Dance of the Damned (GM Reference)


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What kind of music would be playing during the masquerade ball part of this adventure?

Dark Archive

roguerouge wrote:
What kind of music would be playing during the masquerade ball part of this adventure?

I played "divadance" from the 5th element, but I cut out the pop-music up-tempo part at the end and loaded that mp3 into roll20 to set it on a loop. They all recognized it before long (I used a live-symphony version so it wasn't instantly recognizable) and loved that it was playing while they fought.

Shadow Lodge

roguerouge wrote:
What kind of music would be playing during the masquerade ball part of this adventure?

Something for cello and harpsichord.


I briefly played masquerade from phantom :-P
My players liked it (and really didn’t like the Syrinscape sounds for it)

Sovereign Court

I've got the soundset from Syrinscape for Masquerade!

--Vrock Opera

Sovereign Court

As I've been attending a formal masquerade at Halloween since 2008 (Detroit's Theatre Bizarre) I've been thinking about setting the scene as the Silver Ravens arrive at the Ruby Masquerade. As we haven't really seen many of Barzillai's henches up close and personal I feel this is a perfect opportunity for them to make appearances and drop some foreshadowing.

Firstly I'm placing the Aria park protest map out again. The park will have the dottari and Hellknights of the Rack out in full parade dress so I can showcase Duxotas Vannases Trex, paralictor Kyrre Ekodyre, and Chelish Citizen's Group leader Tombus Regegious just within reach. As they approach the Opera House Barzillai/Cizmekris will be on the balcony at F1 with Tiarise Izoni & Zella Zidlii at his side (both of which will leave via magic shortly thereafter). Tiarise for example will have a long necklace of teeth and a mask held by a gilded pair of pliers (a throw back to the tooth fairies). Zella will be flourishing a fan made of Harrow cards.

--Vrock Opera

Sovereign Court

Ok, I'm confused on how to tally the final numbers. My group ended with 50 masque points. 47 people fell, 28 escaped.

47-50 = -3 + 28 = 25? Or is the final number of survivors 31?
Reduce population by fallen number (11, 890-47).
47>25 so only 6,400xp?

--Vrock Market Crash


This seems the relevant section from DoD, p. 56. "At the adventure’s end, reduce the number of fallen attendees by an amount equal to the PCs’ final Masque Point total, and add this number to the number of attendees who fled to safety."

In your case your group had 50 masque points and only 47 dead/fell. So in my view the 50 masque points result in everyone escaping.

At the start of the fight there are 300 people in E1 and D3. Each round some fall (2d6 plus whatever the devils/cockatrices do until the pc's distract them) and each round some escape (1d6 for each exit the pc's make viable). This goes on until all 300 either fall or escape. Presumably if/when the pc's win the fight, all of the as yet unassigned 300 move to the escaped category. So the final survivor count is 300 - those who fell + the pc's Masque point total. In your case no one died, all 300 lived and the xp award is 25600.

I'd be interested in any kind of narrative you'd be willing to provide on how the Masquerade went for your group. That seems a high amount of Masque points (unless someone in your group has ranks in Perform (dance) which seems the only way to win the Dance of the Damned.) And this is a complicated encounter and finding out how other GM's approached it is always valuable.


Jebus, that's a lot of masque points!
Do you have more than 4 players? If so, I would adjust the math just a little (maybe reduce the masque points by an appropriate amount. Say, if you have 6 players, 50/6*4 so that you get the equivalent amount of points to adjust for the amount of players the AP is written for? Maybe do 2 masque points = 1 extra survivor if you have more than 4 players and didn't adjust the difficulty of the fight?)
But it is possible that everyone survived! I'm just surprised as my group had a decent amount of points but 73 people still fell.

To answer your question though:
47 of the 300 civilians fell during the fighting but because of the masque points total number of people that fell during the massacre is reduced by 50, so all 300 lived.
If 28 escaped, increase that number by the amount of masque points, so 78 escaped during the fighting. The remaining 222 still survived, they just didn't escape during the fighting but the fighting is done so they're all safe too.

Not escaping doesn't mean they die, but escaping means that they can't die. So if the fight goes on too long, 200 people have escaped and the GM has only killed 100 civilians the GM stops killing civilians. Out of the people that 'died' some of them managed to escape however you choose to describe it (I went with a 'left for dead/need serious first aid'). So [masque point amount of people] also escaped instead meaning only 100 minus [masque point] people died.

Does that make sense or am I talking crazy talk again?


Warped Savant wrote:
Does that make sense or am I talking crazy talk again?

Not sure. (Note: I haven't run this - just going off how it read the AP)

My understanding is that when the fighting begins, the devils start killing civilians (well, after a round for both the Erinyes, who is summoning on round 1 and the Bone devil, who teleports.) On round 4 the cockatrices join in (exactly why the Dottari aren't prepped to release them at the start is unexplained.)

