Adventure Paths that you can succeed in without killing the boss villain(s)?

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Tried searching for this, but surprisingly didn't come up:

Which Adventure Paths that can you succeed in (enough to prevent whatever disaster is threatened) without killing the boss villain(s)? Not actually having any of the Adventure Paths, here's my best guesses based upon what I have read (including following PbPs):

Plot Spoiler just in case:

Rise of the Runelords: Does NOT seem like a good candidate for this. Opponents are VERY malign and dangerous.

Curse of the Crimson Throne: By default, seems like not a good candidate for this. However, by some interpretations (probably all unofficial, though), Queen Ileosa might be redeemable if freed from Kazavon's influence. A subset of the lesser bosses might be capturable so that you could turn them in to the Korvosan Guard instead of killing them.

Second Darkness: Although many of the villains are portrayed as ones many people wouldn't WANT to avoid killing, you have to leave quite a lot of them alive out of sheer necessity, even if your inclinations run to the murderhobo side of things.

Legacy of Fire: Not sure, but doesn't look too optimistic so far.

Council of Thieves: Mixed bag -- more roleplaying heavy than most, and you really shouldn't be killing some of the intermediate villain bosses -- this is not an Adventure Path for Murderhoboes. Still up in the air about whether it is possible to succeed without killing the 2 final bosses -- the otherwise excellent PbP that I followed of this unfortunately suffered from loss of Gm at a late crucial point. On the other hand, if you aren't killing the more villainous bosses, you're probably having to cut deals with them.

Kingmaker: Another roleplaying-heavy AP that is not friendly to murderhoboes. You aren't going to be able to avoid killing every boss villain, but if you try to kill them all, you're going to become just another of the latest victims of the Stolen Lands.

Serpent's Skull: Not sure, although from what I can gather, in this one you really need to kill most of the villains, who pose existential threats,

Carrion Crown: Another existential threat AP. You're not going to have much luck hauling Vampires off to jail, unless you can somehow establish the Golarion equivalent of SCP, and even if you succeeded, it would be extremely risky (and likely to morph into the organization depicted in Cabin in the Woods).

Jade Regent: Not sure.

Skull and Shackles: Even if the GM does the incredible work of rewriting this as a non-Evil AP, it looks like you're going to be either killing main villains or cutting deals with them.

Shattered Star: Not sure. This AP seems to suffer severrely from PbP infant mortality.

Reign of Winter: Looks like you have to kill them all, except for pledging yourself into the service of the very worst one, who as far as I can tell, is for all practical purposes absolutely unkillable without some extreme metagame shenanigans.

Wrath of the Righteous: Another existential threat AP, but looks like 1 or 2 boss villains are potentially cut out for redemption. However, this AP has suffered severely from PbP infant mortality, so hard to be sure.

Mummy's Mask: Another existential threat AP. Indiana Jones didn't leave behind any major villains, even though several died not by his hand, and you won't either.

Iron Gods: Uh . . . any way to do what the sequels to 2001 did with HAL-9000?

Giantslayer: Not sure, but previous feedback on these boards has been negative about this prospect in this AP.

Hell's Rebels, Hell's Vengeance: Not out yet, although it sounds like the latter is an Evil AP anyway.

Cautious, spoiler-wary dot.

Silver Crusade Contributor

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I'll be back, with a long, long post.

Or I'll forget. ^_^

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I’ve read Kingmaker (and been the GM for half of it), and I’m currently GMing Jade Regent.

Kingmaker spoilers:

There are quite a few villains in Kingmaker who can potentially be captured, exiled, bargained with or redeemed. And the Kingmaker forum on this messageboard has some discussions about how the plot can be altered slightly to allow an option for the PCs to redeem the main villain of the AP.

Jade Regent spoilers:

As written, most of the major villains can’t be redeemed. There’s a lot of travelling, so the PCs may be able to avoid killing some of the villains simply by going around them (and leaving them behind for someone else to deal with…) And there’s scope for making alliances with a few of the minor evil characters.

In the final book, PCs may be able to disrupt alliances between the major villains, and this could lead to the redemption of some of them.

Paizo Employee

Shattered Star:
Shattered Star doesn't really have a "boss villain" per se. It's actually possible to completely skip the 6th book.

Once the sixth book gets kicked off, though, you're probably stuck killing its boss. There isn't much latitude for a better ending in the text, but one could be added pretty easily.

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Why would you not want to kill the boss! Why go all the way thru a campaign, get up to 15-17th level then say Ah... We're good, let's just go home guys, I'm sure it'll work itself out without us :-)

Dark Archive

Mummy's Mask:
Hakotep convinced the morally dubious Kitsune Necromancer to side with him, so he got to live. On the Necromancer's turn, he Quickened a Horrid Wilting with his rod , and then Spell Perfection empowered a Canopic Conversion. 249 Damage and a bunch of failed saves later, Hakotep had a new general and some new mummy Lieutenants.

So close! The ] should go after the = not Mummy's Mask, I did that too:-)

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Regarding Skull & Shackles, you could leave the final boss alone and still "win".

