Dance of the Damned (GM Reference)


Hell's Rebels

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Silver Crusade

quibblemuch wrote:

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.

:)

Good luck!


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quibblemuch wrote:

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.

:)

That. Was. AWESOME!

The best part might be that the players left the session convinced that they had killed Barzillai, and confused about why there would be three more books to go...

*cackle*

NOTES

They needed a lot of allies. If it weren't for several timely interventions by Vendalfek, Mialari Docur, Rexus (who died going toe-to-toe with "Barzillai"), and, eventually, an explosive entrance by Captain Sargaeta and Marquel Auloran, things would have gone very badly. As it was, they lost most of the guests--of the original 300, only 97 survived the Ruby Massacre.

I'm thinking of wiping out all of the noble houses of Kintargo in the fray. Only Auloran survived, in the person of Marquel. They might bring back Rexus, but he's not keen on re-establishing his noble heritage (becoming more and more a man of the people). That will open up some new positions in the social hierarchy...


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I seem to recall you need some nobles to support you in book 5.

Silver Crusade

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Rexus died in my Ruby Masquerade, too. I had leveled him up to 7, but I think he ended up taking fire from the erinyes. My group was pretty sure the erinyes was the real boss of that encounter. On the bright side, it taught them all the importance of the fly spell.


Plausible Pseudonym wrote:
I seem to recall you need some nobles to support you in book 5.

Oh yeah... Only two of them, I think. And those were two who supported Thrune, so how convenient that they survived...


Eliandra Giltessan wrote:
Rexus died in my Ruby Masquerade, too. I had leveled him up to 7, but I think he ended up taking fire from the erinyes. My group was pretty sure the erinyes was the real boss of that encounter. On the bright side, it taught them all the importance of the fly spell.

Yeah, l had to pull the erinyes back a little--or, rather, make her focus her unholy blight on the second floor crowd. She dropped two of the PCs due to bad saves and good rolls in the first three rounds of the massacre (necessitating Vendalfek and Docur to step up to the rescue). After "Barzillai" was killed, I had her fly away, escaping to warn the real Barzillai. Otherwise she would have killed at least one of them for sure.

I was surprised that they didn't focus fire on "Barzillai" the moment things went bad. The "bralani" held their attention, and the hunter staked his spot right by the cockatrice switch. I think they greatly over-estimated the threat the cockatrices posed. It didn't help that the monk got himself isolated. He's virtually unhittable, but he wasted most of his actions punching things that could have been left alone while worse foes chewed up the party goers.

Still, they won. Which is the point. And I had fun. Which is even more the point :)

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

In mine Barzillai spent a fair number of rounds buffing and the party had a huge amount of trouble killing the bone devil. Rexus, as a 7 level enchanter, was actually pretty indispensable with suggestion on the bone devil and unnatural lust on the erinyes.

Before that suggestion the group was nearly at a tpk with more than half the party and NPC's down in negatives.

The only actual fatality was Ducor when Barzillai finished buffing, flew in and melee'd her to death.

They were also pretty baffled when they 'won the war' so early on.

That was two weeks ago. Loving book 4 so far. :)


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

My group had a warpriest (champion of the faith) archer PC who just destroyed pretty much everything, plus a paladin, so they were both just completely overcoming the DR of everything. Most of the crowd was actually killed by cockatrices, which the group didn't decide to kill until after they had gotten rid of "Barzillai" and Jilia. They ended the ball losing only 72 people.

I'm excited to see how the warpriest operates now in book 4, with the extra authority points gained by Barzillai, although that player missed the first session of Book 4. There was already a near TPK in the Silver Star due to some unlucky smites from the fiendish green hags.

Silver Crusade

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My party triggered the bone devil in the basement right about the time the announcement was supposed to happen, so they were all split up when it happened. I had a dottari guard there as a guest who switched sides when she realized Thrune was willing to kill HER. I realized the oracle was in a bad spot, so I put her in with him. He proceeded to buff and heal her while she went to town on the bone devil with her greatsword. I ordinarily don't like NPCs to take the spotlight, but he was very pleased with the situation.


I'm preparing to run Hell's Rebels - probably still a bit in the future, we're just finishing Runelords - and I'm stuck on one particular part. Why should the pc's attend the Ruby Masquerade? It seems obvious or highly likely to be a trap and it puts themselves and a lot of Kintargo's citizens in direct peril.

I like to think the game mechanics underpin the "real world" elements and those would highlight the value. But at the Masquerade, the pc's earn Masque points and make connections with friends and rivals, yet those don't seem worth all that much.

IF the pc's make a connection they earn 100 supporters for the rebellion. How many connections seem likely? 4,5,6? - how many times will pc's actually take the needed actions and why would they infer the corresponding benefit? How valuable are 500 more supporters at this point? One additional rebellion level?

If they earn Masque points, they can use them to reduce the casualties from the trap. Which of course is good, but if they defeat the trap and no one even comes to the ball to be slaughtered isn't that better?

And lastly if they have more than 20 Masque points, they can reduce Thrune's authority points by 5 at the start of Book 4. But that seems worth very little. If they've done Book 3, he should be down by 30 points already and even if not, there are close to 100 points of authority deductions available from missions they should be passionate to do in Book 4 before Rivozair attacks. They don't need another 5.

