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

Advice and Rules Questions

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@Majuba - I had a tough time selling Telophonus to my players, who insisted the god must be evil. I was trying to convince them that would make an awesome concept for a nature character in the party. I'll look around on the pathfinder wiki, maybe I can find something easier for them to wrap their heads around. So far we are just using the dieties as is, but the players worship Golarion ones, I was concerned that my players have no clue who Thyr and Muir are, since they play an important role as background. I just have to say those are local gods of the region who represent another face of the gods they know. My players also have a soft spot for Father Death, even though he is creepy.

If I used Zyphus, my players might not stop laughing until the session is over. Now I have to go look up the god of accidental death, lol. They roll WAY to many 1's. Though seriously, I bet its actually a pretty cool diety.

@James Thyr is a Norse deity Tyr and is listed in the original Deities and Demigods. Muir is perfect for me as a god of paladins. They are both old gods and are not that well worshiped any longer in the Lost Lands. I guess the fact that I have been using them off and on for 12 years makes it easier for my players although I do get my share of new players.

My party had just come back from a resupply day at the camp. Upon coming back up the road they first ran into the hydra and then a wandering monster out of the Boiling Lands. Basically they had played out the rift and were looking for the next area to explore anyway. They have the players map with the four quadrants so they can choose where to explore.

@ James

It was a best laid plans thing:

Our Paladin nixed de-stoning the ranger because of her evil vibe but he didn't smash her and I expect that some day they'll realize that gear was left behind by doing this.

Similar for the Sorcerer except their logic was that they already have one slow little character (a gnome) and they don't want any others. It was more a let's pick on the gnome thing than anything else.

In the end they chose a dwarf because he looked roguish and they've had some unhappy experiences with traps and a wizard because the archane magic users in the group wanted his spell books. The rogue is still with them but the wizard teleported away when the party was being particularly disfuctional and a retriever showed up. (Illusionary)

My group is now at the crossroads having explored the Rift pretty thoroughly. While there the Ragechemist's alter ego wished to be the ego 'in charge'. I'm still working on how that will play out.

They have also decided that they are about to head into the boiling lands or maybe just go straight for Tsar just to see if what is there is as bad as they have been told. (Fortune favours the bold eh?)

11/25/13 Monday Night (short game)
The adventurer's still battered from killing all the Gargoyles in C6-everything were talking about making camp and still haven't released the elven captive instead opting to heal him and deal with him a little bit later. They started clearing the area for a campsite.

Attacking the Darkness
(Sorry this is cheezy, but I'd rather get people into game fast on worknights. This game has been really popular and word has gotten out about us trying to fill enough slots to play spontaneous games. We've got 8 players now, seven attended this game.)
Awakening in a dark room with no equipment and stone melding their hands to the walls were a male dwarven ranger (previously the player of the dwarven fighter), a female halfling druid (previously a human sorceress), and a male human cleric (a guy we are teaching to play Pathfinder). They had been there for more time than they could remember in the dark and had listened to the agonized screams of their three traveling companions as gargoyles had feasted on them. Surviving on bugs and water dripping from the walls the druid finally decided to shapeshift to get free and help her friends make a break for it. They had been hired as caravan guards for an elf named Holocrom, working with the Varisian Council to get the trading lane open through the Desolation. After some frightened planning, two stone shape spells later the party was free and they were able to remove the boulder blocking them in to the lightless cavern. When they emerged they found a small ledge with some of their party's gear on it and suited up. Unfortunately for them, they weren't alone in the cavern because another group of adventurer's was just around the corner and had heard them.

Base Party
The regular adventuerers had made camp and started hearing alot of bat noises, rocks rumbling, and clinking of metal so they woke everyone up and assumed a defensive posture in their cave. The cleric of Asmodeus standing off to the side of the opening with his weapon raised. The ranger and magus took positions far to the back, while the lightning sorcerer took a position less far, but in the open. They heard someone speaking in common, but couldn't make out the words so they dimmed their lights and waited while whatever it was approached (the other party). The dwarven ranger heard something in the cave beyond and they made a tenuous contact, the sorcerer not letting on that he had several friends with him while they discussed some basics. Several minutes of high tension between the dwarf and sorcerer resulted in the new party laying all of their weapons down and walking into the room. After a bit of negotiating and deciding they had similar goals, staying alive and becoming wealthy, they made a deal.

Meals with Deals
By this time Holocrom (previously referred to by the gargoyles as "squirmy food thing, not for trade") had woken up and started moaning and begging for help so the new party climbed up and found him realizing he was the one who had hired him, they resolved to help him, though the others weren't willing to go back to the Camp just yet. The cleric of Asmodeus summoneed a planar ally with the intention of allowing Holocrom the opportunity to bargain with a devil for his trip back to town. The imp he summoned made him a more complex bargain than he had anticipated which entailed that the imp would be resummoned and be allowed to accompany them at his discression, for the bargaining of a more powerful and capable devil to escort Holocrom. The cleric freed him of his chains, healed him, and decided to think on it and recast the spell the next day. While all this was going on a chaos beast popped out of the ether and started sneaking up on the sorcerer, the rangers killed it, but not before it got a few slashes in on him, though he survived.

A night of Terror(able Rolling)
Camping at the top of the pillar, with their watchers patrolling the base, first watch was interrupted by some rocks falling from the ceiling. And then a group of 6 shadows, which were narrowly spotted by the human ranger, while the dwarf was oblivious (natural 1). Before it was all over the human cleric was reduced to 1 strength, the dwarf 2, and the magus reduced by 10. The party prepped restoration for the morning and finished their sleep with no more encounters.

