Plague's General RotRL DM Questions (Spoilers Ahoy!)


Rise of the Runelords


I'm going to be starting this campaign sometime in the next several weeks. I just finished reading through the Anniversary Edition, and I have a zillion questions. Since otherwise I'd be flooding the poor board with that many topics, I figured I'd just make one and repeatedly add to it as new things come up.

First: I love Lamashtu's involvement. Thing is, it seems to make no sense in the context. It doesn't actually tie in in any way that I can tell to the overall story, and in fact just confuses the issue. Am I missing something? If not, how would one go about tying her into the overall campaign more?

Second: Xin-Shalast. Seriously. Virtually the entire chapter is "beyond the scope of this adventure". That kills me. Has anyone done any much more detailed write-ups of the city itself? Inhabitants, or even many of the buildings halfheartedly listed but not bothered to be expounded upon? I get why they left a lot of that info out - they only had a limited page count and budget - but I'm left at something of a loss for how to handle the whole endeavor.

Third: Are there currently any other APs that chronicle the wakening of any of the other Runelords? I gather that Karzoug lies somewhere in the middle of the pack for Runelord power.

Four: What other side modules/adventures/dungeons/etc do y'all suggest to have in reserve as possible side stuff? I gather Seven Swords of Sin is an interesting and fitting side-mission, and I've already got ahold of the Chopper Island adventure and Something In The Attic from the Community Thread (hot damn that topic is amazing, although how many links are dead makes me sad).

Fifth: I'm looking to make the Graul homestead truly horrific (yes, more than it is already). I want to really churn my party's stomachs (don't worry, they enjoy that sort of thing). Any suggestions to take it to the extreme, NC-17 level stuff?


1. Lamashtu is involved the same way Abadar, Sarenrae, and Desna are involved - they're deities of Golarion and their worshippers and plots intersect with the history and ruins of the Runelords as circumstances and opportunities permit. She and her minions are not prime movers behind the campaign but are trying to exploit various threads for their own nefarious ends. Chapter 5 demonstrates that even 10,000 years ago, she had influence in Thassilon. (At least that's how I interpreted it.)

2. Xin Shalast is backdrop and terrain - the pc's are journeying through the city to get to Karzoug. So all that's presented are encounters that either advance the Karzoug plotline or provide a flavor for the city. There is a Campaign Setting book: Lost Cities of Golarion that has a writeup on Xin Shalast though I haven't read it.

3. Shattered Star is an AP that also bears on the Runelords though it's about Xin as opposed to the other 6 Runelords.

4. Check the Community Created sticky - there are multiple posts about additional adventures that can be woven into RotRL.

5. Two words: Pulp Fiction.

Grand Lodge

1. Lamashtu was a popular deity among the followers of Alasnist, Runelord of Wrath. Alaznist is the Runelord that ruled the part of Thassilon where modern day Sandpoint is located. Game and story-wise, having this grouping be more involved with initial events is deliberately in place, as it prevents otherwise crucial plot elements from being doggedly pursued by players when they are far too low level to start looking for them. Sometimes players go after the red herring, and can't take a hint when they need to drop it. Having Alaznist and Lamashtu around gives the players something to latch onto without spoiling the rest of the adventure. They'll get tired of all their Knowledge Checks being too low to determine anything that will be of importance in the books after Burnt Offerings, and so not disrupt the story at later times.

2. What Latrecis said.

3. Shattered Star is very much meant as a spiritual successor/sequel to Rise of the Runelords. I think there is one more Adventure Path meant to follow a similar vein, but I forget which one.

4. I'm not the one to ask that question.

5. Well, if you're looking for inspiration, you could watch the movie "The Hills Have Eyes". Consider changing one of the prisoners (or adding another one), so that there's a female Black Arrow that the Graul boys have been using as a toy/playmate. Given that Mammy Graul don't like no competition, it'd have to be in a secret hidey-place, but given how stupid ogres are, the hiding spot could be quite obvious to players.

