Thought Exercise: Tar-Baphon's Escape


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Hey all. I'm running a campaign which may feature this apocalyptic scenario (the assumption here is the breaching of the Great Seal) and find myself wanting to pick the brains of the smart folks around here.

Tar-Baphon escapes. Assume for the purposes of this scenario the following:

-He is in full possession of all his artifacts as-statted in Mythic Realms, all his spells are prepared. He is good to go.

-There is not a band of heroes awaiting him right at the exit. Assumptions about how long it takes regional powers to muster a response to his emergence can be part of the suggestions that follow.

-The world is as-is in the Inner Sea World Guide. That is: None of the Adventure Paths have taken place.

-Via Scrying magic, he's been more or less able to keep tabs on the state of the world during his imprisonment. The lay of the land is not foreign to him upon his escape

Assuming these things, what I'm wondering is does he go for subtle: I.E. "hide his return for awhile, build up his power base a bit, THEN do something big" or does he go for big and huge right off the bat: I.E. "Teleport straight into the heart of Castle Overwatch, murder everyone there and raise a horde of the dead from his enemy's corpses."

Or any degree in-between.


I think somewhere in between as there are substantial whispering tyrant loyalists hidden in Ustalav such as the vampire antipaladin mentioned in Carrion Crown, the Butcher of Carrion Hill is still out there, and I'm sure both of them have substantial forces just waiting to drop the hammer when Ol' Baphy gets loose


First he'd probably reassemble a base of operations (i.e. a mage-fortress to deter any of the heavyweights from Alpha-Striking him) and call together all his subordinates.

Then erase a city.

Then raise the city as an undead horde (he has no limit on the number of undead he can control, and he'll need to quickly build an army).

Then incorporate the forces of his subordinates into his new horde.

Then conquer.

Frankly, even if there was a band of heroes waiting for him at the end, he's a CR 26 Mythic Lich. The APs cap out somewhere between 15th and 17th level for the most part, I think.

Dark Archive

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I think you should include a good reason why Lastwall's contingency plans failed in your campaign background. Because with an entire country devouted to the purpose of stopping this from happening, your players are probably going to want to know the answer to the question.

How Tar-Baphon acts when he breaks free should depend on the tone you want to set for your campaign. If he immediately teleports to the heart of Lastwall and wrecks bloody vengence, it's going to be a much darker game than if he spends time gathering his artifacts and allies first.


All good points. Part of the build up has been considering what those contingency plans might be, bearing in mind that at the time that Lastwall was founded, while it was still a fairly independent province, it was generally understood that it had the entire weight of the Empire of Taldor at the height of it's power behind it. The Shining Crusade was one of those tremendous, once-in-history sort of upswells, and the power and unity to bring about something of that scale is not likely to manifest a second time anywhere NEAR as easily.


Lots and lots of variables in this one.
1. How did he get out? … depending on how “showy” the destruction of the wards was will determine how secretive he CAN be
2. How is he keeping Iomedae & Milani from curb-stomping him for old-times’ sake in memory of the now deceased Aroden?
3. How is he keeping others from knowing he is escaping? … I’m pretty sure Lastwall probably has divination spells going off several times a day to see if the Tyrant is going to escape
4. What kind of support & what kind of competition is he going to face when he gets out? … if he planned his escape, he may have everything already in place. If he took advantage of something else or was freed as a side effect or accident that was not planned, his tactics would vary.
5. Does he have to worry about being trapped again ? … is the Shield of Aroden completely out of the picture?

Most likely scenario I could see would be that he would return to the Cenotaph for a few weeks, set up a few dozen demi-planes, send some simulacra out to take over several diamond & ruby mines to create more simulacra and get a good supply of components for extended plans and see what he can do to destabilize the areas he is most likely to be troubled by. Get several dozen simulacra working on making scrolls. Bind a few outsiders, especially good-aligned ones. Make sure he has a proper “threat receiving room” with Aroden’s Spellbane up to make sure he doesn’t get taken out by common spells if someone tries to “alpha-strike” him while he’s preparing. Re-establish his networks and re-assess the loyalty of the minions he’s been out of contact with. Recruit or create a few dozen pale strangers in case of metallic dragon attacks. Maybe send a few minions out to assist the Belkzen orcs to keep others from sneaking up on him before he’s done.

-TimD


TimD wrote:
2. How is he keeping Iomedae & Milani from curb-stomping him for old-times’ sake in memory of the now deceased Aroden?

This is not an issue. Both Iomedae and Milani are full deities, and so the divine mandate prohibits them from directly intervening.


Alleran wrote:
TimD wrote:
2. How is he keeping Iomedae & Milani from curb-stomping him for old-times’ sake in memory of the now deceased Aroden?
This is not an issue. Both Iomedae and Milani are full deities, and so the divine mandate prohibits them from directly intervening.

Citation? (especially given Aroden was a diety when he went after Tar Baphon)


TimD wrote:
Alleran wrote:
TimD wrote:
2. How is he keeping Iomedae & Milani from curb-stomping him for old-times’ sake in memory of the now deceased Aroden?
This is not an issue. Both Iomedae and Milani are full deities, and so the divine mandate prohibits them from directly intervening.
Citation? (especially given Aroden was a diety when he went after Tar Baphon)

Book 5 of WotR, when Iomedae explains why she can't just go and curbstomp a non-god (Baphomet, specifically), even though said non-god captured her Herald (which is a very "personal matter" as described by her). If she won't directly act in that case, I highly doubt that she'll go after the Whispering Tyrant. Direct her followers against him? Probably. Actually lift a divine pinky finger in direct action? No.

Aroden would have likely been a demigod when he faced Tar-Baphon. Or his actions broke divine mandate, but Aroden breaking a divine law seems odd for a LN deity.


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This thing is undead, ancient, egotistical, and pretty damn smart.

I think its first goal would be to take the Shield of Arnisant -- the last artifact to defeat him -- out of play. I imagine a scenario in which the Whispering Tyrant, with or without an undead army, launches a very open, very showy assault on Lastwall (where, perhaps, the player characters are low-level soldiers and such in the battle).

The twist: The "Whispering Tyrant" is actually a decoy -- a simulacrum or a dupe of some sort. Because the Lastwall paladins would keep the shield under about a dozen levels of protection to keep it away from the undead, a traitor within the ranks steals the shield's shards and brings them to the REAL Whispering Tyrant. For whatever reason, Tar-Baphon can't completely destroy the shield. But he can use a Wish to spread the shards across the multiverse.

Why would he do something so public? Because he wants the shield out of the way. If it disappears, it's going to create a big fuss anyway, so Tar-Baphon may as well reveal himself.

Now that this is done, what's next on Tar-Baphon's agenda? As I see it, he's motivated by two things: his quest for immortality and a desire for revenge.

Immortality. Tar-Baphon embraced the whispering way and allowed Aroden to kill him because he wanted to become immortal, and that was his way to become an uber-lich. Since then, Tar-Baphon has discovered (to his chagrin) that even as an uber-lich, he can be imprisoned by pesky mortals. So what's the next step to immortality? Godhood, of course.

Since Tar-Baphon's overwhelming motivation is to become a god, I can see him committing several acts:

* Attempting to take the Test of the Starstone in Absalom.
* Trying to become a god by inspiring others to worship him as an avatar of death.
* Attempt to displace Pharasma by launching a full-out assault on her strong place. (Incidentally, this could explain why prophecies have become unreliable. Even imprisoned, Tar-Baphon has chipped away at Pharasma's power.)

Revenge. Last time he was active, armies from the Taldan Empire (now splintered into Lastwall, Avistan, etc.) defeated him and then imprisoned him. One does not do this to an uberlich. Tar-Baphon wants to make a lot of people suffer for beating him, and he does not lack for targets.

Regardless of whether he goes for revenge or godhood, Tar-Baphon is going to need three things if he wants to succeed:

Allies. Even an uber-lich can't get by without a little help from his friends. Even though everybody knows he's bad news, I see Tar-Baphon sending out feelers to a lot of evil kingdoms, and to the creepier factions within good kingdoms, to get them to join with him, either openly or not. In particular, I think he'd try to make common cause with Geb (perhaps offering to free the long-suffering ghost from his mortal torment). It might also be interesting to see him reach out to the shadow kingdom of Nidal and offer to free them from Chelaxian enslavement. I could also see him trying to get less savory political elements in Taldor to align with him. And, of course, he's got his old friends in the Whispering Way.

