# Shadow of the Storm Tyrant (GM Reference)

### Giantslayer

The purpose of this thread is to clarify questions arising in this adventure.

VOLSTUS p. 62
some AC issues

it looks like you forgot the bace 10 to AC
AC Math: Computed: 47 Stat Block: 38
10 +33 natural +-1 Dex +-4 size +9 armor

also Huge has a -2 to AC not -4

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chopswil wrote:

VOLSTUS p. 62

some AC issues

it looks like you forgot the bace 10 to AC
AC Math: Computed: 47 Stat Block: 38
10 +33 natural +-1 Dex +-4 size +9 armor

also Huge has a -2 to AC not -4

Because Volstus possesses the Orb of Red Dragonkind, his AC is that of the dragon within the orb, which replaces his normal values, so AC 38 is correct.

PRD wrote:
Each Orb of Dragonkind bestows upon the wielder the AC and saving throw bonuses of the dragon within. These values replace whatever values the character would otherwise have, whether they are better or worse. These values cannot be modified by any means short of ridding the character of the Orb.

If a character created and controlled a tornado and used it against Akazerath and Volstus what would happen? Would the Dragon get blown away? Would Volstus be unmounted and blown away?

If a character created and controlled a tornado and used it against Akazerath and Volstus what would happen? Would the Dragon get blown away? Would Volstus be unmounted and blown away?

Voltus is huge and the dragon larger, neither are at risk of being blown away.

Carter Lockhart wrote:

If a character created and controlled a tornado and used it against Akazerath and Volstus what would happen? Would the Dragon get blown away? Would Volstus be unmounted and blown away?

Voltus is huge and the dragon larger, neither are at risk of being blown away.

Thanks Carter, I was asking cause I can see a aerokineticist with weather control summon a tornado.

Where can information on the Dragon Orbs be found, anyway? I didn't see it in the module.

Edit: Nevermind. Went through my books and found it in the Core Rulebook.

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Got a chance to read this at the store, and I'm a bit confused on downtime and motivation.

The adventure didn't seem to address taking a nap. It starts right after Adventure 5 with no time to even recover abilities, then sticks you in a heavily populated castle that is moving and surrounded by an energy field, making it extremely difficult to get in and out (especially for players who don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of every high-level trump and countertrump spell). Ignore the lack of shopping trips for three levels, it doesn't seem plausible you could even rest without the extremely high level opposition finding your mage's magnificent mansion door, or at the very least noticing the piles of corpses and going on alert, drastically changing their actions (which the adventure didn't address, as far as I could find).

Then there is the motivation. There is a giant bomb already set up to solve the PC's problems and achieve their goals, unless they decide their brand new goal from this adventure of "own a cloud castle" is totally more important. After an entire path that seems to push for heroism primarily for heroism's own sake I don't see that as likely. The adventure only seems to address this in relation to the bomb accidentally going off after the final encounter, not intentionally setting it off to cripple their enemies, which I think is a huge missed opportunity and important thing to at least mention.

Overall, I really hope I am missing something on these issues. Otherwise it seems like the adventure will generally end with playing 25% of the adventure as a surgical strike on the engines followed by having to write entirely new material for the aftermath, and ignoring the other 75%. I think that other 75% is still good in isolation, mind you, and would like to run it, but just don't see how that is going to work with the aforementioned issues. It seems more like the adventure is an elaborate set piece that will require the GM to create the actual adventure from it.

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If the PCs goal is to rain a destructive storm of debris down on the land blow, than sure, they could set off the bomb. Heroism for herois's sake, however, is likely to be concerned about collateral damage.

As for how the post find the time to rest... Well, that's their problem isn't it? If Golarion's latest batch of superheroes actually have to think about how they're fighting the bad guys, that strikes me as a good thing.

Once they get into the flying castle itself, they probably could find a place to hide and rest up down below. If they don't make a huge hubbub immediately upon getting into the castle, they should be able to rest up. Also, that's what the spell Nap Stack is for. Two hours rest, restore all spells.

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Revan wrote:
If the PCs goal is to rain a destructive storm of debris down on the land blow, than sure, they could set off the bomb. Heroism for herois's sake, however, is likely to be concerned about collateral damage.

You can entirely naturally run into this thing literally minutes into the adventure, which starts in the middle of the Mindspin mountains. "Oh, it is automatically always over populated areas" is not a particularly satisfying answer. Also, by the time the castle actually is over populated areas things will change drastically inside because of the whole "invading" thing, and again the castle's (as far as I could find, and would still hope I missed information about) static nature makes it seem not so much an "adventure" as a "set piece."

