Empty Graves (GM Reference)


Mummy's Mask

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By the book

"Nebta-Khufe used the Pyramid of Arithmetic Bliss as a base to search for the Mask of the Forgotten Pharaoh when he first arrived in Wati. Once he
fund the mask, he moved to the Sepulcher of the Servant"

So Nebta used it as a book during the first book, when the undead wave hadn't risen basically everything in the Necropolis. After getting the mask, he moved out of his hiding spot over to a better location. Uses the mask, Undeads rise and thus the mummies do.

Now the Cultists only arrive at the site near the end of the PC's exploring it. So they're unaware that the undead are up and their dead companion.

In my case, Ekram Iffek is leading a group to the site himself so will probably be weakened by the undead before the PCs get to him.


Thank you! I'm getting two people mixed up in my head.
Meret-Hetef = leader of Forgotten Pharaoh cultists; they're searching for the mask.
Nebta-Khufe = working on his own; gets the mask.


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Going back to my earlier problem of "What to do with the Mask under Automatic Progression" I've come up with something. Not sure if it's good or not but let's see.

However I need to explain a bit of rewrite on my end. Rather than stealing the mask back/having it be a fake, I had Nebta-Khufe come and steal part of the mask, a large gemstone on it. The mask is made up of two parts, the actual mask itself which houses most of the Transmutation energies and the gemstone, which was responsible for Necromatic Energies. With the two split, so once again is the soul basically. So without anything to really protect himself from the soul, Nebta got dominated/destoryed and his body is a puppet for the fragment in the gem.

Meanwhile, the Mask still works but at a reduced state. Here's a fast write up;

Spoiler:

Quote:

Mask of the Forgotten Pharaoh - Reduced

While unable to effect the user, the remaining spark of the Pharaoh whispers subtle hints and aid to the wearer in times of need. Knowledge Religion, Nobility, Perception and Spellcraft gain a +1 Morale/Inherent bonus. The Wearer also gains Spell Focus(transmutation) as a bonus feat.

In addition, they may cast Burning Disarm twice a day as a spell like ability.

The mask cannot be detected by any sort of divination magic, and grants its wearer a constant nondetection effect.

Restoring the Gem to the mask will raise the bonuses and abilities. I'm thinking of swapping out the "good aligned" spells with more Crowd Control themed ones. To represent the Pharoah will to kneel before him(Burning Disarm throws the weapon away, possible charm/skill boosts, Paralyze?)


Me again.

So Gaunt Cadaver tactics are that he casts Darkness, then Spectral Hand and then uses his Touch spells, favoring trying to get flanks off with his Soul Harvest.

But Spectral Hand says it can't flank. So does this mean Gaunt casts in melee and eats AoO? Sure it's dark but that won't last too long.

Help?


I think, that personally, I'd ask yourself this basic question:

"How much difficulty has my party had thus far, vs what's as written?"

IE: How much adjusting are you needing to make, balance wise?

If, for example, you've been stacking extra HD and/or templates so far.... let Spectral Hand flank for the fight, and drop those Sneak Attack Spells with Soul Harvest.

On the other-hand, if your party has been struggling, Guant will need to pick: Sneak Attack + Poison, or Spectral Hand + Soul Drain or, Cast on the Defensive, and stack almost EVERYTHING, while flanking ... and probably die faster.

My group is ... High Octane Jet Fueled... so even WITH the extra's I tossed in, he went down FAST.


Roonfizzle Garnackle wrote:

I think, that personally, I'd ask yourself this basic question:

"How much difficulty has my party had thus far, vs what's as written?"

IE: How much adjusting are you needing to make, balance wise?

If, for example, you've been stacking extra HD and/or templates so far.... let Spectral Hand flank for the fight, and drop those Sneak Attack Spells with Soul Harvest.

On the other-hand, if your party has been struggling, Guant will need to pick: Sneak Attack + Poison, or Spectral Hand + Soul Drain or, Cast on the Defensive, and stack almost EVERYTHING, while flanking ... and probably die faster.

My group is ... High Octane Jet Fueled... so even WITH the extra's I tossed in, he went down FAST.

It's more balance wise on my end than the players. I have 1 guy who's kinda used to building strong but as a group they are maybe swinging below or at average. I mean for Horus's sake I have a blaster Sorcerer.

