Turn of the Torrent (GM Reference)


Hell's Rebels

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Latrecis wrote:
Lanathar wrote:

So Luculla seems like she could need a big rewrite. Did you keep her in the lucky bones in terms of where she was torturing people from?

And did she still have her alter ego operating from somewhere ?

It seems like keeping her story as written requires a different deity which removes part of the foreshadowing. That said the PCs are unlikely to know anything about soul anchors for a while even if they do I.D the deity as I assume that is high level knowledge

I did like the idea of a gotcha moment especially as my PCs got TPKd by a surprise disguised evil cleric in a PFS scenario back in February. It would have really struck a point and got them animated! I just don’t trust mine and my player’s ability to create a strong enough connection to have an impact with the gotcha. And as mentioned unless I Potter the place with other NPCs it will just make them suspicious of everyone

I was not planning on re-writing her - though I'll probably change her spell memorization (AP choices in this area are often mediocre.) Well, at least no changes game mechanic-wise.

No, she will not have an alter ego in the city. No need for it.

I'm leaving her as a cleric of Mahathallah so I can use her to foreshadow the Soul Anchor. My intention is to play up tension between Mahathallah and Thrune (and perhaps Asmodeus.) In my version, Mahathallah knows something bad has happened at the Soul Anchor but the presence of Anagondun makes it hard for her to know what, so she's sent Luculla to find out what's going on (since Asmodeus isn't answering her questions.) Mahathallah also needs to keep the Soul Anchor away from Azrana's attention (see Book 6, p.68.) so she herself is avoiding more direct intervention. My plan right now is the pc's will find imprisoned Thrunites or Asmodeans, etc. instead of the twins. Which will a) give me a chance to share some info: "She kept screaming at us about something called a Soul Anchor! When we said we didn't know what that was, she started killing...

So did something else happen to the twins in this one? Or does that hook disappear? I like that one because of the slasher overlap

The chief problem I see is that I don’t see why my group would be opposed to her and her cult if they do what you mention. Perhaps I am only thinking of one of them who has already tortured dottari whilst they screamed that they didn’t know what they were talking about

Perhaps that says more about them

I guess the hook is that asmodeans are going missing and the ravens are being blamed? And their notoriety and potential crackdown is increasing ?

Would it be swung as the rumours are beyond the pale for a lot of potential followers? I find this hard given by this book Thrune is publically torturing potential rivals


Additionally has everyone else run the first part as written? So dangling a really tough combat encounter enticingly in front of the players , expecting them to walk away and then having Setrona know about Octavio’s hiding place?

I saw it mentioned in a different thread that it seems unlikely that he would tell her and they had the information with the armigers. Either way it is intriguing that either she hasn’t been rounded up and questioned or if the armigers are given the info that they haven’t revealed it in the face of kyton torture (the latter is less unlikely)

Perhaps it should be exactly that kind of double bluff - no one would expect a cousin to know so they don’t bother. But I would imagine the Hellknights are nothing if not methodical ...


Lanathar wrote:

So did something else happen to the twins in this one? Or does that hook disappear? I like that one because of the slasher overlap

The chief problem I see is that I don’t see why my group would be opposed to her and her cult if they do what you mention. Perhaps I am only thinking of one of them who has already tortured dottari whilst they screamed that they didn’t know what they were talking about

Perhaps that says more about them

I guess the hook is that asmodeans are going missing and the ravens are being blamed? And their notoriety and potential crackdown is increasing ?

Would it be swung as the rumours are beyond the pale for a lot of potential followers? I find this hard given by this book Thrune is publically torturing potential rivals

Sorry if I wasn't clear. Yes, in my particular approach, the twins are not captured. Beyond the other reasons, the random serial killer motif is overused in the AP as it is (my opinion only of course.)

Yes, it may appear Luculla and the Silver Ravens have common cause but she really is utterly uninterested in whatever the Ravens want to accomplish and will be indiscriminately killing people to get what she wants. If my players have reluctance (and they're already annoyed at taking Notoriety for something they didn't do) she'll start killing people that aren't Asmodeans as she gets more desperate to find out about the Soul Anchor. Strictly speaking she's been given an impossible quest - the only people who can answer her questions are in Barzillai's inner circle and they are way out of her league.

And yes, kidnapping and torturing people would be bad for Silver Ravens recruiting and supporter retention beyond the Notoriety feature. Part of the Raven story is (at least in my incarnation) - "Hey we're not ruthless or evil. The ends do not justify the means."


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Lanathar wrote:

Additionally has everyone else run the first part as written? So dangling a really tough combat encounter enticingly in front of the players , expecting them to walk away and then having Setrona know about Octavio’s hiding place?

I saw it mentioned in a different thread that it seems unlikely that he would tell her and they had the information with the armigers. Either way it is intriguing that either she hasn’t been rounded up and questioned or if the armigers are given the info that they haven’t revealed it in the face of kyton torture (the latter is less unlikely)

Perhaps it should be exactly that kind of double bluff - no one would expect a cousin to know so they don’t bother. But I would imagine the Hellknights are nothing if not methodical ...

It didn't make sense to me that Setrona would know about the Torrent's alliance with St. Senex. So she approaches the Ravens asking for help in finding Octavio. She suggests the armigers might know where he is, so the Ravens end up needing to rescue the armigers to find him. I also changed the backstory a bit - I didn't like that Octavio knowingly abandoned his people to prison and torture. Instead he was leading them in an attempt to leave the city just ahead of Barzillai's proclamation (with the help from the followers of St. Senex) when they were attacked by Hellknights, etc. Some armigers died, some were captured and he was grievously wounded. The seers take him back to their shrine to recover (remember they have wands of water breathing.) When the Ravens rescue the armigers (they are literally in the middle of that right now - the fight with the kyton is likely this very evening) they'll find out where he might be. When they get to the shrine, they'll find it under attack from dottari and Hellknights etc. (This part I added just because more conflict with the supporters of Thrune is good :)


Lanathar wrote:


I saw it mentioned in a different thread that it seems unlikely that he would tell her and they had the information with the armigers. Either way it is intriguing that either she hasn’t been rounded up and questioned or if the armigers are given the info that they haven’t revealed it in the face of kyton torture (the latter is less unlikely)

I had her know about where the armigers were, and they knew where Octavio was. I didn't have her get rounded up, as she was innocuous, and I liked the fact that the armigers' torture put the PCs on the clock to rescue them before they gave up the goods.


So I made her suggest she might know but they also know about doghousing and the holding house. So they have a choice and their first priority is to check out the dog housing
(I feel like they may try to fight but they are going to be obviously outnumbered. Also hell knights could be a deterrent even if they assume the dottari are the same as book 1

How important is the mithral sword in helping the rescue. It seems like it is very important for convincing the torrent and aiding against the kyton. It would be a nightmare if they got in and failed a skill check. Although I suppose the negative outcome there is they run off and need tracking down...

Also does the adventure assume the rebellion relocated to old Kintargo early?
I put raids of Laria’s and the surrounding area to get them over to Setrona and to reveal who they were to her . But there doesn’t seem to be space


I let them devote an organization check to rescue the first dog housing, since I'd already done the unofficial one. Maybe a mistake, but it sped things up.

I had a family ring or something from Setrona.

Yes, it's assumed you'll be moving to Old Kintargo, but it doesn't really matter if that doesn't happen until after Lucky Bones. It just saves on the commute.


A point on the hell knight and dottari tactics - they are very conservative
It seems if they do 30 or so points of damage to one of each then they retreat and the group gains full xp? Doesn’t seem very scary

The kineticist could probably drive one group off before they got in range

And they switch to archery which they are much poorer at

So the combat doesn’t seem like the CR it is actually pitched at

Furthermore what are the dottari guards tactics at the holding house? I don’t remember seeing that but maybe misread?


