In Hell's Bright Shadow (GM Reference)


Hell's Rebels

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Lanathar wrote:

- Has Nox gotten away for anyone? It seems that her being able to explain the group is the rationale for the notoriety increase. But the concept is a little confusing and my players had a similar concern in an issue I already posted about where they thought some guards and then felt they had to murder them to avoid being identified by people who could describe their exact appearance

Are we supposed to believe that Barzillai is uninterested about who is meddling around? I mean the monastery is a big enough issue that he sent Nox to oversee. The same thing applies whether she wins and leaves or loses and teleports away.

Or is Thrune just cocky and confident in his own power (I can see scorn being poured upon this by some of my players as it is very tropey ). Of course they are effectively mites to him as a level 15 inquisitor

Well, given what happens if Nox survives (i.e. becomes a broken soul), she's going to try to solve the invasion problem herself if at all possible.

Yes, Barzillai could care less about the Ravens at this point for several reasons. First, he destroyed the surviving ravens, took out the mayor, and cowed the nobles with the Victocora massacre. Who can stand against him? Second, at this point he is going down below the city to kick the ass of the entities guarding the Soul Anchor, then starting in book two he's doing his ritual that removes his heart. He's got other things on his mind. Third, if there is a rebellion, that's what dottari and Nox are for at this stage. You can't do everything. Fourth, his diviner and witch can be inferred to be focusing on his ritual, not those pesky kids. Fifth, until the Fantasmagorium, the revolution hasn't directly targeted the Thrune team except for maybe a few battles with dottari.


And, as an organizer, I've got to say: it's pretty common for the establishment institution to be pretty busy with other things. You have a lot of time to do face to face organizing before you have to deal with the institution's first response. Players like to think that they are the central concern of their antagonist. But a lot of the time that's just not true.

The heroes have the initiative for a long time in this campaign--whereas the actual trope is that the villain is the one who initiates things meant to change the status quo and the heroes react to things. The Night of Ashes was the classic trope, the assault on the status quo.


Warped Savant wrote:

I didn't have Yilliv alert Nox that the group was there because I hate it when a group tries to be sneaky but because something that isn't supposed to be an enemy can do something that it's not supposed to be able to do. And yes, I think it would completely change the encounters and everyone would be swarming that first room. (Because why wouldn't they be?!? Maybe everyone but Nox and the Lout... but still, close enough to everyone.)

With how paranoid your players sound I would think that they'll end up watching Hocum's for a few days before going in? If they do, you can have them see Nox come out and go back in on the second night. (That shows that it's not every day and if they decide to go in right after she leaves you can have her come back in at a dramatically appropriate time.)
Stopping her regeneration while she's up is nearly impossible for the level that they're at. Almost a guarantee that they'll have to beat her down to well below zero and then hold her down in the river. Make sure they're aware that drowning/environmental damage stops regeneration. Sometimes players get frustrated with things like this because they think they can't stop the regeneration and their frustration makes it so that they don't hear solutions no matter how much you say that there is one and tell them what it is.
(One of my players was stuck on this. They had decided that there wasn't a way to stop it and even when I told them that knocking her down and holding her in the river would stop it they argued and were determined that there was nothing that could be done about her.)

Nox and the Redactors kicked my groups asses. 2 managed to flee, 2 went down. The 2 were taken prisoner; 1 was put into one of the towers around the city (because I knew he could escape on his own) and the other was put into the Holding House from Book 2. Thankfully the group skipped a week or so as they wanted to let things settle down a little as Nox (and therefore Thrune) now knew about them.
This allowed me to do the following:...

Thanks for all that. Lots of interesting things in there including ideas for if they lose

I hadn’t stopped to think about how difficult he regenerate issue is. They basically need oil of bless weapon . That is 100gp and also I struggle to see why a chellish town would have those on sale. There would almost need to be a side quest to the Glorious Reclamation which is too time consuming and distracting. It is not even like the non evil clerics in town can make that

On Nox coming and going - her doing it by foot rather than dimension door creates and interesting circumstance where she could encounter the group at almost any room (this is assuming they immediately decide to sneak in after seeing her leave which is probably what I would do)

So your extra scene with the caravan theft was added to allow the Nox storyline to continue as written ? I suppose if she flat out wins more creativity from me will be needed to give her a fail to lead to the Broken Soul situation

I am wondering whether to make the redactors unchained monks to give them a tiny bit more punch but open them up to witch hexes

As for the enemy tactics issue the story from the Salt Works is that Kossrani got hit with a critical and we use cards . Throat slash was drawn and he had 2d6 bleed . I forgot his potion (would it have worked if his throat was cut open?) and he was down to 6 HP so I had him try to take the person who critted him down with him .

