A Song of Silver (GM Reference)


Hell's Rebels

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unixgit wrote:

"District Control: Jarvis End" (pg. 16):

"In addition, control of Jarvis End reverts to the Silver Ravens as soon as they assign an NPC ally and team to patrol the district".

Teams aren't mentioned for the other districts. Is it necessary to assign a team here?

Regarding a dottari troop's volley (pg. 122):

"This attack takes the form of up to four lines with a range of 100 feet. These lines can start from the corner of any square in the troop’s space. All creatures in one of these lines take 4d6 points of piercing damage."

Do all four lines start from the same corner?

Can the troop choose to leave out leading or trailing squares, say if it wished to not harm its allies, or must all 20 squares be hit?

If the advanced template were applied to an inquisitor troop, how would its fast healing be affected?

Nope; not necessary to assign teams. That element was cut from the adventure as being too fiddly and unnecessary and needlessly complex, but then a fragment stayed in Jarvis End.

The lines don't all have to start from the same corner, and they cannot choose to leave squares out. Best they can do is select lines that minimize friendly fire.

Silver Crusade

Oh, huh. I must have fixated on the teams there. I made my players assign teams to patrol the districts.


Am I missing something, or is the answer to the Mystery of the Devil's Bells just, "they ring every time an insane undead cleric decides to ring them"? Because my player who is building a character around the 'Pattern Seeker' trait is going to be mighty underwhelmed when he discovers that, many play sessions from now. The Player's Guide certainly plays them up as a more important mystery than that.

I suppose I could keep it that way to mess with him, and show him that sometimes there really just is no pattern, but it still feels unsatisfying. I'm also considering that, as a corrupted priest of Aroden, he can feel whenever a piece of Kintargo's knowledge or culture is lost, so that every time a book is redacted or a citizen dies, he feels the need to mark its passing.

Anyone else have ideas on how to RP this?

Shadow Lodge

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ToastmanTom wrote:
Am I missing something, or is the answer to the Mystery of the Devil's Bells just, "they ring every time an insane undead cleric decides to ring them"?

The relevant text is "The bells themselves, known now as the Devil's Bells, have since rung out at intervals influenced by events in the city, the twitching spirits of the herecites imprisoned here, and the whims of Asmodeus himself." James Jacobs et. al., Pathfinder Adventure Path: A Song of Silver, 58 (2015). How this works mechanically for the purposes of the Temple of Asmodeus as a dungeon is that "The Devil's Bells ring out each time the PCs defeat an encounter (what exactly constitutes an encounter is left to you to determine, but should generally consist of a single numbered encounter area. If the PCs activate multiple encounter areas at once, they all count as a single encounter for this purpose). Each time the bells ring out, they gain 1d6 Infernal Power Points (or 1d4 points if the temple has been sabotaged). Whenever the bells reach more than 10 Infernal Power Points, they ring out with a thunderous blast of sound that creates one of the effects on the table below, and their Infernal Power Points decrease by 10." James Jacobs et. al., Pathfinder Adventure Path: A Song of Silver, 36 (2015).

I'm not sure that "the bells ring when it's dramatic for them to ring" is any more satisfying to a pattern seeker than "they ring when Asmoden rings them," but there you go.


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ToastmanTom wrote:

Am I missing something, or is the answer to the Mystery of the Devil's Bells just, "they ring every time an insane undead cleric decides to ring them"? Because my player who is building a character around the 'Pattern Seeker' trait is going to be mighty underwhelmed when he discovers that, many play sessions from now. The Player's Guide certainly plays them up as a more important mystery than that.

I suppose I could keep it that way to mess with him, and show him that sometimes there really just is no pattern, but it still feels unsatisfying. I'm also considering that, as a corrupted priest of Aroden, he can feel whenever a piece of Kintargo's knowledge or culture is lost, so that every time a book is redacted or a citizen dies, he feels the need to mark its passing.

Anyone else have ideas on how to RP this?

If you're not above a bit of side exposition, have the bells as an artifact item that was corrupted by the Church of Asmodeus, and Grivenner has been 'feeding' them with sacrificial souls of people who have transgressed against the church.

Repurpose one of the rooms in the Temple as a torture/sacrifice chamber, and maybe give the player some kind of artifact-style sidequest to either cleanse the bells, or to crack the bell and set the souls of the tortured people free.

Something like that, maybe? You could potentially build it up earlier in the campaign if you liked, maybe a divination that indicates that the soul of someone they know is trapped inside the Bell.


Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Eliandra Giltessan wrote:
Oh, huh. I must have fixated on the teams there. I made my players assign teams to patrol the districts.

I've tried throughout to present my players with the tension of tight resources and limited access to the marketplace, forcing them to make tough decisions during their management of the rebellion and let them always feel the pinch of Thrune's control over the city, and his upperhand during the first parts of the campaign.

As such, I kept teams + ally for each zone because it represents the Silver Ravens' resources being thinned as they gain and hold districts. Players have to choose what teams won't be available to them for actions during the week, what ally perks they're willing to miss, and who and what teams might be present to defend counter-attacks as Barzillai occasionally attempted to regain an area, played out in actual battles.

Rather than being too fiddly, I think it added to players' sense about the wider conflict going on beyond the party's own adventuring.


I want to ask something , where are chuko's stats , i cant find them

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't think he has stats beyond what the adventure gives him (CG male tengu ranger 5/rogue 5).

Shadow Lodge

Misroi wrote:
I don't think he has stats beyond what the adventure gives him (CG male tengu ranger 5/rogue 5).

That's correct as far as the text goes. But maybe Chuko's another Mialari, who was meant to have a full statblock and so has one floating around the office somewhere, but never got enough story role to justify printing it.


