Hardest / Most challenging AP?


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Scarab Sages

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Which AP is considered to be the hardest? In terms of the most challenging for players not for the GM to run.


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Depends. Reign of winter can be deadly in no time, so I have heard to the unprepared party. And Skull and shackles can turn incredibly nasty for players in the first half if you do not accept the drudgery. It all depends on the players I guess.


Gotta disagree with your bottom two captain, neither has had too much particularly dangerous. YMMV of course. Plus Runelords should probably be in the top 5 - it can be pretty deadly in certain points.

Legacy of Fire is no pushover, but is more chancy than hard. Mummy's is potentially very deadly, but I'm not sure it's hard over all... still working into it.


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Majuba wrote:

Gotta disagree with your bottom two captain, neither has had too much particularly dangerous. YMMV of course. Plus Runelords should probably be in the top 5 - it can be pretty deadly in certain points.

Legacy of Fire is no pushover, but is more chancy than hard. Mummy's is potentially very deadly, but I'm not sure it's hard over all... still working into it.

you know you're right:-) luckily you spotted it while i could still delete it:p

so let me try again:-)
Skull & Shackles
Reign of Winter
Carrion Crown
Rise of the Runelords
Mummy's Mask looks like its really hard, but my party is more excited for Iron Gods, which also looks hard, but is incomplete (and i only have first two books so far)

but yes S&S and RoW are the big dogs when it comes to meat grinders:)

Scarab Sages

Thanks for the tips.

Glad Skull and Shackles came up as have been hinting at pirates at my group anyway (bought Razor Coast and want to use it). I played in it before but we only got to the end of book 1 and yes, it was brutal (rum death, everyone getting diseased by the flies on that damn island) so I'll tone those aspects down a bit if I run. Pleased to hear it stays challenging throughout - my group generally make pretty powerful characters and I want a good, challenging, base to work from when modifying for them.

As excited as I am about Iron Gods half the group aren't (YET) so it's a no go at the minute.


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if you want your group to embrace Iron Gods, give each person one flip thru book 1 and show them the tech guide, also show them the cover for book 2, I did all those and they were even more excited for it then I was:-)

Scarab Sages

I think they're in a "fantasy is great in my sci-fi but I don't want sci-fi in my fantasy" mindset (We also play a lot of Shadowrun). There are still a lot of APs we haven't done yet so I've got time to slowly grind away at them until they're begging for some robo-scorpion mangling, chainsaw weilding barbarian joy.

Scarab Sages

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mummy's mask, as majuba said, is deadly, but not really that 'hard'. book 1 of wrath of the righteous was pretty hard for us, but then I don't know how much of that was our GM, since I didn't run that one.


Our GM took us through Carrion Crown exactly as-written, and without a cleric or oracle it was brutal. There were several, "If you feel like it just kill the party right now," moments. We had a party of 6 not-very-good players (bad builds, bad tactics) and he didn't have to adjust at all for encounter difficulty and still got in a large number of kills for our group.

But it's not a good AP if you don't like, "You failed your save, you're dead," moments, because it has an unfortunate number of those...

Scarab Sages

archmagi1 wrote:
mummy's mask, as majuba said, is deadly, but not really that 'hard'.

I've avoided reading Mummy's Mask as I'm hoping someone else will run it so I can play my pious as it comes Pharasmin temple guard Warder. As a group we found WotR to be easy to the point of boredom (I did die v. early on due to awful dice luck, as in two combats in, and got to play as a 'mongrelfolk' alchemist though so that was cool.) Mythic PCs are just so ridiculously strong compared to mythic enemies.

Dark Archive

NobodysHome wrote:

Our GM took us through Carrion Crown exactly as-written, and without a cleric or oracle it was brutal. There were several, "If you feel like it just kill the party right now," moments. We had a party of 6 not-very-good players (bad builds, bad tactics) and he didn't have to adjust at all for encounter difficulty and still got in a large number of kills for our group.

But it's not a good AP if you don't like, "You failed your save, you're dead," moments, because it has an unfortunate number of those...

