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


Rise of the Runelords

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As I mentioned in the other thread on the lizards, I just had the smoke drive them out into the fortress itself, rather than the Keep. Made for a nice distraction alongside the burning of the New Barracks. The PCs ended up easily carving their way through the disorganized and distracted ogres.

But I agree, as-written, the plan doesn't work.

One minor change I just made last night while prepping for the party's foray under Jorgenfist is I switched the positions of the stone golem and the runeslave giant. It makes more thematic sense to have the runeslave protecting that cauldron, and the golem in the Reduction Chamber and being unaffected runs a lot smoother than "the giant was affected by the chamber, but it wore off and now he's immune."


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I also had the smoke drive them into the fortress, using the secret door that led out of the lizard warren. The PCs actually freaked out when they found Lucrecia down below (Door Sight - she never even knew they were there) and strongly considered going a different way. (When they DID fight her, she ended up fleeing. The second time she fled the group had had it with her and used Locate Creature to find her and kill her.)

If I were to change one thing I did? It would be not to allow Cohorts. As it is, I talked to the players, gave them replacement Feats, and had the Cohorts become roleplaying elements that didn't contribute to combat.

And one thing I did change was have the party sent to Skull's Crossing to open the dam because of concerns about the lack of high water - the townsfolk realized something was wrong. The party had four rounds to drive Black Magga off the wall (she was attacking ogres) or the dam would break. They killed her (they did have one Mythic Tier so that did help them) in three.


In my game, I've changed all the NPCs in Thistletop slightly. I gave Orik the Thunderstriker archetype, to take advantage of his high Strength but keep his defenses up. That's important, because the group talked their way into recruiting him (at least temporarily).

I made Nualia an antipaladin, partly as a counter for the paladin PC.

I'll probably be making tweaks here and there as I go, just to keep the players on their toes -- a couple of them have at least a passing familiarity with the AP.


I've remade Aldern as an Aristocrat 3/Slayer 4. I felt Slayer was a lot more flavorful for him than Rogue, as well as making him a bit of a tougher fight. With both the mask and studied target, he should be a great threat to the object of his obsession.

I'm planning on remaking Ironbriar as Warpriest with the Cult Leader archetype. Maybe keep a level or 2 of Rogue for skills, but it's also an archetype that has a LOT of flavor for him. I'm going to be making changes to different enemies as we go along. There are a lot of options for some characters that weren't there when it was published, and they might be a much better fit than what the NPCs are made as.

Grand Lodge

TwoWolves wrote:


In book one, the party captured Tsuto, Orik and Lyrie, so I had the party called as witnesses at their trial. Which was presided over by Ironbriar. Tsuto was sentenced to life in prison, and was sprung by Ironbriar to join his cult (did I mention the fact that I had Ironbriar be Tsuto's real father?). Orik was sentenced to the Black Arrows, and the party was paid to escort the "prisoner" to the fort as the hook for book 3.

Also in book 3, I made the ogre sorceress of the aberration bloodline. I also made Lamatar a Dread/Cairn Wight Ranger 8 with a +1 frost longsword. I made two of the hags be other varieties (green, annis and some other, I forget) and gave them 5 levels in witch (one gravetouched, one with prehensile hair). The hags had their room hidden in an illusion of fog, and were invisible, I think. I also added a stone giant zombie to Barl's room, and I made his throne room NOT be open to the sky, but the hag's room mostly was (two escaped via flight).

This was all pre-AE, when everything had to be hand-converted to PFRPG rules. But I still modify feats and spell lists for every major spellcaster to reflect the other sources of these I have available.

Definitely using Ironbriar as Tsuto's father now.


Christopher Mathieu wrote:

In my game, I've changed all the NPCs in Thistletop slightly. I gave Orik the Thunderstriker archetype, to take advantage of his high Strength but keep his defenses up. That's important, because the group talked their way into recruiting him (at least temporarily).

I made Nualia an antipaladin, partly as a counter for the paladin PC.

I'll probably be making tweaks here and there as I go, just to keep the players on their toes -- a couple of them have at least a passing familiarity with the AP.

even tho it doesnt really make sense i made Nualia a level 7 Dual Cursed Oracle of Stone with the Blackened and Wrecker curses (level Blackened) and give her Misfortune, Crystal Sight, Earth Glide, and Shard Explosion. Use the Aasimar favored class ability to add +1/2 your level to Shard Explosion. WE also have a barbarian that is afflicted with lycanthropy,but through rp and being a worshiper of Desna is trying to learn how to control his inner beast. Lamashtu spoke to Nuaila in a vision about the party as they approached the to the alter. Lamastu used Nualiaas as a vessel to further get at Desna and corrupted the curse even more turning him into a were-snake for her use. EPic fight also everyone was below 5 hp, 3 people knocked out.


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A couple of my players have DM'd Rise of the Runelords before, and even though they tried not to use their OOC knowledge, they were naturally suspicious of Foxglove. I didn't do too well of a job roleplaying Foxglove's obsession in the first couple sessions; he's coming off as a derpy, friendly noble who wants to be an adventurer but is incompetent and terrified of danger, so I'm going to play that to the hilt.

I'm rewriting the Skinsaw Man as the Skinsaw Mage.

I began with the foreshadowing. I replaced the Chopper with the Skinsaw Man, a serial murderer who cut off peoples' faces instead of their eyes and tongue. I reduced the number of victims from 25 to 18, and changed his artistic talent from carvings of birds to murals of people. When the party arrived at his house, they were creeped out by the lifelike murals of various Sandpoint citizens that Stoot had painted on the walls (inside and outside) of his house. In the basement, they found a giant seven-pointed star like the one seen here on the ground with the faces of the victims painted on 18 of the 21 intersections between the lines. The circle wasn't finished, and the players decided to clean it up by spending a few hours with Prestidigitation. If they hadn't, it could have come back later with only a few more murders.

I also allowed them to discover the Scribbler. He was the commander of Sandpoint's Hellstorm Flume, but he spent most of his time in the Caverns of Wrathn, which were once connected. He had been kept alive by Lamashtu the entire time, but he is completely powerless outside his shrine. I had it open to the Caverns of Wrath, so the players could just walk down, but he placed an Permanent Illusion of the stairs down descending into a pool of blood accompanied by a Cause Fear effect. One PC went down, spoke with the Scribbler for a few seconds, and then ran away in fear.

Foxglove Manor is kept mostly the same. Foxglove planned to only stay in Sandpoint for a night, but then one day turned into two, two turned into three, and three turned into the entire chapter. He's afraid to go back to his manor, which he knows is haunted, but he's addicted to the flayleaf that the Brothers of the Seven gave him and he's running out. The Brothers of the Seven might convince Foxglove to commit a couple murders, but he's not the real killer.

The last piece of the puzzle is the local mage, Brodert Quink. When the PCs told him about the sub-level of the Caverns, he immediately dropped everything to check it out. He's obsessed with Thassilon, and the Scribbler is using that to his advantage. First, the Scribbler will begin to offer more information about Thassilon in exchange for murders, and then the Scribbler will convince him that he could experience Thassilon for himself by killing even more. And thus, Brodert Quink becomes the Skinsaw Mage. Because the Scribbler was an agent of Alaznist (not a double agent), Quink will kill wrathful people instead of greedy ones and the souls will go to Alaznist instead of Karzoug.

Going into the future, I plan to rewrite a significant portion of the campaign to include Alaznist returning as well as Karzoug. If people like the idea of the Skinsaw Mage and want to hear more, maybe I'll write up my ideas for changing Rise of the Runelord to Rise of the Runelords.

Grand Lodge

AttilaThePun wrote:
Skinsaw Mage Stuff

I'd like to see a stat block, please. The area I live in has a lot of people who have likely already been through Rise of the Runelords if I hold my own game, so being able to change up a few things, particularly in the first two books, is probably something I should look into.

Also, how did you incorporate the ghouls into this alternate take on things, if at all?


Ms. Pleiades wrote:
I'd like to see a stat block, please. The area I live in has a lot of people who have likely already been through Rise of the Runelords if I hold my own game, so being able to change up a few things, particularly in the first two books, is probably something I should look into.

Sure thing! I renamed him too, not only to throw the players off but also because "Brodert Quink" isn't a very strong-sounding name for a villain. In the following statblocks, the ability scores were generated by taking the base scores for a heroic NPC and adding age penalties/bonuses, a human racial bonus to Intelligence, and +1 Int from leveling up.