Next game starts at 6 AM in-game time. The new players got a nasty taste of what sleeping in the Desolation is like. There is a large majority of neutrals in the party, with some good and evil peppered in, which may have complicated the big group forming. I don't intend to have a group of 7 or 8 all the time, most of us have restrictive work schedules, but at least we can almost always have a full group.

Here's the party, I've added some basic info.
Players XP Gain: +2135, Jody +3735


New Totals

Liz 96,275/105,000 Level 9 NG gnome Magus (has Sword of Argos)
George 89,135/105,000 Level 9 LE half-orc Cleric of Asmodeus
Jody 79,005/105,000 Level 9 race elemental(air)? NG Sorcerer
Michael 78,735/105,000 Level 9 CG Human Cleric
Hinkel 72,280/75,000 Level 8 LG aasimir paladin
Daisy 72,205/75,000 Level 8 NE half-elf ranger
James 55,875/75,000 Level 8 CG dwarf ranger
Brittney 53,135/75,000 Level 8 CG halfling druid
Travis 51,000/75,000 Level 8 human soulknife


I don't track players XP. I figure they are all adults. Yes, these FGG are popular! Are those player or character names?

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Ha, no those are player names. I keep up with xp just so I always know where the group is at, plus with all the character death and few corebooks, its just easy to centralize it. The only issue I've seen with player kept notes is stuff like loot, one player writes it down and disappears for a few months or two players write it down and several sessions later they have some extra stuff. Its not a big problem, but there has been confusion in the past. I know about half the player names, some of the new ones I'm not sure of.

Liz = Malind Crackles
George = Nam
Jody = Kaius the Powerful
Michael = New Player, not sure, just learning Pathfinder
Hinkel = Rogal Lightbringer
Daisy = Je'zella "Zella" Sewyn
James = New Character, not sure, also new to Pathfinder
Brittney = New Character, not sure, new to Pathfinder
Travis = Vistar the Eternal, has only played 2 sessions of 12

Yeah, its looking like one of the players is dying to read Rappan Athuk, he might end up running it at some point in the future. I've read pieces, but I offered to co-dm if anyone wants to dual run it. FGG is quickly becoming one of my favorite publishers, the style of these adventures is just really fun. I guess I like a less measured approach to my gaming.

I ask for scans of the character sheets on a fairly regular basis and ask the players more often where they are at.


Marty CG Arien/Wizard 9
Kara LG Katrina Dwarf Cleric (Valkyrie's Fist) 6 of Freya/Monk of the Four Winds 3
James K. LG Achadeus Dwarf Inquisitor of Thyr (Preacher) 9
Bill CG Archemedes half elf Ranger 8
Don CG Sabin Mac Charraige Ftr 2/ Rog 7
Boon Ignatius LG Silvervane human Paladin of Muir 8
Steve (new) human Wizard 8
Steve's wife should be joining us also. I believe she is making a ranger.

They have a writ of attainder from the Church of Muir against any evil doers north of the camp. This allows them to pronounce summary judgement on any committing evil/unlawful acts as defined by the Inquisitor that holds the letter. Yeah, he is from Thyr so they don't always see eye to eye!

Game 13 Indecision

Roster: Aasimir Paladin, Half-elf Ranger, gnome Magus, Dwarf Ranger, Suli Sorcerer, Human Cleric (gnome Barbarian);

The game started in the Gargoyle Cavern, the party woke up to the good aligned cleric dead, his throat gouged open. (The player wanted to try something else, but I didn't tell them.) They looked around for a little bit, but there wasn't anything to be done. The paladin convinced the party that they needed to return to the Lift, C3, for some reason. On the way they stopped and poked around in the deep canyon with all the bones and found a wandering barbarian, unknown to them he had contracted a highly contagious strain of ghoul fever (custom, touch, DC20, frequency 1 day, onset instant). The paladin shook hands with him but was immune. REaching the Lift during midday and seeing the signs the barbarian tried to climb the 900 foot cliff and fell almost ending his life, but breaking several bones. (I make players take a fortitude save when they fall DC10+damage, for every 5 they fail it by they gain the broken condition, -2 Attacks, Skills, Saves, Damage). They used a scroll of heal they found in C6 and he was back on his feet. The sorcerer then cast fly on the paladin who went to the top, looked around, and not seeing anything but the sign. He started tinkering with the winch, with no knowledge engineering nor disable device, he got it turning but couldn't figure out how to lock it or brake it. By himself he could barely hold it and he quickly grew tired and he had to let it go, it smashed to bits on the canyon floor. He was a little suprised when I told him he couldn't just jam something in it to stop it, I believe both are unusable untrained and I warned the player it looked like it required tremendous strength. He tried it anyways. With just a minute or two left on his fly, he flew back down and they left. I questioned the player later and asked if he thought that was something a paladin would do, break someone's equipment then leave, but I let it go.

They passed by sight seeing to the Pillars of Orcus, but didn't stay long. They had decided to go back and search near the gargoyle cavern again although the barbarian mentioned that he knew there was a wanted bandit in the area, I also reminded them about the basilisk canyon they had seen with all the stoned people in it. By this time they had spotted the fever, the dwarven ranger diagnosed it, but avoided catching it during the process. The paladin blew a few mercies and fixed him. I was hoping to have at least a few get infected.