One of the other players claimed it was not logical and no one would ever act like that. I ran it from the book as fighting to the death and sent him a screenshot of the book as a peak behind the curtain. He said it was bad writing and compared it unfavourably to anime.

I mentioned that there is limited space and also brought up these characters think differently about death due to different afterlives etc (I didn’t bring up how much harder it would be for me to adapt everything that was written on the fly or that the dwarf had more of a story that they didn’t find out because they killed him).

I suppose it is a good thing they want more character story in the villains and won’t be opposed to them running - unless all they want is for them to try and run so they can be abandoning attacking and then cut down (which could well be closer to the truth!). Time will tell - once they get to Hocums both Raul and Nox have built in fleeing mechanics . So we will see how they react . That said I don’t envisage Raul as much of a threat to level 3 characters as written - two weapon fighting with different weapons is rarely a good choice especially as non full BAB class


roguerouge wrote:

Nox got owned by my PCs. Failed her saves on grease and color spray, then a glitterdust. It was brutal.

Retreat the ogrekin to Nox and have her have her summoned creature start the battle.

But know that if your party doesn't have save or suck spells targeting her poor saves, she's a brutal encounter.

Well i have a slumber hex witch. So one evil eye and one slumber and she will be down for two rounds

But she would regenerate from a CDG. So they would only have two rounds to work out they need to try and drown her . Seems unlikely

I don’t think the witch or cleric have many other save or suck spells. So it has the prospect of getting dicey

Also one the drowning point - is there a rule I have missed about her not dimension dooring whilst held under water ? I presume it is just a difficult concentration check if grappled ?
Or is it that she should be on like -30 so that she drowns in the 2/3 rounds (I forget the exact rule) whilst unconscious?


roguerouge wrote:

And, as an organizer, I've got to say: it's pretty common for the establishment institution to be pretty busy with other things. You have a lot of time to do face to face organizing before you have to deal with the institution's first response. Players like to think that they are the central concern of their antagonist. But a lot of the time that's just not true.

The heroes have the initiative for a long time in this campaign--whereas the actual trope is that the villain is the one who initiates things meant to change the status quo and the heroes react to things. The Night of Ashes was the classic trope, the assault on the status quo.

That is very interesting. It is probably rather galling to realise that they are not the centre of attention. But as underground rebels they should want it that way

It is of course very interesting that they clearly know the main villain but he does not have a clue about them. Most APs seem to have neither knowing of each other at the start.


Lanathar wrote:

On Nox coming and going - her doing it by foot rather than dimension door creates and interesting circumstance where she could encounter the group at almost any room (this is assuming they immediately decide to sneak in after seeing her leave which is probably what I would do)

So your extra scene with the caravan theft was added to allow the Nox storyline to continue as written ? I suppose if she flat out wins more creativity from me will be needed to give her a fail to lead to the Broken Soul situation

As for the enemy tactics issue the story from the Salt Works is that Kossrani got hit with a critical and we use cards . Throat slash was drawn and he had 2d6 bleed . I forgot his potion (would it have worked if his throat was cut open?) and he was down to 6 HP so I had him try to take the person who critted him down with him .

One of the other players claimed it was not logical and no one would ever act like that.

If they do attack after she leaves, yeah, you can have her either walk back in or have her dimension door to the grotto. (Dimension Door makes more sense, but maybe she left with a couple of people and they're walking back with her? Otherwise why was she walking away from the place in the first place rather than teleporting?)

The caravan scene was so that Nox's storyline could stay as written but also as a way to allow the players to get the Soul Tomes and things. If the government knows that the place was attacked and suspects that it might happen again why wouldn't they empty it out ASAP?

As for Kossrani... he's bleeding out and your players think he should run instead of try to take someone with him? What?
He has seconds before he's dead. If your players think that someone about to die shouldn't fight back I'd love to hear what they do if they're ever dying and don't have a way to heal right away. Because, by their logic, they should be running away so that they can bleed out on the street.


Warped Savant wrote:
Lanathar wrote:

On Nox coming and going - her doing it by foot rather than dimension door creates and interesting circumstance where she could encounter the group at almost any room (this is assuming they immediately decide to sneak in after seeing her leave which is probably what I would do)

So your extra scene with the caravan theft was added to allow the Nox storyline to continue as written ? I suppose if she flat out wins more creativity from me will be needed to give her a fail to lead to the Broken Soul situation

As for the enemy tactics issue the story from the Salt Works is that Kossrani got hit with a critical and we use cards . Throat slash was drawn and he had 2d6 bleed . I forgot his potion (would it have worked if his throat was cut open?) and he was down to 6 HP so I had him try to take the person who critted him down with him .

One of the other players claimed it was not logical and no one would ever act like that.

