The Slumbering Tsar - Starting, DM Set up, Questions, and Advice

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Death by a DC 12 Fort save before they even left town... what am embarrassing way to go :p

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

chaoseffect wrote:


Death by a DC 12 Fort save before they even left town... what am embarrassing way to go :p

Yeah, and to pour salt on the wound he only missed by one. Honestly tho, I was expecting more deaths with the Bender Bros. so I think the party managed pretty well with only one.

James B. Cline wrote:
I'd think Clantock would take the opportunity to try and provoke him and kill him if possible, especially knowing he has a magic water decanter plus right now he's weak. He might even send in one or two of his guys to hit him while he's down. That's his direct competition after all.

@James - I thought about the Gurg/Clantock situation some more and I think you're right about this. I think I'll have Clantock and his crew murder Gurg in the middle of the first night while he is still very weak, taking his head so a to avoid any potential speak with dead spellcasters. Clantock will then approach the party within a few days to offer up his services and thus lead them into dangerous areas. Enter your Donnie Perish NPC (admittedly...I will probably change his name), who not only was the only witness (he being a nocturnal guy n' all), but was sold Gurg's gear (sans decanter) by Clantock the following morning. He may try to work that angle with the PCs by selling them this info to pit them against Clantock, then using that as a springboard to sell them more rumors/info.

@ Luz

My group did the same thing with Grug. In return he agreed to guide them to the crossroads as repayment. I had him head east after that.

I played Clantock as written and the party decided he was a bafoon and refused to have anything else to do with him.

@James, et al I talked to my party about your group fortifying the base. They sent a message to Bard's Gate requesting them to send troops. The response back was to hire mercenaries from the camp. They did not want mercs so they decided to just go back to Tsar.

@Luz Sounds very entertaining with Grug and the Bender Bros. I have only had a chance to scan it so far as the wife is in 'wife' mode at present:(

The players cleared out the central area on level 2 today including the armory. Massive amount of treasure in that room! They had Lascer about dead before he grabbed the +2 adamantine great sword and teleported out. It was a royal pain trying to map out that area. I tried doing it in Dwarven Forge and that made it a little easier although I had to make some adjustments to get the rooms to line up on 90 degree angles.

So I ran my first session today.


-Beltin (Aasimar Dirge Bard/Cleric 7). Undead master, neutral, only character with a non-negative charisma. He started with four Azanti bloody skeleton archers and a fast zombie griffin under his control. He seeks the mad loot and magics. He joined up with Glira and the Desert Wind in Bard's Gate as a "hireling whose job it is to put our deeds to epic song."

-Bol (Tiefling Vivisectionist Rage Chemist/Barbarian 7). Natural attack based abomination that was summoned from the Abyss. He met the party on the road to the Camp and joined up with them because of the Desert Wind; they have a history as rivals apparently. He seeks to steal the power of Tsar for his own demonic master.

-Phil (player kept his sheet so his character gets to keep his name; Oread Ranger/Empyreal Sorc 7). Character was half done when we started, so don't know much. He seems to be aiming to be one of those "actively neutral" people, so we'll see how that works out and develops.

-Glira Cross ( Human Gunslinger/Magus 7). Played by a guy. Badass mercenary who takes no shit. The Desert Wind respects her strength so they decided to set off together to the Desolation to do some free-lance work. Strictly in it for the money.

-Al Kedish Vin, the Desert Wind (Tiefling Weapon Master Fighter/Kensai Magus 7). Essentially a caricature of a medieval Muslim holy warrior. He seeks to spread the word of the prophet and feels the need to be an ass to everyone he meets, as he does have 5 charisma. He constantly mocks Glira for being a woman and acting like a man. He seeks greater challenges worthy of his skill, so he has decided to come to the Desolation and Tsar.

Upon arriving in town the group quickly dispatched Gurg without taking any damage whatsoever due to the Desert Wind's 30ish AC and Crane Wing (using pre-nerf version). Poor Gurg even got souped up with extra levels and Impact on his club. Upon striking the killing blow, Bol consumed most of Gurg's flesh and then Beltin raised him as a Bloody Skeleton; Gurg gets to keep his club in undeath, but lost his Decanter of Endless Grain Alcohol; Bol seems willing to put it to good use.

After seeing Gurg go down like a punk, one of the townies drew the short straw among his friends and was pushed out to get some money from the group by offering a guided tour. Before he could speak, the Desert Wind would keep interrupting him and he and Glira tried to extort the man for "saving his town." The man got flustered and then Bol, with his massive strength, clamped down on the man's shoulder and asked his friends if they were being bothered. I deemed Bol's strength sufficiently high to break the man's collar bone. Now crying and rolling on the ground, the Desert Wind was disgusted by the man's weakness and went to kick him in the ribs. Instead he missed that part and kicked the man hard enough in the face to break his neck.

Time in Camp: 5 minutes. Self-defense kills: 1. Murders: 1.

