Forest of Spirits (GM Reference)


Jade Regent

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The Exchange

Hey started looking into my next session and the shadowdancers shadow step ability should not work within the house of withered blossoms - it works like dimension step which works like dimension door, correct?

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4

Quote:


At 4th level, a shadowdancer gains the ability to travel between shadows as if by means of a dimension door spell. The limitation is that the magical transport must begin and end in an area with at least some dim light. A shadowdancer can jump up to a total of 40 feet each day in this way; this may be a single jump of 40 feet or four jumps of 10 feet each. Every two levels higher than 4th, the distance a shadowdancer can jump each day doubles (80 feet at 6th, 160 feet at 8th, and 320 feet at 10th). This amount can be split among many jumps, but each one, no matter how small, counts as a 10-foot increment.

You're totally correct in your interpretation!

The Exchange

have to wonder if shadow dancers is something they they would be at all then. might look at different classes.


Concerning teleportation spells within the House of Withered Blossoms, it is specifically said that you cannot use them to get in or out of the pagoda/dungeon from the outside, but such movement *within* the confines of the pagoda and dungeons are unaffected.

It's an easy to miss blurb on the top of the following page(p.22).


My own concerns in my group is that they're going up the pagoda and right before entering the ceiling web funnel (spike stone floor level), they've decided to shoot fire and flame strikes at the ceiling.

They know that spiders are lurking there and are not in the mood for ambushes.


I wouldn't worry about it. My party devastated a bunch of spiders with a fireball into the room above. I just let them skip the whole encounter. It's not like there's a shortage of battles in that part of the adventure.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm waiting for my group to fly up to the side of the Pagoda and then BLOW A HOLE IN IT followed by a Crisis Entry with Fireworks.

The Exchange

Are the Gossamer's properly CR'd? The class levels don't appear to be of the same type as the base creature...so the class levels should only count half a CR (up to the base creature CR)

Sovereign Court Developer

The Gossamer's CR is correct. Unfortunately, the monster roles in the Bestiary don't really address prestige classes. The reason the Gossamer's shadowdancer levels count as key class levels is that in order to take a class level, a creature has to meet certain prerequisites - in effect, they have to "specialize" in that class and role before they can take levels in that class, which means that creature now better fits the role of that class, making it a key class level.

This won't necessarily be true 100% of the time, which is why monster design is more of an art than a science, but it's the reason the Gossamer have the CR they do.

The Exchange

seems pretty straightforward though...base creature has sorcerer spells, should primarily be a caster type, shadowdancer - evasion, uncanny dodge, reflex primary save...should be a rogue type?
You even have to replace all the base creature feats in order to qualify for the prestige class at all.

Shadow Lodge

What does Prince Batsaikhar look like?

He's described as "enormous," in the text, but I can't decide whether that means "voluminous" or "titanic." On the one hand, making him a man of impressive girth gives weight to his depiction as a slave to his appetites. On the other hand, I picture "The Golden One" as a taller, more Mongolian, version of Gerard Butler in "300." On first meeting, he stands, his many-folded robes fall away, and he reveals himself as a 7' tall, chiseled figure, looking a bit like Rocky (from the "Horror Picture Show," not "and Bullwinkle").

I could see it going either way, and the headshot is no help (except that that guy doesn't look overweight).

Which direction have other people gone in?


Titanic. Dude is supposed to be able to behead seven people with a single stroke of his katana.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
magnuskn wrote:
Titanic. Dude is supposed to be able to behead seven people with a single stroke of his katana.

He's basically a Goon. I didn't up play this but I did stress the stories about him.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Why not both? He can be the Mongolian equivalent of the Kingpin.


I'm finding that my players' characters are too powerful (they aren't complaining though) and Munasukaru's Penance is a walk in the park. And this is after I've boosted nearly every enemy or added more baddies to at least +EL2. Let's just say that air walking-power attacking-weapon focused-specialized-improved critical Suishens make stuff die fast.

Just as a reference: six players, over 25 point buy equivalent, several side adventures (ie Ruby Phoenix Tournament), and they just turned level 13 right before the Swine Shogun. Even Ameiko joined them and is climbing in levels *fast*.

Since simply adding more encounters is just making things more tedious for everyone, so I'll be upping the environmental effects. There's already the loose ceiling at the destrachan lair, but for the final fight with Munasukaru I'm thinking of adding tons of profane prayer wheels lining the walls, spinning all around her giving her several spell-like buffs (and debuffs for the PCs). They'll be easy to stop, but will keep the characters busy while Munasukaru does her nasty stuff.


I made a Mythic Munasukaru and Mythic Akinosa if you would like to use those to challenge the party.


Mythic Munasukaru:

Mythic Munasukaru, the Least CR 13 / MR 6
XP 76,800
Female ja noi fighter (polearm master) 8 (see page 90, Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player’s Guide 106)
LE Medium outsider (oni, goblinoid, native, shapechanger, mythic)
Init +9; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +19
DEFENSE
AC 35, touch 18, flat-footed 29 (+7 armor, +2 deflection, +5 Dex, +1 dodge, +10 natural)
hp 266 (14d10+129+60); regeneration 3 (acid or fire); DR 10/Epic
Fort +18, Ref +13, Will +8
Weaknesses negative level
OFFENSE
Speed 50 ft., fly 40 ft. (good)
Melee thundering blade +24/+19/+14 (1d8+15/19–20/×4)
Ranged mwk repeating heavy crossbow with screaming bolt +20/+15/+10 (1d10+3/19–20)
Special Attacks pole fighting* –3, polearm training* +1, steadfast pike* +2, mythic power (6/day, surge +1d8, backlash, impossible speed), backlash (mythic), clean blade (mythic), sweeping strike (mythic), impossible speed (mythic), block attacks (mythic), second save (mythic), fortification (mythic)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 5th; concentration +6)
3/day—command (DC 12), doom (DC 12), fly, magic weapon
1/day—bull’s strength
* See the Advanced Player’s Guide.

