In Hell's Bright Shadow (GM Reference)


Hell's Rebels

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Small size magical child vigilante + pyrausta mauler familiar = 3rd level dragon riding. Good fun.


roguerouge wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Madokar Valortouched wrote:
Her player hasn't decided 100% on her class yet, but he knows he's going to dedicate a lot to the Disguise skill.
V I G I L A N T E
Thirded. If she prefers playing a caster, the Magical Child archetype works pretty well in this kind of campaign, despite some obvious design flaws. The early access to improved familiars and a spell list with lots of pit spells make them very good through at least level 9, which is as far as I've gotten.

Personally, I would have made a CG Vigilante who was also a follower of Sarenrae. However, I cannot micromanage my players like that. Narcelia's player is leaning towards NG, and he wants to try and make a build reminiscent of the Scarlet Witch.

The reason for the Scarlet Witch angle is because during our Session 0, it got into the player's heads to try and make a superhero team after talking about the MCU. So far, we have Scarlet Witch (human, class unknown), the Winter Soldier (Constructed Pugilist Brawler, race unknown), Hawkeye (Zen Archer Monk, race unknown), and Master Splinter (Ratfolk Ninja).


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So some news on the Narcelia front. Her player has settled on the Warlock archetype for the Vigilante class. So Narcelia is halfway between Scarlet Witch and Dr. Strange by this point.

We've crafted a little backstory for her. The slaves of Narcelia's family estate took pity on her after seeing her suffer through Barzillai's abuses. They helped smuggle Narcelia out of her home and she wound up in the nearest safe harbour, which was Kintargo.

When Narcelia wound up in Kintargo, Laria Longroad wound up becoming her caretaker. More or less. Laria became something akin to a fun aunt for Narcelia, who taught the Rebel Thrune how to adjust to commoner life. To Narcelia's surprise, she wound up preferring the life of a commoner. She especially found the food more palatable.

Narcelia was working on rebuilding her life... when Barzillai suddenly appeared in Kintargo after the Night of Ashes and established himself as the new Lord-Mayor. Now to protect her new future and to banish the demons of her past, Narcelia is about to face her demons.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

So, I had a rather interesting encounter introducing the group to the fairy dragon Vendalfek. First, I had a player in the previous game want to listen to rumors. Rather than just rolling on the list, I decided to use one of the other rumors in the back of the book - talking about seeing the outline of a dragon. When he asked where it was seen, the person said "Clenchjaw's." This got the interest of the Skald and the Magus, who then convinced the others to come along. Further, the Skald rolled a natural 20 and realized a lot of interesting things were going down at Clenchjaw's of late

The group showed up, with the Magus disguised in her persona of "Menthe" (basically she's doing the "magical girl" routine but using an Eldritch Scion Magus) and the Skald wearing a half-mask (and Nox Rosalia is always wearing a mask so...) so the group already looked "interesting" to a bored Faerie Dragon. And that must explain how the Faerie Dragon rolled a modified 20 for Stealth... and Menthe rolled a 22 for Perception and noticed the wee dragon.

He promptly went invisible and hid, and after realizing it was a faerie dragon, she put out some mead for him. And they stayed there. Finally a fight started to break out, and that's when the fifth player showed up, saw one teammate on the back of some woman, two more teammates facing down a goblin and a teenager defending his buddy the goblin, and fired a blank shot to shut the fight down.

I didn't bother with Diplomacy checks or the like. The Silver Ravens were definitely far more interesting than Clenchjaw's. They were willing to let Vendalfek be with them, so he's joined the Ravens through force of roleplaying. And we had a grand old time. :)

-----------------

I'm also taking time to flesh out the teams. The teams have team names, each member of the team will have their own names and backgrounds and quirks, and I may very well shape events around the teams themselves rather than doing random encounters. This will help these people go from statistics and abilities to being people with roleplaying aspects to bring them alive. One thing I'll do is come up with two positive and one negative personality element as a baseline for the characters - for instance, the head of the Bright Falcons (the Street Performers who just got upgraded to Rumormongers) is likely bombastic and over-the-top, speaking in grandiose language. The head of the new peddler teams is a Varisian herbalist named Adria, while the "face" of the group is a Catfolk merchant who does the primary "selling" of stuff.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Also with the creation of the Peddler Team, when the group said they wanted to recruit people from among the workers at Clenchjaw's, I used some of those characters to describe and depict the Rag and Bone peddler team.

