Yet ANOTHER potential Aushanna TPK

Shackled City Adventure Path

There are so many Aushanna TPK stories on this message board why not add mine?

There hasn't been a TPK yet but realistically it should happen so I'm looking for advice on how to get the party out of this mess.

We are playing Pathfinder and all the monster have been converted via the help of someone on this messageboard.
The party:
Half-Orc Warpriest 6
Human Cleric 6
Human Swashbuckler 6
Elf Hunter 6
Goblin rogue 5 / magus 1


Through some negotiations/RP gone wrong 7 Kuo-Toa Warriors were left dead and the temple is on alert. Cherrit and White-eye have "escaped.” Garrak the Mummy is also dead.

Fast forward to when the party entered the main shrine room...

They entered through the main doors on the middle level. They didn’t really kick down the door, they were semi-prepared. They knew they were heading towards an encounter because one of the Kuo-Toas escaped through this door to alert the clerics. They cast a few buffs, but they probably could have cast more. The Kuo-Toas imeadiately unleashed a readied lightning bolt.

The cleric, warpriest and swashbuckler managed to get down to the lower level quickly to engage the clerics. While the rogue and hunter attacked the warriors from the middle level with ranged weapons.
I underestimated the lightning bolt, I thought it was going to be weak considering that all four priests use their standard action to cast it. It was pretty effective though. I was able to hit the warpriest and the swashbuckler 3 times as the battle unfolded. The kuo-toa clerics also cast shield of faith and their scrolls of bear’s endurance on themselves.

The party just could not break through the clerics AC’s (31 after buffs), and it took them too long to figure this out, not giving them a chance to try straight spell damage or something similar (wands, etc.) Not to mention their arcane casting abilities are practically non-existent. It started to look grim, and by round 7 they decided to run.

The rogue and the hunter, who were on the middle level, ran through the main doors and toward the exit of the temple. The Kuo-toa Warriors are chasing them. The rogue is fine, but the hunter took quite a bit of damage when the warriors decided to close on him with their spears. (I switched from rapiers to spears, because frogmen with rapiers seemed stupid.) He is down to 10ish HP.

The cleric cast obscuring mist and her, the warpriest, and the swashbuckler all ran through the main doors on the lower level. EWWWW…Bad choice, but there weren’t really any other options. Now they are currently in the part of the dungeon with Hlanamm the spearmaster to the east, Dhorlot to the west and the wraith to the south and NOWHERE else to go. The swashbuckler and the warpriest are down to 10ish hp and the cleric is full. The warpriest opened the door to the wraith chamber and that’s where we left the session.

So the party is split. Rogue and near dead hunter are on the entrance stairway with 5 Koa-toa warriors right behind them. Cleric, near dead warpriest, and near dead swashbuckler are about to walk into the wraith’s chambers.

Being only 7 rounds into combat Aushanna has not even appeared yet. They are only vaguely aware that something is happening because of a glowing point of light they spotted where Aushanna is going to materialize. And of course there is still Mangh-Mictho who is fully armored and full buffed by this time. He was going to make his appearance when Aushanna was completely summoned. If the party had not been spanked by the mooks.


They are kinda screwed. Realistically Aushanna would hunt them down and kill the three in the lower level, probably with the help of Mangh, the priests, and Hlanamm. I’m pretty confident the rogue and the hunter could escape and hide from the warriors. I could also easily argue that since they are out of the temple they are no longer an obligation to Aushanna. So I will softly rule that they are safe. The problem is what to do with the other 3. I am a nice DM. I don’t like to kill characters. I don’t think it’s fun for anyone. But realistically those 3 are goners. So I’m looking for some ideas on how to help them make a dangerous and exciting, but realistic escape.

I have several options available to me:

1. I could write-in an alternate exit, but that's kind of boring

1. I could ditch the wraith and Hlanamm. This would give them a little breathing room to heal up.

2. I could weaken the wraith, perhaps draining a level but making it an easy turn undead for the cleric. (But also the pit trap. Sheesh this dungeon is HELL.)

