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


Advice and Rules Questions

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@Geofix Lol, I get confused myself more than I would like! Have made my share of errors also. That is why I am cutting one game so I have more time to prepare.

@davrion Running in the Lost Lands is still somewhat problematic especially until SoA comes out. It does allow for a lot of flexibility though. The players have Bard's Gate as a fall back position and go there frequently to make and buy items not available in the camp. I am not familiar with Raging Swan.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I debated waiting for SoA, but I'm going to go with what we already have (Stoneheart, Bard's Gate, etc.) and then add some other material from Raging Swan such as Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands for some of the lower level material. While I have RA, I don't know if I'm up for having both mega dungeons available.....seems like a ton of material to be on top of to support both depending on what the PCs decide to do.


@brvheart

I'm finding Tsar takes much more time to prepare than The Desolation. Once they are inside the walls they could go anywhere.


After they defeated Malerix the party spent 21 days in camp crafting. The main thing that they wanted was a wand of Restoration and now they have it.

I've decided that that is plenty of time for the bone cobbler to learn about the corpse and send his skeleton swarms to retrieve it piece by piece and then animate it as a bloody skeleton. If they don't find and destroy the bone cobbler they'll be running into animated versions of every major opponent that they kill.


In looking through the events section of Tsar I found this:

under Event 2 (page 190): wrote:
The Stalker can fire at targets as far away as 3,000 ft. His initial attacks from Area H8 occur anytime the party is in the Grunge or the Harrow Lanes anywhere as far north as Area H3 and as far south as H11. Since the characters are unsuspecting, they are flat-footed, and he waits until they are not behind any cover to fire. The Stalker uses its full round action to fire and then stops and awaits another opportunity when the party is unsuspecting.

This doesn't seem correct from a rules standpoint. The party is surprised and the Stalker should get a Standard Action attack, not a Full Round Action.

I'm going to keep it within the standard rules (Standard Action for a surprise attack) but replace his Vital Strike with Manyshot so that surprise attack can have a bit more kick to it.

I'll have him hold his slayer arrows as a nuclear option in the event he is ever backed into a corner.

I'm also thinking that since he has natural invisiblity his bow and quiver of arrows would still be visible. If anyone from Frog God could comment on the original intent I'm curious to hear what it is. The totally invisible sniping is nasty but the floating bow and quiver of arrows, seen from a distance, will be quite perlexing for the players.

Cheers,
Geo


I know the rules state it is only a standard, but sometimes I allow for a full round action against the players depending on the circumstances. I would have to look at it at the time and make a judgment call.
Edit: As I read it over, this seems a perfect opportunity for a full round action. It is a sniper that should be able to get off three shots w/o the party figuring out where it is coming from relatively easily IMHO!


Thanks for finding him, I'd forgotten where he was at. Just to see about the mechanics.

Weapon of Distance plus Farshot Feat

Here's my take on it. He's using a Longbow which is range 100 feet, which ordinarily would max out at x10 or 1,000 feet. "Of Distance" makes it 2,000 feet. Normally at 2,000 he'd be at a -20 to hit for 10 range increments, instead he's at -10 because of Far Shot feat. What this means is that when he spies the party at 2,000 or less feet he will take a full attack action to fire at them, not sneak attacking, not bleeding wounds, just 1d8+3 of missing annoyance. Now since it says he can fire up to that distance and he's only in Tsar, I'm going to assume that he ignores the Pall obscuring everything over 500 feet, his entry eludes that this is his norm. Ok so, just to note theoretically if the party walking in the open is Perception 0 (or automatic) at 2,000 feet they get a +200 distance modifier (+1 per 10, see Perception). So assuming he takes 20 and has a +20, his theoretical maximum to see a member of the party is 400 feet. Now here's where this gets interesting, say he shoots at the party as an actively attacking character take 0 stealth(but that's being very generous, see Stealth), +20 for being invisible, +40 for 400 feet (why would he attack from less than best sniping range). About 0 as stealth, from cover, I don't see why at distance while not being observed he couldn't use his +24. I might be giving him to much of a bonus, but I think his stealth score as written is before his invisibility bonus, seems silly he'd get only a +4 without it.

I'd say he's pretty much safe from being spotted while full round attacking if he wants to be a pain. A natural 20 could still theoretically spot him at his +60 (+84 depending on your stealth interpretation), but he'd probably use good cover/circumstantial cover for a +4/+2. This is one of those times that I'd say that if the players can't roll that high they can't succeed. He's well outside the range of any see invisibility spells and its at the border of being over the Pall's limited visibility threshold. As a DM I wouldn't be opposed to just giving him the bonus of his far shot onto his perception roll and backing him up another 100 feet. At 500 feet it would take a DC70 (or DC94). He'd be at 3 range increments so firing at a -2, shooting for flat-footed.

Up close he's a lot more nasty, but realistically he's just an annoyance. his damage is too low for them to care.

Edit: Either ways he seems a bit weak for a CR15, I'd at least make his bow Composite Mighty 5, which will give him an extra 20 feet on each range increment and +5 damage to each hit. Seems silly not to have it. I'd also have all his arrows have filth fever at least smeared on them.

As far as his tactics, I'd probably have him snipe on his target after any open battle on the streets. I'd have the DC's to avoid his pits be 30 (take 10 survival for snares) for a 10' pit with 1d4x1d6 spikes with Filth Fever at least. It seems unlikely he would come in for sneak attacks unless the party was in dire straights. Basically, he's going to be insult heaped on injury for one unlucky player. His track roll means that unless the party is flying, they aren't getting away. They can walk right past him and he can let them.

Oh and our sniper assassin here won't be attacking at night with his 60' darkvision. I'd modify that to be a 120' at least, even better if the party is silly enough to have a campfire or camp in the open. The modifications I'm likely to use are the Mighty Composite upgrade, and allowing him to attack from 550' away. I'm sure the original intention was for him to be further out, but I doubt he can get line of sight in the city much further than that, he's impossible enough to see already.


The greater arrows of slaying make him dangerous to humans and elves. Add 4d6 sneak and it gets really nasty. The intent that I read is to make him annoying for awhile until he hunts down his prey.


If you want to make him a threat, drop Lightning Reflexes and take Rapid Shot. Maybe swap Vital strike for Deadly Aim if you are sadistic.

At 23/18/13 with a +10 initiative he's pretty nasty. He's guaranteed to get off a round of sneak attacks, on flat footed foes with a +2 for striking invisibly, +1 for point blank.

So 26/21/16, Rapid 24/24/20/15 doing 1d8+8+4d6, plus Fortitude DC23 for 100 damage (Greater Slaying).

Done correctly, he gets a flat footed round and hopefully goes before his target. Stupid high damage. As another note, if killed by a Slaying arrow as a Death Effect you must be brought back with Ressurection or greater spells.


related conversation in another thread


Computer ate my post.

That's good info for the Crooked Tower room 15, page 297. My group might have trouble with the portable hole/bag of holding thing.

There's also an entry on page 287 about Belishan and King Kroma, I missed it on my search because it refers to Kroma as "a lich". Anyways it says Belishan is trying to supplant the Usurer in the Camp. Since my party failed to destroy Kroma, I could see him sending spies into the Camp, mostly undead that could pass for living like Vampire Spawn, wights, and ghouls.


The parties better gain some levels before entering the tower is all I have to say. The city is looking more and more interesting the more I read. Our games are tonight and tomorrow so I will post on them after that. Lost one player due to work:(


@ James & brvheart

I agree with your analysis (and thanks for bringing up the effect of the Pall on vision, I'd forgotten about that) but my concern is more about the party's reaction. When the first shot hits or goes whizzing by they may dive behind cover or throw out an obscuring mist. This is especially true if they've just finished a fight and are low in hitpoints. It would not be too difficult to have him kill someone with 3 shots.

Thinking of brvheart's "it depends" comment I'll allow him a full round attack if he starts his attack when the party is already in active combat. If not he gets his first shot and then it is time for initiative rolling (which will be a great opportunity to inject some tension if there are players with low hitpoints).

I also think I will have him rotate between spell casters as his targets. If he keeps going after the same target the rest of the group might get complacent and I think in Tsar the objective should be to spread the fear around.

Thanks for helping with this.


