Sword of Valor (GM Reference)


Wrath of the Righteous

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I made some story changes I felt would tie the story together in an more interesting fashion.

1. Gibbering Gorge: Before she left, Aponavicius created the Abyssal rift to the vescavor hive and planted the queen in the caves along the Ahari River gorge to halt an advancing army. This was an intentional blockade. The vrock was there to guard the rift against closure.

2. Nurah Dendiwhar: Nurah pursues a romantic relationship with a PC. She is a servant of Eustoyriax using his blood to corrupt and addict people that Nurah eventually sends to Drezen to obtain more of the drug, thus joining the demons. Her purpose is to gain enough trust to have a PC drink a vial of shadowblood right before facing the shadow demon. She will play the loyal ally up to the point they fight the shadow demon.

3. Staunton gathers all his allies in the ritual room. He seeks to fight the PCs long enough for Chorrusina to complete the ritual opening an Abyssal rift that collapses Drezen. He will escape through the rift to report his triumph to his superiors. The Sword of Valor will be lost in the rift. Move all Staunton's allies to this room for a massed battle.


Mass Battle lost. Troubleshooting.

My players lost the battle at Keeper's Canyon. The Paladins Army disposed easily of the Tieflings, but the Dretches charged them on berserker mode. Some unlucky dice rolls (including a failed morale check) and the army routed. The players characters and NPCs were left facing 55 Dretches and Exorius. They are very excited about this epic showdown and in order to simplify the combat I plan to use the Troop rules from Ironfang Invasion.

My question/concern is rather how to rebuild the army: I had planned rallying the routed survivors (3 hit points out of 16, barely 18 Paladins...), also bringing back the survivors from the ford (that they had sent back to Kenabres) and putting more crusaders to be rescued at the temple ruins with the half-Nabassu and the ghoul gang. Any other suggestions about how to deal with mass battle failures? I'm concerned taking into account the upcoming battles at Drezen, against up to three armies at the same time... I would be interested in knowing how were the mass battles for your group

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Another option would be for Kenabres to send reinforcements along the same path the PCs took...either because survivors from the ford alerted them to the need, or the crusader leadership in Kenabres has been scrying the PCs to keep tabs on them, or just because they thought it was good tactical sense to send another group of raw recruits to reinforce the citadel once it was retaken.

Additionally, you could have another beleaguered force of crusaders that got trapped behind enemy lines retreating towards Drezen, fully believing they'll be forced to make a last stand there, only to discover the PCs and the remnants of their troops, and then throw their support behind the cause to retake Drezen.

Or, you could have an up-to-now neutral third party arrive who's been monitoring the battle, and upon seeing the PCs nearly defeated, decide to intervene in an attempt to tip the scales back in their favor. This could be a clan of snow elves from further north, a ragtag tribe of Kellid survivalists with a heritage hearkening back to ancient Sarkoris, or even a legion of dwarves tunneling up from the Darklands to retake the ancient citadel of Drezen which their ancestors helped build during the First Crusade.

Basically, you've got lots of options for more troops to rally to the PCs' cause. The primary goal is to make it suitably epic when it seems like all is lost. Best of luck with your campaign.


I am looking for ideas for Nurah, as I love the concept of a saboteur working in the party but find her backstory pretty weak ("I'm desensitized to carnage so I love demons", etc). My party also likes the redemption angle, and as written it's not clear why or how she's redeemable since she's worse than a bad person: she's basically indifferent to suffering and people who just don't care are hard to work with. There's really no depth to her character and she feels like a cardboard cutout. But I recognize that the AP can't write a novel for each NPC and give them all a rich history filled with nuance and emotional struggles. So they went simple.

