What Grows Within (GM Reference)


Strange Aeons

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MythicFox wrote:
So the ritual the characters use to reach Carcosa is in the Necronomicon, if I understand properly. Just to make sure I'm reading it right, that requires 'mastering' one of the sections of it, requiring that one of the characters take ability damage/drain in the process?

Not necessarily (but you can totally run with that at your table if you want). The "mastering" a section bit refers to the sections detailed on pages 72–73 of the book. The intention was that since Lowls had already marked pages and written notes, you are using just elements of the Necronomicon along with his notes to learn the ritual. Basically, Lowls already "mastered" the relevant section, but that doesn't stop a PC from doing the same. (Of course, the ritual has ways to use the Necronomicon to aid in the ritual that have their own dangerous ramifications.)


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Gotcha, just checking. Thank you.


Spastic Puma wrote:
Just out of curiosity, which encounters did you/will you cut?

I ran the entirety of Okeno in one session, skipping the entire div sidequest. I didn't give them level 13 until they reached Neruzavin, after the Old Obsidian fight. Between that, the fact that this adventure covers only two levels instead of three, and the extra NPC-based session, I am not actually needing to skip much this adventure.

So far, the only real change I've made so far was merging the three plant fights in the tower into one, based on the events of the mercenary-party session: Thala, Keetos, Kelshan, a nulmind, and some terrain advantage at CR 15.


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Closed the fifth book out the other night with the big fight with Xhamen-Dor's husk. I decided to take a great deal of liberties in redesigning this encounter, mostly because I wanted a battle with even the husk of a Great Old One to feel different. I'm sure the mechanics of the fight may seem a little too MMO-ish for some and they require a lot more prep and upkeep for the DM than the as-written version. However, I figured I'd put them up because the group had a good time with this encounter. Enjoy!

Stat Block Changes:
Maximized X-D's hit dice in order to make the fight last enough rounds for counterplay/strategy revolving around its mechanics to come into play. To compensate, I made some changes that overall lowered X-D's damage output as I'll get into below. Also removed fast healing 10.

Location:
Party must be near the crater lake and call him with contact entity. At the beginning of the encounter, Xhamen-Dor erupts from the ears and mouths of the party and swirls around them forming a 80 ft. diameter hemispheric "thunderdome" made of fungus, plant matter, and hair (Gross!). This triggers the unspeakable presence save and X-D begins lifting this enclosed arena into the air over the lake at a rate of 10 feet per round. Because drama.

Around The Wheel We Go...:
Eight evenly-spaced nodes form along the inside wall of the dome (Think like the places where the spoke meets the rim on an 8-spoke wheel). At the top of the round, X-D uses one of his spell-like abilities as a swift action on a single target, and the DM rolls 1d6 for each node.

- On a 6, Xhamen-Dor's serpent-like "head" appears at that node's location, allowing the players to damage him. At the end of the round, a head uses X-D's bite attack at a foe within reach of its position.

- On a 5-2, a seeded one appears at the node (Same stats as the seeded lamia but has no attacks, only 15 hp, 30 ft. movement, and has evasion). At the end of the round, any seeded ones take move actions to get as close as they can to a PC. If they reach one, they use their standard action to explode, dealing 1d4 wisdom damage in a 5-ft radius (DC 20 reflex to reduce to 1).

- On a 1, Xhamen-Dor consumes a 10x10 patch of floor in that node's general area and heals 10 hit points. That area is now a "hole" in the floor, where PC's and seeded ones can fall through.

Tentacool or Tentacruel?:
Lastly, I modified X-D's 4 tentacle attacks and made each of them "own" a quadrant of the hemisphere, where they attack at the end of each round. This punishes groups that spread out too much, but also allows for a 20x20ish area in the middle where they are free from all of X-D's attacks (except the seeded ones, of course).

Comments:
This all obviously changes the fight a great deal and your mileage may vary unless you adopt it with the party's composition in mind. The players will have to constantly run around "chasing" where ever X-D's head may appear to get in a hit or two before it changes location. My group did not have a ranged character but had a 20 ft reach bloodrager and a pummeling style brawler, letting them full attack adjacent nodes in certain cases. Feel free to knock down X-D's hit points if your party lacks any options to full attack outside of a 5-foot step or encourage that member to focus on eliminating seeded ones. If your party has a powerful ranged archer-type that you feel may negate the whole point of this mechanic, feel free to grant X-D's heads the 50% ranged concealment that his true form has to encourage that player to focus on seeded ones.