Distraction. When a ticked-off uberlich returns from the grave, the world's paladins start muttering words like "crusade," and after the world's leaders collectively darken their trousers, they're going to start sending armies to help the paladin. Which means the uberlich needs distractions galore. Tar-Baphon and his allies will do their darnedest to stir the political pot with assassinations, conveniently arranged scandals, and border skirmishes across the world. Tar-Baphon's agents (disguised, of course) might even encourage a new crusade against the Worldwound.

Amplifier Artifact. Every good uber-villain has one of these -- a McGuffin that allows the villain to amplify his power over the weather, the elements, nature, lawyers, or the undead. It allows the villain a shot at ruling the world, and it gives the heroes a shot at reducing the villain's power. Tar-Baphon ought to have one of these shortly after he rises -- probably an immobile monolith of some sort.


TimD wrote:

Lots and lots of variables in this one.

1. How did he get out? … depending on how “showy” the destruction of the wards was will determine how secretive he CAN be
2. How is he keeping Iomedae & Milani from curb-stomping him for old-times’ sake in memory of the now deceased Aroden?
3. How is he keeping others from knowing he is escaping? … I’m pretty sure Lastwall probably has divination spells going off several times a day to see if the Tyrant is going to escape
4. What kind of support & what kind of competition is he going to face when he gets out? … if he planned his escape, he may have everything already in place. If he took advantage of something else or was freed as a side effect or accident that was not planned, his tactics would vary.
5. Does he have to worry about being trapped again ? … is the Shield of Aroden completely out of the picture?

Most likely scenario I could see would be that he would return to the Cenotaph for a few weeks, set up a few dozen demi-planes, send some simulacra out to take over several diamond & ruby mines to create more simulacra and get a good supply of components for extended plans and see what he can do to destabilize the areas he is most likely to be troubled by. Get several dozen simulacra working on making scrolls. Bind a few outsiders, especially good-aligned ones. Make sure he has a proper “threat receiving room” with Aroden’s Spellbane up to make sure he doesn’t get taken out by common spells if someone tries to “alpha-strike” him while he’s preparing. Re-establish his networks and re-assess the loyalty of the minions he’s been out of contact with. Recruit or create a few dozen pale strangers in case of metallic dragon attacks. Maybe send a few minions out to assist the Belkzen orcs to keep others from sneaking up on him before he’s done.

-TimD

1. The Three Seals that were separately hidden by the three factions of The Shining Crusade (The Knights of Ozem, The Dwarves of Kraggodan, and The Empire of Taldor) that empower The Great Seal are destroyed, and The power of The Great Seal itself is weakened enough that Agents of The Whispering Way are able to destroy it.

2. As Alleran said, The Gods aren't going to interfere. Even Aroden didn't at the time of the Shining Crusade, and when Arazni did, she died. So it's kindof a non-issue.

3. Good question. Then again, if Carrion Crown is to be believed:

Spoiler:
The Whispering Way came within a hair's breadth of releasing The Tyrant, and have plenty of agents in and around Gallowspire itself without Lastwall being much the wiser.

Beyond this, Lastwall doesn't seem to have a large number of high level spellcasters, and the campaign setting assumes that the number of people in a given nation above 13th level can be counted on one hand. This is why I even posited the possibility of Tar-Baphon going nuclear on Lastwall when he awakened... There's probably nobody in the country actually capable of stopping him.

4. According to Carrion Crown:

spoiler:
There's several powerful Servitors lurking in Ustalav and around Gallowspire, both former and current. Most of them, the campaign implies, would sense their lord's return the moment it happened. Probably the single most powerful of these is The Vampire Lord Maylas. In the event that Tar-Baphon returned, he'd rouse all of Castle Kronquist and his own undead army and immediately send out agents to find out what was going on. So would a lot of Big T's other former servants, though there seem to be as many of them who would run for the hills as would throw themselves at his feet.

5. Now this I haven't decided yet. Good question, and I'll need to think about this one. Canonically, yes, it's still in play, but minus the one shard Tar-Baphon has, which would prevent the shield from being completely remade.


Alleran wrote:
TimD wrote:
Alleran wrote:
TimD wrote:
2. How is he keeping Iomedae & Milani from curb-stomping him for old-times’ sake in memory of the now deceased Aroden?
This is not an issue. Both Iomedae and Milani are full deities, and so the divine mandate prohibits them from directly intervening.
Citation? (especially given Aroden was a diety when he went after Tar Baphon)
Book 5 of WotR ...

Ah, that explains it. I've been avoiding reading too much WotR as I'm supposed to be playing in it.

-TimD


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Tar-Baphon would have some issues with getting allies in Geb - the ghost wizard king himself might not even care that the Tyrant got out, while the queen, Arazni, hates Tar-Baphon with the burning passion of a thousand suns. Arazni, a mythic wizard lich in her own right, is one the people TB needs to worry about Alpha-Striking him once he got out - Arazni's strong enough that a fight between the two would come down to die rolls, and that's before she brings a posse. Managing to make an alliance with Geb under those circumstances would be a hard trick.

As already noted, TB has a number of servants who would immediately rally to him if he got out.

TB's best bet for an ally would be the Worldwound demons that are across the border to the north. Without that alliance, he'd be in real danger of having his forces in Ustalav pinchered between Lastwall and the Mendev Crusade. Which would be at least mildly inconvenient.


TheWarriorPoet519 wrote:
lots of good responses which were addressing points I didn’t intend to make

I was actually more focused on considerations from the POV of Tar Baphon. As the GM, you know whether or not there will be divine intervention and what the result of the Seals failing is; as TB, he may not know and has to plan, contingency plan, and back-up plan accordingly. This may affect the timelines of his plans coming into fruition and how ambitious he is “right out of the gate”.

Ex. If he thinks there will be lots of “fireworks” when the Seals drop, he will try to make sure his timeframe stays “fast”. If he thinks it may be a bit before anyone knows, he may plan for “slower” progression and proceed in different avenues.

RE: caster levels... Commune only requires a 9th L caster. I would imagine that there's a lot of "Is Tar Baphon going to escape in the month of <x>?" questions that occur and so might your PCs. Again, was asked to assist for GM planning purposes, not to rain on your parade. Apologies if my original post came off that way.

-TimD


Zhangar wrote:
Arazni, a mythic wizard lich in her own right, is one the people TB needs to worry about Alpha-Striking him once he got out - Arazni's strong enough that a fight between the two would come down to die rolls, and that's before she brings a posse. Managing to make an alliance with Geb under those circumstances would be a hard trick.

Yes, they should hate each other. But wouldn't it be something if Arazni became the Whispering Tyrant's consort?


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pennywit wrote:
Zhangar wrote:
Arazni, a mythic wizard lich in her own right, is one the people TB needs to worry about Alpha-Striking him once he got out - Arazni's strong enough that a fight between the two would come down to die rolls, and that's before she brings a posse. Managing to make an alliance with Geb under those circumstances would be a hard trick.
Yes, they should hate each other. But wouldn't it be something if Arazni became the Whispering Tyrant's consort?

... Did you just turn this scenario into the ultimate villainous love-triangle?


TimD wrote:
TheWarriorPoet519 wrote:
lots of good responses which were addressing points I didn’t intend to make

I was actually more focused on considerations from the POV of Tar Baphon. As the GM, you know whether or not there will be divine intervention and what the result of the Seals failing is; as TB, he may not know and has to plan, contingency plan, and back-up plan accordingly. This may affect the timelines of his plans coming into fruition and how ambitious he is “right out of the gate”.

Ex. If he thinks there will be lots of “fireworks” when the Seals drop, he will try to make sure his timeframe stays “fast”. If he thinks it may be a bit before anyone knows, he may plan for “slower” progression and proceed in different avenues.

