A Song of Silver (GM Reference)


Hell's Rebels

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I clearly didn’t read Fantomas’ post about rolling combat and NPCs because I didn’t pick up the part about not rolling for them all

I think I saw the part about them fighting straight away and just thought “that is insane” and that hopefully i would be able to steer my players away from that. (And then skim read the rest as I was at work)

Edit: misremembered which post it was. I did see that but didn’t fully understand what was meant and need to check out that link

But now I am really thinking they will just attack. Which does solve the “easy other rooms” part to an extent

As to complaining about some of them being too easy - it is more a general point on how bad the system is with solo encounters yet there being loads in this temple. And then that the CR seems low which implies a large part of the area is supposed to be done together

*

Incidentally the text for attacking in the nave has Thrune come and stand on the balcony. But I seem to have missed how high that is and (connected) how he would get down. Would he literally go and run down the stairs ?


Fantomas wrote:

Lanathar: As far as your concerns about Rivozair finding the heroes, Corinstian Grivener can use the scrying font in the temple to locate the heroes, correct? So, Corinstian could locate the heroes, and tell Rivozair where they are.

Personally, I think it would be awesome if the dragon attacks while the group is split. Two here battle the dragon on the causeway while the other two see it from a distance and try to get there as fast as they can. Seems like it would be awesome as long as the two heroes not in the battle don't get bored.

I ran the temple mass combat this past saturday, and it went extremely well. It was three waves of bad guys, and then on each turn, I'd describe one of the NPC allies fighting one of Thrune's goons. How the character did on their turn dictated how that particular battle went. A number of important NPCs croaked:

- Gut-Tugger, the awakened dinosaur, was killed by the hell wasp swarm.
- Both Solstine siblings were killed by clay golems.
- A member of one of the group's NPC Rebellion Teams, "Ice Cold Stan Boston" was killed when Zella Zidli applied a sleeper hold (my campaign is stupid).
- 1 of the kenku sisters was killed by a blood golem.
- Mantice Kaleeki was almost killed by a vampire spawn, but the heroes dropped everything to save her.

I was a bit concerned during the first phase, as the group mopped the floor with Corinstian Grivener. I screwed up the elevation. If you look at the map, I think that central area is raised, but then the central area is a pit. The means that the group doesn't have line of sight on the creatures in the pit.

I didn't realize that until it was too late.

I had the bells go off every round, though i "nerfed" the bell of infernal darkness. For this battle, the blindness was just for one round, rather than permanent. The bells worked great.

For the second wave, the erinyes flew above and rained down arrows on the group. She was a much bigger threat! It turns out that my waves worked out perfectly - increasing in...

Are you playing using 5E?

I was a bit thrown by the initiative rolls. It is not even possible for my whole party to get below 10! Two have +12 or 13 !

Edit to the post before this: just re-read the description looking for your line of sight point an seen the balcony is 20 feet

It mentions a stage which and a pit - but not the height
Also the high priest is in the fire so concealed that way.


Yep! We are playing 5e. I've been converting the path as we go.

I messed up a few things, but overall the fight went as I hoped it would. This Saturday they should finish off Barzillai and I'll make it so the hole where his heart should be is exposed.

I'm thinking about doing a thing where, if they find Asmoden's arm, they can somewhat redeem him by reattaching his arm.

I've been trying to customize the devil's bells encounter to link up with the backstories of the heroes, but I've been having a hard time with it.


Lanathar wrote:
DM Livgin wrote:
My team attacked the ritual immediately after opening the door and had a rough fight...

Did your group have allies with them? Because that temple fight including the dragon looks like TPK material

Doesn’t the dragon fly away if beaten? Did it win in yours then?

I am still not sure if me group will storm the ritual or not. I am reluctant to have them bring allies purely because it is so much work

Also unless the rules for districts change (do they?) after Thrune retreats to the temple don’t they need to stay managing the areas. That removes Shensen, Chuko, Jillia , Octavio, Hetamon and Mialari

I think the rest are either severely under levelled or dead apart from the invesitgator and molly

By every right it should have been a TPK.

  • -The dragon was torching the Opera House so took a few rounds to arrive.
  • -They arrived fully buffed.
  • -They are a strong party with some kickass teamwork and teamwork feats. (3 of them have Outflank and keen weapons, by pre-buff.)
  • -I forgot to include the devils in the ritual.
  • -Communal resist energy (fire + cold) was very powerful this fight. (They had a hard fight with an Ice Devil in a random encounter).
  • -Two scrolls of heal were used.
  • -They landed a lucky curse on the dragon (50% chance to not act). The dragon then failed 4 of the next 5 percentiles.
  • -The arcane bloodrager soloed Thrune due to lucky crits on his end and Thrune missing due to displacement 75% of the time.

So they had a lot of luck and played very well, while I made some small changes to make the fight winnable if barely so.

The dragon died. Because curse... Thrune lives and remains at the temple because the Gardener dimension doored him away. Now I need to decide what Thrune changes in his tactics after almost dying. Likely going to get the High Priest or Tiarise to prep a True Seeing for him... I think the Temple will have 2 days to prepare and re-fortify.


DM Livgin wrote:
Lanathar wrote:
DM Livgin wrote:
My team attacked the ritual immediately after opening the door and had a rough fight...

Did your group have allies with them? Because that temple fight including the dragon looks like TPK material

Doesn’t the dragon fly away if beaten? Did it win in yours then?

I am still not sure if me group will storm the ritual or not. I am reluctant to have them bring allies purely because it is so much work

Also unless the rules for districts change (do they?) after Thrune retreats to the temple don’t they need to stay managing the areas. That removes Shensen, Chuko, Jillia , Octavio, Hetamon and Mialari

I think the rest are either severely under levelled or dead apart from the invesitgator and molly

By every right it should have been a TPK.

  • -The dragon was torching the Opera House so took a few rounds to arrive.
  • -They arrived fully buffed.
  • -They are a strong party with some kickass teamwork and teamwork feats. (3 of them have Outflank and keen weapons, by pre-buff.)
  • -I forgot to include the devils in the ritual.
  • -Communal resist energy (fire + cold) was very powerful this fight. (They had a hard fight with an Ice Devil in a random encounter).
  • -Two scrolls of heal were used.
  • -They landed a lucky curse on the dragon (50% chance to not act). The dragon then failed 4 of the next 5 percentiles.
  • -The arcane bloodrager soloed Thrune due to lucky crits on his end and Thrune missing due to displacement 75% of the time.

So they had a lot of luck and played very well, while I made some small changes to make the fight winnable if barely so.