The AP mentions players might try to preempt the dance but it suggests they might miss out on benefits by doing so... I just don't see the benefits and am wondering if I'm missing something.


I'm working on that one myself, and the way I'm going is that they're hoping to use the time in the opera house to find the previous Lord mayor.


To quote another poster: "I took the motivation to be: "Barzillai is preparing to slaughter hundreds of innocent citizens unless you stop him"." But yes, searching through the opera house may be Plan A until they realize that this might also be the real trap: They knew, or should have known, that this was a trap and they did nothing to save people.

Think about how damaging this revelation would be.

Silver Crusade

Getting my players to go to the masquerade was a harder sell than I expected it to be with my players, especially since in general they just go along with what they are supposed to be doing. In general, I had to push that there were 300 relatively innocent people who were going to be in the trap when it sprung. They were also somewhat dubious that people really believed that Barzillai was turning over a new leaf.

As for the Masquerade itself, my people did have a hard time accruing enough Masque points to get stuff done. Part of this was because the person who was best at social interaction and could have accrued a bunch of points was upset that his boyfriend Hetamon was missing and wanted to search the opera house.

My players entirely ignored their friends and rivals during the masquerade. I was like, "You see this person you know!" and they were like, "That's nice. I'm going to do something else."


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roguerouge wrote:

To quote another poster: "I took the motivation to be: "Barzillai is preparing to slaughter hundreds of innocent citizens unless you stop him"." But yes, searching through the opera house may be Plan A until they realize that this might also be the real trap: They knew, or should have known, that this was a trap and they did nothing to save people.

Think about how damaging this revelation would be.

If I'm following, the answer would be: striking at the Opera House a few hours prior to the Masquerade would take out all the threats to the dance attendees and might possibly lead to the Masquerade being cancelled. So there is no consequence to the Silver Ravens from slaughtered invitees since no one's left to do the slaughtering. Assuming the pc's don't retreat with the job half done and let the Masquerade proceed as planned. Unless then they proceed to attend and then who knows how Barzillai would respond. There are whole slew of permutations from how things flow if the pc's attack the Opera House preemptively.

Including: what happens when the pc's take out all the Thrune minions in the Opera House and they are the only one's present when the guests start to arrive? Talk about your high level challenges - "You need to put on an elegant dinner party/dance for 300 people complete with food, drink and entertainment. You have 10 minutes to prepare. What do you do?" :)


By what mechanical means does Lucian have a wyvern mount? Is this just "module creator's fiat?"

There doesn't appear to be an archetype (not even the TERRIBLE drakerider archetype) and it isn't explained except by saying that he raised the creature from a hatchling. Lucian doesn't sport the monstrous mount or leadership feats, nor anything else to justify it beyond.

Nearest I can figure is that the text for a Cavalier's mount says "The GM might approve other animals as suitable mounts," though even in that instance, Zailosorn appears as an advanced creature instead of progressing via the animal companion rules.

What's the deal with this duo?


Midnight Anarch wrote:

By what mechanical means does Lucian have a wyvern mount? Is this just "module creator's fiat?"

What's the deal with this duo?

He's rich and comes from the ruling family?


roguerouge wrote:
Midnight Anarch wrote:

By what mechanical means does Lucian have a wyvern mount? Is this just "module creator's fiat?"

What's the deal with this duo?

He's rich and comes from the ruling family?

That's the obvious story-based answer, but not to the question posed. Unless you're also saying "by fiat."

Most NPCs aren't given arbitrary boons, which is why I ask whether it is truly so in this case.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Midnight Anarch wrote:
roguerouge wrote:
Midnight Anarch wrote:

By what mechanical means does Lucian have a wyvern mount? Is this just "module creator's fiat?"

What's the deal with this duo?

He's rich and comes from the ruling family?

That's the obvious story-based answer, but not to the question posed. Unless you're also saying "by fiat."

Most NPCs aren't given arbitrary boons, which is why I ask whether it is truly so in this case.

It does say he raised him since he was a hatchling, and Lucian has handle animal +15, so it's not insane to think he has given Zailosorn all the required combat training over his life. So yes, he basically has GM fiat that might be given to a PC, and most "boss" enemies in Hell's Rebels have PC-level wealth, power or special qualities.

There was also discussion in this thread about him using vital strike on ride-by-attack, which technically shouldn't be allowed based on RAW. In the end, most of the GM's here have posted that he wasn't much of a threat even with the wyvern mount, so I think it's ok to run him as written.


xrayregime wrote:
There was also discussion in this thread about him using vital strike on ride-by-attack, which technically shouldn't be allowed based on RAW. In the end, most of the GM's here have posted that he wasn't much of a threat even with the wyvern mount, so I think it's ok to run him as written.

I don't disagree on that point, in fact, my party obliterated Lucian. I'm less interested in the power level of it all and more in the how and why of it. And I'm fine with the answer of "designer fiat," I'm just curious by what means they created him this way.

That said, I do know a player who would be interested in building a character like Lucian, if he knew about him anyhow. So far as I understand, a legit Lucian doesn't seem possible.


I think the answer is designer fiat and a bit of justification with character backstory.


roguerouge wrote:
I think the answer is designer fiat and a bit of justification with character backstory.

