Dreams of the Yellow King (GM Reference)


Strange Aeons

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Does the trip into the Dreamlands cause a wealth drop later down the line for the AP? My campaign a few books ahead of this, and I've noticed they are significantly below WBL.


It may help to have them sell the staircase focus or even a trader from the Dreamlands willing to buy some of their wealth off if you're worried.

The AP has a lot of downtime, could that be why the WBL is skewed?


We're just starting book 5, and I double checked the wealth for two of the characters between sessions, and they both have 80~85k worth of equipment at level 13, where WBL states they should have 140k.
They've missed a few things, but not that much. I also remember reading something about how APs are written to have more loot than "normal" because it's assumed they miss/sell stuff.


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Strange Aeons assumes that each PC receives a +2 inherent bonus to a statistic at the end of book 3, and that this is included in PC wealth. AS a +2 inherent bonus is worth 55K, your PCs are pretty close to standard WBL.


Well my Strange Aeons game ended in book 3,I suspect in part because the party found the Dreamlands section weird. Like they never get any loot that can be taken back to Golarion. I think the PCs have to be self motivated for this AP.

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TheFlyingPhoton wrote:
Does the trip into the Dreamlands cause a wealth drop later down the line for the AP? My campaign a few books ahead of this, and I've noticed they are significantly below WBL.

I packed all the "real" wealth for this level into the real-world encounters, and I also took into account the stat bonus as having value (essentially, pre-buying a manual/tome for each PC). Note that Glower, for example, has quite good loot. There are Leng rubies all over the place, too.


They did their research double quick time (Day 21ish) so they were almost done with all the dream quests even before they got to time they met Glower.


GM Mort wrote:
They did their research double quick time (Day 21ish) so they were almost done with all the dream quests even before they got to time they met Glower.

Sad to hear that. My players are in love with the dream quests and eager embrace their madnesses which are a great opportunity for roleplaying. They like to get loot, but their focus is on the storry


Yeah, I was surprised at how quickly my players crushed the research timing. They've got a good three dream quests left, but it's only day 19 or so - it's fortunate that only one of the real life encounters includes foreshadowing to a dream quest, but if I were to rerun this I'd probably work in some cooldown mechanic on the ritual to space out the dream quests a bit more.

Speaking of, has anyone run into players trying to return to the dream quest locations? So far my PCs haven't failed any (I try not to run my games super deadly, and my dice rolls are traditionally horrendous - plus misfortune has negated a lot of my criticals), but I'm concerned about what to do if, say, they don't manage to collect the heartstone, if Bokrug gets them all before they can snag the Idol, or if they were to try to return to the Bloodwind if they failed to grab the tricorn - I know time moves funny, but I don't necessarily want to be cheap and just say "oh, the words don't work anymore" (because obviously they do - they return to the caravanserai and all later).

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Isthill wrote:

Yeah, I was surprised at how quickly my players crushed the research timing. They've got a good three dream quests left, but it's only day 19 or so - it's fortunate that only one of the real life encounters includes foreshadowing to a dream quest, but if I were to rerun this I'd probably work in some cooldown mechanic on the ritual to space out the dream quests a bit more.

Speaking of, has anyone run into players trying to return to the dream quest locations? So far my PCs haven't failed any (I try not to run my games super deadly, and my dice rolls are traditionally horrendous - plus misfortune has negated a lot of my criticals), but I'm concerned about what to do if, say, they don't manage to collect the heartstone, if Bokrug gets them all before they can snag the Idol, or if they were to try to return to the Bloodwind if they failed to grab the tricorn - I know time moves funny, but I don't necessarily want to be cheap and just say "oh, the words don't work anymore" (because obviously they do - they return to the caravanserai and all later).

I'd say let the failures stand--they don't need to successfully complete every single dream quest to get the critical information from Abdul Alhazred to move the plot forward.

Dark Archive

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Quote:
Speaking of, has anyone run into players trying to return to the dream quest locations?

My group TPK'd on their first foray to the Carvanserai. They were badly beaten up by the Shopkeep, and then just all got eaten by the Formless Spawn. So, they did return, and then avoided the baths.

One of the characters also died in the middle encounter in the Enchanted Wood. So, the group left the Dreamlands, and returned to do the last part of the hunt. No harm, no foul here, although I suppose I could have done something like relocate the Tigers, and have the group track them down.

My group are also not bothering to research ahead - they only research their next goal, and then go do it.


If they fail the Bokrug section and return, logically Sarnath no longer exists and they port into a stormy lake. DC 20 swim checks all around, and of course with Bokrug in the center, and the idol nowhere to be seen. Or maybe in Bokrug's claws.

I was nice and let them talk to the shopkeeper. He told them to GTFO before he decided it'd be nice for them to keep him company for eternity...


That's definitely a good thought... we left off last session just before Bokrug shows up, so I'll have to keep that in mind. They managed to grab the tricorn from Vadrack just before she killed them all (in my game, Vadrack is one of their children that they sold to slavery in the dreamlands, and Vadrack is more of a Dread Pirate Roberts thing), so they probably wouldn't be eager to return to the Bloodwind. I assume that Quaveandra will have vacated the drug den if they try to return there, too.