The person threatening the Shackles is Admiral Druvalia Thrune. After you kill her and defeat her armada, you could easily turn down Tessa Fairwind's suggestion that you depose the Hurricane King. If you do that he probably just thanks you for your help and keeps on ruling. Heck, if you decide you're going to stay loyal to him, maybe Tessa Fairwind becomes the end boss, albeit a much easier one, haha!

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Technically in Wrath of the Righteous

Killing Deskari and Baphomet are both optional encounters.

Most of the AP bosses are such absolute monsters that they're actual blights upon existence, and I'd view an attempt to redeem them to be a bad joke.

I'm sure there's exceptions to this, but it's incredibly rare.

Reign of Winter:

Nazhena - murders children and makes soulbound dolls from them.

Radosek - Nazhena's lover/apprentice/accomplice. He doesn't regret anything he's done, except to the extent that it's about to bite him in the ass.

Vsevolod - champion of Kostchtchie the Deathless Frost, demon lord of misogyny. Ritually sacrificing female spellcasters is a key tenant of his religion.

Yrax, Lord of the Howling Storm - a white dragon warlord that enslaves entire nations. Hilariously, you probably COULD have a reasonable discussion, but the future of Triaxus is so much better if he's gone. You certainly aren't going to change his ways, though - he's been chaotic evil and kicking ass for over 700 years, and has no honest incentive to stop.

Rasputin - casually condemned his own soldiers to be fodder for vampires, among other deeds. Rasputin seeks ascension, and the ramifications will be terrible.

Elvanna - on top of the various crimes against humanity that are part and parcel of being queen of Irrisen (where humans are the primary food supply), plans to turn Golarion into an ice cube, as a sacrifice to her own power.

Baba Yaga - "That's cute, deary. Now, shoo."

Edit: Nyrissa's one of the few exceptions I can think of - what's wrong with her isn't actually her own fault.

(Though winning without killing her would be a good trick....)

Killing the Big Bad Boss is one of the most fun things! ^_^

In Wrath of the Righteous you don't HAVE to kill

but it's cooler if you do. He's a meanie.

Even if you don't redeem a boss villain, in some cases it might be beneficial to bring them in alive, for trial or otherwise.

This does not necessarily have to be a benevolent act -- for instance,

Rise of the Runelords:

While it would be extremely risky, I'm sure that the Decemvirate and the Arclords of Nex would probably pay a hefty reward for somebody bringing Karzoug in alive. They would want him the way the US wanted Werner von Braun at the end of the Second World War.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

OP - are you sure you're using the word 'existential' correctly? :-P

I had one Kingmaker game end with the final boss left alive.

Council of Thieves


It just might be possible to cut a deal with Pavleen of the Bastards depending on DM ruling.

Book 2 has the otyugh in the Knot as very unreasonable so it will go down.

Book 3: Some of the encounters(Sisters for example) are possible to end with negotiation. The vampires in Delvehaven are for certain a battle to the death.

Book 4: There is a possibility to not fight the Pit Fiend

Book 5. Ilnerik is a most definite must-kill since he isn't going to let go the Totemtrix otherwise.

Book 6: SOme negotiation is possible, most notably with Chammedy, her brother will go down swinging however.

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Age of Worms:

You can succeed in Rise of the Runelords without killing certain ones, particularly the last boss.

I guess I misunderstood the question, so thinking over this again (sticking to APs I've run or played in)...

Rise of the Runelords:
Naulia's past redemption, but she may well belong in an insane asylum. Capturing her would end her plots - except she'd be sent to Magnimar, where Xanesha could just spring her out again.

The Skinsaw Man pretty much HAS to die, and killing him will be a mercy.

Xanesha and Ironbriar would logically be executed by the City of Magnimar if captured and exposed.

You could let Lucrecia, Mammy Graul, the Kreeg Ogres, and Barl Breakbones live, but justice will demand their deaths. And I can't picture a party going through the Graul or Fort Ranak and going "we should show these people mercy!"

Mokmurian will be killed by Karzoug if defeated.

The various Runeforge commanders have their own quirks - some are willing to surrender (like the conjurer), some can be bought off (like the succubus), but others will fight to the bitter end (the Wrathlady, the Mithril Mage, etc.)

Karzoug can be imprisoned in the Eye of Avarice by breaking the Soul Lens. But not killing him could mean he'll start trying to build a new one. Allowing Karzoug to "resurrect" so that you can try to take him prisoner strikes me as an epicly bad idea.


The Staglord should be executed for his crimes, regardless of whether the party personally kills him.

The giant owlbear is under Nyrissa's influence, so have fun controlling it. As for Hargulka, sparing the life of a troll warlord seems foolish at best. Mere defeat will not stop him.

Sparing Vordekai is an act of near-suicidal stupidity.

Draelov can be spared. Armag's a genocidal maniac. At best, you could keep him imprisoned for the rest of his life I guess?

Irraveti could be spared but holy hell, why would you? He's the sort of dude who pays wyverns by feeding them villages and puts his city's worst serial killer in charge of his dungeon (which contains random abducted actresses!).

