Turn of the Torrent (GM Reference)


Hell's Rebels

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Like others, I'm having some problems using Setrona and her introduction as written, given the general secret nature of my players and their Silver Ravens. I'm in the process of rewriting that, but need some help fleshing out my ideas.

I find the story would have most logically gone this way:

1. Thrune outlaws the Order of the Torrent and goes for the Lictor, but finds he's gone
2. Knowing his cousin also lives in Kintargo and has the same last name (and is also known as a provocateur), a lower-ranking inquisitor or members of the Order of the Rack would be sent to find out if she knows where he is
3. Setrona has an idea where the Lictor is, and most likely would fail her bluff check against the inquisitor to keep it secret, though she might succeed against the Order of the Rack
4. If she fails, the Dottari or the Order of the Rack head to the Shrine to take custody of the outlaw Lictor if he's there

I don't really see Thrune ignoring the quite obvious connection of the Lictor's rebel-rousing cousin as a means of finding him.

Someone mentioned it in another post, but I really like the Council of Thieves prison caravan rescue against the Order of the Rack. I could simply put that in with the Order of the Rack having captured the Lictor from the Shrine, but I also like the idea of keeping the Shrine as a safe house as written. Anyone have any ideas?

Shadow Lodge

Gromnar wrote:

Like others, I'm having some problems using Setrona and her introduction as written, given the general secret nature of my players and their Silver Ravens. I'm in the process of rewriting that, but need some help fleshing out my ideas.

I find the story would have most logically gone this way:

1. Thrune outlaws the Order of the Torrent and goes for the Lictor, but finds he's gone
2. Knowing his cousin also lives in Kintargo and has the same last name (and is also known as a provocateur), a lower-ranking inquisitor or members of the Order of the Rack would be sent to find out if she knows where he is
3. Setrona has an idea where the Lictor is, and most likely would fail her bluff check against the inquisitor to keep it secret, though she might succeed against the Order of the Rack
4. If she fails, the Dottari or the Order of the Rack head to the Shrine to take custody of the outlaw Lictor if he's there

I don't really see Thrune ignoring the quite obvious connection of the Lictor's rebel-rousing cousin as a means of finding him.

Someone mentioned it in another post, but I really like the Council of Thieves prison caravan rescue against the Order of the Rack. I could simply put that in with the Order of the Rack having captured the Lictor from the Shrine, but I also like the idea of keeping the Shrine as a safe house as written. Anyone have any ideas?

Here's the thing. Thrune doesn't actually care about Octavio for his own sake. Or even his order. He outlawed the Order of the Torrent in order to divert their lands and funds to his favored Order of the Rack, and he only did that as a means of further securing their loyalty. The Rack is avaricious enough to violate "certain Hellknight traditions" in order to get the Torrent's stuff, and Thrune can hold that over them as blackmail material (until the Silver Ravens find and publicize the deal's details in A Song of Silver, that is). Once the Rack's loyalty is secured, it ultimately doesn't matter what the Torrent members get up to. Oh, sure, the weak and easy-to-find armigers will be arrested and excruciated as a warning to others, and as a demonstration that Thrune is serious about things, but they're honestly not worth worrying about.

Octavio imagines a whole witch-hunt out to get him personally, so he goes to ground. But that's really just his ego talking. The regime doesn't care about him or his order until they throw in their lot with the rebellion. Setrona knows none of this, and fears the worst.

EDIT: and no, the regime really couldn't have predicted that the Torrent would throw in their lot with the rebellion. As far as they knew, the "rebellion" consisted of the five guys who [likely] failed to assassinate Nox, and maybe their pets. That's true even if the Ravens play for Loyalty to the fullest; the cap on the rebellion's size until the end of In Hell's Bright Shadow is simply too low for it to register as a legitimate threat.


What you say is true, yes, he has nothing against the Torrent for doing what he's done to them, but there's enough material in the module to suggest he'd like Octavio's loose end cleared up, regardless if he sends a lot of resources out to do it. I personally am not fond of how it plays out in the module and am looking to change it to something both believable and exciting.

I suppose I could just have Laria tell the PCs that Setrona could be a good ally, and then have the whole Torrent thing go down after they meet with her.


Gromnar wrote:
I suppose I could just have Laria tell the PCs that Setrona could be a good ally, and then have the whole Torrent thing go down after they meet with her.

I did that! When they came saying they represented the Silver Ravens she asked them for proof. My players showed the silver figurines and told her about the tooth faeries. Since she's connected in Old Kintargo she knew the silver Ravens helped with that (my players informed Zea they were so she's spread the good word asa follower of Milani).

I've been tweaking the module in lots of little ways to make it smooth and cinematic but all that depends on what your players give you to work with.

I'm trying to make Varl more impactful. I've introduced Varl early as flavorful background characters so they wouldnt suspect them as much. The Alchemist dipped into Warpriest and went to Vespams Artisans to get looted Order of the Rack armor modified discreetly. A raven npc makes the introduction saying Varl will do work under the table. Since then he's been stalking that character and he's been killing folks around the players usually Dottari or Chelish Citizens Group the party have been sparing. So they have to fight the rumors that the Slasher is in the Ravens. The players squabbled and one flew around at night alone to scout the Aulorian Estate. They landed in an alley to walk home (lost 50/50 percentiles to be found by the Slasher when alone after curfew) and got one hit KOed by Varl. They had just rerolled a character so I had Tayacet scare Varl away and nurse them back to health. They loved it and really feel the Slasher is a menace but I'm curious what others have done to make him memorable. I feel he wont do much against 4.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

My group wanted to be super secretive as well but with the way things have played out I altered the story a little to keep things generally on track.

The way I've been playing things to explain the reason that so many NPC's seem to be finding the group is that no matter how secretive they are people are getting to the point that they know who they are and what they are up to. I'm trying to make the campaign feel like a race against time. It's kind of taken the weight out of notoriety as a score but it's broken down like this:

1.) In Hell's Bright Shadow the group gets into various shenanigans and either flat out tells the people they save that they are silver ravens or are generally suspected of being involved.

2.) Laria flips out when Setrona (an old acquaintance she is on annoyed terms with) strolls into the Coffeehouse and explains that, "Just about all her regulars know that the Coffeehouse is where you go to get in touch with the Ravens."

3.) This caused the group to immediately beat feet to the Tooth and Nail just before the coffeehouse was shut down (which it was).

4.) At this point Thrune and the government know that the Ravens are causing trouble but don't give them much credence or attention... until Nox escaped from them and told him a great deal about them.

5.) Thrune's goal at that point by virtue of hiring Tayacet was to hopefully find them and kill them before he HAS to admit to the people that the government is aware of the existence of the Silver Ravens and that they are an organized group (also to stymie their growing popularity). When he can't do that settles for turning the PC noble's father against her and shutting down the cleric of Abadars shop. The group had repeated clues that she was both visiting their previous attack sites and loved ones.

6.) Tayacet showed up with a group of Dottari at the end of their fight with Varl Wex. She disobeyed orders a little when they stopped him (a sign that she is becoming disillusioned with her boss) and chose to reveal that a group of 'adventurers' had stopped him and disclosed their names to the populace.

7.) Now Thrune has to publicly recognize them (a group of people that the canny populace already suspects are rebels) for stopping the killer but not without letting them know he knows exactly who and what they are.

8.) This will hopefully help convince them they need to leave the city for a while in Dance of the Damned. The down side is that the pretty much hate Tayacet now.

At this point I wish I would have introduced Varl and Luculla earlier. The latter will have plenty of chances to make the party hate her though... maybe a disguised team of assassins in book 4 before she shows up herself in book 6.

Anyway, all rambling aside. I escalated things regardless of how careful they were to explain how they kept getting found. Thrune was trying to remain subtle and political to avoid appearing weak to his supporters.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Since one of the PCs in my game likes to drink and carouse, it was easy enough to have her be the Tooth and Nail during her nightly pub crawl and have Setrona hand a note off requesting an introduction that way. Of course, none of my PCs ask how these people find them. In all reality, if the PCs have been doing all these odd jobs helping the populace and are not vigilantes or disguising their identity then its a matter of a NPC making a knowledge local check or rolling Notoriety to recognize them. And if they are hiding their identities, the Ravens are still an organization with rumormongers. People can get a hold of the Silver Ravens if they want to. That's what the Street Performers/Rumormongers are for. Finding out who wants/needs the PCs attentions.


