5 - Borne by the Sun's Grace (GM Reference)


Tyrant's Grasp

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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

This is a spoiler-filled resource thread for GMs running the Tyrant's Grasp Adventure Path, specifically for the fifth adventure, "Borne by the Sun's Grace."


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

I know there's little to no info in this, but I'm a little worried this part is going to land like the Cinderlands bit of Crimson Throne did. I didn't mind it as much but the old 'bunch of foreigners must earn the respect of the native people's to gain an ancient mystic power to save their homeland' is a little overdone. I'm hoping it doesn't go that way


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If I was a PC, right about the end of part 2 of the installment I'd be kinda pissed...

PC prospects going forward into Book 6 look bleak indeed.

So - just so I'm clear - the endgame for the PC's is to sacrifice themselves to create a feedback loop that blows up Tar Baphon and ends his ability to use Radiant Fire. However, given he's a lich (and what we already know about 2E so far...) he is coming back, just without his superweapon. And that's the goal of the AP, in a nutshell?

Effectively, from a metagame perspective admittedly, the PC's get to perma-death themselves in order to set the table for how Golarion 2E is going to look. At least the devs had the foresight to put in a sidebar suggesting the helpful NPC can arrange something for PC resurrection sometime in the future, after they've heroically sacrificed themselves. Gee, thanks for that.

What I eagerly await now is the "what if the PC's fail" outlines that typically show up in Book 6 of the AP's. This kind of 'ultimate sacrifice' might work ok in some groups, but I know groups that would take the boon (having their obols recalibrated to positive energy), and head for the hills.


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Yes, this does remind me of the human suicide bombers on New Caprica on Battlestar Galactica. So they permanently killed themselves in order to force their oppressors to go get new bodies? I am surprised that anyone went along with that crazy plan.

But I do like how the NPCs in this module speak Razatlani and not Common. I do not recall seeing any previous module that took language barriers seriously -- never mind that at this point the party has easy access to spells like Tongues.

Or did Jade Regent do something like this in its Tian Xia sections?


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Of course, we'll have to wait until Book 6 to see how this all plays out - but I wonder - will the feedback loop that blows up Tar Baphon require ALL the obols embedded in the PC's? Or just some? Or what about just one?

Requiring an entire party wipe to end the AP "successfully" seems a bit of a stretch to ask of your players. I mean, you don't even kill off Tar Baphon, just set him back a bunch. Leaves an unsatisfactory taste in my mouth, frankly.

Now, if it just takes 1/4 to do the job - AND you apply GM fiat via the sidebar mentioned in Book 5 (wherein you, as GM, offer up a future resurrection for the sacrificed folk(s)), maybe it would work.

What bothers me about the design is the default seems to be leading the PC's to a perma-death at the end of the AP. I guess that's one way to retire high levels, but not one, as a player, I'm going to appreciate.

Paizo Employee Developer

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Dracovar wrote:
What bothers me about the design is the default seems to be leading the PC's to a perma-death at the end of the AP. I guess that's one way to retire high levels, but not one, as a player, I'm going to appreciate.

This is exactly why the sidebar in this adventure is there. Because we know that you know your players best.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Really enjoying this adventure path. I wasn't actually expecting to be terribly interested, as my group did the entire Age of Worms among other "battle a lich" adventures. But the more I read, the more this one moves to the top of my "want to run this one" stack.

Is there a setting sourcebook for Arcadia? Specifically, two items would be particularly useful:
1) Something that defines all those ethnicities on the sidebar on (what I think is) p.65, so they aren't just a string of words: "ethnicities including Balveris, Calani, Caldaru, Kansari, Kurosha, Mahwek, Razatlani, and Ouerfaseans."
2) Some sample names, male and female, appropriate to the area or even to the above ethnicities (at least the 3 specifically mentioned as common to the campaign area), that we can use to introduce NPCs of our own.

Oh, yeah - and the PDF doesn't have any page numbers on the bottom of the pages. Not sure if this is also true of the printed copy, as that's still en route.


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There is no Arcadia sourcebook yet. Distant Shores gives some information about the city of Segada but barely mentions the region around it.

I am hoping that the Lost Omens World Guide may offer more information, but I am not getting my hopes up that it will add much about places outside the Inner Sea region.


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Dracovar wrote:

Requiring an entire party wipe to end the AP "successfully" seems a bit of a stretch to ask of your players. I mean, you don't even kill off Tar Baphon, just set him back a bunch. Leaves an unsatisfactory taste in my mouth, frankly.