The dragon died. Because curse... Thrune lives and remains at the temple because the Gardener dimension doored him away. Now I need to decide what Thrune changes in his tactics after almost dying. Likely going to get the High Priest or Tiarise to prep a True Seeing for him... I think the Temple will have 2 days to prepare and re-fortify.

True seeing wouldn’t be unreasonable given his downfall in this fight. Perhaps even something to country a curse effect just out of paranoia given what happened to the dragon...

Who is still alive ? I guess you move Tiarise? Or did she escape?

How regularly does your group play? You have rocketed past nine and we started May 2018...


Since the Ravens had such an effective strike against the temple, Thrune called Tiarise and her troops back to the temple (leaving only the invisible stalkers to defend the Records Hall). I did this to keep momentum and focus on the Temple now that they crossed that line.

I think the mook priests are high enough level to prep a remove curse, Thrune will ensure some of them prepare that spell...

The High priest got resurrected using consumables in the temple. Thrune and the Gardener lived. Everyone else that the book had join the ritual fight died.

We play 4hr weekly and started in Jan 2019 when we finished the playtest. We have a fast group that doesn't spend a lot of time roleplaying.


If the PCs occupy the Opera House as their base of operations, what are its weak points defensively that the PCs should shore up?


The underwater entrance and the balcony? My group were too paranoid to do that

They assumed it was still enemy territory and I struggled to find a non meta way of explaining it had been given up by thrune’s forces


I'm strategizing for both the possibility that they hole up in the Lucky Bones and that they're in the Opera House. Jarvis End is between Old Kintargo (area of power for the SR) and two major districts of Thrune control--Castle district and Temple Hill. It makes sense for it to be a battleground district.

So, I'm thinking that if they fortify the opera house, narrating the siege and having the PCs move from one crisis to the next for an encounter, then call it a day. The reason I'm thinking about this is because the one thing this particular module is missing is a day of fighting against dottari troops and Hell Knight forces, as I've posted elsewhere. After that offensive, it makes sense for Team Thrune to simply secure areas.

So, basically, we've got a hold the front doors scene, dealing with an underwater incursion scene, and a climbing up to the balcony entrance scene right now.

Any other weak points? Windows, other entrances I'm forgetting?

Shadow Lodge

roguerouge wrote:
Any other weak points? Windows, other entrances I'm forgetting?

You could always have Rivozair try to rip off/open the roof.


roguerouge wrote:
Any other weak points? Windows, other entrances I'm forgetting?

The basement has a back service exit that is bared from the basement, a teleporting or invisible (why not both) infiltrator could open it. Or pull the suggestion trick on a supporter to get them to open it (my favourite because if the team invested in sense motive they have a chance of detecting it and getting a heads up that the attack is incoming).


roguerouge wrote:

I'm strategizing for both the possibility that they hole up in the Lucky Bones and that they're in the Opera House. Jarvis End is between Old Kintargo (area of power for the SR) and two major districts of Thrune control--Castle district and Temple Hill. It makes sense for it to be a battleground district.

So, I'm thinking that if they fortify the opera house, narrating the siege and having the PCs move from one crisis to the next for an encounter, then call it a day. The reason I'm thinking about this is because the one thing this particular module is missing is a day of fighting against dottari troops and Hell Knight forces, as I've posted elsewhere. After that offensive, it makes sense for Team Thrune to simply secure areas.

So, basically, we've got a hold the front doors scene, dealing with an underwater incursion scene, and a climbing up to the balcony entrance scene right now.

Any other weak points? Windows, other entrances I'm forgetting?

I am sure there were windows because I am sure they could be smashed to let people escape


So the Temple is the most complicated dungeon I have every encountered. It is very much a "living" dungeon with lots of things potentially changing.

So I do need to go through and try and work out some of the parts. From what I can tell if an Alarm is raised then everyone is on alert and the party faces waves. But it is not 100% clear how exactly this is raised

It seems it can definitely be raised by the High Priest and I assume Barzillai. But is this just them shouting "intruders" ?

There are few instances this can happen that I can see:

- Attacking the ritual
- Attacking the priests in their chambers
- Attacking the Erinyes upstairs
- Thrune raising the alarm

So there is a lot going on
And it seems like an alarm trigger should lead the same response as suggested for an attack on the Nave - perhaps with some durations adjusted and maybe scaled back depending on area size

*

My players have thrown a curve ball by going in through the balcony. I think I saw that mentioned on this thread so I will re-read.

This creates some interesting options. They have cleared the Hellhounds.

Right: Walk into the Erinyes room where an alarm will inevitably be raised and Thrune and Aluceda come in - on Room 2!
(It says those two at a minimum so I guess the rest is my call)

Left: Out to balcony where they will either:

A. Attack the ritual raising the alarm
B. Enter the Hall of Triumphs where no alarm will be raised and one engine potentially shut down
C. Enter the Outer Sanctum ultimately leading to the Inner Sanctum and Thrune

So if they pick C is seems like Thrune could be cornered in his sanctum where he doesn't want to be cornered - albeit alerted by the Animate Dream. But I can't immediately spot how he would get himself out apart from his teleport ring (a useful way of solving the "enemy teleports away" issue). Have I not spotted something...?

And I assume the rest of the inhabitants carry on the fight even if the group cut a path straight to Thrune and kill him? Or again have I missed something else? I take them all as fanatics who certainly would not surrender to the Silver Ravens

*

On a tangent I had a re-read of Barzillai's stat block. I think I will need to make some changes as his defenses are relatively poor for something that is apparently CR15 or 16. Certainly not CR15/16 worthy regardless of the Heartless ability.

I would quite like him to last more than a round especially after the epic dragon fight (AC37, Flying and Mirror Image go a very long way)

But why does he have so many item creation feats? I understand Tiarise and the Gardener have made / are making various golems. But is there something buried in the flavour text about Thrune making items and constructs?


Lanathar wrote:
So the Temple is the most complicated dungeon I have every encountered...

Yes, the temple is complicated and living and everything is constantly moving.

The alarm is raised however you deem appropriate. Maybe an enemy runs from a fight and shouts "we're being attacked" from the balcony, maybe an erinyes alerts Corinstian or Thrune, maybe the PCs make a giant display on the balcony and everyone down below notices, maybe the PCs can stealth through most parts of the temple then walk down the stairs and attack the people involved in the ritual... it's your game, it's up to you. (I'm going to be saying that last bit a lot.)

You didn't expect them to go through the upper balcony? Hunh. I think it's foolish to go in through either of the other two doors.

