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

Advice and Rules Questions

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James B. Cline wrote:

@Chuck Wright - hey no problem, thanks for putting out great products! Hopefully I'll get a chance to do some more soon, I should be able to make better quality next time, the club is going to let me use the good equipment. I'm interested in doing a Savage Tide, but Stoneheart Valley will probably help my ST adventure for more background. Is there a PF compatible version?

I know I am not Chuck but I am sure he won't mind if I answer in his stead. Here's a LINK to the Pathfinder compatible version on this site.

@ James
No XP for scrolls or items in pathfinder.

And thanks - I will use that shields story. My players don't know about the great pursuit or the 50+1 yet. They have a whitewashed history and I am planing on using Kroma's decendants to start revealing the truth.

Pathfinder Lead Developer, Frog God Games

Thanks for the great review, James! I'm glad you guys are having fun with it.

Wow! A Greg Vaughan sighting! Welcome back! :)

Thanks for everyone that has been listening to the PODCAST, i am Hinkel, aka Rogal RIP. i wanted to post up the links so people could follow the episodes on here if they missed any. I will ahve our direct host server link and the ITUNES link. And again thank you for listening

Also the reasons for the episodes being out of order is we are a club that does several systems not just Pathfinder. Enjoy

SMG Wargaming

Host Server

Game 16

Game 17

Game 18

Game 19

Pathfinder Lead Developer, Frog God Games

DaveMage wrote:
Wow! A Greg Vaughan sighting! Welcome back! :)

Hi DaveMage! Just in between test cycles at the tail end of Christmas break madness. I wanted to stop by and say hi before diving back in to the trenches again. Someday I'll get to come play again...someday... ;-)

Layout and Design, Frog God Games

Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
DaveMage wrote:
Wow! A Greg Vaughan sighting! Welcome back! :)
Hi DaveMage! Just in between test cycles at the tail end of Christmas break madness. I wanted to stop by and say hi before diving back in to the trenches again. Someday I'll get to come play again...someday... ;-)

You've only yourself to blame, Mister! <grin>

Layout and Design, Frog God Games

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Also - Thanks, Sasha!

Game 21 1/9/14

Roster: Suli Sorcerer, Elf Wizard, Tiefling Rogue, Gnome Magus

Note: We had to shuffle the game around and it was on a worknight so it wasn't as long as our usual game.

Hanging out in the Spider Pit
The group ended last game in the Broodmother's Lair (A8). The wizard decided to get the heirloom warhammer down and I had him see a loose piece of stone behind it, where they found a stone shield engraved with some dwarven writting. (Listed in my previous post.) Immediately the players were interested to learn more about this clan of extinct dwarves (they guessed). Deciding that they needed to make camp after the battle they setup a tiny hut in the pit, where although I rolled encounters, didn't make much sense to have them so for once I ignored them. The next morning they blew a few fly spells to exit the hole, but they decided to leave the stone shield since it was 20 pounds. (Though it would have fit perfectly with their collect lore items for the Pathfinder Society quest.)

Combing the Ashen Wastes Again
Their search pattern brought them over to the Tomb of Argos, but they decided not to go back in. A couple miles down away nearer the road they fought a pack of 6 ghouls and 2 ghasts who suprised them with an ambush (Stealth natural 20). The winds picked up terribly later into the afternoon and they used the shelter spell to avoid a Bonestorm. First watch had to deal with a pair of screamers, but the party comes equipped with protection from evil now and no one was charisma drained. The ghoul encounter on third shift was ignored due to their shelter. The next morning even with severe winds they kept up the search, making some high survival checks they avoided getting lost, when for the first time they stumbled on a Searing Wind. Seeing it from a distance they cast detect magic on it seeing it as just an area piled with weapons. When they saw that all the weapons were magical they became immediately suspicious and the wizard sent in a weak summon, which was immediately killed by the waiting construct. They launched a round of spells at the thing and the rogue moved behind some cover to prepare for a sneak attack. The creature rushed and covered them with its threat range dealing lots of damage. The wizard backed up and got off a teleport safely to Camp, he was gravely injured. The party went into retreat mode after everyone lost alot of life. A natural 1 on a defensive casting of teleport and the remaining party went into panic mode. They continued to fight with the sorcerer down to 7 life. The magus pulled off a dimension door, followed by a teleport from the sorcerer that got the remaining party out of danger. Back to the Camp! (Searing wind was down to 40 life.)

In Camp
The party's hired innkeep tried to hustle the wizard for a few coins when he appeared alone, but the party teleported in shortly after and vouched for him. They spent the afternoon resting and healing up. The Magus and Sorcerer teleported to Magnimar and talked to their Pathfinder Society contact Cerro (in the top hat) who went over alot of their findings with them. They basically did a recap of their mission and related all of the large sites and terrible monsters they had encountered. Cerro reminded them of their mission to seek out and retrieve historical artifacts for a "museum". The pair were concerned that Simon at the Camp was a vampire (not really) and he probably needed to be replaced as the PFS contact there. They were fishing for plot hooks and Cerro said they could probably follow the information they found on the shield and go talk to those dwarves at the hillfort they had spotted. They teleported back afterwards.

On the March!
+Half Elf Ranger joins Roster
They struck out for the dwarven fort (D6) the next morning immediately being set on by 6 ghouls and 2 ghasts, which they managed to fireball before they got into range. Moving quickly with their summoned mounts they reached the for by 2 pm where they introduced themselves while being overlooked by crossbowmen. The party did a few sense motive checks but were welcomed quickly by the dwarves and suprised to learn they were the remnants of the clan of King Kroma. Before they finished settling in we ran out of time. Game Ends.

Note: I meant to run the T-rex fight before the end of game, but a combat is a great way to get the next game moving. My group was having alot of trouble getting started. Our next Friday game is getting moved to Saturday, but it should be a long one. The next podcast will cover games 21 and 22, since 21 was so short.

Since they did alot of talking, I awarded a CR9 for RP.
XP Gain:
+1800 Ranger
+4200 Everyone Else

Liz 145,595/155,000 Level 10
Jody 126,725/155,000 Level 10
Anthony Ryan 113,100/155,000 Level 10
George 106,470/155,000 Level 10
Brittney 93,745/105,000 Level 9
Hinkel 93,580/105,000 Level 9
James 90,980/105,000 Level 9
Daisy 90,810/105,000 Level 9
Michael 90,140/105,000 Level 9
Travis 75,000/105,000 Level 9

You are slipping James, no deaths this week? I was preparing for this week and checking on the allied info and page 144 has a map on it?

James, you have really set the bar here for your replays and making me want to work on mine more!

Well it was a really short game and they were having trouble getting set. I'm really looking forward to that combat with King Kroma, that ought to add at least one, he's pretty nasty with those touch spells. Plus the magus figured out that one of her arcane abilities allows her to have ghost touch on her weapon, curses! Yeah, my players remarked they were on a "streak", I'm sure that'll change soon enough.

I think I'm going to take a page from your book and add Malerix to the encounter table for the western quadrants. I think my players will be sissies about going back out there. I was kind of hoping they'd go to Sanctuary, but they changed course with word of the dwarves.

The main problem with PC death now is that if they don't get overcome very quickly, my players have their finger on teleport so losses are going to be very small with 3 teleport casters, with 2 teleport scrolls floating around. I was hoping for more mayhem in the Minefield...

If there was one thing I'd like more of in this adventure, it would be dwarves.

I've been a bit slow to post this week, I've been on a Minecraft binge. lol

More importantly some game info.

References to dwarves:

Page 12 21 Dwarves in the Camp, as per dwarfy census
Page 31 The Peddler alludes to the Dwarves Embattled
Page 36 King Kroma's name appears in the Army of Light text
Page 65 The dwarven bunker built by King Kroma's legions
Page 122 Death of King Kroma, his questing descendants
Page 167 A battle where Tsar orcs are killed by a bunch of dwarves
Page 264 Giants appear to be dwarves
Page 328 Small reference to assasins of dwarves

Edit: This reminds me I need to check on podcast 20 to see if its ready.

@ James,

My group went through the Dwarves adventure last game. I'd tweaked King K by adding 2 more levels of cleric, giving him an evil mace of spell storing that looks like the Wand of Orcus and re-jigging his spells.

