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


Advice and Rules Questions

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I use Pathfinder Pawns sometimes, but usually we just use tokens for monsters in Tsar. Too many of the monsters I don't have minis for anyway.

My group has not gone to the Crooked Tower yet, but have descended the stair and are about to enter the forge.


brvheart wrote:

I use Pathfinder Pawns sometimes, but usually we just use tokens for monsters in Tsar. Too many of the monsters I don't have minis for anyway.

My group has not gone to the Crooked Tower yet, but have descended the stair and are about to enter the forge.

How did the combat with the Devourer go?


Geo Fix wrote:
brvheart wrote:

I use Pathfinder Pawns sometimes, but usually we just use tokens for monsters in Tsar. Too many of the monsters I don't have minis for anyway.

My group has not gone to the Crooked Tower yet, but have descended the stair and are about to enter the forge.

How did the combat with the Devourer go?

The paladin was out in front and took the brunt of the damage. He took 6-8 negative levels in two rounds and withdrew to the rear. The sorceress then cast a wall of force on the stairs except 5' on either side. This kept the creature mostly at bay except he was able to make attacks around the wall on Katrina as she we right behind it. The monk went around the other side. They were eventually able to bring it down, but it was a close one for the paladin. Katrina finally cast death ward on him preventing him from taking more levels and he made the final blow.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Session 3 Summary

Cast: human paladin, human alchemist/master chymist, elf cleric, dwarf monk, elf rogue

Storm Clouds Gather

Since we only have about five hours, I started the game immediately with combat. No last-game recaps or dickin' around with character updates, I just threw them into a random encounter with a pair of ashborne arachne. The party made fairly short work of them, but not before the rogue took some furious Strength damage from poison bites (12 total, I believe he had a Strength score of 1 by the time it was over). Nothing the wand of lesser restoration couldn't fix tho.

A bit later their ranger guide, one of Skeribar's men, failed his Survival check to notice the approaching bone storm. Now the party has heard about these from the campies and did take precautions for severe weather (traveller's kits, cloth covered mouths, endure elements spells, etc.) so I gave them the +5 bonus to their Fortitude saves, but it didn't matter. They were about to discover the hard way just how unrelenting the Desolation can be. They got caught in the storm and it pounded them to near tpk. Only the paladin persevered (making every Fortitude save) and the alchemist used beast form to change into a wolverine and burrow into the ground for shelter. Everyone else, including the guide, was killed. The survivors hobbled back to the Camp (with another encounter with the Midnight Peddler along the way) to regroup and recover. Fortunately for them, they made it back with no further random encounters.

The next day was spent recruiting new PCs - a zen archer monk, a gnome rogue, and a human battle cleric of Gorum would eventually join the party. They also went to the Usurer to buy several scrolls of tiny hut. Meanwhile, Skeribar (I've made him a female in my game, kinda fashioned after the red haired wildling from GoT) demands the party return the possessions of their former guide to her and some tempers flare up between her and the surviving members (they were in a crappy mood at this point.) The paladin does some serious backpeddling and diplomacy to get them back in her good books, hoping to hire her as their guide back out into the wastes. She agrees for double the normal fee, with the understanding that she is heading for the Grove of Respite (the Reclaimers) and the party is welcome to join her. Of course, she hopes to lure them there eventually. The following day they are back on the road headed for the Tomb of the Sleeping Knight - again, unbelievably, no random encounters but three bone storms hit, which Skeribar detects beforehand and three scrolls of tiny hut are consumed. The party reaches the tomb and after thorough inspection decide to bash in the secret door. The rogue moves in deep and well ahead of the party, so she is trapped when the azer guards appear. A fight ensues and the rasts are summoned into the battle, where the rogue falls victim to their paralyzing gaze and is promptly coup de gras'd by an azer. Another dead rogue. The other new recruits fared much better, however, with the zen archer and battle cleric contributing significantly to help the party defeat this difficult encounter.

End of session. Total of five casualties: elf rogue, elf cleric, half orc barbarian, gnome rogue, and npc ranger guide. This brings the death toll to six PCs so far, so I have recommended to the players (there are four) to each play two PCs, with at least one full arcane caster. A party of four or five just isn't going to cut it here.

@huntersblades - for outdoor random encounters we're just using minis and the desert mat from Paizo or theater of the mind. For dungeon locations like the Tomb of the Sleeping Knight, I use the DungeonRise terraclip sets from WorldWorksGames. They are amazing.


Great recap, those Bonestorms are brutal. Tiny Hut trivializes so many of the dangerous weather conditions, but the problem comes up when the character that they depend on for it dies or can't cast it. I'm surprised no one had any last minute gimmicks to negate the storm. I've assumed that Skeribar's people carry a trench shovel and if they see a storm coming they dig a quick hole to hide, and they probably know well enough to douse a rag and cover their faces.

As far as rogues, its a tough adventure for a single class rogue. I'd recommend Ranger/Rogue multiclass, because its going to be a while until you hit the urban areas where the rogue excels.


If you do have a single class rogue it's important to be able to get away fast. A high acrobatics score and rogue feats such as pearless maneuver or fast stealth help. Two other helpful rogue talents are major magic with Vanish and minor magic with Message (to call for help).

The Acrobat rogue is a good choice and can be useful in Tsar too.

I was going to suggest a cape of the Mountebank until I read that it's bright red and gold.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

James B. Cline wrote:
Great recap, those Bonestorms are brutal. Tiny Hut trivializes so many of the dangerous weather conditions, but the problem comes up when the character that they depend on for it dies or can't cast it. I'm surprised no one had any last minute gimmicks to negate the storm. I've assumed that Skeribar's people carry a trench shovel and if they see a storm coming they dig a quick hole to hide, and they probably know well enough to douse a rag and cover their faces.

The bonestorms are really lethal, but I'm glad they are. Many spells besides tiny hut negate or mitigate extreme weather, so I like that the Desolation is dangerous regardless of many of those spells. It sets it apart from other hostile environments where a simple endure elements will suffice.

@James and Geo Fix - Regarding rogues, the player who has been running them was getting a little down on the class. I recommended either a ranger/rogue with good acrobatics, or better yet a rogue partnered with a ranger that the player would control. Since rangers are also very good at stealth, the rogue would have his back covered in most situations and have a flanking partner to boot. Not to open a seperate discussion on rogues, but they just don't have the toughness to stay alive, especially when they're expected to stealth ahead and scout for the party. I've seen more of them die that way over the years and they have by far the highest rate of fatalities in my games. Heck, I even give rogues Hide In Plain Sight for free at 7th level. It has helped them stay alive quite a bit, but still does nothing once they reveal themselves to enemies (either by sneak attacking or the enemy detects them).


So the Blood Mage is now dead (partly my fault I forgot about the staff of power) and the surviving PC's are in his basement crypt (courtesy of a wish from the efreet who is now gone) but they don't know the way out yet and the only trap that they have activated is the wail from the door.

What happens with the vampire spawn when he 'dies'? I thought they would become free willed vampires but looking through the rules I'm wondering if I'm remembering something from 3.5 or earlier.

Kudos to Greg Vaughan and FGG as this has been the most fun we have had with the game in ages.


@Luz I have had issues keeping players that play rogues as well. They tend to quit easily. Have not had a real issue with them dying, just not a lot of opportunity for them to do much in the desolation. Once they are in the City they are more in their element.

@Geo Fix My players killed the Iron Golems and the Forge Beast relatively easily because I forgot to have the Golems breath until near the end. They were too separated to support each other and for the Forge Beast to breath on them until then also. They then went back to the camp to have some Adamantite weapons made and finally got to the Gnoll encampment but it took so long we only made it through the entrance way before having to quit for the session. They unfortunately let the leader get out so the alarm has been raised so I will need time to prepare for the next session anyway. I have no idea on the Vampire Spawn, but that sounds good to me.


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From the Create Spawn portion of the Vampire entry in D20PFSRD:

A vampire can create spawn out of those it slays with blood drain or energy drain, provided that the slain creature is of the same creature type as the vampire's base creature type. The victim rises from death as a vampire spawn in 1d4 days. This vampire is under the command of the vampire that created it, and remains enslaved until its master's destruction. A vampire may have enslaved spawn totaling no more than twice its own Hit Dice; any spawn it creates that would exceed this limit become free-willed undead. A vampire may free an enslaved spawn in order to enslave a new spawn, but once freed, a vampire or vampire spawn cannot be enslaved again.

Although it does not expressly say they become free willed, it does not say they do something else either and it can be inferred that they become free willed. I hope this helps.


Thanks Gents,

I'm going to have them become free willed but leave them with spawn hit dice and abilities - not have them morph into regular vampires. Their creator nerfed them and nerfed they shall remain.

The two cohorts of the Blood Mage are my next concern. One was in vampire love with him and will be out for revenge. The other is totally self centered and needs to decide if he is going to claim the tower or loot the treasure vault and head out.


Geo Fix wrote:
Kudos to Greg Vaughan and FGG as this has been the most fun we have had with the game in ages.

Amen to that!


Game 36 05/10/14 (Bachelor Party Game)
Roster: Tiefling Paladin (Ryan), Half-Elf Paladin (James), Elf Paladin (Trevor), Suli Sorcerer (Jody), Dwarf Cleric (Hinkel), Half-Orc Cleric (George), Human Rogue (Mike), Human Soulknife (Travis), and later Samsaran (George Again) Summoner.

Note: We reserved the “dungeon room” at our local gaming store (Macnarb's Gaming in Gautier, MS) for the big day, brought a ton of booze and food. I tried to tag FGG on the facebook pictures, but couldn't figure it out. It's pretty awesome though, pics available on request. Luckily the game stayed on track, mostly! Xp will be posted soon, need to do the last 2 games.

AH! You seem trustworthy! (The Crooked Tower, H12-18)
The in-game time continued from about noon. (We backed up to not opening the door to room 19, the Servant’s Dungeon, they hadn’t heard the description yet). So the party looks around and a secret door opens and slams shut and out falls a terrified human (the rogue) who jabbers about finally escaping, they back him into a corner and question him for a few minutes. He doesn’t know where he is or how he got here, when they tell him he is in Tsar he is thoroughly mortified, but understands it will be impossible to escape on his own. He asks the party if he can join them and they agree easily. The cleric of Asmodeus and the tiefling paladin bicker a bit about the meaning of “good”, but they decide to push ahead. The new rogue offers that he is an excellent trap smith and they let him know about the trapped stairs (area 32). The rogue asks the group to back up into the kitchen, which they do except for team Holy (all the paladins and the cleric). The rogue carefully avoids looking at the mask and begins his work on the stairwell (fails by less than 5) and sweat pours off his brow as he nearly sets off the trap. He carefully repositions and tries again and is able to disable it and make it non-functional, but without the ability to reset it. He opens the door to the privy, thinks nothing of it, and tosses a rock in not desiring to search a toilet (fails to find the secret door). He does ask the party if anyone needs to take a pit stop and keeps going. The rogue looks around for traps and finds none on the door to the north (area 19), unlocks, and opens the door.