My party had the battle with King Kroma tonight and it went well for them. Dae Din fireballed the Vampire Spawn but not before they killed off two more of the dwarven warriors. Katrina spotted Kroma and the wights easily and got the party into action. It took her an extra round to get there as she could not make a simple climb check to get out of the Hilltop Encampment rolling a 1, but once she got there with her warhammer and her flurries she was able to overcome his DR. Silver was up there first and took care of one of the wights. Achaedus missed his save vs the doomwail and ended up being paralyzed until late the next day. They destroyed the orb quickly and gave the crown to the thane. He gave the party the rest of Kroma's equipment. Silver and Achaedus getting the flail and the breast plate respectfully.

After resting a day they moved north to check out what looked like some sort of vehicle. The battlehulk closed upon them from the front. It rolled a 2 init check so the party acted first. Katrina attempted to hit it with her warhammer thrown with no result. Dae Din hit it with acid and Sandra with a lightning bolt. None were able to damage it. The battlehulk charged and attempted to bull rush Katrina. It rolled a 1 and failed to budge her. On her round she attempted to flurry it w/o success. Another round of no damage. The battlehulk then hit Katrina with all 5 attacks ctiting on the last for over 170 hit points. She was little more than a grease spot. Sandra flew into the air with her wings. Silver withdrew to the west and Achaedus who had moved east on the previous round hit it three times and overcame the DR for 80+ hits. The hulk then moved in his direction and hit him twice a round once with an attack and then an AOO as he attempted to withdraw through the threat zone. Sandra swept down to attempt to retrieve what she could of Katrina and her possesions, but her body was just a mass of goo. Dae Din cast haste and then fly on the next round. He then spent round after round hitting it with gravity bow and sneak damage as he was blurred. Eventually the hulk no longer moved. In the meantime, Sandra moved to Achaedus who was well into the negatives. The party then made for the camp spending a charge on the Rod of Ressurection to raise Katrina - again! She had just cast restoration to get rid of the last negative level. The rod is now very low on charges. I have Dae Din an extra 1000 XP for figuring out how to defeat the hulk. Silver was given a 1000 for role playing with the Thane and donating his +1 Dwarven Waraxe to him.

Losses - 1 dead Katrina.


@Geo Fix-

Sorry it is taking so long for me to comment, lots of things taking my attention lately. I would like to chime in on the tactics of the invisible sniper. Regardless of his actual skills or equipment bumps, I am assuming he is not tied to a specific room or place he has to defend, such as a lair. As such, once the encounter is initiated, the sniper becomes a true nemesis by never engaging in PC style combat whenever possible. He must maintain his advantages to the exclusion of all other things. The PCs will begin by believing the encounter to be just another combat encounter where one side will pummel the other into submission or retreat, but in this case, the sniper is only there (from its point of view) to make unanswerable attacks, then immediately retreats to a new position from which to begin a new ambush. Here is an example of a scenerario:

Sniper initiates combat from outside the detection range of the PCs, score one surprise round followed by initiative. If a bulk of the PCs win and begin taking actions, the sniper quits the current battlefield and there are no more attacks as he moves to his next prepared position to ambush and combat ends. If the sniper wins initiative, then he gets his full round action against flat footed PCs, then immediately quits the battlefield in the next round as above. Subject to DM desire, this is a rinse and repeat process until you judge that the Sniper has learned an approximation of PC reactions that the sniper can use to its advantage for a second round of attacks or to continue in its initial plan of shoot and run. One thing the sniper needs to remember is the use of magic to move quickly or instantaneously as well as area effect damaging spells. This is the bad guys achillies heal, so he should never launch an ambush from a place the PCs have recently been (so dimension door and teleport are difficult to use to get near him), nor should he ever allow them to identify his relative position by "taking just one more shot".

If properly utilized, the bad guy can be used, as is, based off the tactics brought into play. Of course, no plan survives first contact with PCs (or second, etc.), but the potential an invisible sniper that can strike from beyond visual range of any PC is a nightmare scenario that is difficult to overcome. I think this is why the encounter may have a CR bump and represents the intent of the bad guy (based off the observations of the information provided by posts above). Thoughts?


I agree with the tactics involved, but it seems easier in this case to just give him first initiative and let him take the full round action as written and then let the players act.


Game 25 1/31/14

Roster: Gnome Magus, Suli Sorcerer, Dwarf Cleric, Tiefling Paladin (replaced Rogue), Halfling Druid, Half-Elf Paladin

Note: The paladin didn't start with the group, he has the Leadership feat and roughly 16 followers and an 8th level henchman. I figured he'd have him accompany him, but he decided to leave him stationed in camp. His henchman is an 8th Cleric with Item Creation feats named Lt. Danforth “Lt. Dan”. There has been some unease OOC with rewarding full xp to the sorcerer when he fled as well as some discussions of the in-character ramifications of abandoning the party. Overall though, the group seems to like the Teleport “turbulence” which makes the guaranteed getaway not 100%, I think it is going better since I added a mechanic to understand the risks beforehand.

Spread Out
The remaining party the cleric, druid, paladin, and magus were all collecting trophies from the corpse of Malerix, while discussing the fate of their missing sorcerer. At some point they noticed the Rogue had slipped off without a word. They suspected he might have went to Tsar, but were not able to find any tracks. Meanwhile the Sorcerer was in Magnimar buying a Sending scroll and using it to contact the Magus making sure they were alive, her at least. He attempted to calculate the turbulence of a Teleport very close to Tsar, but was unable to make an estimate (DC18 Arcana to understand a +40% for being 2 miles outside of the city.). He ended up going 87% of 300 miles off target to the northwest, roughly somewhere in the Khodar Mountains, but safe. He teleported back to Magnimar, got another Sending scroll, and told the Magus that he would meet them further from the city where it would be easier, so noon the next day at the Crossroads he would try again. The party had a couple hours of light left so they turned back for now.

Traveling DM for a Day
The player of the Tiefling Paladin wanted a specific introduction, so after rolling the first encounter I decided to let him control the 4 ghouls that would be attacking the party. Although they were dispatched quickly at dusk (it gave the player something to do). Either ways the party made camp a few hours outside of the Crossroads, they were still exhausted from the fight with Malerix. First watch the Magus had no encounters. Second watch the cleric heard the Peddler approaching and charged him with his holy hammer dealing little damage.* He beat him in initiative and took another round of swings, the Peddler touched him and dropped him by 4 levels before shifting out as a move action. Third watch, the paladin and druid, had no encounters and the cleric didn't discuss with them what had happened. The next morning they were sweltering under the effects of a summer in the Desolation, they made it to the Crossroads quickly enough with no additional encounters.

*The player was a little dumbfounded and I asked him why he attacked. He said he thought he was evil and we had an ooc discussion about attacking someone because they are evil, or because he thinks they are evil, is not a good act. They actually have to actively be doing evil or done something evil.

Crossroads, the New Hangout
Yet again, no encounters at the Crossroads, my dice were failing me. The sorcerer managed to teleport in without much trouble, finally rolling low on the percentile. The party began talking about where they wanted to go the cleric making heated arguments to pursue the Last Outpost and King Kroma (in the name of Dwerfater!) even threatening to split the party. The Magus and Sorcerer were affronted by his hardline position and gave him a hard time, basically saying they were leading this expedition. A vote was cast to travel to the Last Outpost, but a few of them wanted to peek into Tsar. Again the cleric affirmed that he would split the party rather than abiding the group vote, although in the end they decided that was their current mission. At this time, the party spotted a horseman approaching from the south and quickly identified him as a paladin of Sheyln, a tiefling. He was quickly joined to the party stating his want to return the Desolation to beauty and drive the evils from Tsar. The cleric started lobbying him as if they were splitting off on their own holy quest. (I think the player/character was irritated that the party is kind of Agnostic, the Magus and Sorcerer don't follow any particular good deity.) A rough start and they started heading west along the road.