The only skeleton that had any effect was the T-Rex. I kept its swallow whole and added 1d6 falling damage after being swallowed for some slapstick. The first mass of skeletons was dealt with so easily that some characters were complaining about being woken up for nothing.

The second group was pretty much the same although a ranger who went to check things out on his own lost his animal companion to the vampire and its cohorts.

Kroma had some added summonings and an animate object (used on a wagon) that kept the party jumpy. The only party death we had was from Kroma's use of plane shift on the party druid. The druid had turned into an air elemental whirlwind and was planning to carry Kroma up for a nasty fall when he failed his save and was plane shifted to the abyss.

Once the rest of the party got close Kroma really didn't stand a chance.

There were a lot of flamestrikes, lightning etc. used during this battle in the night so there will be some investigation coming from the city since it's not that far from the location the Dwarves are at. I'm thinking Dread Ravens and, as a separate group, some Harpies looking for their leader.

I think the attrition will probably hurt my group here a little, they took some hits getting there and haven't had a chance to rest yet. The skeletons should eat up alot of their spells since they are supposed to be spread out. I'm sort of dreading having to put 100 models up on the board, but it should be interesting, my players have never fought a combat that big, short of Kingmaker. I think it'll be alot of fun, nice use of Plane Shift.

I'm planning on having him slap someone with harm and slay living and harm, with additional touch damage and paralysis, that could be gross. After all his buffs its nearly an autohit on each attack. Follow that up with planshift and it could be a fun combat, if he lasts 3 rounds. I'll have to make sure the combat is foggy otherwise they will ranged him down.

I was looking at all those cr 1/3 skeletons and wondering how much of a waste of time it is. Did it consume enough resources to make it worth it? I am considering replacing them with less higher CR skellies.

For the skeletons I just printed out 3 sets of the numbers 1 to 50 with a different color background for each set. I glued them to cardboard and used those. I still haven't read all the way through Tsar yet but from what I have read I know that there will be more opportunities to use the counters.

I spread the skeletons out but the first wave only attacked from one side. Once the skeletons got close they ended up bunching up and Wall of Fire effectively erased them. You'll soak up more of the party's resources with a 360 surround. If I was to do it again I'd have the first group come in from all directions and the second group coming in on a 270 degree spread with vampires misting in from behind.

I think brvheart's idea of some higher CR skellies works. The animated cart (actually a deceased player's gypsy caravan) filled that role for me and it's trample ability took down the low level dwarves - which helped speed up the combat rounds.

What I did like about the mass of skeletons was it gives the players a real sense of toughness that you get to eat away at as nastier and nastier things show up and and chew through resourses.

I also waited too long to bring Kroma into combat. He showed up just as the last of the other baddies went down and with our large group he was surrounded and unable to get off any spells subsequent to the Plane Shift. Having him memorize one or two uses of Grace will make him much more slippery.

We have a set of tiles that was donated to the group by a former player that is numbered 1-12 in six different colors. The other 28 shouldn't be too tough. I found some CR 1/2 skellies that would cut the numbers down some at least. I could just use 72 of them instead. Looked at higher CR ones and I think it would lose too much of the mass effect of it I am afraid.

Game 22 1/16/14
Extra Last Minute Game
Note: The Thursday Game I play in cancelled and one of the other players asked me last second to try and throw a game together, even though it was a short session it was nuts. We will still be having our long game on Saturday.

Roster: Tiefling Rogue, Gnome Magus, Suli Sorcerer, Elf Wizard

Squandered Power
It was 3pm at the Dwarven Encampment (D6) and the wizard talked Thane Fenris into speaking to the old war hero Argos at the Camp, for convienence they teleported there and back a half hour later. Argos didn't know much about the dwarven king other than the dwarves were probably on the right track to unearthing his bones. The party mulled over a few options deciding to stay the night with the dwarves at least. They were enjoying a free meal when the skeletal T-rex broke free of the ground, its immense size terrified the sorcerer so much that he grabbed the Magus and teleported back to Magnimar. With only two party members left behind the T-Rex slaughtered 4 dwarven warriors before the wizard and rogue managed to injure it. The wizard fearing the worst cast a few high level summons while the rogue crept closer shooting it with a bow using sneak attack. The gargantuan T-rex charged and trampled several people injuring them somewhat. The next round the magus and sorcerer teleported back within 100' and the fight was unexpectedly over with a fireball from the Magus.

Waves of Doom
The party was sullen that four dwarves had died. They were quickly buried and Thane Fenris explained the shame that had befallen his clan and the discord that the dwarven clans had been under the last three centuries, that his mission was vital. The wizard created a Shelter and everyone bedded down at the base of the cliff, thinking themselves safe they left no lookout on the shuttered windows. The mass of skeletons was literally at their walls when the shelter suddenly was dispelled. (King Kroma could obviously see a building where there was none before) The dwarves yelled to form ranks and the party formed a circle of death throwing fireball after fireball, the cleric Gorak used two of his three channels taking down masses of skeletons. The tiefling was killing a skeleton with every blow, but it was slow going. A little bloody and down most of their area spells the party was victorious, but irate with the dwarves about not warning them this had happened before.

Waves of Doom Redux
Healing up with a last channel from Gorak and a few uses of their wands the party healed all the dwarves as well as their light wounds. The magus cast a Tiny Hut just in case the weather got bad. The party was curious as to a fog that had rolled in, but stayed around. They suspected a necromancer was at work, remarking on the effects of the dispelled Shelter. Still they organized a watch and tried to sleep. The wizard and a few dwarves were on first watch but failed to see the approaching wave of undead until they were nearly on top of them (bad perception rolls). Using her last fireball the Magus killed them in a drove, every spell was killing tens of undead. The wizard and sorcerer decided to both cast black tentacles noticing that some of the undead were more powerful, possibly ghouls but looked like zombies. The dwarves held the line as the spells decimated the enemy over two rounds. At this point the Tiefling tried to argue that this was folly and they owed the dwarves nothing and that they should flee. The party held fast and decided to stick it out until morning, these attacks could be random after all.

Deciding that even Tiny Hut was not safe from hordes of undead, the wizard had memorized two copies of Rope Trick, so he climbed up with the dwarves in one, the rest of the party in another at the top of the hill. Wary and sleepless the dwarves watched over the party as they tried to rest. Only an hour later the dead dwarves arose from their graves, 21 of them and Fenris' men were outraged and poured out unable to control their rage as their dead brethren were desecrated. The party shouted at them not to go, that it was a trap. They watched as the dwarves were slaughtered by a flanking attack. Thane Fenris was brought down by the wizard inside the hut with a Deep Slumber spell. As the zombies marched on the hill the party decided to try and wait them out inside the rope trick, aware that they could not teleport out with their two scrolls while inside. With two dozen undead scouring the hill face and seven more approaching, the party decided they had to act. They could see the new arrivals were vampires and a strange red eyed skeletal dwarf. The magus cast fly and dropped a fireball on the zombies and wights anhilliating them. The sorcerer and tiefling jumped out and were teleported away to Magnimar, his last teleport. The magus was hit with a flamestrike that knocked her from the sky. And 4 wights and 2 vampire spawn ran to attack her while she was prone. Quickly the wizard cast reduce on Thane Fenris and stuffed him into his haversack. The magus delayed waiting for the wizard to help, then seeing none, defensively cast a spell, but it was ruined by a hold person by King Kroma. She was held and loosing levels and hitpoints. The wizard came out flying and snatched her up, each taking a few scrathes. Kroma hit them with an unholy blight, but they were still clinging on to life as the Magus broke the Hold Person effect. The wizard flew 120 feet away and was struck by a bolt of Searing Light, killing him immediately. The magus grabbed him and used her scroll of teleport.

In Magnimar.
The Magus berates the fool Thane Fenris, who is being played by the player of the dead wizard. Game Ends.

Fatalities: Elf Wizard 9 by King Kroma's Searing Light
Note: The magus was at 10 hp with 2 levels drained, she survived the fall due to having feather fall memorized.

Other Notes: The Rogue player is swapping to something else, but since they are safe, I'm letting him keep his xp total. I think he misunderstood what type of game this was. The player of the dead elf wizard asked to play Thane Fenris and I'm going to let him go for it, even though the goal of killing King Kroma isn't that hard really. I think I'm going to artificially bump the group up to 10, we've had several people who missed games and a few who have died repeatedly there's over a 60,000 xp gap that I need to close.

