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

Advice and Rules Questions

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I'm not seeing anything past game 20 posted but it could be I'm inept.

I think I will be using the teleport rules you came up with, they seem deviously mean.

My party is a one handed scimitar wielding dex pally, a fighter, wizard, Druid, and ninja. Place your bets on who goes first.

Anyway awesome podcast and really good ideas, hope you guys get to feeling better.

@ Jonathon Quinn

I'm finding it very helpful to have the PDF. The book is huge and if you're needing to flip back and forth it can be quite awkward. I've pulled maps from the PDF and annotated them as well as making a small book with all the random encounter tables and associated monsters.

Warn your party or hint that they should research the environmental dangers of The Desolation. There are some storm affects which could easily result in a TPK.

Layout and Design, Frog God Games

For the digital edition crashing in ibooks - Use the Adobe Reader app (it's free).

Last night:

Alfonso 11th level Evoker
Merisel 10th level Rogue

The party went through the southern gate cautiously and were making their DC 5 climb checks when they were attacked by 12 Meatmen. They were surprised by them with only Archie being able to figure out they were undead and he was getting his favored enemy bonus. The Meatmen did little damage, but it took about 4 rounds to bring them all down with magic missiles and blunt arrows mostly.

They next proceeded up the road to check out the buildings to the right. They heard a voice that was pleading for help and it sounded like it was Argos (35 bluff from the blue dragon.) The dragon had set an alarm spell on the gate. Upon it being set of he started casting buffing spells: Resistance fire and acid, invisibility, mage armor and finally shield once they approached. As soon as the party lined up at the door he breathed lightning on Katrina, Alfonso and Achadeus with only Achaedus making his save. Archie and Merisel missed their saves vs dragon fear. Archie attempted to go down the right side of the building and stopped at the door. This allowed the dragon to see him and he used his full attack on him next round over the wall forcing him flat footed. Alfonso cast scorching ray and bypassed DR but did little damage due to the resistance. The next round he and Achaedus cast dispel magic knocking down his resistances. This got the dragon annoyed and he took off hovering 10' above Achaedus's head. Alfonso hid and Katrina attempted to cast Channel Smite but could not bypass DR. Silver moved down to help Archie. Next round the dragon brought Achaedus down with a full attack and tail swept Merisel and Alfonso. Silver attempted to challenge the dragon and called it a coward. It moved 10' over silver and hovered again hitting him once. Katrina managed to use the Rod of Resurrection on Achaedus. On her next round she summoned an air elemental. The dragon brought Archie down to -14, but barely alive. The air elemental appeared right above the dragon and managed to bring it to the ground with whirlwind. Silver and drank a potion of enlarge. With a full attack he knocked the dragon down to 7 hits. Being forced to the ground and low on hits the dragon attempted to move out of the whirlwind to fly away but was AOOed by Silver and died.

This got the rest of the party up to level 11. We will see what happens today.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I have been following this thread with interest so thanks for all the reports. I just have a totally random question, is the PDF of ST available as a single file? Were us pre-orderers supposed to get that or just the individual files? Sorry for the interrupt and keep up the great stories :D

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I was a pre-order as well, and I have the full PDF in my Files list from the FrogGod site.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

OK, I'll check that out, thanks.


In fact all my ST files are gone from the APlus site and are not migrated. Mmm I wonder if I had a different log in for my ST APlus site than the rest of my FGG stuff....

Today's Game:


The party proceeded up the road towards the amphitheater and were attacked by The Stalker. He hit Alfonso several times. While the rest of the party decided to seek cover towards the buildings on the right, Katrina booked it straight towards the cliff edge having made the perception check to determine the general direction of where the shots were coming from. Alfonso dimension doored to the top of the cliff while Sandra flew with her wings of flying carrying Katrina. The Slalker hit Sandra with one of his greater slaying arrows (humanoid elf). She missed her fort save and died dropping Katrina. Katrina shapechanged before hitting bottom to a bird. RCD, Acheadus and Merisel entered the tower only to be attacked by the advanced assassin vine. They killed it in 2 rounds, but this gave the Stalker time to fly to the entrance and surprise Alfonso hitting him three times. He survived that round, but not the next when he was hit by another arrow of greater slaying (human). Alfonso had got off an Ice Storm off in the previous round. The Stalker after taking two of his prey decided to relocated to another sniper nest.

Two more charges were used off the Rod, now down to three.
RCD took Sandra's wings and he and Katrina took the party back down below and they headed to the Blood Pit. Achaedus just making it to the top of the center by round five. RCD used the wings to get Katrina up there and Merisel climbed up on her own. They managed to get the belt and the hammer out of the arena and the blood disappeared.

Moving north they found a great Pentacle with what appeared to be an iron statue in its center. Upon closer inspection the creature broke out of his iron prison and was found to be a Storm giant Ghast. In round one Merisel was both paralyzed and sickened. RCD got paralyzed later on an AOO so Henry's characters watched most of the battle. With largely Scorching Rays from Sandra and Alfonso they brought the beast down. Katrina was able to hit it six times in two rounds with flurry of blows. Two trolls showed up at the end of the battle from the south and a fireball each from Sandra and Alfonso quickly dispatched them.