RE: caster levels... Commune only requires a 9th L caster. I would imagine that there's a lot of "Is Tar Baphon going to escape in the month of <x>?" questions that occur and so might your PCs. Again, was asked to assist for GM planning purposes, not to rain on your parade. Apologies if my original post came off that way.

-TimD

Oh, no, sorry if my response came across as critical. Wasn't my intent at all! There has been no parade-raining. Just perspective-enhancing. I brought this here explicitly because other brains than mine are likely to come at this from other angles, and as Pennywit pointed out above, Tar-Baphon is smart. Certainly smarter than I am. So different lines of thought and tactical considerations are really good for me to bear in mind.

Taken from that angle, the question about Divine contingency plans is more interesting. My gut says that the fact that Aroden didn't interfere with his activities during The Shining Crusade has clued him in to the potential that neither deity may do anything directly against him. That said, He has killed a Demigod before, which brings in the Arazni consideration. To the extent that any living power in the world has both the ability and motivation to come after him, it's her. The extent to which she would, I'm less certain on. She does rule Geb in the absence of it's true master, and abandoning her place of power to seek out and destroy her old killer would be of sufficient risk that it comes down to how much she's willing to risk for vengeance.

I think that - with regards to her - he'd immediately send out servants to get his hands on The Bloodstones of Arazni the second he learns of them, as insurance, if nothing else.


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TheWarriorPoet519 wrote:


... Did you just turn this scenario into the ultimate villainous love-triangle?

(...)

I think that - with regards to her - he'd immediately send out servants to get his hands on The Bloodstones of Arazni the second he learns of them, as insurance, if nothing else.

Or dowry.

Actually, now that I think about it, there's a potential, world-shaking plan coming together.

Step 1: Create a distraction. Yes, they might be potential allies, but for an ambitious sod like Tar-Baphon, they're impediments to his power. So I'm thinking that Tar-Baphon should encourage a crusade against one of the other Big Evils in the world, like Treerazer, the Worldwound, or the Empire of Cheliax. Why? Because if Paladins of Iomedae and Saranrae are attacking demons, they're not attacking Tar-Baphon. If possible, Tar-Baphon should work out how to break his seals, then arrange for the distraction, THEN break out of prison.

Step 2: Eliminate the Shield of Arnisant. As others have noted, even if he doesn't escape with a big bang, the Knight of Ozem (and others at Lastwall) are going to know he got out of his cage, thanks to divination magic. Because the Shield of Arnisant last defeated him, he should use a multilayered plan (Xanatos style) to eliminate its threat. I don't think he'd keep the shield near him (except maybe for a single shard), so spreading it across the planes makes sense.

GM Note. Potential quest here. The Dismantled MacGuffin is an old an hoary trope, but it is a classic.

Step 3: Gather allies. This is the fun part. Some evil folk (which Tar-Baphon sees as competitors) are going to be the targets of good folk that Tar-Baphon prefers not to face. Tar-Baphon would see other evil folk as competitors. Riffing off the material above, I think the nations of Ustalav (Golarion Transylvania) and Geb (Home of the Undead) make the best allies for the Whispering Tyrant. If he looks for allies in Geb, then Tar-Baphon may attempt to woo Arazni, the Harlot Queen. Will it be love? Will it be lust for power? Who knows? But it'll be the biggest love triangle since Betty and Veronica.

GM Note. Another MacGuffin quest here. Tar-Baphon, in disguise, sends PCs to recover the Bloodstones of Arazni as dowry.

Step 4: WAR!!! Exactly what it says on the tin.


If I was Tar-Baphon, this is probably what I'd do.

Walk outside, say to the Undead Storm (Dungeons of Golarion for the insanity that is that storm) that surrounds Gallowspire "Let's ruin Vigil, shall we?"

Greater Teleport into the heart of the city, and proceed to absolutely ruin and kill everyone in a matter of minutes. Let that nasty storm run clean-up crew, killing everyone.

Tell your already sizable army (he was locked away with some pretty heavy hitters and lots of undead already) to go in and crush the border towns of Lastwall.

Tell the Orcs to invade or die, and they'll be pretty happy to finish of that tiny little country and join your side like the old days.

Your sleeper agents and free generals in Ustalav should more than be able to take over that country, and suddenly...

You have quite a sizable empire, your biggest threat was crushed first, and although you may have drawn some serious attention, that was gonna happen anyway, so whatevs.

Liberty's Edge

pennywit wrote:
If he looks for allies in Geb, then Tar-Baphon may attempt to woo Arazni, the Harlot Queen. Will it be love? Will it be lust for power? Who knows? But it'll be the biggest love triangle since Betty and Veronica.

Uh...Tar-Baphon killed Arazni. She is not the forgiving type. She's likely to be one of the more serious enemies he faces, one he may not even be aware of, not anything resembling an ally.

Silver Crusade

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In some ways Tar-Baphons greatest enemies may not be the 'good guys', but the villains, or at least that is potentially how i'd play it.

Arazni as already mentioned has more than enough cause to want to see him crushed, and the devil ruled Cheliax isn't going to stand by and just let a massive undead rival form on their doorstep. Neither Asmodeus nor Tar-Baphon strike me as the sharing type. Has the potential for some very interesting groups who hate each other working towards a common goal. Knights of Ozem working with the Harlot Queen, Cheliax and Andoran forces standing together against the undead horde. As far as the world wound, i'd imagine he would ignore it. The crusaders there are too busy to split their attention unless forced to, and as long as they are fighting demons it is siphoning off forces that would otherwise be fighting him.

So if it were me as Tar-Baphon, here is how i'd see things play out:

1: Tar-Baphon gets free, immediately nukes Vigil. At his level he doesn't need allies or a horde to help do it and no one there is going to have the power to stop him, and having undead would simply alert others as to the true cause. If possible try to throw suspicion elsewhere, but at the very least leave it a mystery, don't announce his presence and take precautions to ensure divination is unlikely to reveal the truth. Sure, hes going to be top of the suspect list, but if no undead hordes stir, or anything else people suspect would come with him happens, they aren't going to be sure.

This will throw his most dedicated opposition into disarray.

2: Leave Ustalav, leave a trusted servant in charge of quietly rallying his forces and keeping them hidden so they can spill out across the land when he needs them. Set up a new base, and set about fortifying it while moving to step 3.

3: Gain influence and spread chaos. Razmir might be an ally given his desire for immortality that mirrors in some way Tar-Baphons own, but it would likely be easier to kill and replace him with a puppet. Have said puppet start a war of expansion into the river kingdoms, it will weaken those realms and provide ample corpses for his own use later, and if it succeeds, all the better. Galt is so chaotic he could likely start a new faction there and with subtle hand gain control of it as well, and no one will pay it much notice because, well its is Galt after all. Once he has control of Galt have it join in the wars of the river kingdoms, using Graltons actions in Galt as a pretext. Getting the orcs of Belkzen bent to his will would also be beneficial, and if not and word of orcs dying by the hundred from some unseen menace gets out, is anyone going to care all that much?

At some point someone will have already started to piece things together, but if he works well to misdirect things he could by this point have a large swath of the inner sea under his control. The war in the river kingdoms would slow reinforcements to the crusaders in Mendev, he could have his forces in Ustalav spill forth into Lastwall, and use his agents to cause as much chaos as possible among their ranks as he does, all while still not directly revealing himself. If a bunch of forces arrive to bolster lastwall, then he can go about taking all those lovely dead people in Galt, Razmiran, and the River Kingdoms and put them to use either opening an additional front no one was expecting, or cross the lake to hit those in last wall from an unexpected direction. He can either have the orcs join in, or the dead orcs, as the case may be, or keep them as a surprise reserve.

From a GM perspective i'd probably just have his forces attack everywhere at once. This creates a world war type scenario with a front that spans nearly all the way across the continent, with an easy excuse for massive early gains thanks to the speed, size, and unexpected nature of it all.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
pennywit wrote:
If he looks for allies in Geb, then Tar-Baphon may attempt to woo Arazni, the Harlot Queen. Will it be love? Will it be lust for power? Who knows? But it'll be the biggest love triangle since Betty and Veronica.
Uh...Tar-Baphon killed Arazni. She is not the forgiving type. She's likely to be one of the more serious enemies he faces, one he may not even be aware of, not anything resembling an ally.