STATISTICS
Str 26, Dex 20, Con 26, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 12
Base Atk +14; CMB +21; CMD 39
Feats Combat Reflexes, Critical Focus, Deceitful, Dodge, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (repeating heavy crossbow), Improved Critical (naginata), Improved Initiative, Improved Initiative (mythic) Iron Will, Iron Will (mythic), Lightning Reflexes, Lightning Reflexes (mythic), Vital Strike, Weapon Focus (naginata), Weapon Specialization (naginata)
Skills Bluff +17, Disguise +12, Fly +14, Intimidate +17, Perception +19, Sense Motive +12, Stealth +10
Languages Common, Goblin, Tien
SQ change shape (Small or Medium humanoid, alter self ), serene fighter
Combat Gear screaming bolts (10); Other Gear, do-maru of broken flesh (+2 do-maru; see page 60), thundering blade of the House of Sugimatu (+1 thundering naginata; see page 61), masterwork repeating crossbow, flawed crystal ball (the subject of the scrying automatically notices the magical sensor created by the crystal ball), clear spindle ioun stone, ring of protection +2
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Negative Level Wielding the thundering blade of the House of Sugimatu gives Munasukaru a permanent negative level. This negative level remains as long Munasukaru wields the naginata.


Mythic Akinosa:

Akinosa CR 11/MR 5
XP 25,600
Male aranea sorcerer 7 (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2 30)
NE Medium magical beast (shapechanger, mythic)
Init +13; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +10
DEFENSE
AC 31, touch 15, flat-footed 26 (+4 armor, +4 Dex, +1 dodge, +8 natural, +4 shield)
hp 125 (12 HD; 5d10+7d6+74)
Fort +13, Ref +14, Will +9, DR 10/Epic
Weaknesses opium addict
OFFENSE
Speed 50 ft., climb 30 ft., fly 60 ft. (good) (cannot run or charge)
Melee bite +12 (1d6–1 plus poison) or
dagger of venom +13/+8 (1d4/19–20)
Ranged mwk blowgun +13 (1d2 plus Medium spider venom)
Special Attacks long limbs (+5 ft.), poison (DC 15), web (+12 ranged, DC 15, 5 hp)
mythic power (5/day, surge +1d8, mirror dodge) competent caster (mythic), dual initiative (mythic), fortification (mythic), simple divine spellcasting (mythic), poisonous blood (mythic)
Bloodline Spell-Like Abilities (CL 12th; concentration +17)
8/day—acidic ray (1d6+3 acid)
Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 12th; concentration +17)
6th (3/day)—chain lightning (DC 23)
5th (6/day)—baleful polymorph (DC 22), interposing hand
4th (7/day)—dimension door, scrying (DC 21), stone shape
3rd (7/day)—fly, haste, lightning bolt (DC 20), slow (DC 20), tongues
2nd (7/day)—acid arrow, blur, false life, mirror image, scorching ray, see invisibility
1st (8/day)—burning hands (DC 18), charm person (DC 18), enlarge person, mage armor, magic missile, shield
0 (at will)—acid splash, detect magic, ghost sound (DC 17), mage hand, message, ray of frost, read magic, resistance, touch of fatigue (DC 17)
Divine Spell Known (all spells 1/day) (CL 12th)
6th Blade Barrier (DC 23), Heal
4th Cure Critical Wounds
3rd Cure Serious Wounds, Invisibility Purge (DC 20)
Bloodline Aberrant
STATISTICS
Str 8, Dex 18, Con 18, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 25
Base Atk +8; CMB +7; CMD 22
Feats Combat Casting, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Eschew Materials, Improved Initiative, Improved Initiative (mythic), Lightning Reflexes, Lightning Reflexes (mythic), Toughness, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Finesse (mythic)
Skills Acrobatics +13, Climb +14, Escape Artist +8, Fly +12, Intimidate +12, Knowledge (arcana) +12, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +5, Perception +10, Spellcraft +8, Stealth +9
Languages Common, Sylvan, Tien
SQ bloodline arcana (+50% duration on polymorphs), change shape (humanoid, alter self )
Combat Gear wand of lightning bolt (23 charges), Medium spider venom (4 doses); Other Gear dagger of venom, masterwork blowgun with 10 darts, cloak of resistance +2, flask of endless sake (see page 60), silver sake drinking bowl (worth 110 gp), magnificently carved hardwood ball medallion depicting the world being devoured by an imperial dragon (worth 50 gp), silver mirror worth 1,000 gp (focus for scrying spell), 2 doses of opium (worth 50 gp total), keys to all locks in the aboveground levels of the House of the Withered Blossoms

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Opium Addict (Ex) Akinosa is addicted to opium (see the sidebar on page 29). While under the effects of the drug, he gains +1d8 temporary hit points and a +2 alchemical bonus on Fortitude saves for 1 hour, but he is also fatigued. In addition, he has taken 2 points of Constitution damage and 2 points of Wisdom damage from the drug (already reflected in the stat block).


If the party defeated Akinosa already. This could be a good option.

Spirit of Akinosa:

Akinosa, The Ever-Seeking Dreamer CR 11
XP 12,800
NE male aranea spirit
Notice Perception DC 25 (the smell of intoxicating flowers and clicking mandibles)
hp 65
Will Save DC 22

Ongoing Effect
You desire a drug induced torpor. Seeking unawareness of reality and dream, if opium is not available then you search for the indulgence of any alcohol to dull your senses. What better than to forcibly take the endless supply of sake provided by the flask. During this period, you take on an interesting trait and skill set of Araneas.