With that issue taken care of and most of the locals still out of sight, they spied the Sip of Blood and decided to go in. Upon ordering a beer they discovered that gold was not the currency, so after being an ass to Lucky Fjork,the Desert Wind departed with Glira to do some money changing. Bol made a bit of an ass of himself by pouring himself a beer in the meantime, but Beltin smoothed things over and made a friend of Fjork, as long as he is willing to pay for any damages caused by Bol and pay his tab. As Beltin has an item that gives comprehend languages, the wenches did not need to translate and he found that Fjork is surprisingly well spoken. Bol also made a deal with Fjork to sell him hang over remedies (some sort of alchemical item) at the rate of 2 remedies for 1 bit; I don't think the player thought that through, but then again I don't know how much it costs him to make them.

Meanwhile the Desert Wind and Glira make their way to the blacksmith. They see some recent construction off to the side of the shop labeled "Money Changer" and go inside; with the recent influx of people to the Camp the Usurer has created a separate area and hired a townie and 2 mercs from Bard's Gate to do the money changing so that he can work in peace. The DW thought a rate of 4:1 with a 1:1 return was bullshit and demanded a 3:1 buy in, threatening the clerk and calling him a thief. The clerk explained that was too bad and one of the guards moved in to subdue the angry customer. Instead the DW crit him dead with an Intensified Shocking Grasp via Scimitar. The other guard seeing this ran, but Glira shot him in the knee-cap, leaving him to crawl away instead. During this exchange the sound of blacksmith work ceased, but only Glira noticed and she didn't care. As the DW made good of his threat and cut off the clerk's hand (because "that's what happens to thieves where I'm from") Glira took the initiative and robbed the desk of about 4,500 bits, and then they walked out.

Time in Camp: 30 minutes. Self-defense kills: 1. Murders: 2. Maimings: 2

Immediately before them was an irritated Usurer who promptly Power Word Stunned Glira for 7 rounds, took back his bits, and had a conversation with the DW about how things work in the Camp. He then offering him the new rate of 10:1 and told him he was lucky he didn't charge him for the townie and the guards. DW made a further ass of himself with a negative Diplomacy roll, trying to get the Usurer to hire him as a guard and give a better exchange rate. Glira got a rather large bonus by actually apologizing, so the Usurer decided to keep her at the standard rate and told her that if she and her group survive a few weeks he may have work for people with their talents. He then turned DW's 33 gold into 3 bits and did the 4:1 exchange to give Glira 25 bits.

Hearing the gun shot, Beltin went to investigate and encountered the Usurer outside, putting up a sign saying "See Blacksmith for Money Changing." Beltin cured the injured guard, but the bleeding to death townie was just shut in the shop, presumed to be dead. After a pleasant exchange, Beltin got his bits including enough to pay off the debt to Fjork.

Back in the tavern, Beltin learning about the players in town, the destruction of the crusader camp (see previous post), and about Gurg and his job, he and Glira went to negotiate at the Bard's Gate embassy. They found the man forlorn and pretty drunk, but got the details that if they found out what happened to the caravan, as well as cargo and survivors they would get paid. Quest accepted.

After that everyone but Bol gets rooms at the Bender Bros Inn. Originally I had decided that one of the misc adventure guests would be the victims of the Bender Bros that night, but the DW being the DW commented how he liked how the lesser races knew their place serving the higher races at dinner. Yeah... he was then the only one to fail the DC 22 Fort save to avoid being sick. The party failed to spot the trapdoors in their rooms and went to bed. DW got sick in the night as planned and went to the privy, sword in tow just in case. As he was doing his business he noticed it suddenly got super quiet (but his Spellcraft wasn't high enough to recognize Silence) and then a stab in the back of the neck later and rolling a 1 against the DC 12 death attack, he was paralyzed and got to watch as one of the smiling Benders finished him.

Cut next morning. Beltin asks where DW went to one of the Benders. Smiling and sweeping up, the Bender explains that he left early, muttering something about revenge. Huh, well that fits him and he was an ass thought the party, so they left into the Desolation without him. They were pleasantly impressed with the Bender Bro Inn and the hospitality, so they are sure to visit again when they need to relax and recover from their time in the wastes. Cue out of game laughter. Glira was excluded from the following and the Bender Bro exchange as the player had to leave early.

Following the road north, the party got cocky as they found nothing but the desolate wind (and maybe the sounds of screams on it far away), but eventually a Bone Storm happened which promptly wrecked Phil, but their skeletal Gurg did a decent job acting as cover and digging them some impromptu shelter, and then Beltin made the survival check to know about wet cloth. Phil would have died on his own, but the party made it through alive.

A bit later down the road the party encountered 3 of the spiders from the Ashen Wastes; they did minimal damage and went down easily, but unfortunately for Phil he failed against poison: 5 rounds into the poison duration he finally ended it but was down 11 strength. He got 6 back from Beltin. About of a third of the way to the crossroads, visibility suddenly improves. Off to the east they see buzzards circling, then visibility drops. They decide to investigate. Phil hops on the zombie griffin with Beltin and Bol flies along side and they eventually encounter A1, Screamer Sign. They notice that the people are very freshly dead (maybe those were the screams they thought they heard) and they see that the wounds appear self-inflicted. They notice the tracks of a survivor and follow for a while, but after it becomes clear it is banking away from the road, they head back as Gurg and the 4 non-flying minions were left on the road, plus these guys obviously weren't from the caravan.