Each round after the fighting starts 2d6 attendees die plus whatever the devils and cockatrices do. And they continue killing until either the pc's (or allies) stop them OR the pc's take out Cizmerkis, which triggers the Dottari to flee and the devils to refocus on the pc's.

Each round in which at least one exit is unlocked/unblocked, 1d6 attendees escape per unblocked exit.

So some attendees die and (pending pc actions) some escape each round until the point where Cizmerkis is dead. Even if the pc's take out the devils and the cockatrices 2d6 die each round (presumably from panic and Dottari.)

And when the fight is over, a number of dead attendees equal to the number of Masque points the Ravens have earned is moved to the escaped column.

I agree there is a potential window where the Dottari have fled, leaving the exits open and the devils have turned their attention to the pc's and some number of attendees remain in the building. They should continue to escape at 1d6 per exit per round. During this time, it's possible additional attendees could die pending how they are depicted on the battlefield. I'd argue in this case, Masque points could save these casualties as well should the Ravens have any to spare.

Put more simply, there are 300 attendees. Each round some of them die and some of them escape. Until either they are all gone or until the pc's take out Cizmerkis and the killing of attendees stops. But even in this case the escaping continues until they are all gone or there is no need to escape because there's nothing left in the Opera House but Silver Ravens and attendees.

Sovereign Court

Yes, I have 6 players. I reduced the amount of points exceptional outfits granted to 1 MP per to the normal max 16. My Swashbuckler bard does have Perform (dance) +13 and with the +4 for a 1,000gp+ mask he was regularly hitting over 30. I upped the DCs of the Dance starting at 10 and ending at 30, the Fort saves DC 12, +2 per song (the rogue got exhausted, the alchemist got fatigued). I also did not allow them to remove the conditions until after midnight. Andven paying 4 MP to dance after the Dance of the Damned he found his friend and danced with her all evening netting 5 MP each scene.

I increased the DCs of most actions by 5 on the low and high end and the Rogue attempted to pickpocket Countess Sarini which she caught so her Masque points cost double for the next scene as she was reorted to the dotarri and they lost 1d6. The Monk and Mesmerist did a lot of exlporing as their stealth and bluff were very high. They also had a full map of the opera house from a DC 35 covert rebellion action.

Other than the run in with Countess Sarini they avoided combat until the Massacre and didn't outright fail any checks. The largest killer of guests was the Erinyes Unholy Blight as she was one of the last to be challenged by the PCs. Even so I had the Mesmerist within 1 hp of death (-13) and the Monk down into the deep negatives and poisoned by the bone devil for 15 rounds (DC climbed to 26) with half his strength in damage!!! They were split between levels 1, 2, and the Underworld for most of the battle. The rogue actually failed a jump from level 2 to the stage by 3, then failed the reflex save to catch herself by 1 landing in the orchestra pit surrounded by Hell Hounds.

The fight went 10 rounds and Cizmerkris fell at round 6, the bearded devils fell over the course of 5 rounds, the cockatrices weren't dealt with till round 7, the Erinyes cast 5 unholy blights which the Monk and Mesmerist took the brunt of and she didn't go down until round 9. The Bone devil was the last to fall in round 10.

I gave them 3 PFS Aid Tokens to represent their allies and supporters at the gala (as we don't use XP so there were 2 dead rebellion levels and they did very well in Vyre for the 3rd) which they mainly used for healing and they earned another by for all PCs participating and a boost for winning the dance. Tayacet also showed up invisibly to stabilize the Mesmerist and Monk when they fell to the Bone Devil.

We started at 7pm and ended at 4am.

--Vrock Opera


Latrecis wrote:
Put more simply, there are 300 attendees. Each round some of them die and some of them escape. Until either they are all gone or until the pc's take out Cizmerkis and the killing of attendees stops. But even in this case the escaping continues until they are all gone or there is no need to escape...

Yeah, that seems about right.

Difficult to explain, but makes sense when you run it. X people die each round, Y people escape, once X+Y=300 everyone has died or escaped. At the end of all the fighting you move Z dead over to escaped where Z=Masque Points. (Pretty much guaranteed it won't get to the point where everyone is dead or escaped.) I had somewhere around 100 people die and 50 escape before all of the enemies were dead, then I reduced the number of dead by the number of masque points.


How are people managing the life/death of specific non-combatants, the friends and rivals of the PCs? Are you just having them automatically survive? Are you putting them on the map in combat?


roguerouge wrote:
How are people managing the life/death of specific non-combatants, the friends and rivals of the PCs? Are you just having them automatically survive? Are you putting them on the map in combat?

