Dance of the Damned (GM Reference)


Hell's Rebels

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Sovereign Court

The reason you can't use the Ready action outside of combat is because ready modifies your position in initiative. There is no initiative order outside of the combat round.

In this case, we have the PCs inside a room and the soldiers outside. Both are aware of the other and so the trigger of opening the door would call for an initiative roll. Now if the soldiers managed to beat the PCs initiative they could on their first turn, ready an action to fire on any enemies that exit the room. But they'd have to win initiative. If the PCs had a way to sneak out without the soldiers knowing that could trigger a surprise round.

Your players would try to do this all the time if they could. You can say a creature is ready to fire on an enemy that exits the door all they want. However, that's what initiative is for. To see who gets the jump in combat.

--School of Vrock


Ah well in this case they know there are soldiers in the jeep but not what doors they are behind

But i suppose the same is true in reverse for the soldiers - so no surprise rounds

I ruled that a small group in the barracks knew the group were upstairs in the dorm especially due to gather power - but the rest probably do not know if they will come out onto the battlements or into the courtyard

I hope it is one of the other because mook level guards are a waste of everyone’s time . I might just pick one of the two areas for a troop and forget about the readied action


If the guards have an option to form a troop, they should do that instead of readying an action - becoming a troop is likely more or even much more effective for them.

I may be a rules heretic but I disagree about ready only in combat. There seems clear narrative validity to "I know what you're going to do and I prepare to do something to interrupt you." Door opens, initiative is rolled and readied actions jump ahead of triggering actions.

I doubt pc's would do this much - they're rarely in defensive positions where this is likely to come up, ready is a standard action so melee/ranged attackers lose multiple attacks from full-round actions and ready is programmaticly restricted - if your action is "I shoot whoever comes through the door" and no one comes through the door, you do nothing. So any readied action comes with risk of no action at all.

This tactic also isn't useful when there are many options - if the pc's can come through multiple doors or take other actions, ready doesn't make a lot of sense. If someone, pc or npc, has gotten themselves trapped where there is only one thing they can do - exit via that door right there - seems to me that should have consequences.


I just wish there were some clearer rules for editing the troops / adding special abilities - oh well

I will probably wing it

As to my absent player I might have them in the jail rather than walk in alone and risk a wrong turn and certain death / loads of metagaming


Jumping in to comment on readied actions outside of combat; as a GM I attempt to substitute a surprise round instead of a readied action, or I ask myself if this is something that is just initiative.

Two simple examples;

If the wizards wants to ready an action to throw a fire ball through a door as soon as the rogue opens it, that becomes a surprise round where the wizard can delay until after the rogue. The effect is generally the same except it ties into the rest of the game systems better (very high perception enemy that heard the rogue at the door, abilities that always allow characters to act in the surprise round).

The next one comes up less often but gets encountered when players are exploring the mechanics of the system. This one is the archer has his bow out, arrow drawn, as they explore the dungeon and he has a readied action to shoot any orcs that appear. That is a case where I explain to the player that that is great roleplay, but what he described is what initiative is. Also here is a +2 bonus to your initiative for looking for orcs specifically.

I'm the argued case, both parties are aware of the other so that rules out a surprise round, then what you are describing is the party trying to attack and the troop attempting to defend just like any other combat; initiative to decide which group as faster to respond. You cound still hand out initiative bonuses to reflect a particularly coordinated breach or a particular vigilant troop.


The other reason I avoid out of initiative readied actions is enemy/player symmetry. I try really hard to make the players feel like anything an NPC/enemy can do, the player characters can do (this is an illusion, but one I work hard to maintain).

It may feel right and balanced for the enemies to have a readied action outside of initiative in this specific circumstance, but once you show the players that this is something that can be done they will also want to do it. And readying actions outside of combat is a very powerful tactic when assaulting that can run away in the player's hands.


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I think the same result is arrived at in my case be it via surprise or readied action as my group didn’t listen at the door but it didn’t cause any lasting damage


DM Livgin wrote:

Jumping in to comment on readied actions outside of combat; as a GM I attempt to substitute a surprise round instead of a readied action, or I ask myself if this is something that is just initiative.

Two simple examples;

If the wizards wants to ready an action to throw a fire ball through a door as soon as the rogue opens it, that becomes a surprise round where the wizard can delay until after the rogue. The effect is generally the same except it ties into the rest of the game systems better (very high perception enemy that heard the rogue at the door, abilities that always allow characters to act in the surprise round).

The next one comes up less often but gets encountered when players are exploring the mechanics of the system. This one is the archer has his bow out, arrow drawn, as they explore the dungeon and he has a readied action to shoot any orcs that appear. That is a case where I explain to the player that that is great roleplay, but what he described is what initiative is. Also here is a +2 bonus to your initiative for looking for orcs specifically.

I'm the argued case, both parties are aware of the other so that rules out a surprise round, then what you are describing is the party trying to attack and the troop attempting to defend just like any other combat; initiative to decide which group as faster to respond. You cound still hand out initiative bonuses to reflect a particularly coordinated breach or a particular vigilant troop.

We're a bit off topic and I'm pursuing this in part to understand how other people think about this, so apologies for rambling on.

I completely agree - the rogue, wizard, door example you give is exactly as you describe - surprise round, wizard and rogue each get one action, wizard delays to after the rogue - if needed in initiative order, etc.

But regardless of your opinion of readied actions outside of initiative, the archer cannot nock an arrow and carry it around saying he is readying an action to shoot an orc. First, readied actions require some description - I ready an action to shoot the next orc that comes through the door. Great, if an orc comes through the nearby window, you don't get to shoot it. If an ogre comes through the door, GM stickler level decides. Second, a readied action means you can't be doing anything else, like moving. You forego the option for full-round actions or both a standard and move action to get the ability to interrupt someone else. To use a readied action in or out of combat requires you to be doing nothing else. The circumstances where the archer wants to do this get even narrower when he gets to 6th level and gets iterative attacks (or earlier if he has rapid shot) in this case waiting for his turn in the initiative order and having multiple attacks is very likely going to be a superior option.

In my experience this is not abused by players - I've been doing it this way for years and my players almost never try it. The circumstances where it might be a good idea are unusual bordering on rare and they are reluctant to give up flexibility (and actions!) just to move up in initiative order. If you ready an action and your triggering condition doesn't occur, you just did nothing for a round. Indeed the only time this happens is in scenario's like Lanathar described: the pc's have the mooks on the run and the mooks have a small window to regroup before the pc's burst in on them. I use it to give the mooks a tiny chance to actually do something before the pc's mop the floor with them.


No problem, I'll elaborate. And I'm not saying one way is right or wrong, just looking to share and hear ideas in order to run a better game.

A readied action is only a standard action, so a character could move, then ready, then move again when their initiative comes up and ready again. They wouldn't have an action readied while moving but that normally is not a problem while in initiative. This totally sounds like a swat team moving forward one at a time while the rest of the team is readied.

I wasn't considering that the action is their only action in the first round of combat; I was assuming they would take their readied action then roll initiative in the first round of combat. And that make it a much less powerful tactic.