Kasoh wrote:
And if they are hiding their identities, the Ravens are still an organization with rumormongers. People can get a hold of the Silver Ravens if they want to. That's what the Street Performers/Rumormongers are for. Finding out who wants/needs the PCs attentions.

According to the Rebellion rules, if I have understood them right, that would require the PCs to first have an Advisor team, then to spend and succeed with a Rebellion Action to Gather Information for this very purpose (so they would need to guess that someone might be looking for them).

Of course you could fudge it and give this information to the PCs teams outside of those rules. But if you start doing that, then PCs might want to use their teams more "in-game" than the rules seem to encourage. I.e. "I'm tired of all this underwater combat, let's just go get one of our teams and send them in first. Those Torrent bros are sure to be great swimmers." As I have understood it, the teams should be kind of separate to what the PCs do, to not turn the whole campaign into a board game where the players just sit and send out teams left and right.

We're not there yet in our campaign, but I'm going to be very wary about what the teams can do and be used for. I will use named NPCs for the purpose of alerting the PCs instead - there will be a couple that'll know the PCs identities (Laria and Rexus at least).


Finally figured out what I'm going to do with the Order of the Rack from my earlier post, in case this is helpful to anyone with similar issues or wants to change things up a bit.

I think I'll have the PCs meet Setrona in between In hell's bright shadow and Turn of the Torrent and get to know her a bit before the proclamation outlawing the Order of the Torrent happens.

When that does take effect, I'll have the PCs in the Tooth and Nail has an Order of the Rack signifier enters with some armigers and interrogates Setrona for her cousin's wareabouts. If things go well, he'll leave without any violence, but his familiar will follow the PCs to the Shrine outside the city where the Lictor is.

When the PCs are rescuing the armigers after meeting with Octavio, the Order of the Rack will move in and take him captive. This way, when the PCs are on the way back to tell Octavio the good news about his armigers, they'll have to do a jailbreak from the prison carriage-like scene from Council of Thieves.

Thoughts?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I feel as if I got lucky. Midway through book 1, one of my players asked if his character could build a bar to serve as a base of operations, and he already had an available place in mind from the player's guide, a burnt-out building that's never been replaced. I almost burst out laughing when it happened.


Gromnar wrote:


Thoughts?

Sounds great. If there's some other NPC you want to introduce, and want them to come with a debt of gratitude towards the PCs they could also be in the prison transport.

(I will use the same scene from CoT, but it'll be Rexus instead (and it takes part in the final third of book one). And apart from freeing Rexus, they'll also find the greengrocer Garaseppa - a leader of a gang of freedom fighters that got betrayed by Cimri Staelish, and who'll give the PCs the final clue about who's been making things difficult for their budding rebellion.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Carter Lockhart wrote:
... I'm curious if these are things that can be changed in the Map file and updated, ...

I guess, there's still no fix...

But (as much as I like running the adventure path) there are some "details" in the various descriptions of the Lucky Bone (text- and map-wise) that get my brain and stomach aching.

Spoiler:
If I've correctly read the description of the Lucky Bone Basement, Upper and Lower Dungeon levels, this adds up to a total depth of approximately 105 ft. below street level.

The basement ceiling has to be at least 2 feet below street level. The basement itself measures 8 ft..

The stairs leading to the Upper Dungeon level should go down approximately some 20 ft. more, beause area C8 has a ceiling height of 20 ft.

The well in area C16 leads down some 30 ft. (the lower 20 ft. filled with water) before ending in the ceiling of D1, which has a ceiling height of 15 ft.

Then all goes bananas...

The hollow pillar in D1 leads another 20 ft. down to area D2. From that the corridor D2 + D3 "lead upward along the way until the floor rises just above the floodwater level". That would be a height of some 55 ft. -- along a length of merely 60 ft.; just below the vicinity of area C8.

The valves/pipes connecting area D7 with D10 must run at least some 3 ft. down.

Area D11 lies some 30 ft. below area D5 (20 ft. down plus the estimated height of 10 ft. of the cave itself).

So, here we are at a depth of 105 ft. belos the city streets if we don't assume that area D8 doesn't go further down. The bottom of the cave in area D8 must be at least 30 ft. lower than the pier in area D8 thanks to the description of area D11.

Is that just bad maths done by me, my misunderstandings reading the descriptions, or can someone clarify or testify that my calculations are probable and correct?

By the way, should the water in the Lower Dungeon level be salt, fresh or a mix of both?

----street level-------------entrance to C1--------------------------- = 0 ft.
----C1-----------------------stairs to C2-------------------------------- = -10 ft.
----stairs to C2-------------ceiling of C8------------------------------ = -20 ft.
----stairs to C2-------------C2 floor level----------------------------- = -30 ft.
----shaft of C16 to D1----flood water ceiling----D4 floor level--- = -40 ft.
----shaft of C16 to D1----stairs up to D4---------------------------- = -50 ft.
----shaft of C16 to D1----stairs up to D4---------------------------- = -60 ft.
----D1/D5/D7 floor level--stairs up to D3/4----pier of D8--------- = -75 ft.
----D10 floor level--------shaft of D5 to D11----stairs to D3/4---- = -85 ft.
----shaft of D5 to D11----D2 floor level and stairs up to D3/D4-- = -95 ft.
----D11 floor level---------D8 cave bottom level--------------------- = -105 ft.

Thank you all for your input.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Kudaku wrote:
Yeah, I couldn't find anything on the effects on the "great pain" either. I looked around for a bit and found that "pain" type effects can cause lots of different conditions. ...

Thank you for sharing your insights on that topic, Kudaku. (I was convinced to have read something on causing pain using the "binding" spell but couldn't find anything - maybe it was just my imagination...) Maybe "inflict pain" from Occult Adventures could suffice?

By the way, why do you think Baccus was only 7th level (he used a scroll of "binding" and "his magic" [I guess it was "planar binding", sor/wiz 6]. Shouldn't he'd been at least 12th level because of the devil's HD? And Baccus was the pump's engineer that radiates "strong transmutation magic" [control water, sor/wiz 6]. That should be another indicator he was at least 12th level (detect magic/magic item). Just curious...


I decided that I wanted to give my players a bit more reason for relocation to the tooth and nail. So when my players kidnapped a thrune official to interrogate. This is going to lead to the the long road being raided by the dottari and the order of the rack. This should make finding a new hideout a real priority


Scharlata wrote:
Kudaku wrote:
Yeah, I couldn't find anything on the effects on the "great pain" either. I looked around for a bit and found that "pain" type effects can cause lots of different conditions. ...
Thank you for sharing your insights on that topic, Kudaku. (I was convinced to have read something on causing pain using the "binding" spell but couldn't find anything - maybe it was just my imagination...) Maybe "inflict pain" from Occult Adventures could suffice?

Happy to help! I'm not terribly familiar with Occult Adventures, so I'm afraid I'm not up to date on Inflict Pain.

Scharlata wrote:
By the way, why do you think Baccus was only 7th level (he used a scroll of "binding" and "his magic" [I guess it was "planar binding", sor/wiz 6]. Shouldn't he'd been at least 12th level because of the devil's HD? And Baccus was the pump's engineer that radiates "strong transmutation magic" [control water, sor/wiz 6]. That should be another indicator he was at least 12th level (detect magic/magic item). Just curious...

I can't remember my exact reasoning, but I think I can do a rough summary:

1. It would make sense for all three guild leaders to be roughly the same level. Lorelu has a detailed character build for level 6 and died during the raid, meaning she has gained no additional XP since the raid happened. Hei-Fen has had decades to accrue experience, so it makes sense that she's no longer in the same level range as Baccus and Lorelu.

