We finished - comments and opinion on the campaign [spoilers]


Shattered Star

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After finishing Legacy of Fire and Kingmaker over the last four years, our group successfully concluded Shattered Star. In total, we went through 36 sessions of 4-5 hours, adding up to a little more than 150 hours of game play. It's less than for our Kingmaker campaign, but it's still quite a commitment!

The final fight was suitably epic (although it could have been more so; more below), and the full campaign journal from Sheila Heidmarch's perspective can be found here.

The heroes of Magnimar are:

  • Draco Don Zerba, fomer blacksmith from the Fenwall Mountains, male human alchemist (vivisectionist)/barbarian (invulnerable rager) 16
  • Laslo Grigorovich Budynek, misunderstood anatomist, in "sabbatical" from his home country of Ustalav, male tiefling alchemist (beastmorph, vivisectionist) 17
  • Nasim ibn Asad ibn Shahzad al-Fahim, hunted soul hailing from the far lands of Qadira, male tiefling magus 17
  • Viveltre Vanderale, troubled daughter of one of the noble Magnimarian families, female aasimar cleric (theologian) of Asmodeus 17

The campaign was a huge blast to GM and I'd like to thank Paizo's developers and all the authors for creating such a fun AP. Of course, I should also thank the players for coming up with such quirky characters. ;)

At first, I was a little worried that this AP would turn into a slugfest because of all the dungeon crawls but Paizo did a masterful job at making these dungeons lively, and full of roleplaying opportunities. Once I made it clear that the PCs should not feel forced to clear every room but should let the story drive them and that I would compensate with additional material and cut scenes, the dungeon exploration unfolded beautifully. The artifact hunt was also quite a benefit since it meant that it was easy to go from one chapter of the AP to the next.

The good points of the campaign:

  • the many roleplaying opportunity (Sheila, Lockerbie Brast, the troglodytes, Oriana, Kandamereus, General Stom, Morcruft,…);
  • the numerous ways to overcome many encounters (fights, cunning, diplomacy, bluff,…);
  • this trap in Curse of the Lady's Light that created even more roleplaying opportunities;
  • the open dungeons which could be tackled in many different ways;
  • the many links to Thassilon and Varisia's long history;
  • Magnimar;
  • saving Magnimar;
  • the more and more epic episodes;
  • the links to the previous APs;
  • Pathfinder, of course.

The more negative points:

  • it's hard to feel for Magnimar with only the first and final books taking place there;
  • Xin's lack of foreshadowing;
  • a little too many mind-affecting spells and effects?
  • the Sihedron is too powerful and hurts the tension of the last chapter.

The most iconic moments of the campaign were:

  • The fight against Ashamintalu, that the PCs lost, turning the end of this chapter into a hunt through the Lady's Light, splitting the group to bait the alu-demon so a small group could sneak back to the treasury to retrieve the shard and the body of a dead companion.
  • The finale of Beyond the Doomsday Door, when the PCs faced the Crawling Chaos.
  • The fight against Cadrilkasta, epic and indecisive. A suitable fight to retrieve the final shard.
  • The tsunami.

Finally, my opinion on the various chapters:

Shards of Sin: A nice start to the campaign, starting small. The Tower Girls were fun as there were options to deal with them without killing them. The Crow's dungeon felt a little too long, with a bit too many rooms and levels. It sometimes felt like the dungeon dwellers did not bring much to the story (the devils, for instance). Great quick investigation in Magnimar to start everything, though!

Curse of the Lady's Light: Probably the best volume of the AP. Ah, this trap… What a masterful piece of adventure crafting. It needs to work and it won't for all groups, but it did for us and it had awesome consequences throughout the campaign. The wilderness part outside was great, with the possibility to side with the boggards or the troglodytes. So was the interaction with the Gray Maidens and the possibility to ally with them. Ashamintalu was probably the worse threat the PCs had to face and it was truly memorably, especially with her ability to turn the PCs against each other. The dungeon was varied and steeped in Thassilonian lore.

The Asylum Stone: I can't really comment on this one since we skipped it. I felt it suffered from two things. Firstly, too much variety in the encounters. Reading this chapter, it sometimes felt like the challenge had been to use every monster that had never been used in an AP so far: a coualt, caulborns, a pale stranger, an eoxian, and a dullahan all in the same chapter. That was too much for me. It's sad, because I really like what James Sutter usually does. I guess this one was just not my cup of tea. The other issue is that the campaign is set up so the PCs need to care about Magnimar in chapter 6, but they spend chapters 2-5 away, as written. So I added material in the City of Monuments to replace The Asylum Stone.

Beyond the Doomsday Door: A really good installment. I particularly liked that the PCs could enter through the lower levels and bypass a third of the dungeon if they were smart, or lucky, or both. The dungeon was flavorful and made sense. The finale of this one was really epic, with the appearance of the qlippoth lord.

Into the Nightmare Rift: It would be the best chapter if not for Curse of the Lady's Light. The labs and the embassy are so strange and weird that they become scary. It's the first time my players actually said "Let's not touch what we don't need to touch" and left part of the loot! The part in Leng is just bizarre and great, and the final fight against a slothful Cadrilkasta was a gem. They could have all died there if dice had been against them. It's worth a read here.

The Dead Heart of Xin: The reforging ritual and its consequences was really fun. The PCs got to realize the power of the Sihedron and use it to save the city. Xin's palace is also very well crafted. The visions, in particular (my PCs did not find the flamma horacalcum), were a nice touch to tell the story of Xin without going through hours of exposition. The dungeon made sense, but I felt it was undermined by the power of the Sihedron. The artifact is very powerful in a fight and effectively heals the PCs after it for free. That was just too much and robbed us of some of the necessary tension for a finale. We still had a great time and the final fight was epic enough, but I wish it had been a little more dicey for the PCs.

All in all, we had a wonderful time playing through this over a period of a little more than a year. So thanks to all the authors, developers, and players. :)


Very good to hear. Thanks for sharing!

Can you expound a little on what you did to replace The Asylum Stone?


Thank you for sharing.

I have a lot of questions but i will start with these 3:
1) You say that your PCs activated THAT TRAP but i see none of your PCs affected by it, did they reverse it?
2) Did your PCs saved Magnimar from the

book 6 spoiler:
tsunami
or not?
3) What was particularly troublesome about the sihedron? you mention the healing after battle but i don't think that is a serious issue because in any case it isn't more powerful (or game changer) than bringing out the wands of CLW/infernal healing after each battle.


The abilities it gives and all it takes is a swift action to pass it around which itself gives certain buffs.


1) I'm the player whose character (Viveltre Vanderale, cleric of Asmodeus) activated "THAT TRAP". My character was affected by it the whole game, and never reversed it. (Frankly, since she had some ... issues with her original body, she was actually delighted by it.) It was great fun to roleplay, and we benefited from it at least once when I

Spoiler:
managed to convince a Scylla that I was Sorshen and ordered her away.

Although I am not sure it was mentioned in the campaign description, my character kept her old body around, Gently Reposed, at first in a closet and then in a Bag of Holding. During certain situations, she brought it out "so she could watch". My character was not entirely sane.

2) We did save Magnimar from that threat, using

Spoiler:
A scroll of Miracle, which incidentally meant that Magnimar was saved by the might of Asmodeus.

3) Yes, but the Sihedron meant we never had to worry about running out of healing resources; it was infinite healing as long as we had the time.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
leo1925 wrote:
1) You say that your PCs activated THAT TRAP but i see none of your PCs affected by it, did they reverse it?

Viveltre, the cleric of Asmodeus, got killed by the phantasmal killer and her soul transferred to Sorshen's clone. She didn't reverse the effect because it suited her megalomaniac views quite well! It was great that I got to play with this in the following chapters when some particularly old NPCs would assume she was Sorshen.

leo1925 wrote:
2) Did your PCs saved Magnimar from the ** spoiler omitted ** or not?

I warned for spoilers in the title of the thread and I mentioned the tsunami already so I'm going to drop the spoiler tags. :)

Yes, they did! Viv used the scroll of miracle they had found in Cadrilkasta's horde to protect the city. Writhing tentacles of hellfire rose from the sea to shield the city from the tsunami. It was very cinematographic… and not everyone in Magnimar liked the display of Asmodean power!

leo1925 wrote:
3) What was particularly troublesome about the sihedron? you mention the healing after battle but i don't think that is a serious issue because in any case it isn't more powerful (or game changer) than bringing out the wands of CLW/infernal healing after each battle.