The archer is a weak example, but there are other examples where a character would be willing to guarantee going first in initiative; casting haste.


Did anyone have an evil party member for the Anvil of Unmaking?
Would the archons attack without casting their buff spells if they detect an evil aura?

I am unlucky enough to have one

Also it discusses “barging into the room” does that mean it is written that the PCs open the door and form a conga line for the dialogue. I really am uneasy about conga lines in hallways when a combat starts off. It is happening a lot in this campaign - notably last session where they opened the door to Lucien who could attack the person in front of him without anything happening first despite being 3rd in initiative due to the party stretching down the corridor and not being able to properly see what is going on (i assume they could have been allowed through allied space but they chose not to really metagame it)

I should let them into the room but only so far I suppose


The archons' tactics as described in the AP are... weird. If someone forces their way through the door, the archons take 4 rounds (4 rounds!!!) to cast buff spells and then demand the intruders leave? And two of those spells may be useless - align weapon and versatile weapon. Do the pc's have obvious DR that needs to be bypassed???

I suggest a change:

If the pc's open the door politely, the archons' response is simply "state your business" like. PC's can make a check as described.

If the pc's force the door, the archons manifest their warhammers as a move action, activate mirror image as a standard action and demand the intruders leave immediately. PC's can try a check.

If at any point an evil character is in the room or in the two squares in front of the door (in C24) the archons attack on their next action. If an evil character is performing the check or trying aid another on the check, they have to be in the detectable squares. In this case, the check automatically fails and the archons attack. This happens even if the pc's open the door politely. In this case the archons still manifest their weapons and use mirror image in the first round of combat, giving the pc's a chance to retreat if so inclined.

Being evil should have consequences. Having lawful good outsiders charged with guarding a site holy to Torag reacting with hostility seems a reasonable consequence.


I will probably take this approach as it makes a butt more sense

Would things be as simple as the evil person walking away and the rest of the party resolving it / returning at another point? Seems a tad easy and not really providing a "consequence"

I would probably rule no. But that said I don't think it will come up in dialogue - the combat will just kick off if I follow the above

It will be a potential slog due to their DR and my party all going all in on AC. Lowest AC seems to be 25 even for the arcane caster. (They were *displeased* by the troop I set up so Book 4 could be intriguing)


Depends on what you mean by walking away. If the evil person/group somehow deduces from the door that can be bypassed by prayers to Torag that evil might not be well received and backs away before the group opens it, then sure the archons likely don't notice. But if the evil character can be detected by the archons then they probably don't give the pc's any slack - associating with evil is evil. These are LG outsiders - they probably bear some resemblance to a paladin's way of thinking. Note: not everyone who is evil detects as evil pending class, HD, etc. So the archons might assume those that don't detect as evil are covering it up somehow. And I would suggest the archons will remember that the first people they've seen in 1000's of years had an evil companion so they should hold it against the pc's even if they leave and come back the next day.

The archons should have a shot at getting in a few hits on AC's in the 20's. Their top attack should be +13 and they can get to +14 with aid. And it gets them temp hp. They also have whirlwind attack which will let them get multiple attacks at their top attack bonus albeit against different enemies - if more than one is in range. Note: the archons have a continuous magic circle against evil so they have +2 AC and +2 to saves vs. anything the evil character does.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I’m a bit confused by the Masquerade combat and it’s CR.

So this entirely involves the Bone Devils present.

So Cizmekris is bound by the Church of Asmodeus and is capable of summoning an additional Bone Devil. Axala is the other Bone Devil, in G11, currently concentrating on its Major Image spell to create the orchestra in G3. Obviously, based on the fact that it will be concentrating for hours, Axala is bound as well and not summoned.

Under Cizmekris’ tactics it states that he attempts to summon a Bone Devil as one of his first actions, but what about Axala? Shouldn’t they both attempt to summon?

This would make for a hell of a challenge (pun intended) for the PCs regardless of how many NPC allies they have with them.

Shadow Lodge

BornofHate wrote:
Under Cizmekris’ tactics it states that he attempts to summon a Bone Devil as one of his first actions, but what about Axala? Shouldn’t they both attempt to summon?

The Watsonian answer to why two characters don't behave identically in the same circumstances is that they are different people, and behave differently.

Quote:
This would make for a hell of a challenge (pun intended) for the PCs regardless of how many NPC allies they have with them.

Or you could just satisfy yourself with a Doylist "we don't wanna TPK the PCs here."


I would observe that summoning a bone devil may not be quite as optimal as expected - first the bone devil only has a 35% chance of success, so about two-thirds of the time, that's a standard action wasted. And second, summoned creatures can be thwarted with a variety of tactics such as dispel magic and protection from evil (particularly potent here since the bone devil relies on natural attacks.) Frankly, pc's that enter the Opera House without the ability to use protection from evil (or magic circle against evil) deserve to have their pc union cards revoked.

I might go so far as to suggest, pending how the combat starts, how things go in the minutes leading up to the fight, etc., that it isn't the best use of an action for Cizmekris to summon a bone devil either (though it certainly is a good idea for an out of combat action - but if the pc's spot that happening, I would interpret that as him starting the fight and not penalize the pc's for engaging in combat ahead of the fake Barzillai speech as called for in the AP.)


Honestly, a lot of these tactics are in conflict with the whole "false flag" concept they went through a lot of trouble to pull off. And, yes, if no one lives to tell the tale, then you're fine. But if you kill everyone, how are you going to blame it on the Silver Ravens and why bother to use so many hats of disguise on the devils in the first place?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
roguerouge wrote:
Honestly, a lot of these tactics are in conflict with the whole "false flag" concept they went through a lot of trouble to pull off. And, yes, if no one lives to tell the tale, then you're fine. But if you kill everyone, how are you going to blame it on the Silver Ravens and why bother to use so many hats of disguise on the devils in the first place?

I think the “Summoned Devils don’t appear as Azata” argument is the absolute best reason no Devils present should summon other Devils.

We’re currently between games and they triggered the battle early, but here is how I tweaked the strategy of the battle to have it make sense:

• Barzillai never makes his “sacrifice speech”. Instead, he will give a great speech about his kind plans for Kintargo.
• The Trap is triggered and the Erinyes appears above dressed in Silver Raven fashion. She gives whatever anti-Thrune/kill the Thrune loyalists speech necessary. (At this point there should be hints about what the PCs look like even if they’ve been super diligent.)
• All other “Azata” appear and one bearded devil engages Barzillai’s Major Image in combat.
• Dottari corral the public but make bad choices, fumble with keys, send NPCs to rooms without exits etc.
• Eventually someone will get the doors open. If not, the Dottari are instructed to do so in order to let what’s been seen spread through the city.
• Survivors Sculpt Corpses of Several victims to appear as the terrorist Silver Ravens.
• Barzillai presents corpses the next day, outlaws their supporters, and mourns the death of citizens. This galvanizes the city and crumbles the rebellion before it begins.

