In Search of Sanity (GM Reference)


Strange Aeons

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Just remember that "Creatures that enter this fog must succeed at a DC 12 Will save or fall asleep. Additionally, they do not receive natural healing from resting for the next 24 hours."

That only affects creatures within 5' of the oneirogen, despite the fog extending to 10'


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Am I too overprepared if I created an entire table of random dreams based on different themes within the adventure path? In total, I have 36 dreams including some that are Hastur related (Tatterman is a minion of Hastur), Xhamen-Dor related (PCs are infected through Lowls), Carcosa (empty city that Zandalus dreamed), Briarstone related (I think there's some cool background the PCs can't really learn as written), Dreamlands related, and plot related.

Earlier this week, I happened to roll a dream in which the PC is saved by themselves (foreshadowing the final act of the adventure).


No, but you're stingy if you don't share the table ;)


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kadance wrote:
No, but you're stingy if you don't share the table ;)

Once I figure out either how to link the document I made or to make the table in here, I'll share it with everyone.

Link


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Zipding wrote:

Am I too overprepared if I created an entire table of random dreams based on different themes within the adventure path? In total, I have 36 dreams including some that are Hastur related (Tatterman is a minion of Hastur), Xhamen-Dor related (PCs are infected through Lowls), Carcosa (empty city that Zandalus dreamed), Briarstone related (I think there's some cool background the PCs can't really learn as written), Dreamlands related, and plot related.

I made my players a deck of illustrated dream cards that they randomly drew from every time they slept.

So, I'd say underprepared. :D


I built an Inception machine and invaded my players' RL dreams after every gaming session.


Aaand I'm looking for a replacement for the attic whisperer, preferably one that works much the same way but doesn't involve kids. I know other people loved it, but I can't DM stuff to do with a traumatised child and whatnot. Seems like that's pretty much what an attic whisperer is about, so I don't see how I could adjust it. I also routinely show my players pictures of their opponents/NPC's that I cut & paste from the AP or Bestiary, so it would be suspicious to have this one missing (they don't want to know if/where I change stuff).
Any advice?

(My library question from the previous page is still relevant btw)


When you say "works pretty much the same way" how do you mean? Do you want that room to be dark and have the creature crying for its lamp, which the PCs have to find and return in order to make the darkness go away? Or do you want a creature with all the same abilities, but just not a child?

One thought that comes to mind is you could replace the child with a halfling patient of the Asylum--a fully grown adult, but one whose mind had regressed to a simpler, limited state, and who loved only his shadow lantern toy. Then you could find an image of a halfling to show your PCs instead--the creature would still be small and you could use all the stats of an attic whisperer, but RP it as a halfling.

MY EXPERIENCE WITH THIS ENCOUNTER: My PCs had fought ghouls, doppelgangers, the rolling flesh ooze... horror after horror they encountered, and didn't flinch. Nothing phased them. Not even the Argus Eye, which they set on fire while answering its plaintive "What have I become?" cry with cruel taunts of "An Eye in a damn door in an insane asylum!"

Then they found the dark room with a little kid crying for his lamp. They slammed the door.

"Hell no," they said in unison. "We'll find another way round."


quibblemuch wrote:

When you say "works pretty much the same way" how do you mean? Do you want that room to be dark and have the creature crying for its lamp, which the PCs have to find and return in order to make the darkness go away? Or do you want a creature with all the same abilities, but just not a child?

...

I want the room to be dark and then something unsettling to happen for a cliffhanger. I'd also like there to be enough of an obstacle to make them explore the rest of the area before moving north...

I like the halfling idea, though I just realised that I have a plausible explanation for the absence of a picture: they can't see anything :D

Yeah, I'd love to actually spook my players who are very much into horror. The problem is that I get triggered by the child stuff. Just seeing the descriptions in the AP and the bestiary makes me extremely uncomfortable, so it'd be best for me to use a different monster.


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Ah, ok.

Have you considered the zuvembie? It's the same CR. The whistles and strange calls from the dark room would be extremely creepy. And swarms of birds or bats coming out of pitch darkness could give the players the heebie jeebies.

Its backstory could be that, in life they were a patient of Briarstone who had been a mute--only capable of communicating in whistles, which they would use to call birds. However, like Lenny from Of Mice and Men, they didn't understand their strength and so they often wound up hurting the birds. When killed in dreams by the Tatterman, the worst of their personality came out. They just want to play with the PCs, but don't realize they're Medium-sized, strong creatures with claw attacks...

You wouldn't necessarily need to tie it directly to the lantern--that could just magically banish the darkness for reasons that no one can figure out. Or the darkness could disappear once the zuvembie has been slain. Or the lantern could cast shadows of birds, moving around with a clever mechanism--which would entrance the zuvembie and enable the party to move past (or send it to its proper rest).

That way you wouldn't have to read any of the disturbing child stuff.


