they'll have some quirks that make them non-perfect. Such as the case of a non-observant, easily distracted, foul-mouthed shipwrecked gnome.
Repeat after me : CON is NOT a dump stat nor should it ever be, especially for a healer (ie, Jask) !!!

I didn't give Jask a low Con because I wanted that to be his dump stat. I did it because I wanted the NPC healing resource to be a tough one for the PCs to keep alive. That Jask is kind of fragile is an intentional part of the difficulty of the adventure.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
The black raven wrote:

Mind you, the fight would have gone far worse if we did not have a near-doubling of our numbers thanks to our helpful and friendly NPCs.

Which makes in fact for a few too easy fights. The slaughter of the cannibals' village was a piece of cake with the NPCs in tow. The subsequent fight with the resident witch was a bit harder at first, mainly because our GM strongly reinforced both her level and magic gear to compensate for having 6 players around the table. Fly + Greater Invisibility (as a potion) + Lightning Bolt did hurt us. But with Jask healing and Gelik inspiring courage, there was not much of a doubt about who would win. Ditto while exploring the necropolis of Mother Thrunefang.

So, to the GMs who will read this, once NPCs begin playing their part in the fights, remember to strengthen the opposition accordingly so that the challenge is still there.

To be fair, I don't think that the NPCs were supposed to tag along for most of the adventure. One of their benefits was running the camp, keeping it provisions, defended, medical, etc...

My players would only take one with them when one of the PCs were down with sickness, drain, etc...(or the player couldn't make it).

In my campaign, they have set up a cutting pit and are using a two person saw to make boards to be able to make a longboat sailboat, to get back to the mainland.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I thought V23. The Inner Sanctum was a place that could use a little expansion and was a great opportunity to give a little glimpse of the ancient history of the island as well as hint at upcoming themes/events.

So my idea here is that there were originally five artifact level monoliths erected by serpentfolk on the island as defensive measures. The ecology section of the serpentfolk mentions that each is like an island unto itself surrounded by the court they create. So each monolith was the domain of one serpent lord and the temple was a neutral religious ground run by a priest of Ydersius where they might make offerings to their god or seek prophecy. The inner sanctum is a hexagon so it has five walls of glyphs and artwork other than the door you came through. One of those is the one Yarzoth has restored and details the Tidestone. I expect players to be curious about the other five walls (and perhaps have access through comprehend languages) so here they are.

Each one has a hasty script underneath where the head priest of the temple recorded the fate of the fallen serpent lords. The ecology section also had a great little tidbit from the Alaberos Analects with a section called the Typhonian Proposal. I don't see this coming up during the game in a way that I can reveal it to the players so I have but it here, scrawled on the wall by the high priest (conveniently named Typhonia in case the treatise comes up in research later) as a parting message on the backside of the door.

TIDESTONE:

Spoiler:

To Command the Very Tides to Rise Up ands Eschew What Lies Below:
Empower the Four Sentinel Runes with the Blood of a Thinking Creature
Tempered by the Kiss of a Serpent's Tongue.

Anoint the Tide Stone with Waters Brought from the Sea
In a Vessel of Purest Metal.

Invoke the Lord's Sacred Name to Wrap his Coils around the Sea Itself
That He might Lay Bare What Lies Below and Cast Down Your Enemies on the Waves above.

====
Myrissa, Lord of Waves / Beneath the Sea, Fallen to our Ancient Enemy.
====

DEATHSTONE:

Spoiler:

Should the Slavemen Shoeshod/Chainhanded Taint the Shore,
Circle the Deathstone with bones of the silent minds.
Annoint the Stone with warm blood, last of life,
Claimed by a Blade of Purest Silver.
Invoke the Lord's Sacred name.
Flesh shall fall, Bones shall Rise.

===
Atroposs, Lord of the Dead Ones, Fallen. His Domain Razed.
===

STORMSTONE:

Spoiler:

When the Slavesmen / Ever Foe Breach Horizon [Our],
Call on our Coiled Lord for Rain,
Serpents of Flame Shall Blind/Burn Them from Above.

Strike Iron with Feather of the Sky's King Thrice,
Call on the Primal Coil to Empower the Stone
Offer Praise as Warm Bloods Burn in their Ships.