3. White-eye and Cherrit are still MIA. The rogue freed them from their cells during the first battle with the Kuo-toa warriors. They just ran and escaped. The party did not get a chance to talk to them so they are unaware of any motivations the prisoners might have had. I could even make them good and try to help the rogue and the hunter on a rescue mission.

4. Another idea is that the party could somehow convince Dhorlot to help them. I don’t think Dhorlot is that invested in his alliance with the Kuo-Toa’s other than the breeding program. He might be convinced to help them. It’s a stretch but not impossible.

5. My last idea I got from another Aushanna tale told here. It’s your classic deal with the devil trope. She could negotiate with the 3 trapped characters. If they can destroy the statue of Blibdoolpoolp then she is free from servitude to the Kuo-Toas and she would go away and leave the party alone. The hitch is she STILL IS obligated to kill them per her contract. I can imagine a tense RP exchange between her and the 3 characters discussing the details of this new deal, via telepathy, all the while she is still hunting them down and trying to kill them. HA. BUT…..If they can survive for 10 minutes she will be summoned back to hell and they’ll have a chance to escape and destroy the statue on another foray. She might even reveal this fact to them. The drama is increased by the fact that she is negotiating with 2 good priests and the swashbuckler who, unbeknowest to the rest of the party, is half-celestial. (Aasimar)

PHEW. Any thoughts? My players LOVE dealing with encounters in creative ways other than hack and slash. Especially the swashbuckler and rogue. They love to sneak, crash through windows, jump on the backs of monsters, collapse tunnels, set clever and daring traps. Anything is game with these guys as long as it’s dangerous and exciting. This is actually an ideal situation for them. Lol

Great adventure you've got going. All your listed options could work just fine; I read the thread on #5 and really like it. In case you're still looking for other ideas:

6. Crazy Jared might be an option to show up and help the party out of a tight spot. Assuming you followed the book as written, he knows where they are and knows somewhat of the threats they face.

7. You could re-write the trigger that summons Aushaunna to some event that occurs later so that she would not pose an immediate threat.

Good luck and post your outcomes; this sounds like a great opportunity for you and the PCs (well, maybe not the PCs).

The group I'm running just got into this mess last week. They bluffed Abhaca into thinking they were seeking the Unseeing Eye, who escorted them across the lake and handed the group off to a guard. The guard leads them up the stairs into the main chamber (5b) and hands them off to a whip.

The whip takes them down to 5a and indicates that they should remain at the back because they aren't yet initiated and the more full of the true faith, the closer they can get.

I'm using 2d10 to count up rounds, which is far more nerve-wracking for the players. They have no idea what the counter means nor when it will stop. Three rounds go by, eight soldiers show up. Two rounds after that, some more whips. Basically, every ulat-kini (nee kuo-toa) in the complex except the two guards in the fingerling room show up for worship services.

Manct-Mictho enters 5b from 7 and commences service. The orc barbarian tries to sneak closer hopping from pillar to pillar. Mictho spots him and calls down a 12d6 lightning bolt to teach him a lesson.

"Did you just lightning bolt me?!?" Rage. Attack. This happens on Round 12, two rounds before Zenith appears. The battle ends with all the females, soldiers, and whips dead. Mictho had cast his control water and raised it so that it's 16' deep. The cleric summoned a shark who critically hit Zenith who'd jumped from 5c into the water and bit his left leg off! The four guards on 5c and his assassin hussle Zenith underwater and out the doors of 5a, beginning to drain the water.

Round 19: The party follows Zenith & Co. out the bottom.

That's where we stopped for the day.

Round 20: Aushanna is going to be summoned. She'll appear to a flooded temple with all of her charges nothing more than floating corpses. She should be highly motivated to find those responsible.

I'm hoping to have a guest player come the next time we play to take on Aushanna's role.

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I think I need to keep Aushanna in this. My party is going to freak the eff out when she starts talking to them telepathically. I will try to push the deal with the devil arc. They will enjoy that RP.

What I'm leaning towards now. Is providing my players with a bunch of "stuff" to get creative with. Bear with me if you're confused.