The seeded ones are there to threaten groups who bunch up to tightly to avoid tentacle/bite attacks, and their guaranteed wisdom damage means that even the mightiest of parties will eventually succumb to madness if left in this fight too long. Having a player or two dedicated to cleaning them up (they go down in about 1 solid hit) will be necessary.

The 10x10 holes that constantly appear are there for a number of reasons. I added them as a way for the battlefield to change as the fight went on. They begin to limit movement, making chasing the heads more difficult and may make reaching some nodes impossible without the aid of flying magic or ranged attacks. Lastly, they interact in a nasty way with his unspeakable presence and his 3 single-target Sympathy spells he gets. Affected creatures will be compelled to move towards the "heads" that appear, which might not matter if one is a fighter-type who's chasing them around anyways, but may be problematic should any 10x10 chasms be in the way. A reflex save to avoid falling through is recommended.

If the fight is going too well, or if one of the players doesn't really have any job to do, feel free to have the "create a 10x10 square" roll also create an actual seeded lamia or any other comparable large creature to up the challenge. Bull rushing one of these creatures into a hole could be a lot of fun.


That's a really cool way to redesign the fight.


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I just finished the adventure with my group. I ended up tweaking the adventure to give it a few more twists and turns. I fortuitously established way back in The Thrushmoor Terror that the Star Stelae rituals tend to cause earthquakes. I then allowed the PCs to attempt the Path to the Black Stars ritual halfway through the adventure only to have it be interrupted by Weiralai. The resulting earthquakes were what caused the Flying Polyps to break loose and require resealing. Once they had finished resealing them, the polyps that had already escaped sacrificed themselves to Xhamen-Dor so the PCs had to draw him out and defeat him before he finished digesting them and returned to full power. I only revealed that Lowls was carrying the Star Seed (and pledged himself to Hastur while carrying it) after "Xhamen-Dor" simply died instead of shooting off into space.

I ended up skipping most of the undercity in favor of extending the final fight. The PCs had to fight the flying polyps, a bunch of seeded, and then the husk without time to rest. I made the individual encounters a little easier to compensate for the added difficulty, having the second flying polyp appear only after two rounds and removing the husk's bite attack.

I had some fun with the final confrontation with the seeded of Neruzavin as well. I used the Speaker for the Deep but played him defensively and gave him the ability to telepathically call more seeded into the fight as a standard action. I got the chance to use several encounters I had skipped earlier, including the Speaker, the seeded prophets/stalkers, and the seeded quelea swarm. I also used Xhamen-Dor's aura of no-dex-bonus-to-AC here. Once the fight was mostly over, Xhamen-Dor began to rise and I switched the aura to the walk-this-way aura, causing the remaining seeded to be eaten.

The PCs dropped a modified lightning gun into the water and defended it from the seeded to annoy Xhamen-Dor into fighting. The ranged DPS (kineticist) got completely messed up by its aura but tanked quite a bit of damage while unconscious, the melee DPS was buffed to the point that he could actually bypass its DR and nearly brought it down, and the skill monkey managed to use telekinesis, knowledge (engineering), and craft (traps) to drop a building on it to finish it off.


Is there any reason why the PC were willing to follow the count?

I mean, the slave market escene looks quite awful. I doubt they were thankful to Lowlz. Normally masters don't give slaves weapons and freedom to roam for a reason: slaves want to escape if possible. Especially when they are in Ustalav, freely moving through Thrushmoor... why don't they just escape? Why don't kill Lowlz? Is there a magical compulsion that I'm missing?


Slavery is illegal in Ustalav I'm pretty sure. I carefully chose a single PC to have the slavery background who had really low charisma and no marketable skills, so he couldn't go anywhere else. I also made clear that Lowls wasn't particularly horrible at first, especially compared to Weiralai. He just needed a test subject.

Not sure why this is in this thread.