Quote:
As for how the post find the time to rest... Well, that's their problem isn't it? If Golarion's latest batch of superheroes actually have to think about how they're fighting the bad guys, that strikes me as a good thing.

It is an adventure designed to be run and played. You could also have the storm giants attack in book one and say "welp, that is their problem," but it would be a terrible adventure. Similarly, writing an entirely static castle without regards to how an adventure will actually work in it makes for a less useful product.

1st level PCs encountering endgame CR creatures is *not* the same thing as high level PCs having to actually thing about conserving their resources.

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And "conserving resources" is not the same as a castle on an invasion plan that has more than two levels worth of encounters and will likely take days to clear unless you are tricked out enough to (without rest, two levels down) beat the boss and three captains who are stated to (through mechanisms I am not clear on) join him in the final battle.

It straight said this would be a "virtually unwinnable encounter" or the like and you should discourage PCs from fighting the leader without taking them out, but I couldn't find any mechanisms it set up to do that. I can certainly make up those mechanisms, just like making up how the castle reacts to getting to a populated area or the piles of corpses left by PCs hitting and running over a few days, but because I can fix it doesn't mean the adventure is particularly useful to start, and as I said from the start seems more like a "set piece" than a proper "adventure" meant to be played. I'm not particularly interested in paying money for an adventure I would, in the course of entirely reasonable and likely actions by players or enemies, end up having to mostly write myself.

I was hoping there was something specific I had missed, but otherwise I don't think this is an adventure I'll bother picking up.

Mort the Cleverly Named wrote:

You can entirely naturally run into this thing literally minutes into the adventure, which starts in the middle of the Mindspin mountains. "Oh, it is automatically always over populated areas" is not a particularly satisfying answer.

Don't forget that Volstus is now flying this castle towards over Belkzen towards the capital. Remember that the PCs are supposed to have spent time in, maybe grown up in, Trunau. You remember Trunau, right? The city where everyone is raised from birth to fight constantly against the Orc menace? Some of the PCs up in that cloud castle probably have a little hope knife in the back of their packs. All they have to do is look out a window at the stars or down at the ground and some basic geography checks are going to tell them roughly where they are, right over the lands of some marauding Orc tribe. Blowing up the castle over Belkzen and having it rain down on orc warriors isn't going to count as collateral damage to a Trunaun, it's going to count as a bonus.

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Blowing up the Castle:
(A realistic scenario):

- if the PCs kill the Black Scorpion at B1 before it severs the one of the two remaining chains, then the castle is secured by two chains. The adventure mentions the castle can do a forced take-off if only one chain remains (it makes no mention of how easy it is to move with two chains)

- With the castle stuck over the Caldera, or at least slowed down, the PCs could reach the bomb within 10-20 minutes of the start of Chapter 6.

- There is no reason to attack the giants in Area E, they cannot hurt the PCs at range (the ballista attacks are laughable at range). The PCs could easily use Fly magic to ascend to the castle, then approach the landing platforms at F2 in 10 rounds are less (with Fly, Haste, Mass Fly, Airwalk, or some combination).

- Once inside, it will not take long to clear the lower level and find the bomb. The toughest fight will likely be the phase spiders (because of their phase in/out attack), but high level PCs can have wall of force, blade barrier, and readied actions.

- Once they find the bomb, how hard is it to set off? Summon a hound archon, tell him to count to 15, then Dimension door to landing platforms (F2) and fly out.

This could take as little as 20-30 minutes. The castle has a maximum speed of 500 miles per hour. It cannot possibly go any farther than 250 miles from the caldera in that time.

This doesn't have to end the campaign, either. If anything, it makes it more interesting. The PCs are somewhat unfairly forced to do the final 1/3 of book 5 and all of book 6 in the span of a day or two, possibly not even resting or getting any gear (where are they going to sell loot and buy things in that time? let alone craft or level up properly).

A new second half of book 6 is now fighting through the ruins of IronCloud keep at the base of the caldera, hunting down the last remnants of Volstus' cadre and of course, taking down Volstus himself.

At the end of book 5, the PCs likely know all the details about the bomb, where it is likely located, and how it works. So it's reasonable to assume that intentionally setting it off is a viable strategy - and one that should not be shot down instantly.

Heck, the first few chapters of the AP somewhat foreshadow the importance of Craft Alchemy in this AP - it would be nice to have someone with a high Alchemy check at the end re-wire the bomb to detonate in 30 seconds while the PCs run out the side. That could make for an interesting series of encounters - where the PCs are fighting their way off the engineering level, knowing that the bomb will go off in a few rounds....

