A Song of Silver (GM Reference)


Hell's Rebels

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GM PDK wrote:

You seem to have the order wrong. The order is:

1. Bridge fight against Rivozair
2. Temple of Asmodeus with entire Temple enemies, including Brazilai, and also the healed up Rivozair if he escaped the bridge fight (Brazilai teleports if he's losing)
3. Bridge fight against Brazilai and anyone else that has not died yet during the bridge commemoration ceremony (I used Brazilai, the high priestess of Zon-Kuthon and the First Warden who had reformed in Egorian)

I was only talking about point 2. I want to cut point 3 as it seems cheap to have him teleport away and come back having already been beaten once . And the bridge is a much more lacklustre map

I wasn’t referring to option 1 at all.

What I was interested is where within book 2 most people have had him show up. And who did he join and have as allies

And connected to this - is there a sensible way of reordering things so he is the “final boss” because it seems like as written the bell and asmoden are the last foes. I am thinking of ending this book at book 4 so would ideally like the temple to fall with Thrune’s defeat


Disclosure: I haven't run this yet - my group is early in Book 3.

As I look at it, you'll probably need multiple options because a lot is going to depend on how the pc's enter the temple and what path they take through it. The AP "suggests" the pc's enter through the main door and make their way around the outer perimeter before confronting the large group in the main chamber. But the pc's might directly confront the high priest to prevent him from completing the Mephistopheles Manifestation, especially if they know about it already. Or they might enter from the balcony (E34.)

I would probably not put him anywhere. The pc's/players don't know where he is supposed to be/where he is (and if they try to use scry or other divination to find out those simply fail. "Hey, you build an immense Temple to your god and you too can have protection from divination." Instead have him join whichever fight looks like a good candidate to be the last one. Either he's in the next room the pc's explore or he and some neighboring allies join a fight already in progress. And don't worry about how many of the Temple's occupants are "left" - some of them can join in waves to make the fight more interesting - but when Barzillai goes down, the fight (and as you're running it, the campaign) is over. Any surviving Temple defenders surrender or flee.


Lanathar wrote:
GM PDK wrote:

You seem to have the order wrong. The order is:

1. Bridge fight against Rivozair
2. Temple of Asmodeus with entire Temple enemies, including Brazilai, and also the healed up Rivozair if he escaped the bridge fight (Brazilai teleports if he's losing)
3. Bridge fight against Brazilai and anyone else that has not died yet during the bridge commemoration ceremony (I used Brazilai, the high priestess of Zon-Kuthon and the First Warden who had reformed in Egorian)

I was only talking about point 2. I want to cut point 3 as it seems cheap to have him teleport away and come back having already been beaten once . And the bridge is a much more lacklustre map

I wasn’t referring to option 1 at all.

What I was interested is where within book 2 most people have had him show up. And who did he join and have as allies

And connected to this - is there a sensible way of reordering things so he is the “final boss” because it seems like as written the bell and asmoden are the last foes. I am thinking of ending this book at book 4 so would ideally like the temple to fall with Thrune’s defeat

He *is* the final boss - see point number 3. If you have him fight to the death in the Asmodeus Temple you're not doing it right.


If the PCs are coming in through the front door, they are either suicidal or bringing every named NPC with them for a final battle. If they're going to do what the book suggests, they'll scry and teleport into various places--the walls are warded against transmutation, but there's no ward against divination or teleportation. I'd prepare for your players trying to identify who to pick off through divination. And, frankly, I'd let them use hit and run tactics, so long as they don't get to corner Thrune.

I severely doubt that Thrune will get a chance to use his scroll of teleport--he's set up as basically melee with a few ranged spell options, so by the time he needs to draw the scroll and read it, the attacks of opportunity will kill him with his escape route in hand.


Latrecis wrote:

The pc's/players don't know where he is supposed to be/where he is (and if they try to use scry or other divination to find out those simply fail. "Hey, you build an immense Temple to your god and you too can have protection from divination." Instead have him join whichever fight looks like a good candidate to be the last one. Either he's in the next room the pc's explore or he and some neighboring allies join a fight already in progress. And don't worry about how many of the Temple's occupants are "left" - some of them can join in waves to make the fight more interesting - but when Barzillai goes down, the fight (and as you're running it, the campaign) is over. Any surviving Temple defenders surrender or flee.

He does have nondetection, which will require a DC 26 caster level check for a divination to get through. If you need a narrative explanation for why scrying on him doesn't work, you can talk about lead paint and him choosing a suite where interior piping of running water provides additional divination protection.

If your players are really smart, they'll deduce that Barzillai is where they can't detect anyone.

Probably the fairest way to protect the big battle while still letting the PCs use magical scouting is to have the wings of the upper floor protected from divination through lead and internal running water, while leaving the ground floor as written, allowing the PCs to pick off some of the reinforcements on their own terms.


roguerouge wrote:

If the PCs are coming in through the front door, they are either suicidal or bringing every named NPC with them for a final battle. If they're going to do what the book suggests, they'll scry and teleport into various places--the walls are warded against transmutation, but there's no ward against divination or teleportation. I'd prepare for your players trying to identify who to pick off through divination. And, frankly, I'd let them use hit and run tactics, so long as they don't get to corner Thrune.

I severely doubt that Thrune will get a chance to use his scroll of teleport--he's set up as basically melee with a few ranged spell options, so by the time he needs to draw the scroll and read it, the attacks of opportunity will kill him with his escape route in hand.

He has a ring of spell storing with the teleport

Looking at it there is a chance that as written he goes down in one round if the Kineticist hits (I think I have seen other people write similar things)

Or more to the point - one round of PC attacks and he runs off
But one round of his attacks and a PC could die . Seems like rocket tag at its finest


He really devastated my party with his 15d6 flame strikes... my party's tank has an AC of 38+ so basically wades in melee all the time without fear... after a few flame strikes, he wasn't so confident anymore, and the healer was pumping heals overtime... use the flame strikes, and read the Heartless ability inside out (no pun intended :P )


Why I don't like the idea of him teleporting away and returning later to his imminent death during the Silver Span Celebration:
1) It's disappointing for the players when an enemy flees, especially since they killed a version of him a book ago only to learn it wasn't really him
2) They haven't killed him yet so the PCs/players are likely expecting him to return and having a celebration seems out of place unless you wait a long time, in which case him coming back exactly at the right time seems too contrived
3) Going through the Temple of Asmodeus likely used up a lot of the party's resources whereas attacking the celebration they'll be at full strength and he won't have many (if any) allies with him as back up
4) Teleporting away only to return to what he should realize is certain death makes him look stupid whereas not running from a temple of his god makes sense. (Especially if you have him plead for assistance from Asmodeus right before the players kill him)
5) It's disappointing for the players! (because it's worth repeating.)

