[Paizo / Legendary Games] Encounters that need fixing in the Anniversary Edition?


Kingmaker

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

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Hi all,

The Kingmaker AP discussion section is vast and deep, and in the process of working on the Kingmaker 10th Anniversary Edition, including the versions for 1st and 2nd Edition Pathfinder and for 5E we are looking for feedback from the many, many players and GMs who have run or played Kingmaker over the years. Specifically, we are interested in what specific encounters or scenarios in the existing AP could use some extra love as we look at creating the new compilation versions. For the sake of comparison, think of the Xanesha encounter in the clock tower at the end of The Skinsaw Murders in Rise of the Runelords as an encounter that was way too hard as originally written and was revised substantially in the compilation version.

Think back on your Kingmaker experience and see if you recall:

- An encounter that was way too hard.
- An encounter that was way too easy.
- An encounter that just was tedious/boring/frustrating/etc. because [reasons].
- A particular monster or character that was a total unbalanced murder machine.
- A particular monster or character that just went down like a punk.

For the purpose of this question, we're looking for thoughts on the encounters themselves as they played at the table. Sure, some of this could be biased by "The Stag Lord was way too hard because the GM rolled four straight natural 20's and TPKed the party." That might have happened to your group, but we trust that you can recognize a fluke run of lucky or unlucky rolls vs. an encounter that played out pretty much as it was supposed to but just fell flat. We're also not including wandering monsters in this part of the discussion; the Kingmaker obituary thread is littered with 2nd-level adventurers devoured by shambling mounds and will-o'-wisps by the wagonload!

In responding, please note which adventure (and the encounter number if you have the adventure handy) just to make it easier for us to collate the info.

If you have a thread or post where you've talked about such encounters or creatures or NPCs that you'd like us to check out, by all means post a link here or copy-paste and repost in this thread.

Thanks and we look forward to hearing from you!

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

We found that there were very few difficult fights: the raid on the Stag Lord, Vordakai, and then a couple of encounters in Armag’s Tomb.

The static encounters on the map, which can quite easily be the only fight in a 24 hour period were usually the same CR as the APL of the party, but were not difficult at all. Yes,12 level 3 barbarians are CR 10, but at level 12 they’re a speed bump. My players began rolling dice with the loser having to solo the next fight, while the others watched and golf-clapped. If there is only going to be one fight in 24 hours (maybe three with random encounters), then those encounters should be +2 CR at the minimum to be much of a challenge.

I knew Kankerata in book 3 wouldn’t last a round against my party, so I had him become part of the initiation ceremony of the centaurs. The party were instructed to dip the palm of one of their hands in berry juice that would dry in four hours and tasked with each slapping a palm print on Kankerata without hurting him.

Liberty's Edge

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As Sarta said, a lot of the problem with Kingmaker isn't the individual encounters, it's that it's the only one for the day, and the PCs know it. Also, if you do add many random encounters, the party levels so fast, that they walk through a lot of the Published content way too easily. I am continually having to amp up fights to compensate, and it becomes a perpetual issue of the Party (on medium advancement) out pacing the modules.

Editing was also a huge issue, especially in the first book. The 2nd wasn't much better. Stat blocks and creature powers and tactics were lacking or wrong.

Overall, I feel like the enemies are not diverse enough, especially through the first two APs. It's very, very melee/fort save heavy and most enemy casters only have illusions. I'd like to see more battlefield control tactics written in. And not as much opportunity for the PCs to isolate enemies.

Thorn Ford was almost a great encounter. Some traps and a little more ideas for tactics probably would help.

Make sure the Stag Lord has a couple of backup bows. Trust me. Invisibly, on a rogue, means his bow gets stollen.

The fey tower was a great encounter, maybe a bit more info to tie all the creatures together.

The Troll Lair was easy. Way easy. Needs some casters or something besides just big pin cushion/sparing dummies that the trolls ended up being.

The town of Varnhold could be buffed up a bit.

In Vordakai's lair, the occuus shrine, where if the PCs destroy it he comes... smart PCs make short work of him if they haven't gone through all of his minions. Also, the undead wizard was an under performer. Give him a wand of damage or something.

I highly recommend Vordakai have Silent spell or silent spell rod, or something. A lich in silence, in a corner, is dead meat.

I think that was the biggest issue. The AP feels like it's for beginners. Veteran players walk through a lot of these challenges from just knowing the system.

I use APs because I don't have time to invent the whole thing. If I have to rebuild every encounter, I might as well homebrew.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

What is said above. Also, a problem I, as a GM had in most APs and Modules (with few exceptions)is: too less opponents. Most of the time PCs have to fight a single opponent and even if that one is 2 or 3 CRs higher than the party average it's normally 4 actions vs 1 action per round. Players
were far more challenged when I added some lackeys or other opponents who happened to enter the fight to make things more complicated.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I never had issues with encounters being too hard, except an unfortunate roll on a random encounter table at early levels resulting in too many trolls, and some dead party members.

As people mention, the issue is that most encounters will often be the only encounter in the day, unless you're really unlucky with random encounters (and most GMs will just hand wave a random encounter because they don't want to set up the battle mat for handful of random monsters that don't advance the plot).

Let's take an early quest example, it's both in the book and the videogame. You're asked to hunt a Giant Boar. So you traipse around the map hoping to find its lair, with vague directions granted by a quest giver. You show up, maybe the GM pulls out a map, maybe he just rolls the distance you spot the pig. Players unleash all their low level class features. Cut off the pigs head. Rest up, head back to Oleg's the next day and collect a reward.

The map of the boar's lair shouldn't just have a Giant Boar as the only thing, maybe there's some scavenging thylacenes that pick at the bones of the boar's kills when its done. Or a fey or kami that happens to like the boar and thinks the boar is a good protector for this spot of forest. Maybe there's a hapless hunter who has an injury hiding from the boar, weakly calling out for the PCs to help him (use some of those heals). Maybe the players kill the boar, but then some bandits show up to poach the kill. Now we've gone from probably 1 encounter, to maybe 4-5. Enough that even low level characters need to do at least a modicum of resource management.

I understand that not every encounter can be expanded like this, it's quite a footprint, but putting one encounter to a hex is definitely where the complaints of "too easy" come from.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
(...)

Exactly what I meant!

And as a DM you can't beef up every encounter that way...

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Thanks, keep 'em coming!

Liberty's Edge

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I wonder if some kind of official character tree mechanic might be useful. Dark Sun used one. Three characters. When the current/active gained a level, one of the other two did also, player's choice. This is also highly advantageous because there are plenty of player characters for governance.

We have an A team and B team. B Team does a lot of the hex exploration.

I actually just gave ally players Leadership for free and their cohorts are the B Team.