My PCs first dreamlands encounter was the shopkeeper, who won initiative and immediately phantasmal killered the magus. Now I make that the opening move of every creature that has the ability to do that, it really terrifies them (though I've ruled that breath of life will stop someone from being shunted out of the dream. Fortunately, the one person who can cast that also has a bunch of other swift and immediate actions they use so it makes it likely that they'll be unable to react to that).

Dark Archive

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Quote:
Now I make that the opening move of every creature that has the ability to do that, it really terrifies them

You're aware that botching the Dream ritual causes an Animate Dream to appear, right? And that happens in the real world...

My group is thankfully fairly unlikely to do that badly at the ritual (they need 7s on 3 of the rolls, and 8s on two of them, so fairly likely to get at least half of them to succeed).


I am, haha, I would probably be much more forgiving in that scenario... they did actually manage to botch the ritual the first time they tried it, which they had very little to handle it. Incorporeal is really rough if you'e not prepared for it, it seems.

Dark Archive

My group has failed 2 rituals, once when needing a 4 or better and the second when they only needed a 2. Sometimes dice demand blood.


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GM Mort wrote:
Well my Strange Aeons game ended in book 3,I suspect in part because the party found the Dreamlands section weird. Like they never get any loot that can be taken back to Golarion. I think the PCs have to be self motivated for this AP.

100% not because of loot. I liked the dreamlands section myself.

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Dark Archive

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My own group needs 7s to succeed on the skill checks, and have now failed the ritual exactly twice, both times with a particular playing making all of the rolls. He's now banned by the rest from doing so :)

Mind you, with 5 PCs, and them all now level 9, the Animate Dream is no longer the threat it was the first time. The boat also makes for a much smaller environment for the AD.


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Dasrak wrote:
On the flipside, there's the issue that the party may have no interest in the dream quests at all. This was one of my first concerns when I read Dreams of the Yellow King. The adventure simply presumes the PC's will be self-motivated to research and perform the dreamlands excursion ritual, and on the face of it there's just not that strong of a motivation. The PC's have nothing but the vague notion that there might be some interesting information to glean, but as you point out they already know Lowls' next destination. This can leave the party drastically underleveled for the challenges in store for them in Katheer.

Yep. I'm exactly there right now. The party found the books, learned that they could do a ritual to go to the Dreamlands and find out what Lowls was up to, and gave it a massive, "So what?" because they already know where he's going.

They decided to gamely throw me a bone anyway, knowing full well their chances of success were low (5 Knowledge checks at DC 25 for 7th-level PCs? Yeah, my shaman had the requisite skills maxed out at +14 each, but that's only a 50/50 chance on each roll). So of course they failed the ritual, got attacked by the Animate Dream, and got seriously beaten up since they don't have many magic weapons (Thrushmoor's low purchase limit prevented it) and their casters had prepared for water combats.

Once three of them were cursed and down on Wisdom and they'd finally managed to finish off the Dream, their immediate response was, "Let's never do that again."

So, any issues with letting them get to Cassomir and completely skipping the Dreamlands, then having them learn that the only way to figure out where Lowls went is to try the Dreamlands again?

They want no part of it any more.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Quote:
The party found the books, learned that they could do a ritual to go to the Dreamlands and find out what Lowls was up to, and gave it a massive, "So what?" because they already know where he's going.

The other big push for doing the Dreamlands quests is...the idea that they could trace what happened to their memories, and get them back. I mean, in the end, this is the big payoff for the Dream Quests, not the knowledge about Lowls' destination.

Also...recall there are a couple of scholars on the boat. In a pinch, if the PCs are REALLY that bad, you could use the scholars to assist them, or even lead the ritual, if they are that bad. It is also possible to purchase a masterwork ritual toolkit, to provide a +2 bonus to the checks for a small cash outlay.

As to consequences for skipping? Firstly, they never retrieve their memories. Secondly, you would need to somehow let them know about the Necronomicon and it's location, or else skip the Mysterium as well. Plus, there would be the level issue, unless you fill the gap quite significantly.


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YogoZuno wrote:
Quote:
The party found the books, learned that they could do a ritual to go to the Dreamlands and find out what Lowls was up to, and gave it a massive, "So what?" because they already know where he's going.
The other big push for doing the Dreamlands quests is...the idea that they could trace what happened to their memories, and get them back. I mean, in the end, this is the big payoff for the Dream Quests, not the knowledge about Lowls' destination.

Right, but the problem is, after Books 1 and 2, they don't want their memories back. In Book 1 they got to be incidental heroes, saving everyone in the asylum from a horrific fate. Then in Book 2 they arrived in Thrushmoor and learned that, pre-memory-wipe, they just weren't very nice people. As a result, the players have really embraced the, "I'm no longer that person" path (a common movie and book trope), so they no longer want their memories.

YogoZuno wrote:
Also...recall there are a couple of scholars on the boat. In a pinch, if the PCs are REALLY that bad, you could use the scholars to assist them, or even lead the ritual, if they are that bad. It is also possible to purchase a masterwork ritual toolkit, to provide a +2 bonus to the checks for a small cash outlay.

This is where the suspension of disbelief is really hurting the AP. "Oh, yeah, we're riding your boat and we agreed to help you protect it, but we'll be performing this horrific occult ritual on it that might summon incorporeal extraplanar monsters, m'kay?"

My players were extremely careful to hide in the hold and perform the ritual out of sight of any of their shipmates, so when it went horrifically wrong no one was the wiser (GM fiat of a crew sleeping through it.)
The shaman has a high enough Diplomacy he might be able to convince the crew that the ritual was harmless, but the party doesn't trust the ritual in the first place.