====
Hessiel, Lord of the Skies, Fallen. His Aeryie destroyed, Fallen to the Sea.
====

BLOODSTONE:

Spoiler:

To Command the Heat of Warm Bloods to Darkest Hungers,
And Force The Madness/Hunger Upon Them,
Gather Your Slavemen Without Will At the Stone,
Dash Their Hatchling Upon it And Invoke the Sacred Coil.
As Slaves [Your] Feast, So Shall the Warm Blood Invader Foes.

===
Ossiam, Master of the Bloodstone, Fallen.
===

BEASTSTONE: (this one has images of snakemen commanding various dinosaurs

Spoiler:

Lesser Things are Yours to Command,
The Four Legged and Degenerate Shall Bow to the Stone and Lord [Ours].
Annoint the Egg of a Thoughtless Beast Thing,
With Blood and Venom of Your Birthright.

Invoke the Primal Coil to Join with One Will
The Chaos of Thoughtless Ones.
Offer Prays to Our Lord and Find the Land
Yours to Command.

===
Ssialla, Master of Beasts, Fled.
===

High Priest's Parting Words:

Spoiler:

The Abundant Slavemen Shoeshod/Chainhanded Rise
In Breaking Wave-Ever-Breaking Against [We].
Deprivation Abounds/Shall Abound.

In Victory, Great Loss. In Retreat, Proposed,
Perhaps... Less-Loss.
Query: Better to Burnsphere Sunworld with Plague/Storm?
Or to Sleep-And-In-Sleep-Replenish
While Poor New Masters of Slaves Falter?
The Stars [Shall Turn] Right Again.

To Ilmurea.
Sleep or Fight, to Ilmurea I Flee.

-Typhonia, High Priest of Our Coiled Lord.

Take that for what it's worth. It highlights the idea of a lost age of epic level monolith magic, the conflict between Azlanti and serpentfolk, the serpentfolk decision to go into hibernation, and the existence of Ilmurea though they have no idea what or where it might be at this point. Lingering magic also gives a secondary explanation for cannibalism, rampant undead, and why every random animal on the island seems to want to kill them ;)


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I just thought I'd post a picture of the map I'm using for our game. The players are marking things as they go and are having a great time. :)

The red tags are encampments are have the day number written on them. There are small map pins in the map and the sticky notes have information about that particular pin. I've kept track of the monsters fought on the left and there's a calendar in the upper-right.

Map of Smuggler's Shiv


Anthony Law wrote:

I just thought I'd post a picture of the map I'm using for our game. The players are marking things as they go and are having a great time. :)

The red tags are encampments are have the day number written on them. There are small map pins in the map and the sticky notes have information about that particular pin. I've kept track of the monsters fought on the left and there's a calendar in the upper-right.

Map of Smuggler's Shiv

cool !!


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Tracking the progress on the map is fun, isn't it?

Here's the map we've been using in my [homebrew-ized] SS PbP game. Took a while, but I went and found different fonts for each character's handwriting.

Be sure to click on the map to zoom in, otherwise it won't be readable at the preview resolution. ;)

Map: Reaver's Shiv


Laithoron wrote:
Tracking the progress on the map is fun, isn't it?

Absolutely. It's nice for the players to give them a sense of accomplishment. And for me it makes it easier to track everything.

I think my favorite line from our sessions so far (about 5 weeks in) has been "I milked a goat!" They were so proud they had been able to wrangle a couple of goats and use them to provide nourishment. :)


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Loved the idea, ithuriel. I was trying to think of a way to incorporate some serpentfolk background flavor into the Shiv adventure, and I may just swipe yours!

Scarab Sages

Quick question about the "Fungus God" encounter. How should I handle experience awards if the party defeats this encounter before encountering any of the vegepygmies? I don't want to award a bunch of XP for encounters they skipped, but it also seems like a LARGE chunk of XP is now unobtainable so I don't want them too penalized for the rest of the adventure.

Any suggestions?


If they avoided the veggies due to any kind of smart play on their part I'd give them the xp. If it was just dumb luck, maybe think about weaving in that xp value into one of the remaining encoutners, or hit them with some random encoutners. There's optional encoutners in the end, and there lots of great stuff in the backs of the books and in Heart of the Jungle which can add atmosphere and flavor but aren't written in.

Sovereign Court

Give them the XP for the challenge they overcame; the fungus.