When I ran Carrion Crown I banned the cleric class for the early books, and it really added to the horror feel when your buddy can't just fix all the terrible things that can happen to you tomorrow morning.

I agree that it's heavy on save or die, but it's not too hard to phase that out for the GM. The most notorious example is actually based on an error, said big baddie shouldn't actually be able to cast the spell in question.


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Victor Zajic wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:

Our GM took us through Carrion Crown exactly as-written, and without a cleric or oracle it was brutal. There were several, "If you feel like it just kill the party right now," moments. We had a party of 6 not-very-good players (bad builds, bad tactics) and he didn't have to adjust at all for encounter difficulty and still got in a large number of kills for our group.

But it's not a good AP if you don't like, "You failed your save, you're dead," moments, because it has an unfortunate number of those...

When I ran Carrion Crown I banned the cleric class for the early books, and it really added to the horror feel when your buddy can't just fix all the terrible things that can happen to you tomorrow morning.

I agree that it's heavy on save or die, but it's not too hard to phase that out for the GM. The most notorious example is actually based on an error, said big baddie shouldn't actually be able to cast the spell in question.

Well, the question was, "Which is the hardest?", and if your GM doesn't pull punches and doesn't add wealth, then Carrion Crown is a low-money meat grinder with plenty of, "If the GM rolls well, you die," or, "If you fail your save, you die" moments. And if a GM wants to ratchet it up, he or she can change tactics to take on most parties without having to modify the original encounters.

And yeah, that particular spell killed 4 of 7 party members (6 PCs and an animal companion) the moment we opened the door. The GM rolled well...


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all I know is when I ran a kiddie version (i.e. harry potterized) for my daughter and a few of her friends the winter before last by the middle of the 2nd book one kid just put his head in his hands and said "a body! I just want one fight with something with a body!" any way yeah we only made it until the end of book three then i ran them thru The Harrowing with the end there being the end, it went well:)

The Exchange

I'm not really an expert on such things, but I'd cast my voice for Rise of the Runelords. Some of the boss fights in the AP are just downright nasty, and many other encounters are sure to give most parties a run for their money.

If one is willing to do some updating work, I hear Age of Worms (an AP from the Dungeon magazine days) is incredibly brutal.


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Carrion Crown's first installment is brutal for parties that don't (or aren't allowed to) prepare and/or miss some of the early items that were placed to make things easier. After that, it's not too bad.

Skull and Shackles, by placing the PCs in a situation where they don't have all of their equipment, can be rough for several characters. On the other hand, some characters will only be mildly inconvenienced (i.e., monks, sorcerers, and witches). Some of the effects in the first installment can be rough for low-level characters, but can be avoided or mitigated with the right items/spells.

Lord Snow wrote:
I'm not really an expert on such things, but I'd cast my voice for Rise of the Runelords. Some of the boss fights in the AP are just downright nasty, and many other encounters are sure to give most parties a run for their money.

The original RotR had a lot of TPKs at the end of The Skinsaw Murders. So many that Paizo switched some things around in the hardcover.

Lord Snow wrote:
If one is willing to do some updating work, I hear Age of Worms (an AP from the Dungeon magazine days) is incredibly brutal.

AoW is definitely up there in difficulty, but Shackled City was just filled with brutal meat-grinders.


Original RotRL and Carrion Crown (more the first 3 books).


Does Wrath of the Righteous get to the top of the list if the PCs do NOT get Mythic ranks? How about if their Mythic opponents still do?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

No. Wrath of the Righteous made the mistake of having underpowered encounters for the majority of the game even before Mythic was taken into account. The only part that would be difficult would be Book 2.

I have to say that Reign of Winter has the potential of being quite devastating and difficult if the GM not only uses the environmental rules constantly, but also takes the logical move of having winter terrain not adversely affect winter creatures. If Winter Wolves and Frost Giants and the like can take five foot steps in deep snow, but the players can't? Things can get nasty quickly.

As for Runelords, I honestly cannot say it is that lethal an AP. That said, my group are just now entering Book 4, and there are areas in Book 5 that could easily wipe out a party, so we'll have to wait and see.