I need more than simple. One idea I had was to expand on her former, abusive master. Basically make him so bad that demons spying on his army saw her as the obvious target, and made a deal: she turns on her "master" and the demons would kill everyone but her. She'd get her freedom, and they'd be rid of a pesky crusading force. And have someone that they could slowly corrupt by coming back to her over and over, asking for more "favors"--maybe passing information here and there, not realizing until it was too late that she had traded one cruel master for another--one that was worse, and had no intent on ever letting her go. If she failed to do as they asked, maybe, someone she cared about would turn up dead, etc. Now she's trapped, and afraid to call for help because she is in so deep. It's not the same bite as an actual enemy in the party's ranks, but...the RP potential for the players is way better.

That's just one idea. I'm working on another where she is a traitor, but in a manner that can still be undone. It's taking more work.

Have others made changes to Nurah's story to make things a bit more complex and believable than what is written? Because I would love ideas.


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I think that Nurah's redemption and turning away from evil is going to come down to safety. She was a slave who had a moderately powerful owner who was annihilated by demons. In the face of that kind of overwhelming power, what choice would she have but to serve them if she wanted to keep living? And if she betrayed the crusade to the demons over and over again, that only solidifies her view that the paladin armies are weak and can't save her.

So, Nurah is assigned to these heralded heroes of Kenebres, which is a step down from being near the queen (In terms of relative safety and how useful her intelligence is going to be). They are rumored to be powerful, but she hasn't seen proof of that yet. Next step is to have the camp attacked--maybe even by demons she lured there herself--and the PCs annihilate them, possibly saving her life. Normally you wouldn't be able to guarantee that outcome but Mythic is bonkers. Nurah should be one of the NPCs snatched for the Ghoul Church encounter too.

Once the notion is planted in Nurah's mind that the PCs are in fact, unstoppable juggernauts, then she might be willing to jump ship to the PC's team. Drezen is a nexus of awful memories for Nurah, as I believe it was the Shadow Demon boss at the end who killed her original master? (Or Minagho, can't remember). I feel like there's something there to play with too.

That's probably how I'd handle Nurah if I ran this campaign a third time. In previous groups though, parties have grokked more to Jestak, the random barbarian boss in Drezen.

I ended up replacing Nurah with a different halfling bard in one game because I had a halfling/aasimar paladin in my group so Nurah was played by Uncle Chadwen. I used Nurah's backstory (slave whose master died, taken by demons) and then applied the paladin's history to it (Not really the boy's uncle, he hired actors to be the boy's parents so that when he realized his life was a lie, he'd fall, which was important because the character had the Child of a God trait)

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So did anybody make good handout version of citadel drezen map without the ruble and staircase in "store room"? :O That would be really handy since its super large map to draw x'D


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I am working on it, as in, over the next couple of weeks.


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I am making good progress on this. The original map is pretty sloppy in places: rubble randomly deposited places, spots where it's not clear where the walls used to be (I assume a map for the players would not include rubble and missing walls), thin wall segments that look like they were supposed to be secret doors but without the "S" on them, and the tower maps for F22-F24 are pretty ambiguous (e.g. what's supporting F24?).

How soon do you need it? For players I assume just the (original) walls, doors, and stairs are enough.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
John Mechalas wrote:

I am making good progress on this. The original map is pretty sloppy in places: rubble randomly deposited places, spots where it's not clear where the walls used to be (I assume a map for the players would not include rubble and missing walls), thin wall segments that look like they were supposed to be secret doors but without the "S" on them, and the tower maps for F22-F24 are pretty ambiguous (e.g. what's supporting F24?).

How soon do you need it? For players I assume just the (original) walls, doors, and stairs are enough.

Well for next week's sunday presumably :O

In google I did manage to fund color coded version of the map without rubble with each room listed.... But it makes mistake of having the staircase on map and listing it as such instead of "Store room" :'D


I can probably manage that. I'll PM you and point you at what I have so far.

Anyone who comes across this thread at a later date is welcome to reach out to me.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
John Mechalas wrote:
I am looking for ideas for Nurah, as I love the concept of a saboteur working in the party but find her backstory pretty weak ("I'm desensitized to carnage so I love demons", etc).

I'm bit confused about this since you noticed that her backstory is essentially "she was forced to be part of the war by her abusive slave owner and she was awed by demons' powers when they destroyed her master".