Seeing the warehouse the party proceeded to investigate. The paladin could not see leaving undead here so they quickly dispatched the 4 meat men and the 14 skeletons. The 2 Sand Men from the balcony attempted to throw rocks, but this only lead to RCD flying up there. Katrina tried first to throw her hammer without doing damage so she switched to her dwarven waraxe. This blinded RCD for three rounds! The rest of the party climbed up a rope to the balcony and they proceeded to room 2-9 and they battled Grytner. They were a little shocked that the 4 armed gargoyle was getting six attacks a round! Still they managed to get him below 0 hit points in three rounds. Sandra had attempted to converse with him unsuccessfully. He did blurt out about the Usurer being a lich, but no one picked up on it. Katrina channeled for 14 hit points and the party moved back down the rope and towards the exit. As they were heading out they saw Grytner flying by on the balcony.

The party headed out of the city out to their encampment for the night realizing that they should not sleep in the city.

Note. After rechecking Archie's hit points he had redid his character sheet about a month ago and way over stated his hit points. Having the historical numbers it was clear that he should have died. Katrina cast raise dead off her one scroll of it.

total dead for the two days

Goodreader is working well on my IPad2.

I'm eager to see how my characters do. They' em been in the camp, met Gurg, and immediately set out for the Chaos Rift to 'find treasure'.

The group I'm running made their first assault on Kirash Dirgaut on Saturday. They approached from the south and went in through door at the top of the stairs to the western tower. It was a tough grind.

While approaching the stairs they were attacked by the group from the rear gate. meatmen went down easily but the Marrow Knights did some damage with their ride by attacks (trample would also have been good).

Once they were on the ramparts it was a matter of battling through a huge number of arrows as they advanced door to door. Illusions put a stop to attacks from the other side but not from the tower. (The illusion was a higher wall and they didn't think to add a roof.)

The summoner went after the tower - summoning creatures inside it while invisible - but the 37 perception check made it past his invisibility and he gave up after a couple of arrow hits. Flying across to the other side of the bailey he continued summoning and made excellent use of creatures with the trample ability: 24 squished meatmen.

The rest of the party had made it to the fortress roof by then and made a dash for the door to the tower. They made a loud noise as they ran into the door and amazingly only one of them failed their save when the symbol of fear appeared. That character dropped everything and fled back the way he came, eventually being dropped below zero by arrows from the tower.

The rest of the group were attacked by 4 marrow knights and despite losing some hit points kept giving worse than they got. One of the marrow knights took off around behind the tower (a sure sign of impending victory) and two characters (paladin & cleric) went after it once the last of the other marrow knights went down.

They found it coming back with 4 cloud giant skeletons in hot pursuit. The cleric was sent to -20 something and the paladin survived only because I rolled a 1 to confirm a crit. The rest of the party joined in and the knight and skeletons went down fairly quickly but the survivors were at the point where they needed to avoid kobolds.

The dead and the wounded were grabbed and teleported back to camp (just in time for the character who had been hit by fear). They did not remember to grab the +1 holy falchion that was dropped. Will they teleport back and make a grab for it? Hard to say - they did see demons reaching for them as they teleported away and one magic user has experienced issues teleporting around the crossroads.

4 cloud giant skellies? That is an interesting ad. Though I should talk adding an adult blue dragon<G>. I looked up the rod of resurrection, it is now out of charges so death is now going to really start to hurt the party!

@ brvheart
They're not actually an add. They're in the storage barn on pages 172/173 (The barn door is closed so that's why you would have missed them.) There are 3 in the barn but I'd upped it to 4 because the group had 8 characters that night.

Yeah...without that rod your group is risking a TPK.

@ Geofix Was wondering if maybe you were using them up on level three. yeah and they have five negative levels between four of them now! They need desperately to get ahold of some diamond dust.

@ brvheart

Yes - up on level three. The party decided it was best to hit the fortress from the top.

To be honest I have not read that far into the tower focusing more on G, H, and other areas. I read most of level one, but going in through the top means I need to read all of it!

And that is a lot of reading.

I've finally read through all of Tsar twice and I'm going to start skimming the Citadel.

It's a lot easier to stay ahead of the party when they're in The Desolation than when they're in Tsar itself.

After reading through the rest of Kirash Durgath I am not certain that going through the top of the fortress is all that much safer than through the main doors. It all has to be cleared in any case at some point. Need to start reading through it all a second time I guess, some areas I have already. I have done some skimming of the citadel.

Pretty sure nothing in Tsar is safe, until the party makes it so. :)

The question remains whether the heroes are stout enough for the task. The graveyard at the camp is filling up and others have abandoned the trail. Only Achaedus, Archie, Katrina, Sandra, RCD and Silver remain with a couple of NPC's.

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@ Dark Sasha,

My group seems to really enjoy that aspect of Tsar. The last campaign we played survival was not really in doubt unless they did something very foolish. Now they have to play smarter to survive and they're enjoying it.

My group likes Swords and Wizardry versions of FGG games for the same reason; also the game plays faster and is more streamlined. They were pushing for me to convert ST over to it. I will, assuming their characters can survive long enough to reach the levels required for Slumbering Tsar.

From what little I understand of S&W, is that not going to be a tough conversion as FGG decided it was unsuitable for S&W? There are a lot of unique creatures in it.

Just played tonight, my entire party except for one, there was seven originally, died. It was too the glabrezu at the top of the pillars of orcus. It gave them chances to leave, but the party insisted and paid a heavy price. I hand-waved the trip back to The Camp to avoid a TPK. They did defeat the thing, though only one person lived to keep the experience.

Well that was nice of you to avoid the TPK. I like keeping one or two of the party left alive myself. IFIC, this was a fairly easy fight for my players. The Dread Ravens gave them more trouble trying to fight them on the spire.

I find numerous issues with the trap in G4-3.