Unusual Travellers
As the party made their way west on the road they saw a trio of travellers in desert garb, one pulling a handcart. Immediately suspicious the Tiefling Paladin draws his intelligent sword, it casts detect evil, as they approach. Following it up with Detect Magic from the arcane casters, and detect undead by the Tiefling, the travellers showed up as Undead and Evil. The travelers themselves didn't seem to react besides getting out of the way of the party, until the tiefling called out a challenge, something like halt or be slain, at which time the trio dropped the cart and fled south into the Dead Fields. The cleric cast searing light blowing one to dust and the tiefling rode them down easily. They identified the trio as a group of well preserved, non-decayed ghouls, who were wearing cologne and transporting nonmagical trade goods. They failed to do a detailed search which would have yielded more clues, but they did find a bottle of recently made wine from Kaer Maga. The party made some speculations that with Malerix dead undead would be freely traveling from Tsar and that it might be an active city rather than a dead one. Note: This was an off the cuff encounter I thought up of a trio of ghoul spies King Kroma had recently created who were on their way to spy on the Camp and the Usurer as per page 287, Belishan's plans. The ghouls had some forged paperwork saying they were from Zelkor's Ferry and legally transporting taxed goods, none of this info was found by the players due to no searching or interrogation. This encounter roll was supposed to be the now extinct Margoyles.

Making Camp
Getting within two miles of the city again the party told the new paladin about the dragon they had just slain in the area, showing off a few trophies. The tiefling was concerned that the body wasn't destroyed as it might animate or someone could animate it (Oh yes... it will! Courtesy of Kroma). The party made their standard campsite of Tiny Hut, Alarm, and Ever-burning Torch. First watch, the Magus and Sorcerer, only noticed ever increasing winds which became Severe. The cleric and tiefling paladin had the midnight watch, and were approached by the Peddler yet again, this time the watch debated talking to him for a moment, finally the cleric decided to bargain with him. He was sold a pole sawed into 10 sections and given the clue about “Tranquility's Face”. (The party started talking OOC about it, but I reminded them to keep it IC as the rest of the party was sleeping. Unfortunately the riddle was soon forgotten and second watch didn't relay it.) Second watch had another encounter, the Lost Caravan. When it was spotted they woke the whole party and everyone began preparing by casting their buffs, suspecting a huge battle to come with the sound of dozens of horses. When the zombies came into view the sorcerer fireballed them, although they weren't really attacking. The cleric followed with Hide from Undead on the party, who scattered off the road. The magus and sorcerer took to the air, the party doused their lights, the Tiny Hut was dispelled when the Magus moved to far, and the paladin's moved off the road, the half-elf was blind in the darkness. The cleric ran over to them on the next round, while the druid went underground as an earth elemental. They watched the zombies keep marching in, they would have attacked but their targets were gone. As the column kept marching the flying Magus and Sorcerer did a flyover to see their numbers and when they thought it was safe, both fireballed the remainder. They couldn't understand the mystery of the horse noises and didn't search the packs, they moved their campsite away recast Tiny Hut and were a little creeped out. Last watch had no encounters.

Bog Trekking
So the next morning the party headed north, encountering B5 the Minefields, again. They had the choice to go west into the Swamp to go around or go east through the bubbling muck. Discussing how to outwit the mines, they decided to save the resources and slowly wade through the muck and mud. Travel was slow going and six hours in they were ambushed by 6 Toxic Mudmen, both paladins and the cleric were immediately engulfed. Failing to escape on their first round almost all of the rest of the party was getting covered in crusty mud, the magus breaking herself free with a magical hammer. A round of struggling and poison saves later they start making knowledge rolls and discover they have a weakness to dispel magic, the Magus annihilates them in one casting, but now they have a healthy respect for CR2 mudmen. After some time They travel over some trenches, opting to drop down and climb out the other side though it was very difficult, they didn't want to waste spells and didn't see any monsters. Later they saw a Geyser Cluster, B2, to the north and more trenches and a tower to the north east. They observed the tower had wooden spikes that might make approach slow, so they opted to cast fly on the whole party, the druid shifted to an air elemental.

The Last Outpost (of Creepiness)
Doing a flyby with Hide from Undead the entire party avoided being spotted by the pair of ghoul crossbowmen in B3-15. They did a survey of the roof noting the catapult, but leaving it alone deciding to land in the trench behind the tower, B3-8. The marauder attacked the rear flank where the tiefling paladin was standing, biting him for some pesky damage. Everyone held trying to identify the creature, finally the paladin took a shot at it when it appeared. The sorcerer cast knock, opening the door and alerting the ghouls inside. Without their Hide from Undead they were visible and the half-elf paladin moved in and was immediately charged by ceiling crawling ghouls, and getting poison spit spewed at him. The rest of the party identified the boil covered ghouls as the exploding ones and only the other paladin ran in to help him. Maneuvering for Searing light and Magic Missles the rest of the party stayed outside. By the end the half-elf had a few scratches and they were both covered in gore. Spending a few rounds casting Purify Food and Drink, Prestigitation, Create Water, and Mage Hand the rest of the party came inside. Detect Undead by the Tiefling uncovered a group of undead hiding underneath the staircase one room away, but they paused there for a moment. Game End.

Note: There weren't a lot of tough fights, I had warned them the Boiling Lands were a little underwhelming for them, but they wanted to explore it all. The player of the dwarf cleric was also adamant about putting the quest from his Commune above everything else, which respectably was a mission from his deity. There was a semi-awkward moment when the sorcerer teleported back in and was explaining his escape from the Malerix fight, overall it went over well though.

XP Gain:
CR4 CR4 CR8 CR7 CR3 CR8

XP Gain:
Liz +2770
Jody+2470
Hinkel+2770
Brittney+2770
James+2770
Ryan+2470
Additional:
Rp Award Hinkel +2400
Ryan History Award +2400

Totals:
Liz 171,565/220,000 Level 11
Jody 157,470/220,000 Level 11
Ryan 143,570/155,000 Level 10
Hinkel 126,370/155,000 Level 10
Brittney 123,370/155,000 Level 10
James 123,370/155,000 Level 10
Daisy 114,730/155,000 Level 10
George 106,470/155,000 Level 10


@Brvheart - The battlehulk is disgusting, they are lucky they only lost one. Where'd they pick up the Rod of Ressurection? My players have left it alone since seeing it. It'd be good for some xp, but my players didn't even scratch it the first time. They seem to be going after active threats. Right now perma-death isn't a huge threat, they have enough gold to bring people back. Right now the party is trying to get everyone on board with watching each other's backs rather than just their own.

Character History for Tiefling Paladin:

Background for:

The Holy Templar of Shelyn Ataulf Tar'tatch the Scourge of the Unliving

Ataulf was born of evil, an Incubus Lord sired him with a woman of his harem. And he was raised in evil, a House filled with all the original sins, a place where the more powerful bullied and lorded over those weaker. Despite the decadent lifestyle and constant jockeying for strength, Ataulf never could quite figure out why it had to be this way. He soon realized he was the only one among his numerous siblings that thought this way and he never did quite fit in. Always the outsider, his anger was tempered and his kindness to the many slaves made him a pariah within his own family.

The only stability he had growing up was with his mother, she was more like him and not evil like his family. His mother, Desmona, was the eldest of the harem, the head mistress of the others, and was already much older than all of the other harem girls. When in his teens, Ataulf realized that his mother had stopped aging. It was then that his mother reveled to him that she had been turned to unlife, into a vampire some years back.

Sickened and enraged Ataulf ran away in disbelief, he demanded answers from his aloof father. The truth sickened him even more. His father explained that when a visiting human lord, a vampire, came to the House to do business it was customary for visitors to choose a harem girl during his stay. Of course, it was his mother that was chosen and during the nights activities she was turned into one of his undead race. Ataulf's father laughed, he said that he had arranged for this to happen because his mother was becoming to aged. This way, his father claimed, Desmona could keep what beauty she had left and continue to serve among his harem forever.

Ataulf first vomited and then he attacked his father with a blind rage. Naturally, that did not end well and the teenager was beaten to an inch of his life for being so insolent. His father admired his boldness, this was probably the only reason he was allowed to live. Ataulf recovered but now he knew that he had to leave and he vowed to himself that he would find a way to cure his mother of her undeath.

When Ataulf went to gather his mother and leave he found her frightened and distraught. She had blood all over her dress and two dead servants at her feet, drained of blood. She told her son that she couldn't help herself, she was so hungry after trying to not feed for so long because she was disgusted at what she had become, a monster. Desmona wanted no more of her suffering and handed her son a wooden stake and asked him to end it all for her. Of course Ataulf could not. She was a creature of death but she was also still his mother.

After her pleas for final death fell on the deaf ears of her son Desmona took action. She raised her son's hands with the wooden stake and aimed the tip towards her chest as she impaled herself through the heart. In horror Ataulf could do nothing, his mother's blood was literally on his hands. As she fell dead her hand tore at the curtains of the window and revealed the dawn sun. Her body was incinerated almost instantly.

