The Half-Dead City (GM Reference)


Mummy's Mask

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Darrell Impey UK wrote:
Don't worry, I appreciate why it wasn't done. Even a single page given over to (effectively) nothing is a page that could (should) be being used else where. Still, the fact that every building has something living (un-living) in it felt a bit wrong. As you say, verisimilitude.

My take from reading the adventure, was that part of the Pharasmin church's job was to do a brief scan of buildings and only choose those appropriate and somewhat evenly valued for the lottery. This is why there is the three rounds, Each round getting progressively more dangerous and valuable as appraised by the churd. Anything that doesn't make the cut, or the temple doesn't want adventurers wandering into, is simply not part of the lottery.


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Carter Lockhart wrote:
Darrell Impey UK wrote:
Don't worry, I appreciate why it wasn't done. Even a single page given over to (effectively) nothing is a page that could (should) be being used else where. Still, the fact that every building has something living (un-living) in it felt a bit wrong. As you say, verisimilitude.
My take from reading the adventure, was that part of the Pharasmin church's job was to do a brief scan of buildings and only choose those appropriate and somewhat evenly valued for the lottery. This is why there is the three rounds, Each round getting progressively more dangerous and valuable as appraised by the churd. Anything that doesn't make the cut, or the temple doesn't want adventurers wandering into, is simply not part of the lottery.

Pharasmin Priest #1: Okay, lets see....Mansion w broken gate...

Pharasmin Priest #2: Dave? The broken gate is screaming at me...
Pharasmin Priest #1: Mansion w broken gate goes on the list!


The water room was surprisingly dangerous for my party. They hadn't collected the few cure potions that were in the dungeon and they had taken a fair amount of minor damage earlier. Most PCs after using up the last of the healing were at about 3/5th health +/- 2 hp. So when the trap sprung the paladin would have gone down to the burst if it wasn't for the racial resistance to electricity, and the fighter would have gone down if it weren't for the made save. Even then the angry box 1 round KOed the fighter leaving him unconscious in the water (which is really bad). Half of the party got locked out in the hallway, so it was rather rough and had the potential for 1-3 PC deaths (out of 5). IMHO it was perfectly scaled trap/encounter for a "boss" room in a level 1 dungeon.

If they had faced the room earlier than it was, the party would have not been as challenged, since none of the damage taken would have been as meaningful. The vermin and minor traps however had softened the party up and given them a false sense of security in terms of expected challenge.

I rate chapter 1 book 1 at a solid 8/10. Solidly challenging for 5 veteren players (15 point build), not a meat grinder. Nothing really memorable other than the water room, and the toysoldiers (which is funny because the same person mobbed by the soldiers this time got hit by the dolls in CoT and the doll in Reign of Winter).

Only thing is going forward at level 2 my party is much more powerful due to builds starting to come on line. They purchased a healing stick and the paladin is pretty much never going to fail a save going forward. Combined with the wizard filling up his scroll purchases and the alchemist getting his discoveries... IDK if the other 2 dungeons are going to be enough challenge.

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

RE: Posions lasting over time. Unguents of Timelessness are only 150gp to preserve any item from the ravages of time. So an extra 150 for a posion arrow trap is most likely trival to someone investing in to a tomb.

I am looking forward with this AP's non-hook method of getting PC together. I most likely will run a "Prelude" session to have the players intoduce themselves. Also this time characters only need to have simple motives such as Profit and Adventure. For other adventure paths, you have to pre-buyin to the hook. In a Skull and Shackles campaing, we all wanted to play the pirate campaign, but currently none of our characters want to be pirates.


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Darrell Impey UK wrote:
Don't worry, I appreciate why it wasn't done. Even a single page given over to (effectively) nothing is a page that could (should) be being used else where. Still, the fact that every building has something living (un-living) in it felt a bit wrong. As you say, verisimilitude.

I think I may need to add a house with friendly spectral residents. Invite you in, offer you a small supper (from their lovingly prepared grave goods). Perhaps ask you about some small matter that concerned them during their life; this could be an obvious answer or something would take research or investigation. Either way, if answered they finally have their peace.

Contributor

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Having just completed Part 1 of The Half-Dead City, my players need a little boost in experience points to keep things in line with the recommended level. I decided to whip together a very simple encounter in a haunted bar.

The Leopard's Eye:
Suni Kasibahn was a well-liked man around Wati. He flourished when in the companionship and camaraderie of others. Having recently inherited a sizable amount of wealth, Suni began work on a place for him and his friends to gather. Neighbors, co-workers, friends, family, and lovers would all be welcome at his bar, once completed.

As luck would have it, the work on the bar coincided with the eruption of the Plague of Madness throughout Wati. Not one to be deterred by such misfortunes, Suni pressed on with the work. One by one, his workers began to succumb to the plague, slowing the work. Suni poured all his wealth into completing the construction as quick as possible, but spirits were down as the workforce had been cut in half in just a few weeks time. Ever persistent, Suni continued toiling long into the twilight hours to make up for lost labor.

His hard work paying off, Suni was able to complete his labor of love, the Leopard's Eye. When the time came to open the bar, all his friends and family had fled Wati or been buried beneath it. Suni had become so obsessed with finishing the bar, he failed to notice his loved ones disappearing around him. He took to drinking alone in the Leopard's Eye that night with a terrible cough, never making it to see the morning sun.

The Leopard's Eye can be run at any point during The Half-Dead City, but works best between Parts 1 and 2, as a means to introduce haunts to the players. When returning to the Grand Mausoleum, the PCs are assigned the Leopard's Eye as their next location to explore. Feel free to use the Wati Necropolis Encounters chart as a means to spice up the travel to or from the abandoned bar.

