Advice setting up a totally killer TPK-worthy end-scene ambush

Rise of the Runelords

1 to 50 of 79 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm running the end of RotRL for a very powerful super-optimized group of five PCs. They've had an easy time of it so far. The players have stated they want a TOUGH challenge and that a TPK result is fine. The party includes a Divination/blaster wizard, a Dimensional Dervish synthesist summoner, a Life Shaman, A Bloodrager, and a hunter (the least optimized).

The group has learned, from experience, that nothing can stand up to them. This was before I took over as GM. My goal is to challenge them, unto death and TPK if possible.

The group always acts in the surprise round, always wins initiative, and inflicts about 1500 HP damage (plus Daze and other AOE debuffs) single-target damage per round to any AC less than AC 50. Few opponents last past Combat Round One. The big Blue Dragon barely survived its first encounter with the PCs, by fleeing immediately, and fears them. As I said, it's a super-powerful group that is optimized to the hilt, played be highly skilled players with encyclopedic knowledge of the game.


Everything past here is a spoiler:


The PCs are in Xin-Shallest. They have destroyed the vampire decapus and liberated the skulks. Several PCs wear Sihedron Rings, so Karzoug knows their every action and word.

I quickly worked out that, RAW, there's nothing in the written adventure that can remotely challenge these PCs. They could literally defeat ALL of Karzougs minions IN THE SAME FIGHT, and still crush the archmage by round three.

As a result I've buffed up many of the minions. Karzoug I'm leaving mostly untouched, except for giving him more intelligent spell selection and use, and doing away with the ridiculous taunting. Karzoug is a super-genius, so he KNOWS how utterly bad%$$ the PCs are and realizes they are a deadly threat. Most minions I've buffed as much as seems plausible. E.g. The Harridans all have Variant Channeling (Madness) and Quick Channel, so confuse PCs. I've improved spell selection. Summon Monster is much more of a thing. Giants have better gear & tactics, etc. Bardsong is a thing.

I'm playing it with Karzoug mobilizing all his minions in a desperate play to KILL ALL THE PCS IN ONE BLOW. He has a pretty good plan, but I need advice for executing (pun intended) the final aspect. Please offer NO HOLDS BARRED ADVICE ON HOW TO TPK THIS PARTY. Karzoug's plan:

Executive summary: Lull the PCs into complacency. Done. Hammer the PCs with augmented giant minions and force the PCs to retreat to their prepared sanctuary. Have a HUGE AND AWFUL AMBUSH prepared and waiting at the sanctuary. The sanctuary will be the killing field.

In more details

1. Lull the PCs into a false sense of complacently. The PCs (and all but 1 player who is the previous GM and is gleefully keeping it under wraps) have no clue that Karzoug knows their every move. It's been funny watching the PC wizard implement this sophisticated plan to deceive Karzoug, all while wearing a Sihedron Ring.

2. Engage the PCs in an escalating pitched battle vs his supported giant minions. This group of PCs can slay 10-20 giants per combat round. However, backed by lots of divine (from the Harridans and Ceoptra) and Arcane buffs (from Karzoug and Khalid), summoned monsters, bardson, etc the giants can stand up to the PCs for a long time. The goal here is to catch the PCs in a corner and keep hammering them. This will drain the PCs resources and eventually force them to flee.

3. The PC wizard has prepared an emergency teleport escape plan. The destination location he chose is The Lair of the Hidden Beast under Xin-Shalest. Karzoug knows is is the destination, and knows exactly where it is. Karzoug will send his strongest minions to prepare the best ambush possible. The idea is to hit the PCs really hardthe instant they teleport into the sanctuary, when they are wounded and exhausted.

I need help with this final ambush. If the PCs survive this there's little else Karzoug can do, and he will soon be toast. I'm considering several ambush approaches. Please advise which ambush is most likely to succeed, and how to imrpove it!

Ambush option A: Undead and negative energy and spells

Pack the room with the nastiest undead the Harridan's can get hold of. Four Harridans Meld With Stone in the corner of the room. Karoug's elite strike force is waiting just outside the room, to make kills. Symbol of Death will activate the instant PCs arrive. PCs will obliterate the undead hordes, wasting their first action. the four Harridan's will pop out. They'll do SIX AOE Hangover Cleric channels, catching all the PCs, and also TWO Greater Dispel Magic on the PCs, to take down their best defensive spells. They'll also do this on rounds 2 and 3, if they're not dead. Meanwhile the strike force will try to kill vulnerable PCs. They have a plan to spirit away any PC corpses, to possibly foil Resurrection.