Thanx guys , i my campaing He is an important NPC . I Will use An NPC stats from npc codex for him

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Yup; alas, Chuko never did get his stats in print. I had hoped to do so, but I had to settle for only one of my PCs getting statted up. :-)


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Nearly 2 months ago, as I wrapped up book 3, I predicted an early dragon for my players. They had rescued Shensen in advance of the Masquerade with enough time for her to be the risk-taking, impetuous livewire that I read her to be, so she immediately wanted to stick it to Barzillai by performing the Song of Silver there and, as such, Jackdaw was rescued before book 4 even started. The party ended the Masquerade of book 3 with a mere 30 Authority Points to Barzillai's name. As the book suggests, they're level 10.

Today, my prediction came true. It was not my fault, though, as players are fickle critters.

Ambush!:
I had prepared for Rescuing the Rose and the Hei-Fen piece. The morning meeting had reports of a dragon strike (along with a no reprisal, this put the Authority total to 34) and the party had been discussing the state of affairs when they were warned about Tombus' imminent arrival. I gave them 3 rounds until the troop entered via the stairs. The rebellion folks scampered into secret passages and secured rooms, with Octavio running about barking orders in the rear section. 2 rounds after the troop came in, the first wave of cultists entered via the waterways, coming up through the rear of the main floor. The party mopped up fairly handily, including capturing Tombus alive.

Authority Point total: 24

The party immediately decides that action must be taken. They've got the Song of Silver going and it's still the first 24 hours. One PC is concerned that they should get as much done to secure the city as possible while the song is going. Octavio volunteers to go look for Hetamon with Locate Creature, Shensen goes to recruit Chuko. The party does some information gathering with a number of magical methods and I give them as much non-spoilery stuff as I can. The party consensus? They want to take the Bleakbridge. Well, they wanted to hunt Rivozair, but I told them that the AP doesn't exactly allow that and that there's some conditions to that encounter, so they settle for the Bleakbridge.

The battle for Bleakbridge:
Now, I have read the book a few times over, glancing over the encounters generally. I hadn't carefully prepped this, though, so I was taken aback when I saw that this was worth 25 points. I thank my stars that the Bleakbridge map was included with the print copy of the book, plopped it on the table, and quickly got ready to fly by the seat of my pants. Ears of the City had given the party information about Ravzee, so they reached out and secured his aid with something like a 43 on the Diplomacy check, hitting all the right notes along the way in conversation. Ravzee informs the party offhandedly that the horse is meaner than it looks, prompting Thunderhorse jokes before I even mention its name. They're convinced it's not a horse and decide it's a priority target. I was just trying to give them a hint at the nature of its master.

During the fight, the cleric outright dies and there's an immediate note made of the fact that they have zero Breath of Life scrolls, only Raise/Res. There's some panic at the table, especially since they know that the tengu gang has already made this fight relatively easy for them by disabling one of the troops. At this point, it's getting a bit late and I ask everybody how they're feeling about the session, they want to keep moving with any consequences, we're good to go.

As they wrap the encounter up about 30 minutes later, largely injured and with their dedicated healer dead, I walk to our campaign whiteboard, cross out the Authority Point total, write a giant zero, and apparently rolled a successful Intimidate check IRL:

You hear a loud roar from the top of the Temple of Asmodeus. You have 90 seconds. FYI, Raise Dead is a 1 minute cast.

Rivozair:
With that, I walked away while they figured out their resource utilization and preparation. They knew that blue dragons typically have electricity breath weapons, so they hurriedly put up protection from energy, communal and as many buffs as possible, healed back up, and prepared for the worst by spreading out into as many different corners as possible on the bridge. Rivozair comes in with her breath weapon, hitting only one. He fails the reflex save. Another player casually asks if this was line or cone shaped as I'm grabbing my d8s for damage.

Ok Robyn, you take 46 damage total, half fire, half hellfire.

There is an audible panic at the table. While the characters are all immune to the frightening presence due to the Song of Silver, the players are now very, very concerned. The archer inquisitor plinks a shot out for a small amount of damage, the occultist frantically begins buffing the archer, dropping a Legacy Weapon on for seeking and +1 enhancement as the dragon puts up Mirror Image. The cleric uses Holy Lance from the Good domain to add holy to the bow, following it up with Touch of Good each round. Rivozair eats a 99 damage crit and a pair of fairly significant hits from the archer. She lands on one of the rooftops and breaths again, hoping to take out the inquisitor, but evasion saves her bacon. The inquisitor fires again and outright kills the dragon in the first 2 shots. As it happens, 37 AC gets wrecked pretty hard when the archer is getting +16 to hit from buffs alone.

The party is breathing easy again. You can see that the players are all feeling physically drained from the combat. One player asks if they leveled today. I tell him that I have to think about it for a couple minutes. Sifting through the book, realizing that they have 3 plot threads to wrap up before going into the temple, I tell them to go straight to 12. I'd rather they get those done in one session and felt that they should enjoy a significant reward for doing the least loot-intensive section of the book while underleveled.

We're meeting again in two weeks. The characters are enjoying a bit of rest and moving to day 2 with no reprisals coming in the morning.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Serisan wrote:
Nearly 2 months ago, as I wrapped up book 3, I predicted an early dragon for my players.

.... Sweet Game/Battle Report Serisan!


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Reading through the rest, I just noticed that Strea Vestori does not have her armor equipped in her stat block, despite being noted in the creature text as wearing it. Her pre-buff AC should be 19, raising to 22 with the potion.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Two weeks ago, my players mopped up Hei-Fen, Tiarise, and Natsiel in a single in-game day, preparing themselves for the glorious reclamation of the Temple of Asmodeus. It was kind of a non-event of a session, even with a crit Harm against the party frontliner. Spoiler alert: the cleric walked up and cast Heal right away after that...literally in the same round...might have been the next action. They got their info dump from the Records Hall. Today, I impressed upon them the urgency of the attack, focusing on how the Mephisto Manifestation notes alluded to the ritual already being started. I had rolled the caster level checks in advance. They had 2 days from the start of today's game (assuming they rested before going in) before Corinstian would successfully complete the ritual. We started 3 hours early, knowing this would be a doozy.