If they do attack after she leaves, yeah, you can have her either walk back in or have her dimension door to the grotto. (Dimension Door makes more sense, but maybe she left with a couple of people and they're walking back with her? Otherwise why was she walking away from the place in the first place rather than teleporting?)

The caravan scene was so that Nox's storyline could stay as written but also as a way to allow the players to get the Soul Tomes and things. If the government knows that the place was attacked and suspects that it might happen again why wouldn't they empty it out ASAP?

As for Kossrani... he's bleeding out and your players think he should run instead of try to take someone with him? What?
He has seconds before he's dead. If your players think that someone about to die shouldn't fight back I'd love to hear what they do if they're ever dying and don't have a way to heal right away. Because, by their logic, they should be running away so that they can bleed out on the street.

One / maybe two of my players thought that about Kossrani . Only one was really vocal about it. Others agreed with what I had him do

I think the attempted argument was that he wouldn’t know he only had seconds left - which I know is bonkers

Not sure what the logic is. They think he shouldn’t be prepared to die for his illegal backstreet money maker


Lanathar wrote:
I hadn’t stopped to think about how difficult he regenerate issue is. They basically need oil of bless weapon . That is 100gp and also I struggle to see why a chellish town would have those on sale. There would almost need to be a side quest to the Glorious Reclamation which is too time consuming and distracting. It is not even like the non evil clerics in town can make that

It would easily be on sale. They hate demons and aberrations, remember? Also, Abadar is the god of commerce and civilization, and that worship is completely legal. As is Shelyn in this town.

There's a market for oil of bless weapon, so even if you think it would be banned for some reason, there would be a black market for it, so they could get it from The Newt then.

My table's party didn't even need that--the stream's right there and the fight occurs on the bridge. So, they just dragged her unconscious body into it and watched drowning kill her off.


Lanathar wrote:


Also one the drowning point - is there a rule I have missed about her not dimension dooring whilst held under water ? I presume it is just a difficult concentration check if grappled ?
Or is it that she should be on like -30 so that she drowns in the 2/3 rounds (I forget the exact rule) whilst unconscious?

They kept stabbing her to counteract any healing occurring during the drowning. Spears and holding someone's head under water while they are unconscious and dying kills regenerating creatures with dimension door just fine. They never wake up and die from drowning in three rounds.

When the character finally fails her Constitution check, she begins to drown. In the first round, she falls unconscious (0 hp). In the following round, she drops to –1 hit points and is dying. In the third round, she drowns.

But if your players don't do that, it should be a DC 0 or 5 Perception check to notice that she's regenerating.


roguerouge wrote:
Lanathar wrote:
I hadn’t stopped to think about how difficult he regenerate issue is. They basically need oil of bless weapon . That is 100gp and also I struggle to see why a chellish town would have those on sale. There would almost need to be a side quest to the Glorious Reclamation which is too time consuming and distracting. It is not even like the non evil clerics in town can make that

It would easily be on sale. They hate demons and aberrations, remember? Also, Abadar is the god of commerce and civilization, and that worship is completely legal. As is Shelyn in this town.

There's a market for oil of bless weapon, so even if you think it would be banned for some reason, there would be a black market for it, so they could get it from The Newt then.

My table's party didn't even need that--the stream's right there and the fight occurs on the bridge. So, they just dragged her unconscious body into it and watched drowning kill her off.

I should have clarified that I didn’t think it would necessarily be banned just that I wasn’t sure who would make it as it is a paladin spell. I completely forgot about abadar. And indeed that iomadae is accepted in cheliax because she was chellish and there may be worshippers there who consider GR as extremists

I just am not sure my players will think to research what can beat her. Revealing she is there before they even enter Hocums seems incredibly generous but I might do it anyway. Or they might leave after the scrivenite tells them she is there


I would like some help on the map and encounter for the unsanctioned excrutiation:

- what surrounds the encounter area? There is a building and statue one side. Is the rest the park? Which building is it? Where do the PCs enter from?

- the map has 5ft wide bridges but the text says 10ft. What is the intention? Or is the scale wrong?

- what are the thick gray lines? Are there walls? Is there just the one open front?

- how deep is the pond ? The mention of bridges suggests to me that swimming is required

- there are 8 circles on the pagoda that I assume are pillars. What are the other marks on the image?

- are all the thugs on the pagoda? It seems like a squeeze

- I assume based on the description the dogs are tied to chains near the doghouse and not on chains held by two of the thugs

I sense a bit of a bottleneck...


Lanathar wrote:

I would like some help on the map and encounter for the unsanctioned excrutiation:

- what surrounds the encounter area? There is a building and statue one side. Is the rest the park? Which building is it? Where do the PCs enter from?

- the map has 5ft wide bridges but the text says 10ft. What is the intention? Or is the scale wrong?

- what are the thick gray lines? Are there walls? Is there just the one open front?