2. We get a detailed loot list, since his remains are still within the dungeon. A +2 mithral shirt, handy haversack, a +1 lawful outsider bane mithral dagger, a ring of protection +2, and some pocket change. A significant amount of gear, but I would expect any arcane caster with a level in the double digits to at the very least have a +2 headband. The relatively modest gear makes me think he's a lower level caster. Although it is possible that the gear was toned down to keep WBL on track since the party is expected to be level 6-7 when they find it.

3. He has the ability to summon and control some devils, clearly showing some competence with planar binding spells, but he's unable to handle a devil like Shurshogot without researching the Infernal Book of the Damned and relying on a scroll of Binding. Here I made a mistake - I assumed Baccus was a conjurer or an archetyped summoner, but the book actually calls him out as a sorcerer. It's possible he relied on the scroll because he didn't have Binding as a known spell rather than that he was too low level to cast it.

Ultimately I read the book description to mean that Baccus was able to use his magic in order to bring Shurshogot to
the prime material plane, but he was unable to control him (the way you'd normally do with Planar Binding + Circle of Protection) without the scroll of binding.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Kudaku wrote:
I can't remember my exact reasoning, but I think I can do a rough summary:

Good points. Thanx. I'll take them into account.


I've got a situation I'm not entirely sure how to play out, would be good to get some advice.

Essentially, just finished rescuing Marquel, ended the session before delivering him to the captain. However, I know for a fact that one of the PCs is rather angry at having been suddenly required to drag Marquel out of the house and over to the captain's ship, and would like some revenge. He did think about using slippers of spider climb (from Varl) to walk across the side of the ship, then casting summon monster to get some very noisy dogs into the Captain's quarters. This doesn't work due to line of effect (at least, I really hope it doesn't), but the PC will almost definitely do something to get some small measure of revenge.

Anyone have any tips on how to react to this? What would Cassius do?


TheNoslen wrote:

I've got a situation I'm not entirely sure how to play out, would be good to get some advice.

Essentially, just finished rescuing Marquel, ended the session before delivering him to the captain. However, I know for a fact that one of the PCs is rather angry at having been suddenly required to drag Marquel out of the house and over to the captain's ship, and would like some revenge. He did think about using slippers of spider climb (from Varl) to walk across the side of the ship, then casting summon monster to get some very noisy dogs into the Captain's quarters. This doesn't work due to line of effect (at least, I really hope it doesn't), but the PC will almost definitely do something to get some small measure of revenge.

Anyone have any tips on how to react to this? What would Cassius do?

Oh yeah? Because his adventurer had so many more important things to attend to than go on adventures, huh? Some players just wow me with the things that they decide offend them.

Anyway, to answer your question, if he gets found out maybe just getting a sound thwacking from the much higher level captain and mate. Or if you want to make everyone suffer, have the captain declare that the party has just used one of their favors for the captain's showing restraint in dealing with such a boor.


Shaun wrote:
TheNoslen wrote:

I've got a situation I'm not entirely sure how to play out, would be good to get some advice.

Essentially, just finished rescuing Marquel, ended the session before delivering him to the captain. However, I know for a fact that one of the PCs is rather angry at having been suddenly required to drag Marquel out of the house and over to the captain's ship, and would like some revenge. He did think about using slippers of spider climb (from Varl) to walk across the side of the ship, then casting summon monster to get some very noisy dogs into the Captain's quarters. This doesn't work due to line of effect (at least, I really hope it doesn't), but the PC will almost definitely do something to get some small measure of revenge.

Anyone have any tips on how to react to this? What would Cassius do?

Oh yeah? Because his adventurer had so many more important things to attend to than go on adventures, huh? Some players just wow me with the things that they decide offend them.

Anyway, to answer your question, if he gets found out maybe just getting a sound thwacking from the much higher level captain and mate. Or if you want to make everyone suffer, have the captain declare that the party has just used one of their favors for the captain's showing restraint in dealing with such a boor.

I think it was more the suddenly having to get Marquel out, the witch had gotten in solo, handed the message over then Marquel started packing straight away... but I get your point, what else do they have to do?

That's a good idea, there'll be a load of sailors around too, can give that one PC a decent kicking (especially as he's the witch), while the others watch. I might go for the everyone suffer route, encourage the others to keep him in line a bit more.


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TheNoslen wrote:
... encourage the others to keep him in line a bit more.

If I were playing in your game and a party member started acting so aggrieved over this and was plotting tweaking a powerful Chelish captain who knew who we were and was willing to help us, that's what I'd be doing heavily without any GM nudging.

This kind of player reaction always makes me feel like the player is treating NPCs like inflatable clown punching dummies and not like people who can cause their actions to have consequences. It annoys me as a GM every time.


Shaun wrote:
... This kind of player reaction always makes me feel like the player is treating NPCs like inflatable clown punching dummies and not like people who can cause their actions to have consequences. It annoys me as a GM every time.

Indeed. It's also the strangeness of taking offense because there was slightly more to a mission that was at first expected... because that is nothing if not the norm in most adventures.

I'm assuming they'll also be invisible? If so for a 4th (or 5th) level witch that is a lot of resources to sink into being petty. Noting that unless he/she is using Silent Spell, it is a somewhere between a DC-10 to 0 to hear him casting it regardless of how visible he is or isn't, and at your discretion the captain and/or Nones may recognize her voice (and thus Nones may choose not to fire her pepperbox into her square), with repercussions accordingly.

I'd suggest finding an event to hit the PC or PCs with soon (within an hour or two) after.

....

On another topic, while I appreciate that some of my players will probably not like Setrona (she's a loud personality, which are usually memorable, but get polarized reactions from players... which I don't mind :P), the one character/bit in Torrent I am looking at tweaking is actually Luculla and her cult.

Having read ahead, including Wes' awesome article on Mahathallah in Dance of the Damned, I can't help but think that Mike Shel had to write Torrent without a clear guideline as to who Mahathallah was and her role in the story... and it honestly feels like it was a cult of Norgorber that was swapped out late in development, as all the activities they do (theft, mugging, sacrifice) are very much standard Norgorber cult behaviour, but not Mahathallah.

Also; having a bunch of cultists get away/not be present means your secret base really isn't secret at all if any of them tip off the dottari, hellknights, militia or temple of Asmodeus.

Lastly... changelings:
. I love the concept of Pathfinder's changelings (hag children being fostered by humans - very fairy tale), but hate the execution - especially the give-away eyes and claws.

Also the only hag nearby is a blood hag priest of Mahathallah who doesn't get out much - suggesting that her offspring should be few (i.e. not a dozen+ that are unassociated with the Soul Anchor), and possess the traits of a blood hag mother, not a sea hag.

And so:

Luculla: I like Luculla as a cult leader, but I'm planning on removing her from the Lucky bones and making her a witch with the Deception patron, and a familiar who was sent to her by her mother. Dear mommy's plan was simple - seed children throughout the surface world to act as spies and agents to help her protect the Soul Anchor, while keeping them ignorant of not only who she is, but the Soul Anchor's very existence (they can't reveal what they don't know).

So Luculla is essentially an amateur (but not as wildly off-mark) cult leader of Mahathallah who owns a sweet shop and operates a drug lab and small parlor/shrine in her basement... and is the local candyman. She might have a handful of 'sisters' (i.e. other changelings) who have come to her since their mother fell silent when Barzillai arrived, but not a small army of them.

Her role in the campaign is then one of a shade of gray - it is a cult to an infernal duke and thus thoroughly evil, but how the PCs choose to interact with it is less black-and-white, as they both have a common enemy, and a common interest in seeing Barzillai overthrown and the church of Asmodeus stripped of its power in Ravounel.

Lucky Bones: I like the design of the dungeon, but dislike the rapid transition from cultists to undead to skum. Instead I'm removing all the living foes and having undead occupy the upper levels, with the reinforced door down into the basement sealed by a permanent arcane lock and the sigil of the Order of the Torrent, which has prevented the corporeal undead from getting loose.

I'll likely still have the barbed devil... as being bound by Baccus (like the drowning devil) decades ago and still trapped by his contract. Baccus I will likely have as an undead, rather than a mysteriously and inexplicably deceased skeleton in the basement...

So once the Lucky Bones is cleared out, the base is theirs to use, and there isn't anyone around to immediately give the secret away.