As for where he is in the Temple:
I didn't have him anywhere in particular because I wanted to make sure it was an enjoyable fight. The party didn't see most of the main space until they had cleared out nearly everything else so I had him down there with everyone else.
No, wait... the part cleared out most of the top floor of the temple, got the attention of the main room, had to flee due to a death in the party, and when they came back Thrune was in the main area, as was most everyone else. (Minus those searching the place and patrolling for when/if the PCs came back).

As for one round fights with him:
If the PCs die in one round from him they did something very wrong.
If Thrune dies in one round from the party you likely should've had more enemies between him and the party. He knows their tactics. If there's a way that thy can kill him no matter what within a round find a way to counter that tactic.
Hell, switch out the teleport spell in the ring that you don't plan on using and replace it with a Heal spell and put a contingency on him so that when he drops below zero hit points the spell goes off and he's back up to nearly full hit points.


Warped Savant wrote:

Why I don't like the idea of him teleporting away and returning later to his imminent death during the Silver Span Celebration:

1) It's disappointing for the players when an enemy flees, especially since they killed a version of him a book ago only to learn it wasn't really him
2) They haven't killed him yet so the PCs/players are likely expecting him to return and having a celebration seems out of place unless you wait a long time, in which case him coming back exactly at the right time seems too contrived
3) Going through the Temple of Asmodeus likely used up a lot of the party's resources whereas attacking the celebration they'll be at full strength and he won't have many (if any) allies with him as back up
4) Teleporting away only to return to what he should realize is certain death makes him look stupid whereas not running from a temple of his god makes sense. (Especially if you have him plead for assistance from Asmodeus right before the players kill him)
5) It's disappointing for the players! (because it's worth repeating.)

As for where he is in the Temple:
I didn't have him anywhere in particular because I wanted to make sure it was an enjoyable fight. The party didn't see most of the main space until they had cleared out nearly everything else so I had him down there with everyone else.
No, wait... the part cleared out most of the top floor of the temple, got the attention of the main room, had to flee due to a death in the party, and when they came back Thrune was in the main area, as was most everyone else. (Minus those searching the place and patrolling for when/if the PCs came back).

As for one round fights with him:
If the PCs die in one round from him they did something very wrong.
If Thrune dies in one round from the party you likely should've had more enemies between him and the party. He knows their tactics. If there's a way that thy can kill him no matter what within a round find a way to counter that tactic.
Hell, switch out the teleport spell in the ring that you don't plan...

I agree with all your points which is why I was raising the question

Using the ring is a good idea - although I did see it mentioned on here that him not using a teleport ring and then finding it could raise some interesting questions


As an aside I ended up running the silver star as written last night despite all the comments about it seeming out of place (which it is)

I kept the witchfire in potential reserve for if things went too easily.

I didn’t make major changes because I thought my group was going to the bridge first

Points:

The reservoir is confusingly written as it is either not written how deep the water is or I missed it

Sticking to that walkway would have been a nightmare so I made the water difficult terrain

Shensen going along would have made things stupidly easy as she really seems quite good and much better built that most levelled NPCs (i have regularly complained about levelled PCs)

I played Shensen to both her tactics and (I hope) low wisdom. The party were really exasperated as they think she was a loose cannon. They were shocked that she pulled out the rod of wonder just to see what happens (annoyingly I got an enlarge person against the naga which does nothing - I probably should have found the funniest thing on that table really)

I then made her stick to spells and chase the retreating Naga (which was retreating due to her own Suggestion) so that I didn’t need to run her in the chapel fight (improved crit flaming burst scimitar could have made short work of that although feebleminding her might have been fun)

Chapel:

My group went straight there and I elected not to have Natsiel call in Strea because:

- Feeblemind went off on the witch on round one. I don’t think the player has ever encountered a high level spell effect like that before

(We ruled that he could still hex effectively . I am not sure if this is correct but it saved the group. I feel like the hexes still work but whether he can pick through them is another point. I think he played it well)

- I then dominated the Kineticist and just had him come and give her a kiss. I held back after that because things looked rough. If I was being mean I should have had him go into another room

- cleric succeeded on touch attack to protection from evil the dominated character who passed the second save on the dot

- the group one with some incredible trick rolling from my brother’s devoted muse. He had three attacks due to blessing of fervor and for rolled three natural 20s on the five rolls (two crits and one on one of the confirms). She had 5 images up and I let him roll whether he successfully hit her instead of doing it myself . Highest number on each dice for both crits with a holy weapon glaive that had bane added to it from “Bless Equipment” = one very dead half succubus

I underestimated that combat because I was focusing too much on the stat blocks and know my players almost all have very high saves. But too early bad rolls....


Warped Savant wrote:

Why I don't like the idea of him teleporting away and returning later to his imminent death during the Silver Span Celebration:

1) It's disappointing for the players when an enemy flees, especially since they killed a version of him a book ago only to learn it wasn't really him
2) They haven't killed him yet so the PCs/players are likely expecting him to return and having a celebration seems out of place unless you wait a long time, in which case him coming back exactly at the right time seems too contrived
3) Going through the Temple of Asmodeus likely used up a lot of the party's resources whereas attacking the celebration they'll be at full strength and he won't have many (if any) allies with him as back up
4) Teleporting away only to return to what he should realize is certain death makes him look stupid whereas not running from a temple of his god makes sense. (Especially if you have him plead for assistance from Asmodeus right before the players kill him)
5) It's disappointing for the players! (because it's worth repeating.)

I agree with all of this and would add two points.