As for what they can do next:
1) Yes, they can go in to the erinyes room but it's up to you what happens in there. It's your choice if that raises an alarm or if Thrune and Aluceda show up or if anyone else comes. You don't have to have something happen just because the book says so. No one is going to stand over your shoulder and punish you for changing something. It's your game, it's up to you.

2) Shutting down one of the Infernal Engines is a great thing for them to do! If they do that, celebrate the fact that they're being careful rather than the murder-hobos they were at the beginning of the AP. (Se how much they've grown as players? Celebrate that fact!)

3) Entering the Outer then Inner Sanctum and finding Thrune there... Thrune is only there is YOU want him to be there. He can be anywhere you want. Using the teleport in the ring makes sense, if you want him to have that spell in the ring. I solved the "enemy teleporting away" problem but not having him have a teleport in the ring. It's your game, it's up to you.

Yes, the rest of the enemies fight after Thrune is killed if you want them to. Or they all give up and surrender if you want them to. Maybe some surrender and some keep fighting. Hell, they can all break out into a song and dance number if you want. It's your game, it's up to you.

If you want to change Thrune's defenses, feats, hit points, skills, magic items, abilities, spells, class, level, ANYTHING, you can. It's your game, it's up to you.

Lanathar, you know your group more than anyone on here does. You know what you want to do more than anyone on here does. You know what type of game you want to have more than anyone on here does. You can do whatever you want to in your game. Don't be limited by what the book says should happen. If you don't like something in the book, rip that page out and write your own story.
The books are suggestions; they are not things that you have to strictly follow even if, ESPECIALLY if, you think it won't be as exciting as something you have planned for your group.
It is your game. Make it what you want it to be rather than what the books say.


Thanks

I think most of the above (other than the musings on some of Thrune's abilities) was mainly seeing if I had understood things correctly because a couple of the things didn't seem to line up. I am more than happy changing things but wanted to try and make sure I understood what the book is trying to say first

Honestly I think they expected to kick down the door and get in a big fight but changed their minds and went through the balcony. I think they thought it would be foolish as well! It has been so long since I was a player I can't even imagine what I would have done...

But if a big fight starts I am not sure they would actually mind. It might actually be amusing for Thrune to show up earlier than they would have thought and there still be a bunch of stuff left

The crafting feat question was just because someone pointed out before why the others had them and I just wondered if there was something in the story about constructs he has made. It is a big feat investments for an inquisitor and I assume JJ gave him them for a reason (like with Tiarise and the Gardener)


Lanathar wrote:
roguerouge wrote:
Any other weak points? Windows, other entrances I'm forgetting?
I am sure there were windows because I am sure they could be smashed to let people escape

There's windows. They're just not on the map.

"Windows: Many tall, narrow windows decorate the exterior walls, each filled with panes of glass (hardness 1, hp 1, break DC 10). Most of these windows cannot be opened—only those on the third floor in area F1 that look out over Aria Park can be opened. These windows are currently closed and locked from the inside (Disable Device DC 30); they can be unlocked from within by the skeleton key, but not from outside. The DC of a Perception check to hear a window breaking is –10. An attempt to break a window quietly instead has a DC equal to the result of a PC’s Stealth check at a –10 penalty."

So... this is basically not a great place to defend.


roguerouge wrote:
Lanathar wrote:
roguerouge wrote:
Any other weak points? Windows, other entrances I'm forgetting?
I am sure there were windows because I am sure they could be smashed to let people escape

There's windows. They're just not on the map.

"Windows: Many tall, narrow windows decorate the exterior walls, each filled with panes of glass (hardness 1, hp 1, break DC 10). Most of these windows cannot be opened—only those on the third floor in area F1 that look out over Aria Park can be opened. These windows are currently closed and locked from the inside (Disable Device DC 30); they can be unlocked from within by the skeleton key, but not from outside. The DC of a Perception check to hear a window breaking is –10. An attempt to break a window quietly instead has a DC equal to the result of a PC’s Stealth check at a –10 penalty."

So... this is basically not a great place to defend.

No it isn’t which is why my group abandoned it at the end of 3. I think they even assumed it would be immediately retaken . They didn’t realise it was “theirs” and probably assumed (but didn’t say) that they couldn’t hold it...

Shadow Lodge

Point to consider: not only is the Opera House not fortified, it can be made a cultural treasure of the people of Kintargo, and making it a battlefield stands counter to the goal of preserving it. The SRs only need to hold it until the Song of Silver can be performed, because as written its effects last a month no matter what. They might reasonably abandon it after that.


Lanathar, I think it is cool that your group went through the balcony! They can hear the ritual going on, maybe peek down and see the priests chanting around the hellfire pillar. The group could find one of the infernal engines and quietly talk with the lillend or the rakshasa, while keeping an eye peeled for guards.

They can sneak around and maybe get the jump on the bad guys... seems like a tense experience, lots of fun!

I finished the Barzillai fight on Saturday. Thrune dropped the fighter but then he was slain. I was able to carefully narrate Barzillai's wounds - magic missiles blew open the chestplate of his armor, revealing scars on his chest. The silvered arrows fired by the group's undead minions tore open the hole, revealing a cavity where his heart should have been.

When Barzillai was slain, he groaned "Narcelia" and plopped to the ground. In the chest cavity the heroes saw the Chelish Crux.

When preparing this stuff, I found the beginning of book 5 a bit difficult. I have like two pages of notes on it. Thank god I did that... the group immediately opened the box and went through the contents.

I was a bit worried, once they identified the melancholic talisman, that they'd try to take use it to go to Odexidie's office right away! But they needed rest.

So they retreated to the opera house to heal and mourn their dead NPC allies. Then they went back to the Temple to loot like crazy.

They went through the whole place. While I am glad I ran this the way I did, I would definitely say that the group found this place very interesting. Almost every room, even empty, had cool traits to it. The party necromancer is all over that blood pool room that boosts necromantic magic.

The infernal engines, the "warm red carpet", the animate dream, all really cool stuff.

Once the engines were shut down, they flew up into the belfry. They'd taken Asmoden's arm, and I had hinted that they could reattach the arm and "redeem" him, but the group was ready for a fight and didn't try it.

So, we stopped there and will pick it up next week. I had written out little scenarios tailored to each PC for the devil's bells. It was too hard for me to come up with 5 scenarios for each hero, so I basically "assigned" each of them a bell.

Next time, they'll battle the herecites, deal with the bells, party at the Bleakbridge and then we'll jump into Book 5!

They are going to need to figure out a candidate for Lord Mayor, since they utterly destroyed Jilia Bainilus. I am sure their choice will be amusing...


That all sounds awesome! And, honestly, destroying Jilia Bainilus is the result I'm hoping for at my table. I want to run a city-wide election skill challenge!


