Dance of the Damned (GM Reference)


Hell's Rebels

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This may have been addressed elsewhere, but regarding Molly Mayapple's stats:

At the bottom of Dance of the Damned p. 63 it says her wererat stats will appear in The Song of Silver.

In The Song of Silver on p. 6 it says Molly's statistics are presented in the Dance of the Damned.

Are her wererat statistics given somewhere I haven't checked or was this an oversight?


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I ran Menador + Vyre a week ago with great success. All I had to do to cement the wonderful markets of Vyre in my players' minds was to have Molly mention that she knew a shop that sold fried grippli legs. The dinner party went smashingly, with the party getting over 30 banquet points and the party occultist (also a tiefling) getting successfully bedded by the Queen of Delights. Menador went smoothly, but it felt pretty generic by comparison to the rest of events. The only real challenge was the advanced erinyes.

We've been skipping the organization stuff for the most part as I absolutely cringed at the thought of doing it after suffering through the Way of the Wicked organization rules, which were significantly thinner. Still, I rolled a couple secrecy checks for while they were out at Menador and the rebellion managed to hit the high mark on both checks. As we wrapped up the session, they managed to rescue Shensen and loot the treasury.

Shensen being who she is, though, will be leading the party on a little merry chase after Jackdaw. She's pissed about what Barzillai did to "her" opera house, in addition to the indignity of being turned to stone and her house being burned down. As such, her plan is to perform the Song of Silver AT THE RUBY MASQUERADE. Should be fun. I've already got my players' buy-in on this diversion into book 4 and, with the recently acquired loot from the vault, I believe they'll be able to handle the First Warden.


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p-sto wrote:
I felt a little bad reading through the Ruby Massacre and seeing the Dottari involved. Thus far while my players have gotten into a couple scuffles with them, they have actually gone to a fair amount of effort to be respectful of their authority and even tried to befriend them at some points. I was considering replacing the Dottari with members of the Order of Rack for the encounter but giving it some thought I feel it might reward the party better if I keep the Dottari but have some of them break rank to defend the Ravens and the population during the encounter.

I solved this problem by having Trex (the new dottari commander) call in 2 out of 3 of the guards from the Ravounel countryside, training/brainwashing them outside the city and then sending them into Kintargo. So basically there's two kinds of dottari - the old guard, who can (usually) be reasoned with, and the bumpkins, who've been convinced there's paladins hiding everywhere just waiting to destroy the Cheliax way of life, and they are the only ones who can stop them. So my players' learned that country accent - watch out.

Since one of my PCs is an ex-dottari this was also needed for us, since he knows about most of his old colleagues. I'm also preparing a story line for him where he can try to get different captains on the SR side when book 4 comes, playing on the discontent with Trex and the changes from the old guard. (I've estimated there's from 20 to 50 dottari working in each district, so about 200 total. And now there's about the same amount of hillbilly paladinhunting stormtroopers running around as well.)


A question about the Masque Points during the Ruby Masquerade - how many does the party start with? You do things by spending them, and might gain some by spending, but I can't find how many you're supposed to start with. And if it's 0 I suppose you can get into the negatives, and then keep spending by increasing that negative.

Did anyone skip this system? If so, any problems? I like the Banquet Point system from the dinner, but this seems badly explained and just feels weird in the end - less people die if the PCs dance well? Did they inspire party-goers to moonwalk out of harm's way? Or by mingling? "Ohh that chap was so terribly nice before so I think I'll duck this devil's glaive!" I just see a lot of unintentional (?) silliness here. What's your thoughts?


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Razcar wrote:

A question about the Masque Points during the Ruby Masquerade - how many does the party start with? You do things by spending them, and might gain some by spending, but I can't find how many you're supposed to start with. And if it's 0 I suppose you can get into the negatives, and then keep spending by increasing that negative.

Did anyone skip this system? If so, any problems? I like the Banquet Point system from the dinner, but this seems badly explained and just feels weird in the end - less people die if the PCs dance well? Did they inspire party-goers to moonwalk out of harm's way? Or by mingling? "Ohh that chap was so terribly nice before so I think I'll duck this devil's glaive!" I just see a lot of unintentional (?) silliness here. What's your thoughts?

This information is on page 41.

Quote:

As the masquerade begins, the party starts with

10 Masque Points. Reduce this starting total by 2 points
for each PC who arrives in an inappropriate outfit, and
increase the total by 2 points for each PC who arrives in
an exceptional outfit, to a minimum of 4 Masque Points
and a maximum of 16. Allies of the PCs who attend
affect the starting total in the same way. As the evening
progresses, the PCs’ Masque Points will fluctuate, but if
at any point their total reaches 0, Cizmekris proceeds
with the unmasking ceremony immediately.


Serisan wrote:


This information is on page 41.

Ah, thank you! I was looking at the Ruby Masquerade section starting p. 51, so my bad. The snippet on p. 41 makes the whole point of the system little clearer, as well.

I really wish Paizo would include a table with these kinds of systems in APs, showing all point transactions in one place. Now I'll have to try to scour the text. Maybe when they'll get more space after scrapping the fiction part.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So, for anyone curious, I'm starting to doubt my initial idea of having the party go with the impetuous Shensen to get the Song of Silver + Jackdaw. While they did handle something they're not supposed to fight until level 11 while level 9, they're also likely going to go into book 4 with only 30 Authority Points for Barzillai to work with. I foresee an early dragon.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Serisan wrote:
Razcar wrote:

A question about the Masque Points during the Ruby Masquerade - how many does the party start with? You do things by spending them, and might gain some by spending, but I can't find how many you're supposed to start with. And if it's 0 I suppose you can get into the negatives, and then keep spending by increasing that negative.