Brodert Quink or Corin Adelric
Middle-aged Human Wizard (Divination) 5
STR 7, DEX 14, CON 10, INT 19, WIS 14, CHA 10
Feats: Improved Initiative, Combat Casting, Spell Focus (Divination), Extend Spell (bonus)
Skills: Knowledge (History, Arcana, and Planes) +12, Spellcraft +12, Fly +10, Knowledge (Dungeoneering, Engineering, Religion, Geography, and Nature) +8
Bonded object: staff (otherwise nonmagical)
Spells Prepared (CL 5th)
3rd: Arcane Sight, Dispel Magic, Arcane Sight
2nd: Web (DC 16), Invisibility, Admonishing Ray, Locate Object
1st: Alarm, Unseen Servant, Comprehend Languages, Identify, Heightened Awareness
0th: Detect Magic, Read Magic, Mage Hand, Prestidigitation

After he goes down into the lower section of the Caverns of Wrath, the Scribbler teaches him some new tricks. The Scribbler was (rewritten to be) a faithful servant of Alaznist, whose cardinal sin was wrath, so the Scribbler teaches Quink/Adelric the Sin Magic Specialist archetype with the wrath (evocation) specialty. He also trades out Spell Focus (Divination) for Spell Focus (Evocation) and his bonded object for a familiar, which you can't technically do, but it's reasonable and flavorful. He becomes...

The Skinsaw Mage
Middle-aged Human Wizard Sin Magic Specialist (wrath) 7
Feats: Improved Initiative, Combat Casting, Spell Focus (Evocation), Extend Spell (Bonus), Improved Familiar
Skills: Knowledge (History, Arcana, and Planes) +14, Spellcraft +14, Fly +12, Knowledge (Dungeoneering, Engineering, Religion, Geography, and Nature) +10
Familiar: Quasit
Spells Prepared (CL 7th)
4th: Animate Dead, Dimension Door*, Resilient Sphere, Ice Storm (x2)
3rd: Fly, Slow (DC 17), Suggestion (DC 17), Lightning Bolt (DC 18), Fireball (x2) (DC 18)
2nd: False Life, Fox's Cunning, Invisibility, Command Undead, Frost Fall (DC 17), Scorching Ray (x2, two rays)
1st: Anticipate Peril, True Strike, Silent Image, Shocking Grasp, Magic Missile (three rays).

The Skinsaw Mage carries a Scroll of Sending, 250 gp (or to taste) worth of Black Onyx (the material component of Animate Dead), some potions of healing if you like, and other various loot.\

*He can't technically cast Dimension Door because the wrath specialty removes Abjuration and Conjuration spells from his spell list, but I think it would make a better story if the PCs are close to catching him several times before he teleports away. If you don't want to give him this ability, I suggest Scrying instead.

Quote:
Also, how did you incorporate the ghouls into this alternate take on things, if at all?

I said that he was animating the ghouls with Animate Dead. It can normally only create zombies or skeletons, but I'll just fluff it as the Scribbler teaching him a powerful alternate form of reanimation that had been lost to time.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I've been working on changing a lot.
I'm running Rise, in my homebrew world, that I've been using since about '82, so a bit of shoe-horning is required. I've actually just started running things, so what I've changed is still a work in progress.

Most notably, (and requiring the most work for the least amount of game effect) is map/place name issues. Fortunately I have a: 1) relatively unused area of the campaign world that 2) has a background that works pretty well along with the basics of Rise and 3)roughly matches the geography. Needing me to recreate a bunch of area maps, and change descriptions (Magnimar's analog is NORTH of "Sandpoint").

I've been adding and borrowing a number of small communities to add to the area. Some of which I have borrowed by combing these forums. I've added a small fishing village at the mouth of Cougar Creek, a watch/garrison/farm village as some of the hills in the middle of the Farmlands. A mining and supply gathering point between the Tors and Biston's Pond.

There's a number of half-elves of unknown parentage in Sandpoint - I added a couple more, and made that a bit of a local scandal - Male Elves and Half Elves are not particularly welcome in "Sandpoint"

I've started play at a point DURING the Late Unpleasantness, giving all of the PCs the Young template, and expanding upon all of the bad things of that time, including a few tragic ship wrecks, a number of local "wildfires". I really want this time to be something they experience rather than receive as an infodump.

Bruthazmus is being re-skinned as an ogre-kin Ranger
Naulia as an inquisitor
Tsuto as a ninja


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I just ran Jorgenfist and made a few changes. The party made their way to Longtooth's cave. Inside they meet up with the dragon. She (I changed Longtooth to female) berated the party for being dumb apes and threatened to alert the army of giants to the party's location unless they helped her.

She demanded the party sneak into the fortress and discover what treasures Mokmurian possessed. She also demanded the party retrieve two special items for her, implying that they would know what these items were when they saw them. I had a lot of fun gloating over the party as a dragon. When the party made counter demands I made it clear this wasn't a negotiation and demanded $1000 gold from each of them (this really peeved the party).

The party left thinking the items Longtooth wanted were dragon eggs and planned to blackmail her. The "items" were the two captured dragons in the fort, rewritten as Longtooth's offspring. Mokmurian was manipulating Longtooth through the use of her captured offspring. The two younger dragons were still charmed by the Lamia priests but the party managed to rescue them. When the younger dragons were set free I had another chance to berate the party for being stupid apes. This ruined the parties plans for blackmail and now they're planning a way to get back at the dragons.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Um, how about "kill them"? ^^ Longtooth isn't even that old and being trapped in a cavern is a death sentence for any dragon, unless it is a lot over the appropiate CR.


magnuskn wrote:
Um, how about "kill them"? ^^ Longtooth isn't even that old and being trapped in a cavern is a death sentence for any dragon, unless it is a lot over the appropiate CR.

You're right, it would be a piece of cake for my party to kill Longtooth, but they failed to kill her in Sandpoint and now think she is really tough.


The one big thing I wish I had changed was the Black Magga encounter. It's terrible as written. I think it should probably be replaced entirely.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Sacrin wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
Um, how about "kill them"? ^^ Longtooth isn't even that old and being trapped in a cavern is a death sentence for any dragon, unless it is a lot over the appropiate CR.
You're right, it would be a piece of cake for my party to kill Longtooth, but they failed to kill her in Sandpoint and now think she is really tough.

You can tell the appropiate party members to make a Knowledge: Arcana check to give out certain pieces of information about dragons, like age categories.


Ian Bell wrote:

The one big thing I wish I had changed was the Black Magga encounter. It's terrible as written. I think it should probably be replaced entirely.

Perhaps you could elaborate on what you didn't like? Not that I'm saying it's a great encounter or anything but one benefit of this thread would be for those who haven't got that far yet to see potential problems ahead.

I had concerns about it as well going in, specifically the chance my players would get really frustrated (and they did.) But upon reflection, that was okay. Black Magga is less of a monster encounter and more like a tornado that blows through their lives - it can't really be stopped, only endured. In the end, it's a sign of one of the positive features of this AP (any AP really) - it has stuff in it that I would never do and therefore my players are a bit outside their comfort zone. And that's a good thing.

There are two problems with the encounter 1) the description and geography of the flood level, placement of the ferry with kids, etc. is pretty messed up and 2) Black Magga isn't a tornado, she's a monster and yet the AP provides no resolution or hint as to where she goes after she flees the combat. She can't just swim back to the Storval Deep and leaving her in Claybottom Lake or ranging the length of Skull River is a pretty terrifying thought. My players assumed she was a deliberate part of a larger plot and when they headed to the dam, they spotted an immense trail leaving the river into Ashwood with the implication she was taking an overland route back to the Storval Deep.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

It is possible to kill Black Magga. You just need a Paladin to do it. Or someone with a magical cold iron weapon and high strength and good saves... like a Paladin. ;)

My group took her out in four rounds. That said, I altered things a bit. The dam had NOT broken yet. Water levels were low and Turtleback Ferry's mayor was worried because that meant the floodgates weren't working. They got up there, found ogres being massacred by Black Magga and the dam starting to crack.

My group had one Mythic Tier. That helped a lot. Magga was busy killing ogres for the first round and finished off the ones in her grip for the second round, meaning she had fewer attacks to use on the PCs. That ALSO helped a lot. And they got lucky in overcoming her spell resistance.

All they needed to do was enough damage that she'd go off the dam, but they didn't realize that. It allowed for an epic battle and I chose after it ended to give the group their 2nd Tier as Black Magga counts as a mythic creature in my books. (It also helped that they had a high-strength Barbarian using two-handed weapons on her, and a tiny-sized cold-iron dagger used by the arcane trickster. Mostly it was the spellcasting though as after being level-drained the Barbarian kept missing.)


Oh, my players might have been able to take her out even without a paladin or mythic tiers. The wizard took at least a round too long to stop using spells that offer spell resistance. He could have summoned more lantern archons. The dwarven fighter could have saved vs. the breath weapon. Etc.

The hidden difficulty in the encounter is that it comes upon the players unprepared. If they'd had a chance to prepare (spell memorization, buffs, etc.) they would have been much more of a threat. Indeed I considered it possible they would follow the trail she left. So far they have not - they're more interested in figuring out what's what with the dam.