From an NPC perspective: Barzillai is throwing a party. Silver Ravens interrupt, denounce Thrune and attack public. Barzillai battles Azata. Dottari tried to help public. Some of the public get away. The next day, Barzillai appears and relays how he saved the city.

It looks to me like that’s a fix. Let me know if you see a hole.


BornofHate wrote:
roguerouge wrote:
Honestly, a lot of these tactics are in conflict with the whole "false flag" concept they went through a lot of trouble to pull off. And, yes, if no one lives to tell the tale, then you're fine. But if you kill everyone, how are you going to blame it on the Silver Ravens and why bother to use so many hats of disguise on the devils in the first place?

I think the “Summoned Devils don’t appear as Azata” argument is the absolute best reason no Devils present should summon other Devils.

We’re currently between games and they triggered the battle early, but here is how I tweaked the strategy of the battle to have it make sense:

• Barzillai never makes his “sacrifice speech”. Instead, he will give a great speech about his kind plans for Kintargo.
• The Trap is triggered and the Erinyes appears above dressed in Silver Raven fashion. She gives whatever anti-Thrune/kill the Thrune loyalists speech necessary. (At this point there should be hints about what the PCs look like even if they’ve been super diligent.)
• All other “Azata” appear and one bearded devil engages Barzillai’s Major Image in combat.
• Dottari corral the public but make bad choices, fumble with keys, send NPCs to rooms without exits etc.
• Eventually someone will get the doors open. If not, the Dottari are instructed to do so in order to let what’s been seen spread through the city.
• Survivors Sculpt Corpses of Several victims to appear as the terrorist Silver Ravens.
• Barzillai presents corpses the next day, outlaws their supporters, and mourns the death of citizens. This galvanizes the city and crumbles the rebellion before it begins.

From an NPC perspective: Barzillai is throwing a party. Silver Ravens interrupt, denounce Thrune and attack public. Barzillai battles Azata. Dottari tried to help public. Some of the public get away. The next day, Barzillai appears and relays how he saved the city.

It looks to me like that’s a fix. Let me know if you see a hole.

It's certainly an improvement. However there remain some kinks.

If at the end of Book 2, the pc's accepted awards from Barzillai, I can accept that they have a public persona to copy. Otherwise I find it dubious that Barzillai can produce fake Silver Ravens, however magically empowered.

The entire scheme seems designed to target players or perhaps pc's and not the actual audience. How many attendees have Knowledge - the Planes? How many know what an Azata is, let alone the various types of Azata? Why should the attendees otherwise assume the Azata are supposed to be allied with the Silver Ravens? If we're assuming the attendees know what an Azata is, does that imply they should know what Unholy Blight is? Cause it seems weird the flying Azata/Silver Raven disguised Erinyes is casting a spell that hurts attendees but not devils, Asmodeans, or some Dottari?

What happens when the real Silver Ravens appear and decry the entire mess a charade? (During the Dance or combat afterward?)

Assuming the pc's defeat Cizmekris, who unalterably appears as Barzillai - who is now just as "officially" dead as the Silver Ravens are guilty of attacking the dance - How is he issuing any orders at all except by trying to explain why a fake Barzillai was at the dance. And what about the dead bearded devils, etc. who lose their hat of disguises?

And the story of the kind-hearted Barzillai vs the heartless Silver Ravens is incongruent with the recent weeks/months of the campaign. Yes, I supposed average citizens are sheep who live in the moment but even so... Barzillai destroyed the Thrashing Badger, Silver Star and Victocora Estate, he's imposed erratic and draconian Proclamations, permitted a para-military group to dog-house random citizens, had one of his minions unleash tooth fairies in the Devil's Nursery, his dottari have done nothing while the Red Jills and Varl Wex ran amok, officially dog-housed random minor criminals, crippled the city economically with martial law and onerous bridge taxes and pointlessly outlawed the city's own order of Hellknights. The Ravens on the other hand have freed prisoners, stopped dog-housing, dealt with multiple threats that were indiscriminately killing citizens and so on. Barzillai starts the dance in an exceptionally deep hole credibility and attitude-wise. Seems really implausible the Silver Ravens would start killing citizens instead of dottari, devils and Asmodeans. Seems to me any survivors (either Ravens or attendees) make that story hard to sell.

About the only thing in the AP provided plan that makes sense is that Thrune and his allies' goal is to kill everyone in the Opera House. Classic Thrune logic - whoever wins gets to decide what history says. If there are no survivors, Barzillai gets to decide what "the truth" is.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You’ve covered a lot and posed a bunch of questions. I’m gonna do my best to unpack most of it. A lot of this will be justification, interpretation, how I’ve dealt with things as a GM, and how my group has acted/responded. This isn’t a critique of your questions.

At the end of Book 2, an announcement went out throughout the city asking those claiming the title of Silver Ravens to claim rewards done in the interest of Kintargo and thereby Cheliax, its Lord Mayor and the Queen herself. It was a tense moment as the PCs stalled until Barzillai was about to grant the rewards to his own allies (not to be stood up.) A PC appeared in the guise of a Full Plate wearing levitating hero in a Raven Helm and denounced Thrune and condemned him asserting their lack of aligning interests. They made a bit of a fool of him and refused his gifts. The Erinyes in my game is dressed identically and her role was to fly above the crowd and denounce Thrune and all hell’s lapdogs.

“The entire scheme seems designed to target players or perhaps pc's and not the actual audience.”
I would say that a good portion of Chelaxians know what a Devil is and most know that Angelic Elves with pristine skin and divinely blue eyes are indeed not Devils. I would go so far as to say that there are a handful that even know exactly what an Azata is. In any regard, it’s an easy justification.

“Why should the attendees otherwise assume the Azata are supposed to be allied with the Silver Ravens?”
Because the Azata scream “For the Silver Ravens and a free Kintargo!” and “You’re all allies of a psychopath and will die for your loyalty!” I think a few narrative moments and calls to arms mid combat go a long way in solving this.

“If we're assuming the attendees know what an Azata is, does that imply they should know what Unholy Blight is? Cause it seems weird the flying Azata/Silver Raven disguised Erinyes is casting a spell that hurts attendees but not devils, Asmodeans, or some Dottari?”

Yes! Totally. This is a weird one. BUT crazy combat with mass slaughter and testimony being less than perfect, I’m assuming that’s an easy redaction for Thrune.

“What happens when the real Silver Ravens appear and decry the entire mess a charade?”

Crazy right? Who do we believe? Throw an opposed Bluff Check in there and see who is more convincing.

“Assuming the pc's defeat Cizmekris, who unalterably appears as Barzillai - who is now just as "officially" dead as the Silver Ravens are guilty of attacking the dance - How is he issuing any orders at all except by trying to explain why a fake Barzillai was at the dance. And what about the dead bearded devils, etc. who lose their hat of disguises?”