Very much this, I imagine. Consider horses - you need no special class feature to have a horse. He just spent a lot of money on a fancy dragon horse.

That being said... having abysmal Will Saves basically meant that he just immediately got hit with a Suggestion and left the battlefield in my case. At least he gets to come back later?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As soon as my player got wind that there was a masquerade, he went "hey, you know what this reminds me of?" and pulled up this song:

Van Canto - The Last Night of the Kings

...and he doesn't even know what's going to happen there yet, besides that it's a trap of some sort. But he expects trouble. Definitely looking forward to tonight's session. >D


My players managed to sneak down and find the subbasement. Good news: they took out vampire!jilia. Bad news the ranger is at 2 negative levels before the trap is even sprung


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Okay, so I just ran my players through the massacre: Here's some thoughts.

1) Ice wall from the two bone devils was an excellent counter to "We're gonna use shatter on the walls/doors to get out"

2) Bone!Thrune is a horrifying combat beast when he gets his full attacks

3) Someone replaced half the numbers on all of the dice with more 20s and 1s. Wow such crit.

4) I replaced the 7th level rogue with a ninja who'd been an established member of the silver ravens. After Nox flattened the ranger to 1 round from death, he dropped from the ceiling for sneak attack with a holy weapon and took her to exactly -1. The rest of the combat was basically flying after that, so he just melted back into shadows. Still, my players loved the sudden saviour

5) Rexus has also leveled up and right before the fight ended with Thrune being screamed to death by the bard, fireballed a hole through the ice.

6) My alchemist is a horrific min maxer and the spell Caustic Blood is the most amazing 4th level spell in existence. Holy crap.

7) Seriously, so many crits.

8) I'm going to bed now cause it's 1am and I just ran 4 and a half hours of straight combat with almost 20 different combatants (between allies, summons, the enemies) and I feel exhausted


Just about to hit the Ruby Massacre. So far everything has been going pretty good, players are having fun etc.

But as I'm prepping this, I realised I have a bit of a problem with the idea of disguising the devils as azata.

While I can see him wanting to pin the whole job on the Silver Ravens, Cizmerkis kind of blows this angle by standing up and giving a great big evil plan speech, after which his guards then lock everyone in to the room. So I don't get the point of the illusion spells.

Presumably he doesn't expect anyone to escape (hence the speech), so why bother disguising the devils?
And if he does think there will be witnesses (which explains the illusions), why confess up front to the entire crowd?

I'm leaning towards dropping the confession speech and instead have Cizmerkis play this up as a terror attack from the very beginning, so that just in case anyone does escape, BT can try and stick with his plan.

This also helps with the next book, because assuming nobody else knew about the massacre, I can't believe the various noble family heads wouldn't attend the party, and that means that he openly attempts to murder the heads of the families that do support him (Sarini etc). This way he gets to keep some plausible deniability going into the next scenario, so I can help justify why they don't abandon him in book 4.

Curious if any GMs who've gone past this point had any problems with this, or if I'm worrying over nothing and it just got brushed off by the players as a minor thing when there's more important stuff going down.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

My group really didn't have issues with Barzillai's plan. They are terrified of Barzillai and see the Dance of the Damned as one of the few times they have gotten to know him in terms of his arrogance and egotism.

He's so sure of his own plan working that he's willing to reveal it to all the people in attendance. I suppose he thinks that after the battle some onlookers might recall seeing azatas flying away and devils chasing them down to attempt to save the city from the rebel menace. If your party does really poorly during the ball you could play up that idea of Barzillai triumphing against the rebellion.

Book 4 is going to be done in less than one week in-game, so it makes sense that the noble families are still coming around to eventually make some concessions with the Silver Ravens. Like you said, there's more important stuff going on.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
PJH wrote:


Just about to hit the Ruby Massacre. So far everything has been going pretty good, players are having fun etc.

But as I'm prepping this, I realised I have a bit of a problem with the idea of disguising the devils as azata.

While I can see him wanting to pin the whole job on the Silver Ravens, Cizmerkis kind of blows this angle by standing up and giving a great big evil plan speech, after which his guards then lock everyone in to the room. So I don't get the point of the illusion spells.

Presumably he doesn't expect anyone to escape (hence the speech), so why bother disguising the devils?
And if he does think there will be witnesses (which explains the illusions), why confess up front to the entire crowd?

I'm leaning towards dropping the confession speech and instead have Cizmerkis play this up as a terror attack from the very beginning, so that just in case anyone does escape, BT can try and stick with his plan.

This also helps with the next book, because assuming nobody else knew about the massacre, I can't believe the various noble family heads wouldn't attend the party, and that means that he openly attempts to murder the heads of the families that do support him (Sarini etc). This way he gets to keep some plausible deniability going into the next scenario, so I can help justify why they don't abandon him in book 4.

Curious if any GMs who've gone past this point had any problems with this, or if I'm worrying over nothing and it just got brushed off by the players as a minor thing when there's more important stuff going down.

I had this thought as well. Barzillai might be arrogant, but he's also smart. It makes sense that he'd have a contingency plan in case there were some survivors, maybe even let a few stragglers get away to report on the terrible attack by the Silver Ravens.