This modestly sized building is composed of dried clay with a wooden roof. The sign above the door feature the image of a leopard with an eye as green as any emerald. Inside is a trio of tables and a bar at the far end of the room. Dust blankets everything, including a bottle and cup resting upon the bar.

The building itself is relatively small. The bar inside is fifteen long. On the bar rests the remnants of the only drink ever had within the completed building: a fine glass bottle and a gold lined cup, purchased by Suni to make a fantastic impression. The contents of the cup have evaporated away, but the bottle's craftsmanship has been able to preserve the liquid within, albeit in an almost undrinkable, coagulated state.

Suni's immense sorrow at the loss of his loved ones and the inability to share in his new tavern has manifested in the form of a haunt.

ONE LAST DRINK CR 3
XP 800
N haunt (5 ft. radius around the bar)
Caster Level 3rd
Notice Perception DC 22 (to hear the quiet sounds of a man's sobbing)
hp 6; Trigger proximity; Reset 1 day
Effect When this haunt is triggered, a tremendous, sorrowful cry rings out from behind the bar. All creatures around the bar are targeted by a suggestion spell (save DC 11). All creatures that fail the save are weighed upon with an immense depression and take a drink from the bottle. Drinking from the bottle is treated as ingesting greenblood oil.
Destruction Suni's spirit returns to 'open' his bar ever sundown. The only way to put his soul to rest is for a gathering to be held within the Leopard's Eye during the evening hours. This will cheer his soul, having finally accomplished his task

Treasure Making sure to provide only the best for his friends and family, Suni splurged on the serving cups and bottles. The cups are all made of tin that has been dipped in gold and the bottles are very fine crystal. In all, there are 20 cups worth 5 gp each and five bottles worth 10 gp each. Behind the bar, a silver pendant worth 75 gp is all that remains of Suni, his body having wasted away and crumbled to dust in the centuries since his death. It has fallen beneath a stool and become covered in dust, requiring a DC 16 Perception check to be noticed.


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I found a little problem with the first dungeon:

So there is a Thief with broken legs at the bottom of the shaft. No problem...but WHO closed the doors? (Outside | A1 | A2)
It also says that the rope has been cut 5ft into the shaft.

Instead I will make it just 3 feet, suggesting that someone has cut it deliberately. Also they will find a knife on the dead. The story will be that some 'partners' went into the tomb. One wanted the other to die so he could have his Wife/money/camel and cut the rope letting the other fall to his death and then trow in the knife so he could finish himself.

One could also make it a mini haunt to give the players and easy into into this topic.

Fallen and forgotten CR 1
XP 400
CN 10ft around the body
Caster Level: 1
Notice: Perception 13
Weakness: Slow
HP: 2
Trigger proximity
Reset 1 day
When the Haunt is triggered the Characters hear a evil laughing and the sound of a knife cutting rope. Then a scream of someone falling. A voice from above speaks in Osiriani "Rot and be forgotten Ali". All creatures within A3 will be a target for a Fear spell (save DC 13)
Destruction: Bury him properly.


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"Take me down to the half-dead city where the sand is brown and the dead ain't pretty, ah, ah, take me home.."

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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Windspirit wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

That was not a mistake, that was quite intentional. I actually put a quite of bit of thought into it that minor bit. It is left deliberately unexplained. The rope was cut and the tomb was resealed. Who did it? That was left open-ended for the GM to answer. Seriously.

And as GM, you don't need to explain it to the players. Once upon a time someone got in this tomb, fell from a great height after their rope was cut. Then the tomb was sealed up behind them. There they died alone and in the dark.

Let me explain why that is in there—the bottom of shaft opens into the center of the ceiling of a ten foot tall room. Let's assume the PCs use their own good rope to descend. Hypothetically, if the PC's rope gets cut, how the heck do they do they get out? How do they even "climb" up to get back in the shaft? Magic would be an easy fix with something like spider climb but at that point the PCs are solidly 1st level. Most groups entire life line will be the rope that the used to climb down and may the gods help them if it gets cut. That's what I meant by "passive deathtrap". A reminder just how vulnerable "adventuring" can make you. Now, as GM, just hint at the idea that other groups are roaming the Necropolis. Not a comforting thought, is it? Any one could just come in after you and leave you stranded in the dark.

Now let me be clear. I don't think GMs should threaten the PCs with someone cutting their rope after they've descended. That's a jerk move. Or rather, if they play around with that tension the GM better have a plan have plan besides putting the PCs completely at someone's mercy. Its not fun to be screwed by GM in such a way you can't do anything about it. Not what I intended.

But it is meant to be chilling, yet subtle, in the implication.

I can readily see the rope being cut at 3 feet, however, instead of five. Mea culpa. :)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Hey Windspirit!

My reply was more terse than I intended. I was out of town at the time at the time. I think the haunt idea is really creative. :)


Thats OK. I properly wasn't clear enough with the Haunt description.
The Rope is not cut, the PCs just witness the last minute of Ali's life.


Psyonis wrote:

Me: You see a tall Taldan women with a plumed hat and a Symbol of Nethys around her neck approach your table...

Player I: I attack her.

Player II: I flank her-I stab her in the jejunum.

Me: Cough-Choke! Wh-hy?

Players: She's on the Cover.

B-but... Carrion Crown had a volume with an allied NPC on the cover. So did Skull and Shackles. Wrath of the Righteous had two volumes with allies on the cover! Jade Regent had FIVE!

