3 - Runeplague (GM Reference)


Return of the Runelords

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This is a spoiler-filled resource thread for GMs running the Return of the Runelords Adventure Path, specifically for the third adventure, "Runeplague."


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Spoiler:
So this adventure ties in directly with the Tyrant's Grasp and the return of the Whispering Tyrant. Can anybody tell me how the first seal was destroyed?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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theLegend76 wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Spoiler:
The first seal was destroyed in the setup for our very first adventure, "Crown of the Kobold King," well over a decade ago. It's been part of the game's story from the start, but I probably should have put a reminder into the adventure about it I suppose. In any event, I'm sure it will be more blatant/obvious in Tyrant's Grasp's history stuff, since that plot point is significant to that AP and not just a side-note as it is in this one.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

James, thanks for the bit of lore! No need to worry about it, I'm sure you'll put it in the next AP. I'm just excited about it!

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Xanesha's Ghost! My Evil GM Soul cackled out loud with unholy delight!


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Yea, what an awesome idea! Of course my players know the death machine that was the original Xanesha… can't wait to put the ghost template on her!

The Exchange

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

It seems like Erigantus doesn't have the permanent bonus from reading through the Bone Grimoire. Is this because he was studying for destruction of the seal rather than reading the entire book, a mechanism to make the encounter(s) slightly easier, or possibly an oversight?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Alizor wrote:
It seems like Erigantus doesn't have the permanent bonus from reading through the Bone Grimoire. Is this because he was studying for destruction of the seal rather than reading the entire book, a mechanism to make the encounter(s) slightly easier, or possibly an oversight?

It's because he was studying for the seal destruction, but feel free to adjust that in your game if you wish.


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In an ask James thread, it was stated that Sorshen is generally amused by a PC in a clone body(either from that trap, or the campaign trait). In this book, during part 3,

Spoiler:
Sorshen seems quite the extroverted playful social creature, however she is not looking like herself due to the agents against her. Would she want the PC-clone to disguise herself as well? Would the Peacock cultists still wait until Midnight to attack with a PC-clone running around all evening?

I picture Sorshen being quite content letting the PC-clone be the fall-girl body-double. I also get the feeling she'd not be above playing 'twin shenanigans' with the other party goers(think "Freaky Friday" type pranks).


CrimsonVixen wrote:

In an ask James thread, it was stated that Sorshen is generally amused by a PC in a clone body(either from that trap, or the campaign trait). In this book, during part 3,

Spoiler:
Sorshen seems quite the extroverted playful social creature, however she is not looking like herself due to the agents against her. Would she want the PC-clone to disguise herself as well? Would the Peacock cultists still wait until Midnight to attack with a PC-clone running around all evening?

I picture Sorshen being quite content letting the PC-clone be the fall-girl body-double.

Came here wondering the same thing.

side question would be: how would Sorchen react to someone born from such a clone?

and considering how that one worked made me wonder what the stats of an half-azlanti would be?


So the Brothers of the Seal's namesake is (was) one of the lesser seals to Gallowspire? Interesting.

Also, from looking at the adventure's leveling track, it looks like the PCs are supposed to hit level 11 after the fourth part (dealing with Erigantus and the Whispering Way beneath Kaer Maga), and then hit level 12 after the fifth part. However, the fifth part is literally only the fight with Zutha's fragment. Do they really gain an entire level after one fight?


Zhyth wrote:

So the Brothers of the Seal's namesake is (was) one of the lesser seals to Gallowspire? Interesting.

Also, from looking at the adventure's leveling track, it looks like the PCs are supposed to hit level 11 after the fourth part (dealing with Erigantus and the Whispering Way beneath Kaer Maga), and then hit level 12 after the fifth part. However, the fifth part is literally only the fight with Zutha's fragment. Do they really gain an entire level after one fight?

They have to go from Kaer Maga to the island, so probably encounters along the way.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Zhyth wrote:

So the Brothers of the Seal's namesake is (was) one of the lesser seals to Gallowspire? Interesting.

Also, from looking at the adventure's leveling track, it looks like the PCs are supposed to hit level 11 after the fourth part (dealing with Erigantus and the Whispering Way beneath Kaer Maga), and then hit level 12 after the fifth part. However, the fifth part is literally only the fight with Zutha's fragment. Do they really gain an entire level after one fight?