One idea I had for the Grauls, if any PC were captured by them, a little scene would play out that rubs it in to the player's faces, and that their death would not be dignified. Something like this: Batman Arkham City Deaths, but more like "You have a purty mouth!" *Adjusts pants*.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Latrecis wrote:
2. Xin Shalast is backdrop and terrain - the pc's are journeying through the city to get to Karzoug. So all that's presented are encounters that either advance the Karzoug plotline or provide a flavor for the city. There is a Campaign Setting book: Lost Cities of Golarion that has a writeup on Xin Shalast though I haven't read it.

I'm afraid I have "Lost Cities", and it's a writeup of Xin-Shalast post-RotRL. It has a bit of stuff, but I found that it wasn't useful to me in integrating additional things into Xin-Shalast. I just had to make stuff up.

Crimson Throne has references to Sorshen, and you can easily integrate her awakening into Book 6 for some post-AP fun. Unfortunately, the first 5 modules don't mention her at all, so you'd have to do a bit of work adding content to make her more of a presence and less of a historical figure who happens to be mentioned...

As for the Grauls, they're ogres. I don't understand Ms. Pleiades' recommendation for female prisoners. I left the prisoners all male, added some manacles and sawhorses, and the party cheerfully burned the place to the ground, then burned the clothes they'd been in going through the place.

Creepy, NC-17 is easy!


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

Wait, the Grauls aren't NC-17! my god that chapter gave me Smurfin' nightmares just reading it! and I dont scare easily:)

edit: Lol "Talk to the fist cause the Smurf is pissed!"

Grand Lodge

NobodysHome wrote:


As for the Grauls, they're ogres. I don't understand Ms. Pleiades' recommendation for female prisoners. I left the prisoners all male, added some manacles and sawhorses, and the party cheerfully burned the place to the ground, then burned the clothes they'd been in going through the place.

Creepy, NC-17 is easy!

nasty disturbing NSFW stuff:
Implied rape off-camera.

Ms. Pleiades wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:


As for the Grauls, they're ogres. I don't understand Ms. Pleiades' recommendation for female prisoners. I left the prisoners all male, added some manacles and sawhorses, and the party cheerfully burned the place to the ground, then burned the clothes they'd been in going through the place.

Creepy, NC-17 is easy!

Implied rape off-camera.

You'll want to spoiler that -- Paizo prefers you warn people.

Getting disturbing now and following up:

Yep. With male gamers it disturbs them far more to have the men get raped. The captured NPCs were all naked, manacled facing the walls, and bent over sawhorses.

The mental image was graphic and explicit. I didn't have to go any farther.


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

you just need more smurfs in your posts:) no one flags a smurf:p

edit: honestly the best part for me is finding out which smurf will turn up next Lol

Grand Lodge

NobodysHome wrote:
Ms. Pleiades wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:


As for the Grauls, they're ogres. I don't understand Ms. Pleiades' recommendation for female prisoners. I left the prisoners all male, added some manacles and sawhorses, and the party cheerfully burned the place to the ground, then burned the clothes they'd been in going through the place.

Creepy, NC-17 is easy!

Implied rape off-camera.

You'll want to spoiler that -- Paizo prefers you warn people.

** spoiler omitted **

Was that the original or anniversary edition that had the sawhorses? The implication flew over my head if so. It's a sad fact, but when trying to imply things, people are easier to lead to some conclusions rather than others, and the gender of the medium can impact that. The effort is to disturb the audience, and so the vehicle of the disturbance may need to be tailor made to them if the goal is to have them reach the disturbing conclusion themselves.

Also, I hope Brainy Smurf shows up next.

EDIT: What the smurf is going on here?!?


We are also waiting for the delicious one you call "Brainy Smurf"

Edit: oh dear, I cant show up at the Brain Collecter convention looking like this!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ms. Pleiades wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:
Ms. Pleiades wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:


As for the Grauls, they're ogres. I don't understand Ms. Pleiades' recommendation for female prisoners. I left the prisoners all male, added some manacles and sawhorses, and the party cheerfully burned the place to the ground, then burned the clothes they'd been in going through the place.