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We killed her with some lucky crits by our Barbarian. But it looked baaad for a few rounds.


magnuskn wrote:
Sacrin wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
Um, how about "kill them"? ^^ Longtooth isn't even that old and being trapped in a cavern is a death sentence for any dragon, unless it is a lot over the appropiate CR.
You're right, it would be a piece of cake for my party to kill Longtooth, but they failed to kill her in Sandpoint and now think she is really tough.
You can tell the appropiate party members to make a Knowledge: Arcana check to give out certain pieces of information about dragons, like age categories.

Thank you so much for your tips Magnuskn. The party members trained in the proper knowledge skills have previously made checks, I guess I can have them make additional checks if the situation gets out of hand. In retrospect it does seem silly that a juvenile dragon already has two offspring, but what's done is done.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Teen mother. ;) It's all those growth hormones that get pumped into cattle... a dragon starts munching on them and next thing you know she's having early puberty and then some scumbag dragon with an eye for younger dragons goes after her... you know, back in the days of Runelord Karzoug, things like this didn't happen! ;)


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Tangent101 wrote:
Teen mother. ;) It's all those growth hormones that get pumped into cattle... a dragon starts munching on them and next thing you know she's having early puberty and then some scumbag dragon with an eye for younger dragons goes after her... you know, back in the days of Runelord Karzoug, things like this didn't happen! ;)

Where's the "post of the week" button! :-P


Latrecis wrote:
Ian Bell wrote:

The one big thing I wish I had changed was the Black Magga encounter. It's terrible as written. I think it should probably be replaced entirely.

Perhaps you could elaborate on what you didn't like? Not that I'm saying it's a great encounter or anything but one benefit of this thread would be for those who haven't got that far yet to see potential problems ahead.

I had concerns about it as well going in, specifically the chance my players would get really frustrated (and they did.) But upon reflection, that was okay. Black Magga is less of a monster encounter and more like a tornado that blows through their lives - it can't really be stopped, only endured. In the end, it's a sign of one of the positive features of this AP (any AP really) - it has stuff in it that I would never do and therefore my players are a bit outside their comfort zone. And that's a good thing.

There are two problems with the encounter 1) the description and geography of the flood level, placement of the ferry with kids, etc. is pretty messed up and 2) Black Magga isn't a tornado, she's a monster and yet the AP provides no resolution or hint as to where she goes after she flees the combat. She can't just swim back to the Storval Deep and leaving her in Claybottom Lake or ranging the length of Skull River is a pretty terrifying thought. My players assumed she was a deliberate part of a larger plot and when they headed to the dam, they spotted an immense trail leaving the river into Ashwood with the implication she was taking an overland route back to the Storval Deep.

Yeah I was on my phone, meant to come back and edit but forgot.

In my game we got to her 'run away' round, and the PCs had done close to 0 damage to her, they were all grappled and/or confused and one was significantly energy drained, animal companion was dead, etc. The fight was MUCH too hard for them to even just endure; there was no apparent reason for her to not finish the TPK, so when I followed her tactics and had her drop them and take off it felt completely lame. Killing the party at that point would have felt awful because a) TPKs aren't much fun, b) TPKs where it isn't the party's fault are REALLY not much fun, and c) it was basically my own stupid fault that I left the encounter there as-is. I should have either nerfed her or just replaced her with a very hard but winnable fight.

They even *had* a paladin, but he was grappled and energy drained before he had a chance to smite, and as a two-handed weapon user he was pretty much hosed, all he could do was attempt some ineffective smiting gauntlet-punches. The witch couldn't get through the SR and immunity to mind effecting shut off all his useful hexes. Also spent time confused. The archer could sometimes hit the AC of 30 (it would have been worse if I enforced the water cover rules), but nobody was able to ID the DR via monster lore and she took too long by trial-and-error to find that it was cold iron. The inquisitor failed the confusion save, and eventually ended up grappled as well. (And yes I was using the -20 penalty to hold multiple targets. +16 was plenty.)

It was a very game-y and un-fun moment in the campaign and I should have seen it coming.


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Nobodyshome, I believe that award is called "The Smurfy" and yes Tangent101 wins :-D


Ian Bell wrote:
Latrecis wrote:
Ian Bell wrote:

The one big thing I wish I had changed was the Black Magga encounter. It's terrible as written. I think it should probably be replaced entirely.

Perhaps you could elaborate on what you didn't like? Not that I'm saying it's a great encounter or anything but one benefit of this thread would be for those who haven't got that far yet to see potential problems ahead.

I had concerns about it as well going in, specifically the chance my players would get really frustrated (and they did.) But upon reflection, that was okay. Black Magga is less of a monster encounter and more like a tornado that blows through their lives - it can't really be stopped, only endured. In the end, it's a sign of one of the positive features of this AP (any AP really) - it has stuff in it that I would never do and therefore my players are a bit outside their comfort zone. And that's a good thing.

There are two problems with the encounter 1) the description and geography of the flood level, placement of the ferry with kids, etc. is pretty messed up and 2) Black Magga isn't a tornado, she's a monster and yet the AP provides no resolution or hint as to where she goes after she flees the combat. She can't just swim back to the Storval Deep and leaving her in Claybottom Lake or ranging the length of Skull River is a pretty terrifying thought. My players assumed she was a deliberate part of a larger plot and when they headed to the dam, they spotted an immense trail leaving the river into Ashwood with the implication she was taking an overland route back to the Storval Deep.

Yeah I was on my phone, meant to come back and edit but forgot.

In my game we got to her 'run away' round, and the PCs had done close to 0 damage to her, they were all grappled and/or confused and one was significantly energy drained, animal companion was dead, etc. The fight was MUCH too hard for them to even just endure; there was no apparent reason for her to not finish the TPK, so when I...

There are some good points in here as cautions for other GM's: the encounter can be very swingy in that outcomes can be more extreme than normal based on a few d20 rolls - saves vs her breath weapon being one likely source. GM's should ask themselves a few questions: how comfortable are their players with frustration? how confident are they in managing the combat if it goes south as Ian Bell's did?

Another point that might be made about the encounter: it's not important to the AP. It could be omitted entirely and the narrative structure remains the same. The pc's return to TBF, save the teacher and the kids and still have the same motivation to investigate the dam. (Maybe some ogre corpses go rushing by in the flood waters.) The damage to the dam could have come from Black Magga but she didn't go over the edge or it was from the ogres themselves - they are after all trying to destroy it. If you're concerned about xp, add another ettin or more kreeg ogres or trolls (or all of the above!) to Skull's Crossing. If you want to keep Black Magga in the story, she could show up and help the pc's against the ogres. She has absolutely no interest in the dam being destroyed.


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And Latrecis wins "The Poppa Smurfy" for "Wisest response that makes the most sense"
:-p

edit: Come on!
how is it i keep getting Axe-to-Grind and S@@+List smurf:-(


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Sacrin wrote:
Thank you so much for your tips Magnuskn. The party members trained in the proper knowledge skills have previously made checks, I guess I can have them make additional checks if the situation gets out of hand. In retrospect it does seem silly that a juvenile dragon already has two offspring, but what's done is done.

You're welcome. I know all too well how it is when group members begin to tell themselves things which aren't even true in-game and then derail the adventure over that.

OTOH, sometimes that is where all the fun lies. ;)


magnuskn wrote:
Sacrin wrote:
Thank you so much for your tips Magnuskn. The party members trained in the proper knowledge skills have previously made checks, I guess I can have them make additional checks if the situation gets out of hand. In retrospect it does seem silly that a juvenile dragon already has two offspring, but what's done is done.

You're welcome. I know all too well how it is when group members begin to tell themselves things which aren't even true in-game and then derail the adventure over that.

OTOH, sometimes that is where all the fun lies. ;)

The only thing I'd change is 'sometimes' to 'often' - +1


Tangent101 wrote:

That said, I altered things a bit. The dam had NOT broken yet. Water levels were low and Turtleback Ferry's mayor was worried because that meant the floodgates weren't working. They got up there, found ogres being massacred by Black Magga and the dam starting to crack.

My group had one Mythic Tier. That helped a lot. Magga was busy killing ogres for the first round and finished off the ones in her grip for the second round, meaning she had fewer attacks to use on the PCs. That ALSO helped a lot. And they got lucky in overcoming her spell resistance.

All they needed to do was enough damage that she'd go off the dam, but they didn't realize that. It allowed for an epic battle and I chose after it ended to give the group their 2nd Tier as Black Magga counts as a mythic creature in my books. (It also helped that they had a high-strength Barbarian using two-handed weapons on her, and a tiny-sized cold-iron dagger used by the arcane trickster. Mostly it was the spellcasting though as after being level-drained the Barbarian kept missing.)