However thanks for you idea. If they barrel through the other parts of the villa okay, I'll have him use like a varient of the spell so he can get sneak attacks off. If they are kinda tapped out, he'll have to fight maybe by RAW.

Which is possible. Due to my game's story elements, Guant has been able to pick up some extra materials to test on so he has more Juju Zombies but less Cadaver Converts(He's been picking off some adventurer groups during the lotto)


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>be worried about the fight against Gaunt Cadaver
>Watch them steamroll it in 2 turns.

WHELP.

They aren't even that big on min max but 1 crit vaporized one of the targets and another high swing from a Bane weapon melted another. Gaunt himself(With slight rework) buffed his AC on his first turn as he was blinded and trusted his new 20+ AC to save himself. He failed however to a Hold Person save and ate a Coupe de Grace. His Gutstone probably could have saved him but that also would have destroyed it and made it harder to prove he died to Unwrapped Harmony.

Next up due to them going around in the hallways, they're going to fight the Carrion Golem. Which with it's Stench Aura should be a harder fight.

Grand Lodge

MerlinCross wrote:

>be worried about the fight against Gaunt Cadaver

>Watch them steamroll it in 2 turns.

WHELP.

They aren't even that big on min max but 1 crit vaporized one of the targets and another high swing from a Bane weapon melted another. Gaunt himself(With slight rework) buffed his AC on his first turn as he was blinded and trusted his new 20+ AC to save himself. He failed however to a Hold Person save and ate a Coupe de Grace. His Gutstone probably could have saved him but that also would have destroyed it and made it harder to prove he died to Unwrapped Harmony.

Next up due to them going around in the hallways, they're going to fight the Carrion Golem. Which with it's Stench Aura should be a harder fight.

Our party was pretty normal overall, but Gaunt was taken out by my rolling poorly and the party rolling extremely well. No crits though. Just bad luck on my side. The Carrion Golem was definitely a problem for them. They're in the final stretch and the last couple of fights have been close to a TPK. Ghoul paralysis is nasty.


So we're getting to the Bheg fight.

He's a vivisectionist Alchemist with no way to make Sneak attacks. He can't even trip well. And do swarms provide flanking?

I might make him something else if possible before the next fight.


He can pass for human and suppress his stench, That provides opportunity for sneak attack.

He could claim to be on one of the other lottery teams and a sole survivor who is hiding here from the ghouls.


mardaddy wrote:

He can pass for human and suppress his stench, That provides opportunity for sneak attack.

He could claim to be on one of the other lottery teams and a sole survivor who is hiding here from the ghouls.

Sickened which is what Stench applies, just lowers some stats it doesn't deny Dex for sneak attack. Unless you mean hide the stench, pass for human, ask for help or something, and then sneak attack someone. Still that's one swing.

That said, if he's able to nail someone with Paralysis, then he can sneak attack.


The Sceaduinar, Sekuer this is CR7? Really? Okay yeah the PCs don't have to fight the damn thing but really?

I'm looking over the stats of this thing and it's a beast at for it's level. Sure by book it says it doesn't use Harm till it's half dead, but that's 90 damage, 45 if they make their save. That's going to flatten most people in my group if they don't save.

Add to it, that one of my damage dealers is Melee(Oh hello Anti Life Shell) and I have a really brutal fight for them, maybe a bit too much.

Thoughts?

Grand Lodge

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MerlinCross wrote:

The Sceaduinar, Sekuer this is CR7? Really? Okay yeah the PCs don't have to fight the damn thing but really?

I'm looking over the stats of this thing and it's a beast at for it's level. Sure by book it says it doesn't use Harm till it's half dead, but that's 90 damage, 45 if they make their save. That's going to flatten most people in my group if they don't save.

Add to it, that one of my damage dealers is Melee(Oh hello Anti Life Shell) and I have a really brutal fight for them, maybe a bit too much.

Thoughts?

The fact it has slay living doesn't help any either. I can't really give much context unfortunately. My group had access to faerie fire and an archer fighter with Clustered Shots and crit on the first attack. It got one round with the barbarian who had an adamantine morningstar, which he threw at it. The poor creature didn't even get to to a point to even think about using harm, let alone its other abilities.


kevin_video wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:

The Sceaduinar, Sekuer this is CR7? Really? Okay yeah the PCs don't have to fight the damn thing but really?