He fled into the Forgotten City, his father's domain. The teenager was lost and scared in a city of evil and monsters. He had nearly given up all hope of escaping the place of living hell until a kind stranger lent him a hand. It was a Paladin of Shelyn in disguise, he had been doing a mission in the city when he came across the obviously different young tiefling. Explaining to Ataulf that Shelyn gives second chances to everyone, he offered to take Ataulf out of the evil city of his birth. Ataulf agreed and became an orphan in the church of Shelyn.

Ataulf was amazed at the religion of Shelyn - here was a good religion, one that taught everything opposite of what he was raised to believe. He had always rejected the evil ways of his House and now he knew why, he belonged here with the good. With Shelyn. For Shelyn above all sees the inner beauty of a person and overlooks his tiefling exterior and sees the good within him. Also, Shelyn teaches that everyone, even those evil, should be given a second chance. Ataulf fit in well, he was the very embodiment of Shelyn's great tolerance.

With the young tiefling's bloodline of a demon his body grew strong, stronger and more healthy than any peers. This coupled with his devotion to Shelyn set him onto the path of the paladin. Not all went well. For Ataulf always bucked the orthodox teachings of Shelyn, his decadent upbringing brought with him a looser moral code than anyone in the church was comfortable with. It was obvious that the young man enjoyed living it up but even worse he grew an immense ego as his skills as a holy warrior, specializing in destroying the undead, improved by leaps and bounds.

The priests of his order had enough of his trouble and sent him packing on a holy oath to return the Desolation to a place a beauty. No small quest, a nearly impossible one. Just perfect for the young paladin with over confidence and ego to boot. Besides, there would be plenty of undead to slay - just perfect for the paladin with an insatiable grudge against the unliving.

Some other things:

His holy sword is named "Gloryfang", it is an intelligent weapon that has a special purpose to chronicle the great deeds of Ataulf.
His magic longbow is named "Desmona's Peace".

He has gathered many Shelyn followers under his banner in his quest to return beauty to the Desolation. He calls these men his "Holy Army".

The army's second in command is a cleric 8th level " Crusader Danforth the Hammer of Shelyn " (Lt. Dan), whom is a professional soilder. He also specializes in blacksmithing arms and weapons and creating magical items. This is my henchman.

I have purchased wagons and a lot of equipment ( 3000 gp total) for my followers so they can caravan to the good camp in the Desolation and set up base. I want them to start building a church of Shelyn and train for the battles to come.


@James The Rappan Athuk party picked it up in RA with about 9 charges. It now is down to around three. I would have to do a search as to where. They also have the Bag of Holding Type IV from that group also so carrying capacity is not an issue.

After they spent a week at the Camp the party set back out towards the city. They came across the Firebase of the Damned and were suspicious from the start. The Inquisitor did detect evil and detected a group of the Zombies on the wall so they were not surprised. Sandra activated her Wings of Flying and Katrina and My Liege (now known as RGH) moved to the entrance. Dae Din and Archie stayed back with bows. Quickly they discovered that bows didn't work well, nor did fire, electricity or magic missiles. Sandra tried ice storm on the second group and the Ogres, but only really affected them and not the zombies. Dae Din finally figured out acid worked. It was a slow slog, but they finally defeated the first group after which Dae Din cast Wall of Fire and transmuted it to acid. That killed the Ogre Zombies and kept most of the Zombie swordsmen at bay. Achaedus decided to check out the building and was waylaid by the Clay Golem. He, Archie and Katrina suffered cursed wounds before it was defeated. Just as we were breaking up they noticed the blue dragon flying towards the city. They are going to lick their wounds and head off for it as soon as they can heal all of the cursed wounds, not easy with a caster level check of DC 26. Katrina is only 9th level caster and Achaedus 10th.


We played on Friday evening and the sniper dominated the first half of the game.

@Thedmstrikes - I played the sniper almost exactly per your post. It worked well. The group's reaction started with a panicked hunkering down but by the end of the night they were much more cagey and managed to spot the bow. (see below)

Summary:

After seeing the cleric nailed and dropped by a couple of arrows the paladin (Rhymeswith) provided some healing and the party decided to split the scene and headed back down the road towards the broken gate. Continued sniping resulted in a staged withdrawal behind obscuring mists.

Once the party reach the broken gate almost everyone felt safe and decided to spend some time exploring the wall and as per the pincushion's (cleric's) suggestion neutralizing threats that would be behind them in Tsar. All told about 40 Meatmen and Sandmen (with the Sandmen being much more difficult to deal with) were encountered and dispatched. While they did do some damage the Meatmen and Sandmen really seemed to be xp factories for the difficulty that they provided. (Fireball, channel energy and nimbus of light made short work of them.)

Then there was the interesting house to explore just a little ways from the wall. It was derelict but turned out to be inhabited by spiders that were extremely nasty. Some good saves made a big difference since the poison did 1d8 strength damage. The final result was three dead spiders and an massive bonfire as the entire house went up in flames.

The approach of night and the return of the sniper convinced everyone that it was time to leave Tsar for the day. Seipher (the ranger) used stealth to hang back while everyone else made a dash for the broken gate. Even with a spyglass the only thing he was able to spot was a bow.

During the night a Dread Wraith raided the secure shelter and while it threatened to be painful various magics and a nimbus of light prevented the threat from coming true.

Morning arrived and the party headed back to Tsar and its pall of evil. As per the last visit the party entered via the broken gate. Then the decision was made to explore the The Fortress of Weeping Sours using the back stairs.

The party encountered a dragon skeleton that may have been the one from the tar pits. If it was, stripping it down to the bones made is substantially easier and quicker to deal with. The party is now approaching the fortress and is about 750 feet away.

Notes:
If the group is good with area of effect spells and channelling energy most of the siege undead will be easy to deal with. If your group decided to enter Tsar through the front door of a massive fortress then (well deserved) punishment awaits. I'm going to be doing some re-reading of the fortress because my group (probably like most others) will be approaching it from an angle not covered in the write up.

Once the sniper starts my group stuck to the rubble for cover - brvheart this may put your diorama building skills to the test.

I need to sort out how much adamantine is included in the chains and banding for the front gates. I'll make a separate post once I have some ideas.


@James B Cline - that kind of a history is exactly the kind of thing I would love from my players. It helps to explain how a uniquely built character comes into being and with that kind of backstory, I would have no issue doing a running story hour starring such a character.

@Geo Fix - I am happy to help and I am glad it worked out well for you and your group. It will probably help if I start reading some of these enounter areas now that I have a PDF of the adventure.


I am going to give the party shots at rumors about the city, but at this point I don't see a reason why they would pick one gate over another. Two of the party members are adverse to water so they are unlikely to pick the sunken northern gate, but with the main gate open they are about as likely to pick it as the southern gate. Just as well I placed and adult blue dragon there that has been harassing the party since the Chaos Rift and that killed Argos. Whether they will seek revenge against it or avoid it, it is too soon to tell.


B1 The Gates - Given that the hardness on the gates is listed as 10, I wouldn't say there's lot of Adamantine on them. It says the chains are huge, but I'd probably just have them as adamantine plated. There's not a treasure value listed on them or an exact poundage. There's a few ways to quickly get the adamantine down out of the doors and walls, stoneshape and warp wood probably top the list, but otherwise cutting it down is probably a noisy and time consuming process. I'd definitely have some monsters come by. Sounds like a great time to get sniped.
Edit: They probably aren't ground level either, there's a reason the intelligent creatures in the area haven't harvested it. (ie. Hobgoblins at G5.)

Firebase of the Damned - My group has intentionally ignored it, a while back they scouted it out with Hide from Undead. I was probably being a bit to lenient about it, but we had 3 people at game at the time. There isn't to much there besides the XP and alot of fighting.

@brvheart - So did your RA players merge into the ST game or are they bouncing between areas? I thought about running both, but I think I'm gonna save RA for another day. There's a convention coming up soon and I was debating running ST or RA for the 3 sessions or so I'd be committing to as an event GM. I told my players I'd be at the table with all the people ripping up character sheets. Edit: About Tsar rumors, in my case my players haven't killed off the Rangers or the Furious Fourteen, I think they'd be a great way to RP in some Tsar rumors, like saying they did go in this one time at B3 the Sunken Gate or most likely the safer entrance at B4 The Broken Gate. I'd be a great way for Clantock or Skeribar to introduce that "deranged" member of their group that came back crazy.