Ehh... yes, wrong thread. Thought I was replying in The Whispers out of Time (where the PC were sold as slaves)

Liberty's Edge

Any thoughts on pricing the mithral full plate of speed that folds itself up? I'm inclined to put it at 32,500 (26,500 for the actual armor, 5,000 for the foldy stuff), but at the same time, the PCs get a lot of these.

Also, the PCs are 14-15 by this point. The story makes a point of saying "these are the only resources you have in Neruzavin, suck it up and deal." Is there any reason they couldn't just TP to the nearest metropolis and back?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Is the price listed on the lightning gun wrong? 15000gp seems like an incredible deal for 10d12 ranged touch as a standard action every round and in the Occult Bestiary the price was listed as 95000gp with everything else being the same.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

thewastedwalrus wrote:
Is the price listed on the lightning gun wrong? 15000gp seems like an incredible deal for 10d12 ranged touch as a standard action every round and in the Occult Bestiary the price was listed as 95000gp with everything else being the same.

The weapon is nearly expended. Check the text on page 47 where the PCs find it. It mentions that the weapon can only be fired four shots before it is inoperable.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Adam Daigle wrote:
thewastedwalrus wrote:
Is the price listed on the lightning gun wrong? 15000gp seems like an incredible deal for 10d12 ranged touch as a standard action every round and in the Occult Bestiary the price was listed as 95000gp with everything else being the same.
The weapon is nearly expended. Check the text on page 47 where the PCs find it. It mentions that the weapon can only be fired four shots before it is inoperable.

Ah, didn't see that bit explaining the number of uses. Thanks!


Brendan Fallin wrote:

Any thoughts on pricing the mithral full plate of speed that folds itself up? I'm inclined to put it at 32,500 (26,500 for the actual armor, 5,000 for the foldy stuff), but at the same time, the PCs get a lot of these.

Also, the PCs are 14-15 by this point. The story makes a point of saying "these are the only resources you have in Neruzavin, suck it up and deal." Is there any reason they couldn't just TP to the nearest metropolis and back?

Before even stepping on foot in the Parchlands, my PCs made a point of leaving Okeno, going back to Katheer, heading to the Mysterium, and requesting a reading room be set aside for them to use as a teleport target.

So they're definitely going to be teleporting in and out, though I'm trying to come up with idea on how to limit that as much as possible. I can't stop it, but I'd like to limit their trips to one or two instead of just popping back every night.


We are going to start this book next sunday.

Anyone has any idea about what to do with the Necronomicon? I don't like the standard way for the PC to find it. That Lowlz simply left it behind doesn't sound well to me. Even if driven mad by the star seed, the Necronomicon would be a great thing to offer to the Unspeakable One in Carcosa, so "I have read it, I'll leave it behind in the camp" doesn't sound plausible to me.

I have thought about giving the book to some denizen. Weirelai might be the best option (as a direct follower of Hastur, Lowlz might give it to him, to please his lord). Problem is, by default, he (she is a he in my game, as I described her wrong the first time by mistake) is found in the undercity, after the Star Stelae encounters are solved (and thus, after the Necronomicon is needed). He might be moved to the surface, but not sure how this affects the narrative. Another option is one of the strong outsiders: The Saffron Prince, Eshimal the Heresy Devil, or even maybe Aeptolinu, might have the Necronomicon somehow. They all have reasons to want it (and in some cases ask for it to the PC if they have it), and maybe Lowlz needed to surrender it to achieve his goal.

Anyone has any idea?

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

I kind of like it where it is--it put the fear into my players something fierce. They were terrified the book was going to do terrible things to them if they read it, just as it must have done terrible things to Lowls, because why else would it be laying on the ground like that?

If you want to preserve where/when they find the book, you could put it in the hands of the Seeded that lurk in the camp.

Maybe Thala wrested the book from Lowls' control before he left for Carcosa, hoping to use it to stave off the infection that was consuming her. Only she was too late, or the book proved too difficult to decipher, and she succumbed to the fungus and became a seeded. Now she clings to the book, preserving it for Xhamen-Dor's use when it inevitably rises from the lake to consume the world.


Mmmm.
«the book wants to be found» is an interersting approach too.