Smugglers Shiv can take you well above your XP budget anyway- I rolled almost no random encounters at all and my PC's haven't explored all the shipwrecks- despite this they are entering the final part of the first chapter with the XP to level to 4 before clearing a single room.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Bampf wrote:

Quick question about the "Fungus God" encounter. How should I handle experience awards if the party defeats this encounter before encountering any of the vegepygmies? I don't want to award a bunch of XP for encounters they skipped, but it also seems like a LARGE chunk of XP is now unobtainable so I don't want them too penalized for the rest of the adventure.

Any suggestions?

Two options come to mind:

1) Give them a sizable story award (equivalent to what they'd get if they killed the vegepygmies anyway), and explain to the PCs that they're getting a big chunk of XP as a reward for being pro-active and handling a bad situation before they were even told to, more or less. And tell them that restoring Silent Island is a big deal, and that the XP award reflects that. The adventure itself expects the PCs to get those XP anyway, so it's not like you're letting them get ahead of where the adventure thinks they'll be at that point at all.

2) Have the existing vegepygmies NOT die, but let them keep on doing what they're doing so that they'll still be there for the PCs to slay. If you need to give them a reason to go seek out vegepygmies, have them kidnap one of the NPCs.


Hey-o. I just started an SS campaign and I think it's going pretty well so far. I did screw up and made the NPCs a little more helpful than they should have been initially, so I'm awkwardly trying to scale back their helpfulness.

Which leads to my question. Do you recommend telling the players about the Diplomacy checks and helpfulness scale or letting them figure it out on their own? I can see both having their merits, but I'm curious what other, experienced GMs have gone with.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

GM_Todd wrote:
Which leads to my question. Do you recommend telling the players about the Diplomacy checks and helpfulness scale or letting them figure it out on their own? I can see both having their merits, but I'm curious what other, experienced GMs have gone with.

If your players aren't used to trying to befriend NPCs, absolutely.

Even if they ARE, it can't hurt to say something like, "You can use Diplomacy to make these fellow castaways a bit more friendly if you want."


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Vanus wrote:

I had a question about the NPC's starting attitude. The book says they're friendly towards characters that are from whichever city the NPC boarded from. Was the intent of this to have the PCs grow up in that city, or just board from there?

The intent was that the PCs take a campaign trait from the player's companion, many of which are about where the PC boarded the Jeneveve.. I had my players take two traits and a campaign trait.

Quote:


I also noticed a discrepancy in what building a shelter does for you in alleviating the bug/disease aspect. The disease section says a shelter reduces the chance of disease 15%, the shelter section says it reduces it to 10%.

It reduces it from 25, by 15, to 10.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
yarb wrote:
I hate the idea of a player rolling what they think is a save, getting a nat, and then me saying "ya, but you are unconscious anyway."

Meh - just tell 'em its more of a constitution check than a save. Which it is, really, and perhaps the game should have done that instead. Checks don't have an auto - pass feature.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

I didn't like the auto-fail on the save either but I think it's less annoying for the players if you go by the book and start with the action on the beach, not on the ship. If the GM simply narrates some events on the journey to give the players an impression ofn the NPCs and finally describes the Last Supper it should feel more like the prologue it is meant to be and less like an unfair DC.


I re-wrote the entire beginning. I didn't want my players to feel like they were railroaded into an adventure in this manner. It is not a bad beginning, but I just liked my idea better.

The characters are hired on for a mysterious expedition to the Smuggler's Shiv. Rumors of an Azlanti Ruin bring pathfinder Larissia Landor and her team of intrepid adventurers to the Island aboard the Jenivere. It is to stay overnight while they scout the area for a suitable base camp and then drop off supplies the next day for the team.
As the team searches the area around the cove, Larissa falls prey to some local dangerous wildlife which the group has to face and defeat but it is unlikely she will survive (Very poisonous little monstrosity).

They realize that their exploration of the area near the cove takes them longer than expected due to the rain and then the heat and they have to stay over night so they don't get lost in the darkness and jungle.
When they return to the beach they find the ship a wreck that is not salvagable as well as the few remaining NPC's that have survived on the beach asleep being attacked by the Eruptid's.

The supplies they gather are going to be from the wrecks not the ship as it is sunk.
And so the story begins for my group in about 4-6 weeks I hope!