Deadmanwalking, "enemies who fall in love" ... or at least mutual lust for power ... is a classic tropes.

Liberty's Edge

pennywit wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
pennywit wrote:
If he looks for allies in Geb, then Tar-Baphon may attempt to woo Arazni, the Harlot Queen. Will it be love? Will it be lust for power? Who knows? But it'll be the biggest love triangle since Betty and Veronica.
Uh...Tar-Baphon killed Arazni. She is not the forgiving type. She's likely to be one of the more serious enemies he faces, one he may not even be aware of, not anything resembling an ally.
Deadmanwalking, "enemies who fall in love" ... or at least mutual lust for power ... is a classic tropes.

Tar Baphon, and I quote "humiliated her before torturing her to death, throwing her broken form amid the ranks of her army to dishearten them."

Also, she has all the power she seems to want, what with ruling Geb and all. And she's equal CR to him, has a higher Intelligence, and is capable of granting spells to her followers if she wishes...so it's not like she needs him or anything.

It's just utterly out-of-keeping with her stated behavior.


Or ... she could look to plant a knife in his back after he "trusts" her. It's just one of several storytelling possibilities, Deadmanwalking.


pennywit wrote:
Or ... she could look to plant a knife in his back after he "trusts" her.

She has enough resources and personal firepower at her command to quite possibly take him in a straight-up, no-holds-barred, knock-down drag-out fight. She has no reason to like or ally with him (even with the intent to backstab), and even less to actually fall in love/lust for him. Wait for the opportune moment to hit him hard while he concentrates on the Shining Crusade or whatever else he's targeting? Perhaps. Actually pretend to side with him? Yeah, no - it's completely out of character for her.

I'm all for keeping options open, but really, is this one that people honestly think should be seriously considered as an in-any-way-at-all likely occurrence?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I would add that for any obvious nuking move or tactics, to use his super simulacrum for that maneuver. It is briefly described in Dungeons of Golarion that it is not detectable as a normal one is. I would keep him in Ustalav for theme though, he did rule it for 900 years or so. Maybe tie him to the land like an evil king Arthur, its trope but lots of possible adventures around that idea.


Seannoss wrote:
Maybe tie him to the land like an evil king Arthur, its trope but lots of possible adventures around that idea.

This is a really interesting trope. Perhaps an order of druids or nature clerics could break Tar-Baphon's power (or some of it, anyway) by bringing life back to his lands.


Seannoss wrote:
I would add that for any obvious nuking move or tactics, to use his super simulacrum for that maneuver. It is briefly described in Dungeons of Golarion that it is not detectable as a normal one is. I would keep him in Ustalav for theme though, he did rule it for 900 years or so. Maybe tie him to the land like an evil king Arthur, its trope but lots of possible adventures around that idea.

I really like this idea, as it ties in with the fact that one of my PC's is - unbeknownst to him - The last heir to the Virholt line.

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Arch's Postulation

TB and his thousands of minions have been watching and waiting. They know things no-one else should know, and plans upon plans have been building over the eons. When he steps outside of the confines of Gallowspire for the first time, he grins and teleports.

First Steps: The Cenotaph gets a visit, where he waves hello to his backup army, then points in a circle and says "Go." He commands his more guileful thralls (demiliches, liches, etc.) to infiltrate Caliphas, the Palantines, and Lastwall, quietly converting folks to WW or undeading them.

Belkzen: The orc warlords of each of the strongest clans suddenly find themselves ghasts, as they are killed and created immediately. TB forces the ghast warlords to band together an chaotically zerg Lastwall.

Karzoug: TB has been watching Greed stirring in his ruins. He has had plenty of years to divine the Runewell's powers, and as Karzoug opens his eyes, he sees TB's hand dive into his chest. Karzoug is then raised as a skeleton. No need to give any powerful adversaries any intelligence. Runewell claimed, TB is now the Runelord of Greed.

Xin-Grafar: Merc's need money, and TB has an unlimited supply of gold at his fingertips. TB queues up several thousand skeletal miners, and within days he has enough gold to do some adequate bribery.

Gathering Armies: TB sends his coffers of gold across the Encarthen region, hiring thousands of adventurers and mercs for Red Herrings, only for said folks getting killed and raised by TB's lieutenants. Begins staging his armies *in* the lake, off the shore of Caliphas, and up the Path River.

Siege of Lastwall: TB instantly gives all his undead he controls a simlutaneous message to attack Vigil. Tens of thousands of undead pour into Vigil from the gap in its wall at the harbor. Wraiths, shadows, and allips fly in from above. Liches and demiliches teleport in. TB shows up in the Watcher Lord's bed chamber, and makes Skeleton Lackey #2 out of him. To the observer from afar, it looks like Minas Tirith in the RotK movie when the ghosts get there and start killing all the bad guys inside the city walls, except the undead are killing the good guys.

New War Capital: Every last living humanoid in Lastwall is killed and raised. Vigil is home to a desecration ritual that poisons the land just like Virlych.

Gluttony and beyond: TB then returns to the Cenotaph, and through an unknown means, replaces Zutha as the Runelord of Gluttony. The removal of 2 Runelords starts pinging the other guys, and since TB knows their locations, he telports in and kills all but Xanderghul and Alanzist, offering them Varisia and the Chelish states as a sign of alliance.

Northern Aggression: By this time Mendev is starting to get uneasy, with Ustalav silently falling back under TB's regime. Half of the Crusaders splinter off and begin fighting back against TB. The army of Ustalav is raised, and sent off to guard the northern border.

Southern Expansion: Druma and Nirmathas fall easily, and once the pincer begins to close, Molthune likewise falls. Turning east, TB uses some of his improved Runelord rune magic to empower Treerazer, setting the Demon Lord loose upon Kyonin with a newfound vigor. He finally pushes south into Isger, not stopping until he sees the Inner Sea on the south shores of Andoran.

Eastern Bulwark: The space barbarians of Numeria fall next, as their poisoned leadership bows quickly to the mythic superiority of TB. Claiming a good portion of the River Kingdoms is basically just some quick title work, as his legions pour across the plains. Kyonin is now fully under Treerazer's power. That leaves the little nation that could of Razmirran. TB graciously gifts Razmir with a ritual that will grant the Living God true immortality (not to mention enough mythic tiers to take Divine Source), albeit at an indefinite pledge of fealty.

The Wizard King's Pit: TB, satisfied with his current borders, sets up at his dungeon on the Isle of Terror, and goes about reinstating his god killing trap in-case any of the deities get frisky.


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It seems to be that one of the first things he's going to have to get around is the fact that, due to divination magic, his escape won't be secret for long. This means two things to me - upon escaping, he has to act fast, and, even as he escapes, he wants to buy a little bit of time. Distraction and misdirection are probably some of the most effective ways to go about this, but consider also the notion of lying to someone by telling them the truth.

Days before his escape seems imminent, Tar-Baphon has some of his agents leek info that the Whispering Way is launching another plot to release him. This becomes common knowledge in Lastwall. The leaked information says they may only have months. They begin watching Gallowspire only to find that it has been set up with uber-wards against divination. They now assume that the Whispering Way is there in full force and tinkering with stuff. They deploy troops to quash whatever they're up to. In the mean time, other agents have been getting everybody riled up about the Worldwound, hinting at something dark happening beyond the wardstones. Lastwall is concerned about the Whispering Way's plot, but all other eyes are looking north. The big key here, though, is that when they use divination on Gallowspire to find it blocked, it just confirms a lesser threat.

In the mean time, there are several simultaneous strikes against the seals so that Tar-Baphon can break out even as Lastwall's army's are en-route. Fully charged, he teleports into the middle of Lastwall and kills their leaders as they're in a war-council or something. No survivors, no witnesses. He leaves and repeats this in a few other locations that are likely to oppose him.

It's obviously not long before this is discovered, and now everyone knows that something powerful is in play. They are naturally assuming powerful agents of the Whispering Way, or maybe they assume the Wardstones have failed. In any case, they know there is a threat - Tar-Baphon simply wants them to underestimate the magnitude of what's going on.

