City in the Deep (GM Reference)


Ruins of Azlant


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 4 of the Ruins of Azlant Adventure Path. Links for the individual threads for each part are as follows:

Dark Archive

So probably not new colonists here since it takes completely place underwater from what I saw ._. Gonna double check on that I guess

I do wonder, why are all of Ochamya's minions here neutral aligned even though some of them are basically working on their free will?

Also confused why book doesn't detail at all what happens if PCs try to talk to Vallik instead, book does detail BBEG interrogation, but ignores Vallik completely even though only reason they are fighting PCs is that BBEG told them they are a threat and they want to live peacefully somewhere :P Like book seems to just assume that players kill them off and they fights to the death or something, thats weird


When they return the spear (p. 46) it says:
"The PCs should know, or suspect, by now that the
deep merfolk are working with Naqualia and her master, Ochymua."

If the party killes Ayeussa during the Galvos ambush, how does the party get any clues about the deep merfolk being in on the conspiracy?


Jurix approaching the PCs just before the events that Naqualia's agents set in motion poses a problem not handled in the text.

The PCs already see some abnormal things occurring: the jellyfish incident, the stolen property incident, being jumped by Jurix's minions, etc. and then Jurix approachea them to get them to sabotage / frame either of the two noble houses against the other.

So, when the events are set in motion by Naqualia's minions, what should happen if the PCs immediately tell the oracle about Jurix's proposition to them to sabotage and frame the two noble houses? I would think the PCs first reaction is going to assume that Jurix is also behind the blood tide, explosion, and everything else at this point in the story, but the oracle, guard's, and even Jurix's reaction to the PCs revealing this information isn't covered.

This is all easy enough to make up depending on how the GM wants to tailor the story, but I am surprised it isn't addressed since all evidence points to Jurix and a good party isn't going to go along with Jurix's plan anyway.


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I'm having some real problems with Vallik.

Much like Corvus says there are, as far as I can see, major problems with Vallik.

First of all: why did Vallik leave Auberon's lair? I never really got a reason apart from boredom - which is valid...just.
Second: How exactly does Naqualia get Vallik to talk? Sure she's got +22 bluff and +14 diplomacy - but no way of forcing the truth from him/her/it. This links in with Vallik's motivation - if the ooze hates Auberon then fine I can see why she talks, but otherwise WTF?
Third: why does Vallik fight the PC's? Naqualia "seeding lies about the PC's is not motivation - unless there's some sort of mind-control involved...

When my players get here I think I'm going to pull a full on possession of Naqualia by Ochymua - give them a taste of the really Big Bad and a veiled master using dominate monster would actually explain Vallik. It feels like Vallik was dominated but the writer just forgot to mention it, otherwise all its actions seem completely at odds with the persona that is built up throughout the book...


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So here's a shot from my perspective. I am Vallik, a shapeshifting ooze that has been hiding out in Talasantri for a long time. I was created millennia ago by an Azlanti wizard, along with many others of my kind, to act as a specialized attack and spy force (p. 5). For many years after Earthfall, I wandered the seas looking for surviving Azlanti ... my masters. Around 300 years ago I found Auberon and was delighted again to be reunited with an Azlanti wizard after so long. In the years, my excitement waned as the unease of being around the lich and his undead minions began to wear on me. He wasn't like the Azlanti I knew well, and I just wanted to get away. Would he be furious if I left with the knowledge of what he was and where his tower was, I don't know. I am going to try and leave anyway.

About 100 years ago, I took my chances and snuck away from Auberon while he was distracted with some scheme. I happened along an underwater city that was heavily damaged in some recent attack by some large sea creature. It was a perfect opportunity for me to blend in, and I take on the life of one of the residents helping to rebuild. I am more than a little paranoid that one day Auberon or his minions will come for me. Every decade or so, I take a new form and start over. I learn so much around me between my forms and I delight in collecting tons of intelligence information about this city, but sadly I will never be able to make a report to anyone who will care. I stay anyway.