Bane
Just like drugs, alcohol can be abused and have significant negative effects. In general, you can consume a number of alcoholic beverages equal to 1 plus double your Constitution modifier before being sickened for 1 hour equal to the number of drinks above the maximum. When resolved to drink from the flask of sake upon the first time, make a Fortitude save DC 20 to avoid becoming addicted. You must drink sake every day, or refuse any potion and non-alcoholic drink offered to you.
If or when opium first becomes available, make a Fortitude save DC 20 to avoid becoming addicted. Like Akinosa, you crave opium, a highly addictive drug. While under the effects of opium, you gain +1d8 temporary hit points and a +2 alchemical bonus on Fortitude saves for 1 hour, but you are also fatigued during that time, and take 1d4 points of Constitution damage and 1d4 points of Wisdom damage. You must inhale opium every day, or take a –2 penalty to Dexterity, Constitution, Strength, and Wisdom scores and be unable to heal ability damage caused by the drug until you take another dose.
Rules for drugs and addiction can be found on pages 236–237 of the GameMastery Guide.

Boon
Spinnerets (Ex): As a swift action, you can extrude 20-foot strands of organic cable from the pulse points in your wrists. You may extrude three cables per day. The strands are sticky, and can be used to make a ranged touch attack against a target, giving it the entangled condition for 1 minute per every 2 character levels you possess, on a failed Reflex save, DC 10 + ½ your character level. The stands may also be used as rope, and dissolve after 24 hours. You may also use your spinneret strands as retractable cables, effectively lifting you from the ground to an anchor up to 20 feet, or like a swinging rope to cross obstacles.

Spinneret Tactics
You remember the tactics the Araneas used against you within The House of Withered Blossoms, and turn those same maneuvers upon your enemies. Performing any of these requires the use of one free hand during any spinneret maneuver.
Web-Slinging: This favored tactic involves creating a web and then using that web as a swinging rope to fight from. Generally speaking, you are considered to be on higher ground for these attacks (+1 on melee attacks). To use this tactic, you must first throw a web to a nearby fixed point (usually a ceiling or beam, both of which are generally Large, with an AC of 9).
Angry Falling Leaves: In this attack, you use a web to break your fall and suddenly drop up to 20 feet downward into combat, treating yourself as a falling object, crashing into an opponent from above. This attack requires a melee touch attack, and deals 2d6 points of damage. You receive 1d6 points of damage if this attack is successful.
Attack of the Lotus Whirlwind: In this attack, put yourself into a spin as you descend from your web. If you descend 20 feet using this attack, the descent counts as a charge.
Graceful Descent of the Flying Blade: You can swing up to the web’s length (moving up to your speed) and make a single melee attack action without provoking an attack of opportunity, similar to the Spring Attack Feat. Doing so requires an Acrobatics check with a DC equal to the opponent’s CMD. You then release the web and drop to the ground.

Dismissal
Remove Disease dismisses Akinosa.
The unpleasant crave does not continue even after Akinosa is dismissed. Should you take a dose of opium or alcohol you became addicted to, you immediately relapse, causing the addiction DC to instantly return.

The Exchange

Area C10 punishing kick isn't supposed to be able to be used as written in the adventure.


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Just ran the first four feasts in our last game, and roleplaying in Ordu-Aganhei had been a blast so far. Batsaikhar is a fun weirdo who makes the PCs very uncomfortable. While the group failed to make tasty food for the 4th feast (Ameiko is the only one with a skill for that, and she hasn't put points into Bartending for months, what with all the cross continent traveling), they put on a SPECTACULAR entertainment show that I had to share with everyone. First, a large deep tub and a boulder were brought out to the courtyard, and the boulder placed on top of the tub, covering it. Then, Jinkoro (the cleric) cast obscuring mist. Ilvaria (the paladin) went into the mist, cast resist energy (fire) on Jinkoro and summoned her dire bat mount. Then they cleared the mist, revealing the beast to the crowd. Both then flew up into the sky, and Uldar (the summoner) created a wall of fire in a ring pointing inwards above the boulder and tub. Flying over the ring, Jinkoro leapt off the bat, falling through the ring while flipping with much grace thanks to a 44 acrobatics check. Below, Anterbok (the barbarian) faked not being able to get the boulder off of the tub which Jinkoro was going to land in. At the last second, Anterbok used his shatter spell-like ability to destroy the boulder, and Jinkoro safely plopped into the tub. To top it off, Jinkoro made the boulder whole once more over the tub, sealing himself in. Again, anterbok faked not being able to move the boulder, and the guards began to move in to help at Batsaikhar's instruction. Unbeknownst to them, Uldar had dimension door-ed into and out of the tub with Jinkoro. They appeared behind the crowd, and calmly asked for some towels. The crowd went absolutely nuts. While it didn't technically count towards 2 skill checks, I definitely gave them the credit for passing the entertainment, since it was a very creative combination of powers and abilities.

The Exchange

nice!


Quick question on Shayle's favored enemy (I've never actually played a ranger). Does her favored enemy goblinoids work on the ja noi oni like Munasukaru? Or is the fact that it is Favored Enemy: Humanoid (goblinoid) make it not work, since the oni are outsiders? The party brought Shayle with them into the House of Withered Blossoms once they heard there would be hobgoblins.


An unusual situation, but I'd allow it. Oni are evil spirits that manifest as humanoids. Since ja noi oni manifest as hobgoblins and have the goblinoid subtype, they should be fair game for Shalelu.

The Exchange

I agree...if they have the subtype, they should count. after all, half elves are subject to both human and elf favored enemies, as are half orcs. crossblooded sorcerers could have many subtypes!
I don't think you ever stack favored enemy bonuses if more than one applies, I think you take the highest bonus

