The City of Seven Spears (GM Reference)


Serpent's Skull

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Lynne wrote:

Please help!

We will be starting CoSS next week, and my group has adamantly refused to join any of the factions.

Well, first if your players are having fun then you may want to adapt the scenario. At this point I would abandon forcing a faction on them.

In book 3, under the camp rules section, it says that the campsite is necessary to "shelter large numbers of relatively low-level
people". This is not a concern anymore for your PCs and by extension Defense Rolls are not as important. Instead your PCs will have to figure how to protect their belongings and treasure in some other way.

There can still be a lot of interaction with the factions. They may still want to buy minor stuff (<2500gp) from any of the factions. Perhaps some factions sell their stuff at a premium. They can still order more expensive items from any faction too. They wont be able to get any gold from an huge ancient Azlanti urn by themselves.

You have to figure out how to deal with Discovery Points. A faction can really accelerate the amount of Points they earn. So maybe you can simply concentrate on the Mysteries only. Whoever gathers the most Mysteries can claim to have discovered Saventh-Yhi. Mysteries could be sold to a faction.

I would cheat a bit a have other factions arrive perhaps no more than a week after the PCs. Perhaps the Mantis sneak in and reach the Temple district without the PCs knowing about anything. Have the Aspis ally with the Charau-ka and throw their weight around.

Don't necessarily force a faction on the PCs but you can still force interaction.


Lynne wrote:

Please help!

In order to minimize the chance of someone being able to follow them, they plan on levitating to the trees and then brachiating for as long as possible, only dropping to the ground when they reach water. With a two week head start, and a shattered map, it would seem deus ex machina for any of the factions to be able to follow them.

Sorry, I didn't read the last few paragraphs.

Perhaps another faction could use divination to figure out the trail from Tazion to Saventh-Yhi. The Mantis could have stolen a hair sample from one of the PCs? Then follow them using scrying... This works until they fall under the nondetection that surrounds Saventh-Yhi.


While moving through the trees could be useful for minimizing a trail, it seems to me that if the characters are not climbers by nature that the total distance moved will be very low each day. The trees do not automatically make the easiest path, so there would be a lot of switch-backs. Levitating keeps people up for the spell's duration, but they need to supply their own forward motion. Climb checks should be made constantly for characters without a climb speed for movement. Their spell slots are going to be all used up with levitate, feather fall, or some type of transmutations for wings or climbing appendages. Movement in the trees will shake out a lot of tree type encounters - primates, Charau-Ka, giant snakes, giant spiders, swarms, killer trees, etc. I pity the Foo who is standing in a tree when a swarm of Army Ants decides to march through his boots, and take his toes for a snack!

If the group wanted no faction, then they likely also did not pursue Nkechi (?? tempest??)? He would then lend his talents and his spirit totems to another faction, and making use of the links to creatures of the jungle, another group would have little trouble in gaining information from the Mwangi denizens about the strange group of tree walkers that passed through their area.

Perhaps another adventure party is put together by one of the factions; kind of a NPC 'yang' to the player's 'yin'. Now they have to contend with rivals who are stocked, supplied, defended, etc...


Probably the easiest way to do this would be to keep track of provisions, and perishable/consumable resources. Being two months away from the nearest resupply, I'm sure the party will start running out of things like arrows, food, any unique magical components for spells, etc. Once they start to feel the bite of that, they'll start looking for alternatives.

Also, if you have them start to explore areas, and have them already being explored, or picked over by a faction that has more manpower, they may start looking at alliances. In my party's case, I'm giving indications of how each faction is doing in the race to "discover" Saventh-Yhi. Essentially giving out the scores, without just touting numbers. For instance my group hasn't "cleared" a section yet, so the faction can't really help with discovery points. They've scouted out other faction camps and seen relics, or maps, or how the other faction scholars have pieced things together to get an idea that those factions are "ahead" or "behind" where they are. In the case of your group, they'll only be able to garner one discovery point a day if they go it alone, get no bonuses from the faction on their discovery rolls, etc. Chances are, they'll fall behind very quickly. I don't think your goal should be to tell your players that the factions have it better, but to show them. If the factions are having success where the PCs are struggling, give the PCs a visual clue to that, so they can see how much better off the faction is.

Also, they'll be lacking in defense, due to not having extra NPCs in camp. Once they make a foray into the military district, have a few attacks made on the camp when they're away. If you drive home that their camp is defenseless when they're exploring, an alliance will become more appealing. Especially if it comes after they've made some discoveries. Losing 1/2 your discovery points because you can't defend them is a decent motivator.

Also, you might have the Red Mantis approach them after the PCs struggle, offering an alliance. They may be having trouble finding the Mantis Blade, so would be amenable to offering the PCs protection, and help with discoveries, in exchange for them finding the blade.

As for the problem of being followed, it's not that difficult. It sounds like many of the pcs had good relations with the castaways, which would make it fairly easy for find type spells to work. Any faction that has a druid, or ranger that can talk to animals is bound to get some information on humans that climbed through trees like monkeys, from the monkeys.

The destruction of the map is a tough one, but the map would have shown as a recent event, and enough mend type spells would be good to fix the map. If the PCs didn't bother to take the crystals with them, they'd still be in place, yes?

How did the oracle change the ranger's markers? Did the oracle specify they were changing each marker randomly? If not, let the faction rangers make a roll to see if they can figure out the pattern to the obviously false trail left behind. Couple that with talking to animals,and the factions can follow the trail. I'd give your PCs a significant headstart due to this, but again, the factions may have hired Nkechi, to give them a quicker route to Tazion.

The other point is, don't explain how the factions get there, unless the PCs investigate it. If the PCs investigate, it gives you another chance to offer alliance, while they're talking to the NPCs to find out how they found them.