XP Gain:
+10,000 - Liz, Hinkel, Jody, Ryan

LEVEL 11! Liz 155,595/155,000 Level 11
Jody 136,725/155,000 Level 10
Ryan 123,100/155,000 Level 10
George 106,470/155,000 Level 10
BOOST 10! Brittney 105,000/105,000 Level 10
BOOST 10! Hinkel 105,000/105,000 Level 10
BOOST 10! James 105,000/105,000 Level 10
BOOST 10! Daisy 105,000/105,000 Level 10
BOOST 10! Michael 105,000/105,000 Level 10
BOOST 10! Travis 105,000/105,000 Level 10

Edit: Yes, Gorack will be returning as an undead :)

Game 27 1/17/14
Roster: Dwarf Inquisitor, Human Cleric/Barbarian, Dwarf Cleric/Monk, Human Wizard, Human Paladin and Elf Ranger.
While in Bard’s Gate Alchaedus and Katrina received a visit from the priests of Dwerfater. They informed them that a group of dwarves from the Stoneheart Mountains were missing in the Desolation and have not been heard from in weeks. The only thing they know is that it has something to do with the old king. The party spent 19 days having a few items made and then 2 days teleporting back to the camp.
Brood Mother’s Pit
The first destination for the party was to return to the pit with the spider that bested them in game 5. On the march they ran into a Bone Storm so they had to use their Tiny Hut. Arien cast feather fall on the group and they all floated down. Only problem is the paladin decided he would blow his horn announcing their presence prior to them entering. This meant that she was waiting for them. She attacked with a full round upon descent. Fortunately Barbie had Mass Slow Poison prepared and cast it on the party round three. Alchaedus had taken 4 points of strength damage thus far. Silver stood out in front and challenged the Arachnae and took the brunt of her attacks. Arien hit it with Scorching Ray and Lightening Bolt but with it’s resistance they didn’t do much damage, but with Alchaedus’s banes and Katrina hitting it for 30 in one attack it went down in 6 rounds. They found the stone shields and the dwarves were definitely interested in the history on King Kroma. Silver took a stinger to add to his collection.
Life after Death
After spending the night battling 5 wraiths the party set forth for the Dead Fields. Their first stop was to check out the dead black dragon. Silver was definitely interested in checking to see if it was related to the Tar Dragon. As he approached the gore beetle swarm attacked him. Let me first state that it seems as if they missed converting this to Pathfinder so we kinda did it on the fly. We made it large and immune to attacks. This really annoyed Silver and he and Alchaedus seemed to be favored by it and were first Naseated by it. Arien cast a flaming sphere on it that round so I decided that the gas would explode for 1d6 points! The swarm, Alchaedus and Silver took damage. Archie felt useless so he stayed back. Barbie cast flame shield on herself and attacked so it got to be a see saw of them both taking damage. Three rounds in 13 skellies showed up so I decided to test my CR ½ ones. They seemed to do the trick and lasted a round! They did take resources though.
The Bone Collector
The party then headed west to check out a pile that looked interesting. At 30’ Silver detected evil and it was positive. So positive the Bone Lord attacked him! They of course presumed undead and then Alchaudes tried bane construct with no avail. But with only an 18 AC it barely lasted three rounds.
We decided at the end of the game to try and figure out a way to play this game more often so we are going to ask the rest of the RA players if they would not mind switching over. We will see tomorrow.

Game 28

Roster: Dwarf Cleric/Monk, Human Wizard, Human Mithril Knight, Half-Orc Cleric, Elf Arcane Trickster.

We decided to add the second game to temporarily replace the RA game so the games have merged. Big Red, My Liege Dae’Din have come over from that game.

Carrion Birds
The party headed northwest and came across an injured Dire Wolf being set upon by what appeared to be three circling vultures. Katrina moved up to the wolf to check it for injuries as the vultures circled lower without the party noticing. She was able to make a heal check to stabilize the animal before the creatures launched their summoning attack. Some 23 Dretches fell from the sky doing some significant damage to Dae’Din. As the vultures moved lower they cast mirror image and My Liege was able to identify them as Vrocks! Arien attempted to cast upon them but her luck with SR ran out and was not able overcome it the entire combat. During the battle Katrina fell but was saved by Last Breath from Big Red.

Embattled Dwarves
From here the party moved southwest and came upon a party of Dwarves excavating a pit. Katrina went forward to speak with one of them that seemed to be on guard, a cleric by examination. About the time she got to his position a loud rumbling was heard from the pit and a colossal Tyrannosaurus Skeleton exploded from the bottom and attacked the seven dwarves digging there. The party moved quickly as they could to intercede, but no before three of the Dwarves fell. Old Gorrak and Thane Ferris led the burial party. Ferris explained to Katrina that they had been set upon by undead on a nightly basis and invited the party to rest there. Ariel cast secure shelter and Big Red a Sanctuary in the center of the camp. Two watches were set for the night.

Waves of Doom
Three hours into the night with Dae’ Din, Katrina, Ferris and two of the dwarves on watch. Kroma cast dispel magic on the shelter and the sanctuary and those that were asleep were rudely awakened. Some 72 Advanced Human Skeletons (CR 1/2) surrounded the encampment. Katrina channeled in round one destroying half of them and Big Red channeled in round two destroying the rest.

Waves of Doom Redux
After this the dwarves decided they were safe for the night so they went to sleep leaving only Katrina and Dae Din on watch. An hour later Katrina spied another wave of undead descending upon the camp. This time it was 50 Advanced Human Skeletons and 10 of what appeared to be zombies. Big Red did not make her perception check to wake up and thus missed round one. Ariel cast wall of fire to the north, south and east sides destroying those. The ones at the west moved in and were quickly dispatched.

At the conclusion of the battle a rumbling could be heard from the graveyard and the graves opened up with a sight abhorrent to the dwarves, Dwarven Zombies! They all charged the graveyard. As soon as they did some five wights sprung up from the ground! It was a pitched battle but more channeling, more undead destroyed and Ariel cast fire snake to kill all but one of the remaining which My Liege dispatched.

The session was ended and we decided to continue with the regular session. Since there would be players there who were not there we decided that they would suffer a similar loss of resources to represent the characters they are replacing.

James, I have been borrowing your format until I can come up with one of my own. Paizo has been up and down so I have had to post these several times this weekend.

@ Brvheart

Comparing your group's story with James' really shows the advantage of keeping watch.

My group spent a lot of time in camp resting and leveling up and learning that some of stories they'd heard about Tsar (including an climactic battle inside Tsar itself) were false.

The druid has been replaced by a Paladin (so the party now has two) and they decided to go and deal with the dragon, hoping that the dead one they'd found meant they had clear passage into Tsar. I consistently rolled high on wandering monsters so they made it to the dragon's domain having encounterd 8 pathetic skeletons and the dweller at the crossroads. (Whom they attacked).

The beginning of the battle went very well for the dragon with the summoner and his eidelon tarred and an archane trickster in his belly. The rest of the party failed to get past spell resistance and the improved invisibility witch managed to fly out of bite range only because I rolled a 1 on the dragon's attack of opportunity.

At this point I was thinking the survivors might run but I should have known better. This is our third campaign and the group hasn't run once. One of the Paladins rolled a 20 then burned a boon (similart to a hero point) to help confirm it. It was a bow and he had been using deadly aim and smiting so the damage was enough to convince the dragon to finish this group off another day.

The dragon took off, damaged but with plenty of hitpoints but the party had talked to their dice and the numbers being rolled increased dramatically so the dragon was finaly brought down about 250 feet away from the group. Too late for the arcane trickster and all of her loot though; the dragon's acidic stomach had completely disolved everything.

Now it's on to Tsar so I have a lot of reading to do.

I've been granting the party boons from their dieties when they do something particularly worthy. So far they've earned them for freeing the Hope and defeating Kroma. We're using the same rules as heropoints but not including the cheat death option. (That just seems to be too big a gimmee to be reasonable and I don't want to be having to decide if a character lives or not.) I'm hoping the boons will make it feel like the gods are taking an active interest in their endevours.

