Things you've changed, and things you should have. [Spoilers]


Rise of the Runelords

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NobodysHome wrote:
...Of course, if you utterly loathe your players and want to be pelted with solid objects, swap out a 9th-level spell for Mage's Disjunction and drop THAT on the players the moment they enter. I would call that an utterly vicious, "I love TPKs" move, but wow, it might well have killed my group outright. Would've at least made them hate me and never ask me to GM again, I'm sure...

So... Mage's Disjunction is a spell that should never be used by NPC's? Is it a misuse of "irony" to point out the odd juxtaposition of lamenting the ease with which your players trashed Karzoug (however cleverly planned and effectively executed) while swearing off a spell that would have leveled the playing field?

Not to get too preachy or high horse, but confronting high level wizards like Karzoug should scare the living crap out of any character regardless of level because they can stop time, grant their own wishes and destroy all your magic.

Player 1: "Wait. Why are we messing with this guy again? He is going to seriously F us up."
Player 2: "Because he's going to create an army of magic-wielding giants, conquer and crush most of this continent, enslave everyone we've ever known along with all of their descendants and rebuild an Empire of Transcendent Evil."
Player 1: "Oh, yeah. Still, we are seriously F'd"

If you wanted to be Mr. Nice DM you could have Karzoug throw Disjunction at them through his images so they could plan for it in the "final assualt." ;)

Of course it's easy for me to talk smack - my players haven't finished Book 1.


Well, one thing I *didn't* do was change the spell lists of the casters. Some of them are downright odd, but I kept them as-written.

So Disjunction isn't on his list. I had to figure they didn't put it on there because of playtesting or balance or something. They go so far as to provide you a round-by-round list of exactly what he DOES cast.

So having to trust in the people who wrote the AP, I didn't meddle with his spell list.

"If you don't know why something is missing, it's not a great idea to throw it in at the last minute."

Yeah, I was thinking that if Karzoug were really a tactical genius, he'd do Mage's Disjunction first round while all his allies delay and then do a post-Disjunction nuke with their spells and spell-like abilities, and the whole party takes 50d6 in the first round while running for their lives. Plus a lucky few would get an extra 12d8. In theory you might kill half the party before the fight even starts...


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Hmmm... it's a fun thought experiment, at least. I commented on it to the paladin's player, and she pointed out that all they'd need is for their Winged Boots to make the saves -- the paladin, bard, and barbarian all have stupid-high Reflex saves, so another 24d6 from Meteor Swarm would be unlikely to drop them (especially if Ayruzi Healed the bard), leading to the same "teleport and you're one-rounded" situation as before. Aura of Justice + barbarian = ugly.

I'll have to go read the, "How did your fights with Karzoug go?" thread for other ideas...


Though my party fought Tangletooth to the point of retreat on their way into Thistletop, I forgot to bring Gogmurt into the fight until they were already well into the structure, and I didn't want to deprive the group of the XP for a CR 4 encounter out of inadvertence.

Fortunately, they provided me with an excellent opportunity to reintroduce him: They decided to rest in the courtyard with Shadowmist, without having killed or disabled the pickle thieves on the watchtower. In broad daylight, not that that would really matter for goblins. So I had Gogmurt and a partially-healed Tangletooth show up while they were trying to rest.


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I made a number of changes to Turtleback Ferry and Hook Moutain.

I removed the bridges across the Skull River. At the lower bridge site on the area map is now a turtle-back ferry run by two Shoanti brothers. A huge rope hawser extends across the river to allow the brothers to pull their boats across. They also row passengers across Claybottom Lake to Pendak and to Bitter Hollow (if desired).

There are numerous trails along the southern slopes of Hook Mountain. Trails extend from Bitter Hollow to the ferry landing and from the ferry landing to Fort Rannick and Skull’s Crossing. There is also a large track from the Kreeg Clanhold down to Coal Lake, around the north shore of the lake and a bit upstream to a ford, and through the foothills of the Iron Peaks – enabling Barl to transport weapons and armor to Jorgenfist. The Graul farm is now back in the weeds quite a ways and it is several miles from where Kibb encounters the party to the farm (rather than right off the ferry landing).

The Grauls got some beefing up and additions to their numbers. (They still barely proved to be more than a speed bump to my party!) If I had to do it again I would get Mammy out of the house so she has some room to fly (maneuver). Having her stuck in the back room was less than optimal even with Hucker coming to rescue her. She has The Kardosian Codex among her treasure (we’ll have to see if the party ever figures out what that is). I also gave her all sorts of necromantic toys – which the party will probably sell. Given the size of the party I killed off all the Black Arrows (I don’t need the extra NPCs) except for Tsuto who is kind of a scrub compared to the party – but he can provide them information about what is happening at the Fort.

Overall I’m giving each of the BBEG’s a unique magic item in addition to what they have listed. Mammy had a specialized necromantic runestaff (adapted from 3.5e). Lucrecia has a mirror (mostly for divination and enchantments – but keyed to Sihedron amulets). Barl has a rune-ring (works like a runestaff, but is a ring).

The village of Turtleback Ferry is surrounded by a wooden palisade. The school is now part of the Church of Abadar (rather than Erastil). The Bottom’s Up is little more than a rough shack and the Turtle’s Parlor owes its existence to the Paradise.

The encounter aboard the still floating (and operating) Queen of Paradise is pretty extensive. I beefed up Lucrecia a bit (as the party will be well rested when they encounter her) and gave her three faceless stalker assassins and several trained venomous snake swarms. She has some “enforcers” aboard the Queen, but I don’t imagine they will involve themselves much.

I typically have six characters at the table – so a number of the encounters have been beefed up. Fort Rannick is no exception. All the Kreeg ogres got a make-over as did the “scrub” ogres. I added a couple of “named” Kreeg Ogres: Kegal Kreeg (Advance Ogre Barbarian 5) in the Barracks, Unzgarm Ghostface (Advanced Ogre Adept 5) in the Chapel with Jaagrath, and Mossback Kreeg (Advanced Ogre Druid 4) in the Tribunal. Lorgus Fenker is a Dread Spectre Ranger (Skirmisher) 5/Rogue 4 who has a special hatred for one of the PC’s. As Lucrecia is down on her boat at Turtleback Ferry, area B36 (the Cells) is now occupied by a Hill Giant Ghast.

The ogre demotion crew at Skull’s Crossing are now led by a stone giant engineer-mason.

The party’s goal at Skull’s Crossing will now be to limit the water flow by shutting the now open floodgates. Rather than the whole pit fiend mechanism there is a now a malfunctioning “life-spark” construct. After all the fighting that goes on in the Chapter I want to give them a chance to do some RP – and Lever Guy who has been rusting here for 10000 years seems like a good option.

Prior to dealing with Myriana the party will get to play with a witchfire and some will-o’-the-wisps.

Barl brought some of his buddies to Hook Mountain. The front door is watched by Agronil Iceaxe, a stone giant ranger, and Blackclaw (advance lion). Nosrel Isgrim, the smith (Cyclops oracle 7) oversees the crafting of weapons and armor at the forge in the Clanhold (D6). Guarding Barl is Moantar Stonefury (Stone Giant Barbarian 4) and another beefed up stone giant (yet to be determined). Lamatar is now a Winterspawn and each of the hags (D7) is getting a make-over.

CJ


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Just as an FYI, the flood was caused because of the sudden release of water from the initial break in the dam. This is why there is a surge of flood water, and then it recedes. It was in essence a flash flood.

This is why opening the floodgates is needed. It will cause water to rise again... but will reduce pressure on the dam and in turn reduce the threat of the dam breaking entirely and flooding the entire region (and killing over a thousand people in the various riverside communities).