Contributor

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KetchupKing wrote:
Just ran the first four feasts in our last game, and roleplaying in Ordu-Aganhei had been a blast so far. Batsaikhar is a fun weirdo who makes the PCs very uncomfortable. While the group failed to make tasty food for the 4th feast (Ameiko is the only one with a skill for that, and she hasn't put points into Bartending for months, what with all the cross continent traveling), they put on a SPECTACULAR entertainment show that I had to share with everyone. First, a large deep tub and a boulder were brought out to the courtyard, and the boulder placed on top of the tub, covering it. Then, Jinkoro (the cleric) cast obscuring mist. Ilvaria (the paladin) went into the mist, cast resist energy (fire) on Jinkoro and summoned her dire bat mount. Then they cleared the mist, revealing the beast to the crowd. Both then flew up into the sky, and Uldar (the summoner) created a wall of fire in a ring pointing inwards above the boulder and tub. Flying over the ring, Jinkoro leapt off the bat, falling through the ring while flipping with much grace thanks to a 44 acrobatics check. Below, Anterbok (the barbarian) faked not being able to get the boulder off of the tub which Jinkoro was going to land in. At the last second, Anterbok used his shatter spell-like ability to destroy the boulder, and Jinkoro safely plopped into the tub. To top it off, Jinkoro made the boulder whole once more over the tub, sealing himself in. Again, anterbok faked not being able to move the boulder, and the guards began to move in to help at Batsaikhar's instruction. Unbeknownst to them, Uldar had dimension door-ed into and out of the tub with Jinkoro. They appeared behind the crowd, and calmly asked for some towels. The crowd went absolutely nuts. While it didn't technically count towards 2 skill checks, I definitely gave them the credit for passing the entertainment, since it was a very creative combination of powers and abilities.

Ha, I love it when players come out with some awesomeness, you obviously have a fine group of players KetchupKing.

Rich


Okay, so there was a bit of a rules argument last night, and I wanted to ask opinions. The party was in area B7, and looked through the grille to see Buto's keep (darkvision all around more or less). The summoner says he's going to teleport the party inside, and I say no since he's never seen the inside of the place. He says though he hasn't, he should still be able to teleport inside since he knows the coordinates of the place where he wants to be, being able to see all the outside walls. Essentially, he knows exactly where the room is, so he should be able to go there. Now, dimension door would definitely work in this instance to get inside (still dangerous of course) since he has a very good estimate of the distance to travel and the direction, but he wanted to save 3rd level spells for later.

It wasn't really an issue for long, the party has air walk and they found the door, but for the sake of not wasting more time talking about teleport rules in the middle of gaming I want to know what you guys think/know. It is my first time dealing with teleport rules to be honest.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Nope, they haven't even "viewed once". Just tell them they can teleport anywhere they can see, but can't just teleport somewhere via guesstimation. The spell doesn't work that way.

EDIT: Unless they're using Greater Teleport in which case they have a description which is "Inside that building there". But my guess is they don't have 7th level spells yet.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm just now wrapping up Forest of Spirits in my pbp campaign. I figured it would be a good time to share some of the things I tweaked along the way.

Ordu-Aganhei: After the grueling hike over the Crown, coming back into civilization was enjoyed by the party, especially with the gracious welcome they receive from Prince Bat. I looked forward to, and enjoyed using the city for some meaty role-playing sidebars and PC/NPC bonding. The feasts started off great, and the players were able to integrate their parts in nicely. Where the train went off the rails was at the marriage proposal. I tried to use situation, and Prince Bat in general, in a mostly awkward/comedic fashion... Unfortunately, the player proposed to took to all *very* seriously and ultimately quit the game because of it. I probably could have handled it better, but I honestly thought it would come off more silly than serious... the joys of electronic communication!

Instead of ambushing the party in the city, I had them get attacked while they were split/exposed in the palace and at the caravan. In my mind, it set up better to stress the group, and also kept them from blaming the prince. They took the hint and fled the city.

Lastly, I introduced Miyaro early on, insinuating herself as a cultural adviser. She sprang to help during the ambush, later revealing her true nature.

Forest of Spirits: Once free of the city, I kept the road encounters quiet until they entered the forest. To play up the place's strangeness, I highlighted its seemingly 'stasis-like', unchanging nature. The spirit encounters I ran were kinda cool and awkward at the same time. The semi-haunt mechanic didn't seem to mesh well ('if everyone passes their save, does the spirit just leave?') with the descriptive elements of the encounter. If I could run them again, I'd probably re-think how to mech these.

The approach to the ward zone and kami meeting I ran pretty much as printed. I analogize it to the ent moot in LotR, and tried to give it that bearing.

Withered Blossom Gardens: As the group neared the House, the climate steadily changed from winter to balmy heat, given off by the energy of the House. This accounted for the more jungle-like, overgrowth feel of the gardens. After the group defeated Munasukaru and broke the wards, this effect died out and the gardens slowly returned to winter.

I used Richard's rough draft of the garden terrace encounters to flesh out the approach to the House. After a couple spider fights, the party just cast air walk and skipped the rest. I'm glad I didn't make up a whole map!

House of Withered Blossoms: Knowing the dungeon was going to be a grind, atop the sloooow pace of pbp, I went in planning to cut/merge encounters in the module. I also wanted to skip the whole aranea section unless the group wanted to push it. They were pretty mission-focused, and basically ignored Akinosa's crew. I introduced the conflict between the hobgoblins and aranea right as the group entered the main floor, walking into an ongoing melee.

In all, I was surprised by how easily the group dealt with the encounters. Only a couple of fights really stressed them. Granted, their make-up was 5 PCs (monk, magus, oracle, vanguard and bard) and 1 NPC (Kelda), but I amplified most every fight with either additional enemies, advanced template, better gear and/or increased/max hp.