Summary: Party will find the wreckage of the caravan soon and then perhaps head into the Chaos Rift; great as that is the area that sounded most interesting to them anyway. One character provoked the Benders and died quietly after botching the save versus death. The player will be re-writing as a Scarred Witch Doctor/Barbarian 7.

2 murders and 2 maimings in 30 minutes? Sound like they would fit in well in the camp! Not sure how long the Usurer will let them live though:) Sounds like fun!

Game 32

Roster: Suli Sorcerer, Dwarf Cleric, Half-Orc Druid, Half-Elf Paladin, Human Paladin (stand-in)

Note: Two of the players called out after we were already sitting at the table so we did a last minute call around

The Age of Heroes and Fair Maidens
Dalfos, paladin of Iomeda (pregen from the NPC Codex), instilled with stories ageless heroes who fought and drove the evils from a cursed city took heed of the call of Argos. He had listened to the call for holy warriors to finish the fight and reclaim the land and priceless relics for the cause of Good. He found that the honeyed words of treasure and fame were a lie as two thirds of his traveling caravan were slain by disease, exposure, and bandit attacks, but they finally reached the foothold of light called humbly “The Camp”. Small groups of ragged merchants greeted him and pointed him towards the Sip of Blood Tavern, but not before his pockets had been pilfered to the tune of 100 gold. He walked past the gallows where a fresh corpse was hanging and walked inside the tavern, a wave of flayleaf smoke assailed him, but he managed to ignore the hallucinogen. One of the bar wenches (being played by our druid Brittney) directed him to the money changer and began some heavy flirting and pay-for-information routine, by the end of it he was down 5 bits and on his way to the Bender
s Inn (renamed some strange name by the players). Eying him as he left a trio of Skeribar's Rangers (being Rp'd by the cleric, sorcerer, and half-elf paladin's players) walked up behind him and told him that they could lead him to the “Heroes of Tsar” who were “probably” out in the field at their base near an oasis. Gingerly he agreed to go and they even cut him a nice price, half their normal fee, and only half up front (how generous!). He left with them and was never seen again. Dalfos the Second, apparently was a part of that same expedition and got a creepy feeling from the Rangers when they walked up to him as well and decided instead to go to the Inn. (I didn't feel like re-doing a whole introduction, but he got the point.)

“I am KAIUS THE LIGHTNING SORCERER!” echoed through the Inn when Dalfos the Second entered. The party was badly wounded from their last foray, but they were patching up. The half-elf bought him a meal since he looked hungry and they sat down and discussed him joining. (Hey you look trustworthy!) During the meal they interrogated him a fair amount as well as detected evil on him and decided he wasn't a plant or some kind of trap. The cleric had a to use a few castings of lesser restoration to clear off the half-elf's ability damage, but by the next morning they were ready to set out. The tiefling's troops had gathered six wagons loaded with supplies and in all there were roughly 30 men at arms in the escort. With very little discussion of a plan, they set out to establish a foothold at the Firebase of the Damned.

Wandering Encounters
The weather was clear for the most part, but the going was slow with a wagon train, the druid sorted out that the journey would be about ten hours travel without any complications. Two hours in the druid noticed a pair of ghouls at the edge of their vision stalking them, it wasn't long before they charged in. The party easily dispatched them blocking their charge on the wagon train. A few hours later the group spotted an acid rainstorm coming and the druid cast control winds to drive it away as well as to clear the overcast for about an hour of sunshine, a first for the group since they came to the Desolation. Around sunset the group saw four travelers leading a horse, but attempted to avoid them, though the travelers changed course to intercept. The sorcerer took flight and the full caravan had weapons drawn on the four cloaked humanoids as they approached cautiously. After a few tense minutes of loud yelling at distance one of the travelers and the cleric met half way and the party learned they were a group from Zelkor's Ferry traveling to find information about witches and a decent night of sleep. The party eventually directed them to the Camp with some cautionary tales. The leader of the group a cleric named Sarah of Abadar bartered for a few rations and refused to take them for free. The travelers did impart some rumors they had heard about Tsar, specifically about some witches in the Harrow Lanes. Either ways the party was seconds from “pulling the trigger” on the travelers, this signaled one of the first semi-friendly encounters in the Desolation. Two more hours later of forced march in darkness and the caravan reached the Hillfort. Almost the entire contingent was road weary, but they immediately set down and started some rudimentary defenses and setting watches.

Fort Holy
The soldiers were given the completed stone building that the players had fought Kroma from last game. They set 5 men on top with crossbows and another 5 on patrol around the area. The players set up in the other ruined building and the druid managed to finish half of it though it still had a gaping hole on the eastern side. First watch the human paladin and sorcerer were ambushed by a trio of Babau Demons, one of which was summoned. The sorcerer had another close encounter with death, he was knocked unconscious (with 1 hp remaining.) Second watch the cleric saw as the men at arms defeated a pack of 7 ghouled wolves using the natural defenses with ranged weapons, graciously he blessed and gave them some minor healing. Third watch the half-elf and druid sheltered from acid rain and were alerted again by the men at arms. They had apparently ordered a Peddler to halt, but he had continued and they shot him, he disappeared mysteriously and the heroes clued them in to let him pass. Morning came with horrible winds and the druid sent them away again and got a cheer out of the soldiers. The plan was to give the cleric time to cast Hallow on the hilltop. The day brought on Skeletons and a Morgh and that night wraiths and blight wolves avoided it due to the spell. (I didn't want to do more random encounters, they need to win some.) On the third day they decided to make a foray into Tsar itself with no particular goal in mind.