Nyrissa... is special. I believe death is required to stop the Blooms, yet, you may do something with her post death...

Serpent's Skull:
Gonna have to echo Kobold Cleaver here: No.

Serpentfolk are problematic, and are your enemies to the death.

And Ydersius? Yeah, ain't happening.

Carrion Crown:
Hetna Dublesse is like the only villian in the entire AP I could see sparing. And you'd either have to let her go or functionally turn her over to the Caliphas vampires, which amounts to killing her.

Sparing Vorstag and Grine amounts to letting them win, though Lepidstaht should execute them if they're turned over.

The Splatterman (who is relentless), the Aberrant Promethean (which is mindless), and the Dark Young (who is causing an apocalypse!) MUST die to complete those adventures.

And leaving Auren Vrood or Adivian Adrissant alive amounts to suicidal stupidity.

So Carrion Crown's mostly a resounding NO.

Curse of the Crimson Throne:
Letting Gaedren Lamb live defeats the whole point of the opening.

The good Doctor Daedalus and Lady Andaisan will be killed by Ileosa to cover her tracks if the party doesn't kill them.

The Arkonas can be spared (and Glorio's an optional objective anyways!), but they're absolute monsters.

Cinnabar WANTS to die - her honest goal is suicide by PCs. A History of Ashes is such an odd adventure...

There will be no reasoning and no quarter to be given at Scarwall.

Ileosa... I suppose you COULD capture her and imprison her instead of putting her down. But she will always remain a lingering threat, and may cause enormous problems just by continuing to exist - her infernal contract is still in effect, after all!

Reign of Winter:
You can spare Nazhena and Radosek, but that will just mean facing them again in the future (possibly as form of undead, even - the Winter Witches don't take failure well).

You CAN spare Vsevolod, but that's a terrible idea - he's a relentless foe.

You CAN spare Yrax, but that leaves his power unbroken. If you want to help the Skyfire Mandate, you shouldn't do that!

You CAN spare Rasputin, but that's a terrible idea - you may well have him breaking free of any binds and trying to invade the Hut during book 6!

Elvanna's expected to die to complete the adventure - and if she doesn't, well, Dear Grandmother has a score to settle.

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Transylvanian Tadpole wrote:
OP - are you sure you're using the word 'existential' correctly? :-P

Serves me right for getting my definitions from the news media . . .

* * * * * * * *

Rise of the Runelords:

Now that I think about it, an interesting twist to occur shortly after the PCs find out about (but have not yet met) Karzoug: The Pathfinder Society, the Arclords of Nex, and/or the Aspis Consortium (the more, the merrier) contact the PCs trying to task them withing bringing Karzoug in to them alive. They all want to give him the Werner von Braun experience, but only one of can succeed (at least at any one time).

* * * * * * * *

For Curse of the Crimson Throne with a different take on Ileosa, see this campaign journal (spoilers are in the thread). Then petition Paizo to hire Inspectre to do Curse of the crimson Throne Anniversary Edition.

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I disagree with one of Zhangar's statements concerning Rise of the Runelords...

...because I can see Nualia being redeemed by a party that works hard enough on doing so.

That said, I agree with most of the others, but things don't always go exactly by the book in every gaming table.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Shaun wrote:

Regarding Skull & Shackles, you could leave the final boss alone and still "win".

** spoiler omitted **

I had to *force* things a little here to get the second half of the final book to even happen!

how things went:
Player decides to be romantically involved with the Besmarian cleric from the first book. He later leaves her dead after she dies and he finds a TON of cash to pay for the rez. Besmara played both sides to bring the cleric back as a high level lich/cleric ensuring that she would control the Shackles one way or the other. Players killed the lich and the Hurricane King and got the Shackles as a bonus prize.

Icyshadow wrote:

I disagree with one of Zhangar's statements concerning Rise of the Runelords...

** spoiler omitted **

That said, I agree with most of the others, but things don't always go exactly by the book in every gaming table.


Nualia is such a hardcore follower of Lamashtu that she's actually begun the process of demonic transformation.

Redeeming that is sort of like trying to pull someone back up a cliff after she jumped off.

I'd expect such a redemption to take extraordinary measures, possibly well beyond the initial means of the PCs. Though once the PCs are superpowers in their own rights, nothing's really off the table.

But in other words, redeeming Nualia's probably isn't feasible until much higher level - the corrupted aasimar's got a direct pipeline to Lamashtu, and a would-be redeemer doesn't stand a chance until you can bust that pipeline somehow.


I suppose how to handle Ileosa depends a lot on whether you view her to be a victim or not.

My interpretation is that Kazavon merely gave her the will and nerve necessary to do things she'd only fantasized about beforehand. Kazavon's probably got some control early on while she's still low level, but she's firmly in charge by Book 3, and everything from then on is all her. (After all, she's eventually got a +23 will save v. the Crown's ego score of 10 =P)

Scarab Sages

Here is my groups situation going into our finale session of Mummy's Mask:

Hakotep the Stony:
One part of the split soul of Hakotep is contained within a woman who goes by the moniker The Forgotten Pharaoh. Plot demands you kill her in Book 4 so that 2/3 soul Mummy Lord Hakotep can awaken and start his conquest of Osirion.