Like I already think her backstory is complex and believable anyway for what it is .-.


CorvusMask wrote:

I'm bit confused about this since you noticed that her backstory is essentially "she was forced to be part of the war by her abusive slave owner and she was awed by demons' powers when they destroyed her master".

Like I already think her backstory is complex and believable anyway for what it is .-.

That's perfectly believable, but it doesn't, in my mind, mesh well with "but she's redeemable". What are the PC's showing her that causes her to change her ways if she's motivated solely by "might makes right"?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
John Mechalas wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:

I'm bit confused about this since you noticed that her backstory is essentially "she was forced to be part of the war by her abusive slave owner and she was awed by demons' powers when they destroyed her master".

Like I already think her backstory is complex and believable anyway for what it is .-.

That's perfectly believable, but it doesn't, in my mind, mesh well with "but she's redeemable". What are the PC's showing her that causes her to change her ways if she's motivated solely by "might makes right"?

She has twisted worldview and is essentially abuse victim who has traded abuser to another one and doesn't see crusades as being any better than the demons. Doesn't help that her slave owner was part of the crusades <_< And its not like she is truly much more free working for demons instead.

Like I'm pretty sure that leads pretty naturally why PCs showing her genuine kindness or forgiveness could shake her up. (it is pretty much better reason than Jestak's "she is afraid Staunton will kill her for failure" and Joran's "his faith in Droskar has started to shake up")


What kind of "Acts of sabotage" would Nurah actually be doing if she makes it to Drezen undetected? Its kept sort of ambiguous in the actual AP, and I'm struggling to come up with good specifics to tell the players.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

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A Few Ideas:

Spoiler:
Nurah has access to a great many spells and bardic abilities that could be secretly turned against the PCs and the crusader army laying siege to Drezen. First and foremost, she has access to shadowblood and directly uses it to renew Aron's addiction, thereby diminishing his ability to help deal with the dwarven-constructed defenses that remain in Drezen. Secondly, she can cast alter self or invisibility to sabotage any plans the PCs make for the assault, thereby inflicting penalties on their armies during the mass combat scenes. She could use the same effects to sow division among the troops, decreasing morale as they become suspicious of one another or superstitious that a demon must be walking among them. And lastly, she can cast suggestion or use suggestion as part of her bardic performances to make the PC's allies do any number of things that could hinder their efforts...from spoiling their supplies, frightening off any mounts, poisoning the provisions, provoking internal strife among the crusaders, etc.

Those are just things she could be doing to their allies. But, obviously, she could do plenty of things to the PCs as well. For example, she could stealthily steal something from the PCs which they're planning on using in an upcoming battle...or a magic item they've become dependent on to turn the tide. She could plant something in their possession which when found might sow dissension and distrust among everyone, both within the adventuring party as well as the troops they're leading. Lastly, within Drezen itself, she should have an idea of the demonic forces, how they're arrayed, what traps they've laid, and she could intentionally create situations where the PCs are led directly into such hazards to further weaken them (and use up their resources).


Some more ideas:
I had her slip rats into some of the crates of provisions so they'd destroy some of the food. I specifically set it for crates that wouldn't be opened until the army was several days along the march, so they'd not discover the loss until it was too late.

In Kenabres, before the party left, she used charm person to nudge some disgruntled and shellshocked citizens into action, basically being nuisances to the party.

Along the road, she also slips out to report the army's troop movements, size, and tactics. Really, I just use this to prevent the PC's army from being able to surprise anyone. It's more an RP thing than a game mechanic.

I am trying to keep her actions subtle.

I chose to make her more sympathetic. She's sided with demons because she feels she has no choice: she made an agreement with them to kill her former master so she could be freed from slavery where she was also subjected to abuse. But they hold that over her, and the guilt is what drives her. She's good at covering it up, but when she's caught-- assuming she's caught--she'll basically break down.