I think I will expand the size of the hall of heroes (wraith room) and basically make it a huge complex of catacombs. First of all this will give them plenty of places to hide. Each "grave" will have a stuffed kuot-toa, and a shallow pool of water in front of it as it's "entrance to the afterlife" Egg shells surrounding the pool.

I'm going to put a shrine at the end of the catacombs. With an alter, a decanter of endless water, maybe some other trinkets that could be moderately useful.

There will be an unfinished section of the catacombs that will have piles of dirt and rock. Also some digging/construction tools: shovels, pickaxes, maybe a cart to haul debris, etc.

Hlanamm's rooms will have the workshop where they stuff the kuo-toas so there will be tools for that in a addition to all the other tools that are in those rooms. I can't decide if I'm going to ditch Hlanamn yet.

Up on the outside of the temple. I think I will have Cherrit and White-eye appear. Cherrit will be good, and there for the express purpose of destroying Aushanna or something similar. White-eye will still be evil, but assist them to a point where he can turn on them. They can help the Hunter and rogue.

So by "stuff" I mean a bunch of random crap that my VERY creative players can use to figure out a way to get them selves out of this situation.

Stuff Kuo-toas
lots of tools
lots of debris
small pools of water
Decanter of endless water.

Can you guys think of any other "stuff" that might be useful with a lot of creative though. Maybe some more mundane objects and magic items, but not anything that is going to makes this easy for them.

And again.. the scary part of this whole encounter is that the part doesn't even know that Aushanna and Mangh-Mictho exist.

Perhaps a copy of instructions written in Kuo Toa for how the statue of Blibdoolpoolp works to summon the erinyes and a command word that dismisses her back to the 9 Hells.

That might work well with another idea I got from these boards...

Perhaps Hlanamm does not approve of Zenith's rise to power and sees him as a false prophet. He could be willing to assist the party if the promise to remove him.

So an out-of-town friend is going to guest-star as Aushanna next time. I'm thinking of making her get weaker as her ten minutes run out. For instance:
* Every two minutes her DR decreases by 1
* Every five minutes her AC decreases by 5
* Every three minutes her saves decrease by 2

What do y'all think? And I'll take suggestions.

Mykull, I think that's a great idea. The best aspect of your solution is that it's transparent to the players and allows the GM to use Aushanna's CR as a "rheostat" based on the party's capability. If they're doing really well, leave her at a higher CR; if they're getting a spanking, dial her down.

We continued last night and as usual I completely underestimated the party.

The Cleirc, warpriest and swashbuckler exited the main room with the aid of the obsrucring mist. They had some time to heal up because the whips were doing the same and also waiting for Aushanna. They were desperate for an exit to the river. They peaked into hlamm's room first deciding it wasn't a exit. Then they peaked into the fingerling room and though since there was water there it must lead to an exit. So they went that way. COMPLETELY ingoring the whole brand new crypt (Wraith room) I designed for them. I was also planning they would not go towards Dhorlot. I even printed flopped versions of the maps so that if they happened to choose Dhorlot's path to the west. I would use the flopped version of Hlanamm's room so they would stumble upon Dhorlot during this whole mess. Of course they still managed to do this.
They killed the two Kuo-toa soldiers easily and did there best to avoid the fingerlings. They decided to head up the stairs toward the dragon. And entered into the antechamber.


Once he rogue and the ranger had ran out of the shrine room they decide to hang east and head loop around back through the mummy room. They found the secret door and peaked inside seeing the whips who were busy healing themselves. The obscuring mist was still up. So they it was very easy for them to sneak through the room through the main doors. Not to mention the rogue who is also a goblin is VERY sneaky.(Stealth 31)

Once they were through he peaked in Hlanamm's room and then over to the room with the fingerlings. upon seeing the dead kuo-toa soldiers they decided they were on the right path. They also decided to avoid the fingerlings by jumping over to the stairway. and up they went to regroup with the party.

So now they are all back together again, and completely on their own accord. I even kept the players in separate rooms so they had know idea what the other group was doing.