-Question concerning the Seven Spears-

At first I want to apologize my bad english. I'm not native speaking and my skills are getting rusty ;)

My playercharacters are in the city right now.
And for my interpretation of the campaign I would like to have an associated sorcerer bloodline to each of the sevens Sprears/Spires.

My players sorcerer has the "destined" bloodline and I don't want this bloodline on one of the spires (for story reasons).

1.) Spear of Righteous Anger
2.) Spear of Wealth
3.) Spear of Honest Pride
4.) Spear of Rest
5.) Spear of Eager Striving
6.) Spear of Abundance
7.) Spear of Fertility

And if there are already information on this topic, plaese share a link.
Thanks!


Nadir-Khân wrote:

-Question concerning the Seven Spears-

At first I want to apologize my bad english. I'm not native speaking and my skills are getting rusty ;)

My playercharacters are in the city right now.
And for my interpretation of the campaign I would like to have an associated sorcerer bloodline to each of the sevens Sprears/Spires.

My players sorcerer has the "destined" bloodline and I don't want this bloodline on one of the spires (for story reasons).

1.) Spear of Righteous Anger
2.) Spear of Wealth
3.) Spear of Honest Pride
4.) Spear of Rest
5.) Spear of Eager Striving
6.) Spear of Abundance
7.) Spear of Fertility

And if there are already information on this topic, plaese share a link.
Thanks!

Nothing like what you're suggesting is in canon Golarion.

Each of the seven (lawful neutral) virtues (called "Virtues of Rule" by the ancient Azlanti) were, in Thassilon (to the far north) corrupted into the Seven Sins by the Rune Lords (there is some discontinuity there, but it's what we have in total).

Those Sins were then used as the basis for incredibly powerful magic:
1.) Spear of Righteous Anger --> (corrupted to) --> Sin of Wrath
[Specialty School: Evocation; Prohibited Schools: Abjuration, Conjuration]

2.) Spear of Wealth --> (corrupted to) --> Sin of Greed
[Specialty School: Transmutation; Prohibited Schools: Enchantment, Illusion]

3.) Spear of Honest Pride --> (corrupted to) --> Sin of Pride
[Specialty School: Illusion; Prohibited Schools: Conjuration, Transmutation]

4.) Spear of Rest --> (corrupted to) --> Sin of Sloth
[Specialty School: Conjuration; Prohibited Schools: Evocation, Illusion]

5.) Spear of Eager Striving --> (corrupted to) --> Sin of Envy
[Specialty School: Abjuration; Prohibited Schools: Evocation, Necromancy]

6.) Spear of Abundance --> (corrupted to) --> Sin of Gluttony
[Specialty School: Necromancy; Prohibited Schools: Abjuration, Enchantment]

7.) Spear of Fertility --> (corrupted to) --> Sin of Lust
[Specialty School: Enchantment; Prohibited Schools: Necromancy, Transmutation]

You could use those as a potential foundation for the Bloodlines.

Spear of Righteous Anger might be a decent elemental bloodline (except for the conjuration spells later on), or (thematically at least) the brutal (and, by proxy, the abyssal) bloodlines. Neither of those are perfect: elemental gets conjuration spells towards the end, while abyssal (and thus brutal) have lots of non-evocation spells. But they certainly seem thematic with the sin of Wrath.

Off of the top of my head, with no deeper insight other than how they "sound" (to me) off of the surface (with the virtue):
1.) Spear of Righteous Anger (celestial, draconic, orc)
2.) Spear of Wealth (deep earth, draconic, imperious, maestro, shaitan)
3.) Spear of Honest Pride (djinni, draconic, maestro)
4.) Spear of Rest (dream, starsoul)
5.) Spear of Eager Striving (martyred, rakshasa)
6.) Spear of Abundance (deep earth, verdant)
7.) Spear of Fertility (celestial, draconic, fey, verdant)

But that's a really "off the cuff" kind of answer (taking into account what you said about the Destined bloodline).

I may recommend even crafting your own, using bits of the others kludged together, though you may not be interested in all the work that entails.

Hope any of that helps!


A faction camp has a limit of 2500gp but there doesn't seem to be any limit on caster level. Did i miss something?
This could mean that there are a lot of scrolls available. Basically 75% chance of getting any scroll below the camp limit. This implies that each expedition has high level wizards, clerics and druids scribing away.
I'm actually fine suspending logic for this but I was wondering if anyone set a caster level limit.


Maplewood wrote:

A faction camp has a limit of 2500gp but there doesn't seem to be any limit on caster level. Did i miss something?

This could mean that there are a lot of scrolls available. Basically 75% chance of getting any scroll below the camp limit. This implies that each expedition has high level wizards, clerics and druids scribing away.
I'm actually fine suspending logic for this but I was wondering if anyone set a caster level limit.

... seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeveral months later (sorry): that's more or less how it works. Your camp apparently has about the same value limits as a village (about 61-200 people), so I'd recommend describing it as sort of becoming that. You might even want to build the community up via the community links I noted.

Where are the scrolls coming from? Everywhere! Either imported from out of town, or located in the city itself - it used to be an exceedingly powerful center of magic after all! And it had ancient, now-fluctuating, protective magics in place... so maybe it "fluctuated" around the scrolls especially.

As far as hard limits... yeah, there aren't any coded in, but there are plenty that you can apply as GM. It never became an issue for us, but it's certainly something that could be.

One way to describe it is never knowing when or if something is available due to the constant state of flux that things are in. Even if a PC checks for something (without buying it) the first time, it'll "probably be gone later" kind of thing. Of course, if they buy a lot, they're going to quickly run out of funds... so it becomes a kind of self-correcting problem.