Yes, it's true the healing could have easily been done with wands, but the cleric usually kept a few slots occupied by healing spells in case of emergency (infernal healing is great, but the PCs sometimes didn't have minutes to waste on healing). So these were unnecessary once the Sihedron was in their hands.

Mainly, I think it's all the many different bonuses that the Sihedron can provide that made it too powerful. Sure, they are circumstantial, but they are so varied that there is always a +x, that can be applied to a check the PC really needs to succeed at. This PC needs to always act first because his pounces with sneak attacks? There, get a +8 (and then circle it around)! You really need your powerful spell to bypass spell resistance? There, take the Sihedron as an immediate action and get a +8! Etc.

At most two PCs can use the Sihedron this way in a round, but that's usually enough to make a huge difference since the fights don't last more than a handful of rounds. At least the PCs didn't have it for most of the final fight against Xin!

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great the PCs got to wield a very powerful artifact, but I think it should have either been toned down a little or, maybe better, the last chapter of the AP should have been written assuming the PCs were equivalent to PCs of a level higher.

Scarab Sages

Laslo's player here.

Kyrademon wrote:
During certain situations, she brought it out "so she could watch".

"To be fair, it vas wery pretty body — too pretty to be lockink avay in closet all the time."

Kyrademon wrote:
My character was not entirely sane.

"Really? I vould think I vould khev noticed. I am a doctor, you know. (Even on paper, now!)"

Quote:
3) Yes, but the Sihedron meant we never had to worry about running out of healing resources; it was infinite healing as long as we had the time.

Frankly, I was a bit underwhelmed at first. I was expecting a city-wide force shield or an all-seeing early warning system or something... and then it turned out to be something you wear? And that only benefits one or two persons at a time? How pedestrian! ;o)

Admittedly, for a wondrous item, it was ridiculously powerful. You would never want your players to be able to buy such a thing on the market. But it was contingent on Magnimar already having an improbably powerful band of heroes to use it — otherwise it just would have been a juicy bonus for Xin to stumble upon during his conquest.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Catharsis wrote:
Quote:
3) Yes, but the Sihedron meant we never had to worry about running out of healing resources; it was infinite healing as long as we had the time.
Frankly, I was a bit underwhelmed at first. I was expecting a city-wide force shield or an all-seeing early warning system or something... and then it turned out to be something you wear? And that only benefits one or two persons at a time? How pedestrian! ;o)

It should be said here that this was your rather mundane use of the Sihedron. Xin was able to tap into the artifact's powers to much better effect. Eh… There's only one First King!


Honestly, I don't think the Sihedron was ovepowered; it was an artifact, it's *supposed* to be powerful. It was really nice to be able to use it to good effect.

The problem was that the final dungeon was a bit underpowered. We did get a bit lucky in the fight against Xin (it could easily have gone differently), but ... even without the Sihedron, he never seemed as great a threat to us as, say, Nyrissa was.

Also, despite all the Thassilonian history sprinkled throughout the campaign, it still felt like he popped up as the Big Bad at the last minute. Compared to say, Jade Regent, where you periodically encounter assassins sent by the Big Bad throughout, Xin seemed much less well integrated.

(Bear in mind, I overall found the campaign great fun, much more so than I thought I'd find a "dungeon crawl" campaign. It had good points and bad points, but was on the whole very nice.)


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Buri wrote:
Can you expound a little on what you did to replace The Asylum Stone?

I didn't like that the PCs were getting these ioun stones from Sheila so easily, so there was suddenly no response from the mining facilities where the raw ioun stone material was extracted from the mountain: Deepmar. That allowed me to insert No Response From Deepmar, dropping the penal colony side of it.

The PCs then came back to Magnimar just in time for the Champion's Games (chapter 5 of the Age of Worms adventure path).

AoW:
I only changed it by saying that the ruins under the arena were Thassilonian, and that the ritual to unleash the monstrous worm-like monster on Magnimar was powered by the Shard of Gluttony.

It worked and was very cathartic for the players whose PCs had TPK'd in chapter 2 of Age of Worms. It also helped explain why the Age of Worms hadn't overcome Golarion after that TPK! The PCs got to play the big heroes in the arena and win this year's gladiatorial games, coining them as the heroes of Magnimar.

In the end, both these additions worked perfectly and helped link the PCs to Magnimar (I had made Deepmar a Magnimarian dependency and the city guard officially sent them there to investigate).


Very excited to hear how you all enjoyed this AP! It's my intention to run this one after my current crew finishes Runelords (in probably a year or so), either as a "few years down the road" thing or as an immediate necessity thing requiring it be done in a matter of a couple months (give-or-take)--for obvious reasons.

My group is already planning their characters for it though, getting back stories and connections established (for instance, the two ladies I've got in the game are playing daughters of Brodert Quink). I would be very interested to learn of any tweaks for encounters that you think might be necessary to help make the AP more memorable. Not all, of course, that would be crazy, but are their some specific ones you thought could have been more interesting and how?

My intention is to play this AP on the slow progression track, so I can include various other Pathfinder missions that the players will be required to go on for the Society (primarily from the Pathfinder Society missions that I've bought and downloaded). In this way, I hope to have them returning to Magnimar regularly and making the city more important to them, as well. I'm also planning to do a little something to start with that requires their doing a bit more research rather than Sheila just giving them everything. The plans are yet fuzzy in my head, but the hopes and dreams are there!

Anyway, great write-up and responses from your players. Thanks for all the info thus far!


@Kyrademon
Thank you for answerign, i was curious because your character is listed as aasimar in the first post.
Is there anywhere that i could read about your character? magnimarian noblewoman and aasimar ending up a cleric of Asmodeus is a very weird combination

@Olwen
So you find that the part three crystal palace was quite easy, how did the party went through that? did they retreated in order to rest and return the next day more than once (when they reached 17th level)?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
leo1925 wrote:

@Kyrademon

Thank you for answerign, i was curious because your character is listed as aasimar in the first post.
Is there anywhere that i could read about your character? magnimarian noblewoman and aasimar ending up a cleric of Asmodeus is a very weird combination

There's a lot of information scattered throughout the campaign journal. In particular, [url=http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2p1yt?Olwens-Shattered-Star-campaign#15]this postp/url] contains more information about the public situation of the characters at the beginning of the campaign.

leo1925 wrote:

@Olwen

So you find that the part three crystal palace was quite easy, how did the party went through that? did they retreated in order to rest and return the next day more than once (when they reached 17th level)?

They did not rest at all after they reached the crystal palace. They rested overnight in Magnimar and off they went the next day. They encountered the aboleths outside, were diplomatic with the axiomites of Xin in the antechamber, were brought to Xin, who freaked out when he saw the Sorshen-looking cleric of Asmodeus. They easily fought Xin's legionnaires, then took the stairs up, opened the door with the cacophonous orchestra, closed it, destroyed the clockwork dragon, dealt with the summoned guardians of the vault until they figured out how to navigate the teleportation circles. Then they hopped from vault to vault, sometimes destroying their guardians, sometimes teleporting to the next one right away. They chatted with the marilith in the last vault until it became clear they had to destroy her to get through. They killed the grave knight rune giant in less than a round, cllimbed up the stairs, and reached the final encounter.

So they effectively bee-lined to Xin through sheer luck, which was nice since it meant the crystal palace was over in two sessions and it didn't feel like a slog. (I made sure to play all of the visions, though, since they were important in understanding Xin's history.) It also meant that they weren't rested when they met Xin, but that they had gone through 7-8 encounters. The Sihedron meant these were quite easy, though.

If I had to redo it, I'd probably double the power of the encounters. As Kyrademon mentioned, this last chapter felt underpowered. I had planned to have them change to level 17 before the fight against Xin and I'm glad I forgot. So they actually did the final fight at level 16.

I should point out that my players are quite experience. Even though they aren't complete optimizers, they do know what options tend to be best (or not).


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Sub-Creator wrote:
My group is already planning their characters for it though, getting back stories and connections established (for instance, the two ladies I've got in the game are playing daughters of Brodert Quink). I would be very interested to learn of any tweaks for encounters that you think might be necessary to help make the AP more memorable. Not all, of course, that would be crazy, but are their some specific ones you thought could have been more interesting and how?

I did not change much, except for chapter 3 that I removed entirely for the reasons I listed above. I only tweaked a few things, for instance not necessarily following the NPC tactics listed in the books. I also wasn't scared of removing an encounter here and there when I felt that we were getting bored of a particular part of a dungeon and that this specific encounter didn't bring much (just more giants, more qlippoth, etc).

One thing that comes to mind is that I removed the archivist in chapter 5 because the labs were already spooky enough and I felt it would have stalled the PCs' progress. I also did not force on the PCs encounters they had bypassed: the drows in chapter 5 and the veiled master in chapter 6. I felt it would have been forced had these suddenly appeared later in the story.