Going to Church
The druid found that the Featherstep spell would greatly reduce the time it took to cover the swamp and would give them two extra hours. They crossed to the southeast and went through the Broken Gate seeing again the Pall over Tsar, they reaffirmed their need to get out of the city before nightfall. They followed the road in and took a left down the ruined slum, it took them nearly 45 minutes to cross a few hundred yards of rubble, they took care to avoid some dread ravens. The cleric spotted a humanoid on the cliffside relieving himself, but he was unsure of the race it was just too far. They noticed the hundreds of holes in the cliff side and discussed how useful a prisoner would be, but they were too worried about running into too many hostile elements. They decided to take a chance and used fly spells to go up the cliff (H11 The Cathedral of Pain and H10 The Foundry). They mistook the canon bore as a sewer entrance although the walls were ten foot thick iron, some plans were talked about using the “sewer system” as a good way to navigate the city. Seeing the Cathedral and Graveyard as more central to the mission they landed outside and the sorcerer used Knock to open the doors. They entered cautiously and started searching the walls (H11-1), the cleric remained in the center so he could keep both search groups in healing range. The sorcerer found the northern secret door (H11-5) and they took their time with it noting the demonic visage down the corridor of the main hall. After some minor testing the sorcerer cast Knock on it as well and the door slid open. The cleric stepped through first with the others in a line behind. Unfortunately, the dark custodians took offense to their presence and nearly the entire party died, three became pinned and a total of 19 levels were drained. The majority of the combat was complicated by the clerics critical failure to identify the creatures as undead. (half-elf 6, Paladin 7, cleric 3, druid 6) In the end everyone survived remarkably due to some channels by the paladin and the sorcerer casting Fireball on the party several times. He was treating it as a mercy killing as he believed they would all be turned to undead minions. It was a greuesome encounter. The cleric was able to restore everyone at the expense of most of his higher level spells and they discussed moving further, but they decided to pull back for the evening and return at full strength. They fled back to Fort Holy (the Firebase of the Damned). Game ends.

Fatalities: Delfos the Paladin, Level 10
Fatality Count: 19

@Chaoseffect - more in the morning, but wow! Good replay.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Geo Fix wrote:

@ Luz

My group did the same thing with Grug. In return he agreed to guide them to the crossroads as repayment. I had him head east after that.

I played Clantock as written and the party decided he was a bafoon and refused to have anything else to do with him.

Yeah, I'm really tempted to let the party have some fun with Gurg, but he's still a chaotic evil, bloodthirsty hill giant. And I think if I have Clantock and his men murder him now, it should create more intrigue and opportunities for the players to interact with more locals. At least that's the plan, you never know what PCs will do.

As an aside, I sent you a PM regarding the Storm Crow tavern.

@James - honestly, I'm amazed your players survived the encounter with the Dark Custodians. I haven't used them yet but from what I've read they are horrible opponents, especially in groups.


We went through that area last week and I resorted to drawing it on graph paper. It was a hack job but none of the PC's brought surveying equipment which means it's their fault.

With all those rooms it takes a long time to get through.

Dark Custodians. Now that sounds like just the ticket to send against this party that seems to be laughing at CR 17s! I did manage to get one of the paladins down 10 negative levels Friday night out of 12 with 3 Spectres when they caught him in a room by himself for a round. He withdrew in round 1! The fireballs should have only done half damage to the undead as they are incorporal. The good news is the same applied to the pinned party members. They could have easily pulled the pinned party members through the floor and that would have avoided the fireballs!

I had no idea what Dark Custodians were until I just looked them up. Wow those are brutal! I wonder how Spring Attack would work with the free grapple attempt; think they could spring attack out of a wall, energy drain a PC + grapple, and then force them to move with them back into a wall, all as one full round action?

That is the way I see it chaoseffect! Where did those four party members go? They were here a minute ago...

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You can only move a someone in a grapple after you maintain it, not on the original grapple.

It is fine if you want to houserule it though

CWheezy wrote:

You can only move a someone in a grapple after you maintain it, not on the original grapple.

It is fine if you want to houserule it though

True, but I'm seeing the strange rules interaction as not coming from the grapple rules (i.e. the creature is able to move someone as per grapple rules just by starting the grapple), but from Spring Attack: If you start a grapple in the middle of your Spring Attack (something normally not possible except for the creature in question essentially having Grab) does that mean RAW Spring Attack has to stop, and if it doesn't, what happens to the grappled creature? That's what makes me wonder.