Do they know any of the other APs? Point out that cover art doesn't always equal evil.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

LOL, yeah, except for 2/2 of them are enemies in this AP so far. I'm betting the androsphinx on book 3's cover is also a baddie. Though being NG by default (androsphinx that is) may giver her a chance to be an ally.


I have an odd question. Is Wati meant to be a base of operations for the PCs? It seems like they will be here a lot. Also, one of my players wants to make a move on Sebti. Does she feature prominently in future installments in any way that would prohibit me from allowing that relationship?

Thanks.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jim Groves wrote:
Windspirit wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

That was not a mistake, that was quite intentional. I actually put a quite of bit of thought into it that minor bit. It is left deliberately unexplained. The rope was cut and the tomb was resealed. Who did it? That was left open-ended for the GM to answer. Seriously.

And as GM, you don't need to explain it to the players. Once upon a time someone got in this tomb, fell from a great height after their rope was cut. Then the tomb was sealed up behind them. There they died alone and in the dark.

Let me explain why that is in there—the bottom of shaft opens into the center of the ceiling of a ten foot tall room. Let's assume the PCs use their own good rope to descend. Hypothetically, if the PC's rope gets cut, how the heck do they do they get out? How do they even "climb" up to get back in the shaft? Magic would be an easy fix with something like spider climb but at that point the PCs are solidly 1st level. Most groups entire life line will be the rope that the used to climb down and may the gods help them if it gets cut. That's what I meant by "passive deathtrap". A reminder just how vulnerable "adventuring" can make you. Now, as GM, just hint at the idea that other groups are roaming the Necropolis. Not a comforting thought, is it? Any one could just come in after you and leave you stranded in the dark.

Now let me be clear. I don't think GMs should threaten the PCs with someone cutting their rope after they've descended. That's a jerk move. Or rather, if they play around with that tension the GM better have a plan have plan besides putting the PCs completely at someone's mercy. Its not fun to be screwed by GM in such a way you can't do anything about it. Not what I intended.

But it is meant to be chilling, yet subtle, in the implication.

I can readily see the rope being cut at 3 feet, however, instead of five. Mea culpa. :)

There are a rival group called the Amethyst Dragons listed in the necropolis wandering monster table and they are described as a bunch of scoundrels. I was considering having them waiting for the PC's in A2 when they try to leave the temple to offer them a deal, "Give us any treasure you found, or we cut the rope", just to see how they handle such a situation. >:D

Of course, once the PC's do get out of the tomb, the Amethyst Dragons are going to have to pay.


So concerning treasure: Both sarcophagi in the adventure lists the gold plating and/or gems as treasure, but no value for the whole sarcophagus? I assume this is because of the razor thin line the Church of Pharrasma has told you not to cross? It seems to make more sense Museums and such would want to preserve and display them(gold and all), at least for Akhentepi, as he was a historical figure?

I know this bumps into the decree of "Honor the Departed"- but could we get the values of whole sarcophagi on a case by case basis? If the dead are honored with a collection/display at Museaums, I think that would qualify, right?


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Gluttony wrote:
Psyonis wrote:

Me: You see a tall Taldan women with a plumed hat and a Symbol of Nethys around her neck approach your table...

Player I: I attack her.

Player II: I flank her-I stab her in the jejunum.

Me: Cough-Choke! Wh-hy?

Players: She's on the Cover.

B-but... Carrion Crown had a volume with an allied NPC on the cover. So did Skull and Shackles. Wrath of the Righteous had two volumes with allies on the cover! Jade Regent had FIVE!

Do they know any of the other APs? Point out that cover art doesn't always equal evil.

Was it Council of Thieves that had the Dark Elf? Because that one was bad enough to last a lifetime, spoilerwise.


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Windspirit wrote:

Thats OK. I properly wasn't clear enough with the Haunt description.

The Rope is not cut, the PCs just witness the last minute of Ali's life.

When I read it, I pictured A Cleric patrol happening by and investigating: either thief had fallen already or was mid-climb-when they cut it, heard the scream or not, and closed the doors, dooming the tomb robber for all eternity.

That said, I'm totally stealing that haunt!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Psyonis wrote:

When I read it, I pictured A Cleric patrol happening by and investigating: either thief had fallen already or was mid-climb-when they cut it, heard the scream or not, and closed the doors, dooming the tomb robber for all eternity.

That said, I'm totally stealing that haunt!

I didn't plan on explaining what I intended, but that is my personal version of events to a 'tee'.

I believe the Necopolis has been looked after by the church of Pharasma over the centuries. Not maintained, but observed and kept sacrosanct as much as possible. This would be a good response to an unauthorized tomb raider.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

mikeawmids wrote:
There are a rival group called the Amethyst Dragons listed in the necropolis...

That is an excellent plan Mike and a great use of the Dragons.

Really, I think that is awesome so long as the PCs have a way to proceed. Really there is no way to pull off that sort of extortion on the PCs, without the PCs having some sort of way to turn the tables.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Psyonis wrote:

So concerning treasure: Both sarcophagi in the adventure lists the gold plating and/or gems as treasure, but no value for the whole sarcophagus? I assume this is because of the razor thin line the Church of Pharrasma has told you not to cross? It seems to make more sense Museums and such would want to preserve and display them(gold and all), at least for Akhentepi, as he was a historical figure?

I know this bumps into the decree of "Honor the Departed"- but could we get the values of whole sarcophagi on a case by case basis? If the dead are honored with a collection/display at Museaums, I think that would qualify, right?

I see your point. Also, standard disclaimer, I speak for myself and not as an official voice of Paizo. Then again, I have insight.