Now, if it just takes 1/4 to do the job - AND you apply GM fiat via the sidebar mentioned in Book 5 (wherein you, as GM, offer up a future resurrection for the sacrificed folk(s)), maybe it would work.

I've been prepping Tyrant's Grasp to dovetail my players into it from an existing low-level adventure, but when I saw this after getting ahold of this book I started having serious second thoughts. I don't think my players, the most "heroic" of whom is playing a CG bard, will be very excited about all walking willingly to their deaths. I really like this "1/4" suggestion, though - making them choose one person to make the sacrifice has a lot of RP potential, especially if there's some opportunity for last minute failure and someone else having to step up.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't really know what was going through the team's head when they decided to have a full on TPK as the climax for the book... the joy of finishing an AP is letting them go home happy! I'm glad there's a sidebar, but I wish it wasn't a sidebar.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Derry L. Zimeye wrote:
I don't really know what was going through the team's head when they decided to have a full on TPK as the climax for the book... the joy of finishing an AP is letting them go home happy! I'm glad there's a sidebar, but I wish it wasn't a sidebar.

What was going through their head is that after 20+ APs that assume that all PCs walk home happy and hold hands with their grandkids, there can be one AP that's more Rogue One or Pan's Labyrinth.

But it's fine, not every AP is for everyone. Remember how you were wondering how come someone can outright reject an AP because guns/Asia/sci-fi/LGBT+/steampunk/evil PCs? You're that someone today.


Ron Lundeen wrote:
Dracovar wrote:
What bothers me about the design is the default seems to be leading the PC's to a perma-death at the end of the AP. I guess that's one way to retire high levels, but not one, as a player, I'm going to appreciate.
This is exactly why the sidebar in this adventure is there. Because we know that you know your players best.

Which is why I'm waiting for Book 6 to come out.

As they say in Hollywood... REWRITE!

(also, if feedback doesn't kill TB, then Arazni is certainly not dead. Clearly, the goal is for evil PCs to become liches first...)

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

A phyrric victory against the setting's BBEG to keep him from getting Starstone power is a perfectly fine theme to use. It's Randy Quaid taking the fighter jet to the laser beam in ID4. It's Gandalf on the bridge in Moria. It's Berric Dondarrin's last stand or Hodor holding-the-door. It's Anna throwing herself in front of Hans' sword to protect Elsa. It's Ripley jumping into the molten metal to prevent Alien: Resurrection. It's the finale of Ender's Game.

Sometimes winning means winning, not going home and smelling the roses.

As an aside, really? Really? The overwhelming majority of AP runs don't get past Book 4, and the the overwhelming majority of those that finish Book 6 *END THERE*. How does player buy-in change with "GM: And after you kill Hakotep, you assassinate Deku an-Keret, over throw the Ruby Prince, and become rulers of Osirion, The End" versus "The Whispering Tyrant explodes, his body truly destroyed for the first time in millennia. Where he regenerates, however, no-one knows. The End."

Either way, the AP ends there.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Gorbacz wrote:
Derry L. Zimeye wrote:
I don't really know what was going through the team's head when they decided to have a full on TPK as the climax for the book... the joy of finishing an AP is letting them go home happy! I'm glad there's a sidebar, but I wish it wasn't a sidebar.

What was going through their head is that after 20+ APs that assume that all PCs walk home happy and hold hands with their grandkids, there can be one AP that's more Rogue One or Pan's Labyrinth.

But it's fine, not every AP is for everyone. Remember how you were wondering how come someone can outright reject an AP because guns/Asia/sci-fi/LGBT+/steampunk/evil PCs? You're that someone today.

[gasps, recoiling] My own words... used against me?! Gorby, how could you?!

You're right, of course- even if the end isn't for me, and I know my players would suffer a nervous breakdown if I played it straight, I'm sure there must be people who like it. At the very least, I do like the idea of the tree pulling an Aroden on them and saving their souls, even if they were prepared to die...

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

*hindsight*

Previous post may have been a tad confrontational. Apologies.

****

Anyway, I like the whole idea of the noble sacrifice, and have a disconnect that doesn't make sense that players would get upset about it.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Gorbacz wrote:
Derry L. Zimeye wrote:
I don't really know what was going through the team's head when they decided to have a full on TPK as the climax for the book... the joy of finishing an AP is letting them go home happy! I'm glad there's a sidebar, but I wish it wasn't a sidebar.