Great idea Tangent! I found the whole Black Magga, the dam, and the goal of trying to suggest saving the flooding of the village before saving the dam off for my group. They figured save the dam, save the village.

I did my best to bring Turtle back ferry to life, but I found it a tougher task as my group didn't seem very interested at the time. The village was very closed to them upon arrival (my fault a bit I guess) By simply put the Black Magga at the Dam, it would have allowed a secondary order of progression for the key events. Save Rannick, inspect the Dam and in the end hopefully Turtle Back Ferry. Could even have the over flowing water on top of the dam cause some difficult terrain.

Silver Crusade

Here are some changes I made or plan on making.

Book 1
I added a scenario from one of the Wayfinder magazines before the festival at the beginning of the AP. This gave the PCs a little bit of wealth and experience before the AP started. It also allowed them to interact with the town of Sandpoint a little bit more up front.

I changed the goblin bard in Thistletop to a goblin gunslinger. One of the PCs in my group is still using the musket that goblin was wielding.

Book 2
After the PCs took care of business in Magnimar at the end of Book 2, I ran a slightly modified version of Dawn of the Scarlet Sun (Free RPG Day module).

Book 4
When the PCs returned to Sandpoint to prepare for the giant invasion, they are told by Father Zantus that someone has removed Nualia's body from her grave in the town cemetary (the PCs had previously buried her there next to her family, but even if they had done something else with her body, the result would have been the same). They will encounter her in her new form—risen from the grave through Lamashtu's will—with the Scribbler in book 5 (her CR will be 2 lower than his).

On the way to Jorgenfist, I will run a modified version of the King of the Storval Stairs PFS scenario.

Book 5 or 6
One of the dragons will be two-headed. Just because. In-game explanation will be something something waters of Lamashtu something something.

Book 6
The rune giants might be carrying potions of enlarge person.


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Just running chapter 5 now. If I was starting it again today, I would make some small tweaks along the way including:

I would have placed some foreshadowing in the group's backstory, for those starting in Magnimar. I simply felt there was a missed opportunity for an early connection to Ironbriar & the random murders when meeting them in the Sawmill. Simply having a family member placed into jail after Justice Ironbriar framed them to cover for a murder committed by the "Alleged" Cultest. Perhaps they suggested Iron Briar was the killer . Either way the law and community starts harassing and making life generally tough for the remaining family members as side result. It’s start an adventure group and make it rich quick to help pay for the legal fee’s, and a new life or bust. To make matters worse the loved-one is later shipped off to the Black Arrows to repay his debts to society. After Ironbriar, they can take order personally to Fort Rannick to free their family member. Any story line to help bridge this could help.

Young Aeren would be introduced during the goblin raid on Sandpoint! He would have been hiding beneath a wagon, a goblin attempting to kill him, his little dog barking like crazy and driving the Goblin into a frenzy. Afterwards it would allow the group to meet his parents Amele and Alergast for thanks. Aeren would have asked for the groups autograph or something. This allows Amele's choice to visit the PCs a lot easier when it comes to “Monster in the Closet”.

In regards to Aldern Foxglove, my group found it way too easy to point the finger at in chapter 2. Partially my fault, I role played him annoyingly creepy from the start. But I would have him be a much more enjoyable guy. Having Aldern mentioning early on that he is in town to get the windows from the Sandpoint Glassworks. Replacing a specialized stained glass window pane is tough to find, but the house is getting soaked with the house open to the elements. So…he is waiting for them to re-open, and they have been closed longer than anticipated and thus holding back his renovation plans. As time goes on, he has been trying to sweeten up Ameiko, in attempt to have her talk her father & brother into "Getting some work done". Even as far as trying to smooth talk the group into talking to Lonjiku as his attempts failed. Thus his boredom, his attempts to hang out with the group and motivation for offering the hunt… to have some fun. Plus it adds to Lonjiku for being grouchy at players in Trouble at the Rusty Dragon.

I would have had Ameiko gift the adventures her father’s mansion in Sandpoint after the Thistletop. Ameiko’s reasoning is payback for rescuing her, further she feels guilty for her brother’s role and lastly she hated her father anyways. Her father’s inheritance is more than she will ever need. I would try to get the characters to establish vital relationships, further encourage them to bring families to Sandpoint. Some story hooks such as members of Scarnetti Gang try to break into their house while away, and Stones over Sandpoint could offer more anguish. All designed to give the group good reason to come back to Sandpoint in chapter’s 4, and 5.

When heading back to Magnimar at the end of Chapter 2. I had issues with trying to provide reason for full on invasion of the Seven Sawmill. To provide some lead-up to the event, I attempted to introduce the cult a bit earlier on. My solution was to ramp up the Foxglove townhouse a bit. I had the house fully business as usual. I felt faceless stalkers hanging out in a boarded house limited some rp and potential for more story line. The opening scene of townhouse, a friendly courier delivering to the residence, and a house keeper opening the door. After getting up the nerve to knock on the door, and greet the elderly housekeeper, she offered them come inside for a spot of tea. Once inside they were introduced to Mrs. Foxglove. This caused obvious confusion, did Aldern have another wife or maybe a Sister? I found it offered a chance for the group to recant there tail, and when trying to relay the news that Aldern was dead to the (Faceless Stalker’s) Mrs. Foxglove seemed amused and said “Whatever do you mean? He is up stairs having a nap”. Aldern Foxglove was thus called down to meet his guests. The courier, (actually a Skinsaw Cultist,) who had been actually gone to the door to warn them of the potential visit. Came in through the back entrance towards the end of the battle. In his back pack, he had a cultist outfit and more than normal dusting of saw dust.


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Finished Rise of the Runelords recently. I figured I’d contribute to this before I got too deep into prepping for our next adventure… I’m a new GM so this is more a list of regrets than tweaks, heh. Hope this is useful to other GMs. This ended up crazy long so I’m gonna spoiler it out, you can click on whatever section is relevant to your interests.

I ran the Anniversary version of the AP.

Book 1: Burnt Offerings


  • “Festival and Fire” –
    Spoiler:
    My players were timid and new, and pretty unwilling to roleplay in this roleplay heavy opening scene. I should have been more forward in having NPCs approach them and chat them up to get them to open up more. I also should have gotten my players to actually talk to Ameiko Kaijitsu, since she became so forgettable to my players that they don’t even remember Tsuto kidnapped her.

    I wish I had known about the Swallowtail Festival events listed in the Community Created Stuff Thread (I think…) because all of those ideas were great.

    One idea I had was to introduce the Sczarni at the festival and have a side-plot going on about them through Burnt Offerings, maybe culminating with bringing in Jubrayl Vhiski. It would have been cool, also, to have the group meet an unpossessed Viorian Dekanti, to make meeting her waaay later in the Pinnacle of Avarice more noteworthy. A mysterious poisoning that could be tied to old Pillbug would be a good side quest.

    Finally, tailoring PCs to the campaign is so vital. I had two PCs – a goblin gunslinger and a half-orc fighter, mercenary buddies. The goblin was easy to integrate, since his need to go around disguised, and all the obvious goblin hatred in town made his character very relevant. (The Red Dog Smithy, the dogs went haywire at him, Shalelu, as well as the old goblin-hating stabler were good RP encounters). In contrast, the half-orc had no ties to the setting and a very vague backstory, and ended up getting kind of lost, and as a result very rarely interacted with NPCs, etc. I plan on being stricter about making PCs relevant to the campaign at large in the future.

  • “Local Heroes” –
    Spoiler:
    If I were to run this today I would have gone back and ran the Brinestump marsh encounter on the boards, or at least come up with little sidequests concerning the other “goblin heroes”: Rendwattle Gutwad, Big Gugmut and Vorka. My players got derailed and wanted to go through and kill these guys one by one. Having nothing prepped, I panicked, and forced the “kidnap Ameiko” event on them immediately. I should have just let them go galavanting around Varisia for a little bit, but the notion of stating my own goblin heroes intimidated me.

  • “Glass and Wrath” -
    Spoiler:
    Tsuto would have been more interesting had he gotten away, instead of getting killed at the glassworks. It would have been nice to explore the Tsuto/Lyrie/Nualia love triangle, and give the players an opportunity to turn Lyrie against Nualia out of jealousy.

    I also should have encouraged the group to leave the glassworks before heading into the catacombs of wrath. They were pretty unprepared for Erylium, so an opportunity to go to the library and research quasits would have helped. Ameiko could have held their hands through this process as a sort of “tutorial to prepping for an encounter”, since she is an experienced adventurer. (“What’s that you got there? Ah… -reads the note- Oh, gross, Tsuto, what have you got yourself into? This sounds bad. What’s this about a quasit under dad’s glassworks? I’m not sure what a quasit is, maybe we could look that up..”) and so on. The idea that you could use in-game resources to learn about an encounter ahead of time STILL seems to be lost on my newbie players, so a “tutorial” was probably needed.