If the PCs play through this adventure in a linear manner...

Spoiler:
...they should start the adventure VERY far into 8th level. THere's a lot of XP to earn in the prior one.

The adventure in Magnimar should kick them into 9th level.

Riddleport and Korvosa, taken together, should result in them being quite a bit into 10th level—one of the two won't be enough to level them up but should get them close, and then the other should send them DEEP into 10th level's progress.

So, coming out of Magnimar, Riddleport, and Korvosa, they should be well into 10th level. They then do the Kaer Maga section. Once that dungeon is done, they should emerge at 11th level.

So, no, they don't gain an entire level after one fight. They gain a chunk of that level doing either chapter 2 or chapter 3, and then gain the rest of that level during chapter 4. Chapter 4, remember, is not an insignificant number of encounters.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Part 2: The Zincher Siege. Having the players defend against npc's trying to break into the "dungeon" is a really refreshing role reversal. I already know my players are going to love it.


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James Jacobs wrote:

Hey James, Ive got a question :) My group now have scroll of True Ressurection and want to try ressurect Thybidos (because they liked him,lol) is this possible?:)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Andrei sverkunov wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Hey James, Ive got a question :) My group now have scroll of True Ressurection and want to try ressurect Thybidos (because they liked him,lol) is this possible?:)

If they redeemed him by the method as presented, he went on to judgement by Pharasma. So I'd say no.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Andrei sverkunov wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Hey James, Ive got a question :) My group now have scroll of True Ressurection and want to try ressurect Thybidos (because they liked him,lol) is this possible?:)

Your GM gets to make the call.


James Jacobs wrote:
Andrei sverkunov wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Hey James, Ive got a question :) My group now have scroll of True Ressurection and want to try ressurect Thybidos (because they liked him,lol) is this possible?:)
Your GM gets to make the call.

I'm GMing it, thanks for reply.


Man, the part with Sorshen is *brutal*. A cr14 encounter when the party is level 9? My party chose to go there before doing anything else in the book too, so they are still level 8. We ended last session on the Time Flayer, if they beat him I'll give them 9, but they won't have level 5 spells... is the CR adjusted by the fact Sorshen is there or something? Her tactics are to invis and GTFO, so we'll see how that goes lol. I don't think I've ever seen an APL+5 combat before in a pathfinder AP though - am I misreading and they should be 10 before that combat?

Scarab Sages

Parrakarry wrote:
Man, the part with Sorshen is *brutal*.

My party ran through it at 10 and had zero difficulty. I can definitely see how it might be challenging at 8 though. I think that's why the book generally recommended doing the sections in order, so parties don't get overwhelmed.

For the Time flayer fight I stuck the Mythic Agile template on it and gave it the ability to teleport as part of a 5 foot step and they still destroyed it fairly easily.

The fight with the peacock phoenix was challenging mostly because it was both flying and incredibly hard to hit with ranged attacks. The monks were trivially dispatched (only hitting my melee PCs on a 20). The phoenix finally bit it when the party landed a hold monster to bring it down to ground level. Their lesser talismans of freedom from book 1 negated the beast's grab and the party made short work of it.


Well, after all that, it ended up being a 130 damage Finger of Death from Erigantus that melted one of my members. Sorshen's fight was challenging but never really incredibly threatening, except when the kineticist almost got trapped in melee.

I believe level 9 should be the proper level for Korvosa though unless I'm mistaken? Were you running milestones or tracking XP? Also, I know James has already addressed it, but it's still funny to me how quickly you level up in this campaign - we almost hit lvl 11 and lvl 12 in the same session.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Same thing happened in Wrath of the Righteous, only there you had the added mythic tiers to that as well. ^^

Scarab Sages

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Parrakarry wrote:

Well, after all that, it ended up being a 130 damage Finger of Death from Erigantus that melted one of my members. Sorshen's fight was challenging but never really incredibly threatening, except when the kineticist almost got trapped in melee.

I believe level 9 should be the proper level for Korvosa though unless I'm mistaken? Were you running milestones or tracking XP? Also, I know James has already addressed it, but it's still funny to me how quickly you level up in this campaign - we almost hit lvl 11 and lvl 12 in the same session.