We use the downtime rules extensively. Helps give all the characters something to do, even if they aren't adventuring.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Most of the times we found an encounter hard, it was our own fault. Like the time our Bard insisted on trying to negotiate... from within a dragon's jaws.

As others have said, the fact that each hex is self-contained means you can generally count on only having one fight in a day. That changes the CR economy a lot.

It would be good to make sure that all the maps line up correctly and are geographically consistent, but I'm sure that's already on your list.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

It's been a while, but the most memorable encounters were:

  • 1. The fight against Nyrissa was (perhaps appropriately!) the most difficult fight in the AP for my party. The biggest factors were (a) her amazing defenses -- an incredibly high AC, together with great saves and Evasion, (b) her ability to fly, and (c) her excellent list of prepared spells.

    Basically, she was able to fly out of range, using Antilife Shell and then Greater Dispel Magic on flight spells to ensure that no one could get within melee range. And she was able to keep Greater Invisibility up while using Greater Dispel Magic on any See Invisibility or Glitterdust spells, ensuring that no one could see her. That, coupled with periodic Maze spells to buy her time when anyone became too threatening, and quickened Cure spells to heal her whenever someone got a lucky shot in, made this a really, really long fight -- somewhere in the 20-30 round range. At the end I think the Paladin was the only one standing.

    I don't know if this was bad, necessarily -- as the final climactic battle in the game, it certainly lived up to its billing! -- but it did take an awfully long time to complete.

  • 2. The fight against Vordakai was memorable as a kind of "silver bullet" fight. Namely, with one exception, no one in the party was able to do anything to hurt him, given his very high DR, good AC, and ability to take party members out of the fight with things like paralysis, dominate person, and the like. Fortunately, the party had a Paladin which changed this fight from "unwinnable" to merely "somewhat difficult". Being able to Smite Evil and ignore Vordakai's DR, heal themselves as a quick action, and resist Vordakai's save-or-suck spells (with the amazing suite of Paladin immunities and high saves), allowed them to pretty much single-handedly take Vordakai down. (The other party members did help insofar as they were able to cast buffs on the paladin, and heal the Paladin, but they were definitely playing a supporting-cast role.)

  • 3. I recall some single-opponent encounters being easier than one would expect (given the way PF1 action economy works). But I really hope you guys will have the opportunity to playtest the module in PF2 before committing to any changes along these lines. In the PF2 playtest we found high CR single opponent encounters to be much more challenging than they were in PF1. And I can easily imagine some high CR fights that were only moderately-difficult in PF1 turning into TPKs in PF2.


  • Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    In regard to the single fight per day issue, maybe that should be accepted as a feature of the campaign from the start. If the upcoming Game Mastery Guide doesn't address it, maybe the PF2 version of this adventure path should just squarely take on how a GM and players should handle encounters when the common expectation is that there will be at most one serious encounter per day.

    I am already considering the idea of running a Kingmaker campaign that is mostly a PBEM campaign, with short monthly or biweekly physical get-togethers to handle the combats.


    Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

    I DM'd this in my home campaign back in 2012 (dang, just looked it up!).

    It ended with an almost TPK with the Vordaki encounter at the end of Chapter 3. Even playing him dumb/arrogant till he took damage, when he became smart he almost wiped out the group. Fighter, Druid with Bear, Cleric all died or wished they were dead. Ranger and Wizard escaped only because they rolled a better initiative then Vordaki or they would have died also. As it was they were both in single digit HP and out of spells.

    As far as other encounters, they played quite smart and most of the others, especially as they took their time, were easy. The only other difficult encounter was the Stag Lords fort and only because of the owlbear.

    In the Owlcat online version, having a reasonable deadline to tame the Stolen Lands and rid them of the Stag Lord seems a good compromise on allowing the group to take half forever in clearing it.

    -- david

    Liberty's Edge

    Another quirk we saw, the Tors are oddly short. Talon peak is described as only hundreds of feet high. At least add a zero and make these thousands of feet high. The Tors are smaller than many hills, but are considered "mountains" and there is "hill" terrain. It's weird.


    I found it very sad that the first encounter with the Kobolds (I think it was around some bushes with berries) was scripted in a way that you basically had to kill the kobolds. It would have been a great opportunity to give hints on the friendly Kobold mine.


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    Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    I pretty much wiped a party with the undead archers in Armag's Tomb. I don't know if it's too hard in general but it was too hard for our particular party--they were melee heavy and could not get at the archers in time.

    #5 was, in our hands, both very easy and very boring. I strongly recommend NOT having a huge castle map with nothing in it. If there are only going to be a few fun encounters, just abstract the rest of the map. Also, the final fight of #5 was disappointing, because the King of Pitax wasn't powerful enough, did not have enough guards, and was crammed into a small space with little terrain to work with.

    The King's technological mind-control doodad needs a better writeup.

    Earlier encounters in #5 were also pretty much too easy across the board: I was doubling numbers for almost every fight.

    This isn't a combat issue, but the end of #4 implies that #5 will contain a kingdom rules writeup of Pitax, and, well, it doesn't. (I am not sure it should--the kingdom rules do not work for adding a large kingdom to yours--but be sure not to promise if you can't deliver.)

    Silver Crusade

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    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    King Irovetti as written, and Castle Pitax is pretty weak. It's tricky, because by the time the players get there it's probably at the time they've decisively won the war of the river kings. So it's easy to see it as just clean up.

    However, I didn't run it as written. I played Irovetti up as a Dr Doom type villain with a mastery of technology and magic, and swapped out a lot of the armies for clockwork soldiers. I also tied his motivations more tightly into Nyrissa's arc, as an antagonist to her. To help players ramp into the next book.

    I think the challenge of the War of the River Kings should be made more difficult not by just making it a straight, army vs. army, conqueror vs conquered. The real victory condition should be to push Pitax to the peace table, a straight fight should weaken the player's kingdom and make Nyrissa's job easier.


    My group's experience with the Dancing Lady's keep was a little bit frustrating due to the nature of her signature ability and getting caught in the second entangle effect in a row.

    Her ability to lock a portion of the party out of the fight with a single failed save is strong, but thanks to her low claw damage and the difficulty of landing a grapple she was almost no threat in a stand up fight. She had a lot of tools (between Suggestion and Entangle) to prevent the party from acting, but without any way to menace them it only dragged the fight out longer (and her Grimstalker had barely survived his own fight anyway).

    To a lesser extent this also applies to the version of the harpy seen in the playtest Bestiary (Playtestiary, if you will). Unless it shuts down most of the party, it's not a threat, and if it does, then multiple people are frustrated that there's no way to escape from the captivating effect unless the baobhan sith/harpy stops maintaining the ability (which of course, if it does, spells almost certain doom).