What was going through their head is that after 20+ APs that assume that all PCs walk home happy and hold hands with their grandkids, there can be one AP that's more Rogue One or Pan's Labyrinth.

But it's fine, not every AP is for everyone. Remember how you were wondering how come someone can outright reject an AP because guns/Asia/sci-fi/LGBT+/steampunk/evil PCs? You're that someone today.

I AM MAD THAT I DIDN'T THINK OF THE ROGUE ONE COMPARISON FIRST. I AM HERE FOR THAT.


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I said I would do it, so here it is: BLACK DRAGON RAVENER!*SQUEEEEAL*


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Cori Marie wrote:


I AM MAD THAT I DIDN'T THINK OF THE ROGUE ONE COMPARISON FIRST. I AM HERE FOR THAT.

I pitched this AP to my group as PF's version of Infinity War / Endgame. And guess what? You ALL get to be TONY! *squeee* lol.

Shadow Lodge

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Zi Mishkal wrote:
Cori Marie wrote:


I AM MAD THAT I DIDN'T THINK OF THE ROGUE ONE COMPARISON FIRST. I AM HERE FOR THAT.
I pitched this AP to my group as PF's version of Infinity War / Endgame. And guess what? You ALL get to be TONY! *squeee* lol.

Pick an NPC to play giving your PC's eulogy at her funeral.


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Just got my copy, and I want to say that the inclusion of the Calaca Psychopomp is a thing of beauty.

Silver Crusade

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Evelyn Jones wrote:
Just got my copy, and I want to say that the inclusion of the Calaca Psychopomp is a thing of beauty.

It really is :3


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Rysky wrote:
Evelyn Jones wrote:
Just got my copy, and I want to say that the inclusion of the Calaca Psychopomp is a thing of beauty.
It really is :3

Who knew a mariachi band would be a CR 11 encounter?


Um...Cannon Golems are immune to magic, so Umbarno shouldn’t be able to affect it with unholy aura.

Meh, I’m probably just going to give him a variant magic item that’s keyed to the golem at creation that lets him ignore its immunity to magic.

Paizo Employee Developer

KingTreyIII wrote:

Um...Cannon Golems are immune to magic, so Umbarno shouldn’t be able to affect it with unholy aura.

Meh, I’m probably just going to give him a variant magic item that’s keyed to the golem at creation that lets him ignore its immunity to magic.

Fair enough!

Shadow Lodge

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Evelyn Jones wrote:
Just got my copy, and I want to say that the inclusion of the Calaca Psychopomp is a thing of beauty.

You guys are killing me with your kindness here. ^_^

Silver Crusade

Ron, If the pc's were el 18+ and had access to wish or miracle and had the
mythic versions of those spells what would stop them from just wishing for the Phalactry to appear before them after the Whispering Tyrant was destroyed and then destroying it?


Lou Diamond wrote:

Ron, If the pc's were el 18+ and had access to wish or miracle and had the

mythic versions of those spells what would stop them from just wishing for the Phalactry to appear before them after the Whispering Tyrant was destroyed and then destroying it?

If I may: rumor has it that the Whispering Tyrant had the help of Urgathoa in hiding the phylactery. Assuming that’s true, no mortal magic—even the pinnacle of mortal magic—is able to counter that of a deity. Even so, the Tyrant likely has many kinds of mythic safeguards to prevent even a single casting of mythic wish from retrieving it. Even wish has its limits. Plus let’s not forget that the Tyrant is a mythic lich, meaning that his phylactery is a minor artifact (i.e. can only be destroyed by one specific method). And the PCs couldn’t really take the time to research the destruction method because once word got out that they had the phylactery they’d become target numero uno of everyone in the Whispering Way, an organization that has adherents from every walk of life (and un-life).

But that’s just one guy’s opinion. And I’m not Ron, so take my words with a grain of salt.


KingTreyIII wrote:


If I may: rumor has it that the Whispering Tyrant had the help of Urgathoa in hiding the phylactery. Assuming that’s true, no mortal magic—even the pinnacle of mortal magic—is able to counter that of a deity. Even so, the Tyrant likely has many kinds of mythic safeguards to prevent even a single casting of mythic wish from retrieving it. Even wish has its limits. Plus let’s not forget that the Tyrant is a mythic lich, meaning that his phylactery is a minor artifact (i.e. can only be destroyed by one specific method). And the PCs couldn’t really take the time to research the destruction method because once word got out that they had the phylactery they’d become target numero uno of everyone in the Whispering Way, an organization that has adherents from every walk of life (and un-life).