Ambush option B: Hordes of augmented giants et all pack the room. I don't think this will work, as the PCs will kill all the giants that could be packed into the room on Round 1. This approach negates the Harridan's confusion. The hallways are small, so it's a tight squeeze for giants to even get in here.

Ambush Option C: Lots of hostile spells. Load the room with every conceivable nasty spell. Karzoug planned for it yesterday, so all known spells are available. Problem is, this won't work. No combination of high level prepared spells (that this GM knows of) can kill this party.

Ambush option D: Huge explosions and collapse the chamber on the PCs. E.g. fill the room with 200 Gas Spores and stuff that will detonate them. That might inflict enough damage to discomfit some PCs. Then cast multiple Earthquake spells to bury what's left. Then release a bunch of big summoned Earth Elementals to hammer any survivors still alive under the tons of rubble, and to recover the bodies. This seems the option that's worst for the PCs, because it might actually work on some of them. E.g. I'm pretty sure the Dimensional Dervish synthesist summoner will be fine ...

Summary: None of the above ambush scenarios are quite likely to destroy the PCs. Some have a slim chance of success.

Some extra nasty enhancement options:

I. Karzoug's minions catch and deploy Pugwampi Gremlins over the combat area, perhaps in cages hanging from the ceiling. This works best for Ambush A. above. They'll die quickly, but their Unluck Aura might catch out the PCs. PCs will only fail a save on a 1, but forcing them to roll 12 saves per round else be confused might catch a few.

II. Karzoug has an Air Force ready if the PCs take the to the skies. Karzoug and his minions have all altered their spells prepared to include a great many powerful Summon Monster spells. Karzoug & company will summon a swarm of Erinyes devils, with a few Lillend Azata to provide bardsong. Also some Air Elementals. As a reward for good service, the many Erinyes may get to torment the few Lillends.

So, what advice can my fellow GMs provide? I want a plan that has at least a 50% chance of scoring a TPK, preferably more.

I'll next run this about 30 hours after this post. It may be several weeks before the PCs teleport away to the real Killing Field.

I would suggest more then just the classes of your party... more detailed information or else it is going to be guesswork on how to optimize the encounter.

like for example... I am basically floored by how they do 1500 HP of damage in a single round / every round. Or how they could possible "always win initiative" too.

Sovereign Court

How are Advanced Players Guide classes already to him? Did they play every day?

I don't really know what Kurzog has for resources so I'll just toss out random stuff.

Anti-magic field + Masterfully crafted pit trap + advanced gelatinous cube? Really anti-magic + anything from the sound of the party. That plus a couple of brutes would probably trash them.

Spell Immunity should come into play as he should know their usual spell list. Really any major defensive buffs. Don't count out potions/alchemical items either. Tanglefoot bags and so on.

Spell Turning probably a good idea. Tough minors equipped with Ring(s) of Counterspells? Golems?

You can get pretty narrow focused since he literally knows what they do after all.

Silver Crusade

Sure! More info:

Each PC is utterly optimized by highly skilled super-experienced players who have combed these boards, tried many variations, and know all the tricks. All players are also experienced Pathfinder GMs.

I've audited the characters, and it's all strictly RAW.

They don't ALWAYS win initiative, but it's very unusual when they don't. They all understand rocket-tag. E.g. 15th level Diviner Wizard always acts in the surprise round and gets +20-something to init. Others are nearly as extreme. Worst initiative is about +8 & roll twice. Like I said, they know all the tricks. The PCs are also very wealthy and very well equipped.

After having run a variety of combat scenarios with them, some easy & some more challenging, they typically clock in between 1000 DPR and 2000 DPR. They obliterate all but the toughest encounters on Round One, usually before any foe can even act. This is a well-organized, coherent party of 15th level PCs with years experience playing together, so that should not be a surprise. The players totally know how to exploit combined arms tactics, and do so automatically and naturally. Did I mention that the PCs are highly optimized.

PC#1 The wizard can toss out two spontaneous point-blank selective intensified dazing fireballs per round, that's about 150 HP to every foe with two DC27 reflex saves to avoid daze. The familiar will also do something. He will run low on ammo after about 20 such fireballs.

PC#2 The Dimensional-dervish Synthesist Summoner easily inflicts 200-400 HP per round, missing only on a 1.

PC#3 The charging hunter & his mount hit for 400 HP when he charges, or only 200+ HP if he can't charge.

PC#4 The healing-aspected Life Shaman only hits for ~200 HP per round, plus buffs and mega-healing. The companion will also do something.

PC#5 The Bloodrager barbarian and his Bard wife/cohort inflicts 200-400 HP on a pouncing full attack, missing only on a 1. The Bard Cohort gives everyone a +6 to hit & +6 damage bonus that stacks with everything else. The Bard will also do something, usually a spell.