Game 23 1/18/14

Roster: Suli Sorcerer, Gnome Magus, Half-Elf Paladin, Tiefling Rogue, Halfling Druid, Dwarven Cleric

Note: We did end up doing the podcasts we had missed, but we combined them. We finished up through 21/22 and 23, should have them out soon.

A Night on the Town
After the harrowing escape from King Kroma and the joining of Thane Fenris to the party they decided to live it up in Magnimar at the finest inn they could find, which ironically was far cheaper than their first night at the Bender's Inn. After a few days of shopping and arraigning a fund for future raise deads, the party teleported back to the Camp. Literally now they have a group charter and health benefits.

Combing the Ashen Waste
They made a direct line to Sanctuary to pick up where they had left off encountering a single Belker in route, which was easily dispatched. The player of the cleric is adapting to pre-buffing spells as he's never played a cleric before. The Tiefling was trying to convince them to go explore Sanctuary but he was dissuaded by the group's speech about treants and blood sacrifices and druids. Traveling on they made nightly camp and had an encounter with the now extinct spiders and later with some ghouled wolves. (I had to retcon the death of the Tiefling, one round later, due to coup de grace provoking attacks of opportunity. The cleric had Breath of Life at the ready, but it was unnecessary.) The next morning they stumbled on A3. The party had seen the man in the wastes before, but had decided to leaave him be. They studied him for a few rounds and tried to communicate, the sorcerer circling around was hit by his fear effect. The cleric immediately rushed in and was surprised by the Dust Digger, though they killed it with a lightning bolt and a hit or two. They weren't able to identify the after image and decided to continue their search. Nightfall brought two more encounters with ghouls, both of which were easily handled.

Fried Chicken
So the next day the party found Tark's Mound again, this time they recognized the dread ravens at a distance and fried them with a fireball offhandedly. Last time they came the birds gave them no trouble, although they remembered encountering others near the pillars. The tiefling is pushing the party to re-explore everything for clues. In exploring the mound, they recalled that they found some “Under Realms” gear in a side cave that had a deep hole in it. They decided to unearth it and sent the druid in to scout elemental shaped into an earth elemental. After traveling down nearly a mile in the dark chasm solo, she decided to come back before she got lost. They finished their exploration of the Ashen Waste and ended up near the Crossroads so they decided to head to Magnimar.

Back in Magnimar
Enjoying some of their hard earned coin, the party went to research a few topics in the Great Library. From Bishu, Malerix, and even doing some historical research on Tsar they found a few interesting bits of information, including an old pre-war map of the region showing Tsarul and the surrounding countryside as a forested area with lakes, rivers, and a series of small villages surrounding it. They tried to cross reference some of the old village sites with their maps as well as some other landmarks that had been obliterated over the course of the war. They learned that Malerix was a recent resident of the Desolation, at least they assumed, as there were no references to him over three decades old. A few days later they teleported back to the Camp.

Bamfing a Bandit
Back at the Camp, the party was going over their options and getting some plans ready to map the Chaos Rift as well, though it seemed far more difficult without persistent flying. They pulled out an old wanted poster for Bartilius that they had aquired months earlier. (Several pc's had been introduced as hunting him for a reward.) They teleported the druid out to the Rift and she spent several days shapeshifted as a tiny bird doing some overhead scouting, which seemed safe enough on the days with good weather. She noted a few locations, mostly places the party had been already. Three points of interest were the canyon with the statues (C4, Old Death's Hollow), a series of rope bridges C7, and the Chaos Falls. Meanwhile the cleric was researching the scry spell, when it was cast they were spying on Bartilius. They made a plan to check on him again in 12 hours and let the rogue assasinate him in his sleep, which largely went off without a hitch. The sorcerer teleported the druid, cleric, and rogue in and each had a duty. The cleric was to cast Hold Person, the druid Stoneshape to close the exit, and the rogue was to stab him in the skull (coup de grace). Their plan went off without a hitch except for the spazms and involuntary shapeshifting the corpse of Bartilius went through, which scared them quite a bit. They loaded up on all the loot they could carry and didn't explore the surrounding area or meet the rest of his pack.

XP Gain:
+3470 Liz
+5870 Hinkel, Jody, Ryan, James, Brittney

Liz 159,065/220,000 Level 11
Jody 142,595/155,000 Level 10
Ryan 128,970/155,000 Level 10
George 106,470/155,000 Level 10
Brittney 110,870/155,000 Level 10
Hinkel 110,870/155,000 Level 10
James 110,870/155,000 Level 10
Daisy 105,000/155,000 Level 10
Michael 105,000/155,000 Level 10
Travis 105,000/155,000 Level 10

Sorry for the wall of text, time's been tight lately.

D6 Embattled Dwarves - I really enjoyed having an incredible amount of models on the table, since I don't have that many models (though we have alot) and I don't like using hero models for badguys, it just gets confusing, I just ended up using two containers of mini d6's. At first the group was curious when I poured out two 45 dice containers on the field, then they were dumbfounded when I said have fun! Honestly the fights went super fast. Between Gorrack's channel energy, and four casters with area effects it was over fast. I do like the fights that the plays can just stomp, because I think it lets them have opportunities to be powerful relative to the enemy. Also at the time my group had already expended alot of power getting to the location. Bumping up the monster's cr wouldn't have made any difference to my group, for instance the random ghoul encounters, whether they pass their save or not they still die from half damage. As for models, we are by and large using models from that D&D wargame that came out during 3.5. In a pinch, I sub in Warhammer 40k models, CD cases, drinking cups, whatever is appropriate size. I think I used a kid's shoebox for Malerix, its been a while.

@Brvheart - First, did your group fight King Kroma? Second, what's up with the paladin and his horn blowing? Is it some attack honorably thing? This came up in my last game with C7 when they assasinated Bartilius. The paladin was asking me OOC what should a paladin do and I went back to my old example of the drow priestess and the paladin. My take on it is if the paladin catches the evil drow priestess asleep, yes he can execute her, he doesn't have to wake her up wait for her to prebuff and put armor and weapons on and challenge her to a duel. The judgement has already been made and in an area like the Desolation, the only law is the sword in their hand, who better than a paladin. I'm very lenient with paladins, I usually tell them they can use poison if they want. The main thing I try to stear new paly's away from is Detect and Smite, everyone runs them differently though.

Life after Death @Brvheart - Yeah I made that mistake with the swarm on the first couple of rounds, but ran it properly after I found it. Unless it is game changing I usually just make a ruling and go with it and correct it in future games. I send out an email after with the correct ruling. I'd rather keep the game flowing and my players generally agree. Though once we had a player who would google everything mid combat and insist we wait for his interpretation of the ruling, I think peer pressure from the group fixed that one. Needless to say combat sped up and I think everyone was happier afterwards.

Carrion Birds - My group saw this several games ago, but they didn't bother with it. I think the players have caught on to the fact that I don't start the encounter locations until they investigate. It's a bit gamey, but I'd rather run the encounter than have it dissappear.

@Geo Fix - My players always insist on at least 2 pc's being on watch. Several of them even RP'd making sure certain NPC's weren't helping with watch when they were asleep. Like the Magus and Sorcerer didn't ever trust Ygritte and made sure her watch was with them. I think the party would have TPK'd several times over if they hadn't kept watch. I forget where I picked it up, but everyone takes a 0 on perception while sleeping and waking to noise takes 1d4 rounds. That's how I've been handling it so my players have been putting at least a 5 in perception.

@brvheart - About the formatting, feel free to borrow it, it just kind of evolved for me as a good way to stay organized. During my game session I keep track of time and date in game and scribble notes and encounters down as well as watch and campsite preparations. I definitely can appreciate seeing the way you guys are handling your groups, its a great springboard for ideas.

@Geo Fix about Malerix - Wow what level did your group ace the dragon? The only addon I'm using is traits, no harrow cards, no hero points. I've mentioned to my players that a few other groups have taken him out, but they are overcautious and he's kind of the Smaug of the game right now, which is great for RP. As for his tactics, maybe I'm mean to my players, but say Malerix was injured in his swamp, I'd have him burrow into the ground unless he could escape by air without being pelted by arrows/spells the whole way. That wouldn't save him from the druid, but even injured he can easily solo anyone. Luckily one of my group rerolled a paladin so they'll have that on their side. Until then they are intentionally ignoring Tsar and the dragon until they fully explore the Desolation.