Lanathar wrote:

A point on the hell knight and dottari tactics - they are very conservative

It seems if they do 30 or so points of damage to one of each then they retreat and the group gains full xp? Doesn’t seem very scary

The kineticist could probably drive one group off before they got in range

So then change the tactics and/or add hit points. For a 15 point buy party it's a tough fight, even if they're relatively specialised at fighting.

What stat generation system did you use? You may want to add the simple advanced template to everything.

Lanathar wrote:
Furthermore what are the dottari guards tactics at the holding house? I don’t remember seeing that but maybe misread?

If the tactics aren't there it's due to word count and the assumption that most groups aren't going to be playing murder-hobos. That's why it gets into specifics about a group using trickery to get in.

If your group storms the place then the tactics are probably "fight to the death"


Warped Savant wrote:
Lanathar wrote:

A point on the hell knight and dottari tactics - they are very conservative

It seems if they do 30 or so points of damage to one of each then they retreat and the group gains full xp? Doesn’t seem very scary

The kineticist could probably drive one group off before they got in range

So then change the tactics and/or add hit points. For a 15 point buy party it's a tough fight, even if they're relatively specialised at fighting.

What stat generation system did you use? You may want to add the simple advanced template to everything.

Lanathar wrote:
Furthermore what are the dottari guards tactics at the holding house? I don’t remember seeing that but maybe misread?

If the tactics aren't there it's due to word count and the assumption that most groups aren't going to be playing murder-hobos. That's why it gets into specifics about a group using trickery to get in.

If your group storms the place then the tactics are probably "fight to the death"

20 point buy

My point is more kinetic blast is something like 2d6+8. Two average blasts knock off 30 HP from range. And for both groups that pretty much means retreat and start firing less effectively from range

My life has probably been made easier by that fact that one player can’t make it next session leaving the group with one proper melee character. And when the 4 of them count 8 villains they will probably say “nope”

I was actually more thinking of dropping the dottari level down one and adding one or two. Or at least not using power attack . I know it decreases accuracy but 1d10 + 14 is mean even at level 4. That is half HP each hit.

Maybe I will only do this when they are meant to fight such as if I have any go after Octavio at the shrine. But I don’t think they will know so if I have any outside the gates it will be to look for him


If the group decides to fight the hellknights and dottari it's meant to be a tough (if not impossible) fight. That's kind of the point of a lot of this AP. The dottari/hellknights don't have to be using lethal force or, if a PC goes down, the enemies should be trying to stabilize them. Then, later, the PCs can mount a rescue mission for their captured comrade.

Fighting should not be a PCs first thought when it comes to most of this AP.
Maybe once Octavio has been encountered by the group you can use him to try to have them be more subtle. (Eg: He suggests that they work at least kind of within the law to get the armigers out of the holding house.)
If they continue to be ultra-violent and kill people without a second thought I'd have some of the NPCs stop helping them. (Rexus wants a peaceful revolution, Laria wouldn't want that much attention on her, neither would Hetamon, Octavio is Lawful Good)


Not directly related to this module but I wanted to post in a section where my players definitely should not read:

One of my players has revealed he wants to buy a shop / building and set up a Menagerie of venomous creatures.

The real reason for this is he wants to milk them for poison to use on weapons. He is a witch with no special archetypes to benefit from poison use and no feats to make his crossbow better but I shall leave that aside . He clearly thinks he has stumbled upon a way to break the “meta” of the system for when he is out of spells and presumably out of hex range

His ultimate aim seems to involve buying an Emperor cobra shackling it to the ground somehow and using a take 10 on handle animal to milk the poison (as the cobra’s can easily finish him off given 10 con )

It annoys me that he seems to be ignoring the premise of the game. But he will not take no for an answer if he can find it in the rules he thinks it should be allowed and will sulk if denied.

Unfortunately I can’t realistically remove him from the game

So what should I do?
Should this be possible (consider he won’t take no for an answer)
I wonder how much a shop would be?
Could there be some fun chellish bureaucracy to add road blocks?
Would someone realistically be selling venomous creatures in martial law Kintargo ?
What about 16ft long incredibly deadly ones?

More specifically can people run businesses and still be rebellion officers ?

Or should I just let him go for it as it is an incredibly sub optimal choice and see if he realises that? (I mean devils are immune to poison)

It is the most ridiculous situation!


Let him sulk. And yes, you can remove anyone from your game. Sure, the game might not continue, but sometimes not running a game is better than running it for people that are making it bad for you.

And, by my reading, you can't take 10 on Handle Animal as "When your character is not in immediate danger or distracted, you may choose to take 10" and I would consider the threat of being bitten by a pissed off snake to be immediate danger.
Because they're found in bogs MAYBE he can find one south of Kintargo but I wouldn't have a shop selling them except possibly in Vyre.
And if he opens a poison shop then people start getting poisoned you know where hellknights and high-level government agents are going to be looking first, right? I'd be arresting the character with a stronger force than he could fight off as the evidence would be pretty easy to find, they can probably connect him to the rebellion, and there's proof that he's killing people.

Sometimes you have to say no to your players and if they can't accept it that's their problem, not yours.


Warped Savant wrote:

Let him sulk. And yes, you can remove anyone from your game. Sure, the game might not continue, but sometimes not running a game is better than running it for people that are making it bad for you.

And, by my reading, you can't take 10 on Handle Animal as "When your character is not in immediate danger or distracted, you may choose to take 10" and I would consider the threat of being bitten by a pissed off snake to be immediate danger.
Because they're found in bogs MAYBE he can find one south of Kintargo but I wouldn't have a shop selling them except possibly in Vyre.
And if he opens a poison shop then people start getting poisoned you know where hellknights and high-level government agents are going to be looking first, right? I'd be arresting the character with a stronger force than he could fight off as the evidence would be pretty easy to find, they can probably connect him to the rebellion, and there's proof that he's killing people.

Sometimes you have to say no to your players and if they can't accept it that's their problem, not yours.

I understand that i can tank the game over this but it seems unnecessary

Your points on him being tracked are good and ones I had already thought of. It is not strictly a poison shop but a front for milking poison for himself. But the authorities will add two and two

He is currently stubbornly arguing that a restrained snake is not a threat. I don’t want to engage any further until we are at the stage where he acquires it. Since he assumes take a 10 is possible he is too terrified to try this until level 6 so I have a little while

He will also need at least 1600 gp of his own money plus a place to keep the snake (again probably from his own funds). So financially this is probably a long way off anyway


Lanathar wrote:

Not directly related to this module but I wanted to post in a section where my players definitely should not read:

One of my players has revealed he wants to buy a shop / building and set up a Menagerie of venomous creatures.

The real reason for this is he wants to milk them for poison to use on weapons. He is a witch with no special archetypes to benefit from poison use and no feats to make his crossbow better but I shall leave that aside . He clearly thinks he has stumbled upon a way to break the “meta” of the system for when he is out of spells and presumably out of hex range

His ultimate aim seems to involve buying an Emperor cobra shackling it to the ground somehow and using a take 10 on handle animal to milk the poison (as the cobra’s can easily finish him off given 10 con )

It annoys me that he seems to be ignoring the premise of the game. But he will not take no for an answer if he can find it in the rules he thinks it should be allowed and will sulk if denied.

Unfortunately I can’t realistically remove him from the game

So what should I do?
Should this be possible (consider he won’t take no for an answer)
I wonder how much a shop would be?
Could there be some fun chellish bureaucracy to add road blocks?
Would someone realistically be selling venomous creatures in martial law Kintargo ?
What about 16ft long incredibly deadly ones?

More specifically can people run businesses and still be rebellion officers ?

Or should I just let him go for it as it is an incredibly sub optimal choice and see if he realises that? (I mean devils are immune to poison)

It is the most ridiculous situation!