I have one question, how does Yarzoth who would normally be CR 4 creature get 4 levels of cleric and remain only a cr 6? I was wondering this because it makes it rather confusing when someone tries to actually play one of these as a character and its a minimum of a +4 level adjustment.

I tried to figure it out but perhaps I missed something and I thought I would ask for the logic of my betters. ;)


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
"Quartermaster" Kai'itza wrote:

I have one question, how does Yarzoth who would normally be CR 4 creature get 4 levels of cleric and remain only a cr 6? I was wondering this because it makes it rather confusing when someone tries to actually play one of these as a character and its a minimum of a +4 level adjustment.

I tried to figure it out but perhaps I missed something and I thought I would ask for the logic of my betters. ;)

Let's see...

Table 2-4 on p. 297 of the Bestiary list cleric levels as Key* so you would have to argue if the gained spellcasting empowers the creature enough to warrant a CR +1/level. I guess there would be points for both sides of that discussion.

Checking table 1-1 on p 291 of the Bestiary yields:
A CR 6 creature should have around 70 hp. Yarzoth: 72
...an AC of 19. Yarzoth: 20
...High Attack 12. Yarzoth: 14
...Primary Ability DC 16. Yarzoth: 17-18
...Good Save 9. Yarzoth: 13
...Poor Save 5. Yarzoth: 8

All in all, it looks like Yarzoth should at least be CR 7, probably even CR 8. Strangely enough my group of 4 level 4 PCs didn't have too many problems with her.


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"Quartermaster" Kai'itza wrote:

I have one question, how does Yarzoth who would normally be CR 4 creature get 4 levels of cleric and remain only a cr 6? I was wondering this because it makes it rather confusing when someone tries to actually play one of these as a character and its a minimum of a +4 level adjustment.

I tried to figure it out but perhaps I missed something and I thought I would ask for the logic of my betters. ;)

Spellcasting isn't the role of a serpentfolk. Because of that, each level they add to it counts as +1/2 CR up to one above its CR. Then, every level adds to its CR retroactively.

Yarzoth is a 4th level cleric (+2) and is a CR 4 creature (4).

If she gained 1 level of cleric, she'd be a CR 9 creature.

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder

Ice Titan wrote:
"Quartermaster" Kai'itza wrote:

I have one question, how does Yarzoth who would normally be CR 4 creature get 4 levels of cleric and remain only a cr 6? I was wondering this because it makes it rather confusing when someone tries to actually play one of these as a character and its a minimum of a +4 level adjustment.

I tried to figure it out but perhaps I missed something and I thought I would ask for the logic of my betters. ;)

Spellcasting isn't the role of a serpentfolk. Because of that, each level they add to it counts as +1/2 CR up to one above its CR. Then, every level adds to its CR retroactively.

Yarzoth is a 4th level cleric (+2) and is a CR 4 creature (4).

If she gained 1 level of cleric, she'd be a CR 9 creature.

Ice Titan has it right. Serpentfolk are not spell role creatures (that's reserved for creatures who cast spells as a spellcaster of a certain level, such as dragons and nagas). Cleric is a "non-key" class for serpentfolk, so the CR increases by 1 for every 2 class levels, until class levels exceed the creature's original CR.

If she gained one more cleric level, she'd be CR 7, however.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I'm looking at my copy of SfSS...and I don't see the XP Progression...is it Medium?


Veldan Rath wrote:
I'm looking at my copy of SfSS...and I don't see the XP Progression...is it Medium?

Yes, all Paizo Pathfinder Adventure Paths (to date) use Medium progression.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

+1
James Jacobs also commented on this when it was pointed out before that they missed to mention that in SfSS. In all other books of the AP it says "medium".


As DM's did you have the adventure start on the ship? Or on the island waking up? Should the adventure start on the on the ship and role play things out?

Also, what if they refuse to eat when offered dinner?


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Troy Loney wrote:

As DM's did you have the adventure start on the ship? Or on the island waking up? Should the adventure start on the on the ship and role play things out?

Also, what if they refuse to eat when offered dinner?