The 2nd monster encounter of the entire Reign of Winter campaign has like a 50% chance of killing the party's arcane caster- so it gets my vote.


Tangent101 wrote:
No. Wrath of the Righteous made the mistake of having underpowered encounters for the majority of the game even before Mythic was taken into account. The only part that would be difficult would be Book 2. {. . .}

And then they gave Mythic to the PCs on top of that? What were they thinking? I haven't seen the Wrath of the Righteous books themselves, but while the premise seems interesting once you get past the cheesy single-track railroading start, this might explain why it has been so hard to find a good Wrath of the Righteous PbP to follow (compared to most other APs). Maybe we need to get DM Barcas on it (see below). Actually did find a couple of good ones earlier this year, and then they almost simultaneously both lost their DMs. Found another good one now, but I wonder if that is an accursed AP . . . .

Speaking of APs that are hard to find a good instance of, Shattered Star seems to another accursed AP, although I can't figure out why (hard to find a good PbP, and had another one disappear on me; this DOESN'T seem to be directly related to difficulty level). Also found this trouble to a lesser extent with Mummy's Mask and Jade Regent. Skull & Shackles is another one hard to find a good PbP of, but at least that one is understandable, because it has a single-track railroading start and as written seriously limits your character personality options, but I did finally find one that dispensed with that (yes, DM Barcas did a massive much-needed rewrite of the beginning), and it is awesome, now being one of my favorites to follow (Council of Thieves is first by a small margin, with Curse of the Crimson Throne, Second Darkness, and this rewritten Skull & Shackles basically tied for 2nd place).

Just from following PbPs (I am tracking every one of them that is released) and trying to judge for hardness, my totally unscientific observation is that most of them have deadly potential, but the nod for deadliness might indeed need to go to Reign of Winter.

And by the way, is any existing AP NOT broken by adding Mythic to it? (I wouldn't think so, but might as well ask.)


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Oh it's nothing that a meddlesome GM with Hero Labs can't fix. If I were to run WotR I'd just eliminate Mythic, or if players wanted Mythic then I'd offer either to give them regenerating Hero Points, or tell them "the following restrictions apply" and then nerf Mythic. And yes, I've worked on significant nerfs for Mythic (Mythic Power Attack is the same as Mythic Deadly Aim, no Mythic Improved Critical, and I'm slowly working on replacing the Mythic "enhanced Feats" with different Mythic Feats. I also was tempted to redo the entire Mythic Magic thing.

There is one other thing to consider: point builds. There are two ways around this, mind you. You can allow the players 25 point builds and then give every single monster and NPC +1 to each stat to compensate. Or you force them to have 15 point builds (which would be akin to 15/14/13/12/10/8 before racial adjustments).

And if you have experienced players? Give them only 10 or even 5 points for a build. Heck, you could even say "10 points, no stat below 10 before racial modifiers." That limits the players and forces them to play smart.


Yeah, WotR suffers from the fact that, starting in the second half of Book 2, the encounters run at CRs of Character Level - 2 or so.

So I have 13th level PCs with 5 mythic tiers facing CR 11 encounters. It is... less-than-thrilling... I do not comprehend why the authors felt that they should not only ignore mythic tiers, but make most encounters walkovers for even non-mythic PCs.

But Scorpion did up modified stat blocks that apparently fix the problem by upping the monsters to appropriate deadliness.

But a deadly AP? Not with the as-written encounters...

Jade Regent is definitely seriously challenging my players, though. But we're only 1/3 of the way through Book 2, so we'll see how things proceed.


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I'm guessing WotR got hamstrung by XP budgeting requirements.

Carrion Crown is a rough AP in its early books.

Honestly, most APs are rough in their early books, because PCs are much more fragile and much less able to deal with challenges at lower levels.


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Zhangar wrote:

I'm guessing WotR got hamstrung by XP budgeting requirements.

Carrion Crown is a rough AP in its early books.

Honestly, most APs are rough in their early books, because PCs are much more fragile and much less able to deal with challenges at lower levels.