Except my group beat FP into submission, removed her threat capabilities (6 stat curses, -4 on rolls curse, reroll 20's take worst curse, cut her tongue out, cut all but one of her fingers off), stuck a ring of sustenance and necklace of adaptation on her, and chucked her into a porthole. Conversing with some outsiders for info, they set out to find Hakotep's tomb and lay his soul to rest without the whole Mummy Tyrant part. Along the way, they found a handy way to petrify the FP, further making her a desk ornament until the finale.

Once they clear the last dungeon, they're actually going to have to kill the FP at some point to rejoin Hakotep's soul, which is unfortunate. Their current plan consists of the following:
1 - break the head off the FP statue
2 - ready an action to place the mask on the mummy of Hakotep
3 - bind the mummy of Hakotep so it cannot ever even move
4 - ready an action to coup de grace Hakotep after the mask is placed
5a - cast Break Enchantment on the decapitated FP, killing her, freeing IB, rejoining it to BA
5b - place mask on mummy, joining KA to IB & BA
5c - smash Hakotep's head with adamantine battering ram. Fort DC on a CDG for that PC is in the DC120 range
6 - WIN

I may go ahead and let the party level to 18 prior to them rejoining the body, so that the Oracle can attempt a miracle to siphon the IB out of the FP. I'm also debating on whether putting the Mask on the Mummy first will make the BA/KA combo reanimate as a zomber or something, but for the ultimate nonlethal solution, it could go like this:

A) Mask on Mummy, nothing happens, since the malevolent will of the IB is still in the FP
B) Siphon out IB, goes into body
C) Body is dead from whatever Hakotep died of anyway OR
D) Body is restored to youthful vigor to be taken as a prisoner to the Ruby Prince. Tongue and Finger mutilation required.

If you go with end method C, then yes, Mummy's Mask can be completed without killing the Mid Boss or the Final Boss!

Scarab Sages

OH, also Mummy's Mask's Sub-Bosses:

Scorched Hand:
Just don't kill them.

Nebta Kufre:
Take his mask, turn him into Sebti for Phrasmin Justice!

They've already taken Chisisek, so she's really just there to be a disappointment to the FP when she can't kill you and you sent her off to live.

Forgotten Pharaoh:
Nonlethal and captive for Book 6 shenanigans

He fought with my group as an Ally hoping to get out of his contract with Hakotep by any means.

Silver Crusade Contributor

archmagi1, how do your PCs know all this? Not to cast aspersions on them, but if my players went to those lengths, I'd seriously suspect that one or more had been reading the adventures and metagaming...

Scarab Sages

Major mm spoilage

Well when they took her alive, they spent some serious coin with sebti and the grand mausoleum to analyze her to figure out 1) how she was possessed to a point where break enchantment wouldn't work and 2) why she wanted the mask so bad.

They communed with a few servitors of pharasma and found out that the mask held hakoteps ka, and the fp held his ba. Research in book 3 corroborated this in the suspicions of the blue feather and prisoner. Their knowledge from book three also says that the remaining third, the ba is the part of the soul being the body. The aeon hypothesized that should the fp die that the in would seek out another part of the soul to try to move to the afterlife. The mask with its nondetection effect makes the ib unable to find it as well.

They put two and two together that killing the fp is bad, so they decided to find the body and prevent anything bad from occurring.

After they figured pit what they were doing I threw the meta out the window anyway.

Scarab Sages

Pardon typos, on mobile.

Also, if you have a spellcaster as a prisoner, you always cut out their tongue and mangle their hands. If they have stilled silent spells good for them.

Silver Crusade Contributor

I did start adding Silent/Still Spell to NPC spellcasters after a while.

Also, your PCs sound very... pragmatic. Not a lot of paladins in your group, I'm guessing? (Or a very different interpretation of the paladin's code.)

Scarab Sages

Na two lns, one n and one "goodish." They adventured first for profit, then a bit for revenge, then moar legendary profits. They're the no nonsense, excessive planning, completely destroy every corpse for minimal enemy ressurection or zombies. I'm afraid though that after a year and a half in those characters, that it's irrevocably changed the players themselves to ln profiteers.

So far, as players (I haven't read any of the adventures), making deals has been a positive tactic for us in Skull and Shackles. We could be setting ourselves up for betrayal, but I'm cautiously optimistic. There are some enemies we're really gunning for, though.

From Inspectre's Curse of the Crimson Throne Campaign Journal:

Reign of Winter:
Now that I think about Reign of Winter more, it seems to me think all the more that Good PCs should do everything possible to avoid going into the service of or otherwise allying with ANY member of the Baba Yaga/Jadwiga family, and seek to get them to fight each other, and then hit the victor with everything they've got. Alternatively, since Baba Yaga is the one is for all practical purposes immortal, but starts out trapped, maybe just leave her trapped, and gain power and take on Elvanna yourself, and meanwhile try to stall for time on the world getting over-refrigerated.