I would rule the Spring Attack having been initiated at the beginning of the turn as a full round action to work up to the point of a successful grapple that the creature desires to maintain. The Grapple condition would terminate its ability to move (if they have snatch, then that is a whole different kettle of fish). Maintaining a Grapple is a Standard action and Spring Attack is a full round action. Spring Attack was designed for a player to get in and out of reach, not for taking anyone with you. This is one of the areas of rules stacking I wish were clarified better when the newer abilities are written (which rule trumps other rules, etc.). Sometimes it makes it into the manuals, but usually it is in a FAQ or errata section (and god help me getting my players to just read the entire entry of the original rule before they go off half cocked on their idea of "how it works" is hard enough without having rules updates in multiple places). I get tired of being the bad guy (yeah, I play the bad guys, but that is different from being the bad guy).

Upon reflection, I see my rules call is still kind of in the gray area even after my explanation....

Spring Attack allows a single melee attack and a melee attack is defined as an attack with a weapon. I don't see spring attack allowing a grapple.

Geo Fix wrote:
Spring Attack allows a single melee attack and a melee attack is defined as an attack with a weapon. I don't see spring attack allowing a grapple.

The creature in question has a pseudo-Grab ability so it can start a grapple as a free action after hitting with a melee hit, hence it possibly happening during a Spring Attack.

The flow chart states if the creature grappled is adjacent to the grappler then his turn is complete so it appears as if you cannot move him that round.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

I agree with Thedmstrikes. I think the rule of maintaining the grapple in order to move a grappled opponent would trump Spring Attack, and the Grab ability only establishes a grapple. Its definitely a DM call at this point, but a group of Dark Custodians are going to inflict a ferocious amount of energy drain regardless. They can make numerous guerilla strikes in and out of walls with Spring Attack, tracking the party with lifesense, and be just as dangerous. These things will hound a party every step, attacking when its most advantageous throughout the dungeon. I know my players will be scared sh%$#less when they run into them.

You guys have convinced me of the error of my rules ways; I guess I'll be content with them just harassing the party by pouncing from walls and then disappearing. I'm glad this discussion happened though as someday my players will face those things, and I like to avoid doing too many instances of "nuh uh all the rules don't apply here because I'm your GOD!"

Thanks a lot and sorry for derailin' us into a rules dispute :p

Not a problem! I for one don't mind an occasional rules clarification here and there.

I actually read and discarded the part of Grapple ending a turn once successful when I posted my opinion. I too wish there were a little more beef to rules exception powers so that these questions are answered before they become a problem at the table.

and there was no threadjack, this thread is for when folks need a hand or ideas for their campaign in Tsar. I am glad I could be of assistance...

Dark Custodians - Reading the comments I realize I completely spaced out on their ability to drag people through the walls, though the entire party spent the combat grappled and pinned anyways. At one point the sorcerer was the only one free, later the cleric freed himself with some strength domain power. As far as the rules go I tend to use the monster entries as exceptions to the rules if they have odd abilities. I was disappointed none of my players took a peek into the confessionals, but that's a death sentence since most parties wouldn't have found the secret door by that time. (Holy crap while scanning the book there is a fight with 10 of them on page 549 and 12 on 550!)

@Geo Fix - as far as player mapping I tend to just hand my players the player maps of areas or modify them a bit. Anything that saves time at game is high priority, for instance we glossed over the fort building at game because we mostly had it finished in emails.

Spring attack - Spring Attack It doesn't require a weapon, remember monks can do it too, plus anytime you can attack you can sub in a combat maneuver instead as long as you compensate the base attack changes. The last line of his Incorporeal Grab ability says he only drags after the opponent has been pinned. I'd imagine it would be easy for him to drag since incorporeal is weightless I believe. He also makes his original grapple attempt as a free action attached to his original attack kind of like how wolves use trip, just for clarification.

Edit: I keep adding addendums here but I had to explain to my players that you give the target of the grapple the "grappled" debuff, just because you are the one grapping them doesn't mean you suffer any negative other than having to be adjacent to them. That's how it works as far as I know.

So to extapolate, (I've been enjoying this rules discussion) if the custodians can only drag after they "pin" their opponent, they would not be able to do that on the round they Spring Attack and Grapple correct?

Correct, as per the monster entry on 699, which specific setting/adventure entries trump core entries.

So technically Spring Attack never comes up as the monster moves, takes an attack, and free action grapples (as part of its exception). Theoretically next round it rolls to pin as a standard, you could then move.

Edit: I see where it says both you and your opponent gain the grappled condition plus grappling is a standard normally. So Grapple does normally require a standard, whereas other combat maneuvers can be inserted at will into an attack.

Edit Edit: You couldn't normally grapple as part of a Spring attack because it says you get a single attack as part of a Full Round Action.

@James and Geo Fix I also give my players the players maps and let them draw it out. It helps having some real talented players there.

As far as I read grapple you can move someone at half speed when grappling and need not pin them. That is just my read though. Even with all the clarifications, grapple is still a mess!

@Brvheart - Not to get too off subject, but I always tell people Pathfinder is 500 pages of rules, whereas other systems have half or more "fluff" ie Vampire the Masquerade, Shadowrun, etc. Its a great system though, not without its flaws.