I figured out rough percentages based on how many people died and added or subtracted from that based on what they likely died/where they were likely situated and rolled for each of them.

(Nearly 1/4 of the civilians died so 25% chance of dying was the starting point. Lower chance if they were a coward and would flee right away, higher chance if they were likely to protect others, where they would likely be changed it a little bit but didn't come in to play as everyone I rolled for was high or low enough that an extra 5% chance didn't matter so I didn't worry about the location.)

Sovereign Court

roguerouge wrote:
How are people managing the life/death of specific non-combatants, the friends and rivals of the PCs? Are you just having them automatically survive? Are you putting them on the map in combat?

Friends and rivals found by the PC's during the Masquerade are assumed to have survived. I would use the others as dramatically as possible to push the story forward for your players.

--Vrock Opera


Whelp. It looks like my party's going to do a short dungeon crawl below the opera house, then go to the masquerade afterwards, using the spell Napstack to recover spells. Any ideas on what I should do with this? Eventually facing dottari and Sabo is not going to stop them either. Do I simply escalate this to Fake!Thrune and team? And what happens to the masquerade afterwards? What are the consequences for ruining this holiday, given that there's no evidence of the masquerade plan to justify their actions?


See page 40 of the book, under "An Early Start" for general ideas. If they're caught and Thrune finds out the next book starts right away and the masquerade is cancelled. If they kill anyone they had better be sure to clean up after themselves as a dead body would raise a lot of concerns and might prompt an early start to book 4.
As for evidence, Thrune going nuts or rescuing either NPC in the basement of the Opera House should provide enough proof for the general population that Thrune isn't to be trusted.
But the rebellion probably shouldn't get the "Upwelling of Support" mentioned under "Concluding the Adventure" on page 56.


Warped Savant wrote:

See page 40 of the book, under "An Early Start" for general ideas. If they're caught and Thrune finds out the next book starts right away and the masquerade is cancelled. If they kill anyone they had better be sure to clean up after themselves as a dead body would raise a lot of concerns and might prompt an early start to book 4.

As for evidence, Thrune going nuts or rescuing either NPC in the basement of the Opera House should provide enough proof for the general population that Thrune isn't to be trusted.
But the rebellion probably shouldn't get the "Upwelling of Support" mentioned under "Concluding the Adventure" on page 56.

I would think they should get the benefit. What's the premise behind the boost in supporters - the pc's demonstrated they're good dancers? I would think it's because the pc's saved people from Thrune's massacre. If the pc's hit the Opera House early and prevent the massacre, seems like there should be the same benefit.

There should be plenty of evidence - any surviving Dottari will know what the plan was. Why did those 7 devils have hats of disguise? Why are these devils here in the first place? Jilia knows the plan. What's the explanation for the fake Barzillai? Evidence of Barzillai's intentions should not be hard to find.

I've argued before - hitting the Opera House ahead of the Masquerade is the morally and strategically right thing for the Silver Ravens to do. They know its a trap. They know Barzillai is ruthless and will kill anyone to get his way (see Night of Ashes.) They know 300 citizens will be in grave danger. Why should they fight Barzillai on his terms with 300 innocent bystanders in the same room/building?


Latrecis wrote:
What's the premise behind the boost in supporters - the pc's demonstrated they're good dancers? I would think it's because the pc's saved people from Thrune's massacre.

There's a difference between saying that Thrune was going to kill everyone and him actually attempting it and the Ravens saving most of the attendees.

The 300 people are a mix of everyone from around town, including people that support Thrune. Having them turn on him because the "anarchists" have "proof" should be nearly impossible. Saving them when Thrune tries to kill them, that should change their minds.
This late in the game most Kintargans have chosen sides. I would assume that the swell in supporters is because a bunch of Thrune supporters suddenly backing the Ravens and telling their friends to switch sides too has "unlocked" a new set of people to recruit. Whereas, if you go in beforehand, the Ravens would have to get their people to spread the word and that would kind of only appeal to the type of people they've already tried recruiting.

As for the Ravens using a fake Thrune as proof, sure, that could get people to wonder. Bring out Jilia and/or Shensen... wait... what's to say they're not fake too? And if they're fake then maybe the Ravens made the fake Thrune!
Hats of Disguise? No one saw those devils with hats on.... they must have been planted on them. Or maybe they just wanted to fit in and look more human without being attacked by all these anarchists!
Dottari know the plan? I figured they were just told to lock the doors and not let anyone out. (I changed the scenario a little and changed his speech so maybe the dottari do know about the plan, but I don't remember the book saying that).

Hitting the Opera House early is morally the right thing to do.
Strategically though? You haven't convinced me of that yet.


In my game the Hells Rebels dismissed the Tengu team and helped to smuggle them further south.