Here's a quick summary of the encounters I used/changed:

  • Again, I didn't run anything from the upper levels.
  • B2-B5 Wall/Entrance Gauntlet pretty much as written, though combined and with a Sister of the Broken Path leader.
  • The Great Cavern/Buto the party skipped by scouting and air walking over the top.
  • Party entered the Mockery Pagoda semi-quietly. I included one major encounter around the Shrine of Munasukaru with a sister and several leper hobgoblins (instead of warriors).
  • I removed most of the rest of the foes here. The clay golem lasted 1 round, I think.
  • Party air walked over the lattice, encountered Ichirou and his mistresses in bed.
  • I removed the whole barracks C14-C16 area. After the lattice, they went straight to the Drain; no guards there either (too awkward to run).
  • Note, the gars in D1, and for that matter, the elementals in C1, were no factor with air walk in play.
  • I combined the foes in D2-D6, and D9 into one running battle, worked nicely though the giant gorgon got stopped by hold monster on round 1. Ryosanjin was a cool foe, but even buffed up he didn't last long.
  • I moved the destrachan into E1 to act as torturers. It played well and made more sense than them just standing around in a corridor. I removed the 2 spawns. A foot of water covered the floor also, making the room difficult terrain, mostly ignored by air walking PCs.
  • I ran the 2 x naga as printed, but changed the chamber to be half-full (~10 ft deep) of water. This gave the naga a small advantage for mobility and stealth, but was (again) mostly negated by air walk. The naga didn't pose much threat; in hindsight I probably should have added a third, and buffed them up more.
  • The final fight was in E3-E4, combining the pair of kytons, some lepers and sisters, with a naga and destrachan that managed to flee the preceding encounters. This was a fight to the death, to keep the party from entering Munasukaru's sanctum. I pondered bringing her into the fight halfway through, but preferred to keep her face-to-face meeting as written to allow for some (brief) dialogue.

Munasukaru: Probably the most drastic change I made was by respec'ing Munasukaru as a ToB:Bo9S Warblade. Love it or hate it, the Bo9S maneuvers are pretty flavorful for the mobile/wuxia/oriental vibe I was going for with Munasukaru. Additionally, just having Uncanny Dodge kept her from dying in the first round. She got a few colorful hits in with her maneuvers, but still died rather quickly once the melees got to her. Even with max hit points, a haste-flurrying monk and 2 x spell-striking gish make life short for solitary foes!

Stats, if you're interested...:
Female ja noi warblade 9
LE Medium outsider (oni, goblinoid, native, shapechanger)

Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft, Perception +20
===

AC 28, touch 17, flat-footed 23 (+7 armor, +2 deflection, +4 Dex, +1 dodge, +4 natural)
hp 228 (6d10+9d12+105); regen 3 (acid/fire)
Fort +18, Ref +14, Will +10
Weaknesses negative level

===

Speed 20 ft, fly 40 ft (good)
Melee Thundering Blade +23/+18/+13 (1d8+14/19-20/x4)
Melee Claws +21 (1d6+7)
Spell-like Abilities per ja noi
Manuevers Known (IL 12) Charging Minotaur (SD), *Death From Above (TC), Disarming Strike (IH), *Mithral Tornado (IH), Mountain Hammer (SD), *Rabid Bear Strike (TC), Rabid Wolf Strike (TC), Steel Wind (IH), *Sudden Leap (TC)
Stances Known Blood in the Water (TC), Giant's Stance (SD)

===

Str 24, Dex 18, Con 24, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 12
Base Atk +15; CMB +21; CMD 37
Feats (8+2 bonus) Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Critical (naginata), Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Martial Study, Quick Draw, Weapon Focus (naginata), Weapon Specialization (naginata)
Skills Acrobatics +15, Perception +20
Languages Common, Goblin, Tien
SQ per ja noi, warblade

===

Gear do-maru of broken flesh, Thundering Blade of the House of Sugimatu, flawed crystal ball, pink rhomboid ioun stone, ring of protection +2

I also improved the stats on the Sugimatu naginata significantly, to bring it closer to par with Suishen. Essentially +2 shrieking thundering naginata, with greater shout (CL 15) once per day. I didn't bother with the flying/crossbow tactic (see: air walk). I think the agile template and mythic boost (like Xeno posted above) would make her a better (solo) end boss, depending on the party.

After she died, I had the kami sweep in and clear the rest of the dungeon, a la the Valar host in the Silmarillion (sorta).

In summary, I really enjoyed this module, from the role-playing bits in O-A, to the flavor-heavy dungeon crawl. There really isn't another dungeon crawl like this the JR path... I especially enjoyed the graphic artistry displayed in nearly every room, which gave a memorable evil vibe to the place. Many thanks Richard!


Reading through both the Dragon Empires Gazetteer and Forest of Spirits, I noticed a discrepancy I haven't seen pointed out. In the AP, it puts the escape of the oni from the House of Withered Blossoms as 160 years before the start of the adventure, while the timeline in Dragon Empires Gazetteer puts it at only 60. I'm going with the longer one myself, makes more sense for infiltration and wiping out the five families without arousing a ton of suspicion, but I was curious if anyone else caught this or asked a paizo employee about it.


I just have to share this.

My party just completed the first 4 feasts in ordu-aganhei and are just having a blast here. One of my players is a bit of a evil character and making it impossible for the servants to cater to his needs. Which led to his servants being replaced by more "capapble" ones and the previous ones having killed off. His character couldn't care less what happens to the servants but the party does and they are slowly finding out what is happening, which makes for some fun party conversations.

But the real fun began at the 4th feast, they opted for 2 very unique challenges. One was that a PC would stealth in the area whilst a dozen of the loyal bodyguards of the prince would be on the lookout to find the stealthing PC whom was sneaking his way towards the prince to steal something from his plate. Whilst he was able to avoid everyone's attention his royal bodyguard Izume did spot the PC to the enjoyment of the guests and at the same time making the pc's aware that the prince is a force to be reckoned with.

For the second challenge they devised a challenge with sense motive. An accomplished story teller from the prince's own household would tell three different traditional local stories (the PC has knowledge what so ever about this area) and one of the stories would be a lie or an altered version of a real one, which he would then have to filter out of the three.

Lastly, the object one the prince's desire was one of the female PC's, he was dropping hints at the previous days and as expected proposed to the PC at the end of the 4th day. I had written an poem which I recited, to the amazement of the pc, telling the PC about her virtues and beauty. At which point the session ended. So the player in question still has no idea what to do since she doesnt want to upset the prince, but he also doesn't seem like the kind of husband you are looking for. It's great :)


enjoy

the rest of the modules isn't a quarter as much fun IMO


So, has anyone mocked up a map for the Garden of Vivid decay they would like to share? Am looking at including this bonus section and wondering if anybody has something to start a map off of instead of starting from scratch.