Entry to the Temple:
As smart parties do, they looked for alternative entrances to the temple and decided upon the balcony entrance (E34). As I anticipated, they followed that up with "double doors mean exposure, so let's explore the single door" and triggered the alarm via the erinyes' status effect. Because they had so many NPC allies (and there were a few encounters I straight-up didn't want to run), I wrote out some of the encounters - NPC allies doing their thing and all. The Gardener and Zella both D Doored in, with Zella bringing 3 priests with her. The party opened the door into the weird trap and the two affected characters successfully saved while this was going on. They mopped up in a hurry and I pointed out how hard this could have been as they looted - 4 CR 9s, followed by a CR 11 sorceror, followed immediately by a CR 10 wizard + 3 CR 6 clerics. It was just staggered enough, largely due to the inquisitor's damage, that they did well. The party had a lot of sympathy for Vizmaravash and mercy killed him at his request.

The shining child was a problem. At 34 AC, the frontline occultist (who never really built to be frontline, but sort of fell into the role) basically couldn't hit it. The cleric spent the entire combat using recentering drone to keep the kineticist in the fight and the shining child used a wall of force to cut off the inquisitor. They got it all sorted out eventually and gleefully looted the treasury.

Barzillai:
Because the alarm had been sounded and the NPCs had created a bit of havoc on the ground level, Barzillai remained on the balcony to keep a watchful eye on the progress of the ritual, while Aluceda had prepared to air walk up if necessary. The party buffed up before opening the double doors, opened them, and engaged Barzillai quite brutally. The inquisitor pumped out significant damage the first round, as did the kineticist. The occultist was frustrated by failing the save against greater command to fall prone and the cleric focused on shorter-term buffs while moving up-field. Aluceda and Corinstian both lobbed damage spells up, with Aluceda focusing on enervation to ready the cleric for a slay living. In round 2, Barzillai had not only been put well into his stunned condition, but the cleric used the Talisman of Pure Good to kill him, wherein I complimented them on not invalidating book 6 of the AP. Aluceda couldn't make it up to the party before being forced into gaseous form and Corinstian failed a Will save vs. the inquisitor's Swaying Word. We hand-waved the rest of the encounter. They found the Chelish Crux, couldn't fail to open it, and my interpretation of Object Reading from the occultist is that the most significant vision he'd receive about the Kintargo Contract inside was Barzillai learning the password while in Oxidexie's office. We ignored the animate dream encounter and they were able to bypass the clay golems as they all came in Asmodean garb. The NPCs took care of the other ground-level fights.

To the Belfry:
They wrecked kindly old Asmoden without his arm. It wasn't really much of a fight. The occultist got to hit things finally and felt better about his life.

The belfry took them a bit of effort. I had forgotten that there was a "fail by 5" condition and had allowed them to forge on past their erroneous assumptions about the names of each bell. There was quite a bit of drain as a result. The requirement of multiple dispel evil casts was a pretty harsh mechanic - a single day's spell slots, even preparing it in level 6 slots, wasn't gonna cut it for 2 attempts. Still, they persisted and cleared them.

Wrap-up:
As they succeeded at an Unmitigated Triumph victory and cleared every named encounter, there was no interruption at the Silver Span. They enjoyed a lovely party and expressed relief when I said that there was no encounter there (they admitted to thinking about arriving in full buffs).

I cracked open book 5 and started going through the contract details with them. The occultist has an absolutely absurd Linguistics skill (he has the feat that lets him use it for Diplomacy), so I literally walked through all the details of the contracts. Between all of the information contained in the Crux, the realization that Jilia is not a legally selected Lord-Mayor, and the possible ramifications of a free Ravounel, the party is both excited and concerned about their upcoming journey into Oxidexie's offices in Dis.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

So I have a question regarding how other GM's approached the much heavier and severe day-to-day aspect of this book. My party is still finishing up the basement portion of the masquerade after successfully fending off the ambush and sending Jilia's body back to their base along with some of their NPC allies. The problem I see is that they will most likely not be able to rescue Shensen tonight - I don't think any of them will have flesh to stone or a stone salve prepared, which means they will have to return to the opera house the next day. Even if they are prepared, I'm expecting them to not be able to dispel the mage's private sanctum in the Silver Ravens crypt, so I expect a return no matter what.

I have already pre-rolled reprisals, and even with only 3 reprisals it's going to be a pretty rough day before they return to the opera house - not to mention Tombus' attack and the news that their friend Hetamon has been kidnapped.

So my question is: have GM's hand-waved some of the reprisal aspect of this book, or have your parties just crushed it like Serisan's? I like the difficulty spike, but I'm not sure all my players will.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If they have fully cleared the opera house of all enemy encounters, there's no reason that they can't send a rebellion team to clear up Shensen's condition and bring her back to base, freeing up a slot of time. It's also very reasonable that they don't find the time to go get the Silver Raven loot from the crypt without outside assistance.

I think it's really important that the players get the feeling that Barzillai is really and truly a threat. The initial burst of terrible is going to reinforce that. That said, don't feel bad if you need to suddenly fudge some reprisals. My party crushed this book because I let them go off the rails. Not only that, they were in-character encouraged to do so by Shensen, who they rescued early. It is incredibly unlikely that your players had the luxury of both rescuing Jackdaw and performing the Song of Silver before the book officially starts. My players' experience of the book is in no way indicative of how it should really be going.