Of course (again), this all depends heavily on what kind of game you all run (together, not just as a GM) and how and what the group expects.


OK, so after a couple of hack and slash sessions in Saventh-Yhi, something interesting finally happened.

After having run guerilla warfare tactics on the serpentfolk in the Government district, they witnessed a ceremony on the steps of the ziggurat, and decided that the rakshasha could wait for now. Halfway over the bridge, they heard the Radiant Muse playing on her harp (I have made a table of random "happenings" that gives the PCs, slowly but surely, the impression that the city is inhabited by different creatures (e.g. they hear the mokole-mbembe slither in the water, they hear the wings of the night bat beat against the wind, but they cannot see anything in the fog, they spot the humans' camp fire at night, etc).

Anyway, the druid decides to shapechange into a hawk and investigate, something the majority of the players agree on. Anyway, they apparently forgot that 5 minutes later (we took a toilet break), and the rest decides to converge on the ziggurat (sans the druid).
They kill the girallons in the plaza easily enough, but when they climb the ziggurat, the dice aren't on their side. First, I roll below 25% and Akkituk is present. Then, I actually roll a 05, so Grugonoth wakens. Even if he spends a couple of rounds batting away charau-ka, my players don't get the point, and stay their ground. THe demon cast Blasphemy, and only two (the rogue and an animal companion makes their save).

I don't want a TPK, so in the spirit of King Kong, the ape demon decides to grab hold of the elven witch and disappear with her. The dwarven fighter, the gnome bard and his gorilla cohort are all captured by charau-ka and hauled away to the fortress. THe rogue and a tiger escapes.

So, what now? What can Olujimi want with his captives? What about the demon? Here are my suggestions so far:

Grugonoth suffers from the curse, and a -6 dexterity is not great when he wants to kill the Radiant Muse. The witch used some spells and hexes, so he believes she might help him (I don't think she can, but alas..). The witch has to try to manipulate this demon to let her live long enough for her to escape.. could be interesting I think.

I am not so sure why Olujimi wants to capture the others. The bard has a gorilla (trained, bought and then cohorted when he reached 7th level). It might be that they are curious why he would want to hang with the hairless ones, and not themselves. Olujimi might be cruel enough to Dominate the Gorilla, and then have him fight his owner in gladiatoral combat. He might also use the PCs in a hostage exchange with his enemies in the Government district, or even use the PCs to attack them.. I don't know.

Ideas?


Those are both fine ideas.

Others include the fact that either could always just want to know "What the heck is going on?!" from these strange foreigners.

Either of them might try interrogating the captives.

Also, upon learning things, they might want to use these creatures as "leverage" somehow to gain political or military might over other districts. Clearly, although not enough to defeat the two combined, these heroes have tremendous personal power. So sending a squad of assassins into, say, the artist district, or religious district, or - *shudder* - the creepy-as-all resting district may well allow his forces to assert themselves, once the foolish dupes, er, I mean, "skilled heroes" weakened their rivals for them.

Grant either of them a scroll with geas on it, and suddenly you've got a means to ensure cooperation.

Hope that helps!


Has anyone covered how to explain discovery point and camp stats in character? My players are not fans of metagamey mini games!


dunklezhan wrote:
Has anyone covered how to explain discovery point and camp stats in character? My players are not fans of metagamey mini games!

For the Camp Scores, I basically gave them a flow chart. Very metagamey.

For Discovery Points and Mysteries, I explained the mechanic bit by bit. It was more fun. They knew that Discovery points existed because of the Camp score flow chart but not how it worked.

I let them explore first. After they had a day of encounters with the Charau-ka in the Military District. I explained that their Expedition wont go in the area until it is "Secured". Also, they would have to spend a whole day if they wanted to learn anything themselves (Knowledge History).
When they conquered the area, that's when I rolled out more info, like District bonus for the Camp Scores and that the faction that gets to 120 points first gets bragging rights.


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Discovery points are as metagamey as hit points.

Similarly, camp sats could be compared to a character sheet's stuff.

You can explain them in a similar number of ways (which I did), which is the great part about metagamey things.

"5 damage" is translated to "the blade found a small hole in your defenses, and a small string of blood is traced from its passing [5 damage]" (or however you describe it); while rolling a Fortitude save is, "the vitriolic poison creeps through your veins, leaving you cold, yet feverish, as your body strives to ward it off."

Really, it's all in the presentation.

--------------------------

Discovery Points Examples:

- you found an ancient, intricate carving on <a certain wall, floor, roof, etc>, hidden for eons! this describes (daily life of <kind of certain social level> OR amazing historical-or-mythical scenes of <ancient hero or villain>)! [12 pts] actually, it's just however many points

- you found an amazing cache of bronze-with-mithril-filigree sword-guards, darkwood spear-hafts, and well-preserved pottery; all intricately carved and fascinating to scholars (though nothing, but the hafts would be really that useful to you guys, if you felt like crafting spears)! [7 pts] or, again, however many

- you found an ancient, but broken statue that was covered in vines in the district! it's a very important discovery, but badly damaged. still, scholars will be trying to learn all they can about the name 'Dovrius' for years! [4 pts] ... oh, whatever the number is

--------------------------

Camp Stats Examples:

Quote:

Defense (the camp’s ability to defend against attack, to protect its inhabitants, and to recover from disasters), Exploration (the camp’s ability to survey Saventh-Yhi, discover its secrets, and record any findings), and Supply (the camp’s ability to keep its inhabitants nourished and to retain contact with the civilized world).

