The Emerald Spire Superdungeon Discussion Thread


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Just played our first session yesterday. Proud of my squishy group of four (dwarven paladin, half-elf rogue, human sorcerer, elven witch) for clearing the entire thing. Had characters drop below 0 multiple times (one rolled a 20 to stabilize 1 hp away from death). Likely TPK if not for the aid of hero points (they each start with one, and we award 1 HP every time they level, and then the group nominates one player to receive one after each session).

Level 1:
I pulled very few punches during this run, including using the trap with awesome effect. The only member of the party with dark vision also happened to be the front line fighter. The goblins lured him under the trap. The rogue was also in the AOE when the chain was pulled. The rogue beat the reflex save, the dwarf did not. He was buried on the opposite side of the trap from the rest of the party.

The Dwarf Pally had very few HP remaining, and with burial damage looming, the rest of the sight-challenged party fought their way through the barracks, found the secret passage, and rescued him just in the nick of time.

The energy and excitement during this sequence was excellent. They all knew they were on the clock and venturing into the dark without their Paladin was nerve wracking. They really enjoyed this challenging level, and this moment especially.

Clanky:
Since I've seen many people mention that the Skizzertz/Clanky encounter was easy, I will mention that in our run, Clanky was a force to be reckoned with, though in part due to sub-optimal tactics on the part of the PCs.

First through the door was the Paladin (approaching from A11 where there was no combat so evil was unprepared) who (mistakenly, in retrospect) b-lined it towards Skizzertz, leaving the rest of the party to contend with Clanky. Clanky took a couple of decent shots before flattening the rogue with his first attack. The Pally made short work of Skizzertz, but the party was at a disadvantage due to the magic users being out of spells. The sorcerer got lucky and rolled high on his crossbow and managed to tip Clanky's HP to less than 1/2. On his final attack, Clanky moved two steps towards the Paladin and dropped him with one massive hit and then exploded the following round. The 8 electrical damage took the dying Dwarf to -11 (with a 13 Con). If Clanky had been 5' closer to the rogue, he'd have died for sure.

Grulk:
The party was overjoyed to find the wand of CLW and used it to revive their comrades. A heavy debate followed about whether or not to ascend to Grulk's chamber. They ultimately did. For us, the Grulk encounter was not as difficult as the previous fight. Grulk only got two shots off through the arrow slit before the dwarf bashed the door in, and the group was able to overwhelm Grulk in just a few rounds (though the Rogue did fall again). Grulk was about to flee but the sorcerer rolled well again with the crossbow and took him to exactly 0 HP. There were cheers following the coup-de-grace.


I'm not sure if this is an error or not. The Vault Keeper and Vault Builder are listed as outsider (earth, elemental, extra planar). Elemental subtype normally means the monster is not subject to critical or precision damage and is not flankable. However the Vault Builder also lists fortification (50%), which would seem to me to be redundant.

Any thoughts?


After months of being hassled, I just ran my first session on this and the campaign almost ended before it got started. Here's my group

Half Orc Hunter
Half Orc Fighter (Phalanx fighter)
Half Orc Ranger (going for Horizon Walker)
Human Rogue
Catfolk Magus
Dwarven Druid
Gnome Gunslinger

The night started out with getting the party together (the half-orcs and human are brothers so that was easy anyway) and getting a bit too rowdy at the Helmed Lady, I very nearly had to arrest them for drawing weapons but managed to get them under control with Kagnin.

The rogue then started pickpocketing several people and almost got busted by the one of the local guard patrols (he beat the perception by 1 at one point) but was caught by the Seven Foxes and counterpicked with a note being left warning him off.

I managed to get them out of town and on the way to the Spire without arresting or killing anyone but it was a very close thing. Has anyone else run into this after warning them expressly about the laws and nature of Fort Inevitable?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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tyrfing wrote:

I'm not sure if this is an error or not. The Vault Keeper and Vault Builder are listed as outsider (earth, elemental, extra planar). Elemental subtype normally means the monster is not subject to critical or precision damage and is not flankable. However the Vault Builder also lists fortification (50%), which would seem to me to be redundant.

Any thoughts?

Were I to design the vault keeper today, I'd remove the elemental subtype. That's my suggestion for how to fix things.


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My party gradually got into more and more trouble with the Hellkinghts until they stopped going to Fort Inevitable completely and are now at the point of killing any Hellknights they find.

Anyway, my group is about to descend into level 9, and I noticed that it never states what happened to Groshen Urk, the morlock's chieftain, although it says that the Mistress of Thorns knows what happened to him. Is this left to the GM to decide or is it something I missed?

Lantern Lodge

I'm having difficulty understamding the map for Level 5 (Drowned Level). In area E7, it says that the passage is completely flooded. The notes for the level say that the ceiling height in all areas except as noted is 7' tall. The passage descends at 3 points along the way by 5ft via stairs.

The text says that the depth of the water is only 4ft deep in the 15 feet of the passage before entering E11. How does a passage go from fully flooded (of 7 feet to ceiling height) to only a depth of 4ft (with a breathable air space of 3'?? At what point doe this become noticeable?

Am I missing something?


"Natural portals along the hallway and its downward stairs reduce the amount of water flowing into area E11; in the last flat interval before area E11, the water is only 4 feet deep." It doesn't really make much sense to either, but essentially the water is only 4 feet deep because of portals draining it. I' not sure, however, as my group skipped level 5.


Probably a very stupid question, but one that needs answering. I'm running my group through Level 8 tonight, the Circle of Viss-Thar, but I can't wrap my head around the Spectral Serpent trap in H2, specifically regarding these "gigantic spectral snakes."