Did anyone skip this system? If so, any problems? I like the Banquet Point system from the dinner, but this seems badly explained and just feels weird in the end - less people die if the PCs dance well? Did they inspire party-goers to moonwalk out of harm's way? Or by mingling? "Ohh that chap was so terribly nice before so I think I'll duck this devil's glaive!" I just see a lot of unintentional (?) silliness here. What's your thoughts?

This information is on page 41.

Quote:

As the masquerade begins, the party starts with

10 Masque Points. Reduce this starting total by 2 points
for each PC who arrives in an inappropriate outfit, and
increase the total by 2 points for each PC who arrives in
an exceptional outfit, to a minimum of 4 Masque Points
and a maximum of 16. Allies of the PCs who attend
affect the starting total in the same way. As the evening
progresses, the PCs’ Masque Points will fluctuate, but if
at any point their total reaches 0, Cizmekris proceeds
with the unmasking ceremony immediately.

On a related note - why would PCs select the Eat option? It costs them points, and offers no upside. Sure, they can Mingle for free, but Mingling is already free.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Misroi wrote:
Serisan wrote:
Razcar wrote:

A question about the Masque Points during the Ruby Masquerade - how many does the party start with? You do things by spending them, and might gain some by spending, but I can't find how many you're supposed to start with. And if it's 0 I suppose you can get into the negatives, and then keep spending by increasing that negative.

Did anyone skip this system? If so, any problems? I like the Banquet Point system from the dinner, but this seems badly explained and just feels weird in the end - less people die if the PCs dance well? Did they inspire party-goers to moonwalk out of harm's way? Or by mingling? "Ohh that chap was so terribly nice before so I think I'll duck this devil's glaive!" I just see a lot of unintentional (?) silliness here. What's your thoughts?

This information is on page 41.

Quote:

As the masquerade begins, the party starts with

10 Masque Points. Reduce this starting total by 2 points
for each PC who arrives in an inappropriate outfit, and
increase the total by 2 points for each PC who arrives in
an exceptional outfit, to a minimum of 4 Masque Points
and a maximum of 16. Allies of the PCs who attend
affect the starting total in the same way. As the evening
progresses, the PCs’ Masque Points will fluctuate, but if
at any point their total reaches 0, Cizmekris proceeds
with the unmasking ceremony immediately.
On a related note - why would PCs select the Eat option? It costs them points, and offers no upside. Sure, they can Mingle for free, but Mingling is already free.

Not every choice has to be a good choice. Sometimes, things are bad choices, be they to attack a dragon at 1st level, to jump into the room without checking for traps, or to eat at a party thrown by a bad guy. :-)

Since the players don't know which actions they can take are good and bad choices, the Eat option serves to add a bit of risk to the party. (While you should supply the players with a list of their options, you shouldn't spell out what any one option does until they take it and learn in-play of its effects.)


zimmerwald1915 wrote:

Something to keep in mind for the banquet is that the number of BP needed to secure the alliance doesn't fluctuate up and down with party size. Large parties, or parties who think to bring along allies (provided they can contrive to get them invited and treated as party members) will have an easier time of things by default. The big source of easy BP is showing up in proper attire; a 5-member party can get halfway to their goal just by doing that.

Obviously, there are limits. Manticce probably isn't going to tolerate a veritable crowd descending on her house. But five or six people instead of four? That's a whole other ball game.

I had noticed that as well, and given I'm looking at having only 3 PCs (one Mesmerist + 2 undecided), it is something of a concern, so I dug through and had a good look at the numbers.

Numbers:

Given the PCs are expected to be 7th level by this point, skill bonuses for those skills invested in should be in the +10 to +15 ball park, or +0 to +5 at best for those they haven't.

Turning up dressed for the part: +2 each
Clapping when required: +0 who do, -1 who don't
Conversation: DC20 social check; +1 per success, -1 per result of 15 or lower. x 4 courses.
Etiquette: DC25 Knowledge check: +1 on success, -1 on failure, +0 for not rolling.
First Course: 0DC16 Dex/Sleight of Hand +1 per success; DC28 +2 per success; No penalty for failure, -1 per refusal, -2 for deliberately eating it the wrong way.
Second Course: DC15 Fort save +1 per success / -1 per failure, failing by 5 or more incurs a -4 penalty on social skills for the remainder (harsh).
Third Course: This is the only one not positively effected by a large party. DC25 Perception check. +1 if one PC succeeds. +3 for all PCs succeeding. -1 per refusal.
Fourth Course: DC20 Disable Device (trained only skill) or Intelligence check. +1 per success. -1 per failure by 5 or more (i.e. 15 or less). Given that Disable Device is trained only, and even a wizard with Int 20 has a 50/50 chance of flubbing it (-1), this one is rather harsh.

Gifts: This is a more complex topic. There are three types of passable gift (+1) and 5 types of great gifts (+3), each of which can be be used once. Molly will tell the PCs the three passable gift types for free. A DC20 Diplomacy check beforehand to gather info reveals one type of Great gift, +1 gift per 5 they beat it by.

A single PC is unlikely to identify all the great gifts, but given each PC can make the attempt, and you can retry gather information attempts, it is quite likely that all five will be identified if the PCs put their minds to it, and at least one person is good at Diplomacy.

Gifts can then be +3 per PC up to a max of 5 PCs, and +1 per PC thereafter up to a max of 8 PCs, with no further bonuses beyond.

Going with the above, and assuming each of my 3 PCs has a +10 in either Bluff (mesmerists, rogues, bards etc), Diplomacy (bards, clerics, mesmerists, paladins etc) or Intimidate (fighters etc) with decent rolls and making the best decisions in every situation, I'd expect something like 23 points as the upper end of possible results.

Adding a fourth PC, even a Cha 7 fighter who refrains from talking when at all possible, would add around +6 on top of that to bring it to around 30. If they had Cha10 at least and Intimidate, they could add up to another 4 points with ease.