So while all this has been going on, minions of Tar-Baphon have been working in Belzken to try and unite a few of the orc tribes. With everyone looking for the plots of necromancers and paying attention to the Worldwound, they are relatively unconcerned about a bunch of orcs. In one big swoop hordes of the buggers begin swarming Lastwall, and that's when Tar-Baphon comes down from Ustalav with his most powerful undead servitors, catching Lastwall in a brutal pincer attack. With their leadership already decimated, they fall quickly and he has the pieces of that wretched shield in his possession. He also has a small nation of corpses to begin working with. This is the point where everyone realizes that the grand escape they were hoping to prevent in a week or so was a foregone conclusion months ago, and Tar-Baphon goes to war with the world already being three steps ahead of everyone.


martinaj wrote:
(Lots of good stuff)

"Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago."

-- Ozymandias


Dot for later, because dang it, time.


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Having spent the last seven hundred years doing spell research, scribing scrolls, and expanding the private greater demiplane that Gallowspire opens into, Tar-Baphon unleashes his final solution to the problem of life on Golarion.

He spends the first day chasing the sunset around the globe, teleporting from one mortal population center to another, arriving just after nightfall, invisibly and mind blanked. In each, he releases a handful of spectres, wraiths and shadows, buffs them, and commands them to convert every living soul to undead as quickly as possible, then the Whispering Tyrant moves on.

The second day is spent following up on those assaults, scrying to see if any failed. He then uses Sending to contact the leaders of the Whispering Way, informing them that the final struggle for the world has begun, and marshals them into defense forces near Virlych and strike teams elsewhere.

On day three he brings down his biggest hammers on the planet’s stiffest centers of resistance, opening Gates to Nex and the Negative Energy Plane and inviting hordes of life-hating monstrosities to stream through and feast.

Day four he dedicates to his patron goddess, the Pallid Princess, spending it in riotous indulgance, celebrating his great victory by personally hunting down and sacrificing any survivors of note.

The fifth day brings extinction.


Keep Calm and Carrion wrote:
On day three he brings down his biggest hammers on the planet’s stiffest centers of resistance, opening Gates to Nex....

Sorry, I meant Gates to Eox, the Dead Planet, not Nex.

Shadow Lodge

First of all ... Tar-Baphon had to be sneaky if he wants to survive.
It doesn't really matter if Lastwall has enough high level characters or not. If the news of his return becomes public knowledge Lastwall would be more than happy to offer the full support of an entire realm to the horde of high level characters that would converge there.
I don't expect to have less than 100 insanely high level characters that would leave everything they are doing and travel (possibly teleport) at lastwall for a chance to boast to have defeated Tar-Baphon for real making them a bigger legend than Aroden himself.

so, frist of all Tar-Baphon needs a reliable proxy. someone to do his bidding and that is beyond suspect.
He also need to bury himself in a gallowspire like megadungeon .. except that it would not be designed to keep him in, but rather to keep other people out.
Then he should establish his power. I would target Razmiran.
Is a land that worship a powerful spellcaster, and Tar-Baphon certainly fits the description, and if he manages to assassinate Razmir and his closest men he would be able to impersonate him.
He would then try to take possession of the river kingdoms, something that is pretty much in line with usual Razmiran goals. Except that Razmiran + Tar-Baphon + Whispering way cult would probably succeed.
Even without hints of Tar-Baphon return an expansionist Razmiran would raise some red flags, but the immediate surrounding area is too weak to stand a chance. Galt would be steamrolled, probably Brevoy too.
By the time the big guys realize what a threat Razmiran has become, Tar-Baphon would be already too powerful to be stopped easily.


Scarletrose wrote:

If the news of his return becomes public knowledge Lastwall would be more than happy to offer the full support of an entire realm to the horde of high level characters that would converge there.

I don't expect to have less than 100 insanely high level characters that would leave everything they are doing and travel (possibly teleport) at lastwall for a chance to boast to have defeated Tar-Baphon for real making them a bigger legend than Aroden himself.

What higher-level characters?

Not only do there seem to be fewer high-level good characters compared with evil ones in Golarion, but the ones that are won't be strong enough. Queen Galfrey, for example, is the ruler of an entire nation, and she's only a 15th level Paladin. Yes, 15th level is basically what you'd be at near the end of an entire AP under most circumstances, but one augmented mythic fireball (maximised with his Rod of Maximise Spell) will drop her straight to -8 HP if she fails her save. If he bothers to waste a 9th level slot to hit her with a mythic meteor swarm, then she'll be atomised.

Briefly checking ISM for other level ~15 or higher good/neutral characters (spellcasters specifically, since it's ISM):

- Artokus Kirran, 20th level mythic alchemist
- Kelldor, 15th level oracle
- Jatembe, 20th level mythic wizard, CR 24
- Master of Gales, 15th level druid
- Nex, 20th level mythic wizard, MIA
- Queen Telandia Edasseril, 15th level wizard

If all the non-mythic characters on that list joined forces and attacked Tar-Baphon at the same time, they'd still be obliterated. Artokus I can't see lifting a finger until/unless the Tyrant comes to Thuvia. Nex is missing. Jatembe might be able to take him in a fight (particularly in how he can afford to expend more MP than the Tyrant, letting him nova more easily), but he left Golarion. Astarathian (CR 27) and Mengkare (CR 23-24?) are possible, but they aren't high-level characters - they're dragons.

Tar-Baphon getting out is the sort of thing that will kick off an entire mythic adventure path. He should not need to sneak at his level of power. His actions can shape affairs on a continental (if not world) scale.


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He still can't single-handedly conquer Golarion though. WotR has some guys coming very close to pulling of a stunt akin to what Tar-Baphon wants to accomplish, and it has taken a century of planning, along with the collaboration of two powerful demon lords, a powerful archmage, and hordes of demons that include several CR 25+ individuals.

Bottom line, dude still needs to plan his assault, and even though he's going to hit hard and fast if he comes crashing through the gates, the advantage of surprise doesn't last forever. When he ruled central Avistan for half a century, he had armies of orcs and undead at his disposal, and he was eventually defeated. We've got just as many armies out there today, and plenty of powerful NPCs who can field formidable armies.

More than that, when it comes to a threat like Tar-Baphon, most people are going to be smart enough to put aside a few differences (for a while) to bring the hammer down on him, not just the big good NPCs. We'll have neutral and even evil people willing to work to oppose him. I don't imagine that Cheliax is eager to see him snuff out all life, nor would their devilish allies (they need those souls to flow). Molthune has a not-insignificant military that they could bring to bear. Irresen is insular enough that they'd probably leave him alone if he did the same for him, but if it becomes to obvious that he's about to get all omnicidal, he might also have the white witches to contend with. This is not some dude who wants to conquer a nation or two or rule the world. To a lot of peasants, life under one king is not much different from life under another. But that isn't his game. He wants to kill everybody. That's the Whispering Way, is it not?

So yes, like you said, a being of his power is going to shape the affairs on a continental scale, and he's got to be ready for how a continent is going to react to him.


martinaj wrote:
He still can't single-handedly conquer Golarion though. WotR has some guys coming very close to pulling of a stunt akin to what Tar-Baphon wants to accomplish, and it has taken a century of planning, along with the collaboration of two powerful demon lords, a powerful archmage, and hordes of demons that include several CR 25+ individuals.

Oh, I'm not saying he can conquer Golarion single-handedly, I just think that saying he needs to be sneaky because of the risk of high-level good NPCs massing at Lastwall to kill him is flawed, because there just aren't that many of them, and certainly not in his weight bracket. As far as armies are concerned, he can animate an entire city as undead that he controls, or he could get the army he has stored in the Cenotaph. Or both. Once he's out, it won't take much time for him to rebuild his power base, because that power base never really went away. As is noted in CC, just a brief stirring of something like him immediately alerted all his minions.

Tar-Baphon will get his army very quickly.

Quote:
We'll have neutral and even evil people willing to work to oppose him.