YogoZuno wrote:
As to consequences for skipping? Firstly, they never retrieve their memories. Secondly, you would need to somehow let them know about the Necronomicon and it's location, or else skip the Mysterium as well. Plus, there would be the level issue, unless you fill the gap quite significantly.

Oh, I'll rewrite things to get them into the Dreamlands eventually, but as this is a GM thread, I feel that expressing things that went horrifically wrong is even more important than listing things that went right...

EDIT: For example, Fort Hailcourse in Book 2 is another example where the book provides little motivation for the PCs to go there, but without the level and loot they get from going there, Iris Hill would be nigh-impossible. So as a GM you need to know ahead of time to add extra emphasis to the Fort because the AP doesn't do it for you.

EDIT 2: And "that bad" is a bit of an overstatement. The 7th-level shaman is maxed out on both skills: +7 ranks + 3 class skill + 4 ability score = +14 each, giving him a 50/50 shot of hitting a DC 25 Knowledge check. Having to make 3 out of 5 during the ritual is similarly a 50/50 chance. So for "normal" PCs who didn't think to buy ritual tools in Thrushmoor, half the time they're going to get attacked by an Animate Dream, which is No Fun for 7th-level PCs who were in a town that didn't have the wealth level to sell magic weapons...

I *CAN* make all this work, but I'd rather future GMs running this AP know about it. I asked a friend on the boards how she GM'ed her way through the Dreamlands, and her response was, "Oh, that's when the AP fell apart for me."
So there are a lot of complaints here and there about the Dreamlands if you go searching around in random places on the boards for them. I'd rather come here and post solutions and suggestions so future GMs know what to look out for.

I liked one suggestion to reduce the DC of the ritual to 20 to make it easier for the PCs to achieve. Another is to have the Yellow King (or some facsimile thereof) provide some motivation for them before they go in.
One of my players said, "They could at least provide a McGuffin to get us in there," and I had to respond, "They have one! It's just after you go into the Dreamlands that you find it!"
At which point she rolled her eyes, threw up her hands, and said that the party wasn't going to go into the Dreamlands again until I figured out some motivation for them. I get along well with my players, and I thought it was a totally reasonable request.

So, homework for me, and a warning for future GMs.

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My advice doesn't help you much, since it's too late for you, but...

I would remove the note in Book 2 that tells them that Lowls is headed to Katheer to find the Necronomicon. Instead, they should come out of book 2 knowing only that Lowls is looking for a lost city called Neruzavin, and that he traded away the PCs memories to someone called The Mad Poet to get the information he wanted.

That way the PCs are motivated to dive into the Dreamlands not only to get their memories back, but also to figure out where Lowls is going.

The AP is really written with the expectation that getting their memories back is the PC's primary motivation. If that isn't the case for your players, that's definitely going to futz things up a bit. IMO, even if your players don't want to go back to being the bad people they were before, they should want to know who they were, what they did, and how they got hooked up with Lowls--if only so they can make amends to or avoid the people they've wronged in their past life.

My players were jazzed to get their memories back, because I had them write each other's backstories round-robin style, and then kept them secret until the end of book 3. They were excited not only to learn what their whole deal was, but also to show off the cool backstory they'd come up with for their fellow players.

Also, be sure that your players are getting all the bonuses they're due on their ritual checks.
*Since your primary caster for the ritual is an actual spellcaster over level 5, they get a +2 on the check.
*If they have 4 or more Secondary Casters, they get another +1.
*If they've still got the Chain of Nights from book 1, that should also give them a +2 on those Knowledge (Planes) checks.


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Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

My advice doesn't help you much, since it's too late for you, but...

I would remove the note in Book 2 that tells them that Lowls is headed to Katheer to find the Necronomicon. Instead, they should come out of book 2 knowing only that Lowls is looking for a lost city called Neruzavin, and that he traded away the PCs memories to someone called The Mad Poet to get the information he wanted.

That way the PCs are motivated to dive into the Dreamlands not only to get their memories back, but also to figure out where Lowls is going.

I think that's the best advice I've seen so far. "Sorry. You can't get started 'til you've gone to the Dreamlands and figured out where he's going."

I like!

Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

Also, be sure that your players are getting all the bonuses they're due on their ritual checks.

*Since your primary caster for the ritual is an actual spellcaster over level 5, they get a +2 on the check.
*If they have 4 or more Secondary Casters, they get another +1.
*If they've still got the Chain of Nights from book 1, that should also give them a +2 on those Knowledge (Planes) checks.

Thanks -- I missed those. The +2 to the first (I forget which it is) and the +4 to Knowledge (Planes) skews the stats heavily in their favor.


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Just as a follow-up, tonight I'm going for the easy fix: The King in Yellow appearing in their dreams and saying something wishy-washy like, "I sensed you tried to approach, but did not pierce the veil. You must, for there is much I can tell you..."

That ought to get them to at least get to the Yellow King, at which point the Dreamlands storyline becomes much stronger.