The secret in these situations is use No only for rules interpretations or the most serious situations. (In this case, I agree with Warped Savant - No, you cannot Take 10 on any Handle Animal check if the intent is to harvest poison.) The better approach is to provide consequences and let the player choose.

And Yes, there would certainly be Chellish bureaucracy.

"You want to start a business? Most excellent, we heartily encourage citizens to contribute to the ongoing prosperity of Kintargo and Cheliax.

Are you sponsored by a noble family - all economic endeavors in Cheliax must be sponsored by a noble house. If you do not have a sponsor, House Thrune will be happy to sponsor you for 100gp per year. Note: all fees must be paid up front. If you are strapped for the necessary funds, I can connect you to an official in the Temple of Asmodeus about a loan. I'm sure you'll find their contracts most accommodating. Otherwise, you might contact the Temple of Abadar.

You will need a license to operate in the city. That requires a 25gp non-refundable application fee. Licenses start at 100gp per year. What kind of business is this? Hmmm, animal husbandry is disruptive to other citizens, what with noise, olfactory challenges, etc. Oh, you intend to house dangerous animals. That will be 500gp per year. What kind of animals? Oh, it appears likely your intention is to manufacture poisons and such. That is legal within Cheliax but tightly regulated. There's an additional 500gp license required, and you will need to sign this release which allows the Dottari to conduct unannounced inspections of your property. We charge you 100gp for each inspection. Alternatively you can pay an additional 500gp for a years worth of inspections. Glad you are approaching us up front. If you're found to be producing poisons without a license, all of your property/wealth will be confiscated and you will be sentenced to 10 years in the Salt Mines."

Further, operating the business should have its own challenges. In the first couple weeks of operations, a ship's lieutenant (Captain blocked by proclamation) approaches the pc. During transport of one of his animals, a couple sailors were bitten and died. The ship's crew are expecting a contribution to the widows and orphans fund of 500gp per sailor. The pc is not obligated to pay, but his reputation (and that of his companions) is damaged among merchants in town - they take a -4 on diplomacy checks with merchants and all products cost a 10% premium. Sales of items recover 10% less than standard as well. It always helps to get the other players at the table to exert some peer pressure/restraint.

And a couple weeks later, the pc receives a visit, well into the night from a Blackfingers priest. It seems the Temple of Norgorber has a total monopoly on poison production across the entirety of Ravounel. (Not surprising given Norgorber was supposedly born on Vyre.) The pc is certainly permitted to continue with his business but he needs to pay a tithe of 100gp per week. And maintain a small shrine to Norgorber somewhere in the facility. This might affect his relationship with his deity, fellow players, and supporters of the Silver Ravens.

If the player squawks, your answer could be: Hey, I'm trying to make this interesting. We're playing a role-playing game about Heroic Adventures, not Busboys & Bookkeepers.


Latrecis wrote:
Lanathar wrote:

Not directly related to this module but I wanted to post in a section where my players definitely should not read:

One of my players has revealed he wants to buy a shop / building and set up a Menagerie of venomous creatures.

The real reason for this is he wants to milk them for poison to use on weapons. He is a witch with no special archetypes to benefit from poison use and no feats to make his crossbow better but I shall leave that aside . He clearly thinks he has stumbled upon a way to break the “meta” of the system for when he is out of spells and presumably out of hex range

His ultimate aim seems to involve buying an Emperor cobra shackling it to the ground somehow and using a take 10 on handle animal to milk the poison (as the cobra’s can easily finish him off given 10 con )

It annoys me that he seems to be ignoring the premise of the game. But he will not take no for an answer if he can find it in the rules he thinks it should be allowed and will sulk if denied.

Unfortunately I can’t realistically remove him from the game

So what should I do?
Should this be possible (consider he won’t take no for an answer)
I wonder how much a shop would be?
Could there be some fun chellish bureaucracy to add road blocks?
Would someone realistically be selling venomous creatures in martial law Kintargo ?
What about 16ft long incredibly deadly ones?

More specifically can people run businesses and still be rebellion officers ?

Or should I just let him go for it as it is an incredibly sub optimal choice and see if he realises that? (I mean devils are immune to poison)

It is the most ridiculous situation!

The secret in these situations is use No only for rules interpretations or the most serious situations. (In this case, I agree with Warped Savant - No, you cannot Take 10 on any Handle Animal check if the intent is to harvest poison.) The better approach is to provide consequences and let the player choose.

And Yes, there would certainly be Chellish...

Thank you for this . All those licences and charges were exactly what I had in mind. Potentially with more for trying to buy or lease a premises. Thank you for some good ideas

I also like the norgorber bit as well especially as it ties into the campaign

As for peer pressure - the player spent so much time faffing around trying to extract ningyo poison last session that the others are already annoyed. So I am relying on a degree of pressure


Lanathar wrote:

Not directly related to this module but I wanted to post in a section where my players definitely should not read:

One of my players has revealed he wants to buy a shop / building and set up a Menagerie of venomous creatures.

The real reason for this is he wants to milk them for poison to use on weapons. ...

It is the most ridiculous situation!

Just let him do it. As you point out, devils are immune. And the hellknights' one good save is Fort. And all the clerics' Fort saves are pretty good. Poison is terrible and it gets worse as you level up.

Oh, and it's a terrible tactic. Especially for a caster that actually has to hit with terrible BAB. And it's his last option.

I would absolutely let the player do this and not nerf it at all. It's self-punishing behavior.


So I have just wrapped up a very long session that went south very quickly

As expected my group picked a fight at the excrutiation. They scraped through due to the enemy retreat tactics written in. They were shocked at the dottari with power attack halberds doing +14 damage on every hit

However their scraped victory buoyed their confidence for the pending disaster at the holding house.

For slight context:

They decided to go to the holding house before Octavio because they were worried the information of his hideout would be tortured out of the armigers

They misheard / misremembered / misinterpreted the rumour on the fiend extracting intelligence. They though it was legitimately draining intelligence

Their notoriety is something like 60 now because of Nox getting away, raiding the excrutiation and killing three people there

So the forged documents and walked into the holding house. Notoriety check was failed (reasonably as they went the day after the raid and in the same numbers). Sabo asked for an extra signature. They got paranoid and started arguing and then trying to bribe and intimidate her (they were posing as working for the order of the rack). She left into the waiting rooms and locked the doors behind her and sent the room 1 guards to open the door to her room and ask the guys to leave

A long fight broke out in the tight quarters. Once again the heavy hits from dottari with halberd power attacks did some nasty work. She then crit the daring champion with a spiritual weapon and the witch with her bane mace.

The party was just about able to retreat but go away

But what now? Have they just failed to rescue the armigers? Is there anything they can do?
They made some mistakes and misinterpretations but this has gone badly wrong

They will go to Octavio next but I imagine he won’t be impressed with their efforts at subtly - as in “try but blast at the first hiccup)

At least one player is quite angry seemingly about not being supposed to just fight their way out of each situations ( words to the effect of wishing we could go back to the AP selection as he didn’t think Rebels would be like this :-( ). For example they don’t understand or appreciate that their notoriety is something they should have been careful of. (I will admit we rolled straight into book 2 after the notoriety bump from Hocums with no chance for them to drop it... But they would have failed Sabo’s roll anyway)

I am at a loss


Hmmm. I think you need to have a heart-to-heart with your players. Either they need to accept that some encounters in the AP are best defeated without combat or you need to change all the encounters to be effectively resolved with combat or you need a new AP. There are at least four remaining major encounters where violence (at least at the start) is not a good idea: the dinner party in Vyre, the first few hours of the Ruby Masquerade, the discussion with Odexidie, and negotiations with Abrogail's ambassador. Not to mention other encounters where diplomacy is notably superior to violence - the shadow dragon and strix in Book 5 being examples.