As a note, planar binding and planar ally call outsiders to the material plane, rather than summoning them. This means that devils so called die when slain and are not (as the description of the drowning devil in Torrent mentions) released back to hell. This also means that neither devil will be able to reveal the actions of the PCs to anyone in Hell (should anyone even be listening) as they'll both be dead.


In my game the pcs fell for Luculla's ruse hook, line and sinker. They escorted her back to her home and even vouched for her to the parents, saying she was magically compelled. She's since flown the coop but they haven't figured it out yet. I cultivated her as a romantic interest for the rogue and they didn't even question the situation. I can't wait to see how they react when they find out she fled...


Raynulf wrote:

Instead I'm removing all the living foes and having undead occupy the upper levels, with the reinforced door down into the basement sealed by a permanent arcane lock and the sigil of the Order of the Torrent, which has prevented the corporeal undead from getting loose.

That's a great idea. The Lucky Bones is a nice dungeon but I rather keep Luculla out of there and busy protecting the Soul Anchor instead of sacrificing kids. As you say, that behaviour do not gel with her mission, nor really with her cult's modus operandi, as described in the article. I'll move her shop so it's overlooking the elevator in the graveyard. She's a romantic interest for a PC so I prefer to give her a larger and longer role. For example, she can be the one who leads the PCs to the elevator in book six, but not deliberately of course. Or the PCs will have to fight her and her cultists to get into the elevator.

What kind of undead do you plan replacing the cult with? More wretchghosts? Any other fun & nasty suggestions?


TheNoslen wrote:

I've got a situation I'm not entirely sure how to play out, would be good to get some advice.

Essentially, just finished rescuing Marquel, ended the session before delivering him to the captain. [...]
Anyone have any tips on how to react to this? What would Cassius do?

That part in bold could be what saves you. Like Shaun and Raynulf I too have played with this type before, and it can be tiresome. The only reasonable, adult thing to do is let the poor sap go through with their ill conceived plan against the NPC with several levels over him, and then get rightfully smacked upside their thin-skinned head. Actions should have consequences. However, I'm going to advice against this. The adult reaction is not appropriate here as the problem never would have arisen if the player could behave like an adult. The player will just get increasingly prissy when his frustrations find not an outlet, but yet another imagined insult when the Captain successfully defends himself. A moody player at the table will just ruin the session for everyone.

Instead, consider playing up the reunion between Marquel and the Captain the next time your play. Emphasize the Captain's worry about his lover and that he might have been in an agitated state when he tossed this mission on the PCs' shoulders. Try to elicit sympathy and maybe this player will find it in his sensitive little heart to forgive him. As GM the best thing you can do in this situation is to try and defuse the situation, not to meet force with force.


Razcar wrote:
What kind of undead do you plan replacing the cult with? More wretchghosts? Any other fun & nasty suggestions?

Assuming the PCs are about the same level, I'll be taking a CR-for-CR approach (well, more or less) to the adjustments. There aren't a huge amount to change, to be honest.

Swapped Encounters:

Young Otyugh: Not sure... I'm a bit dubious about having some otyugh able to wander down the street and into the basement. I'd be more inclined to have it be a more social encounter with a group of homeless squatters who have taken refuge there for the last couple of months, but are thinking of moving on due to suspicions the ruins are haunted due to the noises within - which is why it goes through a cycle of being squatted in and abandoned.

Changeling Cultists (CR2) I'd change to Dread skeleton human rogue 2 - the Gray Spiders loyal to Baccus in life, whom he was able to petition Norgorber to raise to his side in death.

Elgadazum the Hateful: Can stay as is. His contract stipulated that he was to guard Hei Fen first and foremost, but cannot stray more than a few hundred feet from the altar of Norgorber (which he must also defend, but as a second priority). He chose to interpret this by using his greater teleport to follow Hei Fen until she had successfully fled the compound by the flooded tunnels - which conveniently meant he could avoid facing the Hellknights and thus not end his existence on this miserable plane.

Lucella (CR6) I'd swap for Baccus (Dread skeleton tiefling sorcerer 6).

Instead of Baccus, it was Hei Fen who fled sealed the well and fled with her loyal Gray Spiders. It was this act that doomed the other guildmaster, Baccus, who was performing a fighting retreat to the well along with the majority of their forces. After the well was sealed, Baccus and the remaining Gray Spiders fought to the last, and Baccus died with a curse to Hei Fen's treachery on his lips, only to rise several weeks later to find himself sealed in - for the Hellknights had placed an arcane lock on both the well capstone and the main entrance.

Unfortunately for Hei Fen... it was Baccus who held the keys to the treasury, and still does.


Okay... So I was wrong. There IS something else I am going to need to change - The Public Excrutiation.

It may be a simple case of a mix up between the authors for books 1 & 2, but as written doghousing is basically a death sentence without outside assistance - either curing the bite damage or providing additional food and water; both of which would defy the point of the excrutiation.

How the mechanics work:

In Hell's Bright Shadow, p35 wrote:

When a prisoner is doghoused, he is put inside of a small wooden dog house, the walls of which have had dozens of nails driven through. The confines inside are incredibly cramped, making it difficult for the doghoused victim to move or shift position without being stabbed by a nail, and making it impossible to stand or lie down. Twice a day, at sunset and sunrise, the victim is allowed out of the doghouse to scavenge for scraps of food and water left by the dottari, but he must contend with two or more feral, ravenous dogs that have been chained in reach of the food—if the victim isn’t quick, the dogs eat the food, but if the victim goes for the food, he’ll likely be bitten at least a few times before he’s forced to seek shelter in the doghouse for another day.

A victim of doghousing takes 1d6 points of nonlethal damage from starvation and 1d6 points of lethal damage from dog bites each day. After the first day, the victim is constantly exhausted from muscle cramps caused by time spent in the doghouse. Generally, doghousing lasts for a week, and if a victim survives that week he is released with a stern warning. Repeat offenses result in longer terms in the doghouse.

Core Rule Book - Natural Healing wrote:

With a full night's rest (8 hours of sleep or more), you recover 1 hit point per character level. Any significant interruption during your rest prevents you from healing that night.

If you undergo complete bed rest for an entire day and night, you recover twice your character level in hit points.

Bolded for emphasis.

Hellknight Armigers of the Torrent are Fighter 2, Con 15, with 22hp. If they are unable to rest - the entire concept of the doghousing is that they can't - he'll probably be unconscious by the end of day three and unable to drink (due to being unconscious), which comes to...

Core Rule Book - Environmental Rules wrote:

Characters might find themselves without food or water and with no means to obtain them. In normal climates, Medium characters need at least a gallon of fluids and about a pound of decent food per day to avoid starvation. (Small characters need half as much.) In very hot climates, characters need two or three times as much water to avoid dehydration.

A character can go without water for 1 day plus a number of hours equal to his Constitution score. After this time, the character must make a Constitution check each hour (DC 10, +1 for each previous check) or take 1d6 points of nonlethal damage. Characters that take an amount of nonlethal damage equal to their total hit points begin to take lethal damage instead.

A character can go without food for 3 days, in growing discomfort. After this time, the character must make a Constitution check each day (DC 10, +1 for each previous check) or take 1d6 points of nonlethal damage. Characters that take an amount of nonlethal damage equal to their total hit points begin to take lethal damage instead.

Characters who have taken nonlethal damage from lack of food or water are fatigued. Nonlethal damage from thirst or starvation cannot be recovered until the character gets food or water, as needed—not even magic that restores hit points heals this damage.

Assuming what little water he has stolen from the dogs is adequate before now, he falls unconscious at the end of Day 4 with 17 lethal and 17 nonlethal damage. He has 24+15 hours before he needs to start making Con checks - putting him into the middle of Day 6. During this time he still hasn't eaten, and must make Con checks - DC15 for day 5 and DC16 for day 6, or take a further 1d6 nonlethal each day. Considering he has a +2, odds are at least one will fail, pushing the nonlethal damage to 21.

With the first failure (likely within 1d4 hours), he will hit an amount of nonlethal equal to his max HP and 2 points will be converted to lethal (19 total). At this point he can suffer 18 lethal damage before dying - or roughly 5-6 more failed checks.