After reading the rest of the book and realizing that I'd have to start them in Book 4 and then frequently retcon back to 3, it seems delicate ham-handedness is the best approach.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So, I'm nearing the end of this book, and now have an even bigger problem...my players are clever and experienced, and are fixated on getting their dream loot back to the real world. They are dreaming up all sorts of ways to smuggle it out, including, but not limited to, killing a party member (and carrying the body to the Dreamlands, and raising him there, giving him all the dream gear, and he then uses a purchased planshift scroll to get out with it all), using a portable hole (since it's a separate extradimensional space), and a couple of even crazier ideas. Clearly, if they do manage this, it will totally mess up their wealth on hand for the rest of the campaign. But, on the other hand, I don't want to just stomp all over their creativity.

Anybody have an alternative suggestion?

Dark Archive

Mine figured out an even more elegant work around, they went to one of the Dreamlands cities and sold the lute to purchase mental stat boosting tomes.

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YogoZuno wrote:

So, I'm nearing the end of this book, and now have an even bigger problem...my players are clever and experienced, and are fixated on getting their dream loot back to the real world. They are dreaming up all sorts of ways to smuggle it out, including, but not limited to, killing a party member (and carrying the body to the Dreamlands, and raising him there, giving him all the dream gear, and he then uses a purchased planshift scroll to get out with it all), using a portable hole (since it's a separate extradimensional space), and a couple of even crazier ideas. Clearly, if they do manage this, it will totally mess up their wealth on hand for the rest of the campaign. But, on the other hand, I don't want to just stomp all over their creativity.

Anybody have an alternative suggestion?

Maybe the stuff they smuggle out is made of dreamstuff, and so empowered by being in the dreamlands. Once they get it back to the real world, they find it is greatly diminished (read: level appropriate gear for book 3).

However, they can sever its connection to the dreamlands, and make it all fully real, with appropriately powerful magic (wish/miracle), allowing you to replace some of the treasures in book 6 with their restored dreamlands gear.

That said, if you did want to stomp on their creativity, I’m not sure either of their plans you mentioned will work.

The gear they bring into the dreamlands isn’t their real gear, it’s dream versions of it—e.g. drinking a potion in the dreamlands doesn’t use up that potion in the real world. So their dreamlands portable hole wouldn’t open into the same extradimensional space as their real world portable hole. It opens into its own space, that just happens to have dream versions of everything the real hole had in it when they performed the ritual.

Similarly, bringing their friend’s corpse across would make a dream copy of the corpse, but it wouldn’t actually be the friend’s corpse, and so might not revive properly. Or worse, they could appear to come back from the dead, but actually become host to some malevolent dream spirit. If you really want to bring the boot down, have the raised ally who came back wrong abscond with all their loot!

For my group, I think I just told them that anything they managed to smuggle back from the dreamlands would simply cease to exist once they woke up.


Davor Firetusk wrote:
Mine figured out an even more elegant work around, they went to one of the Dreamlands cities and sold the lute to purchase mental stat boosting tomes.

That's the way to do it. Nicely done. :)

Dark Archive

Though apparently I could use one of those tomes as well, it should have said loot, not lute.


I'm curious to see what other GMs have done when it comes to character death in the Dreamlands.

If a character dies in the Dreamlands, they immediately awaken with a lesser madness. I'm interpreting this as the character automatically failing their will save. However, some of the madnesses have an onset greater that one day that have to be rolled for.

I admit, I'm conflicted between handwaving the onset time, and having all the madnesses take hold within one day, or rolling as normal, and having the madness take hold gradually. For example, if one of the characters were to be afflicted with fugue (dealing with a whole new party for chapter 3), I would have them forget more and more things leading up to the actual onset time.

In addition, one of my players is a spiritualist. Phantoms return to the ethereal plane when they "die." Could the phantom end up with a madness, or is the fact that they're summoned make them immune to acquiring madnesses due to the Dreamlands?


Did the phantom die, the spiritualist or both?

Phantoms 'feel' like only partially-complete mentalities. Not sure on the mechanics, but it wouldn't surprise me if they are not subject to going insane - they already are a kind of madness. A proactive, callable one ... somewhat similar to an animate dream.


I suppose the question is whether or not the phantom took part in the ritual to visit the Dreamlands. If they did, then I'd say they get a madness for dying in the Dreamlands and waking up. If the spiritualist went through the ritual alone and then called their phantom on the other side, then the phantom alone among the party is really there. In that case I'd treat dying/banishing like the normal rules and not add any extra penalties.

EDIT: I'd do the same for other summoned companions like Eidolons. For animal companions in this circumstance, I'd probably rule that they can't take part in the ritual at all unless they're especially intelligent, so the PC likely has a dream version of them which doesn't affect the real one (being just a figment of the dreamer's imagination).


No one's died yet. I haven't started running Dreams of the Yellow King, but wanted to figure stuff out as early as possible.

What you said about phantoms does make sense though.


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Regarding taking loot from the dreamlands, I made a way available, but made it a "hidden quest" of sorts. Here's what I did.

Spoiler:

When they first got lore on the Mad Poet, I made sure to finish the lore with: and to those who please him greatly and quench his eternal thirst, the Mad Poet grants knowledge of how to make dreams real.

I then created 8 "proto-dreamscapes" they could go to. Think of them like demiplanes: generally inaccessible because they weren't full dreamscapes and thus part of the dreamlands, but likewise were too strong and permanent to be stumbled into on the Dimension of Dreams.

I can post more info if people care, but the basic gist of them was that they were all "pending resolution" and when one was "cleared" by the PCs, they could either allow it to become part of the Dreamlands or dissolve back into the Dimension of Dreams.