I'm looking over the stats of this thing and it's a beast at for it's level. Sure by book it says it doesn't use Harm till it's half dead, but that's 90 damage, 45 if they make their save. That's going to flatten most people in my group if they don't save.

Add to it, that one of my damage dealers is Melee(Oh hello Anti Life Shell) and I have a really brutal fight for them, maybe a bit too much.

Thoughts?

The fact it has slay living doesn't help any either. I can't really give much context unfortunately. My group had access to faerie fire and an archer fighter with Clustered Shots and crit on the first attack. It got one round with the barbarian who had an adamantine morningstar, which he threw at it. The poor creature didn't even get to to a point to even think about using harm, let alone its other abilities.

I mean yeah but Slay the living I think is said to be used at half HP?

My team actually didn't explore that place so I have a Sceaduinar running around. Maybe link up with the Cult.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I ran it by the book and the slay living did kill one of my PCs. It is is a tough encounter.


Hi,

I'm running this after some years hiatus from Pathfinder. My players and I are having some trouble connecting the dots regarding the cult before moving to Shifting Sands. My players think they've defeated the cult as they haven't found any info about anyone with a higher "rank" than Meret-Hetef or Nebta-Khufre.

Is there anything that leads them to believe the cult will still try to ressurect the Sky Pharaoh. I know in Meret-Hetef's background it says, but she's dead.

The final part says the following, but I don't see where they learn that:

Concluding the adventure wrote:
By this time, the PCs should have learned that the cult seeks the Mask of the Forgotten Pharaoh to somehow resurrect the Sky Pharaoh Hakotep I, and that the cultists they faced in Wati were members of a larger group that is likely to continue the effort to secure the mask for the cult.

My party has the mask, but one player believes it's his and that they've already interrupted the ritual anyway.

Did I miss something, or is further research into the mask the only lead for them to go to Tephu?

Thanks in advance!

Scarab Sages

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If you want to nudge them to the libraries across the river, perhaps have a random crazy person confront them with mad ravings about the mask, or just keep sending cultists their way, with clues leading them toward Tephu. Discovering Hakotep even existed is a book 3 revelation anyway, and the knowledge they find about the mask points them toward Chisisek's tomb and eventually the FP herself.

Nudge that direction, or even have Sebti or that goofy psychopomp get a vision from Pharasma that the secrets of the mask are found beneath the Blue Feather in Tephu.


Some posts in here confirmed my worry that the position of the Observatory would make it too easy to find once the group repairs the compass.

I have decided to move it to the far end of the Necropolis, so the party will need to either examine all other buildings along that line or collect further hints (and red herrings). The necropolis is so full of interesting figures and buzzing with life, I don't want to cut that too short.

Also, I decided to forego the random encounter table, because it just doesn't add anything interesting for me. The issue isn't necessarily that they don't contribute to the story, but that most of the encounters lack any sort of context....

Some of the encounters are actually interesting and flavorful, like the Flickering Four from Book 1, or the Dark Stalker in Book 2 searching for other Dark Folk. Less straight up combat stat blocks, more encounters that may or may not get resolved as combat.
(Angry DM explains the issues and solutions more elaborately on his blog. But I get that this may also be an issue of word count and different playstyles.)

Instead, I've written up some more 'scripted events' that I drop wherever they're needed and/or seem appropriate, rather than 2 festrogs that ambush them on a sunny urban street (which aren't much of a challenge at all for my min-maxed monk anyway), or three subsequent vermin fights when the city should be overrun with undead.
For example: the gearghost is a really interesting monster to encounter, but that needs a proper backdrop. You can't just have that spawn in the middle of the street just because your dice told you so. But could have 'set up shop' in a (otherwise uninteresting) building the group investigates - and should be accompanied by an inappropriate number of traps for such a small building.

I'm thinking about cleaning up my notes and plans and post them around the forums for future DMs, though I also worry that most game groups have already moved on to other campaigns or PF2.

Silver Crusade

Someone posted early in this thread re: the Panic Level:

End of adventure automatically decreases 1d4 daily

Is "end of adventure" defined as end of Part 1? OR end of Book 2? My players ended Part 1 at PL 15, then rested 1 day before heading into the Dead City, so I added +1d4 (result 1) for resting a day. I see nothing obvious in Part 2 encounters about reducing the PL, so perhaps I should reverse that and instead reduce by 1d4?

Thanks in advance.

Game on!