@GeoFix - I wouldn't worry about your party grinding the mobs for xp, they are really going to need those spells when they get into Kirash Durgaut. Were the spiders a random encounter? I was looking over the Grunge mostly G5. The Cliff Warrens. Did they skip the fortress and go straight to the Tower of Weeping Sores? Flying/Climbing? Looks like they will probably be safe from volleys from Dokkalfoel B2-3 as long as they stay out of the courtyard. They might be able to attract the attention of the Meatmen Archers at B2-4, both sides, depending on their approach. I was looking to see if there were any archers in Kirash Durgaut that would give people trouble, 24's, 25's, 34's, are empty of archers, 39 has some monsters that have no ranged attack, and 41 is empty. Level 3 areas 47, 48, and are 49 unmanned, and 50 looks like melee. 78 is unmanned, but 81 has a single Crossbowman.


@ James,

The spiders were semi-random. The group started exploring the few remaining houses and it didn't seem right to have them all empty. After dealing with those groups of seige undead the spiders seemed like a good way to add some flavour.

As this point they are still outside the fortress (approaching from the pentacle) so their first encounter with the defenders of the fortess will be those from areas B2-5 (30 sandmen) and B2-6 (marrow knights and meatmen) when they start up the stairs on B2-5.

The Dokkalfoel B2-3 is listed as being 80' high while B2-5 is only 30' high so I think the Dokkalfoel has a clear field of fire across most of Kirash Durgaut which also explains why the adamantine has not been harvested.


@James I originally split off from the RA game to create the ST game. Katrina was originally in RA. Now I have merged the parties in ST and giving RA a break for awhile. RA is great, but we need to take a break from it. Yeah it would be better to role play them but my RA players are hardly role players. I made Henry deal with the Midnight Peddler and that was a challenge for him.

I don't allow for harvesting of adamantine using the old rules of once it is cast that is it. There should be plenty in the bars by the anvil for the party to recover.

The gate should be about as much of a challenge coming from the west as the east. Remember there are 2 groups of marrow knights and meatmen. The archers from 2-4 are still there also. Thusly I really don't see a real reason for not going in the entrance myself. The party can take them on it sections and even withdraw if necessary to regroup.

As far as the spiders I kind of used the same rationale by placing the blue dragon there. It seems rather empty in that area.


James B. Cline wrote:

If you want to make him a threat, drop Lightning Reflexes and take Rapid Shot. Maybe swap Vital strike for Deadly Aim if you are sadistic.

At 23/18/13 with a +10 initiative he's pretty nasty. He's guaranteed to get off a round of sneak attacks, on flat footed foes with a +2 for striking invisibly, +1 for point blank.

So 26/21/16, Rapid 24/24/20/15 doing 1d8+8+4d6, plus Fortitude DC23 for 100 damage (Greater Slaying).

Done correctly, he gets a flat footed round and hopefully goes before his target. Stupid high damage. As another note, if killed by a Slaying arrow as a Death Effect you must be brought back with Ressurection or greater spells.

I have had a chance to look at The Stalker in more detail. He is an air elemental and has perfect 30' flight so he can just hover over the party invisible and his quarry will always be flat footed against him as he has 100% concealment. From above he gets another +1 for attacking down so he would be 27/22/17 doing 1d8+4 and 4d6 even as written up to three times a round! To say nothing of the bleed damage or the slaying arrows. As far as picking his quarry, I would not think it would be a well armored fighter. Their fort saves are too high and we know it is going to be either human, elf or outsider. The group as 2 players playing dwarves, 3 humans and 3 elves so as many as 4 total targets. Unlikely he would pick the elf ranger with the thuerge and the arcane trickster being juicy targets. As for the CR, no he is not a hammer that can deal a lot of damage to the party at a time, but he can be a thorn in their side that will eat away at party resources and possibly kill off one or two characters.


How intelligent is this Air Elemental? It makes sense that it would view the world through the third dimension of flight, but owuld not its nature give some clue as to its presence (through the whirling winds of its body)? If it is really smart, perhaps its best move is to fire from ground level and then simply float up and giggle to itself while the PCs try in vain to find a landbound opponent...


Considering it has an INT of 16 I don't see that being an issue here, but the idea of taking off after firing is interesting also.


How smart is the Stalker? My literal interpretation.
Well if you ask me we have to start with his Skills more than his intelligence score. His intelligence score pretty much tells you he picks up on things fast, not genius fast, but faster than your average farmer or merchant. He's got an impressive bluff score of +17, which means he is adept at weaving and tricking opponents, not so good at reading them, but better than average (Sense Motive +12). He's got a +15 in Craft Traps(also Escape Artist), which means he's got the skill of your average 12th level rogue or ranger crafting snares, he definitely prepares ahead of time, since it's that high he's done it hundreds of times. Diplomacy of +17 means he's navigated though some tough conversational challenges, he's often in social situations, but is accustomed to getting his way by his wit. He's got some decent knowledge of how the planes and local situations work, he's probably got his ear on the ground to some local gossip and probably knows if there are any encounters wandering in the region. He has some idea of how to "fake it" with magical items, but has no real idea how magic works since he has no Spellcraft or Arcana; he might have seen a wizard work magic, but has no real idea what they can do. Either ways his survival at a +20 means that he is extraordinarily competent at solo survival and always has an exit, remember he doesn't eat, sleep, or breathe so he uses it to track and intuit his prey.

Hope that helps, I've been listening to too many debates today.

Edit:
After thinking about it, I'd assume he fires his shots across the tops of other encounters, trying to get the PC's to intentionally stumble into one. Otherwise he'd set up a snare or pit in their path and when someone triggers it he takes the opportunity for a few cheap shots.

Encounter Idea: The Stalker sets a snare over a natural pit trap, in such a way as a character in light armor or small would not drop. The snare would trigger lifting an opponent off the ground and when others go to help, the weight would drop them in the pit. At this point the arrows start flying. To trigger this trap, he might leave a piece of interesting looking gear, nothing to shiny half showing behind a loose stone or thorny branch, for instance that Crystal Djinn Statue he has. I wouldn't say it was plainly visible, he's smarter than that.


@ brvheart

I don't remember there being rules that limited the number of times you could cast/work adamantine to one. Is that a 3.0 rule?

As for walking into the fortress through the front door...your name is appropriate.

If I were a character the idea of walking into an enclosed space with all those opportunites for things to rain down on my head would give me serious worries. (A hold-over from R/L time spent working on wastewater treatment perhaps?)

The stalker will need to be pretty careful with hovering and shooting from above. Worst case (from the player's perspective) the party will have the opportunity to spot the arrows as soon as they leave the bow on the second round of combat and then it's fireballs and glitterdust galore. The save on glitterdust only prevents blindness and there is no spell resistance. (Another reason not to go for the beefy fighters). To avoid being glitterdusted, for the level of party that we are dealing with, >220' is his miniumim safe distance. If he does become visible his fly speed is fairly slow and the party will hold nothing back - especially if they've encountered him more than once.

As for how he's noticing the party with the pall over Tsar I'm waiting for them to use a lightning bold or fire spell. Then he investigates.

I like the idea of him firing to draw the characters to other encounters. I expect he would wait until everything is well underway to start shooting again. Perhaps only shoot to interrupt spell casting.


@Geo Fix it is probably a Bob Bledsaw rule. I worked for him for so long some things are engrained. When a writer of the caliber of Greg Vaughan puts in a module rule that "The Stalker can fire at targets as far away as 3,000 ft." that is good enough for me. I think sometimes we need to give the writer authors license and not worry about the mechanics, but that is just me:)


@ brvheart

I know what you mean and I doubt it's just you. My group is 5/6 engineers so the style of our game play is heavily weighted toward consistent mechanics.

They've decided to storm Kirash Durgaut tomorrown night via B2-5 and dimension door. I'm very curious to see how it turns out.


Which begs the question as to whether one can d-door into Kirash Durgaut and its magically treated walls. I am leaning toward no and they would bounce back. This goes back to James idea of restricting teleport in the city due to very powerful magics involved. We are definitely dealing with very high and some epic level magics here.