My solution: Barzillai still made his big speech, but I changed the wording so there was a decent amount of plausible deniability in terms of his plans. The PCs definitely got the message, but there were a lot of double meanings that the general audience wouldn't have necessarily understood (and even if they suspected, it didn't leave any official admission of guilt, as it were). He still got his smug shots in at the Silver Ravens, but didn't give up his plans to the extent the book indicates.

I also played this up as part of the reason why the Thrune sympathizing families were open to negotiating with the PCs in book 4. Thanks to the PCs' actions during the ball, they weren't quite buying his story (and were annoyed that they weren't warned to stay away beforehand).


You're perfectly right PJH that as written, the Ruby Massacre doesn't make sense. The speech, the disguises and the tactics don't gel. Unless you want to play the "Barzillai's crazy" card, which I don't; I prefer him to be megalomaniacal but not incoherent or illogical.

There's been some great suggestions to fix this on these boards, here's some riffing on those:

1. Emphasize the 'smear the Ravens' angle. This entails making sure many guests escape, the disguises are working fully, and modifying fake-Barzie's speech quite much. The speech needs to be in alignment with the invitation - "I'm really not such as bad guy, we've all gotten off on the wrong foot, let's put this behind us" etc. Here it also pays to have some baddies not only disguised as azatas, but as the Silver Ravens themselves (e.g. wearing elaborate feathered silver cloaks and raven masks) attacking at the end of the speech, killing indiscriminately and turning the masquerade into the massacre ("Oh no, the terrorists known as the Silver Ravens have attacked us!" cries the Lord-mayor). There can also be some mock combat between these fake Ravens and Barzillai/Cizmerkris, while the lord-mayor bravely defends some poor child from the blood-thirsty rebels. Or something equally theatrical and sycophantic.

2. Go for the trap angle. The Ruby Masquerade was all an elaborate trap to kill the Silver Ravens. Here we don't need to change the speech really, but instead put more attention on not allowing any of the guests to escape. The guests are the bait, and also witnesses. We can lose the disguises and instead use the erinyes as a "Raven death squad", waiting for the bearded devil's attack on innocents and the PCs allies/loved ones to flush them out. When the PCs show themselves the erinyes focus on them, as does Cizmerkris/Nox/the bone devil, while the bearded devils switch roles from game flushing to door guarding, waiting to clean up the guests after the main quarry has been laid low. After the deed is done, Barzi might sell it as an attack by the Silver Ravens, and none will live to say differently. This might better suit a combat-oriented party since it might get quite hairy for the PCs.

As it is written now, the adventure tries to do a mix of both these angles, and these two objectives together don't really work, at least what I can see. Which I think causes all the GM head-scratching surrounding this scene.

We haven't gotten to the Ruby Masquerade yet, but will soon, and I will use the smear angle. (I have already started with using the Varl Wex part ((which I moved to this book)) as a way for the government to discredit the Ravens - Balgorrah was given to the Mangvhune fanboy Wex from Tiarize ((PCs can find a note saying "a gift from one fan to another")) and Wex has been tracked by a crack team of Dottari. After he commits a murder they shift the blame to the Ravens on the crime scene.) I have used the party of Thrune agents from Hell's Vengeance (in their 7th level versions) as foils for a while, and they will disguise themselves as the Silver Ravens at the masquerade.


I too am concerned about that part of the Ruby Masquerade/Massacre. I'm wondering what, if any changes should be made. I think the whole "Silver Ravens Disguise Ruse" is more a contingency than anything else, but it's painfully easy to see through (since there's not actually any Silver Ravens killing anyone, just outsiders- who the common folk wouldn't necessarily be able to identify anyway).

In my case, Barzillai has a good reason not to be as the Masquerade. He's set up the Ruby Masquerade as the venue for his wedding to a former PC character who was captured in book 1 (for those who are concerned, this was *my* PC before I took over GMing). For this reason, some of Barzillai's followers will be at the Masquerade, as well as his to-be bride. But they're prepared/contingencied teleport out once things go down, instead having a quiet ceremony at the Temple of Asmodeus.

From Barzillai's point of view, he's getting hitched and having his enemies crushed (and discredited) on the same evening- the Ruby Masquerade should be the best night of his life. The PC's probably have other plans.

For reference, I've rebuilt Barzillai as an antipaladin (tyrant), so he's more CHA based than INT or WIS, so some discrepancies in his plans can be attributed to the fact that he has a huge ego, but isn't the brightest or wisest bastard.

Still, he does have wise and intelligent allies (who he takes advice from, at least in my campaign) so I think I may need to follow Razcar's advice. I'm thinking that option 1 is better, because Barzillai could just kill the Ravens with a little bit of Scry and Fry. No, he needs to discredit them- and surviving witnesses do just that. Maybe have the Dottari disguised/illusioned as Silver Ravens, and have a staged attack on Barzillai himself before things go down?

My PC's are just starting book 3 (in Acisazi, dealing with Menotheguro) but I'm hoping to get Barzilai's plan figured out because my players are devious and clever bastards and I know they'll some how figure out what he's up to in advance...


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I just ran the Ruby Massacre (half way through actually), and I found it worked well using the 'terror strike' approach that we've discussed above.

1 - Having the devils disguise as PCs instead of Azatas made more of an impact on the group. Also they had fun seeking out and attacking versions of themselves.