It says "the snakes fill the entire corridor and cannot be bypassed" and they push any PC within 10 feet of its movement and deal 2d6 pts of damage to any PC it pushes.

Am I to assume that the spectral snakes have the same stats block as the emperor cobra they turn into? If so, it's movement is 30, but that contradicts the fact it takes the snakes 11 rounds to push PCs to the central chamber. None of this adds and I can find nothing about spectral snakes anywhere. Moreover, outside of dispelling, how would one "destroy" a gigantic spectral snake?

Please help. I know my group will argue with me until they're blue in the face about this and I'd like to be able to have answers (i.e. shut them up quick and move on).


KennBo wrote:

Probably a very stupid question, but one that needs answering. I'm running my group through Level 8 tonight, the Circle of Viss-Thar, but I can't wrap my head around the Spectral Serpent trap in H2, specifically regarding these "gigantic spectral snakes."

It says "the snakes fill the entire corridor and cannot be bypassed" and they push any PC within 10 feet of its movement and deal 2d6 pts of damage to any PC it pushes.

Am I to assume that the spectral snakes have the same stats block as the emperor cobra they turn into? If so, it's movement is 30, but that contradicts the fact it takes the snakes 11 rounds to push PCs to the central chamber. None of this adds and I can find nothing about spectral snakes anywhere. Moreover, outside of dispelling, how would one "destroy" a gigantic spectral snake?

Please help. I know my group will argue with me until they're blue in the face about this and I'd like to be able to have answers (i.e. shut them up quick and move on).

No such thing as a stupid question. The snakes become emperor cobras when they reach the middle chamber; this is so if the PCs can defeat them, they can buy some time to escape. Prior to that, they are a trap effect and not creatures. I wouldn't present them as combatants before the central room; rather a spectral force of a massive snake slowly gaining speed. My group overcame the snakes by having their rogue disable the trap. Dispelling could also work. I would also allow PCs other clever ways to escape - perhaps Gaseous Form could sneak around the snakes and out the door?


SudainNomanson wrote:
Sorry if this is a silly question, but are we supposed to add treasure based upon the monsters that would normally have treasure, moon-spiders have normal treasure for example, or does the module list all the treasure the PCs are expected to find/have? I ask because my PC are getting trashed...

Probably too late for the OP, but in case others have the same question ... I have always assumed that when running a module the PCs only get the listed treasure for the encounter and whatever gear the defeated foes have on them, and that you do not also add treasure based on the entry in the bestiary.

Of course, if you aren't running it by the book have at it, just watch the wealth by level or your monsters eventually won't stand a chance.


I wonder. What would be the Hellknight policy about poisons?
In my group there is a LE Ninja that is interested in the use of poison. I see that in the third level, which we are going to play in a couple of days, there are a lot of poisons. Probably he'll want to take all the vials of poison he can and put them to later use.
Point is, most of the group is made of Hellknights and the whole group is lawful. So they'll have to show all the loot they have found to the Hellknights (that's basically how we agreed to run the campaign, to avoid the 30% tax).
But in the Poison page on the d20pfsrd, it says that poisons selling, buying and crafting is usually prohibited.
I think that the Hellknights would confiscate all the poison. That would be ugly for the Ninja.
So I'm asking for second thoughts and any way to avoid the problem.


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Galatina91 wrote:

I wonder. What would be the Hellknight policy about poisons? . . . I think that the Hellknights would confiscate all the poison. That would be ugly for the Ninja.

So I'm asking for second thoughts and any way to avoid the problem.

I would say - given the Lord Commander's opposition to the "malcontents" in Fort Inevitable - they would be really hesitant to allow someone to bring in poisons. But your PC will likely be finding lots of poisons in the 3rd level. But I think there are several good options, and you don't want to deny a Ninja their poisons.

1) As the Ninja is Lawful and serving with Hellknights, he pays a modest fee (50 gp, etc.) and gets a Letter of Dispensation from the Castellan or Lord Commander letting him lawfully carry poisons. Essentially a permit for lethal poisons. If someone ends up poisoned later on, he's a prime suspect, however.

2) The Ninja works to conceal them from the other Hellknights. This could cause party strife, so it's only good if your players are game for some good role-playing and can get along. The Apothecary in town is a shady fellow - with a secret that could eventually come back to haunt the Ninja - but may be willing to slip him some things on the DL.

3) The Ninja keeps a stash of poisons in the Echo Woods, without bringing them to town. There's lots of good hiding places. The other Knights know he uses them, but also know he doesn't bring them to a civilized place.


Thank you very much! Your suggestions are really appreciated!


So. My players have made their way into Splinterden. And it did not go very well.
At first they went down the normal way. The ninja took a poisoned arrow while trying to disable the lock between areas C1 and C3, got one point of Con damage, and the party decided to retire and return the day after with better equipment. (I did not take that well, they had to fight a forest drake on their way back who nearly killed the aforementioned ninja with his ball of acid and got a couple of character down to 1 hp... so they had to stay in the fort for two days to heal themselves...)
So two days later, I figured Hastenfar was alerted that a group of "lousy" adventurers was recently there. Hastenfar and a half dozen of Splinters prepared an ambush. The PG had easy game with them, but Hastenfar ran away with 1 hp, and the PC interrogated one surviving Splinters. They learned of the secret entrance on C17 and the secret passage between C1 and C5. I figured that would make their job easy.
In the meantime, Hastenfar ran to Splinterden via the secret tunnel and alerted Tarrin of the imminent threat - the adventurers were not so lousy as it seemed!
So Tarrin organized her men - ten Splinters were to wait the party between C3 and C5, while Tarrin, Jaris, Hastenfar and three more Splinters would protect the shrine.