Niiice. I'm impressed with both your knowledge and your creativity! Thanks a ton! Now I'll only need to search Syrinscape for fitting sound effects...


You're welcome! This AP is really bringing out my creativity. Creepy is my aesthetic, it seems...


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I ended up customising an adult D8 haunt based on a zuvembie and a backstory of two patients who'd developed a close friendship - their patient files would reveal that one of them was treated for anxiety disorders, particularly achluophobia (fear of the dark), and a later comment changed her diagnosis of mutism into selective mutism as she'd started to talk to that other patient (whose name my new D8 haunt yelled).
Most of that turned out to be a waste of time (though actually no, it was quite fun) as they didn't even dare to enter the room before the darkness was sorted out, but they did enjoy the riddle and Airwynn (their go-to contact at the chapel) telling them what she remembered of those two and pointing out their shared room on the map bit that they'd found, where "hauntie's" friend would store a lamp under her bed that could often calm hauntie's anxiety.

Any ideas on how to make the other haunts easier to solve - and thus more interesting, because otherwise they'd probably just wildly guess around and then stop bothering? I thought dream hints were a great idea and wrote some, but they've refused to sleep outside the chapel after their first night.

Another fun challenge: "Hey, what's the skin of that [nightgaunt] thing like? Must make for cool armor!", "I want the horns!", "How about making a whip out of the tail?"), sigh... :D
(Looks like they might have time for something cheap while some of the group does research at the library, but the Craft DCs plus improvised tools mean risky business unless you've put some ranks in it and/or plenty of INT (they have neither). If they are committed, maybe they'll find that one or more of the survivors or even the more reasonable cultists can teach them some skills and help crafting. Or they'll take the nightgaunt corpse/parts with them as a trophy and take care of the crafting later.)


About to start running this AP. Is it ever made clear why Lowls didn't just murder the PC's while in fugue state rather than handing them over to Briarstone?

Also, many of the rooms (including the basement room the party wakes up in) never seem to mention what light sources, if any, are present. Wondering how other folks handled this.


Secondsight wrote:

About to start running this AP. Is it ever made clear why Lowls didn't just murder the PC's while in fugue state rather than handing them over to Briarstone?

Also, many of the rooms (including the basement room the party wakes up in) never seem to mention what light sources, if any, are present. Wondering how other folks handled this.

In my campaign, Lowls stashed the PCs away in case he'd need them later and just forgot about them.

Unless specified, I treated indoor rooms as dim light unless they had no access to the outside at all, at which point I treated them as darkness. The outside was treated as normal light (but still shadowy fluff wise).


Murder?! Like a common thug?

A gentleman and scholar never resorts to such crude tools as murder. He's not, after all, a monster.


quibblemuch wrote:

Murder?! Like a common thug?

A gentleman and scholar never resorts to such crude tools as murder. He's not, after all, a monster.

I never thought of Lowls as the type who couldn't get his hands dirty. I mean, he did drown the PCs with his own hands.

Which using his build as written (aristocrat 2/bard 2) is in of itself a bit of a stretch against 7th level characters, even if the drugging effects carried over to the dreamlands...

I'm rebuilding him as a 15th level occultist, though he'd be 13th at the time.


I suppose. There's a difference between drowning them in the Dreamlands (knowing it won't kill them) in order to gain the knowledge he seeks and deliberately killing them in the waking world when nothing was at stake.

My question would be: Why *would* he kill them?

I treated it as though he didn't think enough about the PCs to go through the trouble of murdering them. Why bother? They were tools to be used and discarded as necessary--and if the case gave him yet another in to Briarstone to get his hands on the volume of lore, so much the better.

Also, as far as Lowls being too low level to take on a party of 7th level characters, if the drug rendered them helpless (it's clear from the description the effects do carry over into the Dreamlands), it's really not a stretch of the imagination to have a 4th level character be able to drown a 7th level character.

Drowning rules are HARSH. All he has to do is hold them underwater for anywhere from 1-5 minutes. Even the highest Con character is going to fail that Con check by that point and then it's three rounds to death.

And that's not even assuming that the drug gave them the unconscious condition (while permitting enough mobility to shuffle after him).


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My take on Lowls not just killing the PCs is that he actually liked them. Lowls is more than a bit of a loser, and having an adventuring party was a big deal to him. That's why the Mad Poet demanded that particular sacrifice - Lowls had to give up something important to him to get the information he wanted. After the sacrifice, he spared them as basically his last act of human compassion before the Xhamen-dor corruption overtook him completely.

Obviously, I had to modify the backstory a bit to remove the part where the party were Lowls' slaves.


I also changed from the slavery story with Lowls. All my PCs had some kind of close connection with Lowls, two of them being assassins of sort, one being a bodyguard/ executioner, and the last actually being a close friend/ associate on the level of Munn. So yeah he didn't kill them because he did actually care about them, even in his own, twisted way.