I use milestones. I find XP tracking far too fiddly. Here is what I use (note that I also gave my PCs a mythic rank after defeating Zutha, and have been up-scaling most encounters appropriately)

My Milestone tracker:

2nd: Clear Rodericks Wreck
3rd: Free the Dwarven Merchants
4th: Defeat Dolland / Get Runeward Gauntlets
5th: Defeat the Peacock Cult or Mozamer
6th: Defeat Viralane & Cora / Arrive in Magnimar
7th: Defeat Hira / Discover the Gauntlet
8th: Defeat Thybidos
9th: Defeat the Polymorph Plague (Magnamar)
10th: Defend the Manor House (Riddleport)
11th: Defeat the Peacock Phoenix (Korvosa)
M1: Defeat Zutha
12th: Learn the Viridian Transcendence ritual
13th: Reach the Temple Gate
14th: Reach the Refuge of Violent Vanity
15th: Defeat Lyraesia
16th: Discover the Time Anomalies/Defeat Solethex
17th: Defeat Belimarius
18th: Acquire Zinlun’s Skull
M2: Activate the Cyphergate
19th: Close 3 Temporal Wounds
20th: Enter Alaznist’s Demesne

Optional Mythic Bumps:
Defeat Incariax
Defeat Tawil At’Umr in combat
Defeat the Oliphaunt of Jandelay in combat
Close all of the Temporal Wounds without a single failure


For people that ran though the festival with Sorshen, how did it go? It seems like the players are expected to have quite a bit of cash on hand to purchase the perfume ingredients, and that may not go over well. Should I just warn them not to spend everything before travelling to Korvosa?

Scarab Sages

My players had plenty of cash on hand, and still chose to steal all the ingredients.


Ah, I hadn't considered that they might just try and steal... I don't see many of them as stealy-types but it would probably be pretty easy to pull off.


Spoiler:

Concerning the Runewaking, I read that the ritual allows to manifest Zutha at just over a third of his true power. As a result, I have trouble evaluating Zutha's power and level?

Because Zutha is supposed to be less strong than Xanderghul and Sorshen.

If James Jacobs can answer me, that would be great :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Dark-Jedi wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

Because Zutha is supposed to be less strong than Xanderghul and Sorshen.

If James Jacobs can answer me, that would be great :)

Don't have my books handy at the moment to directly reference exactly what I said to see if I could have been more clear, made a mistake, or you mis-read, but...

It means that the fully powered Zutha was ABOUT a CR 20 level lich, and reducing that power by about a third makes him a third less powerful reduces him to about where he ended up in Runeplague.


James Jacobs wrote:
Dark-Jedi wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

Because Zutha is supposed to be less strong than Xanderghul and Sorshen.

If James Jacobs can answer me, that would be great :)

Don't have my books handy at the moment to directly reference exactly what I said to see if I could have been more clear, made a mistake, or you mis-read, but...

It means that the fully powered Zutha was ABOUT a CR 20 level lich, and reducing that power by about a third makes him a third less powerful reduces him to about where he ended up in Runeplague.

So he would be at 2/3 of his former power (lost 1/3)?


James Jacobs wrote:


Don't have my books handy at the moment to directly reference exactly what I said to see if I could have been more clear, made a mistake, or you mis-read, but...

It means that the fully powered Zutha was ABOUT a CR 20 level lich, and reducing that power by about a third makes him a third less powerful reduces him to about where he ended up in Runeplague.

Very Thanks ! it's a clearer explanation.

Scarab Sages

Are the stats for XANESHA right? I mean, multiple DC 25 will saves PER ROUND or the GM just turns off your character? Sounds . . . stupid. I mean, I know my job as the GM is the challenge the players, but there's challenge, and then just kill outright.

I mean, even the high-wisdom Shaman WITH the campaign trait that give him bonuses vs. undead is going to fail that save sometimes.


One save is only for staggered. The other one isn't every round, and wouldn't shut down the most likely to fail it.


Currently prepping for the Crimson Festival, anyone willing to share how they prepared for it, how they ran it or how it went? I really want to make it entertaining, it's the first chance the PC's have gotten to really let loose and have fun and I'd love to have it be as fluid as possible.


I don't know if I'm too late on this one, but I am currently in the middle of the Crimson Festival, and so far it has been a ton of fun! I would say it really tested my improv skills, as I was familiar with the mechanical things that could happen, but I had no idea in which order everything would happen or how my players would react to it. Basically I familiarized myself with the mechanics, and then really just thought about the atmosphere and what I wanted the general feeling to be like.