1. The obviously suicidal return at the bridge is forced after the teleport by story. The pc's need his body (and the Chelish Crux, etc.) to connect to/kick off Book 5. This problem can be prevented by simply taking away the teleport ability. Simple solution: make it Dimension Door instead and he flees within the Temple. He has a wand of cure critical wounds - he doesn't need to go far away to heal up - he just needs a few minutes of safety.
2. He really shouldn't teleport to Egorian in any event. Up until late in DoD (and maybe even later) the greatest threat to Barzillai's plan is Abrogail. She will be even more passionate about preventing his proto-god ascension than the pc's (if that's possible) and she has a lot more power to bring to bear. Everything about his plan to become a genus loci is based on secrecy. Once the plan is known his goose is cooked. He needs to do everything in his power to keep her from paying any attention to him at all. (Not to mention he needs her focus to be on defeating the Glorious Reformation - if they win, Cheliax won't be what he expects to find as a god-of-the-land-thing.)
3. Which by the way points out a subtle flaw in Book 6. The pc's arrive at the Tower of Bone, get the info from Oughorthan, say "Thank you very much" and go home. And write Abrogail a letter - "Thought you might like to know... Pretty sure you don't want this to happen and this seems more in your backyard than ours... Looks like Asmodeus and Mephistopheles are trying to screw you... Let us know if we can help... How are the kids... Etc."


Latrecis wrote:
Warped Savant wrote:

Why I don't like the idea of him teleporting away and returning later to his imminent death during the Silver Span Celebration:

1) It's disappointing for the players when an enemy flees, especially since they killed a version of him a book ago only to learn it wasn't really him
2) They haven't killed him yet so the PCs/players are likely expecting him to return and having a celebration seems out of place unless you wait a long time, in which case him coming back exactly at the right time seems too contrived
3) Going through the Temple of Asmodeus likely used up a lot of the party's resources whereas attacking the celebration they'll be at full strength and he won't have many (if any) allies with him as back up
4) Teleporting away only to return to what he should realize is certain death makes him look stupid whereas not running from a temple of his god makes sense. (Especially if you have him plead for assistance from Asmodeus right before the players kill him)
5) It's disappointing for the players! (because it's worth repeating.)

I agree with all of this and would add two points.

1. The obviously suicidal return at the bridge is forced after the teleport by story. The pc's need his body (and the Chelish Crux, etc.) to connect to/kick off Book 5. This problem can be prevented by simply taking away the teleport ability. Simple solution: make it Dimension Door instead and he flees within the Temple. He has a wand of cure critical wounds - he doesn't need to go far away to heal up - he just needs a few minutes of safety.
2. He really shouldn't teleport to Egorian in any event. Up until late in DoD (and maybe even later) the greatest threat to Barzillai's plan is Abrogail. She will be even more passionate about preventing his proto-god ascension than the pc's (if that's possible) and she has a lot more power to bring to bear. Everything about his plan to become a genus loci is based on secrecy. Once the plan is known his goose is cooked. He needs to do...

1. So really just use DD to move him elsewhere in the temple and have him fight them twice there

2. Are there enough clues that will make the queen suspicious if he rocks up there ? Or is it more committing to staying under the radar?

3. What is the subtle flaw? I might be missing it?


Lanathar wrote:
...not using a teleport ring and then finding it could raise some interesting questions

But it's a ring of spellstoring, which is why I suggested switching out the spell to Heal (but have since noticed that Heal is too high of a level so would suggest Cure Critical instead, or Dimension Door as Latrecis suggested.)

Latrecis wrote:
3. Which by the way points out a subtle flaw in Book 6. The pc's arrive at the Tower of Bone, get the info from Oughorthan, say "Thank you very much" and go home. And write Abrogail a letter - "Thought you might like to know... Pretty sure you don't want this to happen and this seems more in your backyard than ours... Looks like Asmodeus and Mephistopheles are trying to screw you... Let us know if we can help... How are the kids... Etc."

Yes, but Kintargo/Ravounel gets screwed over first and it's kind of implied that it takes a long time before he's a threat to Cheliax so Abrogail might just wait until things have died down from the Glorious Reclamation and her forces have gained its strength back.


Lanathar wrote:

2. Are there enough clues that will make the queen suspicious if he rocks up there ? Or is it more committing to staying under the radar?

3. What is the subtle flaw? I might be missing it?

Anything that calls attention to Ravounel is bad for Barzillai.

"Wait, Barzillai was in town?"
"Yep, he was holed up in some estate."
"And he never stopped in to see me... Hmm, I wonder what he is up to. I think I'll send some devils up there to find out."

Sure she's dealing with the Glorious Reclamation but she can't have Kintargo going off the deep end at the same time. Keep in mind, Barzillai teleports to Egorian to recover prior to the Kintargo Covenant coming to light.

The subtle flaw is that the pc's don't need to take out Barzillai and slog through the Tower of Bone to do it. Abrogail will be just as interested in taking him out as the pc's, so they can recruit her to get it taken care of. He's a Thrune after all and her minion. She should clean up her own messes.


Latrecis wrote:
Lanathar wrote:

2. Are there enough clues that will make the queen suspicious if he rocks up there ? Or is it more committing to staying under the radar?

3. What is the subtle flaw? I might be missing it?

Anything that calls attention to Ravounel is bad for Barzillai.

"Wait, Barzillai was in town?"
"Yep, he was holed up in some estate."
"And he never stopped in to see me... Hmm, I wonder what he is up to. I think I'll send some devils up there to find out."

Sure she's dealing with the Glorious Reclamation but she can't have Kintargo going off the deep end at the same time. Keep in mind, Barzillai teleports to Egorian to recover prior to the Kintargo Covenant coming to light.

The subtle flaw is that the pc's don't need to take out Barzillai and slog through the Tower of Bone to do it. Abrogail will be just as interested in taking him out as the pc's, so they can recruit her to get it taken care of. He's a Thrune after all and her minion. She should clean up her own messes.

Trusting Abrogail to take care of Barzillai seems something my party would not be inclined to do, even if she has as much of a bone to pick as the PC's. There's no guarantee that with her knowledge and influence in the infernal spheres she couldn't turn this whole affair in her favor (and likely against the favor of a free Kintargo).

Maybe she allows Barzillai to finish his transformation but twists it so he's subservient to her will. Oops instead of losing Kintargo she's has an almost unassailable stronghold as one of her duchies and a very powerful (if immobile) servant.