The Servants of Belishan
As the doors swing open (to 19) the rogue is slightly ahead down the hall and he sees row upon row of ghostly figures in the room. (Given there were EIGHT players I increased the number of wraiths by 4 and added a wraith summoning jar that added two to the fight every round.) The rogue was able to dive out of the way into the privy, but the wraiths ignored the walls and flew in from all sides. Finding no respite and being in the front he eventually tumbled into the room finding a corner and throwing a bead of force at his feet to create a bubble of force, excluding him from the melee. The fight was long and it took the entire group channeling over and over to finally eliminate the horde of wraiths. After nearly five rounds of bitter combat several party members were drained of strength (sorcerer 5, Elf paladin 1, Rogue 11). The dwarven cleric takes credit for rushing forward to smash the summoning jar around round 2. (This fight took about an hour and a half with all the players, food, and drinks. We did use a grid and it was tough to keep up with all the enemy health totals, especially with all the channels, but we used some dry erase markers. It gave them a lot of problems because everything they were using was half damage, before saves due to incorporeal.) Afterwards the dwarf casts restoration on the rogue and sorcerer given their drain was significant.

Scorched Earth Policy
So the party keeps going, deciding to ignore the stairwell (area 32) due to the creepy mask. Team holy seems to be debating the nature of what is good with Nam, the half-orc cleric. The rogue quiets them down as he notices the southern door is chewed up (area 21 the Kitchens). He carefully slides a mirror under the door and notices a few thousand rats crawling over the place. He quietly tells the party and the sorcerer offers up to fireball (meta Lightning) the room. The rogue gets ready and they blow up the room. (Overkill, but it keeps long combats to a minimum.) They continue on to the next room (22 the Larder) much as they had with the others, eventually opening the door. They look around the gory room and are very cautious. The party sits debating the strange overwhelmingly powerful axe testing it meticulously with magic, when the half-elf takes a pole and hits it to knock it off the table. The cleric of Asmodeus gets tired of waiting and picks it up (passes the save easily), and it starts talking to him telepathically. It starts telling him that he should kill the ones that breathe, he ties it to his belt and it says outloud “NO! I WILL NOT BE RESTRAINED!” at which point the whole party stops and starts eyeing the cleric. They get into a discussion about the axe, mostly demanding it be turned over to the party for study before anyone gets to hold it. The cleric refuses citing historically that hasn’t been the procedure with loot, they argue back and forth, and the tiefling demands he turn it over. By this time it was the tiefling, soulknife, and dwarf arguing against the cleric when the tiefling manhandled the cleric (made a grapple), but the cleric didn’t fight back (didn’t take his attack of opportunity) and the soulknife removed the weapon and packaged it up so it wouldn’t cut their bags of holding. The cleric was furious and threatened to kill the paladin if he ever touched him again, but it ended without escalating. (Just an in-character thing, if you were wondering.) About this time the rogue had been searching the room.

Snake in the Box
Still in the larder the rogue was searching while his new companions hashed out their differences, he heard some strange noises behind the next door (with his remarkable natural 20). He flagged the party down and shushed them, unlocked the door, and pushed it open with a short pole. The hydra on the other side was prepared and struck out quickly, but the dwarf was the closest and bore the brunt of the attacks, though he avoided the grapple. The half-elf rushes forward bravely but gets snatched off his feet slashing at the heads, almost severing one. (I didn’t modify this fight, I figured it would be easy for them anyways.) The sorcerer tried to cast defensively, but lost a spell while the tiefling fired a bow through the narrow doorway. They eventually manage to down the creature without too much more effort. While the fight is going on (just for effect, though it is in an extra dimensional space) the Esaguinator is talking telepathically to the cleric, chiding him for not killing them all, promising him power if he were to wield it. The half-orc tells the party it’s still talking to him and they declare it is evil and must be destroyed. They hit it a few times with magic weapons and adamantite weapons to no effect (it’s like a +7 weapon). Finally the dwarf empties out a bag of holding drops it in, and rips the bag in half, which effectively casts it into the planes (somewhere random). At this the half-orc decries them fools and plane shifts out (to the Hells, presumably to track down the weapon) and permanently departs the party. (Rules Reference for upcoming Bag of Holding Questions.)

Let’s Go Up A Level (Order of the Stick D&D Webcomic Reference!)
Although it is a small room, the rogue creeps up the stairwell (area 36, Level 2). Thus far the party has placed a lot of trust on this new friend when he spots the strange trio of statues. The party inspects them lightly and knows they are magical, but chooses to leave them alone for now. With a few cautious glances the rogue walks over to the door (to 35) when the statues spring to life (kind of) and attack. The party quickly defeats the (staggeringly slow) lurching zombies, but not before more enter (from 35). The sorcerer is able to fling a fireball into the room behind them, which engulfs the lot (I tried to give them a Weeping Angels feel, from Dr. Who, but ultimately they were just fodder.) They give a cursory examination to (35) the studio and decide to continue up to the Side Room (area 45).

What’s up with people falling out of Closets?
So they look around, letting the rogue do the heavy lifting. They go over the cabinet and end up finding the dead Major Domo. No one examines the body, but the tiefling does pry him out with his weapon. They leave the naked corpse on the floor without finding the cause of death, but the half-elf does snatch up the slightly corpse smelling bottles of wine. (Eww.) Meanwhile the dwarf smashes the head of the dead guy, trying to proof that he will not raise from the dead. The tiefling face palms and asks him what about the Speak with Dead Spell. The rogue does his duty, walks past the corpse and searches the cabinet for secrets, and finds a secret panel, checks and opens it, and out falls a blue man bound and gagged. They ungag him and question him to the inth (sp?) degree and he reveals he is a Summoner travelling through the region who was captured. He tells them that he is interested in some revenge on his captor, though he is unaware of how he was captured. (I keep reminding the newbs that Tsar is a deathtrap for anyone traveling alone. Also the players keep giving me rum in hopes of treasure, if they only knew.)

Obsessive Compulsive Lever Pulling and Mr. Cool
The rogue, happy with his success, keeps searching while the party is questioning their new blue friend and finds yet another secret door. This time he speaks too soon and tells them about the torch used to open a door, where it goes he doesn’t know, but the dwarf starts running. The dwarf literally runs over and snatches the torch up and down. (I asked him how many times did he want the ceiling to crush him for 20d6, and he looked like a kicked puppy.) Anyways, the door opens to reveal a room jammed full of treasure (Room 46, the Treasury). Standing in the room is the lone cloaked figure facing away and the party calls out to him several times. He doesn’t answer so the sorcerer hits him with a Lightning Bolt, the figure smokes and bleeds some, but doesn’t move and they rethink their strategy. The half-elf takes some initiative and lassoes the figure in the room, no one was willing to go in. He lands the lasso around the figures head and drags him free of the room slowly. The dwarf figures the elf is paralyzed and they bind him as best they can with manacles, then he breaks the spell with Dispel Magic. Weapons drawn the party (forgetting he can still hear) starts asking him who he is as if he is an enemy after healing the wounds they dealt to him. Kendal politely yet emotionless introduces himself as one tasked with retrieving the property of his master, property that lies in the room behind him. The cleric casts Zone of Truth and asks him to keep talking, Kendal thanks them, but is dispassionate (I was having fun with it.) They had noticed his weapons and assumed he was some sort of swashbuckler or thief. He tells them that he will accompany them if they desire it for as long as they travel in the tower, in thanks, but they decide not to take him up. They ask him about the item and he explains a little about it, excluding its value, but they are far more interested in hearing about the Bloodmage who stole it years ago. Once they seemed peaceable he handed them their manacles back (none of them had spotted him unlocking them) to their surprise. Even more they became hesitant when he called the Bloodmage, “one of the most powerful spellcasters on the planet”. The party starts discussing about how foolhardy the quest to chase down Kroma is now, but the dwarf convinces them that they get to try their luck with against a powerful evil. The rogue throws a bag over the Sepia Snake Sigil Trap so no one will get paralyzed and they allow Kendal to loot the emerald palace. The paladins discuss that he has better claim to it than they do, without asking about how valid the claim is. (Our procedure is for them to ask for Sense Motive, but they weren’t asking. Kendal had passed the Zone of Truth save.) They let him leave (I love that character), check, and loot the room of its valuables, except the trapped ivory pedestal. (They asked me to tell them what the Tu Chai Palace actually did and were fairly impressed, but when I told them of the curse they were glad they didn’t take it.)

Spy-ders!
They continue up the stairs (in 46 up to 64), ignoring the door to level 3 of the tower. After properly checking the door the rogue pushes it open with his pole, but finds it getting stuck in the webs on the other side. The summoner sends in 4 or 5 small fire elementals who are unable to burn the webs (Usually if the parent spider has fire resistance the webs do too, IMO.) They throw a waterskin in and it gets pulled out of view by a strand of web, not wanting to venture into the room, the sorcerer fireballs (meta Lightning) the room twice and one very crispy spider falls to the floor. (The other was out of range). The summoner sends in his Eidelon being cautious and it gets snatched up as well. (I was having fun creeping out my players.) They rushed in to save it after some small buffing and someone killed it on the first round on the first turn. (By this time the words were moving around on the page too much for me to keep going, the players constantly making me drinks didn’t help, around 3 am). (Edit. No one saw the spy yet.) Game Ends.


Xp Totals, etc, to my players.
Games 34, 35, and 36

Just for the occasional thing, keeping up with the non-frequent xp totals. With a huge group always expect extra player characters to be lower level. The ladies will be awarded xp for the bachelor party even though they weren't in attendance.

Games 34 = James, Brittany, Ryan, Hinkel, Jody = +6600

Game 35 (short game) = No encounters/traps = 0, Ryan's Bribe

Game 36 = Ryan, James, Trevor, Jody, Hinkel, George, Mike, Travis, Brittany, Liz = +7740

Xp Totals

LEVEL 12! Liz +7740 = 227,770/315k Level 12
LEVEL 12! Jody +14340 = 220,920/315k Level 12
Ryan +14340 +1000 XP (Bribe) = 206,315/220k Level 11
Hinkel +14340 = 193,345/220k Level 11
James +14340 = 186,920/220k Level 11
Brittney +14340 = 177,620/220k Level 11
Travis +7740 Level 10
Trevor +7740 Level 10
George +7740 Level 10
Mike +7740 Level 10


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Ok so I had this idea, let me know if its ridiculous. The city isn't static, Belishan isn't static. I'd like to do something like this.

Have the players look out the windows and only see blackness, surprise! The tower is either surrounded by elemental shadow and they cannot escape until Belishan is dead! Or something like Belishan's tower with a mind of its own, the mind of Malice has been shifted temporarily to the Shadow Plane itself until the players can kill him or defeat the aspect of Malice.