Edit (again): As a note about tactics though, I don't see any reason why the Dark Custodians wouldn't also use Spring Attack just to harry the characters. They'd know enough about tactics to stay away unti the players keep moving, wary of readied actions. That's probably a better and meaner strategy if they are in small groups. If they outnumber the players it could very well wipe the party for them to rush and grapple and separate on the next round. I will say though that gets into the territory of abusing the rules, as a DM.

Note about Incorporeal - I did allow my players who were "partially incorporeal" to freely attack the custodians without the normal penalty. The sorcerer was blinking, which also had the effect of the 20% chance of accidentally shooting the spell into the ethereal plain, which in this case worked out for him to give no negative. That's how I ran it.

Sovereign Court

Fairly confident you can only substitute the weapon based maneuvers on Spring Attack; the same list you apply enhancement bonuses to etc.

That would be Disarm, Spring Attack and Trip, as well as a few others.

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To me Pathfinder broke about as much as it fixed. I am ok with it as a system though vs 3.5. I am now used to it, but to me most of the base classes are too powerful as compared to the core especially when a player is adept at gaming the system. I prefer players that play the game, not game the system.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

brvheart wrote:
As far as I read grapple you can move someone at half speed when grappling and need not pin them. That is just my read though. Even with all the clarifications, grapple is still a mess!

Yes, that is my understanding as well, but can only move after the grappler has maintained the grapple (i.e. used a standard action to maintain once a grapple has been established). There is no need to pin, although (just to make this more confusing) it says in the dark custodian entry: "Once the dark custodian has an opponent pinned, it attempts to drag him away to devour him in peace." Ugh.

brvheart wrote:
I prefer players that play the game, not game the system.

I am going to bypass the part where you think the base classes are better than core.

I feel like this is kind of an issue. Why is it the player's fault for finding a strong combo? It even makes sense from a character perspective. If an amazingly smart wizard finds spells that work well, why wouldn't he use them? It seems to me that it is a system issue, not a player issue

I also find it mildly insulting that you think people who make strong characters don't play the game.

Look, I can find challenges for any player. The problem is when one or two players are of such a power level that I have to increase the challenge level so much to challenge them that the rest of the party starts paying for that. I don't want to see three players constantly dying because of one. I know one or two of my players are power gamers. One is getting hit almost every combat heavily and the other two barely can touch the enemy. How is this fun for them? I had a discussion with him and he is going to tone it down. They just got a huge treasure hoard so we will see what happens next game.

Pathfinder Lead Developer, Frog God Games

Luz wrote:
brvheart wrote:
As far as I read grapple you can move someone at half speed when grappling and need not pin them. That is just my read though. Even with all the clarifications, grapple is still a mess!
Yes, that is my understanding as well, but can only move after the grappler has maintained the grapple (i.e. used a standard action to maintain once a grapple has been established). There is no need to pin, although (just to make this more confusing) it says in the dark custodian entry: "Once the dark custodian has an opponent pinned, it attempts to drag him away to devour him in peace." Ugh.

The dark custodian was originally 3.5 before being converted to PF, so the grapple confusion/fun got expanded to encompass both systems during the conversion process. I'd recommend ignoring the word "pin" and replacing it with "maintained the grapple".

Greg/Everyone have you noticed the behavior for typical groups to adventure in Tsar for a few hours before retreating? My players did run after the Dark Custodian fight, which was their first real encounter that day, nasty critters.

I'm sure every group uses a different fall back point, most probably use the Camp. On foot without mounts I have it take about 10 hours to reach Tsar from the Camp.

I'm not letting my players use the basic Teleport while in the city due to "strong physical or magical energies". Now once they get outside the gates yes. Also anything higher than 5th level that does the same thing is working fine.

Thanks Greg for clearing this up!

@James I try and keep the players in the city for at least 3-4 encounters and possibly more. Lately, they have only gone to rest on the hill once about all of their resources have been exhausted, but they will not sleep in the city under any circumstances noting the warning of the peddler. Being that the hill is only about a mile away, this makes for a short distance for them to retire for the night. I don't know if the new sorceress even has teleport. I know she has not tried to use it yet. They lost their wizard when he left for personal issues as he has a tendency to do once every few years.

@ James,

It's a combination of teleporting back to camp once they are outside of Tsar and setting up camp outside of Tsar and once (and only once) sleeping in Tsar. It depends on how the session has gone and what objectives they've set for themselves.

Pathfinder Lead Developer, Frog God Games

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I allowed my players to teleport out but only after putting in a full day's work as it were. Since they didn't have to slog across the Desolation to reach safety, they didn't have to worry about holding back resources and withdrawing early. How did I get them to put in a full day's work? Through a combination of shaming them personally and making sure life was hell for their PCs whenever I thought they were phoning it in. :-)

Sovereign Court

Greg as your active on the thread, can I get your input on favored terrains? Posed it on the previous page.

Alexander Kilcoyne wrote:

I have a question for Slumbering Tsar GM's out there. Specifically, exactly what terrain does each quadrant fall under?

My personal take is that the Ashen Waste is Desert, the Dead Fields are Plains, the Chaos Rift is also Desert and the Boiling Lands are Swamp.