Researching notes:

This book indicates the Oni left the House of Withered Blossoms 160 years ago. Dragon Empire Gazatteer indicates they left 7151, Present year is listed as 7211, only 59 years. Book 6 seems to confirm 7151 as well. Gazateer also seems to imply the Oni wiped out and subjugated the houses of Minkai by 7152, confirmed by Book 1, though that implies in one year....wow...fast...and against the "poisoned over years" demise of House Sugimatu in Book 5. I dunno if I prefer 60 years or 160 years...I suppose 60 years makes a certain amount of sense for how quick it all happened. Minkai would really be Oni controlled if they had 160 years.

So, just kinda checking here. The Thundering Blade of the House of Sugimatu was stolen by Munasukaru. This means that it would have to be before the Kami bound the oni to the House (an unspecified date as far as I can tell). But the background info of Book 6 indicates that the Five Storms was only created after Big A manifested inside the House and began to command the wills of the Oni imprisoned there and turned them to his purpose...So....Why/How did Munasukaru get her hands on that ancestral weapon? Were the oni in the House ever free before the work-around escape was found?


I think the 160-year timeframe works better, myself, but you could go either way, and I don't think it directly affects the storyline. Re the 7152 date in the Gazetteer, I take "stealthy subjugation" to mean the Five Storms had put enough agents in place to manipulate a couple of houses without being detected. According to Tide of Honor, the oni wiped out the Sugimatu first, and the Teikoku and Higashiyama were killed off within the last half century. Assuming the Shojinawa were second on the list and fell before 7152, that would make two houses destroyed by 7152, two houses infiltrated by 7152 and set up for destruction after that date, and one escaping house. (Possibly the assault on the Shojinawa was costly enough that the oni altered their plans to more subtle methods.)

According to Munasukaru's backstory, Anamurumon and the other oni were already in the House of Withered Blossoms when she entered it. That indicates she wasn't one of the original imprisoned oni, and she probably acquired the Thundering Blade before she entered the House.


Uqbarian wrote:

I think the 160-year timeframe works better, myself, but you could go either way, and I don't think it directly affects the storyline. Re the 7152 date in the Gazetteer, I take "stealthy subjugation" to mean the Five Storms had put enough agents in place to manipulate a couple of houses without being detected. According to Tide of Honor, the oni wiped out the Sugimatu first, and the Teikoku and Higashiyama were killed off within the last half century. Assuming the Shojinawa were second on the list and fell before 7152, that would make two houses destroyed by 7152, two houses infiltrated by 7152 and set up for destruction after that date, and one escaping house. (Possibly the assault on the Shojinawa was costly enough that the oni altered their plans to more subtle methods.)

According to Munasukaru's backstory, Anamurumon and the other oni were already in the House of Withered Blossoms when she entered it. That indicates she wasn't one of the original imprisoned oni, and she probably acquired the Thundering Blade before she entered the House.

Ah, of course, I look everywhere but her actual backstory to find information on it.

Still, that just brings up more questions about the house. Tide of Honour implies that new Oni in the Minkai and Forest of Spirits area must manifest there first and then be trapped. Or did Anamurumon just have bad luck for a reason? I've been trying to get a feel for how Oni are different that Devils or demons and how their Lawful alignment comes into play when they're actually driven by really chaotic urges. I can get the fallen Kami angle and that they're still bound to this set of laws that they try to otherwise be as chaotic about, I just wish there were more examples of these Kami laws and how the Oni interact with them. So now I'm just wondering how one of the Least of the Five storms was originally this hobgoblin war leader able to avoid initial imprisonment in the house and strong enough to fend off the kami presence in the forest, when big A was given the "go directly to jail. Do not pass go." Card.

Working theory: munasukaru mankfested in <insert name of hobgoblin Tien nation> far enough away from the forest of spirits not to be caught in their Oni trap, and just a natural desire of travelling Tien and stealing and robbing and all the Oni exploits eventually brought her to Minkai. Perhaps she was instructed by Big A to do a raid on a noble house and steal the weapon to be allowed inside the House, unknowingly becoming trapped herself, and join the five storms.

I kinda wish the fall of Chu Ye to Oni wasn't so recent. That'd be an excellent reason for the Kami in the Forest of Spirits to have constructed the House of withered Blossoms as an Oni trap to keep the area safe.


Carter Lockhart wrote:
Tide of Honour implies that new Oni in the Minkai and Forest of Spirits area must manifest there first and then be trapped. Or did Anamurumon just have bad luck for a reason?

Do you mean Empty Throne? But yes, it's a bit vague. Forest of Spirits says "the kami swore an oath long ago to guard the oni of the Five Storms, who were imprisoned in a pagoda called the House of Withered Blossoms." I reckon that means the imprisoned oni were a specific group, not just any oni in Minkai. Why, then, does Anamurumon wind up in the prison? It's a mystery. It could be due to something in the Golden Laws, or it could just be that Fumeiyoshi is a jerk. Maybe because Anamurumon was a human spirit rather than a fallen kami, his manifestation required the additional restriction of appearing in an oni prison.

Incidentally, re alignment, not all oni are lawful. For example, water and ice yai are CE; earth yai, fire yai and nogitsune are NE.

The kami of the Forest of Spirits have very few mortal servants (Miyaro is the only one we know about), and kami can't fight oni directly, so there probably wasn't a lot they could do to hinder Munasukaru. They were probably relieved when she went into the House of Withered Blossoms. (Hey, a clever kami might have even helped her get there, knowing she couldn't get out.)

EDIT: Forgot to mention, the hobgoblin nation is Kaoling. Though if Munasukaru manifested there, she'd probably be less likely to wander to Minkai. I'd have her starting out in Minkai or maybe Hongal, myself.

Dark Archive

"If the PCs agree to investigate the House of Withered Blossoms on behalf of the kami, they may leave the next morning."

"If the PCs agree to go to the House of Withered Blossoms, an audible sigh passes through the kami gathered in the clearing."