When the PCs establish a camp, they have 24 points that they can split among the three categories in any combination they wish, from a minimum score of 0 to a maximum of 15 (this maximum can then be exceeded by additional bonuses as detailed below). If the PCs wish to change these scores, they need to build a new camp.

When the PCs (or any faction) either ally with or conquer one of the seven districts of Saventh-Yhi, their camp gains a +1 bonus to all three scores. This bonus is removed if they lose control of their alliance with that district.

The PCs can also assign named NPC allies (as long as the named NPC is at least 2nd level) to aid in defense, exploration, or supply. For each NPC assigned to a category, that score gains a +1 bonus (to a maximum bonus of +4 for four NPCs aiding on any one score).

There's a lot that can be done with that.

Check out the specific entries for more ideas (jungle sites add more to defense, ruin sites add more to exploration, and water sites add more to supply... and specific societies or groups add more to specific elements).

Here, and then starting (and reading on from) here may help you flesh out the inhabitants of the city and the ways and forms that your Defense score will actually take effect. Further, it helps you to begin to guesstimate what the other camps might be, and how well they might fare (compared to the PCs' own, whoever that might be.

Exploration is, more or less, just the accumulation of Discovery Points, as noted above. Maybe do something with adding more treasure.

Also, also, in terms of what their little caravan-group can handle, you probably want to have it kind of like the settlement rules, with a GP limit, but one that's refreshed every <insert convenient time for your game style here>. The higher their supply... the better for them. If you have access to the Kingmaker rules, you could slightly crib from those rules (specifically the Economy checks) to get something of an idea for "re-supply" missions (so, maybe something like once per month make the check to sell any magic items, get some minor profit, and replenish the GP value of the camp?) or something.

--------------------------

That's pretty much the way I handled them. God bless you, and good luck! :D


Does anyone have a map of Saventh-Yhi with a hex overlay on it? Can anyone recommend a software application that can accomplish this?


If you have a picture of the city, you can honestly just use the transparent paste tool in paint to put a grid in there (I just looked up hex grid online). I want to show an example but actually for some reason it is not working for me. Computers are dumb.


Did anyone's group get to 120 Discovery Points? We've been in Saventh-Yhi for 15 days in game and only have 17 points.

Scarab Sages

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We've only had 1 full session in Saventh-Yi so far (reached it at the end of the previous session).
Since we play monthly, I don't want to drag out the Discovery Point wrangling too far...

I anticipate some real fun though, as the encounter with Issilar in Racing To Ruin went ... oddly.
He started, per the book, shaped as a Charau-Ka, and the 2 sides threw fire spells at each other, until both sides started to realize they weren't getting through (resistances all around...) The PCs didn't realise he was running low on Fire spells, but...
He offered to negotiate with them, pointing out the obvious stalemate, and that he had the final statue that they needed, and they had the others he needed - he has huge Bluff and Diplomacy skills.
So he re-shaped to "Human Wizard" and talked until they agreed a short-term truce. The PCs are pretty lawful (well, 2 key ones are), so they've held to the truce. Issilar was getting a lot out of this, so he carried on, and travelled with them to Saventh-Yi!!

He's kept up the disguise, setting up camp with them, and "helped" with the initial over-flight exploration (the party is well-up on flight abilities), with some "interesting" opinions:
* "the charau-ka are annoying pests" - "let's wipe them"
* "the serpent-folk are clearly too dangerous to tackle" - "let's leave them alone" (err, while I take command and build them up!)
* "the humans in the Sacred Serpent zone are clearly worshipping demons(!) and innately hostile" - "don't negotiate" and "be prepared to go in wands blazing"(!) [this latter one may break the illusion, once the PCs get there - *if* they actually talk.]

They haven't actually remembered to question his motives, or habits of disappearing, of not actually contributing usefully in battles (being at the back and "dithering"), and his vagueness about which Faction he's from ("a party of adventurers like yourselves; but our rendezvous has been and gone, and I guess they didn't make it... Sigh (pathetically)[Bluff]")

Add to that, that the Red Mantis will show up soon, and the base-party [Pathfinders, and Gelik (who the PCs hate 'cos he's so wonderfully annoying)] includes (and still trusts) Sasha Nevah on account of her having been an infrequently played drop-in PC for a player gone off to Uni; so Sasha is now mainly GM-played. (I think were the player here, she'd be quite happy to go with sowing seeds of chaos!)

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
caribet wrote:

We've only had 1 full session in Saventh-Yi so far (reached it at the end of the previous session).

Since we play monthly, I don't want to drag out the Discovery Point wrangling too far...

I anticipate some real fun though, as the encounter with Issilar in Racing To Ruin went ... oddly.
He started, per the book, shaped as a Charau-Ka, and the 2 sides threw fire spells at each other, until both sides started to realize they weren't getting through (resistances all around...) The PCs didn't realise he was running low on Fire spells, but...
He offered to negotiate with them, pointing out the obvious stalemate, and that he had the final statue that they needed, and they had the others he needed - he has huge Bluff and Diplomacy skills.
So he re-shaped to "Human Wizard" and talked until they agreed a short-term truce. The PCs are pretty lawful (well, 2 key ones are), so they've held to the truce. Issilar was getting a lot out of this, so he carried on, and travelled with them to Saventh-Yi!!

He's kept up the disguise, setting up camp with them, and "helped" with the initial over-flight exploration (the party is well-up on flight abilities), with some "interesting" opinions:
* "the charau-ka are annoying pests" - "let's wipe them"
* "the serpent-folk are clearly too dangerous to tackle" - "let's leave them alone" (err, while I take command and build them up!)
* "the humans in the Sacred Serpent zone are clearly worshipping demons(!) and innately hostile" - "don't negotiate" and "be prepared to go in wands blazing"(!) [this latter one may break the illusion, once the PCs get there - *if* they actually talk.]

