2 - Cult of Cinders (GM Reference)


Age of Ashes

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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

This is a spoiler-filled resource thread for GMs running the Age of Ashes Adventure Path, specifically for the second adventure, "Cult of Cinders."


Website says it’s out. I’d looove to hear about the Ekujae stuff in here.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I've just got my pdfs late last night and haven't had much time to read, but it looks really exciting. They are definitely leaving Breachill's inhabitants up to GM description, which has helped me be a bit more confident in my planning.

Also, I'm not sure if theres any benefit to multiple people participating in the downtime events to clear out the castle. It takes 8 days to clean but it doesn't seem to say if there's a mechanical difference between one person doing it themselves, or if the whole party goes hog wild cleaning up the place. However I was very sleepy reading the rules through so i could have just missed that.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

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I haven't read the adventure yet, but skimming through it the maps do not live up to the artistic quality that I expect from paizo.


BobROE wrote:
I haven't read the adventure yet, but skimming through it the maps do not live up to the artistic quality that I expect from paizo.

That is sad. I really need this adventure to be one of the best to promote Pathfinder to my mostly 5e group. Haven't got 2nd book yet but hope it is not that bad ).

After reading previous modules I got an impression that all of them are as cool as Iron Gods or Ironfang Incursion. Hope this one will be on par!

Dark Archive

Is art for maps same as in Hellknight Hill? If that is the case, then its not case of maps looking bad, Hellknight Hill's map did look good, but its case of them not being that stylistic. Like last few aps(aka war for the crown and every ap afterward) had super cool style to all of them :D

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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We use different cartographers for different Adventure Paths, and they all have their own artistic style. This does mean that now and then, a cartographer's style won't be one someone likes. All feedback is welcome, in any event; just keep it civil.

And make sure to tell us when you LOVE a cartographer's style too. If 99 people love a cartographer but we only ever hear from the 1 person who hates, then from our side of the fence it looks like everyone hates the cartographer. Or artist or writer or whatever.


Is there an email for customer service having a problem with my subscription?

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:

We use different cartographers for different Adventure Paths, and they all have their own artistic style. This does mean that now and then, a cartographer's style won't be one someone likes. All feedback is welcome, in any event; just keep it civil.

And make sure to tell us when you LOVE a cartographer's style too. If 99 people love a cartographer but we only ever hear from the 1 person who hates, then from our side of the fence it looks like everyone hates the cartographer. Or artist or writer or whatever.

I gotta note that I do like Age of Ashes' cartographer's style as well, but I love the one from last few 1e APs and I've said so in multiple threads and reviews too :D(maybe I should review all tyrant's grasp modules I already didn't review just to reinforce my love of the cartographer's style...)


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GM Ash wrote:
Is there an email for customer service having a problem with my subscription?

It's on the bottom of the page. customer.service@paizo.com.

But I think they respond quicker to posts in the customer service part of the forums.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Okay, "manly left hook" is the best name of an ability I've seen so far.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Mechalibur wrote:
Okay, "manly left hook" is the best name of an ability I've seen so far.

His entire character is the best thing ive seen so far! And such a tease with a gun!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Can the dragon pillar shoot an eyebeam three times in a round or is it just beam per round?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
poisoni wrote:
Can the dragon pillar shoot an eyebeam three times in a round or is it just beam per round?

Routine (1 action) On its initiative, the dragon pillar fires an eye beam at the closest target within 120 feet.

Does this "(1 action)" specify that it only does one action per round?

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

poisoni wrote:
poisoni wrote:
Can the dragon pillar shoot an eyebeam three times in a round or is it just beam per round?

Routine (1 action) On its initiative, the dragon pillar fires an eye beam at the closest target within 120 feet.

Does this "(1 action)" specify that it only does one action per round?

That's right, if you check the Hazard's section of the Core Rules, it explains it in more detail. One trap has 9 actions, for instance.


Since the store won't let me buy this for some reason...

Someone online mentioned that there's batfolk in the Bestiary. Are these the Sabosan? Are they in the plot at all?


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Page 7 says: "If the PCs ask her to help create a camp after a day in which she’s provided encounter support, she doesn’t have time to spin silk to augment the shelter and thus uses her basic Crafting modifier of +10 to resolve the activity."