I recently killed off (through OLD AGE, when I took over GMing) the PC I had been playing, a 14th level Evangelist Cleric. I did this in such a way that they shed both tears and laughter at the manner of departure. Said not-melee-oriented cleric only inflicted 200-300 HP per round in melee combat, plus a spell or two each round, plus a Quick channel with DC29 will save to avoid AoE Daze, and don't neglect the +6 +6 bardsong. This PC is dead and gone, and was replaced by the Bloodrager with Bard cohort.

The PCs mostly have an AC between 35 and 40, with various miss chances from Displacement etc. They are all very tough and durable, and loaded with all sorts of recovery and escape tricks. The Synthesist's AC tops out at AC46. HP vary from 120 HP to 220 HP. Most saves are at least +20, so they rarely fail any saving throw.

Each PC is loaded with defensive magic. E.g. Constant extended Mind Blank, Free Action, Resistance to most energy types, Heroism (only partly stacks with Inspire Courage, but they do it anyway for the saves), et cetera et cetera. They have an elaborate buff routine which they write up in advance, so it doesn't consume game time.

The only thing that gives poor Karzoug a chance here is that he knows their every move. I figure if I allow him to know and use EVERYTHING I know, as GM, it's pretty fair. I might know a bit more than Karzoug (not much!), but he's a lot smarter than i am.

I believe I've made the point that this is a very high level, hyper-optimized group of PCs.

Please advise me on how to possibly TPK them, using every dirty trick available, in upcoming sessions, per the above write up.

E.g. There's NO CHANCE that huge explosions and collapsing the roof will kill the wizard: he has various Immediate Action and Contingencies that will keep him alive.

If karzoug could force the PCs to depart Xin-Shallest, and possibly kill a couple PCs, he'd call that a win. That would give Karzoug some time to get ready for their return.

Theory-crafting is one thing, but I just don't see how a game like that - playing other people's broken builds in order to roll over encounters without a challenge week after week, month after month - how is that fun for anyone? Can't you just say 'Congratulations, you guys win Pathfinder... now let's roll up some level 1's and do some role-playing'?

In the spirit of the question actually asked, I'll toss this out there - I had a Dwarven Cleric of Asmodeous who ran in a Way of the Wicked campaign, using the Domains Madness and Glory (think fanatic)... anyway, one of his favorite tactics was to use Planeshift as a weapon. The spell targets Will saves but isn't a Mind-affecting effect so Mind Blank doesn't help. Drop a 20th level Fighter into the furthest reaches of Hell and that's one less thing to concern yourself with.

Silver Crusade

Wiggz wrote:

Theory-crafting is one thing, but I just don't see how a game like that - playing other people's broken builds in order to roll over encounters without a challenge week after week, month after month - how is that fun for anyone? Can't you just say 'Congratulations, you guys win Pathfinder... now let's roll up some level 1's and do some role-playing'?

That's exactly what I plan to do, Wiggz. But I want to have a risky 'grand-finale' before we retire the characters.

When next I GM for this group it will either be new Level 1 PCs or, possibly, 100 point newbie GURPS characters. But I want to match them for this one last scenario.

Great suggestion, Wiggz! The Harridan's all have access to 5th level divine spells. Each such attempt should have at least a 10% chance of success. No foe will get 2 tries ... that's the sort of thing I want to stir into the mix, though.

Morgen wrote:

How are Advanced Players Guide classes already to him? Did they play every day?

{. . .}

Easy. They've been slaying Boars for 2 XP apiece for 21 hours straight per day for 6 weeks, earning 65,000,000 XP before they need to confront Karzoug.

Oh, and by the way, You Cannot Kill That Which Has No Life.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Pre-first thing: I learned this from the classic computer game Homeworld: Concentration of firepower. Have everything go after select targets until those targets die and then go to the next target. Don't split your fire. Don't have different people fighting different targets. You have everything dogpile on the one target and only when dead and gone do you have everyone else start going after the next target on the list.

Okay. First thing? Target-kill the cohort Bard. You kill the bard, that means the group just lost a +6 bonus to hit and damage.

Second, target-kill the healer. You want to eliminate these two targets as a priority - the bard and the healer, because you do quite well in significantly lessening their resources as a result. And while they undoubtedly have potions and wands of healing magic... they have to take time away from killing things to do this.

Your third target is the Summoner. You kill the Summoner, you eliminate his critter. This takes two units out of the game.

Having destroyed these three units, you probably would go after the wizard next, but it doesn't really matter which is taken out. You destroyed their buff-source, reducing their damage and hit capabilities. You eliminated their healing, which leaves them having to sacrifice actions to use magic items to heal. And you took out the Summoner, who provides ranged capabilities. This will even the battlefield.