Does Heal cure Xhamen's infestation? If so, (and I haven't seen anything that suggests it doesn't), it becomes quite irrelevant at this level :/.
Even if somehow you manage to keep secret that the PCs or NPCs are under Xhamen Dor seeded corruption (like making yourself the FOR saves, not telling them if they succeed, and not allowing Heal and other stuff to know it), the PC are bound to receive Heal once in a while in this adventure (assuming they have a Cleric or Oracle, that is), if only because of the massive hp healing.

Then Heal will also remove all diseases and infestations, making the whole "track if they are seeded to see if XD's aura affect them fully" just a red herring


The Imperator wrote:

I've not been able to read the entirety of What Grows Within and Whisper out of Time, but I saw something that confused me.

The Necronomicon in WGW says that it cannot be teleported, at all. However, the opening to WooT says that Lowls was teleported by an ally, and that he also teleported out of the library with the Necronomicon.

What Grows Within, pg. 71 wrote:
The book cannot be transported by teleportation effects. If carried by someone who teleports away, the book remains behind, and the fool who attempted to teleport must succeed at a DC 30 caster level check or the attempted teleportation effect sends him somewhere singularly dangerous that is associated with elements of the Elder Mythos or, barring any appropriate such location in range, to a site where undeath or necromantic energy is strong.
Whisper out of Time, pg. 21 wrote:
Lowls snatched up the Necronomicon and teleported out of the library with it, leaving his companions alone to face the horrors there.
How do I reconcile these two things? Lowls couldn't get out of the Library except through teleportation, but he can't teleport out with the Necronomicon. Did I just happen to skim something that I missed?

Want to point out that, besides any inmunity to this that XD might provide to Lowlz, there's something that do not work well with the "non-teleport" protection.

The book itself gives you greater teleport 1/day:

Pages 864–888: The final section of the Necronomicon notes that, despite this book’s length, more secrets remain untold throughout the universe. Rather than attempt to catalog them all within the remaining pages, the book instead presents information on how the reader can manipulate time and space. Once mastered, this section allows the user to cast greater teleport once per day, and also aids in the study and mastery of freestanding portals.

Either this means that the carrier of the book can teleport when using this particular power (but not other ways), or it means that the book has a dark sense of humor and gives you a power you can't use..

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

gustavo iglesias wrote:

Does Heal cure Xhamen's infestation? If so, (and I haven't seen anything that suggests it doesn't), it becomes quite irrelevant at this level :/.

Even if somehow you manage to keep secret that the PCs or NPCs are under Xhamen Dor seeded corruption (like making yourself the FOR saves, not telling them if they succeed, and not allowing Heal and other stuff to know it), the PC are bound to receive Heal once in a while in this adventure (assuming they have a Cleric or Oracle, that is), if only because of the massive hp healing.

Then Heal will also remove all diseases and infestations, making the whole "track if they are seeded to see if XD's aura affect them fully" just a red herring

I ran it that they needed a Limited Wish to get rid of it, as per getting rid of Havigan Krast's infection--but I suppose it could be argued that the Limited Wish was only necessary in that case because he'd already hit 0 Cha and was on the countdown to death portion of the disease.

Still, even if you allow Heal to work, it still might be relevant. The PCs come into the book already infected, but immune to the obvious effects. It takes a DC 30 Heal check to spot the infection, and thats a check they may not think to make since they aren't showing any outward signs of infection.

Even if one or two party members get incidentally Healed (in my game, it's the two frontliners who usually need the big recovery spells), that still leaves two or three walking into the fight with Xhamen-Dor infected.


I was thinking about that right now (came to the forum to post that). Limited wish sounds about right. It's a spell that the PCs *can* have by now, but it's an expensive spell, they might not have enough material components for all, and it's a spell that they have to choose, unlike Heal, which is automatically in every cleric, druid or oracle list.

Problem with the "they aren't showing any sign of infection" part, is metagaming. Like, whenever the seeded and obviously infected zombie hit you, you roll Fortitude. Because reasons.