Creepy, NC-17 is easy!

Implied rape off-camera.

You'll want to spoiler that -- Paizo prefers you warn people.

** spoiler omitted **

Was that the original or anniversary edition that had the sawhorses? The implication flew over my head if so. It's a sad fact, but when trying to imply things, people are easier to lead to some conclusions rather than others, and the gender of the medium can impact that. The effort is to disturb the audience, and so the vehicle of the disturbance may need to be tailor made to them if the goal is to have them reach the disturbing conclusion themselves.

Also, I hope Brainy Smurf shows up next.

EDIT: What the smurf is going on here?!?

I added them myself to drive the point home with a hammer, as it were.

The original question was, "How do you make it MORE disturbing?"
The answer is, "Make the hints far more obvious as to what they've been doing on this farmstead."

That's really enough. It's a foul, foul place...

EDIT: Oh, c'mon! I can't even quote a smurf quote without getting smurfed?!?!?! Smurf that!!!!

Grand Lodge

My God! We're spreading!

EDIT: I'm cured!


For the Grauls: I guess that if you want to get your players all queasy, find out what really freaks them out. Though you might consider that it is possible to go too far, given where horror movies don't go.

Spoiler:
Add more prisoners: animals & children. Or halflings as something a bit less beyond the pale that implies the above.

Mind you, it might be a nice opportunity to bring Lamashtu back in for a bit of freakshow justification; Mama Graul is working on a way to make the people of TF into good ol' boys like hers.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

If you're looking for more of this, there is a thread about making the Graul house more awful -

Grauful

Now for extra stuff, I know Story Archer has a big 10 part AP mashup going

There's plenty of community created stuff on these forums to add stuff all along the way, here is a place you can find some links for some of it.

Community Stuff

I'm just starting running Rise myself, but I had an extended prep window which has certainly helped me root my players in the setting.


Wow, thanks for all the input everyone!

Latrecis: Thanks. I will have to check out Pulp Fiction - it's one of those movies I keep meaning to see but not getting around to.

Pleiades: As usual, I find your input valuable. Particularly the bit about PCs being captured by the Grauls. Oh yes.

NobodysHome: Grand responses, as expected. I promise you I will be stealing your sawhorses idea and watch the terror on their faces as it dawns on them. It is such a shame about Lost Cities not having much usable for Xin-Shalast - that was one of the side books on my radar particularly because of that.

Mudfoot: Good call on both things (the additional "toys" and bringing Lamashtu back around).

Lorax: Handy topic, Grauful - some decent ideas in there. Story Archer's huge story is magnificent and I WISH I had the time and energy to put something that massive together. I was hoping for more smaller, easily insertable side stuff, though.

As far as the Community Thread goes (for those of you who suggested it), I read about 2/3 of it and scanned the remainder. That thing is a behemoth. As I said in my original post, I pulled a couple small side adventures from it but didn't notice a lot of others listed.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

The list of side adventures I was thinking about may not be in the Community Thread...

Check here:

list of side adventures thread

And NobodysHome and Ms.Pleiades have already covered the relevant portion of Pulp Fiction (at least that I was referring to). Ogres. Saw Horses. Captive Black Arrows. Grotesquely inappropriate treatment of the latter by the former. And so forth. I was trying to be discreet but that obviously failed. And then Captain Yesterday introduced Smurfs - one the most ghastly creations of the 20th century and the horror meter melted down from overuse.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Lord above, how I hate those little blue sugar cane turds! I assume it's the use of the actual word that changes the avatars? Simply loathsome.


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

Agreed they are detestible lil creatures:) makes you really feel for Gargamel:)

Edit: drat I was hoping for Gargamel. Oh, well smurf
Edit 2: Axe to grind smurf?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Latrecis wrote:
Lord above, how I hate those little blue sugar cane turds! I assume it's the use of the actual word that changes the avatars? Simply loathsome.

