Prisoners of the Blight (GM Reference)


Ironfang Invasion


The purpose of this thread is to clarify questions arising in this adventure. This is a SPOILER-filled zone: do not venture further if you do not wish the adventure to be spoiled for you, and spoiler tags are not required when posting here.

This thread is a GM Reference thread for Part 5 of the Ironfang Invasion Adventure Path. Links for the individual threads for each part are as follows:

  • Trail of the Hunted (Part 1)
  • Fangs of War (Part 2)
  • Assault on Longshadow (Part 3)
  • Siege of Stone (Part 4)
  • Prisoners of the Blight (Part 5)
  • Vault of the Onyx Citadel (Part 6)

  • The Exchange

    Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

    My first question, directed to the Paizo team and to Crystal as well as you Joana, as a GM, is:
    1. Is is me, or is there an area map where the A, B, C, D, E and F portions of the Blighted Forest should match up to? It just seems like there should be one.

    2. Also, for the different reaches of the Pestilent Palace, wouldn't an overall overview map been helpful?

    I am good with the imagination most times, but, I am asked to see if these were left out for time and space or due to a mishap. Thanks. Otherwise, I have to say, I love what Amanda did. It is a great snap shot into the weird and wicked side of a Fey second in command being warped by Cyth V'Sug.


    I start this next Wednesday with the PCs a mighty 14th level. As this looks like one massive Side Quest I hope it doesn't get too annoying
    Best give it another check through to prep.


    Can someone help explain how the Darkblight is supposed to work? On page 7 it states that Humanoids and Fey not associated with a plant have to experience long periods in the Darkblight to be effected, referencing 24 hours. This is all in the sidebar.

    Then on page 9, in the description of over land travel in the Darkblight is states that you must save every ROUND and if you fail you are nauseated - hence you can only then move and take no other actions, How is any group of PCs going to be able to travel many miles and not all be fully infected and hence nauseated? That is the end of the campaign right there just based on the number of dice rolls required.


    I haven't started this book yet. Perhaps it's best to roll the two durations together. Make both exposures occur after every twenty four hours.


    RandomPlayer wrote:

    Can someone help explain how the Darkblight is supposed to work? On page 7 it states that Humanoids and Fey not associated with a plant have to experience long periods in the Darkblight to be effected, referencing 24 hours. This is all in the sidebar.

    Then on page 9, in the description of over land travel in the Darkblight is states that you must save every ROUND and if you fail you are nauseated - hence you can only then move and take no other actions, How is any group of PCs going to be able to travel many miles and not all be fully infected and hence nauseated? That is the end of the campaign right there just based on the number of dice rolls required.

    Sidebar on page 7 is for extended contact with infested plants. Page 9 describes what happens when a character ends their turn in areas of heavy underbrush (difficult terrain caused by plant life). So exclusive rulings really. One save for daily interactions in the Darkblight. Another save for when in combat and stopping in heavy underbrush.


    Ive been playing it as 'humans' are very unlikely to get the full blight effects, but they can suffer secondary effects such as a bit of nausea


    Has anyone run area G yet? From G1 to G11, an area maybe 250ft wide with no doors/barriers there is a fight in each room!!! Not sure how the PCs aren't going to be overwhelmed, as basically any sounds of battle will be easily heard??

    Any experience to share?


    Forgot to mention, the Jub Jub bird got to live for one round of combat....it did crit the cavalier for ridiculous damage but he rolled very well to make the Fort save against decapitation


    Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    The only combined battles I did were the faun chirurgeons/handmaidens (with the tree) and then the spiders came up behind the party while they were facing the Bandersnatch. I figured the fauns were distracted with their experimentation and the handmaidens were distracted by the tree effects, so they didn't do anything until the party walked in front of their areas.

    The ropers intentionally stayed still, the tooth fairies were locked in the room, and the baregaras attacked right after the ropers. The final room with blightguards they knew about (from a favor) so they cast silence and walked up for doom.

    I didn't really play up the fey unity thing since that would imply every creature hiding out in those two areas resulting in a TPK. The faun/handmaiden battle nearly killed them anyway. They underestimated how deadly the bombs were, and our alchemist got captivated by the tree, licking the fruits (20' in the air no less) until he dropped to 0 wisdom.

    Of course, after all that, they ran down the tunnel without thinking and triggered the trap.


    Bit of a big fight in the end.
    They befriended the handmaidens, and kept that theme throughout with the other they met
    Fight with the tooth fairy was hilarious (at 26HD its a good job it didn't have the half fiend template!!)
    They did the next level with the half fiend mandragoras causing some bother.
    Now about to enter the 'room below' and finish mod 5


    So quick question: The Darkblight states that long range teleportation can't cross the border between blighted and non blighted portions. I have a player who's prefered method of slaying baddies is to forcefully planeshift them into the plane of positive energy and let them explode eventually...