  • “Thistletop” –
    Spoiler:
    Gogmurt is more interesting to me as an unlikely ally than as an encounter. I’d have him a lot more willing to defect from Nualia’s side.

    Here’s something I actually changed! My group brought Shalelu to Thistletop. This gave my group a great opportunity to get to know her prior to her becoming a bigger deal in Book 3. She (+ the team) had an epic battle against Bruthazmus. I also had Orik, rather than being hostile, he was extremely eager to defect to the team that took Bruthazmus down. The players later got to know him pretty well and explored his whole backstory concerning the alchemist and the tiefling.

    The “info dump” Nualia research notes weren’t very elegant. If I did it over, I would change some stuff. I would keep the stuff about Nualia’s battle plans and Malfeshnekor in the research notes. Then I would end the book with the characters sitting down with Hemlock and Deverin relaying their adventure to them. When they mention Nualia, Hemlock and Deverin can fill them in on the backstory they are aware of. Deverin could be privy to stuff about the pregnancy, even (maybe she was the priest dad’s lone confidant?) The characters should be able to put 2 and 2 together and realize that she is resentful because of her rough upbringing, and that SHE burned the church down and killed her adoptive father.(if they don’t, an NPC can spell it out, but they should be given the chance to come to that conclusion).

    It is also difficult to tie together Nualia to the rest of the story. I would plant a note that says “In case you change your mind, Love Xanesha.” in Nualia’s things. The idea was the note came with the Sihedron Medallion, but if the players learn this, it can change the way they think about the Skinsaw Murders, so the note should be mysterious. At this point there should be no way the players can follow any trails regarding Xanesha’s name, but hopefully after learning more about her they could drag out that old handout and connect the dots.

    My group did not kill Malfeshnekor. I don’t regret that, he probably would have TPK’d them. BUT I regret not having them re-explore Thistletop to tie that loose thread. I should have waited awhile, alerted the players to Thistletop becoming re-occupied by goblins worshipping a mysterious goblin god, and had then take down the barghest. Buffed up some if theyre super high level.

Book 2: The Skinsaw Murders

  • “Murder Most Foul” –
    Spoiler:
    So my group believed Hemlock was pretty much incompetent because all he seems to do is beg them for help, while simultaneously never giving any answers. I think in a new game I’d get rid of the “Hemlock = Quest Giver NPC” thing and have the players find the same information more organically, through NPCs they actually cared about (like Shalelu) as well as rumors and gossip. For example, Shayliss Vinder could have approached her lover in tears, saying her daddy is in jail and her sister was found dead! Ideally THEY approach Hemlock asking for HIS details he has on the case, making him seem less of a buffoon.

    Red herrings are vital for a good detective story, in my opinion. I would DELAY the Aldern obsession notes in preference of letting the players bark up the wrong tree for awhile. The Scarnetti angle, in particular, is great, but was not uncovered by my group.

    Also, the backstory regarding the Chopper is super interesting but did not get integrated into my game. When the Murders are happening, it seems only natural for townsfolk to claim that the Chopper has returned! It would make for a good red herring.

  • “The Thing in the Attic” –
    Spoiler:
    This was a great, tense roleplaying session. I played up Habe’s paranoia to the max, having his behavior slowly grow more and more suspicious. Perfection.

  • “Walking Scarecrows” –
    Spoiler:
    This should have happened at night, with some urgency to keep players from putting it off til daylight. Navigating the cornfields at night would have been super creepy.

  • “Misgivings” –
    Spoiler:
    Prior to leaving for the Misgivings, I should have given the party some base information about Aldern Foxglove’s whole family, through Knowledge: Nobility checks or some other sort of detective work. As presented, my group believes that Aldern was the necromancer, not his grandfather, the idea that the house was haunted by MULTIPLE generations of the Foxglove family was lost on them. A good person to dispense this info is the old

    On the way to the Misgivings, the party was attacked by the Sandpoint Devil. This was a cool encounter to add.

    Finally, the house is still corrupted. It would have been nice to try and challenge the players to return and exorcise the house. A good hook would be that local contractors attempted to burn the house down, but were driven off. I don’t believe the idea that the house could be exorcised even entered their head.

  • “Chasing the Skinsaw” –
    Spoiler:
    Good as is, liked how it alerted the players to the idea that the enemy can look like anyone, even themselves…

    Something I tweaked here was I had the players individually be stalked by the Scarecrow golem in hit and runs at night time while they explored Magnimar. This creeped them out.

  • “The Seven’s Sawmill” –
    Spoiler:
    Kind of boring as is. I should have had the cultists abandon their tactics and use the environment more, shoving people into the log splitters and stuff like that.

  • “Shadows of Time” –
    Spoiler:
    I loved the clock tower as is.

Book 3: The Hook Mountain Massacre

  • “In the Hook’s Shadow”
    Spoiler:
    Shalelu was a big deal for my campaign. If your players take even a small interest in her, I would devote some time to a roleplayed out conversation with her where she confides all the drama about her, her mother, and Jakardos. Makes their reunion more satisfying.

    The Graul homestead fell flat for me in delivery. I couldn’t ad lib good dialog for the Grauls, and I wasn’t able to integrate any of their backstory about their hilariously dysfunctional family. I should have brainstormed some dialogue and wrote it down. I only succeeded at one snippet of dialogue, some stuff about ogrekin daring each other to poke “Big ‘Un”.

  • “Retaking Rannick”
    Spoiler:
    Good as written. I used the excellent maps in the community stuff thread, they were very gorey and really added to the atmosphere.

  • “Down Comes the Rain”
    Spoiler:
    I made an awesome miniature for Black Magga, there is a thread about it on this board! But the encounter didn’t work and it was my fault. So one of my players struck up a romantic relationship with Shalelu. This was the first time he ever showed any interest in roleplaying, so I wanted to encourage it. The bad part was that he kept splitting the party up to do this, to get some alone time in the woods with Shalelu. I used a number of random encounters to try and tacitly tell him to stop splitting the party up, but nothing got through.

    So when the rain started pouring down hard and the player elected to go hide in a cave with Shalelu, and the rest of the party trudged on to Turtleback Ferry, I was frustrated and just launched the Black Magga event on half the group present. The good news, the player learned his lesson and swore to never split the group up again. The bad news, instead of fighting Black Magga, the remaining player was too afraid to engage and had his character stand on a roof far away from her while she threatened a whole building of people like a coward. That didn’t endear the people of Turtleback Ferry to his PC, and the NPC cleric was so frustrated she left over it. This of course made everything even worse, as the “cowardly” player resented the fact that his decisions lead to the loss of an NPC party member.

    In retrospect, I should have sprung some other encounter on the split party, something scary but not TOO scary (like an ogre raiding party perhaps?) and saved Black Magga for when the team wasn’t split up. A teaching moment was sorely needed, but I was too harsh.

    Other than Black Magga, on the way to the dam my group encountered Razmus. He’s a quick little aside in the back of the chapter but I found him a fun character to roleplay with and am glad I included him.

  • “Haunted Heart”
    Spoiler:
    A fun, short, adventure. I think a personalized quest for a bard could easily be integrated here with the treasure in the mysterious derelict. In hindsight, since my group had no bards, I could have swapped the derelict out for an abandoned alchemist’s lab to tailor it to my alchemist PC.

  • “Harrowing the Hook”
    Spoiler:
    I portrayed Barl as cocky and overconfident, to the point of stupidity. I think it worked well.

Book 4: Fortress of the Stone Giants

  • “Stones Over Sandpoint”
    Spoiler:
    What a great encounter! Loved it. For my game, Longtooth was more of an NPC than an enemy, and we had a good Bilbo Baggins-esque roleplay session with him later in the Valley of the Black Tower.

    In hindsight, should have printed a BIG map of Sandpoint with hexes, to make visualizing/calculating movement over the town easier.

  • “Journey to Jorgenfist”
    Spoiler:
    Used the Storval Stairs map in the Community Stuff thread. Really helped.

  • “Into the Valley of the Black Tower”
    Spoiler:
    This stuff was all a huge pain to prepare since I prepared SO much of it and the players only saw a little bit of it. That said, the idea that the players could possibly negotiate with the various giant camps fascinated me and it is worth keeping that road open for players, even if they go with the murder-hobo route like mine did. The Emerald Codex of the Therassic Order is kind of boring, considering all you do is roll checks to open it. Coming up with some sort of tactile puzzle for the party to solve physically could be cool.

  • “Under Jorgenfist”
    Spoiler:
    In my game I tweaked Conna to make her younger and more adventurous. This was mostly to open her up as a party member, while in Jorgenfist, my group had no full casters and I was concerned for their well-being. Anyway, having Conna tag along instead of vanishing and reappearing at the end made her a more interesting character.