Since the necromancer isn't stopped until the end of the book I'd go with the panic level not automatically decreasing until the end of the book rather than the end of Part 1.
There's still a bunch of undead around, so the panic should still be there. The heroes being heroic (instead of resting) is what causes the panic level to not increase.

If the players want to further reduce the panic level before going after the source have them fight off small armies of undead things and lower the PL as you deem appropriate.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
gamerdork wrote:
Is "end of adventure" defined as end of Part 1? OR end of Book 2?

In general, "adventure" refers to a single book or module. It's been awhile since I ran this, but I don't believe I had the panic level begin declining at that rate until the mask had been recovered.


Has anyone had Nebta fire off multiple ka pulses or have the undead continue to rise while he's wearing the mask? The second sentence of the Concluding the Adventure sections suggests that additional pulses are needed to raise more dead.

The third sentence seems like a middle finger to the party: "Fortunately, the church of Pharasma can conduct a ritual to lay all of the undead raised by the ka pulse to rest." If so, why isn't that the very first thing the church does well before they approach the party to go into the necropolis to find the mask? How have any of you handled that? Make the ritual something that takes a few days, perhaps?

It's even more glaring in the context of this:

drsparnum wrote:
Black_Cat wrote:
I didn't really like this encounter as the concept felt a bit forced to me. I decided to remove the Esoboks and have them attack Ajin Ra Baqa until he was satisfied that they'd proved themselves to him. Made it less about pure damage and a bit more about tactics, which seemed to work out quite well.
Eliandra Giltessan wrote:
I ran this scene twice. The first time, the players felt railroaded. They were perfectly happy to skip town if the higher ups didn't want them there, so being asked to prove that they were worthy to save the city didn't go over so well. My second group was more good aligned, and I did a better job of displaying how the psychopomps were a menace to the city, so they behaved as the module expected.

I also think it looks a bit forced. The audio book for Empty Graves does a nice job acting this scene out and it makes it seem plausible. Both Ptemnerib and Sebti are telling Nakht his plan is madness. Somehow having the other NPCs in the scene saying it is madness makes it all seem less mad to the players - it just becomes that this Nakht guy is unhinged. I plan to draw on how they did it when my PCs reach this section.

Okay, so we have dueling rituals, although one of them is mentioned as an afterthought at the end of the book. If Sebti were to announce that she has such a ritual available, Nakht's scheme and him wanting to test the party feels even more forced and pointless.

What I'm thinking of doing instead is having just that argument playing out when the party enters. Likely, they'll side with Sebti for obvious reasons. In the middle of that argument, though, another ka pulse sweeps over the city, strengthening Nakh't argument and making him even more emboldened to act now. The party then would have to negotiate with him to get him to delay summoning the psychopomp army long enough for them to hunt down the mask. I'd be changing who's giving the party the middle finger from the book to myself (due to the re-risen dead and a new revenant for the party to face), but it would give this scene more immediacy.

Any thoughts?


My read was that Sebti's ritual requires the Mask (or rather, the necromantic energy focus sustaining the undead) in order to undo it's works.

So the choice between Sebti and Nakht is either a)we unleash the psychopomps (with some big "some of you will die but thats a sacrifice I'm willing to make" energy) or b) we trust some random adventurers to go steal the cause of this so Sebti can undo it.

The Exchange

rooty wrote:
Some posts in here confirmed my worry that the position of the Observatory would make it too easy to find once the group repairs the compass.

I'm sure you're already past this book since it's been over a year LOL! Just in case anyone else comes across this forum post in the future I wanted to add my notes in how to handle this. Since the easiest place for the party to come up is right next to this compass and they repair it, instead of having it be a pointer that points right at the observatory, I made it a lighthouse type light that shines in the general direction. That way it encompasses many of the other sites including the cenotaph of the cynic and a few other compass sites, the party has completed all "side" missions. Now that they're done, I've left a hint for them at their last site to investigate the Observatory :)


Does anyone have the map Chains Of Silver Below? The one I have cuts off at the top of the page.


In terms of the Nakht vs Sebti argument, I'm making it a difference of perspective. Sebti is still treating this like a plague, and that if she can only find the cause she can treat the disease. To do that she needs the mask, which is likely in the Necropolis - surrounded by undead. And they have no concrete evidence that the mask is actually causing it, only the speculations and inferences of the party and the beliefs of zealot cultists who wandered in from the desert.