I'd appreciate both validation and other insights. Any thoughts on this?

Pathfinder Lead Developer, Frog God Games

I think those are reasonable assumptions. The only question would probably be on the Chaos Rift, which I think could be considered mountain terrain in places too, depending on where one is standing.

Sovereign Court

Fair enough. Many thanks :). Currently running the Firebase of the Damned combat over PbP and its turning into one of the most complex combats i've ever GM'd!

It was a lot of fun! But if you think that is fun, wait until you run D6: The Embattled Dwarves.

I was wondering what terrain to make the Rift. My Ranger wanted to use underground, but I told him none of the area was actually underground, just sunken. Mountainous makes sense. Personally, I was not going to give any favored terrain for the Ashen Wastes unless you have been there long enough to be acclimated to it like Skerribar's Rangers.

I can see Mountain terrain as a possibilty for the rift but I've told the group that the terrains in The Desolation are classified as hostile, alien and unsettling so they can't start out with any of those areas a favoured terrains. I did this for the sake of campaign flavour and not because any particular terrain aspects.

I have allowed favoured terrain Urban for Tsar. For the Citadel and Kirash Dirgaut I'd allow dungeon.

Liberty's Edge

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I'm starting this behemoth up myself in a few weeks. This thread jas been invaluable in its suggestions and advice.

The party is shaping to include:
A dwarven battle cleric playing the hardbitten stoic;
A dwarven fighter that's pretty much a female Gimli;
A half orc ranger obsessed with knives and undead murdering;
A halfling druid that rides a raptor and wants to bring peace to the desolation:
A human draconic sorcerer searching for his family history;
And an undetermined race bard based on David Bowie.

@Wandslinger - They should be fine, but Tiny Hut is almost a must in this adventure, almost. Paladins are important because so many of the critters in this adventure have damage reduction and smite cuts right through it. I'd hint to your fighter that 2 handed weapons are key, if they haven't already built for it. Sounds like your group will probably be interested in the Reclaimers from a druid and ranger combo. Also it looks like the group won't have to much problem seeing in the dark/dimness of the Desolation.

Let us know how it goes! A lot of the DM's are using custom rules, I'd be interested to hear what you picked up. Gurg and the Benders can be real party changers.

So I'm not running this week (the joys of being near the end of the semester), but I saw the greatest thing in the bestiary that I think the PCs will have to face now: Xenoptreid. Just read their description, it's the creepiest thing ever.

I think once (if) they make it back from their caravan mission into the Chaos Rift they'll hear rumors about strange hooded men who have taken up residence in the ruins of the crusader encampment about 10 miles out from the Camp... now the real question is how many of those should they find when they investigate, I'm thinking somewhere between 3 and 30 as per the bestiary's hive numbers. And more importantly should one of them be a Wild Shaped Desert Druid?

Game 33

Roster: Suli Sorcerer, Gnome Magus, Dwarf Cleric, Half-elf Paladin, Tiefling Paladin, Half-orc Druid

Note: Special Surprise this Episode!!!

Around 2pm the sorcerer comes flying into Fort Holy (D4. Firebase of the Damned) to meet up with the Tiefling and the Magus. He expected to find the rest of his party there, but unfortunately a miscasting of Stone of Recall sent the cleric back to the Camp. (The text of the spell says a very familiar place, its defined in the Teleport Spell, but we are going to adjust it in the future. More later.) He quickly told the Magus and Tiefling what had happened about the strange church (H11. The Cathedral of Pain, The Harrow Lanes) as well as the weird sewer complex (H10. The Foundry, a misunderstanding of the “Pipe”). The tiefling did one last overview of the progress his troops were making and the Sorcerer used a Teleport to get them back to the Camp. At the Inn they spent some time discussing acquiring ghost touch weapons, but decided they were lacking in funds for the upgrade. Although somewhat weary the Tiefling was anxious not to waste anymore time and convinced them to at least make for Fort Holy, they would probably only be a few hours after dark if they used Featherstep to speed their journey.

Later that Evening
Halfway to Fort Holy darkness had caught up with them and with it came a pack of a dozen ghouled wolves. The party was alert and caught them unaware, the sorcerer cast a meta-magic lightning fireball into them and destroyed them all with a laugh, Kaius the Lightning Sorcerer indeed! The men of the fort (D4. Dead Fields) greeted them with many cheers and Lt. Danforth gave his commander a report about undead seeming to avoid the Hallowed grounds of the Fort. The druid expended a few more castings of stone shape and finished bunker #2 and began construction of a third. Even though Lt. Danforth said the area was secure they still kept watch rather than all relaxing for the evening. First watch peered through the windows to see a short acid rain across the terrain, while watch two was paid a visit by the Peddler. The druid paid the Peddler for a riddle that said, “Where waters seek to hide from day, the sightless see and hide away.” They were excited to get some information that may have been connected to the sewer system, which they have been planning to use. Third watch was uneventful. The next morning the party rose and wanted to make use of all of their daylight, they left at 8 am after a light breakfast and some small talk with the soldiers.