They pushed their travel day by about 4 hours, but made all their fortitude saves. They made their nighly camp about 1 mile shy of their destination. During the night they were attacked by 11 ghouled wolves, 11 more ghouled wolves, and then 4 babau (+1 summoned in). The babau attack cost them the half-elf ranger and a wand of cure light wounds, though the paladin used Ultimate Mercy so he's down a level temporarily and she's alive but down 2. It was a rough night for them and the next morning they were stalked and attacked by a Nabassu demon, who was hard for them to find as he pelted them with telekenesis boulders from the canyon ledge. They killed him pretty quick when they saw him finally. Game wrapped as they found the Sepulcher of the Last Justicar. Several party members were ready to return to the Camp because of injuries, the treasure of the gargoyles, and because they were toting around Holocrom as well with his broken legs.

It was a good game, though I was tired this week's been busy and I've been sick. I'm not sure if I was giving the paladin to much of a hard time about the Lift, but he didn't have any ranks and he had no backup. I also warned the barbarian about climbing a 900 foot cliff, but he wanted to see if he could do it, notably he survived the 230 ft fall, I think he only took 87 damage. By my custom rule I think he ended up with the broken condition 10 times, which also reduces movement. I'm not a big fan of 1d6 per 10, max of 20, I like a more lethal game, I almost just told him he was dead. The paladin is having the easiest time since he has 27 AC and his holy smite is incredibly effective here. The magus almost died in the battle with the Babau's, but the half-elf ranger critted and one shotted one for 120+ damage with her oathbow, which changed their focus causing her to get ganged up on, but it probably saved a few characters from death.

The lift was the largest reason why my party traveled by night and rested by day in the Rift. Interesting use of fort saves.

Did your players operate the lift or did they negotiate with the trolls? My group has negotiated with anyone willing to talk rather than combat.

Well I have never liked the simple falling damage, especially when it maxes out at 20d6. They've been using alot of featherfall lately, including the rings, which after reading look like they are caster level 1 so they are only good for 60'. The actual spell is good enough to save them from some damage, but the rings are lacking.

Today's my birthday, so we are gaming tonight, whoot!

Edit: For my b-day I picked up a hard copy of Rappan Athuk PFRPG.

Happy Birthday! Nice present!

They paid the trolls their fee. I have never had anyone fall more than 200' yet, but I don't agree with a limit on it. The rogue/fighter fell from the spire, but the cleric/druid wild shaped and flew down and caught him well before he landed. They had to battle some flying creatures in the meantime, but it just made it more fun!

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Rough calcs:

Terminal velocity for a human is about 120 mph ~ 176 feet per second.

Gravity accelerates you at about 32 feet per second so you hit terminal velocity after ~ 5.5 seconds.

Assuming you've started at a speed of zero you'd have an average speed of 88 feet per second which means you would have travelled about 440 feet.

You can easily argue that the max damage for a human is 44d6

Dwarves = 20d6 due to the drag caused by their beards.

Chefs with a chicken on their shoulder require an offset based on the bird's lifting capacity.

On a game oriented note:

The critter guarding the entryway to Tsar is listed as treasureless. I think that it's a just mean to do so. Has anyone else added treasure in?

Geo Fix wrote:

On a game oriented note:

The critter guarding the entryway to Tsar is listed as treasureless. I think that it's a just mean to do so. Has anyone else added treasure in?

I did not. (And I'm glad I did not.)

Treasure has not been an issue in this adventure. My group is exploring Tsar and they have plenty of treasure. The first main building in Tsar - Kirash Durgaut - has lots.

I have found the treasure in Tsar to be adequate. Some monsters will have none and others will have extra. It all balances out, similar to RA.

I think I'm going to go ahead and add the treasure but put it at the bottom of a few different tar pits. (They've been using Create Treasure Map.) It will be take away from the dragon but no treasure shock and give some opportunites for problem solving.

I've been telling my players routinely, "you have to go into dungeons to get treasure" monsters don't leave expensive gear lying out in the desert. They seemed pretty happy with their haul from the margoyle cave, though I'm having some fun with them about it. The noble that they rescued, I mentioned to them the he was hauling gems, wines, a few magic items, and spices, which is their "loot". They decided not to tell him they found all of it. A few of them were asking him for a reward, but he told them all he was ruined now and penniless. Since Sammar is dead in my game, they went so far as to send a letter back to Magnimar requesting a reward.

They've got quite a stockpile of treasure they have been sitting on for a while now. They've got about 20k worth of credit with the Usurer, who has graciously exchanged for various goods they have aquired. Though only two party members have claim to it as the others have died. I'll have my game posted later this evening when I find my notes, it was an exciting game.

I think they are sitting on it mostly for Restoration fees that Father Death has been charging. They've bought out the marketplace for the next few weeks for diamond dust and have been talking about trying to go to Turtleback Ferry and paying a caravan to come in with some extra goods.

As far as I can tell the treasure looks adequate, various oozes have broken shields, weapons, and armors but nothing has been destroyed yet.

@ James

I think the treasure found so far has been adequate as well. It's just that a treasureless dragon, of that age & stature, feels wrong to me. I haven't read far into Tsar itself but based on what DaveMage says I'll make the treasure a significant challenge to retrieve.

Have your players been using the Create Treasure Map spell?

Unfortunately my group usually plays only martials and people who do play casters tend to be fireballers. I've tried to show them in the past the power of a utili-mage and a non-combat bard, but it hasn't sunk in yet.

I might swap a piece of treasure out and throw it in there just to see if they use it.

Game 14
Roster: Aasimir Paladin, Half-elf Ranger, gnome Magus, Dwarf Ranger, Suli Sorcerer, halfling Druid; The player of the soulknife was watching not playing up until halfway.