About Tsar - probably the big things I'd say to look at are the Pall over Tsar pg 186, the Walls of Death pg 142 (they never run out of monsters), make sure to give out some rumors about Tsar pg 187, and let the players have visits by the Peddler pg 188 before they breach the city, and lastly I'd probably direct them to Kirash Durgaut (B1/B2) pg 142. I've been steadily starting to use the new Peddler gossip and hinting that their is an untouched dungeon fortress possibly full of wealth. My group is largely level 10, but by level 11 I'm sure they will be chasing after Malerix and knocking on the gates.

Teleport - I guess I know my group too well, since they've got teleport they are only keeping their toes in the Camp. They've taken to staying in Magnimar, which I can't blame them. Luckily for me, I've used Magnimar before in the Rise of the Runelords adventure, which has a very detailed lightly spoilerific detail of the city. I'd use Bard's Gate, but I haven't had the opportunity to read Stoneheart Valley.

Grrr, hate it when you have a long post and lose connection:(

@James No, they have yet to face King Kroma. We ran out of time so will have to deal with it next session. The paladin sees it as an honor thing. Not that is an issue for the Mithril Knight which is a prestige class of paladin, he want so break the paladins instruments. I try and be somewhat flexible of paladins as long as they follow the code. I have had some SOB paladins myself over the years. I have been running the Wizard's Amulet, et all since they came out so I am very familiar with the area. Not so Golarion.

Tsar - I need to start reading up on it myself as the party will be going there soon. If they can take out Malerix, they are ready in my book.

@ James

The party was at 10th level when they took out Malerix.
2 Paladins 1 fine, 1 seriously damaged.
1 Arcane Archer no damage
1 Cleric no damage
1 Wizard no damage
1 Witch (near dead)
1 Summoner (tarred with eidelon)
1 Arcane Trickster (eaten)

Between spell resistance and the high saves the spell casters where getting nowhere. (Except for the one that made it into Malerix's stomach)

The Witch was using Evil Eye to drop his AC and most of the initial damage came from the the arcane archer and one of the Paladins with his smites. The kicker was the Paladin who kept missing with his bow until he critted which was at a +29 damage bonus. If it wasn't for that critical I'd expect Malerix to have killed at least 2 more of the party and possibly routed them.

Burrowing would have been a better choice than flying but it was near the end of the night so Malerix's cleverness was at -3 due to the wobbly-pop I'd imbibed.

Now the cleric is talking about animating Malerix so that they have a shock troop for their first trip into Tsar. If he does that he's going to start having dreams of having a lovely time walking through Tsar with his friend Orcus. I need to think of an appropriate punishment. Perhaps nerfing his channel positive for a period of time so that the result is all ones?


Select your post and <Cntrl><C> before you click submit if your connection is iffy. Then you'll be able to paste it back if it fails.

@Geo Fix I do when I know there is an issue. Problem is it only happens once in awhile as I am on a hard line. Usually it is a Paizo problem these days.

Tsar is looking interesting although I haven't gotten too far into it yet. Nice to have a good variation in creature abilities to keep the players on their toes.

Monsters - It's good and bad, my players are reacting overcautiously to any monsters they haven't seen before. I think its more of an OOC thing since they have literally killed legions of trolls, giants, goblins, and all manner of animals. When they see the Searing Wind or the Ashborne Arachne Broodmother their first reaction is to teleport away or Dimension Door back. I can't blame them though, but you'd think they'd have a ranger.

Post-Eating-Website - I usually type my game notes up in wordpad, I think the touchpad on my laptop clicks back every now and then so I've learned.

Tsar - If any of you see anything that should be relevant to Tsar let me know. I remember in my first skim seeing something about an archer sniper who harrasses them once they cross the gates, I'll have to find it. But like with the Peddler I almost didn't notice there was a new set of clues. I went ahead and intermingled the Tsar Rumors in with the Desolation Rumors, I usually just ask my players whether they are asking about Tsar or the Desolation.

The Pall - I'm definitely interested to see how your groups deal with the Pall over Tsar. My group picked that up from the Peddler several games ago and immediately got it right, though I didn't tell them. By and large the Peddler's musings are a mystery to them, but they see him as beneficial.

My group is still convinced Simon is a vampire. And part of the reason they avoid the Camp now is that their Commune told them there was danger in the Camp, which was more from the Rangers than the Userer, but he is definitely a factor.

King Kroma - I didn't see any retaliation tactics in his section, but I'm going to see what spells he can use to troll the party with. Maybe there is some scry and fry. I'm sure the party is going to try it on him next game since it worked on Bartilius. Gonna go research his boss. Just to note he understands the party has multiple spellcasters, teleport, black tentacles, shelter, tiny hut, and fireball and will be preparing buffs accordingly.

Edit - My players are also including potions of fly and invisibility as standard party gear now. And there's pretty much a cure light wound wand tax that everyone is paying.

Cure light wounds tax...I love it!

The best thing to do for any type of long post is to type them up in your own word processing program as it not only keeps the internet from eating your words, but also allows you to activate spellcheck and other useful tooks to keep you from portraying yourself as a grade schooler.

I just got my PDFs for Tsar and I am looking forward to catching up on the background so I can truly enjoy how this is going for your groups, but my classes are getting in the way of that at the moment...I think I signed up for one too many this semester...

There are the Siege Undead, Sandman Rockhurlers that hurl rocks down from the walk way and the Dokkalfoer pp 143-145 and its illusionary bowman attacks from the tower that the players cannot save against until they actually see the construct.

The players usually establish a party fund for such things and now that the parties are combined their should be plenty of money for all.

FYI, I have spellcheck on here already. I added it several years ago for BBS posting. However for real long posts I write them up in Word.

Thus far my party has wanted nothing to do with Simon for no real reason whatsoever, except that he looks poor.

I have to figure out how to run the gauntlet of the Black Gate as doing it in proper scale would require and area of 12.5'x8'. I think I will have to break it into four sections as my game table is 8'x4' of which I can expand some but not by four times. It is a CR 18 with all of the Undead at once so the players better be ready. It should be a long battle!

Game 20 Podcast

We've done up through 23, but the club only wants to post one a week. More to come! Hope ya'll are enjoying these as much as we are.

Great podcast as usual, but I think the party is too afraid of the dragon. My party has several other dragons to fight yet, an adult blue and an adult red from RA. They will probably fight both soon.

Malerix just has a big reputation with my group, I've tried to let them know that there are other groups around there level who have gone after him, they just don't want to loose anybody else. Last time they saw him he perma-killed two pc's. I did give them a list of some buff spells that they have access to that would greatly diminish his power, but they want to finish the Desolation first.

Spells Recommended:
Mass Energy Resist Acid
Freedom of Movement

@Thedmstrikes - We call it the Wand tax because for the majority of the last 22 games nobody wanted to play a cleric. We did have the Half-orc cleric of Asmodeus for a few games, but he wasn't really a healer, being evil and all. Since I corrected the mistake about not charging them as much as I should by Father Death their cleric is taking in a steady stream of diamond dust. Some of the new characters are buying a few thousand worth as an insurance policy. Literally they went to Magnimar and drew up a charter and put thousands of gold down for self raise/ressurection/reincarnates, whichever they wanted.

I think I figured out what I needed to modify for Teleport.

Teleport - Teleport on the SRD(now that I've had alot of time to research) "Areas of strong physical or magical energy may make teleportation more hazardous or even impossible." My modifications to teleport for this adventure.
+Teleport in the Citadel of Orcus - Teleport does not function in the Citadel of Orcus due to "Strong physical or Magical Energy". Greater Teleport fails for the same reasons. Those accustomed to its effects by their long presence may ignore this effect.
+Teleport in Tsar - Add +50 to the percentile roll, due to the Pall Over Tsar Seen Casually is the "best" condition available. Reduce this value by 25 if the Pall Over Tsar is lifted. Those accustomed to its effects by their long presence may ignore this effect.
+Teleport in Desolation - Add +25 to the percentile roll for Teleports within the Desolation. Seen casually is the "best" condition available due to the constant change and bad weather. The Seen Casually modifier restriction does not apply to the static interior of buildings. Due to the ancient magical warfare and chaotic energies add an additional +25 in the Chaos Rift and Boiling Lands. Teleport does not function near the Pillars of Orcus.

