4 - The Blind City (GM Reference)

Dawn of Flame

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This is a spoiler-filled resource thread for GMs running the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path, specifically for the fourth adventure, "The Blind City."

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All GM Threads in this series:

1 - Fire Starters
2 - Soldiers of Brass
3 - Sun Divers
4 - The Blind City
5 - Solar Strike
6 - Assault on the Crucible

Dark Archive

Come to think about it, are pyric creatures not actually under Esthayiv's control? Okay, I guess Ilvatri is only actually sapient pyric creature in Ezorod and he wants Esthayiv's prison to remain as he consider its his home(and himself lord of the place), but it is kinda weird how the main thing guarding Esthayiv's prison from Colour out of Space lured by Esthayiv isn't even one of the original guardians of the prison, but a creation of Esthayiv <_<

Second Seekers (Roheas)

I in general have some pretty big issues with the plot of what's going on in this dungeon. Don't get me wrong its a great dungeon but it has become pretty clear to me that my party is pretty strongly anti-Eshtayiv and is not going to do the murder hobo thing by taking the orb and are going to endeavour to keep it in place.

My take on Ilvatri is that he was left there back when he was just a guy - probably one of the progenitors like you found mummified on Noma and that Eshtayiv turned him INTO pyric creature. He has just maintained his sapience while the other types of pyric creature didnt.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to accommodate this while allowing for the plot to continue?

I made it clear that theyre pretty much gonna need to sacrifice a PC who stays there and replaces Ilvatri, and probably going to suffer the same fate as Ilvatri but they are fairly determined to find a way.

So I could use some ideas on how to accommodate this without leaving the players feeling railroaded.

Second Seekers (Jadnura)

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
eddv wrote:
I made it clear that theyre pretty much gonna need to sacrifice a PC who stays there and replaces Ilvatri, and probably going to suffer the same fate as Ilvatri but they are fairly determined to find a way.

I like this idea, as a way for the party to maintain the status quo in Ezorod. My group is just starting Book 3, so I've got some time: I'm thinking I'm going to try and re-jig the adventure such that the party brings one of the Azathothian cultists with them, to leave as a new jailer after Ilvatri's defeat. (This does preclude the "continuing the campaign" stuff in Book 6, but I think my group wouldn't enjoy that 'the enemy of my enemy, slow descent into corruption' feel, anyways.)

Perhaps Amaldrel received visions from Azathoth (...or beyond!) that they are destined for a great calling in service to the Outer Gods. They initially thought it was to kill the heroes and Otlo, but when Amaldrel gets low on HP, they realize they misinterpreted the vision - they are to accompany the heroes, not destroy them. He'll surrender and beg for his life, convincing the heroes to spare his life, and that he is somehow key to preventing calamity. (TBD if I can convince the party that an Outer cultist is actually working for the universe's best interests....)

In any case, when they party has need, one of the cultists of Azathoth volunteers to remain in Ezorod and maintain the seals over The Eshtayiv's prison.

To allow the adventure to continue, though, once "installed," Amaldrel can commune with the command structure in area C8 to release the psychic block that Ezorod generates, while keeping the rest of the prison up and running? It may allow The Eshtayiv to slowly and psychically call for more help, but pffft, that's a problem for next millenium.

Hrm, ok, thinking on that last paragraph, maybe there's more adjustments needed. An elf cultist of Azathoth acting too altruistically is stretching credulity.

Ok, how about this: instead of being cultists of Azathoth, the foes in Part 1 are now a splinter, quasi-heretical, Chaotic Neutral cult of Desna (which, if I understand my Pathfinder lore, is arguably a Great Old One?) The cult is, overall, benevolent, in that they oppose the Outer Gods and other "Threats from Beyond" like The Eshtayiv, but they're not afraid to get their hands dirty or make difficult choices to keep the greater good of the universe going. Hence CN instead of CG, and feeling comfortable doing things like "killing the PCs to keep Ezorod a secret."

Same overall plot: they attack Otlo to try and destroy information about Ezorod, and fight the PCs before the PCs learn "terrible truths no mortal should know," but once they're bested they realize that their best bet to save the universe is to send a replacement jailer - and Amaldrel volunteers. Also, instead of being an elf, Amaldrel is now a Lashunta from Asanatown. Once he becomes the new jailer of Ezorod, he has a vested interest in shutting down the psychic blockers, realizing it's warping, attenuating, and masking the messages from Kahlannal into the psychic whammy affecting Asanatown. (Maybe the weird gravities, pressures, and magics involved in Ezorod give it a time-dilating effect, which propagates Kahlannal's signal forwards and backwards in time. This explains why lashunta have had that feeling in the Burning Archipelago for years now, despite the anassanoi only calling for aid recently when Khaim began his conquest.)