And regarding the dragon Naximarra - the adventure makes her useless. She is pretty useless in Chapter 4, but at least that book alluded to her "helping" later. The sidebar indicates she won't even show up to the final battle.. She shows up after the adventure ends and maybe destroys an artifact for you? (if you want it destroyed...).

My thought was if the PCs could give her a Mind Blank and Greater Teleport scroll, then she could arrive suddenly without Volstus' knowledge. Since Mind Blank is not stopped by artifacts (in fact, wish spells cannot be used to learn about the target), it's arguable that Volstus cannot use the Orb to detect her presence within 100 miles while Mindblank is up. And of course, it grants a +8 bonus to will saves (which includes the Orb's dominate effect) - so I'd think she'd be inclined to help. All she has to do is fly up to Volstus and breath on the orb - then it explodes, subjecting volstus to that 20d10 breath weapon, and leaving him next to two VERY ANGRY red dragons....

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I think I'm going to remove the bomb. Let the PCs fight their way up through the castle as it flies towards civilization. If Avistan loses a city or two, oh well lol.

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grandpoobah wrote:

Blowing up the Castle:

(A realistic scenario):

- if the PCs kill the Black Scorpion at B1 before it severs the one of the two remaining chains, then the castle is secured by two chains. The adventure mentions the castle can do a forced take-off if only one chain remains (it makes no mention of how easy it is to move with two chains)

- With the castle stuck over the Caldera, or at least slowed down, the PCs could reach the bomb within 10-20 minutes of the start of Chapter 6.

- There is no reason to attack the giants in Area E, they cannot hurt the PCs at range (the ballista attacks are laughable at range). The PCs could easily use Fly magic to ascend to the castle, then approach the landing platforms at F2 in 10 rounds are less (with Fly, Haste, Mass Fly, Airwalk, or some combination).

- Once inside, it will not take long to clear the lower level and find the bomb. The toughest fight will likely be the phase spiders (because of their phase in/out attack), but high level PCs can have wall of force, blade barrier, and readied actions.

- Once they find the bomb, how hard is it to set off? Summon a hound archon, tell him to count to 15, then Dimension door to landing platforms (F2) and fly out.

This could take as little as 20-30 minutes. The castle has a maximum speed of 500 miles per hour. It cannot possibly go any farther than 250 miles from the caldera in that time.

This doesn't have to end the campaign, either. If anything, it makes it more interesting. The PCs are somewhat unfairly forced to do the final 1/3 of book 5 and all of book 6 in the span of a day or two, possibly not even resting or getting any gear (where are they going to sell loot and buy things in that time? let alone craft or level up properly).

A new second half of book 6 is now fighting through the ruins of IronCloud keep at the base of the caldera, hunting down the last remnants of Volstus' cadre and of course, taking down Volstus himself.

At the end of book 5, the PCs likely know all the details...

Well, it's not just Volstus and his buddies.

Remember, although you've presumably killed the King Fire Giant in 5, he's still got a few hundred followers in the mountain. You blow up the Castle, it falls into the caldera, they are going to come up to figure out what happened. Remember, 6 happens just minutes after 5 - and 5 leaves behind a few pretty strong bad guys and a whole army of fire giants.

So, the party is stuck in the Caldera, fighting off Volstus and his Red Dragon, that cloud giant and his roc, whichever of Volstus' people in the cloud castle who survived the fall, AND the dozens of fire giants who are coming up to avenge their king?

Nasty.

I read 6 more as "Escape from Angry Fire Giant Army" rather than "Get Volstus".

My players made it to the engine room, took out their adamantine weapons and demolished the engine. So Ironcloud Keep crashed to the bottom of the Caldera and now its survivors, not all the PCs survived the explosion and fall either, are pretty mad. It would seem that my players have managed to by pass a great many encounters now.

 Order of the Amber Die

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Giantslayer Fans:

Our group played a marathon of Shadow of the Storm Tyrant last summer and was able to reach the end and face Volstus. The players were excited to finally explore the cloud castle they had heard of during the AP, and it lived up to their expectations. Our full report will continue to drop on our Facebook and in our PDF of The Giantslayer Endeavor; until then, I did want to leave everyone with some supplemental aids and brief tips they could use during their playthrough of this adventure.