But to answer the original question, it depends on who you portray Barzillai to be. I've rebuilt him as a relatively low WIS antipaladin, but while he's still smart enough to know when to retreat, his ego prevents him from doing so. He can't admit that he might lose. So he'll keep the teleport in the ring but use it to bounce somewhere else in the temple for healing and reinforcements unless it's super clear that won't happen (like they leave him for dead and he revives with no or minimal allies, at which point he ports home and liquidates all his holdings for a last attempt to retake Kintargo).

Also, should Barzillai be dead, I don't really see his allies rallying for a final attack. Seems anticlimactic, but we'll see how things shake out.

In regards to Asmoden and the bells, he's only the last fight if the PC's kick down the doors, guns blazing. High enough level PC's so inclined could easily disable the bells before taking on Barzy. Mine have already infiltrated the temple once in book 3!

Shadow Lodge

Latrecis wrote:
Sure she's dealing with the Glorious Reclamation but she can't have Kintargo going off the deep end at the same time. Keep in mind, Barzillai teleports to Egorian to recover prior to the Kintargo Covenant coming to light.

Ravounel (as written, implausible as it is) has about thirty thousand people in it, has no worthwhile industry to speak of, and has no strategic value either defensively or offensively. It is backwards and useless. There is no particular reason, other than prestige, for Cheliax to bother keeping it. The idea that Abrogail is at all concerned with what goes on there is fallacious in the extreme.

Quote:
The subtle flaw is that the pc's don't need to take out Barzillai and slog through the Tower of Bone to do it. Abrogail will be just as interested in taking him out as the pc's, so they can recruit her to get it taken care of. He's a Thrune after all and her minion. She should clean up her own messes.

It's a nice thought, but the PCs have no means to make Abrogail do this, and she doesn't exactly have a strong sense of duty compelling her to do the right thing of her own accord. Even if she did agree, as Artofregicide pointed out, why should the PCs trust her to do things their way, and not to twist the situation to her advantage?


zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Latrecis wrote:
Sure she's dealing with the Glorious Reclamation but she can't have Kintargo going off the deep end at the same time. Keep in mind, Barzillai teleports to Egorian to recover prior to the Kintargo Covenant coming to light.

Ravounel (as written, implausible as it is) has about thirty thousand people in it, has no worthwhile industry to speak of, and has no strategic value either defensively or offensively. It is backwards and useless. There is no particular reason, other than prestige, for Cheliax to bother keeping it. The idea that Abrogail is at all concerned with what goes on there is fallacious in the extreme.

Quote:
The subtle flaw is that the pc's don't need to take out Barzillai and slog through the Tower of Bone to do it. Abrogail will be just as interested in taking him out as the pc's, so they can recruit her to get it taken care of. He's a Thrune after all and her minion. She should clean up her own messes.
It's a nice thought, but the PCs have no means to make Abrogail do this, and she doesn't exactly have a strong sense of duty compelling her to do the right thing of her own accord. Even if she did agree, as Artofregicide pointed out, why should the PCs trust her to do things their way, and not to twist the situation to her advantage?

Interesting - is this “no industry” point something that came up in the rural reaction thread? I am sure I remember you and others mentioning it (plus some solutions)

To play devils advocate (unintentional I swear) - does the cheliax source material extensively explain the economies of the other duchies to highlight that ravounel is “backwards”? I haven’t looked in detail


Some questions where I would appreciate some opinions:

I succeeded in feebleminding the witch at the silver star (which shocked me)
This was after the player used a lucky clover and was given a second chance (with the final use of the clover) from the freedom domain cleric power. So I think he had 4 goes and rolled under 8 every time

Now they are in a place that they can restore in order to heal him

So should I rule that they do this and wait tough out thrunes reprisals (probably nets one or two extra days - probably only one due to the hallow) whilst they prepare to revive their ally

Or should I let the player play a backup or one of the NPCs ? To me that seems like freedom from consequences (especially as the solution is there). Or am I being harsh? I think it might come down to if my players insist on pushing on - then give him Octavio or Strea perhaps? (No level changes). Even then it feels generous

*

Connected to the above wasn’t Strea Feeblemined rather than charmed in the early write up. It makes more sense because otherwise where would she have been for several month? I need to re read to see if it says why Natsiel has her.

It would probably be useful to remove her or feeblemind her as well since I didn’t have her come out and help her “friend” in the combat last session. She could be under a different effect I suppose

Where have others put her? Keep or temple seem like good choices

Shadow Lodge

Lanathar wrote:
Interesting - is this “no industry” point something that came up in the rural reaction thread? I am sure I remember you and others mentioning it (plus some solutions)

Yes, that's right. Note the caveat "as written." Meaning there's a lot of worldbuilding to be done to get the country to have any value at all.


Lanathar wrote:


Or should I let the player play a backup or one of the NPCs ? To me that seems like freedom from consequences (especially as the solution is there). Or am I being harsh? I think it might come down to if my players insist on pushing on - then give him Octavio or Strea perhaps? (No level changes). Even then it feels generous

You should let the other player play one of the NPCs, not a backup. Remember that this is a revolution, so it is a mass movement as much as it is a hero's story. Let them play Octavio or Hetamon (or both, if you haven't leveled them, because they're not complicated). It furthers story for them to deepen these existing relationships.


roguerouge wrote:
Lanathar wrote:


Or should I let the player play a backup or one of the NPCs ? To me that seems like freedom from consequences (especially as the solution is there). Or am I being harsh? I think it might come down to if my players insist on pushing on - then give him Octavio or Strea perhaps? (No level changes). Even then it feels generous

You should let the other player play one of the NPCs, not a backup. Remember that this is a revolution, so it is a mass movement as much as it is a hero's story. Let them play Octavio or Hetamon (or both, if you haven't leveled them, because they're not complicated). It furthers story for them to deepen these existing relationships.

Thanks for the suggestion

I have tried to avoid levelling up the NPCs since there is already a slightly confusing dynamic over what tasks the groups should do vs what takes the NPCs should do

(E.g. book 1 my group seemed to want the Fushi sisters to just DO the salt works mission for them. Now they are talking about scouting and backing off sending the teams!)