What's worth noting is how fast the party can roll through the different sections. Claiming the Bleakbridge can be as little as an hour of in-game time, including time to get there. The Records Hall is practically 4 blocks away from the Lucky Bones and can be done as a pretty surgical strike. If the players are willing to push their resources, they're rewarded with fewer reprisals. Additionally, it's worth noting how fast those Authority Points drain:

Tombus defeated: 10
Hetamon recovered, Natsiel defeated: 10
Tiarise defeated: 20
Hei-Fen defeated: 10
Bleakbridge cleared: 25
Jackdaw recovered: 20
Song of Silver performed: 15

If, for instance, your players defeat Tombus in the morning, send a team to the Opera House to fix up Shensen while they go to the Bleakbridge, then decide to break Jackdaw out and perform the Song of Silver (that is a full day, for sure!), they're looking at 70 Authority Points down. A more likely course of action is Tombus + Bleakbridge while Octavio searches for Hetamon + Hetamon, which is still 45. The key is making sure the players catch on relatively quickly to the idea that they can strain resources for an advantage or rest and recover between activities at a disadvantage. In any event, if the players don't go after Hetamon by the end of day 2 or 3 (really dependent on your party's ability to handle the content), that's where I'd have him turned over to Barzillai.

The expectation of the book is that, no matter what happens during the reprisals, once the 5 missions are done, the dragon comes and Barzillai loses all authority as it dies. Depending on whether you're running the rebellion rules (I'm not), this could be a pretty quick process overall. The harder it is upfront, however, the sweeter it will feel once the party gets to the end of the book.

Shadow Lodge

Serisan wrote:
The Records Hall is practically 4 blocks away from the Lucky Bones

I know this is a nitpick, but these two locations are quite literally on the opposite sides of town - and of the river. Did you get the Records Hall mixed up with something else?


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Thanks Serisan! That is a lot of helpful information.

I wouldn't be surprised if my group decides to try to clear out Kintargo Keep first due to its closer location to the Lucky Bones, and depending on how interested they are in the Song of Silver sheet music from the opera house, they might attempt to activate it kind of early. That would be a huge boon to them for the rest of the book.

I guess my main concern is how much time they've been given to rest and recover in the previous books. I've already warned them a little bit, and told the crafters that they won't be able to make anything post-masquerade.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

After scratching my head about the Profane Belfry encounter in area F for a few days, some miscellaneous ramblings came out:

Does the guards and wards spell keep the stinking clouds from falling through the 20' hole and the top cloud from sinking to the floor or does a stinking cloud stay where it's cast?

I was wondering how two 20' radius, 20' high stinking clouds could cover a 100' diameter 50' tall dome until I realized that the guarded area was close to the area of the two stinking clouds. This implies that there is a 30' clear band around the clouds.
Asmoden's ranged tactics should be helped a bit since he can't see through the clouds any better than the PCs, although blindsense can help
if he's relatively close. (And the PCs don't need to make DC 22 Fort saves each round).

Asmoden's tactics say he uses Power Attack in melee, but he doesn't seem to have the feat.

"One bell rings per round in the order described below".
Should that have read "in the order described in Spell Effects above"?

I was wondering how a vertical wall of force could block an opening in a floor, but remembered an old saying that goes something like:
"As Asmodeus Wishes, So shall it Be".

---

Wandering a bit:

A figure of Andax would have been helpful in the pawn set since he's most likely what the PCs will see.

Way back in E2. Infernal Nave the stat block for Corinstian Grivenner includes the line:

"Melee +2 unholy heavy mace +16/+11 (1d8+8)"

However, the Gear section lists: "+1 unholy heavy mace"

(This became less of an issue when he was sent to the center of the earth before he had a chance to properly introduce himself to his guests).


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Serisan wrote:
The Records Hall is practically 4 blocks away from the Lucky Bones
I know this is a nitpick, but these two locations are quite literally on the opposite sides of town - and of the river. Did you get the Records Hall mixed up with something else?

I absolutely did. For some reason, I had it mentally placed near Citadel Vaull.

Grand Lodge Contributor

Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

I drew the whole g!*+~&n thing out, full size.

It's worked pretty well. It's bigger than our table, but the big central area fits on top, and it's easy enough to shift it sideways when they got into the side rooms.

Link

Wow! That's pretty impressive. I'm jealous.

I'm seriously scratching my head how I'm going to deal with the cathedral battlemap(s). I have so far drawn out all the buildings and dungeons where encounters happen in the AP (and every campaign I've run before) so I don't want to skimp on this one. I use A1 gridded paper to draw battlemaps but the size and shape of the cathedral really messes with my head and I'm struggling with how I can make it work, particularly the central section. Argh!

Unusual buildings are cool, but I really wish the Arodenites had made this one square and regular :p


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Shaun Hocking wrote:
Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

I drew the whole g!*+~&n thing out, full size.

It's worked pretty well. It's bigger than our table, but the big central area fits on top, and it's easy enough to shift it sideways when they got into the side rooms.

Link

Wow! That's pretty impressive. I'm jealous.

I'm seriously scratching my head how I'm going to deal with the cathedral battlemap(s). I have so far drawn out all the buildings and dungeons where encounters happen in the AP (and every campaign I've run before) so I don't want to skimp on this one. I use A1 gridded paper to draw battlemaps but the size and shape of the cathedral really messes with my head and I'm struggling with how I can make it work, particularly the central section. Argh!

Unusual buildings are cool, but I really wish the Arodenites had made this one square and regular :p

My recommendation would be to think generically where you can and think about the place in chunks. Effectively, the majority of the map is an open space, so you can handle that with just blank grid paper. A major question for you is how you think your players will approach the location.