Every so often I catch wind of someone looking for me; probably someone sent by Auberon [p. 54 "periodically changes his form over the years, throwing off all but the best and luckiest attempts to find him, implies others have looked for him]. That is when I know it is time to change my form again and start over.

Some time ago I took the form a merfolk and secured a job at the Lionfish gallery. There are a lot of respectable people with secrets who come through, and a lot of rumors and discussion that is to be heard. People don't see me, they see a lowly servant of the gallery. I like it that way. Things were going well until I caught wind again of some deep merfolk seeking me out. She was very determined and had a whole group of servants helping her.

One night, after closing she emerges from the shadows, "Greetings Myrddan, or perhaps Vallik is more appropriate. She says." I freeze, am I finally done for? I don't know. She oozes with confidence, power, and yet ... desperation. How could I have been so careless, As she talks, I don't get the feeling she has been sent by Auberon but I highly distrust her and am annoyed myself for being in this situation. I ready to blast her with my lightning spell, and then cast invisibility and get out of there.

She seeks Auberon she says her master is very powerful and wants to have a chat with the wizard. I try to brush her off at first, but that is when the two blades come out. But that isn't all, there is apparently another group of mercenaries seeking me out and she says they aren't going to be as "nice" as she is. I don't know what to believe, but I don't see the harm in giving her the location of the Alabaster tower. Maybe her and her master can take Auberon out.

I thought it was over and she was going to leave. Yes, she was even leaving as they came into the gallery: the four mercenaries she talked about. I didn't recognize them at the time as the heroes of Talasantri, and I am not sure it would have mattered right then anyway. Naqualia warned me they were coming and here they were.

They seemed honestly surprised when my blast of chain lightning struck them. Hah, Naqualia too. Perhaps she underestimated me. Quickly, I fled to the dark shadows of the museum and transformed into a barracuda. One of them burst through the secret door and looked confused when I wasn't to be found. They even cast a spell, presumably thinking I was invisible, but in reality I was right there just swimming around. I watched them fight Naqualia and kill her. Life is strange. Even for me. She tried so hard to find me just to find Auberon's tower and never left the museum alive with that information.

Why? Why were the heroes of Talasantri after me? I have no idea, but hope to stay as a fish for some time until I find out. I do know that they don't seem to be looking for me after all, or at least they aren't trying very hard. It seems that they are instead after something called Ochymua and have set out for Auberon's tower. Again, this is strange. What is with all of this sudden interest in Auberon. Could this Ochymua be Naqualia's master? How did it find Auberon without Naqualia telling him? I don't care enough to go back to the master's tower to find out. Perhaps, yes perhaps I will reveal myself to the heroes of the city before they leave and try and figure out what is going on.

---

- Naqualia has no mind control ability
- Between diplomacy and intimidate, she could keep Vallik there talking
- Vallik may be intrigued enough about the prospect of sending someone to Auberon's tower and possibly confront him.
- As a mezlan, Vallik is breed to be a spy and could be willingly exchanging information with Naqualia. It already feels that Auberon is not really worth being an Azlanti master any longer anway.
- The text says that Vallik ultimately just wants to get away and start a new life, and so I don't see it attacking more than it takes to get away.
- Though, ultimately a mezlan is basically immortal and may be interested in a challenging fight. It will basically reform in 10 years time in the worst case. Couldn't find on Paizo PRD, but d20pfsrd had it
- I like the idea of it being confused and keeping tabs on the PCs, only to discover that they weren't after him. It could then decide to help them with information.


Thanks Justaworm - having someone else's perspective helps. I confess I'm not sold - your interpretation works well, but there's not enough in the books to support it (page counts... alas!).

I'm beginning to like the idea of Vallik as a rival to Jurix - a sort of underground spymaster, a sort of boogieman in the Talastrian underworld (so maybe add a level of vigilante...). Then he gets a better idea of who the Pc's are and what they are doing. As well as a better idea of Nuqualia. If the PC's ally with Jurix then there's genuine room for moral doubt.