Even without metagaming (for example, keeping the rolls secret, or pre-rolling myself at home, building a table of results, and then checking without players noticing, or other stuff like that), it's something my players would do. I know I would. We are fighting a bunch of infectious undead, of course we'll check if we are infected. In fact, that's a good thing. Paranoia is a great way to instill fear. In my game, Winter Klaczka goes with them, and she isn't inmune. Whenever she coughs, players tremble.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

If they've got Winter along, that's even better! If Winter starts coughing up chunks of Fungus, that only proves that the infection acts fast and has obvious symptoms--the fact that they aren't showing those symptoms must mean they're not infected yet :)

In my game, my players got real spooked by the puff of spores the seeded let off when they die, thinking that was the primary vector for the disease. So they started casting Life Bubble every day. Boom, spores are no longer a problem, and since none of them came down with symptoms, they assumed they'd caught the issue in time. (Bwahahaha!)

I don't think they gave a second thought whether they might themselves be infected the whole rest of the adventure. The one time they thought to make a Heal check on themselves was to see if the wizard was suffering any terrible outcomes from reading the Necronomicon, and they rolled under a 30, so they missed the infection.


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Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

I don't think they gave a second thought whether they might themselves be infected the whole rest of the adventure. The one time they thought to make a Heal check on themselves was to see if the wizard was suffering any terrible outcomes from reading the Necronomicon, and they rolled under a 30, so they missed the infection.

In my case, they are actually pretty sure they are inmune. The Yithian has been saying so to them, through telepathy and now in person.

They are suspicious, tho. They believe they are inmune because of what happened in the Oasis with the Mad Poet: their mind was broken, somehow, while they already knew about X-D, and by some coincidence, they can't be affected again by X-D mental influence. BUT they suspect they can be affected by the fungus.

In any case, I made my decision already. Heal spell can *halt* the progress of the disease for a day, but it can't heal it. Limited Wish can remove the disease, as mentioned in Havingan's case.

Winter is going to start to cough in the next session (got infected yesterday). It's going to be an interesting situation, as they don't want to lose her. She has been a bit of a moral guide for them sometimes. For example, when Havingan was agonizing, and obviously infected, players didn't want to get near him. The paladin got close, but used a stick to poke him to see if he was still alive, trying to diagnose him without being close. Winter got angry, and started to heal him, giving him relief in his last minutes, then giving the players a stern gaze. They discussed with her about entering Neruzavin, knowing she was not inmune, but she gaves them an speech, about purpose in life and such. She also told them that she knows about Xhamen Dor, and thus she is a danger for the world. She knows this is going to be her last adventure, and it has to be so, for the greater good.

The fact that she is losing her faith in Pharasma recently also has come into effect. I'm using her to explain that Xhamen Dor infection, those undead-plants, are unnatural. Even for a fantasy setting. Every soul, in every place, travels to the river of souls. Pharasma judges all of them, good or bad, heretic or faithful. Necromancy is forbidden, but necromancy means stealing souls from that cycle: you steal from Pharasma's realm. Xhamen Dor's animated plant-zombis, however, are not that way. They aren't souls trapped, they are just dead people who happen to be alive too. And thus, even in a high fantasy setting, I manage to introduce a bit of the Lovecraftian "but that s#$! is not possible!" feel. (One of the PC is a pharasmin Inquisitor too, so it's a good thing to put his character against that dilema too)


Two quick questions, Upianshe (the ghost near one of the Stela) is a bit of a weird case, since she's a magus wielding a weapon that's technically a natural attack of a ghost.

Can she spend a point from her arcane pool to give her spectral bastard sword speed+keen and get 2 attacks that crit on 17s?

Do her attacks hit touch AC? If not she's... probably incapable of hitting a decent level 13/14 PC.


She does attack touch AC, and I made her use arcana power to get keen on the ghostly sword, but I'm not sure the last part is RAW.


Do all the Necronomicon Spell Like abilities require the players to have the book?

Some are worded like:

Quote:


Once mastered, this
section allows the user to cast greater teleport once per day,

but another is worded:

Quote:


Once this section is successfully studied,
the reader can use the section once per day to cast any
of the following spells as spell-like abilities:

The first doesn't say the book is needed to cast the spell like ability, the second does. So would I be right in reading that as the book gives different rules for the spell like abilities it gifts? Like the first should work even without consulting the book, but the second would require consulting the book?


gustavo iglesias wrote:
One thing that I have found to expedite thepace, is when you ignore the XP and just level up when the book says so. It makes unnecessary to grind "pointless" encounters and random enemies just because they are needed for the XP budget. I only run encounters when I like them challenge wise or I feel they matter for the story. That ussually means I cut at least a couple of them per book, and never roll for random encounters. All in all, that makes for 1, maybe two less sessions per book.