For instance, an old woman who was there and talked to Jimmy (the crazy halfling grey paladin/rogue who calls himself "King Under the Mountain") became Adria, a Varisian Herbalist who makes tonics and the like. Eventually she may end up taking a level or two of Alchemist and be able to make actual potions and the like.

The Goblin who confronted the half-orc Skald? She became Calvin, a rogue who is good friends with the teenage artist and keeps an eye on things to make sure no one is trying to pick the pockets of her friends. She also lures people over to Adria and the peddler who does the primary selling of stuff.

The teenage boy who defended the goblin? Civian. He's a street artist who does sketches and sells them. Not only does the group have plans to eventually have him do illicit paintings of the Queen of Cheliax for merchants (that look a tad off and menacing, sort of as a way of thumbing their noses at the Queen) but they'll also have him draw sketches of the dottari and keep notes of such things as patrols and the like - in short, he is an intelligence operative of sorts.

The woman who had Jimmy jump on her back? She becomes Cleo, a human fighter who will not only be used to bring in people ("Look at how our elixirs have helped this woman become so healthy and muscular!") but also to chase down and catch any shoplifters and the like, and protect the others when needed.

Two people who were not in Clenchjaw's but who were "known" by the others recruited include Hobbs, a Catfolk merchant who is the "face" of the group and does the primary selling (and yes, I may have been strongly influenced by the khajiit from Skyrim with wares for sale for discerning customers), and Civilious, a Tiefling craftsman who makes some of the knick-knacks that are offered for sale by Hobbs.

We spent around 10 to 15 minutes fleshing them out, coming up with races and names and what they were doing. The group is invested in them. In comparison, the Fushi Sisters? The "Entertainment Team"? They were ciphers. They just existed to do things.

I've taken to writing out the names of each of the sisters. I'm going to include basic personalities for them (Korva for instance is overprotective of her sisters and have a strong sense of responsibility for what they have gotten into... and loyalty toward the Silver Ravens who are allowing them to stay at the Wasp's Nest) to differentiate each of them. Different sisters will deliver messages and yes, at times I'll have the Ravens have troubles identifying them apart so one sister shows up and "no, I'm Maggie. She is Treep!" and the like. (And if the party takes care to look for markings and the like they'll not make that sort of mistake.)

Similarly, the "Entertainment Team" is now the Bright Falcons. Seeing the Bright Falcons were Nox Rosalia's team, I'm going to work with the player to come up with names, races, and histories for the characters. In the future they'll be the Bright Falcons and under Vendelfek's tutelage are learning how to spread disinformation. Eventually they'll have other talents as well.

Further, they will have their own stories. Rather than rolling randomly for Events, I may very well choose an event. For instance, the head of the Bright Falcons could end up snagged by the Dottari and the Ravens need to spring them. If they don't, the head is released but the second-in-command of the Bright Falcons might be quiet and withdrawn... because she's been subverted and is forced to spy on the group and in exchange her lover was released from prison. There will be consequences for things and it won't just be random die rolls that have no real meaning.

I know some folk didn't like the Rebellion outline (and to be honest I'm still trying to wrap my head around how a group of freedom fighters suddenly become clerics and wizards that can cast up to level 3 spells when you spend 1,250 gold to upgrade them twice) but as a foundation from which to build a growing family of resistance fighters who seek a better Kintargo? It creates countless roleplaying opportunities.


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Nice work, Tangent!


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My group starts Hell's Rebels tomorrow night, and I can't wait to start!

I've got four players, and I've done my best to ensure that they are all invested in becoming rebels. I've got a Female Human Warlock Vigilante, a Male Pitborn Tiefling Nornkith Monk, a Human Male Contructed Pugilist Brawler, and a Halfling Ranger.

The Ranger belongs to the member who has the least experience as a player. To get her invested, we went with her being an escaped slave with a 100 Platinum bounty. The Tiefling Monk was an initiate to the Sacred Order of Archivists, but because he didn't have a chance to take any vows or even see their HQ, he was spared on the Night of Ashes.

The Human Brawler had an arm and a leg replaced with construct parts at the order of the previous Lord-Mayor of Kintargo, Jilia Bainilus. This lofty boon means the Brawler was either a part of her private militia or a secret lover of the former Lord-Mayor (we're undecided on this part)

And finally, we have the Warlock Vigilante. On the surface, she appears to be an escaped slave taken in by Laria Longroad. In reality, she is Narcelia Thrune, long lost sister to Barzillai Thrune. She was smuggled out of her family estate by the house slaves after seeing how she suffered under Barzillai's creepy affections.