Treasure assignment is somewhat both objective and subjective. Its objective in that we need to be providing a set amount of treasure so that players have a reward with which to buy gear. Its subjective in that there is no exact methodology on how this financial reward should be provided. It can be gold, art, magic items, or a healthy mix of lots of stuff.

Honestly? The sarcophagus is large and unwieldy and getting it up the shaft is going to be difficult. Some groups, like yours perhaps, might thank me for the level of verisimilitude that I might have introduced. Other groups might be annoyed that I tied up the treasure into what they feel is a big pain in the butt to deal with.

No foolin'. I wrote a PFS scenario where a small bit of treasure were these fancy ballgowns. Some guy gave me a bad review because ballgowns are heavy and annoying. :) Go internet! And I'm talking just a few hundred gold and his party could have grabbed them on the way out. I don't know what to tell you.

In this case specifically, a few hundred gold won't make your players overpowered. I would assign a 100 to 300 gp additional value. Whatever you personally feel is fair.

AND/OR... You could adjust that amount by the effort the players invest in recovering it without you pushing them. If they get into Knowledge (engineering) rolls to set up a pulley system to gently lift it up the shaft, and hire some hirelings to carry it, take that into consideration. If they make some Diplomacy / Intimidate checks to either smooth it over with a Pharasmin cleric (or remind them that Ruby Prince has their back right up until they interfere with business), take that into consideration. Set the value of the sarcophagus based on how much they work the problem.

As far as the Pharasmins.. I don't want to define their course of action. I think it is either subjective to your home game or up to someone higher up to try to specify their reaction. It is, after all, Akhentepi's coffin. That might be just a little too far. Or, maybe YOUR group might make a case on why it is not. If you're satisfied, then that is all that matters.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jim Groves wrote:
mikeawmids wrote:
There are a rival group called the Amethyst Dragons listed in the necropolis...

That is an excellent plan Mike and a great use of the Dragons.

Really, I think that is awesome so long as the PCs have a way to proceed. Really there is no way to pull off that sort of extortion on the PCs, without the PCs having some sort of way to turn the tables.

If they do get stuck down there, the Pharasman clergy could always send someone like Ptemnib (from book 2) to help them get out, introducing the character earlier and giving the group a chance to bond before the events of 'Empty Graves'. They would later recognise the other group from their voices during the gathering at the Tooth and Hookah.

Also, regarding selling the sarcophagus - doesn't another group (the flickering four?) Do just that during the auction in book 2?

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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mikeawmids wrote:
Jim Groves wrote:
mikeawmids wrote:
There are a rival group called the Amethyst Dragons listed in the necropolis...

That is an excellent plan Mike and a great use of the Dragons.

Really, I think that is awesome so long as the PCs have a way to proceed. Really there is no way to pull off that sort of extortion on the PCs, without the PCs having some sort of way to turn the tables.

If they do get stuck down there, the Pharasman clergy could always send someone like Ptemnib (from book 2) to help them get out, introducing the character earlier and giving the group a chance to bond before the events of 'Empty Graves'. They would later recognise the other group from their voices during the gathering at the Tooth and Hookah.

Also, regarding selling the sarcophagus - doesn't another group (the flickering four?) Do just that during the auction in book 2?

Not to be a wise guy, but I don't really get advance publication materials. I only just got my subscriber copy of #2 last night. :)

Edit: I did see a peek of #1, but after that I gotta buy them.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Oh no, I wasn't criticising at all. I usually want to start running an AP the minute I get a hold of book 1, but I can see now why other GM's here on the forums wait until they have all 6 modules in hand before kicking off. Having the entire adventure path to draw ideas from will make for a more coherent story. I just don't have the patience to wait 6 months. :D


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Jim Groves wrote:

...I see your point. Also, standard disclaimer, I speak for myself and not as an official voice of Paizo. Then again, I have insight.

Treasure assignment is somewhat both objective and subjective. Its objective in that we need to be providing a set amount of treasure so that players have a reward with which to buy gear. Its subjective in that there is no exact methodology on how this financial reward should be provided. It can be gold, art, magic items, or a healthy mix of lots of stuff.

Honestly? The sarcophagus is large and unwieldy and getting it up the shaft is going to be difficult. Some groups, like yours perhaps, might thank me for the level of verisimilitude that I might have introduced. Other groups might be annoyed that I tied up the treasure into what they feel is a big pain in the butt to deal with.

No foolin'. I wrote a PFS scenario where a small bit of treasure were these fancy ballgowns. Some guy gave me a bad review because ballgowns are heavy and annoying. :) Go internet! And I'm talking just a few hundred gold and his party could have grabbed them on the way out. I don't know what to tell you.

In this case specifically, a few hundred gold won't make your players overpowered. I would assign a 100 to 300 gp additional value. Whatever you personally feel is fair.

AND/OR... You could adjust that amount by the effort the players...

With good aligned characters, particularly those local to the area, I think the time/trouble to preserve some items, getting them to museums, etc,and not taking a crow bar to 'em, puts them more on the side of the "Indiana Jones" style tomb diving. Well worth it IMHO

Thanks for the guidlines!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

As an aside, during the auction that starts off the second book of the AP you find another group DID bring a Sarcophagus back with them to auction off! So yes, it's doable and the authors did think about this option! :)

Contributor

So after running the extra haunt encounter in the Leopard's Eye that I created, my players were quick to decide that they wanted the tavern for themselves. Oy! Now I have to come up with what to do with the tavern.