- how deep is the pond ? The mention of bridges suggests to me that swimming is required

- there are 8 circles on the pagoda that I assume are pillars. What are the other marks on the image?

- are all the thugs on the pagoda? It seems like a squeeze

- I assume based on the description the dogs are tied to chains near the doghouse and not on chains held by two of the thugs

I sense a bit of a bottleneck...

I'll answer these as best as I can from my reading of the section and the map provided in the book.

1). This is in the south of Aria Park according to the description, and by the map, it looks like there is a small building that's probably an entryway into the park itself. Kinda like a gate, and most likely where the players will be entering from.

2). This is probably a mistake that made it through editing. The scale on the map seems good as is, but if you want to widen the bridges to 10 feet each, it shouldn't break the map at all.

3). The thick gray lines are most likely walls, this area was used for impromptu performances before Barzillai arrived, so the audience would be near the statue at the bottom of the map probably. The walls would help focus the sound from singing/performing so audiences could better hear them.

4). My guess would be the pond is around 5 feet deep. Not too deep, but deep enough to inconvenience pretty much everyone who ended up in there.

5). The small squares in the pagoda are most likely chairs, the weird kidney shaped blob at the top is probably a table, and the rectangle at the bottom is a bench from the looks of it.

6). At least 2 are probably on the pagoda to make sure the dogs don't decide to escape and to watch the prisoner. The other 2 thugs are most likely near the bridges to keep people from interfering.

7). I would probably have the two thugs near the chains where the dogs are to release them in case the players interfere, and to hold the dogs back when the food and water is placed for the prisoner.

The map certainly does promote having a bottleneck which is probably why the thugs chose it. It's a public place where a riot was recently crushed by the dottari, it's right outside where Barzillai is currently staying, and the bridges make it difficult to have anyone come and try to rescue any prisoners.

My personal note for this part of the adventure is when the unsanctioned doghousing begins, my players are going to hear rumours that Tombus is there, but he isn't when they go to check it out. He's seeing if he can find some more people to toss into a doghouse.


Thanks for this
A lot of those were my interpretations as well - which I realise I should have added

Points 3 and 5 were my areas of legitimate confusion

On the Tombus point - is that to have his name dropped early? It is not clear to me why he leads the group and why he has aristocrat levels (not one of the noble families). I guess that is due to space constraints in book 4


You could always make him a Sarini or Delronge.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Lanathar wrote:

Thanks for this

A lot of those were my interpretations as well - which I realise I should have added

Points 3 and 5 were my areas of legitimate confusion

On the Tombus point - is that to have his name dropped early? It is not clear to me why he leads the group and why he has aristocrat levels (not one of the noble families). I guess that is due to space constraints in book 4

Regarding Tombus' aristocratic heritage, it's mentioned briefly in the gazetteer in book 1, on page 61:

"They are led by Tombus Regegious (LE male human aristocrat 4/rogue 9), a distant descendant of Kintargo’s first lord-mayor."

Don't forget that there are in fact several other lesser noble families in Kintargo besides the members of the Court of Coin. Several of them are name-dropped in book 5 and a few other throughout the adventure (the Hyrmagus and Sabinus families for instance).

As for name dropping, personally I'd encourage it. One of the big flaws I had when I first ran this game is that I didn't know about the foes that showed up later in the AP (ran it before all the books were out; a mistake I'll not be making again) and therefore didn't foreshadow them, which killed a lot of the dramatic tension I could have been building up to A Song of Silver. Because Hell's Rebels takes place in such an enclosed space and the main motivations for the adventure are more personal in nature, making the enemy leaders more omnipresent and proactive figures in the city goes a long way towards making the PCs care about defeating them.


Yeah, foreshadow the book 4 villains wherever possible to make those battles personal. And don't forget: book 3's finale strongly encourages that the crowd include an ally and an antagonist for each PC... which has to be someone other than a main villain or the battle will get out of hand.

Right now, for allies and villains, I have a Sarini sibling, the Queensman brother of another PC (and probably their mother as an ally), a lover, and a plucky and unlucky sausage vendor set up for this.

Every war has casualties. A good war flick makes you care about each one.


Thanks . Yes the post on Tombus made me remember a bunch of lieutenants appear in book 4 who have never been mentioned before. Even I have forgotten who all these are am I need to go and check on this


roguerouge wrote:

Yeah, foreshadow the book 4 villains wherever possible to make those battles personal. And don't forget: book 3's finale strongly encourages that the crowd include an ally and an antagonist for each PC... which has to be someone other than a main villain or the battle will get out of hand.

Yeah, my plan is to increase the presence of a lot of Thrune allies like Trex, Tombus, Corinstian, and Tiarise. I'm also planning on not having Tayacet turn against Thrune so all of these allies can come back alongside Nox and Rivozair in the Tower of Bone at the very end. It'll also make their encounters stronger narratively speaking, especially with Tayacet's betrayal during the Ruby Masquerade.