Either ways I wanted to do some kind of "cursed treasure" effect for stealing Belishan's Treasure, plus I can trap the Kendral character in there too and have him show up again. I did bill Belishan as "one of the most powerful spellcasters on the planet." Thoughts?

Edit: Since Malice on pg 710 is a rolling cloud of cloudlike skulls, just have that surround the tower and have it deny teleportation effects. Might be cool and scary.


Yeah, it seems like a pretty large sub-dungeon in Tsar, I would tread carefully as your characters would most likely need to rest before they finally face Belishan, no? (With the pall over Tsar and all, you could end up with CE PC's!)

From what I've read elsewhere, Belishan is extremely difficult to destroy, so tying their escape up with destroying Belishan (i.e his coffin) could be tough.

I like your idea on the elemental shadow or maybe use some other McGuffin that supresses the pall temporarily? It would definitely make for a memorable experience trying to escape from the tower.


On a side note, I am purchasing my copy of Slumbering Tsar through the Lost City of Barakus backerkit (at an amazing deal, btw). Should have my PDF copy by early June. I am totally stoked.

It will probably be next year before I get to run it, but I definitely have this page bookmarked for when the time comes.


@ James,

Your group must be fairly low on resources for healing, channelling and spells after what they have encountered so far. I think locking them in the tower would be over the top and would probably result in a TPK.

With Belishan, his two cronies and Kroma plus all of the various traps and additional dangers I doubt that they would make it out alive.

I think the darkness or the malice surrounding the tower or as a programmed illusion could be good. You could take it one further and make it appear that the tower had been transported to the Abyss and have the party hear "return what was taken" any time they look out a window or open a door to the outside.


Hello everyone, I've been running Slumbering Tsar for about a year now, and I just found this thread. This has been a great resource, and helped me convince myself that I have been far too lenient to my players. My group has several very inexperienced players, only two had played prior to this campaign. So I allowed them some leniency to make the game run more smoothly. I haven't wanted to get bogged down in surviving the environment, and I've been very liberal giving them information.

I allowed the party necromancer to raise Malerix as a bleeding skeleton, and they spent a good bit of effort giving it the ability to fly. They use him to travel easily around the city, and I think that has made things far too easy for my party, leading to the 15 minute adventuring day where they fly in, clear a few rooms, then fly out.

Their last few sessions, they had been working through the Crooked Tower. They had looted Belishan's treasury, then, looking for more treasure, they decided to investigate the Drawing Room with the Purgatory Frieze for a third time. There must be something hidden behind it, or else why would I (the DM) keep reminding them about it... The party's Fighter and Paladin ended up getting absorbed. The rest fled promptly.

They were able to restore their party by making a wish with the Dweller at the Crossroads, but the wish did not restore their gear. They retreated to the Camp and spent several weeks securing replacement weapons and armor.

I figured that Belishan spent that time planning his revenge. I had him spend his time acquiring Arrows of Slaying (Undead). He popped in to see his next door neighbor, the Stalker, and hired the Stalker to pepper the skeletal dragon with slaying arrows. The dragon quite predictably went down, leaving the party stranded well behind enemy lines. When we play this week, I plan to have the Stalker fly over the party and deliver a formal invitation to the party from Belishan inviting them to the Crooked Tower for a light dinner. I was going to have Belishan send Turkaen and Vlad Alimar against the party to harass them, as well as the Stalker taking pot shots.

I figure Belishan now believes the party to be a true threat to him, so he is actively working to have them killed.


I had typed this up... and accidentally clicked close.... Keyboard + Head!

@Geofix – I think my group can handle it, most of the spells they are expending are from their stack of cure wands, plus the Magus and Druid really haven’t used any resources at all, since they missed the last game. Most of this will be environmental fluff, which will set a more horror mood and deny them retreat to their home base. If they brave sleeping in the tower they will risk the Pall, but they will be at full strength otherwise. As far as the final battle, I expect the Tiefling will use the Litany of Battle or whatever it was to charge through all the enemies and smite/one shot Belishan if I use him as written. He’s doing 100+ damage in a single hit by himself that gets through damage reduction. The cleric with his massive initiative bonus is also a big fan of using his spell Reach feat to use Heal on major opponents, another near one shot kill. Economy of action will probably beat Belishan unless he gets to prebuff so I’m going to try and find a way to make him competitive. The way they are rushing up to the top means they are going in almost full strength with a party of 6. With the DC’s presented I don’t believe Belishan’s spells will even effect the players. Basically I’d be happy for the fight to last a little bit longer with the appearance of danger. I’d hate for them to walk away and say, “Well that was easy, I don’t get why he was such a big deal.” Literally he’s one of the biggest influences on the setting he’s mentioned 243 times to the Grand Cornu’s 134, with legions of npcs that are based on being his servants.

@zir39 – Thanks! It sounds like your game is going well. Just a few things I saw. The Dweller usually tries to twist the wishes into something horrible, resurrecting without gear seems a little lite, maybe it could have some other unexpected consequences like resurrecting their greatest foes as well. Shooting down the dragon, that’s awesome! I’d have settled for using Command Undead on it and having it attack the party. My group did animate him and ride it around for a bit, but were too worried someone would try to use it against them. As far as the stalker delivering a message, if you want to go a bit morbid have a zombie of someone they know deliver a letter. I think the Stalker would be hesitant to put himself in such a vulnerable position, but I’ve been using him as a way to ignore some minor random encounters and keep the pressure on. The Stalker could also arrange a trap with a boulder with a message written into it to fall on one of the party members, he likes traps after all. As far as the dinner with Belishan, I’d include something in the message about one of their loved ones waiting for them, depends on how dark and personal you want your game.

Ideas and Mods to my Game. (add/suggestions welcome!)
The Crooked Tower – I’d prefer if the tower was more of a character itself like this one.

Rise of the Runelords Spoiler:
Aldern Foxglove’s Manor in book 2 is inhabited by the spirit of a lich, it causes the building itself to react to its inhabitants and also prevents it from being permanently destroyed, as far as I know. If you burn it down, it “grows” back.
City of the Spider Queen Spoiler:
I don't have my book handy, but I do remember the last building in the adventure had a living evil negative energy building that reacted to the players, coolest thing ever. It would shoot negative energy rays at players at inopportune times that looked like traps. Seriously if you haven't at least looked at it, wow, it even swaps planes while you are walking around in it. How cool!
In one of my home games I had a beholder hive (like a bee hive) that was made out of flesh, and it had arteries and veins and all sorts of awesome stuff. Similarly I’d like it if the tower with all its ancient “magical defenses” and inhabitants to be defended. In my game, whenever the druid effects the tower with a spell arcane sparks shoot out everywhere. I just think it would be cool if the tower resisted magical effects and had fast healing 1 or something. Since the city isn’t static, I’ve had Belishan fill all of the holes with Wall of Iron. It’d be neat if the tower could at least create Walls or re-arrange corridors or something, might be hard to put that into text.

“The Curse of Malice” for the Crooked Tower – Malice, even more mysterious than Belishan, is still obsessed with his corporeal home, if adventurers choose to remove Belishan’s Treasure he causes a sickly yellow miasma to envelope the tower, if you try to penetrate the miasma you are subject to the Tendrals of Malice, which is equal to him getting a round of attacks, while you break through. The miasma also blocks teleport spells and plane shift until the treasure is returned, Malice is destroyed, or Belishan is defeated. Malice is just as angry that Belishan has inhabited his tower as adventurers have violated his domain. To add to the roleplay element, when this effect is triggered Belishan will begin talking with the players trying to convince them of their error, canny players may deduce that Belishan himself fears Malice. Either ways this allows the players the opportunity to learn and spar verbally with the infamous Blood Mage, where normally tactics might require attack on sight.


@ James

One way to improve Belishan's chances would be to enhance his shield guardian so that it can absorb more of the damage he takes.

If he is warned of the group's approach by his familiar he can use the programmed illusion to have them attack a false Belishan in the entryway. Giving him the spell project image also gives him a chance to interact without being in immediate danger.

His universalist abilities means he could be ready with a quickened mirror image. That will make it much more difficult to drop him in the first round.


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If you want to make him more powerful change him into being not a universalist, ALSO have him scout the party.

Looking at him now, wow he has some trash stuff, damn.

Here is my rebuild of him:

Belishan:

Belishan CR 16
XP 76,800
Human Vampire Wizard 15
NE Medium undead (humanoid, human)
Init +9; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +31
--------------------
Defense
--------------------
AC 36, touch 20, flat-footed 30 (+6 armor, +4 shield, +5 Dex, +6 natural, +2 deflection, +1 dodge)
hp 190 (15d6+135); fast healing 5
Fort +19, Ref +19, Will +18; +4 bonus vs. channeled energy
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4; DR 10/magic, 10/silver; Immune undead traits; Resist cold 10, electricity 10
Weakness vampire weaknesses
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 30 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)
Melee slam +8 (1d4+2) and
staff of power +15/+10 (1d6+8)
Special Attacks blood drain, children of the night, create spawn, dominate (DC 26), energy drain (2 levels, DC 24)
Wizard Spells Prepared (CL 15th; concentration +22):
8th—horrid wilting [S] (DC 26), horrid wilting (DC 26)
7th—finger of death [S] (DC 25), limited wish, maxim quick enervation, waves of exhaustion
6th—empow quick enervation, greater dispel magic, major curse [S] (DC 24), true seeing
5th—cloudkill (DC 22), mind fog (DC 22), overland flight, wall of force, waves of fatigue [S], waves of fatigue
4th—crushing despair (DC 21), dimension door, enervation [S], greater invisibility, maxim enervation, quick enervation
3rd—dispel magic, haste, heroism, heroism, magic circle against good, ray of exhaustion [S] (DC 21), ray of exhaustion (DC 21)
2nd—command undead [S] (DC 20), command undead (DC 20), eagle's splendor, glitterdust (DC 19), invisibility, mirror image (2)
1st—anticipate peril (DC 18), chill touch [S] (DC 19), expeditious retreat (2), protection from good, shield
0 (at will)—acid splash, mage hand, mending, ray of frost
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str 18, Dex 21, Con —, Int 24, Wis 14, Cha 24
Base Atk +7; CMB +13; CMD 31
Feats Ability Focus (dominate), Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Command Undead, Dimensional Agility, Disruptive Spell, Dodge, Empower Spell, Improved Familiar, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Maximize Spell, Opposition Research, Persistent Spell, Quicken Spell, Scribe Scroll, Spell Focus (necromancy), Spell Perfection, Toughness
Skills Acrobatics +7, Appraise +9, Bluff +22, Climb +6, Diplomacy +14, Disguise +9, Escape Artist +7, Fly +20, Heal +4, Intimidate +9, Knowledge (arcana) +27, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +17, Knowledge (engineering) +17, Knowledge (geography) +17, Knowledge (history) +22, Knowledge (local) +17, Knowledge (nature) +17, Knowledge (nobility) +17, Knowledge (planes) +27, Knowledge (religion) +27, Perception +31, Ride +7, Sense Motive +14, Spellcraft +27, Stealth +30, Survival +4, Swim +6; Racial Modifiers +8 Bluff, +8 Perception, +8 Sense Motive, +8 Stealth
Languages Common
SQ arcane bonds (arcane bond [familiar]), bolster, change shape, gaseous form, life sight, opposition schools (divination), shadowless, specialized schools (undead), spider climb
Combat Gear brooch of shielding, staff of power; Other Gear bracers of armor +6, cloak of resistance +3
--------------------
Special Abilities
--------------------
Blood Drain (Ex) Suck blood for 1d4 CON dam when pin foe and gain 5 Hp.
Bolster (+4, 7 rds) (3/day) (Sp) Grant undead +4 to hit and saves, 1 temp HP/HD and +2 channel resistance.
Change Shape (dire bat or wolf, beast shape II) (Su) You can change your form.
Channel Resistance +4 +4 bonus to save vs. Channel Energy.
Children of the Night (1/day) (Su) Call forth rats, bats or wolves as a standard action.
Combat Reflexes (6 AoO/round) Can make extra attacks of opportunity/rd, and even when flat-footed.
Command Undead (10/day) (DC 24) Channel energy can take control of undead.
Create Spawn (Ex) Opponents killed by Energy Drain rise 1d4 days after burial.
Damage Reduction (10/magic) You have Damage Reduction against all except Magic attacks.
Damage Reduction (10/silver) You have Damage Reduction against all except Silver attacks.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Deliver Touch Spells Through Familiar (Su) Your familiar can deliver touch spells for you.
Dimensional Agility May take any additional actions remaining after using dimension door or abundant step
Disruptive Spell You can cast a spell that imposes concentration checks for those it affects to cast spells.
Divination You must spend 2 slots to cast spells from the Divination school.
Dominate (DC 26) (Su) As a standard action, can use dominate person on foe in 30 ft.
Empathic Link with Familiar (Su) You have an empathic link with your Arcane Familiar.
Empower Spell Numeric effects of a spell are increased 50%. +2 Levels.
Energy Drain (2 levels) (DC 24) (Ex) Foes hit by the listed attack take neg levels, gain 5 temp hp for each drained.
Energy Resistance, Cold (10) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Cold attacks.
Energy Resistance, Electricity (10) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Electricity attacks.
Familiar Bonus: You gain the Alertness feat while your familiar is within arm's reach.
Fast Healing 5 (Ex) Heal damage every round unless you are killed.
Flight (40 feet, Average) You can fly!
Gaseous Form (At will) (Su) Can assume gaseous form, except with 20 ft speed and perfect maneuverability.
Life Sight (15 rounds/day) (Su) Blindsight 10'+ to detect living and undead for wizard level rounds / day.
Maximize Spell All variable effects of a spell are maximized. +3 Levels.
Persistent Spell Foes must succeed at 2 saves or suffer the spell's full effects.
Quicken Spell Cast a spell as a swift action. +4 Levels.
Scry on Familiar (1/day) (Sp) You can scry on your familiar, as the spell.
Shadowless (Ex) A vampire casts no shadows and shows no reflection in a mirror.
Share Spells with Familiar Can cast spells with a target of "You" on the familiar with a range of touch.
Speak with Animals (Ex) Your familiar can communicate with animals similar to itself.
Speak With Familiar (Ex) You can communicate verbally with your familiar.
Spell Focus (Necromancy) Spells from one school of magic have +1 to their save DC.
Spell Perfection (Enervation) The selected spell can have 1 metamagic feat applied for free, as long as the modified level stays at or below 9. Double the effects of feats like spell focus, weapon focus [ray], etc. on this spell.
Spider Climb (Ex) A vampire can climb sheer surfaces as though under the effects of a spider climb spell.
Undead Associated School: Necromancy
Undead Traits Undead have many immunities and use Cha in place of a Con for all effects.
Vampire Weaknesses (Ex) Certain items or actions can ward off a vampire, while others destroy it.

--------------------

Arcane Familiar
Demon, Quasit
CE Tiny outsider (chaotic, demon, evil, extraplanar)
Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +19
--------------------
Defense
--------------------
AC 24, touch 14, flat-footed 22 (+2 Dex, +2 size, +10 natural)
hp 95 (3d10); fast healing 2
Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +10
DR 5/good or cold iron; Immune electricity, poison; Resist acid 10, cold 10, fire 10; SR 20
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 20 ft., fly 50 ft. (perfect)
Melee bite +11 (1d4-1) and
2 claws +11 (1d3-1)
Space 2.5 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks poison
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th; concentration +6)
At will—detect good, detect magic, invisibility
1/day—cause fear 30 ft radius
1/week—commune
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str 8, Dex 14, Con 11, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 11
Base Atk +7; CMB +7; CMD 16
Feats Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +3 (-1 jump), Bluff +8, Diplomacy +5, Fly +27, Intimidate +6, Knowledge (planes) +19, Perception +19, Sense Motive +6, Spellcraft +16, Stealth +28
Languages Abyssal, Common
SQ alternate form (su), improved evasion
--------------------
Special Abilities
--------------------
Alternate Form (Su) You can assume the form of a bat, monstrous centipede, toad or wolf.
Cause Fear 30 ft radius (1/day) (Sp) Cause Fear (DC 11) 1/day, 30 ft radius
Commune (1/week) (Sp) Commune 1/week, ask 6 questions
Damage Reduction (5/cold iron or good) You have Damage Reduction against all except Good or Cold Iron attacks.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Detect Good (At will) (Sp) As the spell. Caster level 6th
Detect Magic (At will) (Sp) As the spell. Caster level 6th
Energy Resistance, Acid (10) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Acid attacks.
Energy Resistance, Cold (10) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Cold attacks.
Energy Resistance, Fire (10) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Fire attacks.
Fast Healing 2 (Ex) Heal damage every round unless you are killed.
Flight (50 feet, Perfect) You can fly!
Immunity to Electricity You are immune to electricity damage.
Immunity to Poison You are immune to poison.
Improved Evasion (Ex) No damage on successful reflex save; half on failed save.
Invisibility (At will) (Sp) As the spell, self only. Caster level 6th
Poison: Claw—Injury (DC 11) (Ex) Poison—Injury; save Fort DC 11; freq 1/rd for 6 rds; effect 1d2 Dex; cure 2 cons saves.
Spell Resistance (20) You have Spell Resistance.


So he has overland flight all day, and excellent long duration buffs available, like magic circle against good, eagle's splendor, etc. Use some divination magic to find out about the pcs, fly over to them, cast greater invis. Open with your spell perfected quicken maximized enervation, next round do another quicken enervation, then standard action dominate.

If they aren't protected against evil, they will have to make a dc 24 will save at a -8 or so. Also, he is still greater invis because that last for 15(!!!) rounds. I built him focusing on enervation as his best spell, but he has a lot of other strong things. If he knows the pcs use death ward, he can just hit them with waves of exhaustion for 8 hours of -6 str and dex, can't run or charge, move at half speed


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Just for completeness sake, here is Vlad and Turkaen:

Vlad:

Vlad Alimar CR 12
XP 19,200
Half-Elf Vampire Fighter (Free Hand Fighter) 11
CE Medium undead (humanoid, elf, human)
Init +11; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +32
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Defense
--------------------
AC 35, touch 21, flat-footed 26 (+8 armor, +5 Dex, +6 natural, +2 deflection, +4 dodge)
hp 110 (11d10+45); fast healing 5
Fort +12, Ref +14, Will +8; +2 vs. enchantments, +4 bonus vs. channeled energy
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4; DR 10/magic, 10/silver; Immune sleep, undead traits; Resist cold 10, electricity 10
Weakness vampire weaknesses
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 30 ft.
Melee +2 vicious rapier +21/+16/+11 (1d6+16/15-20+2d6 (& 1d6 to wielder)) and
slam +12 (1d4+8)
Special Attacks blood drain, children of the night, create spawn, dominate (DC 18), energy drain (2 levels, DC 18), singleton, timely tip
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str 22, Dex 24, Con —, Int 16, Wis 12, Cha 16
Base Atk +11; CMB +14 (+19 disarm); CMD 40 (45 vs. disarm)
Feats Alertness, Blind-Fight, Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Critical Focus, Dazing Assault, Disarming Strike, Dodge, Greater Weapon Focus (rapier), Improved Critical (rapier), Improved Disarm, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Perception), Toughness, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (rapier)
Skills Acrobatics +22, Bluff +22 (+25 to feint or create a diversion to hide), Climb +9, Fly +10, Intimidate +17, Perception +32, Sense Motive +14, Stealth +25, Survival +5, Swim +9; Racial Modifiers +8 Bluff, +10 Perception, +8 Sense Motive, +8 Stealth
Languages Common, Elven
SQ change shape, deceptive strike, elf blood, elusive, gaseous form, shadowless, spider climb
Other Gear +2 glamered mithral breastplate, +2 vicious rapier, boots of elvenkind, cloak of resistance +2, ring of protection +2
--------------------
Special Abilities
--------------------
Blind-Fight Re-roll misses because of concealment, other benefits.
Blood Drain (Ex) Suck blood for 1d4 CON dam when pin foe and gain 5 Hp.
Change Shape (dire bat or wolf, beast shape II) (Su) You can change your form.
Channel Resistance +4 +4 bonus to save vs. Channel Energy.
Children of the Night (1/day) (Su) Call forth rats, bats or wolves as a standard action.
Combat Expertise +/-3 Bonus to AC in exchange for an equal penalty to attack.
Combat Reflexes (8 AoO/round) Can make extra attacks of opportunity/rd, and even when flat-footed.
Create Spawn (Ex) Opponents killed by Energy Drain rise 1d4 days after burial.
Critical Focus +4 to confirm critical hits.
Damage Reduction (10/magic) You have Damage Reduction against all except Magic attacks.
Damage Reduction (10/silver) You have Damage Reduction against all except Silver attacks.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Dazing Assault (DC 21) -5 to all attacks and maneuvers but struck foes are dazed 1 rd (Fort neg).
Deceptive Strike +3 (Ex) +3 to Disarm CMB/CMD, Bluff checks to feint or create a diversion to hide.
Disarming Strike Critical hit's confirmation roll is a Disarm maneuver check.
Dominate (DC 18) (Su) As a standard action, can use dominate person on foe in 30 ft.
Elf Blood Half-elves count as both elves and humans for any effect related to race.
Elusive +3 (Ex) +3 Dodge AC
Elven Immunities - Sleep You are immune to magic sleep effects.
Energy Drain (2 levels) (DC 18) (Ex) Foes hit by the listed attack take neg levels, gain 5 temp hp for each drained.
Energy Resistance, Cold (10) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Cold attacks.
Energy Resistance, Electricity (10) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Electricity attacks.
Fast Healing 5 (Ex) Heal damage every round unless you are killed.
Gaseous Form (At will) (Su) Can assume gaseous form, except with 20 ft speed and perfect maneuverability.
Improved Disarm You don't provoke attacks of opportunity when disarming.
Low-Light Vision See twice as far as a human in low light, distinguishing color and detail.
Power Attack -3/+6 You can subtract from your attack roll to add to your damage.
Shadowless (Ex) A vampire casts no shadows and shows no reflection in a mirror.
Singleton +2 (Ex) +2 to hit and damage when weilding a one-handed melee weapon.
Spider Climb (Ex) A vampire can climb sheer surfaces as though under the effects of a spider climb spell.
Timely Tip (Ex) Disarm maneuver as a free action to remove target's shield AC for your next attack.
Undead Traits Undead have many immunities and use Cha in place of a Con for all effects.
Vampire Weaknesses (Ex) Certain items or actions can ward off a vampire, while others destroy it.