The player's have taken it upon themselves to ask the church of Pharasma is they can take over the tavern. A bit of roleplaying and some diplomacy checks later, I've decided the church will charge them 1,500 gp to have the building physically relocated outside of the Necropolis. We will then play out the ownership of the Leopard's Eye using the downtime rules in Ultimate Campaign.

For those who are interested, here is a map of the Leopard's Eye. It's simple and leaves plenty to work from for players if they wish to build upon it.

Leopard's Eye
Rooms 1 bar, 1 common room
A very small drinking establishment meant to comfortably house 20 patrons or fewer.

Liberty's Edge

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Jim Groves wrote:

Hypothetically, if the PC's rope gets cut, how the heck do they do they get out? How do they even "climb" up to get back in the shaft?

A group of 4 PCs, three of which can form a human pyramid to give the 4th PC a way up to the shaft opening by climbing on top of his fellow PCs, can then use pitons and climbing to get out of the shaft and lower a rope down for the others (assuming they cannot climb as well as the rogue who is the one who likely goes up).

For a group who can be that human pyramid to get them up to the shaft, the shaft does not present a "magic only" problem. Instead, it become a "group only" solution that a sole tomb raider cannot bypass. - especially with broken legs. :)

Liberty's Edge

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Jim Groves wrote:


Treasure assignment is somewhat both objective and subjective. Its objective in that we need to be providing a set amount of treasure so that players have a reward with which to buy gear. Its subjective in that there is no exact methodology on how this financial reward should be provided. It can be gold, art, magic items, or a healthy mix of lots of stuff.

Honestly? The sarcophagus is large and unwieldy and getting it up the shaft is going to be difficult. Some groups, like yours perhaps, might thank me for the level of verisimilitude that I might have introduced. Other groups might be annoyed that I tied up the treasure into what they feel is a big pain in the butt to deal with.

I am going another route with this Jim. My players are undercover Pathfinders, given the Pathfinder Society's persona non grata status with the Ruby Prince. The PCs secret benefactor, the so-called Sapphire Sage, Amenopheus, secretly paid the very significant entry fee into the dig lottery for the PCs. While the entry fee would indicate that a more experienced group would get the assignment, the PCs cannot be known Pathfinders because of the problems with the Ruby Prince. This need for anonymity explains the PCs inexperience.

I am also changing the backstory a little. Neferekhu knew Amenopheus in her youth and shared her oracular prophecy of doom with her then lover, Amenopheus. Amenopheus knows from Neferekhhu's prophecy nearly 50 years ago, that a dire event stems from the looting of an artifact of great power from the Sanctum of the Erudite Eye this year. He shares the name of this tomb within the Necropolis with the PCs at the outset. They know it is their goal within the rigged lottery.

Amenopheus has a contact within the Pharasmins, Nakht Shepses, the leader of the Voice of the Spire. Shepses is highly placed and can "fix" the lottery -- but his price for doing so requires that two unique treasures from the Necropolis be recovered first and given to him so that the Voices of the Spire will have control of the items.

Amenopheus knows the location of the two treasures that Shepses seeks. (Each treasure has been placed in each of the two initial tombs and its recovery is the "goal" of each tomb.) The items are powerful and extremely valuable and would break the treasure rules, but their purpose is not to be sold by the PCs; rather, they are to be given to Shepses as a bribe the PCs must pay so that they are "randomly" selected as the team that will get into the Sanctum. Amenopheus and Shepses have "fixed" the lottery; it is up to the PCs to ensure that the fix is carried out.

The treasures the PCs are to recover more than justify the prohibitive entry fee for the lottery if they were to be found by others. Shepses believes that the recovery of such valuable artifacts cannot be leaked to the other tomb raiding teams without a loss of all semblance of order within the Necropolis dig site (the Pharasmins practically lack the power to enforce order within the Necropolis). So Amenopheus and Shepses choose secrecy as the best means of avoiding subsequent chaos in the Necropolis dig sites. The PCs are "randomly" assigned two locations within the ruins as the site where Amenopheus believes the items Shepses seeks are to be found so that they can be recovered by the PCs and given over to their mysterious Pharasmin contact, Shepses. (Whom the PCs never actually meet). The treasures are essentially to be left at both dead letter drops within the Necropolis.

The major "Encounter in the Ruins" event has been changed to be a consequence of the competing adventuring team trying to recover the 2nd treasure before Shepses can do so. The PCs move to stop this from happening to ensure that Shepses gets the treasure -- and the PCs get the keys to the Sanctum of the Erudite Eye.

TL;DR -- I prefer more story continuity in my APs. This is my way of adding it in.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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Steel_Wind wrote:
For a group who can be that human pyramid to get them up to the shaft, the shaft does not present a "magic only" problem. Instead, it become a "group only" solution that a sole tomb raider cannot bypass. - especially with broken legs. :)

I admit, I never thought of that! I would definitely allow that level of ingenuity. Mine are only observations, not absolutes. I congratulate any party who thinks that up on their own. :)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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Steel_Wind wrote:
TL;DR -- I prefer more story continuity in my APs. This is my way of adding it in.

Sounds wonderful! Pathfinder groups are absolutely valid choices. I resisted "plugging" the PFS more because of the pushback from Shattered Star (where, rightly or wrongly, some groups chafed at being forced to be allied with the PFS).

I personally love the idea of the Society and I applaud your approach. There's NOTHING wrong with adjusting any AP to the taste of you and your players. Its the sign of a good GM.

There's a delicate balance to be struck between structuring the campaign too much and leaving it so open and flexible that it lacks something in terms of a campaign. This one doesn't start with a strong, driving agenda because its trying to set the stage. Some folks aren't sure what to think and some are resistant. I'll be curious to see how they feel by Book 3 or 4, and whether their opinions change at all.