Nakht's position is that this isn't a plague, it is WAR. His family has spent thousands of years trying to stamp out the undead in the Necropolis, under-manned and under-funded, held back by the politics of the living city - the money that could have gone to an army to cleanse it instead feeding the poor, building roads, etc. His argument is that they cannot throw away a weapon, any weapon, that could end this once and for all. Moreover, while Sebti is head of the Grand Mausoleum HE is head of the Voices of the Spire, who have obeyed the tenets of the main temple only as a courtesy - they are an independent order, and she has no authority to tell them to stop.

I'm hoping the argument between them makes it clear that while Nakht's plan has flaws and he is emotionally compromised, he's not coming at this from a position of zeal or expediency - he doesn't like the idea of collateral damage, but in any war people are going to die, and he didn't start this war - whoever raised the dead did. And on the other hand, Sebti isn't entirely in the right because her plan depends on a bunch of randos doing the Pharasmins' job for them while they hold a tenuous line said randos have fought to establish, and on flimsy evidence that it will work even if she's right. In short, to make Nakht's position understandable, but not what the party would side with.


I have to say, this book has not pulled any punches. Nearly had a TPK fighting Aoike (only wasn't one because he wasn't actually wanting them dead, but they did have someone bleed out during the fight). Lost another member to the revenant, as the div from book 1 aws still around and teamed up with her. Then the sceudear (who I think is criminally underrated calling him CR 7) killed someone with a critical hit with Enervate. He didn't even need to pull out Harm. I threw them a bone and had Shepses actually join them to return and kill that thing after they paid to raise that dead member. Still took some luck on their side not to end up with a dead character in the rematch, despite full preparations and a level 9 inquisitor NPC.

Also, that last door.... they had no way through it. No one in the party was capable of Knock, and DC 40 was far too high of a target number for the rogue to open even on a nat 20. After the rematch with the outsider, I had Shepses give them a key for the door before leaving the group, instructing them to check on his ancestor's tomb.

They didn't like Shepses after the arguments with Sebti and his apparent disregard of colateral damage with his plan, but they at least respect him now, and he has more respect of them. I think it helped story wise to have that happen, despite the party death required. It gave more dimension to him, as someone who is passionate about his beliefs and his family honor. I was kinda surprised I never saw anything in the book about how Shepses would react if he heard they were exploring his ancestor's resting place, so I kinda had to make it up as I went.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Since no one else has asked, I suspect I might be missing a description of the elegiac compasses, but I'm trying to envision what they look like and how they work. If I'm missing the write-up, I'd be grateful for a page number.

I kind of get the idea that the elegiac compasses are large gear and metal contraptions too large to move (quite unlike the card game picture). Something like a large orrery? How big are we talking?

And, if you get one working, it points toward expenditures of necromantic energy. Is there an orienting arrow that is part of the machine? I think one post here talked about projecting a beam of light, but I'm guessing that's just someone's interpretation.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

It is odd that they wouldn't describe it better or have art.

I never played the pathfinder card game, but in the Mummys mask set there is a card for the elegiac compass. Heres a link, you may have to scroll down to find the image.
LINK

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I would think the card game art isn't that far off, it just omits any kind of frame or structure holding it. One is described as being on a shop rooftop, so they can't be too large. I assumed the frame was a bit taller than a human and maybe 5x5 or 10x10.

I'd describe it however you think works best for your players. I think I described as a light. In practical terms, my group didn't pay much attention to the compass beyond using it. They weren't going to loot it, as it belonged to the Pharasmins they're helping. We drew a line on the larger scale map showing where the compass indicated and that was about it.


Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Some reference art of astronomical sextants (which seem to me to be on the right scale/concept) can be found here and here - add a few crystals, gizmos, and mystic markings to taste!

Ben Ehrets wrote:

Since no one else has asked, I suspect I might be missing a description of the elegiac compasses, but I'm trying to envision what they look like and how they work. If I'm missing the write-up, I'd be grateful for a page number.

I kind of get the idea that the elegiac compasses are large gear and metal contraptions too large to move (quite unlike the card game picture). Something like a large orrery? How big are we talking?

And, if you get one working, it points toward expenditures of necromantic energy. Is there an orienting arrow that is part of the machine? I think one post here talked about projecting a beam of light, but I'm guessing that's just someone's interpretation.

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