    (Fight description under the cut)

    Spoiler:
    It started off great with only the Sacred Shield paladin resisting the effect. Once she realized what was going on (after a few moments of conversation), she tried to pin the DL to end the effect, but the DL proved to be stronger than she expected and started drinking her blood. Meanwhile the Grimstalker emerged from stealth to disarm the Inquisitor's cold iron sword and attack him. The Captivating Dance doesn't say but I ruled that this breaks the effect in part b/c the Paladin was virtually unkillable thanks to Bastion of Good and I thought the fight would get boring soon if nobody else ever joined.

    The Inquisitor activated Fey Bane on his secondary sword and slew Teorlian (already injured from previous fight) and I gave the party another save at the sight of the DL feasting on their friend's neck, freeing the Dwarf Cavalier, and he spent his action freeing the Gunslinger. This was great for the party but terrible for the DL. I had the DL target the Gunslinger with a Suggestion that I intended to waste 1-2 rounds of him and the Paladin (he was told to take her outside for being so rude) but since she refused to budge (and also got stuck in the entangle), he spent the rest of the fight doing nothing.

    The DL did manage to knock the Inquisitor out, which was dramatic, and the Paladin had to revive him, but only because he was already badly weakened from the Grimstalker. Half the party were trapped in enchantments or plants, while those who could fight weren't doing much damage without the Bard's buffs, so the fight devolved into a standoff in the corner where the DL couldn't be flanked until the Baron Bard (finally freed) could strike the finishing blow and become cursed.

    P.S. As an aside, just a minor comprehension thing, I loved the quickling, Rigg Gargadilly, but it took me way too long to understand how his abilities interacted to let him sneak attack even while at a flat run toward a target.

    Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

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    Mary Yamato wrote:
    I pretty much wiped a party with the undead archers in Armag's Tomb. I don't know if it's too hard in general but it was too hard for our particular party--they were melee heavy and could not get at the archers in time.

    Heavy ranged attackers vs. a melee-heavy party can be really tough when you just can't leverage your strengths.

    Mary Yamato wrote:
    #5 was, in our hands, both very easy and very boring. I strongly recommend NOT having a huge castle map with nothing in it. If there are only going to be a few fun encounters, just abstract the rest of the map. Also, the final fight of #5 was disappointing, because the King of Pitax wasn't powerful enough, did not have enough guards, and was crammed into a small space with little terrain to work with.

    For good or ill, every room in the castle was keyed in my original turnover, right down to the bathrooms. :)

    Mary Yamato wrote:
    The King's technological mind-control doodad needs a better writeup.

    Noted.

    Mary Yamato wrote:
    Earlier encounters in #5 were also pretty much too easy across the board: I was doubling numbers for almost every fight.

    We're finding this is often an issue across the adventures. Did you play Kingmaker close to when it came out or some time later? Some of the data we have suggest the farther out from the original publication date the more disparity there is between PCs and the original Core Rulebook-only NPCs and Bestiary 1 monsters.

    Mary Yamato wrote:
    This isn't a combat issue, but the end of #4 implies that #5 will contain a kingdom rules writeup of Pitax, and, well, it doesn't. (I am not sure it should--the kingdom rules do not work for adding a large kingdom to yours--but be sure not to promise if you can't deliver.)

    Giving more attention to the rules of what happens when you take over an enemy kingdom or city is certainly a reasonable thing to think about for revising the kingdom rules.


    We finished running this a few years ago, so my memory of events is a little rusty, but here's what I remember.

    We started the game a few months before the playtest release of the Advanced Class Guide, to let you know what options we had available. The GM was generous about rebuilds, and allowed me to switch my Cleric of Gorum to a playtest Warpriest, and then to the final version when it came out. We used a 20 point buy, and then the GM gave us an additional +2 to a choice of one of two ability scores based on our class.

    First, our Rogue had incredibly good Stealth and Perception - good enough that she was often able to scout out a lot of encounters ahead of time. This allowed us to plan accordingly, and we often had the upper hand in combats. Any encounter where we had a chance to plan ahead, we dominated. A specific example is, before attacking Fort Drelev, she was able to invisibly scout the fortress and steal Imeckus Stroon's staff and his spellbook, taking him out of the fight. In the same excursion, she found Lord Numeste so we could rescue him, then replace him with a corpse sculpted to look like him stuffed with bombs. It did not take long for us to deal with Fort Drelev. Baron Drelev was slain, his wife was ransomed, and we made friends with Daggermark.

    Second, the scripted fights that specifically stood out as easy:

    1) Vordakai could have been challenging - we came in through the secret passage into the tar room (which we found because of the Rogue's Perception), then shortly thereafter found the Oculus Shrine, which I wrecked with my adamantine greatsword. Vordakai teleported in with a Cyclops Graveknight for protection, which he put between me and him, with the rest of the party unable to get in the room. Then our wizard stone shaped the walls of the room to open a charge lane for the Dwarven Barbarian directly to Vordakai, and he ended up mincemeat shortly thereafter. The rest of the tomb was mop up.

    Tangent: That undead Wizard hanging out in the tar room? His stats were so poor. We came up behind him, so we could pound on him with our melee, but even if he had been flying, a ranged focused character could have torn through him, and dispel magic would have dropped him right into our melee PCs' grasp. I think he cast one spell in the fight, and he had no chance to buff.

    2) The attack on Tatzlford to start Book 4 seems to be written under the assumption that the PCs haven't done any focus on improving the defenses of their cities. By the time we got to that part, every one of our cities had a wall, a garrison, and a 500-person army in that garrison. Baron Drelev doesn't have close to the resources to deal with that. Our GM had the attack come as written, and we won it easily, without any of us taking direct leadership of the army. He threw in an encounter with some modified trolls that we killed rather quickly during the main fight. It made Drelev look incompetent at best. I get that as written, his demesne doesn't have a lot of resources, but he was woefully overmatched.

    We also did this book out of order, going after the captive women from Drelev and Armag before going to the Fort.

    The following fights were right on the money, however.

    1) The assault on the Stag Lord's Keep. This one worked really nicely because we had to deal with Auchs (reskinned as a Brawler), Dovan, the Owlbear, the Stag Lord, and four or five other bandits besides. Akiros wasn't willing to help us until we had it down to just the Stag Lord. I actually ended up in negative hit points during this fight.

    2) Hargulka was run with some of the modifications from this forum, but he was an appropriately challenging fight with a half-Jabberwocky template tacked on, resisting fire damage. Eventually, the Dwarven Barbarian killed him by swinging his dead T-Rex mount at him as an improvised weapon, then we dumped acid on him. He had Nagrundi backing him up, so we couldn't focus fire.

    3) The Divine Guardian of Armag's Tomb was a fun fight, especially with the skeletons he had aiding him. We eventually got his anti-life shell dispelled, and then the barbarian and I walloped him.

    4) Armag was a good fight, as well. Very appropriate, especially right after the fight against the Divine Guardian, with his warriors animated as Skeletal Champions so we couldn't gang up on him. I had fun going toe to toe with him as a Warpriest.