Outside the Sepulcher
Last game ended in front of the Sepulcher, so they just had a look at it. They noticed an evil feeling about it and decided to march up to it to do some up close inspections. With full cover the Azizou demons had summoned three additional demons and they stood there invisibly until the party got point blank at which time they threw 5 stinking clouds and two fears. The sorcerer, the magus, and the dwarven ranger failed. The paladin rushed ahead while the half elf ranger started decimating the little demons, though I gave them a 20% concealment for the cloud (probably should have looked that up). The druid cast gust of wind and blew the 5 stinking clouds on top of the demons, which had no effect except to make the paladin roll a few extra saves next turn. The demons all recast stinking cloud again disabling at least half the party short of the ranger and paladin. They had some difficulty taking them out on that turn and the demons flew down en mass to flank the paladin who was suprised at how dangerous the little things were. He paniced and started using his smites while the ranger finished most of them off. After the smoke cleared they burned most of another wand of CLW and the druid used soften earth and stone on the slab after the pair of rangers failed to open it. *Note, I keep forgetting to use dim lighting conditions in the canyon, probably would have made this fight a bit harder for some. I didn't forget it in the next section which is why they only sent in the dwarf.

Inside the Tomb
The dwarven ranger being the only highly perceptive (rolled a 1) character who could see in the dark crept in steathily (about 26). He didn't hear the subtle chanting of the daraka buffing a room away. He looked around a bit and peeked in all the rooms but didn't touch anything and told the magus' familiar to tell them it was safe. The party walked in and the paladin had to touch the flask triggering a series of encounters. They started chopping up the lemurs while the invisible daraka chose its victim (I usually randomly roll who gets attacked). It teleports in behind the dwarven ranger and in the following round almost insta-kills him. He runs away and the paladin runs up smiting. They paniced a bit when their rolls revealed it was a powerful demon and they started making retreat plans. The paladin got grappled and dropped to half points. The group started firing spells from the back but nothing was doing anything, while the half-elf ranger with the oathbow scores a x4 critical with her oathbow for 124 damage. Still kicking the paladin with some kind of angelflesh trait starts punching the demon and makes all his saves. The demon drops the paladin to negative 4 in the grapple, the sorcerer starts using magic missles which get through, and the ranger scores another critical making the demon explode. They heal up their paladin after mopping up the lemurs and the party sorcerer goes all John Constantine over the remaining bugs and scorpions squirming on the floor. They heard Rat-Bait talking to the demon during the fight, but they never spotted him and he escaped. (I'm kind of glad, two oathbows floating around would be ridiculous.)

Following a bit of healing the party ignores the empty room (the dun pudding) and the dwarf scouts ahead seeing the vrock (beguiled hope) which hears the party and runs to attack. A bit confused by arrows coming from nowhere and the odd size and tactics of the vrock the party proceeds slowly to take it down. The dwarf ranger knocks it into the negatives and the magus makes her save when interacting with it and heals it quickly into positives. It attacks again and the magus starts telling everyone to sunder the chain, a bit confused after a few rounds the paladin manages to do it. The sorcerer was using ray of enfeeblement to weaken the hope a bit. After the chain was broken the Hope apologized for attacking them and revealed the ladder to the burial chamber. A bit aprehensive the party healed up and debated retreating until they decided to push ahead.

The body of the Justicar caused some debate about should they take the gear to carry on the fight. I think someone was pulling the paladin's leg and told him to get the Justicar's head so they could speak with dead on it later, which he about did. They also debated trying raise dead/ressurect, but decided it was to long ago. As the paladin goes to mess with the body the ghost appears and commands the half-elf to begone from his tomb, she leaves and he gives his speech then dissappears. The party does some debating about is it time to go to Tsar, but they decide that they want to explore the area around it first (good idea).

Climbing back up into the main area they decide to rest and the druid wall of stones the doorway for safety. The soulknife decides to go poking around and walks into the dun pudding which grapples him and the dwarf and breaks both of their armors and destroys the dwarf's cold iron weapon. Barely alive they decide to rest and get attacked by a dread wraith that nearly wipes the party. The soulknife gets turned into a wraith and attacks and 4 other members of the party are on the verge of death from con drain. The paladin, the dwarf, the ranger, and the sorcerer. At the breaking point they finish their rest period, but not being attacked by a group of 5 shadows. Luckily the rangers were on duty and noticed them, half of the shadows were dead before they made their first attacks, but they still took some injuries. The next morning they ride for the camp, pushing their horses to the breaking point, but the paladin has a few lay on hands after he raises (ultimate mercy) the soulknife.

The Camp
At the Camp they crash out and put in for some repairs to their gear with the Usurer a few sets of armor. The dwarf ranger buys a new melee weapon. They are very short on diamond dust for the 4 negative levels and 4 Constitution drained characters. Rather than waiting 12 weeks or so for the supplies to come in, if they are lucky. They start talking about making a trip over to Turtleback Ferry to pay a caravan to come in and deliver extra supplies. Game Ends.

I'm probably going to need some suggestions about paying a caravan to come in, though I saw on a play by post a group that did it. I'm guessing no discounts on items, and probably a (15 days [there and back], 2 caravan guards per 100 gold overhead fee) minimum for a dangerous delivery to the camp. They probably want to work this out as a long term arraingment. It's about 150 miles to the Ferry and its slow travel through the outer Desolation.