For the feel of the campaign as a whole, it really helped me that two of my PCs had decided to be knowledgeable in all things Thassilonian because it meant I could more easily tell them about the history and what had happened behind the scene. It should work well for you if two of your PCs are related to Quink and learned from him!


Olwen wrote:
leo1925 wrote:

@Kyrademon

Thank you for answerign, i was curious because your character is listed as aasimar in the first post.
Is there anywhere that i could read about your character? magnimarian noblewoman and aasimar ending up a cleric of Asmodeus is a very weird combination

There's a lot of information scattered throughout the campaign journal. In particular, this post contains more information about the public situation of the characters at the beginning of the campaign.

Fixed the link.

Thanks i will go looking.

Olwen wrote:
leo1925 wrote:

@Olwen

So you find that the part three crystal palace was quite easy, how did the party went through that? did they retreated in order to rest and return the next day more than once (when they reached 17th level)?
They did not rest at all after they reached the crystal palace. They rested overnight in Magnimar and off they went the next day.

Hmmm, very interesting. Usually the final final encounter of Paizo APs are ultra hard but in this case your party defeated somewhat easily and one level down... i really should go and check the post with their final battle.

Out of curiosity, what point buy did they used? (not that it matters at the end game) and did the party had item creation feats?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks for fixing the link. (Too late to edit my original post…)

There were 4 PCs using 15-point buy, with no cohort or companion.

The final fight wasn't trivial, but it certainly wasn't as stressful and epic as our final fight in Kingmaker. That one lasted 15-20 rounds, and 4-5 hours in game. It was only 2-3 rounds and 1-2 hours against Xin, which fell a little flat, even though the PCs also got somewhat lucky.

EDIT: And no item creation feats because the PCs had them in Kingmaker and wanted a change. I can't remember if I banned them outright, but I sure made it clear that there wouldn't necessarily be too much downtime to benefit from them. But the campaign is already generous with treasures and loot.

Scarab Sages

Quote:
If I had to redo it, I'd probably double the power of the encounters. As Kyrademon mentioned, this last chapter felt underpowered. I had planned to have them change to level 17 before the fight against Xin and I'm glad I forgot. So they actually did the final fight at level 16.

I wouldn't say the Crystal Palace was underpowered. I always felt we were walking on thin ice, and there's a reason we skipped the guardian fights whenever we could, Xin came quite close to wiping us. We really shouldn't use Nyrissa as a standard for end-fights, she was completely over the top.

Now, while that "OMGs we're all going to die!" feeling is certainly called-for and appropriate, I also appreciate actually winning the boss fight... wouldn't it be anticlimactic if half the campaigns ended with the world destroyed because the final fight was too hard...?

Quote:
I should point out that my players are quite experience. Even though they aren't complete optimizers,

Agh, you wound me! I shall strive to do better this time around. ;o)


I just read the post with the final fight (wonderful by the way) and i have some questions:
1) How did the crystallis sundered Draco's greataxe?
2) Is it that easy to grab the sihedron from someone? (i haven't really studied Xin's statblock so i don't know if only he has a way to get it)
3) WHAT THE F**K happened with Draco? he asks to be healed and then (willingly) drops out of rage and dies? did the player had to leave before the end of the battle and he did that to make matters easier for you and the rest of the players?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

1) The crystallises are nasty buggers: they have Improved Sunder and Greater Sunder, and their claws bypass the hardness of objects as if they were made of adamantine. So it's easy for them to destroy weapons.

2) Xin got lucky. It's stated in his stat block that him trying to grab the Sihedron with telekinesis should be played out as a combat maneuver, using the PC's CMD+10. But he rolled a natural 20 on this one.

3) It should be pointed out that Draco had the not-always-beneficial superstition rage power and had bolstered his Will save. So healing him in combat was usually not a good option, especially since heal, which is the only useful cure spell in combat at this level, is a "save: negates" spell. He was basically stuck whenever he was low in hp: healing him was almost impossible and he would die if he left his rage. But exiting his rage also meant he wouldn't drop too far in the negatives and could potentially be brought back more or less easily by a breath of life. That's what he attempted to do here. The cleric was just too busy dealing with the problem at hand to do anything about it…

The bottom line is that dying is a big issue with high level barbarians, especially those with superstition.


1) Ok i haven't brushed up my knowledge of sunder rules but i seem to remember that you can't sunder a weapon with higher enchentment bonus than the weapon you are using for sunder, i will have to go check.
2) Ouch... that was... unbelievable.
3) Ok that makes sense, still if i was in his place i would ask the cleric to risk the save since it seems that Viv was the caster sort of cleric (unless the barbarian was using his FCB to buff the superstition even more, then it might not be worth the risk).

Scarab Sages

Yeah, in the later levels the question was not whether Draco would die, but rather how hard he would die. ;o)


leo1925 wrote:
3) Ok that makes sense, still if i was in his place i would ask the cleric to risk the save since it seems that Viv was the caster sort of cleric (unless the barbarian was using his FCB to buff the superstition even more, then it might not be worth the risk).

He didn't have to roll very high to make the save; although I don't remember the exact number, it was definitely a significantly better than 50% chance that he would save and the spell would be wasted. After a couple of memorable failed attempts at healing him in-combat, he decided to switch tactics. And to be fair to him the drop-out-of-rage-die-get-Breath-of-Life tactic worked well for him a couple of times during the campaign.

Don't get me wrong, this was a tactic that caused significant eye-rolling on the part of my cleric whenever he used it, and it failed rather spectacularly at the last there, but it definitely wasn't a crazy choice.


leo1925 wrote:
1) Ok i haven't brushed up my knowledge of sunder rules but i seem to remember that you can't sunder a weapon with higher enchentment bonus than the weapon you are using for sunder, i will have to go check.

I just double-checked the rules for both the Sunder maneuver and the Damaging Objects section, and didn't see that one.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
leo1925 wrote:
1) Ok i haven't brushed up my knowledge of sunder rules but i seem to remember that you can't sunder a weapon with higher enchentment bonus than the weapon you are using for sunder, i will have to go check.

I don't think that's the case (anymore?). I couldn't find anything like this in the "breaking items" rules not could I find anything in the magic items chapter. As far as I know, the only benefit of a magical weapon is to increase the item's hardness/hit points by 2/10 per bonus point. But since the crystallises ignore hardness and do a lot of damage…

leo1925 wrote:
3) Ok that makes sense, still if i was in his place i would ask the cleric to risk the save since it seems that Viv was the caster sort of cleric (unless the barbarian was using his FCB to buff the superstition even more, then it might not be worth the risk).

I think it was roughly a 50/50 chance to get heal, so the cleric judged she had a better chance of making a difference outside of melee with a disintegrate and a quickened maximized empowered intensified fireball. I can't say she was wrong… Especially since Viv had a luck blade with one wish (from Beyond the Doomsday Door), which she could have used to resurrect/raise Draco on the spot if needed.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Catharsis wrote:
Yeah, in the later levels the question was not whether Draco would die, but rather how hard he would die. ;o)

Yes… I liked that -90 against Skullcracker and -86 against Cadrilkasta! ;)


Olwen wrote:
I can't say she was wrong… Especially since Viv had a luck blade with one wish (from Beyond the Doomsday Door), which she could have used to resurrect/raise Draco on the spot if needed.

Yeah, one reason the fight never reached peak tension for me, even with the loss of the Sihedron, is that we never ended up needing to pull out that particular Big Gun.

Olwen wrote:
... and a quickened maximized empowered intensified fireball.

For those curious:

As an theologian of Asmodeus with the Ash domain, all my fireballs were automatically intensified without raising the level via the Domain Secret ability.

I had used a block of incense of meditation, meaning all of my spells were maximized without raising the level.

I had Spell Perfection Fireball, meaning I could apply Quicken to fireballs at will so long as that did not raise the total above ninth level.

Prep an empowered fireball as a fifth level spell (which, as a theologian, I could actually do in multiple slots using Focused Domain), and viola - Quickened Maximized Empowered Intensified Fireballs. A thirteenth level spell for the cost of a fifth level spell slot.

(Incidentally, since I was also using a Candle of Invocation, I was able to toss off some Maximized Empowered Silent Disintegrates, too.)


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Flashy, to say the least!


Olwen wrote:
leo1925 wrote:
1) Ok i haven't brushed up my knowledge of sunder rules but i seem to remember that you can't sunder a weapon with higher enchentment bonus than the weapon you are using for sunder, i will have to go check.