At this point they're pot committed. They made an obvious play for the armigers, so if the danger for the armigers was high before, it will only increase. And Octavio should be none too keen on people who tried to rescue his armigers, failed and then left them there to be tortured by a fiendish mind-sucking thing. His attitude as described in the AP is nonsensical - his armigers are in prison and being tortured, headed for death or worse and he's picky about how they're rescued? Yea, if you can't sneak them out, then just leave them there to die. It's really just a weak frame up to get the pc's to try stealth or trickery. Which are really great things for pc's to do but the favor of a notable (significant?) npc ally shouldn't be predicated on whether they do it or not or succeed or not. His Order is on the brink of extinction based on the whim and evil intentions of Barzillai Thrune - anyone who can help him preserve it, regardless of methods should be viewed favorably. Don't see why he shouldn't join the Ravens in an assault on the Holding House. It's that or a kyton flenses them to death.


So time is an issue - how long does the AP assume the armigers are in trouble for? My players are assuming a strict clock

I am going to have to have Octavio join them somehow probably with the Armiger they rescued.
I don’t think the “we are order of the Rack” will fly this time. As it was no one walked in in full plate anyway as it doesn’t fit any of the character. So disguises are in order

So perhaps Octavio will walk in with a disguise to turn himself in directly to Sabo. This will occupy her and maybe some of the guards allowing the PCs to get in and get through smaller groups and kyton?

What would be the steps if he was to walk in the front door? Would the guards immediately take him to Sabo? To processing ? Or just get the Kyton? Would they actually hope he uses his skill to kill the kyton before arresting him? I assume they would immediately want to manacle him which reduces his help other than a way to distract Sabo and probably at least 2 guards.

Would she fall into a trap of him saying - I tried to arrange the rescue, failed and so now realise i should turn myself in for arrest? Other than full on disguise magic for everyone (that no one has the spells for themselves) I don’t have other ideas .

They are also grumbling about not uncovering any other rumours. Perhaps I tee up the poison pen so that the captain can use a favour for some kind of diversion . No idea what that can be that would be realistic. But they won’t want to go after a new mission

I am wondering if there is anyone else who might be able to help without it seemingly like I am bailing the PCs out
Already they could be grumbly that they have to go and get a high level NPC to help them.

Perhaps time to introduce the Rose as the Rose? But there aren’t many cleric spells that can help unless he is with them - and he won’t be


Another valid question - would the holding house also be on lockdown ? Would another transfer request gambit even work given the last group were faking and started a fight.
(Even if they used disguise self or something)

Seriously the book doesn’t say (because there is no text space which i understand) what the aftermath is if they completely screw up

Perhaps they need transfer requests for all the prisoners not just the armigers?

Also per the text of the book Hortense should be dead? But that seems harsh because they didn’t know that was the outcome. I would only do that if they flee from the kyton


What resources does the party have? What illusion or charms spells? How good at disguise are they? What skills are they good at? What teams do they have? (Do they have infiltrators, spies, saboteurs?)

We kind of need some info on the party to be able to see what their options are.

My party used disguise other, their absurd skill base, the expensive forged papers from the module, and got the armigers out, albeit with one PC death in the kyton battle.

As a DM, the next time they're planning to do something as stupid as pretend to be hellknights without actually wearing hellknight armor, have Rexus point out the hole in their plan.


You know, if they prefer the blunt-trauma approach to this, it's going to be fine. The rebellion has a security focus. Now that you know how they want to do it, you can adapt to their guerrilla warfare approach.

So, in this case, have the administration get antsy and decide to transfer the prisoners to Deepmar. The PCs find out early from one of their scribes in the administration, who saw the forms. They can then plan to ambush the prisoner caravan in the streets or at the docks or even hire a boat and go for them at sea.


roguerouge wrote:

You know, if they prefer the blunt-trauma approach to this, it's going to be fine. The rebellion has a security focus. Now that you know how they want to do it, you can adapt to their guerrilla warfare approach.

So, in this case, have the administration get antsy and decide to transfer the prisoners to Deepmar. The PCs find out early from one of their scribes in the administration, who saw the forms. They can then plan to ambush the prisoner caravan in the streets or at the docks or even hire a boat and go for them at sea.

This sadly cuts out the kyton fight as I can’t imagine she goes in the caravan - unless it is a really big one. A good idea though

And added to that Octavio would be much better placed to aid them in an ambush outside the city. I feel like it would be very well guarded considering the shenanigans. But I could easily justify making those escorting the caravan all Order of the Rack. And without two handed weapon power attack they are much less lethal

Indeed I would probably just make the Council of Thieves point be level appropriate and sub the NPC distraction for Octavio or one of their teams

I will reply to your other points about their capabilities once I have double checked the rebellion points


At this point subterfuge is out, but a combination of stealth and assault could still work (with or without Octavio.) How tactically clever are your players? Do they have access to useful spells like invisibility, silence, sleep, web, etc., things that can help quickly disable dottari or separate/isolate them? They want to solve problems with combat? Well, here you go.

My group used arcane lock at key points to separate the dottari and hold some of them in place temporarily. Their approach was a combined forgery/stealth/assault approach. They didn't think they could effectively disguise the tiefling urban ranger as dottari (their chosen costume) so he hid outside until a key moment and joined for the fight with the kyton (who they used silence to sneak up on. Okay, silence to open the door and attack.)


roguerouge wrote:

What resources does the party have? What illusion or charms spells? How good at disguise are they? What skills are they good at? What teams do they have? (Do they have infiltrators, spies, saboteurs?)

We kind of need some info on the party to be able to see what their options are.

My party used disguise other, their absurd skill base, the expensive forged papers from the module, and got the armigers out, albeit with one PC death in the kyton battle.

As a DM, the next time they're planning to do something as stupid as pretend to be hellknights without actually wearing hellknight armor, have Rexus point out the hole in their plan.

So they haven’t invested much into the teams. They have 2 x Freedom fighters, 1 x Sneaks and 1 x Rumourmongers

As for the group:

Cardinal cleric of Milani (I have returned the second domain and spontaneous casting as cardinal is overly stingy - so it is a 1/2 BAB, light armoured cleric with lots of skills

Order of the Cockatrice Daring Champion w. Glaive and bladed brush. Plan is for mesmerist multiclass and then into Devoted Muse

Blood Kineticist (story is an ex Red Mantis). Loose cannon whose player seems to get antsy really quickly and then starts trying to Intimidate everyone despite it being a really bad idea or diplomacy already failing.

((I am becoming increasingly convinced that he believes the Intimidate skill acts as something like Charm/Suggesion/Dominate and that if you roll reasonably well the opponent suddenly just caves and does whatever you want). I am get the impression that the 5E game this player is also in has a heavy leaning to “rule of fun” and a lot a GM fiat to ensure shenanigans don’t result in lots of character death.)

Next player is a Witch 3/Sensei Monk 1 (Elf with 10 Con)
Monk level is to all for extra skills and +3 AC (Wisdom and Dodge). Currently has slumber, evil eye and cackle hexes. This is the one from above who was trying to make a poison build with no real classes or abilities built for it.