I think that watching your avatar get the blue turd treatment has been my favorite moment of the month! I laughed so hard I nearly woke the family!

Thank you, Latrecis! :-P


You're all fantastic.

I've noted that throughout the AP, the vast majority of enemies, particularly important ones, don't fight to the death - they retreat, or more often surrender. I love this and think that's a fantastic touch.

With that in mind - how often did your groups let them live? Let them escape? Execute them on the spot? Seek their redemption? Etc?


Not sure my group is a good example. They've got a lot of experience and most of it is in campaigns (run by me) where enemies that live turn into more trouble later.

Spoiler:

They dropped Tsuto to negative HP (he did not surrender but instead tried to flee and failed.) They asked what would happen if they took him back to the Sheriff. I told them most likely he would be sent off to Magnimar for trial since he might have noble blood. They decided that if he stabilized on his own, they'd let him live. He didn't.

They did accept Orik's surrender - he was down to 1 hp. They then recruited him to fight Nualia and Lyrie and the Yeth Hounds (all in the same fight.) Given he knew what Nualia would do when the fight was over, he joined the pc's - and was rewarded with healing from the cleric's channeling. When the fight was over, they bound him up and stripped him of armor, weapons, etc. When they'd cleared Thistletop, they let him earn his freedom by climbing down (and then up) the cliffs repair the rope bridge (the slashing of which is another long story.) Having risked the bunyip (all the players knew was that something in the ocean had been eating the goblins that they'd thrown over the cliff) and fulfilled his side of the deal, they sent him on his way with minimal treasure and a warning to never be seen in the region again.

They never succeeded at trapping or killing Gogmurt. He eventually fled to sanctuary with the Mosswood goblins. He didn't surrender he just kept fleeing any fight rather than die pointlessly.

No one else has considered surrender or had much chance to do so - Lyrie might have but she died in a particularly potent burning hands spell. The pc's never detected any charm on Ironbriar and he died along with most of the cultists at the Mill (in Skinsaw.) They are into Hook Mountain now but really after Skinsaw starts there aren't many opponents that aren't in need of a good killin' or that would expect any favor from surrendering (if the idea would even occur to them.) Example: given Kibb and Shalelu (obvious archer) were with them, the Grauls assumed the pc's were more black arrows and likely in the know as to what happened to their comrades. The Grauls assumed surrender would only be a short pause before they would be executed summarily (given Black Arrow reputation for harsh justice.) So the Grauls fought to the death.


My party is going to finish up Burnt Offerings this weekend (just Malfeshnekor to go), and I can tell you that they've been pretty good about taking people alive. They dropped Tsuto to negative hit points and stabilized him to take him prisoner. They also accepted Lyrie's surrender, and Orik joined them fairly quickly. They had Nualia in negative hit points, and everyone except the Lawful Good Wizard decided she was too dangerous to let live and face trial, so while he was helping the Rogue tie up Lyrie, the fighter cut her head off.

Lyrie and Tsuto are currently in the Sandpoint jail awaiting trial. Orik was offered a deal by Mayor Deverin to accept a sentence to join the Black Arrows, since he thought he was being hired to explore and guard a ruin and really wasn't down with either worship of Lamashtu or burning Sandpoint to the ground. A justice will be coming from Magnimar to oversee the trial of Tsuto and Lyrie.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I started my game during the Late Unpleasantness, slapping the Young template on the players, and letting them at least be on the fringes of the action.

I've also been collecting a lot of small adventures and encounters to put in as I see fit.

I really intend to let the player's wander around through the AP, and will be including a lot of available side missions and sub-plots (most of which I will not end up being used I suspect) just so I know what is potentially going on in the area.

Theres a bit on the Toadstool Goblins I found on here somewhere.

The same guy who did the Chopper's Isle bit also has a side mission for Boggards in the Brinestump Marsh.