I don't think that's the case (anymore?). I couldn't find anything like this in the "breaking items" rules not could I find anything in the magic items chapter. As far as I know, the only benefit of a magical weapon is to increase the item's hardness/hit points by 2/10 per bonus point. But since the crystallises ignore hardness and do a lot of damage…

Yes i was wrong, it has been errata'd in the 5th printing (i think for the better).

Another question, exactly how optimized the PCs were? (i am asking because i want to put the difficulty your players faced in context so that i am better prepared for when my players reach that point)

1. I see the magus being very optimized (dex based, dervish dance, race that gives +INT and +DEX and shocking grasp, the only thing he might not had was magical lineage(shocking grasp))
2. The barbarian had beast totem and superstition, did he also had the reckless abondon+come and get me+dazing assault?
3. The alchemist was a beastmorpher/vivisectionist... well i don't much about alchemists but from what i hear those two archetyopes are the best for building your alchemist as a meleer (although i could be wrong)
4. The cleric seems like a caster cleric and a mediocre to good blaster (no crazy stuff like dip to crossblooded and/or dazing spells)

the above seem quite optimized (individually) to me, how was as a group?


From what I recall and my perspective as a player:

The magus did, in fact have magical lineage (shocking grasp).

The barbarian had reckless abandon and come and get me, but not dazing assault.

The alchemist seemed quite well-built mechanically to me, and was designed and played by the player who probably puts the most thought into how to build characters from a mechanical perspective.

My cleric was designed primarily to be a decent area-effect blaster and have good charisma-based skills, and (see above) could pull off some quite powerful effects by the end there, but I think it certainly would have been possible to create a more optimized build. I did indeed have no dips or dazing spells.

(I do, however, tend to optimize a bit more than I sometimes do when I play in Olwen's games, because he has no major qualms about having a TPK/end of campaign if that's the way things go.)

As a group? Well, we made decent use of tactics (flanking was a major issue), and we did put some real thought into shoring up our weak points (and we found that we definitely had some) with appropriate magic items whenever we discovered them.


Ok so your group appears more optimized than my group, how about the lack of full arcane spellcasting? did that hurt you?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Kyrademon gives a good summary of the group.