WotR was hamstrung by Mythic Adventures being crap, simple as that. The math simply is bad and it should have been obvious to the developers. But since theorycrafting (and math, apparently) is seen as bad by the Paizo writers and only positive playtest feedback is taken into account, we got what we got, an unplayable mess which has broken most GM's will to continue in such a way that most of them seem to drop the AP when it's half done. I myself only am finishing it up because I hate dropping my campaigns and because I made myself not care anymore about the comically one-sided encounters. One half module to go and then it's off to RotRL, which I know is good.

WotR as a story itself was pretty decent, although they overdid it with the glut of major NPC's, who are difficult to manage all at once.


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magnuskn wrote:
WotR was hamstrung by Mythic Adventures being crap, simple as that. The math simply is bad and it should have been obvious to the developers. {. . .}

From what else I've read of people's experiences, combined with what I've read of the Mythic rules themselves, I think you might be right.

I am tempted to scrap Mythic altogether and replace it with an Epic levels system. (Note: The Wizards of the Coast Epic rules for D&D 3.5 were themselves rather messed up, but I think they may have been less messed up than the Mythic rules, with the exception of the Epic Spells rules, which were just about incomprehensible, so that you couldn't even tell whether they were too powerful or not powerful enough.)

In the unlikely event that I ever get to DM Wrath of the Righteous, I plan to scrap Mythic and replace it with Epic rules, or if I can't put those together, at least scrap Mythic and just leave opponents with Mythic powers where explicitly called out in the descriptions. Also rewrite the start of the AP to be not a cheesy single track railroad job. (Some DMs have described doing this on these boards, but most of them don't have the campaigns in online form, but I know it can be done to good effect.) Might be good (uh, I mean EEEeeevviill) to have the enemies become proactive against the PCs at some point after they escape the catacombs, instead of just sitting around dumbly for the PCs to come and get them.


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Honestly, as far as I've heard you can probably run the AP straight as written without any mythic tiers for the PC's at all. Just give them hero points which replenish every day, and things should be fine. Just look that you don't use the really unfair mythic abilities for the enemies (like Augmented Mythic Time Stop).


Eh, mileage will vary. I'm playing in a mythic campaign and also running one, and having a blast with both.

(Though neither is WotR - the one I'm player in is a homebrew campaign run by Cerberus Seven, while the one I'm running is Reign of Winter with mythic added to it.)

(Both games also benefit from a gentlemen's agreement between the players and the GM - the players don't set out to deliberately break the game, so the GM doesn't have to turn the campaign into an absurd meatgrinder to compensate.)

Before mythic came out I'd already been in the habit of modifying enemies to make them more challenging to the party, so from that aspect mythic just means a bigger toybox to play with.

But much like regular play, there are abilities and powers that are too good as written, and you'll need to keep an eye out for those and modify them as necessary.

Mythic characters amounts to a demigods game.

My comment on the XP budget relates to the fact that an AP has a fixed amount of XP it's intended to award, and that puts an upper limit on the number and ECL of encounters.

Mythic and standard XP progression don't play well together, because mythic characters can routinely handle an entire string of ECL+4 or higher encounters. Which means that if you're actually challenging the party, their XP totals are going to skyrocket, and they'll start leveling really damn fast.

Heh. My RoW is on slow progression and is still a level ahead of the expected progression in the module. (As many enemies have gotten +2 to +4 or more increases in their CR as I modify them.) Cerberus Seven handled the XP issue in his own game by just getting rid of XP and deciding when he wants us to level.

I'd expect a version of WotR that was written to be actually challenging would probably wind up, at standard progression, with the party being 20th or approaching it by the end of book 5.

If I ran WotR I'd just ditch XP and go nuts with rewriting/ramping up encounters to get them up to an actual challenge.

Anywho. Sorry about the derail; just wanted to get out there that yes, there are GMs who are using the mythic rules who actually like them =P


Yeah, last of my derailment on the topic as well:

On XP and APs:

We've never used XP in an AP, instead using the suggested leveling in the books. Why?