••’As reward for my dedication to our great city, the Lord of Contracts has seen that I return to the world of the living to fulfil my divine obligation as your protector! Listen not to these terrorists and assassins! They aim to unseat the infernal influence that keeps us safe from terrors far greater! I Barzillai Thrune will keep this city safe from the chaos that will destroy all you hold dear!’••

“And the story of the kind-hearted Barzillai vs the heartless Silver Ravens is incongruent with the recent weeks/months of the campaign.”....”Barzillai destroyed the Thrashing Badger, Silver Star and Victocora Estate,”

No one knows that. In my game it was Tiefling Anarchists.

“...he's imposed erratic and draconian Proclamations,...”

All necessary to maintain order!

“...permitted a para-military group to dog-house random citizens,...”

Allies of anarchists that seek to destroy this city!

“...had one of his minions unleash tooth fairies in the Devil's Nursery,...”

Wait. What? That had nothing to do with our Lord Mayor!

“...his dottari have done nothing while the Red Jills and Varl Wex ran amok,...”

Why isn’t Barzillai taking credit for those things in your game? He sure did in mine! And the PCs hated him for it.

“...officially dog-housed random minor criminals,...”

That’s not even a bad thing.

“....crippled the city economically with martial law and onerous bridge taxes...”

All necessary to maintain peace and order. These terrorists cannot be allowed to run free!

“...pointlessly outlawed the city's own order of Hellknights...”

You need to find a justification for that one. In my game the PCs rescued a citizen from doghousing. Barzillai blamed it on The Torrent and considered their act treason.

“The Ravens on the other hand have freed prisoners,...”

You mean “freed criminals?”

“...stopped dog-housing,...”

Barzillai stopped that on his own.

“...dealt with multiple threats that were indiscriminately killing citizens...”

Barzillai should take credit for most of that.

“Barzillai starts the dance in an exceptionally deep hole credibility and attitude-wise.”

Obviously by my answers that wasn’t the case in my game.

“Seems really implausible the Silver Ravens would start killing citizens instead of dottari, devils and Asmodeans.”

In my game, Barzillai is currently battling an Azata on stage as he huffs up. Somehow that Azata can land a hit!

“About the only thing in the AP provided plan that makes sense is that Thrune and his allies' goal is to kill everyone in the Opera House.”

I couldn’t disagree more. He actually needs survivors to share what they saw. As people flee the party, they’re convinced they saw Silver Ravens and Azata attack the party and Barzillai engaged them. Those who survive will learn that a great battle ensued and many citizens were murdered as Barzillai fought the anarchists(and died/was raised by Asmodeus to continue protecting the city.)

Overall, I think you need to be more manipulative when playing Barzillai.


So my players suspect a trap and I had the investigator tell them they thought it was one (probably unnecessary)

They aren’t clear what it is or who it is for as i emphasised that they were not invited. I am still worried that given how obvious it is it will go down like a damp squib

And I am looking at the two main damage dealers and feel like they can drop a bearded devil in one full attack. I know these are the lesser foes but that frustrates me a little. Or should that be expected of level 9 vs CR 5 enemies?

Is there any deception I can try to convince the trap is not at midnight? Most obvious point is have the skinsaw cult attack *if* they go exploring

*

Since they expect a trap - how do buff spells work? Are the hours per level buffs actually visible on people in anyway ? Or any buffs if they try to cast in the last half an hour before the speech?

Things like mage armour , false life , shield (I know that one is short duration) , ironskin, barkskin etc?
If the spellcasters in my group can but there ACs at 25+ pre fight then the bearded devils literally become a brief speed bump as they die in probably two rounds and don’t hit once - unless that is the aim (perhaps it is)

*

Trying to make it so the group do not start all standing right next to each other is also interesting but probably impossible - it seems like threat to the citizens is what is needed to split the group up

I want this to be the most epic fight they have ever fought with lots of memorable points - perhaps leaning heavily on NPCs stepping into help and then getting butchered etc

(I just don’t have that clear a view on how hard this could be due to inexperience at this level . My group has clicked into a groove where they gets some crazy buffs via milani cleric channeling and then blessing of fervour, can resist status effects due to liberation domain, force re rolls with ill omen and protective luck, put out a lot of damage and have a lowest AC of probably 26)

Am I missing a nuance to this in how it plays out ? Do the devils going after citizens make this something really different to think about than just a stand up fight ? And I assume the disguises also cause some problems as they don’t know what they are fighting until they are hit or hit them (is that right ?)


BornofHate: that all seems pretty sound especially as you appear to have had Barzillai actively campaigning in the PR realm throughout the campaign. Which isn't necessarily how it's portrayed in the AP. Which in turn isn't a criticism (except perhaps of the AP itself.) I was taking something of a devil's advocate posture (is that allowed on this forum?) though my comments align more to my own interpretation/course for the campaign. I also didn't mention something that you could have used (maybe still can) - if your Ravens have just attacked the Menador Gap - that's a clear act of war easily labeled as the act of anarchists. I still find some of it implausible, including the tiefling anarchists responsible for the Night of Ashes, but Barzillai doesn't necessarily need belief in his version of events, he benefits from doubt of the Silver Ravens. If the choice is between believing the government's lies or joining a rebellion in active revolt/shooting war, many people might find believing an easier choice.


Lanathar: a handful of observations

Easiest first: most of those buff spells you listed have obvious, visible manifestations. At a minimum, that should be penalized just like inappropriate attire (see DoD, p. 41.) But I would recommend they be prevented from entering by the Dottari until the magic is ended or removed. This shouldn't be a surprise to the pc's - knowledge local or nobility or various NPC's can inform them what the social norm is for such events. The hidden purpose of this encounter is to force the pc's to adapt on the fly and not be able to dictate terms of engagement (we only start the fight when we are at maximum preparedness, etc.)

Your group of players/pc's seems to have picked up some system mastery and found synergies between their class skills etc. This is normal, to be expected and all that. But AP's aren't necessarily written to account for that - rather they have to find a middle-of-the-road approach to challenge level, etc. You probably should up the difficulty. Hard to know how but common techniques would be to have another set of bearded devils in reserve (out of sight) that show up if the pc's vaporize the first set too quickly. Also, Jilia can appear earlier than "as written" as another ally for Cizmerkis.

This is a very complicated encounter that's going to challenge any GM. In part because the "mini-game" of half-hour action segments before midnight is specifically designed to scatter pc's (see the bit above about an encounter designed to challenge how the players typically setup for combat.) Which makes it hard for the GM to anticipate what's going to happen as much as it does for the players. The other challenge is the encounter is a total railroad. The pc's are forced to make themselves as vulnerable as possible and let the BBEG fully execute his plan before they are "supposed" to act - see the substantial Masque Point penalty for preemptively striking the monologuing "Barzillai." A penalty the players have no way of knowing about and if they do know, have no way to assess the consequences of.

On the midnight feature, I'd suggest embracing it rather than fighting it. Again, knowledge skills or NPC's can tell the pc's what the local custom is: a collective unmasking at midnight that represents the end/crescendo of the affair so the players know ahead of time that if "something" is going to happen, midnight is the most likely moment. At some level, if you're going to use the encounter as written, the players have to buy in to the social construct mini-game of the encounter in lieu of or ahead of direct combat.