Turkaen:

Turkaen the Knife CR 12
XP 19,200
Human Vampire Rogue 6/Shadowdancer 5
CE Medium undead (humanoid, human)
Init +12; Senses darkvision 90 ft.; Perception +27
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Defense
--------------------
AC 34, touch 18, flat-footed 27 (+9 armor, +1 shield, +6 Dex, +6 natural, +1 deflection, +1 dodge)
hp 125 (11d8+72); fast healing 5
Fort +9, Ref +18 (+2 bonus vs. traps), Will +5; +4 bonus vs. channeled energy
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4, defensive roll, evasion, improved uncanny dodge, trap sense +2; DR 10/magic, 10/silver; Immune undead traits; Resist cold 10, electricity 10
Weakness vampire weaknesses
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 30 ft.
Melee +2 human-bane quarterstaff +11/+6 (1d6+5/1d6+3+2d6 vs. Human) and
slam +5 (1d4+1)
Special Attacks blood drain, children of the night, create spawn, dominate (DC 20), energy drain (2 levels, DC 20), sneak attack +3d6
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 11th; concentration +16)
2/day—silent image (DC 16)
1/day—shadow conjuration
—vanishing trick
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str 16, Dex 26, Con —, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 20
Base Atk +7; CMB +10; CMD 30
Feats Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Extra Ki, Improved Initiative, Improved Two-weapon Fighting, Lightning Reflexes, Mobility, Toughness, Two-weapon Defense, Two-weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (quarterstaff)
Skills Acrobatics +22, Bluff +27, Climb +7, Craft (traps) +13, Diplomacy +19, Disable Device +27, Perception +27 (+30 to locate traps), Perform (dance) +10, Sense Motive +11, Sleight of Hand +22, Stealth +30, Swim +7; Racial Modifiers +8 Bluff, +8 Perception, +8 Sense Motive, +8 Stealth, ki jump (running start)
Languages Common
SQ change shape, gaseous form, hide in plain sight, ki pool, ki stealth, rogue talents (combat trick), rogue talents (ki pool, offensive defense, vanishing trick), shadow jump, shadowless, spider climb, summon shadow, trapfinding +3
Other Gear +5 mithral chain shirt, +2 human-bane quarterstaff, ring of protection +1, masterwork tool, thieves' tools, masterwork
--------------------
Special Abilities
--------------------
Blood Drain (Ex) Suck blood for 1d4 CON dam when pin foe and gain 5 Hp.
Change Shape (dire bat or wolf, beast shape II) (Su) You can change your form.
Channel Resistance +4 +4 bonus to save vs. Channel Energy.
Children of the Night (1/day) (Su) Call forth rats, bats or wolves as a standard action.
Combat Reflexes (9 AoO/round) Can make extra attacks of opportunity/rd, and even when flat-footed.
Create Spawn (Ex) Opponents killed by Energy Drain rise 1d4 days after burial.
Damage Reduction (10/magic) You have Damage Reduction against all except Magic attacks.
Damage Reduction (10/silver) You have Damage Reduction against all except Silver attacks.
Darkvision (90 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Defensive Roll (1/day) (Ex) When reduced below 0 Hp by an attack, can attempt to halve dam with Reflex save.
Dominate (DC 20) (Su) As a standard action, can use dominate person on foe in 30 ft.
Energy Drain (2 levels) (DC 20) (Ex) Foes hit by the listed attack take neg levels, gain 5 temp hp for each drained.
Energy Resistance, Cold (10) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Cold attacks.
Energy Resistance, Electricity (10) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Electricity attacks.
Evasion (Ex) If you succeed at a Reflex save for half damage, you take none instead.
Fast Healing 5 (Ex) Heal damage every round unless you are killed.
Gaseous Form (At will) (Su) Can assume gaseous form, except with 20 ft speed and perfect maneuverability.
Hide in Plain Sight (Su) You can use Stealth even while observed, as long as there is a shadow within 10'
Improved Uncanny Dodge (Lv >=15) (Ex) Retain DEX bonus to AC when flat-footed. You cannot be flanked unless the attacker is Level 15+.
Ki Jump (Running Start) (Su) Jumping is always counted as being at a running start.
Ki Pool (Su) You have a ki pool equal to 1/2 your monk level + your Wisdom modifier.
Ki Stealth A ninja can spend 1 point from her ki pool to give herself a +4 insight bonus on Stealth skill checks for 1 round.
Mobility +4 to AC vs. AoO provoked by moving out of or through a threatened area.
Offensive Defense (Ex) Sneak attack grants a +1 dodge bonus to AC for each die rolled vs. that foe.
Shadow Jump (4 10-ft inc/day) (Su) Travel between shadows as dimension door, but must start and end in dim light.
Shadowless (Ex) A vampire casts no shadows and shows no reflection in a mirror.
Sneak Attack +3d6 +3d6 damage if you flank your target or your target is flat-footed.
Spider Climb (Ex) A vampire can climb sheer surfaces as though under the effects of a spider climb spell.
Summon Shadow (Su) Summon a Shadow to serve as your companion.
Trap Sense +2 (Ex) +2 bonus on reflex saves and AC against traps.
Trapfinding +3 Gain a bonus to find or disable traps, including magical ones.
Two-weapon Defense +1 to AC while wielding 2 weapons. +2 when doing so defensively.
Undead Traits Undead have many immunities and use Cha in place of a Con for all effects.
Vampire Weaknesses (Ex) Certain items or actions can ward off a vampire, while others destroy it.
Vanishing Trick (Su) As a swift action, the ninja can disappear for 1 round per level. This ability functions as invisibility. Using this ability uses up 1 ki point.

These two are pretty tough imo, I made vlad a free hand fighter instead of a two weapon fighter so he could get his slam in more often. He has some powerful feats like dazing assault and when he crits he can disarm for free, with his rapier that could be a lot of disarms, making him pretty nasty.

Turkaen is kind of weird, I would try to do a lot of hit and run stuff, ki invisibility, run in and smack, shadow jump out. I think for both of these guys if you only have 1 attack, use the slam and get some negative levels going, if you stack them up on the pcs it will really cripple them


If you are using Traits, Belishan can be slightly empowered by the Magical Lineage and Metamagic Master traits. That rebuild looks pretty awesome, honestly I can say I've missed the Spell Perfection feat in the past, wow. I think ultimately, it will depend on if we have the full group there or not that night, but I like to be able to be flexible.

Vlad and Turkaen will probably give my party a run for their money. I can say that usually having a high AC is better than having tons of hitpoints against my group. Thanks for the write ups I'm horrible with stat blocks.


If you want more just let me know, I like doing them.

NPCs by the rules don't actually get traits, I can use em if you want though

Note that I rejiggered their items a bit, they have roughly the same wealth but turkaen has armor and a cloak of resistance instead of the +6 bracers, things like that.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

@CWheezy - that's an awesome build of Belishan that I will probably steal when my group gets there. Good stuff!

@James - I recommend you really work the dominate ability. If you go with CWheezy's rebuild then Belishan is fine, but if you decide to stick with script as written, then seriously consider ways to ramp his dominate DC via Ability Focus and Charisma boosters. Low-willed fighters are excellent targets that can cause a ton of havoc for the party. Since its likely there will be protection from evil spells, a greater dispel magic trap or two is pretty necessary here, which isn't a stretch considering Belishan's knowledge of the party and his penchant for traps. If you're feeling particularly evil, give a pinch of dust of sneezing and choking to Belishan. Since it doesn't affect him, it makes a devious escape plan.

Regarding your living tower idea, there was a similar environment detailed in the 3.5 hardcover Elder Evils in the Ragnorra chapter. You may want to check it out for ideas. Also, there is an excellent article here. It details dragon lairs for D&D Next, but can be used for any boss monster and has some very good suggestions.


For anyone who is interested and has Frog God Games on their Facebook we posted a group photo from game 36 on there.

Edit: I wanted to add a little something about Rogues, not to get into class warfare (pun!).

Rogues in Slumbering Tsar: Last game no-one in the party rolled more dice and had more tense situations than the rogue player. The whole table was watching his dice and waiting for him to give the go ahead. He might not have been the most combat heavy character in the game, but he was really excelling in the urban dungeon environment. Up to the point to when the players breached the walls of Tsar I think a party would be fine without one, but from this point on (11th level for my group) I believe a rogue will be essential.


I think you hit the nail on the head on the essence of what make rogues vital in the D20 world. Sure some clasess can do certain things better than a rogue. But no class has a wider bag of tricks.


@James Always nice to see other gamers in action! Once I get over the flu I will post up some of our group.

I keep telling them they need a rogue! The monk has 1 level of rogue and that is the best they have at present. Of course, they are paladin heavy. I am not sure Belishan's cronies can hit my group that averages an AC of 30 without buffing at present. Makes running the gnolls an act of futility as they can generally only hit on a nat 20!


James B. Cline wrote:
Rogues in Slumbering Tsar: Last game no-one in the party rolled more dice and had more tense situations than the rogue player. The whole table was watching his dice and waiting for him to give the go ahead. He might not have been the most combat heavy character in the game, but he was really excelling in the urban dungeon environment. Up to the point to when the players breached the walls of Tsar I think a party would be fine without one, but from this point on (11th level for my group) I believe a rogue will be essential.

Meh, if you want a skill monkey go Bard. If you want to disarm magical traps be an Archaeologist Bard... or take Trap Finder. I know I'd allow that one even though it's campaign specific.


The point of a campaign trait is that they ARE campaign specific, although you have the right to allow whatever you wish in your campaign. For myself, I prefer someone that actually knows how to play a 1E style thief!


brvheart wrote:
The point of a campaign trait is that they ARE campaign specific, although you have the right to allow whatever you wish in your campaign. For myself, I prefer someone that actually knows how to play a 1E style thief!

Out of curiosity what does "playing a 1E style thief" entail and why does it need to be a Rogue in particular? The only thing that makes Rogue special in any sort of "thief" capacity is Trapfinding and maybe the Rogue Talent Trap Spotter just so the game doesn't devolve into PCs saying "Ok we stop and spend a minute looking for traps" ever 10 feet. If we're talking skills, Bard outclasses Rogue with Versatile Performance while having party/self buffs and utility casting, and Archaeologist is essentially a Rogue - Sneak Attack + Awesome scaling self buff + spells... it can even have Trap Spotter if desired as it gets Rogue Talents.