This part may be up to interpretation: Sorshen for me presented herself as a little spacey and bubbly, and everything was kind of a game to her. She presented herself as someone who loves to have fun, is a little flirty, and when she talks it's all about getting the PCs to talk about themselves without giving out too much of her own personal information (she's a simulacrum so she doesn't really even have Sorshen's complete knowledge). Behind that she's of course highly intelligent and I was trying to give the PCs the impression that they are merely pawns in her game. Whether they like it or not they have to play along because of how powerful she is and how critical she will be to preventing the other Runelords from causing great destruction.

For the festival itself I prepared a few different ideas of NPCs that would be at the stands and basically just winged it for the rest of the events. Besides those scripted Sorshen moments, I just wanted the players to have fun playing games, shopping, interacting with each other and doing some silly performances. Importantly I tried to keep the mechanical things from bogging down the fun too much and I think it worked pretty well.

One of my PCs has a close bond with Sorshen because she's a clone and I made Sorshen her witch patron, but the others have been hesitantly playing along, knowing that they have been trying to prevent runelords from returning, yet allowing this one to do as she pleases. It's been a good atmosphere I think with a lot of fun, but also some hidden tension. My players had a great time interacting with goofy NPCs, reminiscing about their Curse of the Crimson clone characters through some silly propaganda posters, and of course doing the various activities. At least I think they did. I had fun haha.

Also they were pretty grumpy about having to pay so much for the whale vomit in the perfume.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Invading the Gecko, we coined a new phrase: "Derroculas"

I made Xanesha even more brutal because my PCs have a Mythic Tier. Don't know how they'll escape the Gecko alive, they got away from her by entering but all have some pretty severe conditions after fighting her, each other, and the Derroculas.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Reckless wrote:
"Derroculas"

!

Awesome.


TloniousMonk wrote:

I don't know if I'm too late on this one, but I am currently in the middle of the Crimson Festival, and so far it has been a ton of fun!

It's been a good atmosphere I think with a lot of fun, but also some hidden tension

Thanks for your response! I've taken my first group through the first half of the festival last session and that's pretty much exactly how it's gone for us so far. I'm about to pick it up again tonight with The Lying Cup and am a little confused on the rules, as it seems they have to determine whether they think the drinker lied or told the truth in their answer before they're allowed to make the bluff vs sense motive checks...

Also I did have to out-of-game warn them not to spend all their money because they were about to bankrupt themselves buying magic items in Magnimar before heading to Korvosa. None of them are chaotic evil so I didn't picture them stealing any of the perfume ingredients and I didn't want them to get bummed out by a pay-wall.

Anyways they've very much enjoyed a few roleplay sessions in a row, I brought the crew of Tyalee's Whim along to the festival, of course Elbows would want to give the Crown of Hams a go! They also still have Damil Russo with them as well as an orphan kid they recently cured from the polymorph plague so it's been a little hectic running so many NPCs at once.

I'll be running my second group through the Crimson Festival in a week or so and I think the only thing I'll alter is having a couple of illusory pigs in the Crown of Hams game and change up the order of some of Sorshen's Rewards. All in all it's a refreshing 'encounter' after slogging through some huge combats in the gecko and zincher's place.


That sounds awesome! I like the changes you have. One of my party just absolutely CRUSHED the poor little greased pig in like 2 rounds haha.

I just ran the Lying Cup and I had the same interpretation as you. Mechanically it doesn't make sense to me really, but I ran it that way because then the players out of character could try to guess if the other players/Sorshen were lying. Then the dice rolling came in after the judge player called a bluff and we used opposed secret bluff/diplomacy against sense motive checks to see if the character was believable. Maybe that was not intended, but it was still fun! If only I can find a lying cup and a stabbable table to play the game irl.....


Has anyone elses group failed in stopping the Yamasoth Cultists getting the scrolls?

My second group got slaughtered in Zinchers Tenement and Leptonia waltzed in and out, scrolls now in hand.

How exactly would the cult go about trying to activate them? She only needs 1 more wisdom and to succeed at a DC21 caster level check to activate the item so it seems like she'd pretty much be immediately successful.