Yeah the balcony route was interesting and honestly should be what the book assumes!

I just need to hope they pick left and not right in the hell hound room so they can see the ritual as soon as possible . Also as written the sneaking only really works if they don’t trigger the Erinyes. Although I think I will change who investigates there so that it isn’t Thrune (aluceda and vampires perhaps)

I am considering changing the vampires away from sorcerers but the magical threat could be an interesting challenge

The temple is super fascinating in general


An observation - if Thrune dies first, it doesn't mean the rest of the Temple has to surrender or stop fighting. The Temple's new leader will be a high level cleric - there is significant incentive to recover Thrune's body so that it can be raised or resurrected. Might be interesting having a raging battle with ever more desperate waves of Temple residents and a grand prize = the Lord Mayor's corpse! (Which the pc's will eventually realize is an even greater prize than they could ever imagine - given the information, etc. that they learn from it.)

(I don't remember if Thrune can even be raised or resurrected given his diabolic "entanglements." But even if he can't, the pc's don't know that (yet) and Thrune's minions in the Temple may not know that either.)


I had the Song of Silver give the party 1 mythic tier, plus the teleport lockdown etc. My party were suitably impressed.


Latrecis wrote:

An observation - if Thrune dies first, it doesn't mean the rest of the Temple has to surrender or stop fighting. The Temple's new leader will be a high level cleric - there is significant incentive to recover Thrune's body so that it can be raised or resurrected. Might be interesting having a raging battle with ever more desperate waves of Temple residents and a grand prize = the Lord Mayor's corpse! (Which the pc's will eventually realize is an even greater prize than they could ever imagine - given the information, etc. that they learn from it.)

(I don't remember if Thrune can even be raised or resurrected given his diabolic "entanglements." But even if he can't, the pc's don't know that (yet) and Thrune's minions in the Temple may not know that either.)

He can't be raised.

Shadow Lodge

Artofregicide wrote:
Latrecis wrote:

An observation - if Thrune dies first, it doesn't mean the rest of the Temple has to surrender or stop fighting. The Temple's new leader will be a high level cleric - there is significant incentive to recover Thrune's body so that it can be raised or resurrected. Might be interesting having a raging battle with ever more desperate waves of Temple residents and a grand prize = the Lord Mayor's corpse! (Which the pc's will eventually realize is an even greater prize than they could ever imagine - given the information, etc. that they learn from it.)

(I don't remember if Thrune can even be raised or resurrected given his diabolic "entanglements." But even if he can't, the pc's don't know that (yet) and Thrune's minions in the Temple may not know that either.)

He can't be raised.

Does Grivenner know that? My impression was that only Izoni among Thrune's allies was privy to the Heart's Harvest ritual.


How did other deal with Thrune not being the end the temple 'dungeon'? My players are going to struggle with the big boss not being the big boss of the campaign. (Thrune will not survive to teleport away, knowing my group).


DM Livgin wrote:
How did other deal with Thrune not being the end the temple 'dungeon'? My players are going to struggle with the big boss not being the big boss of the campaign. (Thrune will not survive to teleport away, knowing my group).

I have the same dilemma. I think some of my group will be surprised to even see him here let alone not as the final boss

It depends on the order in part. Because if they avoid the nave and trigger him then the "boss" is stopping the guys summoning the 6 Pit Fiends...

(There perhaps needs to be some way of building up the Asmoden as well...)

I have this potentially coming up as my group have gone up the balcony and are sitting in the ceremonial room where the hell hounds were. If they go right then as written the status effect on the erinyes will call Thrune and Aluceda to that room. So far from being the "boss" he could be almost the first thing they fight

But my current idea is to send Aluceda and the vampires rather than her and Thrune

As an aside - if I am reading correctly the Vampiries have to travel via gaseous form if they travel alone as they do not have unholy symbols and are lot loyal Asmodeans. And the doors are all locked...


zimmerwald1915 wrote:
He can't be raised.
Does Grivenner know that? My impression was that only Izoni among Thrune's allies was privy to the Heart's Harvest ritual.

It's not explicitly stated, which makes it GM discretion territory. By default, no, and there's a good argument to make that Barzillai has reason not tell Grivenner. It depends on how much Asmodeus supports his little plan. That said, he's not likely to be in enough pieces at the end to be raised anyway.


DM Livgin wrote:
How did other deal with Thrune not being the end the temple 'dungeon'? My players are going to struggle with the big boss not being the big boss of the campaign. (Thrune will not survive to teleport away, knowing my group).

My group didn't deal with the belfry.

I hated the way that the bells had to be shut down so I removed that part of it and the group had a bunch of clerics reconsecrate the area instead of dealing with the shenanigans of cleansing the bells.


Ok I need to post up an “after action report” from the latest session later today. We basically played one surprise and 6 rounds in 5 hours as my group went left saw the ritual in the nave and attacked

(No one of real significant is dead but things are looking quite dire)

But there is a lot to unpack

*

In the meantime : I haven’t told my group that the Song of Silver gives a free breath of life as I thought it would be a super cool reveal

I realise that might greatly alter their approach ...

Is that effect supposed to be obvious . I assume at the very least Jackdaw is supposed to tell them

That is my bad


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So I think the recent session in the Temple has revealed both my inexperience GN at these kind of levels, my players at playing them and probably me overestimating my party

And I believe at least 2 of my players are not happy right now

*

They had got in through the balcony and killed the Hell Hounds. Then went through the double doors revealing the Nave and the ritual

They apparently had the idea that they need to stop it immediately (they had ritual notes explaining it was staggeringly complex)

They also got a rush of blood as soon as they realised they could have a surprise round (as those are so rare).

So they attacked the ritual

*
Pre Fight:

Kinetic barriers blocking all the doors on the balcony floor

Surprise:

- Devoted Muse jumps off the balcony to be close to the first devil

- Wall of Ice to try and limit 2 each of the devils and priests at the back (but not high enough really at 10ft)

- Blessing of Fervor

- A Kinetic Blast on one priest that didn't drop him.

So group is now split with three on the balcony and one on his own on the group with no way of getting back up

*

Then a very complex combat starts. First host devil is killed easily.
High priest stays buffing for at least a round.