Lanathar -- The devils aren't designed to be much of a threat to the PCs. But they're a threat to the civilians. Yes, your group may all be together when the trap is sprung but then they'll have a harder time getting to all of the threats and more civilians are going to die because of it. Same as if they focus on Thrune instead of taking out the devils. ("Oh, but the devils can barely hurt us," said a PC, as the number of survivors dropped.)
Leaving everything as written makes it easier for you and civilians will still die. Hell, my fairly advanced, 20 point buy, 4 member group had a really hard time with the fight and only survived due to NPCs helping and me taking the bone devil out of the fight. (Even then, two still went down.)


Latrecis wrote:

Lanathar: a handful of observations

Easiest first: most of those buff spells you listed have obvious, visible manifestations. At a minimum, that should be penalized just like inappropriate attire (see DoD, p. 41.) But I would recommend they be prevented from entering by the Dottari until the magic is ended or removed. This shouldn't be a surprise to the pc's - knowledge local or nobility or various NPC's can inform them what the social norm is for such events. The hidden purpose of this encounter is to force the pc's to adapt on the fly and not be able to dictate terms of engagement (we only start the fight when we are at maximum preparedness, etc.)

Your group of players/pc's seems to have picked up some system mastery and found synergies between their class skills etc. This is normal, to be expected and all that. But AP's aren't necessarily written to account for that - rather they have to find a middle-of-the-road approach to challenge level, etc. You probably should up the difficulty. Hard to know how but common techniques would be to have another set of bearded devils in reserve (out of sight) that show up if the pc's vaporize the first set too quickly. Also, Jilia can appear earlier than "as written" as another ally for Cizmerkis.

This is a very complicated encounter that's going to challenge any GM. In part because the "mini-game" of half-hour action segments before midnight is specifically designed to scatter pc's (see the bit above about an encounter designed to challenge how the players typically setup for combat.) Which makes it hard for the GM to anticipate what's going to happen as much as it does for the players. The other challenge is the encounter is a total railroad. The pc's are forced to make themselves as vulnerable as possible and let the BBEG fully execute his plan before they are "supposed" to act - see the substantial Masque Point penalty for preemptively striking the monologuing "Barzillai." A penalty the players have no way of knowing about and if they do...

Thanks. I guess I was asking about if some of the spells did have obvious physical manifestations.

Some obviously do (the skin ones and shield)
Mage armour is apparently tangible but invisible ? And false life isn’t clear either.

Before is easy because I can rule some kind of detect magic on the door like you say. I was more wondering if the hours long buffs are cast mid evening whether the other guests would notice

*

I am going to be interested to see if my group split up. They are suspicious and very much subscribe to the “never split the party” mantra

*

I think i asked about weapons above somewhere. It would be rather harsh but not unrealistic to restrict them (read: force players to use a bag of holding and spend the start of combat retrieving them)

Doesn’t really effect Kineticist , cleric or witch. Glaive based character will have a problem though!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In my campaign, there isn’t a single thing written in the adventure that hasn’t been spun by Barzillai to take credit for what the PCs have done or to twist what they’ve done into something the average citizen might be fearful of. He’s redacted, spun, and manipulated everything... except for the Menador Gap that was destroyed a few days ago and when the PCs hand-stamped 1000 silver coins with the symbol of a Raven and carpet bombed Bleakbridge. Barzillai has no answer for that one. XD

The destruction of the Menador Gap is a huge blow to trade as well as Chelish access to Kintargo. Barzillai would play up the destruction of commerce more than his inability to call the Chelish Military.

As far as visible affects of Spells: I don’t describe any visible affects of spells after casting. You can detect them with detect magic, but a mage doesn’t look like he’s wearing glowing armor after casting mage armor. This is in my world, not necessarily canon.

Don’t force your group to split up. It should come naturally as the PCs want to explore and discover/eliminate threats. Searching costs 2 Masque Points per PC action. Obvious combat (example: a bearded devil in the rafters screamed as a silence spell wore off) costs 10 points. The PCs can earn Masque Points by mingling, dancing, etc. but that requires them to be separate from the group.

One tip I’d suggest before running this is to explain the mini game to your group a bit. You don’t have to give every detail, but definitely explain that Masque Points are a way of maintaining your welcome.

I described it like this: “Imagine I had a party and there was a bunch of people I didn’t know coming. I don’t want people upstairs or in my basement. If I found someone snooping through my house, I might give a warning (10 Masque Points) but if it continued to happen my patience would wear thin and I’d tell everyone to leave.”

Putting that in the players mind really helped to describe the scene to them. You might be lifting the veil a bit by exposing some rules but the scene, experience, and level of fun will benefit from it.


BornofHate wrote:

In my campaign, there isn’t a single thing written in the adventure that hasn’t been spun by Barzillai to take credit for what the PCs have done or to twist what they’ve done into something the average citizen might be fearful of. He’s redacted, spun, and manipulated everything... except for the Menador Gap that was destroyed a few days ago and when the PCs hand-stamped 1000 silver coins with the symbol of a Raven and carpet bombed Bleakbridge. Barzillai has no answer for that one. XD

The destruction of the Menador Gap is a huge blow to trade as well as Chelish access to Kintargo. Barzillai would play up the destruction of commerce more than his inability to call the Chelish Military.

As far as visible affects of Spells: I don’t describe any visible affects of spells after casting. You can detect them with detect magic, but a mage doesn’t look like he’s wearing glowing armor after casting mage armor. This is in my world, not necessarily canon.

Don’t force your group to split up. It should come naturally as the PCs want to explore and discover/eliminate threats. Searching costs 2 Masque Points per PC action. Obvious combat (example: a bearded devil in the rafters screamed as a silence spell wore off) costs 10 points. The PCs can earn Masque Points by mingling, dancing, etc. but that requires them to be separate from the group.

One tip I’d suggest before running this is to explain the mini game to your group a bit. You don’t have to give every detail, but definitely explain that Masque Points are a way of maintaining your welcome.

I described it like this: “Imagine I had a party and there was a bunch of people I didn’t know coming. I don’t want people upstairs or in my basement. If I found someone snooping through my house, I might give a warning (10 Masque Points) but if it continued to happen my patience would wear thin and I’d tell everyone to leave.”

Putting that in the players mind really helped to describe the scene to them. You might be lifting the veil a bit by exposing some rules but...

I should have done a better job at political spin. Especially because my players are sitting around wondering why so few people support them and aren't just naturally joining because of the "evil actions" of the regime

Did you explain how (and how many) points were earned and are required to be spent? Seems like something that is far too meta for my liking - and perhaps there should be some narrative about how warm or frosty reactions are at certain point levels. I do not intend to let them micromanage how they act at a ball with comments like "well I would like to do some more exploring but we need more Masque points so Player X go an dance"...

I don't intend to force them apart. I was just musing on if they would split (and I mean on the exploring the rooms)

I thought obvious combat triggered the trap early (as written)? I will have to check again. Or did you make some alterations?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

“Did you explain how (and how many) points were earned and are required to be spent?”