The rogue found the traps in the antchamber and disarmed them. It was just then that Aushanna was summoned and started to speak to them through telelpathy. They asked her a few question and discovered her purpose. They decide to shut there mouths and heads so she could not "hear" them, then proceeded to walk right into Dhorlot's chamber.

In main campaign Dhorlot is basically a raging ball of libido and he was in the middle of let's just say "dancing with himself" He was completely caught off guard but so was the rogue who had opened the door. He stammered an interesting apology and quickly closed to door, exposing there location to Aushanna. She teleported to the fingerling room and drew her bow. The s@+! was on! At least I thought it was.

The party fully retreated into Dhorlot's antechamber and shut the door. I was felling cocky so I blipped her into that room and drew her longsword, and that's when the pummeling began.

The cleric had been waiting SOOOOOOOOOO long to cast "Bestow Curse" on someone. She successfully penetrated Aushanna's spell resisitance AND she failed her will save. She granted her the "50% chance of no action each round" curse. THIS WAS EPIC. That spell is crazy awesome. My first round I failed the percentile roll and could do nothing. The swashbuckler hit her twice. He does sick amounts of damage (10-20) because of "precision" damage (f+&~ing Pathfinder) and that's when he doesn't Crit, and he crit TWICE.
The warpriest also managed to get a good hit in.

So now because of seriously bad rolls on my part and some seriously good rolls on the party's part. They have Aushanna trapped in the room down to half her hit points. Of course she will just teleport out, Hopefully avoiding AoO's and regroup.

I was fully expecting to really put the hurt on. I was going into this encounter expecting at least 2-3 characters to die. It's great that they didn't but part of me is a little pissed. They have been cakewalking through this campaign and I was going to take this opportunity to humble them a bit.

What should I do now? Dhorlot is still hanging out just on the other side of the door. Should I have him pop out? Should I have Aushanna round up the priest's or even Dhorlot?

I would like still to route them so they have to go back to town, make better preperations and come back for a more epic battle. On the other hand they are still trapped inside dhorlot's Antechamber, with: 7 whips, 5 soldiers, 3 females, Hlanamm, Mangh-Mitcho, a badly bruised Aushanna and an angry Black Dragon all fully aware of there presence.

So...Kudos to them for successfully regrouping and doing some significant damage to Aushanna, but they are still in an insanely dangerous situation here.

Any thoughts?

A group of chaotic evil (and insane) fish men, a chaotic evil dragon, and a lawful evil devil could possibly be too diverse to come up with a coordinated plan. A piecemeal attack with each faction attacking on its own timeline and with each having their own motivations, might give the players enough slack to complete the adventure in one sitting.

On the other hand, Dhorlot is probably more concerned about his fingerling project than the kuo-toas. And now that they've been born, he doesn't really need the kuo-toas anymore. As long as the group leaves him alone, he should probably leave the party alone (you did say they did their best to avoid the fingerlings).

Dhorlot is above average INT and WIS; if he sees that this group has curb-stomped Aushanna, he should figure that a battle with them will probably lose him some of the fingerlings, and that's just not something he's willing to risk.

The magazine even says, "If reduced below 60 hp, he [Dhorlot] flees . . ." so he's not in this to the end anyway.

TyroAmberhelm wrote:
We continued last night and as usual I completely underestimated the party.

Happens all the time :-)

What was a pretty freaking killer combo in my campaign (although it was classic 3.5, not pathfinder) was the combination of Mangh-Micto's Deeper Darkness and Aushanna's True Seeing. If you are intent on still humbling them, you could have those two team up in that manner. Aushanna's bow firing 3-4 times per round into a party that can't move fast due to the darkness, will be looking under pressure.

In my campaign, I would have completely controlled them to the point of TPK, if I wanted to. However, I also ruled that Aushanna started feeling overconfident and entered melee, when the group discovered a way (detect magic with search for the deeper darknesses origin, which I ruled was a small pebble) to find and eventually dispel or discard their main problem (don't remember how exactly they removed the darkness). As soon as that problem was solved, Aushanna was toast by means of multiple melee attacks...

Still, easily one of the most memorable and exciting parts of the campaign.


I am curious to know how this story ended.

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