Shadows are summoned but can't touch Devoted Muse due to protection from evil. I rule she can't redirect them as my herolab said they didn't have any languages

Between round 1 and either 3 or 4 I throw up 3 fireballs (one from High Priest) and a Flame strike. They mostly don't do a lot due to great saves but chip away at hit points

*

6 Rounds in : the whole party apart from the Devoted Muse is still up on the balcony.

They are dismayed that Thrune has shown up as they were not expecting him

(So a key mistake is I made him join in even though the PCs didn't have the upper hand. But he has only made one Flame Strike and one melee attack so far - and taken around 100 damage for his troubles)

In the combat are:

Thrune
High Priest
Aluceda
4 Priests (only one died)
2 or 3 Host Devils
2 Bone Devils (one killed)
The Gardener (more chipping away with chain lightning and cone of cold)

SKinsaw cultists have just shown up but I have left out Zella and the extra priests for now

*

Group are mostly full HP but that is around 45 for the witch due to 3 negative levels and effectively 50 for the kineticist due to 5 points of burn
(No one has gone down even once but the odds are just becoming impossible)

They want to run but are not helped by being split up

And they are a bit flustered at walking into a fight which as written they cannot win

I have clearly made some mistakes in over estimating what they can do but I am mostly running it as written

One even said "Who wrote this?!"

It feels like that an all out assault on the Nave is only for if you are super prepared (all the right spells and buffs) + allies

They showed inexperience by not using any kind of divination (but I never would as a player so can't blame them)
But it seems like they thought what they could see was all there would be in the enormous temple

*

I think I have a bit of a battle to win the group back around now.
It is not even clear they can all escape

It seems like I should have known my players better and realised that they weren't likely to make an early tactical withdrawal. (The main thing really seems to be splitting up and leaving one guy on the ground floor on his own)

It is tricky because several of their big mistakes are really clear to see from my side of the GM screen

I think I need to grease the wheels to get them out and then let them prepare as much as they can - allies (potentially planar as well), fire resistance etc.
Probably adjust the rule on having NPCs needed to control districts...?
But I need to be careful that they don't feel like they win due to NPCs alone

It is not massively clear what the residents of the temple do once assaulted for when a second attack is made. The book doesn't. I assume (at least):

- Dead Host devils replaced by any other devils still alive
- any dead priests also replaced

And then perhaps have some kind of guards in the entrance ways?

*

Would the "expected" approach of going in and going round the side rooms eliminating enemies even be possible once the group have already stormed the place once? I know I could make it that way but wouldn't it be seen as bizarre...?

*

I am not really sure what exactly I am looking for with the post. Primarily an outlet. It has certainly gone a bit rambling

I have seen others who have had groups assault the ritual. But I think they always had allies? I really wasn't sure if my group would make that choice given it was one of 4...(three other doors)

There have been previous replies of "I know my game and I know my players" - but I appear to have made a big misstep


Lanathar -- You haven't done anything wrong.

They decided, after seeing a giant temple with a bunch of rooms off of the main area, to attack rather than be tactical.
One of them decided to jump off the balcony and everyone else decided to stay up top.
Thrune appearing when he did seems appropriate.
The group is at mostly full hit points, one is down 15 due to negative levels, so after 6 rounds they've taken very little damage and have handed out a fair bit of it. Just because there's a lot of bad guys doesn't me they're in much danger.
As written, can they win it? Sure they can!
"Who wrote this?" someone that wanted to have an epic battle for Kintargo. Why would they possibly assume there wouldn't be a lot of people in there? The place is huge! Unless... wait.... were they metagaming and thinking that there wouldn't be an incredibly hard fight because "why would Paizo publish something where tactics work better than attacking?" Trust me, they still have a chance. It's not up to you to figure out how to get them out. They attacked the ritual without planning, they've separated the party, they'll find a way out. (Or, you know, decide that anything that looks like a challenge must be impossible. Which must be frustrating for you, considering how often people in your group seem to complain that the fights are too easy.)

As for what happens if the group flees and then comes back... what I did...
(brief rundown of what my group did: Went in through the top floor, went right, killed everything up there, shut down an engine, went to the balcony, got the attention of the Garderner, one PC went down, they teleported away.)
... when the group came back 10-20 minutes later:
The priests were still down there doing their thing, Thrune was down there overseeing everything, as was the high priest. Aluceda was already killed, the Jorogumo and cultists were patrolling the temple, the various devils were patrolling the temple either by themselves or in groups of 2, Zella Zidlii and the people found in the same room as her were patrolling the temple, the doors were all guarded (good thing the group teleported back in rather than trying a door), and a few of the bad guys stayed where they were. Maybe use some really low level clerics (like the ones conducting the ritual) to find the PCs first that way the fight is easy for the group but they're aware that patrols are scouring the temple.
This worked for me because it allowed one patrol at a time to find the group, the group could fight them while (maybe) one of the enemies ran for backup, the players knew they wouldn't have much time between waves of patrols finding them, and I was able to have the group be attacked whenever I wanted them to be.
Also, to have them really feel the tension, as soon as they teleported back into the temple I had them roll initiative and we stayed in rounds the entire time.

Doing it as patrols and everyone in initiative made it so that I could easily judge how long it would take for enemies to show up and then I could stretch or shrink that time if I wanted to. EG: bad guy has to get where another patrol is (because they don't want to interrupt the ritual, and Thrune wants to stay in the main area because he figures the PCs are trying to draw him away from the ritual) it takes a couple of rounds for the enemy to explain where the PCs are to the other patrol to come and the patrol to come up with a bit of a plan, then they have to get back to where the group was last seen which, hopefully, the group has moved on from there so they fan out and start searching. Once someone in a patrol finds them they retreat a little and call the others, that way the group is expecting a patrol and can start to prepare.


Lanathar wrote:


In the meantime : I haven’t told my group that the Song of Silver gives a free breath of life as I thought it would be a super cool reveal

I realise that might greatly alter their approach ...

Is that effect supposed to be obvious . I assume at the very least Jackdaw is supposed to tell them

That is my bad

Make up for it by having it "go off" due to divine intervention from Shelyn?


When you've made a mistake in evaluating the amount of danger the PCs can handle, one way to fix it is to have enemies flee to heal and cast prep spells, then return. Thrune's taken 100 points of damage--time for him to dimension door elsewhere and spend several rounds healing up. Do the same with any other leaders or top devils who take more than half their damage. It makes it manageable. It's good tactics for them. It gives the party a chance by having the combat be waves rather than all at once. And the bad guys now have a lot of intel on the party from direct experience and will be prepared with magic scrolls/potions to manage their favorite tactics.

Remember--they don't know how many hit points these dudes have.

It also salvages player morale, which is an invaluable resource in combats.


Lanathar, your group decided to "pull" an entire dungeon. That's not your fault!

I think one thing you might want to do is to plan for victory - if the heroes are defeated by the bad guys, Barzillai wants them alive. He can set up a public excruciation, to make an example of the adventurers.