As the PCs fly away from Ezorod, Amaldrel shuts off the booster, letting the PCs know that they "need to hear that which has been blocked for too long; or, perhaps, not long enough. Or...listen I'm still figuring this out, ok."

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsebo)

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

So about the Eshtayiv's Touch...

Two of my PCs got it and don't have access to the remove affliction spell. Should I just tell them "Sorry about it, but you're undead now"? They've got a polyfluid grinder in the ship, but nobody can make a spell amp that high level. They also haven't bothered to buy any of that spell since they cost 3000 a pop.

There's no such item in the adventure either, so the PCs have to just keep going until the end right? I'm wondering how to give them the info that if they can free the Eshtayiv they'll be cured. Of course, this is all thrown off by bringing Amaldrel with them to take the place of Ilvatri. Maybe when they leave there's a moment where the Eshatyiv is momentarily freed, just enough so that the affected PCs can shake free - assuming they've survived that long themselves.

This is presenting a rather thorny problem for me, since the two people affected by it are the party tank and healer, so the group will be pretty ragged by the time they get to the Color and Ilvatri at the end of all this.

Second Seekers (Jadnura)

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

I would straight up use the GM Fiat Handwave to tell your players, out of character, that the PCs know that the Eshtayiv's Touch will cure itself if they otherwise survive the book. Either the Eshtayiv is momentarily freed like you say, or write in some stupilation that the Touch loses its grip once the PCs flee Ezorod, or however else you want to rationalize that the PCs are not doomed to fiery undeath as long as they make it out.

Alternatively, as a suggestion to keep things more in-game, have them succeed at an (easy) Mysticism Check to realize they can delay the Curse with a ritual: just making things up, but like if they spend a 10-min rest (with or without regaining SP) in a brightly lit area (inside the Sun Diver if need be) and meditate in a circle or whatever mystical trappings you want, they can stall the curse wherever it is on the Charisma Poison Track for 24 hrs, and not have to make a save every hour. If you wanted to still keep the tension high, though, you could rule that it also means they cannot regain Stamina (or maybe they only regain half Stamina) in exchange for stalling the Curse, or they have to like, burn themselves taking Xd6 unpreventable Fire damage to stall the curse or something?

Regardless of how you settle it, definitely agree that failing to have a stockpile of Remove Affliction shouldn't be a death sentence.

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsebo)

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I like the brightly lit ritual idea. Between the mirror room, the flame wall room, and the three keys they'll have plenty of opportunities even without going back to the ship. I think what I'll have them do is that they'll have to bring all three keys to the mirror room to do that rest.

I might put a clue or two on the lower level so they have to decide if they want to backtrack to do the ritual or press on to try and finish the dungeon. Make it an interesting decision instead of an automatic "get out of Ezorod free" card. Pretty quickly they should find a clue that they can fix the curse if they win the dungeon, then later they'll get the one that tells them they can spend some time soaking up some rays in the mirror room. Make it cost something too, though I'm not sure a straight SP cost makes sense. Maybe they have to take a level of radiation, which is why they need the three keys instead of just going to the ship and opening a window shade.

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsebo)

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Lod Coster is a solo caster enemy in a tight confined area. He's gonna get into melee immediately. He's got a spell that is supposed to be used to push enemies back out of melee, but it provokes opportunity attacks when he casts it.

My party saw him, bum rushed him, and he flailed ineffectually with his staff for a round or two before they dogpiled him. I recommend that GMs running this encounter figure out a way to make it work better for him. I imagine that if he had gotten the mind blast off in a surprise round that could have changed things, but they spotted him as soon as they got down the stairs so there was no chance for that.

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Anyone have any thoughts on how to make going to Ezorod feel more important? I may have missed it but it seems the only reason to go is because of the tablet and DCI wants the tech to further explore the sun. I was hoping for a stronger push considering how dangerous Otlo makes it sound.

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsebo)

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It's tough. Frankly it seems like a distraction from the actual storyline. There's no real reason to go there except that a "plot compass" points them there and there might be useful tech? Meanwhile there's an actual war going on that they are definitely not participating in. As they learn about the dungeon they may even decide that the Eshtayiv is more important than General Khaim and the Malikah - since they haven't directly seen what she's up to yet.

It's frustrating that such a cool dungeon - and this dungeon is great - got such a poor integration into the AP. We had a fantastic time with the adventure, largely since my players don't mind being on rails a little bit. The design of the dungeon is really fun, and it tells a cool story as you explore it. The battle with Lod Coster is really my only problem with the dungeon itself.