Tangent101 wrote:

Just as an FYI, the flood was caused because of the sudden release of water from the initial break in the dam. This is why there is a surge of flood water, and then it recedes. It was in essence a flash flood.

This is why opening the floodgates is needed. It will cause water to rise again... but will reduce pressure on the dam and in turn reduce the threat of the dam breaking entirely and flooding the entire region (and killing over a thousand people in the various riverside communities).

So the floodgates are currently closed, yes?

The Deep is filling and more pressure is being exerted on the dam.

But the ogres have created a spillway -- which will function the same way the floodgates do. When the water reaches a certain level it will flow over the spillway created by the ogres.

If you open the floodgates, the water will not reach the spillway and flow out of the bottom of the dam instead. Yes, this will reduce the pressure on the dam. But the spillway is doing that anyway isn't it?

You could argue that the spillway is insufficient to provide adequate relief of pressure. Which is fine.

The whole flash flood thing should be a non-issue. In the past the water of the Deep would reach X level (or pressure or whatever) and the pit fiends would open the flood gates. Whoosh! The Skull River and Claybottom Lake would flood. Every year. That is how floodgates work. In fact I would venture that the flow caused by the floodgates would be much stronger than that caused by the ogre spillway (given that the floodgates have more pressure behind them than the top of the dam).

CJ

Dark Archive

thelesuit wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:

Just as an FYI, the flood was caused because of the sudden release of water from the initial break in the dam. This is why there is a surge of flood water, and then it recedes. It was in essence a flash flood.

This is why opening the floodgates is needed. It will cause water to rise again... but will reduce pressure on the dam and in turn reduce the threat of the dam breaking entirely and flooding the entire region (and killing over a thousand people in the various riverside communities).

So the floodgates are currently closed, yes?

The Deep is filling and more pressure is being exerted on the dam.

But the ogres have created a spillway -- which will function the same way the floodgates do. When the water reaches a certain level it will flow over the spillway created by the ogres.

If you open the floodgates, the water will not reach the spillway and flow out of the bottom of the dam instead. Yes, this will reduce the pressure on the dam. But the spillway is doing that anyway isn't it?

You could argue that the spillway is insufficient to provide adequate relief of pressure. Which is fine.

The whole flash flood thing should be a non-issue. In the past the water of the Deep would reach X level (or pressure or whatever) and the pit fiends would open the flood gates. Whoosh! The Skull River and Claybottom Lake would flood. Every year. That is how floodgates work. In fact I would venture that the flow caused by the floodgates would be much stronger than that caused by the ogre spillway (given that the floodgates have more pressure behind them than the top of the dam).

CJ

I'll agree that the flash flood is a little dubious, not huge, but a little dubious. But I can see how in previous years it'd have flooded as well.

Regardless, the ogre created spill way means the dam is gone regardless of what the PC's do. They wrecked the structural integrity of the dam so it's only a matter of time before it goes. That water is pouring through means it is going MUCH sooner rather than later.

So in retrospect, I'd have the PC's find some what to encounter the ogres there before it's structural integrity is compromised.


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In Foxglove mansion, to help the party feel better about walking around eating 'traps', I made a small jigsaw puzzle and wrote one of the family flashbacks on each piece, in chronological order. Whoever got clobbered by a haunt received a piece. (I used foam-core for the pieces - cutting them out was horrible but they connected decently. Heavy cardboard is probably smarter.)

As soon as the second piece came out, they understood and got pumped about combing the house - and when it was over I offered them an XP bonus if they could use the completed puzzle to explain the Foxglove tragedy to me. (They pretty much did.)


Nobody, on the Karzoug fight, I'm wondering if there's a reason he doesn't use Mirror Image against heavy Melee? I found at lower levels it slows the fight considerably and I'm worried I may run into the same situation you did.


Mirror Image is an illusion spell, and thus forbidden to Karzoug.

I think it boils down to what Latrecis and I were discussing in another thread: If you're inexperienced at running high-level casters (as am I), then they're going to get whupped badly by teleporting melee characters.

Putting in a Dimension Lock on the arrival platform once they're in (as I suggested) or having Karzoug swap out Prismatic Wall for Prismatic Sphere and then having him englobe the melee fighters during one of his Time Stop rounds (as Latrecis suggested) seem like the best choices.

Also, either start him in the air, or get him in the air instantly. Having him arrogantly sitting on his throne (as he is in the AE) makes for nice drama, but puts him one bad Initiative roll away from major pain.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Wonder if he can use a Wand of Mirror Image, though he may consider that beneath him as illusions are... an inferior magic.


Makes sense. I'll have to look over this again when we get there... probably next year D:


Tangent101 wrote:
Wonder if he can use a Wand of Mirror Image, though he may consider that beneath him as illusions are... an inferior magic.

I was thinking EXACTLY along those lines -- losing both Displacement and Mirror Image sets Karzoug up for a major pounding, but I just don't see him eschewing the Illusion school and then saying, "Oh, whoops! My two best defensive spells are in that school! Better buy some wands!"

Just doesn't seem very Karzoug-like...


NobodysHome wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
Wonder if he can use a Wand of Mirror Image, though he may consider that beneath him as illusions are... an inferior magic.

I was thinking EXACTLY along those lines -- losing both Displacement and Mirror Image sets Karzoug up for a major pounding, but I just don't see him eschewing the Illusion school and then saying, "Oh, whoops! My two best defensive spells are in that school! Better buy some wands!"

Just doesn't seem very Karzoug-like...

Hmmm. He has to use "Use Magic Device" to do that. And he has +26 in that skill... Hard to imagine what other purpose ranks in that skill would serve beyond using items from his prohibited schools. Of course he doesn't have any items in his gear list that seem to call for it either.

Related note: his glaive has an illusion effect as one of its lesser powers (major image.) You could swap that out for mirror image or displacement (displacement is even the same level as major image.) How that glaive - fashioned explicitly for the Runelord of Greed got access to illusion magic may be a discussion for another day.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thassilonian specialists don't get to choose their prohibited schools. Instead, their chosen school chooses the prohibited schools for them.

So it may have been a case of Karzoug thinking: "I want to master Transmutation, despite the costs. Too bad that that I will have to give up Enchantment and Illusion, but that's what UMD and wands are for."

Grand Lodge

Just in case:
One thing I did different at the early stages of the campaign was work in some of the encounters that came in the early issues of the Pathfinder Comic. Issues 1-6 of the Pathfinder comic came with full encounters (with fold-out maps!) that took place in the Sandpoint area. The very first one was with goblins on Junk Beach, so I just implemented it into the first encounter of the game, the one that takes place at the Temple and then at the North Gate. I just added a detour to Junk Beach and ran it. I did this mainly because I started with 5 players instead of 4, and wanted to help keep the XP on track.