I'm also interested in having Argos return with some token soldiers from Magnimar and setting up a small military camp as well. A place where hired mercenaries and (future replacement) adventurers can use as a staging point.

Thoughts? Ideas?

Edit: Notes Appended
Game 14 XP - Travis entered game for the Dread Wraith and everything after.
***LEVEL 10***** Liz 107,480/155,000 Level 10
George 89,135/105,000 Level 9
Jody 89,010/105,000 Level 9
Hinkel 85,085/105,000 Level 9
Daisy 85,010/105,000 Level 9
Michael 83,405/105,000 Level 9
James 68,680/75,000 Level 8
Brittney 61,270/75,000 Level 8
Travis 54,200/75,000 Level 8
CR 8 Azizous 800
CR7 Lemurs 535
CR 12 Daraka 3200
CR 6 Beguiled Hope 400
CR 11 Dread Wraith 2130
CR 7 Shadows 535
CR 7 Dun Pudding 535
=8135 =3200 Travis
Liz +8135, Jody +8135, Hinkel +8135, Daisy +8135, James +8135, Brittney +8135, Travis +3200

@ James

Sounds like quite a good session.

I'm a bit confused as to why the group would need an entire caravan's worth of supplies and don't just send a magic user back to via teleport.

If Argos is going to set up a camp you also have the opportunity for infiltration by supporters of Orcus.

I love this thread

Thanks Grimmy, its been a huge help with my game and hopefully other people are getting some good info off of it too. I was reading some of the play by post games, but the combat gets a little bogged down for me.

As far as Teleport casters the Magus won't pick it up until 13th level and the sorcerer is looking at getting it when he reaches 10. I'm estimating two games if they get back out into the Desolation and really push, then they will have access to Magnimar. As far as the caravan they are trying to use the City GP Limit of a neighboring town with it. I'm going to probably allow it if they can make some diplomacy rolls and have a compelling reason why some merchants want to risk their lives.

As far as Argos and the "New Army of Light" I'm going to assume its a ragged group sent to him since for the last 300 years everyone has assumed the Desolation is lost, its been abandoned. I like the idea of having an Orcus cultist or two infiltrate it.

Problems I'm having with game.
-I keep forgetting Midnight Peddler encounters
-The Dead Fields and Boiling lands feel lower level than the Ashen Wastes and Chaos Rift. My players have avoided those areas being closer to the city.
-I wish there was some kind of teleport magnet or some kind of defense the city had during the war from teleport teams. Examples: Teleport Trap ( Resonably it may have had such things, they just expired long ago.

My players are finally planning to visit the Dragon Corpse off the side of the road, after weighing out that black dragons are immune to acid and they are loosing alot of equipment to acid. Several of them have been very vocal about avoiding it because they believe it is a trap or the dragon is playing dead, or undead. I'll probably have them pick up that in time it probably will become a zombie dragon or something else if it remains.

This is a great thread. Are you cross-posting on the Necromancer forums, or just here?

Just over here, though I have been using those forums for extra info.


I was having a similar problem with my group sticking to the road. I had the setting sun cause something to be visible in the distance, just for a moment, and they were off looking for it first thing in the morning.

I'm not too concerned about the teleporting - the Magic Users are going to have to hit level 15 before they can teleport the entire crew (includeing familiars and animal companions).

My group is just about to hit the Sepulcher, so glad I got a chance to read this first!

James B. Cline wrote:
the paladin has a few lay on hands after he raises (ultimate mercy) the soulknife.

You're kind (and I fully support it) to let this work, as raise dead doesn't work on creatures turned into undead.

@GeoFix: I think they're just needing teleport for supplies... also familiars count as their masters for teleport purposes.

@ Majuba: Thanks for pointing that out. It means they'll only need to be 12th level. (That's a few XP less than 15th)

For Tsar I think it is most advantageous for the party that they be able to teleport out because of the effects that come from staying overnight in the city.

@ James

The Midnight Peddler is a great opportunity to warn player's, mess with player's minds and have fun. I'm setting up an antagonistic relationship between him & the ravens and his personality is a bit Soup-Naziesque. (for flavour) He's also a good opportunity to address the dearth of roleplay options that you mentioned earlier.

I forget about the Midnight Peddler myself a lot. The Boiling Lands may seem lower, but the CRs are higher, just more creatures. Besides, I don't see an issue with letting the party win a few easy ones once in awhile.

Their encounter with the Ghost of the Last Justicar went a little different with a Paladin and all the LGs in the party. They met the ghost and were not wanting to touch a thing.

As far as the caravan, I'm hoping for one last good Oregon Trail experience before they can handwaive it away with Teleport. I'm tempted to put at least one Teleport Trap out there just to mess with them, but I don't want to stray to far from the cannon. IF I did add one it would probably teleport them into some old jailcells from 300 years ago, but far away from anything critical to the operations of Tsar. I'll have to think about it, but I'll make a write up for it.

I think I'm going to write myself a note for the Friday game to make sure to include the Peddler. We are going at a good pace with these long games and I'd hate to miss putting him in there. The only problem is that the two or three times he's passed by, noone has written anything down. I've reminded them a few times take notes or spend time in character creation.

I think my group approached the Justicar a little differently because I have presented the Desolation like a sleeping war zone where the players are trying to find weapon caches. The vision they had was "something that looks like a castle or a small fortification". Most of them are treasure hunters in one way or another.