Now, the party went down the northern tunnel without even making Stealth checks. Tarrin made a Perception check with a result of 30 and heard them coming. The party then decided to explore the crypt and lost some time looking for treasure in the tombs and fighting the wight - making of course a lot of noise in the meantime. That gave the Splinters time to reorganize themselves. They converged on the cave corridor and after a long fight in which the party managed to kill or incapacitate more than half of the band, including Hastenfar and Jaris, three of them had to flee while two of them were made prisoners.

Now, I'm unsure about what to do.
Tarrin is left with less than half of her original guild. It's clear for her that she can't stay in the Emerald Spire now that the Hellknight are going to learn where they are.
The three left party members are hustling to Fort Inevitable. Both the prisoners are Hellknight, as is the surviving ninja, so they are going to tell everything to the Lady Commander and to Maralictor Wolfheim. I think Maralictor Wolfheim will seize the moment to destroy the Splinters by leading back to the Spire a small contingent of Hellknight of the Nail as soon as possible.
I figure it took about an hour for the PC to get back to Fort Inevitable by hustling. Another hour for Maralictor Wolfheim to learn the whole story and to hurriedly organize a troop (which may or may not include the PCs) to get back to the Spire.
Dandru Wolfheim would also make a request for light horses to move faster. So it would take another hour to ride back to the Spire, less if the horses are made to hustle.

Tarrin has about three hours to act before the Hellknights get her. She does not know that; she expects them to arrive the next morning.
She has locked up the two prisoners in C6 and is organizing to leave the Spire.
I am uncertain on what she would do. The two prisoners are from a rich family and maybe she could get a good ransom but her main thought now is to get herself and the remaining Splinters somewhere safer.

It is the first time I am the GM and I am unsure of what to do. I think it would be fair for the players to lose the experience and the loot from Splinterden for their blatant errors (which they acknowledged, they said it was just well-played on my side and poorly on their), but I feel uncomfortable to have two of them make a new character. I would prefer to have the Hellknights free the characters.
But I am also a big fan of consistency, so I wonder what could Tarrin Dars do now. She has used all of her spells in the fight with the PCs, and can't heal her comrades who have to rely on potions.
She hates Klarkosh but probably dislikes the Hellknights even more. Would she ask Klarkosh for help or not? What else would she do in the meantime? I am really unsure and I fell I need a second opinion.

[By the way: I made a few modifications on this level. I made Tarrin Dars a level 5 Inquisitor - Sanctified Slayer. I made the Outlaws level 2 Slayers, and tweaked their stat block to make some of them use a falchion instead of a crossbow and the rest of them to use a longbow instead. I made the two scouts of C19 into outlaws, too. The scouts are unchanged except that I gave them the Poisoner archetype. Jaris was an alchemist (toxicant).
I used a Basidirond instead of the Gibbering Mouther. Same CR, less lethal, and maybe its poison was the original source of the synesthetic agent.
The Basidirond and the Clockwork Servant are still in C6 and C15 respectively. The Splinters were too in a hurry to think to free them]

I am sorry for any grammar error. English is not my mother tongue.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
Brother Willi wrote:
KennBo wrote:

Probably a very stupid question, but one that needs answering. I'm running my group through Level 8 tonight, the Circle of Viss-Thar, but I can't wrap my head around the Spectral Serpent trap in H2, specifically regarding these "gigantic spectral snakes."

It says "the snakes fill the entire corridor and cannot be bypassed" and they push any PC within 10 feet of its movement and deal 2d6 pts of damage to any PC it pushes.

Am I to assume that the spectral snakes have the same stats block as the emperor cobra they turn into? If so, it's movement is 30, but that contradicts the fact it takes the snakes 11 rounds to push PCs to the central chamber. None of this adds and I can find nothing about spectral snakes anywhere. Moreover, outside of dispelling, how would one "destroy" a gigantic spectral snake?

Please help. I know my group will argue with me until they're blue in the face about this and I'd like to be able to have answers (i.e. shut them up quick and move on).

No such thing as a stupid question. The snakes become emperor cobras when they reach the middle chamber; this is so if the PCs can defeat them, they can buy some time to escape. Prior to that, they are a trap effect and not creatures. I wouldn't present them as combatants before the central room; rather a spectral force of a massive snake slowly gaining speed. My group overcame the snakes by having their rogue disable the trap. Dispelling could also work. I would also allow PCs other clever ways to escape - perhaps Gaseous Form could sneak around the snakes and out the door?

My players bypassed it by using tools to make a hole in the wall. The walls in the trap are not very thick.


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I'm pleased to announce we finished the Emerald Spire tonight! Nearly a year of real time playing, but the party went through (almost) every room, slew every bad guy, followed side quests in the Echo Woods, and in the end stood victorious. I'll prepare a write-up in the near future, but it was so much fun to wrap up the game that I had to share.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

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Awesome! Congratulations to you and your team, Brother Willi!


Erik Mona wrote:

Awesome! Congratulations to you and your team, Brother Willi!

Thank you!


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So now that we've completed the Emerald Spire, I figured I'd provide a more detailed-write up about each of the levels and the experiences my party had.

Overall Thoughts

The Spire was great. I'd recommend it to anyone who is looking to do a dungeon-crawl style adventure. In playing we didn't discover any parts that were unplayable, contradictory, etc. Now, each level was developed independently of the others, so there is a theme change from each, but that actually helps. It kept each level fresh, and gave my players a reason to want to descend further: They liked seeing what was down there. Along the way, we wove a pretty cohesive story.