Also using the comics, I presented the NPCs with a choice when they were on their way to Thistletop. Earlier in the campaign, they had captured Gresgurt (the goblin in the closet) because the Asmodean cleric in the party wanted to "break him" and make him his servant. Well, they had also taken Tsuto alive and thrown him in the same cell as Gresgurt. Tsuto broke free early that morning when he killed the little goblin, broke his arm and splintered the bone so as to function as a crude lockpick. He killed the guard and began making his way to Thistletop. When the guard shift came and it was discovered what happened, the PCs were notified. They had horses, Tsuto didn't, so the idea was to catch Tsuto before he got to Thistletop to warn everyone. Before they left, Mayor Deverin presented the PCs with more distressing news. Shalelu Andosana's hawk (who I had restat'd to have an animal companion instead of the hunter's bond with companions) arrived that morning with a torn piece of Shalelu's clothing. There was a crude, finger-painted drawing of a map in blood from Sandpoint to Shank's Wood, a small forested area in between Sandpoint and Thistletop. Apparently during a fight with Bruthazmus, the bugbear got the upper hand on Shalelu during one of their many fights, but before he could finish her off, they were interrupted by one of Shank's Wood's more notable occupants, a faceless stalker. Bruthazmus turned tail, and the faceless stalker took Shalelu back to his den and tied her to his "hugging tree," where he likes to let his food "age" a bit and drink from them slowly. The encounter that takes place in his lair is detailed in one of the Pathfinder comics (#2 I think? I can't remember). The PCs basically have a choice at this point. Either ignore the map and stop Tsuto before he can warn Thistletop, or detour into Shank's Woods and save Shalelu Andosana. They chose the latter, found her nearly-drained body, took her back to Sandpoint for recovery, then headed for Thistletop. At this point an extra day had passed, and so Tsuto had recovered some hit points from rest, had warned the entirety of Thistletop who were now on high alert to expect visitors, and had holed up in the room with Lyrie Akenja (who had no problem with the company, since she's in love with him), mainly because his ring of deflection +1 had been looted off his body in his first fight and he wanted some mage armor castage should the PCs show up (I also felt this made the Lyrie Akenja fight even better, since as a lone wizard she gets slammed pretty quickly normally and doesn't have a chance to put up much of a fight).


thelesuit wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:

Just as an FYI, the flood was caused because of the sudden release of water from the initial break in the dam. This is why there is a surge of flood water, and then it recedes. It was in essence a flash flood.

This is why opening the floodgates is needed. It will cause water to rise again... but will reduce pressure on the dam and in turn reduce the threat of the dam breaking entirely and flooding the entire region (and killing over a thousand people in the various riverside communities).

So the floodgates are currently closed, yes?

The Deep is filling and more pressure is being exerted on the dam.

But the ogres have created a spillway -- which will function the same way the floodgates do. When the water reaches a certain level it will flow over the spillway created by the ogres.

If you open the floodgates, the water will not reach the spillway and flow out of the bottom of the dam instead. Yes, this will reduce the pressure on the dam. But the spillway is doing that anyway isn't it?

You could argue that the spillway is insufficient to provide adequate relief of pressure. Which is fine.

The whole flash flood thing should be a non-issue. In the past the water of the Deep would reach X level (or pressure or whatever) and the pit fiends would open the flood gates. Whoosh! The Skull River and Claybottom Lake would flood. Every year. That is how floodgates work. In fact I would venture that the flow caused by the floodgates would be much stronger than that caused by the ogre spillway (given that the floodgates have more pressure behind them than the top of the dam).

CJ

The Spillway does indeed do the same thing as the floodgates, but it wasn't designed for that purpose. It's 'craftsmanship' is the result of haphazard smashing on the part of the ogres, and the actual purpose of it is the deliberate destruction of the dam.

...It's probably a lot more likely to break apart and result in a huge hole that ruins everything than the floodgates are, since the floodgates are actually meant to let the water out in controlled amounts, and the spillway is meant to break the dam and release too much water at once.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Also do recall this: Thassilonian architecture has this... disturbing ability to resist damage and even repair itself in some situations. While the dam has been damaged, opening the floodgates would relieve the pressure and allow the dam's magic to start repairing itself once more. Recovering some of the lost pieces and putting them back (and maybe a few Make Whole spells to boot) would probably lessen the damage further. So the only real threat to the dam is the large amount of water caused by all the rains the Hags had summoned. Reduce that pressure? Then there's no immediate threat.


I had Shaylis Vinder replace her sister as the us intended victim of the Alderney ghastly in chapter 2. One of my players had developed a relationship with her and her death was the best way to really hook them into the mystery. I also played out all of the haunts in the Foxglove manor before allowing for a save from the PCs as it helped to build the mystery and the tragedy of the family.

The biggest change I've made so far is with Turtleback Ferry. My party died after rescuing Fort Rannick. They had reached TF after the flash flood and had fended off Black Magga but not before the paladin died under her blows. I gave the party the option to return to Magnimar to have him resurrected (1 month in-game time) and also told them the locals suggested that they instead travel to the Whitewillow to seek the aid of a nymph (Myriana) who had helped them before. Lastly, I presented them with a rumour of a coven of witches living somewhere in the nearby mountains... Of course they sought out the witches. They found their way to the Clanhold and we're smote upon the peak by an onslaught of ogres. It should be noted that the grapple-build monk killed 8 ogres on his own before he was felled by Barl's magic missiles and a lucky AoO.

So I broke the dam, flooded Turtleback Ferry and had the PCs res'd as servants to the hags. I had Lamatar lead them to Whitewillow where they fought Myriana and then agreed to help her restore Lamatar. That freed them from the Hags and they returned to finish the Clanhold.

We're now 1/2 way through the raid at the start of chapter 4 and I'm regretting not having altered it. My party is literally and figuratively flying through the raid and has dealt decisively with each ogre group that's arisen. Our next session begins with them reaching the Old Light at the same time as Teraktinus and his two giants.


Remember that prismatic sphere has a ten foot cast range


CWheezy wrote:
Remember that prismatic sphere has a ten foot cast range

Right, but Karzoug is flying and has Time Stop, so he should be able to move in, drop it, and get back away from them during one of his Time Stops.


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To get back to the topic of stuff that's been added/altered:

In my campaign, Xanesha has not spent the last five years sitting on top of the Shadow Tower buffing her nails and idly taking reports from Justice Ironbriar. No, she's been a busy, busy lady.

Specifically, she's been Diana Baythorne, with a timeline like this:

- 5 years past: reached Magnimar, suborned Brothers of the Seven

- 4 years past: joined Magnimaran society in human form, presenting herself as an independently wealthy merchant. (Her wealth actually derives from all the greedy people she's been murdering.)

- 3 years past: purchased a patent of nobility from the Mayor, making her Lady Diana Baythorne, Baroness Ravenmoor. (The fact that she has no connection Ravenmoor is utterly irrelevant to the Mayor, who pays close attention to the opinions of shiny coins).

- 2.5 years past: through a careful campaign of bribery, enchantment, seduction, and one assassination, Xanesha secures herself an appointment as Chief Intelligencer of Magnimar. She's the head of the CIA and the FBI, wrapped up in one. She proceeds to build a vast intelligence network. Her agents tend to be loyal more to her than to Magnimar, and she uses the intelligence they gather to direct attention away from her own activities while also monitoring those of her rivals in Karzoug's employ (Lucrecia, Mokmurion, etc).

- Present: the PCs slip under her radar -- by the time she knows they're a threat, they're barging up the stairs of the Shadow Clock. And by amazing bad luck, she's actually there and not in her offices at the Pediment building. Sometimes a girl's just got to let her scales down, you know? She just picked the wrong day for it.

She is severely wounded in the fight, but manages to flee. Thanks to her wealth (and her own magic) she can heal up that night and show up at work in the morning looking as if nothing happened.

From here on in, she's going to play double agent:

1) Justice Ironbriar survived his confrontation with the PCs. Once they're off to Fort Rannick, she'll quietly reactivate him, assemble a new cult of acolytes, and continue harvesting greedy souls. She will instruct Justice Ironbriar to conceal his kills more carefully.

2) She will personally equip the PCs with excellent gear, and send them to disrupt the activities of Lucrecia and the Kreegs.

3) What she will do later depends on how things go. She can always turn the PCs over to Karzoug, or one of his other minions, and claim she didn't think they were as big a threat as they turned out to be. But on the other hand, if the PCs do well, they'll eliminate her rivals for position in Karzoug's hierarchy.