I want to share some ideas I'm planning to implement to make the boss fight at the end against Eustoyriax challenging. I've read some of the comments in this thread, which has given me some ideas. Let me know what you think and when the battle is over, I'll share what happened.

The party is six PCs: 3 fighter oriented, three casters. When they can all focus their attention on one opponent, they tend to finish the fight quickly.

I've already started the encounter (in PBP mode so things are developing slowly). The party entered the Chasm of Shadows and could initially see partway into the room. A divine caster had Daylight spell running and a light spell as well. But the range of daylight is sixty feet, but the hall is much longer than that, so the last 20 feet to the east is dark even to those with darkvision (only 1 PC).

The demon got surprise on all the PCs and also was at the top of initiative. Lurking in the darkness, he used telekeisis and pushed two PCs into the pit, including the one with the daylight/light spells. So the hall is now back into deeper darkness. It should take a few rounds for the two in the pit to get out with only minor injuries and some constitution damage. Also, the Divine spell caster with the daylight also had a magic circle against evil protecting the party, but that only extends out a short way around her, so until she gets back to the group, some will be vulnerable, as will any that venture too far from the protection.

In case any of the players notices this post, I'll put my plans under a spoiler. Let me know any suggestions or problems you might think of.

Plans:
In thinking about how to use the magic jar to best effect, I decided that the demon made one of the purple crystals is his magic jar. However, it would only take a few rounds for a detect magic spell to detect the moderate aura of necromancy magic to note the magic jar and then they could try to destroy it. So I thought of having the entire room affected by a permanent lesser terrain curse spell on it. The permanent effect would make the entire floor have a moderate necromancy aura, which should disguise the magic jar or at least make it harder to notice.

The terrain effects chosen are Misleading Echoes, Plague of Flies (I'll make them locusts to match Deskari theme), and Witch Light. These should just make things a bit more interesting and distract the PCs further from the demon's attempts to posses one of the PCs.

The demon will hide his "body" in a wall near one of the alcove statues. That should make it hard to spot. The range of the magic jar is sufficient to reach all parts of the room, so I'll see what success I have with possession.

I should have a few extra rounds in the early stages to have the demon first summon some shadow demons to harass the players further and watch for opportunities to attempt possession. I'm planning to attempt against the fighter types rather than the divine caster as the AP suggests, since the fighters will then attack their allies and they may weaken each other until they work around the possession.


Kasoh wrote:
I think that Nurah's redemption and turning away from evil is going to come down to safety. She was a slave who had a moderately powerful owner who was annihilated by demons. In the face of that kind of overwhelming power, what choice would she have but to serve them if she wanted to keep living?

I ended up using a lot of this, blending it with my own ideas. For those who are curious, this is how it played out.


I don't really like the mass battle system that is written. It is way too abstract. So I wrote new rules that utilize the Troop rules from Bestiary 6. So now mass combat works with troops vs troops and troops vs characters. It makes a much more interesting, albeit a longer, encounter.

So, the fight at the Ford ended up being the first encounter and because of the tiefling's ability to cast darkness where the human paladins could not see, it made a more complex encounter. The PCs cast daylight to help get rid of the darkness for one troop of paladins, while other troops had to engage in the darkness.

Really, the most interesting part of it that really facilitated a lot of roleplay was Nurah's attempt to sabotage the army. She attempted to suggest to the commander of the army (Irabeth), and two of the PCs she knew had low perceptions to miss her spellcasting. Before the army marched on Paradise Hill to fight the Schirs, she was successful at removing a troop from the fight from a command from Irabeth. But was unsuccessful getting the 2 PCs to perform detrimental actions. Even though the army took some casualties, it was really close to being a bad day for the Knights of Kenabres.

The PCs knew someone had sabotaged the battle and we spent almost an entire session dealing with that fallout, exposing Nurah, and giving her an option for redemption. The book stated that you lose 1d4 siege points as Nurah continues to sabotage, but I felt that really didn't facilitate any verisimilitude or role play.

I think bringing a mass combat system on a skirmish level really helped.

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