2 - It immediately sparked efforts from the players to try and counter what they felt was a propaganda attack by Cizmerkis, so as well as fighting and saving people, they've been loudly trying to show that it's not really the Silver Ravens who are attacking, while Cizmerkis has been equally loudly shouting about saving the citizens from these foul terrorists (all while pretending the fight the other Bone Devil who was disguised as our party's strongest front line fighter).

3 - The players are already starting to plan how to deal with the P.R. battle they expect to happen after the fight ends, so this angle seems to have engaged with them fairly neatly.

It doesn't take a major rewrite. A bit of a change in speech from Cizmerkis, with him being interrupted by the Eyrines who flies in disguised as a PC and starts firing arrows at the stage, followed by Ciz screaming 'Lock the doors! Don't let the traitors escape! Protect the citizens!', and then all hell breaks loose.

Overall I think it worked fairly well as an alternative approach to the Massacre, especially when realistically we all know that some NPCs are very likely to escape alive, unless the players really mess up badly.

edit : I did one other thing. When I did the Barzillai Thrune 'gifts' back in book 2, I replaced the somewhat generic +2 stat items with more visual items, for example, one of our lot got a big black 2-h Warhammer with silver runes all over it. While quite a few of the players ditched the items as they didn't trust them, by arming the disguised devils with duplicates of these items it immediately clicked with the players and they've assumed that those items were a setup for this Massacre, which helps make Barzillai look a little smarter and sneakier as well.

Dark Archive

I just ran the Menador Keep for my group. Yep, I had to change Lucian to a Ride-by Attacking, Spirited Charge guy for him to make sense. Vital Strike can't be used with Ride-by Attack anyhow. They targeted the mount (which should have been a horse) and once he was on the ground fighting them, his pitiful 18 AC meant he didn't stay long enough for dessert... the group had fun fighting 40 ish 3rd level fighters that couldn't hit them at all with their listed +3 to hit, so, fun goal attained. The devils were dismissed back to their planes and the oozes almost stressed them out, but went down pretty quickly before doing any harm.

I'm about to run the Ruby Massacre next week. Reading this thread is an eye opener. Lots of good suggestions here. I'm not done reading everything about that part of the adventure so I'll go do that before asking my questions! ;)

Dark Archive

Ok I ran the first half of this Friday: no one danced! then they realized the other NPCs were all looking at them shaking their heads, one of thenm even letting out, "Chhhhhicken!" :)

The actual fighting parts are yet to come, and I think I'll run it as is. Like the book says: Ciz and Barz don't really expect these guys to survive the day. And bad guys can be prone to nonsense at times... we all know how much PCs do stupid things at times! :)

One thing I need to prep better is to print out all the NPC stats in a neat stack so that I don't flip through 3 books to find them when the fight starts...

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Hi all, I'm curious about something, and maybe I've missed it between the end of this book and the start of the next:

How do the PC's realize they didn't really kill Barzalai? The Polymorphy wouldn't wear off, so the PC's will think they've killed him with C dies. Then the next book starts and Barz has his control points, but if people survived the massacre ( I mean citizens), they'll think he's dead too. It seems a little confusing to me for the players.

How did you handle this?


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

When my group detected magic during looting after the massacre, they identified the permanent polymorph spell. I think there is a description that up close the likeness of Barzillai is not perfect, or at least the polymorph plus the hats of disguise on all the other devils helped them put it together.

They didn't exactly discover that it was a devil, but they did take to calling the impostor "Rubber Barzy" from then on.

Either way they're going to immediately be dealing with Barzillai's reprisals so it's not like they're going to be in the dark for that long. All it really does is point out the inanity of his plot.

If you read through most of this thread you'll find some changes other GMs made to make the massacre seem more devious and intelligently planned.

Shadow Lodge

Grolick wrote:
Then the next book starts and Barz has his control points, but if people survived the massacre ( I mean citizens), they'll think he's dead too.

Among Barzillai's allies is Corristan Grivenner. As a high-level Cleric, he can cast resurrection. There is really no reasonable expectation that Barzillai will stay dead, unless the PCs destroy or keep tight custody of Cizmekris's body.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Grolick wrote:

Hi all, I'm curious about something, and maybe I've missed it between the end of this book and the start of the next:

How do the PC's realize they didn't really kill Barzalai? The Polymorphy wouldn't wear off, so the PC's will think they've killed him with C dies. Then the next book starts and Barz has his control points, but if people survived the massacre ( I mean citizens), they'll think he's dead too. It seems a little confusing to me for the players.

How did you handle this?

I'll add a side note because xrayregime and Zimmerwald1915 already gave good answers:

Although Barzillai knows that Ciz's death is a possibility, he doesn't really bank on the PC's winning this battle. I firmly believe that he is too arrogant to think the PCs will live (the citizens will die along with them) and more than likely, he thinks Ciz will survive. It should all wrap up neatly for him. Under this pretense, he doesn't need disguises or speeches.
However, Barzillai is smart and he knows not to underestimate the PCs. He knows that the PC's victory, Ciz's death and (to a greater degree) victims living to tell the tale are all possibilities. This is why he disguises the antagonists and gives his speech.
This is where his arrogance comes into play again. Ultimately, he simply doesn't care if someone lives and reports his death at the hands of the Silver Ravens. His state of living will tell another tale. Remember this is Cheliax. Whatever facts occurred will be redacted and rewritten in a couple months. Then ends justify the means.