    How does Planeshift interact with the blight? It doesn't technically cross any border.


    Jakkedin wrote:
    RandomPlayer wrote:

    Can someone help explain how the Darkblight is supposed to work? On page 7 it states that Humanoids and Fey not associated with a plant have to experience long periods in the Darkblight to be effected, referencing 24 hours. This is all in the sidebar.

    Then on page 9, in the description of over land travel in the Darkblight is states that you must save every ROUND and if you fail you are nauseated - hence you can only then move and take no other actions, How is any group of PCs going to be able to travel many miles and not all be fully infected and hence nauseated? That is the end of the campaign right there just based on the number of dice rolls required.

    Sidebar on page 7 is for extended contact with infested plants. Page 9 describes what happens when a character ends their turn in areas of heavy underbrush (difficult terrain caused by plant life). So exclusive rulings really. One save for daily interactions in the Darkblight. Another save for when in combat and stopping in heavy underbrush.

    Way late to this, but I was going to run this chapter mixed into chapter 5 of Kingmaker (not too crazy about the Ironfang AP).

    I found the overland movement rules through the thicker areas (like area D) too frequent and tedious as written. My simpler solution was to just use the given higher DC of 18 for overland movement through thicker areas after 24 hours of exposure (rather than each turn), and a DC 24 to avoid effects once infected, as per the Darkblight sidebar on page 7.

    Basically the saves are at a -3 in more heavily blighted areas.


    Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

    As written, you don't actually need to enter into thick underbrush at all, at least not that I've seen. Note that the map for area D only considers the "forested areas" as thick underbrush, and you can avoid stepping into that. There are clear paths to get everywhere within the Blighted Depths. So the rules as written seem fine. If anything, I'd say they need to become more relevant.

    How did folks handle the navigation portion of this journey? Like the stuff between the Runestones and the Blighted Depths. While there is a lot of text on the dangers of using unconventional methods of travel like flight or teleportation, there's not a lot of stuff detailing just hiking through the forest, which I take to be about a 25 mile journey if you're heading to the center of the Blighted area. The only thing is the random encounter table. There's allusions to the area being shifting and difficult to navigate, but nothing especially concrete.

    I'm considering breaking the journey into 25 1 mile increments, requiring a survival check for each. With the twisting terrain, I'm thinking one mile per hour seems reasonable. I've been experimenting with a tension pool mechanic, so I'd roll 6d6 every hour, and if any comes up on a 1 a complication occurs. This could be one of the prewritten story beats like B or C, a random encounter, or just one of the random Darkblight events described on page 9. Other things could include only having to cross through an area of thick underbrush to progress and risk exposure to the Dark Blight.

    I'm not entirely sure what success conditions to use for the survival check though, and I'm wary of this whole thing growing monotonous. A critical success might bypass the need for a tension pool roll or let them cover 2 successes. A failure could simply mean that they don't progress. But I could instead have them still progress on a failure but trigger one of the aforementioned complications in lieu of using a tension pool, going for the whole "fail forward" idea.


    Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

    I'm reading ahead (still haven't finished Longshadow) but am curious to know how this turned out in retrospect for you all.
    I'd like to seed a bit more of this before the party heads south to see the dwarves (with news from the Rangers joining the battle of Longshadow on recent developments in the Fangwood).
    This is the shortest (or at least has the fewest posts) of the "sticky" threads by a sizeable margin.


    Still a long ways off from this one myself. Luckily, I have an elf in my party whose family was displaced by the Blight. Hopefully that will help buttress the hooks written into the AP. I like the look of the Book, but I do wonder how fun all the diseases and status conditions are going to be for the players.

    We just finished Book 2, so my players have just learned about Ibzairiak's "girlfriend". I plan on doing some in-character flashbacks with my elf PC showing the pre-Blighted Accressiel Court with a small colony of elves and fey living peacefully in Gendowyn's realm.

    As the Book intro suggests, I plan to play up the Lewis Carrol surrealism of the setting. The party will be fresh off of the "journey to the underworld" in Book 4, so Book 5 will need to feel very distinct from that even though in some ways there are similarities - darkness, isolation, alien environment. The personalities of the Blight's fey population will be one of the keys to this, is my thinking based on how the Revel at Ristin went down. I also want to find some way to play up the horror of the Bandersnatch and Jubjub bird. Containing/ending the evil of Cyth'Vsug should be a priority for any PC who is even remotely religious or of Good alignment.