I noted some neutral characters in the above post, and also mentioned Arazni previously. Adding evil characters, however:

- Abrogail Thrune, 16th level sorcerer
- Alaznist, 20th level wizard and possibly mythic
- Alicavniss Vonnarc, 18th level wizard
- Arazni, CR 26 lich mythic wizard
- Baba Yaga, CR 30 witch
- Caydserras Arudora, 15th level oracle
- Eloiander of Ridwan, 15th level druid
- Elvanna, 20th level witch
- Geb, 20th level mythic necromancer
- Jakalyn, 19th level Red Mantis assassin & cleric, possibly mythic
- Kaltessa Iyis, 20th level cleric
- Karzoug, 20th level wizard
- Khortash Khain, CR 23 ghoul mythic mystic theurge
- Razmir, 19th level wizard
- Socorro, 17th level lich necromancer
- Sorshen, CR 26 mythic wizard
- Xanderghul, mythic wizard, runelord, stronger than Sorshen

- Khemet III, 15th level cleric (he's actually LN - I forgot to include him above)

Sure, it looks like a lot more... but not so much.

Abrogail I mentioned below as part of the Cheliax thing.

Alaznist, Karzoug, Sorshen and Xanderghul are all still in hibernation (okay, Sorshen might not be thanks to "Sorshen Lives!" at the end of S*, but we don't know enough to say). So, for that matter, are Zutha, Krune and Belimarius, but only Zutha of those three is likely to be really useful (since Tar-Baphon learned a lot of what he has from studying Zutha's lore, including the Cenotaph; there may be a weakness in there somewhere).

Alicavniss and Khortash Khain are in the Darklands, well away from interaction.

Arazni was mentioned.

Baba Yaga is barely ever around, but I mentioned her below. Elvanna is tied in with her mother.

Geb... who knows.

Jakalyn I don't see lifting a finger unless somebody takes out a contract on Tar-Baphon. (By the way, does anybody have the full image that's used for her tiny portrait picture in ISM?)

Kaltessa I don't know enough about to say.

Khemet might do something along the lines of offering aid to Lastwall (if Tar-Baphon doesn't just nuke it the first chance he gets), but he's a ways away.

Razmir will probably side with the Tyrant in exchange for immortality/lichdom, and Socorro is explicitly called out as one of Tar-Baphon's lieutenants.

So of the evil NPCs who could potentially join forces to take on the Tyrant, and who are heavyweight enough to potentially pose a legitimate threat to him:

- Arazni
- Kaltessa
- Jakalyn
- Geb?

Still not the best odds. If the Runelords wake up, then things could shift, but waking up the Runelords because of Tar-Baphon isn't a genie you can just stuff back into the proverbial bottle.

Additionally, the Worldwound doesn't have vast amounts of aid from Cheliax, for example (IIRC, anyway). I think they actually like having the Worldwound, because it distracts people from what House Thrune is doing. Yes, the two situations aren't exactly alike, but while some evil-aligned individuals are likely to want to put him down, it isn't all that cut and dried. Gathering them up and getting them to work together at all is probably worth an entire AP chapter (such as what happens in Savage Tide).

Quote:
Irresen is insular enough that they'd probably leave him alone if he did the same for him, but if it becomes to obvious that he's about to get all omnicidal, he might also have the white witches to contend with.

Actually, I think Irrisen might be one of the places that he'd avoid, at least at first. If only because of the threat posed by Baba Yaga. Even absent from Irrisen aside from her once a century visit, she's not someone that he can afford to take lightly.

Liberty's Edge

That's a fairly thorough list of people, but it's not complete. No list can be though in this thread I make a somewhat more extensive one (leaving out Evil characters).

There are a few more than you list, with the most notable being Lord Gyr of House Gyx, who's probably a Mythic Rogue 20, per word of developers. James Jacobs has also noted that the Black Sovereign of Numeria is likely a Mythic Barbarian, and he has/is owned by the Technic League, who might object to Tar-Baphon's plans. Both of those are potential sources of opposition. There are also several people capable of casting 9th level spells in Osirion (two 17th level Clerics and a 7th level Wizard/3rd level Cleric/10th level Mystic Theurge). And then there are all the demigods...

And that's just what's been published so far...I mean the Osirion book added one 20th level and two 17th level characters all on its own. What's been published is not all there is...and there hasn't been a Lastwall book yet.

Even leaving aside all that, Arazni all by herself is a hell of an obstacle. And will likely make messing Tar-Baphon up a priority, given their history.

There's also the fact that any rich country with N or G aligned divine spellcasters or any arcane spellcasters who can cast 9th level spells, specifically Gate, (hint: Osirion qualifies, I'll bet others do too) can effectively summon one or more Solars per spellcaster per day. Once you have a couple of dozen of those...they can do some serious damage even to Tar Baphon. And can almost certainly be tapped for that task with minimal persuasion. Ditto Yamaraj Psychopomps, Draconal Agathions, Veranalia Azata, and so on. And a lot of these creatures are, themselves, capable of casting Gate, meaning this can multiply exponentially until you run out of money. So, on a country's budget, you can likely have a strike-force of dozens of these things in a week or two. Now, this is a very niche tactic, and given time and resources Tar Baphon is more than capable of countering it...but that's given time and resources.

And that's an 'off the top of my head' tactic, I'm sure there are better ones when you have 9th level spells and hundreds of thousands of GP to spend on them. Subtlety and/or the appearance of only local interests* definitely benefits Tar-Baphon at least in the short term to give him time to gather resources to set up counters to such things.

*Very few people from elsewhere are gonna care if he conquers Ustalav, Belkzen, and even Lastwall...it's only if he starts expanding from there or it is believed he will that people start pulling out all the stops like that.


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Honestly Tar-Baphon is the sort who would get a retainers fee assassination contract on. If only for the mental image of a bunch of Paladins going to the Temple of the Assassin God and saying "Oh, by the way. If this guy, the one that killed our patroness, ever manages to crawl back out of the rock he is currently crushed under. We want him dead." then dropping a huge bag of gold.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
There are a few more than you list, with the most notable being Lord Gyr of House Gyx, who's probably a Mythic Rogue 20, per word of developers. James Jacobs has also noted that the Black Sovereign of Numeria is likely a Mythic Barbarian, and he has/is owned by the Technic League, who might object to Tar-Baphon's plans. Both of those are potential sources of opposition.

Yes, I'm aware that there are others (I only checked ISM because I know it has an easy list in there to grab samples from). I wasn't going to dumpster-dive all the books because I'm not that invested in this speculative scenario. I don't know of anything saying Gyr is 20th level, just that he's a mythic rogue, and the Technic League more or less blow themselves up in the "What if the Players lose" scenario for WotR.

Remember, mythic status doesn't mean you're necessarily 20th level, or even 10th level for that matter. Tar-Baphon is maxed out, and Arazni is close to it, but that doesn't mean all of the mythics are. Jatembe isn't, for example. Neither is the Dark Comet.

It doesn't mean you're vastly more powerful, either, depending on what options you take...

Quote:
Even leaving aside all that, Arazni all by herself is a hell of an obstacle.

Stated repeatedly, yes.

Quote:
There's also the fact that any rich country with N or G aligned divine spellcasters or any arcane spellcasters who can cast 9th level spells, specifically Gate, (hint: Osirion qualifies, I'll bet others do too) can effectively summon one or more Solars per spellcaster per day. Once you have a couple of dozen of those...they can do some serious damage even to Tar Baphon.

If this tactic is allowed, however, then it is only fair that the Tyrant (and any minions he might have with the ability) can do it too. Gate in as large an army as he wants/needs, couple that to his ability to grow his army with every victory he enjoys in battle, and he has the patronage and favour of Urgathoa to help (both undead and extraplanar) even further. And that natural gateway to the Negative Energy Plane up in the Cenotaph (and now that I think about it, that Cenotaph army is described as many legions, include lots and lots of mythic creatures in it because of the centuries of exposure to the gateway's power...) that he can see about getting other creatures through. He doesn't need to counter the tactic in any way besides doing it himself, and he's the instigator. He gets out, he starts summoning, and then everybody else has to summon in response to him, giving Tar-Baphon a head start. More, if everybody else has to take time to actually get over working with each other in a conglomerate/alliance and start using the tactic.