This night is, without a doubt, Barzillai's last attempt to put the city fully under his control before resorting to.... see book 4.


zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Grolick wrote:
Then the next book starts and Barz has his control points, but if people survived the massacre ( I mean citizens), they'll think he's dead too.
Among Barzillai's allies is Corristan Grivenner. As a high-level Cleric, he can cast resurrection. There is really no reasonable expectation that Barzillai will stay dead, unless the PCs destroy or keep tight custody of Cizmekris's body.

Small nit: Grivenner is a 12th level divine caster (5th Cleric/7th Exalted) so cannot cast a 7th level cleric spell, though he can cast raise dead. The players/pc's don't know what level he is so they probably should assume that sort of ability is available to Barzillai.

However, somewhat unexplained is where the Lord-Mayor came up with the polymorph any object for Cizmekris. That's an 8th level spell requiring a 15th level caster. None of Barzillai's minions could cast such a spell though I suppose someone like the Gardener could read a scroll... The chance for a mishap would be small, but a mishap with polymorph any object seems particularly nasty as an outcome.


They have access to ninth level casting through teleport back to the capital. That's what's said in the Kintargo city stat block in the first book: "Government officials have easy access to 6th-level spells, and can arrange for up to 9th-level spells, given time."


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Has anyone come up with alternate benefits from allying with the noble houses for groups that aren't using the Rebellion subsystem?


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Glad to see I wasn't the only one that tilted their head at the half measure speech/disguise approach. When discussing it with my players they had a hard time buying the raw version when I told them about it.

In the interest of tossing in how I dealt with it for my party:

Near the end of the night, I added a more scripted event format for the "winners of the masquerade" announcement. "Barzillai" called up three people: one was Lady Sarini, another was some nameless citizen, and the third was one of the PCs (or rather, someone made to look like the PC). As the winners were unmasked, the impostor PC cried out "For the Ravens!" and killed Lady Sarini, then attempted to attack Ciz (but was promptly cut down). Ciz called for a quarantine of the building while his guards sorted out the situation (giving him an excuse to lock the place up), and subsequently confirmed to the crowd that the assassin was a Silver Raven. I then gave a modified version of the speech to make it sound more like he was using the event to denounce the Ravens and their violent ways, at which point the "azata" attack.

I liked this approach in particular because it gave me some flexibility for future times I might run this scene. In this case I specifically picked the PC with the biggest murderhobo reputation (it helped that they were a former Sarini slave). For a moment the players genuinely thought that the other player had in fact done the deed, and it was only the fact that they set up a Message link in advance that they weren't completely fooled. However, this might have also been a good place to put another character, like perhaps Rexus or a minor ally. It could be either an illusion or the real deal (perhaps caught earlier and put under a domination). It also gave the Sarinis something to do in the campaign ("An unfortunate sacrifice to be sure, but an essential one. No doubt the dearly departed Lady would approve of such a grandiose spectacle to end her life.")

I think there's also something to be said for fluffing the type of creatures that the devils are disguised as to fit your players. I didn't do it this time around, but since my players pretty much never used outsiders, I should have had some of the outsiders simply be disguised as particularly strong humanoid Silver Raven agents. It might have helped to lend the illusion further credence, since in my case the party already had developed a reputation for a few particularly violent anti-Thrune actions (and having an absurd success record). I'd like to think Cizmerkis is the kind of devil to do his research and adjust the illusion to fit the people they're trying to defame. Better still if they can make the Silver Ravens' own allies doubt them.


Did anyone make a list for the masquerade with guest and what masks they are wearing, and wouldn't mind sharing it? We're running it tomorrow and my imagination has dried up...


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Razcar wrote:
Did anyone make a list for the masquerade with guest and what masks they are wearing, and wouldn't mind sharing it? We're running it tomorrow and my imagination has dried up...

That's something I will be doing for our masquerade game.

I plan to make a randomizer similar to this.

D10 Roll 1 GENERAL ADJECTIVES
1: Translucent
2: Extravagant
3: Colorful
4: Pure Black
5: Pure Red
6: Pure Gold
7: Antique
8: Broken (Perhaps intentionally)
9: Dull
10: Hastily Made

D10 Roll 2: KEY DETAIL DESCRIPTORS
1: Eye-Less
2: Jaw-Less
3: Metal fasteners (Rivets, Buckles, Bolts, etc.)
4: Gem Encrusted (Could be real or fake)
5: Gold Leaf
6: Long Nosed
7: Crying
8: Laughing
9: Scaled
10: Roughly Textured

D10 Roll 3: NOUNS
1: Hound/Wolf
2: Devil
3: God/Goddess (refined based on character)
4: Porcelain Doll
5: Butterfly/Moth
6: Rare Magical Beast (Manticore, Chimera, etc.)
7: Troll/Ogre
8: Raven
9: Hero of Legend (PC from a past AP?)
10: Dragon

D10 Roll 4: MATERIAL
1: Paper Mache
2: Wood
3: Leather
4: Rare Metal
5: Feathers
6: Polished Stone
7: Leaves and Twigs
8: Clay
9: Textile
10: Unknown (But it looks a LOT like flesh)


BornofHate wrote:

That's something I will be doing for our masquerade game.