  • “The Ancient Library”
    Spoiler:
    No tweaks here, a good, if straight forward, dungeon crawl. I added a side quest for the group to escort Brodert Quink to the Thassilonian library, once he learned of its existence. My group was happy to comply…once the Runelord they had just learned about was dead.

Book 5: Sins of the Saviors

  • “The Scribbler’s Rhyme”
    Spoiler:
    In my game, prior to Sandpoint asking the heroes for help, they turned to a travelling paladin, Seelah. She lead a task force into the sinkhole and never returned. The soldiers all died, but Seelah was kept alive as the Scribbler’s prisoner. The players rescued her, and in doing so, recruited her. (Seelah was chosen specifically to help the group against Arkrhyst, who I feared would wipe my group.)

    In hindsight, I should have brainstormed a big list of questions for the Scribbler to ask the party, I quickly ran out of them.

  • “Seeking Runeforge”
    Spoiler:
    Ran as written. The travel to Runeforge could be elaborated on if desired, but I just wanted to handwave it away.

  • “Runeforge and the Abjurant Halls”
    Spoiler:
    My biggest regret here was not making a bigger deal of the Sin Point System. If I ran this again, I would tailor the different wings to each party member. Rather than the confusing opposition system (its not very intuitive that Pride and Lust are opposed to Greed, for example, my players ultimately never understood the meaning behind the random buffs/debuffs that happened in the Runeforge and it just felt like tedious book keeping) I would portray it as a feeling of extreme temptation to sin in the wing that corresponds to the character’s sins. So a lustful character might have a penalty to will saves in the Iron Cages of Lust as they fight their desires to join to succubi in their revelry. Exactly what happens would depend on that character’s history and behavior in the campaign so far. I think something like this would better live up to the title “Sins of the Saviors”

  • “The Ravenous Crypts”
    Spoiler:
    My roleplay encounter with Xyoddin Xerriock was a little lackluster. I think it’s because I had him hunt them down. Maybe better to have the group stumble upon him feasting on the rotted remains of one of the Envy wizards.

  • “The Vault of Greed”
    Spoiler:
    Had a PC spawn in after a permanent death using the goldfish here. It’s a good trick to keep in mind if you need new PCs in a jiffy in the Runeforge since it’s so removed from civilization.

  • “The Iron Cages of Lust”
    Spoiler:
    I played Delvahine as too hostile, I think. A succubus should have at least tried to seduce them, or ally with them. Mr. Mutt, on the other hand, was great. It would have been cool for her to escort the group into the Shimmer Veils, also.

  • “The Shimmering Veils”
    Spoiler:
    No changes. The mirror of opposition thing was a memorable fight.

  • “The Festering Maze”
    Spoiler:
    I don’t know if this is explicitly stated, but for the parts of the maze that are just waterways, I made them pipes completely filled with water, so that the players would be forced to swim in the horribleness and couldn’t just cheese their way out of it by flying everywhere.

  • “The Halls of Wrath”
    Spoiler:
    The Warriors of Wrath and Sinspawn Axemen fights are boring. Probably better to replace these with more powerful individals, like champions, accompanied by a few axemen/warriors . Athroxis on the other hand was fun.

  • “Weapons of Power”
    Spoiler:
    Ran as written. The Karzoug statue fight was awesome.

Book 6: Spires of Xin-Shalast


  • “Seeking Xin-Shalast”
    Spoiler:
    Ran as written. I appreciate that they gave multiple roads for the PCs to get the information, rather than relying on Brodert Quink to play quest giver. My group actually went to Janderhoff to get more information.

  • “Whispers in the Wind”
    Spoiler:
    Ran as written. This was a great adventure. Only bad part: considering so much of the chapter is sandbox, it is hard as a GM to live up to the Vekker cabin while in Xin Shalast.

  • “On the World’s Roof”
    Spoiler:
    Ran as written. The Icemists are treacherous if you keep up the survival checks. A character almost drowned.

  • “Xin-Shalast”
    Spoiler:
    The huge sandbox part. I minimally prepped for everything, just prepping encounters, and planning to draw maps as we went if they explored the unmapped buildings. A more motivated GM could really bring this place to life and spend a lot of time in the Lower City, but I was not that GM by this part of the AP. If you are worried about your players getting distracted, what I did was gradually increased the visible numbers of giants in the lower city as time passed, to give the impression that Karzoug was nearing his goal. Then, once the PCs liberated the skulks, I had Gamigin and Ghlorofaex actively seek the enemies out as assassins, rather than having them sit in their lairs lamely for the players to root them out. I think this made the exploration of Xin Shalast more action packed, as enemies were constantly seeking the players out to kill them (sometimes when they slept!), rather than the other way around. I also straight up told the players (through Gyukuk) that there were three generals, so they didn’t waste unnecessary time looking for the 4th ring.

  • “Scaling Mhar Massif”
    Spoiler:
    I didn’t want to use the cold weather/suffocation rules so… I didn’t. Since the players basically flew straight to the top (after using Control Weather to remove any chance of wind or treacherous flying conditions) it would have translated to a tedious amount of skill checks. So I ruled that the Elixir of the Peaks they got off Morgiv made them immune to high altitude conditions.

    Additionally, once the group was through the occluding field, I stopped keeping track of what the field did to people inside of it without a ring on. Didn’t want to have to keep track of more stuff.

    I didn’t prep anything for the additional towers except a lone encounter with a Mithral Golem since I figured they’d make a straight beeline for the Biggest Tower. They did.

  • “Pinnacle of Avarice”
    Spoiler:
    The “gauntlet of giants” where all the giants rush to attack the heroes was tedious, and long, and hard to keep track of, but it was SO worth it. It made for an epic fight against a literal hoard of giants as soon as they got through the front door.

    I mentioned earlier that I regret not introducing the PCs to Viorian Dekanti, pre-possession, earlier, as it would have made the encounter with her more interesting. However, Chelian made up for it. I had the sword send telepathic messages to each player (using private GM-Player notes) egging them on to fight each other for the sword. The players took the bite and it made for great roleplay.

    Additionally, in the prison, there is a blurb that says: “If during the course of the adventure, a significant NPC escaped from the PCs (such as Barl Breakbones, or even an ally who vanished at some point), feel free to place that character in one of the two prison cells here.” I took the opportunity to plant my players original characters from the beginning of the AP (who died in Book 2) in these prisons… they were thought dead but they were wrong! That was a pretty cool surprise, I think.


  • “The Eye of Avarice”
    Spoiler:
    Prismatic Wall was way more effective than I planned it to be. I don’t know if I would use it against my particular players again. At least not by plopping it directly on top of them like I did.

    My players also failed to understand the meaning of the Anima focus, the runewell, and the soul lens. I think putting some research notes in Khalib’s quarters would have gone a long way there.



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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Karolina Dean wrote:
Finished Rise of the Runelords recently. I figured I’d contribute to this before I got too deep into prepping for our next adventure… I’m a new GM so this is more a list of regrets than tweaks, heh. Hope this is useful to other GMs.

This is great help Karolina!

Certainly the type of insight I can use for my run through, and certainly the type of commentary that I'm trying to provide while continuing my other thread.

I've got a bunch of thoughts/ideas to add to my swag bag of extra goodies.

Thanks


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

What are you doing next Karolina?

Grand Lodge

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So far there is one thing that I do regret adding and I'm considering ways to just make it go away..

The Valdemars:
When we started the game one of the players was a younger member of the Valdemar family. Her position as Sandpoint 'nobility' was played up quite a bit and when it came time for the Skinsaw Man to fawn over someone it was her.

Shortly after book two the player had to leave the game so Wendy returned to Magnimar to help manage her struggling family. It was around this time that I read Magnimar City of Monuments and had the bright idea to factor in the Valdemar's dark family secret.

Now whenever the group deals with Magnimaran nobility they encounter her as a kind of liaison. I made her completely different in appearance and manner to reflect her new condition. It made them all very suspicious and nearly derailed the game as they were so desperately interested in finding out what happened to their friend.

And yet, whenever they return to Magnimar for some reason I choose Wendy as they person they encounter for dealing with the upper levels of government.

I suppose I could just send her on an ocean trading trip and have them deal with someone else.


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captain yesterday wrote:
What are you doing next Karolina?

Wrath of the righteous! With 2 mythic pcs and two normal npcs so hopefully they don't curbstomp it like what I've seen on the boards. But then again considering how often they die compared to other groups on these boards I think mythic might be what the doctor ordered... Especially since they've requested torun with no hero points this time.

And of course it will be "same universe" so they can take a little detour and fight mythic karzoug and reclaim varisia ;)


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Tybid wrote:
So far there is one thing that I do regret adding and I'm considering ways to just make go away ...