  • XP encourages murderhobodom. It seems stupid, but too many players get in the mindset of, "We don't get the XP until they're dead," so all diplomatic or non-violent solutions go out the window. It's not just the "video game generation", either. One of our groups has a long-time (30+ years) D&D player who was absolutely LIVID with my LG aasimar life oracle for not letting him slit the throats of all the downed opponents. He (the player himself, not his character) turned to me and snarled, "How are we going to get XP if you won't let me kill anything?"
    It's a really really weird mindset, but I've seen it in two of my campaigns: You play with XP, some of your players assume they have to kill everything in sight. *AND* most players will go out of their way to incite fights just for the XP.
    My experience is that a no-XP game provides for more diplomacy and nuance, whereas an XP game is all about the killing. I'm sure some posters will say, "Well, WE play with XP and WE don't have that problem," and good for you, but in our groups XP has been a disaster.
  • The suggested leveling works well. Other than Wrath of the Righteous, every AP I've run (and I've run quite a few) has had nice, challenging encounters if the PCs are at the suggested level with the wealth provided in the AP. Carrion Crown is a low-wealth AP. Rise of the Runelords is a high-wealth AP.
  • My experience is that things also break when you play around with player wealth provided in the APs.

So my suggestion: Get rid of XP and WBL, and instead level the PCs at the suggested points, provide the loot they find in the AP, and don't supplement or worry about it if they're below WBL. Don't forget WBL is a suggestion, not a rule. Too many players consider WBL their "divine right", GMs succumb and give it to them, and then the players complain that the APs are too easy. Hmmm...

Scarab Sages

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NobodysHome wrote:

Yeah, last of my derailment on the topic as well:

** spoiler omitted **...

I've never used XP in pathfinder - you level when the story says you level. And that might include one PC levelling a little earlier than others for doing something particularly amazing/suitable. 3.5 was a bit different because of the XP cost to create magic items


We also don't play with XP, we have some players who have trouble letting NPCs live because of the loot they are carrying (Even some with knowingly s$~*ty items) and I'm not about to make XP a thing they need to eradicate everything to get.


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Gain experience as if they had been defeated in combat- words I live by:-)


For our group Skulls and Shackles was the deadliest. We had 5 character deaths in one 4-hour session during Book 4 Island of Empty Eyes.

We also almost had a TPK on the Island at the end of book 1.


roysier wrote:

For our group Skulls and Shackles was the deadliest. We had 5 character deaths in one 4-hour session during Book 4 Island of Empty Eyes.

We also almost had a TPK on the Island at the end of book 1.

Glad to see S&S still holds danger past book 1!

Are you playing by the book? As in 15 point buy, no changes to monsters?


20 point buy with no major changes, pretty much run as written.

Liberty's Edge

Starfinder Superscriber

I've run a Mythic one-shot (twice), and I believe it worked quite well. I did go ahead and give the group higher-CR challenges. It was a group of six level 12, MR 4 characters, and I treated the APL as 17-- on the basis that MR really is more +1 APL than +1/2, and that 6 characters over 4 is another +1 to APL.

I also pregenerated all the characters (this was a con game), and I'm really not an optimizer, which probably also made some difference.

It was fun, though, having these mythic characters who could do bizarre and amazing things, taking on world-shaping challenges.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

My question for those using Mythic in both homegrown campaigns and added to other campaigns is this: How many Mythic Tiers did you allow your group to get?

I ask because if the game remains at 2 Tiers or less, Mythic isn't nearly as broken. (Also, Mythic can provide a handy upgrade to monsters when facing non-Mythic PCs - especially if you allow players to have high stats.)


Speaking of Total Party Kills, how much are you inclined to turn these into Total Party Captures, and where do you find places that this actually makes a recoverable situation? (Skip the facts that that Skull & Shackles basically starts out with a Total Party Capture, and Serpent's Skull basically starts out with a Total Party Knockout.)


The party I'm a player in is cureently level 8 and tier 3, though most of us are experimenting with weird stuff rather than going for balls-to-the-walls rocket tag. Like, we don't have any champions somehow.

The party I'm GMing for is now L15 and tier 4 (they're about halfway through Rasputin Must Die!; I'm expecting them to finish it at L16 and tier 5).