    I know this is pretty dead, but I just wanted to say there is a small typo in Wendel's stat block (had a player die and jump into his shoes until we got to their real character). He has weapon finesse, but his short sword does not include his dex mod (+9!) to his damage, which it should unless I am missing something.


    Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber
    McFactiod wrote:
    I know this is pretty dead, but I just wanted to say there is a small typo in Wendel's stat block (had a player die and jump into his shoes until we got to their real character). He has weapon finesse, but his short sword does not include his dex mod (+9!) to his damage, which it should unless I am missing something.

    Weapon Finesse only applies to attack rolls, not damage rolls.

    You may be thinking of Finesse Training for Unchained Rogues. Wendel is a Rogue 10, but not Unchained Rogue. I'd be fine with changing him to Unchained and giving him the additional damage. None of the rogue talents are really altered (except for Resiliency which now provides levelx2 temporary HP).

    Silver Crusade

    So I'm reading up on Jinmenju trees and... those abilities aren't what I thought they would do...

    https://aonprd.com/MonsterDisplay.aspx?ItemName=Jinmenju

    The 30' square map has been a bit of a nightmare to get onto roll 20, the squares are so big that when I zoom in its pixelated and unclear what you are looking at. Obviously running this online was not what was intended when the plot was written.

    Loving the plot so far, will see how much my players learn before slotting the bad guys with extreme prejudice.

    (They may be a little salty as I nearly TPK'd them end of last book... Elacnida claimed one death by possession and had 2 unconscious characters, out of a party of 4... so close).


    I've been contemplating this too. I'm almost to my first 10'x10'square maps in Book 4, so I haven't quite crossed that bridge yet (and blown it up behind me).

    For the really big ones, I'll probably do exploration and reveal areas on the 30' map normally, but switch to a localized battle map for combats.

    RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

    Can someone explain the Sardonyx shard?
    It says in the writeup of the Onyx Key, that the Sardonyx shard opens the gate to the Onyx Citadel, but must be installed in an existing tower.

    Quote:
    a single sardonyx shard grows from the onyx key's base. This shard cannot be used to grow a tower, but instead may be installed in an existing tower to augment its power, allowing it to open a Stone Road to the Onyx Citadel itself, or connect to onyx towers on other planes.

    So if this is true, how did Taurgreth expect to make a quick getaway with the shard? He wasn't anywhere near a tower, so the shard is useless. What am I missing?


    Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
    Grumpus wrote:

    Can someone explain the Sardonyx shard?

    It says in the writeup of the Onyx Key, that the Sardonyx shard opens the gate to the Onyx Citadel, but must be installed in an existing tower.
    Quote:
    a single sardonyx shard grows from the onyx key's base. This shard cannot be used to grow a tower, but instead may be installed in an existing tower to augment its power, allowing it to open a Stone Road to the Onyx Citadel itself, or connect to onyx towers on other planes.

    So if this is true, how did Taurgreth expect to make a quick getaway with the shard? He wasn't anywhere near a tower, so the shard is useless. What am I missing?

    I had the same thought. Taurgreth might not have fully understood the Onyx Key. Or he might have brought a shard and tried to use it, and discovered it didn't work the hard way. The shard (or perhaps the tower it created) could have been destroyed when he was captured.

    Silver Crusade

    Grumpus wrote:

    So if this is true, how did Taurgreth expect to make a quick getaway with the shard? He wasn't anywhere near a tower, so the shard is useless. What am I missing?

    In Taurgeth's write-up, I believe it stated he took the shard without permission and expected it to work (it didn't: OhHeck.gif). Once Arlantia is dead it will work normally.


    Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

    ok - starting this book and already I'm seeing problems.
    First encounter with Kusana says she takes to the air and uses bestow curse (melee touch attack), poison (melee touch attack), suffocation (ok on this one), and deep slumber (only affects up to 10HD), before she closes to fight with claws.
    Basically none of the tactics presented are going to be of much use.
    Also says that the fen maulers are carrying totems. I assume that is supposed to be trophies - i.e. magic items that the party will not be able to use.
    The whole backstory with Navah is nice, but I fear that will be totally missed due to the nature of the encounter (and my group not likely to stop until she is dead).

    Anyone else change up this encounter so that it actually presents a) something challenging, and/or b) something useful?


    Well, in my group, Kusana is the party witch's grandmother (Navah is his mother), so hopefully there will be some opportunity there. Since he is a male witch, and thus not qualified for hag-ification, she instead wants to capture him and extract all the magic from his familiar. I'll have her use her disguise hex to appear as a sweet old lady with a picturesque little cottage.