Frankly, once we start in on chain-gating, we're entering the realm of shenanigans. I don't mind going there, but it'll quickly get ridiculous.

Liberty's Edge

Alleran wrote:


Yes, I'm aware that there are others (I only checked ISM because I know it has an easy list in there to grab samples from). I wasn't going to dumpster-dive all the books because I'm not that invested in this speculative scenario. I don't know of anything saying Gyr is 20th level, just that he's a mythic rogue, and the Technic League more or less blow themselves up in the "What if the Players lose" scenario for WotR.

Remember, mythic status doesn't mean you're necessarily 20th level, or even 10th level for that matter. Tar-Baphon is maxed out, and Arazni is close to it, but that doesn't mean all of the mythics are. Jatembe isn't, for example. Neither is the Dark Comet.

It doesn't mean you're vastly more powerful, either, depending on what options you take...

This is true, to at least some degree. Official Mythic characters are almost always pretty high level, though...and I'd swear I heard that Gyr was 20th somewhere.

Alleran wrote:
Stated repeatedly, yes.

Well, it bears repeating. ;)

Alleran wrote:

If this tactic is allowed, however, then it is only fair that the Tyrant (and any minions he might have with the ability) can do it too. Gate in as large an army as he wants/needs, couple that to his ability to grow his army with every victory he enjoys in battle, and he has the patronage and favour of Urgathoa to help (both undead and extraplanar) even further. And that natural gateway to the Negative Energy Plane up in the Cenotaph (and now that I think about it, that Cenotaph army is described as many legions, include lots and lots of mythic creatures in it because of the centuries of exposure to the gateway's power...) that he can see about getting other creatures through. He doesn't need to counter the tactic in any way besides doing it himself, and he's the instigator. He gets out, he starts summoning, and then everybody else has to summon in response to him, giving Tar-Baphon a head start. More, if everybody else has to take time to actually get over working with each other in a conglomerate/alliance and start using the tactic.

Frankly, once we start in on chain-gating, we're leaving the non-casters behind and entering the realm of shenanigans. I don't mind going there, but it'll quickly get ridiculous.

I actually addressed this...but to be perfectly clear, I'll reiterate: He can, but not immediately.

The thing about this tactic is that it takes money a lot of money. 10,000 gp minimum per time you do it. Often more. Tar-Baphon does not start out with access to his vast treasuries of gold. Not immediately. He can gather such resources...but by this point they're likely still not anywhere near equal to a rich country's war chest. If he's going to oppose the whole Inner Sea he's gonna need more logistical support than he has 'out of the box'.

It also only really works for things the creature in question is pretty inclined to do anyway. You don't have any control over them after all. Most powerful Evil Outsiders aren't gonna really want to play bodyguard, and those that do might well simply be waiting for the chance to betray and take over. Both of these are obstacles. Tar-Baphon can overcome them...but that takes yet more time and effort for him to build up his full assortment of defenders.

I'm not saying this is an easy solution to the Tar-Baphon problem if he's smart and patient (and with Int in the 30s and his history, he is)...but he can't simply rely on his straight-up personal power (however great) to take on the world. He needs prep, planning, and logistical support. He can certainly acquire them, and with some effort be a world-conquering menace quicker than almost anyone else...but he can't simply teleport into the capital of Lastwall, kill everyone, proclaim his return and start wrecking stuff publicly. It's not a good plan.


Given that Tar-Baphon used a Wish spell during the Shining Crusade to try to summon one enemy's heart into his hand (when he could as easily have used the Wish to do something like wipe out a massive chunk of the army behind said foe, or take them out of the equation) there seems to be some room for assuming that he sometimes does the dramatic villainous thing rather than the most ultimately pragmatic thing his spell list renders him capable of.

Still musing on everything posted here. All very very good, all very very helpful.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
This is true, to at least some degree. Official Mythic characters are almost always pretty high level, though...

Eh, WotR has a decent sampling of mythic but not high-level characters, and there are a few others scattered through Mythic Realms as well.

Quote:
The thing about this tactic is that it takes money a lot of money. 10,000 gp minimum per time you do it. Often more. Tar-Baphon does not start out with access to his vast treasuries of gold.

As soon as he walks out of his prison into Gallowspire's aboveground region, he merely has to reach the Jewel of Everlasting Gold, the artifact item that summons vast rivers of molten gold (or art objects, coins, gems etc.) straight from the Elemental Plane of Earth. Not only that, Tar-Baphon is specifically called out as the only one able to remove this wealth from the treasure city if he so chooses, because he was the one who created said artifact.

Ten thousand gold pieces (or the equivalent) is chump change approximately six seconds after he steps out the front door - a standard action to teleport next to his unlimited magical credit card, perhaps a move action to touch it, and then a simple act of will to trigger the wealth generation.

Quote:
It also only really works for things the creature in question is pretty inclined to do anyway. You don't have any control over them after all. Most powerful Evil Outsiders aren't gonna really want to play bodyguard, and those that do might well simply be waiting for the chance to betray and take over.

That's where Urgathoa's (limited, probably) favour comes in (just call stuff willing to help him in the first place, even), and he can control anything he summons with a gate spell as long as it's only one creature at a time. To extract a longer service, he may have to pay them... but money is not an issue for him. Or using that money to get things that they do want (the "livestock" option some creatures might ask for).

Liberty's Edge

Alleran wrote:
Eh, WotR has a decent sampling of mythic but not high-level characters, and there are a few others scattered through Mythic Realms as well.

True, but they're outnumbered pretty solidly by the high level ones.

Alleran wrote:

As soon as he walks out of his prison into Gallowspire's aboveground region, he merely has to reach the Jewel of Everlasting Gold, the artifact item that summons vast rivers of molten gold (or art objects, coins, gems etc.) straight from the Elemental Plane of Earth. Not only that, Tar-Baphon is specifically called out as the only one able to remove this wealth from the treasure city if he so chooses, because he was the one who created said artifact.

Ten thousand gold pieces (or the equivalent) is chump change approximately six seconds after he steps out the front door - a standard action to teleport next to his unlimited magical credit card, perhaps a move action to touch it, and then a simple act of will to trigger the wealth generation.

The Jewel is definitely a factor...but even it has limits. It's precise limits on gold creation aren't outlined in GP amounts, but it can only transform one item to gold a day, and only summon wealth from the

Plane of Earth once a week. It's definitely one of his best ways to build wealth...but even the jewel takes time.

Alleran wrote:
That's where Urgathoa's (limited, probably) favour comes in (just call stuff willing to help him in the first place, even), and he can control anything he summons with a gate spell as long as it's only one creature at a time. To extract a longer service, he may have to pay them... but money is not an issue for him. Or using that money to get things that they do want (the "livestock" option some creatures might ask for).

Eh...I'm not sure how many CR 20+ Outsiders actually work for Urgathoa. As presented, Daemons really don't, nor Asura. She's got some, certainly, but I couldn't point you at what for the life of me. And the Pallid Princess's favor is nice...but NE Outsiders just aren't ever gonna be the most trustworthy things ever.

And the point of the tactic I outline is that, because Solars are Good and will likely be willing to fight Tar-Baphon given a good plan, you can summon dozens of them real quick, and they likely won't require a whole hell of a lot of additional payment. Neither of these are true for 'Guard my person.' instructions to NE Outsiders, y'know?

Again, I'm not saying this one sample tactic is even what would get used, nor that it's an easy solution to the problem he represents...but strategically (as opposed to tactically, where his CR 26 makes him damn close to unbeatable) casters with 9th level spells have all sorts of things they can do to make his conquest not remotely easy.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
True, but they're outnumbered pretty solidly by the high level ones.

It depends on the location. The Mordant Spire, for example, includes 10th level or lower mythic characters (Cavalier 10 / Champion 4, Bard 10 / Marshal 5, Monk 8 / Guardian 2) who defend it. It has high-level non-mythics present, but the mythics are lower level.

Quote:
It's precise limits on gold creation aren't outlined in GP amounts, but it can only transform one item to gold a day, and only summon wealth from the Plane of Earth once a week. It's definitely one of his best ways to build wealth...but even the jewel takes time.