Adding a 5th PC adds another 7-10 points. Adding a 6th PC (downgrading the gift) adds another 5-8 points, and so on.

While a particularly skilled character, or a lot of lucky rolls can certainly gain additional points, even then it is extremely difficult for a party of 3 to hit the same numbers a party of 4 can comfortably, or a party of 5 can with relative ease.

I had a similar issue with the play results in Sixfold Trial and the endgame results of Twice-Damned Prince: The benefits associated with large parties and penalties associated with small ones outweigh what an individual can contribute through exceptional play. A small party will likely still succeed at the alliance, because of the fallback plan, where if the PCs can at least scrape through 10 points, then a PC can "personally convince" the Queen to change her mind, but hitting 30 is extremely hard for 3 players, and rather easy for 5.

My current plan is three fold:
1) If there are any NPCs the group have adopted (it happens) and usually wind up tagging along with the PCs, have them attend and help out with the Dress Up bonus, give gifts and then quietly use Aid Another on struggling PCs. I prefer NPC allies to support the PCs but not overshadow them
2) I'll likely throw in bonus points for particularly high Conversation rolls - DC20 gives +1, DC30 gives +2 etc, in part to encourage players to roll instead of taking 10.
3) If I wind up without any NPCs along to help out and/or or only the Mesmerist is particularly good and Bluff/Diplomacy/Intimidate, I'll likely drop the BP target numbers down by 25%; 8 for the contingency plan; 15 for the alliance; 23 for her personal alliance.

James Jacobs wrote:
When I was designing the banquet, my assumption was that most groups would NOT get a perfect score. The adventure's XP progression and all that assumes average success, with the opportunity for non-classical PCs to finally get a chance to shine and take center stage while the old mainstays get to sit back and watch for a while for a change... but still have the chance to play and with some lucky rolls or the right support or roleplaying maybe even still make a difference.

Given PCs will be PCs... that is a good assumption. I never cease to be amazed at the things my players come up with in social scenes. Sometimes good, often mindblowingly terrible.

Porridge wrote:
For example, a couple good diplomacy checks at the start to reveal what kinds of gifts the queen likes will yield 4 BP per player (+16 BP). And if the players arrive dressed appropriately, that adds 2 BP per player (+8 BP). That already puts the party at 24 BP.

Actually... no. Gifts are either +0, +1 or +3 each. Not +4.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It's worth noting that Ears of the City will effectively hand the party all of the great gift options as a standard action. I think my players have prepped it every day.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A fun point I realized I should toss out there - my players wanted to invite the Queen of Delights to the Ruby Masquerade. Obviously, I can't let that happen as she's grossly overpowered for the event and I don't think her personality is conducive to leaving Vyre to assist with things. One of my players had successfully been seduced by her and had worded the sending that was used to contact her. Her response had the table dying with laughter, though:

Me: "Rolicharr, roll a Will save."
Player: "uhhh....
...
...
18?"
Me: "Ok, you failed. Her response is: 'My regrets, darling, dealing with a Norgorberite problem. Sent your friend Molly by boat. Remember me fondly tonight.' This was sent via demand."

Scarab Sages

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My players are going to assault Menador Keep tomorrow and I'm confused by something. The book says that each of the 4 small rooms has the same number of defenders, it then continues stating that there are 8 Menador Soldiers.

Does this mean that each room has 8 soldiers in it, so there's a total of 46 soldiers (4x8 + 6 on the battlements + 8 inside the keep)? I find this slightly unlikely, but that's how I initially read the info in the book. The Herolab encounter pack has also interpreted it like this.

But since there are only 12 bunks, I'm assuming there are only 8 in total in the courtyard, so 2 per room.... For a total of (8+6+8) 22 soldiers. Can someone confirm if this is as it is intended?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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The beds have the truth of it; there's 8 total, with 2 per room. 22 in all sounds about right if my memory serves.

BUT feel free to adjust that amount as you want during play to adjust the challenge, of course.

Silver Crusade

Huh. I ran it with 46 guards total, and it ended up being quite the siege. Turns out CR 2 mooks are a bit of a threat when there are 50 of them and have screaming arrows. My player of the teenage TWF slayer loved standing in the corner of one of the rooms and slaughtering three guards per round as they came at her. One player was grateful for the opportunity to cast Mad Monkeys at a courtyard full of guards. At least one of my players did think it was just an un-fun slog (though he hates everything Pathfinder these days, so I don't know that it's much to go on.) So it can work with all the guards as written, though I do have 5 players.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Ran the Ruby Masquerade today. It felt pretty epic, despite the PCs having significant benefits walking in.

Party+allied NPCs:
Occultist 7/Empiricist Investigator 2 (melee)
Inquisitor 9 (archer)
Kineticist 9 (aether/air)
Cleric 9

Jackdaw (rescued early due to previously mentioned impetuous decisions by Shensen)
Shensen (also rescued early based on a stealth mission following the Menador piece since the rebellion blew through their secrecy checks)
Octavio
Lady Mialari Docur (rebuilt a bit so she wouldn't immediately die)

Masque Points:
I felt like this was an unfortunate system to add into an already complicated situation. It created a lot of tension for me as the GM, but because the mechanical repercussions are somewhat hidden from the players (i.e. what the score is, what it means, and how they're impacting it), it really felt more like additional bookkeeping without a real payoff.

I included the NPC allies in the tracking, along with a preset selection of actions and pre-rolled results. The party only successfully completed the Ruby Masquerade because of the NPCs they brought along. If I didn't have the NPCs included, the massacre would have happened instead of the Dance of the Damned.

The Massacre:
Immediately prior to the beginning of Ciz's speech, Shensen completed her audacious plan to perform the Song of Silver, creating significant issues for all of the devils. The party's inquisitor had snuck off to the rafters before the unmasking.