James B. Cline wrote:


Rogues in Slumbering Tsar: Last game no-one in the party rolled more dice and had more tense situations than the rogue player. The whole table was watching his dice and waiting for him to give the go ahead. He might not have been the most combat heavy character in the game, but he was really excelling in the urban dungeon environment. Up to the point to when the players breached the walls of Tsar I think a party would be fine without one, but from this point on (11th level for my group) I believe a rogue will be essential.

Andreww from the forums runs a sorc(Wildblooded(sage bloodline)+seeker) archetype that is a rogue, basically.

The key is he doesn't generally have to roll, and brings a lot of powerful spells. When I played halfway through slumbering tsar every rogue in the part was a liability. Combos of high ac, no ways to get flank, and extremely dangerous fort saves are a killer


Firstly, the bard gives up bardic performance to take the archetype so there goes your buffing and he only gets about half of the talents a rogue gets. At 12th level the bard would have 3 while the rogue 6 2 of which can be advanced talents. Also, don't underestimate the affect of that sneak attack, picking pockets, moving silently and climbing walls. People try and play pathfinder rogues like they are fighter light instead of playing them as rogues. He can usually do more out of combat than in and can usually fight better than any bard. They are not skill monkeys, they are rogues. If you don't understand what that means there is no explaining it.


Just a note, vlad's disarm cmb with the rapier is +25, not +19


I agree with brvheart. Except for the last sentence - there is always explaining.

A rogue's ability to fight is their greatest liablity because they become so focused on doing damage that they forget that they are no good at taking damage. Sadly, the reminders are often fatal.

R.I.P.

(Rogue In Pieces)


brvheart wrote:
Firstly, the bard gives up bardic performance to take the archetype so there goes your buffing and he only gets about half of the talents a rogue gets. At 12th level the bard would have 3 while the rogue 6 2 of which can be advanced talents. Also, don't underestimate the affect of that sneak attack, picking pockets, moving silently and climbing walls. People try and play pathfinder rogues like they are fighter light instead of playing them as rogues. He can usually do more out of combat than in and can usually fight better than any bard. They are not skill monkeys, they are rogues. If you don't understand what that means there is no explaining it.

Good Hope, Haste, and Heroism are in every Bard's toolbox regardless of archetype, so they still fill the buffer role very well. Most Rogue Talents are meh, though Ninja has some nice ones; I don't really see that as too much of a selling point. I'd say significant scaling bonuses to hit and damage on top of the spells makes Bard a more able combatant than the Rogue most of the time as Rogue's have no built in way to increase their attack rolls (if you don't hit the AC you don't do any damage regardless of your potential damage) and Sneak Attack is situational.

I guess there is no explaining it to me. You described a bunch of skill based stuff that anyone with ranks can do as being the special domain of the Rogue. I think people are attached to the name "Rogue" and attribute the class with all of these special things that its mechanics don't specifically support. I also think it's considered a poor class for good reason.

Meh, there's enough Rogue threads to go around. We're just not gonna see eye to eye here, so shall we make our peace and go back to discussing Slumbering Tsar and never breach this topic again?


If we need further rogue discussion, I suggest we make a thread or link to an existing "class warfare" thread, lol. Thank you gentlemen.

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Session 4 Summary

The Cast: human paladin, human alchemist/master chymist, human cleric of Gorum, human zen archer monk, half elf ranger/rogue

The Tomb of the Sleeping Knight
The party had just finished defeating the azer and rast guardians to the tomb and were now poised to explore it. The rogue replacement joined the party - a ranger/rogue who happened to be passing by (I know, I know...we weren't in a very creative mood) They had a full rest first (I waived the random encounters because we started late) then entered the chamber where the rasts had emerged. I removed the scorching ray trap at the doors and instead presented a riddle/puzzle for the PCs to bypass: embedded in the doors is a clear crystal surrounded by gemstones - a blue sapphire, a red ruby, yellow amethyst, and a white diamond. Circling the gemstones were nine black onyxes and an inscription that reads: "Only the presence of light may dispel eternal night". In order to bypass the doors safely, someone must touch the sapphire, ruby, and amethyst (which represent the three primary colors that compose pure light). Touching any of the other stones triggers a symbol of pain and prompts a random encounter check. After triggering the trap once (the random encounter check was a "no result"), the players put their heads together and figured out the puzzle, causing the doors to open.

Aranea Arena
Since the party made such a racket at the tomb entrance the previous day, they gave Kolscillisk plenty of warning of their arrival and thus prepared for the intruders, using clairaudience/clairvoyance to spy on them. He placed web nets in strategic locations on the floor and rendered them with invisibility, cast his buffs and waited for them at the top of the chamber under an invisibility spell. When they entered he used confusion to no effect as they all made their saves. However, this caused another form of confusion amongst the players because they didn't recognize the attack when Kolscillisk appeared on the ceiling. Because the paladin didn't detect any evil from Kolscillisk (I went with the default neutral alignment for araneas) the party tried to speak to him, so he demanded they leave. When they refused the fight finally started. They all had trouble hitting him with ranged attacks while his buffs were on, so he hit the paladin with flesh to stone, who missed the Fortitude save and became a statue. Kolscillisk also used interposing hand to good effect on the zen archer and ice storm worked well on the rest of the party, with the webs hampering them as well. Eventually however, the party started dealing enough damage so he went invisible and made for an escape. During the battle, the ranger/rogue had successfully stealthed undetected and made his way over to the gunnysack in the corner and peeked into it. His stealth roll was so good not even his companions saw him. Now, because I don't allow magic marts in my game I have to adjust the treasure hoards to compensate. So I made the gunnysack a bag of concealment (which functions as a bag of holding but is attuned to the owner and to anyone else its just an empty bag) which also contained Kolscillisk's treasure. To my complete surprise, the ranger/rogue decided to crawl inside the sack (not aware of any of its magical properties) and was pretty shocked to learn he just entered a huge black empty dimensional space. For reasons unknown, he decided to stay in the bag (the player is fairly new to the game and often makes weird decisions). The funny thing was that Kolscillisk's plan of escape was to invisibly crawl into the sack and hide in there, and since he didn't see the ranger/rogue go inside we ended up with both of them in the bag but neither of them could see the other. One of the PCs saw (with a Perception check) the bag "stir" when the aranea went into it, so the party safely concluded that the creature was somehow hiding inside. They picked it up and started shaking it upside down and out tumbled the rogue and Kolscillisk. It was a pretty comical moment, and needless to say the party finally managed to finish him off. They collected the treasure up (I included a scroll of stone to flesh, I felt bad for the player who sat out most of the session) and proceeded to explore the room, first discovering the secret chamber with the black pudding which gave them all sorts of trouble - I think at one point it had split six times and nearly killed the rogue. They finally destoyed it, thanks largely to the alchemist's bombs, then discovered the...

Sepulcher of Argos

This encounter went pretty much as written, with the party befriending Argos. The paladin took an especial interest as their faiths are similar. As I had not yet provided any of the Tsar backstory to the players, I found this a good opportunity for them to learn some Tsar's history up to the part where the disciples of Orcus abandoned the city. Argos wants to learn the fate of the army of Light and has joined the party for now. The player who runs the paladin also wants to play a samurai, so I may rebuild Argos as a samurai and give him to the player to use. I'm still undecided at this point.

End of session. No casualties, one petrified PC.


I will agree to disagree as we are so friendly on this discussion.


Argus as a warpriest would be cool. He is fine as a fighter as well, although I did a little bit of a rebuild for him. Some of his feats seem weird

To me, he is a paladin. Maybe not in class, but his actions and story all say "Paladin".


brvheart wrote:
I will agree to disagree as we are so friendly on this discussion.

Then all is well in the world :p

That aside I haven't typed up an update in a while, so I think I'm going to do that now.

Session 2 continued

To keep things short: Haha, oh wow. The slightly longer version of the end of session 2 involves one successful perception check, several failed DC 19 fort saves versus petrification, and the DM feeling bad and lowering the DC to 15 so that at least one PC made it.

Full version: Upon entering the rift genesis the party picked their way through the mud pools and filth but something seemed wrong... perception checks were made and only Bol realized something was lurking in the mud pool behind them. So he did the obvious thing and pointed to the pool and called out "There's something there!" at which point the entire party turned to look one head of the basilisk directly in the face. Roll fort! FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL. At this point I decided to show mercy (a weakness I know) and decided that sinse the it all happened so fast and so chaotically they would have gotten a +4 bonus versus the gaze attack so now Bol and Beltin made it while poor BW and Phil started to enjoy their new lives as statues. The two headed basilisk went down like a chump unfortunately the next round, but I did get to enjoy BW's out of character panic as I described the basilisk corpse sinking slowly into the primordial muck, perhaps never to be seen again, lost forever... and then Beltin made knowledge check concerning the blood of a basilisk restoring the victims so his undead Gurg was able to pull it out. I had one last bit of fun by pointing out the corpse had enough blood to restore 1d2 creatures... the dice were on the players side there, so both were restored.

No casualties and DING, level 8.

Session 3

-Beltin (Aasimar Dirge Bard/Cleric 8)
-Bol (Tiefling Vivisectionist Rage Chemist/Barbarian 8)
-Phil (player kept his sheet again so his character gets to keep his name; Oread Ranger/Empyreal Sorc 8) - Absent player
-Glira Cross (Human Gunslinger/Magus 8) - Absent Player, now dropped from game
-Bradley Weatherby (Dervish Dancer 8 /Knife Master Rogue 7 / Duelist 1)
-"Sun Bro" (Can't remember his character name or classes, but they are no longer relevant as you will see). He is a warrior from a tribe of sun worshiping nomads in the desert to the north and he and several other warriors were sent on a pilgrimage to the Pillars of "Light" (ie Orcus) to restore his tribe's fortunes, but a flash flood in the rift claimed the lives of his companions. Now alone and lacking ranks in Survival, Sun Bro continued his search for the pillars, seeing his misfortune as a test of his mettle. Being completely lost just made it more challenging.

Day 4. The party met and nearly killed Sun Bro as he was climbing toward the rift genesis and they into the rift proper; they met almost directly below the chasm in the road. Skelly Gurg was leading the way with orders to attack anything ahead when suddenly perception checks. What's that Gurg? You sense something ahead and you have orders? CHARGE. Meanwhile from around the bend Sun Bro heard what sounded like a troop of something at the same time Gurg heard him, so he found an opening in the rift wall and hid. From his vantage point he saw some horrifying things: a gigantic bloody corpse carrying a great club the size of tree trunk... then several archers made of the same stuff. "Holy s**& what's that" goes through his mind as he sees Bol, a walking abomination if there ever was one, walk around. The man on the undead flying mount is strange as well. The sight of BW, a man of fashion (now ruined and tattered) and taste, confuses him, but he's seen enough to know that these are bad people. So he waits. Bol is suspicious and drinks an extract for scent and s+&% gets real. He engages and nearly kills Sun Bro who is hiding in the rift before diplomacy prevails and each realizes the other isn't a creature of the Desolation. Sun Bro has joined the party! While this is happening, Beltin sees the remains of the smited hydra from the bridge and happily adds it to his menagerie.