But how can this possibly be the case if page 6 says that "Each day she’s traveling with the PCs, they can ask her to aid them in one of the following ways," and creating a camp is listed as one of those ways?

Also, is the GM expected to hand out that 7th- or 8th-level magic item or that 200 gp per PC, as prescribed by page 6, or is that merely optional?

In addition, I would like to second the inquiry concerning cleaning time. Does cleaning the citadel take 8 days regardless of how many PCs are contributing to the effort? Can the PCs hire people to perform the cleaning for them, and if so, how much does that cost, and how long does it take?


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Huh, is the implication here that Dahak is the great Darkness the Mwangi elves fought? That’s kinda awesome.

EDIT: This is one of my favorite scenarios ever. Mwangi representation! Bisexual dad being gay on-screen! A non-binary angel! A big lore reveal! Friendly kobolds! Nigel Thornberry! This adventure checks so many happy boxes for me.


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Colette Brunel wrote:


In addition, I would like to second the inquiry concerning cleaning time. Does cleaning the citadel take 8 days regardless of how many PCs are contributing to the effort? Can the PCs hire people to perform the cleaning for them, and if so, how much does that cost, and how long does it take?

From the core rulebook chapter on GMing:

pg.500 wrote:

Cooperation

Multiple characters can cooperate on the same downtime task. If it’s a simple task that requires just one check, such as a party Subsisting as they await rescue on a desert island, one character rolls the necessary check while everyone else Aids that character. If it’s a complex task, assume all of them are working on different parts of it at one time, so all their efforts count toward its completion. For example, a party might collaborate to build a theater, with one character drawing up architectural plans, one doing manual labor, and one talking to local politicians and guilds.

I think all the cleaning and repairing downtime tasks count as complex tasks, so it takes 8 days if one person does it, but only 4 days if two people do it.

I find it helps to think of "one downtime day" as a spendable resource. If only one PC is "paying" for the cleaning (i.e. doing it all themself) then they have to spend all 8 days. If four PCs all work on it together it only "costs" them 2 downtime days each.


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Really like how the 2nd part of the AP looks. Hexploration + Ekujae downtime and IP system is great. The whole flavor is delightful.
Making 1st chapter non-combat is very much to my liking.
GJ )


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keftiu wrote:

Since the store won't let me buy this for some reason...

Someone online mentioned that there's batfolk in the Bestiary. Are these the Sabosan? Are they in the plot at all?

Yes and yes.


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My sub is still pending... chomping at the bit for this pdf....

Silver Crusade

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Same

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber
Colette Brunel wrote:

Page 7 says: "If the PCs ask her to help create a camp after a day in which she’s provided encounter support, she doesn’t have time to spin silk to augment the shelter and thus uses her basic Crafting modifier of +10 to resolve the activity."

But how can this possibly be the case if page 6 says that "Each day she’s traveling with the PCs, they can ask her to aid them in one of the following ways," and creating a camp is listed as one of those ways?

While the PCs do the actual exploration of the hex, Renali can do one of the tasks. If she spends all day preparing camp, she spins a badass camp out of spider silk. If she doesn't, she can still help the PCs when they return and need to build their camp; it's just that instead of using her spider powers, she has to build it the old-fashioned mundane way like the PCs would. At the end of the day, Renali still needs to rest somewhere.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Was Gerhard supposed to have the Athletics skill? He has a reaction that allows him to make trip attempts, but without any training in Athletics, he has an incredibly low chance of success against PCs. Furthermore, the adventure mentions he managed to knock down a dragon pillar which is explicitly stated as an athletics check.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Mechalibur wrote:
Was Gerhard supposed to have the Athletics skill? He has a reaction that allows him to make trip attempts, but without any training in Athletics, he has an incredibly low chance of success against PCs. Furthermore, the adventure mentions he managed to knock down a dragon pillar which is explicitly stated as an athletics check.

He probably should have had Athletics, yeah, but he's not a superstar at it. He should have Athletics +14.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Sounds reasonable. Thanks!


Other interesting lore note; the Bonuwat apparently know Gozreh and Desna are separate deities when they worship them together as Shimye-Magalla, and merely represent that small pantheon as one deity. Not the fix I would’ve done, but still super curious!