In the final battle, they won't get a surprise round, since Karzoug can see them coming.

So he drops a Dimensional Lock on the room and a Prismatic Sphere on the arrival platform.

They come in. They win initiative. So what? They're stuck in the sphere.

If you want to be really nasty, give him a scroll of Deeper Darkness and drop that on the arrival platform as well, since some uber-optimizers will walk through a DC 32 sphere without blinking, and you don't want them to get too far from the arrival point...

So on his action, he drops a quickened Mage's Disjunction on that mess. Sure, he just destroyed his own Prismatic Sphere, but he also annihilated all the party's buffs and probably a good portion of their magic items.

For his standard action, he casts Time Stop, and for his move action, moves right up to drop another Prismatic Sphere that starts carving the party into manageable chunks...

Anti-magic field on any big critter will give this group fits. No buffs, no contingencies, no bonuses from all their wealth. Dragons work best for this, as anything with grab/snatch and flight can get a PC, fly 200 feet away, and rend them to pieces, repeating the process over and over. If you had to, I would change Ghlorafaux's (spelling?) spell-list to include this, then watch their jaws drop when they try to charge in.

Agree about killing the bard first. Not because its the fashionable thing to do (it is), but the buffs to saves are a big deal. People always underestimate the bard until you realize that they make the party 5+ levels higher in terms of saves, to hit, and damage.

Also note that Karzoug, knowing the PC's likely starting actions, will be pre-buffed with counters. They use fireballs a lot to start? He shapeshifts into a fire elemental (or a red dragon or something), and is immune to that tactic. Plus he's got multiple abjuration spells layered up.

Or simpler -- limited wish to duplicate spell immunity, for instance. Fireballs don't hurt him at all, then.

He's high enough level to put sixth-level spells into his contingency. That gets ugly.

I do like the big ambush on the player's retreat point.

Your wizard is a one trick wonder, Have Karzoug use magic to become something Immune to Fire damage , then laugh. Note the Rune Giants are already immune to fire and hence the daze effect, replace the Blue Dragon with a red one.
Karzoug casts Wall of suppression on the entry to his room they lose all buffs on entering (and/or Arodons spellbane set to block Fireballs) or uses Disjunction under cover of Time Stop.
Give him a Greater metamagic rod of maximise, Round 1 is
Maximised Meteor storm (or Scourge of the Horsemen), followed by Quickened Time stop. Then 2 Maximised Delayed blast Fireballs (or more) during the time stop.

Karzoug and his elite minions are also of course prebuffed, add Khalib, Ceopatra and a couple more Rune giants to his bodyguards. Deny them a charge at any of the casters. Also if the Ice devil or the dragon from down below are still alive add them to this fight, have karzoug provide some incense of meditation to Ceopatra to make her more deadly.
Khalib and Karzoug also use Maze ASAP to gt rid of some of the party the synthesist Summoner and the Bloodrager sound like good candidates then the Rune Giants murder the Healer and the Wizard When the summoner comes back Enervate/Energy drain him to death while the rune giants and dragon hit the party with their AOE effects
Karzoug has a permanced Prismatic sphere to retreat back to where he can use wish to completely heal himself

I am trying to work out a way to play him competently and not TPK my players
(Synthesist Summoner, 2 Paladins (1 a cohort) Wizard, Cleric) so His elites will fight the pc's before they reach Karzoug to they cannot be there for his last stand

Magda Luckbender wrote:
Great suggestion, Wiggz! The Harridan's all have access to 5th level divine spells. Each such attempt should have at least a 10% chance of success. No foe will get 2 tries ... that's the sort of thing I want to stir into the mix, though.

Well the Dwarf had it as his Perfected spell which meant he could Quicken it - stacked on top of Visions of Madness used as a Standard action to floor saves and it was pretty much an auto-succeed. Probably the most potent 'save or suck' combo I've come across.

Im just curious as to what magic items they have to get so uber powerful. Was this the standard treasure given out in the AP upto this point or did you add stuff or did they go on a shopping spree? Do they have any mythic tiers? The numbers you are throwing out seem really high.

I second the target priority Tangent said. His order of priority is also how i would do it.
Nobodys home has a good strategy. Also the red dragon and/or immunity to fire would help. If needed give Karzoug some mythic levels.

If they have any Sihderon rings, swords, etc... have Karzoug be able to destroy them at will. (like his sword)

Remember ability score damage spells as well. If you can get some of those scores to 0 bad your looking at death. Target their dump stat.
0 str = unconscious
0 dex = immobile (no semantics for spells)
0 con = dead
0 int = comatose
0 wis = unconscious
0 cha = unconscious

Also consider a plane shift where he sends each PC to a separate plane Then bars them from teleporting in. I noticed you know the PC escape plan. Have a nasty surprise waiting for them there should they actually teleport away.