I'm thinking of having a Paladin join them as an NPC party member if they run into some trouble along the way. I already have an idea in mind for a character concept.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

It sounds interesting! I'd be worried about the lack of healing, but your NPC Paladin should be able to help in that regard.

To get your players even more invested, I'd suggest looking at my posts about fleshing out the Silver Ravens teams - have them be people with their own concerns, beliefs, and the like. Have some of them become friends with the core party. Let them have internal conflicts among themselves that the party has to work around.

Heck, you can even have the teams recommend other people to form new teams. Create a sense of family there so that there is a bond between these characters and your players. You can take your time in going through the adventures... as the game is supposed to be fun and roleplaying is an important part of this :)

Good luck! :)


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Tangent101 wrote:

It sounds interesting! I'd be worried about the lack of healing, but your NPC Paladin should be able to help in that regard.

To get your players even more invested, I'd suggest looking at my posts about fleshing out the Silver Ravens teams - have them be people with their own concerns, beliefs, and the like. Have some of them become friends with the core party. Let them have internal conflicts among themselves that the party has to work around.

Heck, you can even have the teams recommend other people to form new teams. Create a sense of family there so that there is a bond between these characters and your players. You can take your time in going through the adventures... as the game is supposed to be fun and roleplaying is an important part of this :)

Good luck! :)

I'll look into it. The group is currently undecided if we're going to implement the Rebellion system at all. I think we'll try it out, and if it doesn't mesh with the group, I'll just cast it aside and assume the Rebellion automatically succeeds in its checks.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Madokar Valortouched wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:

It sounds interesting! I'd be worried about the lack of healing, but your NPC Paladin should be able to help in that regard.

To get your players even more invested, I'd suggest looking at my posts about fleshing out the Silver Ravens teams - have them be people with their own concerns, beliefs, and the like. Have some of them become friends with the core party. Let them have internal conflicts among themselves that the party has to work around.

Heck, you can even have the teams recommend other people to form new teams. Create a sense of family there so that there is a bond between these characters and your players. You can take your time in going through the adventures... as the game is supposed to be fun and roleplaying is an important part of this :)

Good luck! :)

I'll look into it. The group is currently undecided if we're going to implement the Rebellion system at all. I think we'll try it out, and if it doesn't mesh with the group, I'll just cast it aside and assume the Rebellion automatically succeeds in its checks.

As I said, it helps if the Rebellion isn't just a bunch of die rolls but instead are people. If they're characters in their own right that the group interacts with and who are a part of their growing "family" of friends and contacts, then it actually starts to mean something.


The rebellion rules are clunky, complex, and poorly balanced. If you keep them I suggest doing some tweaking.

Shadow Lodge

The rebellion rules are thematic and give the framework for fleshing out both the supporting cast and events in which the PCs are not personally involved. However, I also recommend tweaking the mechanics, specifically to eliminate the bonus feats and skill points. Not because they're terribly unbalancing, but because they serve to set the PCs on a pedestal above everyone else, which is counter to the theme.


I've had nothing but good luck with the rebellion rules. The bonus feats are fine, although removing Improved Initiative as an option would be a good idea. As noted, this is a mechanic that foregrounds that revolutions aren't won by a few Founding Fathers, but rather by collective effort and sacrifice. The rules do mandate that the extra skill ranks not go into skills that have max ranks already, so it's more likely to go into stuff like disguise or, say, Perform dance or song.


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They're a bit like the kingdom building rules from Kingmaker. Some players (particularly the spreadsheet management types) love them, and for pretty much everyone else they're a millstone around the neck. Streamlining them, tying them into the narrative, and not getting hung up on spending entire sessions trying to navigate them is pretty much essential. Even then, some groups will disengage all but maybe one player. The concept is good, but the execution questionable. I've read a lot of complaints on the forums and experienced more than a few in my games.

For instance, at a certain level the math breaks and success on certain checks is guaranteed. Other checks (like secure cache) can have ridiculously high DCs despite in some cases in the narrative they describe Hetamon Haace just giving you stuff. Or the way teams upgrade is silly (freedom fighters > infiltrators > cabalists or spellcasters).

I don't at all want to say that my experience with the AP is at all representative for most groups. And if Zimmerwald ran the AP it would be very different than written. Also, having read RogueRouge's campaign journal they've done a wonderful job of customizing the AP to their particular table. I'd love to play at either of their tables, mind you, but please take all of our advice with a grain of salt.