Some of the proto-dreams were:
The Grave of the Tarrasque (Paladin of Sarenrae in my group liked that one. She got a hit in! And then died for it. But it bought the rest time to kill cultists and get away, so success!)
A mage's tower caught in a groundhog day loop.
The dreams of the Yethzamari when Lamashtu stole the domain of beasts.
Two naval armies locked in a decades long civil war, each side led by a celestial.

So, to reach these proto-dreams, they had to find alternate keywords in Lowls books. My group was hitting check DCs out of the park, so I just told them they were finding alternate keywords in other book combinations. The end result was the discovery that there were three of the eight realms they couldn't reach due to missing a trio of books. One book they found in Caliphas, one they found within the time-looping mages tower, and the last they acquired in Cassomir. This allowed them to find the last set of keywords for the final "true" dreamscape.

Paradise.

Paradise was simple. It was an idyllic countryside. Everything needed to survive or flourish was there or easily craftable (effectively allowing retraining for free, at triple normal time). Traveling to paradise meant being slightly out of phase with your group. All would arrive in paradise, but in their own versions of it, each slightly different. They could hear each other speak as if on the other side of a door, but not interact.

The only commonality was the well. A constantly full well with crystal clear water in it. Water so pure it would degrade quickly in any but the most perfect vessel (go go craft checks!)

But Paradise was a trap. Every day you stayed, you lost the will to leave. DC 15 charisma check to leave, increase by 1 each day. Once you could no longer make the check DC, stuck until you died of old age (and thus wake up back in real world.) The party monk elected to stay behind to craft a vessel, but he got stuck. So he spent the rest of his life crafting a perfect vessel (retraining to max ranks, taking 20 to make masterwork tools, 20 for the vessel, the retrained ranks back.)

The water of Paradise as a final gift to the Mad Poet wins the group a ritual that can be used in the dreamlands when both the real world and the dreamlands moon is full (restricting it to once a month), and allows each participant to manifest a dreamlands object (or creature) in the waking world, at a cost of 1 permanent negative level. Performing the ritual obviously draws the attention of dreamlands natives, so there was always an encounter to go along with it.

Its worked well enough, my party isn't really overgeared, and by the time they can get everything out, its nearly endgame anyway. Biggest thing my party did with the ritual was sell most of the dreamlands gear to buy a staff of healing in Celphais, which has proven smart.

Sczarni

My group has been using maps projected onto a TV laid flat with physical miniatures. Needless to say this has spoiled them.

Has anyone used alternate maps for the dreamscape mini-maps? They're very small compared to the maps we've used so far. There are quite a few dreamscape scenarios and I understand creating 'full' maps for all of them would have been prohibitive in resources and pages.

I would love some suggestions for alternates. Paizo Flipmats or even Map Packs would be good. They have PDF versions I can easily convert to projected maps. Of course any other suggestions would be great.

Thanks!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Wow, Black Bard, that's an interesting and convoluted add-on! You at least limited what could be manifested, and added a real cost to it. Thanks for sharing!

hmtavares, most of the situations described are in fairly limited environments of one type or another, and they don't really need huge maps. About the only ones I really substituted are the Oukranos (I have the double-sided ship flip mat, and it gets used for just about every naval encounter I ever run), and the hunt for the Wamps (I used the City Streets flipmat for the opening, and I substitued an old D&D4e mapsheet that included a graveyard).

Silver Crusade

Last night, my group was in the midst of their second foray into the Dreamlands, doing Last Night of Sarnath. The barbarian in the party managed to disarm the priest of the idol and grab it, but had trouble waking up the next round, even after voluntarily taking 14d6 damage to his physical body to get a +7 on the concentration check.

Winter's turn came around (I'm playing her) and I ruled that Dismissal would work to wake up the barbarian if he failed his saving throw, which he did, and she saved the day. Winter and the other remaining character were able to easily make their concentration checks the next round and they won the game (the other characters 'died'.)

My question is, does my ruling on Dismissal seem reasonable?


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So, does Dismissal work on a summoned creature in your game?

Because to me, travel in the Dreamlands is far more akin to being summoned to another plane than it is to traveling to the plane: You're a copy of yourself, you don't really die, and you don't get to keep the gear you obtain. It's so much like summoning I'm surprised Magic Circle Against Good doesn't work against PCs in the Dreamlands.

So, there is nothing in the description of Dismissal that says it has to be a called vs. summoned creature, so I think it's up to GM discretion.

After thinking it over, I think I'd rule the same way you did.


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Having nearly wrapped up book 3, I figured I'd share some thoughts I had, and changes I made. Other people's stories on this forum have been very helpful for my own planning, so I figure I might as well try to pay it forwards.

I'm running this campaign with six players, who are relatively un-optimized. A lot of the tougher fights I leave as is, though I occasionally increase the number of opponents, or add an extra level or advanced template if I feel a fight is going to be too easy. It's a pretty interesting balance: Two inflexible LG characters, (a monk and a paladin), two shady CN necromancers (an oracle and a wizard,) and two CG characters that try to smooth things over (a rogue and a barbarian.) So I get to see a full spectrum of character reactions to any situation.