The Big News is that we are going to be doing a podcast about this last game before the Friday game, it should be about 10-15 minutes long. Most of the players will likely be there to chime in on their experiences and opinions of the game, of course it will have some spoilers. Our club (South Mississippi Gamers, aka SMG) does all sorts of product reviews, battle reports, ustream, and I'm spearheading our RPG front. By and large the club is mostly a tabletop wargaming club (Warhammer 40k), but it has expanded into CCGs, rpgs, a swap shop, a flea market, and other game discussions. I'll make sure to post a link here. If you have any questions you would like them to answer I'll ask them during the interview. Thanks!

A link to our group forums,

Our groups name is Southern Dragons, but I can't get them to do any write ups yet a pod cast. We are currently running only Pathfinder games.

Our group is a bunch of nerds who are now old enough to buy beer. If we had a name it would be:

Team I'll be there once the kids are asleep team.

Looking forward the SMG podcast

Our average age is over 40 with a mix between late 20's and mostly 30's and 40's. I am the old fart at 57. My kid is 28!

30's to 60's with our group.

(I wonder how many first edition players there are on this thread.)

Probably a few. I played it from 1980-2000. Just dug the books out a month ago.

Got an official-ish answer on that whole Ultimate Mercy thing, I wasn't sure. -the

About half of this group started gaming together back in 1997 when I was 14, been dming since then. We started with Advanced D&D and quickly found the Skills and Powers book. I got my feet wet playing the original Baldur's Gate video game, which I was addicted to, and one of my friend's dad had the books sitting around. He brought them over and we've been playing ever since.

Looks like we are going to have a good turnout for tonight's game, let me know if ya'll have any questions for them. I imagine they would have some interesting opinions about the Dweller at the Crossroads if you wanted to know.

Yes, you will need Resurrection and not Raise Dead or the equivalent. I think the first computer game I played was Hillsfar. I may still have it around somewhere.

<raises hand>

One first edition player here, started in '83.

Tonight's game:


Kara LG Katrina Dwarf Cleric (Valkyrie's Fist) 6 of Freya/Monk of the Four Winds 3
James K. LG Achadeus Dwarf Inquisitor of Thyr (Preacher) 9
Bill CG Archemedes half elf Ranger 8
Don CG Sabin Mac Charraige Ftr 2/ Rog 7
Boon Ignatius LG Silvervane human Paladin of Muir 8

The party climbed to level 2 of the tower and fought Bashar, the Dwarf ghost. With the paladin having ghost touch and the Inquisitor doing bane he did not last long. They soon found his body and the two dwarves performed the dwarven ritual on his bones. They moved across the hall and fought Tlolox, the master of the tower. They were getting pretty tired of Poisonbearer Ghouls by that point. Sabin died and was raised with a scroll of Raise Dead. He had missed his fort save vs paralization and the ghouls coup de gras him slashing his throat out. He missed his fort save again for the damage. Don was not rolling well tonight, kept rolling 1's all night it seems. Finding the remains of the fatling they had no idea of what to do with it and after the paladin got bit 4 times by the worms they decided to burn it! Well the head exploded being all fat. Nothing lost except the potion of neutralize poison. They were not able to identify the horseshoes.

Resting the night it went uneventful except a visit from the Midnight Pedler (thanks for the reminder!). In the morning 2 Spawn of Demogorgon showed up at the tower and the party decided to split up to surround them. This meant the three that went down ropes (monk, rogue and ranger) got there 3 rounds ahead of the paladin and the inquisitor. The rogue again got the worst of it, but they were able to defeat the oozes.

All in all, an interesting night considering that they were short arcane support. The Paladin leveled up to level 9 just before the end of the night.

Holmes Basic Edition introduced me to RPGs back in the late 70's with my little sister as my player. Then I switched to Mentzer's series though I didn't reach the black box edition, (Immortals, I think it was). I graduated to Advanced D&D in high school.

The Pre-Game Podcast, ering.html?m=0

Game 15
Roster: Aasimir Paladin, Gnome Magus, Suli Sorcerer, Halfling Druid, Gnome Barbarian, Tiefling Rogue

The Tiefling's Journey
A player from our Thursday Skull and Shakles game decided he wanted to check out the game so he came in with a NE Tiefling Rogue. The rogue had heard about all sorts of wealth and treasure just lying out in the Desolation ready to be picked up due to some gossip around an old knight named Argos. He soon joined an ill fated caravan full of other mercenaries who were out to make their fortune, though out first the outlook was very positive it soon became apparent that this journey would be very dangerous. By the time it was a week outside of this “village” called the Camp nearly half of the caravan had been lost, killed, or scattered by the terrible storms and local banditry. Just a few days out the tiefling was separated and realized that he hadn't brought enough provisions and he started slowly starving. On his fourth day of being lost he found the Camp after weathering several acid storms and dodging groups of ghouls. He reached the Camp just in time to see a halfling traveler being strung up from the gallows, though he never asked why. He had heard some rumors about the city of Tsar and a dragon that ruled it, as well as that their were a few places locally like the Bender Brother's Inn and the Sip O Blood Tavern.

He stopped at the Inn and heard some ominous rumors about going out after dark, after seeing how the locals acted he did the same. The half-orc innkeep the player's hired wouldn't serve him until he converted for some bits and he went to meet the Usurer. It seemed as if he was impressed that the Blacksmith had a good con going. The other players were in the Inn watching all this, but I had described them as mercenaries so he didn't talk with them yet. Finally after grabbing some quick rumors he heard about some giant King who was supposedly buried in the city of Tsar. Some loud conversations with the innkeeper later the party introduced themselves and the paladin detected evil on him, though he was shielded by his Ring of Mind Shielding. The party welcomed their new “scout” with open arms and promises of wealth if he could do a good job, though they joked they had already been through 3 scouts. There was a lot of RP going on especially between the Magus and the Paladin, who was pushing to go to the city, some arguing ensued while the paladin promised the Gods would protect them. The magus argued that the 140,000 dead people or so in the wastes said the same thing, notably her character is a Neutral Good atheist, or at least she doesn't think they will help.