From Book wrote:

Whenever someone enters one of the squares marked on the map, the hydraulic mechanism attached to the roller releases, causing the telescoping arm to spring forward with the roller. The wall is only 2 inches thick between these areas and is smashed asunder instantly. The spiked roller of the trap comes whirling out into the hall, all the way across, hitting anyone standing in any of the 9 squares immediately in front of it. Likewise the explosion of the stone wall sends rubble flying into all of those spaces as well as those immediately adjacent to them dealing 3d6 points of bludgeoning damage (DC 17 Reflex half). Once activated, the spiked roller embeds in the far wall and ceases its spinning, but if reset from Area G4-7 resumes its spinning as it retracts.

Spiked Roller Trap: CR 14; mechanical; location trigger; manual reset;
no attack roll required (9d6, crush and 9d6, slashing); multiple targets (all targets in a 20-ft.-by-15-ft. section of corridor); DC 23 Reflex save for half of each type of damage; Search DC 30 (DC 22 if Listen check is made as described above); Disable Device DC 26.


Type mechanical; Perception DC 30 to hear water (DC 22 if
the Perception check is made as described above); Disable
Device DC 26
Trigger location; Reset manual
Effect no attack roll required (9d6, crush and 9d6, slashing,
DC 23 Reflex half for each); multiple targets (all targets in a
20-ft.-by-15-ft. section of corridor).

Firstly, there are no squares marked on the map save a T for the trap. Second, I am having a hard time trying to figure out what 9 squares it is referring to. Third, without going all the way around to 4-7, I don't see a means of disabling the trap so I have issues with the Disable Device roll. Comments? The trap is on p 217.

G4-3 The Trap, well it says every player gets a chance to hear the gears making noise even though its at DC30, I run perception as mostly a passive skill. I tried to figure out the 9 squares thing, but I dunno. Remember the scale is 1 square is a 10x10, so its a big trap.

I'd make a change and say that the 2" wall retracts and it shoots a volley of darts doing 3d6 instead. Seems odd for a trap to do so much damage to itself.

As far as disabling traps remember that disable could be jamming pitons into the floor gaps so that the pressure plates can't drop. It means that the rogue might drill make a hole in the wall where he can slide the spiked roller off its rails.

Except in the trap description it does state " multiple targets (all targets in a 20-ft.-by-15-ft. section of corridor)" which does fit the map so it is not that big of a trap. It appears to be 10 not 9 squares to me, I just need to figure out where the plate is.

@ brvheart

I couldn't figure out the 9 square thing either. It's probably a change to the map that didn't get updated in the text.

I agree with James' take on disabling the trigger mechanism for the trap.

I will probably allow two saves:

First save is half damage from the spikes and also clear of the crushing damage. If you fail the first it's full damage from the spikes and save again to try and take half crushing damage.

Game 27

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

The Soiree
Having recently returned to Magnimar to recover from the Desolation the Tiefling decided to spend some of his hard earned gold in a celebration of life and hosted a blow out party for the middle class of Magnimar. The adventurers attended and it gave them a chance to revel in their survival as well as meet some of the locals. Afterward, the cleric made plans to visit the Great Library of Magnimar and do some research on his enemy the lich King Kroma as well as his allies like vampires and wights. He learned some scant information about something called a phylactery, which would need to be destroyed to defeat the lich, wherever and whatever it was. The party discussed his information at length and decided against spending more time creating magic items. Early the next morning they teleported back to the Camp, during the second casting arcane turbulence caused a few small injuries, but nothing serious.

An Unexpected Attack
Back at the Camp they found Griswald happily stacking corpses in the center of the commons. About 50 undead had come into the town the previous night and word around town was the Usurer had some kind of fight with a necromancer. The party did some quick inquiries with the Usurer but were met with his normal “hrmms” and grumbles. The cleric almost blurted out that they knew he was a lich, he narrowly avoided being dominated and sent walking. There was some discussion amongst the paladins about ridding the town of Griswald, but they decided to pursue it another day. The group decided to rest up and head out early the next morning, they wanted to explore this riddle about Tranquility's Face.

To the Face!
A pair of ghouls surprised the Magus by hidding under some ash covered tarps (stealth natural 20), they were quickly dispatched though only leaving a few dark scratches. The group later sensed a Bonestorm and the Magus cast Tiny Hut. Some of the travel was uneventful, but they found themselves having to forced march an extra two hours in darkness to get to the cemetary (Ashen Waste, A6). Once there they discovered (in retcon) that the elemental would not cross the gate and they quickly ran inside. Over the next night and morning they did extensive searching of the graveyard for some kind of clues, including the druid shapeshifting into an earth elemental and looking underground. They made some observations of its serenity and peacefulness and the Tiefling drank from the fountain. Finding nothing more than uninterrupted sleep they decided to head to the gates of Tsar.

A Bloody Trek
After some debate the group decided to travel by road, rather than the direct route. Getting to the road however they ran into two Screamers, which cost the Sorcerer and Cleric a small amount of charisma. Unfortunately for them, a pair of Babau Demons was hunting not to far away. The group was oblivious as they stealthily assassinated the sorcerer. The following round the cleric cast Breath of Life on the Suli, but the demons noticed and executed him again. The paladins ran them through shortly after and the cleric cast Raise Dead on the sorcerer. The Suli was cautious being down three levels and wanted to return to the Camp to recoup, but the group convinced him to press on. They ended up making it to the road by adding two hours of forced march fatiguing the half-elf and sorcerer.
Fatality: Sorcerer x2

Night Watch
The night watch was fairly uneventful except from a hurried visit from the Peddler, the druid bargained for a clue about a Bishop in Tsar. The next day they were lucky on the road and managed to make the Crossroads by dark. Strong hot weather assaulted them all night and second watch attracted a pack of 6 ghoul wolves that the druid and cleric killed with a channel and a use of her storm lord ability. Last watch was greeted by back to back Acid Rain storms, but they were ignored because of Tiny Hut.