Whaaaaat? That sounds great! Your player left but her character lives on in your game world.

Sounds like your players are engaged and interested in her story line! Why sweep it under the rug? You can always steer them back onto the rails later :)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Karolina Dean wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
What are you doing next Karolina?

Wrath of the righteous! With 2 mythic pcs and two normal npcs so hopefully they don't curbstomp it like what I've seen on the boards. But then again considering how often they die compared to other groups on these boards I think mythic might be what the doctor ordered... Especially since they've requested torun with no hero points this time.

And of course it will be "same universe" so they can take a little detour and fight mythic karzoug and reclaim varisia ;)

Just don't let them leave you in a corner sobbing, clutching failed monster stats to your chest swatting at phantom mythic surges;-p

But yeah my group are unoptimized enough to struggle through WotR* (which like yourself only temptss me more, alas mine are more into Laser Guns, robots and Chainsaws, also Pirates)

*Legendary Weapon? please! i'm taking a full dip of Divine Source you b&~@&es are going to Worship me! - is what i imagine my wife would say (we watch a lot of Archer and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia)


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First off, Hi Board, first post from me!

Our group - four veteran rpg players and DM (me) starting in the late 70'ies/early 80'ies, but who haven't gamed for the last 15 years due to families and careers. Started again with Pathfinder, twice a month, and Rise of the Runelords. And we're having loads of fun!

My main issue with the AP as written was the sometimes weak connections between the modules, so I introduced lots of small clues and forebodings about things to come. I got a loads of tips from this board, so big up to the fellow DMs here!

So here are some of the main changes we did - we are still playing (starting Hook Mountain tomorrow) so this is what has been added so far.

Book 1: Burnt Offerings

spoiler:

All PC's had to be from Sandpoint or the immediate environs. I wanted to nurture a connection to the town from the get go, and to save the "wow-factor" of visiting cool places like Magnimar for later.(I also only allow core classes and races... because we are conservative old 1st ed. AD&D farts. Gunslingers? Get off our lawn!)

We started the AP 5 years early, with the PCs as teenagers. Our Sandpoint has a 3-month long mandatory militia service for all youngsters, and that's where the PCs met and became friends. For this I kept the PCs at 1st level but with -2 to all rolls. I introduced Nualia during this time. She was slightly older than PCs and dating the son of Titus Scarnetti in secret (whom she did not kill, as in the AP, but hated). I also introduced other Sandpoint NPCs as encounters during patrols. I lingered too long here - there's just so many NPCs the players can take in per session and I overdid it. I had Hemlock be the Sheriff in 4703 as well (so the Chopper never killed the old Sheriff). This was so the PCs would have a student/mentor attitude towards him and make him seem less of a needy wuss later on. Their first combat encounter was the Goblins at the Junk Beach.

Next we played out the awakening of the Runewell under the town, while the PCs were doing their last days of their military service and staying at the barracks. It manifested as a great pulse of wrath in the middle of the night, and many of the citizens went crazy (the PCs had to make easy will saves to avoid it themselves). The PCs had to run around and douse fires, prevent people from strangling their spouses/neighbours/geese and catch panicked horses. There was a huge brawl down by the docks, and I had a big water cistern by the side that the PCs could tip, drenching the combatants without hurting anyone. I also moved Nualias burning of the church to this night in the early morning, and the PCs had to help save people. I had played out a encounter between our cleric and Nualia a couple of months before at the church, where he had noticed her bulging belly, but I kept the birth secret.

We jumped forward 5 years and played the Swallowtail Festival/new cathedral, as written. I introduced a competing party of slightly older NPCs, the Sandpoint Saviours, who have become hated foils for the PCs, popping up now and then. They are led by Titus Scarnettis youngest son, a haughty and sneering bard named Felor. (Their claim to fame was helping to catch the Chopper.)

I had Nualia mark the goblins with the Sihedron rune (as part of her deal with Xanesha). I added a couple of goblin commandos flying on vultures (from the Birdcruncher tribe) for fun.

Due to the "early start", I cut down on the side-adventures (attic goblin etc.). I also took out the Aldern boar hunt, instead he treated the PCs to a lavish dinner at the White Deer after they had saved him. I wish I had made him a bit of a bigger presence, but I didn't want to make him too obvious. So when we played Skinsaw the players unfortunately had totally forgotten about him.

Glass and Wrath we played more or less as written. (Tsuto survived and became a prisoner, and I made him the secret son of Ironbriar so was later released and joins the Skinsaw cult.)

On the way to Thistletop I introduced two Varisian wagons under attack from goblins. The Varisian leader was a fortune teller (called Arillia Petalan, and made her Ieshas sister) and as thanks she made a reading for the PCs. She told them 12 different things - obscure clues and/or omens for the whole campaign. I made it about two omens for each RotR adventure. (E.g. "Follow in the murdered wife's wake on her search for revenge" for Iesha's revenant in Skinsaw etc). Later I placed the two now empty wagons outside Foxglove manor, and the ghouls in the caves under the house all wore Varisian garb - they went to visit Arillia's sister and received a very special welcome.

Thistletop had some changes. I thought Gogmurt was too much fun for mainly being a combat encounter, and decided that he was royally fed up with all the long-shanks moving in to his home and Ripnugget bowing and scraping in front of Nualia. He was willing to help the PCs as long as they killed Ripnugget and kept the killing of other goblins to a minimum. After striking a deal (where he promised on his "goblin-honor" to never attack Sandpoint again), he gave the PCs some info on Nualias band. During the fight with Ripnugget he charmed his Gecko, and then threatened the PCs to "surrender" which they did, as they had previously agreed. All remaining goblins were so impressed with the mighty druid that they crowned him on the spot, and the PCs proceed down to the Thistletop innards.

I concentrated Nualias' party (the PCs rolled their stats and came out quite powerful), which made it possible for Nualia to flee after the battle turned sour on the NPCs part. I had them find several handouts showing Nualia's journal where she talked some about her motives - I wanted to add a chance for her redemption later (if she survived). A mistake I made her was that I made the handouts too meaty - there was just too much text.

I also added a letter from Xansesha with instructions to mark all her minions and victims with the "sign" and to do the "ritual", as thanks for the help Nualia had received. Signed by "X". I kept all handouts vague and without any location info, so the PCs wouldn't head off to Magnimar too early.

After this we played the scenario Feast at Ravenmoor, although I changed it to another village, closer, and not on the maps (it's a forgotten place and I didn't want the PCs to travel so far).

The connection to the rest of the AP was that they tracked Lyrie to the village, who was sent by Nualia to the village to obtain a magic item to help free Malfeshnekor - while Nualia went to the hobgoblins (changed from bugbears) in the Pit at the Devil's Platter to try to recruit them. In Ravenmoor we played the scenario more or less as written, except that the tax man was replaced by Lyrie (who had arrived a couple of days earlier and was about to be sacrificed by Andretti). Andretti had been supplying the Skinsaw Cult with potent poisons, in return for Ironbriar keeping the village forgotten. But Andretti didn't like the new bossy "Xanesha"-person that had been taking over the correspondence, and the "new dawn" she was mentioning - Ghlaunder is a god of stagnation. Nor the ritual (Sihedron) that she required him to perform, so he had become disobedient. Ergo, when Lyrie showed up he decided to sacrifice her. The PCs saved Lyrie, who by now had had enough of both Nualia and her mysterious backer and spilled the beans to the PCs in exchange for her freedom (she returned to Ravenmoor, took all their stockpiled drugs and opened up a poison business in Magnimar - the PCs encountered her later again).

Lastly I made a map of the Pit on the Devils platter, where the hobgoblins had Nualia fight the PC's champion in an arena, to make her prove to them that she was "tough enough" to be worthy of their alligance. Our paladin won, and Nualia was finally dead (but not really...).

Book 2: Skinsaw murders

spoiler:

I skipped the thing were Aldern has an obession with one of the PC's. I had no female PCs and it all seemed a bit contrived. Instead I followed Latrecis tip where Aldern hates several NPCs in town, who in his mind, refused to help him with fixing Foxglove Manor, lending him money etc. He actually likes the PCs, since they saved him. I redid the notes he left at the murder scenes to be directed at these NPCs - the Mayor, Hemlock, Aesrick, Ameiko, Korvaski (he only killed those on his list though, so the greedy ones listed in the AP). This made for some fun roleplaying where the PCs tried to find out who had beef with the ones mentioned in Aldern's murder notes, and got sent around (Aesrick suspected the Scarnettis, Hemlock the Szcarni etc.). I was too vague though so several Sandpoint people ended up murdered before the PCs homed in on Aldern.