    At no point did any fight feel too hard. If it wasn't just right, it was easy. Some of that may be because we were able to use a lot of good tactics, and some of it because we had a gunslinger in the party. The best fights were the ones where we weren't fighting a single enemy, but multiple enemies. Those were the most dynamic and challenging. I think one of the keys is to avoid putting a single enemy in a room so the PCs can gang up on him. That's what makes the fights really easy.


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    My campaign was distorted because we went mythic. But I do have a few reflections. I'll try to put up more later, but a few things occur off the top of my head. I knew these are broader and less granular than what you are looking for, but I also think these might be helpful.

    More social encounters, and rules for such: Players come into this expecting lots of diplomacy and social interactions. As written, the original Kingmaker presented a few opportunities for such (especially the kobolds early on), but I felt that it fell short in this regard. If it's possible, I think it would be interesting to create a social mechanic. You can either adapt the D&D 4E Skill Challenge rules or else adapt the rules from Ultimate Intrigue. The goal here should be to offer more encounters involving alliances and such, as well as a mechanic that allows all party members to be involved.

    During my table's version of Varnhold Vanishing, for example, diplomacy became a whole-party effort. The queen huddled with the centaur chiefess, the druid taught the centaurs hunting, the wizard found a couple apprentices, and the barbarian challenged centaur warriors to wrestling matches and feats of strength. That kind of thing adds a lot to the flavor.

    Focus on their role as rulers. I felt that a lot of the encounters in Varnhold Vanishing and Blood for Blood assumed the players would be doing fetch quests and out adventuring at the edges of the kingdom. I think that by the time the PCs reach these levels, the focus should be on them as rulers. Meaning that they aren't going to explore. They have people to do that for them. Threats and encounters should be more of the kingdom-threatening variety.

    Introduce mass combat earlier. As written, the attack on Tatzylford assumes the players haven't been doing much to build armed forces. Quite to the contrary, my players were building their armed forces as soon as Hargulka and his monster kingdom showed up. And to keep thins interesting, you might also consider an "honor guard" mechanic where players can control the actions of a few soldiers around them, along with some tips on using the troop subtype.

    Introduce Nyrissa's henchcreatures early. The Fable is home to some truly colorful characters, including the Wriggling Man, Phomandala, and the Knurly Witch. I suggest sketching out some encounters with them earlier in the campaign; if the die, then perhaps their ghosts are confined to the Fable (o some such).

    Rework the tournament at Pitax. This was one of the more unsatisfying elements of the campaign. The tournament events tend to exclude certain players; you end up with one player in an event while the rest stand around. I suggest introducing social opportunities (including potential alliances w/ other River Kingdoms) as well as mechanics so that every player feels like he can contribute to every event. (BTW, the cheating archer was an excellent example of such).


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    I would actually take out the tournament altogether for the reasons Pennywit has said, and instead move it to the Outlaw council in Daggernmark. By that stage the PCs kingdom should certainly been invited and Irrovettis sudden disappearance or non appearance should give a taste of what is to come. Also by then most PC groups will have an east way to get back home quickly, at 13th level.


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    A couple more general thoughts

    Kingmaker was published very early in Pathfinder 1E. For the new anniversary edition, consider the wide panoply of races, classes, and creatures now available. These, IMO, can enhance the general Kingmaker experience.

    Also consider pulling from the 6 player encounter thread -- that thread has a lot of great ideas for beefing up or otherwise enhancing encounters.

    Finally, I think that many encounters should have a separate "timer" block. The giant frogs at area I are probably aren't going anywhere, but a lot of other encounter areas -- the kobolds, the mites, the bandit camp, and the Stag Lord's fortress -- ought to be on something of a calendar that fires off regardless of what the players do.


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    My personal thoughts on the tournament: Have Mivon host it first, sometime during Book 2. Then let it rotate through some of the more distant river kingdoms, like Daggermark, with the players maybe just sending representatives or something. (Great way to establish some notable NPCs in the players' kingdom!) Then, for Book 5, it's Pitax's turn to host the tournament, and with it being so close, the players have a good reason to attend again, but now everything gets dialed up to 11 from the first time. The players are more experienced and more likely to win, and maybe some of the competitors can be champions who defeated them back during Book 2 when they were far less capable and just trying to prove they belonged!

    Liberty's Edge

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    Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    I was a bit disappointed that the AP didn’t include the PC’s representing their kingdom at the Outlaw Council. If they are rulers, then they should have an opportunity to meet and interact with their peers.

    So, between books 3 and 4 I added their first visit to the Outlaw Council. This was a chance to confuse them a bit by having Castruccio be seemingly nice and helpful, if a bit scatter-brained. While Mayor Raston Selline of Mivon seemed to not respect the party and seemed overtly hostile to them. This set up book 5 a bit better because the party was less suspicious of Castruccio.

    While attending, Ullorth Ungin of Tymon put out a call for military support to help protect his border (and the rest of the River Kingdoms) from encroaching Razmirians. This prompted the players to begin training armies after pledging to provide support.

    I rounded it out with a devious assassination attempt by the poisoner’s guild (hired by Castruccio) as the party left the moot.


    A lot of the aforementioned problems with the encounters are baked into the system (equal CR fight 1/day, 1 foe vs. many PCs), so I dunno what can really be done about them. But yeah, almost every single-foe encounter went down like a chump, even with me updating the stats and giving named opponents max HP.

    There are lots of fights throughout against groups of melee-only creatures that are cakewalks because the PCs have spells and ranged attacks and the monsters don't. Adventure #2: the lizardfolk, the trolls. Adventure #3: spriggans, the zombie cyclops. Adventure #4: just about every fight. Once the PCs start hitting the sweet spot, groups of foes need ranged options and/or spell support.

    The NPC stats in adventure #4 are, frankly, terrible. Aemon and Drelev are jokes. Armag has lots of fighter levels for no good reason, cutting him off from the better rage powers. But maybe the adventure was intended to be a cakewalk, I dunno. It doesn't feel like it was written for the level it's supposedly aimed at.

    Adventure #4 also spends a lot of time on encounters in the swamp when there's no reason to go in there, aside from some quests from nameless NPCs (save Garuum, my PCs did do that one). Swamps are worthless terrain by the kingdom rules.

    The Rushlight in adventure #5 should have results pre-generated for NPCs. While not in the published adventure, the greased-tower climbing challenge in the draft is basically impossible for anyone who doesn't have an insane climb skill.

    In general, a lot of the NPCs can be improved by using newer classes, feats, and spells.


    Another overall thought:

    Paizo published a number of helpful supplements in the years after Kingmaker, including Ultimate Intrigue, The Spymaster's Handbook, Fey Revisited, and Heroes of the High Court. Not to mention the excellent products from Legendary Games.
    I suggest creating a Kingmaker GameMastery Guide or sidebars that offers tips on how to incorporate these rules into the campaign.