Korva Flush was also one of the targets Thrune used to scry on. Cause he is cautious and does not scry on the strong willed rebellion leaders.

Now the point: one of the characters had a rivalry with the Tengu right from the start. So, why would Korva Fushi return to the Masquerade? Or what enemy would disquise themself as Korva Fushi?


I'm already concerned about how to balance this encounter. My table's party is already difficult to predict. They regularly school EL+4 encounters. My newly setup encounter is at CR+6. But the bearded devils, the dottari, the cockatrices... they're all just speed bumps. I just don't know how to weigh the effects of the crowd as terrain, being pulled in many directions by monsters killing citizens, the impediment against using area effect spells, the fact that it's a one encounter in a day scenario. I have no idea if this is deadly or a cake walk and that makes me nervous about them dungeon crawling in the basement, resting up, then tackling the Masquerade.

How much did the masquerade affect your encounter? Did your party find the crowd and moral dilemmas to increase the difficulty level?


So, if they sneak around in the basement they'll likely get caught fairly quickly.
Have a devil see them (probably the bone devil as it seems to like hanging out in the basement, and add in a couple of bearded devils), a bearded devil teleports to Thrune, Thrune has Fake Thrune and everyone else that's supposed to attack at the masquerade show up (maybe do it in waves so you don't overwhelm them... devils teleport in, some come in though the orchestra hole, others come down the stairs), that way it's still the same CR (roughly) and you can have reinforcements show up as needed. But if your group goes in early and you've overcompensated and the fight is too much for the group it's a lot harder to justify NPCs showing up to save the day.
Hopefully the group has a way to let NPCs know if they're in trouble so that the NPCs can cause a distraction on a different floor (cause a riot outside the opera house, break in the front door, jump in through windows, etc) so that if the fight is too much you can have some of the enemies leave to investigate the new threat. (Because why would the rebellion not be attacking on multiple threats and the PCs might just be a distraction from the real goal).

The bearded devils, erinyes, dottari, cockatrices, etc are all just speed bumps, that's their purpose. When used during the massacre, they're there to force group decide between going directly after Thrune or saving some people by killing the minions first.
When used in a situation like you might have, with the fighting all happening without civilians around, the minions are simply cannon fodder so that Fake Thrune isn't killed in the first two rounds (hopefully).


Warped Savant wrote:
Latrecis wrote:
What's the premise behind the boost in supporters - the pc's demonstrated they're good dancers? I would think it's because the pc's saved people from Thrune's massacre.

There's a difference between saying that Thrune was going to kill everyone and him actually attempting it and the Ravens saving most of the attendees.

The 300 people are a mix of everyone from around town, including people that support Thrune. Having them turn on him because the "anarchists" have "proof" should be nearly impossible. Saving them when Thrune tries to kill them, that should change their minds.
This late in the game most Kintargans have chosen sides. I would assume that the swell in supporters is because a bunch of Thrune supporters suddenly backing the Ravens and telling their friends to switch sides too has "unlocked" a new set of people to recruit. Whereas, if you go in beforehand, the Ravens would have to get their people to spread the word and that would kind of only appeal to the type of people they've already tried recruiting.

As for the Ravens using a fake Thrune as proof, sure, that could get people to wonder. Bring out Jilia and/or Shensen... wait... what's to say they're not fake too? And if they're fake then maybe the Ravens made the fake Thrune!
Hats of Disguise? No one saw those devils with hats on.... they must have been planted on them. Or maybe they just wanted to fit in and look more human without being attacked by all these anarchists!
Dottari know the plan? I figured they were just told to lock the doors and not let anyone out. (I changed the scenario a little and changed his speech so maybe the dottari do know about the plan, but I don't remember the book saying that).

Hitting the Opera House early is morally the right thing to do.
Strategically though? You haven't convinced me of that yet.

The AP never distinguishes between the initial bias or lean of those Kintargans who join the Rebellion. So that some attendees are Thrune loyalists and unlikely to be swayed by a cancelled Dance and some evidence is perhaps irrelevant. That some attendees were supporters or neutral is sufficient because if they believe, they influence others to join. At this point, additional supporters must be coming from word of mouth through the many supporters and not direct recruiting from the Silver Raven leaders. Further the "Upswelling in support" is from dancing with friends and rivals. Are rivals actually Throne loyalists? Since each pc can only dance with one friend and one rival, is it safe to assume half the support come from friends who were already inclined to the Silver Ravens? And therefore willing to believe the Silver Raven version?