-Starting off the adventure, it's probably a good idea to give your players less information about Lowl's activities than the book does by default. The players should know that he's headed to Cassomir, and that his final destination is Neruvazin, but should have a lot of obvious holes in their knowledge to encourage dream exploration. In my game, the rogue argued pretty persuasively that retracing Lowls' dreams was dangerous and unnecessary, and I basically had to flat-out tell them that the book would be pretty short if they didn't do them. They took it well, but I still wish I didn't have to railroad them like that.

-The ritual itself is pretty hard for a level seven party to pull off, and there's a few ways to make it easier that are easy to miss. First, the Pnakotic Manuscripts found in Melisenn's throne room, which give a +4 to knowledge checks related to conjuration. Both my players and I forgot about this for a few sessions, and it made a pretty big difference. I also let them convince the scholars to help, though it took some in-character persuasion, and they charged pretty exorbitant rates.

-The encounters on the Sellen river all work pretty well, adding local color to the countries the party sails by, and breaking up the routine of research and ritual. Fighting the Tribute Taker is good practice for the later fight against the Bloodwind, though a little boringly straightforwards. I re-statted the captain as an eldritch knight. He openly cast a bunch of buff spells on himself as he ship approached, including stoneskin and fly, and opened the fight with greater invisibility. As the melee characters boarded his ship to fight the crew, he flew over to the other ship to attack the spellcasters who held back.

-For the Hanspur-worshipping druids that ambush the ship, I gave them all crocodile companions, which started out casually sunning themselves near the wreck. This helped a bit with the druid's story of being trapped on the wreck, and also gave them another way to be discovered, since a perceptive player might notice that there's exactly as many crocodiles as there are "stranded sailors". During the fight, one of the druids managed to knock the party oracle overboard, leading to a tense moment as the crocs swarmed and grappled her until the barbarian dived in for the rescue.

-Glower was a lot of fun, after I changed her build to something other than a pile of steaming garbage. My version of glower was a dedicated archer inquisitor, and I introduced her as a somewhat reasonable hardass, who responded to finding proof of necromancy with "Fortunately for you, I am NOT the town guard. All I care about is traitors." Later, the path to the senator's hideout took them through a rocky pass, and on the way back to their ship Glower started sniping at them. From concealment, 250 ft away across a steep, rocky hill (I.E. Difficult terrain.) After a warning shot, she called out from her concealed position, offering the party amnesty and a 5000 gp reward if they turned over the senator in the next 5 seconds. The party eventually broke line of sight with a darkness spell and escaped with relatively few injuries, only for Glower to race ahead of them on horseback, and start firing on the ship from a cliffside a few hours later. After the party escaped AGAIN, hitting her with a stinking cloud and sailing off, she drank her potion of fly and kept chasing them. Since she couldn't full attack while flying, her absurd ranged damage dropped to something more manageable, and the party dropped her with their own ranged attacks.

-The whole Glower situation was made even more complicated by the fact that the Senator WAS technically a traitor in my game. He'd been colluding with the Taldor government, on the logic that their influence might be able to bring some much needed stability to Galt. Not that he mentioned that willingly, but my party is pretty liberal with Zone of Truth spells these days. Some members of the party felt a bit conflicted about killing what could be considered a cop who was after a legitimate criminal.

-As for the dreams themselves, they're obviously the highlight of the book. The Caravanserai is a good introduction to the danger of the Dreamworld, and the Yellow King himself is a good intro to the Dreamworld's strangeness. As has been mentioned in this thread, the shopkeeper and the ooze are both absolute beasts. I lowered the danger somewhat by making it so the shopkeeper couldn't affect anyone outside the shop itself (and hinting heavily about that fact), and by ruling that the oozes damage reduction didn't apply to attacks from people it had swallowed, letting the barbarian tear it apart from the inside. Between that advantage and the penalties it took from squeezing into the hallway, the party was able to win without any fatalities. Still, it was a couple of absolutely brutal fights, and was particularly demoralizing to the party rogue, who couldn't sneak attack either of them.

-The first dream-quest the party went on was the Hag Ambassador. I was a little worried about the party just IMMEDIATELY attacking, which turned out to be well-founded. The party's plan going in was basically "find out if she has her hearthstone on her, then ambush her." After all, she's a soul-stealing monster, why play nice? So I gave her two ogre mage bodyguards, meaning the fight would be very difficult, but not impossible with a good ambush. If they caught the assassin as ordered, I'd have one oni leave to haul her off to jail while the party talked to the ambassador. Making a deal with the assassin, which they suggested even before the assassin did, they were able to have the assassin distract both guards while they lured the ambassador to the back room and murdered her.

-Next up, the Viscount's Ring. This one didn't need many changes, other than giving Arvin a specific rival with a specific scam for the party to pull off. In this case, a paunchy used-car-salesman type with a shipment of "Juggling Geese" to unload. (The latest fad!)

-The Enchanted Wood was the first quest to "kill" a party member. Instead of charging into melee, the Tikbalang was perfectly happy to sit in the trees 40 ft up and hurl quills down at the party. The party reacted in a bunch of different ways: The wizard took cover and started firing back, the monk used his 10-ft vertical leap to jump from branch to branch, the barbarian found a long route without much climbing, etc. The Oracle, having just gained the ability to fly, flew up ahead of everyone else and attacked. A few bad rolls later, the monk caught up just in time to watch her broken body tumble to the forest floor below. She woke up deathly afraid of heights. The rest of the adventure went smoothly. I decided Nestor was a dreamer like the PCs, though his quarry had passed into the dream world for real.