Interested to see how it goes.

Just throwing this out there - if the bad guys know the PC's are coming, can't they just ready actions (i.e. if the good guy charges I'll do this) or do they have to win initiative first to ready them?

Can't ready actions outside combat.

Have the bad guy bring in Evil Adventurer mercenaries of whatever level you desire to end fight. Equip them as desired. Better yet monsters with PC levels plus templates. Really mix things up. Since the enemy knows the party tactics he can hire appropriately to mess up the party. And the PCs don't care about TPK it's your opportunty to GO CRAZY!

Throw in some 3.5 material, who cares. You want a half golem half-illithid minotaur barbarian/psionic warrior with an evil intelligent battle axe? Go for it. The big bad happens to know him and hired him just because of the PCs, a potent threat requires and equal and opposite response.

Go really crazy. Dirty tricks. Drop rot grubs on them. Rust monsters. Teleport traps. Rust monsters with rot grubs on them (that don't like the taste of Rust monster for some reason... whatever, the wizard bred them that way). I would just have fun with this and have the wizard cackling like Monty Burns.

My two cents.

The Exchange

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

Runelord of GREED...unlimited wealth. Also, the final encounter, so you don't really have to worry about putting too much wealth into your players' hands.

So, Ring's of Fire Resistance or Immunity; Scrolls of Disjunction, Dimensional Lock, Plane Shift, Prismatic Wall and Sphere, and any other hard hitting spells outlined above; Metamagic Rods; Ioun Stones; magic arms and armor with +8 or greater total bonus on the looks (Imagine a few Rune Giants with some near artifact level vorpal blades or something similar).

This guy makes the Aspis Consortium look like a beggar's guild. And he knows his life and plans are in danger. Use his vast resources.

Another thing to keep in mind:

This guy has access to every spell known (and quite possibly some unknown), he has been spying on the PC's for quite some time and is statistically speaking smarter than anyone on these boards... so don't worry about preparing his spell list - just assume whatever he needs in the moment to counter the PC's particular strategy, he has already anticipated and prepared.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Make sure the red dragon is colored blue for the fight.

The clerical spells are perfectly capable of dishing out Protection from energy spells to numerous people, and should be doing so.

The enemy should have readied actions to act when the party comes in. The party will be surprised.

A Red Dragon with an Antimagic shell, flanked by some other muscle, is going to be terrifying to the party. They will lose all their magic against a magic-immune killing machine in tight quarters where they can't fly out of range or avoid it. It should be able to literally run over the party and sit on them to death. Note that the summoner's eidolon will also phase out of existence inside the Anti-M shell. No magic weapons, no spells, no buffs. It should be able to tear a party that loses all their AC and Con buffs literally apart, and totally overmatch melee bruisers who don't get their Str buffs. The barb might save their ass with the right rage power.

Basically, it's the buffs. Remove the buffs. Anti-magic does this.

I would also like to point out that counterspells work against meta'd spells. Since Karzoug knows their spell lists, lower level casters using scrolls can effectively shut down the spells of the casters seamlessly. Him making a high level disjunction scroll to attack their current buffs and magic items should also gut their power.

But...tight quarters, red dragon, anti-magic shell, giants providing support, using overrun and crush maneuvers on multiple PC's who are depowered. And its own melee prowess is not affected at all.

They are supremely reliant on buffs. Someone reference the Order of the Stick where Varsuvius learned this lesson.

And check the contingencies on that Wizard. remember that contingencies only react to something that has happened, not to something about to happen. They can't react to being targeted, 'about to be hit', 'about to be anti-magicked' or similar things. They respond to something that has taken place, and aren't a 'detect specific circumstance' spell. Abuse of contingencies is a tried and true trait for casters.

And note that immediate actions prevent quickened actions from following them.

Note that Karzoug is able to monitor them. So he can warn his subordinates via Sending that 'They are coming!' Combat thus begins for his forces as the party is teleporting to 'safety', and they can ready actions to spring the trap. Note that 'defer action until next round' can mean they automatically go before the party in the next round, which is what any counterspellers should do.

I do wonder how he's monitoring them through the Sidhehedron rings if they have Mind Blanks up which would stop divination effects like that. Also, where did they come up with 6 Mind Blanks?

Here's a very basic scenario you can use to show them they aren't uber.

The red dragon, colored blue and under a Mind Blank, flies invisibly over the party. He casts True Seeing to make sure he has the true position of the party members, readies an action to plummet down on them when he reaches point x (which is under a FOrbiddance to stop all dimensional travel), and then descends.