The Party

The "Shorter than Average Adventuring Company," so named in a flippant moment in front of Karn Kerommack, Castellan of Fort Inevitable. They initially consisted of Magnus, Dwarven Barian, Hroun, Dwarven Druid, Fjellhammer, Dwarven Cleric, Ro, Halfling Sorcerer, and Buell, the tolken Human rogue. Ro had his throat slit on level three, and was replaced by Abe, a gnome wizard. The - natural endurance - of the party kept other casualties at bay, though there were several points where things looked grim for the party. They started at Lv. 1, and were Lv. 13 at the end - including XP from random encounters and side-quests.

Level 1 spoiler:
Level 1 struck the right tone for starting off - a glass fort infested by goblins. The darkness that filled each room even during the day gave a sense of danger and foreboding for new adventurers. The party wasn't aware of it when they had trouble with Sparky, but that automaton was a harbinger for a lot of trouble to come.

Level 2 spoiler:
I did spoil this for the party inso far as I told them that Ed Greenwood had written this level. This set them off on a search for secret doors and traps that was well-rewarded. The Moon Spider traps led to some very interesting fights, and the party took the time at the end to burn every web-filled room they could find. The trapped ceiling nearly killed them all, but a few very lucky rolls meant most of the party hit the deck in time. This was also where they first learned of Klarkosh.

Level 3 spoiler:
Level 3 was the moment when the party came into its own. They snuck in through a secret door to the bandit lair, and a full running battle occurred. They were darting back and forth through the level, trading shots with bandits, triggering traps, and eventually culminating in a full-on melee in the chapel. The sorcerer, seeking a back way for an ambush, accidentally foudn the gibbering mouther, and had to lock himself in the bathroom to survive. This was the first time in the campaign the party was on their feet over the battlemat, shouting and whooping. If you are running this, take the time to plot where bandits are and how they will react to the party's intrusion. It was great fun.

Level 4 spoiler:
The party still talks about the God-Box. Because of the troglodyte welcome, the party established they wouldn't fight anyone who was polite to them. This rule didn't survive the campaign, but the party befriended the troglodytes, took the tour, politely refused the Holy Grub, and paid a sacrifice to the God Box. It was a really fun role-playing level, and was very memorable as an experience.

Level 5 spoiler:
The best water level I've ever played. The summoners weren't terribly polite to the party, and were cut down quickly. The druid had a lot of fun summoning water elementals, and the level lay-out meant that the PCs got to think outside of combat by using water-breathing spells, focusing on manuevering, and getting sucked into a few ambushes. The party prevailed, soggier than before, and was glad to go on their way. The adamantine axe found as treasure would be the primary tool of the party in the future, used to bypass many phsical obstacles in levels to come.

Level 6 spoiler:
One thing that I had tried to do with the NPCs in the spire was play-up Klarkosh a bit as a petty dictator. It worked. The party was eager to see this clockwork level, having fought automatons and heard his name. Klarkosh put up a good fight, and his chamber traps were fun, but he fell. The clockwork nature of this level was fun for the PCs, and they enjoyed playing with it. They also had bought a house in Fort Inevitable by this point, and so looted Klarkosh's bed room and "dwarfed" the furniture back to their new home.

Levels 7 and 8 spoiler:
Serpent people - why did it have to be serpent people. Overall, these two levels together were fun. The party had no intention of allying with either side of the serpent people's battles, but the struggle between the two gave good context to the adventure. It put in context why Klarkosh had not gone south, tied the Spire into the darklands, and seperated the party. The trap on Level 8 split them up in a somewhat hilarious way, and trepidation of both groups as they moved to remeet was great as the GM. Plus, the survivors of the fight on level 7 rallied and ambushed them with the Tiawask imposter as the party tried to return to Fort Inevitable, leading to what might have been the toughest fight of the campaign that far.

Level 9 spoiler:
After the splendor and finery of the previous levels, the squalor of level 9 was a change. So were the nature of the challenges - morlocks aren't brawlers, but their numbers proved troublesome. The high-number of traps also caught the PCs off guard. But with a barbarian and rogue, they were able to push through and clear the level. They decided dealing with a devil wasn't their best option, and the Mistriss of Thorns was cut down.

Level 10 spoiler:
The Magma Vault - they had heard of this. This level proved to be tough for the party, which as most had fire resistance and fire-domain spells was surprising. But the various elemental creatures nearly proved too much, and the party was forced to retreat at one point. They rallied to return, and were glad to find the treasure hoard at the end. The elemental theme of this level was very strong, and very fun. They were beginning to see how the spire was "changing" the world around it.

Level 11 spoiler:
Poor Yarrix. The party wasn't locked in with her - she was locked in with them. I had made the party aware of Yarrix with rumors earlier, and so they were charged with the Church of Saranrae to stop her. The Lovecraftian vibes of this level were a neat change of pace, and the party was unsettled. The battle with the Retriever while a swarm of winged-eels swept around them was the most memorable visual of the level, with the barbarian levitating in the middle of the pit while the others shot from the sides.

Level 12 spoiler:
Another great change of pace. Playing the steward like C3PO and presenting the rag-tag spa as a chance to rest, the PCs were very cautious but soon yielded to the available services. It actually set up a nice scene where the PCs wanted to "restore" the Iron Creche because the other automatons were so nice to them. It also meant the PCs had to use changed tactics against the reclaimers, which was a fun step away from hack-and-slash. The last battle was also really fun, as the PCs found ways to block the "spawn points" (for lack of a better phrase) while pushing towards the spire. My favorite moment, however, was when they looked in the furnace, saw the elementals, asked "does anyone want to go in there" and then shut the door. That's smart thinking.