After a vote the party decides to head to Tsar, at least to scout, but to take a diversion to loot the dragon scales from the corpse on the road so that they can make some acid proof gear.

On the Road
They left town after two days. Encountering 8 skeletons who they rode past before they reached the dragon's corpse D1. The barbarian, druid, and rogue set about cutting the scales loose after some observation of the area, mostly looking for ambushes or the dragon itself to get up and attack. The swarm took them a long time to defeat and depleted them of their paladin's channels. Shortly after they were caught in a thunderstorm so the druid cast wall of stone to make a small hut. The storm lasted about 6 hours and they were attacked by a few ghouls. Being only a few hours out into the Dead Fields they decided to go back to town and rest up to start again in the morning, rather than camping.

And again.
Leaving town the second time they decided to take the main road, though they were attacked by a pair of Margoyles, then again by 5 more near dusk as they reached the Crossroads. The paladin got the worst of it, but they healed him with their wands. Rather than camp directly there they traveled about 15 minutes away to the West. The rogue had asked several times since he had heard rumors of someone who granted wishes. They explained their encounter with him as well as their thoughts that he was a demon. Game Ends.

We are gaming again tonight since they want to keep going. I'll let ya'll know how it goes.


Just finished listening, very cool podcast!

Game 16

Roster: Suli Sorcerer, Halfling Druid, Gnome Magus, Gnome Barbarian, Dwarven Ranger, Human Soulknife, Aasimir Paladin, Half-Orc Cleric, Half-Elf Ranger

Note: As you can see from above we had 9 people show up for the follow up game on Saturday. With our work schedules not everybody can normally show up, but it can be fun to run a large game every now and then. How did I modify the game for a big party? I doubled the random encounter sizes and gave them all a +2 to Attacks, Saves, and Damage just to balance it out. We didn't end up doing any fixed sites really, but I probably would have just added an extra few minions in or doubled the small ones.

Game Starts:
Organizing the Night's Watch (GoT reference!)
Last game they left off about 15 minutes West of the Crossroads 8pm, about to make camp, and the standard campsite is Wall of Stone to make a 15x15 building (2 entrances one West/East), Tiny Hut centered on the Stone Shelter, and Alarm cast at the center. Luckily we bought the desert flip mat during the Great Golem Sale and some wet-erase markers, works great! Watches were standardized for the large party into 4 hour shifts giving the casters unbroken rest.
1st Watch: Jody (Suli Sorcerer), Britney (halfling Druid), Liz (gnome Magus)
2nd Watch: Mike (gnome Barb), Hinkel (Aasimir Paly), James (dwarf Ranger), Travis (Human Soulknife)
3rd George (Half-orc Cleric), Travis (human soulknife), Daisy (half-elf ranger), Travis* (Human Soulknife)
*Ring of Sustenance requires only 2 hours of sleep, I've disallowed future purchases of this item to make it a bit less gamey. The magus has one two, but still needs time to memorize her spells.
Since the game was starting I was rolling dice like we were about to have an encounter, which tends to get everybody into action. I rolled a heat wave (x3 water consumption) with windy conditions (-2 ranged/Perception) for tonight's game.

First Watch encountered the Peddler although the Watchmen didn't want to leave their posts when they heard the wagon pulling up. They suspected it was the Peddler though they could not see out into the Darkness as no one had darkvision and perpetual cloudcover blocks moonlight at night. The Sorcerer with some reluctance paid him and bought a bag of sand and recieved a warning about Old Death. Unfortunately for the party the Peddler set off the alarm spell waking everyone up, but it was midnight anyways. The rest of the watch was uneventful on the Western Road.

Heading to Tsar
Judging it would take about another day or slightly more to get to the gates the party started heading to the city, they did well and didn't have any problems unitl 3 pm when a Bonestorm hit. The magus used her Tiny Hut to shelter the party and they pressed on trying to make some good time. At 6pm they were nearing the end of their journey about 4 miles shy of the gates when they were attacked by a massive pack of 20 ghouled wolves who charged in out of the dust and nearly dragged off the Soulknife, who was unlucky to not hear them coming and caught out in front. The half-elf ranger had time to cast longstrider and run to the rear of the party line. The combat was quick and brutal, but cost the them alot of healing. It was dark already so they made camp.

Camping near the City
The weather had improved as they set up all of their spells and watches, though they were unprepared for the constant onslaught that was coming. After about an hour another pack of 11 ghouled wolves struck the party disrupting their rest, though quickly defeated the Magus was badly injured and used a detonate spell to save her life barely. Watch had to be reset and the first watch had to pull double duty. Rethinking their defenses everyone moved inside the stone structure and the druid cast Stone Shape to seal the exits creating a dome instead, with brick sized holes 8' up for air. Around 1 am on second watch the party was awakened again as an alarm spell went off to a small horde 18 ghouls/ghasts stomping and trying to reach in through the holes. After 5 minutes of dealing with the stench and battering on the exterior the druid shaped into a badger, burrowed out, and saw the ghouls were rolling up large stones. They began battering on the walls. A short while later she was flying and casting flame strike, while the paladin and cleric burst a hole through the wall and started trying to funnel the ghouls in through one hole to dispatch them. The ghasts were smart enough to surround the building inflicting their stench to everyone inside, sickening a few. No one was seriously injured, though tensions were high. The party was questioning whether this trip would be to much for them. At 5 am an acid rain storm rolled through, but the Tiny Hut deflected it.

