Questions and Ideas about Nyrissa [Spoilers]


Kingmaker


I read through all 6 APs and am currently running Rivers Run Red and I have some questions about Nyrissa as I plan to foreshadow her to a much greater extent than in the book.

Questions:

1. Can Nyrissa enter the Stolen Lands (leave Thousandbreaths) without any restrictions?

In the first book Nyrissa kills a unicorn which implies that she can physically come into the Stolen Lands. But if that’s the case why does she wait until after the PCs have conquered most of the Stolen Lands, killed Irovetti and retrieved Briar before taking them on.

I know Nyrissa is busy looking for Briar and collecting trophies in the Stolen Lands, but after they kill the Stag Lord, Hargulka and that giant owlbear, wouldn’t she just settle things herself or send one of her big guns. Which brings me to my second question.

2. Can Nyrissa let anyone in and out of Thousandbreaths anytime she wants?

It does mention that Irovetti visited her in Thousandbreaths just like the guy who wrote Zuddiger's Picnic did so long ago, which seems to suggest that she can let in whoever she wants. But if she can also let out anyone she wants, why wouldn't she just send out the Jabberwock, Ilthuliak or any of her extremely powerful allies before book 6.

Ideas:

Assuming I didn’t miss anything big, the only way I can make sense of this is to have a rule (perhaps imposed by the Eldest) where Nyrissa cannot physically leave Thousandbreaths except one night every year (or something like that).

Sort of like Neil Gaiman’s Death character: 'One day in every century, Death takes on mortal flesh, better to comprehend what the lives she takes must feel like, to taste the bitter tang of mortality.'

Same rule applies to her First World servants. Once Nyrissa finishes gathering all her trophies that rule is lifted and Book 6 goes off as planned.

Thoughts?


1.Like most bad guys the PC's are under-estimated by her and they(bad guys in charge) assume the next lackey will get the job done. If the bad guys did the smart thing many AP's would end early, and not with good results for the PC's. :)

2. I think she is trying to be subtle about her plan to avoid meddling adventurers. Trying to take over a relatively large portion of the world may attract attention she does not want, to include dragons or outsiders strong enough to challenge her before she has succeeded.

PS: I have not ran Kingmaker in a while so my memory may be off for the 2nd question.


wraithstrike wrote:

1.Like most bad guys the PC's are under-estimated by her and they(bad guys in charge) assume the next lackey will get the job done. If the bad guys did the smart thing many AP's would end early, and not with good results for the PC's. :)

2. I think she is trying to be subtle about her plan to avoid meddling adventurers. Trying to take over a relatively large portion of the world may attract attention she does not want, to include dragons or outsiders strong enough to challenge her before she has succeeded.

PS: I have not ran Kingmaker in a while so my memory may be off for the 2nd question.

Thanks for posting Wraithstrike!

As a counterpoint to your first comment, most APs that I've read have some reasonable justification why the BBEG doesn't just come and kill off the PCs early in the AP.

Spoiler for Curse of the Crimson Throne:
The BBEG has to maintain the appearance of civility for the first 3 books and it is also not necessarily clear to her that the PCs are against her at first. In books 4 and 5 the PCs disappear into the wilderness making them difficult to easily find and kill.

Spoiler for Second Darkness:
The BBEG is miles below the surface of the earth and likely unaware of the existence of the PCs until book 6.

Spoiler for Legacy of Fire:
The BBEG is trapped in another dimension for the first 3 books then the PCs are trapped in other dimension for books 4 and 5.

Spoiler for Serpent's Skull:
The BBEG is not aware of the PCs until the end of Book 5 or even midway through Book 6

In Kingmaker, the situation is compounded by the following issues:
1) Nyrissa should become aware of the PCs fairly early in the campaign (during book 1 or 2)
2) Nyrissa seems just as strong at the beginning as she does at the end (she uses Finger of Death on a Unicorn in book 1)
3) The PCs are relatively easy to find (they have a castle in a capital city in a country that they founded)
4) Months/Years of Kingdom Building go by during the campaign giving Nyrissa ample time to come up with a way to take care of the PCs


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Nyrissa is aware of the PCs quite early, sure, but there's no reason for her to care at that point.

Remember that her plan to capture the Stolen Lands doesn't care who's in charge. Indeed, she has gone out of her way to sponsor people who might unite the area (The Stag Lord, Hargulka, Irovetti) and it's a nice irony if her plan relies on a tamed Stolen Lands, and the PCs unwittingly provide that for her.

The only time Nyrissa starts to consider the PCs as a threat to her is when they get Briar, and that happens late in the AP deliberately. She can probably only be sure that they have it when they use it to slay the Jabberwock, by which time everything's already underway.