Having NPCs at equal level would make them question why they aren’t do more heavy lifting / healing

Closest in levels are Octavio, Elia , Captain Sargaeta (banned from the shore), Mialari and Strea. Molly might work (I have forgotten her level)

Although Strea is someone who doesn’t make sense to be in the silver star (even less so than Hetamon and his captors!). So she might be moved

Mialari has a pretty poor stat block for a PC (using JJs). At the very least on all of them I would switch them to 20 points and consider adding ABP if a player played them


zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Latrecis wrote:
Sure she's dealing with the Glorious Reclamation but she can't have Kintargo going off the deep end at the same time. Keep in mind, Barzillai teleports to Egorian to recover prior to the Kintargo Covenant coming to light.

Ravounel (as written, implausible as it is) has about thirty thousand people in it, has no worthwhile industry to speak of, and has no strategic value either defensively or offensively. It is backwards and useless. There is no particular reason, other than prestige, for Cheliax to bother keeping it. The idea that Abrogail is at all concerned with what goes on there is fallacious in the extreme.

Quote:
The subtle flaw is that the pc's don't need to take out Barzillai and slog through the Tower of Bone to do it. Abrogail will be just as interested in taking him out as the pc's, so they can recruit her to get it taken care of. He's a Thrune after all and her minion. She should clean up her own messes.
It's a nice thought, but the PCs have no means to make Abrogail do this, and she doesn't exactly have a strong sense of duty compelling her to do the right thing of her own accord. Even if she did agree, as Artofregicide pointed out, why should the PCs trust her to do things their way, and not to twist the situation to her advantage?

I think you might be undervaluing Kintargo and Vyre as trading ports, sources of economic advantage/income and as strategic naval assets, giving Cheliax access to the growing markets in Varisia and Arcadia. If Abrogail has any ambition for expansion, those are very likely the best targets.

I suggested recruiting Abrogail more as a passing fancy than a serious strategem. While Barzillai endures in Hell, the haunts and other manifestations would likely continue in Kintargo, much to the pc's dissatisfaction. And they have no reason to trust Abrogail except where self-interest guides her. The description of a genius loci provided in Book 6 sounds awful for both Ravounel and points beyond - namely Cheliax. It seems very likely if not obvious that expansion beyond Ravounel and encompassing all of Cheliax would be Barsillai's goal. If he did, he would not view himself as Abrogail's servant but the other way around. So while it's still a long way off, the outcome for her and House Thrune seems decidedly unpleasant. Especially as it is clear Asmodeus and Mephistopheles deliberately engineered this event, almost certainly to force her to renegotiate the Cheliax Covenant to terms even more in their favor. If we're asking why the pc's should trust Abrogail, we should also ask why should Abrogail leave dealing with Barzillai to the Ravens? My most serious suggestion, if player's considered this line, would not be to defer to Abrogail in dealing with Barzillai but instead get her to aid them in defeating him. With allies or magic items, etc. Or help in destroying the Soul Anchor.


Lanathar wrote:

Some questions where I would appreciate some opinions:

I succeeded in feebleminding the witch at the silver star (which shocked me)
This was after the player used a lucky clover and was given a second chance (with the final use of the clover) from the freedom domain cleric power. So I think he had 4 goes and rolled under 8 every time

Now they are in a place that they can restore in order to heal him

So should I rule that they do this and wait tough out thrunes reprisals (probably nets one or two extra days - probably only one due to the hallow) whilst they prepare to revive their ally

Or should I let the player play a backup or one of the NPCs ? To me that seems like freedom from consequences (especially as the solution is there). Or am I being harsh? I think it might come down to if my players insist on pushing on - then give him Octavio or Strea perhaps? (No level changes). Even then it feels generous

*

Connected to the above wasn’t Strea Feeblemined rather than charmed in the early write up. It makes more sense because otherwise where would she have been for several month? I need to re read to see if it says why Natsiel has her.

It would probably be useful to remove her or feeblemind her as well since I didn’t have her come out and help her “friend” in the combat last session. She could be under a different effect I suppose

Where have others put her? Keep or temple seem like good choices

I don't think there is a right or wrong answer on how to proceed with the feebleminded pc. It's more about what your group playstyle is and what makes it more fun. Not very helpful but you should do what supports that - if your players would be unhappy if they stayed idle long enough to get the witch fixed, letting Kintargo take its lumps from Barzillai's reprisals all the while, then let the witch player play other known NPC's - introducing a backup character seems a big stetch (where has this character been during the previous 3 books, etc.) On the other hand, if the witch player doesn't want to play an NPC or the players like playing the same character each time until the story is over, then skip forward in time, hit Kintargo with a number of reprisals and play on.

On Strea, it's just another blemish on what is the most incoherent encounter in the entire AP. You are correct, in Book 1, this text appears: "On the Night of Ashes, Strea was one of those identified as a potential threat, and agents of Thrune abducted her, confiscated her belongings, and turned her over to the Church of Asmodeus, where she was subjected to a feeblemind spell and imprisoned—the PCs can learn her fate and possibly rescue her in “A Song of Silver.” How exactly did she go from the Church of Asmodeus to Natsiel? Her write-up in Book 4 doesn't show the Int and Charisma score of 1 from being feebleminded. It makes absolutely no sense for her to be there. Seems far better for her to be a prisoner in the Keep or perhaps the Temple itself.

My plan is to have her and Hetamon as prisoners of Tombus -he and the Chelish Citizens Group are going to lynch them as part of a Reprisal to burn down the Devil's Nursery. Hei-fen and her Norgorberites will be the one's who attack the Lucky Bones - since no matter how secretive the pc's are, she knows all about it.

Shadow Lodge

Latrecis wrote:
I think you might be undervaluing Kintargo and Vyre as trading ports, sources of economic advantage/income and as strategic naval assets, giving Cheliax access to the growing markets in Varisia and Arcadia. If Abrogail has any ambition for expansion, those are very likely the best targets.