When they were getting close I had a dirty child walk up to the PCs at the Rusty Dragon saying "Mummy ate daddy" (thanks to a forum poster for that great line!), which led the PCs to Walking Scarecrows. I had the kid say his older siblings were hiding in the barn to create urgency and force the PCs to go there at night time. I changed the scarecrow encounters to only two, and made groups of ghouls ambush the group at both scarecrow sites - paralyzing PCs and dragging them out in the cornfields. The other PCs had to try to locate the abducted PC from the ghouls munching sounds... lots of fun. I also made the scarecrows still human, for more urgency and drama.

The thing in the attic I played as written, except there was a four-armed feral girl in one of the cells, about 5-years of age, with silver hair and purple eyes. Nualias daughter. One of the PCs, a CN ranger wanted to kill her - one of the Varisian's prophecies was "Even if you defeat the demon woman, beware! Her tainted blood lives on." But the other stopped him, and the player actually had the character leave the group over this, since he thought they were letting a far worse evil go. (He went to join the Black Arrows and the players will encounter him later as a captive in the Graul homestead). After some investigating in town they placed the girl at Koya Mvashti's, who confessed to have actually had delivered her and left the infant outside Habe's sanatorium five years ago.

Misgivings we played as written, except the wagons outside and Varisian ghouls in the caves, and I made the haunts much less save or suck. Damage, ability drain etc, but no save-or-die. I wanted the PCs to explore all the rooms for the story. I also had a child voice whisper three clues, which led to three spells they could use to contain and call forth Vorels spirit (Magic circle against evil, Remove curse, and Bless.) They later cast these at the mold in Vorel's room and a beefed up Allip materialized (Vorel's spirit). When the Allip was defeated the house began to fall apart - his vile magic had kept it standing the last years. Dramatic escape and the whole house fell into the bay as soon as the PCs exited.

Here I added a part where the PCs helped Shalelu attack the increasingly aggressive hobgoblins in Pit. Nualia had became a ghost, bound to the arena in the Pit where the PCs had killed her, and was possessing the hobgoblins shaman - leading them into the worship of Lamasthu and revenge on both Sandpoint and the PCs. Koya Mvashti approached the PCs and said that Nualia's daughter - who the PCs named Noomi (Habe hadn't bothered to name her) had been suffering from nightmares where she saw an angry white ghostly woman, who the child called "Mommy", with a red monster arm rising from a dark pit on a plateau. The PCs connected the dots, but Koya insisted that they should bring the girl with her, since meeting her was the only way Koya thought Nualia could find peace. The PCs protested, especially the paladin, but in the end the child came along. I had lots of fun with the players chasing after the scrappy girl, saving her from traps and hobgoblins in the Pit dungeon. In the end they confronted Nualia's spirit who after seeing her child ("Mommy! I love you!") - who she had always believed "murdered" by Sandpoint's citizens - finally saw the error of her ways. A warm spring breeze and a soft morning light filled the underground chamber, and Nualia found redemption. Her spirit, now rid of the demon arm and scars, passed on in a flutter of Desna's butterflies to the afterlife.

Magnimar we largely played as written, except I had a Justice (called Barazar, who had started to become suspicous of Ironbriar) to approach the PCs. Also, in my campaign Xanesha had taken a public guise as a niece of a rich older nobleman who she had charmed and whose mansion she used. She hosted a great masquerade ball (Varisian reading:"Do not trust the hidden dragon" - Xanesha had a dragon mask), where she had Faceless Stalkers led by Tsuto try to kidnap the Lord-Mayor. The PC's helped avert this (along with the Lord-Mayor's two cool Angelic Guardian bodyguards). I had the Seven's Sawmill have Tsuto (who had fled the kidnapping) present but not Ironbriar, but his office still contained evidence against him.

The clock tower we played as written, but Xanesha fled to "her" mansion where the PC's faced her and Ironbriar in a great showdown in a ballroom, chandeliers exploding left and right.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Welcome!
and thanks for making me feel young, considering how much i get made fun of for being an "old man" in my profession its a rather nice feeling:-p now if only my knee will listen.....


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captain yesterday wrote:

Welcome!

and thanks for making me feel young, considering how much i get made fun of for being an "old man" in my profession its a rather nice feeling:-p now if only my knee will listen.....

Thanks! And no problem :)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

i also recommend checking out Nobodyshome campaign journal and UseplanB's campaign journal as well, lots of good stuff there, i would link to it for ease but alas i've only figured out how to link to silly youtube clips (of course i haven't really tried anything else yet:-p)


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captain yesterday wrote:
i also recommend checking out Nobodyshome campaign journal and UseplanB's campaign journal as well, lots of good stuff there, i would link to it for ease but alas i've only figured out how to link to silly youtube clips (of course i haven't really tried anything else yet:-p)

Geez, make me do everything around here!

And just for yuks, here's Useplanb's as well...


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

In my defense every time i try to link to something on this site The Golem flips me off:-p
Of course that hasn't stopped me from figuring out how to link silly cartoons like this, thank Tacticslion:-p


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Razcar wrote:

First off, Hi Board, first post from me!

Hi! Oh man. The stuff you did was Nualia is amazing. What a wonderfully fleshed out character! Really love her kid and the ranger leaving over wanting to kill her.

I'm still a newb GM so... I think the most my players could tell you about Nualia is "Crazy half angel half demon chick who wanted to attack Sandpoint with an army of goblins." "Why?" "Dunno, she's evil?"

Ah, well. :)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Don't feel bad. I've been GMing for over 25 years and that's probably what my group in Runelords could tell you about her.


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Karolina Dean wrote:


Hi! Oh man. The stuff you did was Nualia is amazing. What a wonderfully fleshed out character! Really love her kid and the ranger leaving over wanting to kill her.

Thanks so much, but the credit goes to the awesome James Jacobs and to all the great storytellers here on this board, whom I have "borrowed" profusely from :)

spoiler:
I did lessen some of Nualia's evil deeds from how she was written, and tried to (bit by bit) show the players the mistreatment the 'Sandpointians' actually had bestowed upon her. Yes, she was a vindictive murderer, but she thought that her foster father had actually killed her baby - only because it was deformed (well, four arms). That they had made her hate herself and that her quest to turn into a demon was maybe more of a way to escape than to gain power. Everything fueled on by the Runewell of Wrath, Elyrium, Xanesha and Lamashtu, of course, and presented in her journal, talking with people in Sandpoint and what she said to the PCs when they met (...before initiative was rolled). That way I hoped the players would risk themselves (and her daughter) for a chance of making Nualia see reason, which they did in the end (well, all PCs except one). Or, I guess, they just wanted the loot and the xp :)

As an aside, I just reread my initial post and I'm sincerely sorry for butchering the English language like I did - misspellings and grammatical errors galore. I'm not an anglophone but I should have proofread better nevertheless. So sorry.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

We all take our turn butchering the english language, i've done worse:-p

sometimes come words out well so don't ;-p


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

What? A meeting of old grongards and you didn't invite me?

I'm re-running Runelords as a PbP on the boards. I'm still not sure what I want to change vs. run straight. When I ran Runleords a few years ago, I tinkered with it extensively... so far I've been running this version more-or-less straight.

I think I'm going to add in a couple of side-quests to Burnt Offerings from Wayfinder #7. I'm still debating on whether I want to run the Toadstool Goblins side-quest I wrote and shared years ago.

I had been a player in the PbP, and took over GM duties when the GM went AWOL. He had set up the Glassworks battle with more goblins and Tsuto in the fight from the beginning. I had the goblins be extremely ineffective fighters, which didn't let them really make their superior numbers an advantage. When the battle turned against Tsuto, he used Acrobatics to run downstairs. Eventually, he ran into the tunnels, and I ran a Chase through the tunnels. I figured that Tsuto knew there was a rowboat on the beach at the end of the tunnels, and he was running for it.

I ran a long role-playing interlude through Sandpoint. I did this in order to bring the town more to life. With Ven Vindler hostile to the PCs (either overcharging them or simply banning them from the General Store), the PCs have to interact with other shops in town to get what they want to buy. This gave me the chance to do some role-playing in order to make the town seem more real and endearing to the players.

They're in the Catacombs now. One thing I'm adding to that encounter is a mechanism that Koruvus can use to release the zombie prisoners. I did the same when I ran the Catacombs last time, and it worked well then. It puts a timer on the fight: after Koruvus throws a switch, the zombies are all raised up and released after 3 rounds. If the PCs can't drop Koruvus and switch the lever in 3 rounds, they'll have a MUCH harder fight on their hands!


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Hey now, hey now! I think only you and I get to use the term "Grognards!" Razcar and Karolina admit they're younglings, I seem to recall we have at least a decade on Tangent each, and Captain Yesterday... well, it's Captain Yesterday! "Grognard?" Seriously? I think not! :-P

EDIT: Now if *Latrecis* were to actually read this, I think he's older than all of us combined! :-P

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