After hearing the story of the flash flood (and me out of game letting the players see what it does), BW is completely paranoid and takes to riding the newly created hydra as it climbs along the cliff wall... 40 feet up just to be safe. Traveling. What's this? A wild black pudding has appeared! And oh wow does it appear with its surprise round followed directly by its turn it earned with a nat 20 initiative. I think BW thinks I want him dead... the portion of the wall the hydra is climbing on suddenly begins to move and squirt out, grabbing and digesting. BW makes a reflex save and is given the choice of taking it with the hydra or jumping, and choices to feather wall his way down to relative safety. Knowledge dungeoneering checks! Failed? Excellent! The hydra battles the black pudding, biting it repeatedly, which turns out to be a poor choice. Split, split, split, split, etc. Most of the smaller puddings rain down on the party below and some remain attempting to consume the hydra. As no one knows how to stop the splitting it keeps going until it can go no more and the party is almost overwhelmed for a second. Sun Bro goes down and begins to be consumed. Bol is nearly there too. BW's favorite non-magical kukri gets corroded to uselessness. But alas they can only split so much and eventually the puddings were defeated.

Beltin goes over to check on Sun Bro with BW, when BW stops him and suggests they check his bag first... and they find something that makes them happy. Sun bro was carrying all the wealth of his tribe to (literally) pay homage to the sun, 10,000 gold worth of gems. Beltin and BW make an accord, agree to split it (though it all goes into BW's handy haversack for the moment), and then fill up the sack it was in with rocks and return it to their tribal friend's bag. Bol is off in his own little world, unaware of this or I'm sure he would have wanted in. They bring Sun Bro up and continue on their way.

As they continue on, they realize just how large the rift is and how they are essentially having some needle and haystack action going on, so Beltin flies up out of the rift to try to scout anything they should head towards. He comes up at just the right time and sees a fairly large group of winged creatures descending into below the lip of the rift and they realize if they continue east they will reach that spot, which is actually the lair of the spitting gargoyles. As the caravan was attacked by flying creatures, this seems like a good lead. Onward!

A little bit later as they are descending a series of short drops in the rift they encounter a group of 5 margoyles, which don't do much overall, but the party has difficulty breaching the DR/magic and the fight is more difficult then it perhaps should have been. One of them breaks away and escapes, but the party has no idea if these creatures are related to the ones they saw before... they are.

As it is nearly nightfall they see a wounded margoyle, the one who got away several hundred feet up... and he disappears into the wall. Huh, maybe there's a cave up there? Bol turns invisible and flies up to investigate. As he goes up higher he hears horrible laughing and ripping noises and sees a grotesque scene; more creatures like the ones they fought tearing apart the wounded one who had returned. The conversation is half terran, half common so Bol gets the impression the wounded creature was murdered by his kin for little reason other than his cries of "danger" woke them up early and they never really liked him anyway. Still, maybe they should fly out to check if there really is danger on the way. Screw that, we'll see em coming if they come says another and laziness prevails. Bol goes to leave, but before his does he hears a distinctly human cry come from the other cave, along with some more cruel laughter. He goes down and reports. More of those creatures, looks like a lot and it sounds like they may have Rupert Smitty and the other missing man. In the right spot after all! The party sees more activity above and realize the creatures are mostly nocturnal so they decide to assault them at dawn. A magical hut is made and time for sleep. Except not.

Night 4. As they are getting ready for bed, sun Bro discretely slips away and checks his belongings. He puts 2 and 2 together and realizes his new friends robbed him. He plays it cool and goes back like nothing it wrong but he has a plan. A poorly conceived plan. BW is on watch first and Sun Bro feigns sleep. Once everyone else is asleep his casts Deep Slumber and BW makes it and realizes it is time for violence. He begins to silently dance and Sun Bro rises, an unspoken agreement that this is between them, hence the stealth. No one else need be involved. If BW thought he was getting a fair fight, he was wrong. Deep Slumber again, this time he fails. Sun Bro grabs his handy haversack and flees into the night. He casts Disguise Self to make himself look like a woman, under the impression he will rejoin the party later disguised as a different traveler.

He ducks into a small cave and begins to search through the bag for his stolen wealth, when he suddenly hears a whisper in his ear: "What are you doing here little girl?" And then more voices, hundreds, thousands, gibbering, insane, damned voices. The three Allips who he had walked right into float around to block his escape from the small crevice, laughing and gibbering. They touch him and destroy his mind. Sun Bro throws the bag at one in desperation (it goes through and hits the wall in the back of the crevice) and runs. The allips pursue, telling him unknowable things as he runs, stroking him as he runs, and suddenly it all begins to make sense to him. He hears the laughter and the screaming and the gibbering is his head, but also he realizes, from his own mouth. As he runs back to party, they hear it too.

Bol steps out and is immediately fascinated by the Allips, but Beltin is not and he has a plan. He dominates the Allips one by one, but not before they bring Sun Bro down to zero wisdom. With the mad ghosts temporarily under his control he does the obvious thing: He commands them to go play with the creatures in the cave above. They happily comply and the party hears the sounds of screaming and laughter in the distance, finally silenced by a loud explosion. Out of game I roll 2d4 and tell the party that the Allips managed to take down 5 of the creatures above, which is great because I think they'll need every advantage they can get.

As the sounds of Allip battle from above trickle down, BW finally wakes from Deep Slumber and steps outside. He sees Bol and Beltin above the unconscious Sun Bro and walks over and nonchalantly cuts his throat for attacking and "robbing" him. They follow his back trail and recover the handy haversack and return to the magic hut to sleep and await the dawn.

1 causality: Sun Bro. Cause of death: Inter-party conflict.

End of session.

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@chaos effect - Nice recap, I also took petrification pity on my group when the paladin was stoned by Kolscillisk. I figured with the basilisk and Old Death coming up there will be plenty more chances for PCs to be turned to stone, so this was the warning shot.

I also enjoyed your description of the allip encounter. It made a fairly ho-hum monster (IMO) much more interesting.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

CWheezy wrote:

Argus as a warpriest would be cool. He is fine as a fighter as well, although I did a little bit of a rebuild for him. Some of his feats seem weird

To me, he is a paladin. Maybe not in class, but his actions and story all say "Paladin".

Yeah I agree, he has paladin written all over him. I'll take a closer look at the warpriest, but the player who will run him is big on trying a samurai. Not my first choice for Argos but since I probably won't use him as a NPC I may as well give the player what he wants. Besides, the cleric of Gorum is very much a battle build so they have covered that base.


Yeah, I thought that too on Argos but with 2 paladins, a LG cleric and an inquisitor he was just fine for my campaign.


My group made it out of the Crooked Tower on Friday. We'd finished play with them in the lowest level crypt and looking down the hallway at the various colours of lights the only thing they expected was traps and death. (No one in the party can disable traps.)

They had debated their options thoughout the week via email and decided that they were going to try and dimension door out. There were fears that it would not work because they didn't know where they were and where concerned that they may actually be deep underground.

The dimension door worked but the random encounter roll on their way out of Tsar resulted in Harpies. The only failed save was the wizard's fairy dragon familiar who made it all the way to a harpy's arms where it was grabbed and flown off with. (Harpy trying to decide on frying versus roasting at this point.) Some very good rolls managed to bring the Harpy down and there was great rejoicing.

After a night out in The Desolation with a secure shelter keeping off the storms and acid rain they teleported to the campaign equivalent of Bard's Gate.

While they were there the cleric and ranger characters announced that they had been too traumatized by the time in the crooked tower for them to return to Tsar. They were replaced by a rogue and an inquisitor. (same players) The wizard, who had died from a death effect, suggested that the party not use their True Resurrection scroll and brought out an oracle to replace himself. The unintended consequence of this is that the party no longer has enough teleport slots to travel the desolation. They're going to have to leave space in the two bags of holding that they have.

While this was going on one of Belishan's vampire cohorts has travelled to the camp and is preparing revenge having recruited the undertaker. (Her description lists her as having travelled to the camp at least twice in the past.) The back story for the character that killed Belishan included Belishan having ruined the family's fortunes some 400 years earlier. My hope is to start the quest for revenge all over again. (This player's backup character is the brother of the character who slew Belishan.)

The party has returned to Tsar and is continuing the exploration of the Crooked Tower. They didn't bite on the portable hole trap and after much back and forth just closed the door and walked away.

The rogue is playing in a weaselly self centred fashion - I think this will greatly improve his chance of surviving but only time will tell - two characters where grappled by the yellow musk creeper and his response was 'I can't stealth them out of that so I defer'. In the end the inquisitor had do run into the basement grab them (luckily the where side by side) and dimension door out with his cape of the montebank.


Session 4

-Beltin (Aasimar Dirge Bard/Cleric 8)
-Bol (Tiefling Vivisectionist Rage Chemist/Barbarian 8)
-Phil (player kept his sheet again so his character gets to keep his name; Oread Ranger/Empyreal Sorc 8) - Absent player
-Bradley Weatherby (Dervish Dancer 8 /Knife Master Rogue 7 / Duelist 1)
-Obnoxiously Long Name, aka Mac (not his real name besides the nickname, but he kept his sheet and his name was made to be ridiculously long and pretentious sounding; Ranger / Inquisitor 8). Mac was sent to the Desolation on behalf of the church of Muir/Thyr to investigate the evil that lurked there, but this was well before the current crusade was even an idea. It was more a punishment (i.e. death sentence) for certain issues with certain daughters of certain members of the church... if you follow me here. He has spent the last couple years exploring and cataloging the dangers of the Desolation, but has never penetrated it so deeply before now. Thinking himself a bit of a naturalist he tried to open a dialogue with the tribal gargoyles in the Chaos Rift. Long story short the tribe had two tortured captives when the party encountered them.

Day 5, dawn. The party buffs up and gets pumped for a lightning raid on the unknown number of combatants in the gargoyle caves. Beltin tells his Chimera and Hydra to start climbing, and then he takes off on his zombie mount with BW on the back and a skeletal archer in each claw. Bol downs an extract of Ant Haul, grasps Gurg in 2 of his 4 arms, and takes off. Woosh!

Now when they are near the lip of the cave their blitzkrieg strategy breaks down. Imagine you are a stupid tribe of gargoyles. You get one warning danger is on the way. You laugh and kill the messenger because nothing can reach you. Then several crazy ass ghosts show up and drive 5 of your number insane. What do you do later that night? You may be stupid but not that stupid; you stay alert. When the party gets near several battle cries come from all three watch towers and all 9 margoyles fly out to engage, with the other remaining 6 suiting up further in the caves.