And then, of course, the group can make a daring escape during the excruciation and regroup.

You shouldn't doubt yourself. In my experience, most people who try to run a D&D/Pathfinder campaign peter out within 8 sessions or so. You're deep into book 4! Your players wouldn't keep coming if you weren't doing a lot of things right.


Warped Savant wrote:

Lanathar -- You haven't done anything wrong.

They decided, after seeing a giant temple with a bunch of rooms off of the main area, to attack rather than be tactical.
One of them decided to jump off the balcony and everyone else decided to stay up top.
Thrune appearing when he did seems appropriate.
The group is at mostly full hit points, one is down 15 due to negative levels, so after 6 rounds they've taken very little damage and have handed out a fair bit of it. Just because there's a lot of bad guys doesn't me they're in much danger.
As written, can they win it? Sure they can!
"Who wrote this?" someone that wanted to have an epic battle for Kintargo. Why would they possibly assume there wouldn't be a lot of people in there? The place is huge! Unless... wait.... were they metagaming and thinking that there wouldn't be an incredibly hard fight because "why would Paizo publish something where tactics work better than attacking?" Trust me, they still have a chance. It's not up to you to figure out how to get them out. They attacked the ritual without planning, they've separated the party, they'll find a way out. (Or, you know, decide that anything that looks like a challenge must be impossible. Which must be frustrating for you, considering how often people in your group seem to complain that the fights are too easy.)

As for what happens if the group flees and then comes back... what I did...
(brief rundown of what my group did: Went in through the top floor, went right, killed everything up there, shut down an engine, went to the balcony, got the attention of the Garderner, one PC went down, they teleported away.)
... when the group came back 10-20 minutes later:
The priests were still down there doing their thing, Thrune was down there overseeing everything, as was the high priest. Aluceda was already killed, the Jorogumo and cultists were patrolling the temple, the various devils were patrolling the temple either by themselves or in groups of 2, Zella Zidlii and the people found in the same room...

Thanks for this.

Them splitting was quite daft but I don't blame the person who jumped down because melee is all they have. The rest left him stranded and then got closed down themselves

My group are odd in that for the longest time it seemed like two didn't seem to really like challenges or the chance of stumbling into something you can't fight head on (such as the book 2 excrutiation and holding house) ... and two didn't mind

But one of the players most excepting of difficult and challenging an difficult combats got visibly flustered and frustrated in this last fight. I think it was because more and more named high level opponents kept turning. And he clearly wasn't expecting the "boss" of the whole AP (in his mind) to walk out during it as well

(As mentioned I made him join in earlier than I should have which was a mistake and I will make him back off next time)

There is some general meta gaming in that I think the group assumed the High Priest was the final foe of Book 4. And at least one straight up did not expect Thrune at all in this book (although I am not sure where he thought he would be given the rest of the city is overrun...)

*

Incidentally the Mephisto Manifestation seems to be Barzillai's "hail mary". If the group kill Cornsitian then that is over (althought Aluceda can raise him but that seems quite harsh on the players!)

I am not sure what his back up is if it is stopped. I would run it as he would hope to try and ambush and kill the Ravens before attempting to bring back Corinstian and complete the ritual uninterrupted...


roguerouge wrote:

When you've made a mistake in evaluating the amount of danger the PCs can handle, one way to fix it is to have enemies flee to heal and cast prep spells, then return. Thrune's taken 100 points of damage--time for him to dimension door elsewhere and spend several rounds healing up. Do the same with any other leaders or top devils who take more than half their damage. It makes it manageable. It's good tactics for them. It gives the party a chance by having the combat be waves rather than all at once. And the bad guys now have a lot of intel on the party from direct experience and will be prepared with magic scrolls/potions to manage their favorite tactics.

Remember--they don't know how many hit points these dudes have.

It also salvages player morale, which is an invaluable resource in combats.

This is a good idea. I can start off next time with Corinstian retreating into the hellfire and have Thrune back off as well (once they get out of

I think it the witch is still up after the vampire and bone devils go they will dimension door the rest of the party down to where the cavalier is so they are altogether. So perhaps that + two of the bigger foes retreating might make them rethink fleeing

(But the witch is super jittery about low HP so probably wanted to get out and remove the 2 temporary negative levels. Difficult to say)

You are right about not knowing hit points. DR (for devils) and shield other also make that even more mysterious (which means Thrune took maybe 75 damage i think despite the player rolling about 175). But still enough for him to take notice


Fantomas wrote:

Lanathar, your group decided to "pull" an entire dungeon. That's not your fault!

I think one thing you might want to do is to plan for victory - if the heroes are defeated by the bad guys, Barzillai wants them alive. He can set up a public excruciation, to make an example of the adventurers.

And then, of course, the group can make a daring escape during the excruciation and regroup.

You shouldn't doubt yourself. In my experience, most people who try to run a D&D/Pathfinder campaign peter out within 8 sessions or so. You're deep into book 4! Your players wouldn't keep coming if you weren't doing a lot of things right.

Thanks :)

I think they legitimately (for some reason) did not think that a frontal attack would draw all the attention!

I do wonder if they just thought it was "another room" in a dungeon with 5 priests and 5 devils and that was it.

The quote was "disrupting a ritual is never a bad thing". I had to keep a very straight face

I mean there are a lot of dungeons written that aren't "living dungeons". Indeed I comment above that this is the most "living" I have ever seen a dungeon - what with all the variables and the alarms and the sending

I have already alluded to Thrune's preference for public excrutiation...(and joked about dog housing with Nessian Hellhounds). But there is a good chance the group get out unless the Bone Devils dimensional anchor people. I don't think I will win many fans if they do that. Perhaps something for a second round if there is one...


I have been thinking and I wonder if an element of the issue my players might have had is several cases of "who is this"

The Gardener comes out of nowhere especially if you don't go round the temple beforehand. And I thought i had put in the rumour of the affair between the church leaders.

And I definitely told them overseas Nidalese envoys are vampires. But this was a while ago and they clearly forgot and didn't expect them here

I did bring in Zella and Kyrre in the earlier books but not the others.

*

But then again this does happen to an extent.
A glance at Burnt Offerings and there are 2 class levelled enemies who you would not expect in Thistletop.

It is just obviously an very different situation when one case is a level 4 fighter and level 4 wizard and the other is a Vampire Cleric and a Sorcerer throwing chain lightning, cone of cold and helping Barzillai to fly...


Warped Savant wrote:

Lanathar -- You haven't done anything wrong.

The rest of Warped Savant's post is most excellent, but this part is most likely not correct.

If you hadn't done anything "wrong" you wouldn't have posted here seeking help. Or consolation.