Given that he has some 33 thirst Con checks (escalating up to a max of DC33, which is impossible), the armiger is going to die before his time is up.

TL;DR: The Torrent armiger has a 99% chance of dying, and for anyone else the survival rate can be discarded in rounding. Doghousing is an execution.

Which then leads to the encounter, where there are no less than 8 NPCs who are CR9 as listed (Vs Level 4 PCs), and to make matters funnier, they are pimped out the whazoo and by no means actually CR3 as listed. (There is argument that they could be... but if you compare against what you'd expect for a monster, you'll find they are waaaaaay over the target numbers).

So if you fight, odds are you'll get mauled horribly. Because the point is to either A) Roll a near-impossible Intimidate/Diplomacy DC (DC35? At 4th level?), or B) walk away and let the doghousing continue, despite the fact that all previous evidence suggests that a bunch of those guys (or all) will die, and you are daring heroes who are supposed to stop such butchery.

There are creative means of stopping this (disguise self to be an Asmodean inquisitor and order that the prisoners are to be returned to the keep for questioning)... but that only delays the inevitable.

Ray's Public Excrutiation:
1) Discard the somewhat obscene Rack Armiger stats and use the Order of the Torrent Armiger statline instead, with different weapons.

2) Replace the "Mini-Nox" Dottari excrutiators with 1 officer and a bunch of dottari guards (using In Hell's Bright Shadow stats), with enough numbers to make up the XP budget.

3) Reduce Doghousing "standard" duration to 3 days, noting that victims are starved in prison for 3 days beforehand, so they will be forced to fight with the dogs immediately.

4) While I'll keep the notoriety increase, let the PCs be heroes, and don't brutalize them completely for it. Barzillai isn't going to post eight agents who are almost as potent as his personal bodyguard to oversee a simple excrutation.


Corrections and Additions:
To add to the above... Book 2 added to the Doghousing description.

Turn of the Torrent, p9 wrote:
A victim of doghousing takes 1d6 points of nonlethal damage from starvation and thirst per day, and 1d6 points of lethal damage from dog bites per day. After the first day, the victim is constantly exhausted from muscle cramps. Generally, doghousing lasts for a week, and if a victim survives the week, he is released with a stern warning. Repeat offenses result in longer stays in the doghouse. A victim who falls unconscious before his week is up may be released early, or might simply have a cure light wounds applied to wake him back up for more torment.

This appears to be an acknowledgement that it is nigh impossible for most victims to remain conscious for an entire week under these conditions. That said, the cure light wounds cannot actually cure damage from starvation or thirst, until the character is fed and watered, and if he was fed at any point, it would be 3 days before he took any nonlethal damage again from starvation, and giving him water would mean 39 hours before he faced any thirst checks.

And the armiger only starts with 6hp, not 22.

However;

Turn of the Torrent, p10 wrote:
During the course of this adventure, 1d4 supposed criminals are doghoused each week—these people are suspected to be Silver Raven sympathizers, but true to Barzillai’s desires of not publicly admitting the Silver Ravens are a threat, no public announcements of such affiliations are given. Instead, the dottari target petty criminals for these initial displays of power. Each time a doghousing occurs, Kintargo’s population diminishes by an amount equal to the 1d4 victims, but the act causes an upswell in support for the Silver Ravens. For each person lost to doghousing, the Silver Ravens gain 1d6 supporters. Check for the week’s doghousing victims at the start of each rebellion’s Upkeep phase. Once the Silver Ravens reach rank 9, Barzillai Thrune realizes that his tactics are flawed and he suspends further excruciations.

This suggests that, in fact, the dottari as a rule do not heal or release unconscious prisoners, but simply let them die. Otherwise the population wouldn't keep falling by the same number of people who are being doghoused. Once again reiterating that doghousing is simply an elaborate execution.

And lastly:

Turn of the Torrent, p10 wrote:
Note that the Silver Ravens can use the Rescue Character action to try to rescue victims of doghousing. Doing so requires a successful DC 11 Security check— for every 5 points by which this check exceeds the DC, an additional victim of the 1d4 for that week is rescued as well. Each rescued victim increases the rebellion’s Notoriety score by 1.

Suggesting a team of six 2nd level warriors or four 2nd level fighters (the Torrent Armigers) can succeed with dramatically more ease and subtlety (yes, even the Hellknights) what a team of 3-5 4th level PCs cannot.

TL;DR: There are some disclaimers added in Turn of the Torrent to suggest (to the GM) that the Armiger basically gets plot immunity and thus will survive regardless. But this is setting up the doghousing as a nonlethal torture, when it is decidedly lethal in every other case.

Everyone else who is doghoused will die unless rescued, but the only on-camera doghousing is set up to be a forced failure - your lowbie NPCs can succeed off-camera, but not the PCs.

And hence I return to my aforementioned plan of not giving the armiger a free pass, but making the encounter one the PCs can actually be heroes in, and maintaining the tone of the adventure as established in Hell's Bright Shadow.


In my game, the rogue actually pulled off the intimidate check, with an assist from a teammate.


Shaun wrote:
In my game, the rogue actually pulled off the intimidate check, with an assist from a teammate.

It's definitely possible, but DC35 at 4th level is decidedly unlikely without extremely good luck and/or magical assistance.

For example: A bard with Charisma 20 and max ranks and Skill Focus (Diplomacy) would have a Diplomacy score of +15 and need a natural 20 to succeed alone. If two allies were both able to successfully assist, that would drop it down to a 16 on the die - still highly unlikely even for a character with a lot of investment in that skill. A circlet of persuasion would make it easier, but now we're talking an even greater (and less likely) investment than we have already.

My main objection was that this section feels a bit hypocritical. Putting things on camera (in addition to being fun, which knowing my players is not something the original scenario will provide them) generally serves the role of educating the players in what something is like; Most players will assume that this scenario is representative of all such scenarios, which is normally a valid assumption.... Just not in this case, where it is actually the complete opposite.

On-camera doghousing is nonlethal for the victims; It is exceedingly dangerous to try and rescue the victims; It is exceedingly difficult to even delay the proceedings and spare the victims for a moment.

Off-camera doghousing is always lethal for the victims; It is relatively easy to rescue the victims. Assuming the PCs took Secrecy as their focus for the Rebellion and are around Rank 6 when this occurred (+2 Security), with both a Partisan (+4) and a Sentinel (+1) they're looking a +7 bonus against a DC11, with +1 rescued character per 5 they beat the DC. Indeed, should the PCs choose to use the minigame instead of going in person, they could arguably rescue the armiger from the event with a DC12 Security check. Depending on their Rebellion setup, their bonus could easily be much higher..

I don't like being a "Do what I say, not what I do" GM, so for me either the "Rescue Character" option needs to go away (which would suck as it's a major source of supporters and a heroic thing to do), or this encounter needs to be less heavy-handedly stacked against the PCs.


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So last night I finally got to Barzillai's public thank-you ceremony. It was awesome!

The timing of the previous session worked out perfectly. The party had defeated Varl Wex after a very successful investigation, break-in, and combat. I made sure to have the Iudeimus Tenement landlady praise them to the skies (after her initial "sod-off" demeanor, it was even more effective). And I even threw in a cameo of the twins they'd rescued. They felt pretty great about all the people in Kintargo who liked them.

Then...

At the very end of the session, right as everyone is packing up, I say: "Oh, and one more thing..."

And I go into the invitation from Thrune.

End session.

Because of the holidays, we wound up having three weeks off. During which, I made sure to periodically taunt them about the horrors that surely awaited them at the very public ceremony. They assumed excruciation, they were sure Nox was going to show up (she had escaped).

The players helped the atmosphere by plotting a half-dozen or so different escape plans. They called in favors from the Chelish navy captain, seeded the crowd with their rumormongers, were whipped into a fine state of paranoia.

Then the ceremony began. They got their individually tailored gifts. Barzillai went back into the Opera House.

Crickets.

I have never seen more flabbergasted paranoia. It was truly glorious. I'm pretty sure at least one of them was up all night after the session trying to figure out what the Hell Barzillai could be up to...