This poses the opportunity for an interesting twist that sort of inverts the intent in my original post: The PCs embark on that path, and somebody else with less scruples signs up with Baba Yaga, and now the PCs have to try to thwart them to keep them from releasing Baba Yaga. Bonus points for making the party serving Baba Yaga (that the PCs are trying to thwart) look like a PC party.

This got kind of ramble-y.

Reign of Winter:
As written, the adventure can't be completed without taking Black Rider's Mantle.

Having the Black Rider's Mantle is what prevents the Dancing Hut (a CR 17 construct) from killing the party, and allows the party to destroy the minor-artifact dimensional shackles on the Hut.

Without the Mantle the party would reach the Hut and probably be done, because they aren't strong enough to subdue it and break the manacle.

Alternatively, reaching Book 6 but refusing to work with Baba Yaga would require significantly rewriting Book 6.

As written, the PCs can't even reach Elvanna without Baba Yaga's help.

Baba Yaga might be trapped in that doll, but they still need her and she needs them if they're going to stop Elvanna and her eternal winter ritual.

In short, Book 6 is about weakening Baba Yaga's doll prison to the point where she can finally get the party into the heart of the Dancing Hut, where they can finally defeat Elvanna. If they kill Elvanna and then refuse to let Baba Yaga out of the doll, then the winter ritual simply continues on its way towards ecological disaster (though Elvanna no longer gets a personal benefit from it), AND the party becomes trapped at the "center" of the Hut.

Also, Elvanna's trying to seize all of Baba Yaga's power as her own. So there is a time limit on the whole thing, though a "soft" timer - one set by the GM.

So if the party decides to deal with the situation by refusing to do the adventure path, doing their own thing to gain power, letting Elvanna win, and then trying to stop her afterwards, they should honestly be facing Elvanna as a CR 30 opponent.

Though I guess the real bottom line is that if the party completely refuses the Black Rider's Mantle, then book 2 is the end of the line because they can't use the Hut (they can't break the shackle without spamming Disjunctions at it, and the Hut itself will try to kill them if they come too close). They'll probably wind up joining the Heralds of Summer's Return and fighting the good fight against Elvanna, but it's going to be a horribly uphill battle of cat and mouse (i.e., at 7th level they're no match for Elvanna's forces), and various other events that the party could have stopped will not be stopped.

Vsevolod conquers Artrosia, possibly as a fortress for Kostchtchie or even opening a second Worldwound.

Spurhorn falls, and Yrax, Lord of the Howling Storm, launches an invasion of the Skyfire Mandate.

Rapsutin slays Baba Yaga with the World Engine and attains ascension, with horrible, horrible ramifications for Earth (and also giving Elvanna an incredibly powerful ally to call upon) .

Elvanna, who cannot be reached without Elvanna's permission, completes her ritual and claims the Hut as her own, gaining many of Baba Yaga's powers (the Hut as her familiar and the resulting bonuses, Baba Yaga's laundry list of immunities, the Queen of Witches ability, possibly becomes mythic, etc.) Elvanna finally emerges from the Hut's inner sanctuary and can be engaged, but good luck with that. The eternal winter ritual is now proceeding at full power, and even if Elvanna's actually beaten, the party still needs to breach the Hut's inner canctum (or, alternatively, go on the quest to destroy the Winter Collectors and Controller!) to stop the eternal winter.

So yeah, the party COULD refuse the Black Rider's Mantle, but them doing so would amount to abandoning the AP plot and pretty much result in failing the adventure.

Reign of Winter:

Of course, if another party decided to go into Baba Yaga's sservic, it is conceivable that the PC party might be able to sneak into the hut on their tail.

Other than that, they could engage in hit-and-run attacks to disrupt things needed for the Ritual of Eternal Winter -- have the mice actually feighting a hard-core guerilla war against the cat. Think Asymmetric Warfare.

I don't actually have this AP, so I don't know what the World Engine does, or what Rasputin's ascension would do on Earth. Earth has had to put up with much worse than Rasputin, though (both before and after).

Actually thought of another twist to add: Since the party is from Taldor (although not directed by the Taldan government), have the other (quasi-PC) party be a party sent by Cheliax (which, when they discover the PC party, at least initially assume that the PC party is secretly operating under instructions from the Taldan government). Again, make sure that the opposing (Chelaxian) party is really well fleshed out -- both with regard to character development (in a PbP, at a minimum, have separate character icons for all of them) and with regard to a high level of optimization at both the individual character and party level (and should be powerful enough and sufficiently smoothly oiled that the PCs risk defeat even if they get the initial upper hand in an ambush). This opposing party would be a thorn in the PCs side, but would also be necessary for keeping the AP on track, but would also unwittingly need the PCs to keep them from destroying or taking something or someone too soon, and to figure out the various folkloric things in the AP that their Infernal/Hellknight background might blind them to.

Continuing Reign of Winter discussion:
Ah, okay, here's some key details:

The mid-point of book 1 is when the party actually reaches a Winter Portal in Taldor - the portal is how Irrisen's eternal witner encroaches into Taldor.