I had seen your post ahead of your group's latest session and had intended to post some advice but my life went sideways and... So maybe it's my fault?

The challenge of GMing this game as the levels go up is that the permutations of possible outcomes expands exponentially (not to go all mathematical) and the GM difficulty scales accordingly. But just because its harder doesn't mean it doesn't need to be done.

First thing that can help is the players themselves. Player groups, at least within the bounds of one campaign, tend to fall into patterns that they repeat over and over again (because they work.) So if your group has used combat to solve every problem, you can be confident they aren't going to suddenly try to use Diplomacy to convince Thrune to leave the city. (Very simple and weak analogy.) This should make it easier to predict what they're going to do.

Does your group have a history of scouting ahead? Did they before entering the Temple? They isn't to say that they should have or shame on them for not doing it. Everyone plays their own way and it's neither right nor wrong that they did or did not scout out the Temple ahead of time. But if they didn't, you (the GM) need to scale back accordingly. They didn't prep for specific enemies, they don't know how many enemies are there, they don't know which enemies are there, etc. You need to be judicious in hogpiling them with waves of opponents. Here, written tactics - alarm responses, etc. - in a published adventure can be most harmful. You need to consider whether your group is ready for all the respondents the AP suggests should show up and when they show up.

Here your players did you a massive disservice - does your group normally try to exploit 3 dimensions? The game system makes that hard so I would guess not. One pc moving from the balcony to the main floor when the rest of the pc's had either no means or interest in following is simply suicide. It violates the Golden Rule of D&D - Never split the party. At that point, you needed to go All Stop - no more NPC's join the fight until the party is re-united, regardless of what the published response dictates.

This is why the AP appears to encourage the pc's to explore the rooms around the perimeter, maximize the number of encounters that are static. This is in part because rousing the entire Temple is a bad idea, but also because describing all the various possibilities of response would be impractical in a published adventure. Sadly that means the work of figuring out that response and its cadence falls to you. And it's on you if you get the cadence wrong - dump too much on the pc's.

Warped Savant and roguerouge gave excellent advice - get some of the NPC's off the field immediately. Thrune took 100 hp? That's half his hp! Have him retreat to safety - he's got a wand of cure critical wounds - time to burn through those charges. Have other NPC's flee/retreat while calling out for reinforcements. This a) gets them off the battlefield and b) gives your players a hint - there are more enemies in the area. You also need to figure out some way for the group to be re-united. Without knowing a lot more about them, that's hard to suggest, but it's literally your #1 priority.

Whether the pc's retreat or press on, you need to organize the Temple's residents into logical groups (patrols in Warped Savant's post) and only send them at the pc's as they can tolerate. If the pc's vaporize 1 group in 1-2 rounds, feel free to sent two groups at once, but if they get bogged down with one group (bad rolls, poor tactics) do not send two more groups at them after 2 rounds just because "the schedule says so."

If the pc's do retreat, you need to find a way to make the schedule work to get rid of those negative levels. They both weaken the party in practice and, as your own words suggest, leave them skittish in play. The AP has a weakness - perhaps a better word would be ambiguity - and I think this may have been making things harder for you. But you can turn it to your advantage. The AP provides information about the Mephisto Manifestation but it doesn't tell the pc's important information like how long it takes or that the Temple residents start it immediately after Thrune retreats there. So unless the pc's have run missions against the Temple or otherwise scouted it, they don't know those details. Here I will assert my own GMing principle - it's okay if the players assume there is urgency when there isn't, and it's okay if the players assume there is urgency when there is, but if there is an actual clock ticking down, with BAD outcomes if it reaches zero, that clock had damn well better be visible to the pc's. Otherwise the GM is a Richard. So regardless of what the AP says, the ritual in your version had better take longer than it will take your pc's to mount at least two assaults on the place. And any effort your pc's expend to find out the details - scouting, rebellion missions, commune etc. should pay off with accurate information.

If your pc's picked up the negative levels as a result of horrible decisions (reckless, selfish, stupid, etc.) it's perhaps okay for them to carry them forward as a form of punishment, but otherwise the campaign should be paced to let the pc's get to full health before taking on one of the most important structures in the entire AP. Just because the AP says Grivenner can start making caster level checks after 3 days doesn't mean that's how it has to work in your campaign. Maybe it takes 12 (I mean he is summoning 6 pit fiends to do his bidding) - your players haven't read the AP they don't know you changed it. (Umm, hopefully they haven't read it :)


Thanks for all that. A lot to digest

The party split was something I did not respond to with any agility. I am just a bit shocked that they didn’t join up especially once it became obvious that the witch couldn’t just blast from range as his ranged spells were not effective against devils. He has split slumber hex but stood up out of range to use it

The person who left the balcony had no choice because otherwise they would be standing looking stupid

I will get some of the NPCs off the board early next session but still expect them to flee. Kineticist is on 5 burn so whilst on “max” hit points that doesn’t amount to too many when Thrune hit him for 50. I will have the Gardener take Thrune away and Corinstian retreat to the hellfire (assuming he is not in provoking range)

Vampire has no real reason to retreat at the moment

On negative levels - the cleric has one due to raise dead. The witch has three - one from raise dead and two from being hit by Aluceda. So those two are relatively straight forward to remove

Fortunately even if I was running as written I failed the first check so it is still at least 3 days anyway . So they should get one more run . And will take some allies

I guess as to if I did something “wrong” - the point is I seem to have done so in the eyes of my players .

I also should have known they would try and jump the ritual as they have form for this. It was one of four options (three other doors ) but they couldn’t resist the surprise round. They took the opportunity from being undetected for a surprise round rather than to sneak off or around

Ideally I want to try and tempt them into staying in the temple a little longer to reduce some of the enemies even if that means making allies show up. But I really don’t think they will do so I need to work on that assumption


Random tips for high level play based on experience and reading theory-craft, for you as a DM and for you to tip off your players:

With higher level play, there's exceptions to every rule, including those seen below. Play will vary by table much more than it will at lower levels.

EACH PC needs to have viable ranged combat options or excellent access to flight or teleport magic by the time they're reaching level 10+. At the very least, they need to have potions of fly.

Knowing is half the battle: As your options increase with your level, so too does knowing more about what you'll face. Divination, knowledge checks, rumor-mongering... all these become vital, because you can come in not only buffed up, but also with the right spells up.

You need DR and the ability to overcome DR. The only exception is if you have reliable access to miss chance protections like displacement.

Find and ruthlessly target the other side's weakness--low AC, low touch AC, low CMD, low HP, or low save.

Greater Dispel Magic is must-have: nothing ruins a caster's day quite like it.