If front door, that's the most intensive, but there is the distinct possibility that the party goes "hard mode" and attacks the middle. Guess what? That means you only need the entrance + a blank map. If they go sequentially, I would recommend having each lower section be a map - i.e. if there's a space that breaks up the room segment, like the darkness area, just go door-to-door with that as a single map.

If they opt for the upper level entrance (which is absolutely reasonable - there's a visible balcony and obviously there must be some entrance up there), map the upper sections, divided by Rivozair's nest.

Ultimately, you're going to be looking at 2 areas covered by blank maps, 2 upper level maps, 3 lower level maps, and the belfry. Realistically, the belfry can be blank, too. That said, I used GM discretion to have allies take out generic encounters in favor of having the named encounters go after the PCs.


I've read through most of Song of Silver a couple of times in preparation of running the campaign, and I must admit something is eluding me: Other than the metagaming reason of "you need more levels", is there any reason the PCs shouldn't hit the Temple of Asmodeus before Barzillai reaches 0 authority?

Overall, it seems to be the assumption that they will take things sequentially. However, given that the Opera House, Temple of Asmodeus and Lucky Bones are all in fairly close proximity to each other, and the players are likely to rankle at Barzillai's ruse, I would expect the Temple of Asmodeus to be one of the first places they go, unless there is a veritable army standing outside of it.

Is the intent that the temple starts off with a massive number of defenders outside of it, but as Barzillai's authority drops they abandon their posts or are assigned elsewhere in the city?

Shadow Lodge

Raynulf wrote:
I've read through most of Song of Silver a couple of times in preparation of running the campaign, and I must admit something is eluding me: Other than the metagaming reason of "you need more levels", is there any reason the PCs shouldn't hit the Temple of Asmodeus before Barzillai reaches 0 authority?

Apart from the reason you cite - that the temple likely has visible defenders - seizing power should not be as simple as cutting off the head of the regime. I've gone on at length about whether they succeed or fail elsewhere, but the missions in the various neighborhoods are supposed to be about building the Silver Ravens' capacity as an alternative government by seizing strategic locations and/or centers of power. Bleakbridge is obvious; even if the players have organized a ferry service, it's still the best way of moving large bodies of people across the river. The Records Hall is not only an outpost of magical and martial power in the form of Tiarese and her inquisitors, it's a site of social power - the testicle of the Greens. Anybody who holds it can squeeze the nobility to do pretty much whatever they want, because all records of their feudal rights to land and labor are deposited there. It'd be a shame if anything were to happen to them. Taking Kintargo Keep removes the Order of the Rack as a political factor, and allows the performance of the Song of Silver (an aside: the mission to the Silver Star is probably as pointless as it is because the PCs were assumed to have taken the real center of power in the district, the Opera House, in the last book).

Put another way, just taking the Temple of Asmodeus leaves all these other centers of power in the regime's hands, and gives it any number of potential bases from which to reconstitute itself. Reducing it to a redoubt first makes its demise surer. Just hitting the Temple first without securing the city also leaves the Ravens with less legitimacy.

Actually, that might be a good idea to implement mechanically. As the Ravens take districts, not only does Barzillai's Authority fall, the Ravens' Legitimacy rises. Unlike Authority, there is no way (or what ways there are are less impactful) to effect Legitimacy by actions in the previous book; it must be raised by taking and administrating districts.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I like that idea of Legitimacy points or something they can use to abstract administering districts. I have a couple players that are going to be upset that book 5 and 6 drop the rebellion week mechanic, and maybe I can offer them a transition to running the government starting with legitimacy points.

As for the mechanics of the temple, there are also specific mentions to people at those locations being at the temple and increasing the CR of certain encounters if they are not dealt with. I know Tiarise would be helping at the temple, probably some of the River Talons, Natsiel bargaining with Barzillai for Hetamon, etc.

The political reasons that zimmerwald mentioned are certainly more logical than just upping CR and I might have Rexus and Laria basically lay it out like he did.


zimmerwald1915 wrote:
I've gone on at length about whether they succeed or fail elsewhere, but the missions in the various neighborhoods are supposed to be about building the Silver Ravens' capacity as an alternative government by seizing strategic locations and/or centers of power.

I should clarify; I wasn't referring to attacking the temple early then stopping there. It was more a matter of the sequence of events.

If Barzillai Thrune is using the temple as a command structure from which to coordinate his forces and order his reprisals, sacking it and killing/driving off Barzillai would - one would expect - reduce or prevent further reprisals. Noting that the reprisals can easily cause a lot of casualties in the city and loss of population.

There is little reason the Silver Ravens would stop at Barzillai's defeat and not move on to secure the rest of the city - it's just more of a mop up than a build up to a climactic finale.

xrayregime wrote:
As for the mechanics of the temple, there are also specific mentions to people at those locations being at the temple and increasing the CR of certain encounters if they are not dealt with. I know Tiarise would be helping at the temple, probably some of the River Talons, Natsiel bargaining with Barzillai for Hetamon, etc.

Tiarise and the dragon are definite possibilities, but both Natsiel and the River Talons really don't want to fight in the temple, and it is out of character for them to do so - especially if the PCs are successfully attacking it. There is also the issue of reinforcements getting there: Such groups make more sense appearing after the PCs stop and rest, if/when they do.

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Raynulf wrote:
If Barzillai Thrune is using the temple as a command structure from which to coordinate his forces and order his reprisals, sacking it and killing/driving off Barzillai would - one would expect - reduce or prevent further reprisals. Noting that the reprisals can easily cause a lot of casualties in the city and loss of population.

See what you've made me do? You made me reread A Song of Silver. You monster.