    I'll give some incentive to resolve the encounter non-lethally since the witch is likely to be interested in Kusana's spell list.

    As for the tactics, yeah that does seem a bit sloppy. It's likely that Spring Attack is meant to be used in conjunction with the touch spells, but I see no way around the deep slumber oversight. PCs and companions will all be over 10HD at this stage. I'll likely just replace that feat.

    My interpretation is that "takes to the air" probably means staying pretty close - maybe 10-15 ft up - using Spring Attack to dive in to deliver touch spells and claw attacks then retreat back out of melee range.


    Reporting in just to say, I'm replacing Quicken Spell-like Ability (deep slumber) with Weapon Focus (spell touch) on Kusana.

    The amended tactics will be to get her in flight, use her movement to stay out of range to cast spells, first mirror image, followed by suffocation, then her touch spells, casting out of range, then on the following turn, swoop in using spring attack to deliver the spell and get back out of range. If she manages to pull this off with a bestow curse or poison spell, she'll enter firey form and try to detonate on as many PCs as possible. Then, she'll attempt to grapple her grandson the witch for a little blood drain. She doesnt want to kill him just yet. She's fine with dispatching his friends, but she wants to subdue the witch and extract the spells from his familiar.


    Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

    how about giving her either Reach metamagic feat (instead of QSLA) or a lesser metamagic rod (reach) or both so that both Poison and Bestow Curse can be done at range. Or replace one of the hexes with Murksight and use obscuring mist.


    Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

    One party member (14th level wizard) failed their save vs prismatic spray in D.6 and have been sent to another plane.
    Worked out OK as the player was absent from the session so this was a good solution for keeping the character out of the (rest of the) encounter.
    I'm tossing up whether to have the destination be
    a) Fey World
    b) Plane of Earth (Vault of the Onyx Citadel)
    c) Abyss (Jeharlu - home of Cyth V'sug)

    ways back could be:
    a) fey gate
    b) plane shift from a shaitan
    c) walls are thin between Jeharlu and the Darkblight, so maybe something happens?

    anyone have any recommendations or suggestions I should consider?

    RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

    In area H1, the Mandragloires have Blasphemy as a spell like ability, BUT only a caster level of 5. This means that it will have no effect at all, and I wonder why they even bothered to include it in the tactics. Blasphemy only has an effect against creatures whose HD are equal to or less than your caster level.
    Even if you adjusted to use HD instead of CL, these only have 11HD and the spell is still meaningless as the PCs will be 14th or 15th level by now.


    Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber
    Grumpus wrote:
    ...Even if you adjusted to use HD instead of CL, these only have 11HD and the spell is still meaningless as the PCs will be 14th or 15th level by now.

    There are a heap of these in this book - see above for Kusana's pointless abilities vs the party. Swap it for something that will be meaningful and challenging, like Waves of Ecstasy or Repulsion. Or give then Dispel Good or Unholy Blight at 3/day.


    Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

    Blightguards are a combo of redcaps and quicklings, both small fae, but are medium size themselves. What gives?

    RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

    They combined so many bodyparts it became bigger? Or maybe the blight has grown so much fungus on their insides they are bloated?


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    Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber
    Grumpus wrote:
    They combined so many bodyparts it became bigger? Or maybe the blight has grown so much fungus on their insides they are bloated?

    ROFL.

    Yes I thought the same, but most likely it was another of the errors that crept through review. Would be nice to have a logical explanation (but maybe one was given in text that didn't make the cut).

    RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

    For Arlantia's "bouncing spell" feat, I recommend switching away from "harm"
    A. it's touch, so unlikely she may have 2 adjacent targets.
    B. If the spell has any effect even on a success, it doesn't bounce, and harm does half damage.

    I switched it to "spellcrash" since it is at range and had no effect on a success, both players passed the save so it didn't really matter.

    Other spells I swapped out, some are tailored to my party, and I am pretty liberal about pre-buffing my bosses to challenge my players:
    8th: replaced Control Plants with her other domain spell Unholy Aura
    7th:Bouncing Spellcrash replace Bouncing Harm. Particulate Form replace Word of Chaos.
    5th:Fickle Winds replace Wall of Thorns. Communal Airwalk replace wall of stone (Walls are useless when everyone flies, also I had Orellie in the mix so her and Taurgreth could airwalk)
    4th:Freedom of Movement replace Unholy Blight, Divine Power replace 1 cure crit wounds.


    Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

    I've found more than a few of the spells for different encounters have needed to be swapped out. Thanks for the tips on Arlantia.