I would warn GMs that they need to figure out what to do with Ilvatri if the PCs decide that they're not gonna attack him. He's a jerk, but he's also happy to tell them anything they want to know about Ezorod as long as they defeat the colour. Once they have that handled, there's really no reason for them to fight each other. Feels tacked on to have him just "get bored and attack". My group decided to fight him since they had a couple PCs dying from the Touch, but they could have just gone home.

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

My PbP table is finally now getting through to the end of this book, and man, this one just did not work for me. The plot does not sufficiently sell the PCs on why it's worth first unlocking an ancient eldritch prison and then releasing an eldritch entity. Due to the weak build up, there's no way for the PCs to know that getting the fancy solar bubble device is a 100% critical task in order to stop the larger villains. From the PC perspective, this looks like a suicide mission that can only end in more harm than good for the greater universe.

I think in retrospect, I'd want to change the entire setup to this book. Create some kind of pressing, obvious threat that can only be stopped by the PCs finding something in Ezorod. The threat has to be worth the risk of freeing a malevolent eldritch being of untold danger. I could see the goal being one of:

  • Freeing the Eshtayiv in exchange for its aid in some task, turning this book into a "freeing the prisoner" scenario
  • Finding the solar bubble macguffin, because the Burning Archipelago bubbles are in danger of immediate collapse (perhaps due to some kind of long range attack from Khaim)

  • Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    The Heliacus is a spicy boss with some unusual rules interactions. Some things to highlight for anyone in the future running it:

  • Greater invisibility + constant nondetection = very hard to detect. This defeats see invisibility unless the caster makes their caster level check. Exotic senses can help PCs pinpoint the square. I ruled that the mechanic's invisibility bypass processor wasn't a divination spell and therefore got to bypass nondetection. Note additionally, the Illuminated property means that the Heliacus is constantly giving off light. As a GM, you'll need to decide whether that light is hidden while invisible or if it gives the Heliacus away. (Its an interaction that's been ruled for other systems, but I don't think it has a ruling in Starfinder).
  • Wall of fire + sense through (life) lets the Heliacus place a wall and accurately fire pyric beams through it. The twists and turns of the Illuminant Heart provide several places where a wall of fire can do a lot of work.
  • Implosion functions as gravitational singularity, but note that the damage is significantly lower than the normal spell (which is good, because 12d6/round for a level 8 PC is a fairly swift death sentence). The description of Implosion doesn't provide an Athletics DC to escape, but assuming its CR of 10 is its effective mystic level gives a reasonable DC30 to escape.

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    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Last post for Book 4 and a bit of a retrospective:

    One thing I really didn't like in book 4 was the ending. Ilvatri's motivations and actions (as either an agent of the Eshtayiv or as a free agent) didn't make much sense to me, and the forced "grows impatient" combat encounter was not my idea of a good end to the book. Plus the idea that the PCs would voluntarily break the Eshtayiv's prison seemed very far fetched. And also the whole of Ezorod was in dire need of some roleplay situations to break up all the combat. So I decided to significantly change up the end of the book.

    The innermost chambers of the Illuminant Heart are blocked off by special magic to prevent pyric creatures from entering. Inside these chambers are not only the black bubble generator, but also an ancient immortal creature - the last of Ezorod's monk-guardians, now transformed into a cloaked, multi-armed figure seemingly formed of starlight itself. This being, the Watcher, has been actively maintaining the magic and machinery of Ezorod alone for countless years and has kept the Eshtayiv at bay. Recent incursions by the Eshtayiv's agents, pyric and otherwise, have upset that balance. Although the Watcher is exceedingly magically adept, it has its hands full dealing with keeping Ezorod stable and needs help.

    I played the Watcher as a kindly figure, serving the PCs tea and answering their questions about Ezorod. The Watcher's sanctum contains countless eldritch tomes that have recorded everything that has ever happened within the bounds of Ezorod (except for the Gap), including records of the various psychic cries for help that reached Ezorod from Khalannal. The Watcher offers to share the knowledge within the tomes in exchange for the party's help in dealing with the Heliacus, the last and greatest of the Eshtayiv's pyric minions.

    Here, the Heliacus was also once one of the monks that guarded and maintained Ezorod, but he was twisted to the Eshtayiv's purpose. The Watcher can fill the PCs in on the familial bond it once had with the other monks to amp up the conflict.

    Upon defeating the Heliacus, the PCs are given access to the tomes where they learn of the cries for help from Khalannal, as well as the coordinates of their next destination. Unlike the book as-written, the bubble generator isn't required to make the trip, so the PCs can choose to leave it alone and to leave Ezorod intact.

    Ultimately, I think this approach gives some more positive resolution to the whole Book, places coming across the hook to the next book in the hands of the PCs, and let you amp up the eldritch weirdness levels some more. It worked pretty well for my group!

    Dark Archive

    I think accidentally releasing evil being of light that hunts great old ones is cool though x'D

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