They haven't actually remembered to question his motives, or habits of disappearing, of not actually contributing usefully in battles (being at the back and "dithering"), and his vagueness about which Faction he's from ("a party of adventurers like yourselves; but our rendezvous has been and gone, and I guess they didn't make it... Sigh (pathetically)[Bluff]")

Add to that, that the Red Mantis...

I have to try this. Although my PCs sided with the Red Mantis...


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

I have to side with the people who are disappointed with The City of Seven Spears. Frankly, it is so bad it is almost a deal killer in my deciding to run the Serpent's Skull rather than some other Adventure Path. The main problem seems to be just a lack of forward motion. At the end of the day, activating the spears and getting random bits of info just does not seem interesting. Several other people pointed out that their players kept asking what it was they were trying to accomplish that had anything to do with the serpents. And there is just too little treasure out there for that to be a motivator.

Once they find Juliver, really, all the earlier stuff just becomes so much flavor text. The actual spears would be much more interesting if they conferred permeant benefits or if they each had some kind of key you needed to uncover to get to the next section. Maybe, I'm missing something?

I'm thinking of tossing most of it out, inserting some set quests that have to do with the players back stories, and then skipping ahead as soon as I can rationalize that they are now Level 10. Also, at levels 7-9 a party of 5 with any NPC back-up is just going to rip through the leaders of each district. Without some higher level henchmen for the district leaders, the trio of a big guy or gal with a big sword, someone to buff the fighter, and and an offensive spell caster will take down the district leaders in a few turns. Add to that a bard with high charisma to charm the ones they don't want to kill, and its a piece of cake. My players are just going to ignore the 2nd level mooks and go straight for the leader. They know that if they kill the leaders the others will just run away. I'm really surprised people keep talking about a high mortality rate of their characters in this game. Don't you use channel positive energy?

Having said my piece, anyone else have some interesting interactions with the other factions they would like to share? I have a feeling my usual group of players is either going to try to kill them or co-opt them.


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I don't know if you're interested, but here's how I handled them (and other groups living in the city). Does that help?

There's also the mention of the aboleth in that thread and some neat things to do with him. And then this guy went and made it even better. :D


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

Thanks Tacticslion, I'm not sure that's where I want to take it, but you sure put a lot of work into it. I'm reading through the 6th book now, and they make it really hard to get the locals to support you in the final confrontation. You need a whole stack of 35 diplomacy rolls or higher. Realistically, you have to kick up the size and level of the factions or it would seem like you are leading them on a children's crusade where every one of them gets killed. The 6h book makes the 3rd book make more sense. You really need to read the section of book 6 starting at page31 before running book 3.

Scarab Sages

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caribet wrote:

Issilar was getting a lot out of this, so he carried on, and travelled with them to Saventh-Yi!!

He's kept up the disguise, setting up camp with them, and "helped" with the initial over-flight exploration (the party is well-up on flight abilities), with some "interesting" opinions:
* "the charau-ka are annoying pests" - "let's wipe them"
* "the serpent-folk are clearly too dangerous to tackle" - "let's leave them alone" (err, while I take command and build them up!)
* "the humans in the Sacred Serpent zone are clearly worshipping demons(!) and innately hostile" - "don't negotiate" and "be prepared to go in wands blazing"(!) [this latter one may break the illusion, once the PCs get there - *if* they actually talk.]

They haven't actually remembered to question his motives, or habits of disappearing, of not actually contributing usefully in battles (being at the back and "dithering"), and his vagueness about which Faction he's from ("a party of adventurers like yourselves; but our rendezvous has been and gone, and I guess they didn't make it... Sigh (pathetically)[Bluff]")

so, they've clear the Mercantile District.

Issilar has been allowed to go off doing his own thing - the party don't expect NPCs to come with them and prefer to be allowed their own battles. He's now told them of the Rakshasa ruling the Serpent folk, and suggested a joint battle-plan: the PCs annoy the Charau'Ka with enough illusory Serpent folk that they attack across the bridge, then while the main Serpent folk are distracted, the PCs kill the Rakshasa, and Issilar will then "use his shape-changing magic" and "make himself look like the Serpent folk" and use his Charm spells to convince them to accept him as their leader. So far the party are buying it hook, line and sinker.
Oh My!
They are planning to restore the deposed leader of the Serpent Folk.

Next thing we know, they'll be telling him all about the Severed God and the plot line, and have him ""helping" them!


Prophet of Doom wrote:
Thanks Tacticslion, I'm not sure that's where I want to take it, but you sure put a lot of work into it. I'm reading through the 6th book now, and they make it really hard to get the locals to support you in the final confrontation. You need a whole stack of 35 diplomacy rolls or higher. Realistically, you have to kick up the size and level of the factions or it would seem like you are leading them on a children's crusade where every one of them gets killed. The 6h book makes the 3rd book make more sense. You really need to read the section of book 6 starting at page31 before running book 3.

It's true - books 3 and 4 actually work much better together than apart, and book 6 definitely sheds new light on both of them to help clarify and focus the other books a bit - the fact that you may want to recruit these creatures later is definitely something the GM should be hinting at much earlier.

One other thing that might help explain things is that the faction numbers you arrive with aren't the faction numbers you'll end up with. The arrival group is simply the "first wave" as it were - others continue to arrive and flood the city with workers and reinforcements to properly claim it and make it their own.

Also, the entire thread I linked to is pretty great... enthralling, really. XD

Liberty's Edge

I'm planning on scrapping most of Book 4 and partially restructuring Book 3. These are some of my ideas so far.