4) If it looks like they stand a serious chance of actually defeating Karzoug, she'll follow them to Xin-Shalast and monitor the fight, so that she can at any time step in. Ideally, the PCs will take a beating but destroy Karzoug: whereupon she will step in and finish off the PCs, leaving herself undisputed ruler. Alternatively, if it looks like Karzoug is going to wipe the PCs, she'll step in and help. Being second-in-command of a renewed Thassilon would still be pretty good, even if she has to put up with Karzoug.

Bits of this I borrowed from this post by Mathmuse. The basic idea of Xanesha as more of a scheming manipulator appealed to me, and I liked the name Baythorne. The Chief Intelligencer bit was my own addition.


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I've decided to re-work the Turtleback Ferry flood. I've already had Orik accompany the party to TF while fleeing his previous employer's jealous husband in Magnimar. (After the party released Orik for his assistance in Thistletop, he had journeyed to TF, spending all his earnings on the Paradise and gaining VIP status. Broke and with no prospects in a backwater town like TF, he journeyed back to Magnimar where he became a bodyguard to a noblewoman with a lascivious reputation.) On the journey to TF, they discovered Orik's tattoo and read him the riot act about its link to dark powers and the Star Murders in Magnimar.

After clearing out Rannick, the party returned to TF to get their barbarian's eyesight healed by Mayor Shreed. (I've got a party of 6 with 20-point buy and hero points, so they consistently hit above their weight class. I changed Xanesha back to a sorcerer and changed Lucrecia back to a Rogue, but bumped her up a few levels and swapped her daggers out for kukris [which seemed more appropriate] and the Blinding Critical feat. The barbarian took the brunt of her wrath. Up until they ran into Lucrecia, the tension in their attack on the fort came from trying to keep the three rangers alive rather than themselves.)

They're currently in the Inn in TF, licking their wounds and going over their findings in the Fort with the Rangers and Shreed. Orik has expressed concern, having learned that Lucrecia was a monster, that he will be killed as well. The mayor, of course, is worried about the fact that half his citizens are on Lucrecia's list and bear the sihedron. It's obvious those bearing the rune are marked for sacrifice in some way, but there's no indication of how that act is supposed to come about.

Another, unrelated (as far as the mayor knows) area of concern is the fact the Skull River should be running higher than it is due to all the rains. Normally when there's heavy rain, the sluice gates in Skull's Crossing open to let the water flow at a higher rate, but still low enough to not put the town in danger. But the river is flowing much lower than that, as if the dam is holding everything back. Something obviously is not right, and if the dam were to fail due to too much pressure, TF and all the surrounding farms and hamlets within the valley would be doomed.

The PCs haven't quite put 2&2 together yet (which is surprising, as I've been slowly beating them over the head with larger and larger clues about it.) but when they investigate the dam, they'll find the full contingent of ogres at work on the west side of the still fully intact dam. As they approach, Black Magga will make her appearance, tearing into the ogres and causing obvious stress to the dam (but again, not actually tearing it open). I'll be sure to have them witness her energy-draining bite on one of the ogres for added fun. By the time they make it through the Ettin cave, Black Magga will have winnowed the ogres down to the numbers listed in the AP and they her HP accordingly (while they don't have weapons to pierce her DR, between power attack and a couple lucky crits, two dozen ogres plus a Kreeg ogre could manage to wound her a bit.)

Now it's a matter of driving Black Magga off before she can inadvertently destroy the dam (and decide what to do with any ogres who survive). I'm also going to have the trolls be in greater numbers, since they won't have been fighting the ogres (and I've got a heavy-duty party). Having ogres to occupy her tentacles should keep the fight a little less dangerous than the one as written, and also allows her to retreat back into the depths with food for later without non-sensically just dropping everyone to leave. Plus avoids the "Now Black Magga is in a lake directly next to a bunch of people" issue others have raised.

I also think it makes the opening of the sluice gates a little more sensible of a goal, since they actually work in a fashion that wouldn't destroy TF.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I like that. It sounds like a cool idea! Though I will admit, forcing my players to go through hip-deep water (or deeper for the halfling cleric) while facing Black Magga also has its charms... ;)


Thanks. We'll see how it plays out tomorrow night. The party fire elementalist wizard is practically salivating at the thought of going against the tribe of trolls that they've been informed live in Skull's Crossing.


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So, I think the change went well.

As the party approached the gorge, they heard the racket of the ogre wrecking crew working on the dam (with the Kreeg ogre "directing" them) and spied the figures doing something on top of the dam and then used the rogue's spyglass to ascertain it was ogres and what they were up to. As the party moved to protect the dam, trying to formulate the best method taking on over two dozen ogres, Black Magga erupted from the water and landed among the ogres with a crash, sending several ogres flying off the dam to their doom and eliciting a thunderous cracking noise from the dam. The rogue snatched up his spyglass again and could see the cracks webbing out from where the ogres had been digging as the ancient monster thrashed about. The wizard and the oracle tried to identify Black Magga and failed (with the fact that wizard's total of 28 not being enough causing some despair among the party about the level of threat they were facing. Normally I don't care for such meta-gaming, but it ramped up the tension in this case.)

The party briefly discussed casting fly on their heavy hitters, but decided splitting the group in the face of whatever the beast was would likely be fatal and pushed on into the ettin cave, where they dispatched its resident in short order, pushing onto the dam, with brief pause in the cave to cast some buffs.

Emerging onto the dam, they found Magga had winnowed the ogres down to about 8, including the 4 in her tentacles (I've house-ruled creatures with grab to maintain their grips as a free action and reduced the penalty to grapple with only a single appendage to -10 to reflect the fact that size bonuses to CMB and CMD are reduced from 3.5. It makes grapple monsters behave more sensibly, rather than the "drop and regrab" tactics that the core rules encourage) and got to witness as she bit and energy-drained one of them before devouring the withered corpse. This caused the fighter and barbarian to immediately re-think their strategy, as neither wanted to risk an AoO from an energy-draining attack.

The fighter drew his longbow and fired, scoring a hit and 11 damage, only to watch the arrow shatter against Black Magga's hide. The barbarian decided to hang back to protect the casters. The rogue with Spring Attack dashed in for a sneak attack (I'm using the Talented Rogue and he's got Scout's Charge and Skirmish) before dancing back out of her reach, scoring a bit of damage once her DR was taken into account, plus got her bleeding due to Bleeding Attack. The alchemist decided to buff himself some more, the oracle tried casting a spell that didn't pierce Magga's SR and the wizard tossed a fireball that killed several of the ogres, but didn't get through Magga's DR.

Black Magga turned toward the party and unleashed her Breath of Madness, hitting the wizard, oracle, barbarian and alchemist, who all failed their saves. I then rolled a 1 for both the Wisdom damage and the confusion duration. :(

The fighter switched to his meteor hammer, and moved into position to trip any of his companions who tried to attack one another or charge Black Magga. The rogue hung back as well, not wanting to engage her on her own. The wizard and oracle both rolled to damage themselves (which prompted some jokes, as the wizard had fallen pray to the misogynistic haunt back in the Misgivings and [since the party was all male at the time] had proceeded to beat himself bloody with his cudgel until the party wrestled him down) while the barbarian got to act normally (deciding to hang back) and the alchemist stood around babbling.

With the party leaving her alone for the round, Magga concentrated on finishing off the ogres that had caught her attention previously.

The players then debated whether to actually try to fight Black Magga, or to retreat to the cave and hope she went away now that the annoying ogres banging on her dam were gone. The alchemist suggested delaying until after him and make their decision based on his attacks went.

I believe these boards are littered to what happens to nominally high CR monsters with low touch ACs when an alchemist goes nova.