This connection made their drive to murder the crap out of him eventually even stronger, they learned that they were all betrayed by a man they trusted.


I kept the slavery angle, but have it as a voluntary contract the players entered into for legal protection from the various factions they individually ticked off before meeting Lowls. Weiralei facilitated the meeting and contracting in Katapesh. She selected the PCs after based on specific arcane requirements having to do with the physical/geographic and spiritual/moral paths they had traveled to that point.


Am I missing something? What is the significance of the PC's going to E11, or the ghoul encampment at all? Killing the oneirogen in E11 thins the fog somewhat but I can't see anywhere that it is needed.

What's stopping the PC's from just headed to Zandalus?


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Nothing.

My players did exactly that. It was fine.

I don't use the XP system (I tell them to level at appropriate times in the adventure). If you are using the XP system, you may have to jigger the numbers to account for missing the ghoul encounters.

OPINION: "Needed" in an AP is not ALWAYS a matter of story significance. Because the XP system is widely used (and treasure is often a factor), there are occasionally encounters whose function might not be directly related to a linear narrative. Instead, they are written as ways for GMs to make sure the party has enough levels/resources to meet the strictly story challenges.

This is not just true of Strange Aeons. Every AP I've run (up to 4), I've wound up trimming encounters (or the PCs just avoided them) and making up for it by adding treasure to the encounters they DID meet, IF the party seems low on resources. As I said, I don't use XP, so I don't have that worry. (E.g., there was one AP where they literally missed half the first book by picking the exact right set of turns to get out of the dungeon with minimal encounters).

Think of an AP not as a perfect, exact, step-by-step technical guide for a campaign. It's more of a recipe--contains lots of options and potential for variation. Remember, the writers are targeting a fairly broad audience of GMs/players, so they'll often include more than might be a perfect fit for any one specific group. On the other hand, some groups are completist and really like to check out every nook and cranny. The adventure offers enough material for both poles of style and everything in between.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Although, in this case, the Oneirogens are contributing to keeping the Asylum in the state it's in. Killing Zandalus does not clear the fog/horrors surrounding the Asylum, but getting rid of the Oneirogens AND Zandalus will do that. If the PCs get rid of Zandalus but not the Oneirogens, they will probably still find their path out the front door blocked.

The left column on p34 mentions this, amongst the stuff about Losandro. Also, in the development section on the right of p51, this is touched on. The other oneirogens in area F2 also need to be dealt with, presumably, and would be harder to skip.


That's true. However, if the players go to the ghoul area, they'll never know about that one oneirogen in the area. Therefore, from a story perspective, that oneirogen doesn't exist and a GM can simply ignore the requirement of killing that last one to lift the fog.

My description of how it played out in my campaign is earlier in the thread. Tl;dr, the Tatterman nearly slaughtered them and I had to improv a solution that destroyed all of Briarstone except the players & Winter.

(NOTE: Later, as they were traveling across the Dreamlands to the Oasis - in Dreams of the Yellow King, I had them see Briarstone, shimmering in the distance in the desert. They elected NOT to visit.)


That should be "if the players DON'T go to the ghoul area..."

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Quote:
Therefore, from a story perspective, that oneirogen doesn't exist and a GM can simply ignore the requirement of killing that last one to lift the fog.

Personally, I tend not to change this sort of thing on the fly, as it breaks my versimilitude. YMMV.

If the fog lift doesn't lift after killing the big T, it basically forces the group to explore any areas they haven't explored. I'm also fairly sure Doc Elbourne points the group at that tower, so he could be used to remind them, if they forget.


Could anyone tell me if any of the NPC's besides Winter are important for the other modules. I only have a copy of In Search of Sanity.


Arcasus wrote:
Could anyone tell me if any of the NPC's besides Winter are important for the other modules. I only have a copy of In Search of Sanity.

They aren't, not really. You can always make them significant, but the AP doesn't assume anyone from In Search of Sanity continues into later modules. Even Winter isn't vital--as written, she's a useful way to introduce the PCs to Thrushmoor in the next chapter.

NOTE: I rebuilt her as a Royal Accuser inquisitor changeling, gave her a sardonic personality, and had her helping the PCs out for both this chapter and the next one before she went on to other things.


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Midnight Anarch wrote:
Isthill wrote:
I made it one of my PC's old gear, personally. The magus used to be an eldritch knight, and red destiny was his bonded item (this was decided after the magus was the one who decided to use it, though).
I had similar thoughts but wondered if this was another "viol" with connections to an NPC later in the campaign, or was otherwise a tie-in to some Lovecraft-related tale.

I have a demon spawn tiefling in my group that I'm going to say was an assassin of lowels. I'm changing the name to Red Murder which on a critical hit is going to summon a murder of crows to fight for him for 1min or until destroyed.

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