Yes.

“Seems like something that is far too meta for my liking - and perhaps there should be some narrative about how warm or frosty reactions are at certain point levels.”

Yeah it is a bit meta, but I found it necessary. This entire event is difficult to run and any bit of transparency was welcome. My group is very narrative at times. I encourage them to describe their half hour and bounce NPCs in as it fits the story. The transparency provided by the Masque Points and their fluctuation based on actions taken by the group actually helped them to create the narrative they told on their turn.

“I do not intend to let them micromanage how they act at a ball with comments like "well I would like to do some more exploring but we need more Masque points so Player X go an dance"...”

That’s up to you! But your quote is a player speaking. A character might say something like: “We need to make a scene so everyone’s attention is away from Character Y. Character X, can you draw some attention to the dance floor?”

“I thought obvious combat triggered the trap early (as written)? I will have to check again. Or did you make some alterations?”

Good question. I wouldn’t necessarily say a scream is obvious combat. Especially when one character on the near the dance floor Distracted the audience with a comment about “Lovers sneaking off to the rigging to discover each other’s true identities!”
They later pushed their luck with the trio of bearded devils and one teleported to the stage which started the combat.

I’m not sure if I created the rule of “If sounds of combat are heard the party loses 10 Masque Points” or if it was in the AP. Either way, it created a huge sense of tension as they witness their Masque Points disappear. (Which everyone equated to a palpable sense of unwelcoming tension.)


Are there any allied NPCs who are likely to go along to the ball regardless of whether they are asked? My players currently don't seem to be thinking of asking anyone directly

(I know a large part of this is how I have portrayed them but still...)

I assume Octavio will be frustrated at sitting things out and would like the cover of a mask to actually be able to act (although he won't be able to use his hellknight plate or easily get a halberd in!)

I think if my party is in trouble I might have Rexus directly confront Barzillai with accusations about his family (did anyone level him by the way? I think if I give him more sorcerer level I would make them non combat based. But all his researching with notes points to another class as a further multiclass / retrain)

I think I might have Marquel there and panic when his family are involved in the attack. I assume that would mean Cassius goes to protect him or sends Elia (surely the former)


Lanathar wrote:

Thanks. I guess I was asking about if some of the spells did have obvious physical manifestations.

Some obviously do (the skin ones and shield) Mage armour is apparently tangible but invisible ? And false life isn’t clear either.

Before is easy because I can rule some kind of detect magic on the door like you say. I was more wondering if the hours long buffs are cast mid evening whether the other guests would notice

Being more explicit: all of the spells you listed have obvious physical manifestations except for False Life. Mage Armor is invisible but tangible. So if someone is watching you from 50 feet away maybe not seen. Someone within 5-10 feet, very noticeable. Right next to you as in a social party (or dancing!) completely obvious.

Also casting spells during the party should also carry some kind of attention penalty - though the pc's can find ways to do that surreptitiously.


Lanathar wrote:
I should have done a better job at political spin. Especially because my players are sitting around wondering why so few people support them and aren't just naturally joining because of the "evil actions" of the regime

Arguing somewhat against what I first wrote to BornofHate above... The idea that Barzillai and his administration should be blamed for everything I listed is a best case scenario of sorts for the Silver Ravens. Nothing really ties him to the Tooth Fairy incursion. Perceived inaction on the Red Jills or Wex is not obviously Thrune's "fault" - just because the police haven't solved a crime yet doesn't mean they are actively encouraging the criminals. Without resort to PR campaigns (which is an interesting way BornofHate took the story) the answer to your players is pretty simple: being a supporter means possibly dying. Most of the city would happily vote (anonymously) for Barzillai to be dog-housed to death in his own excruciation but there's a new sheriff in town. So the days when you could pay 20gp to get out of jail are over. Now if you offend the government you get dog-housed to death or sent to work in the salt mines/Salt Works. There are Events (in the mini-game) where supporters die. So being a supporter means you are willing to risk your life to support an uprising which means either you've had all you can stand or you have confidence the uprising will be successful. The growth in supporters is a measure of the city population's belief the Silver Ravens can actually do something to make things better.

Lanathar wrote:
I thought obvious combat triggered the trap early (as written)? I will have to check again. Or did you make some alterations?

Quoting the AP (DoD, p.53) - emphasis mine: If a PC initiates combat in a public place, the crowd panics and Cizmekris is forced to proceed with his trap before he is ready—see The Unmasking below. Likewise, at your discretion, PCs publicly calling out or challenging “Barzillai” can force this event to occur as well. If a PC’s action forces the trap early in this manner, the party loses 2d6+10 Masque Points.


Latrecis wrote:
Lanathar wrote:

Thanks. I guess I was asking about if some of the spells did have obvious physical manifestations.

Some obviously do (the skin ones and shield) Mage armour is apparently tangible but invisible ? And false life isn’t clear either.

Before is easy because I can rule some kind of detect magic on the door like you say. I was more wondering if the hours long buffs are cast mid evening whether the other guests would notice

Being more explicit: all of the spells you listed have obvious physical manifestations except for False Life. Mage Armor is invisible but tangible. So if someone is watching you from 50 feet away maybe not seen. Someone within 5-10 feet, very noticeable. Right next to you as in a social party (or dancing!) completely obvious.

Also casting spells during the party should also carry some kind of attention penalty - though the pc's can find ways to do that surreptitiously.

Thanks

I would sooner rule that if they want to cast without one of 300 people noticing they will need to go to a room where no one can see

But it might not come up


Latrecis wrote:
Lanathar wrote:
I should have done a better job at political spin. Especially because my players are sitting around wondering why so few people support them and aren't just naturally joining because of the "evil actions" of the regime

Arguing somewhat against what I first wrote to BornofHate above... The idea that Barzillai and his administration should be blamed for everything I listed is a best case scenario of sorts for the Silver Ravens. Nothing really ties him to the Tooth Fairy incursion. Perceived inaction on the Red Jills or Wex is not obviously Thrune's "fault" - just because the police haven't solved a crime yet doesn't mean they are actively encouraging the criminals. Without resort to PR campaigns (which is an interesting way BornofHate took the story) the answer to your players is pretty simple: being a supporter means possibly dying. Most of the city would happily vote (anonymously) for Barzillai to be dog-housed to death in his own excruciation but there's a new sheriff in town. So the days when you could pay 20gp to get out of jail are over. Now if you offend the government you get dog-housed to death or sent to work in the salt mines/Salt Works. There are Events (in the mini-game) where supporters die. So being a supporter means you are willing to risk your life to support an uprising which means either you've had all you can stand or you have confidence the uprising will be successful. The growth in supporters is a measure of the city population's belief the Silver Ravens can actually do something to make things better.

Lanathar wrote:
I thought obvious combat triggered the trap early (as written)? I will have to check again. Or did you make some alterations?
Quoting the AP (DoD, p.53) - emphasis mine: If a PC initiates combat in a public place, the crowd panics and Cizmekris is forced to proceed with his trap before he is ready—see The Unmasking below. Likewise, at your discretion, PCs publicly calling out or challenging...