So what do I do I the PCs DON'T want to go to the House of Withering Blossoms? Just bypass the rest of the adventure?


Master Elodin wrote:

"If the PCs agree to investigate the House of Withered Blossoms on behalf of the kami, they may leave the next morning."

"If the PCs agree to go to the House of Withered Blossoms, an audible sigh passes through the kami gathered in the clearing."

So what do I do I the PCs DON'T want to go to the House of Withering Blossoms? Just bypass the rest of the adventure?

Maybe an opening to put Suishen's Ego score to work?

That aside, more subtly you have a lot of NPCs to play with. Ameiko could feel compelled to seek revenge for her family by striking at the storms holdout. Koya may be interested in find clues to the story of the Oni group and their history. Sandru muses aloud about the valuables that might be hidden within. Shalelu talks about removing the taint of goblins and oni so the Kami can restore the land. Ulf is intrigued for a chance to navigate more of the forest and the opportunities that being a skilled guide through such territory might bring.

But. Basically. Yeah. If they don't want to. They don't have to. But that's boring and there are a ton of good plot hooks to go inside of the group has gotten this far.

Dark Archive

Carter Lockhart wrote:
Master Elodin wrote:

"If the PCs agree to investigate the House of Withered Blossoms on behalf of the kami, they may leave the next morning."

"If the PCs agree to go to the House of Withered Blossoms, an audible sigh passes through the kami gathered in the clearing."

So what do I do I the PCs DON'T want to go to the House of Withering Blossoms? Just bypass the rest of the adventure?

Maybe an opening to put Suishen's Ego score to work?

That aside, more subtly you have a lot of NPCs to play with. Ameiko could feel compelled to seek revenge for her family by striking at the storms holdout. Koya may be interested in find clues to the story of the Oni group and their history. Sandru muses aloud about the valuables that might be hidden within. Shalelu talks about removing the taint of goblins and oni so the Kami can restore the land. Ulf is intrigued for a chance to navigate more of the forest and the opportunities that being a skilled guide through such territory might bring.

But. Basically. Yeah. If they don't want to. They don't have to. But that's boring and there are a ton of good plot hooks to go inside of the group has gotten this far.

Yeah. I'm sure my group will want to go because they rarely turn down an opportunity to showcase their awesomeness in combat, but still. I wasn't really seeing a lot of things in the way of plot hooks here and wondering if I was missing something.


Richard Pett wrote:
The angry spirit of Munasukaru, a fury that frequently manifests itself in storms and earthquakes that have ripped this area apart, has broken the garden, like the whole region around the House of Withered Blossoms.

Hi Richard, my PCs will soon venture into the Pagoda and I am going to use your Decaying Garden. I am converting it to 5e but wondered what you had in mind with this "fury" mechanically as I want to use it. I have some ideas but wondered what the intent was. Thanks.

Dark Archive

So just to check, this book's dungeon seems to be least liked part of Jade Regent(unless I misunderstood) something and from what I can gather, it seems to be the House of Withering Blossoms part alone aka very linear tower dungeon with lot of spiders and mohgrs?

It's bit hard to tell since different people focus on different things. Like I don't find it too hard to believe that they could have been stuck in stalemate for 60 years even if reasoning for it is basically "one of them is opium addict and another noe is mad", like the defending party being superior one in strength and offensive one not being able to defend them makes sense enough for me in story sense even if logistics wise its unlikely and I'm bit confused of how hobgoblins get food(...wait how do they get food if they are stuck in the basement?)

anyway, yeah I'm basically trying to gather in advance information on what stuff I need to be aware of when running this ap


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I've runed it and here are my toughts as a GM :

-Concerning the upper levels, my players decided to fly to the roof and start the dungeon upside down. They had a very hard time against the gossamer, and retreated after killing 4 of them. When they came back the next day, they killed the remaining one and the aranea sorcerer whose name i don't remember with ease. The rest of the upper levels was a cakewalk.

-Concerning the floor with the morgs and a bazillion traps : it can upset players. That's what happened with mine, to the point that they used spells/potions to fly around and not touch that "g#%+&%n killing floor !"

-Once you start to run the underground part, Your PCs are going to spend 90 % of their time fighting the same ennemy type again and again (Withered blossom warrior and Sisters of the broken path).

My players put up with it, but i can see how it can upset some players to continuously have to deal with the same ennemy types. (Wasn't there a dungeon like this in shattered star, filled to the brim with the same ennemy type over and over again ? I believe this dungeon wasn't very loved).

-If you want to provide a challenge to your players, your better twtik those two ennemy types a bit. In my campaign, i remade the sisters into unchained monks, and made the warriors go full fighter instead of fighter/rogue. I didn't change their stats though, and they ended up as a nice challenge, nor too easy, nor too hard.
I also added some variety by using hobgobelins profiles from the monster codex (alchemist and priest, for the most part - with the priest shouting prayers to Munasukaru during combat).

-You can use the numerous prisonners to have RP opportunity, and show how this place is meant to break people's mind.

-I tried to made the dungeon interesting by playing with the different generals and lieutenants having a very strong personnality (my players loved the swine shogun a lot). I also tried to do my best to do "environnemental storytelling" and tried to make the dungeon to look alive. My players even started to feel uneasy in some places down there.

I also tried to show them how twisted the place was, and how the hobgobelins were fanaticaly devoted to their "goddess".

Funny thing : my players ended up feeling a bit bad for the ogre mage generals, feeling how they were trapped under the command of someone who clearly had lost her mind, and how they were aware of it.

It was to the point that they ended up trying to recruit the last one (Ochyo). And since the Kitsune oracle rolled something like 41 in diplomacy ... well, they have an Ogre mage follower now, one they are actively trying to turn to the good side (wich is not that hard, given the decades of abuse she suffered at Munasukaru's hands - i also decided that her unease and pain was a source of "food" for the kytons present in her room, so they were trying to have her in a constant state of mental breakdown).