The party is definitely strong, but the Fleet Warrior ability out of Champion Tier 3 is the only thing I've found myself having to scale back (as it basically gives pounce but without having to move in straight lines (i.e. ; I let the ranger and arcane duelist bard have it as-is and had to quadruple the size of every encounter during the Battle of Spurhorn just to keep up with them. After running a few sessions like that and noticing that the ranger and bard had stopped spending mythic power anymore, I nerfed Fleet Warrior (allows 2 attacks at tier 3, 3 attacks at tier 6, 4 attacks at tier 9) and suddenly fleet charge and amazing initiative started getting used again.)

Before someone points out that that fleet warrior isn't really any better than greater beast totem, I'm going to point out that greater beast totem is probably too good and is clearly out of line with the relative power level of nearly all other rage powers =P)

I'll admit that I have no qualms with "cheating" with major foes - I'll give enemies double max HP, etc.

Screw it, here's the version of Yrax, Lord of the Howling Storm (I will never get tired of that title) that I ran at the end of Book 4 (who was fighting a L 13, tier 3 party), to give an idea of what I throw at my players.

Yrax, Lord of the Howling Storm and Future Master of Triaxus:
Yrax, Lord of the Howling Storm CR 19/MR 5 -- XP 204,800
Male very old BOSS white dragon/sorcerer 3/archmage 5
CE Huge dragon (cold)
Init +10; Senses dragon senses, see invisibility, snow vision; Perception +25
Aura cold (10 ft., 1d6 cold damage), frightful presence (270 ft., DC 25)

DEFENSE
AC 44, touch 11, flat-footed 42 (+28 natural, +3 Dex, –2 size, +6 mage armor)
hp 950 (19d12+190+3d6+39)
Fort +27, Ref +20, Will +23
DR 15/magic; Immune cold, dragon traits, paralysis, sleep;
Resist acid 30, electricity 30, fire 30; SR 25
Weaknesses vulnerable to fire
Special Defenses - Mirror Dodge, 50% fortification

OFFENSE
Speed 60 ft., burrow 30 ft., fly 200 ft. (good), swim 60 ft.
Melee bite +30 (2d8+18/19–20), 2 claws +30 (2d6+12), tail slap +25 (2d6+18), 2 wings +25 (1d8+6); vital strike bite +30 8d8+18 or claw +30 8d6+12; PA is -6/+18 or +27 or +9)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (15 ft. with bite)
Special Attacks breath weapon (50-ft. cone, 18d4 cold damage, Reflex DC 29 half, usable every 1d4 rounds), crush (2d8), mythic surge (13/day, +1d8), disorientating touch (9/day, sickened for 1 round), bloodline arcana (can use compulsion spells on constructs), wild arcana, eldritch breach (roll twice, take better on dispelling)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 19th; concentration +25)
At will - fog cloud, gust of wind (DC 21)
3/day - freezing fog (DC 24)
Sorcerer Spells Known (caster level 14th; concentration +22)
5th (4/day) - covetous auraM
4th (6/day) - fire shieldM, charm monsterM (DC 22), breath weapon substitution
3rd (7/day) - displacementM, fireballM (DC 21), suggestion (DC 21)
2nd (8/day) - mirror imageM, resist energy, see invisibility, web (DC 20)
1st (8/day) - alarm, mage armorM, snowballPOTN (DC 19), true strike, unseen servant, lesser confusion (DC 19)
0 (at will) - acid splash, detect magic, mage hand, message, prestidigitation, ray of frost, read magic, mending, light

TACTICS
Before Combat If aware of intruders in the palace, Yrax casts resist energy (acid, electricity, and fire), mythic mage armor, mythic covetous aura, and see invisibility on himself. Once the alarm on the antechamber doors goes off, Yrax casts mythic mirror image. Once his door is being bashed open, he casts mythic displacement and mythic fire shield.
During Combat Yrax uses amazing initiative to make vital strikes during fly-bys, utitilizing Wild Arcana for spells such as breath weapon substitution, siphon magic, dispel magic, and mythic fireball. If Yrax is running low on mythic power, he using Amazing Initiative to consume a nectar of the gods.