The bone devil, erinyes, and bearded devils all acted in succession, which created some difficulty. Octavio engaged the bone devil in melee and it felt pretty confident given his relatively low damage and low chance to hit. Mialari provided buff support (heroisms, greater invis, etc.) due to the rebuilt version. Jackdaw and Shensen both worked to clear dottari from the doors to help the civilians escape, though Jackdaw definitely went full kill-steal mode to maintain her panache. The party had effectively opted for "hard mode" by immediately engaging all of the devils before they actually did anything offensive.

The occultist delayed his effectiveness by not using Legacy Weapon early and getting surrounded by bearded devils while enlarged, while the cleric healed the party after some pretty gnarly damage spikes. The inquisitor had a fairly rough start, getting knocked to 3 health from the erinyes' opening volley. The kineticist maintained fairly consistent blast damage throughout.

Without going into excrutiating detail, the party found themselves on the ropes a few times before leveling things out. Ciz failed to escape when he had the opportunity to teleport away due to the SoS being up, so he failed his caster level check. They cleaned up from there, losing around 40 civilians, most of which were due to the floor traps/hellhounds. Jilia was discovered in her coffin, staked, and raised.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. It was challenging to GM, particularly the communication of how the Masque Point changes manifested, but the feeling of the event was chaotic and hectic. The party had a much stronger reaction to Barzillai's cruelty than I expected and a significant concern about the retaliations. Before my players left for the day, I rolled the first set of retaliations and, despite my players having Barzillai down to a poor, poor 30 authority (again, related to Jackdaw + SoS to get it down that far), he got lucky enough for Rivozair to make her presence known. The players were very concerned about the dragon when they discovered the lair, then made more paranoid when she killed about 30 people.

I like how this book flows into book 4. I'm looking forward to seeing how the players deal with the events of the next book, though our next session is painfully far away (late January).


I just ran the first half of the Ruby Masquerade, they threw me ONE very large butterfly, they invited the Queen of Delights. The Queen's favorite spent most of the first half of the night trying and failing to find her, and it wasn't until after the Dance of the Damned that he managed to find her. My problem is how the hell would she react to the Massacre when it arrives?


Jakob Kiilerich wrote:
My problem is how the hell would she react to the Massacre when it arrives?

She's a 17th level witch/2 aristocrat - she has access to 9th level spells. She's got a UMD of 24 for other stuff. Maybe the players/PCs don't know that, but that's how it is. And as written and equipped in the book, she's prepared for a dinner party in her own house - she probably has some other equipment for going to potentially dangerous places.

First, she would probably find out that it's a trap (which the PCs might suspect as well). Then, she would need a motive to walk willingly into this setup - she is Chaotic Neutral so it's probably not just to be nice to the PCs. Maybe it's to see how they behave in a situation like this, if they are worthy allies to Vyre. Or maybe she wrote business AND pleasure on her immigration card.

In my opinion, having super-powerful Elminster-types around - who could easily solo the whole scene without breaking a sweat - smells of old mouldy Forgotten Realms cheese. But now you've already got her there. So in your situation, when the attack starts, I would have her smile at her favorite and say: "Oups! A trap! Who could have known. Good luck darling, I'll be watching, and I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!"

Then she would cast impenetrable veil and fly at herself, don an invis ring, or whatever, and enjoy the show. Or maybe just dimension door to the roof and scry her favorite. Regardless of how it goes she would under no circumstance get involved - she is Vyre's chief diplomat, not a 19th level retainer. Maybe she would pop back if the PCs are successful and compliment them on a job well done, before teleporting out with her favorite (regardless of his/her wants) for some carnal pleasures.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

She sent an 8th level simulacrum of herself to the party in her stead and gets to help out until she inevitably gets crushed into a pile of snow by something horrible?

Of course she would have to REALLY like the characters to foot the gold cost to create a simulacrum... or maybe she just has one around for functions such as the masquerade.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jakob Kiilerich wrote:
I just ran the first half of the Ruby Masquerade, they threw me ONE very large butterfly, they invited the Queen of Delights. The Queen's favorite spent most of the first half of the night trying and failing to find her, and it wasn't until after the Dance of the Damned that he managed to find her. My problem is how the hell would she react to the Massacre when it arrives?

My post a couple before yours sums up my position on the matter:

Quote:
Her response is: 'My regrets, darling, dealing with a Norgorberite problem. Sent your friend Molly by boat. Remember me fondly tonight.' This was sent via demand."

Since you've already had her at the party, I would have her Greater Teleport home as soon as the Massacre begins.


Going through my standard combat modifications and I appear to have hit something that is confusing me.

There is a Zombie Great White Shark that is listed as being CR 7. Following the Zombie Template does not seem to yield this result though. You end up with 9 HD, which should yield a CR of 4. Everything else is consistent with this not being a special template.

+3 CR for environment to the encounter seems exceedingly generous, but the CR seems to be applied to our shark anyway. Am I correct in that the shark itself is only CR 4 as written?


Going to add a note actually. This particular book is rife with system errors. Stat blocks are not formatted correctly (Nerrenn in particular set me off to this), notes on templated creatures are incorrect (Zombie Shark CR is clearly miscalculated), and it makes me worry that I will have to comb this whole book extra carefully.

So if you are running Dance of the Damned, make sure you're double-checking statblocks along the way. I have not converted everything into my Roll20 game yet, but it seems like this is going to be more work than any of the previous books, which were of much higher editing quality.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

So here's the thing. The zombie and skeleton templates are both built with the assumption that they're being applied to humans—the further off from human you get with these templates, the more of a chance you have of creating a zombie or skeleton that far outstrips the calculated CR of the template.