At the portal the party meets the dying Black Rider, a LN fey servant of Baba Yaga. He explains to the party the basics of what's happening, and grants them his Mantle (which comes with a +2 inherent bonus to a stat of the PC's choice) before dying and also leaving behind a pair of keys for the Hut.

There are two other Riders, White and Red, but they were caught and killed. (Though having one of these Riders manage to escape and pass on their own mantles before dying is a possible solution if you need to introduce a new PC later. So I guess in this scenario the Cheliax party met the Red or White Rider and accepted the mantle, while the Taldor party met the Black Rider and rejected his mantle.)

Having a Mantle allows a PC to (1) approach the Hut without getting eviscerated (it's rather peeved and views all comes as enemies, otherwise) and (2) destroy its minor artifact dimensional shackles (which prevent any entrance into the Hut while active, because the Hut is demiplanes all the way down).

The Dancing Hut has 120 ft blindsight, among other things. Fooling it isn't really possible.

So in this case, the Cheliax party with their mantle breaks the dimensional shackle, hops into the Hut, checks out a few rooms (killing a golem left behind as a guardian and meeting the Hut's kikimori, who explains how the Hut works), and then activates the Cauldron and warps the Hut a continent eastward to Iobaria.

The Taldor party would probably lose whoever first approached the Hut (it's CR 17), and then watch the Hut bweep away. If against all odds they somehow get in, then they're running directly into the Cheliax party inside of the entrance room that has the Cauldron.

At this point the Cheliax party would start doing the rest of the AP, while the Taldor party gets to muck around in Irrisen, running interference and hoping that Elvanna's 19th level daughter that's been left in charge doesn't catch them and worse than kill them.

If the Cheliax party then successfully does the AP,vanquishes Elvanna, and releases Baba Yaga, everything the Taldor party is doing is honestly meaningless - though the Cheliax party might wind up becoming the new rulers of Irrisen and needing to drive the Taldor party out!

The World Engine is a magitech artifact that was built by Elvanna and Rasputin (along with a Russian master engineer using Tesla's notes), and used by them to defeat and imprison Baba Yaga.

Rasputin (who is Baba Yaga's son, and thus Elvanna's half-brother) is now using the World Engine to destroy Baba Yaga (as in, yes, he's actually going to kill her despite her normal immortality) and grant himself mythic power.

Elvanna in the meantime is performing a ritual in the Hut to become its new mistress (the Hut is Baba Yaga's witch familiar and gives her a LOT of power), and is causing the eternal winter practically as a side effect that she doesn't mind.

This bears repeating - Elvanna can't be reached where she in the Hut without Baba Yaga's help or Elvanna's permission. Any attempts to disrupt the ritual is a delaying tactic at best, because the Taldor party can't actually breach the ritual site itself. And Elvanna becomes a CR 25 to 30 immortal Schrodinger's Witch if she actually completes the ritual. (The Queen of Witches ability I mentioned before that Baba Yaga has - Baba Yaga has every single witch spell, every single wizard spell, has almost every single cleric spell (GM's discretion as to what she doesn't have, and due to her mythic wild arcana power, she can cast any of those on the fly. Elvanna inherits that ability if she succeeds. On top of several other things, like an immunity list rivaling a demigod.)

Rasputin's already an 18th level oracle with miracle. If he becomes mythic, he becomes that much more powerful - easily more than anybody on 1918 Earth can handle, and probably more than the Taldor party could hope to face, should he decide to visit his sister's kingdom on Golarion (which he could easily do as a mythic oracle - interplanetary teleport).

So the Taldor party would be pretty utterly screwed if the Cheliax party ultimately failed and TPK'd along the way, allowing Rasputin and Elvanna to complete their goals.

Does switching sides count?

^Switching sides certainly could count. Probably not a way to succeed at most APs, but as posted above by others, it sounds like it could fit into Skull & Shackles without causing too much more trouble than is already in effect. Wonder if this will also be true for the upcoming Hell's Vengeance, which is another Evil AP by default(*), although I have seen one take on Skull & Shackles that made it a Good AP with heroic rewriting work, although unfortunately that PbP has died -- too bad, since the rewrite was also a massive improvement over the as-written beginning, or at least what seems to be the as-written beginning judging from looking at the first part of several other PbPs of this AP; the linked rewrite also pre-switched the PCs sides to Andoren, changing it from a conventional pirate AP into a privateer AP.

(*)I suppose Skull & Shackles might be technically considered a Chaotic Neutral AP, but making a living preying on shipping without regard to innocence of the victims is for all practical purposes Evil.

Reign of Winter:
If the PC party is sneaking into the Hut on the tail of the Cheliax party, from the Hut's point of view they look like more members of the Cheliax party who just happen to be using Invisibility or something like that. After all, not everyone in the Cheliax party is going to be carrying a mantle. Alternatively, they may have come to some kind of deal with the Cheliax party, who reasonably likely will have lied to the PC party about how they are getting into the Hut. All the better if this happens after a period of Asymmetric Warfare by the PCs against Elvanna's forces, which may have even gotten the attention of the Cheliax party, who decides they want to use the PCs for their own purposes. Of course, when the Cheliax party finds out about and plots to acquire the World Engine later on (and very likely tries to backstab and/or enslave the PC party in preparation, if they haven't already done so), the PC party is going to have to do something about that . . . .