You need a way to deal with not being able to see the target. No exceptions. Greater invisibility or deeper darkness becomes a common occurrence.

Action economy is king--whichever side has more effective actions is going to win. Items, feats, abilities, and spells that let you do one more thing become exponentially more valuable the more power you have. So, adding a rider effect to an area of effect spell is awesome, for example.

You need to have a plan for how to get to a safe place to rest.

Once you hit 6th level spells, all your first through third level spells should be devoted to buffs, heals, and problem-solving. Keep a wand of ___ for when you have more than 4 combats in a day.

Crafting and purchasing is too important, complex, and time-wasting to happen at the table.

Players (and Baddies) need to have combos--like the Witch destroying a target's save followed by an ally targeting their saves immediately afterwards or shutting down a displacement effect for the monster that's facing the fighter PC.

Have a backup plan. You will run into opponents who are immune to your favorite tactic.


Wow thanks for all of that. Some amazing stuff in there

The only one that seems awkward is PCs getting DR. That seems quite tough in most cases. I can’t think of many cost effective methods off hand

Edit: also how do you get around Deeper Darkness?

Interesting on the fly / teleport / ranged things :
The devoted muse is a little irked that fly wasn’t prepped for the dragon fight. But I am pretty sure he has mesmerist levels which means high charisma and UMD as a class skill. So no excuses not to have your own scrolls (unless he foolishly didn’t invest in UMD - but I have told him too before ...)

The crafting/purchasing point massively resonates as well. 2 of the last 3 sessions we have had two hours (at least) wasted on purchasing loot . (An element is that there needs to be a GM roll on 75% chance of finding an item unless I am mistaken)

I think perhaps the group haven’t quite understood that high level play actually involves significant investment from them outside of game (beyond just plotting character builds). Like what happened in the temple so far was galling for them and despite me making some mistakes they could have prepared better. No thoughts on divination , fire resistance , flight etc

So I think we might need a debrief. None of the players have ever played at this level so it is a learning curve. And second half of book 4 of this AP seems like a particularly brutal way of hitting that learning curve

The guys are keen to see out the whole AP but it seems like that at least as written they can’t just show up to a session and pick a few spells and get through it. Based on the post above that is absolutely not how it works

Thanks again


Deeper Darkness is tough--that's why see in darkness is such a powerful ability combo with it. Darkvision works unless the light level gets tipped into supernatural darkness. Other than that, you have to have a dispel handy. It's also a pain in the ass to GM, so you should only do it like 1-2 times per campaign. (You've seen my Aluceda rebuilt--it's going to be her that uses it at my table). To prevent meta-gaming, you might have a map on your side of the DM screen and make the players play with just imagining the battle board.

They simply have to have fire resistance--they're making the AP much harder by not having it. That's on them--they have cleric allies so they have access to resist energy.

They have faced erinyes and the dragon and haven't learned to have flight available? Sigh--Hetamon has brew potion and they've not gotten half price versions or at least purchased them?

DR is going to come from stoneskin. For major combats, they just have to have it; power attacking high level creatures just put out too much damage in a single round. The strategy is in identifying WHEN you need to spend 250 gp/PC and having the ability to use it before the fight.

For purchasing, let them email you and then make the roll at home, telling them if it's available.


Did they not get the carpet of flying from the Menador Gap mission?


They do have the carpet but i think it is not a simple to use item at least for someone wanting to move around a lot in combat

And getting working mid combat costs a turn of attacking (but obviously sacrifices should be made)

*

Can you brew potions of spells you can’t cast (Hetamon and Fly?)

*

I will need to refresh myself with your Aluceda rebuild. Does she have see in darkness that I have missed? Corinstian as written has see in darkness through Embersight that is missed off of his block

I realised post session after looking into him more when one of the players said “I don’t think Christopher Lee is all that” (they find it easier than his actual name and assume that is who is ‘playing’ him)
I do find it strange that his tactics are to melee without righteous might or divine favour OR support with really bad DCs! His biggest weakness is of course 20ft land based movement


Lanathar wrote:

They do have the carpet but i think it is not a simple to use item at least for someone wanting to move around a lot in combat

And getting working mid combat costs a turn of attacking (but obviously sacrifices should be made)

Yep, but if the melee person has it, they could at least try to get out if they get desperate.

Lanathar wrote:


Can you brew potions of spells you can’t cast (Hetamon and Fly?)

Whoops! Potions are the exception to the +5 to the DC to craft if you don't have the spell.

Lanathar wrote:


I will need to refresh myself with your Aluceda rebuild. Does she have see in darkness that I have missed? Corinstian as written has see in darkness through Embersight that is missed off of his block

You can see the most current build here.. I gave her greater eye piercings, which I figure the PCs will not want to do to gain that themselves and I'll rule that no one will take the item due to fear of retaliation and not wanting to pierce their eyes.

How does Corinstian have ember sight? And, yes, his tactics are abysmal. It's worth doing if your PCs are on the ropes, but otherwise... On the plus side, his mook clerics using Shield Other will keep him alive, while allowing the party to kill off clerics. Don't forget that they have to be very close to Corinstian to keep that spell active!


Embersight is the Level 2 boon from deific obedience which you qualify for at level 6 Exalted. He is Level 7 Exalted. It just isn’t in the block

He can drop deeper darkness and still see

Are those piercings you mention a ZK thing? If so that is thematic. I didn’t think there were enough thematic ZK thing from Aluceda’s vampires but I am wary about rebuilding them as my optimisation goggles inadvertently slip on. Ideally they would be spiked chain war priests or something like that. But I have enjoyed not having every foe be a pure melee


Yep! Page 29 of Champions of Corruption. Nidalese magic piercings.

32,000 gp
https://aonprd.com/ShadowPiercingsDisplay.aspx?FinalName=Eye%20PiercingsMin or


Great tips roguerouge! My players, who are on their 3rd AP, still haven't learned some of these. (Eg: melee characters keep refusing to learn a ranged option or something to allow them to fly.)

One of my players went to the temple of Zon Kuthon in Kintargo (after book 4) and had that exact piercing done. It's a great item!

And because it's worth mentioning: Latrecis and I run our games differently. Neither are wrong, they're just different. And I still think you didn't do anything wrong, Lanathar. If players use terrible tactics I'm not likely to make the fight easier for them. But that being said, I might not have had the enemies come in quite as fast as the book suggests (maybe delay them by a round or two at the most, but I might have left it exactly as written).
The party splitting up is just bananas to me. If you're melee and can't do anything else, let the other players shine by allowing them to use range. If you're going to jump down by yourself it's your own fault if your character dies.

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