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Well, our first session last night went swimmingly. They handled the riot perfectly. It was actually Ciel Longroad (alias of Narcelia Thrune, the Warlock Vigilante) who flung the manure at Barzillai after he made his Eighth Proclamation that started the riot. They then killed the Chelish Citizen's Group Thugs that attacked them and Color Sprayed the Dottari Guards into unconsciousness. So that sped up the progression of the riot. They were at round 5 when all their foes were defeated, so that is when Nox showed up with Mephiry and the 12 Dottari.

That was the point the PCs hightailed it out of there with the rest of the crowd and wound up saving Rexus. They all agreed to follow him to the Fair Fortune Livery, and this is where it got interesting. When the pack of feral dogs showed up, Rosa Therywn (our Halfling Ranger) managed to successfully lower the hostility of the dogs all the way up to helpful. The two mutts stayed above ground, but the Mastiff followed them downstairs.

I spun it so that if they failed a Perception check, the Mastiff would start barking. So it scared off the Grimples from trying their Prestidigitation shenanigans above ground and they engaged them downstairs.

Rexus had a chance to shine against the Lemures. One use of Colour Spray rendered both Lemures unconscious. Allowing Victor Calvus (our Human Constructed Pugilist Brawler) to coup de grace them with the MW Silver Dagger Rexus gave them.

Then came the cache room. It was shaping up to be pretty standard fare... until the Mastiff started barking at the rafters. Which prompted Rexus and Ceil Longroad to start detecting magic. They eventually spotted Blodsodriette.

Rather than fight them, the Imp elected to talk. Seeing a chance for freedom even it meant being sent back to Hell, she managed to convince the PCs to destroy her contract. There was talk about trying to keep her, but when she told them she was bound to a contract signed by a Sarini, the choice was made to send her back to Hell.

But before Blodsodriette left, she hissed at Ceil for her "treachery" for showing intent to fight House Thrune. Which definitely intrigued the rest of the group, but there are many ways to work on this angle with Ceil's player (which we talked about afterwards in private).


Regarding Rebellion Rules:
I removed them completely but had consistent, not main NPCs that would react to actions the group took. When the group wanted to get their allies to help with something I'd use the rebellion rules as a guideline. It allowed me to have the NPCs refuse if they didn't like what the leaders were trying to get them to do without having the players assume they could do a thing because the rules said so. This helped the players to keep their actions a little in check and not run around causing chaos. It also made it so that interacting with the NPCs was something they had to keep in mind. Some were more chaotic/violence minded, others were peaceful. It was the player's choices as to which ones they wanted to appeal to more.


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We had our second session last night. It went pretty smoothly. We had a little hiccup in regards to Ceil switching to her Social Identity, but I intend to let her player know it's okay for the party to know of her Dual Identity feature.

The PCs recruited the Fushi sisters. All of them, included Korva. Though our Tiefling Monk is highly suspicious of them. The PCs managed to investigate the fires and solved the murder case in the Devil's Nursery. Then we had to call it a night.

Interestingly, both Laria and Zea have shown interest in the Tiefling Monk, Navelan. But that's because he's in his early 20's and has a CHA score of 21.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I would love to comment on stuff I've planned, but I learned from my previous campaign that one of my players will log into the Paizo forums to see what I'm posting so he can be "prepared" for my plans. Ah well, after I'm done inflicting the evil on the players in two weeks, I'll share the encounter with you all on here. :)

Shadow Lodge

Tangent101 wrote:
I would love to comment on stuff I've planned, but I learned from my previous campaign that one of my players will log into the Paizo forums to see what I'm posting so he can be "prepared" for my plans. Ah well, after I'm done inflicting the evil on the players in two weeks, I'll share the encounter with you all on here. :)

Players can't spy on PMs. . .


Tangent101 wrote:
I would love to comment on stuff I've planned, but I learned from my previous campaign that one of my players will log into the Paizo forums to see what I'm posting so he can be "prepared" for my plans. Ah well, after I'm done inflicting the evil on the players in two weeks, I'll share the encounter with you all on here. :)

I would definitely not trust a player like that to not read the AP or cheat in any other fashion. That's pretty heinous.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Artofregicide wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
I would love to comment on stuff I've planned, but I learned from my previous campaign that one of my players will log into the Paizo forums to see what I'm posting so he can be "prepared" for my plans. Ah well, after I'm done inflicting the evil on the players in two weeks, I'll share the encounter with you all on here. :)
I would definitely not trust a player like that to not read the AP or cheat in any other fashion. That's pretty heinous.

Oh, he has. With Rise of the Runelords at least with stuff he could just Google online. But he's also the type who'd not spend money to get his own PDFs of the APs so he probably doesn't have the AP itself. Also, just because you know what's in an encounter doesn't mean the dice on Roll20 won't start critting against him or the like.