Part 1: The caldera scene is too large to draw out entirely, so you’ll want to decide ahead of time how to represent where all the forces are located in the caldera each round. I used two sets of volcanic-looking map tiles (Hellscapes Map Pack) for a local grid showing party placement, and then used the rest of the large table we played on for a more general understanding of where the scorpions, tower, and ash giants were. The carnivorous crystals were too slow to be any consequence in this enormous encounter. One player assisted with tracking distances between creatures on the board, and we saw good use of two gargantuan miniatures here as well. GMs might find it useful to check out photos of how we played through part one, and these can be found in the “Grid Gallery” section of the The Giantslayer Endeavor document, and also on our Facebook.

Part 2: This is a rare opportunity as GM to experience running a castle built on a 15' scale. Drawing out entire levels of the castle for your players is tough due to its massive size; most levels would take 3 interconnected Chessex Mondomats to complete. While I was tempted to throw down another 26 hours to complete something like the Tomb of Skirkatla, a short prep schedule due to GenCon 2015 prevented that option. One of my players always brings lots of dungeon trappings to sessions, so we decided to try and get a little creative for this one. Dungeon Tiles or Chessex Mats were used for a floor base, along with some plastic wall pieces from an old game called Crossbows and Catapults, and Dwarven Forge accessories provided icing. The Paizo Blog has a couple of examples, and if you want to see more, the Grid Gallery and Facebook from Part 1 above are good places to look.

Part 4: At first, Volstus was simply too much for our group; they found it nearly futile to challenge him in the sky where he was strongest, so the party opted for a more unconventional approach and tried to lure him into the castle by descending through the observatory. The Storm Tyrant then called on all of his remaining commanders to hunt the party down, which made for a considerably difficult and unexpected situation for our group. As GM, you'll want to be prepared to describe exactly how any surviving commanders join the fight with Volstus. When our group first fled back down into the castle, things got a little hectic because it was important for me to be precise in tracking which commanders responded first and where they would likely be in the castle at any given time. In situations like these, I sometimes call a short break in the action to sort things out and make sure I play everything right--this is the end of your campaign after all, and slowing the pace down even at a crucial moment has always been preferred by my players to an accidental death or especially TPK (which is on the line here). Storm of Vengeance seemed useful for stopping missiles and arrows, but it left most of the heavy lifting to Akazerath because of the concentration requirement (not to mention it causes other problems for both the dragon and Volstus). From reading the tactics section, it seemed like the author intended him to be able to unleash a lot more of his abilities quickly and in the early rounds, but this is hampered by having to concentrate on storm of vengeance.

Now that we've finished this AP (and licking our wounds), all of us would love to hear stories of how other groups fared against Volstus. Please reach out to us on The Giantslayer Endeavor Thread or on our Facebook and tell us how it went!

Final Notes:

-The throne was not placed on the map for room F43; our photos of this battle show where we placed it according to the room's description.

-Tito Leati mentons on p. 21 that you might want to impose climb checks for ascending staircases; even a DC 5 climb for medium creatures will still slow players down considerably (despite accelerated climb) and force them to acquire an appreciation for how large the castle really is.

-If the castle is already moving fast, make sure to consider the speed of the castle during Yaoguai battle (p.22), as each round the Yaoguai or any flying PCs should be shifted accordingly on the grid to account for the moving castle.

Hope this helps some of you in your run of Shadow of the Storm Tyrant, and good luck!

I posted my review of this book for those who may be interested.

Giantslayer Book 6

I really appreciated the "down to X" / "up to Y" indications on all the stairways. These are great and should be on all maps! However the one that says "Up to F10b" on the first floor map should say "Down to F10b", which caused some confusion.

The rents in the force field are underdescribed. How big are they? Does finding one completely negate the force field? Also, how far down does the force field go? Apparently it isn't meant to cover the engine level?

Where is the cloud? The giants in the engine level are supposed to fire at the PCs, yet the chains pass through the cloud and it is supposed to hamper the yaoguai. The art shows the engine level completely inside the cloud on p. 23, probably also on p. 8 (though in that one the bottom of the stone sticks out). If so, the giants firing downward are useless.

The GM should work out in advance which rooms have broken walls allowing access. My PCs flew around outside and it was hard to inform them--I missed one and they were annoyed. I believe they are F51, F54 and F56 (all trapped). Also it may help to know that F56, shown in an inset map, is (I think!) on top of F55.

GMs should be aware that a night attack makes it very easy for the PCs to bypass the whole ash-giant segment, as nothing will ever be able to see them. (The giants are "keeping a close eye" on the passage from over 500 feet away.) If you don't want this, I recommend lighting the whole cavern with pools and rivers of lava. Some lava "waterfalls" would be scenic!