Believes his spells are not his primary ability
His level 2 spells are a couple of cold spells that were actually really good battlefield control but work really well together so he blows them both in the same fight (Ice Slick and Winter’s something)

His plan for up to 6th level is Witch 4 / Sensei 1 / Magus 1 because he wants to be able to cast Sheild in combat “just in case”. He technically died at the excrutiation but I fudged the role to leave him 2 points from perma death

Final player is almost an add on as he has no real understanding of the system even after 2 years and no real desire to learn. He just joins in but misses the most sessions. Wasn’t at this last session where they messed up. He is playing a High Guardian fighter but doesn’t really utilise the unique abilities of that archetype

So no real stealth or disguise benefits there

Group is a mix of people with lots of system understanding and game experiences, lots of system understanding (in some areas) but little game experience with most exposure being through actual play podcasts, someone who doesn’t understand the mechanics but is convinced that they do and someone who is along for the ride

So a very weird situation and difficult balancing act
They went gung-ho and just about made it through at the public excrutiation and then got cocky about not dying

Some seem a little stunned that villains have got harder and at least one was goggling at the idea that a level 7 Inquisitor was in charge of the holding house

There are quite a lot of moving parts in this AP that I didn’t fully appreciate. One player had spoken of the desire to play “go from village to village and dungeon to dungeon and kill things” game. But this is all in hindsight as a I gave everyone a shortlist and description of 10 APs and asked them to rank them. HR was top 2 for nearly everyone including the one who seem to play a wandering mercenary

I realise I have rattled off at a tangent but I would like to do all I can to heave this game back on track

One thing that is also confusing them is the nature of the passage of time and urgency in this AP. But I think I will post a separate question on that


Latrecis wrote:

At this point subterfuge is out, but a combination of stealth and assault could still work (with or without Octavio.) How tactically clever are your players? Do they have access to useful spells like invisibility, silence, sleep, web, etc., things that can help quickly disable dottari or separate/isolate them? They want to solve problems with combat? Well, here you go.

My group used arcane lock at key points to separate the dottari and hold some of them in place temporarily. Their approach was a combined forgery/stealth/assault approach. They didn't think they could effectively disguise the tiefling urban ranger as dottari (their chosen costume) so he hid outside until a key moment and joined for the fight with the kyton (who they used silence to sneak up on. Okay, silence to open the door and attack.)

Cleric can access silence

Witch has sleep and slumber

No invisibility

They are talking disguise self potions . I assume tieflings can’t use those (in your case Latrecis ...) ?

But the place should be arguably more secure than before. I am intrigued about doing the transfer to Deepmar and ambush apart from losing the Kyton. But a victory over hell knights in a direct ambush fight could well be quite cathartic

I think I might rearm some of the dottari with the heavy maces and shields to reduce the case of one hit being quite so devastating but I am not certain of that yet


I think tieflings could use a disguise self potion. My group didn't pursue that option since they have focused on using the disguise skill for most situations. That didn't quite work in this situation as the group assumed (and I agreed) there would be no tieflings working in the Dottari (who they were impersonating as part of the forged transfer orders) and their disguise skills are not so good that they could disguise the tiefling as another race. They invested their money in adding other things to the wizard's spellbook, like arcane lock, and buying him a wand of magic missiles. Honestly I don't know if they even considered the possibility of disguise self potions. They don't have the ability to brew their own potions so they'd have to buy them.

The Holding House might be "more secure" than before. But how many Dottari did the pc's see/fight? If they only encountered 4 (for instance) than the full compliment as published (eight I think plus Sabo) could be "more secure." Perhaps the increased security is represented with dedicated external patrols around the Holding House area?

You could argue mace and shield makes more sense for inside a building like the Holding House and halberds for external patrol, escort, guard duty. Though their feat selection emphasizes halberds...


They encountered the two from the front room after arguing the toss and then trying to intimidate Sabo. She walked out into the meeting room locking the door behind her and then I had her go through and ask the guards in the front room to open the door of the first room and ask the PCs to leave again

I didn’t grant the PCs a surprise round as I assumed the guards would be expecting trouble. Perhaps I should have done and perhaps I also made her move through and alert the front room quicker than she could have as it would have involved going through the south guardroom and down the corridor from the office

So in my mind they had many chances to leave and didn’t take them

As for switching of weapons I would just change feats over to focus on the heavy mace


So one of my players has complained about not having fun anymore
He feels that some of the checks required are unreasonable and has suggested i am being antagonistic / playing competitively against them

To me this seems to me like he expects to rock up to a public excrutiation outnumbered and intimidate hell knights and guards out of their duty and have it be like dc 25 or something

It also seems like he doesn’t like the idea of there being a risk of stumbling into fights you shouldn’t be having. I tried mentioning the many ways out they had in both situations. I am just wondering whether he thinks that as heroes and protagonists if they try to do something they should always have a chance at succeeding

But on top of that he also doesn’t think it is right that a roll of a 1 on diplomacy can tank your chances. That is a point I am not sure I can ever overcome as that is a d20 system point

I am trying to understand what he expects from discussing but my points above about expecting a reasonable chance of success regardless what you try is my reading between the lines of the situation . And I can’t shake the feeling that he doesn’t like his characters to be harshly challenged (but I assume this is universal)

I should note that whilst this sounds incredibly entitled he is very apologetic about all this and is also trying to point a large part of his criticism at Paizo’s writing

I have tried to reassure him that the rest of this book is not the same


Removing the holding house leaves me with a 10-13k experience shortfall headache that the adventure assumes

Setting up a prison wagon ambush will fill part of this but not a lot as C7 is probably the most I can ask. of them. More likely CR6 (so 2,400 XP). Still musing on how to make that feasible as that is 4 armigers again which seems like not enough. I will need to have a later group and have them split by ambush tactics

Perhaps they can then assist with the second combat potentially with some allies to save as well?

Thinking out loud here

This is of course appreciating that my players will expect a trap. And I would have thought Thrune would expect an ambush as well ? I will probably need to have Octavio talk them into it . And perhaps have the group encounter the counter ambushers first.

So actually there are two routes -

Under guarding it to bait PCs into a trap allowing two split combats

Or

Council of thieves style where the convoy is distracted and split apart by Octavio. And Thrune forces could assume no ambush if it is so far outside the city ?

Or maybe even a third way where option two also has a token ambush force encountered before or after (perhaps unreliable mercenaries or unskilled Hellknight ambushers)

Lots of choices. I would like to try and fit the kyton in the adventure still but that one is tougher (as it stands it is not obvious why the high priest really needed to summon her)


Honestly, Lanathar, sit down and talk to your players. What kind of game do they want to play? Because it sounds like Hell's Rebels (as written) isn't for them and you might want to switch to a different adventure path.
At least one player complains about the dottari (and others enemies) being clowns but then some of the players are mad when the same dottari don't roll over and submit right away? Subtlety and trickery go a long way in Hell's Rebels. Threats and intimidation, not so much.
Thrune came to town and eliminated every group he saw as a threat. Why wouldn't he do the same with the PCs at this point? (Heck, ask your players why they think Thrune wouldn't send everyone after them at this point... maybe they have some sort of justification). They've made themselves so well known so quickly (60 notoriety at the beginning of book 2?!? I didn't even think that would be possible!!) so either Thrune and his cronies look absolutely incompetent or the PCs lose. It'd be easy to track them down and send a force of devils, hellknights, and some of his high-leveled people after them.
I'd have such a hard time not justifying a "Night of Ashes V2" at this point if I were in your position.
I'll repeat it again: Talk to your players about the kind of game Hell's Rebels is. If it's not what they want to play then look into other options. If they want to continue as it currently is, they'll need to understand that you're making bad guys useless on purpose so they need to stop complaining about them. If they want to change their play-style to better suit the themes of Hell's Rebels you may want to rewind and have them change some of the ways that they've handled things (and ask if any want to make new characters/redesign their current ones now that they have a better idea of what the AP is like).
Other than that, I'm coming up blank for suggestions on what you could do.