  • Nareem Daress discovering Saventh-Yhi and accosting the PCs as soon as they enter it cheapens the discovery for the PCs. He might be haunting up Tazion, instead.
  • Having human discoverers in Saventh-Yhi isn't necessarily bad, but they should have become part of the city. Having part of the Alithorpe expedition settle down in the Artisan District could be another interesting way to take things. Add a repulsion-like effect that discourages leaving the city - PCs will need to dispel it using magic or through a quest (e.g. activating one of the Spears).
  • The Vaults don't seem fun to explore, what with all the status effects that get dumped on parties. It's Smuggler's Shiv all over again. Instead, when Juliver escaped through the portal to the Vaults, she collapsed/deactivated it. The party has to trek through the Darklands to find Ilmurea (meanwhile, Eando just used a portal in Viperwall to reach the city). If there's any one of these ideas I'm attached to, it's building a new adventure that has the PCs exploring the Darklands.
  • Maybe more people than just Juliver escaped Ilmurea, taking the role of the Alithorpe expedition in bullet 2. They've been taken in by the people of the Artisan District, but are still too shell-shocked to speak clearly of what happened down there. They'll give the party a purpose while they explore the city - giving hints about the Vaults and the portal, but not properly explaining that they collapsed the portal until the party has explored all 7 districts. It wouldn't help if one of the escapees was a serpentfolk in disguise . . .
  • More options to make friends in Saventh-Yhi. More than just "defeat them in combat and then offer them mercy." This will necessitate fetch quests and monster-slaying tasks (maybe some of the monsters in the Vaults?), with a few Diplomacy checks of course. Bargaining with other factions, too.


Nadir-Khân wrote:

-Question concerning the Seven Spears-

1.) Spear of Righteous Anger
2.) Spear of Wealth
3.) Spear of Honest Pride
4.) Spear of Rest
5.) Spear of Eager Striving
6.) Spear of Abundance
7.) Spear of Fertility

And if there are already information on this topic, plaese share a link.
Thanks!

If you were to construct a magical spear, that lets say, was split into 7 sections, what magical properties would you assign each section of the spear based on the seven virtues above? And if say, a party were to collect all seven sections and reassemble the spear, what magical properties would you assign to it in addition to their separate parts?

Or if you prefer, have seven different spears that could all be combined to form one truly awesome magical spear.

GO!

Liberty's Edge

Depends on if this is an artifact a la the rod of seven parts or just an expensive magic item. Some thoughts without doing much thinking about level-appropriateness:

Righteous Anger - Rage 3/day, doubles allies' morale bonuses to attack rolls from rage-based effects (rage, bloodrage, inspired rage) within 40 feet for 1 round/day (swift action activates)
Wealth - Minor creation 3/day, bearer gains +2 insight bonus on all Craft checks and skill checks made to create magic items
Honest Pride - Rainbow pattern 3/day, +2 insight bonus on all Diplomacy, Disguise, Intimidate, and Perform checks for the bearer
Rest - Deep slumber 3/day, telekinesis 1/day, and all creatures within 40 feet automatically count as receiving long-term care (see Heal skill) if they rest
Eager Striving - Greater dispel magic 1/day, grants immunity to any possession or dominate spell or effect to the bearer
Abundance - Heroes' feast 1/day, plant growth 1/day, and +10 insight on Profession and Survival checks made by the bearer to produce food and drink
Fertility - Charm monster 3/day, and gain the ability to apply Coaxing Spell, Verdant Spell, or Threnodic Spell feats to 1 applicable spell cast by the bearer per day, without increasing the spell levels (works just like a metamagic rod, but has no limit on max spell level)

The complete spear would be ridiculously powerful, and kind of a bad idea to put in the hands of a single PC. But if you chose to do so, you could have the spear attune itself to the group, and have it request to be rotated between what it sees as the new rulers of Saventh-Yhi every new day. (You can even have it refer to characters by their most notable virtues.)

Righteous Anger - attack bonus doubling lasts 10 rounds, radius extends to 100 feet around bearer
Wealth - crafting bonus extends to allies 100 feet around the bearer
Honest Pride - bonus extends to allies 100 feet around bearer
Rest - choose one paladin mercy; any ally within 100 feet who rests for 1 round gains the benefit of this mercy; mercy can be changed once per day; radius of healing aura also extends to 100 feet
Eager Striving - all allies within 100 feet gain immunity to serpentfolk's dominate person spell-like ability (but not all other forms of dominate)
Abundance - all allies within 100 feet are sustained without food or drink as a ring of sustenance (but still require the normal amount of sleep)
Fertility - all allies within 100 feet gain the ability to apply the listed metamagic feats to one 3rd-level or lower spell per ally per day


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I like some of these. Well I like them all, but for what I'm looking for, some seem too powerful. I may use some of these or modify.

Appreciate the input!

Liberty's Edge

Thoughts on making Issilar's ouster in Saventh-Yhi a degenerate serpentfolk who was awakened by Ydersius' thrashings and became a priest of the Headless King? Seems like it would make a little more sense than the degenerates bowing down to a non-telepathic being, plus makes one of the main bosses of Saventh-Yhi a serpentfolk to keep that important Snake Theme going. (Sometimes I wonder if the adventure writers intentionally avoided putting a lot of serpentfolk into the earlier segments because they figured it would be laying it on too thick.)

Or would it be better to have the new serpentfolk leader be someone who crawled up through the Vaults? Perhaps following an early Juliver, who's now under the tenuous protection of the Radiant Muse?