Malerix the Wight
Abysmal perception rolls didn't allow the party to spot Malerix the Risen swooping in for his new master King Kroma. Raised as a wight he wasn't quite as powerful but managed to land a crush on all of the party members except the sorcerer. The sorcerer tried to cast fly, but was severely bitten and his spell was ruined. The tiefling managed to land a remarkable critical blow even while grappled, while the cleric and half elf paladin were channeling to heal everyone trapped under his bulk. The druid was ripped into chunky salsa by the dragon. The Magus landed a lucky shot and Malerix the Wight was taken out by a Lightning Bolt from the sorcerer, who had dimension doored far away. Angered by his re-appearance the party set about trying to ruin the skeleton, not quite sure how to stop him from being animated again. Finally the half-elf decided destroying and separating the skull would be the best bet. The cleric cast raise dead on the druid and animate dead on the dragon's body intent on having it destroy itself. Some hilarity ensued as the party rode a short ways on the animated skeleton, they ultimately decided to send it through the Minefield to blow it up. (We later saw Animate Dead was an evil spell, I let it slip this time.)
Fatality: Halfling Druid

The Black Gates
A streak of good weather allowed them to get a good view of the gates and they paid heed to their commune spell, which told them the “southeastern broken gate” would be their safest entry point. Passing by the main gate the party identified Kirash Durgaut and were amazed by the tall structure, they remembered the stories of the unbent fortress and had some curiosity about it. Ultimately they reached the Broken Gate (B4). The cleric cast Hide from Undead when they started noticing formations of troops on top of the walls. The druid noted the layered interior of the walls, which might make penetration spells difficult. They decided to climb over the rubble even with a pair of Sandmen nearby, though they weren't noticed. They felt a rumbling within the rubble and a wave of terror passed through them, but they decided to hurry on. Just inside the wall the effects of the Pall were immediately visible hindering their view and causing them a feeling of unease and discomfort. A troop of 11 skeletons walked slowly by as they surveyed the siege blasted Grunge. They inspected a few half destroyed homes before deciding to walk to the end of the lane to a cluster of homes near a cliff.

Blood Bowl
The Tiefling convinced them to go and inspect the Colosseum and they changed course making their way through the rubble, they had narrowly avoided running into a hobgoblin scout party. The sky was already darkening as they reached the outer wall, they climbed up and over then walked down to the arena floor not taking much time to survey. The druid was flying as an air elemental and spotted the treasure on the pillar. The party surveyed the scene then the tiefling decided to lead the party to the center, then the blood flowed. Before the blood could get to high the half elf drank a potion of fly, the cleric enlarged himself, the tiefling climbed the pillar, and the sorcerer cast fly. They had an easy time of beating down the blood golems, mostly the cleric, while the rest of the party grabbed the loot. Eventurally the cleric ran out of the center with the tiefling clinging onto his back, while being chased by the blood golems. Since it was already dark the party decided to camp out in a nearby abandoned home. Unfortunately the dreams of the sorcerer and half-elf were wicked indeed. (Sorcerer to NE, Paladin to LN). Game Ends.

Note: The Magus was up and about and wasn't able to fully engage, but jumped in when she could. I had toyed with the idea of having King Kroma animate Malerix's corpse since they just left it laying around and since I'm trying to make the King Kroma defeat a long term goal for the cleric player. I wanted the meta to be active so I had Kroma actively try to usurp the Usurer unsuccessfully. Since it didn't make sense to me I had Belishan take Kroma's phylactery especially since he's attacking another lich, its now part of Belishan's loot. This will help the cleric be more invested in staying with the party longer and gives them a known bad guy to be wary of. I'll post xp later, its 3 AM. I felt bad about ganking the sorcerer twice in a fight, but I told them they'd do the same thing and it seemed to settle things. Next game I should be introducing the Stalker. I'm not sure where the party is headed, I think they are just in explore mode.

I see your party missed King Kroma's iron eye. As soon as my party spotted it, the mithril knight smashed it to pieces recognizing it for what it was. Malerix the Wight must have been a sight for the party! And my party was complaining about deaths! Obviously they did not get the warning about not sleeping in the city. My party figured it out and are taking it to heart. I know Babau Demons have sneak attack, but assassinate? How did they pull that one off or did they just do that much damage on the sneak?

As for the trap. I do most Perceptions on traps as active. The listen check would be passive, yes. OK, I can see now how they could possibly disable it. I do intend to run it as written the best I can.

@ James - sounds like your group is getting caught between Kormu and whatever they stir up in Tsar. Could be nasty.

@ All
We talked about teleporting into Tsar and environs. I've borrowed the idea and have been giving some very strong hints about the danger but it seems like my group is about to try a teleport and grab for a lost sword.

Below is the standard teleport error table (for reference) and what I'm planning on using if they do try to teleport in. My group has missed a number of the encounters in The Desolation (mostly in the boiling lands) so I'm going to take messed up teleports as an opportunity to run them.

(Edit - sorry the tables below are so garbled. I didn't realize that Paizo's board would strip out all the extra spaces I put in for formatting.)