Dimension Door doesn't have any error to it Dimension Door. I believe most of Kirash Durgaut was heavily protected by magic at one time, but most of those defenses have faded. Gameplay wise for me, teleport is problematic because it creates the 15 minute adventuring day. The challenge of the adventure is the constant wearing down the party takes and not being to alpha strike with all their health and spells at full. I personally wouldn't nerf Dimension Door, its a bandaid and utility spell and a good way to split the party. It also means they are highly dependent on the caster to escape, fly would also net them similar results.

I know for a fact that when the party gets to Kirash Durgaut the my party's druid is going to probably try to Earthglide (as an earth elemental) or Stone Shape a hole into the place. Back during the war this probably wouldn't have worked and it could be solved mundanely by layering the backfill with other elements like sand and metallic ore. It will take them several castings to get through in that case, seems logical. They could probably make some kind of arcana check to figure out that the layering was done intentionally to foul breaching spells. If they wanted to be cheezy I suppose a skeleton could be perpetually playing a lyre of building in a 5x5 steel box sealed in a wall in the fortress, take 10, he never gets tired. (edit, nevermind they changed how it works, but still a useful tool against sieges.)

Another option I have used in the past with players going all lightsaber/wolverine on doors and walls with adamantine weapons is to say they are "alchemically treated" to increase their hardness by 1 point usually to 21 so that they can't just be battered down.


Ok, need your help here guys. I have one of my players that has been trying to use blur to constantly get a surprise attack every round. I have looked at the rules and it states it gives concealment, but he needs to make a stealth check. My interpretation of the spell and situation is that this check would be at -10 per:

Quote:
If people are observing you using any of their senses (but typically sight), you can't use Stealth. Against most creatures, finding cover or concealment allows you to use Stealth. If your observers are momentarily distracted (such as by a Bluff check), you can attempt to use Stealth. While the others turn their attention from you, you can attempt a Stealth check if you can get to an unobserved place of some kind. This check, however, is made at a –10 penalty because you have to move fast.

Am I right or wrong?


I would read it this way: Blur doesn't make you invisible, just hard to know exactly where your body is. Blur doesn't affect the other senses a target might have. I think using that -10 penalty rule is one way of ajudicating an attempt to use that spell to enter Stealth (as opposed to the Bluff check mentioned in the paragraph). I hope that helps.


Quote:
If people are observing you using any of their senses (but typically sight), you can't use Stealth. Against most creatures, finding cover or concealment allows you to use Stealth. If your observers are momentarily distracted (such as by a Bluff check), you can attempt to use Stealth. While the others turn their attention from you, you can attempt a Stealth check if you can get to an unobserved place of some kind. This check, however, is made at a –10 penalty because you have to move fast.

Being observed trumps concealment, IMO. Rogue is my traditional class and I'm usually lenient with it, but all day stealth isn't something I'm willing to give them.

That being said there's plenty of great ways to make the rogue viable, probably best on other threads, but Feint, Ninja Tricks*, Flanking, and the Gang Up feat all help.

*My Favorite way is Vanishing Trick.
Vanishing Trick (Su): As a swift action, the ninja can disappear for 1 round per level. This ability functions as invisibility. Using this ability uses up 1 ki point.

Edit: Just to help your player out, ANY TIME he goes before an opponent on the first round of combat the opponent is flat footed, giving him free sneak attacks. That's why I always tell rogues to max out initiative and perception so they are aware and active when combat starts. Flat footed round and round one are a rogues playground.

Flat-footed - A character who has not yet acted during a combat is flat-footed, unable to react normally to the situation. A flat-footed character loses his Dexterity bonus to AC and Combat Maneuver Defense (CMD) (if any) and cannot make attacks of opportunity, unless he has the Combat Reflexes feat or Uncanny Dodge class ability.

Characters with Uncanny Dodge retain their Dexterity bonus to their AC and can make attacks of opportunity before they have acted in the first round of combat.

And just to round this out, a way to negate sneak attack. "A rogue cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with concealment." Dim lighting conditions and darkness cause 20% and 50% concealment, so most rogues should have darkvision, in my opinion. In other words, Blur is one of the best defenses against Sneak Attack.


I am somewhat confused by the reasoning behind the Sword of Gerrant, it is a +2 holy brilliant energy bastard sword. With so many undead in the city and the citadel why would someone want it? It is a +8 equivalent weapon that is almost useless:(


I would chalk it up to giving the players a really awesome item that drops 64,000 gp into the party or if they don't sell it, it can be a ridiculously powerful Demon killer. I might be tempted to tell my party that cities cannot afford to buy it, just so someone will use it.

Did the stealth thing help out with your player?

We just wrapped up slightly over a ten hour game, hopefully I can post the summary tomorrow. My ESO beta is downloading though so it might be late. As a side note, I'm also going to be posting another system review, this time for Only War, a warhammer 40k rpg where you get to play an Imperial Guard soldier, the lowest of the low.


I am tempted to change the item to a less powerful, but more useful item like the ghost touch sword. To me a +5 makes more sense anyway.

I talked with the rest of the players on Friday including the other DM and they agreed about the -10. Have not heard back from the player. I think he is really upset about something else and is using this as an excuse to leave the game:(


@brvheart

Our group has a Paladin with a strength of 12 who will be able to make great use of the sword as written. I think that this is an unusual state of affairs (His Dex is 9 and his Charmisma is 22) and would also alter the sword in most circumstances. Perhaps a +3 that casts Banish on a confirmed critical.

I also agree about the concealment. It sounds like it's being used to conceal something.

@ James

10 hours! We never manage more than 5 a sitting. You'll excuse the jealousy.

@ in general

The group has still not managed to make it to Kirash Durgaut. Wandering monsters took too long to deal with. One encouner was a party of 8 Hobgoblins who made great use of terrain by firing from a distance over the rubble. Some of the party was able to move quickly but the difficult terrain meant that they arrived piecemeal, burned through a lot of resources and took more damage than they would expect from some hobgoblins.

Has anyone entered Kirash Durgaut yet? I'm curious to know how the barred doors were handled.


I know what you mean Geofix. Our sessions are now 4 and 5.5 hours. We used to do 8-10 hours, but that was quite a few years ago when we were all a lot younger! We play this Friday and Saturday but I doubt they will go in through the main entrance so I don't see them going into Kirask Durgaut for quite awhile yet. Perhaps Davemage can chime in?


Game 26
2/8/13

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

Note: With extensive use of Pearls of Power the cleric is able to keep Hide from Undead up with near persistence.

Line up! Party Formation! (Everyone get behind the paladin.)
Game starts in the Undertower (B3-10) around 6 pm, the group had just defeated the ceiling ghouls last session and had done some rudimentary cleaning to keep the rest of the party from getting diseased. The tiefling paladin was able to detect three undead through the wooden walls and the cleric put up a Hide from Undead. No one in the group searched the room so they didn't find the secret door to the bolthole. Moving into the empty adjacent Guard Room (B3-11) with the paladin leading cautiously he decided to tell the party to hang back and save spells while he dealt with what he guessed would be more ghouls. There was some discussion about the tracks in the room lending to the speculation there were indeed more ghouls. Moving on the paladin opened the door to the stairwell (B3-12) while he could feel the general presence of undead his empathic sword was unable to point them out exactly as he made a search of the room, while he expected an attack from under the stairs he couldn't manage the perception check and was surprised by the one under the stairs. He swing killing it in a gore filled explosion, but two more jumped down from above as the Magus ran to assist him, the vile fever didn't take hold in any of them as the ghouls splattered.

I'll Be Right Back....
Healing from some minor scratches, the party was suspicious of the unstable wooden stair, but it held their party's weight. They piled up behind the door at the top of the stairs and the paladin's intelligent sword yet again detected undead nearby. Presuming more ghouls they burst through the door (into B3-13) and a few of them managed to react almost in time to the ghost that flew into the fray. The ghost was too fast and swiped three party members draining them of their wisdom (Great Cleave). The magus was handy in dispatching it with her sword Carathax, which she was channeling her arcane power through for ghost touch. (Fight was over in the flat footed round.) Thane Fenris (the cleric) made a note that it was unusual to see a ghost dwarf, the tiefling recalled seeing a picture of the ghostly commander in a dusty tome long ago. Undaunted the paladin lead the party forward his sword guiding their path and revealing undead (in B3-15 and B3-17) through the wooden walls, though he it could not penetrate the walls of a stone room with an iron door (B3-14). Deciding the far right door first they opened it into another larger staircase this one spiral, though they didn't proceed and the cleric cast Hide from Undead. They didn't push forward intending to come back, no one saw the ghoul hiding overhead with the longspear and it continued to wait.