In the case of a zombie great white shark, you get a creature that does an average of 17 points of damage with a bite attack and has a +12 bonus on those attack rolls. That's WAY high for a CR 3 creature; the damage is more appropriate for a CR 5 creature and the attack roll for a CR 7 or 8 creature. And then there's its armor class... at AC 22, that's more appropriate for a CR 8 or 9 creature. Since it only has one attack anyway, it's not nearly as affected by the staggered condition that would throttle the number of attacks it can make in a round anyway.

So, rather than "cheat" the PCs by hitting them with something that behaves more like a CR 7 creature by sticking to the rules and making it a CR 4 creature, I decided that instead I'd split the difference, make it a CR 7 creature, and bolster its hit points to something closer to what a CR 7 creature would have (degraded somewhat to account for its damage reduction).

In hindsight, I perhaps should have made a note that I'd adjusted some numbers to account for this in the book, but in practice that only really speaks to people who want to rebuild stat blocks, not to people who are comfortable with simply running the adventures as written.

And as written, the zombie shark's stats DO match pretty well to a CR 7 creature. It's intentional, in other words, and not an error. (If anything, the way the zombie stats work when you apply them to monsters with powerful single attacks and excellent natural armor is the error.)

Of course, feel free to adjust that as you wish, but keep in mind that as with ALL stats, you should compare the final results to the expected numbers on Table 1–1 in the bestiary and adjust the final CR to match. If you do want to make the zombie shark in this adventure be a CR 4 monster, you should reduce its AC to 17, its attack roll to about +7, and its damage to something more like 2d6+5.


That is certainly fair with regard to the templates on zombie/skeleton. I went looking around and found that there were certainly points where making a zombie or skeleton ended up with a recommended CR that clearly does not match the actual output. I think that is entirely fair.

I will say that there is inconsistency in full statblocks in this book though. Nerrenn and Menotheguro have their saves presented differently (Nerrenn presents the level 7 ranger bonuses, Menotheguro presents the final numbers). Menotheguro's HP does not seem to match his reduced Constitution either.

I know I am probably nitpicking here, but I didn't see anything quite like this in the previous two chapters, so now I am worried that either I failed to thoroughly check things in the first two books OR that I will have to check multiple stat blocks to make certain they all are kosher.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Asurie wrote:


I know I am probably nitpicking here, but I didn't see anything quite like this in the previous two chapters, so now I am worried that either I failed to thoroughly check things in the first two books OR that I will have to check multiple stat blocks to make certain they all are kosher.

Conditional bonuses to saves are presented in the statblock if present, that's why Nerenn has them listed. Does Menotheguro have any conditional bonuses?

As for possible errors in statblocks, you could just roll with it. Your game won't break if a monster has a Ref save of +9 when it should have +7. Unless a statblock has a dramatic error such as doing 12d6 damage at level 2, there's little point in spending hours double-checking each statblock to find negligible errors.


Gorbacz wrote:
Conditional bonuses to saves are presented in the statblock if present, that's why Nerenn has them listed. Does Menotheguro have any conditional bonuses?

Ah, I see my confusion with the Nerrenn statblock after further looking over. The saves seem to hold up if "Weakness: Sickened" means that he is perpetually inflicted by the Sickened condition. I have not seen that wording before. Though in that particular case, his attack block is incorrect as far as I can tell.

w/o Power Attack
+7 BAB, +3 Str, +1 Weapon Focus, -2 Sickness: +9 BAB
+3 Str, -2 Sickened: +1 Damage

w/ Power Attack (as claimed in block)
+7 BAB, +3 Str, +1 Weapon Focus, -2 Sickness, -2 PA: +7 BAB
+3 Str, +4 PA, -2 Sickened: +5 Damage

In fact, it seems like the attack blocks are assuming no Sickened (assuming that is what the Weakness means, I have not seen it before), while the rest of the block is accounting for the Sickened condition. However, I will note that the block gives the +2 Natural Armor for his Form of Dragon and the extra movement from Longstrider, but I can't reconcile the HP total or listed saves with Bear's Endurance.

Now, I know I could just roll with these small errors, but I actually do a fairly large rebuild of things to bump up the difficulty. My party is running with 5 people using 20 pt buy and Hero Points, with no small amount of optimization, so the as-written encounters tend to all end up feeling trivial. As part of that, I really try to make certain everything is within existing rules so that things remain feeling fair, rather than fudging things when it is avoidable.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Asurie wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Conditional bonuses to saves are presented in the statblock if present, that's why Nerenn has them listed. Does Menotheguro have any conditional bonuses?

Ah, I see my confusion with the Nerrenn statblock after further looking over. The saves seem to hold up if "Weakness: Sickened" means that he is perpetually inflicted by the Sickened condition. I have not seen that wording before. Though in that particular case, his attack block is incorrect as far as I can tell.

w/o Power Attack
+7 BAB, +3 Str, +1 Weapon Focus, -2 Sickness: +9 BAB
+3 Str, -2 Sickened: +1 Damage

w/ Power Attack (as claimed in block)
+7 BAB, +3 Str, +1 Weapon Focus, -2 Sickness, -2 PA: +7 BAB
+3 Str, +4 PA, -2 Sickened: +5 Damage

In fact, it seems like the attack blocks are assuming no Sickened (assuming that is what the Weakness means, I have not seen it before), while the rest of the block is accounting for the Sickened condition. However, I will note that the block gives the +2 Natural Armor for his Form of Dragon and the extra movement from Longstrider, but I can't reconcile the HP total or listed saves with Bear's Endurance.

Now, I know I could just roll with these small errors, but I actually do a fairly large rebuild of things to bump up the difficulty. My party is running with 5 people using 20 pt buy and Hero Points, with no small amount of optimization, so the as-written encounters tend to all end up feeling trivial. As part of that, I really try to make certain everything is within existing rules so that things remain feeling fair, rather than fudging things when it is avoidable.