-The Ghoul Royalty dream was likewise straightforwards. I made the gug a savant, turning invisible when it heard the party coming and using transmute rock to mud to slow everyone down, but the fight still went surprisingly smoothly, considering how hard gugs hit. The ghouls went down even easier, due to the party necromancers. Incidentally, a gug skeleton is just within the ability of a lvl 8 oracle to animate, and hits almost as hard as a living gug.

-For the Captain's Tricorne, I replaced Vadrack with Weirelai as the captain, since she has a personal connection with the party, and plays a role in later events. Also, the party caught the Bloodwind by surprise, basically cornering them in a bay and forcing the fight. This played out almost identically to the fight with the Tribute Taker: The melee fighters boarded the enemy ship while the wizard softened them up with a stinking cloud. Meanwhile the captain (invisible) and the wraith (moving through the hull belowdecks) snuck over to attack the casters. While she fought, Weirelai berated the party. "What's even to point of this? Neither of us can die here!" When the Oracle ordered her undead gug to grab the tricorn, Weirelai smiled. "Oh, you want my hat?" She asked, moving to cut it in half. This provoked and AoO from the gug, which followed orders, grabbing the hat and holding it out of reach. The mercenaries are very sturdy for cannon fodder, and all survived to see their boss killed, though three of them had been fully disarmed by the monk, (which was no small achievement, since they entered the fight with 5 weapons each.)

-The Last Night of Sarnath was predictably intense. After some initial partying, with the party pretty much immediately breaking up to socialize and enjoy themselves, the Ib shades showed up. They did a surprising amount of damage before being put down, as did the will'o'wisps. The paladin was their main target, and went down before Bokrug even showed up. As Bokrug advanced, I had more and more weather effects hit the city and the party: First a wave of water, knocking loose the stairs behind them, then lightning strikes across the city, one of which hit a party member, then massive hailstones, doing minor damage to everyone and turning the ground to difficult terrain. After that is was another wave, threating to wash them over the edge of the wall (the paladin, who nobody bothered to revive, fell to his death 40 ft below and woke up paranoid), then even more lightning. Then, Bokrug was at the wall. By then, most of the party had woken up, with only the wizard and the barbarian left. Horrid withering killed the wizard, but the Barbarian survived long enough to futilely swing an axe at the great old one for bragging rights. She'll regret that.

TLDR: It's a good book.


Wow! Fantastic! Some ideas in there that I'm gonna run with once my party gets there. They're just making their first foray into Iris Hill now, so I'm getting giddy with anticipation for this book being so close.


Zandalus Sees! wrote:
Having nearly wrapped up book 3, I figured I'd share some thoughts I had, and changes I made. Other people's stories on this forum have been very helpful for my own planning, so I figure I might as well try to pay it forwards.

Those are great tips, thank you very much. Would you mind sharing your rebuild versions of Glower and the razmiran captain?


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I don't have the sheet with Captian Argrup, though he was a Fighter 1/Transmuter 5/Eldritch Knight 4 (I added a level because we have a 6 person party.) Built mostly as a greatsword fighter, plus combat casting. Buffs included heroism, Stoneskin, False life, mage armor, fly, and bull's strength (maybe one or two others). When the fight started, he opened with greater invisibility on the first round, haste for himself and his crew on the second, then attacked. He'd make full attacks or use vital strike to hit and move depending on how safe he felt.

Glower's sheet I still have. She's 1 level higher than in the book, due to me having 6 players, and like the default Glower, she has slightly better gear than WBL says (presumably to make up for the lack of loot elsewhere). She starts with heroism active, but doesn't cast any other spells before combat, for fear of giving away her position. She has the same militia trackers as default, who hold actions to interrupt spellcasters. In combat, she uses a swift action to change her bane if necessary, then hammers one target until they go down. If she doesn't need the swift action, she uses target of opportunity to take an extra attack when a militia tracker fires. She doesn't finish downed opponents, since a wounded enemy slows down the others (plus, she'd rather see them all face the guillotine).

Keep in mind, Glower will likely drop one PC per round if they let her keep shooting. A mid-level party should have plenty of ways to stop her from shooting them, and the boat is within sprinting distance (I had it about 100 ft away). But there's definite potential for things to go REAL bad.

Glower (Active Effects: Heroism, Judgements, Bane)
Inquisitor (Norgorber) 10
59 HP, Init +6, Move Speed 30 ft.
Str 14, Con 10, Dex 18, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 8
AC 22, Touch 14, FF 18, Fort +10, Ref +9, Will +12
Feats: Point blank shot, Precise shot, Rapid shot, deadly aim, Toughness, manyshot, enfilading fire, target of opportunity
Important skills: Acrobatics +17, Stealth +17, Perception +15, Sense Motive +20
Special: Judgements (Justice + Destruction: +3 attack, +4 damage), Bane 10 rds (+2 attack, +2d6+2 damage), cunning initiative, Stern gaze, Solo tactics, Conversion Inquisition (1/ day swaying word, DC 17 Will save or dominated for 1 min/level).

Attacks: +1 Dispelling longbow, Deadly Aim: +17 (1d8+2d6+13)
Or full attack +17/+17/+12 (1d8+2d6+9, first attack hits twice.)