This calling out think could be interesting

I am having a real dilemma on what to do with Nox (both throughout the evening and in the battle)

She should be by "Thrune's" side the whole time but:

- I actually would rather she also have a mask or hat of disguise and be revealed during the unmasking. My players really want to get even with her since they were so close to beating her in book 1

But alternatively having her in their faces all evening might work better

(Although I think I only wanted "Thrune" for limited points of the evening even though he should be mingling)

*

On Rebellion actions and the mini game - I am now finding this to be a bit of a mess.

Early on some of my players seemed like they wanted their teams to do their missions for them - for example they seemed like they pretty much wanted the Fushi's to do the Salt Works mission. I said that was their job

The dividing line has become confused

Now they want to look at trying to smuggle things into the opera house (and perhaps spy on the event) but the noises they are making point towards this being them wanting to do this as the PC group - where this time there is a rebellion action system for it

(I intend to at least partially downgrade the "rewards" for the rebellion actions as the Sabotage one is far to generous for a relatively easy check - I have mentioned this above, DC20 to basically ruin the entire trap is a bit generous to me. Unless you take it as they are told there are devils and where they are but not that they are disguised as Azatas...)


Lanathar wrote:

Are there any allied NPCs who are likely to go along to the ball regardless of whether they are asked? My players currently don't seem to be thinking of asking anyone directly

(I know a large part of this is how I have portrayed them but still...)

I assume Octavio will be frustrated at sitting things out and would like the cover of a mask to actually be able to act (although he won't be able to use his hellknight plate or easily get a halberd in!)

I think if my party is in trouble I might have Rexus directly confront Barzillai with accusations about his family (did anyone level him by the way? I think if I give him more sorcerer level I would make them non combat based. But all his researching with notes points to another class as a further multiclass / retrain)

I think I might have Marquel there and panic when his family are involved in the attack. I assume that would mean Cassius goes to protect him or sends Elia (surely the former)

Have your players been doing the recurring Silver Council "thing?" You could have select NPC's receive an invitation and approach the Ravens with something like "I received an invitation. What's your plan here? Should I go?" The NPC could even add their particular spin pending how you want to get your players thinking or how you think the NPC would react like "I don't think it sounds like a good idea" or "I want to see what that bastard Thrune is up to and maybe even get a shot at him if things go right!"

I would argue Octavio would not receive an invitation - in the eyes of the Lord Mayor, he's a criminal. He'll need to procure one through other means like the pc's. I would probably have him do that only in conjunction with the Silver Ravens.

Rexus is in an ambiguous legal position (the AP doesn't make clear - at least that I've found) is he a wanted man - a member of an outlawed noble house -Victocora or simply an orphan from a noble house? I suggest he too would cooperate with the pc's, meaning the pc's should know whether he's going or not.

Marquel is arguably more outside their influence so might attend without advance warning to the Silver Ravens but he should assume his parents are likely to be there and given his physical limitation, easily identified even with a mask. He is in hiding from a noble house allied with Thrune and getting discovered could put Sargaeta in a difficult position.

Shadow Lodge

The Raven-aligned person who really should get an invitation is Mialari.


zimmerwald1915 wrote:
The Raven-aligned person who really should get an invitation is Mialari.

Totally agree! Shame on me for not mentioning it considering I had already been planning on her getting an invite in my own version.


I forgot about the obvious physical deformity that make things obvious

On Rexus and Octavio I meant people who would want to find a way of going - likely using the same methods as the PCs

I am looking for potential people who could step in and help (and probably die in the process). Help the group through and show there are stakes (especially if it looks like all the group will survive unharmed)

Has anyone made stats for Mialari? I really don't like making NPC spellcasters as I find I can't dial down my optimization side when picking spells (I was just trying to level up Rexus and have left the spells for now)

I think perhaps Mialari, Laria and Setrona might get invites. Although I might stick to Setrona because it will make the players even more paranoid if both of the owners of original safe houses are invited

I also am going to have:

- The Aulorians

- Tannessen children (would be brothers of one of my players - and they don't get on. That player has very patchy attendance anyway)

- Sarinis (probably the adults)

- Either one or two of the noble families they allied with in terms of family leaders (perhaps children for others).

* On this point actually - surely all the nobles would expect invites? But some are very much supposed to be alive in Book 5. Are they just supposed to get out?

Shadow Lodge

Lanathar wrote:
Has anyone made stats for Mialari?

Yeah, James Jacobs :P

Quote:
(I was just trying to level up Rexus and have left the spells for now)

I have a statblock for a leveled-up Rexus (to the level he has in the Adventurer's Guide) at home, I'll post it this evening.


Lanathar wrote:

I forgot about the obvious physical deformity that make things obvious

On Rexus and Octavio I meant people who would want to find a way of going - likely using the same methods as the PCs

I am looking for potential people who could step in and help (and probably die in the process). Help the group through and show there are stakes (especially if it looks like all the group will survive unharmed)

Has anyone made stats for Mialari? I really don't like making NPC spellcasters as I find I can't dial down my optimization side when picking spells (I was just trying to level up Rexus and have left the spells for now)

I think perhaps Mialari, Laria and Setrona might get invites. Although I might stick to Setrona because it will make the players even more paranoid if both of the owners of original safe houses are invited

I also am going to have:

- The Aulorians

- Tannessen children (would be brothers of one of my players - and they don't get on. That player has very patchy attendance anyway)

- Sarinis (probably the adults)

- Either one or two of the noble families they allied with in terms of family leaders (perhaps children for others).

* On this point actually - surely all the nobles would expect invites? But some are very much supposed to be alive in Book 5. Are they just supposed to get out?

Sounds to me like you're on the right track. I was responding to your opening line about your players not considering NPC participation. Given the overall visibility of the Ruby Masquerade in the city, each NPC that is important to the pc's/Silver Ravens should have a position on it - either they got an invite or want an invite/to get in on the action. They should come to the pc's looking for advice on what to do next and what the Silver Ravens response to the dance will be. The pc's/players drive events (make decisions) but don't define events (what NPC's want to get out of any particular situation.)


Lanathar wrote:

I am having a real dilemma on what to do with Nox (both throughout the evening and in the battle) She should be by "Thrune's" side the whole time but:

- I actually would rather she also have a mask or hat of disguise and be revealed during the unmasking. My players really want to get even with her since they were so close to beating her in book 1

But alternatively having her in their faces all evening might work better

(Although I think I only wanted "Thrune" for limited points of the evening even though he should be mingling)

I agree - Nox being by "Thrune" all night long is likely disturbing. And not just to the pc's. Having the mangled broken soul following Barzillai around all night would put a pall on events. Outside of game mechanics, looking at her should creep most people out. Note: it also sends a weird message - the only people that know about Nox's "failure" in a way that would justify her obvious torture are the pc's. She doesn't work well as a lesson in failure to the populace given no one knows who she's failed. Your suggestion for a Hat of Disguise is interesting. Should she appear as her unmangled self - which would fit into the expectations of most attendees but likely annoy the pc's even more? I think that having her out of sight most of the evening makes more sense given even Barzillai should suspect having her out and about earlier might provoke combat sooner than planned.