Thanks for the comments!

Sovereign Court

3 people marked this as a favorite.

So I was mulling over the posts here regarding the shaft in the Tomb of Akhentepi and the rope hanging 5 feet down.

My players have passed that part and are down in the tomb. They were sufficiently paranoid about the shaft, feeling what I thought was an appropriate amount of apprehension, but not overdone.

I wanted to do more with the shaft and their rope, but didn't want it to be a real threat. That's when I decided that one of the other parties might have a jokester amongst them. I'm planning to have the rope pulled up about 10 feet,so that the party will have to jump or hoist each other up to grab it. At the top of the shaft, the claw of the (now dead) ghost scorpion will be clamped around the rope just over the lip of the shaft opening. When the party pulls the rope, the scorpion corpse will slide over the edge and plummet down the 60 foot shaft right at the PCs.

The party will then be able to climb up safely, perhaps finding a calling card of some kind at the top.

I think it'll go over well, what do ya think?

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I think that's a great idea.

Grand Lodge

As I really disliked the way the Carrion Crown AP develops after the first part, we stopped after finishing in Ravengro.
Just as I was thinking about starting something in Osirion the new Ap came out.
Now my players want to take their level 4 characters to Osirion.

My story will be, that there will be an Invitation to the Professor (who we know was fancinated by the ancient Osirion) to attend the opening of the Necropolis.
His daughter wants to take part in his memory and as I know my players, they will want to help her with that quest.

Now I am thinking about how to do it that the encounters are not too easy.
If I just make everything harder and they progress normal I will have to do it in every part of the AP. That's a thing I would like to prevent.
Any suggestions on that part?

I also like to work with a lot of handhouts.
Are the pdf maps for the Half-Dead City already out?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jan Schattling wrote:

I also like to work with a lot of handouts.

Are the pdf maps for the Half-Dead City already out?

If you download the Mummy's Mask Player's Guide, there is a map of Wati in it near the back.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Jan Schattling wrote:

As I really disliked the way the Carrion Crown AP develops after the first part, we stopped after finishing in Ravengro.

Just as I was thinking about starting something in Osirion the new Ap came out.
Now my players want to take their level 4 characters to Osirion.

My story will be, that there will be an Invitation to the Professor (who we know was fancinated by the ancient Osirion) to attend the opening of the Necropolis.
His daughter wants to take part in his memory and as I know my players, they will want to help her with that quest.

Now I am thinking about how to do it that the encounters are not too easy.
If I just make everything harder and they progress normal I will have to do it in every part of the AP. That's a thing I would like to prevent.
Any suggestions on that part?

I also like to work with a lot of handhouts.
Are the pdf maps for the Half-Dead City already out?

Make things tougher, but only for the first two APs. Also, switch the players to the Slow XP advancement (adjusting XPs if need be to keep them the same level). That'll reduce their advancement rate beyond where they're at.

You can also just triple the hit points of every encounter but otherwise keep them the same; they get reduced XPs but otherwise are facing foes that will last against them.

Silver Crusade

I've got a question about the haunts. I've never really run haunts before—is there really no way for players to discover the destruction condition? Does the party just need a positive a channeling Cleric or else? How do y'all play that out?

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Ran session 1 last night:

Summary: The party felt good about what they needed to do, though they forgot a crowbar!

The scorpion came in while two of the PC's were off trying to find some rubble to brace the wheel in A1. Good surprise, but the poor thing rolled a 1 or 2 on most of its attacks.

The party was convinced that the poor sap who's rope (which I had cut at 7 feet so it hung down a bit) was cut was all some elaborate trap, which caused them to drop a big rock down on the skeleton.

Once they got down, they managed to find the actual "trap" part of A4, but not the trigger. The ranger tried to remotely trigger the floor plate, but with just arrow plinks into the floor it wasn't enough to go off, but when she went to retrieve her arrows... This was also followed by the rogue crit failing the disable device check and dropping to 0.

Eventually they found the A6-8 area and fought the warrior dolls, much to everybody's heartburn. (See impressions)

Impressions: Traps and atmosphere were very spot on. The Tapestry in A5 needed a gp value though.

The Warrior Dolls? Not so much. My group groaned when they fought them, horrible memories of the animated scythe in Harrowstone coming back to haunt them. Hardness 5 for a level 1 group who's damage averages 5? Drawn out 25-minute encounter that had lost all of its fun by the end. I'll be lowering the Hardness of the false sarcophagus and giving the Iron Cobra a DR/something instead of /-.


I haven't run this yet, but I don't have any problem with hard to kill things at low-levels - makes you feel all the stronger later. Also easy to use combat maneuvers on things with no reach. Of course, I'm going to have an 18 Str barbarian with power attack, so...

Paizo Employee Senior Developer

Joe M. wrote:
I've got a question about the haunts. I've never really run haunts before—is there really no way for players to discover the destruction condition? Does the party just need a positive a channeling Cleric or else? How do y'all play that out?

Note that PCs don't have to actually destroy a haunt to gain XP for it - simply encountering it is enough to gain the XP. That being said, if they want to destroy it, learning its destruction requirements are primarily a roleplaying thing. They'll need to research and investigate and work out how to destroy a haunt. You could simplify this with rolls - perhaps a successful Knowledge (history), Knowledge (local), or even Knowledge (religion) check could give them the information they need to permanently destroy a haunt.

Sovereign Court

Joe M. wrote:
I've got a question about the haunts. I've never really run haunts before—is there really no way for players to discover the destruction condition? Does the party just need a positive a channeling Cleric or else? How do y'all play that out?