    Stolen Lands

    This isn't an encounter, per se, but rather a thought for framing the overall adventure. What is the difference between banditry and feudalism? That is, you give bandits money so they will go away. And you give a feudal lord money so that he will protect you from bandits and make them go away.

    I think it might make sense to flavor the Stag Lord a little bit. Perhaps he aspires to rule his own River Kingdom, or he aspires to be a lord within Brevoy. Whatever that might be, it might be fun to reframe him and his associates. The bandits are not merely raiding Oleg for treasure. They've come to collect "taxes" or "tribute" to maintain "The Stag's Peace."

    As part of this, you can also provide a timetable that spans weeks or months, delineating the Stag Lord's starting forces, and the people who join his band as the module progresses, where they set up camp, and areas he slowly conquers if the players dilly-dally in their quest.

    Similarly, you can set up a unified timeline that delineates expansions at Oleg's Rest (and potentially elsewhere) as newcomers enter from Brevoy and Oleg's Rest expands outward.

    Along these lines, you could also outline potential plot complications. In particular, I could see Jhod Khavken hiring adventurers on his own and setting out for the Temple of the Elk if the PCs don't attend it in a reasonable amount of time.

    I would also modify the random encounters so there is a chance the PCs encounter one or more lieutenants (Akiros Ismort, Auchs, or Dovan of Nisroch) out and about in the Greenbelt. With the Stag Lord often incapacitated, these three "knights" actually run most of the Stag Lord's holdings.

    With that in mind:

    Happs Bydon and his merry band

    This is very clearly intended as an introductory encounter, and it's somewhat easy as a result. When the players defeat the bandits, they also get four horses as part of their booty.

    I would consider three things on this first encounter:

    * Reformat Happs Bydon as a cavalier (or whatever martial class is similar for 2E) with a bonded mount. He should still be in over his head when confronting PCs, but I like the idea of him as a lower-level person, but still a leader of men (sort of).

    * Consider adding a low-level expert to the group as a herald who theatrically announces Happs' entrance, a ludicrous set of titles, and the blessings of the "Stag's Peace."

    * I would remove the horses as booty in this encounter. Maybe give them two horses and a cart? I understand the horses help PCs travel. But I also feel like it nullifies one of the perks of the Pioneer campaign trait.

    If the game table includes experienced players, I suggest an "advanced" version of the encounter.

    The Bandit Camp

    Stolen Lands seems to assume that players will explore the northern Greenbelt for a while before assaulting the bandit camp. In my campaign (and all other campaigns I know of), players immediately wanted to go take down the bandits.

    As written, the encounter is difficult but not impossible for players new to the Greenbelt. I suggest that it might be worth playing into the PCs' desires for vengeance. In lieu of a camp, perhaps the bandits have a small stockade? This would give PCs a reason to go explore the Greenbelt a little more before assaulting Kressle and her bandits.

    The stockade would have, say around 10-12 bandits, and double that number of commoner servants. PCs could gain intelligence by observing the stockade. They might also conclude that they need more personal power (or allies) before they take her down.

    This stockade could also provide an excellent opportunity for an early pitched battle. Perhaps the players can make allies of the Sootscales or mites or Tyg-Titter-Tutt and Perlivash and convince them to help take out the stockade!!

    Kressle herself is good as a ranger. The twin handaxes make her distinctive, and I like the idea that she makes everyone around her address her as "Sheriff Kressle." She might see herself as someone keeping order and collecting taxes to maintain the Stag's Peace.

    The stockade itself could come across as a cheap imitation of the nobles of Brevoy, really bringing home how much of a small player the Stag Lord really is.

    Temple of the Elk

    If possible, the module should incorporate some way for the PCs to learn of the bear's backstory, preferably before they get into the temple itself.

    Tuskgutter

    I would include a map for this encounter. Also, in the book, Tuskgutter is special mainly because he's a bigger, badder version of a boar. But what if there is something else to him? I haven't sorted through the templates much, but it might be interesting to make him Fey-touched or fey, or implementing something that gives him a relationship to Nyrissa and the Fable. Maybe he's the result of an early experiment gone awry, maybe is descended from one of Nyrissa's pets. Who knows? But this could start to establish that there's something no good out there that's tied to the land.

    More thoughts to come ...


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    As usual Pennywit has the right ideas:

    Encounters should either show how wild the Stolen Lands are OR show how the Stag Lord and Hargulka have taken over like a 10th Century Robber Barons. This would also give a new dimension to the Sword Lords pushing into the Stolen Lands, because there southern border is actually threatened. Personally I would remove the debilitating conditions from the Stag Lord to make him tougher. The Bandits should all be tougher, particularly the Lieutenants, with Akiros being the weak link still. Perhaps there should be prior hints that one of Staggies henchmen is looking to go solo or defect?

    Also the friendly fey should probably point out the unusuallness of things to do with Nyrissa, like the Dead Unicorn, even though they do not know who is doing it.

    Likewise Hargulka is the Robber Baron in Book 2. Dudemeister covered this best. It will then show the Stolen Lands is not a vacuum but useful real estate that others value. Not one monster per encounter but multiple monsters. Three or four trolls with hobgoblin archer and shaman support will worry PC's and give them an idea of the trouble that Hargulka is. A real monster kingdom!

    Similarly Vordakai in Book 3 should be played the same way, with encounters being more along the lines of multiple undead. In some cases enough to really worry even powerful PC's. Fifty or sixty skeletons with Undead Cyclops and an undead mage.

    All this will mean bringing in the Army rules in at least three books earlier. Perhaps scaling them for each part of the AP.


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    Further to my earlier post, a few more ideas:

    The encounters from the first three books should mostly be about the denizens of the stolen lands being more proactive about internal and external threats.

    In the case of book four it should be a full scale invasion of the Tiger Lords into the Hooktongue area, coupled with an expansion of the Boggards in the Slough under Nyrissa's influence. This will pusgh many of the monster encounters from the Slough into the path of the PC's. Lady Quintessa Maray should be Irrovetti's agent in Fort Drelev, and it was her idea to hire mercenaries from Pitaz to "protect" Drelev from the Tiger Lords. Thus Irrovetti's takeover looks much more benign, if it is obvious at all. That way the betrayal at the tournament in Book 5 should be a complete surprise to the PC's. This way the encounters make a lot more sense and are a lot more powerful for PC's who may be riding with small or even large armies.

    The Tiger Lords should be and be seen to be a serious threat to both the PC's and Irrovettis kingdoms.