Thanks so much! It was a fantastic plot twist!


Arthur G wrote:
TheNoslen wrote:

I've got a situation I'm not entirely sure how to play out, would be good to get some advice.

Essentially, just finished rescuing Marquel, ended the session before delivering him to the captain. [...]
Anyone have any tips on how to react to this? What would Cassius do?

That part in bold could be what saves you. Like Shaun and Raynulf I too have played with this type before, and it can be tiresome. The only reasonable, adult thing to do is let the poor sap go through with their ill conceived plan against the NPC with several levels over him, and then get rightfully smacked upside their thin-skinned head. Actions should have consequences. However, I'm going to advice against this. The adult reaction is not appropriate here as the problem never would have arisen if the player could behave like an adult. The player will just get increasingly prissy when his frustrations find not an outlet, but yet another imagined insult when the Captain successfully defends himself. A moody player at the table will just ruin the session for everyone.

Instead, consider playing up the reunion between Marquel and the Captain the next time your play. Emphasize the Captain's worry about his lover and that he might have been in an agitated state when he tossed this mission on the PCs' shoulders. Try to elicit sympathy and maybe this player will find it in his sensitive little heart to forgive him. As GM the best thing you can do in this situation is to try and defuse the situation, not to meet force with force.

Turns out after a week between sessions and a bit of wandering through town, the PC calmed down a little. I had Nones try and march the group to the captain (one PC resisted but having Marquel leave the party to go to the Captain convinced them all to follow), and after the reunion, the Captain did give a brief apology as to his secretive nature, explaining that he was sincerely worried about his lover. This kept the PC happy and so no retaliation was forthcoming!


What's the story behind Marquel Aulorian's withered arm?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hmmmm, good question. I thought he was born with a withered arm, but the text suggests that his father was withholding a restoration to restore the use of his arm, which suggests this is a relatively new affliction. Maybe a disease struck him?


Brad Turner wrote:
What's the story behind Marquel Aulorian's withered arm?

Whatever the GM wants it to be. It's never stated in the AP.


Side note: Octavio Sabinus' stat-block (Turn of the Torrent pg 66) has a few errors, which I suspect are an effect of Hero Lab not handling the Hellknight prestige class overly well.

Feats: He has Improved Critical (halberd) listed, which he cannot have.
Octavio is a Fighter 5 (taken first to qualify for Hellknight) / Hellknight 3. His last feat was from 7th level, when his BAB was only +7. He does not gain a feat at 8th because Hellknight doesn't grant bonus feats.

Melee: Per the above, the critical range should be "x3" not "19-20/x3"

Speed: His speed is incorrectly listed as 20 ft. in armor. It should be 30 ft.
The Hellknight Armor (Ex) class feature is granted on the 2nd level of the prestige class and causes Hellknights wearing Hellknight Plate (such as Octavio) to move at full speed in their armor.


On a related topic: Hetamon Haace (Turn of the Torrent pg 64) has a few issues with his stat block, though these are more choices than numerical errors.

Specifically:

  • Hetamon Haace trained as a healer before becoming a cleric. He has no ranks in Heal.
  • Hetamon Haace once beat a man to death with a healer's kit. He has Strength 10, including his racial +2 bonus.
  • Hetamon Haace is a tailor and runs a tailor shop. He has no ranks in Craft or Profession.
  • Hetamon Haace has Brew Potion and Craft Wonderous Item and makes magic items. He has no ranks in Spellcraft, which cannot be rolled untrained. Spellcraft is the typical skill used to make magic items of all kinds, and Hetamon lacks any others skills to substitute in.
  • Hetamon makes potions and wondrous items. He has no potions or wondrous items on his person; he instead has scrolls (which he cannot make) and a +1 morningstar.
  • (Nitpicking) Hetamon Haace is a tailor. He has a pair of boots of levitation for sale. Tailors do not typically make shoes.


I'm having some trouble using the Gray Queen's Court from the Bestiary section. I was going to use them to enhance the murders taking place in Old Kintargo, but after looking at the Rat King and the Grimples it commands, I've realized the Rat King really can't communicate with the grimples, given its absence of a language and its ability to communicate only with rats. I could replace the grimples with rats of course, but anyone have any suggestions on how to foster communication with it? My players do not have the ability to cast speak with animals.


Does anyone else have issues with Ghenemal?

At Cr 7 for a party of 4 level 4's she is already an epic encounter
alongside that she seems to be under Cr'd in the first place

The encounter seems really reliant on my party to get some very lucky rolls and even then, the encounter as a whole feels really unbalanced to me in the first place.


Hm. For its CR, its AC is average (above average touch, below average flat-footed), its attacks are within 1 of average and CMB a bit below, saves are within 1 of average either way, has rock-bottom perception, exactly average HP, has SR but around average, cold immunity is balanced by electricity vulnerability.

I guess you're feeling its under-rated due to its regeneration and DR, and its damage being one above the top of the range for its CR.

However, they get an action advantage of having 4 on 1 and the PCs will all get surprise and initiative if they attack without warning after the speech, given the -10 to initiative that the kyton faces. That +0 to Perception for the kyton is very bad news for it today, as it has little chance of seeing through a disguise that got the party this far. I think it's possible this creature never gets to act under fairly predictable PC conditions: it's likely a lot of groups will be going aggro against an evil outsider engaged in torture in front of them.

There's two additional solutions for you: ensuring that your PCs get to that room with reasonable resources is pretty much in your control if they don't do something stupid, and make sure that they haven't sold the silver weapons that they got at 1st level. I think it will be a case of whether they've managed to get that far without a fight and how many resources they used to get to that room. Since they get to pick a plan and have the initiative, they have a better than usual shot at it.

Since its AC is average, I think that this will be a short, brutal fight if the entire party is there.

If only one PC goes in the room, however, that PC will have major trouble until reinforcements arrive. If it's a caster, it may already be too late.


My players wiped ghenmael in two rounds


So. A couple of points here, thus far.

*My players have just took on the Holding House. I find it odd that even if the PCs bluffs fail talking to Sabo (my group took the trickery option), that all she does is say "Go get more signatures and come back." From the illustration and blurbs, Sabo is experienced. I'd have thought she'd put an end to their obvious BS shenanigans on the spot.

*Ghenemal. The face of the group, acting as leader, stepped into the torture room to talk to her, and decided (with a bit of metagame, admittedly - citing 'we don't know how high her CR is. Ugh) not to interrupt her. She told him he could have the remains in a couple of hours and he agreed. Now.. the armiger is at -5 but stabilized.. What is the kyton's game plan here? I mean, her aura of truth still requires people to be conscious to -tell- the truth... when my PCs come back, will the armiger be dead?

*And lastly, a holdover from Book 1. As I understand it, Barzillai came up with doghousing. And the first official doghousing happens in Book 2. BUT. In Book 1, there's the unofficial one done by the CCG.. are we to believe the CCG is psychic, or that Thrune gives his supporters that sort of inside info?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Re: doghousing. There's a rumor that PCs can find out in Book 1 that Barzillai is fond of the practice, and that he'd employed it elsewhere in Cheliax. He just hadn't employed it in Kintargo just yet.


Draven Torakhan wrote:
*My players have just took on the Holding House. I find it odd that even if the PCs bluffs fail talking to Sabo (my group took the trickery option), that all she does is say "Go get more signatures and come back." From the illustration and blurbs, Sabo is experienced. I'd have thought she'd put an end to their obvious BS shenanigans on the spot.

The Holding House is odd. It's suggested that the PC's should try trickery as having the highest chance of success... but that isn't actually the case.

Sabo is built to largely be a pushover in combat save for her hold person spam, and has ZERO RANKS IN PERCEPTION, but instead has maximum Wisdom and a +14 in Sense Motive, so that when every PC has to try to Bluff her, failure is pretty much guaranteed for many. If she takes-10, the DC is 24, or 28 if after curfew. In theory, you just need a greater than 50% (i.e. typically 3-out-of-4) success to progress to the Linguistics check, where she has a +9 total bonus vs either Ruba's +23 (total) or a PC with a +8 bonus.