There's an erroneous assumption here: that Barzillai is actually at the Temple throughout the book. He isn't. Only after his authority points reach zero do "the lord-mayor and his allies retreat to the Temple of Asmodeus." James Jacobs, Pathfinder Adventure Path: A Song of Silver, 8 (2015). Where he is until that point is undefined. He could be at the temple sometimes, elsewhere other times, who knows? The only reprisals he actually has to be at the Temple for are Dragon Strike (because Rivozair moved from the Opera House to the Temple before Dance of the Damned, see Id. at 34), Supernatural Weather, and possibly Assassination Attempt and Devils on the Streets. See Id. at 8.

Overall, one gets the impression that Barzillai, rather than holing himself up in a fortress and issuing orders, is active among his lieutenants, running the repression of Kintargo in a hands-on sort of way. Why don't the PCs run into him? Plot. As you say, the confrontation with him is meant to be climactic.

Or maybe they get the idea to hunt him, and can be led into the written encounters that way. Locate creature and scrying can be fooled, after all, and rumors run on a delay.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Raynulf wrote:


xrayregime wrote:
As for the mechanics of the temple, there are also specific mentions to people at those locations being at the temple and increasing the CR of certain encounters if they are not dealt with. I know Tiarise would be helping at the temple, probably some of the River Talons, Natsiel bargaining with Barzillai for Hetamon, etc.
Tiarise and the dragon are definite possibilities, but both Natsiel and the River Talons really don't want to fight in the temple, and it is out of character for them to do so - especially if the PCs are successfully attacking it. There is also the issue of reinforcements getting there: Such groups make more sense appearing after the PCs stop and rest, if/when they do.

The book specifically calls out that Natsiel gives Barzillai Hetamon and he becomes host to the Hellwasp swarm if the PC's don't rescue him, AND Barzillai gains 40 authority points. Which is potentially terrible. My players are already going to lose a friendly NPC due to reprisals, and they've been pretty adamant about trying to save as many people as possible.

I think there are plenty of mechanical ways to keep your players from entering the climax of the book too early.


I would also point out that until Barzillai's authority points are reduced to 0 and he retreats to the temple, it is a significantly tougher nut to crack. It's not until that point that the effort to summon Mephistopheles begins. And that effort consumes a considerable amount of the temple's resources and focus. Indeed the summoning is arguably the thing that makes it possible for the pc's to get in and start taking out Barzillai's forces.


Latrecis wrote:
I would also point out that until Barzillai's authority points are reduced to 0 and he retreats to the temple, it is a significantly tougher nut to crack. It's not until that point that the effort to summon Mephistopheles begins. And that effort consumes a considerable amount of the temple's resources and focus. Indeed the summoning is arguably the thing that makes it possible for the pc's to get in and start taking out Barzillai's forces.

I must admit to being less convinced of that. The ritual, as written, kills off all of the slaves and servants (whose CR is inconsequential) of the temple, which mechanically serves as a means of removing the non-combatant portion of the temple and avoiding the moral concerns associated. What the ritual does do is not prevent the participants from fighting, but delay their involvement until they are 'attacked'. Which, given the insanity of the conflict otherwise, is a necessary inclusion to keep things manageable.

The temple isn't so much of a complex as a single giant room with a ring of smaller chambers around it, with a significant portion of the occupants being willing and able to respond to an alarm. How I suspect many people run the temple is to ignore the alarm concept altogether unless the PCs are in the Nave, and allow the PCs to fight through the perimeter room-by-room without drawing significant attention. Otherwise, those free and able to roam include:

Spoiler:

  • CR15 (51,200xp) Barzillai Thrune
  • CR12 (19,200xp) Aluceda Zhol
  • CR12 (19,200xp) The Gardener
  • CR12 (19,200xp) Jorogumo
  • CR11* (12,800xp) Serpent of Darkness
  • CR10 (9,600xp) Zella Zidlii
  • CR9x3 (6,400xp x 3 = 19,200xp) Bone Devils
  • CR6x9 (2,400xp x 9 = 21,600xp) Asmodean Priests (non-ritual)
  • CR5x6 (1,600xp x 6 = 9,600xp) Skinsaw Cultists

    = 181,600xp (CR18) on top of whatever encounter they're already in, spread out over a few rounds.

    *Assuming it has a -2 CR when outside of darkness

  • Which is a little nuts.


    Raynulf wrote:
    Latrecis wrote:
    I would also point out that until Barzillai's authority points are reduced to 0 and he retreats to the temple, it is a significantly tougher nut to crack. It's not until that point that the effort to summon Mephistopheles begins. And that effort consumes a considerable amount of the temple's resources and focus. Indeed the summoning is arguably the thing that makes it possible for the pc's to get in and start taking out Barzillai's forces.
    I must admit to being less convinced of that. The ritual, as written, kills off all of the slaves and servants (whose CR is inconsequential) of the temple, which mechanically serves as a means of removing the non-combatant portion of the temple and avoiding the moral concerns associated. What the ritual does do is not prevent the participants from fighting, but delay their involvement until they are 'attacked'. Which, given the insanity of the conflict otherwise, is a necessary inclusion to keep things manageable.

    That sounds like you are convinced...

    Raynulf wrote:


    The temple isn't so much of a complex as a single giant room with a ring of smaller chambers around it, with a significant portion of the occupants being willing and able to respond to an alarm. How I suspect many people run the temple is to ignore the alarm concept altogether unless the PCs are in the Nave, and allow the PCs to fight through the perimeter room-by-room without drawing significant attention. Otherwise, those free and able to roam include:

    ** spoiler omitted **...

    The Serpent shouldn't be on your list of responders since his description explicitly states he stays in the darkness. Aluceda probably shouldn't be on the list since the write-up of E2 states "she's watching and waiting in case she's needed to defend the ritual performers."