Exactly my opinion. My group likes a good fight, but are more fixated on the story. I lost some of the encounters of "Trushmoore Terror" and just added the XP the lacked.

I´m still considering if i cut their XP a little bit cause i host 5 players instead of the suggested 4.

Sovereign Court

The Parchlands random encounter table gives the possibility of encountering a Phoenix. If the PCs meet such a benevolent and powerful creature, it could be a great boon to their quest. Perhaps too good.

I have a hard time imagining the Phoenix turning down a request for aid: what else could it have on its to-do list that's more important than saving the world?

Such a powerful ally accompanying the PC's would perhaps make portions of the adventure too easy, though, due to its size, it probably won't be able to accompany the characters into many areas.

I'm also wondering how the seedborn corruption would affect a phoenix. If it becomes infected and dies, and then resurrects... I guess I would have it come back as its un-corrupted self. But if it gets infected again… then it would be in trouble, because it can only resurrect once a year. Then again, it can cast Heal 3 times a day, so it might be able to keep removing the infection (unless I decide it takes Limited Wish to do so, as some others have suggested on this thread... I haven't made my decision yet).

Has anyone given any thoughts to such an ally, or better yet, have they come across such a situation while running their game?


I usually skip those random encounters. In my opionion there´s enough going on in this module to keep your players buisy.

But i could imagine that the phoenix might help the players out a bit before abandoning them again. Maybe he can sense their corruption somehow or is on a quest on his own.


It's mentioned in their ecology that phoenixes (phoeni?) generally do good by proxy, rather than directly involve themselves. Depending on the PCs and their alignment, it might only give them some tangental help, like some of its SLAs or some advice on their journey, then go on about its day.

Sovereign Court

Thanks for your input, guys.

For sure, a phoenix's restorative spells would make a good alternative to Mother Grim Moon. :)


Just wanted to chime in with a quick question about how would a paladins immunity to disease interact with X-D's knowledge disease and auras and such


The PC are not affected by their taint and your question has no effect on the adventure Path at hand. But for generell purpopse: In my game a paladins immunity to disease would not apply to this special disease. In my opinion the power of a godlike creature should override this ability. Any other thoughts?


Here's a fun one: my players, daunted by the high Will Save and Linguistics DCs, had their characters construct a golem to decipher the Necronomicon.

So, it now seems that the party has an iron golem that can cast Mind Swap. And... though I could perhaps find a reason this shouldn't work -- there's a lot of wiggle room in the rules and Necronomicon (both its text and bizarre nature) to argue either side convincingly -- I'm thinking I might roll with it and see what they do.


Er, never mind. I guess that even though this golem has the "brain" enhancement, it still does not have a mind with which to swap, so it would fail. So as much as I'm curious to see what happens, it doesn't make sense at present. If they awaken it, that's another story, but that might not be the best idea for them.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

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Stazamos wrote:
Er, never mind. I guess that even though this golem has the "brain" enhancement, it still does not have a mind with which to swap, so it would fail. So as much as I'm curious to see what happens, it doesn't make sense at present. If they awaken it, that's another story, but that might not be the best idea for them.

Nearly any time—and especially so in this adventure—the players decide to create or recruit some [potentially] sentient creature to get its hands dirty for them, there is beautiful narrative potential for GM creativity. Say, for example, you allowed the golem strategy to play out, and the PCs chortle about having built a mindless automaton to translate and unknowably danger text for them. Each session after that, the golem exhibits increasingly worrisome quirks before its behavior undeniably indicates that it’s become fully sentient. The PCs look to each other, silently debating the moral implications of having created this being and the desire to put it out of its misery. Ultimately, the former wins. Cue the creepy moments of golem parenting in which it asks where it came from, inquires why there aren’t others like it, observes that its only memories are the secrets held within the Necronomicon, wonders if it’s allowed to have a name when all of its imaginary friends are nameless (cue the PCs asking “Wait, what imaginary friends?”), and eerily looms over the PCs at night to whisper “Yog Sottoth can hear your nightmares” whenever one of them stirs in their sleep. Prepare for the moment in which the PCs face off against an eldritch horror, when the party member most distressed by the cosmic horror is the golem. It clutches at its head, wailing the question of why the PCs brought it to life only to make it suffer. Then it goes berserk as the flesh golem ability.