By the way, you've asked here about how to make the encounter tougher. One answer would be to take the mask and gag off Nox and give her access to her Agonized Wail and Baleful Gaze abilities. The DC's are 11 so the pc's are very likely to succeed but there a small chance one or more will fail. Also the Agonized Wail might work for the Ravens as it will likely affect attendees more than them and force all of them to flee for the doors even faster. This might move them out of harm's way. Or it might make the situation far worse. YMMV :)

Lastly her tactics don't make a lot of sense - she doesn't use Rage so she can use Dimension Door. Except while blinded she can only see 10' and therefore can't really get much use out of Dimension Door.


I wondered whether hat of disguise could make her appear as another woman - one they have met or otherwise. Not regular Nox

I was toying with making the “blinders” not restrict her vision range as much if at all as it seems like she will be largely useless

I am not a fan of how her and ciz are seemingly hindered for various reasons which seemingly makes them weaker than their suggested CR (although I haven’t compared them to the monster table)

Ciz loses so much compared to a standard bone devil. Sure more Hp and better stats but losing so much AC and defensive abilities hurts a lot . I can make some changes and adjust on the fly if things look rough

I have been reading about wall of ice and it looks like a very good tactic for significantly hindering the buffs and healing coming from the witch and cleric. The cleric notably will not be able to get out in one round on his own - i’d need to split them sufficiently for it to work

I feel justified in full on targeting weaknesses and playing really smart as my group took Thrunes scry focused items in book 2

Shadow Lodge

Rexus at the time of the Ruby Masquerade:
Rexus Victocora CR 5
XP 1,600
Male human aristocrat 2/sorcerer 4
NG Medium humanoid (human)
Init +1; Senses Perception +0
--------------------
Defense
--------------------
AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 10 (+1 Dex, +1 dodge)
hp 24 (6 HD; 2d8+3d6-2)
Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +9
Defensive Abilities fated +1
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 30 ft.
Melee mwk sword cane +4 (1d6)
Bloodline Spell-Like Abilities (CL 4th; concentration +8)
. . 7/day—touch of destiny (+2)
Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 4th; concentration +8)
. . 2nd (4/day)—glitterdust (DC 16)
. . 1st (6/day)—alarm, color spray (DC 15), comprehend languages, grease (DC 15)
. . 0 (at will)—acid splash, detect magic, light, message, prestidigitation, read magic
. . Bloodline Destined
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str 10, Dex 13, Con 8, Int 14, Wis 11, Cha 18
Base Atk +3; CMB +3; CMD 15
Feats Dodge, Eschew Materials, Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Skill Focus (stealth)
Skills Bluff +13, Diplomacy +13, Knowledge (history, nobility) +6, Linguistics +9, Spellcraft +11, Stealth +10, Use Magic Device +11
Languages Aklo, Celestial, Common, Draconic, Elven, Infernal, Strix
SQ bloodline arcana (gain luck bonus to saves when casting personal-range spells)
Combat Gear potions of cure light wounds (3), scroll of glitterdust; Other Gear mwk sword cane, courtier's outfit, Victocora signet ring (worth 100 gp), 40 gp, 3 pp

Change gear as appropriate for your game.


zimmerwald1915 wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

Change gear as appropriate for your game.

Thanks for this. I like these fragile friendly NPCs such as Rexus, Laria and Mialari. Could make parts of the masquerade very nasty if they go...


For confirmation - if Ciz casts hemisphere ice wall whilst invisible it breaks his invisibility ?

As I really want to trap either the cleric or the witch (or both) to limit buffs, healing and hexes

Things like protective luck, fortune and beacon of hope added to channel energy seem like they are starting to break encounters

That said I’d like to think the witch will have much more of a dilemma than when it is 4 or 5 party members vs. relatively few enemies (where he can stack up hexes and just cackle away)

Thrune has had these guys scryed on for all of book 3 so I feel justified playing really smart where possible


Have I missed something on smuggling items into the opera house? My group have handy haversacks which I imagine don’t make “proper” ball attire . So they might want to smuggle things in

Do they need to use rebellion actions for this? Probably include in with the sabotage and have the saboteur place things somewhere .

Creates an issue if they fail the roll

This solution allows me to remove the “saboteur tells them the location of all the devils” part that I don’t like and think has far too easy a DC

I suppose the alternative is just a masque point reduction?


Casting wall of ice doesn't break invisibility. It isn't an attack. Unless it's cast in a way that permits someone to make a saving throw to disrupt it.

I don't see why someone couldn't include a haversack as part of their costume/attire. Including a whole slew of magical options - disguise self, alter self, etc. And invisibility can be cast on an object. But an effective Disguise skill check also seems a valid option.

I think that the technical answer for sneaking items in ahead of the Ruby Masquerade would be a Secure Cache action from the Rebellion.


There is a pretty furious debate on an old post about the wall of ice thing

The hemisphere is the debate as someone in the middle gets no save but is trapped

Removing that as an invisibility option drastically limits what Ciz can do whilst invisible. I will see how it played out. I would only do it if I can divide people


12 hardness and 36 HP is hefty but If you have a two hander in your group they should be able to blow through it quickly.

Another thing to do is try to prime your group on fighting invisibility if you haven't already. Due to a few book 1 + 2 encounters this group is packing glitterdust and see invisibility.

I have no idea if it should be ruled as an attack. When I run it i'll likely say it is only an attack if he places it close enough to someone that they get a reflex save.


DM Livgin wrote:

12 hardness and 36 HP is hefty but If you have a two hander in your group they should be able to blow through it quickly.

Another thing to do is try to prime your group on fighting invisibility if you haven't already. Due to a few book 1 + 2 encounters this group is packing glitterdust and see invisibility.

I have no idea if it should be ruled as an attack. When I run it i'll likely say it is only an attack if he places it close enough to someone that they get a reflex save.

Where does 12 hardness come from? I thought ice was zero?

And my point was that trapping certain players in ice might be the main way of making the fight interesting / epic. But I think i will have the first 2 rounds to judge that since Ciz’s action are outlined for to round 1.

Round 2 might be the bone devil summon as I can’t see where he could attempt to summon it pre combat even if that is what the tactics say. It doesn’t seem like it could appear anywhere that he could see and the crowd would not


Lanathar wrote:
DM Livgin wrote:

12 hardness and 36 HP is hefty but If you have a two hander in your group they should be able to blow through it quickly.

Another thing to do is try to prime your group on fighting invisibility if you haven't already. Due to a few book 1 + 2 encounters this group is packing glitterdust and see invisibility.

I have no idea if it should be ruled as an attack. When I run it i'll likely say it is only an attack if he places it close enough to someone that they get a reflex save.

Where does 12 hardness come from? I thought ice was zero?

I miss-read the spell.

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