Master of the Tower
The party came back to the west door (B3-15) somewhat more relaxed with their Hide spell in effect. The paladin pushed opened the door and was struck by a poisoned club trap and was snatched into the room by Tlolox, a cackling voice called out to “Hold the Door Shut Tight!” The ghouls slammed the doors shut as the party cast a few buff spells, the paladin was bleeding bad and was doing everything he could to out heal the damage he was taking trapped alone with Tlolox. In a panic the next few round the paladin fumbled a hand to hand attack, but got off a swift lay on hands. The party were holding for the cleric to use his divine strength (Power Domain) to burst the door, but it would take a few seconds. They positioned themselves outside the door for an alpha strike. On the third round the paladin was nearly dead in the death grip of Tlolox when the dwarf burst the door to pieces, the sorcerer cast black tentacles, and the magus ran in with the other paladin dispatching the two ghouls. Already formulating a plan to fall back into the trapped rooms behind him Tlolox prepared to cast blink, but the spell went awry and the tiefling smote him to death. A close call, the party stopped to heal up before setting off the other two traps, the paladin taking both on the chin. They were disgusted by the foul fatling bag, but they still split it open to spill out the magical contents.

The Fallen Commander
The party took some time debating the mysterious locked iron door, but none of their spells could penetrate the thick walls or door. The paladins in the lead, the sorcerer cast knock and the door burst open to reveal the grizzly skeleton of Bashar. Cautious of the demon in the cell the party studied the scene before the cleric ripped the bars open (with his domain power). They took the shackles not being able to identify them as well as respectfully gathering up the bones of Bashar. The cleric easily dispatched (Searing Light) the hidding ghoul in the stairwell (B3-17), but not before it landed a critical hit on the paladin and they explored up to the roof. Some conversation passed about the catapult (B3-19), but nothing came of it. The Tiefling was able to spot some torches out on the dark marshes (Random Willo-Wisp Encounter) and the druid offered to fly over and greet them. In lieu of strong winds and being separated and not trusting travelers they decided against contact.

Bump in the Night
The party decided to make camp for the night in the jail (B3-14) given it was the most “secure” room in the outpost. The Magus placed an alarm downstairs in front of the door to the Undertower (B3-10). Strangely they received a mysterious visit from the Peddler, even inside! They paid him and received a fairly blunt message about the Justicar and the Anvil. The alarm spell paid off alerting them to the presence of “Sam” the Doppelganger. By the time the party got a good look at him as they noisily came down the stairwell he had already gotten into the Druid and Sorcerer's heads and took the appearance of a Suli who's captain had been a druid. The creepy encounter involved them chasing down the beetle chasing creature who babbled about “Kill the Demons”, “Smash the Ghoulies”, “Fight Fight Fight!!”, and “Dig deep that's where the good crunchies hide”. Remarkably they ate up his story, but started putting together there was no way he could be as old as he claimed and his name was uncommon for a Suli. The next morning the cleric called the paladin's to grab him and he cast Zone of Truth and interrogated him, revealing little but gibberish and avoiding the questions put to him. The creature didn't respond well to bad intimidate rolls and started screaming and begging for release. The Sorcerer and Magus noticed and discussed that he had spellcasting capacity with Detect Magic and the cleric cast Break Enchantment on him, thinking he was cursed. His form was revealed and he morphed into a halfling escaping their grasp, he tried to run, but the druid Stoneshaped the exit. The sorcerer hit him with a bestow curse and a ray of enfeeblement, but they didn't impede his escape up the stairs, the sorcerer laughed that he would have to come back to have the curse removed. They weren't willing to pummel him down and let him run and the party again cast Commune to get some information. (I'll post it when they send me the list.)

Backtracking
The party decided to investigate the Peddler's mysterious babble about Tranquility's Face. They avoided a number of encounters due to good fate (my dice failed). They made camp when an acid rain came down just south of the Crossroads heading back. The night on the road passed uneventfully (really failing). The next day however bad luck finally caught up with them. They came dangerously close to walking directly over a Searing Wind, which gave them a hard time as the 2 paladins and cleric had a hard time doing damage. In the end, it was a bloody battle that almost cost the half-elf his life. Following that a lone screamer drained some of the color from the druids face before the Magus took it down.

Camping in the Ashen Wastes (of Doom)
Standard precautions were taken as well as watch duty, Alarm and Tiny Hut were cast. First watch was assailed by 8 Vargoyles, who paralized the sorcerer and another, but not before the magus threw a fireball that ended them all. From far away a Nabassu Demon was attracted and came during next watch. The dwarf and tiefling were watching for monsters and ghosts, but didn't notice the black orb of supernatural darkness descending from above (Deeper Darkness). Telekinesis snatched the cleric from his feet and into the air as the tiefling roused everyone. Dispelling himself the cleric fell 80 feet out of range of the party's darkvision. He started running back to the lights of camp when again he was lifted off the ground, just in sight of his party he was dragged into the night. He cast Daylight and dispelled the Darkness allowing the Tiefling to draw his bow and fire some smiting shots at the demon. Not loosing his grip the demon drug the cleric further into the air and the darkness resumed. Thinking quickly (with much page turning) the sorcerer cast fly on the tiefling, the magus cast light on him, while the druid and half elf paladin held (confused by the complicated combat). Up to 160 feet the demon drug the cleric before releasing him and shooting him with an enervation, by this time the flying tiefling had caught up and scored an attack of opportunity, dealing some serious damage. Hurting the dwarf healed himself on the ground drained of 2 levels. The demon got off another enervate for 4 more levels and inflicted its Death Gaze getting another before the tiefling swept in and sent him back to the abyss. (It was an epic fight to finish the night, slightly modified.) The party decides to immediately teleport to Magnimar to remove the 7 temporary negative levels before they become permanent.

Character XP Gain:
+5470

XP Gain:
Liz +5470
Jody+5470
Hinkel+5470
Brittney+5470
James+5470
Ryan+5470

Additional:
Rp Award Ryan +2400

Totals:
Liz 177,035/220,000 Level 11
Jody 162,940/220,000 Level 11
Ryan 151,440/155,000 Level 10
Hinkel 131,840/155,000 Level 10
Brittney 128,840/155,000 Level 10
James 128,840/155,000 Level 10
Daisy 114,730/155,000 Level 10
George 106,470/155,000 Level 10


I see they decided to go in through the B3 entrance. My wife (playing Katrina and Sandra) is considering this option also. We will see what the others think Friday.

Just in case I lose my rogue I have made up an NPC for the party. Don't need them to be short. Would rather not lose the player, but..... It will work for someone to play if they show last minute also.

Been doing A LOT of reading ahead. I am up to H7 now. Lot's of fun stuff.

Retrieving the nine disciples will be quite a challenge. They are spread out all over and not sure they will know what they have found when they do find them if early.

The paladin and the Inquisitor already knew about the anvil from the tomb, but I have seen the paladin play well enough now to actually consider him for the Justicar prestige class if they actually return it. In 12 years no one else has managed to keep to the code well enough to deserve the class. This is the reason I am discussing the sword. He already has the flail so it will need to be something really special for him to give that up!

When Katrina died last I had her dream about going to Tranquility Face, although I don't think either her or her character really understood the dream yet.


This seemed like good place to ask some questions I previously had about Slumbering Tsar, but I'm sorry for seemingly interrupting your current discussion.

I haven't ran a game in a long time but soon I think I'm going to try to run Slumbering Tsar, and I was looking for some input specifically from some people who have played it. I have some specific concerns, but any general tips or ideas for running it are also appreciated.

1. I've always wanted to try a gestalt game and seeing how the adventure seems to be a meatgrinder at times it seemed like it would be a good place to try it. The encounters seem like they would still be challenging to such a party, though it would make the game a little bit less deadly so that players could become more attached to their characters. Anyone tried gestalt with Slumbering Tsar, and if so how did it work out?

2. I like the Desolation a lot, but for some of the areas I don't see why the PCs would go there besides the metagame reason of "you need to grind xp to kill that dragon guarding the gates of Tsar." What kind of hooks have you guys used to try to get them into the different areas? There are a couple built in of course (the mercs and rangers in town leading you, the diplomat and the lost caravan and such) but really why would anyone want to go to the Boiling Lands?