Keep in mind that reducing a haunt's hp to 0 with positive energy attacks (cure spells, holy water etc) only deactivates it. It will keep coming back until the destruction condition is met.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Ran my first session yesterday. Oh boy!

Party consists of:
Male Suli Spellscarred Oracle
Female Suli Fighter (sword and board)
Male Oread Druid
Female Ifrit Sorcerer
Male Kitsune Ninja

Spoilered for Length:
Started off with the lottery. I made a small role-play encounter early on where I introduced an NPC named Mutaba, a human oracle who failed the tests to enter the Pharasmin clergy and since gained oracular powers while still following the faith. This brought them back to the Tooth and Hookah where they met Mutaba's group and some of the others. Overall it was nearly two hours of just RP in a bar, so I thought fruitful. They aren't too suspicious of the Scorched Hand yet. One thing I did was have one of Mutaba's companions become infatuated with the ifrit sorceress character to the point of asking to draw a sketch of her (this comes into play later and in book 2).

So then off to the dungeon. Not much issues getting in and the ghost scorpion easily dealt with (buncha min-maxin' cheaters I tell ya!). Going off an earlier idea up thread, I put my own version of a haunt in. Basically a DC 11 will save or fall prone and be confused for 3 rounds as though you are experiencing the memories of the fallen adventure (babbling incoherently was suffering alone in the darkness, attacking yourself was feeling the despair to end your own life, and attacking someone else was seeing the face of the one who cut the rope). A standard action to shake someone out of it would give them another save at +2. This did not go well. At the end of the first round the Oread nearly killed himself, and the suli fighter attacked the suli oracle and crit. The ifrit babbled a round while the kitsune tried to shake the suli fighter out of it (he was the only one who made it). So I decided to make it one round (shh, don't tell them!) and they buried the body and headed back to town to rest to come back tomorrow. Fortunately I had Mutaba's group find them as they traveled and helped to heal the oracle back to full (yay for NPCs!)

Day 2 was fairly uneventful. They finished off most of the temple. They didn't trigger the trapped sarcophagus, and didn't find the real one. Also they didn't encounter the dolls yet. But nearly everything else they found. The solifugid's were a pretty fun encounter, my rolls amazing while the player's not so much. Many Alien face hugger references were made. The Sandling managed to escape, so that might pop back up at some point if I feel a bit mean.

Returning back to the Tooth and Hookah from day 2, I started off Mad Dog showing off his sword to everyone. After that they found Mutaba crying and drunk at the bar. I was using his group as a way to signify some of the dangers by having his group wiped out and only he survived it. Also I plan to use them during book 2 (I'm evil like that!). While some of the group consoled him I attempted to have Black Kiss draw off the Oracle to join their group (going with the whole wanting a cleric thing), which oddly almost succeeded. The PCs had to justify him staying with them. A bit of fun RP there.

Day 3 they returned to the temple, and I had rolled a random encounter of one of the groups (Chandren's Champions I think?). My plan was to have them follow the group back to the tomb and pull up the rope, only to force them to turn over some of their valuables as payment to lower the rope, and escape while they climbed. Instead the PCs saw them, and the rogue flanked around from behind while the PCs waited around a corner for them. In the end they were intimidated into stripping naked and leaving with only a bedroll between the three of them. I'm thinking of using them in book 2 possibly, positive points by talking them into helping or negative points if they don't.

Back at the temple they finished it off. I did the fale sarcophagus trap a little wonky (I misread it), but it turned out fun. One thing I had done is turned Akhentepi's armor into a suit of scarabs, counting it as a breastplate the druid could wear. He was happy with that. Also his shield I turned heavy instead of light for the fighter. So between both of them they left pretty happy.

All in all the first dungeon was a pretty good success.

Coming up next session I have a few ideas. I plan to have Black Kiss attempt to recruit Mutaba next, only to end up with him leaving drunk to enter the tomb to 'rescue' his friends. She'll end up following him (not quite sure why at the moment), only to be jumped by thieves (specifically I'm thinking that group from Book 2). The plan is for the PCs to return to the Tooth and Hookah, find out Mutaba had left to 'find his friends' and the map to his site to explore he left behind, and go attempt to rescue him. In the end I'm not quite sure how it'll play out, but hey that's the fun of setting these things up!

I'm also planning another combat involving probably Sigrun's group (the Suli fighter warmed up to them quickly) and the PCs end up entering the necropolis around the same time in a similar direction and have to fight off a mutual threat. I might use Velriana's group instead, but trying to avoid drawing too much attention to them.

Sorry if it got kinda long. Just a bit excited is all!!

Sovereign Court

Speaking of haunts, when I first read the wedding ring haunt, I thought that the haunt transfers to the ring. That's not the case (I think anyway) but I thought that would be an interesting variation.


Ckorik wrote:

Ohhh my group just had the first foray into the adventure today.

So far they have navigated down into the tomb - and a few trap - fighting off the child dolls. (they are all first time players so it is going really slow - but they had a great time so far)

Most deadly thing encountered so far? 60' pit and a flubbed climb roll (using a rope mind you - ended up with a 3 total). Fall - took damage to -con - gave the party a few seconds to save her - luckily the fighter who was second down had a potion of cure light on him - and stabilized the poor bard until the rest of the party could make it down.

Oddest question I was asked - how much does that chest weigh... I had no idea so I winged it at 25 lbs. Not bad so far it's been interesting running complete newbies - they named their party... 'dungeon seekers' :)

Ooohh and hats off to Jim Groves for interesting descriptions - the first room with the torch holders - and the 'effect' that happens - had 4 torches lit in all the corners with a big 'what's happening' moment - I think 'ancient tomb like a pyramid' really has players expecting the worst!