So on the 60 notoriety that is an estimate as I actually slightly lost track of some of the public killings

They were on around 20 when Nox got away +2d6
I am unsure whether I add anything for the redactors killed
They killed at least 2 people in public in the unsanction excrutiation so +2d6 + 1d4

Assault on the excrutiation - +3d6 (came up 15)
3 dead at excrutiation, 2 dead at holding house and assault at holding house - you get the idea

Sad fact is I rolled 18 on Sabo’s notoriety roll - so the outcome would have been the same even with a much less aggressive approach

My faux pas is that they are not too interested in learning the rebellion stuff so I have the sheet. But I should have shared them their mounting notoriety
We didn’t let weeks pass after the end of book 1 which I think I will ret con if they still want to play

They are also commenting that the timeline is confusing. They really don’t know what rumours they can let sit for weeks or even months . I need to find a way of spelling that out in rumours and chatter

On that note should what if they want to lie low for say 3-6 months? Does the game allow for that? Or do Thrunes plans have a clearer timeline that i have missed ?

(Weirdly the player who thought dottari are clowns is now the unhappy one)


Forgotten piece : was I supposed to share more about the notoriety mechanic? Like exactly how much you gain for killing in public? I think it might be useful info to share if perhaps not the actual values of what gets added


I'm not using the rebellion mechanic for my game so take this advice as you will (as you should with any advice, really):
Let the players be in control of the rebellion "character sheet" so they can see the effects their actions are having or, at the very least, let them know the numbers. If their notoriety is going way up there's going to be indications of it throughout the city that the characters would notice but is difficult to get across to the players without flat out saying stat numbers. (Same with security and loyalty. If NPC's aren't as loyal there's signs of it which are difficult to role-play in a meaningful way.)

If my players were being as reckless as yours are I'd fully be using the rebellion mechanic to track the stats. I'm not using it because I figured my players would be careful enough to not cause much of an issue but I have rolled notoriety a few times (eg: with Sabo in the holding house) and based her reaction on that. (She rolled well over what the notoriety would've been so I didn't worry about it.)

Laying low shouldn't cause an issue that I can think of, even if they don't do anything for months. Thrune's actions (with the exception of conducting a secret ritual in book 2) are reactions to the rebellion and anything else the books list as events can happen whenever you like. Thrune wants a quiet town under his control and you can have him be content with the way it currently is. The idea of the group disbanding for awhile makes sense (you could even have them arrested for a few months, with the players buy-in as a way to pass most of the time) and that way you can have small signs of the city slowly turning against Thrune. The tension can start to rise and you, and your group, can come up with something that would prompt them to rise up but with the knowledge that they have to be more careful this time. (It also helps that they can do the rest of book 2 after lying-low, and then book 3 is mostly outside of Kintargo so it can be a "start some problems, and disappear again" kind of situation.)


You have a player morale problem. So have a bunch of 1st level dottari to mow through, plus one leader who can challenge them.


Holy mackerel, batman. Okay I'm going to try to help but may or may not succeed. I'll start with some strategic stuff and then go tactical.

First and most importantly you need to talk to the players. If they want to be murderhobo's this is not the AP for them. I'll compare and contrast with Rise of the Runelords (which my group just finished a few months back.) In RotRL, you don't need a lot of social skills. There aren't any encounters that are best or even practically solved with diplomacy or bluff. There are role-playing opportunities when the pc's are in a town or a village or a city, but they are almost exclusively a vehicle to learn about the bad guys and find out where they are. Travel to strange, exotic locations; meet new and interesting people; and then kill them. And take their stuff. Helps enormously that all of them are in desperate need of a good killing - the least offensive would make Charles Manson blush.

This is very pointedly not the case with Hell's Rebels. Many encounters can be solved through dialogue, several of them should be (and a few shouldn't) and it's often an option to fall back to combat if it doesn't work out. And many of the pc's opponents may be evil but are in some cases just doing their job (Dottari for example.) So a "just kill them all and let God sort them out" approach doesn't work and in early levels, the AP sets it up so that approach is really dangerous. The challenge with social encounters is the players have a lot harder time estimating their chances of success (and encounter writers have a harder time setting them up - I'll illustrate on the Holding House a bit later.) If the pc's see a man in heavy plate armor and two-handed sword, they can make some assumptions about the type of danger and challenge he represents in a fight but you can't nearly so easily guess what your opponents skill in diplomacy or bluff or sense motive is. And combat is just about always a zero-sum game - someone wins and someone loses. The loser is the guy without any more hit points. But social situations are lot more gray and it can be hard to know from moment to moment who is "winning." So everyone at the table needs to acknowledge the difficulties in playing a role-play, social encounter heavy AP like Hell's Rebels. And cut each other some slack - both GM to Player and Player to GM.

Let's look at the Holding House encounter. The structure goes like this: Sabo makes Notoriety check:
- if the pc's pass, she questions them innocuously and they each have to make a bluff check. If 50% or more of them succeed, she checks the orders. If she fails her linguistics check, she releases the Armigers. If she succeeds at the linguistics check, she tries to arrest the pc's (fight ensues.) If more then 50% of them fail, she sends them off to get more signatures. Without apparently checking the orders (???)
- if the pc's fail the notoriety check, she sends them to get more signatures. Without apparently checking the orders (???)
- if the pc's return the next day with newly forged signatures, she gets another linguistics check, at -4 (!!!)

There are a lot of potential troubles here. First off, if the pc's have "followed" the structure of the AP and had Ruba produce the orders, it's almost impossible for them to fail. She has a +15 linguistics skill and gets a +8 (see IHBS p.19) for a +23 to her check. If you let her take 10 on the check, it's impossible for Sabo to spot with her measly +9. And even if you make her roll and she gets a 1, Sabo has to roll a 15 to spot it. If they fail the Notoriety check or fail the bluff checks, all that happens is they go have Ruba add more signatures and then they're in like Flynn. Only there's NO WAY for them to know that. If the GM spills the beans on the Notoriety check or they punt the bluff checks, they have every right to assume the jig is up and their ruse is blown. And for the record, chances are slim they'll pass the bluff check test. Sabo has a +14 Sense Motive check. What's the best a pc would have on his bluff skill? 4 ranks, +3 for class, +3 (for attribute) and maybe +2 for taking Deceitful with the bonus feat for the Rebellion - makes for +12. Straight up the best pc in the group has a 40% chance of beating her, anyone with less Bluff has a much worse chance. No way they are getting to a 50% success rate.

I'm sorry but your players are well within reason to have assumed a punted Notoriety check would lead to an attempt to arrest them or for her to be more suspicious about their orders (perhaps getting a bonus to her linguistics check). That the outcome from failing is simply a request to get more signatures that they can easily accomplish and then the green light to proceed the next day does not strike me as easy for them to guess or assume.

Assuming your players (and you) want to continue in Hell's Rebels, you should either have them actually run the rebellion by the rules or drop it. The AP discusses how to do that in each Book. You could make up a real simple system - if they've done things recently to increase their Notoriety, treat it as "High" - set to 50. If it's been a while or less obvious, make it "Medium: - set to 35. And if they've deliberately laid low, make it "Low" - set to 15. Use whatever numbers you want, but tell the players generally what you're doing and tell them each session where their Notoriety is.

If you're running the Rebellion mini-game, the players should know their Notoriety and when/why it goes up. You don't have to tell them it goes up 1d6 for dead dottari but you can say, "Your Notoriety goes up 11 because you killed those 4 Dottari a few days ago."

It doesn't make a lot of sense (to me) for the armigers to get moved to Deepmar - that's a less secure site (if you're using the module for Deepmar) and the trip even more so. The armigers are still alive because Thrune wants to know where Octavio is - that's why they are with the Kyton. They might decide the Holding House is less secure and move them to Castle Kintargo (of course one could argue, why weren't they there to begin with?) Regardless of my opinion, if you are moving the armigers, there's no reason the kyton can't go with them. They still need to be interrogated and she's the best Thrune's got. Well, one reason - supported by Dottari or Hellknights, she's way more powerful with multiple chances to use her spell-like abilities and gaze weapon if she has some meat shields to keep the pc's off her (which she doesn't have if/when the pc's encounter her in the torture chamber.) If you do add her, I'd definitely be sure you add Octavio to the crew for the rescue.