There's always the "you must have these items to open the gate" scenario but that's used in the city itself to get to the last act. The best I could think of so far was for the city to be sealed (maybe magically) for some reason so the PCs have to investigate the areas for alternate ways in or clues. One issue with that is that I can't really think of a way for that to really have a conclusion besides it opening deus ex machina style on its own once the PCs hit the right level.

3. My group never used experience, instead just leveling as the DM felt was necessary. Should I try to keep to that method here or is XP (tracked by me for immersion) really the way to go?

4. My last question was about the iron bits as currency in the camp. Some parts of this just confuse me. So I can buy bits at a rate of 1 per 5 gold, but then I can only exchange 1 iron bit for 2 gold. Sounds easy enough to understand, I'm getting scammed to hell. The issue for me comes with this line "Locals needing gold to purchase from travelers, however, receive a straight 1 for 1 rate from the Usurer." So locals get scammed even harder than tourists because they only get back 1 gold for each bit? Does he offer them a 1 to 1 if they go from gold to bit too? I could see that being useful if you're just buying into the system, but at the same time it also devalues any bits that you already had before going "local." Anyone have a better handle on how this is supposed to work?


1. I have never used gestalt characters, but I see no reason why 4 of them would not work here.

2. There are rumors and the Midnight Peddler that offers clues also. My party went through the Boiling Lands from the Rift largely because it was there and was a natural progression. They like being lead to a certain degree.

4. I only use XP so not sure what to say here.

5. As long as the players are spending all of the iron bits they buy it isn't an issue and only becomes one if they end up with a lot of them. Best they buy a few at a time. The deal with the locals is he buys their iron bits at 1 for 1 so they can trade with the outsiders. Something that is important to keep the camp going. We have one former player that has gone local but has yet to convert any of his iron bits.

Just run it as a regular deadly game. There is a lot of reading to do before running it though, especially when you get to the city that ties a lot of things together.


@ Chaoseffect

I'll second brvheart's comments.

As for item 2 the group is given some quests by locals if they spend some time interacting in the camp and those help with the why for exploring the desolation. After that I found that my group was curious to find out what is out there because it was very different from what the player's had previously experienced. There was some definite metagaming (we need more XP) after they saw the dragon footprints on the way into Tsar.

You may also want to add some hooks into a couple of player's backstories. We have one tracking a vampire as part of their family's multi-century quest for vengance.

Clerics or Paladins can be given quests from their religious orders or their dieties. There are some shrine like sites that they could be required to find. Two of the players had this added to their backstories.

For the less holy you can have the party be contracted to investigate the road and the desolation by a mercantile group interested in trade routes. (This was the impetus that brought our group together)

For all of the above you can be fairly confident that the party will eventually turn their focus to Tsar.


I spent quiet a bit of time reading this thread in preparation for my game of ST here in a week or so, and I'm loving it. Also been listening to the podcasts during work, although I didn't see any past game 20. (I sort medical records all day in an office by myself, so I have the time, haha)

Just dropped in to say hey and ask if there is anything you would consider important I should do for/while GMing. I'm gonna be keeping exp tables as well as tracking the date, etc, but is there anything else that perhaps I'm not thinking of that would be important? I plan to just run it vanilla, however I will be using the suggestion of exp rewards for the best RPer of the night, as determined by popular vote.

Love the summaries, keep 'em coming,and keep those podcasts coming, lest I get bored at work, haha.

Edit:

Also I ran the game awhile back with just three people, and I had them gestalt and the game ran fine, however it died out due circumstances outside the game. Looking forward to restarting. (The paladin/oracle gestalt was annoying, as was the gunslinger/rogue)


@Brvheart - I told them they were a bit high level for the Boiling Lands, but they wanted to do the Last Outpost, which strangely enough is notated(sp?) the same as the Sunken Gate, both B3. As far as the Justicar prestige class, it looks interesting, but my groups generally run on the good side of neutral. We've got two paladins but I've got this stated rule that paladin's can be aholes, just not cruel they deal with some pretty gruesome stuff.

@Chaoseffect - This is a discussion, chime on in, it'll help to make everyone's games better.

1. I've never run a gestalt game, it would make some things easier. The first thing I can recommend is flat out tell your players that a low fortitude save is a dead character, over time it will happen (over and over). If you want it to be more on their side, bump them up a level or two depending on how easy you want it to be, but even in that case there's a lot of attacks in this setting that drain abilities and will drop characters left and right regardless of level.

2. Two parter, A. Well I told my players in game the "Kingmaker thing" tell them that the nobles of Bard's Gate say if they can keep it safe, they can be the Lords and Ladies! Once the game starts, drill in all the local rumors, the book has a ton, but start with the Desolation ones, pop a Tsar rumor in every now and then as they level. I'd also recommend dropping in a rumor about the bandit at C7 (Bartilius?) and the big reward for him, there's not really a pointed rumor for him.
B. The Boiling Lands conundrum, well I screwed this up in my game sort of. The way the "first" quest works the party follows Sammar's quest up the road until they find the destroyed caravan, but if they have horses and wagons they have to detour west into the Boiling Lands, at which point its appropriate to give them a view of the Last Outpost, even if they only see it. How I screwed up? My players bought 30' collapsible bridges for their wagon and skipped the detour.
My players are literally just scrounging around looking for artifacts, relics, and historical stuff for the Pathfinder Society.

3. Well if you are trying to go easy on them, I'd just hand waive level ups, maybe keep a total and use fast track. I'd still put them down a level if they die to make them spend some of their coin. I'd also make any new characters -1 level, just to keep people from killing off their toons to get rid of penalties that are remedied by money. We've traditionally used level up points in Paizo AP's, but I think my players appreciate all the work and try a lot harder to survive, its a point of pride for a few of them.

4. Just remember that if a caravan wants to come through town and balks at the Userer's coinage he can cast cloudkill on them and let his citizens loot their corpses, in my game he's mostly neutral. Also if the caravans insist on using gold, he can deny them access to the Well, and water is 8 pounds per person per day, plus animals, so they better have a lot; three times that much in hot weather.

Iron bits, Here's the breakdown:
Iron Bits are worthless.
You have to buy iron bits to do business in the town, and they are 5 gold each. Iron bits are only sold from sun up to sun down.
Locals don't care, Iron bits are their "gold pieces", they have to do business in the company money, they have no reason to cash out. There's some pretty neat stuff historically you can read about immigrants who were paid their wages in "company money" that could only be spent at the company store, basically it was slave labor.
Outsiders who buy too much get less than half their money back, if they escape the random pick pocket (roll 7 I believe).

@Jonathon Quinn and Everyone - Well, I think we've got up through game 24 recorded, we were going to do 25 and 26 together since we missed it, but one of the player's children TPK'd the group with the FLU(the DM, the Tiefling, the Magus, and the Cleric). Game is cancelled this week and I've barely been out of bed since my last summary. Hopefully around Tuesday we can get everyone together and catch up.

Not trying to plug products here, but (well maybe!) I found this invaluable.
http://paizo.com/products/btpy8otm?GameMastery-FlipMat-Desert
I also can't stress how awesome the GM Screen is, its a huge time saver, worth every penny.

If you don't have the digital copy of the book I would recommend getting it, the text search feature really helps with doing research, like picking out all the instances of "dwarf" or "holy avenger".

The only thing I would say is don't worry to much about reading ahead especially in Tsar, they should be spending a good while in the Desolation. The big areas are going to be the Margoyle Cavern, The Tomb of Argos, the Embattled Dwarves, and the Last Outpost. Keep the Dweller and the Peddler as mysterious as possible, players should probably be equally scared of both at least at first.

I'd probably do the teleport nerf, at least in Tsar. My players like hardcore mode.

Edit: One note about the digital edition, it worked fine on my Kindle Fire, but my Ipad 2 crashes out when opening it in Ibooks, I've tried 50 different "online solutions" and I do tech support for a living. I did get it to work with the Adobe Reader program, but its still a bit sluggish and takes a while to load the pages. More of a apple problem, but just a fyi.

I'd also preface the game by telling your players to bring 2 characters, required, game time is precious and shouldn't be interrupted with character creation if it can be helped. I told my players "You will probably go through 8 or 9 characters before you get to the end." One player is already on number 5 and they haven't breached Tsar yet.


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@James B. Cline-

Try Calibre. It is a format changing program and can change the format of your PDFs to whatever your Ipad uses and it is a free download. It is the only thing I have found to allow my Galaxy to use different files.

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