I plan to make a randomizer similar to this.

Thanks so much BornOfHate, that worked really well. For my named NPCs I decided masks based on their personalities, but used your lists for random people.

I moved things around a bit, changed the roll to a d12 and adjusted +2 for expensive masks/outfits and -2 for inexpensive ones.

Lists I used:

D12 Roll 1 GENERAL ADJECTIVES (+2 for expensive mask, -2 for cheap)
1: Dull
2: Hastily Made
3: Broken (Perhaps intentionally)
4: Colorful
5: Pure Black
6: Pure Red
7: Antique
8. Silver (al least looking like it
9: Translucent
10: Extravagant
11. Magically glowing
12: Pure Gold

D12 Roll 2: KEY DETAIL DESCRIPTORS (+2 for expensive mask, -2 for cheap)
1: Roughly Textured
2: Metal fasteners (Rivets, Buckles, Bolts, etc.)
3: Scaled
4: Eye-Less
5: Jaw-Less
6: Crying
7: Laughing
8.Enamelled
9. Filigreed
10: Gem Encrusted (Could be real or fake)
11: Gold Leaf
12: Magically changing expressions

D12 Roll 3: NOUNS
1: Hound/Wolf
2: Devil
3: God/Goddess (refined based on character)
4: Porcelain Doll
5: Butterfly/Moth
6: Rare Magical Beast (Manticore, Chimera, etc.)
7: Troll/Ogre
8: Raven
9: Hero of Legend (PC from a past AP?)
10: Celestial (Moon, stars, sun, clouds)
11: Botanical (flowers, trees, vines)
12: Dragon

D12 Roll 4: MATERIAL (+2 for expensive mask, -2 for cheap)
1: Wood
2: Leather
3: Paper Mache
4: Feathers
5: Polished Stone
6: Leaves and Twigs
7: Clay
8: Textile
9: Unknown (But it looks a LOT like flesh/bone)
10: Rare Metal
11: Gemstones
12: Magic (glowing illusion)


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That's awesome man. I love the +2/-2 idea you came up with.

I greatly expanded the list to 20 with a lot of (roll twice) options after I posted the chart.


If the players fulfill the objectives for allying with nobles (like the Earn Gold one, for example) before they actually approach that noble family, should they be eligible for the alliance when they make their approach?


If they don't blow the initial approach with a horrible faux pas, why not? Have them enjoy the fruits of their labors!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Cyouni wrote:
If the players fulfill the objectives for allying with nobles (like the Earn Gold one, for example) before they actually approach that noble family, should they be eligible for the alliance when they make their approach?

Getting into the perspective of a noble, I would say no. A noble of Kintargo would expect a Rebellion to claim any benign act as their own and, being an unofficial organization, it would be hard to properly validate those actions.

I could easily envision a PC claiming "Yes but we've already..."
To which a Noble family might respond " We've only just begun our relationship. It's best to assume we are working towards the same goals. You can validate my pedigree. Sadly, the same can not be said of you."

I might be bias, but I view the "noble families throwing in with the PCs" as equivalent to a death sentence if the rebellion fails. They want to be sure of the groups power and drawing out the interactions between the PCs and the noble families can only add color and role-play to your game.

(Granted, if your group is on the roleplay-light side of things, I would recommend giving them a fair amount of color and praise as the noble family claims to have heard confirmation of their endeavors. I might even encourage them to help craft reasons why the noble family in question knows of their acts.)


Does anyone else feel like the Queen's Banquet has a LOT of NPCs? Between Manticce, Molly Mayapple (who I've subbed out for a player-written NPC), and the 9 other guests, that's 11 people the DM is in charge of role-playing. To avoid having this be all me talking to myself, I'm considering letting each of my players role-play a guest in addition to everything else they've got going on. Now I just have to decide if I want to give Hei-Fen to one of my players. It could deepen their connection to her, but it could also be hard to pull off without spoilers.


I ran the banquet this past Sunday and rather than play out all of the conversations and involving all of the NPCs in each of them I instead would focus on one or two NPCs that disagreed with the players the most. (Role-playing a conversation between the people that agreed beyond saying "so and so gives you a nod of approval' seemed kind of silly and boring.)
This made the players feel important rather than characters that were being lost among the rest of the noise, and it gave Manticce a reason to single one of the PCs out for the evening rather than me having to justify why she would choose that person over any of the NPCs.

If you do have someone play Tsutsia to avoid spoilers you could present her as "She doesn't like the PCs because she's an isolationist (which would explain her 'greatest sin') and is a private person so prefers to not let them know her name but she will if she's pressed." (or something like that.)

Oh, and I didn't have Molly join them. All she does is prevent the first loss of Banquet Points and I preferred to not have someone there to save the PCs. (Which seems to happen a lot in the AP... I can think of 3 different "if the PCs get into trouble have this NPC come and save the day." The only one I might keep is during the Ruby Masquerade.)


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The Ruby Masquerade has now come to a close in roughly the way I imagined it would...
I (mostly) used Trichotome's variation that he details here (with honourable mention to PJH's post as well as Razcar's post)

Having the most infamous PC kill the mother of his romantic interest (daughter of Sarini being played by another member of my group) was fantastic! They're now trying to figure out how to work through that, the player of Sarini's daughter is trying to figure out how she feels about her mom dying in such a fashion (there was no hate, but also no love lost between the mother and daughter). The group healer was trying to figure out if he should try to save the mother (he ended up not trying) and it all went so well!