Arguing living beings who can be tested like Jilia or Shensen (who would each have to be restored to be used as a witness) are fake is a bit flimsy. The dead, transmuted Cizmerkis can be magically identified as a transformed bone devil. Jilia and Shensen can be magically confirmed to be who they claim to be. And its the preponderance of evidence that would be convincing - not just the former mayor and diva but the hats and the dead fake Barzillai and the testimony of any surviving Dottari (if available.) The Dottari know enough - if they testify they were ordered to lock in the citizens by Barzilla at the conclusion of his closing speechi, that's pretty much all you need to know to assume that Thrune was up to something. Also some of them were ordered to unleash the cockatrices on the attendees. I'd also argue that the Silver Ravens have been recruiting supporters to the Rebellion for the entire AP by countering Thrune's narrative with stories of their own that didn't have any more evidence than their possible post-Masquerade information about Barzillai's scheme.. Thrune didn't stop the Red Jills we did. Thrune didn't stop Varl Wex, we did. Thrune didn't stop the CCG's excruciations, we did. Thrune didn't stop the Tooth Fairies in the Devil's Nursery, we did. And so forth.

Of course recruiting supporters and a PR campaign is somewhat of a moot point because regardless of what happens, civil war erupts in Kintargo the day after the masquerade. A few hundred supporters (if the pc's were lucky enough to execute the various maneuvers to earn them) probably won't make much difference given Thrune's Reprisals start the next day.

Perhaps "strategically" is not the right word? Tactically? It doesn't make sense for the pc's to walk into Barzillai's obvious trap and get into a fight with him on terrain, timing and terms of his chosing. That's how you lose battles and wars. Especially when they can forestall the entire event and foil the trap by hitting the Opera House with surprise. Not to mention keep innocent bystanders out of harm's way.

Shadow Lodge

Latrecis wrote:
The AP never distinguishes between the initial bias or lean of those Kintargans who join the Rebellion.

That's almost true, but not quite: the AP defines the political leanings of the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Court of Coin. But generally, yes, the AP assumes lowest-common-denominator politics.


Would the devils even be there early and risk exposure? Since can teleport, they can wait at the Temple to Asmodeus until their trap has bait.

Shadow Lodge

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roguerouge wrote:
Would the devils even be there early and risk exposure? Since can teleport, they can wait at the Temple to Asmodeus until their trap has bait.

Speaking of things that aren't there, what about things that are? Rivozair is only moved out of the Opera House shortly before the Masquerade, and should really be present to ambush enterprising PCs.


Latrecis wrote:
STUFF

Are rivals actually Throne loyalists? No, probably not. Are they going to spread the word that the Ravens are saviors of 300 people without anything to really show they did anything? Also no, probably not.

I see the upswell in supporters as being due to the survivors spreading the word that the Ravens saved the day. If they didn't obviously save the day then there's not a reason for the rivals to spread the word so maybe half the amount of new supporters if you really want to go that way because friends of the Ravens would spread the word that the Ravens stopped a plot from Thrune.

Sure, proving that Jilia and Shensen aren't fake is easy. Convincing people that don't support you/people that do support Thrune is going to be the difficult part.
As for proof, Hats of Disguise prove nothing. A couple of dottari are easy to be disbelieved, especially if Thrune loyalists spread word that those dottari were obviously plants/turncoats/bribed/the Ravens are lying about the dottari actually saying that.
All of the other things you mentioned the Ravens doing before the masquerade had them get more supporters, yes. But not 200 per PC in the group. And each of those things were things that were happening and the group stopped as a reactive thing. Stopping the masquerade/massacre is proactive and therefore not seen as a threat by most people unless you can convince them that Thrune was going to kill a bunch of his own supporters.

And no, of course it doesn't make sense to walk into the trap!
But being able to point at Thrune and say that he just tried to kill 300 civilians is a lot easier to prove if he actually tried to do it rather than it coming down to what the Ravens say versus what Thrune and his supporters say.


I'm not familiar with this aspect: At the Ruby Masquerade, which devils would leave a body behind on the material plane? Or would they all disappear in a poof?

If all of bodies left are devils and there's no evidence of slain "Silver Ravens Angels", that would help the propaganda war that is sure to follow the dance.


I played the rivals as characters changing their minds about the ravens after Thrune tried to kill them. Hence why they are bringing supporters.


Latrecis wrote:
Perhaps "strategically" is not the right word? Tactically? It doesn't make sense for the pc's to walk into Barzillai's obvious trap and get into a fight with him on terrain, timing and terms of his chosing. That's how you lose battles and wars. Especially when they can forestall the entire event and foil the trap by hitting the Opera House with surprise. Not to mention keep innocent bystanders out of harm's way.

My players discussed this at length. They (of course) knew Barzillai had something fishy planned, and expected some sort of trap or other evil business. They talked about not going, or about trying to cancel the whole thing.