The value of Kintargo and Vyre as trading ports is easily replicated by Corentyn, as demonstrated by the removal of the Arcadian import license from Kintargo to Corentyn, and by the latter's location at the intersection of virtually every trade route. Kintargo and Vyre don't produce income. Vyre is explicitly a free city, which means it collects its own taxes and may or may not remit some of those to the central government. Even if it does so remit, it drains more than it provides, since rich people from all over Cheliax go there to lose money. As written, it has no industry to speak of other than catering to these tourists. Kintargo isn't much better industry-wise. Most of its economy consists of extracting raw materials from the countryside, not even doing anything with them. In any event, it has slightly over ten thousand people in it. It cannot possibly generate much revenue. This will also remain true after independence. Ravounel is not a viable state; it can be easily blockaded and thus cut off from world trade, and possesses no native industry with which to compensate. The government would collapse in a matter of years if not months for lack of revenue.

Kintargo and Vyre bring no additional military value over Corentyn either. Vyre's harbor is both small and shallow, unsuited for embarking war fleets. Kintargo's is better, but Kintargo is also a small city unsuited to be a logistical hub. Corentyn is larger both geographically and population-wise, has more dock space, and is only a few days further away by sea. In any event, Cheliax has access to Nisroch if they need a place to resupply before heading further north. Not that Cheliax would need to send a military expedition. Korvosa is not independent by choice, but because the Empire cut its losses after losing the trans-Menador territory as a land route to Varisia. If it asked for reannexation, Korvosa would likely accept.

By itself, the city compensates for everything that would be lost in Ravounel. Korvosa actually has industry, as do its holdings (particularly Melfesh and most especially Palin's Cove).

Shadow Lodge

James Jacobs wrote:
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. :-)

Do those stats exist somewhere? If so, what are they?


Hey Pathfinders! My players are about to enter the Temple of Asmodeus. I was preparing the encounter and want to change something, but i need some ideas.

I want to replace the Contract Devil in the library by something else. My resoning is that i think encountering a random Contract Devil will make less special the encounter with Odexidie in the next book.

Any of you got an idea for replacing him with something similar? He's Advanced, so CR11.

Thank you!


Yeah... use a barbed devil instead. The contract devil just tried to entice my PCs to sell their souls, and he died the next round via paladin smite.


Heresy Devil could have some confusing implications.


So the assumption of the book appears to be that Hei-Fenn and her cultists attack after the PCs have already had some significant fights

This puts me in a little bit of a bind.

Due to the order things that have happened I have only just had the Skinsaw cult attack. And I ran the first two in one day

I powered up the skinsaw men based on a post somewhere on these boards where they become sanctified slayers. Studied target + Bane + Outflank + usual buffs make them an order of magnitude harder than the clowns they are as written in the book

(But this is the second time they have thought them and a third might be too much repetition)

The Jorogumo killed one of the PCs through some insane power attack rolling on a full attack

As a result my PCs want rid of these cultists and want to hunt them down.

My issues:

- Running another Jorogumo so soon seems repetitive. Especially as tactics in summoning flanking spiders will be the same

- I am wary about the third group of identical cultists especially so soon after one

- I am also wary that the sanctified slayer variant is actually much stronger than it should be for the CR abstraction (compared to those written being much much weaker for the CR with pathetic AC, attack roles, damage and DCs)

- I am not sure the best way to run an attack on a assassin cult hide out. Everyone is going to be sneaking and hiding or trying to be invisible and the scope of enemy variation seems low as they seem like they will be all rogue like people trying to flank for sneak attack

*

> Did anyone actually have their group confront the cult directly? And if so what did they do?

> And what sort of different creatures could I potentially add? Are their any notable outsiders the Skinsaw cult might work with for example (Daemons I guess as NE but I am sure non seemed to fit at the level I need when I last looked)

In terms of spidery themed there are the the servitor Karumzek. Advancing some of them and giving them class levels would fit. Whilst vivisectionist really works that is just more buffing and trying to sneak but with spider creatures. So I might go with standard alchemists as fit their theme. Maybe with poison (even though my group have really good saves)

Aranea look weak and seem like maybe only something that could work if I stacked up the sorcerer levels? Ettercap are too weak as well. I was kind of hoping for things where I didn't have to add loads of class levels!

> How would a group of assassins set up in their hideout for a potential attack. My PCs are already mildly annoyed that they have been jumped twice by invisible skinsaw men (potentially through my not quite getting stealth rules right).

I imagine they use the Lantern of Revealing this time.

*

Thanks for any help. My game hasn't been going for a while and it has been good to get it back on. I just don't want the same fights two weeks in row!


If you're concerned about repetition, why not simply narrate that they have defeated another cultist attack, this time a low-level one?


IMC, I completely skipped the Skinsaw Cultist and Hei-Fen. They are an utter distraction from the plot and don't add anything to the story. You're better off re-skinning them as elite dottari guards if you absolutely want to throw them as monsters upon the PCs. And it makes zero sense for Hei-Fen, at her age, to reveal herself, come out of the shadows, and throw herself at the PCs meatgrinder. IMC she stayed in Vyre, and smiled, happy to plot against Molly's new property holdings for another decade or so before Pharasma will claim her...


Your point on Hei-Fen is not too dissimilar from the discussion about why thrune did not simply sit out several decade in a ravounel villa : part the pride/ego and part that they wouldn’t make an interesting foe

My group are certainly out to get hei-fen even if she is a distraction. It helps to play up that the cultists are murdering people (as per the reprisals)

It is too late for me to change or remove them now as they have already fought cultists and the Jorogumo

As to avoiding repetition by narrating it - my interpretation is the encounter with hei fen is not balanced around the group fighting her at full strength on their terms ...


Never too late! :)

Even evil rogue assassins can sometimes cut their losses and decide these overpowered murderho... err... do-gooders are not worth fighting. Matter of fact: one of the only thing that works motivating evil goons is fear of their bosses. If fear of PCs exceed fear of Hei-Fen, a glorious end to this sad little skinsaw chapter could be a dozen cultists turning on her and cutting her down, with the most brave goon saying, "Sorry, Godmother... you had a good life. Time for new blood to continue your great work in the years to come. Boys and girls, pull out your silver war razors..."

From a pure metagaming perspective, this AP tries to be a lot of things at the same time, based on its sandbox nature: don't feel 'obligated' to have the PCs clear the whole town and check all the ticks in the box. If your PCs have a genuine interest in tackling these guys go ahead, but if they're more interested with the Thrune/Cheliax/Hell angle (as were my PCs) then adapt and cater to that.