A couple of other ideas I have is to have Trex charge past the party towards Aria Park after rescuing Rexus and he recognizes her, she'll also be visiting the Holding House once a week beginning soon to transport prisoners to Kintargo Keep as needed. Tiarise is kinda built into the situation with the Tooth Fairies (one of my players is gonna be a tiefling who is living in the Devil's Nursery I'm pretty sure, so there's definitely going to be a grudge there). I'm thinking of having Tombus try to rough up an ally of theirs, probably Setrona in Book 2 or 3. Corinstian is also going to be a more public figure until Song of Silver begins.


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Trichotome wrote:

Don't forget that there are in fact several other lesser noble families in Kintargo besides the members of the Court of Coin. Several of them are name-dropped in book 5 and a few other throughout the adventure (the Hyrmagus and Sabinus families for instance).

Though I'm still in Book 1 of the AP, I did a search on 'noble' in my pdfs to get an idea of what families were mentioned besides the current 'Big 8.' Here's what I found, with a few notes:

KINTARGO’S LESSER NOBLE HOUSES
Aeldervenk
Regegious
Mayhart
Solstine
Juliac (former; signet ring found in Fair Fortune Livery)
Sabinus (former)
Hyrmagus (ToT; rivals of Sabinus family)
Borjanni (former; ASoS; defeated by old Silver Ravens)
Urvis

For what it's worth, I'm having House Sarini help House Regerious to recruit new blood to and maintain the Chelish Citizens Group. As I nudge up the CCG thugs to better challenge the heroes as the campaign progresses, I also plan on outfitting them with masterwork armor and weapons from House Tanessen.


What happens to Blosodriette’s gear when her contract disappears? Does it drop to the ground or go with her? I assume the latter?

In my game Scarplume got away after surrendering to the PCs. She hates humans but would she come back to help them potentially? Or would she want revenge? I don’t want to encourage my group to kill everyone at the end of a combat for fear of reprisal. But would like to bring her back


Bring her back for the Dance of the Damned.


Lanathar wrote:

What happens to Blosodriette’s gear when her contract disappears? Does it drop to the ground or go with her? I assume the latter?

In my game Scarplume got away after surrendering to the PCs. She hates humans but would she come back to help them potentially? Or would she want revenge? I don’t want to encourage my group to kill everyone at the end of a combat for fear of reprisal. But would like to bring her back

I would assume Blosodriette's gear would go with her, yeah.

As written, Scarplume was kicked out of her tribe for hating humans too much. For a race that hates humans that's really saying something. Personally, I'd have her leave and start up her own community of human-hating Strix elsewhere. (Possibly to come up some time in the future, but probably not in this AP). I would almost consider using her in the final battle of book 4 but even then, she'd need to be working with humans and that doesn't seem to fit.
But I remember you saying that you were going to end this AP at book 4 so the Strix that appear later don't really matter. In which case, change Scarplume's attitude to whatever you want... maybe, at the beginning of the adventure, she thinks humans are all racist towards Strix and Tieflings but if your group starts helping/working with the tieflings maybe she'll change her mind and decide that it's the government that encourages the hatred and wants to help get rid of and replace the current power structure. Which, mind you, would mean she hated the previous lord-mayor too as I'm sure she's been operating in Kintargo for longer than Thrune has been in town. Or perhaps, if it's not already too late, you can have it so that she's attacking humans and hates the government due to them attacking the tieflings so her hatred towards humans is recent.


I am not necessarily going to end this is book 4. But I have never played an AP past book 4. Played one up to book 4 but a year of that benefited from being in Uni

I ran a game to book 3. That stopped because book 3 was a slog (Reign of Winter) and I was forced to do all the chasing to arrange sessions and got annoyed

I don’t envisage book 3 being a confusing dungeon slog based on when I looked at it. If anything that is book 2 here - it seems like this can be helped by splitting the dungeon crawl

I also noted that this one could end at book 4 and people would feel happy.


On Scarplume, one question would be: how much did your pc's interact with her while she was a prisoner? Did they talk with her much or get an idea about her character/issues?

One idea would be to bring her back in Book 5 when the pc's need to deal with the Ravounel Forest. She could lead a splinter faction of Strix that don't agree with allying with the agents from the human city of Kintargo (regardless of actual pc races.) She could attack the pc's or even ally with the Grundlescorn sisters. If you wanted she could be mentally manipulated by the hags, perhaps that was true even when she was in Kintargo.