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    War of the River Kings (#5) - the assassination encounter at Whiterose is not really designed with 12th-13th level PCs in mind. My players turned invisible when they got ambushed, and when Gaetane started to sniff them out, they flew or teleported away. Then they came back a little later and murdered Gaetane and the low-level flunkies after some prep and planning. Irovetti has this convoluted plan to draw the PCs to Whiterose, so that they can be ambushed by an archer that has no ability to handle any spellcasters, either to detect or stymie them, or to evade spell effects - it doesn't make much sense.


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    Lots of good suggestions so far. I'd like to throw out some thoughts in no particular order.

    The "one encounter per day" issue could be mitigated by giving some GM advice about how wandering monsters should act when they're rolled. Peaceful animals and monsters aside, even hostile monsters don't always attack mindlessly. Assuming they spot the PCs before the PCs spot them, more intelligent monsters might be inclined to spy on the party, following them for a while and learning their abilities and picking a good moment to attack. If the PCs don't notice they're being followed, then the next time they have a fight, they might be ambushed immediately afterwards when they're depleted. If they *do* notice they're being followed, that creates some immediate tension and interest, far more than "a worg bursts out of the trees and attacks." What's following us? Why? How do we deal with it?

    Creatures like Mites or Kobolds might spend the night creating traps or suchlike around the players' camp for them to stumble into in the morning.

    The wandering monster table could also have a result of "roll twice - the two results are interacting in some way". That can create some interesting situations the PCs can stumble across, and create a bit of GM improv fodder as they try to work out how 1d4 trolls and 1d4 grigs might be interacting as the PCs arrive on the scene.

    Another result could be "something from a fixed encounter location", so those locations don't always just passively wait for the players. The advice for the GM could state that they can default to the closest location, but can pick a location further away if more appropriate (which could be a way to have the PCs meet named NPCs from the Stag Lord's fort out and about, as suggested above).

    Moving on from the random encounter table, I also want to say that there's a problem with the Stag Lord's Fort as laid out in the first module - the scenario strongly pushes the PCs to approach it before they're ready. They fight Happs and the bandits at the Trading Post, and probably learn of the location of Thorn River Camp. They don't want the bandits to launch reprisals on Oleg's, so there's an incentive to head straight to Thorn River before Happs is missed. If they're victorious there, Oleg's is safe for now, but they learn a password for the Stag Lord's fort, which expires in a week. That pushes them to rush to the fort long before they're ready.

    The password should change less frequently - if it actually changed every week, the bandits leaving the Stag Lord's Fort on foot would only get 3 hexes away before they had to turn around and return to get the next password. Alternatively, or in addition, in my game I made it that old passwords didn't actually expire when they changed - the passwords were used to gauge how long you'd been away, and thus how much loot you owed. The older the password you used when you arrived, the more loot you needed to hand over to stay in the good books.

    (Despite making these changes in my game, my players still went to the Stag Lord's Fort when they were too low a level. However, they were smart - they just showed up, gave the password, handed over some loot, met the other bandits and sampled Fat Norry's cooking, checked out the layout of the map, one player got punched in the face by the Stag Lord for asking after "his Queen", and then they peacefully left (getting the next password on the way out) and didn't come back for the actual assault until weeks later. Naturally, they were able to re-acquire the gold that they handed over from the first visit when they defeated the bandits the second time.)

    Also also, I really liked a suggestion on these boards of making the passwords for the fort come from Zuddiger's Picnic. One of the lieutenants had it read to them as a child, and still remembers most of the words, although they don't have a copy. Nice way to foreshadow that book. (The module should list multiple passwords, since they change.)

    EDIT Something that just occurred to me - please make sure you retain the language of "the punishment for unrepentant banditry" on the first module's charter. The wriggle-room of the word "unrepentant" was a major element of how my players dealt with the bandits they captured.


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    Spatula wrote:
    War of the River Kings (#5) - the assassination encounter at Whiterose is not really designed with 12th-13th level PCs in mind. My players turned invisible when they got ambushed, and when Gaetane started to sniff them out, they flew or teleported away. Then they came back a little later and murdered Gaetane and the low-level flunkies after some prep and planning. Irovetti has this convoluted plan to draw the PCs to Whiterose, so that they can be ambushed by an archer that has no ability to handle any spellcasters, either to detect or stymie them, or to evade spell effects - it doesn't make much sense.

    IMO, this is a general problem - several encounters lack caster support. That doesn't matter so much in the first book, but Hargulka should definitely have some sort of caster support to help him and his trolls out.


    Oh yeah, big thing: The baobhan sith. As written, that encounter can easily finish off a party. That needs to be rewritten somehow.


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    Not actually an encounter - but the overall map. It would be great if you could (a) resolve it with respect to the rest of the world (b) orient it so that north is "up" and (c) include a little more of the borderlands so that players have a much better idea as to where they are with respect to Brevoy, Mivon and Pitax. This last in particular as the stolen lands map actually overlaps Mivon when you orient it onto a regional map.

    Many people worked on this problem in the past decade. My solution is here and you are free to use it, whole or in part. That would be sufficient for adventures in the Stolen Lands

    A larger, regional map might look something like this. In our campaign, I added an extra book (Book 5.5?) in the area to the east as the PCs explored a lost Taldan colony with a sinister secret. It also gave the PCs an interestting alternative to trading west - trading east to Casmaron! And you can see how a larger map works and helps out the GM by quantifying the landscape. It would also be useful for narrating a Brevic civil war or trips to Iobaria.


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    Zi Mishkal wrote:

    Not actually an encounter - but the overall map. It would be great if you could (a) resolve it with respect to the rest of the world (b) orient it so that north is "up" and (c) include a little more of the borderlands so that players have a much better idea as to where they are with respect to Brevoy, Mivon and Pitax. This last in particular as the stolen lands map actually overlaps Mivon when you orient it onto a regional map.

    Many people worked on this problem in the past decade. My solution is here and you are free to use it, whole or in part. That would be sufficient for adventures in the Stolen Lands

    A larger, regional map might look something like this. In our campaign, I added an extra book (Book 5.5?) in the area to the east as the PCs explored a lost Taldan colony with a sinister secret. It also gave the PCs an interestting alternative to trading west - trading east to Casmaron! And you can see how a larger map works and helps out the GM by quantifying the landscape. It would also be useful for narrating a Brevic civil war or trips to Iobaria.

    So much this. The maps are incredibly annoying as published.

    Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

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    Thanks for the continuing feedback. We are still monitoring this thread for any more thoughts people have!

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    My party had issues with the Will-o'-wisp encounter in Book 2, as they were at the time just 1 Arcanist and 1 Shaman whose spell choices were almost completely countered by its immunity to magic. It also has a strong AC, a good fly speed, and its +16 Touch attack is all but guaranteed to hit every time. If it weren't for Pyrotechnics, they would've been fried.

    Nyrissa was waaaaaaaay too strong, I think the CR calculation was goofy since Mystic Theurge progresses casting for both the Sorcerer levels and the innate spells. She probably should've been a higher CR as written.