A rope with a wall is DC 5. You must fail by 5 or more to fall on a climb check. Otherwise you make no progress. So unless someone has a negative climb check, the chute is no threat to fall until the last 10 feet where there is no wall.


Recently finished reading this. Don't have much to contribute to the conversation other than to express I'm very happy I resumed subscription with this AP. I do love the start of this campaign; it does scratch a number of itches. Thank you for also making the back half very pertinent and useful to the adventure. I'm normally into the APs just for the 1st half but I quite like the whole product for the Half-Dead City: the premise, the adventure, structure, traps, treasure, critters, art and all of the back half. Thanks for the care and great job putting this one together!


Ran most of Chapter 1 yesterday.

Thought it went pretty well. I loved the flavor and the players (split between two vets and two newbies) was paranoid as all get out. Just the Egyptian theme was enough to do that. This first chapter certainly added to it.

The party did go back to town for a night. And they will now rest prior to going back into the final room. Was resting planned or was the party expected to go through the entire first chapter without regaining resources?

The FINAL conflict in chapter 1 of the first AP seemed very harsh given the defenses of the critter and it being a first level party. Now, they were nearly out of resources when they went in there after covering most of the complex on their second day, but they did have to run away.

Now I'm all for "teaching a party" that sometimes the best option is to run, but I did have a post-game rant by a player (an vet, and adventure designer) who complained the math for first level party members just didn't work out for the CR of final critter unless the party was at full resources.

Paizo Employee Developer

Uri Meca wrote:
Recently finished reading this. Don't have much to contribute to the conversation other than to express I'm very happy I resumed subscription with this AP. I do love the start of this campaign; it does scratch a number of itches. Thank you for also making the back half very pertinent and useful to the adventure. I'm normally into the APs just for the 1st half but I quite like the whole product for the Half-Dead City: the premise, the adventure, structure, traps, treasure, critters, art and all of the back half. Thanks for the care and great job putting this one together!

That's my job! I'm glad that the last half of the book served you well. This is exactly what I strive for, so it's always good to know when folks that normally only read the adventure keep on for the next 40 pages. :) Thanks!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Riggler wrote:

Ran most of Chapter 1 yesterday.

Thought it went pretty well. I loved the flavor and the players (split between two vets and two newbies) was paranoid as all get out. Just the Egyptian theme was enough to do that. This first chapter certainly added to it.

The party did go back to town for a night. And they will now rest prior to going back into the final room. Was resting planned or was the party expected to go through the entire first chapter without regaining resources?

The FINAL conflict in chapter 1 of the first AP seemed very harsh given the defenses of the critter and it being a first level party. Now, they were nearly out of resources when they went in there after covering most of the complex on their second day, but they did have to run away.

Now I'm all for "teaching a party" that sometimes the best option is to run, but I did have a post-game rant by a player (an vet, and adventure designer) who complained the math for first level party members just didn't work out for the CR of final critter unless the party was at full resources.

Just to check, you're referring to the Tomb of Akhentepi?

First off, you're always free to run it as you wish. That said, my intention was that the party can rest in that Tomb whenever they so wish. Its not going anywhere. There is no underground conspiracy that is being advanced down there. I deliberately made it so PCs could rest if they needed to. In fact, if you hadn't noticed, there are no undead in the first dungeon. Not a coincidence. Akhentepi was buried 11 years before the Time of Madness struck. His tomb was nice and sealed before any bad stuff occurred. :)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Uri Meca wrote:
Recently finished reading this. Don't have much to contribute to the conversation other than to express I'm very happy I resumed subscription with this AP. I do love the start of this campaign; it does scratch a number of itches. Thank you for also making the back half very pertinent and useful to the adventure. I'm normally into the APs just for the 1st half but I quite like the whole product for the Half-Dead City: the premise, the adventure, structure, traps, treasure, critters, art and all of the back half. Thanks for the care and great job putting this one together!

As Adam said, thank you very much!

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

So last night I ran into a bit of extra fun with the malfunctioning deathtrap. Background: They detected the trap square away, and went about searching elsewhere before messing with the dais. The rogue jammed the west door, so it had the be bashed in. They hadn't yet found the secret door in the lowest depths, so they were under the assumption that the fake sarcophagus was the real one. Heading back up, the rogue crit fails the trap disarm, setting it off. Party panic ensues (as well as a hungry sarcophagus). But wait, there is no Western door left to slam shut! All of the water that flooded into the chamber gets siphoned down to the floor below, with the group meeting the swarm trap in a 3.5' deep flooded room (after they spent a few hours taking 20's to find the last secret door) making escape from the obviously short lived trap quite difficult.

I did lower the Hardness on the false sarcophagus to 3, with it still nearly dropping 2 party members. Keeping it at 5 would probably have put a nail in at least one coffin. I also changed the Iron Cobra to DR5/B, since 5/- is just as bad as Hardness 5 except that even adamantine would have to deal with it.

---

The first dungeon runs very well. There are a few items of note that had no gp value given for looting (The cursed mirror, the tapestry of the Boneyard, the tapestry of Akentepi's family), but the gold that my N-E party looted will keep them quite motivated through the rest of this book.

@Riggler: My party of 5 ran through it in only a day. They had 17, 16, 14, 12, 12, 10 arrays and started with 200gp, and drained nearly 100% of their resources, including consumable items. The only encounter they missed was the two beetles in the secret tunnel.

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