His tactics section says: "He attacks with his claws, focusing attacks on humans if possible, and uses Power Attack at all times (these bonuses and penalties are included in his melee attacks above)."

Therefore, his statblock assumes he's is attacking a human and getting +2 hit and dmg per attack from favoured enemy.

As for his hp, the listed Con 15 assumes Bear's Endurance was cast, so he gets 4 bonus hp per level: 2 from Con, 1 from Toughness, 1 from favoured class.


Gorbacz wrote:
Therefore, his statblock assumes he's is attacking a human and getting +2 hit and dmg per attack from favoured enemy.

Assuming he is attacking a human seems like a stretch - or at the very least a poor course of action. I do not think I've seen another statblock roll in Favored Enemy into their attack/damage bonuses.

Gorbacz wrote:
As for his hp, the listed Con 15 assumes Bear's Endurance was cast, so he gets 4 bonus hp per level: 2 from Con, 1 from Toughness, 1 from favoured class.

Good catch on that - I assumed the Con 15 was his baseline Constitution and the Bear's Endurance hadn't been pre-factored in. I'll have to keep an eye out for that when reading in the future.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Stat blocks are complicated things. We do our best to get them as close to perfect as possible when we print them in adventures, and while on a certain level, going in there as the GM and doing extra checks of the math certainly gets you more practice as a GM at building stat blocks of your own... at some point the law of diminishing returns kicks in. If you're going to spend a block of time prepping an adventure, in my opinion, that time is better spent preparing interesting customized handouts for the players, studying the tactics and plot so you're ready to handle unexpected player decisions, building entirely new custom content to make the adventure more personal for your group, preparing battle mats or image references to show the players, prepping a soundtrack for music or sound effects, or any other type of thing that'll have a direct and obvious effect on game play and making the game more fun. Spending a few hours making sure that a monster's hit points are 33 instead of 36 or the like is sort of a case of "making the perfect the enemy of the good." After all, in play, minor stat block issues are likely to not have a huge impact, and people forgetting a tactic or mis-reading a value in the heat of combat or jotting down the wrong number or doing a calculation wrong is going to, on average, introduce errors as well—errors that could be mitigated if that prep time was spent familiarizing ones self with the tactics and so on rather than rebuilding stat blocks.

Of course, to each their own. I'm not trying to be a jerk here by saying "you're doing it wrong" when you rebuild stats, just sharing the techniques I've found work better when prepping a published adventure for my own games.


That argument does persuade me to worry less about the statblocks. It is certainly something that I would not have noticed were it not for trying to plug everything into the Roll20 framework, which then leads to trying to reconcile the missing digits here and there. Still, I do think consistent and clear presentation is important, especially when the underlying system tends more to prescriptive than otherwise.

Since I rebuild things for a little increased difficulty for my particular group, this tends to require careful understanding of the underlying statblocks... which I am clearly still learning! Asking these questions has been highly informative for that, even if what I thought were errors were mostly just me being unclear about the blocks.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

About to run Menador Gap, and thankful for the clarifications on guards. It is definitely written in such a way that I thought there were 8 guards in each C3 room.

I'll share a little side story of my group's Kintargo rebellion here. After hearing that tickets to the Masquerade Ball were the hottest item in town, my group (who have familial connections to the Sarinis and Delronge families) decided to foster an alliance with those families and maybe curry enough favor to obtain some invites. Half of the group thought maybe spying on the families would work and thought Vendalfek would be a good option to maybe steal the invitations from the courier who would be dropping the mail off to their houses. The other half thought Blosodriette would be a better spy.

Well,after a small skirmish with Blosodriette broke out after she was asked to spy on the Sarini family estate; and the gunslinger's grandmother (Archbaroness Delronge) called him a bastard's bastard with whom she wanted no relationship, the party returned to their base - still wearing their Barzillai gifted items - and feeling kind of deflated.

During a meeting, the gunslinger kept insisting that they had done nothing wrong and that there would be no recourse from the Thrune-supporting families they had pissed off. While discussing this within earshot of some of their supporters, four of them decided they had enough of this ragtag group and started a scuffle in the temple of the Lucky Bones. In the interim, two bearded devils teleported in; the families having scried on the items Barzillai had given the group, and all hell broke loose within their own base. They easily dispatched both the devils and their supporters, but now they're pretty terrified that their base has been found (which will come up with Tombus in book 4).

As the dust settled, Vendalfek flew down into the base, carrying five stolen invitations to the Masquerade Ball.

And that was basically how their rebel week dice rolls turned into actual combat and RP.

Liberty's Edge

So I am looking for recommendations for game mechanics on using the Drowned Eye to create undead. The reason I ask is that one of my players loves undead and has literally build a crypt/storeroom to hold the bodies of notable NPC spell casters until he can use the spell Create Undead to make intelligent spellcasting juju zombies and skeletal lords. I predict that instead of destroying the rune in the Drowned Eye, he will want to restore the wards that had previously been around the place and try to harness the power of the place to help him make undead. Whats more, since he is a charismatic store-born half-elf with the water breathing spell so I could see him convincing the party to do just that, and returning to the place periodically to make undead. So the question is what kind of game mechanics should I give the place? My first assumption is that I should make it function like an unmoveable scroll of create undead (which I know he would love) that regenerates periodically (like once a month or so). The module has the Aboleth working to create a Sea Bonze, but I worry that giving him anything powerful enough to do that would unbalance the campaign. What do you guys think I should use?