Standard Teleport:
Familiarity On Target Off Target Similar Area Mishap
Very familiar 01–97 98–99 100 —
Studied carefully 01–94 95–97 98–99 100
Seen casually 01–88 89–94 95–98 99–100
Viewed once 01–76 77–88 89–96 97–100
False destination — — 81–92 93–100

Teleporting into or within Tsar

Familiarity On Target Elsewhere* Mishap
Very familiar 01–75 76-90 91-100
Studied carefully 01–50 51-80 81–100
Seen casually 01–25 26-70 71–100
Viewed once 01–10 11–60 61–100
False destination — 01-50 51-100

* 50% random location in Tsar 50% dangerous, unexplored encounter in The Desolation (GM's choice).

I like the tables Geo Fix and yeah unfortunately it does that with the formatting. I don't have much left unexplored so I will just have them be a random location in Tsar.

@Brvheart - Well the Magus and the now deceased elven wizard were the only two who saw Kroma's glowing eye, but they weren't able to identify it at the time. They do know he's a lich by the Commune Spell and have enough info that they need to destroy it. Its kind of like what I told them at game, most of that kind of information is dangerous and any (other) self respecting liches would have gone into the library and destroyed that kind of information. I don't think Voldemort left a lot of info laying around about his Horcruxes(sp?).

Malerix the Wight was kind of an off the cuff thing, I had wanted to bring him back in a weakened version and just threw a weak template on him, in this case Wight -40 Hp, -2 to Everything, add a temporary Energy Drain attack. Done! This time they wasted him pretty quick, mostly due to two smiting paladins, the tiefling landed a 110 damage critical one almost immediately. I was surprised smite doubles on a critical when sneak attack doesn't. I'll have to look that up.

The Suli getting assassinated, he ended up getting full round sneak attacked by flanking Babau's and took like 99 damage. He was dead before he got a turn, the cleric brought him back before they had even moved away, silly cleric. They've got piles of diamond dust set aside for Raise Dead. Part of the issue is they are still slogging around and making camp in dangerous sections of the Desolation rather than camping in the few safe spots.

Tsar - I told the players early on they would have to be on their game to survive in the city, I'm sensing a TPK honestly. I'm just running it straight out of the book, but they missed the thing about not sleeping in the city, they even figured that one out around game 10, I think they just forgot. It's going to be a big deal because the half-elf paladin went LN and just lost his powers. The sorcerer going NE isn't a huge deal since we normally allow evils anyways, but another fail and he's done for. As far as teleporting (via evil sorcerer) out of Tsar its +50% on the mishap table, which is probably a bit kinder than Geo Fix's, lol. The party is pretty tough, but I believe they are out of Raise Dead. Basically, they didn't prep before they came in scrolls, potions, specific buffs, etc.

Btw how did the trap go? At least the dwarf's stonecunning might give her a bit of extra help on that one.

@Geo Fix - It might be easier to just assign plus percentage (+50 recommended) to Teleport so you don't have to keep another chart, just my preference. And you can probably go ahead and drop the very familiar anyways, probably the studied carefully because of the Pall. Tsar teleports are going to be bad news, but they should be. Being able to zap in and out takes a lot of the challenge out and creates the "15 minute work day" that I don't want (see Kingmaker, ugh!).

Additional Updates:
XP Awards:
Liz +7870
Jody +9510
Hinkel +9510
Brittney +9510
James +9510
Ryan +9510

Liz 184,905/220,000 Level 11
Jody 172,450/220,000 Level 11
LEVEL! Ryan 160,950/220,000 Level 11
Hinkel 141,350/155,000 Level 10
Brittney 138,350/155,000 Level 10
James 138,350/155,000 Level 10
Daisy 114,730/155,000 Level 10
George 106,470/155,000 Level 10

Fatality Count:

Commune Questions from Game 26:
1. How many undead in Tsar? A. uncertain
2. How can we best defeat King Kroma? A. destroy his phylactery.
3. How can Basheer be laid to rest? A. proper burial at home.
4. What do we need to do now to best serve you? A. give aids to one another, keep the faith.
5. How much time is left before the Desolation can't be saved? A. uncertain, but soon.
6. How should we enter Tsar? A. The SE broken gate.
7. How do we get through the Tower of Weeping Sores? A. Defeat General Myrac.
8. Where in Tsar can we find Tranquility's Face? A. The grave of Azarkites.
9. How do we restore the Desolation back to the way it was before the war? A. purge the city of unclean.
10. Where do we need to go now to best serve you in the Desolation? A. Tsar.

@James Normally I would agree with you about a lich's phylactery that they would not be easy to locate and identify, but in this case when he is wearing it in his eye socket it was an almost dead give away! Yeah, the mithril knight might have been using a bit of player knowledge on it, but by his level I am not real concerned.

As far as the trap we don't play until this weekend and I am not sure they will even get to it, but I am trying to prepare wherever I can. They are at a point I really can't tell where they are going to go next. After exploring G1,2 and 3 they could go into the swamp (doubtful), the entrance from the rear, or even try and d-door up to level H.

Diamond dust for raise dead? The material component is a diamond worth 5,000 gp. Dust is for restorations. The party from RA did have some treasure left over from their last encounters that they had sent off to Freegate for conversion. It ended up bringing 20,000 in diamonds and 5000 in dust. That won't last real long. The dust will only cover the current need.

@ James,

The smite isn't precision damage and I believe that is why it gets multiplied on a critical. (If I was a paladin I'd use a scythe.)

The +50% is definitely easier but I want to muddle the table and make it impossible for them to calculate the odds.

@Brvheart - just saw the thing about diamond dust/diamonds, but its nothing the Mending spell and a hammer couldn't negotiate, lol.