He's a fun and interesting roleplayer so his tendency to cheat doesn't lessen the game that much due to the vagaries of random chance. Mostly? It annoys me, and it means when I create my own content I need to be tight-lipped about it until it's come to pass. And it's one of the reasons why I don't do campaign journals for this game. I mean, I still remember the time he saw a forum post that said a character in Reign of Winter was only unconscious so he made sure in the next game to coup de grace him so he'd not come back. (Ah, the irony...)

Dark Archive

Tangent101 wrote:
Artofregicide wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
I would love to comment on stuff I've planned, but I learned from my previous campaign that one of my players will log into the Paizo forums to see what I'm posting so he can be "prepared" for my plans. Ah well, after I'm done inflicting the evil on the players in two weeks, I'll share the encounter with you all on here. :)
I would definitely not trust a player like that to not read the AP or cheat in any other fashion. That's pretty heinous.

Oh, he has. With Rise of the Runelords at least with stuff he could just Google online. But he's also the type who'd not spend money to get his own PDFs of the APs so he probably doesn't have the AP itself. Also, just because you know what's in an encounter doesn't mean the dice on Roll20 won't start critting against him or the like.

He's a fun and interesting roleplayer so his tendency to cheat doesn't lessen the game that much due to the vagaries of random chance. Mostly? It annoys me, and it means when I create my own content I need to be tight-lipped about it until it's come to pass. And it's one of the reasons why I don't do campaign journals for this game. I mean, I still remember the time he saw a forum post that said a character in Reign of Winter was only unconscious so he made sure in the next game to coup de grace him so he'd not come back. (Ah, the irony...)

Irony? Did he coup de grace a friendly npc or something? :p


I think I've come up with a nice way to incorporate the NPCs and teams into my group's campaign while also removing the Rebellion system. Hopefully in our next session, my group will recruit Vendalfek once the PCs start to investigate Clenchjaw's.

Then, when it's time to investigate Hocum's Fantasmagorium and the Many-Steps Monastery, I can enact my plan. I'll have Rexus call a meeting in the Wasp's Nest after he's done decoding the documents from the Fair Fortune Livery and makes his request for the PCs to investigate the Monastery.

If the PCs don't hit upon the idea, I'll have Laria suggest scouting the building and sabotaging any enemy movements. This is when the Fushi Sisters and Vendalfek join in the conversation. Vendalfek can be the one to scout out the Fantasmagorium's first floor due to his size and Greater Invisibility Spell-like Ability. When he's done, the Fushi Sisters set the trap at the entrance that will deal the Cold damage to anyone attempting to flee the building.

Hopefully this will promote the idea in the PCs minds to use their allies to attempt to make their dungeon raids easier.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
Artofregicide wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
I would love to comment on stuff I've planned, but I learned from my previous campaign that one of my players will log into the Paizo forums to see what I'm posting so he can be "prepared" for my plans. Ah well, after I'm done inflicting the evil on the players in two weeks, I'll share the encounter with you all on here. :)
I would definitely not trust a player like that to not read the AP or cheat in any other fashion. That's pretty heinous.

Oh, he has. With Rise of the Runelords at least with stuff he could just Google online. But he's also the type who'd not spend money to get his own PDFs of the APs so he probably doesn't have the AP itself. Also, just because you know what's in an encounter doesn't mean the dice on Roll20 won't start critting against him or the like.

He's a fun and interesting roleplayer so his tendency to cheat doesn't lessen the game that much due to the vagaries of random chance. Mostly? It annoys me, and it means when I create my own content I need to be tight-lipped about it until it's come to pass. And it's one of the reasons why I don't do campaign journals for this game. I mean, I still remember the time he saw a forum post that said a character in Reign of Winter was only unconscious so he made sure in the next game to coup de grace him so he'd not come back. (Ah, the irony...)

Irony? Did he coup de grace a friendly npc or something? :p

Noped. Coup de graced a Mythic spellcaster who had automatically stabilized after they brought him to negative hit points despite in the previous game not showing any interest in him once he was down. Waste of a perfectly good recurring villain that was.

Dark Archive

Not sure what part of that was ironic though, but yeah, jerk move :D


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Okay. With the latest game under my belt I can reveal PART of my evil evil plan involving Kossrani and the Salt Works.

Probably a week ago in-game, the group went and freed the prisoners at the Salt Works. They waited until dark, attacked the guards, knocked out some and got the others to surrender, and stole the money. But they never bothered to go after Kossrani who was asleep in the barracks. He's still alive and quite angry. Given there was a supply of salt on hand which wasn't stolen, he was able to make a few deliveries but he needed new "employees."