We Be Goblins can easily be modified to work as a player adventure in the Brinestump Marsh - Scribbleface comes to try to convince the PCs to go on the adventure, so that he can recover something from the boat, like a hidden spellbook or something, and the PCs stumble into the middle of the goblin adventurers coming to claim the fireworks.

The Firemaker is a small adventure that I'm placing in the Farmlands, not 100% certain all the changes I want to make to this one, but probably will want to make a few.

I've made a number of small encounters that I'm inserting as needed, I could give you a laundry list, but they're really just small encounters. I really want to keep the humanoid races in the area restricted to Humans,Goblins, Ogrekin and Ogres. So I made an:

- encounter with a pair of graverobbers out at the Old Paupers Graves which got put back into use during the reconstruction of the Cathedral

- encounter with a couple of Ogrekin that stole some sheep

- encounter with a group of goblins that have a captured little girl that they were singing about how they were going to cook and eat her, traumatizing the little girl.

I could keep going, it looks like my players are going to stumble into the middle of a bit of back alley confrontations between Jargie Quinn, the Scarnetti and the Sczarni over the gambling business, that could end up being quite entertaining, Ive already introduced several NPCs that will support this - makes me think of starting a new thread about NPCs people have added to the AP.


Well, guys, we started playing last week. I'd like to put a topic somewhere as a campaign journal - is there a designated location for these things, or just in the normal RotRL forum?


Well, I (and several other Paizo commoners with whom I communicate) strongly prefer AP-specific campaign journals in the AP-specific sections.

Unfortunately, Paizo staff created a separate "Campaign Journals" section for just such topics, and there's some likelihood that your journal will get moved there. (I don't know what the parameters are, but some journals get moved, and others don't.)

I love a "campaign journals" section for home-brewed or non-Paizo campaigns. It's just hard to wade through that section if you're only interested in, for example, Rise of the Runelords campaigns.

So I'd say post it here in the RotRL section, and see how long it takes to get moved.


One thing about Xin-Shalast: by the time you get there the PCs are high level and you should have had a lot of time with them, so you should be able to predict what they're interested in and what will draw them, much better than the module designer. Also, Karzoug might have learned enough about them to have contacted minions and set up traps for them, exquisitely tuned to their personalities.

Be creative.


Alright, got another one. The group is coming up on the Catacombs of Wrath. I know they're going to check out the Minor Runewell (as, obviously, they should). I feel certain I saw DCs listed SOMEWHERE for information from Arcana/Spellcraft checks to A) figure out exactly what the Runewell does and B) how to shut it down, but I can't seem to find them anywhere.


I could find nothing specific in the AE version either and could not find any explicit rule to the contrary (in just a few minutes of searching) so I assume a spellcraft check will be sufficient - but since the runewell's caster level is 20, that's a DC 35 check. Not in most 2nd or 3rd level character's wheelhouse.

But they don't need to know how it works to intuit how to shut it down. They should see "...the minor runewell’s glow diminishes noticeably" (AE p.38) when Elyrium summons a sinspawn to attack them. And they should see how it's done at the same time as well. It's revolting and perhaps morally dubious but smart parties can summon sinspawn until its drained. For my part, I had Elyrium summon more sinspawn than suggested by the AE tactics to reflect her desperation and outrage over the pc's invading her holy space, make the fight against her more interesting and keep the deactivation from being quite so mechanical - drop blood, summon sinspawn, kill sinspawn, lather, rinse, repeat.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yeah, I ran into the same issue when my party discovered the minor runewell. The issue is that as an artifact, there's no easy way to determine anything about it. The rules are pretty gray when it comes to revealing what an artifact does, favoring the use of skill checks like Spellcraft and Knowledges to impart the information over minor magics like detect magic and identify. Even legend lore doesn't let the PCs read the description - it just hints at the stories surrounding a given artifact. Basically, they shouldn't know everything about it, only that blood can cause a sinspawn to appear, and that Nualia didn't want it used until after the raid, since she wasn't sure she could power it back up. The baddies have done the research for the players, and know enough on how to use it. If the players figure out that blood can conjure a sinspawn, then great! If not, and they decide to leave the place alone, that works too. The AP can progress no matter what the players decide to do with the runewell, since destroying it is outside of their ability at this time.