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Gark the Goblin wrote:

Thoughts on making Issilar's ouster in Saventh-Yhi a degenerate serpentfolk who was awakened by Ydersius' thrashings and became a priest of the Headless King? Seems like it would make a little more sense than the degenerates bowing down to a non-telepathic being, plus makes one of the main bosses of Saventh-Yhi a serpentfolk to keep that important Snake Theme going. (Sometimes I wonder if the adventure writers intentionally avoided putting a lot of serpentfolk into the earlier segments because they figured it would be laying it on too thick.)

Or would it be better to have the new serpentfolk leader be someone who crawled up through the Vaults? Perhaps following an early Juliver, who's now under the tenuous protection of the Radiant Muse?

I have Issilar alive as well, and I don't rightly know the best place to throw him back in. Was thinking him coming back with te Gorilla King, or maybe Vyr'Azul's agents find and recruit him after Juliver happens.

I found it hard to make the Serpentfolk district interesting. Party would not find them diplomatic allies and it would be a boring slaughterfest after the blood spilled in Military District. And they would not buy a serpentfolk (rakshasa) leader either - horay for paladin's evil radar. So I killed everything myself and made these changes:

- Ugimmo was having trouble studying the district with all the serpentfolk around. Serpentfolk had pretty good resistance against mind control of Yog'oltha. So Yog'oltha came in personally (disguised as a halfling for PC reasons) and used illusions to clear the area. Terrified serpentfolk hid in the Vault found in the district, got infected with the spores, became mad, and killed each others. This happened maybe a week ago.
- I moved Vault of Silence there. It was creepy and undead-themed enough for this use. I added few extra spore rooms in the front for the serpentfolk to die in. I may change the main spore room for something else. Room E5 has some faulty magical runes drawn in there, as the guy in the coffin tried to rise as a lich (and failed), and the faulty arcane aura causes dead within 100ft to rise as a ghost a few days later.
- Vault will get a slight nerf, I'm not going to kill everyone with too high-lvl CR encounters, but I wanna leave it scary for the players.
- So now the whole district is instead filled with already dead non-aggressive serpentfolk ghosts wandering around and performing daily duties as they did in life. The rakshasa is also a ghost, but has some mental faculties remaining, so he can be spoken with. He is essentially a quest giver now. Ugimmo can control ghosts as well as zombies to help him to research. Some other species' ghosts also wander around.
- If the party destroys the faulty runes in the Vault, the ghosts regain some of their will and sense. They will become barely neutral towards party, and can be allied with if they avenge their death by killing Yog'oltha.
- Giant Mwangi Bat resides in the Ziggurat, if the party is not wary enough of the ghost hordes. It's passive enough that it could have lived there in symbiosis with serpentfolk. Chimeras live in the previous Ziggurat of the Bat.

With this plan I also get to introduce Vaults of Madness and ease the future transition between modules. :)

Liberty's Edge

On the one hand, we've been playing Racing to Ruin for over a year, but on the other hand, I sure would like to stretch it out until I (probably) get Book 4 for Christmas. Really want to be able to integrate the vaults with the Saventh-Yhi exploration.

I think the idea of ghost archaeologists sounds pretty cool, though I'm wanting to push the serpentfolk theme enough that I'm not going to kill them off just for that.


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We just ended our campaign after 3.5 years, stopping at the end of Book 5 due to a general lack of interest in continuing the AP. Which led to the natural question: When did the AP stop being interesting for the players?

The unanimous feedback: City of Seven Spears.

I spent many hours trying to prepare an interesting sandbox for them with lots and lots of side quests, but the overall feedback was that there was no concrete goal in this book; "Explore until you hit the appropriate level" really didn't do it for them.

So for future GMs, consider adding better, more concrete goals for your players. I gave my players an unlimited sandbox to just run around in and have fun, and they deemed that the least fun part of the entire campaign; they wanted more guidance, and a more concrete idea of, "When will we be done?"

Lessons learned, but I thought I'd pass on the feedback for anyone planning on starting this book in the future. Fun to GM, but my players wanted something more concrete than, "Explore!"


My group is starting The City of Seven Spears this weekend, so some of this advise is very timely for me. I'll work to make sure they a solid sense of direction and accomplishment as they pacify the districts (and try to push trough it in as few session as possible if they start to check out, even to the point of skipping to book 4 early if I have to).

However, does anyone have a worksheet to track the camps and discovery race for each faction? I need a tool to make this as easy and intuitive as possible, and don't want to have to reinvent the wheel if someone already has something that they are willing to share.

Thanks.

Liberty's Edge

Unfortunately, I haven't made any sort of worksheet yet. I will send you a copy of the section of my campaign notes file that deals with Saventh-Yhi, though (via PMs). It's very rough but there could be something of use for another GM.


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Some strategies for creating player interest in Savith-Yhi:

Consider adding fabled treasures to the city. I put one in each district and tried to make them things that tied into the ancient history of the city. I just made it so that Urschlar hid many of them, in addition to the argental font. I generally just put them in a five room dungeon, that could be done in a session. Some examples were a drum that disrupted serpent folk telepathy and mental attacks; part of the regalia of the ancient kings and queens that helped protect against aberrations.

Revisit the pacification conditions for the districts. Most of them are kill x number of creatures, which are kind of boring. You can make the various districts interact a little more a way of creating more interesting potential pacification conditions: so if Ergizamora has kidnapped some of the monkeys, rescuing them might be a condition. You can pull from video games: a bodyguarding/escort quest, an item fetch quest, etc. I made the troglodytes a cruel ruling class over cowed lizard folk in the temple district, but the lizard folk would only rebel and ally with the players if the players could bring them the feathers they needed to make a ceremonial headdress, feathers from the camulatz, of course.