There were several factors (some which I had put in myself, or emphasized) that in the end swayed them to go to the masquerade as the book expects:

1. They had gotten the information that Barzillai had already moved out of the opera house, and that it was essentially empty except for people prepping for the masquerade and people guarding the premises. So in their mind, a preemptive strike wouldn't necessarily make Barzillai cancel the masquerade just because the party scared away some guards, caterers, and decorators.

2. People were excited about the masquerade. There was lots of talk about it, about who was invited or not, etc., which rubbed off on my players. I had made handouts in the form of flyers saying what dances would be performed, the schedule for the night, etc.

3. I made it easy for the PCs to acquire invites.

4. I made a fun RP thing about the costumes, so the players engaged themselves in what costume would fit their character.

5. I made it clear that many of Thrunes' allies would attend, such as the noble families on his side, which made them think it couldn't be that dangerous. He wouldn't risk his allies, would he?

6. Many of the PCs family members, friends and allies were going, and many were excited and glad that they were invited. The players wanted to be there to protected them, and didn't want to spoil the whole thing either.

7. I made the players curious about what would happen. What was he to reveal? What would Barzillai do? What was his plan? At that point in the campaign, that was really something the players wanted to know, since it had become clear to them that he wasn't in Kintargo to be the mayor, but had some other, deeper goal. Would that be revealed?

8. They had been very cautious with their identities and thought Barzillai didn't know who they were, regardless of it being a masquerade. That made them confident that they could remain unnoticed and have an advantage, even if they were on his home turf.

In the end they prepared meticulously, used their teams to smuggle in weapons and equipment into the opera house, talked tactics with allies if things would turn bad, but they did go. And it was a blast, the high point of the campaign so far.


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My party, as documented elsewhere, is a condition-imposing machine that punches way above its expected ability to do so. They also have many minions, with an improved familiar and two PCs with cohorts, who are being used for the first time in combat after 4 levels of having them be used narratively. I've upped the difficulty significantly. Here's the devil's brew I went with for my Ruby Masquerade:

Simulacrum Barzillai Thrune Inquisitor 8 (via a scroll). I expect my party to take him down in 3 rounds or less. Especially since he can't heal himself with his spells.

Advanced Cabal Devil: This is the devil who worked with Thrune to enact this plan. DR 10/good, incorporeal, and fear and fireball to stoke the panic. Also, has a kickin' Disguise, being used to frame one of the PCs for the on-stage murder of the Sarini scion. (hat tip to the boards for this twist!)

Advanced Sire Devil: I'm using this devil to set up a story line with the Tiefling PC as his taunts will reveal him to be... his sire. I'm remaking the Natsiel storyline with sire devils and a Belial ritual, with Natsiel being switched to a different race/alignment. Disguised as a PC.

Advanced Erinyes: pretty typical, but the true seeing ability scares the heck out of the players. Disguised as parody of the female vigilante PC, because this is the one PC Team Thrune doesn't know much about.

In addition to the 22 dottari fighter 3, they'll have just the 7 bearded devils, who can't really hit the melee PCs. They might have the cabal devil's summoned 2d4 imps as well. Aluceda Zhol, who made her second appearance at my table's game to attempt to dominate the PC most opposed to Nidal, will summon 1d6+1 rat swarms then peace out with her gaseous form ability. The imps and the rat swarms will be mostly for flavor at this level and to justify guest deaths.

The advantage the PCs have is that they've gotten rid of the bone devil, the hell hounds, and the bearded devil reinforcements by doing a dungeon crawl through the basement levels. Their saboteurs stopped the release of the hell chickens, I mean the cockatrices. If this gets out of hand--and I don't think it will--they'll have boon cards to play to represent aid from allies.


10 rounds in. 3 of the seven bearded devils are down. They dispelled Barzillai Thrune, making the simulacrum into a pile of snow. They opened an exit to the outside. They've damaged the erinyes and the cabal devil, but none of the big four are particularly in danger yet. The cabal devil has to make a second save on hideous laughter, having failed its first one, or it will be out of action for about 10 rounds. 96 people have been killed thus far, but they've saved 55 of those from death through healing bursts and turning in hero points and ally boons. 32 more have escaped.


How many people died in your Ruby Masquerade?


roguerouge wrote:
How many people died in your Ruby Masquerade?

Checking the spreadsheet I used (where I had devils killing x number of guests per round), 125. Cocatrices had been taken out pre-fight. I had more devils than the book; two erinyes and one extra bone devil. The players concentrated on Barzillai and his gang of Thrune agents (the evil iconics fron Hell's Vengeance).


I've got a player who's a bit bummed to lose so many. I think they're doing great.


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I had 72 civilians die after the number was reduced from masquerade points.
I was surprised it was so low, but at the beginning they REALLY focused on saving people and opening the front doors.


Our table finished the Ruby Masquerade last night. It was... epic. Since I did significant changes to the scenario, I'll detail how it went in case future DMs consider making similar changes. Spoilers used to keep the wall of text more manageable.