To far, to lax? Some conditions require interpretation, but I think this fits pretty well. To keep from having to rewrite parts of the adventure, centuries of familiarity with the region should negate the penalties for the inhabitants in the area.

Edit: I'm curious about the wording "Strong physical or Magical Energy", focusing on the strong physical part. I'm tempted to have that mean Strong Winds can foul a teleport, because I have no clue what else strong physical effects could be. Maybe oceans with strong currents, Lava, etc...

Edit Edit: Thread about teleport created in the rules forum.

@ James

Are you going to differentiate between teleporting in to, teleporting within and teleporting out of? Other than around the pillars of Orcus I would not have applied any penalty teleporting out of the Desolation or Tsar since the spell's difficulty is determined where you are teleporting too.

I haven't read the Citadel portion yet. I would not be surprised if it had some form of Forbiddance.

I like your ideas for making teleporting into or within those areas difficult or hazardous. In addition I'd allow teleporting to Tranquility and the Tomb of the Last Justicar without penalty.

Since your group seems to be very good at imagining the worst possible outcome try telling them they catch glimpses of demons and torture chambers out of the corner of their eye as the teleport occurs.


Game 24 1/24/14
Roster: Suli Sorcerer, Gnome Magus, Half-Elf Paladin, Tiefling Rogue, Halfling Druid, Dwarven Cleric, Half-Elf Ranger

Note: The party had asked for more of an rp session this game so I catered to it a bit more.

Weekend at Bernies
The party started off with almost 50,000 gold burning a hole in their pockets. From their Inn in the Camp they teleported to Magnimar with the corpse of Bartilius to claim their reward from Lord Arb Angus. Being midnight and appearing in the streets they remembered one awkward situation, they were carrying a corpse with the brains leaking out. Making an impromptu “hat” to plug the hole they decided it would be best to carry the corpse “Weekend at Bernies” style to the lords manor. (Yes, adventurers and their plans...) So their first encounter was a group of 5 town guards who immediately surrounded them and asked them about their friend. At first one of them said he was drunk, then another spouted out he was dead. Failing a diplomacy check miserably the dwarven cleric gained the ire of the guard, who had enough of the dwarf's lip. After cowing to the guard and avoiding getting arrested the rest of the group quickly passed them the bounty notice, but the guard was still pressing the dwarf to act up. Some quick smoothing over by the party allowed them not to spend the night in jail for suspicion of murder. The party deciding not to encounter more guards decided to deliver the corpse in the morning and bought a handcart to haul him with. The paladin decided to go out to a seedy bar for drinks that night and almost got pick pocketed by a young (scarzani) woman, but he let her go when she quickly apologized for her wandering hands. The next day they handed off the corpse to the somewhat stuffy clerk at his manor a Mr. Dun Eamon. (see what I did there, lol), he paid them in 50 diamonds worth 100 gold each, which they were happy enough to take.

Gearing for War
The party followed this up by selling nearly everything they had found generating about 50,000 gold in party wealth. The rogue made a dagger Agile, the druid took the +3 shield, the paladin the adamantine Breastplate (and enchanted it +3) and belt of +2 Strength and Con, the cleric upgraded his Resistance Cloak to +3, the druid's to +2. They decided to sell the Ring of Shooting Stars and after the split everyone still ended up with about 5 grand in pocket change. They picked up 4 scrolls of Stoneskin, one Freedom of Movement, a few Resist Energy, 2,000 gold in diamond dust, and went to the Great Library to do some research on the species Tar Dragons. With the help of the scribes they picked up that they are immune to Acid, Paralysis, and Stun as well as the effects of the Tar Body. They began talks of how to take on the Dragon, which mostly revolved around teleporting in when he was sleeping. Even after all of the preparation the Tiefling was able to talk them into returning to the Chaos Rift, they even put it to a group vote, they decided on the valley with the stone statues (Old Death's Hollow). Ten days of crafting later the season in the Desolation has moved to an intensely hot summer.

Knocking on Death's Door
The party teleported back to the Inn, not wanting to risk being in the Desolation without their full ability to teleport, as usual. (With such a large party, it takes multiple castings, they didn't want to risk scattering the party.) They decided to wait a day to be at full strength, while the cleric wrote up a list of questions for his Commune spell. Here's a few of what they asked. (Not in original order, looks like they snuck an extra one in there.)

+What is the Userer? A Lich (This floored the group, they were very surprised.)
+What race is King Kroma? A Lich
+What race is the Dweller at the Crossroads? Uncertain (He's more of an idea to me.)
+What race is the Peddler? Uncertain (Adventure says he's hidden from everyone.)
+What is in the Well? Fresh Clean Water (OOC I had been saying “Don't go down the Well!”)
+Where should we go? The Last Outpost (He was asking Dwerfater,there is a dwarf ghost there.)
+Where can we find relics not in Tsar, not from the Crossroads? Uncertain (Not aware of any others)
+What is the best way to defeat Sanctuary? Defeat the Hungry Tree (Carnivorous Tree)
+How do we defeat Malerix the Dragon? Uncertain (To complicated to explain in 5 words.)
+Why should we avoid the Camp? A powerful forgetful Undead (I'm presuming the Userer forgot his dreams of world conquest, he's kind of suffering from obessive compulsive disorder and greed.)
+Where is a church of Orcus in the Desolation, not in Tsar? There are none

While the cleric was communing, the Tiefling, the Magus, and the Sorcerer decided to wait for night and go pay the vampire (Simon) a visit. He opened his door and started talking to them when they started not so subtly hinting that they were bad mouthing him to the Pathfinder Society, he became unfriendly and when the Sorcerer called him a dirty vampire Simon popped him in the mouth, for nonlethal. The magus jumped in and took a swing at Simon with her fists and missed, provoking and was punched with a stunning fist, but she passed. Initiative was rolled and he tripped both of them, while the tiefling stood back. Simon (rolling like a boss) apparently earned a reputation of being a powerful monk-pire. Holding his fire and ice quarterstaff at them he insisted they leave and not return, they didn't counterstrike. (Of course Hinkel, Rogal's player, was laughing and talking about his incident with Lucky. I don't think they are convinced he's not a vampire yet.) Either ways, the Commune changed their plans. (I think the Dwarf god would be more interested in saving a dwarven soul. The Lost Outpost B3-13 Bashar, page 103.)

On the Road
Heading north along the road the Ranger saved them from a Bonestorm (Tiny Hut), they weathered some Acid Rain (Tiny Hut), and they made camp early not wanting to travel without Tiny Hut available. The party set watch: 1st Sorcerer, Druid, Magus 2nd Rogue, Cleric 3rd Ranger, Paladin.
First watch encountered a group of 6 Skeletons popping out of the ground, one of them had armor and hissed at them “He Comes!” as the cleric channeled him down. Notably he had a masterwork sword, but the party wouldn't touch it. The party was a bit paranoid King Kroma was going to come wandering out of the dark. (I do group stealth for encounters and the skeletons got a natural 20, so I had them burst out of the ground, extra creepy.) Second watch encountered the Peddler who was ready for another cryptic message, he ignored the Tiefling, but the cleric cast Dismissal on him. He was sent away, but a few rounds later they heard the cart squeeking away, they didn't follow. (There was some OOC talk about the cleric not getting the riddle.) Last watch was greeted by a small pile of ghouls, the ranger saw them coming and woke up the cleric instead of shooting. The ghouls rushed into their camp and started scratching up the sorcerer (who got paralyzed for the 40th time and diseased). The cleric's channel injured them, but most of them saved due to good roles, between the ranger shooting and paladin swinging his elven curve blade they all died next round.