But that’s just one guy’s opinion. And I’m not Ron, so take my words with a grain of salt.

One thought.. Once you have the phylactery in your possession, immediately deliver it to the Positive Energy Plane.. dimensionally anchor it there and leave it there. Enjoy reforming on a plane that is completely inhospitable to you! lol.


Zi Mishkal wrote:
KingTreyIII wrote:


If I may: rumor has it that the Whispering Tyrant had the help of Urgathoa in hiding the phylactery. Assuming that’s true, no mortal magic—even the pinnacle of mortal magic—is able to counter that of a deity. Even so, the Tyrant likely has many kinds of mythic safeguards to prevent even a single casting of mythic wish from retrieving it. Even wish has its limits. Plus let’s not forget that the Tyrant is a mythic lich, meaning that his phylactery is a minor artifact (i.e. can only be destroyed by one specific method). And the PCs couldn’t really take the time to research the destruction method because once word got out that they had the phylactery they’d become target numero uno of everyone in the Whispering Way, an organization that has adherents from every walk of life (and un-life).

But that’s just one guy’s opinion. And I’m not Ron, so take my words with a grain of salt.

One thought.. Once you have the phylactery in your possession, immediately deliver it to the Positive Energy Plane.. dimensionally anchor it there and leave it there. Enjoy reforming on a plane that is completely inhospitable to you! lol.

Uh........

Let's call that "Plan B." XD


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Zi Mishkal wrote:

One thought.. Once you have the phylactery in your possession, immediately deliver it to the Positive Energy Plane.. dimensionally anchor it there and leave it there. Enjoy reforming on a plane that is completely inhospitable to you! lol.

Can't have nice things GM: Welp, the Whispering Tyrant's phylactery has begun to corrode and corrupt the positive energy plane. It has to be removed or all life in the universe will die. Enjoy fetching it on a plane that is completely inhospitable to you!

Yeah, I'm fairly certain that Tar-Baphon is not going to bite the big one in this adventure unless the GM wants it so, regardless of how motivated the players are.


Kasoh wrote:


Can't have nice things GM: Welp, the Whispering Tyrant's phylactery has begun to corrode and corrupt the positive energy plane. It has to be removed or all life in the universe will die. Enjoy fetching it on a plane that is completely inhospitable to you!

I mean, It's only the Whispering Tyrant. That GM needs a small to ginormous infusion of perspective. It's not like it's a Tarrasque. For all the excitement the WT generates, he's just a mythic lich.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Zi Mishkal wrote:
Kasoh wrote:


Can't have nice things GM: Welp, the Whispering Tyrant's phylactery has begun to corrode and corrupt the positive energy plane. It has to be removed or all life in the universe will die. Enjoy fetching it on a plane that is completely inhospitable to you!
I mean, It's only the Whispering Tyrant. That GM needs a small to ginormous infusion of perspective. It's not like it's a Tarrasque. For all the excitement the WT generates, he's just a mythic lich.

Maybe so, but also one that is very key to the setting moving forward, as we have seen what the setting looks like coming into Second Edition


Lets put it this way.. if dropping the WT is able to destroy or severely harm the positive material plane, putting at jeopardy every cleric and good deity's ability to channel and heal, the forces of undeath would make this thier #1 priority - above all else.

The WT's survival would be about as likely and as long as a whelk on a supernova.

So yes, he's a antagonist and a plot device, but he's not everything and all things to all people. Moreover, I never suggested that you'd be able to permanently destroy him in this AP, merely that, by tossing him into the positive material plane, you would, at best, be able to slowly destroy him over time and at worst render him harmless until such time as the gods of plot *cough* Magdh *cough* need him to escape for another AP.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Zi Mishkal wrote:
The WT's survival would be about as likely and as long as a whelk on a supernova.

About as likely as a bunch of level 1 characters surviving an explosion of positive energy because of magic shrapnel, really.

Any particular what if scenario regarding Tar-Barphon's ultimate fate can swing back and forth, like a schoolyard fight about Batman vs Superman but ultimately I was just trying to emphasize that the PCs don't get to offer a permanent solution, that's not in the cards here, especially since its all predicated on actually getting the phylactery which has never had its location published so far so its ability to get into the hands of PCs is entirely GM fiat.