Level 13 spoiler:
Another neat change of theme. The scene of the "orchestra" at the beginning was really fun to play out, and I think the PCs felt bad about killing the Imp in the end. The rest of the level had the right feeling of an alien and off garden that made them strongly considering purging it all with fire. The final battle with Nhur Athemon's lieutenant was really hard for them, as they weren't prepared for a flying, invisible enemy. Overall, it was at this point it was clear the Spire was providing a variety of enemies and challenges without sacrificing quality. They left the basilisk in its cage, though, deciding it wasn't worth the risk. Poor little guy.

Level 14 spoiler:
The PCs loved this level. The battle with the knights and time-trap, the banter with Abraxas, the insane outsider, all hit the right thematic tone. The real kicker was the battle with Nhur Athemon. I had been building him up for a while - crowned skull encounters, fearful whispers from earlier levels, lingering Azlanti rumors. The battle did not disappoint, with summoned Wooly Rhinos smashing emerald aristocrats and mirrors, triggering symbols, and a floating lich beset by multiple angry dwarves.

Level 15 spoiler:
This was perhaps the trickiest for me to run. The fight with Nhur Athemon had been a seeming culmination of the campaign. The threat of something lower wasn't as well-established. The party - mostly neutral alignments - wasn't terribly on the side of either inevitables or proteans. Because they had rescued the inevitable from level 10, they sided with them initially. However, this led to the situation where they realized the proteans were going to be overwhelmed without their totem, and the inevitables wouldn't let the PCs to level 16. The book states that these scenarios are beyond the scope of the adventure, but it is highly likely one side or the other will gain an advantage as the PCs advance. Have a plan in place for this. My party, realizing the stakes, held of waves of inevitable squads while the rogue snuck through the secret passage to shut down the gate. This was a favorite fight of the PCs. It shows that when you get multi-room, multi-part fights going, PCs can get into it!

Level 16 spoiler:
The final vault. The PCs hadn't heard much of the Vault Builder, but knew it was down here, and had to be stopped. The "root" nature of the spire at this point was a nice twist. It was a visual and thematic indication the end was nigh. They bantered with the insane Roper (whose prewritten questions were hilarious). They stole dart guns from Elder Things (the rogue thinking "I can use this"). The hint of other vaults was concerning to the PCs, who were hoping to end the threat here. The battle with the Vault Builder, and race to stop its ressurection, was also great. Earth Elementals leaping through walls, a shining child trying to drive everyone insane, a race to break open doors. In the end, they stood battered but victorious.

Final Spoiler:
The party wizard used the wish from Abraxas to gain knowledge on how to control the spire. This required him to bind the soul of the vault builder to the base using a spell beyond his ken, so Abraxas would "kindly" cast it through him. We ended with the gnome being the new master of the spire - a concerning but presently acceptable state of affairs to his friends. This is a departure from the book, but seeing as how the gnome is now evil and beholden to a Demon Lord, means there's some great new adventure available. The Hell Knights may have something to say about this ... as will the party cleric.

Notes for GMS:
If you are thinking of running the Spire, I encourage it! Here are some notes I have that may help you:
- Get the Thornkeep Book, if possible. Putting the Spire in the context of the Echo Woods helped a lot. My PCs took time to visit Thornkeep, skirmished in Mosswater, and were nearly ambushed by Jaderazor (favorite random encounter, ever). As it happens, this meant they sought out Jaderazor and killed her in her lair. These were really fun moments that didn't detract from the Spire, but made it seem part of a thriving campaign world.
- Use random encounters for travel to and from the Spire. Starting out, the PCs knew that getting to the Spire could be dangerous. It made them make the most of their time in the spire, take a few days to recover in Fort Inevitable, and some times nearly killed them. But they knew they had become powerful when the goblins in the woods started really avoiding them.
- Figure out Fort Inevitable. In my game, Fort Inevitable was the safest place for caravans and pilgrims in miles. People tolerated the Hellknights because they were tough but fair, and kept them safe. The PCs didn't like the taxes one bit, but they put up with it and even befriended the rulers because they liked the safe place too.
- Have fun with Fort Inevitable. My PCs enjoyed interactions with the NPCs there, and following-up on rumors. They were friends with Abernard Royst, had good relations with High Mother Sarah Dresmaigne, and went out of their way to help the "good" farmers around grow better crops. They found the map on the Red Shield, fought gremlins in the sewer to secure their basement, and got pretty good at smuggling. This is all ancilliary to the Spire, but adds great characterization to the game.
- Telegraph the main villains. Have the PCs hear the names Klarkosh, Nhur Athemon, and Illuchtwar ahead of time. Have crowned skull undead attack the PCs. Have them encounter destroyed caravans infested by ghouls. Have portals pop-up to dangerous places. The battles with each only lasted a few rounds, but they were crazy fun for the PCs. They knew they were fighting big villains who had been hounding them, even though they had never encountered the villains before.

Again, we loved the module. I strongly recommend it, and would be glad to discuss anything here further!

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I'm way ahead of you on the Notes for GMs section. ^_^

(We're on Level 6 currently.)


Kalindlara wrote:

I'm way ahead of you on the Notes for GMs section. ^_^

(We're on Level 6 currently.)

Nice! Any fun stories of the surrounds of the spire?