From my side of the GM screen, I don't think the lack of a full caster hurt them. Maybe that's because they still had a full divine caster with some nasty blasting options. I'll dig out the PCs final sheets at level 16 and post them here so anyone can judge how optimized they are. Bear in mind that my players are quite experienced, so they usually go for pretty sound tactics as well.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Draco Don Zerba (raging)
Male Human Alchemist (Vivisectionist) 1/Barbarian (Invulnerable Rager) 15
N Medium humanoid (human)
Init +3; Senses Perception +20
--------------------
Defense
--------------------
AC 20, touch 11, flat-footed 17 (+9 armor, +3 Dex)
hp 251 (15d12+1d8+143)
Fort +23, Ref +14, Will +14 (+4 vs. enchantments); +2 resistance bonus to recover from a continuing effect (ongoing poison, ongoing disease, recover from hold person, etc.), +5 morale bonus vs. spells, supernatural abilities, and spell-like abilities but must resist all spells, even allies'
Defensive Abilities indomitable will; DR 14/lethal, 7/—; Resist fire 4, extreme endurance
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 40 ft.
Melee +1 distance, returning improvised weapon (1d4) +26/+21/+16 (1d4+11/×2) and
. . +1 guisarme +26/+21/+16 (2d4+16/×3) and
. . +1 longsword +26/+21/+16 (1d8+11/19-20/×2) and
. . +2 furious greataxe +29/+24/+19 (1d12+19/×3) and
. . bite +25 (1d4+10/×2) and
. . 2 claws +26 (1d6+11/×2) and
. . greataxe +25/+20/+15 (1d12+15/×3) and
. . lucerne hammer +25/+20/+15 (1d12+15/×2) and
. . warhammer +25/+20/+15 (1d8+10/×3)
Special Attacks rage, sneak attack +1d6
Alchemist (Vivisectionist) Spells Prepared (CL 1st; concentration +3):
1st (2/day)—expeditious retreat, shield
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str 30, Dex 16, Con 26, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 8
Base Atk +15; CMB +25; CMD 36
Feats Brew Potion, Combat Reflexes, Extra Rage Power, Extra Rage Power, Extra Rage Power, Extra Rage Power, Furious Focus, Power Attack, Quick Draw, Raging Vitality, Throw Anything
Traits berserker of the society, indomitable faith
Skills Acrobatics +21 (+25 jump), Climb +29, Craft (alchemy) +6 (+7 to create alchemical items), Craft (weapons) +14, Disable Device +4, Fly +14, Handle Animal +4, Heal +9, Intimidate +3, Knowledge (arcana) +17, Knowledge (nature) +13, Perception +20, Ride +6, Sleight of Hand +6, Spellcraft +6, Stealth +7, Survival +6 (+8 to avoid becoming lost), Swim +27; Racial Modifiers alchemy
Languages Common, Dwarven, Giant
SQ fast movement, heart of the fields, mutagen, rage powers (animal fury, beast totem, lesser, come and get me, eater of magic [1/rage], hurling charge, hurling, lesser, reckless abandon [+/-4], spell sunder, strength surge +15 [1/rage], superstition +5, witch hunter [+4])
Combat Gear Mutagen: +4 STR, -2 INT, +2 Nat AC, Potion of cure light wounds, Potion of cure moderate wounds; Other Gear +3 Mithral Breastplate, +1 Distance, Returning Improvised Weapon (1d4), +1 Guisarme, +1 Longsword, +2 Furious Greataxe, Greataxe, Lucerne hammer, Warhammer, Aegis of recovery (1 uses), Bag of holding II (1 @ 100 lbs), Belt of physical might (Str & Con +4), Boots of speed (10 rounds/day), Cloak of resistance +4, Headband of mental prowess (Int & Wis +2) (Percept, Helm of fearsome mien, Ioun stone (deep red sphere), Ioun stone (pink rhomboid), Ring of evasion, Ring of freedom of movement, Wayfinder (1 @ 0 lbs), +1 returning masterwork stone, Artisan's tools (Craft [weapons]), Climber's kit, 18 GP
--------------------
Special Abilities
--------------------
Aegis of recovery (1 uses) +2 resist bonus to recover from effects, heals wearer below 0 hp and crumbles.
Alchemy +1 (Su) +1 to Craft (Alchemy) to create alchemical items, can Id potions by touch.
Animal Fury (Ex) Gain a d4 bite attack while raging
Beast Totem, Lesser (Su) Gain 2 d6 claw attacks while raging
Berserker of the Society +3 rounds of Rage a day.
Boots of speed (10 rounds/day) Affected by haste
Combat Reflexes (4 AoO/round) Can make extra attacks of opportunity/rd, and even when flat-footed.
Come and Get Me (Ex) Enemies get +4 to hit and damage you, but attacks provoke AoO from you
Damage Reduction (14/lethal) You have Damage Reduction against non-lethal damage
Damage Reduction (7/-) You have Damage Reduction against all attacks.
Eater of Magic (1/rage) (Su) Once per rage, when a barbarian fails a saving throw against a spell, supernatural ability, or spell-like ability, she can reroll the saving throw against the effect (this is not an action). If she succeeds at the second saving throw, she is not affe
Energy Resistance, Fire (4) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Fire attacks.
Extreme Endurance (Fire) (Ex) At 3rd level, the invulnerable rager is inured to either hot or cold climate effects (choose one) as if using endure elements. In addition, the barbarian gains 1 point of fire or cold resistance for every three levels beyond 3rd. This ability
Fast Movement +10 (Ex) +10 feet to speed, unless heavily loaded.
Heart of the Fields +8 (Craft [weapons]) (1/day) 1/day, ignore an effect that would make you fatigued or exhausted. +1/2 character level to the selected Craft or Profession skill.
Helm of fearsome mien Can use intimidating glare rage power when raging.
Hurling Charge (Ex) You may add a thrown attack at +2 to hit to a charge attack.
Hurling, Lesser (Ex) Throw large objects while raging.
Indomitable Will (Ex) While in rage, a barbarian of 14th level or higher gains a +4 bonus on Will saves to resist enchantment spells. This bonus stacks with all other modifiers, including the morale bonus on Will saves she also receives during her rage.
Mutagen (DC 12) (Su) Mutagen adds +4 to a physical & -2 to a mental attribute, and +2 nat. armor for 10 min.
Power Attack -4/+8 You can subtract from your attack roll to add to your damage.
Quick Draw Draw weapon as a free action (or move if hidden weapon). Throw at full rate of attacks.
Rage (39 rounds/day) (Ex) +6 Str, +6 Con, +3 to Will saves, -2 to AC when enraged.
Raging Vitality +2 CON while raging, Rage does not end if you become unconscious.
Reckless Abandon (+/-4) (Ex) Trade AC penalty for to hit bonus while raging.
Ring of evasion No damage if you succeed on a Reflex save for half damage.
Ring of freedom of movement This gold ring allows the wearer to act as if continually under the effect of a freedom of movement spell.
Sneak Attack +1d6 +1d6 damage if you flank your target or your target is flat-footed.
Spell Sunder (Su) Once per rage, the barbarian can attempt to sunder an ongoing spell effect by succeeding at a combat maneuver check. For any effect other than one on a creature, the barbarian must make her combat maneuver check against a CMD of 15 plus the effect's
Strength Surge +15 (1/rage) (Ex) Once per rage, add the listed bonus to a STR check, CMB or CMD.
Superstition +5 (Ex) While raging, gain bonus to save vs magic, but must resist all spells, even allies'.
Throw Anything Proficient with improvised ranged weapons. +1 to hit with thrown splash weapons.
Wayfinder (1 @ 0 lbs) A small magical device patterned off ancient relics of the Azlanti, a wayfinder is typically made from silver and bears gold accents. With a command word, you can use a wayfinder to shine (as the light spell). The wayfinder also acts as a nonmagical (magnetic) compass, granting you a +2 circumstance bonus on Survival checks to avoid becoming lost. All wayfinders include a small indentation designed to hold a single ioun stone. An ioun stone slotted in this manner grants you its normal benefits (as if it were orbiting your head), but frequently reveals entirely new powers due to the magic of the wayfinder itself (see Seeker of Secrets page 51).
Witch Hunter (+4) (Ex) Bonus to damage spellcasters while raging.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Laslo Grigorovich Budinek (with mutagen)
Male Tiefling Alchemist (Beastmorph, Vivisectionist) 16
CN Medium outsider (native)
Init +14; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +24
--------------------
Defense
--------------------
AC 31, touch 18, flat-footed 25 (+7 armor, +6 Dex, +6 natural, +2 deflection)
hp 188 (16d8+112)
Fort +22, Ref +26, Will +13
Resist cold 5, electricity 5, fire 5
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +24 (1d4+11/19-20/×2) and
. . dagger +23/+18/+13 (1d4+3/19-20/×2) and
. . luck blade (0 wishes) +21/+16/+11 (1d6+5/19-20/×2) and
. . masterwork dagger +24/+19/+14 (1d4+3/19-20/×2)
Ranged light crossbow +23/+18/+13 (1d8/19-20/×2)
Special Attacks sneak attack +8d6
Alchemist (Beastmorph, Vivisectionist) Spells Prepared (CL 16th; concentration +19):
6th (1/day)—heal
5th (3/day)—spell resistance, delayed consumption, resurgent transformation
4th (4/day)—stoneskin, greater invisibility (x2), fluid form
3rd (6/day)—thorn body (x2), displacement, baleful polymorph (DC 16), gaseous form (x2)
2nd (6/day)—barkskin, alchemical allocation, invisibility (x4)
1st (6/day)—comprehend languages, shield (x2), reduce person (DC 14), cure light wounds (x2)
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str 17, Dex 30, Con 22, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 6
Base Atk +12; CMB +17; CMD 33
Feats Brew Potion, Combat Reflexes, Improved Critical (claw), Improved Initiative, Improved Iron Will, Iron Will, Power Attack, Step Up, Throw Anything, Weapon Finesse
Traits exchange agent, fast-talker
Skills Acrobatics +27, Appraise +4, Bluff +21, Climb +4, Craft (alchemy) +14 (+30 to create alchemical items), Diplomacy +15, Disable Device +32, Disguise -1, Escape Artist +11, Fly +20, Heal +23, Intimidate -1, Knowledge (arcana) +8, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +20, Knowledge (geography) +11, Knowledge (local) +14, Knowledge (nature) +23, Linguistics +5, Perception +24, Ride +11, Sense Motive +1, Spellcraft +10, Stealth +29, Survival +1 (+3 to avoid becoming lost), Swim +4; Racial Modifiers +2 Bluff, +2 Stealth, alchemy
Languages Aklo, Common, Giant, Goblin, Infernal, Thassilonian, Undercommon, Varisian
SQ beastform mutagen, discoveries (enhance potion [3/day], extend potion [3/day], feral mutagen, grand mutagen, greater mutagen, healing touch, lingering spirit, spontaneous healing [80hpday]), mutagen, poison use, fast poisoning, prehensile tail, torturous transformation
Combat Gear Cap of the free thinker, Deliquescent gloves, Mutagen (grand), Spectral shroud (1/day); Other Gear +3 Mithral Chain shirt, Luck Blade, Crossbow bolts (20), Dagger, Light crossbow, Masterwork Dagger, Agile Amulet of mighty fists, Belt of physical might (Dex & Con +2), Bodywrap of mighty strikes +1 (3/round), Cloak of resistance +4, Dream Journal of the Pallid Seer, Eyes of the eagle, Handy haversack (empty), Headband of vast intelligence +4 (Diplomacy, Knowl, Ioun stone (incandescent blue sphere), Ioun stone (pale green prism), Ioun stone (pink rhomboid), Ring of freedom of movement, Ring of protection +2, Wayfinder (empty), Thieves' tools, masterwork, 75 GP
--------------------
Special Abilities
--------------------
Alchemy +16 (Su) +16 to Craft (Alchemy) to create alchemical items, can Id potions by touch.
Bodywrap of mighty strikes +1 (3/round) This long cloth is wrapped around the chest multiple times like a bandage. Once per round, the wearer may add an enhancement bonus of +1 to +5 on one attack and damage roll for an unarmed strike or natural attack (for one specific attack, not all attacks made with an unarmed strike that round). The wearer may use this item an additional time per round when his BAB reaches +6, +11, and +16.
{brNote: Turning this item's effects on will add its effects to the unarmed strike and all natural attacks. Remember that you may only use this for a small number of those attacks in a round, and you should be careful to turn this item's effects on only while making those improved attacks.
Cap of the free thinker Roll twice to save vs mind affecting effects, and take the better roll.
Combat Reflexes (11 AoO/round) Can make extra attacks of opportunity/rd, and even when flat-footed.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Deliquescent gloves +1d6 acid dam to touch/weapon att. Natural/unarmed att is immune to ooze acid & doesn't split.
Energy Resistance, Cold (5) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Cold attacks.
Energy Resistance, Electricity (5) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Electricity attacks.
Energy Resistance, Fire (5) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Fire attacks.
Enhance Potion (3/day) A number of times per day equal to his Intelligence modifier, the alchemist can cause any potion he drinks to function at a caster level equal to his class level.
Extend Potion (3/day) A number of times per day equal to his Intelligence modifier, the alchemist can cause any potion he drinks that does not have an instantaneous duration to function at twice its normal duration. This does not apply to extracts.
Feral Mutagen (Su) Mutagens grant claw and bite attacks, and a bonus to intimidate.
Grand Beastform Mutagen Mutagen grants four beast shape III abilities.
Grand Mutagen (Su) The alchemist’s mutagen now grants a +6 natural armor bonus, a +8 alchemical bonus to one ability score (Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution), a +6 alchemical bonus to a second physical ability score, and a +4 alchemical bonus to a third physical
Greater Mutagen (Su) The alchemist’s mutagen now grants a +4 natural armor bonus, a +6 alchemical bonus to one physical ability score (Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution), and a +4 alchemical bonus to a second physical ability score. The alchemist takes a –2 penalt
Healing Touch The alchemist gains the ability to heal other creatures. As a standard action, he may touch a creature and apply 1 round's effect of his spontaneous healing discovery to that creature; this counts toward his spontaneous healing limit for the day. The
Improved Iron Will (1/day) Can re-roll a Will save, but must take the second result.
Lingering Spirit The alchemist is familiar enough with the ties between his body and spirit that he lingers at death's door far longer than a normal person. He treats his Constitution as 10 points higher than normal for the purpose of determining when hit point damag
Mutagen (DC 21) (Su) Mutagen adds +4 to a physical & -2 to a mental attribute, and +2 nat. armor for 160 min.
Poison Use You do not risk poisoning yourself accidentally while poisoning a weapon.
Poisoning (Standard Action) (Ex) Normal: Apply poison to a weapon as a standard action.
Power Attack -4/+8 You can subtract from your attack roll to add to your damage.
Prehensile Tail Your tail can retrieve small objects on your person as a swift action.
Ring of freedom of movement This gold ring allows the wearer to act as if continually under the effect of a freedom of movement spell.
Sneak Attack +8d6 +8d6 damage if you flank your target or your target is flat-footed.
Spectral shroud (1/day) Become incorporeal for 10 rounds and gain fly speed equal to half base speed.
Spontaneous Healing (80HPDay) The alchemist gains the ability to heal from wounds rapidly. As a free action once per round, he can heal 5 hit points as if he had the fast healing ability. He can heal 5 hit points per day in this manner for every 2 alchemist levels he possesses. I
Step Up When a foe makes a 5 ft step away from you, you can move 5 ft to follow them.
Throw Anything Proficient with improvised ranged weapons. +1 to hit with thrown splash weapons.
Torturous Transformation At 7th level, a vivisectionist adds anthropomorphic animal to his formula book as a 2nd-level extract. When he uses this extract, he injects it into an animal as part of a 2-hour surgical procedure. By using multiple doses of this extract as p
Wayfinder (empty) A small magical device patterned off ancient relics of the Azlanti, a wayfinder is typically made from silver and bears gold accents. With a command word, you can use a wayfinder to shine (as the light spell). The wayfinder also acts as a nonmagical (magnetic) compass, granting you a +2 circumstance bonus on Survival checks to avoid becoming lost. All wayfinders include a small indentation designed to hold a single ioun stone. An ioun stone slotted in this manner grants you its normal benefits (as if it were orbiting your head), but frequently reveals entirely new powers due to the magic of the wayfinder itself (see Seeker of Secrets page 51).