Since Kroma was going in to attack the Usurer I had Belishan take his "eye" for safekeeping. Lich on Lich combat and all, they know their own weaknesses.

@Geo Fix - That's gonna be rough! LOL! I've been allowing the sorcerer to make Knowledge Arcana checks to get an idea of what he's getting into, if he cares to check.

Hopefully we'll be putting out the podcasts again, we are a bit behind, we are going to do 26/27 as one tonight.

Question about the Pall Over Tsar, page 389. There are a number of evil creatures that live within the city like the Hobgoblins in the Grunge, G5 the Cliff warrens page 222, that are Lawful Evil and others that are not Orcus worshipers like the Hobgoblin Shaman on page 225 and the Cave Dwellers on 227. I'm sure there are a lot more. Why doesn't the Pall effect them? Shouldn't they all be Chaotic Evil and worship Orcus?

Maybe it doesn't affect creatures that are already evil?

@ James

Agreed and yes there are quite a lot more. For creatures with animal intelligence I'm assuming that they are not affected. Likewise for creatures who are evil when they enter Tsar. I haven't been able to think of a satisfying game mechanic to explain why so I'm leaving the reason as 'unkownable'.

I'm thinking that the occupants of the Crooked tower are likewise immune to the Pall because of room 82. Alternatively the occupant of room 82 may be wearing symbols of another god and be clearly devoted to Orcus to give the party a glimpse of the types of changes that can take place.

The Pall does not affect creatures with an INT below 4. It also states "If an evil alignment is reached by these means, then the next failed save results in a devotion to the worship of Orcus." So if creatures were already evil then they would not worship Orcus.

The Grunge - I was going to add that G2 the Cobbler's Shop in the Grunge should be plainly visible as it has smoke coming from its chimney in the "dead" city, but from the map on page 141 players should only be able to see 2 squares in any direction with any certainty.

My players went straight to G3 the Blood Bowl from B4 The Broken Gates so they should be in range of seeing it. Since my players made camp in a ruined building I'll have their watch notice lit windows. I'm concerned they are going to wipe if they run into G1 The Pentacle, aka King Thraestos. His paralysis save is pretty nasty and his sickened aura is going to be tough to beat.

The Grunge - it doesn't state it in G4-18 and unless you find T2. For ease of use G4-18 goes to T2 Upper Entrance on the High Terrace.

I added a Fort DC 15 or suffer nausea for entering G2. They've been churning out Siege Undead for 300 years and the place doesn't have an exhaust fan.

@ brvheart

Thanks for the clarification & interpretation.

The High Terrace - T8 The High Church, page 361, there is an unknown angelic statue there and I know my players are going to want to identify it. On page 382 there is a reference to a "shrine atop the spot where the Keltine Barrier was buried deep beneath the mountains." From what I can tell from page 415 the Well is actually the shrine, still I guess we could assume that it was some celestial that served Kel in the olden days.

Edit: I already dropped a clue that an old map they found in the Library of Magnimar labeled the city as being called Tsarul. I'm wondering if it would hurt anything for the players to figure out the big reveal about St. Harul's Hold early. Any idea on how many years ago that actually was?

Edit Edit: Putting together some notes using the text search feature for "years".
Very Rough Timeline
-2000 St. Harul's Founding (page 243)
-1500 (Roughly) Orcus lays curse on Hammer of the Three Gods (page 243)
-1100 Advanced Devourer slays high priest Mordecai leaving H2 Cursed
-1000 Infiltration of St. Harul's Hold
-900 Temple City of Tsar renamed, City Expands
-500 Dwarf Whiskey in Kirash Durgaut room 64 created
-400 Battle of Tsar Begins
-399.1 Thraestos Captured
-399 Sir Martimus wanders the Desolation, City Falls
-250 Argos should have been released

@James I was concerned about King Thraestos also, but they seemed to handle him quite easily enough to my surprise. They moved from there to G2. After dealing with his saves a DC15 would have been a pushover! Very cool on the timeline! Katrina made a Knowledge history of like a 28 so she knows about the old name already. I am not concerned. It just gives more flavor and keeps them a little more interested. The paladin knows about the three, but not who Kel is yet. I am looking forward to Friday as it looks like I will have a big group for the first time in awhile:) Now as for Saturday.... Since then are gamers busy on Saturdays?

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We are going to have a small unusual game on Saturday, we had to move it back a bit. But the good news is I'm about to go do podcast 26/27! I'm also going to be writing up a dream sequence for Sir Martimus and his Journal for one of the paladins, since my party glazed over that piece of history.

I'm also going to write up 4 new NPC's for the Camp for the Saturday game. I'll post them soon!

I'll be working on the Timeline as I get time to do more searches here's a bit more.

Very Rough Timeline
-an Age Arvonliet forges the gateway
-an Age Keltine Barrier created by Kel's sacrifice
-an Age Twin Gods punish Arvonliet creating Orcus
-an Age Twin Gods create Stoneheart Mountains
-10,000 Arvonliet claims he will return to the world (381)
-x Millenia ago St. Harul imprisons Three Fang in the Trollstone (400)
-2000 St. Harul's Founding (page 243)
-1500 (Roughly) Orcus lays curse on Hammer of the Three Gods (page 243)
-1100 Advanced Devourer slays high priest Mordecai leaving H2 Cursed
-1000 Infiltration of St. Harul's Hold
-9XX Magitect comes to "Tsarul" (477)
-900 Temple City of Tsar renamed, City Expands
-700 (rough) Usurer becomes a lich (20)
-500 Dwarf Whiskey in Kirash Durgaut room 64 created
-400 Battle of Tsar Begins
-399.9 Azarkites the trumpet archon is slain buried at A6 (58)
-399.1 Thraestos Captured
-398y 354d City Falls Great Retreat (756)
-398y 355d 50 and 1 enter the city (756)
-398y 362d Sir Martimus Flees (758), Citadel Disappears (pg 42)
-3XX Shiva's Statues created (511)
-350 Argos should have been released
-2 weeks Kendral Kendral gets trapped in Belishan's Vault (314)
-1 week Sammar's caravan departs the Camp (32)
-6 days Karkuune succumbs to his infestation (117)
-2 days Vilgara's party runs afoul of screamers A1 (42)
-0 Current Day

Alright we've got up through 27 on the podcasts done, we should be releasing about 1 a week, a few of them are two in one's. Enjoy!