Just before he comes down on top of the party wizard, he casts Quickened Anti-Magic Shell using a 1/day Rod. You updated his spell list, right?

Then, using his Improved Natural Attack Bite (you changed his feats, right?), Greater Vital Strike and Power Attack, he bites the party wizard, who, being in an AM shell, has no buffs, no armor, and no con bonus. If he can land on the synthesist at the same time, that one's eidolon goes away while in the AM shell. If he can crush him on the landing, even better.

The party mage should die. The dragon should be doing in excess of 100 HP damage with his bite attack, and the mage will probably only have 90 base hit points.

The Dragon KEEPS THE BODY in his jaws.

At the beginning of the next round, the Dragon grabs the hapless summoner or other easy target in a claw, and FLIES AWAY. Note that he can grab as part of a fly-by attack, and can thus do it on ANY MEMBER OF THE PARTY (the only one who might be able to not be grabbed is the barb). He will be 150' feet away and out of line of sight in one move action. He should make at least two turns so one move action can't keep him in sight of an archer.

Round 2, he should make a double move or run action to really put some distance into effect, staying out of line of sight of a spellcaster or archer as he hurries to the rendezvous point. Note that the FOrbiddance will prevent the party from dim dooring after him, and fly spells simply can't keep up.

At the beginning of round 3, he drops the corpse of the wizard at the feet of a Harridan, who uses a scroll of Quickened Animate Dead to turn it into a zombie. Now that the wizard is undead, he cannot be raised or resurrected by clerical magic.

The dragon then bites the head of the hapless summoner, and a second zombie joins the first.

The third Harridan then Plane Shifts away with the zombies and deposit them inside a lead-lined room on some other reality where divination spells cannot locate them, touching none of their belongings as yet to make sure the party can't track those.

The 'blue' dragon (the spell to change his scale colors should be 'instantaneous', more like a dye job then polymorph, and Karzoug is the Master Transmuter, remember?) simply retreats, as do the harridans.

If Karzoug notices that the party has done something as supremely unwise as split up, the dragon instead picks a spellcaster to repeat the maneuver on. He comes up out of cover with a move action up to 150' long, does a Greater Vital Strike ending with a Snatch while the character is inside anti-magic, and flies away again. If wounded at all, he simply doesn't return until the AM shell goes down and he can be healed. The DM may, of course, allow him to be healed by touching the portion of his body not in the Shell.

Repeat as needed. Any characters killed should be turned into undead so they can't be raised or resurrected. Pick off the party one by one, and if they don't run, kill them all.

You can make this REALLY bad by springing an ambush after the Dragon steals the first two, or putting giants along his retreat flight path. IF one of the Rune Giants can be arranged to have AM itself, pound a de-magicked barbarian to a pulp with him.

Note that Awesome Blow can send a PC flying a fair distance away from his comrades. The dragon should pounce on any such opportunities.


Dark Archive

Wish gives KZ access to Blasphemy. His CL is 20 = party level +5 means AoE paralysis for at least 1 round for the entire party.

Copy all PC character sheets... use them against them. Done.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

That might be amusing actually. A huge Mirror of Opposition. Shines on the entire party, the entire party steps out and attacks them. Seeing these are doubles that know the party's tactics and weaknesses, have THEM go after the healer and cleric.

Two rounds into combat, have a giant behind the mirror push it over (covering it up) and a half dozen cloud giants with a couple Rune Giants attack after that. The group has already in all likelihood lost their healer and their bard, and perhaps their Summoner. The giants wade into the fight while the PCs are still fighting themselves.

Tangent101 wrote:

That might be amusing actually. A huge Mirror of Opposition. Shines on the entire party, the entire party steps out and attacks them. Seeing these are doubles that know the party's tactics and weaknesses, have THEM go after the healer and cleric.

Two rounds into combat, have a giant behind the mirror push it over (covering it up) and a half dozen cloud giants with a couple Rune Giants attack after that. The group has already in all likelihood lost their healer and their bard, and perhaps their Summoner. The giants wade into the fight while the PCs are still fighting themselves.

I love that, or some version of it. Having the mirror set up in their 'refuge' might be particularly effective. They arrive and see that massive mirror sitting silently there... they approach it, investigate it... only to see their reflections step out as they draw near. Very cool and the ultimate taste of their own medicine - exactly the kind of thing I could see a well-prepared Runelord set up to defeat mighty foes.

I did this in my last campaign. Our power gamer about crap himself and immediately locked himself and his opposition in a devil's trap he had been saving. It was awesome.