Reign of Winter

the power of the black rider is the only thing keeping the hut and Baba Yaga's minions from killing anyone not Baba Yaga that enters, the mantle can't be faked you either have it or you don't, those that don't are shit out of luck, the cheliax party will have a grand old time tho, if that helps :-)

Hmmm. Okay, yeah, you haven't read the adventure at all, so I'm trying to keep that in mind. Though Captain already brought an important point...

Reign of Winter:
Actually, the entire Cheliax party SHOULD have the mantle. The Mantle is granted to every single person in the party, unless individual party members have refused for some reason.

I gave my PCs one round to go "oh crap" and declare "they're with us" for their NPCs that didn't have the Mantle.

Without that benefit... then the Cheliax party approaches the Hut, sees it "stare" down something it can "see" that they can't, and then get to watch it start shredding the invisible Taldor party.

Essentially, the Mantle lets the Hut know you belong there, and if you don't have it, it's not going to be friendly. (Also, if you manage to get into the Hut while its active and hostile, it can try to selectively eject you every single round.)

The Taldor party would HAVE to be directly working with the Cheliax party to stand a chance of getting into the Hut, and the Cheliax party could turn the Hut against them in the event of a throwdown.

Book 2 does involve a small bit of assymetric warfare - there's massive discontent in Whitethrone, and Princess Cassisoche (Elvanna's 19th level daughter) has left her great grandniece Baroness Nazhena and the white dragon Sir Logrovich in charge while Cassisoche AND Elvanna are gone. The party's first goal in Whitethrone after meeting up the resistance - the Heralds of Summer's Return - is to slay Logrovich so that the Heralds can start an uprising in Whitethrone.

The uprising is doomed and they know it (as it's done the moment Cassisoche returns), but they're hoping the party can use the diversion to get into the Hut (which is otherwise surrounded by an army) and begin the process of defeating Elvanna.

Assuming the party slays Logrovich and kicks off the rebellion, they'll then later face Baroness Nazhena outside the Hut's bone fence.

Once she's vanquished, they can then reach the Hut, break its dimensional shackle (just touching the shackle while being a Mantle bearer does the trick), enter the Hut, and then start following Baba Yaga's trail and trials.

The World Engine is destroyed in the process of defeating Rasputin and extracting Baba Yaga's matryoshka doll prison. The last thing the engineer did before Rasputin killed him was rebuild the World Engine to use Baba Yaga as its main power source (instead of the souls of dozens of murdered soldiers, who are now merely a supplemental source). Keeping the World Engine operational means leaving Baba Yaga in it and thus failing the AP =P

^That's correct, I haven't read the actual AP, just followed a PbP (just one of them for this one, since it has kept going and been pretty good). So I have seen some of those things, but through a foggy lens.

Reign of Winter:

The PbP referred to "Baba Yaga's blessing" instead of "mantle", so when I saw "mantle" in your post, I thought it referred to an actual single item that I had somehow missed (or less likely, that had been rewritten out). (I have a bad habit of not paying much attention to loot sheets and the like when following a PbP -- will need to rectify this if I actually get into a PbP myself.) So by your description, in order for my scenario to work, the Cheliax party has to notice the PC party and decide to use them at least as cannon fodder that need to be kept alive beyond the entry into the Hut.

I remember a bit about the resistance, but the PbP spent only a fairly short time with it.

With respect to the World Engine, the Cheliax party could certainly get the idea of rebuilding it yet again (or maybe even some kind of kludge short of a full rebuild) to switch it back over to using the souls of murdered soldiers (such as the PC party, if they can pull this off) instead of Baba Yaga. No guarantee that it would work, but if you were opposing them, would you want to bet on that? Especially if the Cheliax party planned to use your soul as part of the power source for World Engine 3.0? Baba Yaga might even be agreeable to such a scheme if she was rescued out of the doll prison/World Engine -- she could save for later the revelation that the Cheliax party would serve as the next power source for the World Engine after it finished with the PC party.

Scarab Sages

Landon Winkler wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

I'd like to add something to this regarding Shattered Star.

While book 6 is pretty much obligatory once it kicks off, depending on how the players approach book 2 it's entirely possible to play through it with a very low body count indeed. It might almost be possible to get through the entire book without killing anything at all although I suspect there are one or two exceptions.

Silver Crusade Contributor

Balgin wrote:
Landon Winkler wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

I'd like to add something to this regarding Shattered Star.

** spoiler omitted **

Are you talking about...

Shattered Star:
the trap in Book 2? And how ancient creatures respond to it?

UnArcaneElection wrote:

^That's correct, I haven't read the actual AP, just followed a PbP (just one of them for this one, since it has kept going and been pretty good). So I have seen some of those things, but through a foggy lens.