Honestly, the best place for them to learn exactly what the runewell does is in the Library of Jorgenfist. As a lost repository of Thassilonian knowledge, it's the best place to finally reveal exactly what lies beneath Sandpoint. I'd even mention the method of destruction here as well, as Karzoug's minions had almost certainly learned what steps needed to be taken to destroy Alaznist's hardpoints of power. Of course, there's another problem there - someone ran the numbers on how much holy water would be needed to destroy the runewell, and it ran into the thousands of gold pieces. You might want to look for that, just in case they cotton to the idea of getting rid of it immediately.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Don't Nualia's notes at Thistletop have more information about that runewell? (I'm AFB at the moment, so I can't check that.)

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
TheBlackPlague wrote:
I'm going to be starting this campaign...

I'm six months late to the party, but i see a couple holes in the answers, so:

TheBlackPlague wrote:
Third: Are there currently any other APs that chronicle the wakening of any of the other Runelords? I gather that Karzoug lies somewhere in the middle of the pack for Runelord power.

There's a series of PFS modules from Season 4 that

Spoiler:
details the Cult of Lissala's efforts to release Krune, Runelord of Sloth. He's at the low-end of the Runelord power spectrum.
TheBlackPlague wrote:
I'm going to be starting this campaign...

Feast of Ravenmoor fits into RotRL pretty easily.

-Skeld


Thanks, Latrecis & Misroi. Bellona, I'm not sure, I can't remember - though when I get that far, I'll post an update if someone else doesn't beat me to it.

Skeld - Thanks for the heads up on the PFS modules. I will definitely have to check those out. I was kinda-sorta planning on inserting Feast of Ravenmoor, but I haven't decided yet - the PCs are at about the perfect level, but I want to fit it in organically if at all.

Another question: What in the blazes is the second pool in Elyrium's fight arena? I gather that the central circular pool is the runewell, but the triangular one up the stairs is described in deliberate detail as if it IS something, but I can't seem to find a reference to WHAT exactly it is.


TheBlackPlague wrote:

Thanks, Latrecis & Misroi. Bellona, I'm not sure, I can't remember - though when I get that far, I'll post an update if someone else doesn't beat me to it.

Skeld - Thanks for the heads up on the PFS modules. I will definitely have to check those out. I was kinda-sorta planning on inserting Feast of Ravenmoor, but I haven't decided yet - the PCs are at about the perfect level, but I want to fit it in organically if at all.

Another question: What in the blazes is the second pool in Elyrium's fight arena? I gather that the central circular pool is the runewell, but the triangular one up the stairs is described in deliberate detail as if it IS something, but I can't seem to find a reference to WHAT exactly it is.

actually, the triangular pool is the runewell. the circular pool, I believe, is either just that, a pool, or I'm missing something too


Upon triple rereading, it appears you're right about the triangular pool, at least - that does appear (through context clues) to be the runewell. So what the heck is the other pool? Just a pool? Because that's a bit... confusing, if that's the case.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Yeah, just more terrain for Ely to use.

"In the center of the room is a large pool, a ring of polished human skulls balanced on stone spikes arranged in a circle around the deeper midsection."

If Ely was low enough it could serve as cover.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

When I ran it, I had a zombie crouched in the deepest part of the round pool, ready to attack anyone who entered the water. (Erylium had had it fished up from the zombie pits.)


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Yeah, a little more meat to that encounter would make it more interesting.

Even with my modified Ely, it was still a frustrating and tedious fight only made tolerable by her relatively low offense.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My Erylium sent the second group into retreat twice; they only got her on their third try. :)

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Adventure Path / Rise of the Runelords / Plague's General RotRL DM Questions (Spoilers Ahoy!) All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.