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

There was already an encounter with a mirror of opposition in the Runeforge

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Great stuff, guys! This is exactly the sort of input and clever ideas I was looking for! I'll be using a lot of the above suggestions. Many I was already using, but there's lots of great new stuff!

I'm doing the next session in a few hours. The PC will probably attempt to hunt the dragon and/or the leaders of the minions. They don't yet understand what's happening, and believe they still have the element of semi-surprise. I'll probably push the ongoing Lower City battle to where the PCs are CONSIDERING teleporting away, but don't actually do so. I expect they'll slaughter a lot of giants. The rune giants will, of course, keep their distance and not die yet.

Great stuff all! I'll DEFINITELY use the Mirror of Opposition. This group SKIPPED that entire chapter. Keep tossing in suggestions, as I'm still working out refinements to the ambush in the 'safe getaway'. Once that happens the gig will be up, and they'll realize Karzoug knows their every move. He doesn't want them to survive that knowledge.

Keep more suggestions coming for the next week or two! Thanks very much everyone who already contributed! Great stuff!

Anti Magic Field won't work when applied to a gargantuan creature. The spell's area of effect is smaller than the dragon!

Sovereign Court

Don't forget a few unhollowed areas with dimensional anchors then. Keeps a good chunk nice and locked down.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Anti magic field works just fine. The dragon chooses what squares the AoE is going to effect is all. FOr all practical purposes, it's a big wall of absolute cover to spells going through it, too.


I bet they'll see right through the Mirror, but you can consider slipping that in as a red herring. Let 'em feel smart for seeing through your trap—then spring the real trap.

Have the dragon cast two anti-magic fields, one from each "end", resulting in a 10' radius null-magic field with a rampaging dragon inside it for at least a couple of hours. Karzoug "walls them in" with the dragon, party dies without access to healing or, well, anything else really. Add barbarian levels to the dragon for added messy death by Rage.

For Karzoug himself, only one spell in the end ultimately matters: deathless. Everything else he slathers on is to keep his abjurations up and running or to nuke those with such temerity (or walling them in with the dragon). A ring of three wishes ensures that he remains at full capacity unless they somehow punch a feeblemind through his considerable defenses. Against which his contingency carries a heal.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

you still lose consciousness at under 0 hp with deathless. Even a Heal isn't going to stave off damage from two full attackers if they get that close.


I'm sure there's a spell that emulates an orc's ferocity ability somewhere (or researched by Karzoug himself, if nothing else). Combine that with deathless for great fun!

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Sure. But if the PCs aren't smart, they might loot his "corpse" and not realize they should destroy the Soul Lens. He could very well set up a Contingency that is "Heal spell just prior to Deathless wearing off" and with luck the PCs looted him and then left without destroying his way into Golarion.

When he emerges into the real world, he lies low, works to get his giant army back from the past, and then with a huge force destroy those damn interlopers.


I'm curious as to how the session went. ^^;;

While in the "safe area" have karzoug teleport in with the Mirror of opposition Team, the red dragon and himself. Preferably right after the giant encounter after the magic users have used up some of their better spells.

EDIT: My favorite part of being a GM is when my characters need a stern reality check as they mop the floor with enemies, bring their PRIDE and GREED down from the heavens. Just be prepared to not have friends for a few days lol


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Karzoug is stuck in his timeless prison and can't get out. That's why others are doing the fighting. It would be a major rewrite for him to be able to get out of there.




I do what i want!

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Dynas wrote:



I do what i want!

And I don't want any players!

Once Karzoug is loose the adventure is lost, he would be mad to engage the pc's until he has prepared more to the point the pc's know he is not yet free so jsut having him turn up is obviously GM fiat and 'Cheating'(for want of a better word).
It also makes no sense a Free karzoug has a list of things to do before fighting anyone dangerous.First he brings in the hordes from the past or if he cannot do that immediately he at least sets up his demiplanes/clones/astral projection so the pc's can never get a shot at him then he kills them, this is one of the rare chances to get a shot at an archmage without his normal preperations working, Karzoug can't even teleport out to flee a losing battle.

If I am willing to do anything to kill the pc's I just say "Rocks fall everyone dies"

1 person marked this as a favorite.
JohnHawkins wrote:
If I am willing to do anything to kill the pc's I just say "Rocks fall everyone dies"

Except the well-prepared caster!

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The all powerful GM has rocks. for all contingencies

Aelryinth wrote:

you still lose consciousness at under 0 hp with deathless. Even a Heal isn't going to stave off damage from two full attackers if they get that close.