    If the ritual is not in progress, Grivenner (CR11), Aluceda (CR12),
    5 Asmodean Priests (CR6x5) and 5 Host Devils (CR7x5) would be added to the list.

    The write-up for E2 also states that raising the alarm triggers the Devil's Bells to peal a warning to the temple's defenders. The underlying mechanic of who exactly can trigger the bells is left as an exercise to the interested reader - can Grivenner do it? Any Asmodean priest? Anyone in the temple? Do they have to be in the Nave? Regardless of how you answer, alerting the entire temple seems a lot easier if the ritual is not in progress. And the servants and slaves, while no direct danger to the pc's, would serve as yet another "alarm system."

    All of which doesn't answer your original question: why shouldn't the pc's take out the Temple first (or whenever it occurs to them) instead of after all the districts are under their control? Since they don't know about the Mephisto ritual (and therefore don't know and can't anticipate it making the temple easier to access) and if they did, it would only be incentive to attack the temple immediately to stop it.

    There are two answers:
    1. There isn't a reason (and this shouldn't be a railroad) - let them try.
    2. The temple isn't directly threatening any resident of Kintargo (a stretch to be sure) but the various district encounters are (another stretch) so in terms of immediate need, the Silver Ravens should focus on protecting the citizenry.

    Even in Song of Silver, open warfare has not seized Kintargo's streets (but it's close.) If Kintargo becomes Stalingrad, the Ravens lose by winning. An early attack on the temple (if successful) would likely just force its occupants to retreat into the city, further escalating the conflict there.


    Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
    James Jacobs wrote:
    Axial wrote:
    James Jacobs wrote:


    That was one of the interlinks I was planning on building into the AP that changed partway through. Obviously, Strea didn't get abducted and magicked up by the church, but by Natsiel. If you want to run with the original plot, that's fine—you can replace Strea in Song of Silver with any missing NPC that the PCs have heard about in the AP.

    Well, that's a shame. I kind of prefer having Strea getting taken out by Thrune. Seeing as how they want to destabilize/oppress the Tiefling neighborhood.

    James Jacobs wrote:


    That option ended up being downplayed when it became apparent that there wasn't going to be any room in the 5th adventure to handle a more significant Nidal element. Feel free to add it back in if you want, but keep in mind I also chose to end up downplaying the Nidal stuff as well because it started to feel like it was going to be too distracting for players, and I wanted to keep the plot focused on Kintargo and its relationship with Chelaix.

    Oh! What was Nidal's role going to be? Was there going to be some kind of Nidal plot arc?

    Nidal's role was going to be distracting, and as such it was cut from the AP. Maybe I'll talk about it in a few years when Hell's Rebels has had a bit longer to set into the minds of folks as it was intended. I don't really want to distract folks at this point from the plot.

    So... ask me again in a year and maybe I'll talk then! ;-P

    Can a week or two early count? I actually had my players asking a lot about Nidal when they found out about Shadowsquare and a rumor that Coristian and Aluceda are hanging out.

    It might be interesting for them to follow your unpublished thread!


    My players are planning on using divinations (scrying, locate creature, possibly others) on Tiarise, who has escaped to the Temple of Asmodeus. Are there any precautions that the Temple itself has against divinations? I read through it several times and didn't see anything, but I wanted to check.

    My inclination is to make it fairly easy to peer in there. The intel might convince them not to chase after her until they've had the chance to secure more of the city. On the other hand, they've been curb-stomping Barzillai's minions so far, so maybe they're ready...


    Found the line about encouraging players to use divination or commune, as well as Barzillai's daily casting of detect scrying. That answers my question.

    There are a lot of moving parts in this chapter! Love it! :)


    Has anyone had any experience with Corinstian finishing the Mephisto Manifestation? My players aren't taking the hints... by my reckoning, 6 pit fiends are a CR 26...

    Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

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    Quibblemodeus wrote:
    Has anyone had any experience with Corinstian finishing the Mephisto Manifestation? My players aren't taking the hints... by my reckoning, 6 pit fiends are a CR 26...

    Maybe get a little more blunt with the hints? If the party is sharing information with the NPC Silver Ravens, one of them could put the pieces together and bring it to the party's attention. "Hey, I've been looking over the stuff you brought back from the records house--did you notice this weird ritual? It looks like it could be used to summon some serious evil into the world."

    Failing that, instead of bee-lining for the players, the Pit Fiends could go ham on the city, inflicting tremendous casualties. Go after some of the player's favorite NPCs too, ala the assassination reprisals.

    Unable to handle them in a straight up fight, the PCs have to use some kind of reverse-ritual to undo the bargain and banish the Pit Fiends back to hell (incorporating the song of silver, naturally). Use the ritual rules from Occult Adventures, and throw waves of enemies at them, ala the main room of the Temple of Asmodeus, while they're trying to pull it off. The last thing to barge in is one of the Pit Fiends, which they don't have to defeat, but just fend off for a round or two.


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    If they haven't fully researched the Song of Silver, have banishing pit fiends be a core part of the ritual. In fact, you could do a reverse of the module, where the villains try to break in to disrupt their ritual! Just make sure to add in that the Song sets up a potent forbiddance effect against devils, so that it's a fair fight.


    Those are both very good ideas, thank you.

    I do still have Tayacet in reserve--only one PC has met her, but with Rizovair's destruction, she's probably ready to openly side with the Silver Ravens. I could have her escape the Temple of Asmodeus, bringing news of the Mephisto Manifestation.


    I am trying to figure out what extra bonuses players could get for researching the infernal contracts in Kintargo Contract.