Battle is joined in the air 30 feet below the lip of the cave! The skeletal archers manage to focus fire down several even with their negatives from being held in a zombie griffin's claws! Bol gets angry and any that get near him and skeletal giant he carries die quickly. BW, all buffed and ready to go, crits and crits and crits for max damage, 50 damage a pop. With a kukri. Beltin sings! And then gets bull rushed off his mount and barely dangles from the reigns. One of the margoyles takes charge and cries out in Terran with a cackle, "Kill the rotting flying horse and down they all go!" and Beltin gets to have an oh s!%$ moment as he has Comprehend Languages. Full attack, full attack, full attack go the margoyles! "..." says the destroyed zombie griffin and the now falling skeletal archers! Beltin slow falls himself and the archers and he eventually reaches the wall about halfway down and meets his Chimera and stays with it, but BW is having none of that.

Out comes the Immoveable Rod and he balances on it, dancing, challenging all to come. The margoyles accept his challenge and one gets decapitated, another loses a wing, and the third begins to question his life choices and starts to flee. With his foes dispatched, BW begins to acrobatically spin on the rod, getting ready for a daring acrobatic leap. At this point the three spitting gargoyles stick their heads out and do what their name implies. Bol is having none of that and throws the skeletal giant 30 feet air and into the cave mouth, knocking one of the gargoyles prone. He then spies one of the two surviving, escaping margoyles and takes off after it.

Genocide survivors? On BW and Bol's watch? Oh hell no. BW unclicks his rod and makes a death-defying leap onto the back of a margoyle, stabbing his blade behind its wing and the margoyle fights for its life as they both tumble toward earth. And then BW puts the rod in front of the creatures neck and clicks the button. Crunch! And one broken neck later it's out of the fight, but so is BW, too far down with no way of getting back up. He unclicks and feather falls to earth.

Bol catches up with the escaping margoyle a couple hundred feet away and the battle is short and the victor obvious. Realizing that his party has retreated, Bol flies down to earth and stands with the rest of them among the broken and tattered remains of the margoyles slain in the air above.

Gurg fights on and takes down one of the spitters, but alas he is only a stupid undead and they are flying creatures with ranged attacks. He goes down with only that one kill. Several spitters land and prod the bloody bones, when they get a nasty surprise; the hydra with its 20 climb speed has finally entered the fray! Attack! 11 damage... DR negates 10. The spitters laugh maniacally and kite it further into the cave and finish it. Flush with victory and hubris, the spitters begin to form up into a hunting party and 6 leap into the air to search for those who dared attack their nest. The standing figures below are easy to see and they dive toward them, screaming and laughing their maniacal war cries, perhaps some of that being Allip influenced.

The party was healing and saw them coming. Beltin tells his archers to play dead, and then tells them to drop prone when they stare uncomprehendingly and then goes Invisible himself. BW takes cover behind a boulder and stealths. Bol picks up a giant rock and gets ready. The spitters dive... and then Beltin hastes and commands the archers up. The volley cuts down one on the approach. Bol throws his rock and hits and one nat 1 on a fly check later, that spitter falling, falling, and prone! The spitters spit, but to no avail and those that landed get cut to pieces by the dancing BW and the savage Bol. Finally one remains, and after destroying one of the skeletons bows, he realizes its over, glares at the party surrounding him and growls: "Parley?" Bol refuses to accept his surrender, and about 6 seconds later he's making himself a nice spitting gargoyle cap from the creatures severed head.

High above the party can tell they are being watched, but doesn't care. They settle in for breakfast amidst the carnage, and that is Gurg hits the ground nearby with a white cloth tied around him with a crude message in blood in common: "Stop attacking. We can talk. We have deal. Wave fire if yes." The party briefly deliberates and then lights and waves a torch. Beltin shovels the remains of Gurg into his Bag of Holding, as Bloody Skeletons reanimate when destroyed normally.A few moments later there is more activity above. A sense motive check reveals its almost like penguin behavior; one is going to involuntarily take one for the team by being pushed into potential danger. A spitter is thrown off the ledge and recovers in the air about 50 feet down and then lands near the party. He eyeballs them and begins to speak. And that is when Bol smashes him with a rock and keeps smashing until he's dead. It seems diplomacy has failed.

Above, the party can see several spitters watching, one flailing about wildly. They ignore it and debate what to do. This keeps happening. And the DM begins to roll a d20 in the open every 6 second. Finally after 30 seconds, the air around them is ripped apart with a fiery explosion; the reigning shaman who had a +5 to UMD finally triggered that Fireball wand. The other split up and take cover, but Bol is done. He takes off into the air and flies up for battle. Alone. He rises steadily and as he does so 2 more fireballs slam into him, but he succeeds and with fire resistance is unaffected. When he is 100 feet down the figured disappear.

He flies into the cave and sees 6 spitters on the walls ready to act with three further back in, one holding a wand. The other two have their claws at the throats of two heavily wounded humans. The wand holder speaks: "You come in and we kill them!" They have no idea if the ploy will work, but they generally know these adventure types are into saving people so they figure its their only shot. Bol doesn't care about human life, but he does know that Bard's Gate will pay more for rescued prisoners, and regardless of his savagery in battle, he likes the money as much as any other self respecting PC. He agrees to talk. Wand holder tells him if they cease their assault they can come to an arrangement. Bol says he needs the rest of his party, but to give him the wand as a sign of good faith. They agree and the party comes up.

Spitters explain about evil magic far inside the cave that their leader wished to harness, but failed. They also mention that if had been here they would not be speaking, but rather peeling the flesh from the partys' bones at this point. He also calls them murderers, oath breakers, and child killers. BW tells them that the party hold eviler magic then anything they have to throw at them and glares at them. He also asks about Rupert Smitty, and is told they saw such a man but he managed to kill three of them before escaping into the rift. That aside, their new leader, wand holder, went on, destroy the evil within, stop killing us, and we will give you these prisoners, some information, and some loot. The party demands the prisoners in advance. The leader asks if he looks like an idiot. They eventually come to terms and get one prisoner and his gear in advance; Mac joins the party! They also manage to convince the spitters to allow them to roll a potion over for the wounded prisoner. They force it down his throat and he starts to moan in indescribable agony. Close enough, at least he won't die now, says the party and they go on. Beltin slips the hydra remains into his bag while the conversation is happening, as he entered invisible.

The party goes into the blocked passage and they see the long drop, waterfall, and pool below and after much discussion finally go down to the ledge ready to be attacked... and are not. Slightly disappointed, they continue onward but keep an eye on the pool behind them when it is in view just in case. Finally they reach what appears to be a fairly large lake deep in the caves. The water is clear and lit with some sort of luminescent moss. Dark patches of what appears to be seaweed floats in clumps in areas, but besides that nothing. Some of the seaweed residue also appears to be on the walls, which the party then begins to examine for secret doors. A few spots of Olive Slime land and slide down some shirts, with PCs being none the wiser. The skeletons stand at the edge of the lake. Eventually Beltin and Mac notice one of the seaweed patches moving near them and as Beltin quietly orders Gurg to be ready, it moves quickly to the ledge, and jumps out, revealing a bones bound together with a plant like substance instead of muscle. It tries to push past Gurg and the archers to reach living creatures, but fails. The undead pommel it and then Mac and BW move in for the kill... and it explodes onto them.

Mac, always the dry academic, then successfully makes his knowledge nature check and tells them that he has heard of this. It truly is a fascinating organism, Olive Slime, with how it mind controls its host into caring for it and protecting it as it consumes it before finally using its bones for movement. It's amazing really. At the mention of mind control I ask for Will saves as everyone is covered. Everyone but BW makes it. The other start to remove it, but BW refuses saying its not hurting anything. As the party gets ready to subdue him, Bol has a better idea. He pulls out his Decanter of Endless Grain Alcohol and BW is drenched with the force of a fire house. Beltin casts Spark and then BW gets to stop, drop, and roll. After being put out, BW thanks them and Bol cleanses of all residue via his improvised flame thrower. They find the bones of the leader among the residue, but decide to rest before heading back to the spitters; they intended to finish the genocide as soon as they got the other prisoner, so they would near their strength. They gather some of the boiled cave fish from the lake, have dinner, and sleep.

Day 6. The party returns to the spitters and gives them the remains and tells how they were a greater evil than that below. The spitters seem inclined to agree. They are brought onto the torture plateau and see on the other end the current leader, with his claws at the throat of the caravan survivor, who is now in the same condition he was in before being healed. He asks if they think him stupid; he knows what they will do if he gives the hostage, but he can change that. He has an offer. He tells them of the arrangement with Clantock and offers them the same deal as they are mightier than he. If they leave them in peace and pass info to them about good groups to hit and/or point weak adventurers their way they will give them a cut as tribute. At the mention of continuing "tribute" the party was sold, besides Mac and he voices his displeasure about it and the spitter hospitality, but does it in an incredibly dry, mellow, "that wasn't cool guys, kinda way." I think the player is going to play him like a stoner. The spitter leader suggests they could trade Mac back to them as a prisoner... and the party considers before I tell them I was joking, please don't kill the same guy's character two games in a row (Mac's player found it funny though so no hard feelings).

The deal is made and the party gets the treasure haul according to the book! Wow is there a lot, but it's only about a third of what the spitters have; it is obviously going to be a profitable venture with them... the PCs reconsider genocide out of greed, but decide not to when I say its all just mundane wealth and all the magic was from the caravan. They consider withholding some of it as Samar said he wanted the cargo back as part of the contract, but then they remember (i.e. are told by me) that according to the found manifest only the nonmagic goods were actually owned by the caravan; the rest were the property of the enterprising wizard who booked passage/was hired to help the caravan, and he's dead so finders keepers. And there was much rejoicing among the PCs, who then stole two bottles of the 100 gold per wine anyway to celebrate. (Fun fact: After they killed the Slime Zombie and searched the pool for treasure only to find none, Beltin's player give me a dirty look and said they were never going to get loot in this campaign. Joke's on you, a~$~&*!! :p)

End of Session, Casualties = 1 zombie griffin. Beltin has to walk now.

For next time I think I'm going to introduce a set of rings that can allow long range communication via code before the PCs leave the cave. Think it will be like it has a stone on it that with a command word changes it one of three colors. When it is used on one ring, its matched ring will change as well regardless of distance as long as they are on the same plane. Spitter leader told the PCs that they have a designated dead drop for Clantock's share and they can use it for their operation once he's out of the way, but I didn't mention a way for them to contact the spitters. Clantock will have one ring and the Spitter leader the other, though not for long obviously; once they kill him (and they plan to, after exposing his treachery to Samar for gold... leaving out the part about how they are taking over his end of the venture) they can work it out from there.


Quite epic chaoseffect.

It's neat to see the different styles of play with the different groups.


Lost my post again. Sounds like an entertaining group there!


@brvheart

You're going to have to start writing them down on paper and using snail mail.

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