My RotRL Campaign Has Ended [Spoilers, maybe]


Rise of the Runelords

Grand Lodge

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Tonight, in epic fashion, my players defeated Karzoug the Claimer.

It was a battle worthy of song. They fought bravely and three of the died before Karzoug was finally defeated.

It's late (it was a 9 hour gaming session), so I'll have to write more later, but here are some of the interesting tidbits from my RotRL campaign:
* Tonight was out 53rd session of the campaign.
* Our first session was January 6th, 2012.
* We took a couple breaks along the way for various reasons. One of the breaks was so we could play through Dragon's Demand.
* We started with 6 players and finished with 7, adding 1 along the way.
* This is the 4th campaign I've GMed for this group.

I'll try to come back later with more details. Feel free to ask questions about our campaign.

-Skeld


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Looking forward to the details!

Ruyan.

Liberty's Edge

GRATZ!!!


So wanting to hear about this...

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

After nearly killing the party, and many innocents in Golarion, with a extremely poor tactical decision, (hey, it was late!), Ryll is retiring in Sandpoint.


What scale did you use for the final fight, 5' or 10'/square?

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ryll Korr wrote:

After nearly killing the party, and many innocents in Golarion, with a extremely poor tactical decision, (hey, it was late!), Ryll is retiring in Sandpoint.

Don't forget there's still a Barghest under Thistletop that Ryll talked about eliminating. You can probably take it all by yourself now.

-Skeld

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
TwoWolves wrote:
What scale did you use for the final fight, 5' or 10'/square?

I used 10' because I wanted a large encounter area and room for PCs and baddies to move around.

I drew it out on four pieces of 1" gridded presentation paper (I think the sheets were 36"x28" or so), then I cut out cardboard pieces for all the ramps and platforms and made a big, 3D model of the whole thing.

I know there were plenty of pictures being taken. I'll try to figure out how to link them here.

I still need to write up how the last encounter went.

-Skeld

Silver Crusade

The 3d battle setup was completely awesome. Mcstretch took a picture at the start of every round; it would be great to get those into a album. I took one at the beginning of the fight that I could get linked in pretty easy.

Silver Crusade

Skeld wrote:
Ryll Korr wrote:

After nearly killing the party, and many innocents in Golarion, with a extremely poor tactical decision, (hey, it was late!), Ryll is retiring in Sandpoint.

Don't forget there's still a Barghest under Thistletop that Ryll talked about eliminating. You can probably take it all by yourself now.

-Skeld

I should hope so!

Actually, I would likely have a small crew of would be heroes following me around now. I think I will dispatch a party of 4 newcomers to Sandpoint to take care of it ...

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Here is the picture I took (guilty parties have been cropped out):

Linky


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Awesome!
Hoping to emulate your 3D model (if it fits my table...).

Ruyan.


I was looking to do the exact same thing, except with acrylic floors. Then I saw how much that would cost me in terns of cash and sanity, and instead I'm thinking about doing it with our Dwarven Forge stuff. But at 5'/square, half of the combatants can't even fit where they are supposed to start the fight!

Looks awesome, I'm looking forward to a spoiler-filled recap!

Grand Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The following is a summary of my group's final battle with Karzoug. It's not a round-by-round breakdown of the fight; it's an overview.

First, my Players/PCs. I have seven players. Six started the campaign and we picked up one along the way. Of the seven, five were able to attend the last few sessions. The other two (separately) had babies recently and were unable to make it.

The Heroes:

Ryll - Female Aasimar Paladin 16 of Sarenrae
Soril - Male Human Evoker 16
Tolgun - Male Dwarf Fighter (Weapon Master) 3 / Cleric 13 of Angradd
Gorm - Male Dwarf Fighter 16 (joined at Chapter 5)
Lai'ki - Female Elf Ranger 16
Epshi - Female Elf Magus 14 / Duelist 2 (replaced a character killed during the giant raid on Sandpoint)
Nala - Male Tiefling Alchemist (Chirurgeon) 16

Changes I Made Toward the End:

  • Since I had 7 players, most very experienced, I made some changes to nearly every encounter. in additional to rebuilding most of the name enemies, I added extra minions, added a class level to some named enemies, updated many bad guys using the latest PF options, and maxed HP for staying power. Additionally, I kept the heroes ~1 level behind the level the book suggested, and I throttled back their WBL. In fact, when they went into the final encounter, they were level 16. As a result, they didn't have access to 9th level spells.
  • Starting about eh time they exited the Ice Fen, I had the being to encounter the Occluding Field (which extended over all of Xin-Shalast). Teleportation magic didn't work and neither did magical flight. Also, any summoning spell would summon a pig (oink!). This forced the heroes to engage the environment, instead of just teleporting/flying around. Nevertheless, the heroes decided the best course of action was to try and get to Karzoug as quickly as possible, and so they ended skipping many of the adventure/encounter areas within Xin-Shalast. The only enemy they sought out along the way was Ghlorofaex.
  • I trimmed down the number of enemies in the Pinnacle of Avarice. I cut The Thing From Beyond Time altogether.
  • Throughout the campaign, i made information about Thassilon had to get. This kept up a sense of mystery and the heroes never knew exactly what to expect. In fact, going in to the final encounter with Karzoug, there still weren't completely convinced he was a Transmuter. Some of them thought he might actually be a Conjurer.
  • The seven experienced players time to prepare, and their characters will ROFLstomp nearly any opponent, high-level of not. One of the effects of the Anima Focus was that it would strip away temporary buffs. This keeps the heroes from showing up on round one with everything in the spellbook already cast on them. My players suspected this and held back a good number of their buffs in reserve, which turned out to be a smart move.
  • I built that cool battle map of the Eye of Avarice. I initially included all the gold pillars noted on the map. Once I put the whole thing together (a few weeks before the players go to see it), I realized there are waaay too many pillars. I only used half the ones called out on the map.
  • Karzoug had been watching the heroes (through their Sihedron devices) for some time and used that observation to study tactics and prepare his lair in the event they made it that far. As a result, he was ready when they stepped through the portal. He had also set up a number of symbol spells (death, pain, weakness, revelation, etc.). I also described the floor as being covered with thousands upon thousands of runes, such that in order to find the symbols, they would have to search for them.
  • The Eye, like the Xin-Shalast environs, was warded against summoning, teleportation, and magical flight (Karzoug was prohibited from using those as well). Instead of high-level combat turning into, "Hi melee guys, I'm 150' off the ground and you can't touch me!" it forced the heroes to consider the terrain and think tactically about the ground. It also made the symbols more dangerous because they never knew if they were going to trip one.
  • Having watched a good number of his Material Plane minions flail impotently against (some of) the heroes redonkulous AC, Karzoug crafted a brilliant energy greatsword for his Warden of Runes and brilliant energy bows for his two Wardens of Thunder. The Adult Blue dragon, being a product of the Runewell, I left unchanged (aside from maxed out HP).

Highlights of the Battle:

  • The heroes had an "oh poop" moment when they arrived in the Eye and realized they couldn't teleport/fly and had Wardens of Thunder on those platforms to either side. That's a lot of ground for a melee character to cover to get to those guys. In general, I think they just knew they were in for a tough fight when they saw how much ground they had to cover to even engage Karzoug.
  • Karzoug, being a smart opponent, knew that Soril (the party Wizard) was very dangerous. During his first round time stop, he used a time stop and trapped Soril inside a prismatic sphere. This provided the heroes' second "oh poop" moment when the realized that Soril, who had done an excellent job all campaign of shaping and controlling the battlefield, was effectively out of the fight (prismatic sphere and dim-locked by the "no teleport").
  • The heroes' third "oh poop" moment happened when they started to move from the gateway platform to the first staircase and tripped a large, 30'x30' symbol of death. That took Lai'ki (arguably the party's most lethal character) out of the fight for a while. She shrugged off death by using two Hero Points, leaving her with only one.
  • The party had a love-hate relationship with their Alchemist, Nala, all campaign. He liked to bomb things and he was just as likely to hurt the party as he was the bad guys. I was NPC'ing him because his player couldn't be there and, unbeknownst to the others, he'd picked up Healing Bomb with his 16th level Discovery. There was a collective groan at the table when I told them, immediately after Lai'ki had gone down and Hero pointed herself back to life, that Nala was throwing a bomb at her. Nala's healing bombs turned out really handy in the last encounter.
  • The heroes had to fight tooth and nail for every inch (or 5') of terrain they took from Karzoug. It was a slugging match, especially with Soril out of the fight. Karzoug used time stop (quickened and not) to buff while the heroes dealt with ranged attacks from the Wardens of Thunder, harrying attacks from the dragon, and seemingly random, annoying symbol[i/]s. Meanwhile, Karzoug would unleash some nasty on them every round: [i]horrid wilting, finger of death, etc.
  • Lai'ki did a good job of readying an action to shoot her domineering bow at Karzoug when he would cast. Her attack/damage rolls were high enough to hit and make it difficult for him to make the concentration check. As a result, he lost some good spells and compensated by using a quicken rod to spell attack Lai'ki. Since Lai'ki had a domineering weapon, she absorbed another three of Karzoug's targeted transmutations with no effect. She proved invaluable when it came to denying Karzoug's actions.
  • Ryll, in additional to be a powerful melee Paladin, also used a good tactic when she cast [some spell] on the heroes that granted them Pally smite. She also used her own brilliant domineering weapon to hurt the Warden of Runes.
  • Gorm and Tolgun, along with Ryll, headed straight for the Rune Giant. They suffered when he Rune Giant readied an action to use his spark once they were within range. Soril spent most of the fight buffing before taking his chances and moving through the prismatic sphere. He emerged no worse for wear (not turned to stone and not banished to another plane) just in time to hit the Warden of Runes' weapon with a successful dispel, rendering it non-magical for a short time. This was enough for the four of them to take the giant out.
  • Meanwhile, coming up the ramp on the other side, Epshi was exposed by a symbol of revelation[i]. Epshi had a habit of using invisibility and the [i]symbol prevented her from hiding. Once she hit the symbol of weakness, just before making it to Karzoug, she was sapped of all strength and fell to the floor next to the Runelord. Nala was also affeced by a symbol of weakness. Conscious and unable to move, he lobbed bombs until he was killed by the dragon.
  • As the heroes reached Karzoug, he cast unwilling shield on an unconscious Lai'ki. This forced Gorm, the first hero to reach Karzoug, into killing Lai'ki when he attacked Karzoug. Ultimately, she died as a result of the damage split from Karzoug.
  • The death of the Warden of Runes freed the wardens of Thunder from the Rune Giant's domination. Ryll made an impassioned full-round Diplomacy appeal to the Storm Giants for help. Realizing they had been influenced for evil, the Wardens turned on their former allies and attacked the dragon.
  • By this point, Nala and Lai'ki are dead. The remaining heroes have begun surrounding Karzoug, but they are being harassed by the dragon. Karzoug cast caustic eruption. It initially damaged some heroes and Karzoug was defeated (the final blow landed by Ryll) before his next turn. Karzoug had the last laugh however, because his spell dealt acid damage on the next round, which killed Tolgun.
  • The Soul Lens was destroyed, the Rune Well exploded in a burst of positive energy and healed or resurrected the heroes. But not the bad guys because it was 2am by this point.

And everyone lived happily ever after.

Or did they?

-Skeld


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Skeld put a lot of work into this campaign, and into the final fight. The structure he created added a lot to this session, which was the culmination of over 2 years of gaming and over 50 sessions I personally attended; all of which were well-prepared. It was very well thought out, and a very challenging event for all that participated.

Silver Crusade

Kill steal!

Actually, it would be awesome to keep track of who got the last killing blow in our campaigns ...

Anyone remember?:

Tales of the Dales - ?
Savage Tide - ?
WLD - The Black Dragon (on the party)
Price of Immortality (City of Golden Death) - ?
SW: Dawn of Defiance - ?
Dragon's Demand - ?
Rise of the Runelords - Ryll

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

So for me the most memorable moments of that last fight were:


  • The Oh *bleep* moment when we realized Soril wasn't joining the fight anytime soon (about halfway up the major ramp).
  • When all my attacks and saves hit the -8 point due to the various symbols after reaching the top level
  • And the biggest was when I Burst of Speed through the Rune Giant's threatened area to establish a flank with Gorm or Tolgun, but completely and totally forgot the brilliant energy sword the giant was holding. Then, my fears were totally confirmed when the giant did 170 damage on a full attack vs. my non-armor/shield AC, bring me into Hero's Defiance land (I did prepare 5 of them I think though), and Tolgun says "I can't get there..."

I don't understand all of these "no healing during combat" people. We would have been complete toast without combat healing. Of course, we also have 7 character and are playing against supe'd up monsters, and so maybe that is it.

I really did enjoy the RotRL AP. The Runeforge especially was unique and a lot of fun. It had a great number of dragon encounters, which I love personally as well. I also really liked the Paladin, though I am almost definitely going back to full caster next time.

Oh, yeah, the thing that lets me transfer the Smite Evil ability to the party isn't a spell. It is the Paladin's Aura of Justice feature (11th level). It is hands down very likely one of the most awesome class features out there, especially when you have a large party. The only reason I didn't use it more often is that we rarely ever stayed within 10 ft of each other, haha.