Slumbering Tsar Podcasts

SMG Slumbering Tsar Games 1-16
SMG Slumbering Tsar Game 17
SMG Slumbering Tsar Game 18
SMG Slumbering Tsar Game 19
SMG Slumbering Tsar Game 20
NEW!!!SMG Slumbering Tsar Games 21&22

Thanks for the podcasts James.

Has anyone found the details for deathbringer blades? I've looked in the magic items appendix but no luck. Listed on page 430.

See p 723

DEATHBRINGER BLADE: The deathbringer blade ability can be
applied to any slashing or piercing melee weapon. It functions as a sword of life stealing bestowing a negative level when it deals a critical hit.
The wielder gains 1d6 temporary hit points each time a negative level is
bestowed on another. These temporary hit points last for 24 hours. One
day after being struck, subjects must make a DC 16 Fortitude save for
each negative level or lose a character level.
In addition, as a move action on his own turn the wielder can choose to
let the weapon steal his own life. This can only be done voluntarily and
results in the wielder’s immediate death as if by death magic. When this
is done, the weapon immediately explodes dealing 1d6 points of negative
energy damage per level or hit die that the wielder possessed to anyone
within 10 ft. Anyone within the area of effect of this explosion can make a DC 16 Fortitude save for half damage. The weapon is destroyed if this action is taken.
Strong necromancy; CL 17th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, death knell,
enervation; Price +3 bonus.

Thanks brvheart

So I tweaked the background stuff a bit to give my players and others a reason to go to the Desolation; plus I wanted the Camp to be an adventurer's Deadwood with some more intrigue. Here's what I have in rough draft format, minus details because I didn't feel like confirming exact time lines in the Tsar book and I'm horrible at coming up with names.


Past the northern foothills beyond the city of Bard’s Gate lie the ruins of the ancient temple city of Orcus, Tsar, and the surrounding area, known as the Desolation. The area is a cruel and inhospitable place with both constant sand storms and wild creatures roaming the wastes, but still hidden treasures and magical artifacts are found by those brave enough to risk it.

Needless to say, the northern trade road has long been disused due to its danger, and for all intents and purposes its fate seemed to be sealed with the discovery of direct water routes to the exotic markets of the North.

But now such routes are disrupted by a long and bitter naval war over who will control it. Demand is up and supply is nearly non-existent. As such there has been a renewed interest in re-establishing the land route that runs through the Desolation and the dreaded Tsar.
Seeing this as an opportunity to battle the evil in the area, or more cynically to distract from other problems and gain wealth, several churches have declared it a crusade to cleanse the region: “-insert god- wills it.” Including in the movement is Muir, goddess of Virtue, and Thyr, god of Justice, both prominent in Bard’s Gate even as their influence wanes elsewhere. The organization of such an undertaking on a large scale is not yet complete and may prove ultimately to be impossible, but many small groups will undoubtedly and have already answered the call and set forth for the Desolation.

Now you are travelling several weeks through the northern foothills. Your destination is simply called The Camp, and sits on the edge of the Desolation. It is a wretched hive in every sense of the phrase, inhabited by the desperate, the mad, or the lawless. It was stagnant for many years, barely surviving off the few caravans that still dared risk the northern road or those brave or stupid enough to scavenge the wastes. Now business is booming, but the character of the settlement has not changed. Many have died in it without even reaching the Desolation and likely many more will share that fate.

Long ago the churches of the “good” natured gods, with the support of all-encompassing empire of the south, led an assault against Tsar. The resulting conflict was of an unheard of scale and fundamentally changed and scarred the lands around Tsar, creating the Desolation. The war was fought for several years before over night the city was magically emptied by a spell that cost the high priest of Orcus his life. The army fled, causing chaos in its wake, and the forces of good followed. Eventually the armies met in a forest along the coast deep in the south; thinking that victory was at hand, the forces of good pre-maturely named the place the Forest of Hope… all who entered the forest, both good and evil, vanished without a trace.
The effect of losing so many heroes and leaders was devastating. The empire’s territories collapsed back into the kingdoms they had been, and many of those kingdoms fell apart into loosely bound collections of city states. Trade and travel both became more dangerous and scarce; think the collapse of Rome. Only within the past 200 or so years has intense trade been reestablished completely within the boundaries of the old empire. Only within the past 50 has the water route become prominent, a welcome replacement for the dangerous, desperate, and little traveled land route through the Desolation.

Side mission against the Church of Thyr:
Just vague details here, but planning on making the churches much more ambiguous and with different sects. I'm seeing church of Thyr as having devolved into an organization a lot like Caesar's Legion from Fallout New Vegas and the church of Muir falling into the role of conscious.