ComicViolence wrote:
So I am looking for recommendations for game mechanics on using the Drowned Eye to create undead. The reason I ask is that one of my players loves undead and has literally build a crypt/storeroom to hold the bodies of notable NPC spell casters until he can use the spell Create Undead to make intelligent spellcasting juju zombies and skeletal lords. I predict that instead of destroying the rune in the Drowned Eye, he will want to restore the wards that had previously been around the place and try to harness the power of the place to help him make undead. Whats more, since he is a charismatic store-born half-elf with the water breathing spell so I could see him convincing the party to do just that, and returning to the place periodically to make undead. So the question is what kind of game mechanics should I give the place? My first assumption is that I should make it function like an unmoveable scroll of create undead (which I know he would love) that regenerates periodically (like once a month or so). The module has the Aboleth working to create a Sea Bonze, but I worry that giving him anything powerful enough to do that would unbalance the campaign. What do you guys think I should use?

It depends on whether you want him actually doing this or not. If you're fine with him doing it, then just make the thing as powerful as you're comfortable with because you're in the realm of GM fiat regardless.

Just because the aboleth was trying to create a sea bonze doesn't mean that it will work. First, the aboleth has no reason or probably even opportunity to share its plans with the group so they'll probably never really know what it was trying to do. Secondly, just because the aboleth was trying to make it work doesn't mean it was going to work. The monster could've been mistaken in its conclusions. Use this to make the Drowned Eye only as powerful as you're comfortable with, despite the aboleth's grandiose plans.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Even if he just wants to make some draugr, then that's fine, but I'd either increase Notoriety, decrease Supporters, add a penalty to Organization checks, or some combination thereof while he's focusing on creating his undead army. Have some of the party's allies turn away from them. I suspect the Lictor of the Order of the Torrent would give him a chance to change his ways, then withdraw his support from the rebellion. And if he's deadset on having that small undead army...well, there are some negative channeling priests coming up that would be all too happy to wrest control of those zombies and skeletons from him and turn them against the party.

Liberty's Edge

I am sort of ok with him doing it. I don't want to outright tell him he can't do stuff, especially if he just found an NPC trying to do it. But I also don't want him to be able to get a minion who is nearly as powerful as a PC (I banned the leadership feat for that exact reason). The books says if you make a DC 25 knowledge religion check (which my players will do easily) you know he was trying to raise a sea Bonze, but I kind of do like your idea that he could just have been wrong about being able to make it work. That or I could just change what he is trying to raise, you are correct that I am heavily in the realm of GM fiat at this point.

I love your idea Misroi :-) Especially since the book mentions at one point giving the rebellion a negative if it uses undead or bound devils as guard. My players are more than willing to push that chaotic neutral line ... until there is a game mechanics penalty for it ;-)

Dark Archive

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I am a firm believer in the concept that the PCs should be given every opportunity to turn away from absolutely ridiculous decisions, but they must live with the consequences of those decisions.


Another rules question related to the tactics listed for Lucian, if anybody can give some clarification.

Lucian's tactics for mounted combat suggests that he enjoys making use of Ride-by Attack and making Vital Strikes. I think my question stems from misunderstanding of mounted combat rules. I am not certain which of the two situations apply here:

1. The mount uses actions to charge and as a result, Lucian is considered charging (though has not spent actions to do so). This allows him to then spend his standard action at the end of the charge to Vital Strike.

2. The mount uses actions to charge And Lucian spends his actions to charge. He cannot use Vital Strike because he spent a full-round action to charge.

Given a read over the rules with the fact that this is written in as tactics< I am inclined to believe #1 is the case now, but I would like to confirm.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
From Mounted Combat section of Combat CRB: wrote:

If your mount moves more than 5 feet, you can only make a single melee attack. Essentially, you have to wait until the mount gets to your enemy before attacking, so you can't make a full attack. Even at your mount's full speed, you don't take any penalty on melee attacks while mounted.

If your mount charges, you also take the AC penalty associated with a charge. If you make an attack at the end of the charge, you receive the bonus gained from the charge. When charging on horseback, you deal double damage with a lance (see Charge).

This wording to me implies that you are always taking a standard action after the mount moves, regardless of the type of action. If the mount is charging, you have charge bonuses/negatives applied to your attack action, but it is not considered to be the special charge full-round action.

edit:

From Charge section of Combat CRB: wrote:
Charging is a special full-round action that allows you to move up to twice your speed and attack during the action.

So yeah, I would rule that a mounted combatant can make an attack action at the end of the charge, whereas an unmounted combatant is only making an attack role as PART of the charge full-round action.

Anyway, Lucian met his death before he even had the opportunity to mount his wyvern in my game, because the party snuck in to the base with some insane disguise checks.


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From CRB FAQ wrote:

Vital Strike: Can I use this with Spring Attack, or on a charge?

No. Vital Strike can only be used as part of an attack action, which is a specific kind of standard action. Spring Attack is a special kind of full-round action that includes the ability to make one melee attack, not one attack action. Charging uses similar language and can also not be used in combination with Vital Strike.

That is the specific line that would rule out charge, but I do not think it rules out Mounted use of Vital Strike necessarily.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Asurie wrote:
From CRB FAQ wrote:

Vital Strike: Can I use this with Spring Attack, or on a charge?

No. Vital Strike can only be used as part of an attack action, which is a specific kind of standard action. Spring Attack is a special kind of full-round action that includes the ability to make one melee attack, not one attack action. Charging uses similar language and can also not be used in combination with Vital Strike.

That is the specific line that would rule out charge, but I do not think it rules out Mounted use of Vital Strike necessarily.

Thanks, I always miss those important FAQ pages. I definitely think the mounted section of combat is specifically calling out the fact that the action taken at the end of a mounted charge is not part of a charge full-round action, and is able to have vital strike applied to it.

Liberty's Edge

Asurie wrote:
Another rules question related to the tactics listed for Lucian, if anybody can give some clarification. Lucian's tactics for mounted combat suggests that he enjoys making use of Ride-by Attack and making Vital Strikes.