The City of Golden Death module includes some maps that lay out part of the canals, and even divides some parts of it (the Third Ring) up into those useful 5 foot squares. We also know that the Jewel fills the canals of the city with the wealth it summons. Just taking a 20 foot long chunk of that is a 50x20x10 block of gold (the canals are at their widest points 50 feet wide and 10 feet deep), once it cools.

Does somebody want to do some math on just how much money that (small) chunk of the summoned wealth will equate to? This link asked a similar question.

Money is not an issue. The only reason that the Jewel isn't a completely and totally borked/broken artifact is because you can't carry wealth beyond the borders of the city unless you're Tar-Baphon himself... which, in this scenario, does not apply. Thus, effectively unlimited wealth.

Quote:
And the point of the tactic I outline is that, because Solars are Good and will likely be willing to fight Tar-Baphon given a good plan, you can summon dozens of them real quick, and they likely won't require a whole hell of a lot of additional payment.

The standard payment to garner a Solar's favour is a CR 15 evil creature willing to repent and turn to a life of good, if binding. Since Gate refers to the Planar Ally text, however:

"A task taking up to 1 minute per caster level requires a payment of 100 gp per HD of the creature called. For a task taking up to 1 hour per caster level, the creature requires a payment of 500 gp per HD. A long-term task, one requiring up to 1 day per caster level, requires a payment of 1,000 gp per HD."

We want to keep them around for a couple of days in order to build up our strike force to overwhelming levels, so I'm going to say the long-term one. Immediately we're looking at 22,000gp per Solar. Even at a discount because it's Tar-Baphon, remember that Solars have their own jobs to do - the planes are a big place, and you're summoning a whole horde of them here just for one guy. CR 26 enemy or not, they're going to start getting annoyed with you before long.

Quote:
Again, I'm not saying this one sample tactic is even what would get used, nor that it's an easy solution to the problem he represents...but strategically (as opposed to tactically, where his CR 26 makes him damn close to unbeatable) casters with 9th level spells have all sorts of things they can do to make his conquest not remotely easy.

And I'm just saying that he can chain-gate first, faster and better than his opponents can (once they get over needing to work with one another), has more money than they do and has huge undead armies at his beck and call literally right out of the gate.

Liberty's Edge

Alleran wrote:
It depends on the location. The Mordant Spire, for example, includes 10th level or lower mythic characters (Cavalier 10 / Champion 4, Bard 10 / Marshal 5, Monk 8 / Guardian 2) who defend it. It has high-level non-mythics present, but the mythics are lower level.

Again, I'm talking the total number.

Alleran wrote:
The City of Golden Death module includes some maps that lay out part of the canals, and even divides some parts of it (the Third Ring) up into those useful 5 foot squares. We also know that the Jewel fills the canals of the city with the wealth it summons. Just taking a 20 foot long chunk of that is a 50x20x10 block of gold (the canals are at their widest points 50 feet wide and 10 feet deep), once it cools.

Filled, not fills. It filled the canals...but there aren't any real indications that it did that in one usage. In fact, I got the impression it did it over a fairly significant amount of time.

Alleran wrote:

Does somebody want to do some math on just how much money that (small) chunk of the summoned wealth will equate to? This link asked a similar question.

Money is not an issue. The only reason that the Jewel isn't a completely and totally borked/broken artifact is because you can't carry wealth beyond the borders of the city unless you're Tar-Baphon himself... which, in this scenario, does not apply. Thus, effectively unlimited wealth.

Here, looking at it, you're entirely correct. That's a lot of gold. Significantly more than I was recalling. Even if it's not as easy to replenish as all that, it's still a really big war chest to start with.

Alleran wrote:

The standard payment to garner a Solar's favour is a CR 15 evil creature willing to repent and turn to a life of good, if binding. Since Gate refers to the Planar Ally text, however:

"A task taking up to 1 minute per caster level requires a payment of 100 gp per HD of the creature called. For a task taking up to 1 hour per caster level, the creature requires a payment of 500 gp per HD. A long-term task, one requiring up to 1 day per caster level, requires a payment of 1,000 gp per HD."

We want to keep them around for a couple of days in order to build up our strike force to overwhelming levels, so I'm going to say the long-term one. Immediately we're looking at 22,000gp per Solar. Even at a discount because it's Tar-Baphon, remember that Solars have their own jobs to do - the planes are a big place, and you're summoning a whole horde of them here just for one guy. CR 26 enemy or not, they're going to start getting annoyed with you before long.

Not before, say, a week is up, and it takes less than that. And it's more like 32k...but that's still within the easy scope of a rich nation. I think you're seriously misunderstanding how utterly, ridiculously wealthy, even by PC standards, an entire nation is.

Alleran wrote:
And I'm just saying that he can chain-gate first, faster and better than his opponents can (once they get over needing to work with one another), has more money than they do and has huge undead armies at his beck and call literally right out of the gate.

Again...you have no control over the things you gate that are powerful enough to matter for these purposes. Tar-Baphon's personal power and the dubious favor of Urgathoa are all that allows an evil character to do this at all. Even then he'd need to be stupid or crazy to summon too many of them or they'll be too likely to unite and destroy him.

And once again, this is hardly the only tactic people with 9th level spells can manage.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Again, I'm talking the total number.

Of all mythic characters everywhere? I wouldn't mind looking at a list, if somebody's already put one together.

Quote:
In fact, I got the impression it did it over a fairly significant amount of time.

Really? I had the opposite. Once the gates to Xin-Grafar have been opened in the module, it takes 72 hours for the trap to trigger, but once it does I had the strong impression that that it takes minutes at the most for the canals to fill up, if not instantly ("a wizard did it").

Quote:
And it's more like 32k...but that's still within the easy scope of a rich nation.

Solars have 22HD, so at 1,000gp per HD, I counted 22,000gp per Solar (not counting the 10,000gp gate cost, and assuming that they're actually okay with you dragging a dozen of them away from their own tasks to deal with one guy). To get a strike force of a dozen, you're looking at 264,000gp before factoring in the cost of the gate spells themselves. Saying two solars per gate (uncontrolled, but you're planning on contracting them anyway) and adding another 60,000gp to the price tag, that's a not-insignificant sum even for a 20th level character that the nation would probably have to contract for their services.

20th level spellcasters aren't cheap or particularly common (IIRC, anybody over 15th level should have a very specific history and role, according to Paizo's writers). Nations are rich, yes, but I still don't think this kind of payout is something that they can afford to throw down on the table every day outside of specific circumstances (e.g. Arazni). And, as always, the Tyrant can pay similar sums as he needs to.

Quote:
And once again, this is hardly the only tactic people with 9th level spells can manage.

I'm aware that there are many options for shenanigans. The problem is that Tar-Baphon can do them all as well.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I wonder if mhar might take him. If he goes after the runelord of greed that could happen. Not much of the world left after that I guess.

I could see baba yaga going after him, as she is someone who has plans that he would Interfere with in a big way. Or she could cut her losses. Gm's choice. Actually having her as a manipulator to take the tyrant down. In myths she has helped heros do that, so it's possible.

As for the gods they can act, not just by sending followers. They have before, just not directly. Imbuing strong followers with mythic powers, helping to locate artifacts to help, sending servents to assist. Don't think about just solars, but also pit fiends and inevitables.

what a game idea.

call it gotterdamarung.

Shadow Lodge

Alleran wrote:

What higher-level characters?

Not only do there seem to be fewer high-level good characters compared with evil ones in Golarion

I don't see why they have to be good aligned characters? or even humanoid?

I Think pretty much most of Golarion has a pretty strong interest in seeing Tar-Baphon going down for good.
That includes dragons and other evil characters that simply doesn't want another big player in their turf and even gods (who may not intervene directly maybe, but nothing stop them to support the challengers and send powerful planar creatures to help)
You should not assume that evil characters will cooperate or even tolerate an undead menace just because they are both evil. if anything that's an ulterior reason to them.
Nobody outside the whispering way likes Tar-Baphon.
Even he cannot blast his way against the world.

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