Into the Breach! (In the Grunge)
Prepared with some beneficial spells (Hide from Undead and Featherstep) the party navigated the tar swamp with ease (R4. The Tar Pits, Dead Fields). Another Acid Rain came down on their way to Tsar, but the Magus threw up a Tiny Hut and they waited it out for a few minutes. They reached the breach at the southeastern gate (B4. The Broken Gate.) taking care to be as stealthy and quiet as possible, though they had to recast their beneficial spells as they had worn off in the 2 hour trip. The Pall did not frighten them and they spent ten minutes searching each of the ruined houses and alleys in the blocks around the coliseum (G3. The Blood Pit). (I decided to have each square count as 5 minutes travel, just for ease, double that to do light searching.) Crossing through the area they spied a group of four clockwork-ish undead (2 Bonemen and 6 Meatmen), but neither group spotted one another. During their searching they saw a Skeletal Swarm (random encounter) though they were careful not to attack and spoil their spells, however they did notice that the swarm was carrying a corpse of a goblinoid, but they did not follow it.

If these Walls could Talk
By roughly 10 am they began gnerally following the direction of the Skeletal Swarm and they reached the strange factory building that had wispy smoke and the noise of machinery (G2. The Cobbler's Shop, the Grunge). The (recently leveled) druid had prepared Stone Tell to ask a few questions to the building and ended up having quite the conversation, while the rest of the party kept a lookout. The stony face on the building hinted at a river running below, gave the numbers of “things like you”, inside the factory, as well as told them of the Cobbler. The druid asked how old the shop was and how long it had been producing “things like us” and it answered “since the stones fell”. The conversation went a lot like that, but they gained much information. While the druid was talking the rest of the group had noticed the pentagram inscribed courtyard (G1. The Pentacle, the Grunge) as well as noticing the overhanging towers above the area. The Magus began subtly showing bits of her notes with a few members of the party, they had an interest in them (H8. The Fallen Tower and H12. The Crooked Tower, the Harrow Lanes.) Still they were spooked by the stony face telling them there were 40 creatures inside the factory roughly.

Detour to the Statue
Impressed by the statue and the relatively undamaged area of the city the players walked around the courtyard for a short time (G1. The Pentacle.) The half-elf managed to notice a low moaning not just in the area, but coming from the statue itself. Detect spells yielded no results and after a while the sorcerer went up and knocked on it with his fist, nothing happened (building tension.) They were getting the lay of the land swamps to the north, Kirash Durgaut directly east, south to the cobbler's shop, and west to another relatively undamaged plaza that the main road led to. They decided to give the plaza a walk through and saw a tunnel (G4. The Tunnel.), but decided not to see where it went right now. Instead they decided they would take a walk down to the place where they had seen goblinoids along the southern cliff (G5. The Cliff Warrens, the Grunge). They took the western road out of the plaza south directly beneath the towers on the cliff (H8. The Fallen Tower) and the dwarf cleric came under fire from above with arrows. (He took 62 damage with a crit, I modified the stalker to be a challenging Ranger equivalent, ie Deadly Aim.) The party scrambled for cover, but not before the half-elf managed to spot their assailant (natural 20's … ugh) or at least his firing location at the top of the cliff.

Assault on the Towers
(Ran out of time to post... will continue after Larp.)

@ Wandslinger,

I think the Bard will be fine, but he should focus on the period involving Low, Heros and Scary Monsters. Too much Let's Dance influence will probalbly prove fatal.

Our group managed to almost clear out the remainder of Kirash Dirgaut this weekend. All they have left is empty rooms, seige undead, skeleton archers and a nasty trap (room 4).

I've offered to draw out the remaining rooms - except those with locked or barred doors - to avoid spending gaming time on a not too exciting search.

The Iron Maiden Golem turned out to be the Summoner's doom. He had died last session and had been the recipient of a raise dead spell but had lost a lot of gear - including clothing. He saw the robes of the impaled priest with just a skeleton inside and figured it would make a good disguise in Kirash Dirgaut.

It was towards the end of the night so tiredness may have played a role as he went into the torture chamber first and started checking out the skeleton not even thinking that it might be an undead. After a couple of rounds the Golem let it's zombie out and attacked. As a caster with a strength of 8 and a poor AC the Summoner was immediately in trouble.

The party gave rescuing the summoner a good try: casting grease on the Summoner, attempting to pry open the Iron Maiden, the Paladin even used a shield other type spell to take 50 damage and they did get the Summoner half way out before he was pulled back in again. Unfortunately they ignored the Cleric's advise to use the adamantine dagger that they had been given by the Forge Wight

In the end they were convinced that he was dead and were worried about it spitting him out and grabbing another PC so they hit it with a Creat Pit and then took it out with a wand of magic missiles (5th level empowered)

I'm not surprised that Iron Maiden Golem got someone... when I read through its stat block for the first time my response was maniacal laughter. If (when) my players ever get there I was thinking I might have a ghostly image of the prisoner occur showing him running away before suddenly being grabbed by something (you only see his ghostly figure, nothing else) and then being impaled through a bunch of painful areas before being slowly dragged back toward the Maiden and dissipating. I'm thinking maybe that might make that Iron Maiden Golem less of a surprise "haha, first guy in, you're totally boned now."

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