Kasoh wrote:
Zi Mishkal wrote:
The WT's survival would be about as likely and as long as a whelk on a supernova.

About as likely as a bunch of level 1 characters surviving an explosion of positive energy because of magic shrapnel, really.

which is why I changed the opening (As mentioned elsewhere in this subforum) to the AP to one which was waaay more internally consistent, offered more character development, invested the party more and wasn't so contrived.

It's a great AP with a terrible intro.

Dark Archive

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Is it a problem if its contrived? .-. I mean isn't the whole point that what happened to PCs was miraculous as hell and like one out of million chance?

Anyway, I definitely agree that Whispering Tyrant isn't big enough deal to corrupt an entire plane just with their presence :P


CorvusMask wrote:

Is it a problem if its contrived? .-. I mean isn't the whole point that what happened to PCs was miraculous as hell and like one out of million chance?

Anyway, I definitely agree that Whispering Tyrant isn't big enough deal to corrupt an entire plane just with their presence :P

I honestly believe that, at this point, Tar Baphon is more or less a redundant antagonistic force in the inner sea regioni. If we consider that the nation of Mendev fought to a stalemate a demonic horde for 80 years, the economical powerhouse that is Druma, the edification of New Thassilon and other factors, even if freed Tar could barely hold his positions through plot devices (like, his little "nukes") before he's inevitably flooded by an alliance of those powers. In fact, the escape of the Whispering Tyrant may actually be what is needed to have Taldor "get back into it" and, possibly, even fight together with Cheliax.

Now, since we are talking about phylacteries ... I believe we already know what is Tar Baphon phylactery, and were it is located, since the guy is gonna - from what i've read - take refuge to the Isle of Terror after this adventure. Here I present to you "The Jewel of Everlasting Gold", major artifact that can only be destroyed by thassilonian magic which "whispers" to anyone to be loyal to the Whispering Tyrant, and then uber curses them. Literally, the best way to make a Phylactery is to make something totally different, make it famous, and THEN have it become your phylacter. No one would suspect it, and even less people would even think to destroy something that grants infinite amount of money

Dark Archive

That isn't really comparable though, I mean, only reason why Demonic hordes didn't conquer everything was wardstones, without them about half of avistan falls in under six months as you can see if you check out map from wrath's part six on what happens if you lose the campaign <_<


CorvusMask wrote:
That isn't really comparable though, I mean, only reason why Demonic hordes didn't conquer everything was wardstones, without them about half of avistan falls in under six months as you can see if you check out map from wrath's part six on what happens if you lose the campaign <_<

From my understanding, the Wardstones were build during the Second Mendevian Crusade, so the first push against the demonic army was fought and won without those. Also, i believe that in the WotR storyline, the Wardstone become de-activated and - at least for a few months - Mendev was still holding back, by itself, the Worldwound. The situation become lost only when - if the pcs cannot avoid this - a certain mythic witch re-opens an abyssal rift on Golarion again, this time with the complete investment of a mayor demon lord.

I mean, Tar Baphon is still a mayor threat ... but he's an old and known threat, an historical figure of pure evil which was severely beaten. He's a threat against which any nation's army (Nimrathas, Ustalav, Druma, Molthure, and then Taldor+Cheliax) would flock immediately. This is why he wants to become a god: he NEEDS to up his game, or he's gonna be severely crushed by an Inner Sea Region which has grown beyond him.

Dark Archive

Ye aren't taking in account that Whispering Tyrant isn't comparable to demonic horde, Whispering Tyrant is comparable to Deskari himself walking on earth <_<

Tyrant itself is capable of fighting army by himself, he could presumably still be pushed back with enough numbers, but thing with undead is that more canon fodder means more undead.


CorvusMask wrote:

Ye aren't taking in account that Whispering Tyrant isn't comparable to demonic horde, Whispering Tyrant is comparable to Deskari himself walking on earth <_<

Tyrant itself is capable of fighting army by himself, he could presumably still be pushed back with enough numbers, but thing with undead is that more canon fodder means more undead.

I think you are upping him quite a bit. He's a dreadful foe, but what makes it so dreadful is that he "plays it safe", but sending waves of minions and going in-out. While he can easily destroy an army by himself, that can be said by any full caster that's able to keep away from enemy retaliation and that fights beings severely weaker than himself. Again, his power is in the dread of raising armies of undead, destroying cities to fill them with walking corpses ... but that's really it.