    I remember there were several encounters in Books 4-6 that seemed very easy. Some of the creatures towards the end didn't even have any ability to fly, making it trivial to just skip those encounters or hardware the combat and just give out rewards. It's especially notable when players are taking things slow and have 1-2 encounters a day at most, since they'll likely be at or close to full resources for most fights.


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    Alright, my group is only halfway through at the moment, having just finished of Vordakai on Saturday. That said, a few thoughts.

    1). As noted, the one encounter a day thing is very prevalent here and as a result a lot of the fixed encounters become pushovers. One thing that could potentially be done is to clarify the expected ability gen system. I notice that a lot of groups tend to use 20 point buy, but I think the "default" was 15 if I'm not mistaken. That makes a big difference.

    2). Perhaps each adventure could have a few notes about "ramping up the difficulty" if needed? I know that word counts are a thing, but something to help GMs out might not be bad. This could potentially tie into a 6 player conversion (see the threads on here) as well.

    3). Hargulka definitely needs some help as noted already.

    4). Cephal Laurentus in Varnhold Vanishing was an absolute pushover. His spells don't really do anything and he's a lone caster that is likely going up against a 9th level party. He needs . . . something. Of course, the occasional "easy" encounter, especially in a dungeon, isn't a terrible thing either.

    5). Vordakai. Its interesting seeing people's descriptions here. I think this fight is a classic "boom or bust" type of fight. Either Vordakai is going to devastate the party, or he's going to be a pushover. In my game, he was pretty much a pushover. His spells were largely dependent on a failed save to do much of anything. Worse, they were mostly Will saves, which uses the same stat as perception, and thus, gets bumped by a lot of savvy players. I think my party averaged about a +11 on their Will saves, making the saves pretty easy. The result was he was pretty much dependent on his melee touch attack, but was pretty easy to pin in.

    His DR can be a great help. Unless of course the party has a monk or paladin. Mine had both. So yeah, my party was pretty well set up for the fight, which is fine, but its just something to keep in mind. I think perhaps a better fight might have been to make him more of a battlefield controller with more minion support. That way his abilities are not so closely tied to the failure of the PCs to make their saves. Also, having him use one of his precious 5th level spell slots on a quickened shield seems like a really questionable decision. He's smart enough to know that the PCs are in his tomb long before they reach him. He's smart enough therefore to be watching/waiting for them. So just have him buff up right before the PCs open the door. He's going to know that they are fighting the elemental presumably anyway. If need be, and frankly it makes sense, his familiar can be hanging out invisible out there (rework V's spells if need be).

    Additionally, he's a lich. Even atrophied, he's still really intelligent. More traps littered throughout his tomb would be good. Symbols of Pain, that sort of thing. Not anything that necessarily will kill the party, but enough to use up some more of their resources. More roving dread zombies. Paladins love using their smite evil, and getting them to use them up before they reach Vordekai definitely changes things up.

    Finally, I get the atrophied part. He has to be. You can't have a 20th level lich going against a 9th level party. However, I don't like the whole "Oh, he's 9th level now, so you don't have to worry about him coming back." Granted, as GM I can, and will, make it so that he is able to come back, but the threat should be there. I also like the spell dump that comes with his spellbook, but his book should absolutely be warded. A lich is not going to leave his spellbook unprotected.

    6). Sticking with Vordakai for a moment, while I think his spell list could be reworked to be a bit more reliable, I just wanted to make a note about the 6 player conversion presented on the forums. The Graveknight definitely helps make the fight far more interesting and deadly for a larger party (I had 6 PCs at the time of my fight), but he a) has the chance to outshine Vordakai (my party largely ignored V because the knight was the bigger threat, especially as none of V's spells were going through) and b) he is particularly deadly as written: Flash of Insight + high strength + axe + power attack + smite good = one shot kill at 9th level. Which is what happened to one of the characters in my group. My group is pretty old school, so they were cool with it, but just a warning for others. I think my suggestions above of making him more a battlefield controller with good minions that have a variety of offensive options (kind of like an adventuring party) would go a long way to making him way more memorable. Of course, a group without bludgeoning attacks or without a paladin will have had a lot tougher time with him. I understand that.

    7) Just a general thing. I think there should be something in the modules along the lines of "the clock is always ticking" and making the antagonists more proactive. As written, they all just sit around and wait for the party to show up.

    8) Going further beyond the scope of the AP here. At the very least, some more notes about the fate of Brevoy would be good. Something as to what the Civil War entails. Who is aligned with who? The Venture Capital thread provides some great potential for entangling the new kingdom in the affairs of Brevoy should they choose to do so. I realize you can't dedicate a ton of space to it, but something would be nice just to point GMs in the right direction.

    9) Finally (for now), there is a super cool hook dangling in the introduction to the campaign. Skywatch. Then, nothing. Absolutely nothing. In many respects, the mystery of Skywatch is even more compelling than Varnhold. I'm making my own stuff for my campaign, which is fine, but even just a few ideas would be helpful. Ultimately, I think a good challenge for Kingmaker (given that the nature of the campaign often makes the combats cake walks) would be presenting the party with more plot lines than they have the time to address. Combine that with "the clock is always ticking" and you may have some complications arise from the sheer fact that the party can't address every little thing. This also adds a certain amount of realism to the campaign as well. A leader of a nation quite naturally has to decide what is and isn't worth her time and then deal with the consequences of that decision later.

    Sorry for the long post and I know it strays a bit from the request. All in all though, I have to say that I absolutely love this AP even with some of the flaws that have been noted.


    Adding to 6), even though that may be going beyond this thread: I find the Flash of Insight ability way overpowered. Basically a Crit on demand, for a creature that already deals a ton of damage? Where's the fun in that?

    The campaign I'm running is still in RRR, but I'm already planning to change Flash of Insight into something defensive - maybe a 50% miss chance for a number of attacks per day, or the ability to negate a crit per day, something like that. Give the cyclops more staying power, without the risk of one-shotting my PCs.

    On a more general note, the AP would greatly benefit from more interaction with the Kingdom's neighbors. As written, neither Varnhold nor Drelev are actually a Kingdom on par with the players', Mivon isn't even a footnote, and Brevoy only very occasionally rears its head. There is a lot of potential lost here for a great political/military campaign.


    Canarr wrote:

    Adding to 6), even though that may be going beyond this thread: I find the Flash of Insight ability way overpowered. Basically a Crit on demand, for a creature that already deals a ton of damage? Where's the fun in that?

    The campaign I'm running is still in RRR, but I'm already planning to change Flash of Insight into something defensive - maybe a 50% miss chance for a number of attacks per day, or the ability to negate a crit per day, something like that. Give the cyclops more staying power, without the risk of one-shotting my PCs.