A little Town Called ______
The party taking a slightly northerly route spotted a fortification to the south, but chose to ignore it for now. They found a crater covered battlefield and could see the Black Gates and the Swamp in front when suddenly the gnome barbarian stepped on something that clicked sending the entire party flying into the air. They had walked fairly deeply into the Minefield. The explosion killed all the horses and ridding dog mounts. The party developed a plan to walk spread out in a line so as to not trigger more mines, though they were not perceptive enough to make this work to full capacity (survival rolls). The half-orc spotted a terrible storm coming within 3 hours (97% was rolled on the weather chart which means tornadoes and deadly lightning). They decided to hot foot it out of the minefield though the sorcerer, magus, and druid each set off another mine before the sorcerer decided to cast fly. They did plan to use their feather fall rings to negate some of the damage.

Running from the Oncoming Storm
Noticing they would be just short of the fort when the storm came, everyone decided to double time movement (endurance check). They definitely didn't want to spend an hour in the lightning and the small characters knew they could be blown away and lost. At noon they reached (D4. Firebase of the Damned) the fort only to see that it was a bunch of oversized siege weapons and a legion of armored skeletons at the top of the spikey battlements. With the winds driving them forward with no time to spare, they charged! Game Ends

Notes: I enjoyed running for a group this big, its been a while and I'm good enough with combat to keep the game moving. I usually call three initiatives at once and let the players go in concert, typically it works well. There was a minor flub in the minefield where one of the players was arguing if they walked in a line there was no way they could trigger any mines, I was trying to keep the game moving so I just said well there's only a 10% chance of them working anyways, it worked. The fight with the ghasts was way over the top because I had time to describe the creatures so even though they were simple ghouls and ghasts the players were really going all out on that fight. There was some great RP between the Cleric (of Asmodeus) and the Paladin about their reasons for being here. The sorcerer ended up getting the RP award for the night though for his rping about the watches and talking with the Peddler. The only regret I have is that the game was so large that some of the more quiet players (like the dwarf) didn't speak up as much as they normally do, but everyone had a great time. We are going to try and have a pretty regular podcast, maybe one every two weeks if we can. Thanks for reading!

Negative Effects: Daisy (level drained -2), Travis (level drained -2)

XP Appended
XP TOTALS 12/9/13
Everyone Else +4,000
Jody +5,200

Liz 115,815/155,000 Level 10
Jody 96,945/105,000 Level 9
Hinkel 93,420/105,000 Level 9
George 93,135/105,000 Level 9
Michael 90,140/105,000 Level 9
Daisy 89,010/105,000 Level 9
Anthony Ryan 77,735/105,000 Level 9
James 72,680/75,000 Level 8
Brittney 68,005/75,000 Level 8
Travis 58,200/75,000 Level 8

I lost my post:( Was saying it is a challenge with larger parties. Most I have done is 13 with RA. I prefer 6, but sometimes more show as you know.

@ James - I started playing @ 16, but that was in 79, not 97.

I'll be interested to hear how your group makes out with their next day of fun.

My group has just met the druids and one immediately started trying to buy the place from them. He's gone off with the druids to discuss a possible deal...

@Brvheart my biggest gaming table was 15 and it ended up with the good, evil, and neutral splitting into parties and then the evils paying the neutrals off to hunt down the goods. Luckily with this game it looks like I'm always going to have that 4 minimum I've required to run.

@Geo Fix - Well it looks like we are going to probably have a delay on our next game due to the holidays and all the work parties. I just have that feeling that the deal isn't going to go very well for him. I'd have them show him the exotic garden in the back I'm sure he's never seen a carnivorous tree before.

We probably will have another podcast between here and the next game, plus I'm tinkering around with youtube. I didn't see a lot of Slumbering Tsar reviews out there so I made a 6 minute video. Its uploading right now while I work for graphics for my club.

He just woke up beside it.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Ok here's my first Youtube video, don't judge to hard. My Youtube Review of Slumbering Tsar.

James B. Cline wrote:
Ok here's my first Youtube video, don't judge to hard. My Youtube Review of Slumbering Tsar.

Nice review, especially for a first effort. I have never done one, but then I am camera shy<G>!

Seven deaths in 16 sessions? Sounds like my RA game! We have only had 5 in our Tsar game so far and are a little ahead of your party. All but two of those was permanent though. I started my group at level 6 rather than 7.

Frog God/Necromancer Games is anything but new to me. I have been involved with them off and on since 2001. Most of their products are about the best I have seen. I don't play a lot of TSR/Wotc/Paizo stuff though. I am not fond of linear adventures. I do run one Skulls & Shackles game. I have yet to have a death in it so far and am almost done with book 2. In most of my games they average one death per 4-5 sessions although few are permanent except at low level.

It is interesting that you have had that much role playing in Tsar. Most of my players are not role players and are more 'roll' players! S&S and Razor's Coast are a challenge for them because they have to role play. RA and Tsar are more their speed. Hack/slash kill monsters and collect treasure! I was almost shocked when the Mithral Knight blamed their problems in RA last session on the rest of the party being concerned about rocks, meaning gold. I ought to give him some XP for that! Chaotic Greedy is the alignment of most of them!

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