Thrund pretty much nails it. Nyrissa knows about the PCs early on, but doesn't consider them worth doing anything about - figuring her various lackeys will get the job done - until they have the sword in their hands. It's her arrogance which is her primary flaw.

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Ditto to underestimating the party.

She mostly works against them through lackies because she planned on the minions uniting the Stolen Lands. She only cares for the Stolen Lands because that is all she needs to bottle up as a gift for the Eldest. Such a gift would sway enough of the Eldest to pardon her and let her back into the First World. It may also allow her to gain the same status and power as an Eldest.

Why is this bad? Her lover is Count Relnac, the shadow fey king on the Plane of Shadow. If she gains her ability to love back by gaining Briar and gets the power of an Eldest, she could potentially find him, free him, and be reunited with him. The two together would be a bad combination. For the most part, they would seek vengeance together and then everyone who had ever wronged them, including the Eldest, would be laid low.

Sure, for a while she won't be an influence on Golarion. She won't even care to return or seek any influence there. But, with her lover, things could change and be a different story.


Thanks for your posts everyone.

So it sounds like, as written, there are no restrictions Nyrissa (or her minions) physically entering the Stolen Lands before book 6. Her complacency in the first 5 books can be explained by her arrogance and tendency to underestimate opponents but the acquisition of Briar by the PCs is the event that forces her to change her outlook.

That's how I understood it as well when I read it. However, the "Not Worth Killing" trope just seems too convenient for my taste.

I admit that judging from the posts, I'm probably in the minority of GMs who think this is a problem, but I'd rather have some reason to explain why Nyrissa doesn't just send out her Jabberwock to kill off the PCs after book 2 if she can't be bothered to do it herself.


Mr J crashing the party in Book 2 = no more campaign. That's probably the biggest reason. There's something to be said for a sandbox game having the potential of a TPK around every corner if you roll the wrong thing on the random encounter chart or wander into the wrong critter's lair, but having the BBEG appear in the opening act and wipe out the party is simply no fun. You've got to give yourself some suspension of disbelief on that simply for the sustaining of the story rather than just a rocks-fall start.

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Because you don't send a nuclear missile when a bullet will do. She has confidence in her minions, as she personally groomed them and empowered them to do the tasks she has for them. She was the Stag Lords patron for many years, possibly as many as 20, and if it wasn't for the drunk stupor he had gradually succumbed to he would have been a true lord of the area. The other bandit lord that was killed by his own owlbear was probably under her hand for a similar period of time. Irovetti has a similar timeline, and even achieves being the leader of a kingdom and army.

Keep in mind that she is a fey. That means a great deal in terms of her personality and psychology. She doesn't understand human nature because she isn't human. By her very nature she is aloof but passionate. The mortal experience isn't something she would understand because where she is from, The First World, people don't die permanently. They are reformed and come back, and cutting off another head there is done both for fun, (see what he becomes next,) and punishment (You failed me, get out of my sight.) she may have been in the Material Plane for thousands of years, but by her very nature she does not learn easily. This is evident by the prophecy that she ignores.

So what I am getting at is that she not only has confidence that her minions can handle the party, but that she really doesn't understand their weaknesses. Not just their mortality, but also such pitfalls as the Stag Lord's alcoholism and Irovetti's pride and vain ambition.

If she released the Jabberwock, she is also risking showing her cards too soon. A prophecy said she would be killed by adventurers, and few things attract adventurers more than a giant, rare beast that needs to slain. Waiting until her plans come fully together and her most powerful allies have been gathered keeps her protected. She has essentially ignored the prophecy, but you can see in the last book that it is still something she worries about at least s little. She won't know who those adventurers are going to be until Briar is found.

Her nature also treats most mortals as pests. She is an ancient, powerful, and eternal being. No need to shoot a fly with a gun if you can at least swat it away and discourage it from flying near you.


Orthos wrote:
Mr J crashing the party in Book 2 = no more campaign. That's probably the biggest reason. There's something to be said for a sandbox game having the potential of a TPK around every corner if you roll the wrong thing on the random encounter chart or wander into the wrong critter's lair, but having the BBEG appear in the opening act and wipe out the party is simply no fun. You've got to give yourself some suspension of disbelief on that simply for the sustaining of the story rather than just a rocks-fall start.

So, if I understand you correctly, you are saying that the reason why Nyrissa doesn't kill the PCs while they are weak is because "the story demands it". I believe that this is what Wraithstrike was implying in his previous post.

What I'm saying is that most APs don't require the BBEG to be complacent in order for the campaign to advance. Please see my second post in this thread for examples of other APs that don't make this assumption.