Any Stealth effort is only opposed by the "dottari as optimised 4th level fighters" +6, and her +4. invisibility is pretty much a complete trump (remembering it gives +20 to Stealth, or +40 when stationary), and with either high skills like Climb or Disable Device, or spells such as spider climb or knock and an organised party should get in and out with the armigers with minimal combat - the exception being the kyton in the sound-proofed room.

Any combat effort mainly has to deal with the dottari being grossly OP (in terms of expected enemy stats per CR from the Bestiary) for CR3, and in large quantities, but the main danger of Sabo herself is that she has a bunch of DC16 hold person and a bunch of high damage x3 critting minions.

Don't get me wrong, the trickery option is definitely the most interesting (for me), but given the specific skill requirements and/or heavy cost of getting the forged documents... it is actually one of the most difficult and costly to pull off as-written.


Raynulf wrote:
...when every PC has to try to Bluff her...

When I run encounters like that, I generally only ask that any PCs doing the talking need to make the Bluff check. If the NPC would have a good reason to ask each individual PC what they were doing, then I might require each one to Bluff, but I don't really see why "standing around behind the guy 'in charge' and saying nothing" should require a Bluff check. Maybe Disguise if they're dressed as dottari. The skill description (excluding 'feint in combat') only refers to convincing somewhat "what you are saying is true."

This also allows a player who put lots of ranks into Bluff to shine, while not making their skill useless because of a Charisma-dumping PC with no ranks.


quibblemuch wrote:
Raynulf wrote:
...when every PC has to try to Bluff her...

When I run encounters like that, I generally only ask that any PCs doing the talking need to make the Bluff check. If the NPC would have a good reason to ask each individual PC what they were doing, then I might require each one to Bluff, but I don't really see why "standing around behind the guy 'in charge' and saying nothing" should require a Bluff check. Maybe Disguise if they're dressed as dottari. The skill description (excluding 'feint in combat') only refers to convincing somewhat "what you are saying is true."

This also allows a player who put lots of ranks into Bluff to shine, while not making their skill useless because of a Charisma-dumping PC with no ranks.

Oh, I agree 100% and run it like that. It's just not what the module calls for:

Turn of the Torrent, pg22 wrote:
Each PC must attempt a Bluff check opposed by Sabo’s Sense Motive check, and if the conversation takes place after curfew, Sabo gains a +4 bonus on her Sense Motive check because of her suspicion regarding the unusual timing of the transfer request. If more PCs fail their Bluff checks than succeed, or if the result of the Notoriety check is less than or equal to the Silver Ravens’ Notoriety score, Sabo denies the transfer request and asks the PCs to gain the signature of a dottari captain and return with it the next day.

Bolded for emphasis.

I fully intent to run it much like you do/did: Ask the player doing the talking to roll (i.e. letting the player who is good at it shine), rather than hinging success on the lowest rolls (i.e. making the deficiency of some characters tar the whole party). I am fond of challenging strengths rather than punishing weaknesses - it makes players feel happier about their characters, in my experience.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

To keep the intent of the encounter intact, you might consider having Sabo question everyone, and have it act as an aid another check, with the DC set at Sabo's Sense Motive.


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I've gone over a lot of Raynulf and Razcar's ideas posted above regarding the Lucky Bones/Cult of Mahathallah and have worked some changes into my campaign with them. If anyone is interested in using these ideas, I've modified my Hell's Rebels with the following changes to make things a bit more fluid, interesting and slightly more complicated (though my players enjoy such complication!).

Please note, the spoilers are quite long to read.

Cult of Mahathallah/Soul Anchor Storyline Changes:
​The following changes are being made to the Cult of Mahathallah and the Soul Anchor:

Nasperiah the Blood Hag and her followers set up the soulbound lift, under the disguise of gravekeepers of Kintargo's cemetary. After the cultists built the shrine around the soul anchor in in 4382 AR, Nasperiah set into motion a plan to keep the above-ground portion of the soulbound lift protected and observed by her followers.

Abducting a strong male speciment from Kintargo, Nasperiah birthed the first changeling for the purpose of looking after the soulbound lift on the surface. Raising that child as a priestess like herself, she sent her back to Kintargo when she was in her early twenties, tasking her with taking over as her agent in the city in the role of a gravekeeper to watch over the lift, in a similar manner as the original cultists did. With her, she gave a missive stone for communication and sent several ageless constructs to directly protect the entrance while the changeling was to be her eyes and ears. Realizing that the best defense of the soulbound lift would to prevent its existance from being revealable knowledge, she wiped her first daughter's memory of the lift and the soul anchor itself; the changeling only knew the location in the cemetary was important her mother's name was Nasperiah and she would receieve instructions which she would follow. To keep this defence ongoing, Nasperiah instructed her daughter to keep a low profile and avoid attracting attention to herself, simply keeping her aprised of activties in the city. If an event within Kintargo seemed worthy of expoliting, Nasperiah would instruct her daughter to undertake whatever steps were necessary. The changeling was allowed to recruit human servants to assist in the day-to-day events in the graveyard and more clanderstine cult activities, however they were to be kept even more in the dark than she was. Eventually, Nasperiah would have her daughter kidnap suitable male subjects to be brought to her via the Font of Visions portal she would place. The man would be brought to the soul anchor for breeding and the changeling baby would be sent back to the surface through same portal, to be raised by the older changeling as her replacement as age took her. Those changelings that served well were rewarded by being able to return to the soul anchor and transitioning into a full blood hag under Nasperiah's control. And so for two centuries, the daughter's of Nasperiah have tended the soulbound lift in Kintargo without knowing what they were actually protecting.

The latest in the long line of cultists is Luculla Gens. It is during her time that the status quo has been disrupted. Not long after her "mother" (the previous changeling guardian) departed for the soul anchor, the Church of Asmodeus removed the "Gens" family (and their human cultist-employees) from their long-standing tradition of tending the graves in the cemetary. Unknown to Nasperiah, this was a calculated move of Barzillai Thrune once he learned of its existance (several months before he arrived as the new lord-mayor), as he wanted direct control over the site before his arrival. Forced out of her direct role in protecting the soulbound lift at the source, Lucella used cult funds to buy the closest unoccupied property near the graveyard, which happened to be an empty part of the Tooth and Nail tavern. She turned it into a confectionary to help create an innocent-looking cover story as she planned her next moves.

Only slightly concerned with the development on the surface due to her constant drug-infused haze, Nasperiah took her time in replying to Luculla's concerned missives. She instructed Luculla to begin creating a tunnel from the Tooth and Nail to the soulbound lift to bypass the defenses of the now unwelcome cemetary. Knowing she needed to rid the shared building of Setrona Sabinus but rightly fearing her connection to her protective Hellknight cousin, Luculla used her magic to call a gambling devil from Mahathallah's court to begin a scheme to "buy" Setrona out of the building. The devil took on the persona of a fat moneylender named "Fat Anto" and convinced Setrona to allow him to run games of chance in her establishment for a large sum. She agreed (in part due to the devil's reckless aura ability), and Fat Anto had her sign a contract for his service. A crafty devil, Fat Anto followed Luculla's plan to increase his "offputting" presence in the establishment to lower her business and drive her to sell...in which "sweet, friendly" Luculla would step in to help. She would buy the Tooth and Nail portion and kick Setrona out and begin the tunnel construction, with her cousin being unable to help, given the purchase was done lawfully.

Plot that specifically happened in my Hell's rebels

Her plan almost worked, even when a new group of people (the PCs) befriended Setrona and tried to remove Fat Anto for her. Reading the contract, they correctly deduced the primary way out of it for Setrona; if she sold her place to someone else, the contract with Fat Anto was void. Both the PCs and Luculla offered to buy the place, but fate seemed to intervene on Luculla's side. As Setrona gave herself a few days to think about both offers, the PCs made the mistake of attacking a Dottari investigator in Old Kintargo without disguises. The local Dottari went on a two-week long manhunt for those responsible, which forced them out of Old Kintargo for a short time. Setrona heard of the attack and decided to go with Luculla's help (given the poor judgment of the PCs).