Pre-cap::
They did a bunch of clairvoyance on this place, but I ruled that the devils just stayed in the Asmodean Temple until the day-of, and their teams also got the map. (Getting the map is a massive convenience for the DM!) They did a dungeon crawl and used the spell Nap Stack to be prepped for the Masquerade. They eliminated the hell hounds, the ice devil, bearded devil reinforcements, and the Broken Soul npc (Sabo, at my table). The went in through the water entrance, charmed the Nessian Hellhound and swept through the basement pretty easily. They happened to miss the lair of Rizovair and the coffin of ex-Mayor Jillia, but found the vault. They had a team disable the Hell Chicken release valve, so no advanced cockatrices.

Masquerade::
They went James Bond rather than Incredible Hulk. I reframed this as the prom, given that I have a Magical Girl Vigilante PC who is doing major Lady Docur School for Girls plot lines. They racked up 37 Masque points mostly through dancing. (I used the boards' idea to have 10 followers/point if they survived, but they didn't find that out until the end.) The sneaky PC scouted and identified a lot of the staging areas. The Vigilante PC got to dance with her secret crush tiefling Arcanist PC.

This is your last chance to have the PC meet their nemesis. The sneaky PC who's running a heretical cult to Zon Kuthon Reformed got to dance with his nemesis, Aluceda Zhol. Just before the big reveal, I had the PC Monk's nemesis (Tombus Reggegius as a monk-assassin leader of a rival dojo) give the PC a confidential warning of the ambush because he felt it was dishonorable "and the only person to defeat you will be me."

The big event::
I went with the boards' idea to twist the knife on the Thrune False Flag Operation. Third place for costume was Vigilante Magical Girl PC, second place was Asmodea Sarini (last heir of current head of that House), and the winner was an Advanced Cabal Devil disguised as the tiefling Arcanist PC. The Advanced Cabal Devil then used magic missile to knock Asmodea into low negative HP. Framed the Ravens! Sarinis enraged at the Silver Ravens! Incitement to Tiefling Pogrom! And, worst of all, PROM IS RUINED!?!?!! Seriously, a great twist.

Team Thrune: Simulacrum Thrune Inquisitor 8, Advanced Cabal Devil CR 11, Advanced Sire Devil CR 8, Barbed Devil CR 11, Advanced Erinyes CR 9, 22 elite dottari (Fighter 4), 7 bearded devils CR 5 each.

Team Silver Ravens: Arcanist 9, Vigilante Magical Child 9 (with Faerie Dragon improved familiar smuggled in as a rat), Unchained Monk 9, Inquisitor/Rogue 4/4, Octavio (Fighter 8), Sacred Fist Warpriest 7 (cohort), Cleric 8 w/young template (cohort).

Observations:
Having FAKE!THUNE as a simulacrum was awesome when he melted into a pile of snow on stage due to a successful dispel magic. It was a much more satisfying reveal of the Life Model Decoy reveal than the more-difficult-to-discern polymorphed Ice Devil route.

This combat took 28 rounds. It wasn't just the size of it, but also because of the sheer number of options for things to do. The party split itself into three groups accidentally. There were the people on the stage, dealing with FAKE!Thrune and the Advanced Cabal Devil. The party monks dealt with getting the doors open--facing off against dottari and teleporting bearded devils. The player of the sneaky PC panicked a bit without someone to flank with and was running around a lot. When a PC doesn't have anything to do immediately, they tended to spend an action shepherding 1d6 people to an exit. And, of course, I had made F7 the regroup point for the teleporting devils and had some action in the various balconies and noble's seating areas. Using the space tempts the PCs to split up.

By the same token, having the big devils target the crowd a lot helped create narrative pressure while giving me a good excuse to not use "focus fire" on a single PC. This number of villains could be overwhelming. Remember--the goal is to destroy the myth of the Silver Ravens, not to just make martyrs of them.

I took the boards' boons/aid tokens idea and gave it to the players with leadership or social talents from the Vigilante class. These boons ended up being used solely to keep the death pool down (recover 2d6 lost citizens), which was disappointing.

The orchestra pit was a godsend--the Advanced Cabal Devil was hit with Hideous Laughter and spent a full minute floating over it, which made it very hard for the melee types to take advantage. Towards the end, attackers were jumping out, taking a swipe, and falling to the basement, then climbing up to repeat.