So I feel I have made a bit of a blunder

I didn’t like Rexus knowing about the archivist hideout so made a mentor/associate of a Pc be amongst the Salt Work prisoners

He told them the hideout was in Hocums and his key had been stolen

They haven’t grilled him yet but my concern is that telling them all about the layout is really not the intention (and wasn’t mine either). He should also know the passcode as well and revealing that ruins things as well

Now the group went from the salt works to rescue Rexus from dog housing sending the scholar, Crowe and the mercenaries back to Laria’s

This gives me an avenue for him being taken again or disappearing. What should I do? There is a good chance they might try and rescue him if he is kidnapped. But him running off seems cheap...but probably the best option?

I didn’t think about this until I realised we might be down to 3 PCs and was looking at NPCs who would go. I felt sure they would want him and knew that would be a problem and then worked backwards ...

I would appreciate any help


Did he specifically say that he was a member and had been in before?
Or is it possible that he was a member and only just received a key by someone that escaped during the Night of Ashes and therefore he hasn't actually been inside before?

But really, even if they know the lay-out is there a problem with that? Sure it makes it so they don't have to explore, but they still need to get past everything. (I can't see a group going into the basement without first making sure the main floor is empty).
And perhaps the guy that was held in the Salt Works doesn't know about the hidden things.


I had him say he was a member
I also put in a showing him and the player in an archivist location before the game to foreshadow the book of the damned

Do I remember correctly that the book was in Many Steps?

Because a solution would be for there to be a second irori safehouse and have him only just have the key to this one . But that doesn’t seem to work as that would mean I need to add that somewhere most likely

I suppose I don’t want them skipping out on the puzzle to get downstairs
Although I feel they will resort to dice anyway on that one ...


I don't see much harm in the pc's connecting with a survivor of the Sacred Order. Sure he can give them the layout of Hokum's and the secret to get to Many-steps but that's not a big deal. Besides the pc's should get a benefit for having a relationship with a member. He won't know anything about the undead or the redactors or Nox. And he could be ignorant of the secret locations within the monastery.

Yes, the book of the damned was in the monastery. Your survivor doesn't have to know anything about it or he can provide some information - the same information the pc's can learn by reading in the monastery.


Yeah, I say let them have the information. It's an easy puzzle that they'd get the answer to by clearing out the top floor. And if they go below without clearing the top floor they're fools.


Warped Savant wrote:
Yeah, I say let them have the information. It's an easy puzzle that they'd get the answer to by clearing out the top floor. And if they go below without clearing the top floor they're fools.

Fools just because in general there is a risk of them being followed and surrounded by enemies?

Or should I actually make the Asmodeans follow them?

That is the risk though - that they just go straight down. If they are quiet they could easily skip the Asmodeans


Fools because what kind of person wouldn't check an entire floor before going into what they know is a basement which only appears to have one exit.
As to if the Asmodeans would follow them or not is up to you. At the very least, the redactors probably aren't just sitting in their chairs the entire time the group is in the basement so they may discover signs of fighting and piece together that someone has gone downstairs. Either they follow secure the exits and set up an ambush. Heck, maybe one ran off to get some dottari as they're more suited for arresting invaders.


Well, that is what the rebellion action Rescue Character is for...


So my players went the unexpected direction in Hocum's after the Skeletons and walked towards the Zombies then Redactors and Raul.

Two things have struck me, that kind of operate in conjunction to make me think I can't really run things as written.

1. I have 5 Players but one has a very weak grasp of the rules. Only 4 were there for Hocum's and they had a tough time mainly due to some great rolling by me. If there had been 5 it would have been rather easy I feel.

(So 1 extra player makes a bigger difference than I realised even if they are not great at the game)

2. My players are clearly of the opinion that AC is king at low levels. Which is arguably true. The big thing is that most of the enemies in Hocums have terrible melee rolls.

I think it will be a bit of let down if they walk through and nothing really hits them.

Even Nox will have an issue once they go Dazzling Display for Shaken and Witch Hex

For context:

Daring Champion : AC 18
Witch/Monk : AC 16 (but usually 20 with Mage Armour)
High Guardian Fighter: AC 18 (but currently only wearing light armour)
Kineticist : AC 20 with its defensive power
Cardinal : AC 15 (access to Bark skin and other cleric defenses)

Now should I just let them reap the rewards of building this way until they start to encounter things with better attack rolls?