I handed out rumors at the beginning, and would supplement them from time to time, which helped get the players into it. They liked having personalized "secrets" motivating their character.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Brother Willi wrote:
Kalindlara wrote:

I'm way ahead of you on the Notes for GMs section. ^_^

(We're on Level 6 currently.)

Nice! Any fun stories of the surrounds of the spire?

I handed out rumors at the beginning, and would supplement them from time to time, which helped get the players into it. They liked having personalized "secrets" motivating their character.

They decided to do an Occult Adventures-themed group, so the party is... interesting. Some highlights include:

Spoiler:

-The sylph psychic using telekinetic projectile to throw a beehive at the hobgoblins they encountered on their first trip to the Spire.

-The party tracking down the Outpost of Zog. They had to content with some Small combusted (made from goblins), a shadowfire elemental, and a drekavac that gave the NPC spiritualist a nasty fast-acting case of tuberculosis.

-An absinthe-drinking binge that awakened the android telekineticist's past-life memories (she's now listening to a mysterious Protean voice from the Spire that only she could hear. When the psychic read her mind during this, the voice asked him:

The Protean wrote:
The only me is me. Are you sure the only you is you?

They've since been attacked by a mysterious doppelganger of him while fighting ALL THE THIEVES.

-Encounters with a dryad and a barbarian tribe, both of whom they're planning to recruit for the fight against the Hellknights. That 30% made them pick a side real fast.

That's all that comes to mind right off. I'm also working on special scaling items for them to acquire - if I get them done in time, you might just see them in the next Wayfinder! ^_^


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Really enjoyed reading the notes from everybody on their adventures in the Spire so far. I'm having a blast running it and it's been the most 'intense' campaign we've played for a long time, with death lurking around every major encounter for the not-terribly-optimised party.

I've gone off script a little bit, and was wondering if anybody might have some ideas for fleshing things out. I can go into more details, but I'll keep things brief as there's a fair amount that's gone on.

Spire and Thornkeep Spoilers and background:
In the fight on Level 3 the party ended up running from the Splinters at first and returned to take on a more organised defence. There were some memorable moments with one of the fighters getting swallowed by the Gibbering Mouther the highlight. It ended with all of the party incapacitated bar the cleric, with Tarrin Dars managing to sneak out with some of her papers after a well-timed Hold Person. Leading to the cleric swearing revenge on Dars as her nemesis.

Some time later the party visited Thornkeep to try and find relief from Hellknight taxation and to visit their friends at the Goldenfire Order. While there I had the party go on a mission to explore the Forgotten Laboratory as a favour for the Order (and so the party would learn a bit more about Nhur Athemon). In order to tie things into the Spire I also decided to make the crazed thieves other members of the Splinters, who had been sent to the Laboratory by Dars to try and find an edge.

After fighting the Mi-Go they found a diary from Tarrin Dars herself, which reflected ever more unhinged journal entries until it revealed that she had come to the Laboratory too. Worse yet discussions with the Mi-Go indicated that she now had even more heretical ideas of worshipping some kind of Norgorber / Nyarlothotep hybrid.

After leaving the Laboratory the party got word that the body of a deceased party member had been dug up in Fort Inevitable. They returned there and found that not only was their party member's corpse missing, but Lady Drovost had been poisoned and was at death's door leading to tension among the Hellknights and Signifier Hast had gone missing.

Venturing into the sewers they discovered that Tarrin Dars had secretly been buying poison from sources in the Fort, and they also heard that Dars and Hast had been meeting for some reason. Returning to the Spire they found signs of some sort of horrific ritual that had recently been carried out on Level 3 in the old Splinter den. They later found Signifier Hast in the same room where they had a memorable encounter with Klarkosh earlier. Negotiations broke down as he was trying to get information from them and lead to a battle that Hast had the better of before teleporting away.

Further spoilers (where I'm after help):
Now what the party should find out soon is that Dars has been trying to manipulate Hast's desire to learn more about the Spire so she can have him help take on her enemies. While he's still broadly sane, her warped powers have been making his hold on sanity more and more precarious and I've modified things so that he was responsible for killing Chaid DiViri in the Magma Vault (which the party have just reached).

Now I have a good handle on what will happen when the party meets Hast again, but for the eventual run in with Tarrin Dars I'm less sure. My knowledge of mechanical options outside the core could be a lot better, so I'm wondering if anybody has tips to make her a more memorable opponent. As well as adding levels to her I want the ritual to represent some kind of template having been added to her, reflecting influence from the Mi-Go and other 'outer' powers. So I'm keen to know if anybody has any neat ideas for reflecting that idea mechanically.

tldr version: How do I solve the problem of Tarrin Dars? And if anyone has any other cool ideas I'd love to hear them! Cheers for anyone taking the time to look through this. :)


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Pathfinder Card Game, Companion Subscriber
Arno Swart wrote:

Hi all,

My group is about to figure out what the transport tokens are for. The problem is, one of the characters speaks Azlanti. I guess this character will then also know what the runes for each level look like. Does this mean they can teleport to any level they wish, without having visited the levels?

If it works like this, I would like to devise some workaround, so that the players are not allow to 'skip ahead' in the dungeon.

My understanding, from reading and re-reading the descriptions, is that the runes are NOT Azlanti, and are not numbers either. When you find them on parchment, there is a label in Azlanti with the floor number on that parchment.

quote from A12:
: The scroll tube on the table contains a sheet of
parchment on which is drawn a complicated magical sigil
in iridescent green ink. A character who succeeds at a DC
15 Knowledge (arcana) or Linguistics skill check recognizes
the sigil as an identifying mark similar to an arcane mark.
The sigil is labeled “Six” in Azlanti. This is the runic symbol
needed to travel directly to Level 6 via Spire transport

Emphasis mine.