Regardless Baphon's strenght, what I mean to say is that the Whispering Tyrant is on a time limit before the entire continent collectively realizes "oh crap", and the "deals" with him again. The last 15 years showed how much the inner sea region is gotten "good" at breaking armies and bad guys, even stronger than him. It's a war he cannot win, even by nuking a few cities. And he knows this. That's why, instead of fortifying his position (after blowing it up), he's moving very fast, trying to gain a greater personal power for himself, to actually reach that level of power that would see him actually unstoppable

Shadow Lodge

Pnakotus Detsujin wrote:
Regardless Baphon's strenght, what I mean to say is that the Whispering Tyrant is on a time limit before the entire continent collectively realizes "oh crap", and the "deals" with him again. The last 15 years showed how much the inner sea region is gotten "good" at breaking armies and bad guys, even stronger than him.

I wouldn't go that far. It took four years for a Holy Alliance of Isger, Cheliax, Druma, and Andoran to drown goblinoid nationalism in blood, and less than twenty years later, goblins are a player race and hobgoblins are endowed with their own nation in the Mindspin Mountains. The united states of the Inner Sea could not stop this tide, and good riddance.

That said, TB is not a progressive force in the same way the goblinoids are, and could be susceptible to a coalition.

Dark Archive

Pnakotus Detsujin wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:

Ye aren't taking in account that Whispering Tyrant isn't comparable to demonic horde, Whispering Tyrant is comparable to Deskari himself walking on earth <_<

Tyrant itself is capable of fighting army by himself, he could presumably still be pushed back with enough numbers, but thing with undead is that more canon fodder means more undead.

I think you are upping him quite a bit. He's a dreadful foe, but what makes it so dreadful is that he "plays it safe", but sending waves of minions and going in-out. While he can easily destroy an army by himself, that can be said by any full caster that's able to keep away from enemy retaliation and that fights beings severely weaker than himself. Again, his power is in the dread of raising armies of undead, destroying cities to fill them with walking corpses ... but that's really it.

Regardless Baphon's strenght, what I mean to say is that the Whispering Tyrant is on a time limit before the entire continent collectively realizes "oh crap", and the "deals" with him again. The last 15 years showed how much the inner sea region is gotten "good" at breaking armies and bad guys, even stronger than him. It's a war he cannot win, even by nuking a few cities. And he knows this. That's why, instead of fortifying his position (after blowing it up), he's moving very fast, trying to gain a greater personal power for himself, to actually reach that level of power that would see him actually unstoppable

I mean, devs themselves noted that Whispering Tyrant fought alongside his armies (since even if he wasn't lich, contingency) at paizocon panels at least


I mean the worst that could happen to him is losing his stuff after getting destroyed and that could be easily solved using a spell.
And a lich creating spells like that is not really new.
The van Richtens Guide to the lich from Ravenloft did it over 20 years ago. And is still a great read. As are the other guides^^


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I was having a bit of trouble putting my finger on why the "martyr ending" plot twist sat with me wrong. I'd certainly say that the adventure does a very poor job of telegraphing this to either player or GM, but if it doesn't fit you can very easily remove the perma-death element and proceed more conventionally. After thinking about it a bit, I've come to my answer: this plot twist only works if we're presuming the PC's are metagaming.

Golarion, and most fantasy worlds like it, is chock full of parables of wizards (or their guinea pigs) who were humiliated or killed because things didn't work according to theory. Miraina is a scholar who has never seen living Kumaru in her life; it's a massive leap of faith that her untested theory will work as intended. Even then, there's no assurance that the destroying the shard in the Whispering Tyrant's hand will stop him from using the Radiant Fire - for all we know he could simply use one of his other shards as a replacement focus. Even without the "fate-worse-than-death" martyrdom aspect, this is a longshot plan. The only reason we "know" it will work is because of plot-savviness. If it weren't for PC plot armor guaranteeing their sacrifice will have meaning, this could just as easily be a setup for a fool's sacrifice that achieves nothing of substance.

I would also note it would be possible to enact a version of this plan without even using the obols. Contingencies can be counterspelled, and if the WT tried to pull the same trick he did on Arazni and got counterspelled he'd eat his own Radiant Fire, destroying his body and forcing him to reform without the shard in his hand. Counterspelling is an oft-overlooked strategy, and is one of the few things the Whispering Tyrant has no special precautions against.