I've previously mentioned elsewhere on these boards of how much my group hates Tiarise (as I figure any group that found the tooth fairy ritual sacrifice would, even if they don't know the name of the person that did it) so I wanted to add her in early and have a fight with her have more meaning than "she's guarding the [REDACTED] in a later book." My original plan for that fell through (it was complex and not worth explaining here) so instead I had her rise out of the orchestra pit partway through the fight.

Now, the fight... as a warning to any GM that is reading this and hasn't run the fight yet: It might be REALLY easy to kill the entire group. Let me explain:
tl;dr: It would've been a TPK if not for NPCs stepping in to save the group/allowed them to focus on the main bad guys up on the stage and me having the bad guys use some less than ideal tactics/not attacking every single round.

My group is an unchained rogue, Dawnflower dervish bard, unchained monk, and a shaman. The fake raven (disguised as the rogue, was actually the erinyes devil) went before the group so it started flying and used its tactics as described in the book to kill members of the crowd. The rogue and bard were near the stage, the rogue went up right away but the bard was next to dottari at the doors closest to the stage. She stayed there for a couple of rounds so I had an NPC (Zea, the tiefling) appear and start fighting the guards. The monk used Abundant Step to get to the doors and start opening them (as the bone devil disguised as the scrivenite* teleported to the doors and used Wall of Ice to seal them off then teleported to the second floor to start killing people up there). The shaman was near the back of the room, away from the stage, as he was trying to deal with the erinyes devil that was flying around.

When Tiarise first appeared she tried using Dominate Person on a favourite NPC of the group (one of the Solstine brothers mentioned in book 5**). If the brothers survived this confrontation they won't be dead so I'll have to slightly alter book 5, but that's easy. It's a full round to cast so the group did everything they could to interrupt her (rogue using the lighting bolt wand did the trick). She then turned and used Phantasmal Killer on the rogue, killing him due to his low saves and him rolling two 5's in his save attempts. Thankfully the bard was up on the stage by this point but she couldn't do anything to save him.

I had NPCs fighting the bone devil on the second floor***, Octavio came down to fight the guards near the front doors so that the monk could get up on the stage, the shaman was still focused on the erinyes and he went down after a couple of rounds so I had Hetamon step in to save him (I don't like the idea of what happens to Hetamon in book 4 so I've simply removed him from being captured there and only slightly changed that encounter area). Once the monk was on stage with the bard the encounter finally started to shift in their favour. The monk nearly went down but the bard healed him up, the bard would've gone down if the dice hadn't been rolling consistently low, the rogue was dead, the shaman would've been dead without Hetamon (or a generic healer of your choice), and the monk would not have been able to do it on his own.

Sure, Tiarise took the rogue out a little bit earlier than it would've happened otherwise, but if I had rolled a crit on any of the bearded devils, if I hadn't had the bad guys not using the best tactics (they were moving around a lot and getting into position rather than attacking as much as they could have) the rogue could've easily fallen within the same round (and, if not, the following one). Adding Tiarise to this fight made her feel like more of a BBEG for the book and that really is the kind of position someone like her should be in.

So, in short, use NPCs. They are a resource that the group was worked at growing, they should be rewarded for their efforts. Even if the group tells them to stay away from the masquerade as it's obviously a trap, they're mostly some from of good aligned people. Octavio and the armigers wouldn't want a trap to go off potentially killing allies, others want to strike back and Thrune and assume that a trap means that they'll get a chance to kill followers of Thrune, they want to come and see what the big deal is... anything you can think of as a reason to get NPCs there. The group doesn't have to know who's all coming so the NPCs can come out of the crowd as needed.

I hate the idea of NPCs saving the day as I think it can easily take the spotlight off of the PCs but having them come in as support/to draw attacks from the minor enemies thereby allowing the PCs to focus on the main threats is something I had to do to allow the game to not come to a screeching halt.

*At the end of book 2 rather than accept the gifts from Barzillai the group summoned the scrivenite from the Many-Steps Monastery and had it give a speech decrying the actions of Thrune. So Thrune had the bone devil look like the scrivenite rather than a lilend azata.

**I introduced the Solstine brothers in book 1 so that they could die on-screen rather than it being mentioned in book 5 that two NPCs that had never been mentioned had died for the rebellion. Turns out that they became the most beloved commoner NPCs for the group. (They have an apple cart on Bleakbridge and they helped hide one of the PCs when some guards were in the area. One of them hero-worships the tiefling rogue in the group as he was giving speeches during the opening scene of the AP in Aria Park). As written, mitigating the effects of their deaths in book 5 are a couple of rolls that my group will easily pass so instead the NPC will be willing to help the group without them having to convince her.

***Octavio's armigers and the mercenary group from Sallix Salt Works were fighting the bone devil. 2 armigers and 3 mercenaries died in the fight before the devil was taken down. The group prayed and randomly rolled to see who they would use the two Scrolls of Raise Dead on (the third was used for the PC rogue) and they ended up bring back both of the armigers. I didn't involve the bone devil in the fight against the PCs because they would've died and because I added Tiarise to the fight.

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