So he took a page out of the British Empire and send out three press gangs. They put up fliers, put out coins, and capture the tieflings in the Devil's Nursery who pick up the coins. The fliers basically state that anyone taking up the coin has volunteered their services at the Salt Works to pay off their debt, however long it takes. Food and shelter expenses will be taken out of the debtors - essentially it is snagging over a dozen Tieflings to be slaves (well, indentured servants but it's slavery).

One of the Silver Ravens was on hand to see what happens. The group learned that Kossrani set this up. And they are fairly certain it's a trap. Naturally it's a trap. ;) Kossrani actually set up two guards by the front door that the Ravens saw. What was waiting on the inside, they have no idea.

That said, they were fairly sneaky. First, they recruited Vendelfek by indulging in his ego and curiosity. Next, they returned to the Salt Works and entered through the back, and had Vendelfek scout out the barracks - he indulged in some mischief, but his breath weapon failed and his attempt to Sleep them had three saving throws (seriously, the lowest roll was a 12, and one guard rolled a natural 20). As the guards were getting ready to bed and didn't see anything, they assumed he'd just passed out. (These are also the four guards who had previously faced the Ravens and surrendered so their morale isn't the greatest and they don't care as much).

They broke in through the back after the guards closed the door to the barracks for the night and broke the lock to the barracks. And that's where we ended. What they'll face next? Well, I need to keep SOME secrets close to my chest as one of the players DOES sneak onto the forums to find out what will happen. But we'll see in two weeks. ;)


Tangent, I might have to get creative with Kossrani, because my players utterly humiliated him last night. They were thinking that they needed to deal with the Salt Works, but first they handled Clenchjaw's. And boy howdy, did that turn the tide of the session.

Interviewing people at Clenchjaw's gave them enough clues to guess that a Faerie Dragon was responsible for all the ruckus. Calling out in languages they knew Faerie Dragons spoke (Elven and Sylvan), they were able to get Vendalfek's attention. Once a fight broke out, Victor intimidated everybody into behaving while Vendalfek used Dancing Lights to direct Ceil outside so they can talk.

My players got Vendalfek to join the Silver Ravens, and they have been abusing him (read, using his abilities) to completely dominate the rest of their missions. They traveled through the sewers connected to the Wasp's Nest to launch a midnight raid on the Salt Works. Vendalfek used his Greater Invisibility to scout the compound and identified where the prisoners were being kept. He then used Dancing lights to lead two guards outside where Victor and Nivelan promptly knocked them out cold.

The remaining two guards inside were hit with Sleep and Colour Spray in a tagteam attack by Vendalfek and Ceil. They rescued the prisoners and left Kossrani's men all alive without once raising the alarm.

Then, when it came time to stop the Unsanctioned Excruciation, they had to rescue Zea from the Doghousing. Again, Vandelfek used Greater Invisibilty and Sleep to put the dogs to sleep. Then they brutally killed the Chelish Citizen's Group thugs in front of a crowd and rescued Zea (and the dogs!) before the Dottari showed up.

Our Ranger, Roza, has taken it upon herself to rescue as many of the dogs used in Doghousing as she can, and the party 100% supports her. They rescue the dogs and then she uses Wild Empathy to soothe their disposition.

Vendalfek AGAIN turned the fight with Scarplume into a cakewalk, as he used Sleep on her as well. She failed her WILL Save and promptly fell 40 feet out of the air, doing a lot of damage and breaking a wing. Victor, now buffed with Enlarge Person, promptly turned her into pate, which cause one Red Jill to flee and the remaining two to try and butter up Nivelan to let them go. Because Nivelan was headstrong and ran up the Humbright House and promptly got flanked by three rogues. Fortunately, Scarplume went down so quickly they didn't have a chance to do a lot of damage.

To wrap up our session, I had Rexus request the PCs to acquire the alchemical unguents he needs to maintain his male body. Rexus didn't tell them why he needed the unguents, but the Newt told them in the most bigoted way I could make it.

See, the Newt's little character detail of wanting people to respect his authority translated in my mind to "RESPECT MAH AUTHORITAY!" And so I basically made the little bastard into Eric Cartman with class levels. He even denounced Nivelan, saying that he wasn't a person since he was Tiefling.

Of course, I altered the Newt a little bit. He's NE instead of LE, and he's a lvl.10 Vivisectionist Alchemist instead of lvl.5 Standard Alchemist. Though the body the PCs interacted with was lvl.5 since the Newt uses a Doppelganger Simulacrum to deal with people in the Newt Market while his body safely protected by a Shield Flesh Golem he crafted.