Or should I adjust some of the Many Steps Fights a little more specifically

And in general: What adjustments can I make for 5 PCs for :

Scrivenite (as action economy could be a problem)
Nox encounter

Current thoughts for Nox are to add another Ogrekin (The Lump) or Hell Hound. I don't really want to change her

The Scrivenite is tough. Solo villains against large parties are tricky to deal with

And overall - do the later books provide enemies that will have a chance of hitting if my group continue to focus on AC (I feel like they will try). We are using ABP for what it is worth

Or will I be going through the whole AP with sacks of meat that I just need to wait for them to kill

(I am sure this is not the case and this is just a mini rant because the redactors are garbage villains)

I really am leaning towards not punishing them for these decisions as it seems reasonable. But I don't want things to be boring


Now if the ACs don’t seem high compared to how they could be I suppose my point is more that there is scope for them to rocket quite quickly (especially with the +1 at label 4) and that in the context of the villains they are still a challenge for me


My experience only, but adding combatants is a better way to increase challenge than toughening opponents (adding advanced template, levels) Double especially if you have 5 pc's in an AP scaled for 4.

If they're focused on AC, how do their saves look? Are they investing in those - they are another form of defense. My experience again, but AP's do not feature well optimized casters, especially from a spell selection perspective. So reviewing spell-casters and tweaking them might up the challenge level - particularly if you make sure the caster(s) have some fodder to keep the pc's off them long enough to get off a few spells before they get mauled. A few hold persons against bad will saves (simple example) might change their approach. A group that over invests in one dimension is likely to be vulnerable in another.


Lanathar wrote:

Now should I just let them reap the rewards of building this way until they start to encounter things with better attack rolls?

Or should I adjust some of the Many Steps Fights a little more specifically

Increasing the enemies attack bonuses would make it so that the PCs aren't good at what they've made their characters to be good at.

They've sacrificed other advantages to have high ACs. Making their slightly higher ACs not matter is negating their design choices and not giving them anything extra for it.
Are the players bored because they're not getting hit? Probably not.
Are the players excited that they've made themselves defensive enough that they're not getting hit and celebrating that fact? Probably.

As for what to do with 5 players, I'd suggest adding enemies. The party has a higher action economy than the AP is designed for but their bonus to hits, AC, etc is the same. Upping ACs of the enemies will likely result in the players missing more often and thereby frustrating them. Upping the attacks or damage of the enemies will increase the deadliness but not change how quickly the enemies will be killed.
From my understanding of encounter creation, increasing the CR of encounters by 20-30% by adding additional enemies should be adequate to balance the 5 players.


Warped Savant wrote:
Lanathar wrote:

Now should I just let them reap the rewards of building this way until they start to encounter things with better attack rolls?

Or should I adjust some of the Many Steps Fights a little more specifically

Increasing the enemies attack bonuses would make it so that the PCs aren't good at what they've made their characters to be good at.

They've sacrificed other advantages to have high ACs. Making their slightly higher ACs not matter is negating their design choices and not giving them anything extra for it.
Are the players bored because they're not getting hit? Probably not.
Are the players excited that they've made themselves defensive enough that they're not getting hit and celebrating that fact? Probably.

As for what to do with 5 players, I'd suggest adding enemies. The party has a higher action economy than the AP is designed for but their bonus to hits, AC, etc is the same. Upping ACs of the enemies will likely result in the players missing more often and thereby frustrating them. Upping the attacks or damage of the enemies will increase the deadliness but not change how quickly the enemies will be killed.
From my understanding of encounter creation, increasing the CR of encounters by 20-30% by adding additional enemies should be adequate to balance the 5 players.

This is exactly what I thought. I don’t want to negate their design choices. I was just wondering if this changes. Because between the citizens group, dogs and redactors there are lots of useless enemies. That creates cockiness but I assume this comes back to bite them. Book 2 dottari look quite nasty for example

On the extra enemies - again that is what I generally look to.
But I am at a loss for the scrivenite unless I make two “young” scrivintes which should clock in at CR5...


I haven't paid enough attention during my game to give you a solid answer. Some of the fights are relatively easy for the group and the enemies rarely hit. Other fights are really deadly to the group.

For Yilliv, I'd leave it as is and hope that it's more of a role-playing encounter rather than a fight. I ran it so that Yilliv wanted to help but wasn't able to and it had to attack once the group went to go past it but played it out so that the group knew it didn't want to attack.
The fight wasn't very difficult for them, but they felt like they were killing something that couldn't control what it was doing. An easy fight where you're killing something that can't control itself has more impact than a difficult fight in the same situation.

I enjoy having a more emotional game that questions the morality of adventurers. The group easily killing people* (even dottari that are upholding the law and simply doing their job so they can feed their children) should make them feel bad.

*"Killing" could also just mean knocking out. Think about what Thrune does to Nox if she fails... I imagine that dottari, redactors, or anyone that failed in their duty of doing their jobs would suffer under him. Not necessarily killed/tortured, but I can't imagine they would keep their jobs.


Yes I agree bringing morality in is a good thing
It is why I was alarmed when tortured guards for information , got frustrated when they didn’t know about every plot hook , assumed they were lying and murdered them

This was driven by one character who also killed an unconscious thug at the unsanctioned excrutiation

So it is something to explore . I think they are trying to dial it down

It is definitely different from indiscriminately killing undead or monstrous races. A new challenge

As an aside does notoriety increase for redactors killed in Hocums ? It doesn’t say so but I assume it must?