Spells: (6/5/3/1)
Lvl 4: Divine Power, cure critical wounds
Lvl 3: Heroism (Cast), Daylight, Deeper Darkness, Locate Object, Dispel Magic
Lvl 2: Tongues, See invisibility, Invisibility, Protection from Chaos
LVL 1: Shieled of faith, cure light wounds, command.

GEAR: +1 Dispelling Longbow, Potion of Fly, Wand of Cure light wounds, +1 Mithral Breastplace, Cloak of resistance +1, Short sword.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My players have finally met with the Mad Poet, and we ended the last session just as their 'shadows' rose up out of the oasis. This was super awesome, and everyone is excited to fight this out.

However, as a GM, I am a little worried. The group have gotten a little beaten up before getting to this point. They aren't at full power, and in fact, at least two of the characters have used up a significant portion of their higher level spells. So...what are the consequences of dying or losing this combat? The characters already have their stat boost, and their memories back, and have their instructions from the Mad Poet. So, from an overall plot and mechanics point of view, dying is not so bad - they'd just wake up back in the real world, right? Or are there supposed to be consequences for NOT defeating your former self? The fluff in this section mention the reflections are fighting to suppress the memories for good...does this mean if anyone dies, they lose their memories again? Or maybe only if the whole group dies?

Anyone else had to face this?


Completely up to you and your players. But it certainly does afford a fair amount of plot potential.

Some things I did/had happened.

A monk was killed by the memory kineticist. Madness on waking was specifically phobic of the kineticist.

I had done full rebuilds on the idea their past selves were very different people, including different classes. So I allowed those who "beat" their memories to gain a minor ability from their "old" selves. Basically either a feat or a feat's worth of class ability.

Certainly you could swing all sorts of fun things. You could have the old memories hitch a ride in the defeated person, acting as a possessing force or laying low and then animating the next corpse they come across/make by force. Let that PC get flashes of insight and memory in the adventures to come, but red herring him occasionally with other irrelevant memories (OH CRAP, I owe that food vendor money!)

Could even allow a character retrain if you were going with the "very different past selves" approach. If death does happen, talk to your players, lay it out there. Some will be on board for shenanigans, others will just want their percentile roll on the madness table so they can move on.


Totally agree with the black bard.

I was asking myself the same question. What if this encounter is too difficult and my players will loose this fight.

Maybe here´s another idea for you. During the fight you could describe the sensation that the memories they regained are fading again when the nightmarish reflections are causing damage to the dream bodys of theirs.

You could "punish" a player by taking parts of their memories away. I just got the idea of a solo game for this character inside his mind to unlock the missing parts of these memories again.


For the moment, I just wanted to remark that the art introducing the bestiary section (pg. 80) featuring Tsathoggua, "Saint Toad," is eye-popping and gripping.

What a depiction of the helplessness and horror of encountering such a malevolent monstrosity! HEINOUS and WONDERFUL!


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@Tasfarel:

Probably too late of a response to be useful, but I've got this fight coming up too. I'm planning on the nightmare clones to not just be their old memories, but their entire previous personalities trying to "take back" their bodies. The personalities are all the sort of people that the current PC's would hate, and all have a reason to chase Lowls. (for example, the rigidly LG monk is an arrogant thug who wants revenge, the self-centered oracle is a Hasturite fanatic who wants to take Lowls' place, etc.)

Anyone who dies in the fight winds up with multiple personality disorder as the two minds battle it out in the psyche. Once they've dealt with the madness, the memories will be fully integrated. I'm going give my players freedom as to how the two sets of memories wind up merging, though I assume they'll lean towards keeping the personality of the character they've been playing for the last few months.


Zandalus Sees! wrote:

@Tasfarel:

Probably too late of a response to be useful, but I've got this fight coming up too. I'm planning on the nightmare clones to not just be their old memories, but their entire previous personalities trying to "take back" their bodies. The personalities are all the sort of people that the current PC's would hate, and all have a reason to chase Lowls. (for example, the rigidly LG monk is an arrogant thug who wants revenge, the self-centered oracle is a Hasturite fanatic who wants to take Lowls' place, etc.)

Anyone who dies in the fight winds up with multiple personality disorder as the two minds battle it out in the psyche. Once they've dealt with the madness, the memories will be fully integrated. I'm going give my players freedom as to how the two sets of memories wind up merging, though I assume they'll lean towards keeping the personality of the character they've been playing for the last few months.

This is quite matching with the idea i came up with. I also decided that the reflektions are not quite good at teamplay either.

Sadly the dice decided to roll a lot of crits in favour of my players which made the fight a little to easy in the end. The fact that i forgot about their damage reduction made it even more easy. Shame on me about this.

It was still an enjoyable fight and my players had a blast while the battlerager rolled 3 crits in a row, melting down his counterpart.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I ran this a couple of weeks ago, and ironically, my group were impressed by how well the nightmare versions were working together - clearly their opposites! I did also manage to make good use of the Feign Death and Regeneration abilities in concert - after a crit on one of the nightmares, it fell over dead...and then quietly waited until it had regenerated most of its hit points back before standing back up. Sadly, this combo was beaten by the Monk. Damn those ki-aligned fists.

Thankfully, in the end, no player character died. I had one character unconscious for several rounds, and a couple of guys on single-digit hit points at the end. The group said it was the most exciting encounter they'd played through yet. Made the prep work all worthwhile.

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