-Merciless justice, crushed “bandit tribes” outside of Bard’s Gate. Crucified the men, women, and older children, but the Church of Muir (who were disgusted by what happened, as were the less hardcore elements of the church of Thyr) was able to spare the children and have them assimilated into the Bard’s Gate population. Some high ranking members in Thyr’s church see them as little more than traitors and spies for their old clans.

-Hook: One leader in Thyr’s wants to exterminate the camp along with the rest of desolation. “degenerates like them belong on the cross.” Assassinate him on Ursers orders and make it look like it was the work of the old tribes, with the info given by a ranking member in Muir’s who was one of the spared children. Doing so destabilizes the planned crusade and turns attention inward instead of toward the Camp.

Thought, suggestions, or see anything that will blatantly make me have to re-write huge chunks of the module later (I haven't got a chance to read the entire thing; in Tsar itself but don't really know anything about how the Inner Sanctum is supposed to go yet)?

One thing I have noticed like most FGG modules is a lack of non core classes. That being said I decided to make up some Hobgoblin bombers (alchemists) to give them a little more umph. I also made them 1st level fighters to give them a pistol so they could shoot bombs from them! Comments are appreciated.

hobgoblin bombers 3 CR 8
XP 4,800
Male Hobgoblin Alchemist 8/Fighter 1
LE Medium humanoid (goblinoid)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +12
AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 16 (+5 armor, +2 Dex, +1 deflection)
hp 80 (1d10+8d8+35)
Fort +11, Ref +8, Will +2; +6 bonus vs. poison
Resist poison resistance
Speed 30 ft.
Melee +1 sickle +10/+5 (1d6+3)
Ranged bomb +10 (4d6+3 Fire) and
concussive bomb +10 (4d4+3 Sonic) and
masterwork light crossbow +10 (1d8/19-20) and
military pistol +9 (1d10/×3)
Special Attacks bomb 13/day (4d6+3 fire, DC 17), discoveries (concussive bomb, explosive bomb, fast bombs, precise bombs)
Alchemist Spells Prepared (CL 8th; concentration +11):
3rd—battle trance, burst of speed, cure serious wounds
2nd—barkskin, cure moderate wounds, cure moderate wounds, invisibility, invisibility
1st—bomber's eye, cure light wounds, cure light wounds, longshot, true strike
Str 14, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 8
Base Atk +7; CMB +9; CMD 22
Feats Amateur Gunslinger, Brew Potion, Deadly Aim, Extra Bombs, Far Shot, Point-Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Throw Anything
Skills Acrobatics +9, Appraise +10, Craft (alchemy) +13 (+21 to create alchemical items), Heal +7, Intimidate +5, Knowledge (arcana) +10, Perception +12, Spellcraft +11, Stealth +16, Survival +6, Swim +5, Use Magic Device +7; Racial Modifiers +4 Stealth, alchemy
Languages Common, Draconic, Goblin, Infernal, Orc
SQ deed: deadeye, fast poisoning, mutagen, poison use, swift alchemy
Combat Gear potion of barkskin +2, potion of cure moderate wounds, alchemical solvent, alchemist's fire (3), alkali flask (3); Other Gear +1 chain shirt, +1 sickle, firearm bullet (50), masterwork light crossbow, military pistol, ring of protection +1, alchemist's kit, alchemy crafting kit, bomb launcher, powder horn, powder horn, powder horn, 1,161 gp, 2 sp, 5 cp
Special Abilities
Alchemy +8 (Su) +8 to Craft (Alchemy) to create alchemical items, can Id potions by touch.
Amateur Gunslinger Although you are not a gunslinger, you have and can use grit.
Bomb 4d6+3 (13/day) (DC 17) (Su) Thrown Splash Weapon deals 4d6+3 fire damage.
Concussive Bomb (Su) When the alchemist creates a bomb, he can choose to have it inflict sonic damage. Concussive bombs deal 1d4 points of sonic damage, plus 1d4 points of sonic damage for every odd-numbered level, instead of 1d6. Creatures that take a direct hit from a
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Deadly Aim -2/+4 Trade a penalty to ranged attacks for a bonus to ranged damage.
Deed: Deadeye (Ex) Use 1 grit per extra range increment to make a touch attack beyond the first.
Explosive Bomb (Su) The alchemist’s bombs now have a splash radius of 10 feet rather than 5 feet. Creatures that take a direct hit from an explosive bomb catch fire, taking 1d6 points of fire damage each round until the fire is extinguished. Extinguishing the flames is
Far Shot Halve the range increment penalty for extended range.
Fast Bombs (Su) An alchemist with this discovery can quickly create enough bombs to throw more than one in a single round. The alchemist can prepare and throw additional bombs as a full-round action if his base attack bonus is high enough to grant him additional att
Fast Poisoning (Swift Action) (Ex) Apply poison to a weapon as a swift action.
Mutagen (DC 17) (Su) Mutagen adds +4 to a physical & -2 to a mental attribute, and +2 nat. armor for 80 min.
Point-Blank Shot +1 to attack and damage rolls with ranged weapons at up to 30 feet.
Poison Resistance +2 (Ex) +6 to save vs. Poison.
Poison Use You do not risk poisoning yourself accidentally while poisoning a weapon.
Precise Bombs (3 squares) (Su) Whenever the alchemist throws a bomb, he can select a number of squares equal to his Intelligence modifier that are not affected by the splash damage from his bombs.
Precise Shot You don't get -4 to hit when shooting or throwing into melee.
Swift Alchemy (Ex) You can construct alchemical items in half the normal time.
Throw Anything Proficient with improvised ranged weapons. +1 to hit with thrown splash weapons.

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