Perhaps this quote from James Jacobs will help explain what I mean when I say that Nyrissa should have a better reason than simple arrogance for not killing the PCs when she can:

"... as the editor & developer of the campaign, I can't really let myself take the lazy route; she DOES need more of a motivation in the adventure. Once game play starts, of course, saying "she's crazy" will usually work, but if you happen to have a player in your group that wants to look deeper, to find out WHY the NPCs in the adventure do what they do, THAT'S where the adventure writer/developer/editor team needs to provide that information for the GM so that he'll have something to go on. "


For what it's worth, I went with the opposite conclusion from you at the start - in my game, she CAN'T leave Thousandbreaths. Nor can any of the natives of that plane - including creatures she infused with fey energy, like Phomandala.

Visitors who are not sufficiently fey-ified could come and go as they please, though. People like The Wriggling Man and Ilthuliak. (The Unicorn was nixxed by Ilthuliak in my game, not Nyrissa, and the horn given to Nyrissa as payment for allowing her to study and train in Thousandbreaths.) By the time the campaign gets to where the PCs have Nyrissa's attention, however, in my game Ilthuliak can't be sent to deal with them either, as she's begun transforming into a Tarn Linnorm-Black Dragon hybrid and thus has been bound within Thousandbreaths as one of its natives. And TWM is nobody's messenger boy, so he's not going to be fetching anyone for anyone anytime soon. He's a guest, and has no interest in leaving yet.

Caleb covers the main reasons why, with her personality, she wouldn't bother fairly eloquently to justify the "not worth killing" mentality. But if that's still not sufficient, assuming Thousandbreaths is on lockdown - except for a few minor times, say once per year on a specific day and time, or when cosmic alignments are appropriate, or whatever suits your fancy - and the various minions of hers are actually responsible for any of her actions outside.


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CalebTGordan wrote:

Because you don't send a nuclear missile when a bullet will do. She has confidence in her minions, as she personally groomed them and empowered them to do the tasks she has for them. She was the Stag Lords patron for many years, possibly as many as 20, and if it wasn't for the drunk stupor he had gradually succumbed to he would have been a true lord of the area. The other bandit lord that was killed by his own owlbear was probably under her hand for a similar period of time. Irovetti has a similar timeline, and even achieves being the leader of a kingdom and army.

Keep in mind that she is a fey. That means a great deal in terms of her personality and psychology. She doesn't understand human nature because she isn't human. By her very nature she is aloof but passionate. The mortal experience isn't something she would understand because where she is from, The First World, people don't die permanently. They are reformed and come back, and cutting off another head there is done both for fun, (see what he becomes next,) and punishment (You failed me, get out of my sight.) she may have been in the Material Plane for thousands of years, but by her very nature she does not learn easily. This is evident by the prophecy that she ignores.

So what I am getting at is that she not only has confidence that her minions can handle the party, but that she really doesn't understand their weaknesses. Not just their mortality, but also such pitfalls as the Stag Lord's alcoholism and Irovetti's pride and vain ambition.

If she released the Jabberwock, she is also risking showing her cards too soon. A prophecy said she would be killed by adventurers, and few things attract adventurers more than a giant, rare beast that needs to slain. Waiting until her plans come fully together and her most powerful allies have been gathered keeps her protected. She has essentially ignored the prophecy, but you can see in the last book that it is still something she worries about at least s little. She won't know who those adventurers are...

Wow that's a great analysis of Nyrissa!


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Orthos wrote:
...Ilthuliak can't be sent to deal with them either, as she's begun transforming into a Tarn Linnorm-Black Dragon hybrid...

I love this idea! Consider it stolen! I assume you will be removing the tarn linnorm runt from book 6.

Does anyone else feel like there's an overload of "dragon-like" foes in book 6?

Jabberwock, Ilthuliak, the tarn linnorm, even that zomok plant dragon thingy; they're all cool, but it does seem like it's one monumental fight after another. Especially if the PCs don't kill Jabberwock the first time around, you would pretty much encounter each of them one after the other.


Yeah, Runt is gone. I also merged Ilthuliak and the Knurly Witch into the same character, turning Ilthuliak into an homage to Maleficent (the thorn hedges begged for it) by giving her access to the Witch spell list for her casting in addition to Sorc/Wizard (though she still casts Cha-based and spontaneously like a Sorc), and a few Hexes (also Cha-based), as well as a two-headed acid-breathing monstrosity in her dragon form. I'll post up her new stats eventually - my party's only just finished Hargulka.

I'm moving the Zomok to inside the castle to serve as Nyrissa's pet in the final battle, so that it's not a solo villain vs. party smackdown. She might have Phomandala and TWM in there too, depending on how their encounters go.