So now that you know more and actually played/run the battle once, what would you change (especially if the PCs are level 17 and rested before the crystal palace) in the last battle?
add a few more axiomites and/or crystallists? make some of the axiomites sorcerers or wizards or fighter instead of rogue? include the veiled master in the final battle?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Nasim ibn Asad ibn Shahzad al-Fahim
Male Tiefling Magus 16
LN Medium outsider (native)
Init +9; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +23
--------------------
Defense
--------------------
AC 34, touch 22, flat-footed 26 (+9 armor, +8 Dex, +3 natural, +3 deflection, +1 insight)
hp 140 (16d8+64)
Fort +18, Ref +20, Will +17
Resist cold 5, electricity 5, fire 5
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 30 ft.
Melee +1 keen scimitar +22/+17/+12 (1d6+10/15-20/×2) and
. . bite +16 (1d6/×2)
Ranged longbow +21/+16/+11 (1d8/×3)
Special Attacks counterstrike, magus arcana (arcane accuracy, arcane edge 6, ghost blade, maximized magic [1/day], spell blending [heroism, protection from evil], wand wielder), spellstrike
Magus Spells Prepared (CL 16th; concentration +22):
6th (2/day)—true seeing, sirocco (DC 22)
5th (4/day)—interposing hand, cloudkill (DC 21), wall of stone (DC 21), corrosive consumption
4th (5/day)—black tentacles (x2), stoneskin, dimension door, arcana theft
3rd (6/day)—haste (x2), stinking cloud (x2) (DC 19), fly, force hook charge
2nd (7/day)—frigid touch (x2), mirror image, bladed dash (x4)
1st (12/day)—shield, shocking grasp (x8), true strike, vanish, color spray (DC 17)
0 (at will)—acid splash, read magic, arcane mark, detect magic, ghost sound (DC 16)
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str 10, Dex 28, Con 14, Int 22, Wis 12, Cha 8
Base Atk +12; CMB +12; CMD 34
Feats Arcane Strike, Blind-Fight, Dervish Dance, Extra Arcana, Intensified Spell, Lunge, Piercing Spell, Quicken Spell, Spell Perfection, Toughness, Weapon Finesse
Traits magical lineage, serpent runner (two weapons)
Skills Acrobatics +25, Appraise +7, Bluff +2, Climb +0, Craft (alchemy) +26, Diplomacy +0, Disguise +0, Escape Artist +9, Fly +28, Heal +2, Intimidate +0, Knowledge (arcana) +31, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +24, Knowledge (history) +23, Knowledge (planes) +25, Linguistics +8, Perception +23, Perform (dance) +2, Ride +9, Sense Motive +2, Spellcraft +26, Stealth +25, Survival +2 (+4 to avoid becoming lost), Swim +0, Use Magic Device +4; Racial Modifiers +2 Bluff, +2 Stealth
Languages Aboleth, Abyssal, Common, Draconic, Giant, Infernal, Kelish, Orc, Thassilonian
SQ arcane pool, spell combat, spell recall, knowledge pool, prehensile tail
Combat Gear Cap of the free thinker, Daredevil boots (10 rounds/day), Deliquescent gloves, Pearl of power (1st level) (1/day), Pearl of power (2nd level) (1/day), Pearl of power (3rd level) (1/day), Unfettered shirt, Wand of Infernal Healing; Other Gear Celestial armor, +1 Keen Scimitar, Longbow, Amulet of natural armor +3, Belt of incredible dexterity +6, Cloak of resistance +5, Eyes of the eagle, Handy haversack (2 @ 4 lbs), Headband of vast intelligence +6 (Craft [alchemy],, Ioun stone (dusty rose prism), Ioun stone (incandescent blue sphere), Ioun stone (mossy disk) (Knowledge [arcana]), Ioun stone (pale blue rhomboid), Ioun stone (pink rhomboid), Ring of protection +3, Ring of wizardry I, Stone of good luck (Luckstone), Wayfinder (1 @ 0 lbs), Backpack, masterwork (empty), 5 GP
--------------------
Special Abilities
--------------------
Arcane Accuracy +6 (Su) 1 Arcane Pool: +6 to attack rolls until the end of your turn.
Arcane Edge 6 (Su) 1 Arcane Pool: Add 6 Bleed damage to an attack.
Arcane Pool (+4) (14/day) (Su) Infuse own power into a held weapon, granting enhancement bonus or selected item powers.
Arcane Strike As a swift action, add +1 damage, +1 per 5 caster levels and your weapons are treated as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
Blind-Fight (Ioun stone (incandescent blue sphere)) Re-roll misses because of concealment, other benefits.
Cap of the free thinker Roll twice to save vs mind affecting effects, and take the better roll.
Counterstrike (Ex) Gain an AoO against any spell cast defensively within your threatened area.
Daredevil boots (10 rounds/day) +5 Acrobatics to avoid AoO moving in threatened squares. If successful, +1 attack vs that enemy.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Deliquescent gloves +1d6 acid dam to touch/weapon att. Natural/unarmed att is immune to ooze acid & doesn't split.
Dervish Dance Use Dex modifier instead of Str modifier with scimitar
Energy Resistance, Cold (5) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Cold attacks.
Energy Resistance, Electricity (5) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Electricity attacks.
Energy Resistance, Fire (5) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Fire attacks.
Ghost Blade (Su) Add brilliant energy and ghost touch special ability to arcane pool options.
Greater Spell Combat (Ex) Use a weapon with one hand at -2 and cast a spell with the other.
Improved Spell Recall (Su) Spend your Arcane Pool to recall spells you have already cast.
Intensified Spell You can cast a spell that can exceed its normal damage die cap by 5 (if you have the caster level to reach beyond that cap).
Knowledge Pool (Su) Spend Arcane Pool points to prepare a magus spell that is not in your spellbook for 1 day.
Lunge Can increase reach by 5 ft, but take -2 to AC for 1 rd.
Magical Lineage (Shocking Grasp) A chosen spell counts as 1 level lower when metamagic feats are applied to it.
Maximized Magic (1/day) (Su) 1/day, cast a spell as if Maximized without altering the casting time or level.
Piercing Spell Affected spell treats creatures with SR as having an SR of 5 lower
Prehensile Tail Your tail can retrieve small objects on your person as a swift action.
Quicken Spell Cast a spell as a swift action. +4 Levels.
Spell Perfection (Shocking Grasp) The selected spell can have 1 metamagic feat applied for free, as long as the modified level stays at or below 9. Double the effects of feats like spell focus, weapon focus [ray], etc. on this spell.
Spellstrike (Su) Deliver touch spells as part of a melee attack.
Wand Wielder (Su) The magus can activate a wand or staff in place of casting a spell when using spell combat.
Wayfinder (1 @ 0 lbs) A small magical device patterned off ancient relics of the Azlanti, a wayfinder is typically made from silver and bears gold accents. With a command word, you can use a wayfinder to shine (as the light spell). The wayfinder also acts as a nonmagical (magnetic) compass, granting you a +2 circumstance bonus on Survival checks to avoid becoming lost. All wayfinders include a small indentation designed to hold a single ioun stone. An ioun stone slotted in this manner grants you its normal benefits (as if it were orbiting your head), but frequently reveals entirely new powers due to the magic of the wayfinder itself (see Seeker of Secrets page 51).