    On a more general note, the AP would greatly benefit from more interaction with the Kingdom's neighbors. As written, neither Varnhold nor Drelev are actually a Kingdom on par with the players', Mivon isn't even a footnote, and Brevoy only very occasionally rears its head. There is a lot of potential lost here for a great political/military campaign.

    Just a quick point that flash of insight only really guarantees a potential crit. The confirm roll, as I understand it, would still need to be made. For the standard undead cyclopes in the adventure, this wasn't a huge deal as they mostly failed their confirm rolls anyway, even using the advanced template for the 6 player conversion. For the graveknight though, its a legitimate concern, but does admittedly go a bit beyond the scope of the thread (even though I brought it up) since that was community created material, not published inclusion.

    Of course, every group is different, so your players might end up with lower ACs than mine did due to class selection, feats, items, etc., in which case the flash of insight could be a bigger problem. Vordekai's melee touch is a bit more problematic with flash of insight as well, but the flip side to that is the damage is almost non-existent. The real threat there is the potential permanent paralysis, but at the same time there's multiple opportunities in the adventure itself for the PCs to get access to Freedom of Movement without even considering prepared spells.


    As others have said, there's a great deal of fascinating possibility in further efforts of diplomacy, foreshadowing of the other kingdoms, and working with the Stag Lord, Hagrulka, and others running off their own version of kingdom rules to expand their territory in response to the PCs. All the opposing kingdoms seem to end up too small - Varnhold is barely a village compared to what the PCs will have when they interact with it (for seemingly no reason, since Maegar Varn doesn't seem to be particularly weak or a fool); Fort Drelev is a single city; and Pitax is also a single city.

    But these may be beyond the scope of the rewrite, since many of them involve heavily reworking the campaign itself.

    On the just encounters score:

    - The Dancing Lady is in the hard/frustrating category. She doesn't pose much of a threat, slowly clawing PCs to death, but she has multiple options that just remove PCs from combat immediately, leading to long, slow fights of whoever isn't dancing slowly beating her down while the rest of the players twiddle their thumbs for 12 rounds.

    - Cephal Lorentus, Vordekai's undead wizard is a pretty consistent weak link. The terrain is interesting, but Cephal himself has almost no capacity to threaten the PCs, no defences, no minions, and no great tactics. He's easily mulched to the point of wondering why there's even a fight here.

    - Vordekai is about perfect, a deadly threat if treated lightly, quite crushable by those who have done their research and come prepared.

    - Hannis Drelev, to me, seems to be an overpowered encounter. Not compared to what CR the PCs can handle, but in terms of what Drelev appears to be. He's a whimpering coward who loses every fight he's in, backstabs the PCs, is hated by his own kingdom, and is barely maintaining control. But somehow in all this he's 12th level. Even the text itself mocks him, with Drelev "fancying himself a skilled swordsman". Even his wife, a diva who has never personally gotten her hands dirty, somehow stands as a CR6 encounter. I think Drelev should be around the same as her - a speedbump for the PCs to mow through, leaving Armag as the 'true' boss on Book 4.

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    I'm honestly not sure if there was any particularly bad fights? I mean, maybe our GM changed stuff, but all encounters listed-*noticed dancing lady*

    ...I forgot about dancing lady, yeah, that one was horrible to fight xD We kinda got incredibly lucky with her and thats why nobody died.

    But yeah, all other encounters listed I haven't had problems with. Only thing I can think of was that The Gardener in book 5 has incorrectly listed iteratives with corrupting touch attack which would have made him very over powered, but 2e corrupting touch doesn't work in same way anyway.

    And hey, I liked Drelev being surprisingly powerful coward :p He striked to me as someone who COULD have achieved much more than he did if he wasn't such a coward.

    Anyway, I hope devs remember that these types of threads attract people with pet peeves and that not everyone thinks all encounters in this thread needs radical changes :'D

    But yeah, I think Stag Lord encounter was hard, but its encounter where you can sneak in, talk yourself way in, recruit Akiros, etc, I think there were lots of mitigating factors in it and it still felt challenging in good way.

    (Armag also almost killed our king so not getting how they were apparently cakewalk? Like I said, its hard to tell what is result of gm mixing stuff and what is as written :P)


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    The Stag Lord encounter was great, IMO. My players were sweating pretty badly at the end of it, but in a good way - they were very happy with the developments and enjoyed it greatly.

    Yes, it's a dangerous encounter, but there is plenty of warning in advance if the PCs are doing even a half-assed job gathering information in advance. Yes, if the run down there at 1st or 2nd level and storm the gates, they'll get killed. But as CorvusMask states, there are lots of options for the PCs to mitigate the dangers. It's okay to have a fortress or two in the game that just can't be openly assaulted.


    So looking through the thread, it seems that perhaps my group was just well equipped for Vordakai? Thinking about it a bit, I can see where a group that lacks a paladin or monk, or someone with a magical blunt weapon might struggle more. Though I do still think that his spell selection is a bit lackluster -- especially considering he's encountered on his own.

    In a similar vein, I find the wizard in Drelev to be just an annoying speed bump. He won't really trouble any party at that level. In and of itself, that might not be a bad thing though if you are looking to just have an easy encounter tossed in there. Plus, its not as though he's the BBEG.

    One thing that would be good to consider for the new version though is that I imagine most groups are likely to largely abandon the Hexploration by book 3 or certainly book 4. Its pretty cool early on, but rapidly becomes redundant. To that extent, perhaps come up with a few other ways for the group to earn XP (assuming the DM isn't leveling them up as needed without XP).


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    Gargs454 has the right of it on the hexploration part - as a PC, we abandoned it to one-shot sessions run by one of the players as a GM with secondary characters in between books, as opposed to the main PCs. We did the same thing with most of the sidequests - by Book 3, it doesn't make sense that a famous chef is petitioning his baron/duke/king to go colelct Roc eggs so he can make an omelette. The sidequests we did do were the ones that either gave Kingdom stat bonuses or could be completed in the process of the main plot.

    Wizards standing alone in rooms waiting for the PCs are always speed bumps if the party is properly equipped. The wizard in Drelev is probably at his best if he can catch the PCs fighting the hill giants in the courtyard, where he can fly around make use of his AoE spells.

    Of course, since this is going to be updated to PF2, the way combat has changed might just be of sufficient difference that a Wizard standing alone in a room is more than a speed bump now. Food for thought.

    Dark Archive

    We are currently in the AP at Palace of Hundred Doors and... Geez, so many mooks ._.; I think in 2e version they have to use troops since by 2e mechanics having lots of level 6 mooks vs level 14 characters would be so trivial they wouldn't even give exp, while having 50 level 10 mooks would still be too tough.

    That said, I guess it could be fun to kick ass and take names vs lower level mooks since it was fun in 1e too :p

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