** spoiler omitted **

Reign of Winter:
Yes, the Cheliax party would need to see the Taldor party and invite them along as extra muscle, and then agree to keep letting the Taldor party tag along instead of ditching them.

(If I was the Cheliax party, I wouldn't trust the Taldor party one damn bit. Especially if I found that they'd met the Black Rider, and refused the Mantle out a misplaced sense of moral outrage. =P)

Yes, the party doesn't spend much time with the resistance - in part bacause the resistance can't actually win. They need the PCs to go through the AP and actually reach Elvanna.

The World Engine is functionally an artifact with a destruction condition of "remove Baba Yaga's doll or deal enough HP damage."

Since the World Engine's an artifact, it's entirely up to GM fiat for anyone to even be able to rebuild it. (I.e., by default the Cheliax and Taldor parties would examine the wreckage and realize it can't be duplicated.)

If the Taldor party accompanies the Cheliax party all the way to the end of Book 5, kills the Cheliax party there, and then refuses to work with Baba Yaga, then that's where they reach a dead end. Because they need Baba Yaga (who has limited perception and communication ability despite being trapped in the doll) to open up the way to the Hut's heart - a demiplane called Grandmother's Cauldron, from which the party (again, with Baba Yaga's help to gain access) can reach the various demiplanes containing Baba Yaga's power, death, and life.

In the end, for the party to be able to succeed without working with Baba Yaga requires GM fiat.

I never understood bringing villains back to be jailed.

If the jails could hold them with their NPC guards, why did they need an adventurer party to capture them? Most of the people you fight deserve the gallows for what they've done anyway. If you can't redeem it, murder it.

Zhangar wrote:

Reign of Winter:

Yes, the Cheliax party would need to see the Taldor party and invite them along as extra muscle, and then agree to keep letting the Taldor party tag along instead of ditching them.
(If I was the Cheliax party, I wouldn't trust the Taldor party one damn bit. Especially if I found that they'd met the Black Rider, and refused the Mantle out a misplaced sense of moral outrage. =P) {. . .}

Reign of Winter:

Indeed the Cheliax party wouldn't be inclined to trust the Taldor (PC) party either way, but depending upon how Diabolically Prideful they were, the revelation that the Taldor party had refused the Mantle would likely goad the Cheliax party into feeling assured of being able to exploit the Taldor party fot their own purposes.

Come to think of it, Baba Yaga might catch onto this herself and try to bluff the PCparty into thinking that somebody else is trapped in the doll prison, especially after the Cheliax party turns on them and tries and fails to kill them. Just to do a dirty trick, somebody else might really be trapped in there with her (that Baba Yaga would be happy to use as a hostage or other type of pawn in such a scheme).

DominusMegadeus wrote:
I never understood bringing villains back to be jailed. {. . .}

Even if you don't care about rule of law, this could still be rewarding (although risky). Again, think of Werner von Braun . . . .

Silver Crusade Contributor

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Since the name keeps coming up...

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Reign of Winter:
There's no need for another victim in the prison doll.

Unless the GM is going out of his or her way to come up with an option C, the Taldor party's options at that point come down to:

1) Work with Baba Yaga to stop Elvanna (which allows them to use the ensuring boon from Baba Yaga to get a happy ending if they want it), or

2) let Elvanna win, with the ensuing catastrophic consequences (i.e., Elvanna becomes personally unstoppable and starts turning Golarion into an ice cube).

Baba Yaga doesn't need some extra hostage; the party's entire world is already on the line.

If the party wants to fail that badly, I'm not sure if its the GM's place to stop them from doing so =P

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Rise of the Runelords:

More on Reign of Winter in a bit (edited in below) . . .

@Kalindlara: Good find. But I see that I have been spelling his name wrong. :-(

And for the promised edit:

Reign of Winter:

A supervillain can always find use for more hostages. In this case the use is not to keep the PC party from failing, but for Baba Yaga to be able to manipulate them for her own purposes, even though presumably the additional prisoner was not originally put in the doll prison with her specifically for that purpose according to the point of view of anyone inside the (modified) AP.

Reign of Winter:

Now that I think about it more, something like the rivalry with the Cheliax party might be something to set up beforehand if you know ahead of tie that your players like the overall idea of Reign of Winter but will hate the specific idea of voluntarily working for Baba Yaga. Some time after they get to the point where they would get Baba Yaga's blessing from the Black Rider (and they instead just found a corpse), they find that the Cheliax party has already received and accepted Baba Yaga's blessing/mantle, and now they have to catch up with the Cheliax party. They don't absolutely have to kill the Cheliax party, and shouldn't at least for a long while, but if they don't thwart the Cheliax party's mission, everything is going to go to Hell.

Reign of Winter:
Except that there is no point where the Taldor party can "thwart" the Cheliax party without screwing over Golarion. The best they could do is wait for the Cheliax party to win and end the eternal winter, and then try to gank them.

In which case, the Cheliax party has had to do all of the heavy lifting and should rightfully stomp the Taldor party anyways.

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