Also, a lot of the "healing doesn't help in combat" people focus on the low-level healing spells (by which I mean everything up to cure critical wounds or channeling energy).

Heal and mass heal are usually called out as being other cases, but quite a lot of game-time happens below the level at which those spells come into play.

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Here is a link to the majority of pictures we took of the battleground ...

Album Link


Excellent photo album! I'm going to use that as a reference when I get serious about crafting my own version.

Thanks!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Yes, this was an exceedingly enjoyable campaign. Playing through the same story for nearly 4.5 years made me feel involved in the plot and attached to the characters.

This was my first time playing an arcane spell caster past first level (I usually play divine casters), and I have to say I liked it (I think playing a bladebound magus helped offset the low WBL we were experiencing). I'll probably work more arcanists into my future character concepts.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I think my favorite part of the last session was actually the out-of-character conversation. Everyone was prepared, relaxed, and excited to be having the ultimate battle of long campaign. I think we just had a really good time, at least until the Oh *bleep* moments started arriving.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Soril Andrak wrote:
Skeld put a lot of work into this campaign, and into the final fight. The structure he created added a lot to this session, which was the culmination of over 2 years of gaming and over 50 sessions I personally attended; all of which were well-prepared. It was very well thought out, and a very challenging event for all that participated.

I can't take credit for the story, since it was RotRL. I don't mind taking credit for the prep work and all the subsequent tinkering. All of that helps keep me out of trouble. :)

-Skeld

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ryll Korr wrote:
I really did enjoy the RotRL AP. The Runeforge especially was unique and a lot of fun.

I made a bunch of changes to Runeforge and how it worked. I really need to write those p in case anyone else finds them useful.

-Skeld

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Epi'Shalaya Rycesh wrote:
I think we just had a really good time, at least until the Oh *bleep* moments started arriving.

So it was fun until round 1. :D

-Skeld


Skeld wrote:

So it was fun until round 1. :D

-Skeld

Yeah, but round 1 didn't start until three hours into the session ;)

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Epi'Shalaya Rycesh wrote:
Skeld wrote:

So it was fun until round 1. :D

-Skeld

Yeah, but round 1 didn't start until three hours into the session ;)

You guys eat slow.

-Skeld

Silver Crusade

No, it was more of all that pre-buffing strategy we did before going through the portal, then using the quill to find out that most likely our buffs were going to be stripped, and then re-doing the pre-buffing strategy just in case there was a chance that not all of the temporary buffs were going to be stripped ...

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

Wow that looks awesome!


TwoWolves wrote:


I was looking to do the exact same thing, except with acrylic floors. Then I saw how much that would cost me in terns of cash and sanity, and instead I'm thinking about doing it with our Dwarven Forge stuff. But at 5'/square, half of the combatants can't even fit where they are supposed to start the fight!

Looks awesome, I'm looking forward to a spoiler-filled recap!

Not only this, but at a 5 foot scale, the ramps would be extremely steep to get the 50 feet between lowest and highest points specified. I think the map of the room is intended to be 10 foot squares, but there was an error on the map when they wrote the scale.


I believe you are right, elcaleeb, but I have been looking for groups who have made it this far to confirm what they actually did before building a 3D mock up of my own. It's good confirmation of my suspicions.

Silver Crusade

I will add that with the ramp approach, it was a little hard to keep the mini's in position on the ramps. With haste up <most likely for any party>, it was at least easier to get through the ramp sections without having to stop.

You may want to consider something that lets the characters stay in place, even something simple like toothpicks to jam into the board behind them, but at the same time this was only an issue for us a few times during the fight (who wants to be fighting from lower steps anyway ...)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

One thing to consider is this: why would Karzoug make things easier for humans? He can use Fly. His giants use large steps. So just turn this from ramps to huge steps that need Climb checks for humans to use. Add in a Dimensional Anchor effect to prevent the PCs from teleporting before Karzoug, and a Buff-removing effect when entering the Runewell to strip Fly from the PCs, and now you have a situation where the PCs can't just immediately close with Karzoug.


I personally used a 10-feet-per-square scale when I setup the Eye of Avarice in Roll20. The giants wouldn't fit on the balconies otherwise.