I'm believe that the suggested tactic is illegal. I think Lucian can use Vital Strike when mounted, or can use Ride-By Attack when mounted, but I don't believe he can use both. Here's my logic:

The PRD says this about mounted combat:

The PRD wrote:
If your mount moves more than 5 feet, you can only make a single melee attack. Essentially, you have to wait until the mount gets to your enemy before attacking, so you can't make a full attack.

The PRD says this about Vital Strike:

The PRD wrote:
When you use the attack action, you can make one attack at your highest base attack bonus that deals additional damage.

So, if Lucian doesn't charge while mounted, then it seems clear that he is using the attack action , and thus used Vital Strike while mounted.

However, Lucian's tactics entry calls for him to use Vital Strike and Ride-By Attack. The text of Ride-By Attack clearly states that the rider takes the charge action:

The PRD wrote:
When you are mounted and use the charge action, you may move and attack as if with a standard charge and then move again (continuing the straight line of the charge). Your total movement for the round can't exceed double your mounted speed. You and your mount do not provoke an attack of opportunity from the opponent that you attack.

And that brings us to the FAQ ruling:

The FAQ wrote:

Vital Strike: Can I use this with Spring Attack, or on a charge?

No. Vital Strike can only be used as part of an attack action, which is a specific kind of standard action. Spring Attack is a special kind of full-round action that includes the ability to make one melee attack, not one attack action. Charging uses similar language and can also not be used in combination with Vital Strike.

So, I believe that the tactics entry is suggesting an illegal tactic.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Considering that it's been mentioned in my game and in others on this thread, Lucian lacks a certain oomph. He just needed all the help he could get - even if it meant breaking a couple rules!

Speaking of Lucian, can someone clarify who gave him the wyvern sculpture? And who the dresses and perfumes belong to? I either missed a subtle character nod about Lucian, or specific mention of with whom he has this romantic dalliance. For some reason my PC's are still interested in him even after his death.


xrayregime wrote:

Considering that it's been mentioned in my game and in others on this thread, Lucian lacks a certain oomph. He just needed all the help he could get - even if it meant breaking a couple rules!

Speaking of Lucian, can someone clarify who gave him the wyvern sculpture? And who the dresses and perfumes belong to? I either missed a subtle character nod about Lucian, or specific mention of with whom he has this romantic dalliance. For some reason my PC's are still interested in him even after his death.

The wyvern sculpture is a gift from his aunt as I recall - there is no mention specifically as far as I can about why it is so important to him aside from being linked to happy childhood memories.

If I recall, the dresses and perfumes are loot from people who passed through. Which lends itself a very creepy underpinning.

Liberty's Edge

xrayregime wrote:
Considering that it's been mentioned in my game and in others on this thread, Lucian lacks a certain oomph. He just needed all the help he could get - even if it meant breaking a couple rules!

He certainly needed help. If the encounter was intended to be the curb stomp it became, I feel like that should have been mentioned in the text.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Maite Donker wrote:
My players are going to assault Menador Keep tomorrow and I'm confused by something.

Same here, too.

If I take into account that the soldiers "serve grueling 12-hour shifts" and all posts are to be guarded "at all times", this doubles the number of soldiers at the keep.

Model A) [taking the Challenge Rating given into account]:
The guardrooms C3a-d are "manned" each by 8 soldiers (with 8 counterpart soldiers off-duty). Room C16 is "manned" by 6 soldiers (with 6 counterparts off duty). Rooms C6 and C17 contain 3+5=8 counterpart soldiers off duty. So we can deduct 8 soldiers from any one C3-room. That would make a total of:
C3a 8 + 0 counterparts (resting in C6 and C17)
C3b 8 + 8 counterparts
C3c 8 + 8 counterparts
C3d 8 + 8 counterparts
C16 6 + 6 counterparts
C6 0 + 3 counterparts
C17 0 + 5 counterparts
Totalling 38 +38 = 76

Model B) [disregarding the Challenge Rating but having the bunks in mind]:
The guardrooms C3a-d are "manned" each by 2 soldiers (with 2 counterpart soldiers off-duty). Room C16 is "manned" by 6 soldiers (with 6 counterparts off duty). Rooms C6 and C17 contain 3+5=8 counterpart soldiers off duty. So we can deduct the 8 soldiers from all C3-rooms. That would make a total of:
C3a 2 + 0 counterparts (resting in C6 and C17)
C3b 2 + 0 counterparts (resting in C6 and C17)
C3c 2 + 0 counterparts (resting in C6 and C17)
C3d 2 + 0 counterparts (resting in C6 and C17)
C16 6 + 6 counterparts
C6 0 + 3 counterparts
C17 0 + 5 counterparts
Totalling 14 +14 = 28

Am I doing the math right or did I forget something?

Best regards


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I went with 22 and it seemed like the correct number. 8 total split between the courtyard rooms, 6 on the ballistas, 3 playing cards in the first floor room, 5 taking naps in the bunkroom. As James Jacobs posted, if your party needs a tougher fight you can definitely adjust up.


May I just say how much I appreciate that there are restrooms on the map? You know, in case a vigilante needs to change into their costume... nice touch, very nice touch.


Regarding the Menandor Gap, when I ran it, the party botched the stealthy approach and alerted the whole keep. So I called an audible and used the dottari troop rules from A Song of Silver to represent all the soldiers, instead of setting them out individually. I think I settled on ~30 soldiers in the troop when it came time to loot, though the only thing the party took from them were the screaming bolts. That seemed to work pretty well, and streamlined things a lot (which is why I'm a big fan of the troop rules).


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Just in case some GM likes to get a 3D view on Menador Keep and the Kintargo Opera House...


I just wanted to drop in and say that I'm about an hour away from running the Ruby Massacre and I can't stop cackling. Like, literally cackling.

:)

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