This, and other comments strewn through the module, indicate that the runes are actually the names of the levels in the original language of the Builder, and the labels are just labels so the Azlants that took over the place for a while knew which floor was which. Likely, the runes themselves refer to the attributes of the levels, but in a language no PC has a chance of knowing.


Question: So my group is about to do level 10, and they have the sigil from the Mistress of Thorns. (The spire on level 10 is basically completely surrounded by lava.) Watching them all burn in lava, taking them completely by surprise, would be hilarious. But it would also... kind of end the game. Thoughts?


Your 10th level Pc really should have no issues
In Pf by this level ground hazards should be things of the past


1. The PCs shouldn't aren't 10th level by level 10.
2. Lava deals 20d6 points of damage per round. Even if they do manage to escape it on round 2, it's highly unlikely that they could do anything to stop the first round, which will deal an average of 70 damage to each character.
3. This particular lava happens to 3 lava lurkers and 2 young magma dragons. That's an epic level fight for 10th level characters even without the lava.


Can't remember how we managed it but even if we were level 8 or 9 there is no need to touch the lava
Warpriest had epic perc. So no surprise
Our oracle spammed fire resist
Our witch could fly a lot
Must have been a lot of ready/delay for when the dragons popped up
We are on level 12 or 13 now


Captain collateral damage wrote:
Question: So my group is about to do level 10, and they have the sigil from the Mistress of Thorns. (The spire on level 10 is basically completely surrounded by lava.) Watching them all burn in lava, taking them completely by surprise, would be hilarious. But it would also... kind of end the game. Thoughts?

I just reread the description and it doesn't say it explicitly, but I got the gist that the token wouldn't put them in the lava. Now, they may accidentally push each other into the lava, since it's quite a squeeze to fit 4 characters in a little over 1 square. But one square is five feet. That's bigger than a phone booth and I've seen stuff about groups fitting close to 30 people in a phone booth. So they wouldn't be comfortable. And they wouldn't want to stay. But your party should be able to all fit on that tiny island.

Or you could toss them in the lava. Depends on how mean you are. But since you came here to ask how to get around that, I doubt that's what you'd want to do. Basically, I figure since the biggest danger they talked about in the section discussing the tokens was being split into different rooms, the token isn't going to send your characters for a lava bath any more than it would transport them into the rock surrounding the spire on levels where only part of the surface is uncovered.


Sure, that could work, probably even with Yoc being on there. But that's before you take into account the fact that I have a party of 6, and one of them has a permanent enlarge person spell. Also, fighting a lava lurker and dragons on a space that occupies 4 squares at best is... difficult.


So, the Emerald Spire Players guide that someone made has been removed from the internet. Does anyone have a copy of it anywhere? I loved using it.


Ummm.... No it hasn't. Probably the link just wasn't working for you.


I have GMed a couple of level in PFS. I also played most of the levels in PFS. I am getting to run it in home game mode for a group.
I just don't understand the motivation of the PC to actually go to the spire. Why? Please help.


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Well, the spire has a reputation as a treasure filled dungeon, so there's that. Otherwise, there's the missing wizards, sgae's expidition, and crowned skull quests, and it's possible to have the heelknightsgive them a mission, probably signinfer Hast, but perhaps Wolfhelm would hire them to take out the Splinters gang. Moatly the ones in the book boil down to money, but it's not a huge plot heavy module, so it most likely wouldn't be too hard to work in a more personal connection, but that would most likely require working with each player specifically.


Returning to running the Spire in PFS at level 8 (after a TPK on level 7, then re-running it for a retrieval squad to clear the level.

Level 8 has a few traps that seem OP or vague (Golden Doors at H7 specifically). If you perceive the trap, do you have to disarm it while being attacked?

Mostly, are there errata/clarification docs/links somewhere that someone can point me to?

thanks!

Grand Lodge

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I have updated the Emerald Spire Players Guide to have some extra information about Fort Inevitable, character background questions, and I've updated the traits to be safe to use with Pathfinder Society.

Any feedback is welcome!
Emerald Spire Player's Guide (PFS safe)

Original:
Original Emerald Spire Player's Guide

Grand Lodge

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Hi all,

I've created some hex maps for the PFS Land Rush chronicle. Hope you like them!

Land Rush starting map
Files on PFSprep


Question regarding a stat block appearing in level 11, The Tomb of Yarrix:

Yarrix:
In Yarrix's stat block (she's a variant mummy cleric), there's a ranged attack called 'ray' with no damage or other details listed. Any idea what that might be? I looked through her domains and other abilities and can find neither the source of the ray, nor any details about it. Maybe I'm just missing something.


Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'm starting an Emerald Spire game. In game, the PC's have been contacted by the Pathfinder Society (no, it's not a PFS game), who wants them to explore the Spire.

So now I'm wondering exactly how to run this. The PC's have decided to try to work for both the Society and Abernard Royst. They haven't heard what Royst wants from them yet. I'm considering the possibility that the various "complete the level" rewards could come from the Society and not Royst, whereas Royst would be looking for particular objects from the Spire (such as the noqual quest written into the adventure.)

Or would I be better off having the Society give them different quests?

I'm not interested in the land rush concept.


Tarondor wrote:

I'm starting an Emerald Spire game. In game, the PC's have been contacted by the Pathfinder Society (no, it's not a PFS game), who wants them to explore the Spire.