Then when the final confrontation comes around there could be a nice 3 way diplomatic show-down, with the option of Nuqualia being possessed by Ochyma if she loses... if she wins then Vallik can tell everyone the info and then join Nuqualia to kill the PC's.

Extra work, but I think it offers a bit more motivation for Vallik...


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Like others, I have some issues with this installment.


  • Naqualia's harassment of the PCS blows her cover for no very good reason;
  • Although Naqualia and the PCs are on opposing sides, their immediate goals are not in conflict (and thus neither are they)
  • Wavewalker's tomb just flat out does not make sense.

I've written up a scenario that addresses these: Vallik is Wavewalker.

It gives Vallik a great deal more detailed backstory, introduces him much earlier in the adventure, and makes it clear that Ochymua's agents are trying to find him (which should lead the PCs to want to find him also). That will put them in direct conflict with Naqualia, give her a reason to harass the PCs (she has to get to Vallik first!), and remove the whole Wavewalker's tomb subplot entirely while retaining the Temple of Dagon.

I didn't do anything with Jurix, though.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Tinalles, I really like your Vallik idea. The idea of a character who is legendary in a society for being one of their greatest heroes and one of their greatest villains is so much fun. I like it so much that I wouldn't want Vallik to be fooled offscreen by Naqualia so that the combat at the end of book 4 happens as written. There's enough inherent drama that I'd want my players to be able to interact with Vallik more extensively.

My impulse as a GM would be to put Vallik at a point of crisis: he's realizing that he can't truly be a protector of Talasantri if his secret is placing the city at risk. Maybe he's also coming to think that he can't truly be redeemed while hiding who he is, because as it stands everybody knows both worships him (as the Wavewalker) and despises him (as the Blackhand) and neither reaction is entirely deserved. The point is that he's suffering serious doubts about his life and doesn't know what to do next.

I would introduce him (under one of his guises) early in the book and have some kind of relationship develop between him and the PCs. (He could be 'helping' them look for Vallik, for example.) If a friendship naturally develops, then maybe he confesses everything. Alternatively, the party could discover that he's got a secret and confront him. In any case I'd have the end of part 3 be a role-playing encounter between the PCs and Vallik. If they can provide him with a way forward, then he sides with them against Naqualia; if they react badly or roll badly, he gives Naqualia whatever she wants (including the PCs) to keep her from harming more citizens of Talasantri.

(There is the question of how Naqualia finds the Alabaster Trident if Vallik sides with the PCs; I would think you could solve that by saying that Vallik has a keepsake of some kind that would reveal the location but only if you knew to look for it. A necklace made of coral that can only be found at such-and-such a reef, which doesn't necessarily seem significant unless you know that this necklace belongs to a long-time operative of Auberon. Naqualia discovers Vallik's identity in part 4, goes through his effects, and a-ha.)


Okrahoma wrote:


(There is the question of how Naqualia finds the Alabaster Trident if Vallik sides with the PCs;

IIRC, this didn't even need to happen. As written, doesn't Ochymua find Auberon on his own without Naqualia's help? I think this is even more reason to change Naqualia's purpose in all of this.


Nikolaus de'Shade wrote:

Thanks Justaworm - having someone else's perspective helps. I confess I'm not sold - your interpretation works well, but there's not enough in the books to support it (page counts... alas!).

I'm beginning to like the idea of Vallik as a rival to Jurix - a sort of underground spymaster, a sort of boogieman in the Talastrian underworld (so maybe add a level of vigilante...). Then he gets a better idea of who the Pc's are and what they are doing. As well as a better idea of Nuqualia. If the PC's ally with Jurix then there's genuine room for moral doubt.

Then when the final confrontation comes around there could be a nice 3 way diplomatic show-down, with the option of Nuqualia being possessed by Ochyma if she loses... if she wins then Vallik can tell everyone the info and then join Nuqualia to kill the PC's.

Extra work, but I think it offers a bit more motivation for Vallik...