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Laric quoting James Jacobs wrote:


"... as the editor & developer of the campaign, I can't really let myself take the lazy route; she DOES need more of a motivation in the adventure. Once game play starts, of course, saying "she's crazy" will usually work, but if you happen to have a player in your group that wants to look deeper, to find out WHY the NPCs in the adventure do what they do, THAT'S where the adventure writer/developer/editor team needs to provide that information for the GM so that he'll have something to go on. "

Unfortunately Kingmaker suffers from a lower word count than other APs, and as a result there was much the writers and Mr. Jacobs were just not able to cover effectively. The rules for kingdom building and mass combat took more than other sub-rules systems, and the need for mini encounters in the hex maps required another large portion of the word count. Lower word count means you can only briefly go over things like motivation and context.

APs up to Kingmaker (and I think maybe one or two after it,) also suffered from a looser outline. You can see evidence of this in the lack of the BBEG foreshadowing, a few plot holes, and in a few cases inconsistencies in NPC history (Varn is said to be a Swordlord in part 1, but becomes a Brevic noble in part 3.) Loose outlines would be handed out and the writers wouldn't really communicate with each other effectively enough to unite all six parts as well as they should have been. James has talked in podcasts about how this is being fixed more and more with each new AP, and there are now tighter outlines and more communication to keep things united and in continuity.

However, if you read every part of the Kingmaker AP, including the back matter, and a few supplemental books like the one on the River Kingdoms you can find gems all over that you can piece together. Reading as much as you can by the fey (or just talking to James Sutter at PaizoCon as I was fortunate to do last year,) and you can build a context to Nyrissa's situation, as well as an understandable and workable personality. You also start to understand the area and the history and therefore gain some appreciation to the subtle nature of the BBEG.

There are still gaps that need to be filled, (see the various discussions on how to foreshadow Nyrissa on how to fill them,) but that is what these discussions are for.


I quite like the lower word count and looser adventures. Nothing worse than pages of text that cant be played with, and feels more like a book for the GM to read than an interactive game for many people.

I think Nyrissa is your to do with as you wish. As someone mentioned she is immortal and fey. Time that passes slow for her, can be lifetimes for mortals. She is also fickle and I imagine easily distracted.

I foreshadowed her pretty early on IIRC...She did eventually win and put the pcs kingdom in a bottle. I think we have all agreed we will return to a sequel one day

have fun.

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsbo)

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Starfinder Superscriber

You seem to have taken the advice from the other posters constructively, for which I want to thank you. The KM boards are my favorite place on the whole Paizo forums*.

Laric wrote:
So, if I understand you correctly, you are saying that the reason why Nyrissa doesn't kill the PCs while they are weak is because "the story demands it".

The moment you look at a CR 20 BBEG and ask why she hasn't wiped the APL 4 party off the map given that she appears to have the motive, method, and opportunity is the moment you have to begin to look at a couple of important factors.

Firstly, if you were her (or if your PCs were APL 20 demigods), what would you do about some jerks who built a castle in the Greenbelt? If the answer is "Wipe them out by showing up on a Jabberwock with my dragon pal" then ask yourself a follow-up question- how would I feel if my DM did that to me? It also turns into a very different game at that point, because either the PCs are all dead and the new party is off on a quest to find Briar and level up enough to go get her, or they escape and do the same. Either way, it's not really Kingmaker anymore.

Secondly, if you don't like the answer you get from the first question, you then have to figure out a way to get an answer you do like. Orthos decided that she didn't have the ability to get to the Stolen Lands in the first place. Caleb has argued that she doesn't really have the motive to come down here in person to deal with ants. Basically, one of the premises must be false, otherwise she would have killed all the PCs by now.

You're a Kingmaker DM, which means you get to make some really cool decisions about how the campaign works, who wants what, and why - and most importantly, you get to help your friends build an awesome kingdom from the ground up. Instead of implying that "the story demands it" is a cop out, think about why your fellows are sitting there asking you to help them feel like heroes for a few hours a week.

*:
Just an aside, the Kingmaker DMs and players on here are some of the most civil, well-informed, creative, and dedicated people I've had the fortune to meet playing this game. Most of the time, I wish I could just post my non-KM stuff here instead of the proper forum, and I'd love to buy many of you a drink (alcoholic, caffeinated, or simply refreshing, whichever you prefer) if I ran into you IRL.

Liberty's Edge

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I would add that I have got the impression that the 2nd world isn't friendly or comfortable for the creatures of the first world.
The gnomes after a long sojourn in the second world have changed, feys can permanently die in the second world and so on.
Personally I think that fey that are unaccustomed to the second world feel uncomfortable in it, like a person from a cold climate transferring in the middle of the Sahara or the Amazonian jungle. They can adapt to the new environment, but someone as powerful and with as much ego as Nyrissa wouldn't be willing to adapt of suffer from even a temporary discomfort.
She will want the world around her to adapt to her whims, not the opposite.
So she keeps her foray to the 2nd world to the minimum.

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