Thanks for all that. You accurately point out the issue that they had no way of knowing he failed notoriety check just really requires them to get more signatures and there are no further consequences. I tried to make that clear by asking them many times and having the guards ask them
Tomleave and show no intention of attacking or arresting them. In the end it was a combo of them panicking and assuming they had a time limit to save the armigers (and misinterpreting the fiend rumour to assume it was actually brain draining)

They will argue on the solving with social skills that these two were impossible due to Dc 35 in the first and the mystery notoriety mechanic in the second. They weren’t they were just either very difficult (as the first should be imho) or relatively unclear (which is a problem).

I also told them the warden was called Sabo the Spider and they took from that name that she was luring them into a trap. Which I honestly did not consider at all!

The inescapable fact is the way you describe Rise of the Runelords definitely sounds like the game at least one of them wants to play. And I really don’t see that changing - I have partially spoiled the ending of book 2 of that to my group as I felt stitched up as a player for that and still rage about it years later - but it might be an avenue to consider)


While I would recommend Rise of the Runelords - it's a classic D&D adventure, I used it primarily as a contrast. If you have your own history with it, you could almost certainly find another AP. I'm not fluent in many let alone all of them so not a good person to recommend but there are plenty of folks out here on the boards that know all of them and can provide suggestions.


If one of your players is not feeling it, perhaps they could drop your game and DM one for you and the other players. Meanwhile, you continue with those who want to play Hell's Rebels. After all, you're with five players right now, so playing with four will actually be easier for your workload. And if you play with 2 or 3, I can tell you it's pretty fine--single boss battles get a lot more viable to run and you can skip some of the filler encounters. And, if you worry about action economy adjustments, you can always let them bring along Rexxus, Cassius, Hetamon, or others.


roguerouge wrote:
If one of your players is not feeling it, perhaps they could drop your game and DM one for you and the other players. Meanwhile, you continue with those who want to play Hell's Rebels. After all, you're with five players right now, so playing with four will actually be easier for your workload. And if you play with 2 or 3, I can tell you it's pretty fine--single boss battles get a lot more viable to run and you can skip some of the filler encounters. And, if you worry about action economy adjustments, you can always let them bring along Rexxus, Cassius, Hetamon, or others.

It is not quite so simple as that. There is a flakey 5th player who has never yet played a session without the one who is having issues. There are three of them that are close and hardly separate. This limits our slots

But he is determined to try and turn it around which is a positive
But there are certain aspects like his view on social skills that will probably never be fixed.

Time will tell on this


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As an update - I think things are back on track

I think the main problems stemmed from disassociation with the Notoriety mechanic which I can fix. Also a bit more clarity on social skills (so I will try and be a bit more deliberate in asking what they aim to achieve an whether they use the right skills)

I ran them going to the Shrine and they got through without fighting anyone in between them and Octavio

Because they inevitably failed the Notoriety check when leaving the city I had the three surviving Armigers from the excrutiation come and track them down. This gave them some catharsis when they won (the Witch has Winter's Grasp and Ice Slick which when combined makes it impossible for full plate armoured characters to move)

They will use potions of disguise to do the prisoner swap again with the idea being that the attempted raid prompts a legitimate switch to the Castle.

It may not have the most logical flow but everyone seems happy with it and the game should be back on track

I will then use the down time where they need to lie low to hopefully introduce some NPCs and references to the Posion Pen and Changeling Cultists (or at least their activities) as I haven't done much of that so far but in theory they could enter Lucky Bones as soon as the rescue is completed

Thanks for all the help


Thank goodness! You've been working so hard on this and I'm relieved it's back on track.


So my players completely curb stomped the kyton in the prison

There is a Kineticist doing about 2d6+9 a blast
A glaive daring champion - d10+8 or +14 on a power attack
The fighter with d6+5 using the mithral short sword (this player doesn’t always come)

Plus one or two other players depending on who can make it (witch and cleric - with witch reducing enemy AC further)

Right now it seems like a meat grinder
I have looked at the 5th level Kineticist as it seems insane. It’s damage will become 3d6+10 within 30ft that he can empower effectively for free every turn without gathering power due to infusion specialisation
(Min damage looks like 19 which is almost more than other people’s max with over 40 as a max)

Now I complained about this on the main board but this seems super broken

Applying to this AP - I have gone through the rest of the book and every combat using average rolls is going to be put down in 2 rounds probably just between the first two. And if the three are there then that is two people to get through before reaching the Kineticist (who then has the most HP, joint highest armour and as long as it can five foot step doesn’t care about someone being in his face as it can still step away and blow someone away)

The rest of the book seems like it will be a joke for this group. Everything’s AC is far too low and my group’s regular average damage output seems higher than average. The only exception is a few incoporeal things that might last slightly longer

There is the added hurdle that balancing for the Kineticist will make the other damage classes really start to struggle

Despite what people say about the Kineticist power level it’s power level seems so far above everyone else’s in the group due to a very high floor when building one

I am a bit stuck on how to make this fun for everyone as I think even the others might get sick of being road blocks for the Kineticist whilst is kills everything

(I can’t raise concerns about Kineticist on the main board as :
1. The player will see
2. Everyone will say “they are underpowered”, “they are inaccurate”, “they are low tier”, “they are rubbish compared to wizards” etc - which blatantly doesn’t seem to apply at least to this book
3. It doesn’t consider the specifics of what comes up in this AP

So is there any way to slightly counter extreme DPS with the low AC , solo monster enemies in this book without invalidating players (beyond trying to remove him from the combat with will save spells which will suck for that player)
Or am I completely missing some of the real threats ?


So empower requires burn or gather power but most of the above still holds

I still need to force him to actually move (so enemies with reach) or ready an action to interrupt gather power which will:

- only work with intelligent enemies
- only makes sense after he has done it once
- probably get old really fast
- rely on an enemy having a charge arc or way of attacking the Kineticist


Remember that the Chelaxians are organized and share information. What you need is for some dottari to get away and get debriefed by the hierarchy. In fact, they could be ordered to have one member of the patrol flee to report back information. (Or they could start doing that out of fear of the Ravens who defeated a kyton.)

Or at one of the public excruciation rescues simply have an observer with a spyglass?

Just be careful with this--you want to periodically challenge PCs, not thwart them too frequently.

And, yeah, at least they're not spamming Will save spells. Glitterdust has become the bane of all my big bads.


I don't have Occult Adventures and d20pfsrd was having troubles (which might have been on my side) so I'm not an expert on the Kineticist, but are you sure you have the rules right? The internet appears to believe it's a sub-optimal class. You could post in the Rules forum about how the class works without spoiling anything about the AP.

What kind of blast is it? 3d6+10 suggests physical. That's a) a hefty Con bonus and b) a ranged attack. He should be missing at least some of the time. And have a penalty for firing into melee. And drawing attacks of opportunity (not sure on that one.) And he only gets 1 per round. The damage range looks like 13-28 to me so not sure where 40 comes from. Also Gather Power requires both hands to be free so no weapon in hand, so no threatening squares or getting attacks of opportunity for him. Also his armor class should be low given light armor and no shield. Nothing prevents the enemies with closing on him. Sure he can take a 5' step and avoid AoO but they can move 5' as well and still get a full attack action - as CR goes up those become much more common. And Blast appears to have a limited range of 30' - bows, crossbows and magic all have much longer range making it an option for enemies to stay away (pending physical layout of encounter of course.) Gather Power seems very ostentatious - "Look at me! I'm dangerous! I should be at the top of your list to target!" If he is the most dangerous, he should become the primary target of enemies. Will saves are his weakest saves and enemies should target him with such magic and powers if they have them, at least some of the time. If you're the most dangerous, you move to the top of the list.