I'd say the best example of that is Book 5: it has one main goal, which is achieved in Part 1 of the Book... parts 2 and 3 are a hodgepodge of quests that can feel like a senseless meatgrinder (the quests all support the PCs' goal of unifying Ravounel, but at this stage some of their senior Silver Ravens could take care of these). The last part of Book 5 is utterly superficial and disconnected with the plot. You can skip it entirely. For the PCs to take care of everything removes from their actual prestige: at their level, if they keep jumping at every threat and doing all the town's errands, it begins to feel a bit sad and pathetic actually. IMC I followed Book 3 or Book 4's recommendation of leveling up several NPCs: they've also fought their own battles, and they do talk back to the PCs during meetings, being on a similar level! ;)


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
GM PDK wrote:
Matter of fact: one of the only thing that works motivating evil goons is fear of their bosses.

Man I hate that phrase. "One of" implies there's more than one. "Only" implies there's exactly one. Which is it?

I'm guessing the latter in this case, but I suspect a case can be made for the former. And that can lead to interesting story-telling opportunities. :-)


Interesting notes on book 5 as I really haven’t read it in detail. I thought the last part was kind of important as a hint on the soul anchor?

My tentative plan is to stop at the end of book 4 as beyond solving the soul anchor point there last two books don’t seem necessary. There isn’t even necessarily an obvious question about “what was be up to”. I suppose the witch rituals raise a bunch of questions

But it is interesting to note that book 5 could be streamlined

But to be honest:

- I think I am going to really struggle running high level games as I am not used to it and 13+ really seems to be where the system breaks down

- I am really liking all I am seeing from 2E and my most recent game and some of the occurrences only reinforced that theory

- I have two players having a silent arms race trying to outdo each other and each are really jealous of the others character and it is getting tedious . And they are obviously now past the level where killing them is a solution (and I would never want to seek that goal anyway).

So books 5 and 6 may not even be an issue !


GM PDK wrote:
... "Sorry, Godmother... you had a good life. Time for new blood to continue your great work in the years to come. Boys and girls, pull out your silver war razors..."

And then Hei-Fen casts word of recall, returns to Vyre, and hunts the traitors down at her leisure because she's a high level spellcaster. Which would achieve the same effect I guess. Or just planeshift the ringleader to Abbadon to make an example. I doubt she'd tolerate silver weapons in her ranks without a reason.

I've managed to make my PCs hate "Grandmother Rat" as she is known in my campaign. And connecting her to Barzillai and Kintargo was easier than you'd think, though I didn't use the motivation as written as the primary reason:

Basically, Barzillai and Hei-Fen (despite their religious differences) are old friends. As an inquisitor (or in my campaign, antipaladin) Barzillai has leeway to associate with all kinds of folks who don't necessarily share his worldview. The Lucky Bones and Skin Clock are just gravy.

I agree as written the encounters get pretty repetitive. I'd strongly suggest Karumzek with class levels, because they're fun. If you want tankier cultists, executioner slayers stay on theme but can fight toe to toe.

As for wherever Hei-Fen and gang have holed up, I'd suggest some nasty traps (preferably incorporating poison).


Skin clock?

I am looking a karumzek alchemists. I want to try and avoid a sneak attack basis

I was thinking an aranea sorcerer but didn’t realise they are typically neutral


Lanathar wrote:

Skin clock?

I am looking a karumzek alchemists. I want to try and avoid a sneak attack basis

I was thinking an aranea sorcerer but didn’t realise they are typically neutral

The skin clock is mentioned in the AP once or twice as some sort of mysterious doomsday clock that the cult of Father Skinsaw wish to advance for unspecified ominous reasons. But they do that by killing the PCs and foiling their agreement with Cheliax in book 6.

Karumzek alchemists would be very thematic, and could use invisibility and their climb speed to harass the PCs with nasty bombs in all sorts of fun ways.

Aranea are *typically* neutral. Doesn't mean you can't have a non-typical one. Most humans don't worship father Skinsaw after all.


You could also completely deviate from the spider motif entirely. By mostly reaction to player choices I've ended up statting out Elitu Rosewinter as an unchained rogue/slayer (executioner).

I also sent a unique piscodaemon against the party that nearly TPK'd them.


Was Elitu someone from vyre? I might do that

I don’t like the idea of having the cultists be slayers because they will be a fair amount weaker than sanctified slayers in my view.

I recall a piscodaemon in an AP. Might have even been a podcast. And they are absolutely evil. I don’t recall which it was in though ...

Shadow Lodge

Lanathar wrote:
Was Elitu someone from vyre?

Yeah, she was one of the guests at Manticce's banquet.


Lanathar wrote:
I recall a piscodaemon in an AP. Might have even been a podcast. And they are absolutely evil. I don’t recall which it was in though ...

There's one in Kingmaker. Possibly other APs, but definitely Kingmaker.


Lanathar wrote:

Was Elitu someone from vyre? I might do that

I don’t like the idea of having the cultists be slayers because they will be a fair amount weaker than sanctified slayers in my view.

I recall a piscodaemon in an AP. Might have even been a podcast. And they are absolutely evil. I don’t recall which it was in though ...

Elitu is described as being a sadistic, morbid assassin. Once of my players hired her to assassinate Hei-Fen... she plans to bring a wererat's tail as proof. Provided by Hei-Fen, of course.

Executioner slayers lack the sheer offensive firepower that a sanctified slayer inquisitor does, but they've got more sticking power and take less time to wind up. That said, you may not want to double up on cultists.

The Piscodaemon was summoned by Hei-Fen to ambush the party on their way back to Kintargo from Vyre. They decided to teleport back instead of take their folding boat. So it ambushed them in the bottom of the lucky bones after sabotaging the air pump and taking several hostages.

I gave my piscodaemon the old giant template (+8 STR, +4 CON, +3 natural armor) and it nearly TPK'd the party. It helps they split the party... and that it killed the gunslinger and permanently paralyzed the slayer in back to back turns. I had a strong party of five lvl 8 characters, but even with some divine intervention it was close.

Shadow Lodge

Accidentally deleted my notification thingy for this thread, posting to reactivate it.