-Munasukaru will probably need a boost too. When my player faced her, i did add two sisters to protect her but she was still killed in the second round - she barely managed to hit once before dying.


I was a player in this campaign, and have read the books since then.

We didn't buy into the 60-year war thing, or whatever it was, either. It all felt so artificial, esp. since the aranea were drugged out of their minds. Literally.

Like meumeujeu's players we went in through the top. I can't imagine why anyone would go in at the ground level. That being said, the gossamer forced us to retreat because of their shadows, not because the gossamer themselves were much of a threat. The rest of the tower was just so-so. Rescuing prisoners made for nice RP moments, and that's what made it interesting to me.

Raiding the hobgoblins below was exciting on the first level because a frontal assault was really the only option. After that, though? It was just the same enemies over and over, with the rare surprise of something different. After reading through the book, I can't imagine how the authors thought any of this would work. Almost the entire dungeon is pretty much invalidated by flight, which the party has easy access to at this level. It's such a fundamental flaw that it turned the thing into a dull grind.

The bottom level is where it got exciting again because it presented unique challenges in each room that required more planning and thought (if the party isn't using divination magic like arcane eye to explore ahead, then they will be in for rude surprises). But Munasukaru herself ended up being a total letdown. That may be appropriate, though, given her background. She's basically stuck there because of a lifetime of bad decisions.

Our GM did try to emphasize the madness and disturbing imagery of the place but...I dunno...it just didn't do it for me. After the dozenth one of those, it was more of the same and I just didn't care. I really just wanted the whole thing to be over.

Here's how I'd fix it: eliminate half of the dungeon.

Dark Archive

Well based on what I did hear, I know my party is likely to fight the encounters and then talk to the boss anyway, so might as well cut the middle man, have aranea be open to diplomacy in first place and then have them come after them later on in boss aranea's madness when they believe they got cheated.

Sounds also like might be necessary to cut out number of mooks in the dungeon but maybe that would work better post conversion or in vtt hmm... Hard to tell, maybe I should compare it to past dungeons with similar mook types in them whether they are about the same in amount or not (could convert them to troops as well)

Dark Archive

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So notes on how I personally decided to run Hongal section:

I decided that the prince, while still eccentric, capricious and quick to get bored, is more about purposefully cultivating this reputation of being absolutely terrifying than actually being (somehow LN) type of person who beheads servants on whim :p He is still ruthless towards bandits and such, but not someone who beheads hundred servant to atone for insult.

And to connect section more to plot, he is currently being possessed by spirit to influence him to get the Seal box and act more like his exaggerated terrifying self.

(I also decided that his description of being enormous man means he has physique of the Kingpin from spiderman)

Dark Archive

Ya know, dungeon of the book isn't really as bad as reviews made me think, at least when converted to 2e. But the spider part feels kinda pointless because its completely optional and its just long part in already long dungeon.

But I'm shocked that none of reviews really discuss the weird holes in backstory of dungeon.

Like... Munasukaru the Least is CR 13 and the least powerful commander of Five Storms. Which makes sense for CR 5 ja oni yes, but she is clearly more powerful than oni in last few books. I don't think there was explanation of her having gathered more power while sealed in house? Note that I actually like this plot point, but it confuses me when combined with latter point. I actually believe it makes perfect sense for her power to having increased ever since being left behind and it fits with her backstory.

The reason that confuses me is she is supposed to be last oni in house, but she has three ogre mage commanders under her who stayed behind with her. That just clashes with her flavor. Ja oni children I don't mind(especially since kanabo lore didn't really exist yet I think?) but those there ogre mage feel just like they are taking away from her thing of "being the last five storms left", especially since apparently the "least powerful" commander was still powerful enough to command oni that are ordinarily stronger type than her base type.. When her old band was just hobgoblins.

Then I'm confused by amount of level 1 commoner peasants in both spider and hobgoblin section. So okay, I can buy it that despite spiders and hobgoblins having their own fortified section they aren't strong enough or motivated enough to fully defeat otherside (spider zone has tons of web, spellcasters and traps, hobgoblin side has fortifications and actually good use of defensive structures) and I can buy that strong enough hobgoblin commanders could go on hunting trips to bring in occasional prisoner and pets and recruit giants and etc.

I don't however get why there are so many of them because house is literally in middle of forest, almost a month worth of traveling to either Hongal or Minkai from there <_< Its like... Maybe if they were caravan members(and bit more expertise than commoner 1s), or soldiers who tried to clear the house, but apparently they travel several miles outside to capture farmers and come back all way back to forest full of spirits? Like that isn't people being spirited away, thats them being captured by raiding party. There are just too many of them for my taste. And assuming intent is that they really travel that far to raid farmlands, how do they do that with the other warring faction presumably skirmishing them whenever they try to leave and then traveling through forests of spirits who probably don't like the oni cultists?

Here is basically how I decided to rationalize these in my game:

From cut content, garden outside is filled with ether spider nests. Which while weak to stronger warriors, are enough to make sure weaker hobgoblin warriors can't leave the penance.

Spiders in upstairs have powerful magic and traps, but their drug addiction means(checking cut content on garden descriptions, thats indeed where they are growing the opopium) they are bad at making proper attack or holding fort on first floor properly, so sometimes stronger hobgoblin expeditions (probably lead by kanabo chosen) get to go on expeditions.

Only human victims in place are either caravan travelers or heroes/adventurers/soldiers who tried to enter house previously. Most of peasants are replaced by weaker spiders meanwhile in spider zone peasants are replaced by weaker hobgoblins.

Munasukaru has been greatly powered up by being only five storm member in house of withered bloom and by worship and sacrifice of her ex hobgoblin warband turned into cult. Maybe in few more hundred years she would became first known Ja Oni damyo. Either way this is why her children are born as ja oni instead of kanabo or as spirit naga and its why Munasukaru's penance is greatly warped by their fury and madness and why she is starting to be more powered than some of her previous peers.

Munasukaru's chosen are favored kanabo grandchildren from her sons.

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