Haste+Fast Bombs+Rapid Shot+Half-Orc alchemist who dumped all his favored class bonuses into bomb damage= Black Magga taking over a 100 points of damage. The oracle then followed it with a Spear of Purity that beat her SR for another 30 points of damage and the wizard burned a hero point to punch through her SR to hit her with a fire snake for another 20 after her save and the rogue hit her with another sneak attack.

Black Magga promptly retreated back into the Storval Deeps. (Since I typically give my monsters max HP due to the sheer amount of damage the PCs put out, I had set her "wounded" HP at her normal max. That said, she was well into the double digits at this point and had no desire to stick around.)

In retrospect, I'm not sure if having her focus on the ogres was the best plan. Other than a really crappy Breath of Madness roll, she didn't do anything at all to the party.

That said, she did scare the crap out of them, causing the normally gung-ho melee types to hang back and let the casters and the rogue get their licks in.


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At the end of Book 2, I played out the banquet for the heroes. I grabbed the Magnimar book and threw in the heads of the Pathfinders in the area, the Derexhis (reading Blood of the City really made me excited to add them), the Aspis Consortium agent, and my fighter really took the time to shmooze, surprised me a lot.

The group Ninja is a childhood friend of Ameiko and courting her, and she is trying to get the glassworks up and running again, so she happened to be in town trying to negotiate with the guilds. He had a nice opportunity to spend some time with her, and then saw her again at the banquet.

After the banquet, the fighter had been talking about Hellknights, and I had just gotten the Inner Sea NPC Codex. The fighter was a merc from Riddleport who left after destroying someone's ferry, so they hired the Hellknights to bring him in. It was a good way to get them on the road to Turtleback Ferry and Fort Rannick.

He decided to swear vengeance on the Hellknights of the Nail, so I fully restatted the knight as Paralictor Minerva Pax, LG Fighter 5/Hellknight 7, and a thorn in his side for session to come. When he finally beats her in a duel, I'll have him knock off her helmet and reveal her booming masculine voice was created by her oversized Plate.

The next time she shows up in going to be next session with a small unit of Hellknights and Armigers under her command at Fort Rannick. The Ninja is trying to free Kaven on moral grounds (he's held off the execution twice) and will have a chance to see the hellknight scouting party before they arrive the next day. If he finds them, he'll be in a difficult spot trying to explain what he was doing.


In "Local Heroes" I added two zombies to the crypt and had sheriff Belor Hemlock and Father Zantus help defeat them. That way they weren't standing around doing nothing while the players fight.

The two Zombies turned the fight into about CR 2 roughly but with Zantus and Hemlock (both L4) my APL was 3 so it's about the same as a CR 1/2 encounter without them. It was resolved fairly quickly.

I gave Hemlock mostly skill and defense abilities so he wouldn't upstage the characters, and wouldn't be in much danger of getting seriously hurt. Zantus was unarmored (not prepared for a fight) so he stood back and cast buffs and healing.

It worked fairly well.

Peet


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My player's have just been rebuffed from Thistletop (near wipe on the bridge as all of them hustled over it at once), but so far I've made a few changes and additions.

One of the largest is that I've had Balor captured by Nualia and gang. This got him out of the picture, lent some urgency and I found it more acceptable than him taking off to Magnimar to beg for troops. Instead, I had Mayor Deverin rush to Magnimar to beg for troops, along with Shaylelu (whose knowledge of goblin activity was vital to convincing Mayor and Usher's Council that this was not a minor matter for Sandpoint to handle on it's own).

Long background story:

I had decided that the Sheriff and the Mayor and gang had known of vague rumours of old smugglers' tunnels under Sandpoint, so after the goblin raid I had the Sheriff and a pair of guards going around searching the various businesses in town, checking for any illicit tunnels. The glassworks and lumber mill were left for the 2nd day (cause Scarnetti and Longjiku are PITA's), so I had the Sheriff show up at the glassworks on the morning of the 26th, which is the same morning that the player's were deciphering the note found by an alarmed Bethana. He and his guards got into it with the goblins, and were killing some when Tsuto came up from the basement with a battered Ameiko, as well as Orik and Barathmuz who were sent to lent some muscle and adult supervision for Tsuto. Tsuto demanded the Sheriff surrender as he held a knife to Ameiko's throat, and Balor reluctantly did so, along with the one surviving guard (second had been killed by goblins). Orik and the bugbear headed back to Thistletop with the Sheriff and guard captive, and Tsuto was supposed to follow shortly after, along with his captive sister (he refused to let Orik take her without him). I had Tsuto waiting for a shipment from an alchemist of a special magical flask to allow him to transfer some of the Waters of Lamashtu from the Catacombs of Wrath to Thistletop for use in the ceremony, so after clearing out the glassworks the player's were able to intercept the local toughs delivering the secret shipment from Kanker (via Pillbug) and got a few more clues via a note etc.

Some of this was just to switch things up a bit, and some was involving a long backstory/sidequest I'm developing involving Kanker (the ghast alchemist at the bottom of the Pit) for my player of a gnome alchemist.

Going forward, I'm thinking of switching things up with the return to Sandpoint for the Scribbler's Lair. As written in the book, it just seems too serendipitous that the secret to Runeforge lies in the hands of some crazy dude back under Sandpoint.

Instead, I'll have the players finding hints and clues in the library at Jorgenfist, and drop suggestions that things would go much faster with the assistance of an expert in Thassilonian history/language to assist (our party's only speaker of Thassilonian and knowledge/history monkey is the alchemist). Hopefully they teleport back to Sandpoint to pick up Brodert Quink, who will now be a captive of the Scribbler down below. I'm playing Quink as obsessed with Thassilon, and sneaking down into the catacombs despite the Mayor forbidding him from doing so (he goes the long way around from the beach after Ameiko and the Mayor hire a mason to brick up the entrance to the smugglers' tunnels under the glassworks). After exploring the main catacombs, I'll have Quink either hire a gang of local Scarzni to clear the rubble from the downstairs, or else purchase scrolls of move earth/dig in Magnimar to do it himself. This leads to the sinkhole and his capture by the Scribbler, who will keep Quink alive for interrogating about the world above (being a speaker of Thassilonian). Once they rescue Quink and return to Jorgenfist, they will eventually be able to discover the riddle to allow entrance to Runeforge.

Scarab Sages

I'm going to change a fight in The Skinsaw Murders, I'm changing how the fight versus Ghoulish Foxglove is going to work. I don't like the small room that the party is supposed to find him in (I can see it will be just my player's barbarian running up and cornering him, just a one on one fight). I've decided to change The Vent room to be mostly flat with the pool near the center and several natural columns from floor to ceiling, maybe a wet spot or two (Grease spell effects). That way, the whole party can get a whack at Foxglove and he can go after his obsession much easier with his incredible Acrobatics to get avoid the other party members. I may add a ghoul or two with him. Maybe a bullrush or two into the pool... hmmmm. :)


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Oh, definitely consider increasing the sizes of many rooms. Later in the AP you encounter multiple casters (Mamma Graul and Lucretia come to mind) who start off in extremely small rooms.

For me it was even worse: The party was trying to be stealthy by keeping their paladin Silenced on entering new rooms, so I typically ended up with a caster going one-on-two with a paladin and a THW barbarian. "Eeew" doesn't even come close to the carnage...


I had both Mammy and Lucrecia Dimension Door to different spots as detailed in their tactics. I forgot about Lucrecia though, I ended up playing Kefka's theme from FF6 after they cleared Fort Rannick as she appeared, taunted them, and then vanished to go up to Hook Mountain for later. Since we're all Final Fantasy fans, the faces were classic.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

My group got quite pissed off when Lucretia DDed away from them partway into their fight with her. They got her to 90 hit points and I figured she'd had enough at that point. She'll return, healed up, when it inconveniences them the most. Heh heh heh.