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Viveltre Vanderale
Female Human (Azlanti, Pureblooded) Cleric (Theologian) 16
LN Medium humanoid (human)
Init +1; Senses Perception +28
--------------------
Defense
--------------------
AC 29, touch 14, flat-footed 28 (+9 armor, +4 shield, +1 Dex, +2 natural, +2 deflection, +1 insight)
hp 156 (16d8+80)
Fort +18, Ref +11, Will +22
Defensive Abilities fortification 25%
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 30 ft.
Melee heavy shield bash +10/+5/+0 (1d4+2/×2) and
. . cold iron sickle +14/+9/+4 (1d6+2/×2) and
. . luck blade (1 wish) +12/+7/+2 (1d6+4/19-20/×2) and
. . morningstar +14/+9/+4 (1d8+2/×2) and
. . silver sickle +14/+9/+4 (1d6+1/×2)
Ranged light crossbow +13/+8/+3 (1d8/19-20/×2)
Special Attacks Channel Energy 10d6
Cleric (Theologian) Spells Prepared (CL 16th; concentration +25):
8th (2/day)—incendiary cloud (DC 25), stormbolts (x2) (DC 25)
7th (4/day)—disintegrate (DC 24), destruction (x4) (DC 24)
6th (4/day)—word of recall, heal (x3), cold, empow fireball (DC 20)
5th (5/day)—breath of life (x4) (DC 22), break enchantment (DC 22), empow fireball (DC 20)
4th (5/day)—tongues, cure critical wounds (x2), air walk, freedom of movement, cold fireball (DC 20)
3rd (6/day)—cure serious wounds, fireball (DC 20), fireball (x4) (DC 20), dispel magic
2nd (6/day)—spiritual weapon, cure moderate wounds (x5), cold burning hands (DC 18)
1st (6/day)—sanctuary (DC 18), bless, burning hands (x2) (DC 18), burning hands (DC 18), cure light wounds (x2)
0 (at will)—stabilize, mending, spark (DC 17), light
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str 14, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 16, Wis 24, Cha 20
Base Atk +12; CMB +14; CMD 28
Feats Blind-Fight, Elemental Spell, Empower Spell, Extra Channel, Quick Channel, Quicken Spell, Selective Channeling, Spell Penetration, Spell Perfection, Toughness
Traits alabaster outcast, exalted of the society
Skills Bluff +20, Diplomacy +27, Disguise +8, Heal +13, Intimidate +21, Knowledge (engineering) +4, Knowledge (history) +22, Knowledge (nobility) +7, Knowledge (planes) +7, Knowledge (religion) +22, Linguistics +9, Perception +28, Sense Motive +23, Spellcraft +21, Use Magic Device +11
Languages Abyssal, Azlanti, Azlanti, Celestial, Common, Infernal, Osiriani, Ancient, Thassilonian, Varisian
SQ aura, domain secret, domain secret, domain secret, domains (ash), fire bolt, focused domain, spontaneous casting, wall of ashes, wondrous pavilion
Combat Gear Doomsday staff, Maximize metamagic rod (lesser) (3/day), Ring of forcefangs, Spellguard bracers (3/day), Wand of magic missile, Healer's kit, Oil (3); Other Gear +3 Fortification (light) Chainmail, +2 Darkwood Heavy wooden shield, Luck Blade (1 uses), Cold Iron Sickle, Crossbow bolts (30), Light crossbow, Morningstar, Silver Sickle, Amulet of natural armor +2, Belt of physical might (Str & Con +4), Boots of striding and springing, Campfire bead, Candle of invocation (lawful evil), Circlet of persuasion, Cloak of resistance +4, Elixir of hiding, Handy haversack (55 @ 27.34 lbs), Incense of meditation, Incense of meditation, Ioun stone (dusty rose prism), Ioun stone (incandescent blue sphere), Ioun stone (scarlet and blue sphere) (Knowledge [h, Iron bands of binding (1/day), Lenses of detection, Phylactery of negative channeling, Ring of protection +2, Rod of splendor (1/day), Tunic of careful casting, Wayfinder (1 @ 0 lbs), Jewelry, Night tea (10), Signet ring, Silk rope, Tindertwig (3), Unholy symbol, silver (Asmodeus), Unholy symbol, wooden (Asmodeus), 7 GP, 10 SP
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Special Abilities
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Alabaster Outcast +1 Diplomacy & Intimidate within Magnimar.
Aura (Ex) The Cleric has an aura corresponding to his deity's alignment.
Blind-Fight (Ioun stone (incandescent blue sphere)) Re-roll misses because of concealment, other benefits.
Campfire bead On command bead becomes 2 ft tall fire for up to 8 hrs.
Circlet of persuasion +3 competence bonus to CHA-based checks (skills already included).
Cleric (Theologian) Domain (Ash) Associated Domain: Fire
Cleric Channel Negative Energy 10d6 (11/day) (DC 23) (Su) Positive energy heals the living and harms the undead; negative has the reverse effect.
Domain Secret (Intensified Spell, Burning Hands) (Ex) Chosen domain spell permanently modified with metamagic.
Domain Secret (Intensified Spell, Fireball) (Ex) Chosen domain spell permanently modified with metamagic.
Domain Secret (Silent Spell, Disintegrate) (Ex) Chosen domain spell permanently modified with metamagic.
Elemental Spell (Cold) You can cast a spell with half or all its damage type replaced with this feat's damage type.
Empower Spell Numeric effects of a spell are increased 50%. +2 Levels.
Exalted of the Society You may channel energy 1 additional time per day.
Fire Bolt (1d6+9) (10/day) (Sp) 30' Ranged touch attack deals 1d6+9 Fire damage.
Focused Domain +2 to cleric level for domain powers.
Fortification 25% You have a chance to negate critical hits on attacks.
Lenses of detection +5 to track with Survival
Quick Channel Channel energy faster by expending more uses
Quicken Spell Cast a spell as a swift action. +4 Levels.
Ring of forcefangs This band negates any force spell or spell-like ability targeted at the wearer. Doing so gives the ring a number of charges equal to the spell level of the incoming force effect. The ring can hold a maximum of nine charges. If an incoming force attack would charge the ring beyond this limit, the ring does not negate the attack or gain charges, and the attack affects the wearer normally. On command, the wearer can use the ring’s charges to cast magic missile, unleashing one missile (1d4+1 force damage) per charge but no more than five missiles per round.
Rod of splendor (1/day) The possessor of this fantastically bejeweled rod gains a +4 enhancement bonus to her Charisma score for as long as she holds or carries the item. Once per day, the rod garbs her in magically created clothing of the finest fabrics, plus adornments of furs and jewels.
Selective Channeling Exclude targets from the area of your Channel Energy.
Spell Perfection (Fire Storm) The selected spell can have 1 metamagic feat applied for free, as long as the modified level stays at or below 9. Double the effects of feats like spell focus, weapon focus [ray], etc. on this spell.
Spellguard bracers (3/day) +2 to cast defensively. Activate to roll twice and take better roll.
Spontaneous Casting The Cleric can convert stored spells into Cure or Inflict spells.
Wall of Ash (20' x 180') (18 minutes/day) (Su) Wall of ash blocks LOS, blinds anyone passing through and reveals adjacent invisible creatures.
Wayfinder (1 @ 0 lbs) A small magical device patterned off ancient relics of the Azlanti, a wayfinder is typically made from silver and bears gold accents. With a command word, you can use a wayfinder to shine (as the light spell). The wayfinder also acts as a nonmagical (magnetic) compass, granting you a +2 circumstance bonus on Survival checks to avoid becoming lost. All wayfinders include a small indentation designed to hold a single ioun stone. An ioun stone slotted in this manner grants you its normal benefits (as if it were orbiting your head), but frequently reveals entirely new powers due to the magic of the wayfinder itself (see Seeker of Secrets page 51).
Wondrous pavilion (Rod of splendor) (1/week) Creates a palatial tent with grand furnishings and food.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

(Don't mind the spell selection which doesn't represent the spells the players would usually choose.)


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
leo1925 wrote:

So now that you know more and actually played/run the battle once, what would you change (especially if the PCs are level 17 and rested before the crystal palace) in the last battle?

add a few more axiomites and/or crystallists? make some of the axiomites sorcerers or wizards or fighter instead of rogue? include the veiled master in the final battle?