In these types of horror adventures, the protagonists may create solutions that distance them from the corruption they study, yet in these stories the tools can become as dangerous as the enemy itself. I wholeheartedly encourage you to let the PCs create this golem. These moments are gifts to you, whether the players know it or not.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

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In a similar vein, the folks at Order of the Amber Die recruited a lammasu in the Parchlands (I gather it was a random encounter) and convinced it to join them in the exploration of Neruzavin. It succumbed to Xhamen-Dor’s influence within a few days, spent that time creeping out the PCs more and more, and (as I recall) disappeared one night only to resurface later as an undead monstrosity.

An NPC can delightfully reflect the horror of a situation and signal to the PCs (and players) how they should also feel. If the players agree, they become worried, too. If the players don’t follow along, though, that’s also fine; the worried NPC acts as a foil that distinguishes the PCs’ actions as especially heroic.

Dark Archive

The trek across the desert is pretty straightforward, but I'm curious if anybody has any suggestions for how you approached exploring the city. It is very sandbox and I could certainly see it being too open and having them just flail about. What level of clues have people used to get them started towards something? Certainly nothing creates tension like being forced to wander around a strange monster filled city with little idea of where to go..

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Davor Firetusk wrote:
The trek across the desert is pretty straightforward, but I'm curious if anybody has any suggestions for how you approached exploring the city. It is very sandbox and I could certainly see it being too open and having them just flail about. What level of clues have people used to get them started towards something? Certainly nothing creates tension like being forced to wander around a strange monster filled city with little idea of where to go..

IIRC, there are mysterious shadowy apparitions that lead them to the first location in the city (where Lowls and his party camped).

I recall there being breadcrumbs from there leading to the rest of the interesting stuff in Neruzavin.


Did anyone else's party buy Madman from Hoshbaugh? My group was able to quickly identify that it was tied to Count Lowls and find it to be an opportunity to harass or even prematurely kill Lowls through the doll.


Squiiddish wrote:

Two quick questions, Upianshe (the ghost near one of the Stela) is a bit of a weird case, since she's a magus wielding a weapon that's technically a natural attack of a ghost.

Can she spend a point from her arcane pool to give her spectral bastard sword speed+keen and get 2 attacks that crit on 17s?

Do her attacks hit touch AC? If not she's... probably incapable of hitting a decent level 13/14 PC.

Can She use her Kensai perfect strike??

It appears that maxed damage would be 14*6+4 O_o 88 Damage for the cost of a PP

Dark Archive

I believe she can use her ability. It is potentially a crazy amount of damage if she crits, but it has been awhile since my PCs had a good scare.


Yeah, perfect strike as a standard action touch attack, plus she can spellstrike with that as well (at least, I found nothing that said she couldn't). Force punch is a fun one. Also, hotboxing the room with cloudkill is great too. My group panicked hard at that.

Speed is... well, I was going to say questionable, but upon a close read, its legit. The ability says the sword does damage as corrupting touch, but applies sword modifiers and benefits like feats, properties, enhancement, etc, and then says it is otherwise a natural attack that can't be disarmed.

Corrupting touch is normally a standard action "special attack", and thus can't be given extras via haste nor high BaB.

A natural attack wouldn't get high BaB extras, but would get haste, if a full attack was made. So, yeah, I guess she could go speed and hit twice. Yeep, my players dodged a bullet.

Dark Archive

My group is pretty prepped, for example Life bubble renders cloudkill insignificant. But I did manage to crit last night. Temp hit points, a mind barrier, and shield other meant no one died. Mostly because I rolled a nat 1 on her other attack. At which point the cleric went nuts and channeled like crazy.


I ran the final combat using Spastic Puma's modifications, plus a few of my own, and it went over very well.