Depending on your players you can use the discovery point system as well. As presented it is pretty abstract, but I made little partial clues for each discovery point that could slowly be pieced together in order to get a picture of what had happened to the city. I also included clues about the fabled treasures here and and clues that could help bypass some of the traps and puzzles in the fabled treasure dungeons.

Just some thoughts. Good luck.

Liberty's Edge

Good suggestions!


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Alcibyades wrote:


Consider adding fabled treasures to the city. I put one in each district and tried to make them things that tied into the ancient history of the city. I just made it so that Urschlar hid many of them, in addition to the argental font. I generally just put them in a five room dungeon, that could be done in a session. Some examples were a drum that disrupted serpent folk telepathy and mental attacks; part of the regalia of the ancient kings and queens that helped protect against aberrations.

...

Depending on your players you can use the discovery point system as well. As presented it is pretty abstract, but I made little partial clues for each discovery point that could slowly be pieced together in order to get a picture of what had happened to the city. I also included clues about the fabled treasures here and and clues that could help bypass some of the traps and puzzles in the fabled treasure dungeons.

I did something pretty similar. I didn't really like the way Book 4 was integrated into the AP, so I changed a few things. First, the vaults were available to be explored from day 1. Second, the stones needed to get into Ilmurea were not hidden 1-to-1 in each vault. I scattered them about the city more. I didn't want them to be obvious, "This is a key, go find a door," objects, so I made them into Ioun stones, tied them to the seven Azlanti virtues, and wrote a short bit of doggerel that described the Azlanti view of the hierarchy of virtues. Essentially, telling them the order the stones needed to be placed in order to open the portal.

And here's the part where it was fortunate that I was working on this part of the AP during a period where I was unemployed for about two years: I made a deck of "discovery cards." Basically, I used Photoshop to make a card for every bit of loot in Saventh-Yhe that had any description to, and a card for every building in the city that was remotely important. And then I invented a bunch more. By the end of the AP, I had a deck of almost 300 cards. Mixed in were the seven Ioun stones they needed to unlock the door, and fragments of the poem scattered across various murals, carvings over door lintels, and engraved on various other random objects they found. They spent easily half a year, real time, exploring the city and gathering these cards before they figured out (from other clues I hid in the cards) that there was a second city underground they had to find, and a portal to get into it.

The session where they spent almost two hours, going through this massive stack of home-made cards, looking for clues and arguing over the order, without me having to give a single hint or nudge to get them in the right direction, was the single best experience I've ever had as a GM.


Jaegermonster General wrote:

[

I did something pretty similar. I didn't really like the way Book 4 was integrated into the AP, so I changed a few things. First, the vaults were available to be explored from day 1. Second, the stones needed to get into Ilmurea were not hidden 1-to-1 in each vault. I scattered them about the city more. I didn't want them to be obvious, "This is a key, go find a door," objects, so I made them into Ioun stones, tied them to the seven Azlanti virtues, and wrote a short bit of doggerel that described the Azlanti view of the hierarchy of virtues. Essentially, telling them the order the stones needed to be placed in order to open the portal.

And here's the part where it was fortunate that I was working on this part of the AP during a period where I was unemployed for about two years: I made a deck of "discovery cards." Basically, I used Photoshop to make a card for every bit of loot in Saventh-Yhe that had any description to, and a card for every building in the city that was remotely important. And then I invented a bunch more. By the end of the AP, I...

That's incredible! Are you able to share your discovery cards? I would love to see them!


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Bardic Dave wrote:
That's incredible! Are you able to share your discovery cards? I would love to see them!

The art is just stuff I grabbed using Google searches, so I'm a little concerned about sharing them because of copyright issues. I might put up a few of them with the art blurred out, though.


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Here's a pdf of the cards I made for Serpent Skull, with the art blanked out. It's about 80mb.

There's three basic card types: artifacts, installations, and creatures. Artifacts are anything that can be picked up and carried away. Installations are buildings and statues and things that are generally not portable. I didn't introduce the creature cards until they got to Ilmurea, where the products of Serpentfolk fleshwarping laboratories had escaped their cages when the city fell, and then spent 10,000 years inbreeding while being exposed to weird science radiation. There was a LOT of weird stuff scurrying around down there!

The pdf was formatted for ease of printing, not ease of reading. Sorry for all the upside down cards!

Initially, I was using Ultimate Campaign rules for the player's camp, but ended up dropping it because only one of my players was into it, and everyone sitting around while one player did all the camp stuff was no good. Some of the earlier cards reference those rules, but they stop showing up after a while.

My friends will confirm that I have a long history of screwing up Google Docs links, so let me know if there's a problem with viewing the pdf!


Jaegermonster General wrote:

Here's a pdf of the cards I made for Serpent Skull, with the art blanked out. It's about 80mb.

There's three basic card types: artifacts, installations, and creatures. Artifacts are anything that can be picked up and carried away. Installations are buildings and statues and things that are generally not portable. I didn't introduce the creature cards until they got to Ilmurea, where the products of Serpentfolk fleshwarping laboratories had escaped their cages when the city fell, and then spent 10,000 years inbreeding while being exposed to weird science radiation. There was a LOT of weird stuff scurrying around down there!

The pdf was formatted for ease of printing, not ease of reading. Sorry for all the upside down cards!

Initially, I was using Ultimate Campaign rules for the player's camp, but ended up dropping it because only one of my players was into it, and everyone sitting around while one player did all the camp stuff was no good. Some of the earlier cards reference those rules, but they stop showing up after a while.

My friends will confirm that I have a long history of screwing up Google Docs links, so let me know if there's a problem with viewing the pdf!

Awesome, thanks for this!

Liberty's Edge

Very cool Jaegermonster! A little late for my game but I suspect there is still a lot of good inspiration in here!

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