So now I'm wondering exactly how to run this. The PC's have decided to try to work for both the Society and Abernard Royst. They haven't heard what Royst wants from them yet. I'm considering the possibility that the various "complete the level" rewards could come from the Society and not Royst, whereas Royst would be looking for particular objects from the Spire (such as the noqual quest written into the adventure.)

Or would I be better off having the Society give them different quests?

I think it would work to have the PFS pay for the map levels more so than Royst. That part always was a bit odd for our group - a kindly old man who just wants maps of a level. I played it up more that he wanted a map and complete report for his book on the Spire, but the PFS is a natural patron for such work.

Having Royst want items from the Spire is a great idea. You can even throw a few more in with token rewards, etc., that get the party delving deeper.


Can someone explain the Morlock "bunker" on level 9 to me?

How large is it? Is it underneath all of the rubble, or just the dotted section? Where is the entrance? Is going through the bunker the only way to go west, or can you climb over the rocks?


I hope Paizo has more Superdungeons planned in the works.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I couldn't find the depths of the various levels in the Emerald Spire book, so I calculated them from the picture that shows the cross section of the dungeon. I assumed that the bottom was exactly 2 miles deep and worked the rest out from there.

I ended up adjust the depth of levels 2 and 3, they just seemed too deep given their role in the dungeon, I have listed the adjusted depths below as well.

I can hear you asking why this matters, especially given Pathfinder dwarves can no longer automatically determine their depth underground. I admit that there isn't really any way the characters could know this. However, I wanted to have this information available for my players for two reasons.

1) One of my players is a Dwarf with some points in Profession (miner) and I want to give her something meaningful to do with that skill.

2) I think knowing the depths makes the spire more wondrous. It would never occur to my players that it is as deep as it is. I'm hoping that the information will instill a sense of awe.

Anyway, I hope somebody else finds this useful.

Spoiler:

Emerals Spire Level Depths
Level 1: 0 feet
Level 2: 263 feet
Level 2 (adjusted): 40 feet
Level 3: 445 feet
Level 3 (adjusted): 60 feet
Level 4: 928 feet
Level 5: 1,109 feet
Level 6: 1,253 feet
Level 7: 1,535 feet
Level 8: 1,604 feet
Level 9: 1,955 feet
Level 10: 3,672 feet
Level 11: 4,700 feet
Level 12: 5,609 feet
Level 13: 5,910 feet
Level 14: 7,652 feet
Level 15: 8,561 feet
Level 16: 10,560 feet


Do the players need to be able to read Azlanti in order to use the spire transport token and the runes, respectively?


Ellioti wrote:
Do the players need to be able to read Azlanti in order to use the spire transport token and the runes, respectively?

I have another question:

Should Klarkosh not have a spell book? Would it not be with him as he might look stuff up during the crafting process?

Scarab Sages

shammond42 wrote:

I couldn't find the depths of the various levels in the Emerald Spire book, so I calculated them from the picture that shows the cross section of the dungeon. I assumed that the bottom was exactly 2 miles deep and worked the rest out from there.

I ended up adjust the depth of levels 2 and 3, they just seemed too deep given their role in the dungeon, I have listed the adjusted depths below as well.

I can hear you asking why this matters, especially given Pathfinder dwarves can no longer automatically determine their depth underground. I admit that there isn't really any way the characters could know this. However, I wanted to have this information available for my players for two reasons.

1) One of my players is a Dwarf with some points in Profession (miner) and I want to give her something meaningful to do with that skill.

2) I think knowing the depths makes the spire more wondrous. It would never occur to my players that it is as deep as it is. I'm hoping that the information will instill a sense of awe.

Anyway, I hope somebody else finds this useful.

** spoiler omitted **

I wondered about that. Splinterden seemed to deep for it's story and for the second entrance to be practical.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Ellioti wrote:
Should Klarkosh not have a spell book? Would it not be with him as he might look stuff up during the crafting process?

See ->here<- for an option.


Dragonchess Player wrote:
Ellioti wrote:
Should Klarkosh not have a spell book? Would it not be with him as he might look stuff up during the crafting process?
See ->here<- for an option.

I'll consider it, but I won't use your technomancer rework as it doesn't fit our group. I prefer his 4th level spells, too.

So did you let the PCs loot his spell book?


Ellioti wrote:
Ellioti wrote:
Do the players need to be able to read Azlanti in order to use the spire transport token and the runes, respectively?

I have another question:

Should Klarkosh not have a spell book? Would it not be with him as he might look stuff up during the crafting process?

He also doesn't have granite and diamond dust for his Stoneskin spell in his inventory.


Hi all,

Our GM wants us to run the Superdungeon as a party of three, but we are worried about character and level progression.

We have been doing Rise of the Runelords as a party of three and have run into severe power issues at level 10. We seem to be lacking the challenge rating as a party, so we are looking into the mythic tiers to help us for the Superdungeon.

I would like to know if this would make the party completely overpowered? We are unsure how to bridge the obvious gap that has happened with RotR. Gaining additional XP from having one person less hasn't really helped.

Suggested adjustments below:

Level/Superdungeon CR/Party CR

01/02/01.5
02/04/03
03/08/06 (Mythic T01 would make the party CR 7.5)
04/12/09 (Mythic T02 would make the party CR 12)
05/16/12 (Mythic T02 would make the party CR 15)
06/20/15 (Mythic T03 would make the party CR 19.5)
..../..../....
+2/+8/+3 (Mythic T+1 to match/near-match Superdungeon CR)

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