Boiling Lands
Wading thigh deep in bubbling muck at one third speed, the party decided to cut through until they encountered a ghoul (poisonbearer) running on all fours. They hit it at range multiple times thinking it would be simple, when it took three attacks and it still wasn't dead they started to wonder. They killed it 30 feet off and it exploded, which was a shock. They decided to cut around and take the road west towards Tsar, then go north about two thirds the way. Still harried by the constant fog, they pressed on, when it happened. (Encounter roll 01, which I added Malerix to the encounter table.) The first sign something was wrong is when a wave of fear swept over the party, they had adopted a spread out party formation in pairs fearing another tar encounter. The tiefling failed and started to run before the cleric cast remove fear on him (a precaution for the dragon). They had a few precious seconds to cast buff spells, but no one cast stoneskin or freedom of movement.
Round 1 – With no dragon on the field or in view, they took a few moments to buff before the deafening roar shook the ground around them. In draconic they made out one word, “MEAT!” The druid got off a Communal Resist Energy Acid on the Magus, herself, and the Ranger since they were walking together. , the sorcerer cast fly, the cleric enlarge (or that spell that makes them grow). Unfortunately the magus, druid, and ranger didn't spread out far enough and Malerix landed on them with his crush attack, miraculously the druid (natural 20) and ranger passed the reflex safe. The two who saved were shunted out from under him. I threw in a tail sweep since it was a 7 member party injuring the Paladin, cleric, and druid. The magus was being crushed to death, and the tiefling drank an invisibility potion and ran behind the dragon (triggering an attack of opportunity), who has blindsight and rolled a natural 20 on him, confirmed. The tiefling was swallowed and took 66 damage. The paladin declared smite and charged rolling miserably he was in melee (with a -2 to his ac for charge). The ranger took a step back and fired a volley dealing about 50 to the dragon. The Magus attempted to wiggle free, realizing it was nearly impossible.
Round 2 - The cleric buffs again defensively (holy smite I think). Seeing the Rogue eaten and the magus crushed the sorcerer threw a lightning bolt and managed to do half damage (about 30), even through the spell resistance. The druid used wildshape to turn into an earth elemental and burrowed into the ground as she was right in front of Malerix. Malerix seeing the ranger who shot him for 50 snaked his neck out and (19... confirmed crit) swallowed her whole. The next attacks went to the paladin (hit, crit, crit, hit, hit). The paladin took 121 damage and went down, less 8 for adamantine armor he was at -17 of his 20 Constitution. The getting burned up by acid the rogue failed to cut his way out, even though he's a knife fighter type (rolled 3 and 4 I believe). Similarly the Ranger could not cut herself out, unaccustomed to melee weapons. The Magus struggled to get free, but was stuck and dying about 35 hitpoints at a time.
Round 3 – The cleric rushed in with his massive buffs and swung his hammer dealing a heavy blow (40 I think), but lost his weapon to the tar. The sorcerer seeing the paladin down, the magus missing, the ranger eaten, the tiefling eaten, and the druid out of sight cast Teleport and escaped to Magnimar. The druid (with some recommndations) cast bear's endurance from the cover of the ground on the paladin, stabilizing him at -8 (I let it work, he gained some life.) Malerix laid into the cleric (who had 32 AC) and missed twice out of five attacks, but still dealt 89 life to the cleric leaving him at 9 after all of his buffs. The rogue cut a hole out of the dragons gullet, the ranger who was piled in on top of him slid out with a combat maneuver, they landed in a hissing heap behind the dragon. The paladin was unconscious, but alive. The ranger lay on the ground fearing an attack of opportunity would end her. The magus was getting closer to death, the crushing weight of the dragon on top of her.
Round 4 – Almost dead the cleric punched the dragon with his metal gauntlet, with all of his buffs still dealing a massive blow (30 damage about), but his gauntlet was snatched off. The druid popped out of the ground about thirty feet away and used Ice Storm, for guaranteed damage. Seeing a new threat and with the cleric disarmed Malerix flew over to crush the druid, who was now at 8. Taking an attack of opportunity the cleric punched with his other hand dropping his shield and loosing his other gauntlet. Malerix almost dead breathed his breath on the cleric and magus, whom were both buffed against acid, but both failed their entangle save. Missing his attack of opportunity, but getting a strike in on his turn the rogue landed a sneak attack and which allowed him to fast withdrawl away. At just a few life the ranger aimed her bow, natural 20, no confirm, but the dragon was dead.

Post combat and realizing there were no fatalities the group quickly healed and took trophies from the dragon, the magus cast treasure map revealing that Malerix's treasue was Tsar itself. Game Ends

XP Gain:
Everyone +9730
Rp Award Jody +2400
Helpful Notes Hinkel +500
Jody Bump +275

Liz 168,795/220,000 Level 11
LEVEL 11! Jody 155,000/220,000 Level 11 (Bump 275)
Ryan 138,700/155,000 Level 10
Hinkel 121,200/155,000 Level 10
Brittney 120,600/155,000 Level 10
James 120,600/155,000 Level 10
Daisy 114,730/155,000 Level 10
George 106,470/155,000 Level 10

@GeoFix - I'm definitely going to allow them to teleport to the "calm" areas of the Desolation without added difficulty. This is something they will learn over time, I'm going to allow Arcana checks to determine "turbulence" and hazardous magical energies. The Citadel was cast into the outerplanes by epic level magic for 300 years, I'm going to consider it under the effects of impossibly strong magic, but that's way later stuff. There are all sorts of tunnels players can use to get out of it, so it should be easily circumvented by parties with any utility. Just for example they can wiggle out of the air ducts or stoneshape a hole to the exterior, or just walk to a balcony, I think it has a few. I wouldn't add any hazard for Sanctuary either, its only under the effect of plant growth. The closer to Tsar I would add more hazard ranging between a +30 and +45, something between 25 and 50 basically probably +5 per mile.

Unfortunately I didn't read that images of demons teleport until after game, I totally am going to use that. Good imagery.

About my last game - Malerix showed up and they had half prepared for the battle, which was way better than the first time. It was mostly tough for them because I was rolling critical hits left and right, because they had 7 people in the party I allowed the dragon to maintain the crush as a free action and gave him minor extra actions, like being able to crush that last round and use his breath weapon. It would have been better tactics to just kill the cleric I think, but I guess I went easy on them a little. It could have gone really bad for them, but Malerix doesn't have spellcraft or really any knowledges or magic, so he couldn't have identified the spell effects. I still gave them a round and a half to buff because he is arrogant, but I didn't do as much taunting since this is the second time they came to his area, he assumed they were ready this time. Strangely the magus was still at 40 something life, she's concentrated on high hit points in lieu of other defenses.

About the Communes - I figure any information the dead dwarves got about the region they could get. I was giving more uncertain answers, but its not perfect information, but it is intentionally not misguiding as well. The group has debated going after the Usurer, but I doubt they will. They did seem very excited about going to Tsar now, this could get bloody.

I was very surprised we had no fatalities, my players don't give me their life totals during game. Tiefling got down to 1, Druid to 8 or 9, Cleric to 9, paladin -18, and barely survived. Overall it made a great climactic battle. We definitely did more RP this game. Podcast should be done on Sunday, game ended around 3 am so we were ready to close up after the battle.

Boiling Lands One third movement seems harsh considering the module calls for it to be one square is equal to two which would be half movement.

Tar Dragon. Great round by round replay!

Role Playing XP seems like a lot for one character, but maybe that is just me. I tend to award RP XP for the party and not a lot of it.

James, I am adding a session and this will mean split sessions with some players only playing one or the other session. How are you handling the XP and treasure with so many people in and out? After all both are limited prior to the city.

I nerfed travel to 1/2 move in the Desolation, mostly because of there being no road and the difficult conditions. It probably should be around 3/4ths at worst, but it made tracking movement easier. It also made the Desolation "bigger" without having to increase distances. I probably won't further limit their movement there, though I doubt they will fully explore it, they've got their eyes set on Tsar now.

The round by round was as close as I could remember it, I had to rewrite it a few times, but it's pretty close. That was probably one of the most exciting battles we've had so far, Malerix has been the BBEG since they first saw him.

The Roleplaying XP award I give out is there to get people to talk in character and it works pretty well. I give everyone at the table two votes, except me. Overall, it hasn't been a huge factor and the Magus has a big lead on everyone since she hasn't died yet. My guess is its generally going to fall to the other players, which will bump them up a bit.

Well, the group hasn't been divying out treasure too regularly and I've been leaving it all as is. I don't track wealth by level at all. The group is pretty generous with their treasure, if a magical shield drops someone using a shield grabs it. I've been in groups where everyone accounts for their take, but they generally swap the new item for their old one and split the remaining gold. Most of them are keeping a fair amount of gold. The two oldest characters still have about 10,000 left over from the start of the game, but its tied up with the Userer in "credit". IMO this adventure has tons of treasure even for a party as big as the one I run.