So I have currently placed the cult in the Fantasmagorium / Many Steps

I changed 6 of the cultists for Norgorber Graven Guardians as i enjoy that monster and it was something different. They were mainly a speed bump

Inside I have placed the Jorogumo with a Fiendish Advanced Ogre Spider with 2 extra HD. The Spider predictably is useless but the group is terrified of the Jorogumo. It succeeded with making the Devoted Muse drop his glaive and leave through Suggestion which has freaked out the rest of the group. They are regrouping and we are recommencing the combat on Sunday

The Kineticist has taken 6 points of Wisdom damage but this is delayed through a well placed use of communal delay poison

Coming up:

I am going to put 4 level 5 Advanced Karumzek Alchemists based on something from War from the Crown

The Hei-Fen and 6 cultists

*

Does anyone know of any fun high level traps they might have put in? I am really bad at coming up with traps and none of the standard ones seem to fit well

I considered using the Axiomite Graveknights (also from War for the Crown). They are CR10 but are absolutely horrendous with higher DC abilities than most of the higher level threats in the main book (such as Tiarise, Zellia, High Priest etc.).
I think I will leave them our as two of them would probably give my group a pasting


A trap that softens the PCs up for the cultists with a debuff rather than straight damage might be worth considering. If it's just hp they should have the resources to just stop, heal up, and move on. Keep in mind that Hei-Fen has access to greater glyph of warding. There's some really nasty 6th level spells she could put in it. Even flamestrike or harm if you do just want to go with the damage route. Poison or greater bestow curse would be a nice too.

Most mechanical/mundane traps that the cultists are likely to lay would rely on poison which your PCs have neatly circumvented. Alchemical traps, deadfalls, or just crushing them with heavy stuff isn't a bad idea either.

Regardless, the main point is to slow the party down and waste their resources while the cultists prepare and buff.

I'd skip the graveknights. They don't seem super thematic and if you want undead maybe go for some incorporeals like greater shadows. Or lower level undead with class levels.

I can also see Hei-Fen binding evil outsiders, not limited to daemons but there is a fun blood daemon thing that might be thematic, I almost used one in my campaign.

Btw, as written, Thrune's allies are weaksauce.


So I added the blood daemons which were fun as my group fluffed their knowledge checks so as both players and PCs had no idea what they were fighting

I didn’t put in the karumzeks as they had taken a bit of a beating and I wanted to fit the Hei fenn fight in the session

I almost burnt through all her spells (and she had more as I boosted her including a wisdom of 24). Her last act almost sent someone to Abaddon (despite what the book said it was pretty much all she had)

However an interesting point came up:

She got dropped to 6 HP and 5 points of bleed due to a bleeding blast from the Kineticist . It ticked to 1 HP and she used Word of recall to go back to Vyre

How likely is her destination to have someone who could heal her within 12-18 seconds of arrival ? If it is a temple of norgorber - maybe? But it seems like there will just be a dead were rat in some secret hideout in Vyre somewhere with a very cool agile sword...


As a completely separate aside, my witch player came up with a potentially worrying combo today -

Empowered (for free through Rod)
Ranged touch (spectral hand)
Touch of idiocy

1-9 damage to all mental stats targeting Touch AC (a busted mechanic that has thankfully been dropped) with No Save

Against spellcasters who are not known for touch AC.

And of course on a miss the charge is retained. So with +11 to +13 odds are a hit after either one or two rounds and then the fight against a caster is over

I guess it is not different to PCs using Feeblemind

But a level 2 spell ending a high level combat against a caster leaves a slightly bad taste in my mouth

Today he just missed Hei Fen and she dispelled it. But I am worried about Tiarise as she has no SR, not very good touch AC and no way of getting a decent miss chance
(Obviously she could do the same but will probably lose initiative)

Do I just let him go for it or try to think up some kind of mitigation for it

(How long does the charge stay retained on spectral hand for? What is stopping this even being cast pre combat ready to go? I guess there is a rule I have missed)

Save or Suck isn't fun (like Slumber), but "No Save and Suck" is pushing it. Seems like a dodgy legacy issue


How does the witch have such a high attack bonus?

Also, one round to cast Spectral Hand, one to cast Touch of Idiocy (free action to try to touch the target the same round the spell is cast), the target spellcaster likely has Mage Armor and/or Shield, both of which provides the +4 AC bonus against attacks from incorporeal things, which the spectral hand is.


Warped Savant wrote:

How does the witch have such a high attack bonus?

Also, one round to cast Spectral Hand, one to cast Touch of Idiocy (free action to try to touch the target the same round the spell is cast), the target spellcaster likely has Mage Armor and/or Shield, both of which provides the +4 AC bonus against attacks from incorporeal things, which the spectral hand is.

I believe it is :

+4 BAB
+4 Dex (weapon finesse)
+2 spectral hand

Not sure where the other one comes from - that could be an error

The extra +2 comes from Beacon of Hope which is incredibly powerful milani only channel feat which given the Milani cleric has 11 channels and it lasts 4 rounds it is pretty much only not active on round 1 and if an individual did not need to heal from the channel

Indeed that +2 on attack and saves at almost all times has been incredibly powerful in my game and swung a lot of things

It is one of those splat book things that should probably have a “once someone has benefitted they can’t again for 24 hours” tagged to it...

I have made lots of comments about raw power of the Kineticist seeming both crazy powerful and far more powerful than most people on those boards who use the “archers deal more damage” counter (arguably incorrectly). But a Freedom Domain Milani cleric and a witch with Rime spell , hexes and an empower spell rod can perform far more shenanigans - especially as we are entering the territory of level 10-11 casters

(Not 100% a complaint but more an observation. Freedom domain is incredibly powerful as it basically restricts enemies to doing HP damage which is much more easily dealt with)

I did not know/remember mage armour and shield worked against incorporeal. That +8 helps a substantial amount as it makes tiarise at 24 base before I improve her deflection bonus reducing the odds of that gambit probably to 25% at least once I am done

(Edit - scratch that I can’t really boost deflection higher than +3 but will probably bump Dex a bit)

I am still wary

Also spectral hand is minutes level so could in theory be cast pre combat . Especially in somewhere as small as the records hall ...

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