4 - Temple of the Peacock Spirit (GM Reference)


Return of the Runelords

Paizo Employee Web Product Manager

This is a spoiler-filled resource thread for GMs running the Return of the Runelords Adventure Path, specifically for the fourth adventure, "Temple of the Peacock Spirit."

Dark Archive

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So the confrontation with Xanderghul is comedy gold huh :D Especially if PCs catch him off guard(him just napping on bench being my favorite of the options)

Though I don't approve "One does not simply walk into" meme mention in conclusion part :p

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

While I thought the two different blurbs for distracted vs. aware was good and useful, and I appreciate that getting to level 20 means space already pretty tight, I would have liked some mention of Baraket besides the inside backstory. In particular:


  • Does X. destroy it if the PCs bring it?

  • If so, just when would he do that?
  • How do the cultists and other denizens react to it?
  • How does that answer change if the cultists have successfully stolen it?
  • How does its innate intelligence react to the events of the adventure?
  • Does Hobbin recognize it, or have any ties to Chadali that might come up?
  • Are any other Alara'hai going to appear in the last two adventures?

Dark Archive

To be fair, AP does pretty much assume PCs give it away for safe keeping and never get it back. The AP has unusual amount of "If PCs do this, its outside scope of this adventure" moments. I'm pretty sure last two books won't mention possibility of Xanderghul surviving

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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We assume Xanderghul is slain in book four. He has no role to play beyond book four.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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logic_poet wrote:
While I thought the two different blurbs for distracted vs. aware was good and useful, and I appreciate that getting to level 20 means space already pretty tight, I would have liked some mention of Baraket besides the inside backstory. In particular:

  • Does X. destroy it if the PCs bring it?
    Yes.

    logic_poet wrote:
  • If so, just when would he do that?
  • When it's most surprising or devastating to the players.

    logic_poet wrote:
  • How do the cultists and other denizens react to it?
  • No reaction for most, but a few who WOULD recognize it would do their best to focus their attacks on the carrier in hopes of rescuing the weapon and becoming the new champion.

    logic_poet wrote:
  • How does that answer change if the cultists have successfully stolen it?
  • Pick one of the NPCs in the adventure to use the sword as the new champion.

    logic_poet wrote:
  • How does its innate intelligence react to the events of the adventure?
  • It doesn't, really, other than continuing to try to take control of its user.

    logic_poet wrote:
  • Does Hobbin recognize it, or have any ties to Chadali that might come up?
  • That's up to you, but if they do they'll assume that the carrier is Xanderghul's puppet.

    logic_poet wrote:
  • Are any other Alara'hai going to appear in the last two adventures?

Yes.

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Thanks James for the quick response. As someone who generally likes the forwards, a discussion of how this AP isn't really about destroying artifacts, but might involve destroying artifacts, in addition to a discussion of the politics and current ownership of the Alara'hai could have been a good subject for a forward.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

Oh man. I really hope my PC's sneak up on Xanderghul. The idea of them catching him taking a bath is just perfect.

Also wondering how people think he would react to seeing the accidental clone PC. Especially since he is convinced that this is all Sorshen's doing and everything happening in the Temple is a just a feint from what she is REALLY up to. Then to be confronted with her actually in his house. While he is naked.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm really looking forward to running to book! I'm impressed at how riveted I have been to each book in this AP, as opposed to some past ones where I tend to lose interest towards the end. The amount of foreshadowing and build-up with previous books in the AP is really cool.

I have to harp on an issue I have had with most of the APs in the past: the resolution of the maps. While the previous books in this AP have been mostly good, the Library and Vault are too large for the resolution they're being compressed to. It results in really bad artifacts, misaligned grids, and muddled graphics.

This may not be an issue for players using a traditional tabletop and sketching the map out, but for those of us who enjoy using the maps in a VTT experience, it can be frustrating.

Here's one example screenshot from the library: https://imgur.com/a/Igqgk3d

You can see the poorly aligned grids (grid "squares" are not square at all). I assume this is caused by the low resolution, which can be a big issue when playing in something like Roll20. Not to mention, the low resolution makes it difficult to appreciate Matthias Rothenaicher's excellent cartography.

I am sure there are some kind of technical limitations in your production process that result in this, but I hope in the future we can get a bit higher resolution for these larger maps!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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I'm relatively sure that the poorly aligned grids aren't so much a resolution issue as it is a new cartographer getting used to us needing more accurate maps. It's something we're working on resolving, but it's not something we were able to fix in time for print with every case, alas.

Grand Lodge

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considerably wrote:
You can see the poorly aligned grids (grid "squares" are not square at all). I assume this is caused by the low resolution, which can be a big issue when playing in something like Roll20. Not to mention, the low resolution makes it difficult to appreciate Matthias Rothenaicher's excellent cartography.

Open the interactive maps PDF and turn the grid OFF before copying the image and pasting it into Roll20. Then you can use Roll20's grid system to create a grid to overlay the gridless map. This way, you get a nice even grid that isn't subject to the resolution problem, and you don't have 2 competing grids on the map.

-Skeld


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
I'm relatively sure that the poorly aligned grids aren't so much a resolution issue as it is a new cartographer getting used to us needing more accurate maps. It's something we're working on resolving, but it's not something we were able to fix in time for print with every case, alas.

I think you might be right. I went back and double checked some maps from previous APs I've ran and I noticed the same misshapen grids on a few maps that have decent enough resolution. For example, here's a screeenshot from the Lunar Prison in Strange Aeons 3: https://imgur.com/a/Zj9rKU7. Not quite as extreme, but you can see the slightly misaligned/misshapen grid column I've marked, despite the fact that the resolution feels acceptable on this map.

That said, it does seem like it has got progressively better over time.