I started with a narrator-style recap of when the PCs and NPCs got on the ship, and PCs got to choose whether or not they had gotten along with the various NPCs (except Jask) along the voyage. The dinner was a typical dinner, supplemented by a bottle of red wine courtesy of the first mate Alton, though those that made their Sense Motive rolls noticed the captain and first mate were a little "off", though the conclusion suggested was that they were on mild narcotics (of the sort sailors would use to fight off fatigue or seasickness). Since the dinner was typical fare, there wasn't any in-character reason not to partake in the meal. I also had folks roll for Initiative at the meal, not Fortitude saves, and the character with the highest Con half-woke up on the boat ride over to shore (with a "come on, hang in there" heard from Alton) before passing out again. The idea being that there were enough doses of poison in the meal that the Fort save itself really didn't matter.

I also started the party on the Shiv with much reduced gear (while vaguely alluding to/warning them of such). Characters kept their backpacks, armor, and similar critical gear (spell component pouches, starting firearms for gunslingers, etc.) or things 'bought' with traits or feats critical to the character. Everything else was subject to a d% roll on an item-by-item basis:
0-45%: Lost forever
46-85%: On the ship, in a pile next to Alton's body in the Jenivere's storeroom. The idea being that Alton intended to make an additional trip and wasn't able to.
86-100%: Found on the gear pile on the beach.

I applied the same rolls to the NPCs, so for instance, Aerys had a quiver but no bow and no arrows, and Gelik had a bow, but no arrows, sword, or buckler.

It may not be for everyone, but it emphasized the survival aspects, made gear recovered from shipwrecks precious, and encouraged the group to gather supplies to craft things: A quarterstaff can be whittled without any additional supplies, arrows could be made from branches, chert* from rocks on the beach, feathers from birds or pterosaurs, and natural latex-based glues from breadfruit trees, etc. In these cases, I used Survival checks to gather crafting ingredients, rather than using the items' monetary costs.

*Treated as flint or obsidian from Ultimate Combat. The fragile property doesn't matter much for single-use arrows, but said materials could also be used for spears or javelins, using mending to fix things on a break.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Troy Loney wrote:

As DM's did you have the adventure start on the ship? Or on the island waking up? Should the adventure start on the on the ship and role play things out?

Also, what if they refuse to eat when offered dinner?

This has been discussed before extensively. I started on the beach as written and narrated the voyage until that faithful night, mentioning some situations with the NPCs to get a rough idea of their characters across. That also takes care of your second question, you don't give the PCs the option to refuse.

Some players have a problem with the "auto-fail" Fortitude save during the dinner. If you start on the ship with the players in full control of their PCs the feeling of being stripped of control is quite understandable. If you start on the beach, not so much.

Daviot's approach to saved gear (besides being very dice-heavy, 40+ rolls to see where every single bedroll has gone? Not my style) is also quite dangerous and as he said should be handled with care by any GM if his/her group will like that. You don't want players to be annoyed because their carefully picked equipment gets swept away even before they have any chance to use it. I like the idea of stashing it on the Jenivere for the PCs to recover, though.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns Subscriber

My group just finished the cannibal camp and will most likely head underground. The book mentions that there are cave drawings down there that show how to activate the tidal stone. I wanted to see if any GM's have actually drawn the cave drawings as a handout? I would like to see if they can make the connection between the drawing and the tidal stone when (if? :) ) they get there without telling them too much information.


Nullpunkt wrote:


Daviot's approach to saved gear (besides being very dice-heavy, 40+ rolls to see where every single bedroll has gone? Not my style) is also quite dangerous and as he said should be handled with care by any GM if his/her group will like that. You don't want players to be annoyed because their carefully picked equipment gets swept away even before they have any chance to use it. I like the idea of stashing it on the Jenivere for the PCs to recover, though.

In my case, I had my players' character sheets, so all the rolling could be done ahead of time, and yes, my approach was quite dangerous, but fit the style my fairly-experienced group was looking for. I was just laying out how I started the game in full for others to compare, and maybe give some ideas for others.

Every group and GM is different. Some folks think that the pre-campaign player's guides are metagaming and prefer keeping things a secret. I talked over my gear-destroying idea with my players, and gave them 300 gp to start with, with the caveat that they should spend it as much as possible, not knowing what would survive. In the end, you as the GM should know your players best of all and what they're looking for in a game. And if not, sit down and ask them, take notes, and adjust your campaign accordingly.

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