But beyond the relative strength of the class, you've stumbled over a weakness in the CR math. What level are the pc's? Probably 4th, yes? And the kyton is a CR 7 - by CR math that's a big step up. Except the kyton is alone and seriously out-gunned in action economy - for each standard action it gets, the pc's get 4 (?) That's a big handicap. Also, the game situation favors the pc's. They know the kyton is there, it doesn't know they are coming. They can prep, buff, etc. and choose the time of their attack, it's focused on torturing the armiger. This is the risk with single enemies, it's not hard for the pc's to turn their advantage in actions into a decisive edge. And that's without them bolstering their advantage with things like summoning or companions, etc.

AP's tend to stay middle of the road/mediocre in difficulty level to keep the broadest appeal across group design and play styles so it doesn't take too much system mastery/optimize of build to overrun the challenge. (And AP's assume a 15 pt buy which in my experience is uncommon in groups - if your pc's are 20+ point buy, that's another meaningful advantage to the encounters as written.) There is really only two solutions - make the single enemy even more powerful (advanced template, add class levels, etc.) or add more enemies. The first option doesn't solve the action economy problem and the second risks overwhelming the pc's. If a few dottari had joined the kyton, that probably would have been a very different fight. I wish there were a simple answer but you'll just have to adjust encounters to compensate for your pc group's strengths and common tactics.


You'll want to add low level enemies to boss fights. For example, I doubled the number of skum in the Lucky Bones level two fight, simply to make sure that there were blockers for the caster leader. The power level is assumed to be 15-point buy. And as they acquire gifts, skill points, and generic feats from the rebellion, that will make some of these characters slightly more well-rounded as well, making them a touch higher in their capabilities.


Latrecis wrote:

I don't have Occult Adventures and d20pfsrd was having troubles (which might have been on my side) so I'm not an expert on the Kineticist, but are you sure you have the rules right? The internet appears to believe it's a sub-optimal class. You could post in the Rules forum about how the class works without spoiling anything about the AP.

What kind of blast is it? 3d6+10 suggests physical. That's a) a hefty Con bonus and b) a ranged attack. He should be missing at least some of the time. And have a penalty for firing into melee. And drawing attacks of opportunity (not sure on that one.) And he only gets 1 per round. The damage range looks like 13-28 to me so not sure where 40 comes from. Also Gather Power requires both hands to be free so no weapon in hand, so no threatening squares or getting attacks of opportunity for him. Also his armor class should be low given light armor and no shield. Nothing prevents the enemies with closing on him. Sure he can take a 5' step and avoid AoO but they can move 5' as well and still get a full attack action - as CR goes up those become much more common. And Blast appears to have a limited range of 30' - bows, crossbows and magic all have much longer range making it an option for enemies to stay away (pending physical layout of encounter of course.) Gather Power seems very ostentatious - "Look at me! I'm dangerous! I should be at the top of your list to target!" If he is the most dangerous, he should become the primary target of enemies. Will saves are his weakest saves and enemies should target him with such magic and powers if they have them, at least some of the time. If you're the most dangerous, you move to the top of the list.

But beyond the relative strength of the class, you've stumbled over a weakness in the CR math. What level are the pc's? Probably 4th, yes? And the kyton is a CR 7 - by CR math that's a big step up. Except the kyton is alone and seriously out-gunned in action economy - for each standard action it gets, the pc's get 4...

On the kineticist:

- 20 point buy has allowed for 18 con by level 4 and 16 Dex

- As a Water (Blood) Kineticist he can take 1 point of burn to get +3 AC from a Water Shield. This means 5 from armour (ABP), 3 from Dex, 3 from Shield for 21. Obviously not super high but very high for someone standing on the edges and backed up by 18 Con

- 13-28 is basic. But it is a move action to gather power and standard to blast which is where my 40 odd comes from.
(I do intend to make Gather Power pretty ostentatious. I also (if anyone is alive) would make people ready to interrupt it if it happened again.

- Physical blast. He is very hung up on accuracy. Has weapon focus, point blank shot and precise shot so shooting into combat is not an issue but I do think I need to play with cover rules more harshly (he acknowledges that ranged characters seem far too powerful in pathfinder).
I also caved and allowed the ABP to apply to the blasts as the player is constantly lamenting his lack of accuracy (despite having similar attack bonus to the other fighting classes as the moment due to elemental overflow)

- Range doesn't seem a significant issue as the urban game has lots of tight rooms. Perhaps this changes later. He is even talking about wanting to retrain his ranged infusion

- At level 5 you can reduce the burn cos by one of an infusion so with his current sheet his range could be 120ft with no cost (I feel the fact it is called specialization indicates that it should be you pick one infusion for this to apply to but that is not what the class says)

- He is aware of the Will save hole and has taken the trait bonus to will and dug out the most broken feat I have seen from Horror Adventures - Elemental whispers (all the mechanical benefits of the familiar, it cannot die but you have to concentrate to have it scout). So it is one feat that gives you two - Alertness and the familiar boost. Somewhere in the list there is a hedgehog that gives +2 Will.
(And when the rebellion ranks allow for a Save feat he will obviously go Iron Will)

20 point buy was intended to allow people to spread their stats around, take charisma when they wouldn't normally etc. But what I have found is Kineticist has a very high floor despite what the reviews say. It is very hard to build a really bad one it would seem

I think his attack roll is currently +10 (3 BAB, 3 Dex, 1 WF, 1 PBS, 1 Elemental Overflow, 1 "Magic ABP"). Fact was that he rolled over 15 on every attack roll and was out of range for retribution against the Kyton. That is always going to hurt but no range character can work that way as the arrows will not punch through DR anywhere near the same. One big blast is a little all or nothing but when "all" means big damage it means a 2.5 round combat

(So I can't tell where sub optimal comes in - perhaps it is once you get to iterative attack levels. Most DPR games use level 12 after all)

On to the combat and CR:

- The solo villain thing is a big issue but I didn't want to get the guards involved as that would have been a sneak attack from behind that they would have not seen coming and have hated. Not for the challenge but because it would have seemed really nasty of me. It also would have made everything collapse as they tried to get out

(The sensible solution is to just have had one or two furiously loyal to the church and therefore the kyton and thus "problem" guards.

- They have pointed out how much they seem to struggle against some of the mooks. I think that is because they massively underestimated the book 2 halberd dottari whereas when they see something like Nox or the Kyton they know that is the issue and light it up.
(Not only do I need mooks but I need mooks that do enough damage to not be ignored).

- I have posted before that solo villains seem a big problem with this volume of the AP. You have:

- Rope Golem
- Kyton
- Wex
- Drowning Devil
- Gorefangs (as written is alone - could have the guards join or add some advanced chellish hell bred dogs...)
- Maglap the Faceless stalker (probably easy to double or add a "pretty young lady" who he is harassing)
- Watcher in the Walls (Xorn)
- Gray Man summoned by the trap
- Globster
- Devilfish
- Advanced Bearded Devil (who admittedly hits very hard and can relocate)
- Skum wizard (That one should be fixable by adding some skum allies)

That is 11 solo encounters as written (excluding the ghost)
I imagine that is at least half...

With two big damage dealers and a guaranteed debuffer (evil eye), plus healer/support they do not cut it at all.

Lots of those are tough to assign relevant mooks to. But I will need to think outside the box more (First two are passed now)

The advanced template creatures should probably be replaced by two creatures or a normal version with some lesser thematically appropriate allies - but that is of course creating a danger of swinging it too far the other way. But I assume they are given advanced template to actual have a good chance of hitting PCs at level 5/6?

(Some of those could be assisted by water)

Wex is the toughest. Unless Norgorber sends him some kind of ally or allies there is no reason for him to be anything but on his own

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