To be entirely honest, I would give the clockwork reliquary a second life. He's brought to 0 hp and collapses on the ground, the walls shudder, the crystal the palace was built from pulses widely, the rhythm accelerates, stutters, goes wild, and the electricity that coursed the walls suddenly dives into the reliquary's carcass. Xin rises again.

I really wish I had done that… The PCs could have survived another fight with Xin without minions.

Oh, one thing that made my PCs' lives easier is that they moved so quickly through the palace that Xin hadn't completely connected with the reliquary. So he took the -4 penalty to initiative and other penalties that are stated in the book. He acted last as a consequence of this and a bad roll. Had he gone first, I doubt it would have been so easy.


Ok i can understand the -10 initiative being a real drawback but did the -4 to attack, damage and reflex for 1d4 rounds that big of a deal?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Ah, yes, you're right, it was -10 to initiative. That's what made the big difference. The -4 to attack could have made a difference, but the clockwork was attacking the barbarian, with come and get me and his crappy AC anyway.

So no, it doesn't make much of a difference, except for the initiative. But at this level, acting behind two PCs can well mean losing another 200 hp until it's your turn.


Ok so second life for Xin, for the encounters your PCs fought during the whole book 6 what would you change?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

For the palace, I'd increase almost every encounter by 1 or 2 CR, often making sure to have more than one opponent (2 clockwork dragons, 8 to 10 Xin legionnaires instead of 6, added hit dice or advanced templates for the vault guardians, etc).

But it's a difficult balance. You wouldn't want to overwhelm your PCs for every encounter.

Part 1 I'd leave as is. My PCs steamrolled through the encounters, but that was good for them and gave them the feeling of being the big heroes.


Our group went through the palace and did nearly everything (I think there was one subfloor that is irrelevant for finding Xin and just had clockworks on it that we skipped), all in one day. We actually had a character with an arbiter familiar which diplomacied the first group of axiomites. We also did all the after-the-adventure stuff around the palace before the palace itself while it was all still underwater (it still didn't level us past 16 when we entered, and without resting we were 16 for the last fight too).

The key was the crazy sihedron, with greater invisibility at will. Using a Rod of Greater Extend Spell, we had up mind blank on everybody without spending slots, so nearly nothing (I think only the incorporeal undead excepted, it's been a while) could ever see us.

I'm fairly sure the GM buffed the reliquary a bit (haven't read the encounter), and she had summoned three fairly buff axiomites and twelve of those crystal things, which she said afterwards was more than usual. We also figured out the Hidden Master's ploy mid-battle and so had to contend with her.

If not for us also having a Superstitious Barbarian, we would have wiped, despite the supposed claims about martials and casters. Our fey sorceress with DC 38 Irresistible Dance was useless against Xin, and our god wizard could have held him off with battlefield control (and did management a clutch banishment on enough of those mooks to break the charge-prevention wall of summons that the reliquary had) but never could have ended that fight. As it was, the reliquary still took several rounds to drop, but we weren't really in danger for any of those rounds.

Contributor

Loving this dialogue, folks! One of the great payoffs as a freelancer is seeing how things turn out--for good or ill--at the game table. Fun fact--the Sihedron statblock wasn't something I had available when writing most of the adventure (JJ wrote it), so I didn't get to work in any counters to it, and it looks like there's some consequences to that.

Love the second-life finale, and was something I toyed with before saving that idea for

Spoiler:
Rasputin Must Die!
where it worked to good effect. I think with the reliquary destroyed, Xin's ghost popped out one last time, but he was still somewhat tethered to its broken frame, and only this time he could be destroyed, unlike before.

One aspect of the finale that got cut in development is the immediate rumbling and collapse of the crystal palace, which leads to a big "get-the-hell-out-before-we-get crushed" encounter of its own. Among the rubble, the PCs who survive the collapse find a shard of the castle that's sort of like an instant fortress.

I'll bet I can post those sections for anyone who wants to make use of them--JJ doesn't typically mind.


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Brandon Hodge wrote:

Loving this dialogue, folks! One of the great payoffs as a freelancer is seeing how things turn out--for good or ill--at the game table.

Love the second-life finale, and was something I toyed with before saving that idea for ** spoiler omitted ** where it worked to good effect. I think with the reliquary destroyed, Xin's ghost popped out one last time, but he was still somewhat tethered to its broken frame, and only this time he could be destroyed, unlike before.

Our GM gave us the bizarro-world twin of this idea--a second-gasp social encounter. Our group had been trying to help Xin remember his past and save himself from his madness throughout the dungeon, so after destroying the reliquary, we wound up having a conversation with him and convincing him to move on. In exchange, he told us some of the secrets of arcane lore he had discovered and asked us to ensure that the spirit behind the empire of Thassilon would live on.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Brandon Hodge wrote:
Loving this dialogue, folks! One of the great payoffs as a freelancer is seeing how things turn out--for good or ill--at the game table. Fun fact--the Sihedron statblock wasn't something I had available when writing most of the adventure (JJ wrote it), so I didn't get to work in any counters to it, and it looks like there's some consequences to that.

That doesn't surprise me, actually. It makes sense with my reading of the palace's power.

Brandon Hodge wrote:
Love the second-life finale, and was something I toyed with before saving that idea for ** spoiler omitted ** where it worked to good effect.

Yes! That's right. Writing my post above, I was trying to remember which AP volume uses a similar trick and just couldn't find it. :)

Brandon Hodge wrote:
One aspect of the finale that got cut in development is the immediate rumbling and collapse of the crystal palace, which leads to a big "get-the-hell-out-before-we-get crushed" encounter of its own.

I added this to my game (only narrating it) because I didn't want the PCs to spend another session or two to clean up the palace. I think the campaign should end soon after the final fight.

We seem to have similar cinematographic views of the game. It makes sense that I like your AP volumes… ;)


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Brandon Hodge wrote:

Loving this dialogue, folks! One of the great payoffs as a freelancer is seeing how things turn out--for good or ill--at the game table.

Love the second-life finale, and was something I toyed with before saving that idea for ** spoiler omitted ** where it worked to good effect. I think with the reliquary destroyed, Xin's ghost popped out one last time, but he was still somewhat tethered to its broken frame, and only this time he could be destroyed, unlike before.

Our GM gave us the bizarro-world twin of this idea--a second-gasp social encounter. Our group had been trying to help Xin remember his past and save himself from his madness throughout the dungeon, so after destroying the reliquary, we wound up having a conversation with him and convincing him to move on. In exchange, he told us some of the secrets of arcane lore he had discovered and asked us to ensure that the spirit behind the empire of Thassilon would live on.

That's definitely cool! I don't think my PCs would have been interested in talking to Xin, but that's also certainly because I portrayed him as a crazy character, and because one of the PCs looked like Sorshen and he never would have imagined that wasn't one of her tricks.

Reading your description of the finale, your GM definitely boosted the number of Xin's minions. I considered it myself but I didn't want to have too many NPCs to deal with.


Olwen wrote:
That's definitely cool! I don't think my PCs would have been interested in talking to Xin, but that's also certainly because I portrayed him as a crazy character, and because one of the PCs looked like Sorshen and he never would have imagined that wasn't one of her tricks.

We IDed that trap, but then the Taldan wizard triggered it on purpose because she considers it her duty to reintroduce pureblood Azlanti stock to the gene pool. However, with mind blank, that fact was impossible for anyone to determine, and she used spells that are from Sorshen's prohibited schools, which would not be possible for Sorshen.

As for his insanity, we saw that, but our party was huge on redeeming where possible, and we respected Xin's efforts from when he hadn't been driven crazy by the betrayal of his apprentices. I mean, we redeeemed Ardathanatus, a crazy Yamasoth-worshiper who tried to bring a nascent qlippoth lord to Golarion, and Ashamintallu, a crazed alu-demon who had completely lost her own sense of who she was in her loneliness (among others), so trying to help Xin wasn't out of character for us. The first axiomites could tell that we fundamentally were there to stop the chaos that had corrupted the palace, and that's why they let us in.


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We were a pretty talky bunch, too, but we generally gave up on it once someone actively started to kill us. Although there were a couple of exceptions even to that (Oriana springs to mind.)

We tried to talk Xin down when we first encountered his presence, but he seemed pretty much supervillain-level crazypants and ordered us killed, so we decided that was not a fruitful approach.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

You were lucky with Oriana, actually, since you did the one thing that unhinged her completely: you used mind affecting magic on her! Good thing Viv did what she did (purposefully letting herself be hit to prove that the PCs were friendly towards her) to convince her of your good intentions. ;)

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