Back when they got their memories back from the Mad Poet, I wrote out back stories for them using what they gave me (most of the players gave me mostly empty backstories with one or two details to play with as I wished) filled out with more specific things to fit best with the plot of the AP. Two of the characters were slaves of Weiralai, and I wrote that she had performed some kind of profane ritual on them before selling them to Lowls. At the time, I hadn't read the full AP, so I didn't know what was going to become of that, just thought it was something specific enough to be called back to, but vague enough I could use it for anything, should the opportunity come up. Here is where I used it.
The party learned the background on the Husk from the heresy devil's library, where I also included a "Dear legions of Hell, this is something we should be scared of. Please send an army." XD was made a valid target for Contact Entity IV (included in the heresy devil's spellbooks) with a focus component of three activated stelae.
The two former slaves of Weiralai began to dry heave, leading to the vines that formed the fungal Thunderdome coming out of the mouths and ears of those two specifically.

Also, I took an alternate route for the Seeded One disease. They get exposed to it so often in this book, and the onset time is so long, if I had run it the normal way diseases are supposed to be run, they would start showing signs of it halfway through book 6. Where they would immediately get rid of it via "there are high-level casters in the party."
Since the Seeded One infection is tied to XD, instead of having the XD disease pop up well after they had defeated XD, I counted up the number of times each player had failed a save against the disease. I had each player make a (easy DC for their level) fort save at the beginning of combat where a failed save meant the character was exhausted for a number of rounds equal to the number of times they failed a save against a seeded one, or fatigued for the same number of rounds on a successful save. This was represented by all characters coughing up fungal matter as the Thunderdome was being formed, but not the massive animated vines the two former slaves of Weiralai were producing.
The only one who failed the save was the bard, who failed eight saves vs exposure to the seeded one infection throughout the book, so I ended up changing it to four rounds of exhaustion and four rounds of fatigue instead of eight rounds of exhaustion. The barbarian was very alarmed by this because she's a newer player and this was the first time she was ever unable to rage in combat.

I described the suicide bomber seeded ones as looking just like the seeded ones they had encountered before that point, just without host creatures and made of tangled vines. And I think they were the key to why my players had so much fun.
Three of my five players are new to RPGs (one joined at the beginning of the campaign, two were taught the rules and joined at the beginning of book 5), and the three of them especially got a kick out of mowing down hordes of mooks that could be OHKO'ed, enjoying it much more than I would expect them to enjoy fighting a single giant monster.

Liberty's Edge

So excited to run this adventure. i was worried that i wouldnt be able to show the players the effects of the spores but they recently purchased and freed some slaves in okeno who want to come on their adventures with them. one of them is even in love with one of them. sometimes the players just hand you a gift in the form of easily killable loved ones


So my party got the ganji doll tied to lowls from Hoshbagh, and they quickly realized they could use this to kill him and have attempted to calcific touch him to death and plane shift him into the sun. should i let them do it and invalidate his section in book 6? I can't imagine that was it's intention, seems a pretty anticlimactic way to kill the guy they've been focused on for so long.


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Nah, but when they meet him, give him a stone arm and some serious burns.


I'm having a bit of trouble reading the Oraculum map. By description it seems C2 and C3 are the same size, and the dotted lines represent the doors to the chambers below (C3). What confuses me is that C2 is listed as these dotted doors on the map. So...the stairs lead up to C3? And the street-level doors lead down to C2? Isn't C2 above C3? Maybe I'm just cartography illiterate, but shouldn't it be other other way around? Should the stairs lead up to C2 (The Observatory), and the dotted entrances lead down to C3 (The Sanctuary)?


What Grows Within, pg. 39 wrote:
Two major components make up the Oraculum: a round sanctuary situated below and an observatory above. A steep set of steps ascends to the observatory from each of the cardinal directions, climbing 20 feet up the sloping exterior. Four sets of stone doors stand open along each of the ordinal directions, leading into the sanctuary.

So, the doors - the dotted lines - are at the ordinal directions (NW, NE, SE, SW) and lead down into the sanctuary (C3) from street level.

The stairs lead up to the observatory (C2).

C2 and C3 are the same size.

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