Continued Plot Change

Yet just as fate seemed to help Luculla, it turned around and has made things more difficult. She informed Nasperiah of her success, and the blood hag sent several caliban's through the Font of Visions to the basement of the Tooth and Nail to help with the tunnel excavation. While Luculla decided on the best way of removing Setrona from the Tooth and Nail without angering her new friends (whom she knows are the Silver Ravens), Barzillai Thrune made his move to enter the soulbound lift with his minions. Luculla was not able to warn Nasperiah (given her further distance from the graveyard and her attention on the tunnel) and shortly after the Turn of the Torrent begins, the cult in the shrine has been slaughtered. Luculla doesn't know this, she only knows Nasperiah has gone silent and the construct guardians in the graveyard have been destroyed.

Someone lost without Nasperiah's instructions, Luculla has slowed the tunnel construction, keeping the caliban's in hiding below the Tooth and Nail's basement. She has also decided to keep Setrona in her establishment for now, hoping that the woman's inquisitive nature and the resourcefulness of the Silver Ravens can possibly help her find out who has silenced her mother. Once she learns it was Barzillai, she sees both Setrona and the Silver Ravens as potential allies for revenge against Thrune.​

Reasoning/Additional Thoughts

I like how this keeps Luculla and her cult more in line with their whore-queen's dogma and the story of the soul anchor in general. She is also changed into an important NPC, either a foil or an aid depending on how she views the PCs and whether or not they detect her evil nature.

Lucky Bones/Old Kintargo Dottari Changes:

- Hei-Fen is not a wererat, but instead a werespider. This helps to create more a theme when it comes to the Gray Spiders and the Jorgoumo's she tends to employ.

Hei-Fen keeps many "ears", her agents, in settlements throughout Cheliax and beyond, and Kintargo is no exception. However, her "ear" in Kintargo is none other than her own daughter Kiem-Fen. A natural werespider like herself, Hei-Fen trained her daughter to return to Kintargo in an attempt to break through the Order of the Torrent wards in the remains of the Lucky Bones to retrieve the treasures there.

Kiem-Fen had instructions to be extremely discreet and to create a small criminal empire through the lax Kintargo Dottari, by taking control of existing criminal elements that had come into play since the Gray Spiders were defeated. Using forged papers and an assumed identity, Kiem-Fen arrived in Kintargo and immediately joined the Dottari in her social identity. Meanwhile, she set up her criminal persona, simply known as "The Lady." Kiem-Fen also entered the Lucky Bones with the information provided by her mother, finding it deserted. When she visited the shrine of Norgober, four of the long-dead thieves that died protecting the site were reanimated as dread skeletons. Showing them her proof of allegience to the god (and Hei-Fen's daughter no less), the skeletons designed to serve her for the chance at being a part of the "new" Gray Spiders. These skeletons became her agents, having the unique ability to look like their living selves during the day before they returned to their undead form at night. She also used her entrothropic empathy ability to attract spiders as additional guards and spies.

During the day, Kiem-Fen used her investigative skills and her hidden inquisitor magic to work for the Dottari, proving herself quite the capable officer. She began to rise through the ranks with astonishing speed, also thanks to her criminal persona; as "The Lady", she would recruit desperate criminal elements with the promise of wealth only to arrest them shortly after in her Dottari identity. Indeed, within a year she became a lieutenant in the Old Kintargo Dottari and a Captain six months later. Due to the generally lax Dottari in Kintargo, her deception was never detected, let alone investigated by her fellows.

After two years of this game, Kiem-Fen became the Durotas (or rank-warden) of Old Kintargo and controlled all the guardsmen of that district. Although she never revealed her identity as the rumored "Lady", she was able to identify those within the ranks that would be suseptable to bribary, corruption and "looking the other way." While she had sights on becoming the Duxotar of the entire city, her attentions were placed on another target; Vezio Delronge, a young man from one of Kintargo's noble families that became quite infatuated with her. Sensing an immediate opportunity for more power and influence, she played into his feelings but surprisingly found herself able to genuinely care for the man. A year after their introduction, Kiem-Fen was married into the Delronge family, which immediately bolstered the power she wielded. Her mother, Hei-Fen, was quite pleased.

Meanwhile, in her criminal endevours as the Lady, she had transitioned from using her persona to recruit and then immediately arrest hapless criminals to becoming a "protector" of Old Kintargo's illegal elements. She offered the criminal gangs that were arising a certain degree of protection and immunity to the Dottari in her district, in exchange for wealth or favors. By this point, "The Lady" was a hushed whisper among criminals in Old Kintargo...to see her or one of her agents meant they were rising in influence, but to refuse her meant certain doom, as the Dottari would soon find and eliminate them.

She used these methods of intimidation and blackmail on Old Kintargo's current gangs. For the Flowershop Crew, she desired information on choice individuals for later blackmail. The Logrunner's she was especially interested in their drug-trade and demanded a high percentage of their profits. When both of these gangs began a fued with one another, The Lady allowed it, finding the concept rather amusing. For the Jollytime Girls, she allowed their random beatings to continue in return for causing harm to a woman whom had caused her husband to do a "double take" of her. The Black Eyes, on the other hand, were not approached by the Lady. More mercenaries than a protection racket (as the Black Eyes simply demanded heavy coin for protecting people from other gangs, not actually instigating the attacks themselves), she allowed them to operate as a third-party "check and balance" to the gangs she did control. Finally, the Spellcrafters, being a unique, fluid adventuring group, she has seen the use a bunch of young arcanists could have, especially in her currently fruitless efforts to open the Order of the Torrent's seal. As almost all these criminals agreed to The Lady's terms, crime began to arise in Old Kintargo and the district's once steller-record for stopping it changed almost overnight, becoming the most "lax" of the Dottari in the city.

When Lord-Mayor Barzillai Thrune took over Kintargo, and did a scouring of the Dottari, Kiem Delronge was ready to abandoned her post entirely, however her marriage with the Delronge family saved her from being removed as Durotas like the other rank-warden's were, as Thrune saw the political wisdom in keeping one of his few supportive noble families happy. Secure in the knowledge she is safe in her posting (for now), Kiem Delronge is nonetheless stepping up her Dottari's duties so Thrune has no reason to change his mind.​

Reasoning/Additional Thoughts

In the Lucky Bones itself, it is a new, smaller cult of Norgorber rather than those of Mahathallah. Kiem Delronge, as I've built her, is a LN/NE Female Human werespider Vigilante (Zealot) of Norgorber 7 (CR 7). She has four Dread Skeleton Rogues and several giant spiders as guardians. I've not yet finished changing the encounters in the Lucky Bones around, but I've decided to keep Luculla's tactics for Kiem in the shrine area; the PCs would see the leader of the Dottari about to be sacrificed and may decide to "help her out". If the PCs don't fall for it and manage to defeat her, they can expose the corrupt Dottari of Old Kintargo and earn more fame and recognition for the end of the Turn of the Torrent.

For the Lucky Bones itself, I'm removing the secret passage that leads past the Order of the Torrent seal, as Hei-Fen would have known of it and simply sent her daughter through long ago. I'll keep the skum encounters as written, and I also like the previous idea of making Baccus and undead creature instead of skeleton laying against a wall.


Gromnar: That is awesome.

Your changes with Luculla are spot on for a cult leader of Mahathalla, and Kiem-Fen is an outstanding antagonist.

Your players are fortunate indeed :)


Thanks Raynulf. I appreciate the kind words!

I have really enjoyed Hell's Rebels so far, but I'm always finding ways to make the story fore fluid and connect in ways that suit my campaign. It's been quite fun.

And, my players and I play via virtual table top. There's always room for 1 more. ;)


So my players are coming up on the Lucky Bones. However, I've encountered an interesting problem (one of my own making, really).

During book one, one of the characters almost died, but had his soul caught up in the Soul Anchor and made a deal with Mahathallah in order to save his life. He has since taken levels as an Inquisitor of Mahathallah (without the character really understanding how evil she is; she's tempted him with the power to protect his friends).

However, now that they are about to encounter the cult of Mahathallah, I'm curious how this will go down, especially since Lucilla Gens has become somewhat of a confidante for the character. I'm not terribly interested in forcing a PvP situation. Any suggestions?

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