Beyond that, I'm quite curious about the obol downgrade. The Heal spell is the bread-and-butter in-combat healing option at these levels, and it does not benefit from maximization at all, so a lot of parties will just have no good way to make use of the new effect. Maybe if you're a paladin or have an allied cleric who loves to channel positive energy to heal it might be useful... but in a campaign like this SR against necromancy and negative energy resistance is really good so it's a pretty hard sell even if you've got good synergy with the other effect. I'm wondering if there's going to be something in book 6 that synergizes with this.


Dasrak wrote:

I was having a bit of trouble putting my finger on why the "martyr ending" plot twist sat with me wrong ... After thinking about it a bit, I've come to my answer: this plot twist only works if we're presuming the PC's are metagaming.

Beyond that, I'm quite curious about the obol downgrade. The Heal spell is the bread-and-butter in-combat healing option at these levels, and it does not benefit from maximization at all, so a lot of parties will just have no good way to make...

I too view this "martyr ending" as somewhat exaggerated. The destruction of one's soul is something very odd, especially when done by an excess of positive energy. To me, it would make more sense if such power would fundamentally alter the pcs psyche, maybe having their soul "absorbed" into the positive energy plane and transform them into elemental forces, possibly fracturing their identity into more beings. Thought this results to a similar scenario of "no-afterlife", it seems to me more to a sweet conclusion, having the pc souls excluded from the river of soul and disperse into the natural energy of the world/universe, becoming echoes of themselves, than simply total and complete annihilation.

Moreover, since this adventure is about undying characters guided by compassion, i would not forbid some kind of metaphysical reincarnation for the pcs into some kind of Manasaputra, becoming some kind of opposite force of the WT himself, ironically created by him. This process would probably require centuries of further enlightment, but to me is quite more satisfying that completely erasing oneself to "moderately inconvenience" some other.

Regarding the obols possible new function, i concur is quite the downgrade at level 16. It should have been something more grandiose, like the ability to "heal" from negative energy, or to passively absorb living energy from the environment: something that grants the pcs fast healing and rapid recovery of any attribute damage/drain, but than on the longer run would actually damage the environment they live, like if they were vampires.

My biggest problem is however this one: the adventure grants the pcs many, many days, if not weeks, of "free time" in Xopalt. Considering the character's level, many groups which have available greater teleport would use it to check out the situation at Lastwall and other countries, which is an option any group can actually take since scrolls of greater teleport are actually available at the marketplace of Jolizpan (Miraina acquires one of those from there). While this possibility is explored in a sidenote, it's just a bit unclear how the two storylines might develop.

A possible way to fix this conundrum is to have some helpful ncp from either book 3 and 4 contact the pcs through magical means after a day or two, first to confirm their survival, and later as a mean to describe the WT's conquest, how the world at large reacts and allow pc to make plans. In this manner, the dire menace of the WT - who is, apparently, able to teleport up to 5000 people at once ( believe it was a 2 millions gp trick) - would result more fleshed out, and the pcs would feel a sense of urgency which is otherwise lost.


Dasrak wrote:


I would also note it would be possible to enact a version of this plan without even using the obols. Contingencies can be counterspelled, and if the WT tried to pull the same trick he did on Arazni and got counterspelled he'd eat his own Radiant Fire, destroying his body and forcing him to reform without the shard in his hand. Counterspelling is an oft-overlooked strategy, and is one of the few things the Whispering Tyrant has no special precautions against.

I had just assumed that the shard in his hand was stitched to the shreds of soul left in his body the same way that they're attached to the PCs, so it would just go with him to the phylactery.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
neonWitch wrote:
I had just assumed that the shard in his hand was stitched to the shreds of soul left in his body the same way that they're attached to the PCs, so it would just go with him to the phylactery.

Good point. Actually, now that I think about it, I'm not sure if the PC's even know about the shard in his hand being the necessary focus. I'll have to go re-check the prior volumes when I have the time.


So, what exactly are the Veins of Creation? There seems to be a bit of conflicting information about whether it's a mountain range or a massive root system of the kumaru tree.

Paizo Employee Developer

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KingTreyIII wrote:
So, what exactly are the Veins of Creation? There seems to be a bit of conflicting information about whether it's a mountain range or a massive root system of the kumaru tree.

They are the artificially created ley lines grown from the kumaru tree in Tumbaja Mountain. Think of it as a magical power grid. The whole network failed, and so local botantists have been working to set up small-scale networks, while all dream of someday reigniting the entire root system into the big magical network again.

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