On a somewhat related note, I really enjoy Matthias Rothenaicher's style. It has a very realistic/unpredictable feel. I hope he gets some more work on future APs!

Skeld wrote:
Open the interactive maps PDF and turn the grid OFF before copying the image and pasting it into Roll20. Then you can use Roll20's grid system to create a grid to overlay the gridless map. This way, you get a nice even grid that isn't subject to the resolution problem, and you don't have 2 competing grids on the map.

This is good advice and something I have done in the past. I do like when the grid squares are truly squares, because I generally am able to line up with Roll20's grid, then make Roll20's grid transparent. It makes for a nice play experience for the players. But in cases where that isn't possible, that works well!


Just a clarification: during combat, Xanderghul spends a couple of rounds casting prismatic spray. Since the entirety of the Grand Temple of the Peacock Spirit is under the effect of a dimensional lock spell, if someone was hit by the violet part of prismatic spray, would that simply have no effect?

Also, Xanderghul's resurrection is a bit confusing for me, since it's not really Xanderghul's body (what with it being a shadow version and whatnot). If he dies and comes back and is resurrected by the Peacock Shrine, does he come back with the same spells expended as before he died, or would be come back with all spells re-prepared?


Saleem Halabi wrote:
Oh man. I really hope my PC's sneak up on Xanderghul. The idea of them catching him taking a bath is just perfect.

Extra if the PCs manage to trash his ego even further in the process.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I wonder if I should replace Xandy's quicken invisibility on account of him already being able to achieve greater invisibility as his via his invisibility field from his school ability. Seems kinda redundant when he could have a more powerful or damaging spell in that slot.


Depends on whether or not you think his invisibility field will last long enough to do what the quicken invisibility is for. If he needs a longer duration, quicken invisibility might be just the thing.


Hyyyyyype!


Anything stopping the PC's from abusing the Time Stop in the region surrounding Jorgenfist to do all their crafting while no time passes outside?

I noticed it says "They cannot damage, move, or manipulate creatures or objects in the surrounding world" but if they can move and manipulate their own weapons, gear and other items as well as casting spells, this means they've seemingly got a lovely spot to leave and come back to for instant crafting.

Scarab Sages

Just let them craft stuff. If it makes them too strong, just remove appropriate loot that they would have sold anyways from future treasure.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Kiniticyst wrote:

Anything stopping the PC's from abusing the Time Stop in the region surrounding Jorgenfist to do all their crafting while no time passes outside?

I noticed it says "They cannot damage, move, or manipulate creatures or objects in the surrounding world" but if they can move and manipulate their own weapons, gear and other items as well as casting spells, this means they've seemingly got a lovely spot to leave and come back to for instant crafting.

That's left up to each individual GM to determine.

Honestly, for EVERY Adventure Path, a GM should allow players who want to craft the time to craft items, be it between adventures or at other obvious points to do downtime stuff. If the inclusion of a time locked dungeon helps more GMs be at peace with this, and/or helps players and GMs to allow this element of play in light of a "GO GO GO" mentality where the perception is that it's a race against a timer to get to the end, then that's good for the game, I say!


James Jacobs wrote:


That's left up to each individual GM to determine.

Honestly, for EVERY Adventure Path, a GM should allow players who want to craft the time to craft items, be it between adventures or at other obvious points to do downtime stuff. If the inclusion of a time locked dungeon helps more GMs be at peace with this, and/or helps players and GMs to allow this element of play in light of a "GO GO GO" mentality where the perception is that it's a race against a timer to get to the end, then that's good for the game, I say!

Sounds good to me, I just wanted to check that something like this is possible with the Time Stop region as the whole 'can't interact with objects thing' got me a little confused, but as long as it's stuff brought in by the players it should be fine!

I ran these same players through Rise and a few of them were a bit miffed with the 'race against a runelord awakening' timer (which was was mostly self imposed by some other members of the party) so this should be a pleasant surprise for the the Alchemist and Forgepriest!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Kiniticyst wrote:
I ran these same players through Rise and a few of them were a bit miffed with the 'race against a runelord awakening' timer (which was was mostly self imposed by some other members of the party) so this should be a pleasant surprise for the the Alchemist and Forgepriest!

That's a good point to offer some great advice to all GMs, something we do try to drop in print in our adventures but not enough.

We almost NEVER hard-code timers into adventures. The plot of them often imply timers, but that's a false implication; the pace of the adventure path ALWAYS should be flexible for the party's preferred progression speed, and the plot shouldn't advance without the PCs pushing it on. GMs should let players know that before the game and between sessions. An Adventure Path is a marathon, not a sprint. It's an Adventure PATH after all, not an Adventure Destination; the point is the journey, not rushing to the end.

Might be a good bit to always put into the player's guides.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yeah, sometimes the timers are rather explicit rather than implicit. Putting a disclaimer about them into all player guides would be a good move, if they are not intended.

As a counterpoint, though, making some events happen with time restrictions (or simply having enemies react to the PC's presence with other reactions than "patiently waiting in their rooms for their turn to get smashed" prevents parties from just retreating whenever they want and come in fully loaded into most fights. I just had the party get to the limit of their resources in module three of Shattered Star in the last dungeon and it was actually quite exciting when a last encounter happened which they were not expecting.

Dark Archive

I personally do "soft" timers where I'm like "You have at most only this amount of crafting time between books" because it'd feel kinda too weird for me if there was year long break just because PCs decided to stay around for years.

But yeah, players shouldn't complete dungeons in single day because they feel rushed, they should do that because they just happen to prefer to do it like that :D (yeaaaah, my party tends to do that for some reason. I dunno why, but they only take breaks if the characters CAN'T go on the same day)

(I wouldn't actually mind hard timers as a concept though)

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