Any tips on what to do? The party is about to get on a boat to head back to Magnimar and it'd be a bummer if they returned to the gecko empty with no leads and another runelord on the loose.

Dark Archive

Well they failed it, so my suggestion would be: They find rest of the cult slaughtered by Krune but don't know where Krune is for now.(Krune wouldn't have his equipment so he isn't going to be around for while and probably show up helping Alaznist in final book or earlier)

Like it is kinda bummer, but they DID fail that part and there should be consequences for it.


CorvusMask wrote:

Well they failed it, so my suggestion would be: They find rest of the cult slaughtered by Krune but don't know where Krune is for now.(Krune wouldn't have his equipment so he isn't going to be around for while and probably show up helping Alaznist in final book or earlier)

Like it is kinda bummer, but they DID fail that part and there should be consequences for it.

This is what I was leaning towards, thanks for the advice!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Kiniticyst wrote:

Has anyone elses group failed in stopping the Yamasoth Cultists getting the scrolls?

My group teleported into the city several days before the cultists arrived and then waited on the docks for them. Once they were at maximum range for their attack spells they just sank the cultist's boat from shore, while some invisible flying party members made sure no one survived.


Saleem Halabi wrote:
Kiniticyst wrote:

Has anyone elses group failed in stopping the Yamasoth Cultists getting the scrolls?

My group teleported into the city several days before the cultists arrived and then waited on the docks for them. Once they were at maximum range for their attack spells they just sank the cultist's boat from shore, while some invisible flying party members made sure no one survived.

Brutal, that's a great idea! Unfortunately none of my players had been to Riddleport before so couldn't teleport there. Although I'm surprised the cultists didn't all just chug their potions of fly and go ham on the party.

My first group handled it pretty easily, they just barricaded one staircase and had the full-plate dwarf warpriest hold the other staircase. He practically solo'd all of the cultists one by one in the stairwell while the rest of the party remained on the top floor, free to deal with the real baddies of the siege.


im bit confused about "the lying cup", i dont see any DC check about step 5. anyone can help me ?


Dark-Jedi wrote:
im bit confused about "the lying cup", i dont see any DC check about step 5. anyone can help me ?

As discussed earlier in this thread, The Lying Cup doesn't really make sense at all. You'd be better off trying to make up your own similar game than attempting to get it to work as written.


You'll have to forgive me if there's a weird standing rule for this, but how is Leptonia's +1 weapon able to have a +2 enchantment (anarchic)? Thanks!


Mitch Mitchell wrote:
You'll have to forgive me if there's a weird standing rule for this, but how is Leptonia's +1 weapon able to have a +2 enchantment (anarchic)? Thanks!

I think you're misunderstanding magic weapon enhancements. Leptonia's "+1 Archaic Weapon", is a weapon with 3 bonus' worth of enhancements. One flat increase and one special ability. Weapons can have a total of 10 bonus' worth of enhancements, a maximum of +5 in flat numerical enhancements and the rest in special properties like flaming or anarchic.


Kiniticyst wrote:
Mitch Mitchell wrote:
You'll have to forgive me if there's a weird standing rule for this, but how is Leptonia's +1 weapon able to have a +2 enchantment (anarchic)? Thanks!
I think you're misunderstanding magic weapon enhancements. Leptonia's "+1 Archaic Weapon", is a weapon with 3 bonus' worth of enhancements. One flat increase and one special ability. Weapons can have a total of 10 bonus' worth of enhancements, a maximum of +5 in flat numerical enhancements and the rest in special properties like flaming or anarchic.

That's probably it. I assumed that a +2 bonus had to have a +2 "chassis" to operate on.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

So, question for GMs who have run this adventure... The Bestiary for this adventure seems to have several monsters who aren't referenced anywhere in the text, even in the random encounters table on pg. 83. Exmples are Ardoc Moilant, Ashullian, Kasthezvi.

Were these just included as examples of things you might run into throughout the adventure randomly? I have trouble with the Ardoc Moilant as one of those... it seems really specific to some dungeon or something, but the only thing I can find in the text is a vague reference to the Shrine of the Seal having construct guardians.


Cartmanbeck, I think Paizo typically publishes some extra content in the back of all their adventure path books. Often the monsters and lore articles are directly referenced in the book, but there's also often some extra stuff that you can use (or not) however you want.

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