How do your players feel about seemingly being upstaged by a faerie dragon? Or at least having an NPC make the challenges drastically easier

He is not actually supposed to go with the group in theory as that would require some kind of improved familiar feat (officially)

His benefit to the rebellion is limited to a small boost to the rebellion mechanic

I had to clamp down on my players trying to do things like getting the fushis to reduce the salt work prisoners for them. In hind sight just having them killed would have been a brutal early lesson

The AP is not really written to assume the faeries dragon goes with the group . At the very least you should buff the combats (especially given almost everything in part one has a pathetic will save)

Of course if your players don’t mind then there is no issue

Shadow Lodge

Lanathar wrote:
Of course if your players don’t mind then there is no issue

Not only is there no issue, it sounds like his players (and yours, before you put your foot down) were getting into the spirit of the AP; it is or ought to be as much or more about building the SRs and letting them act as it is about feeding the players' power fantasies through their PCs. If that means sometimes the PCs' allies get them through fights, that's a good thing! It goes to show the players that not everything is about them 100 per cent of the time.


The thing with Vendalfek is that my players know that while he shines right now, his effectiveness will decrease the more levels they gain. However, they seek to make Vendalfek Ceil's familiar. Ceil will take the Familiar Vigilante Talent when she gets to lvl.6. Then, at lvl.7, she'll take the Improved Familiar feat so that Vendalfek can start using her spell list and caster level in combat.

They REALLY love Vendalfek. They're mainly using him for scouting purposes at the moment. Indeed, as the AP proceeds, that'll all he'll really be good for until he becomes Ciel's familiar at lvl.7. I just need to get them as invested with the Fushi sisters, but they haven't had a chance to shine yet.

While the Fushi sisters won't join the party, I've come up with something that'll get the PCs invested in them. Rexus has tasked the PCs with investigating Hocum's Fantasmagorium, and the Fushi Sisters have volunteered to set any traps if the PCs need it. Hopefully the PCs will start using the Fushi Sisters to set more traps as they start to investigate more serious dungeons.


zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Lanathar wrote:
Of course if your players don’t mind then there is no issue
Not only is there no issue, it sounds like his players (and yours, before you put your foot down) were getting into the spirit of the AP; it is or ought to be as much or more about building the SRs and letting them act as it is about feeding the players' power fantasies through their PCs. If that means sometimes the PCs' allies get them through fights, that's a good thing! It goes to show the players that not everything is about them 100 per cent of the time.

I don’t think i clarified or was misunderstood - my players wanted the teams to do entire missions for them. Not help them, not do reconnaissance - I mean send 4 tengu to go and try and rescue prisoners from the salt works whilst they rested

And I have a different idea about “getting them through fights” vs “winning the fights for them”. But it is all subjective clearly


Madokar Valortouched wrote:

The thing with Vendalfek is that my players know that while he shines right now, his effectiveness will decrease the more levels they gain. However, they seek to make Vendalfek Ceil's familiar. Ceil will take the Familiar Vigilante Talent when she gets to lvl.6. Then, at lvl.7, she'll take the Improved Familiar feat so that Vendalfek can start using her spell list and caster level in combat.

They REALLY love Vendalfek. They're mainly using him for scouting purposes at the moment. Indeed, as the AP proceeds, that'll all he'll really be good for until he becomes Ciel's familiar at lvl.7. I just need to get them as invested with the Fushi sisters, but they haven't had a chance to shine yet.

While the Fushi sisters won't join the party, I've come up with something that'll get the PCs invested in them. Rexus has tasked the PCs with investigating Hocum's Fantasmagorium, and the Fushi Sisters have volunteered to set any traps if the PCs need it. Hopefully the PCs will start using the Fushi Sisters to set more traps as they start to investigate more serious dungeons.

My players love Vendalfek as well but that is because he turns people’s hair pink and makes their tea cold.

I think for some reason I had witch hex version of sleep on the mind when thinking about his power

How does he become better as a familiar at level 7? To the best I can tell improved familiars don’t advance in HD which as always put me off them but I imagine I am completely misreading the rules

The problems I find with team mechanics is the rebellion rules place limits on who can do what and letting people like fushis and vendelfek act as “spies” effectively really early on smashes those rules to pieces

Are you using them? I liked them at the start but they are limiting for things like that but they become tiresome if the players aren’t invested. And they come around too rarely so everyone forgets how they work!