Silver Crusade

Heh, Skeld made things quite a bit more difficult on us even over that, well except the Climb checks, as that would have been truly evil. We could not Teleport, nor fly, anywhere within Xin Shalast. There were no more shopping adventures once we hit the mountain ... :)

Grand Lodge

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It's pretty clear, once you account for giants, that the scale is supposed to be 10'/square. The main problem with using a drawn map or a model is the size. Mine ended up being ~4.5'x6' with 3D elements almost 1' tall. That's a lot to table space to eat up before making room for players, character sheets, books, drinks, etc. It worked out for us ok because our table space was ping pong table sized. If you can tolerate a map that size, the 10' squares are the way to go.

Part of the problem with my model was that I used thin cardboard to make the ramps. The ramps also had a glossy sort of finish that didn't hold minis are well. If I'd gone with a thicker standard type of cardboard, it would've worked much better. And a little double-sided tape on the bottoms of miniatures on the ramps wouldn't hurt.

As far as flying, I put myself in Karzoug's shoes and decided that denying the heroes the ability to fly or teleport would force them to play the terrain. Karzoug placed the symbols at key intersections that the heroes would have to pass in order to get to him. Flying around the Eye of Avarice is sort of a cheap tactic IMO. Flying and teleporting trivialize what is otherwise a very unique combat area and make it waaay easier than it should be.

The fight is much more interesting when the Fighter can't simply dim door next to Karzoug at lay into him. Instead, he has to run through a gauntlet of difficult terrain dodging spells/arrows and battling a dragons and giants the whole way.

-Skeld

Silver Crusade

Skeld wrote:

The fight is much more interesting when the Fighter can't simply dim door next to Karzoug at lay into him. Instead, he has to run through a gauntlet of difficult terrain dodging spells/arrows and battling a dragons and giants the whole way.

-Skeld

Having played through this, I definitely agree, it was way more interesting and fun this way (though I do like crazy challenges).


We've got a 4' x 8' custom table, with a plexiglass grid and pull out shelves for our books and computers etc. Space shouldn't be a problem.

Now I just have to build it....


I started building one a few weeks back, before realizing the 5-foot scale issue at the time... I will probably just stick with it, though I did have to halve the heights to make the ramps useable. I used cardboard like Skeld, but I coated it in a couple layers of paper mache to try and hold it together better. I also intend to paint and decorate it, but have not gotten that far yet. It's my first attempt at something this scale, so a few tips that I've found make things easier:
*Start by tracing the map out on large scale graph paper. I bought one of those easel pads for presentations, and it worked well.
*Attach the sketch to something more sturdy, like a large piece of cardboard. I used a stapler because it was all I had handy at the time, and that was a poor choice.
I had not originally planned on painting, but if I had, I would have cut out all the walkways, placed them on the map, then painted around them before attaching them to the map.
I used glue to attach things together, this was time consuming because I had to wait for the glue to dry before moving on to the next piece. Scotch tape may be better, especially if you plan to cover it in paper mache over top.
And if you have the space for it, for sure make it a 10 foot scale... :P


If I don't do the acrylic thing, which I doubt I'll be able to, I'll probably use our dwarven forge stuff on top of some kind of support (Styrofoam?) with golden spray painted dowels, (maybe) brass watch chains, and a red felt undermatting.


Thanks for the summary Skeld, very useful. My players will (probably, you never know with these rabid monkeys) attack the grumpy old man this Sunday, so I've been reading up on how he's dealt with other delinquents running all over his golden lawn prior.

my changes:

* Replaced a lot of his attack spells. Gotten rid of many of the transmutation ones, since he knows they're packing runeforged. He's just saved a couple for summons etc. He's a wizard, not a sorcerer, so he'll adapt.

* Changed his buffs. He'll now buff with Fiery Body, since he knows the party are strong in melee/ranged (one two-handed fighter and a smite evil ranged dude, so ridiculous crits, plus cleric of Desna and an evocation wizard). He'll also have Ice Body as a crit preventing backup. Long lasting buffs (like Stoneskin) he has already cast.

* Redone his tactics. He'll use his glaive to project a major image of himself sitting on his throne (which means I can show the awesome cover from the Gamemastery guide), while he's really flying 20 feet above, hidden by an invisibility cast by his pet lizard. Between him and the chair is a permanent prismatic sphere, which he'll play peek-a-boo from with quickened spells. He's keeping a dimensional anchor up at the entrance since he knows there's a cleric of Desna in the group, and expects their likely tactics to be to send the fighter up in his face asap. On the way up there's a couple of symbols on the stairs for the PC's to play with. No silly wall spells, since he expects heroes of this caliber to be able to fly. He'll also cast Wreath of Blades if the fighter manages to come close so he can maze/fod him in peace.

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