STATISTICS
Str 35, Dex 16, Con 31, Int 20, Wis 19, Cha 26
Base Atk +20; CMB +34; CMD 46 (50 vs. trip)
Feats Craft Construct, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Craft Wondrous Item, Craft Rod, Flyby Attack, Greater Vital Strike, Improved Critical (bite), Improved Initiative, Improved Vital Strike, Power AttackM, Vital Strike, Mythic CrafterM, Mythic ParagonM, Eschew Materials, Practiced Spellcaster, Intensify Spell
Skills Fly +36, Heal +26, Intimidate +26, Knowledge (arcana) +17, Knowledge (Engineering) + 26, Knowledge (geography) +17, Knowledge (history) +17, Knowledge (nobility) +17, Linguistics +9, Perception +26, Sense Motive +26, Stealth +16, Swim +20, Spellcraft +30
Languages Aklo, Aquan, Draconic, Triaxian, Abyssal, Infernal
SQ ice shape, icewalking, hard to kill, amazing initiative, recuperation, mythic saves, impossible bloodline (spontaneous generation), mythic spell lore (mage armor, covetous aura ), component freedom, crafting mastery
Combat Gear: truefrost elixir x 3; ambrosia x 4; nectar of the gods x4, lesser rod of extend spell; rod of extend spell; rod of widen spell; rod of persistent spell; Other Gear: Greater Pectoral of Maneuverability [+15 fly checks, +2 to flight maneuverability], page of spell knowledge IV (breath weapon substitution), rods harness

Some of Yrax's stuff is from the 3.X Draconomicon, which felt appropriate to pull out for Triaxus. Some of his mythic spells are from the Mythic Magic supplements by Legendary Games.

I should probably repost that in the GM Resources thread, along with the elite guards I added to Yrax's forces (teams consisting of L11 Dahakian warpriests paired with L4 fighter dragonkin; they were brutal).

I plan to advance the party to tier 6 before the final battle of the RoW AP as written

my players keep out:
Queen Elvanna will be tier 8, and I plan to replace the demodands with actual thanatotic or even formorian titans, depending on how the party is performing by then

Then they'll advance to tiers 7 through 10 if they do the main after-campaign questline.

The Exchange

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NobodysHome wrote:

Yeah, last of my derailment on the topic as well:

** spoiler omitted **...

I think I can generalize your problem.

You say that the major issue you have with XP is that it makes the players focus on killing things because of some preconception that that's the only way they'll get XP. I think what you described is the symptom, not the cause.

To me, the real trouble with XP is that it shifts the focus of what the game is about. It's designed to be a reward you give players for being successful. The thing is, the way humans work is that when they percieve something as a reward, their objective becomes to obtain more of it. In effect, by giving XP you make the players want more, and they will constantly be thinking about all the XP they can get instead of thinking about the story they are experiencing.

The reward for defeating the orcs and rescuing the mayor is not 1,600 XP. The reward is that the good people of the village are saved. The reason your characters are motivated is not that they could totally gain a ton of XP by evading the deadly traps in the Castle of Doom, it's that if the diamond at it's heart is not retrieved, a gate to hell would open.

In short, XP is nothing but a harmful distraction from what I conceive of as the goals of the game - to be immersed in a collectively created story. It has other harmful side effects as well - like padding some adventures with pointless encounters just to accumulate enough points to level up, or actually causing designers to nerf some encounters so that they don't give too much XP, like in WotR. Or to allow some grizzled veterans to meta game - "well, we will get enough XP to level up in a couple of encounters, so I guess we should probably go check out the side quest before entering the next level of the dungeon, just to be on the safe side".
But all of those are not nearly as problematic as the simple fact that the mechanic of XP is inherently geared to make the players care less about what happens in the game.


Lord Snow wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:

Yeah, last of my derailment on the topic as well:

** spoiler omitted **...

I think I can generalize your problem.

You say that the major issue you have with XP is that it makes the players focus on killing things because of some preconception that that's the only way they'll get XP. I think what you described is the symptom, not the cause.