Sovereign Court

My Lucretia teleported away, summoned Ogre reinforcements and made the PCs' lives inside the Fort a living hell (they split into two teams to attack from both sides and make it a little easier for me to run - with the various companions, cohorts, familiars and the NPC Black Arrows they had more than enough for two parties) and then, when everything went wrong, almost got away.

If only it hadn't been raining, noone would've noticed her sneaking away under Invisibility...


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In the fight versus Xanesha, I added that she created a Major Image of herself to monologue with the party, laying on her pillow bed. When they attack it, it will disappear, and she'll attack the cleric from invisibility. It'll force them out of their rote tactics, and also give the opportunity
to taunt the PCs, while not giving up her advantage.


slayer_of_gellcor wrote:

In the fight versus Xanesha, I added that she created a Major Image of herself to monologue with the party, laying on her pillow bed. When they attack it, it will disappear, and she'll attack the cleric from invisibility. It'll force them out of their rote tactics, and also give the opportunity

to taunt the PCs, while not giving up her advantage.

I did something similar with Lucrecia. I followed Xanesha's tactics as-written (with illusionary demon being a succubus, since it played into the party's preconceptions on what Xanesha was) but with her sister I had her use her Major Image for monologing while she and Kaven were hidden under invisibility spells. Worked pretty well, and also impressed upon them the importance of spells to deal with illusions/invisibility after they got ambushed by a lamia matriarch after unloading on an illusion for the second time.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

To be honest, it didn't quite make sense for Lucrecia to do that and it wouldn't have changed a thing if she had. The PC Cleric has Door Sight, and makes frequent use of it. Thus she'd spied on Lucrecia through the door and would have seen her cast the illusion.

On the plus side, Door Sight allowed me to totally gross out said cleric and had her wanting to burn the Graul Farmstead to the ground without searching the building first, just to kill everything in it. That was after using Door Sight on the kitchen. Heh heh heh. The roleplaying of that wretched hive of slaughter and stink was absolutely hilarious! ^^


NobodysHome wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
Wonder if he can use a Wand of Mirror Image, though he may consider that beneath him as illusions are... an inferior magic.

I was thinking EXACTLY along those lines -- losing both Displacement and Mirror Image sets Karzoug up for a major pounding, but I just don't see him eschewing the Illusion school and then saying, "Oh, whoops! My two best defensive spells are in that school! Better buy some wands!"

Just doesn't seem very Karzoug-like...

Not there yet, but I plan to fidge around this using limited wish during his time stop rounds. By the rules of that spell, I figure he can cast mirror image and displacement, because the magic of the spell does it, not him.

Also on a different note, in the runeforge abjuration halls, the disjunction pulse was permanent in the 3.5 version, but is just minutes based in the AE. Has anyone made it permanent anyway? I was thinking about doing so, but having their items go back to normal if they dunk them in the magic pool. I know it would be super mean, but I'm a little afraid my party is going to steam through most of the book without much challenge, plus it's fun to see them a little angry.


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Kyra Banior wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
Wonder if he can use a Wand of Mirror Image, though he may consider that beneath him as illusions are... an inferior magic.

I was thinking EXACTLY along those lines -- losing both Displacement and Mirror Image sets Karzoug up for a major pounding, but I just don't see him eschewing the Illusion school and then saying, "Oh, whoops! My two best defensive spells are in that school! Better buy some wands!"

Just doesn't seem very Karzoug-like...

Not there yet, but I plan to fidge around this using limited wish during his time stop rounds. By the rules of that spell, I figure he can cast mirror image and displacement, because the magic of the spell does it, not him.

Also on a different note, in the runeforge abjuration halls, the disjunction pulse was permanent in the 3.5 version, but is just minutes based in the AE. Has anyone made it permanent anyway? I was thinking about doing so, but having their items go back to normal if they dunk them in the magic pool. I know it would be super mean, but I'm a little afraid my party is going to steam through most of the book without much challenge, plus it's fun to see them a little angry.

Considering the my party's entire approach was, "Hmmm... a burning, crackling rod. Let's sit at 60' and analyze it for a while..." I have little sympathy for parties that ignore the danger and head on in.

Detect Magic has a 60' range. Mage's Disjunction has a 40' radius. So you're looking at a party that:
(1) Ignored the obvious "trap" of a sparking rod embedded in the floor.
(2) Didn't bother with their casters' single-most-abused spell.

Make it permanent? Sure! Why not? Seems like parties that just walk up to the thing and poke it a bit ought to be awfully peeved about it, and giving them a way out (the pool) makes it far less of a "petty unpleasant GM" trick.

I like it.


Thanks. My party is much more likely to run in and touch it, or worse, the bard will figure out what it is, and the barbarian will try and break it. Another reason I want to do it is that 2 of my players will have negatives in that hall, and 1 will have the bonus, and I don't want them to just have those for the one fight.


I put three goblin babies in the nursery. My players adopted them, two of them were sent to Turandrok Academy and the third was raised by Madame Mvashti.

Here are two of them:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B639etwo9mNJcU56TmE5RnZYNjQ/edit?usp=shari ng

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B639etwo9mNJRnZlSm5fTmZFNVU/edit?usp=shari ng

The sheets are Spanish, our mother tongue.


I completely rebuilt the Aldern Fight because there was absolutely no possibility of Aldern lasting more than 2 rounds vs my party.

*I rebuilt both Aldern and Iesha into undead faceless stalkers but Aldern gained the "undead lord" trait, granting him a desecrate aura. Aldern started the fight with an attack to his face by Iesha but drank a potion of greater invisibility.
*Put several low level undead in the encounter like ghouls, juju zombies, crawling hands and zombies.
*Changed the fungus on the wall and reworked it so that Vorel's fungus would constantly animate undead every round during the fight but the undead would spend their first round animating before they could take an action.

The fight lasted about 5 or 6 rounds with the lower level minions being one rounded and the druid sitting a flaming sphere on top of vorel's fungus stopping it from raising undead.

Aldern managed to drop the tank and do some serious damage to the wizard but was eventually dropped by a combination of area attacks and the wizard having the foresight to keep a "see invisible spell" up his sleeve.

I also completely reworked his treasure because I thought it was way too much money for the total encounter, changing it to a total 12k pool of items I knew the party would actually make use of. Additionally I put in the deed to the manor in a safe with Aldern so the party got really invested in owning some property.


^can't seem to edit my above post...

I completely removed the Sanatorium section because I couldn't vaguely see any value in it. At this point parties are at least level 5 and having fightin singular CR 1 or 2 encounters is ridiculous. Further more it offers no real story advancement or any interesting design.

My part was pretty rich so throwing easy cash at them was a bad idea all round.

~

I added an encounter with the Brothers of Seven sending operatives to the Foxglove manor to collect rats to foreshadow Xanesha and Justice.

Also I reworked the Walking Scarecrows to have less but tougher ghouls but the Cleric obliterated them with his 3d6 channels.

I love the haunted house section but for the life of me can't work out why the Skinsaw Murders is so ridiculously under powered.


Deadalready wrote:

^can't seem to edit my above post...

I completely removed the Sanatorium section because I couldn't vaguely see any value in it. At this point parties are at least level 5 and having fightin singular CR 1 or 2 encounters is ridiculous. Further more it offers no real story advancement or any interesting design.

My part was pretty rich so throwing easy cash at them was a bad idea all round.

~

I added an encounter with the Brothers of Seven sending operatives to the Foxglove manor to collect rats to foreshadow Xanesha and Justice.