    Action economy is king and the wizard PC's main combat spell is summon monster. I would really like the party to be considering other options in combat - the most memorable ones have been when it hasn't devolved into a slugfest. I'm considering making the Pestilent Palace be more resistant to the use of summon spells. I'd still let the eidolon be used but have her describe the passage between realities be choked with fungus and mold. That might mean that summon spells bring in 1 less creature than normal, or require a concentration check to succeed.

    I don't want to nerf a PC's main schtick, but we also called out in session 0 and in the social contract that minionmancy is not permitted. It has gotten close some times.

    Q: any suggestions or things for me to consider to make the Pestilent Palace less of a slog and more creepy/icky?

    RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

    I described the area as having a lot more fungal vegetation than displayed on the map, tendrils hanging from the ceilings, etc. This way it makes it harder for monsters in the next encounter area to just jump right in the fight.
    I also kind of explained that chaotic fey creatures wouldn't necessarily all be organized to fight along side each other.
    But overall this whole area is kind of tough to justify all the monsters just ignoring fights happening 60 feet away from them, you'll just have to decide what works best for your party.
    Maybe having multiple rooms joining the fight will give you some ammo to fight all the summoned monsters from your wizard.

    Also i found if a player is using a tactic you dont like, its better to talk with the player, than to devise in-game stuff to thwart them. I have a Shaman player who sometimes summons, and I told him that he can just summon 1 thing from the top level, and not multiples of lower level lists. I told him multiples slow the game down too much with a 5-person party, and he was fine with it.


    Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber
    Grumpus wrote:

    ...

    Also i found if a player is using a tactic you dont like, its better to talk with the player, than to devise in-game stuff to thwart them.
    ...

    It's not that I don't like it, though it can bog encounters down.

    It has been a tactic for a while though, and word has gotten back to Azaersi.
    I *do* want the players to explore their characters' powers and abilities a bit more. They may just want the session to be pure beer & pretzels, but the most enjoyable sessions so far have been when they've been stretched and had to think outside the box or try different tactics than apply a beatdown.
    Ultimately (for me) it is about having a fun time and making memories than playing it like a video game and applying the grind.


    Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

    anyone have the rusalkas in G2 flood the chamber?
    By my reckoning one of them could raise the water level up to 40', but that would essentially spill out and flood G1, G3, G4, G5, G7, and G8 before spilling down the hole in G9.
    No saving throw or spell resistance, so without flight or good swim skill (and insofar as this AP is concerned I'd be surprised if anyone invested in Swim), anyone west of G2 is likely to be swept into the pit in G9 (if they don't catch a stalagmite or get caught by a roper).


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    Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

    G4 has a "wand of polymorph" in the treasure section. Am I missing something? Polymorph is a 5th level spell on all spell lists as far as I can determine, and wands can only contain spells up to 4th level.

    I'm finding I'm swapping out a lot of the treasure items in this book (as well as spells of some of the encounters).

    For G2 I swapped out the ten-ring sword with ring of jumping and the decoy ring with an emancipation hammer, rod of spellsight, and potions of protection v chaos as those seemed more in keeping with what an Ironfang party (who would have done some research on fae) would have with them, and gave each of the rusalkas a four-leaf clover.

    I'll keep the boro beads as they make sense for the faun alchemists even though they will be useless for my PCs, but has anyone else swapped around treasure items, and if so were there any interesting (thematically appropriate) items you used?

    RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

    MY group ended up trading the Decoy Ring with the Pech for her Dryads Song ring. As far as the wand goes, I just treat "mistake" items as unique pieces of treasure that can't normally be crafted or found in stores, maybe the wand came from the First World where weird stuff can happen.
    I don't adjust treasure very often. If I feel that the party is struggling I would consider giving out more applicable stuff, but my group has steamrolled through the majority of encounters all AP, so I just let them convert the useless stuff for cash.


    Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

    replaced the Wand of Polymorph with Wand of Animal Aspect (Greater). Seemed more thematically appropriate with mismatched body parts and is legal under the rules.
    I'm also going to go ahead with adjusting the level ups. They'll hit 17th level just before the battle with Arlantia, so I'm going to bump her up to Cleric 17th as well.
    Might give her Overwhelming Presence and Shambler as the 9th level spells though that does risk drawing out what will possibly be a long combat.


    Random thought: but it occurs to me that the Arhlantu - and the greater Pestilent Palace as a whole - give the vibe less of natural cavern, and more of the chambers and organs of some living thing, with a living heart at the center.

    What if, unbenownst even to Arlantia herself, the entire Darkblight - with Arhlantu at it's center - is being prepared as a quite literal, physical body for Cyth-V'sug himself? Like once the entire Fangwood succumbs to the Darkblight, the demon lord would emerge in a catastrophic "birth".

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