Any tips on how to run the potential for flying encounters? I'm running this for PFS, so they are getting dropped in halfway through the castle with the bomb already diffused. I have a vague notion about giving them some sort of percentile or perception checks while they are in open areas to be spotted, but I'm curious if others had another way of handling that since obviously it can radically alter how the entire scenario plays out.

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Mary Yamato wrote:
The art shows the engine level completely inside the cloud on p. 23, probably also on p. 8 (though in that one the bottom of the stone sticks out). If so, the giants firing downward are useless.

The giants use their scopes of stormsight to ignore the cloud.

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On the bomb:

How come an explosion powerful enough to "[break] off an immense wedge of rock in the castle’s base . . . about 50,000 tons of shattered rock" and collapse multiple floors of the keep, when the walls have 2700 hp per 10 ft section. . .

. . . only does "12d6 points of fire damage and 12d6 points of bludgeoning damage to all creatures in the duct that are within 90 feet of the bomb"?

PCs should be instantly vaporized, no save, by an explosion that could fell the cloud castle.

I really think the challenge in this adventure as well as the previous book needs to be turned up. Way to many low CR encounters, I can’t believe there is only one storm giant for the entire adventure path. I’m thinking about adding Storm Giant captains to all the cloud giant squads. As well as many other things to this campaign.
Now that I have read all six books I can start to add my own touches.
A shadow giant Rogue template Horizon walker assassin will be in my heroes future for sure.

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How did other GMs handle parties resting or attempting to leave the fortress and return in this book?

How are they trying to leave?
Teleport? Or something else?

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Joey Virtue wrote:

How are they trying to leave?

Teleport? Or something else?

Teleport or flying I would expect.

They haven't got there yet.

Currently my reading of the book is that the party seem to be expected to rush in (without a rest after the last part of book 5) and then go straight through the whole of book 6 without replenishing spells or abilities at any point.

Mainly I'm looking to check that with other folks who have GM'd it to see if I'm misreading that or if that's actually part of the author's plan.

Yeah I can’t see a party doing that ever

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A bit of bump here as I'm about to start reffing this book this weekend

Did your parties get to rest anywhere ? Did they leave the cloud citadel and come back somehow?

If no to all this, how did you handle leveling?

How did it work out in terms of challenge either way?

Mainly asking because plot wise it feels like the whole book should be one break-neck run through as the party invade the flying castle, which is very cool flavour wise. But my concern is are the stats assuming the party get their spells and other abilities back once in a while? (as book 1 seemed too)

There aren't that many enemies in the castle considering how big it is. I understand that is because the Storm Tyrant killed a lot of them. My playes are resting in on the engine floor after clearing it out.

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Thinking about doing my god-awful rewrite treatment to this book. There would be significantly less that Is change, but I have some big changes in mind.

Changing Volstus's class (magus seems the current plan, though sorcerer is also under consideration).

I've also added a few significant NPC's and a secret weapon to his arsenal so his plan isn't "big army of giants and some orcs mebbe".

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Hmm, aren't there a few "smaller" giants in the Castle? the place would probably be difficult for large creatures as well.

Artofregicide wrote:
Changing Volstus's class (magus seems the current plan, though sorcerer is also under consideration).

you would also have to consider changing some of his gears.

Joey Virtue wrote:
I really think the challenge in this adventure as well as the previous book needs to be turned up. Way to many low CR encounters, I can’t believe there is only one storm giant for the entire adventure path. I’m thinking about adding Storm Giant captains to all the cloud giant squads. As well as many other things to this campaign.

the Cloud Giants can already be tough customers, but I agree that the lack of Storm Giants is a bit weird

Souls At War wrote:

Hmm, aren't there a few "smaller" giants in the Castle? the place would probably be difficult for large creatures as well.

Artofregicide wrote:
Changing Volstus's class (magus seems the current plan, though sorcerer is also under consideration).

you would also have to consider changing some of his gears.

Joey Virtue wrote:
I really think the challenge in this adventure as well as the previous book needs to be turned up. Way to many low CR encounters, I can’t believe there is only one storm giant for the entire adventure path. I’m thinking about adding Storm Giant captains to all the cloud giant squads. As well as many other things to this campaign.
the Cloud Giants can already be tough customers, but I agree that the lack of Storm Giants is a bit weird

Yes, large creatures would be more or less be on the position of the PCs most of the AP.

Yeah, I did a complete rebuild, keeping the artifacts and iconic items (armor, weapon).

I'm considering including a Storm Giant or few, but I've already added quite q few interesting unique encounters including a very powerful, venerable cyclops diviner to replace the naga. He's actually increasingly at odds with Volstus, allowing for a non-combat solution...