The scrivinite's job is to raise the alarm and drain resources from the party. The role of the mooks is to serve as blockers and flankers, although for this crawl, that only matters if the ogrekin retreats to Nox rather than just guard the door. For the redactors, you might convert them to unchained monks, which will slightly boost their attacks. For Nox, I had her start with her lemure summoned, given the noise in the fights, and the hell hound was there.

Does it get better? Yes, by gradually sidelining the dottari, substituting hell knights of the rack, and making them into troops. But the PCs will always easily stomp dottari patrols after this book; you can level them up in future books and call them SWAT teams if you like. The prison escape in book two, however, it makes sense to have the levels they have in the book, given the place. The soldiers in book three are probably better converted to 1-2 troops, honestly.

The skum at the end of book 2 and the undead sailors in book 3 present the same problem, but worse as the PCs are higher level. Just double the skum numbers, and have them all flow to the first sounds of battle in waves, with the caster showing up after casting prep spells. They then serve as blockers in that big room with columns, allowing the caster to get off a lot of signature spells. That worked well for my table.

There's a lot of good solo monsters in the book 2 final dungeon crawl. There's a great battle royale in book 3. And book four is almost all challenging monsters with a variety of tactics and abilities.


Also, many of the players at my table privileged skill-capable builds, because of the AP's concept and because they know I love skill challenges. So they are not as combat-optimized as they might be.


Don’t a lot of people argue that the scrivenite shouldn’t be able to raise the alarm as it doesn’t have that ability?

By converting to troops do you mean instead of having soldiers with 4+ fighter levels? I will admit that I do struggle with the concept of a bunch of soldiers having more levels than most of the PCs I have ever managed to play...


No, the troop type, for groups of 12-30 mooks, generally resulting in CR 7+. One example is a dottari troop from book 4.


As for Yilliv, he does have telepathy 100, so you can have it alert the complex. I changed that, however.


I removed the telepathy as well. I disliked the idea that a thing that didn't want to be there would alert the rest of the complex no matter what and that the PCs likely wouldn't know it had happened.

Oh Troops... how I wish I loved them... I think they're a great idea but I think they were introduced too late and not made strong enough. (When I used them they lasted 2 or 3 rounds and did nearly no damage due to reflex saves and Evasion.


roguerouge wrote:
No, the troop type, for groups of 12-30 mooks, generally resulting in CR 7+. One example is a dottari troop from book 4.

That is what I was trying to get at but worded badly!

There doesn’t seem to be a guide to creating troops that I can find

It might be fun to come up with a CR4 or 5 rabble PF citizen group
But weirdly I feel that just having like 8-12 actual guys might be tougher due to action economy


Lanathar wrote:

There doesn’t seem to be a guide to creating troops that I can find

It might be fun to come up with a CR4 or 5 rabble PF citizen group
But weirdly I feel that just having like 8-12 actual guys might be tougher due to action economy

Pages 122 - 123 in AP 100 (A Song of Silver) cover how to design Troops.

They're pretty easy to do.

And yes, 8 - 12 actual enemies would take longer but will most likely miss and will be easy to hit. (I'd probably go with separate enemies or up the HP of the Troop. Like I said, I found them way too easy to kill.)


Warped Savant wrote:
Lanathar wrote:

There doesn’t seem to be a guide to creating troops that I can find

It might be fun to come up with a CR4 or 5 rabble PF citizen group
But weirdly I feel that just having like 8-12 actual guys might be tougher due to action economy

Pages 122 - 123 in AP 100 (A Song of Silver) cover how to design Troops.

They're pretty easy to do.

And yes, 8 - 12 actual enemies would take longer but will most likely miss and will be easy to hit. (I'd probably go with separate enemies or up the HP of the Troop. Like I said, I found them way too easy to kill.)

Unless I have misread it explain the troop properties. It doesn’t really outline who the attributes are arrived at. Such as 22 strength for dottari

BAB seems to be 2/3 for CMB purposes and saves either 2/3 or 1/3...?


roguerouge wrote:
As for Yilliv, he does have telepathy 100, so you can have it alert the complex. I changed that, however.

I'm pretty sure he shouldn't. I've looked at both the entry in the book and Archive of Nethys and neither list telepathy anywhere.


Artofregicide wrote:
roguerouge wrote:
As for Yilliv, he does have telepathy 100, so you can have it alert the complex. I changed that, however.
I'm pretty sure he shouldn't. I've looked at both the entry in the book and Archive of Nethys and neither list telepathy anywhere.

It's misplaced, but it's in the languages line

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