Something I've considered if I were to run it again is, have Naquaalia act as an agent of Auberon, sent to retrieve/kill/capture Vallik. Then he's acting as his own spymaster opposing Jurix, Naquaalia is after him, and implement some kind of beef between those two (Jurix and Naquaalia) so there's sort of an uneasy, tense standoff between all 3 factions. MAYBE even make one of the kids' mothers (Drecissa and Argnos I think are the kids names?) an agent of Vallik's, depending on which one the PCs make better friends with. Then they have an in with Vallik, a tempting offer from Jurix, and a reason for Naquaalia to be gunning for them.

Additionally, as an aside, I think the Ruinquake fight would work much better in this book as a pseudo-finale, because by the time it comes up in Chapter 6, that ship has sailed and the PCs are frustrated at the check that never got cashed (at least in my experience). It also feels rushed and inorganic in Beyond the Veiled Past.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I am having to rewrite the whole module. It is colorful and sounds interesting but when I start doing the detail work, nothing makes sense:

--hagworm races through the whole city without raising any alarms
--PCs are framed via bomb fragments for an explosion that happened outside the city while they were inside the city with scores of witnesses
--friendly NPC is kidnapped and sent to the Trident for no reason
--Vallik has no information of use to anyone as far as I can tell
--emergency happens in front of a 14th level cleric who does NOTHING about it
--cleric sends the PCs to get something critical to Talislantri's survival, then lets them keep it for themselves when they leave Talislantri
--Jurix becomes fixated on getting the PCs to do things for her for no apparent reason
--the things Jurix asks the PCs to do are things that would probably stop the adventure cold; given how much Talislantri dislikes surface dwellers, they will obviously be blamed and probably run out of town. Given that the players can see this, it's incredibly unlikely they will do any of Jurix' quests, even if the PCs are amoral or evil.
--the whole idea of doing sabotage to hide the fact that you're looking quietly for someone is deeply weird.

It would make much more sense if Naquaalia were tasked with disrupting Talislantri. She does an okay job of that. But who would want Talislantri disrupted? I am tired of NPCs that do nasty things just to be nasty; aboleth are supposed to be smarter than that.

I'm rewriting with a plot where Ochymua got one of the lesser aboleth "captured" by an element of the city guard, who are now being manipulated by it. They are poisoning Rillkimatai to make it seem that he's too ill to appear in public. The idea is to destabilize the city and having one of the aboleth's minions seize power "to restore order". This is a concrete plan with a clear goal I can work with, and makes (some of) Naquaalia's actions make sense. (They are not killing Rillkimatai because they want to hear his visions, but they can do that while he's drugged nearly senseless.)

I am attracted to the image of the aboleth imprisoned, painfully shackled (but it is a pain psychic and can work with that), apparently defeated, but actually running the show and working towards running the town. (I'd use Onthooth's stats for it.)

I don't know what Blood Lily Cay is good for here, other than giving a level and breaking up the underwater action. There's a whole thing about Dagon worship that never has any payoff. If Rillkimatai found out that enemies were going after the spear and asked the PCs to beat them to it, that might help a little--Naquaalia could send some more of her weirdly numerous and high-level minions. (The whole module suffers from world issues--people are the level they have to be in order to challenge the PCs, no matter how odd it seems. CR9 street thugs in a purportedly fairly safe city, yeesh.)

I wish I could put Ruinquake in here, but its CR is way too high, and if I drop the CR until the PCs can beat it, it's inexplicable that the NPCs (who are higher level than the PCs) cannot. (We won't ask how Wavewalker managed. Having Vallik==Wavewalker might help some with that.)


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As a heads-up for anyone else prepping this, the city entry on p. 65 has Jurix as Rogue 7 but the module has her as Rogue 10; it has Guard Commander Talstran as Fighter 8 but in the module random gate guards are Fighter 9, suggesting Talstran should be at least that high. In general it looks as though it was copied from somewhere else and does not reflect the upleveling of the city due to the desire to set a 10-12 module there.

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