Also I reworked the Walking Scarecrows to have less but tougher ghouls but the Cleric obliterated them with his 3d6 channels.

I love the haunted house section but for the life of me can't work out why the Skinsaw Murders is so ridiculously under powered.

I've been pondering the same thing but I don't think it's actually underpowered. Rather the haunts and particularly the ghouls are "swingy" - they can be really easy or really dangerous without a lot of middle ground. If I had to do it over, I'd add more ghouls to the farmlands - my group encountered them in too few numbers - 2 or 3 at most simultaneously and they're not really a challenge then. Lower numbers let the party put the dwarven fighter and his kickbutt AC out front - the ghouls needed a 20 to hit him.

And if you let Iesha tangle with Aldern, that fight drops in difficulty too. It's a great story element but the combat can be anti-climatic.

Scarab Sages

I gave Caizarlu, the necromancer in Habe's Sanitorium, a potion of delay poison so he could walk around through his Stinking Cloud without getting affected by it. He could retreat into it to heal himself or channel to heal the zombies that were standing in the cloud but on the edges.


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I'm currently the GM (we rotate) for my group, and right now we're going through Sins of the Saviors (AE).

The major changes thus far have been:

Ravenous Crypts of Gluttony:
The PCs were welcomed to Runeforge by an ancient advanced fiendish vampiric sinspawn of gluttony, on PCP. While joking about all the nasty things I was going to throw at them once they entered Runeforge, a few days prior to the session wherein they would first go there (they'd just opened the portal at the end of the previous session), one of my players suggested it, so I actually stat'd it up (including the PCP, which granted immunity to pain [such as from thirst for blood] for a couple of hours, but had some ugly side effects for those not immune to Fort saves) and had it waiting for them near the entrance. The party's got a full paladin as well as an oradin, so it was forced into gaseous form pretty quickly, which then led them into the gluttony wing. A couple of sessions (and trips to the material plane and back) later they made it to area F6, the alchemical research room, which (unlike the published version) was still very much in use, as an alchemy (primarily PCP) lab. I added a coffin in a little alcove in the back wall of F6, which turned out to be a decoy filled with a vampiric fleshdreg swarm, and it had a couple of small pipes leading into the wall (presumably so the vampire could use them to move in gaseous form to/from its real coffin, which I placed in the floor of F9, behind the secret door from F8). The vampiric sinspawn had a telepathic bond to Azaven just like Xyoddin and the mummies, so I had it try to provide back up for Xyoddin when the PCs found him in his lab in F7 (though naturally as a lone NPC, Xyoddin didn't last long enough for it to matter). The players seemed to enjoy the addition.

For the Xyoddin fight, aside from the vampiric sinspawn as backup, I added a free action on command supernatural darkness effect to his lab, because it was his only chance to even last more than one round (he still only lasted two, because paladins). It's also a no-brainer defensive measure I would expect a bunch of super-genius magic users with 10k+ years of prep-time to have managed to implement.

For the Azaven fight, I added a mechanical alarm trap to the secret door from F9 to F10 (which easily could've been put in place by Xyoddin for him, and is another no-brainer defensive measure). The party used hit-and-run tactics for the gluttony wing, and this fight was no different, so Azaven needed the alarm to avoid being caught completely by surprise; thanks to the warning, he had time to throw up a wall of force and buff up before facing the party. I also had the necromantic death trap fire off every round instead of every other round, and Azaven dimension doored himself to F11 and activated it as soon as he'd taken damage from the paladins, instead of waiting to get smited to death. The devourer was of course smited into oblivion in a single round, and the lone lich had no hope of winning against a pair of paladins, but he did manage to survive long enough to keep it interesting.

Vault of Greed:
In the greed wing, I added a 20-ft range mass flesh to stone trap on each of the doors from G4 to G6. This saved Ordikon's life, for a day, by forcing the party to retreat after nearly killing him and forcing him to dimension door out of one of the rear G4 rooms (where he and two of the stone golems faced off against the party). That was the session before last.

For this week's session, the party was going to kill or capture Ordikon, and they did manage to kill him in the end, but I didn't make it easy. The wizard used one of his new spells copied from Azaven's spellbooks which allowed him to turn incorporeal to scout the greed wing beyond G6. What he found were permanent walls of force sandwiched between the stone of the walls separating G6 from G7; the only part not covered by the walls of force was the actual door to G7. The player already expected it, since we'd discussed the spell he used and potential defenses against it a few weeks earlier, but it made sense for his character to try it anyway. Most of the other wings of my version of Runeforge have similar wall of force protections erected around key areas.

After moving through the door into G7, the party's wizard found a very different room from the published version. I expanded it to be 60-ft wide, 60-ft high, and 120-ft long, with the gilded "statues" placed in five 10-ft square alcoves on each side of the room starting from the entrance. The published description of the room was kept largely intact, but I added several streams of various molten metals flowing from holes in the ceiling into drains in the floor directly beneath them; essentially they were columns of molten metal (high value metals, like gold, platinum, and mithral; which will all of course revert to lead and other cheap metals if ever brought outside the greed wing). The alcoves with the gilded "statues" each had similar molten metal column ports above them, with drainage set up at the base, and in the first three alcoves on each side of the room the ports were closed, but on the last two on each side the statues had been moved outside their alcoves to the center of the room (positioned looking in the direction of the door from G6), and the column ports were open and molten gold flowed from them. The gilded "statues" also all had greed runes on their foreheads made of mithral for the claw/hand-like part of the rune and a precious gem for the gem part of the rune; aside from the added flavor, this also had a function, as the current leader of the wing (Ordikon at this point) could use the gems as additional eyes, essentially giving my BBEG a good view of the room, even while he hid in the ceiling in earth elemental form.

Instead of only one bound nalfeshnee eager to get chatty with the party and beg for their help, I placed two in G7, bound to defend G7 and G8 until the time of Karzoug's return. The path to G8, where Ordikon (who'd been scrying on the party the whole session) was busy buffing up while the party wizard was on his incorporeal scouting run, was moved to the back of G7. The nalfeshnees, with constant true seeing and +31 perception easily noticed the scouting wizard, so he retreated back to the rest of the party, and then they buffed up before trying to dimension door into G7. While the party was busy buffing, the nalfeshnees summoned two vrocks each, and Ordikon finished buffing and moved into the ceiling of G7 in earth elemental form. The nalfeshnees each moved into position, each flanked by their two vrocks, flying 50-ft up in front of the alcoves with molten gold columns, so the vrocks could each use telekinesis to throw 300lb blobs of that stuff at the party each round. I couldn't find any existing rules for flinging molten metal at someone with telekinesis, so for the effects I used wall of lava as a guide; each 300lb blob carried with it 12d6 fire damage, plus half damage on the following round, and hit on a ranged touch attack. The nalfeshnees of course were to just continuously cast feeblemind at the party wizard until it stuck, and use their free action unholy nimbus ability whenever party members came in range. The nalfeshnees also had golden greed runes embedded in their foreheads (similar to Teal'c from Stargate SG-1), which worked similarly to the greed runes on the gilded statues (i.e. Ordikon could see everything in their field of vision, as needed), but also allowed them to reliably summon the two vrocks each I needed, without the percentile roll or the d4 roll.

When the party tried to dimension door into G7, the party wizard found he had to make two DC30 will saves to get past the permanent persistent teleport trap that I had covering all of G7 and G8 (because super-geniuses with magic would've thought to do that). Fortunately for the party, he made both saves; had he not, they would've all been redirected to the exterior surface of runeforge, at which point a reverse gravity would've kicked in to nudge them away from runeforge and into the endless void. Towards the end of the encounter, the summoner in the party forgot about the teleport trap and tried to DD himself and his eidolon over to Ordikon (a move he's used before to great effect, and the very reason I'd added the teleport trap in the first place), and he failed to make the save, so he and his eidolon spent the next few rounds trying to get back to G7 and missed the tail end of the fight.