My players LOVED Vendalfeck! I don't remember which missions the little dragon helped with, but I'm petty sure that the Salt Works was one of them and Grease was used very effectively during that fight.

They didn't do it often, I think mostly because the players assumed that the NPCs weren't supposed to come along on adventures, but very nearly every time they asked someone to help the NPC was usually right there with them being as effective as possible. (Unless it was an NPC that didn't really like them yet or I decided wasn't something the NPC would want to help with.)

Shadow Lodge

Lanathar wrote:
How does he become better as a familiar at level 7? To the best I can tell improved familiars don’t advance in HD which as always put me off them but I imagine I am completely misreading the rules

In 1E, familiars never advance in HD, though they use their masters' HD total for the purpose of effects that care about that (such as susceptibility to the sleep spell). Improved familiars gain the same benefits as any other familiars according to the familiar advancement table attached to the Wizard class, with two exceptions: they don't gain the "speak with animals of its kind" ability because most improved familiars can already speak; and they don't provide their master with a +3 bonus to a skill, which is offset by being better in other ways.

Quote:
The problems I find with team mechanics is the rebellion rules place limits on who can do what

Rather, they place limits on who can benefit from the highly-abstracted and rules-smashing nature of the rebellion mechanics. Consider an example that Raynulf has raised:

Spoiler:
the PCs find it near-prohibitively difficult to rescue the Torrent armigers from doghousing in Book 2, but a team with the Rescue Character action, despite likely being lower-level than the PCs (it's not stated definitively anywhere, but based on the spells that the Spellcaster team can provide using the Restore Character action, a Tier 3 team has no members of 9th level or higher; early in Turn of the Torrent, the rebellion probably has no better than Tier 2 teams at its disposal), would find it quite simple.

Everyone else operates by the normal rules all of the time, and within those rules, some characters are more powerful than others. But here's the rub: even if you as a GM allow NPCs to gain XP, even if the PCs use them a lot they are unlikely to gain enough to level up. Meanwhile, the rebellion's teams advance simply by pumping gold into them. Effectively, NPCs will find it difficult to continue replacing the rebellion teams as time goes on - at least with the exception of very powerful NPCs like Manticce Kaleeki. She's a veritable Elminster Problem within the context of the AP.

EDIT: as for Vendalfek specifically, remember that faerie dragons actually cast spells as well as use spell-like abilities. That means that a character with Scribe Scroll and a spellbook (such as a Warlock Vigilante) can learn his grease and sleep spells for herself.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

What I'm going to do with Vendalfek is have him get distracted. For instance, I have a firm idea of what spells and spell-like abilities he'll use when the party ambushes Kossrani's ambush (they already broke into the loading dock area, jammed the lock for the barracks (and thus locked four guards in it), and are about to enter the Salt Works from the rear. (I figure a modified 28 for Disable Device would be sufficient to unlock the back portcullis area.) After all, Vendalfek is there to be amused and because he was provided with flattery as to his skills and ability. He wants to show of! And just spamming certain spells would be boring.

That's the thing to remember about NPCs. You can have them cast spells as they (you) feel fit. And Vendalfek may very well get bored just doing what the PCs ask. Don't forget... he's fae AND a dragon. If the party isn't giving him a significant share of the treasure then he'll soon feel like he's being taken advantage of. Further, he may end up wanting the PCs to do favors for him. They should be outrageous ones. ;)


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Tangent101 wrote:

What I'm going to do with Vendalfek is have him get distracted. For instance, I have a firm idea of what spells and spell-like abilities he'll use when the party ambushes Kossrani's ambush (they already broke into the loading dock area, jammed the lock for the barracks (and thus locked four guards in it), and are about to enter the Salt Works from the rear. (I figure a modified 28 for Disable Device would be sufficient to unlock the back portcullis area.) After all, Vendalfek is there to be amused and because he was provided with flattery as to his skills and ability. He wants to show of! And just spamming certain spells would be boring.

That's the thing to remember about NPCs. You can have them cast spells as they (you) feel fit. And Vendalfek may very well get bored just doing what the PCs ask. Don't forget... he's fae AND a dragon. If the party isn't giving him a significant share of the treasure then he'll soon feel like he's being taken advantage of. Further, he may end up wanting the PCs to do favors for him. They should be outrageous ones. ;)

I'm leaning towards Vendalfek having fun joining the PCs on their missions. And since the group has more or less decided to make him a familiar, I'm having him bond with Ceil as a character.

The treasure hoard is a good point of concern, though. I think I'll have him voice his desire to have his own cut of any found treasure so he can continue to build his hoard.

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