To me, the real trouble with XP is that it shifts the focus of what the game is about. It's designed to be a reward you give players for being successful. The thing is, the way humans work is that when they percieve something as a reward, their objective becomes to obtain more of it. In effect, by giving XP you make the players want more, and they will constantly be thinking about all the XP they can get instead of thinking about the story they are experiencing.

The reward for defeating the orcs and rescuing the mayor is not 1,600 XP. The reward is that the good people of the village are saved. The reason your characters are motivated is not that they could totally gain a ton of XP by evading the deadly traps in the Castle of Doom, it's that if the diamond at it's heart is not retrieved, a gate to hell would open.

In short, XP is nothing but a harmful distraction from what I conceive of as the goals of the game - to be immersed in a collectively created story. It has other harmful side effects as well - like padding some adventures with pointless encounters just to accumulate enough points to level up, or actually causing designers to nerf some encounters so that they don't give too much XP, like in WotR. Or to allow some grizzled veterans to meta game - "well, we will get enough XP to level up in a couple of encounters, so I guess we should probably go check out the side quest before entering the next level of the dungeon, just to be on the safe side".
But all of those are not nearly as problematic as the simple fact that the mechanic of XP is inherently geared to make the players care less about what happens in the...

Wow.... beautifully stated!

That's it in an elegant nutshell!

Grand Lodge

Most deadly....

Tough call, to be sure, but Gates of Firestorm Peak is ROUGH and is near the top. So is Dark Tower, an absolute meat-grinder, and even Aesirhamar. Maybe City of the Spider Queen, The Lost Tomb of Martek and Forge of Fury get honorable mentions. But the MOST deadly:...

I know, I know, you want me to say Tomb of Horrors and admittedly, it could be here, but--

3} G-D-Q

2} Temple of Elemental Evil

1} Ravenloft

.
.
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Sorry: No Paizo adventures are that deadly.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
W E Ray wrote:

Most deadly....

<older modules>

Sorry: No Paizo adventures are that deadly.

Well, if you want a real challenge, then run Labyrinth of Madness with all the options.

Grand Lodge

I was thinking of Labyrinth -- honestly, as well as A Paladin in Hell. But I dunno, I think one of the qualifiers should at least be It's gotta be a GOOD adventure; Cook's Paladin in Hell certainly qualifies but Labyrinth? I dunno.

If you want to go real meat grinder without being that good of an adventure then wasn't it Arneson's City of the Gods that pitted the PCs, immediately after one stupid-hard fight, another with *a HANDFUL of Tarrasques? And U3: The Final Enemy, for low level PCs mind you, had an massive underwater fight between Lizardmen, Sahuagin and the PCs -- and the chances of the PCs actually being able to fight underwater (you know, with Waterbreathing and such) was practically nil?


Rise of the Runelords. The main BBEG's pimp hand is strong.


None of the PF ones are really difficult for an experienced group.
3.5 = Age of Worms

Liberty's Edge

Shackled City was our deadliest but it was the first AP for everyone also. Most of the other APs we only have a few deaths (usually all from the same player who likes to go off the wall a bit)


UnArcaneElection wrote:
Does Wrath of the Righteous get to the top of the list if the PCs do NOT get Mythic ranks? How about if their Mythic opponents still do?

There are a few tnings that are just unfair to non-Mythic parties, like Mythic Time Stop, or auras with DC of ScrewYou against effects that should be trumped by normal high-level protections but aren't because they are Mythic and super-speshul.

Otherwise there is nothing a high-level party cannot stomp into dirt with practical optimization. WotR not only underestimates the effect of mythic tiers for PCs, but overestimates the effect of mythic abilties it gives to monsters.

Though sure, it probably would be more difficul for non-Mythic PCs than practically all other adventure paths published under the Pathfinder ruleset (Age of Worms, Savage Tide and original Rise of the Runelords still are more difficult, thanks to having massive danger spikes early on, when parties are still quite vulnerable) and a party of deliberately inept characters will die.


Not Paizo, but the Way of the Wicked AP has been pretty difficult. So far everything has required a lot of planning, role play, and a decent amount of luck.

Scarab Sages

Because Angels are absolute bastards

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