Ordikon wore a modified sihedron medallion which had a gold and mithral greed rune laid over the sihedron on its face, and marked him as the current leader of the greed wing (allowing him to use the greed runes on the nalfeshnees and "statues" as extra eyes, and to bypass the teleport trap). It also prevented his capture, causing his body to start to calcify once he hit negative HP (starting with the spot on his chest where the medallion hung and radiating outward, thereby irreparably damaging his heart almost immediately upon activation); the party removed it before it could calcify his head, so they can still use speak with dead on him, but he won't be very cooperative and their options are far more limited with that than if he were still alive. He also had a few quicken metamagic gems, because his action economy was terrible otherwise, and a rod would've been too valuable to permit it as loot from the encounter.

Ordikon's tactics were to stick to earth elemental form and to pop out from the ceiling or walls just enough to cast a greater dispel magic at any melee types trying to fly up to the nalfeshnees (which cost one of the two party paladins a potion of fly, and managed to deter any further attempts at flying up to melee them, though the gargantuan ape eidolon had reach), and to try to flesh to stone the wizard (if not already feebleminded), followed by the summoner, and then the paladins, once air dominance had been achieved.

By the end, the summoner and his eidolon were floating in space outside runeforge thanks to the teleport trap (though not before the eidolon had killed one nalfeshnee, and grappled the other to bring it in range of paladin smites, from which it also promptly died), one paladin was feebleminded (due to a paladin sacrifice for the wizard), the other paladin was turned to stone (also due to a paladin sacrifice for the wizard), and it was pretty much a wizard vs wizard fight, which ended with Ordikon being black tentacled to death. The entire session was full of suspense, with the party members all feeling like they were about to be TPK'd right up until they won, which is exactly what I wanted.

All the players seemed to really enjoy the session, and I had a lot of fun with it too.

The envy wing was played as written, and the party hasn't gotten to the sloth, lust, pride, or wrath wings yet, though I'm currently working on some changes for those. Hopefully they'll be as successful as what I did with greed.


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Right now I'm reflavouring the Hook Mountain Massacre.

My players seemed really eager to go into a big city and the chance to open up the rich depth of Magnimar seemed criminal to only do a fraction of a chapter in.

Spoiler:

When they discover the Truth behind Justice Ironbriar they'll get work from another Justice and instead of travelling to the Hook Mountains the PCs will be directed to the Hells beneath the pediment building.

If you don't know about the Hells, there's a massive jail system underneath Magnimar and each lower level houses increasingly more evil criminals. As you go lower into the levels the hotter it gets due to poor ventilation, referencing the layers of Hell in religion.

The lowest 3 levels exploded into riot and because they were impossible to reverse, the government of Magnimar decide to just seal the criminals (and all others) to their expected doom.

Unfortunately it's said that the criminals are not truly contained and are somehow escaping into Magnimar again.

So my reflavour is having many different specialist killers, including the Graul family housed in the lower levels, the Black Arrows being guards and the PCs are tasked with clearing out the Hells.

Unfortunately they will find out the that criminals have been digging tunnels, forging enough weapons for an army and intend to drop Magnimar into the Ocean through the use of Bombs laid throughout the underground of the city.


The assault on Ft Rannick. I mentioned it in another thread, but I'll add it here, too.

There's no reason for any of the "secret" passages or doors in Rannick to remain secret. The text of the AP pretty much lays out the fact that between Jakardros and Vale, the entire layout of the fort is a known factor. They know where the secret tunnels, doors, etc. are, and they know about all the flaws (burning down the new barracks, for example) and possible routes of attack and escape. There is also no reason why they wouldn't share this information with the PCs if the PCs are to help them retake the fort. Then the book goes on to explain that if the PCs ask, they can get the information.

I understand the need for player agency and involvement, but this is absurd. It essentially creates a situation where the PCs run blindly into the fort, only to find out their NPC companions knew about (insert fort secret here) all along, with Vale or Jakardros responding with "You never asked," when questioned. Absurd. On the other hand, I understand the problem with just giving the PCs all the information about the fort up front. This creates a situation where the GM basically has to insist the players press for more information or else find out later their so-called Black Arrow companions are kind of jerks. Big jerks who led them into an ambush despite knowing about several secret passageways.

Next, the entire concept of smoking out the shocker lizards up into the keep is wrong. The only way the lizards can get up into the fort is if the PCs open not one, but two doorways ahead of the lizards. This presents a problem because the lizards are hostile. Now, not only do the PCs spend a day gathering the bitterbark and have to place several fires in the tunnels to smoke the lizards out, they also have to walk past all of these hostile lizards to get them into the fort. Assuming they do so -- instead of just doing the stupid PC thing where they fight every hostile creature (even though they could easily run right past, open the doors and run right past again in two or three rounds -- when every problem looks like a nail, your only option is to be the hammer) -- they stumble upon Lucrecia before they can get to the second door to get the lizards up into the keep.

At this point, smoke is pouring into the keep, lizards are pouring into the keep (if they haven't been killed by the PCs), Lucrecia is fighting the PCs, and they can't see a damn thing once they're in the keep, because guess what? Smoke!

So forget that entire scenario. It's not planned out at all. The best approach is literally the simplest: scale the wall, kill the few ogres outside the keep, burn down the barracks (boom, 10 ogres dead), and raid the keep. Forget the smoke, forget the lizards, forget sneaking in.

When I ran this, the lizards got bottlenecked at the first secret door after my PCs deployed the smoke. The smoke alerted Lucrecia, who ran off (haven't decided yet where she went). They got to the door (I didn't have the lizards attack the PCs because who wants to deal with a combat with 12 lizards who will each die, especially when I know my PCs will fight anything to the death even when that's the stupidest option), opened it up, then the lizards got bottlenecked in Lucrecia's room, pretty much filling it up to the brim. At that point, my PCs couldn't even get past the lizards to open the next door, so the wizard in the party threw a fireball, killing all the lizards in one attack.

Next, they ran upstairs, only to find they couldn't see for **** due to all the smoke they had just pumped into the keep. And then, of course, they had a P(artial)PK, losing two of their members in the process and running away with their tails between their legs, because +1 Ogre Hooks (which are the only redeeming quality of this entire scenario -- thank you for finally striking fear into my PCs hearts).

TL;DR:

If I had to change one thing about the way the approach Ft Rannick is written, I would change everything. Maybe I'm a bit bitter, too, and that's probably my own fault, for not actually considering how awful the 'smoke out the lizards' plan actually is. Especially when it takes almost no effort to climb the wall and kill everything (which is what my PCs are inclined to do anyway).

I guess what I've taken from this is that I shouldn't be afraid to completely change how a scenario is going to play out (I am the GM, after all) if I think the way it's written is dumb or doesn't make sense logistically. Of course, I didn't really consider how poorly thought out that plan was until it was in action and at that point I had no choice to let my PCs follow through with it until the bitter end.


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Yeah, I intentionally underplayed the whole "smoke and lizards" thing, because by the time they're there the party has methods (Invisibility and Silence come to mind) to bypass the lizards without all that smoke. The lizards don't have scent, and even at half speed 30+ seconds of Silence gets the party a LOOOONG way.

I agree; I saw the "smoke 'em out" option, considered it ridiculous, avoided mentioning it to my group, and they found another way past the lizard.

Go figure. Give adventuring parties a challenge, and they'll figure something out on their own...

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