    I looked through all the adventures so far, and I have found these libraries and collections:

    Hocums
    - mw tools +2 circumstance know. planes
    - soul tomes +4 competence know. history, local

    Cathedral
    - library +4 know. arcana, planes on Hell
    - spec. collections 1. text - +8 any know. on Hell, Kintargo, devils
    - spec. collections 2. text - +10 know. arcana, planes on Hell, Chelish Crux, Kintargo Contract

    Research
    - Specialized skill +2 circumstrance
    - Aid another +2/+4
    - Cumulative 8-hour periods +1/8hrs

    My question is whether and how these bonuses would stack.
    What type of bonus do the library and special collections give?
    And is the +8/+10 discrepancy in the Cathedral special collections a typo? Or just take the higher one cause it's a circumstance bonus?


    the party is level 13, so I am looking at how realistic the DC 50 contract would be, with a maxed out linguistics or knowledge skill at this level.

    These is a professor (investigator) in the party with maxed out knowledge skills and an Int modifier of 6, with advanced inspiration.

    So skill 22 + inspiration d8 + circumstance 10 + competence 4 = 36+d8

    This seems more realistic with a DC of 50, taking aid another and cumulative options into consideration. (Basically this character would only miss the Heart's harvest contract DC of 40 on a critical fail, and would have a 45-85% chance (average of around 70%) for the Kintargo contract if others are helping.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    So how does Aluceda Zhol feel about the worship of Zon-Kuthon being restricted along with Abadar and Shelyn in the new proclamations? Relationship with Grivenner or no, I can't imagine her being thrilled about that, especially since she's been such a staunch ally.

    Shadow Lodge

    Meraki wrote:
    So how does Aluceda Zhol feel about the worship of Zon-Kuthon being restricted along with Abadar and Shelyn in the new proclamations? Relationship with Grivenner or no, I can't imagine her being thrilled about that, especially since she's been such a staunch ally.

    Really, there's not going to be any repression directed at the Kuthites. In the short and medium term, everyone will conveniently overlook the sloppy drafting, while a few of the more far-thinking schemers keep it in their back pockets for later and Zhol worries about when they might make their move.


    Is there a way to revive Rivozair? My players smashed her pretty thoroughly and removed a couple of scales (fortunately they didn't mutilate the body any more than that...), but I would love to revive her for a final fight at the end of the book.

    My first thought would be a raise dead/resurrection spell, but I have no idea how that works with the fact that she is contract-bound.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
    Avigdor David wrote:

    Is there a way to revive Rivozair? My players smashed her pretty thoroughly and removed a couple of scales (fortunately they didn't mutilate the body any more than that...), but I would love to revive her for a final fight at the end of the book.

    My first thought would be a raise dead/resurrection spell, but I have no idea how that works with the fact that she is contract-bound.

    You can't normally resurrect a devilbound creature. (I looked into the same thing since my party has a tendency to Leave No Survivors...and they did kill Rivozair, as expected.) I was pondering using a wyrmwraith for her at the end of the book, but the sunlight powerlessness made it tough to work in to that particular section and it's a bit strong for most parties of that level. Which is a shame, because otherwise the flavor is perfect.

    You could make her a ghost, maybe? Her spirit trying to avoid Hell and clinging to unlife due to some loophole in the contract? (I almost went with that, but decided to bring the First Warden back instead.)


    Avigdor David wrote:

    Is there a way to revive Rivozair? My players smashed her pretty thoroughly and removed a couple of scales (fortunately they didn't mutilate the body any more than that...), but I would love to revive her for a final fight at the end of the book.

    My first thought would be a raise dead/resurrection spell, but I have no idea how that works with the fact that she is contract-bound.

    If you don't mind playing with third party products, you have have it animated as a Dread Ghoul or similar undead template?


    Hmm... I like the idea of a wyrmwraith (maybe dailed down a little so that my level 12/13 party can feasibly take it on), and I suppose that the attack could happen at night.

    Dread Ghoul might work as part of Rivozair's contract; perhaps there could have been a hidden condition of the contract that if she is slain in battle against mortals she could become a dread ghoul under the control of a devil? Does that work according to the rules?


    Note: the pc's are already set to encounter a wyrmwraith in Book 6 (Adrakash in the Soulbound Fane.) So know that adding an undead dragon (of any flavor) may seem repetitive.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
    Latrecis wrote:

    Note: the pc's are already set to encounter a wyrmwraith in Book 6 (Adrakash in the Soulbound Fane.) So know that adding an undead dragon (of any flavor) may seem repetitive.

    Hmm, I forgot about that wyrmwraith. On the other hand, it might prove interesting to give them a less powerful version to take on first, maybe emphasizing that this is clearly a weaker one than usual, good thing, huh? Then watch them take out the more powerful version with glee later on.

    Dread Ghoul could work, though if there aren't any other ghouls around, it might seem a little less intimidating (since it wouldn't have anything to command). The description says that they're the undead remains of those (it says humans, but it also says it can be added to any living creature) who engaged in cannibalism or other unsavory acts involving the dead, but there's nothing preventing you from substituting a contract clause instead, as far as I can tell.

    Paizo Employee Creative Director

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    And a bit of behind-the-scenes stuff...

    For Hell's Rebels, I wanted to include an element of there being three legendary dragons that the PCs hear about from the first adventure, and that as the adventure progresses, they'll end up facing off against all three of these dragons that they may or may not have heard about in rumors or read in old texts or whatever.

    Those three dragons are Rovozair (encountered in the middle of adventure 4), Ithanothaur (encountered in the middle of adventure 5), and Adrakash (encountered in the middle of adventure 6).

    AKA: There was actually a lot of thought that went into when and where those dragons were encountered.

    I'm pointing this out mostly just so folks can see a peak behind the scenes at my thought processes for why I make certain choices, but also so that folks who want to adjust the role any of the three dragons have in the AP know that they do have an unstated story relation going on, and knowing about that could help folks in developing further stuff with all of them, I guess?

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