The Advanced Cabal devil is a must-have addition: if you change one thing from canon, add one of these. The first few rounds on stage were spent with a fake fight with Fake Thrune "trying" to subdue it, with fireballs "going awry" into the balcony area, adding fire and smoke inhalation to the rationale for citizen deaths. The defenses for that devil are also out of this world good, which is really necessary at this level: incorporeal, great AC, shield spell, flight. The fear effects on the crowd were great narrative too--and all of his spells have a shaken rider effect that is stackable. Its offense is not great, but that's actually okay. Illusions, glitterdust, fear effects.... lots of room for creativity. (I don't use fear spells against PCs because it results in player boredom, but using them on the crowd justified the death total.)

The Advanced Sire Devil has exactly one tool in its toolbox, but it is frighteningly good at claw/claw/rend massive damage. The acid blood helps. Same deal with the barbed devil's melee and barbs combo. I plan on using barbed devils a lot in the future.

The only survivor for Team Thrune was the advanced Sire Devil. It will be a part of a cult of Belial that will be doing a ritual transforming Natsiel (not a demon at my table) into a Handmaiden Devil to spread the taint to the men of Kintargo. He called the Tiefling Arcanist PC "my son" several times in the combat.

The players learned a valuable lesson that align weapon and bless weapon are now mandatory. The DR, especially the DR/incorporeal combo of the Advanced Cabal Devil, really gave these devils staying power. It's okay to let the players learn that at the table before book 4--it added duration, but also tension to the fight.

To prevent overwhelming the PCs, I had the Barbed Devil be totally occupied killing people on the balcony until they engaged it. He did take out Octavio in three rounds, but Octavio managed to do about 50 damage, which helped a lot.

The arcanist didn't take leadership, taking craft staff instead. So I have a staff of charming to deal with. He got the wounded Barbed devil and a last bearded devil towards the last half of the fight. Neither could have protection from good up. I'll be making sure to have plot-critical NPCs in book four have it. (Don't worry--he'll still have good use of it by charming mooks and devils without access.)

Final tally: 52 dead. 75 stabilized. 153 escaped during the epic combat. 37 Masque points produce 370 new followers.


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37 Masque points ! Amazing. Pretty sure my group had less than 10!

Thanks for pointing me at Sire and Cabal devils as I have been getting a little frustrated with host, bearded and Erinyes

I might use some in book 4. Horned are not too great due to the power from liberation domain but the others seem interesting

Cabal could have some connection to Zella . Or I could have one somewhere in the keep as well as an infernal sorcerer signifier or two that is “helped”. Or is that wrong ? I always get a little confused by the hell knights and their relationship with devils as they have to kill one to qualify

Sire devils from when I first read about them sound horrifying and are really effective when, like you , there is a tiefling in the party. Since I may move Strea to the keep I may have one watching his “daughter”

Cool write up


roguerouge wrote:
...They racked up 37 Masque points mostly through dancing.

Did one or more pc's have ranks in Perform-Dance? My analysis suggested Masque points would be hard to acrue without ranks in that skill. Winning the dance competition without ranks seems highly unlikely otherwise (as an example.)


Latrecis wrote:
roguerouge wrote:
...They racked up 37 Masque points mostly through dancing.
Did one or more pc's have ranks in Perform-Dance? My analysis suggested Masque points would be hard to acrue without ranks in that skill. Winning the dance competition without ranks seems highly unlikely otherwise (as an example.)

I had a devoted muse who needed ranks to qualify and background skills incentivised them to max it just because

They won but the party spent points splitting up and exploring and one walked downstairs and was seen by the bone devil conductor

It seems like the points can be accrued if you all stay in the dance hall and aren’t particularly inquisitive . It is quite a strict system !


Latrecis wrote:
roguerouge wrote:
...They racked up 37 Masque points mostly through dancing.
Did one or more pc's have ranks in Perform-Dance? My analysis suggested Masque points would be hard to acrue without ranks in that skill. Winning the dance competition without ranks seems highly unlikely otherwise (as an example.)

The Magical Child vigilante is in Lady Docur's (Finishing) School (for Noble Daughters and Random Half-elves). So she has +15--maxxed ranks, has charisma as her casting stat, is an azata type aasimar that gives a bonus, and could have used inspired vigilante ability to boost it further. She also spent the money on the outfit and the mask.

It did pay off nicely for her. She danced with her frenemy, her love interest, and the simulacrum of Barzillai Thrune.

She's also got ranks in perform song, perform oratory, craft writing, craft sewing, knowledge engineering and nobility. There were classes with finals in most of those, so she had to pass the exam or face the wrath of the Jhalteros. There's a lot of free ranks for the stuff around the rebellion. And I dole out tons of skill checks to motivate broad-based skill sets.


Thanks for the replies. I like it when my assumptions get confirmed! The pc's in my group don't have backgrounds or classes that encourage that kind of skill point investment. Their focus is more on secrecy and stealth and resistance and less on social interaction of that sort. We'll see how the Dance goes - coming up soon, they're about a third of the way into Book 3.

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