Presuming that the Really Really Bad-Ass Archmage hasn't acquired some means of remaining conscious while at negative hp? Say, an 8th or 9th level version of deathless? ;)

Paulicus wrote:
I'm sure there's a spell that emulates an orc's ferocity ability somewhere (or researched by Karzoug himself, if nothing else). Combine that with deathless for great fun!


Making this "Deathless Ferocity" a side effect of the Runewell he's in perhaps - as in, the players have to bomb it with a few disjunctions or rods of cancellation or whatever other high end nastiness they've got tucked in their sleeves rather than rely on pummeling the BBEG and getting it done in a round or three is something I've not seen in a good while.

Typical groups won't figure this out after the first full contact with the BBEG in question, at which point they should be losing characters pretty fast.

Hopefully it worked out that the OP's group had a hell of a time stomping on / getting stomped by Karzoug!

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

There is a difference between legitimately using the elements in the game to prevail over a legitimate power-gaming group, and using GM fiat to do a Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies scenario. The first? The players can feel they did their best and that the enemy was able to prevail through better tactics and the like.

The latter is the GM cheating. Mind you, I'll a firm believer that GMs should fudge die rolls when needed to ensure the game is more enjoyable - often when a player has a bad roll I'll say "I'm sorry, I didn't see that roll. Could you roll again?" or the like. Because the game is about having fun. Having a bad run of probability with the dice isn't fun. And if the player's dice continue with bad rolls, it can result in a combat going on and on and on - and when you're gaming once a month, you try to keep things moving.

Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies is not fudging. It's eliminating chance and probability from the game. So too is making up rules to give the enemy an unfair advantage from which the players cannot prevail.

This group of players has, using the rules, crafted a group that is not challenged by the AP. They agreed to an encounter which challenges them, not an encounter that just kills them outright without a chance of success. In challenging them, you must stay within the rules. Otherwise, why bother? Just to boss people around?

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

what Turin is getting at, i think, is how much stuff is just vaguely explained as "the ancients could do it, but the secret is lost, how convenient;)" its one of the best tools a GM has against power gaming optimizers:)

edit: i didn't notice the silly falling rock argument up thread:)

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

We delayed the next session a week. This is great, as it gives me more time to prep. Lot's of good suggestions. I'll definitely not be using a 'rocks fall, you're all dead' approach, which is why I steered away from the Earthquake approach. Yes, of course Karzoug remains confined: if he escaped his confinement he'd not be so stupid as to fight dangerous adventurers where he had any chance of losing.

In preparing the ambush et al the biggest problem I've run into is the crowded tiny space. For once this works in favor of the PCs. If The Lair of the Hidden Beast were a huge space it would be packed with giants & dragons & lamias, oh my! But it's a small space, too small even for Huge giants. I've decided to invent some medium-sized minions of Karzoug, as otherwise he has very little of substance able to fit in the room.

Regardless, I've seen many excellent suggestions. I'm building it up as a layered ambush, with mirror & spells & the nastiest foes I can gather. The team that harries to PCs into fleeing to their sanctuary will contain all the bigger minions: big dragon, giants, etc.

captain yesterday wrote:

what Turin is getting at, i think, is how much stuff is just vaguely explained as "the ancients could do it, but the secret is lost, how convenient;)" its one of the best tools a GM has against power gaming optimizers:)

edit: i didn't notice the silly falling rock argument up thread:)


The one Great Flaw of 3e/PF is that the BBEGs simply cannot withstand most group's hitting power for more than about ten seconds. This is rather anti-climactic, so either one has to provide extra lives, multiple action sets or "unobtanium stuff" in the BBEG.

The nice thing about "Ye Olde Deathless Ferocity" spell is that you can award it to the group when it doesn't matter [from the LOOT] for the main campaign, so that they can understand why the villain was still alive and kicking despite the group piling on *thousands* of hit points of damage before either the MacGuffin or a disjunction was applied.

The tiny space is, what, a cylinder? Care to relate the dimensions of the space again, please?

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Isn't there a race of fey that is able to resize from small to large? The Spriggan I think? Seeing they CAN be giant-sized critters when they feel like it, why not have Karzoug using a group of Spriggans with class levels? Or for that matter there are the Denizens of Yeng (or whatever they are) that are working on the time doorway; given that if Karzoug loses they don't get to pull off their plan, have a dozen of them agree to help Special K out, along with other critters from Yeng.

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The Denizens of Leng are a bit weak and the one's currently in the scenario are rather vital so unless he had more of them Karzoug is unlikely to lose them.
You can justify pretty much any reinforcment with a partial success of the Leng Mechanism bringing in reinforcements though. The Lamia Hungerers may be quite effective in a confined space

1 to 50 of 79 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Adventure Path / Rise of the Runelords / Advice setting up a totally killer TPK-worthy end-scene ambush All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.