XPwise I just keep a running total, the people who play get xp. Once the majority of the party is say 11th and 10th level, anyone who was 9th gets bumped up to 10. Just so people don't fall to far behind. The penalty for getting bumped is their treasure value is probably low since they weren't attending the treasure splits. New Characters are always made at the minimum level of the party at base xp with base gold. I'd allow someone who wasn't enjoying their character to swap and keep their xp as long as they didn't have any negative conditions, ie level drain.

Edit: Oh and the teleporting thing went pretty well. I think the group likes the attention to detail. It took a little convincing, like showing them the mishap table. I've been pretty big about sticking to the rules as closely as I can.

My group as been treasure poor since the start. So bad I am still bringing in new characters at 6th level gold, 16,000. There is about 59,000 GP worth on Kroma so that will help if they defeat him, but they need about another 100,000 to get to WBL. Katrina has the most at around 50,000. I think I will start increasing the beginning amount soon. On top of that they have to give 10% off the top to the temple of Muir for the right to explore there. I think I will drop that to 5%.

I will probably have some restriction on teleporting once in the city, but not until then. Thus far they have not been using it much so it has not been as much of an issue. They already know better than to fly for long between the demons and an adult blue dragon flying around!

I only have XP for three of them at present but they are between 113K and 122K. Looks like they will be close to 11th once they get to the city. There still is Kroma, D3, D4 and the adult blue to deal with. On top of that the Saturday party may decide to take on Aragnok soon who has a huge hoard.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I definitely love reading all of these recaps. Will eventually be starting a new campaign that will lead to ST, and there has been a lot of good insight into handling the material and with what tweaks are being made.

James, I hope you don't mind me posting this here but for anyone who has always wanted a chance to try playing some necromancer/frog god modules I am running a PbP campaign in the setting with multiple groups playing in parallel in the same sandbox a la Westmarches.

If that sounds like fun check out my game threads, both groups are full now but there will be more recruitment coming up very soon.

We had been keeping the party consistent so that someone played the characters for players who could not show up. Now we have 9 players and it just isn't feasible.

We've modified our system so that the players who show up decide which characters are brought along or left out for the game . This avoids having an imbalanced party if all the healers (or such) don't show up. XP is divided based on characters in play and we're levelling all the characters at the same time (except for the one with the secret). Fortunately the group is not competative about XP.

The party has now entered TSAR proper, all are 10th level and we're 3 to 5 sessions away from 11th level.

Before entering Tsar they spent a fair bit of time conversing with the dread ravens that were chowing down on the skinned dragon carcass. They learned that tar dragon, like black dragon, is a naturally occurring form of vindaloo and that there are desolation ravens and tower ravens. Desolation ravens staying out of Tsar to avoid being turned into pets.

They entered Tsar over the broken gate, the name of Kirash Durgaut was enough to keep them far from the central gate, and decided not to investigate the thrumming from below.

They spent some time exploring in a stealthy fashion checking out the amphitheater and the pentagram and spending a fair bit of time scoping out the crooked tower from below.

The amphitheater seemed very easy and thus highly suspicious. Fortunately those investigating could either fly or be dismissed so no submersions took place. They snagged some nice loot for the paladin and his AC is finally higher than most 1st level characters (It had been 15).

Finally, at the giant pentagram with the giant statue and while thinking they would be rescuing a cloud giant they provoked a cloud giant that had been turned into a ghast into braking out of its prison. After the 15d6 lightning it seemed like some deaths were imminent but the paladin maneuvered to take the damage and hold the ghast in place for around (entangling fire) allowing it to be finished off with no one being brought below zero HP.

I'm enjoying DM's this more than the last AP we played. The wide open sandbox means a lot more prep but having no idea as to what they'll get up to makes it much more interesting.

Hmmm, seems strange that there would be an almost safe way into the city. Makes me almost want to put something there.

The problem with the ghast is it isn't a cloud it is a storm giant! Or did you scale it down? Yeah, the amphitheater looks easy, but not much around it is. This is quickly becoming my favorite game of late.

@ brvheart

I didn't scale it down. I used a cloud giant pawn and confused myself.

One thing to keep in mind is that route into and out of Tsar allows the party to be observed by the various cliff dwellers (G5) so it is ripe for an ambush or pursuit if the party looks battered.

I have made a reasonable number of errors DMing Tsar. Mostly missing opportunities to power attack or things like the giant's freedom of movement. Part of that is how much there is to keep track of and part of it is trying to keep the game flowing quickly with the large number of players. They've been in the party's favour so far so nothing catastrophic.

@Brvheart - I've never been a big fan of Wealth By Level, but I also don't use point buy, the characters tend to have slightly better than average stats. Characters get a total of +10 divided to their ability adjustments before racial modifiers, with maximums of +4 and minimimum of -1. Is the 10% to the temple part of a class or just for flavor? I've been doing my best to scam them every which way in the Camp or pickpocket them when the chance arises, keeps them on their toes. They are constantly rolling Diplomacy and Sense Motive to get prices to bump 5-10% up or down.

Flying is fixed by the bad weather in the region, my players aren't willing to brave the Winds of the Desolation that aren't any weaker than strong in my game. That means if the winds pick up at all they go to severe, which means small sized creatures are "checked" and have to make a fly at 20 every round or come crashing down. Flying in Wind Windstorms check medium creatures and always accompany Duststorms and Bone Storms.

As far as getting into the city, I keep name dropping Kirash Durgaut. My players are actively looking for Dungeons "because that's where the treasure is." I have awarded exactly 0 treasure for random encounters.

@Davrion - I kind of wish I had run a prequel to get the players here, but the entire party, minus the Magus, has been killed. The sorcerer is also an original character, but he died on game 2 and the player swapped for a few games. Glad to help! Seeing what other DM's are doing always gives me a springboard for ideas. Are you using your own setting or the Stoneheart Valley one, I believe it makes a good prequel to ST, I hear its pretty rough as well.

@Grimmy - Hey post away, I'm reading 2 different active Rappan Athuk PbPs ( RA Nirmathas, RA Mwangi) and 1 active Slumbering Tsar( ST DM AK) one. I'd be happy to read your players progress at least, I've never played a PbP, might be something fun to try.

@GeoFix - I've reminded the player in my group that he is playing Thane Fenris, so hopefully they will stay in the Desolation a bit longer. His commune told him he needed to complete King Kroma and the Last Outpost first. I'm curious how my group will do against the Storm Giant, but I know my Ranger and Magus players have 100 and 140 life so it even 15d6 won't make a huge dent. My players have lower AC higher HP typically, except the cleric who is reversed. My players are enjoying the challenge of it all, I think they were getting a little jaded of some of the softballing in the AP's. Don't get me wrong, they did tons of RP in Kingmaker, I even ramped the difficulty, added some killer dungeons, and they steam rolled it.

Edit: Oh and just in case I didn't mention, we are up to date with our podcasts through game 24. Hinkel is putting them out on Wednesdays (mostly). We should be on schedule for our Friday game, but we are having some unusual weather. We rarely see even a hint of snow every few years. My house is built 10' off the ground, because I live on the water and my pipes have busted twice. Leaving the water running now.

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Thanks James. I remember when I first got a copy of ST I wanted to run it so bad, but my players were not quite skilled enough to take on something like that at the time. I used to read threads like yours here, PbP's, campaign journals, whatever I could find, to get my fix!

@James I am not big on WBL either, but I use it as a guide to see how the party is doing treasure wise. When a party is WAAAAY below then I need to make some adjustments. The 10% is part flavor. They made a deal with the Temple of Muir and were given a writ of attainder against all evil doers and lawbreakers north of the camp. The letter allows them to do summary execution if necessary and the inquisitor has taken it upon himself to be the bearer of the writ and to meet out justice. The cost of which is 10% of their take to the temple. The writ basically makes those subject to it prejudged as summarily guilty, punishable by death.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

It will be set in the Lost Lands. I may use ToA from the Stoneheart Valley, but I already ran this group through Crucible of Freya back in the 3.0 days. I'm going to mix in some Raging Swan I think as well.

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