Dark Archive

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So the three spoiler tags I removed from my review before posting it :D Bit too lazy to remove spoiler tags, but yeah, I really love these three moments from the adventure

So first the minor spoiler part:
Okay, fine I just like reptiles and helping reptile humanoids :D I'm reminded of the sick trodgolyte tribe from Shatterd Star, except this time its group of poisoned kobold miners. And if you save them, they give you password that allows you to avoid fighting with the kobold you meet later on!

So the bigger spoiler:
I'm surprised that CE half dragon boggard cult leader Belmazog is redeemable :D That would have never happened in 1e, text would have pointed out that they would be like quadruple evil from being all four things listed. I also love what little we see of her personality, she is incredibly blunt and kinda dumb. Like she genuinely doesn't realize that Dahak would destroy EVERYONE. I also find it amusing that her evilness comes from inferiority complex and desire to be super special Chosen of Dahak rather than just a bog monster. Also I find it amusing that only really redeemer champions would probably want to redeem her as the book points out: "Though the end result may not be worth the sweat, blood, and tears" regarding to redeeming her(which is beyond scope of the adventure yes :D) But yeah, I love that book is giving NG champions something to do and not just "Oh, the enemy is irredeemable, oh well then I guess they die"

And now the even little bit bigger big spoiler:
I love Kyrion and how much of dork he is for CN young red dragon :D His introduction (after begging for help and being helped) is starting to boast how it is PC's pleasure to meet him until he interrupts himself and corrects himself. I also find it amusing he feels guilty about killing Belmazog and rest of cultists if he was released during the fight to help against them.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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keftiu wrote:
Other interesting lore note; the Bonuwat apparently know Gozreh and Desna are separate deities when they worship them together as Shimye-Magalla, and merely represent that small pantheon as one deity. Not the fix I would’ve done, but still super curious!

This is meant as a point of clarification and something I really wanted to fix as soon as possible. Shimye-Magalla is a good example of something that snuck into canon accidentally and presented something in a way that was not aligned with my vision for the setting as Creative Director. I've no problem with there being pantheons of deities in the setting, as that makes a lot of sense, and Desna and Gozreh being a mini-pantheon in this way is an interesting pairing for sure... but having them "merge together" into one Deity Voltron is illogical from a world-building standpoint in our setting. It should have never seen print in 1st edition in the way it did, and correcting it in 2nd edition to make it obvious that it's a pantheon and not a case of "if a society decides something about the gods, their beliefs change how those gods actually exist."

In the context of the encounter on page 40, I tried to show that the interpretation that the locals worship in this way as being a new deity formed out of the two rose entirely from the misunderstanding of visitors to the area simply not getting it. Something that, alas, happens all the time in the real world in circumstances like this.

Correcting flavor/world-lore errors like this has been one of the tougher things to do, since it's weirdly difficult to convey the idea that we can screw up our world-lore stuff just as we can screw up rules. The fact that it's an error in the lore shouldn't make it more difficult to correct than an error in rules... but it is.

Fortunately, edition changes are a great place for us to course-correct and fix these little errors that have crept in over the years! :-)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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CorvusMask wrote:

So the three spoiler tags I removed from my review before posting it :D Bit too lazy to remove spoiler tags, but yeah, I really love these three moments from the adventure

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

I'm glad you enjoy the spoilers... but saying the 2nd spoiler would have NEVER HAPPENED in 1st edition is not true. There's nothing intrinsic to 2nd edition that made this possible for us to do for the first time... it's merely the first time we decided to tell a story like this. It would have worked pretty much exactly the same in 1st edition had we decided to do Age of Ashes for that game.


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Is it correct that Dragon Pillars have just one action per round (excepting their initial reaction)?

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:

So the three spoiler tags I removed from my review before posting it :D Bit too lazy to remove spoiler tags, but yeah, I really love these three moments from the adventure

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

I'm glad you enjoy the spoilers... but saying the 2nd spoiler would have NEVER HAPPENED in 1st edition is not true. There's nothing intrinsic to 2nd edition that made this possible for us to do for the first time... it's merely the first time we decided to tell a story like this. It would have worked pretty much exactly the same in 1st edition had we decided to do Age of Ashes for that game.

I was bit exaggerating there I admit. :D I know CN boggard in Garuum from Kingmaker and I'm sure there is redeemable evil dragon or half dragon somewhere, and I think there was redeemable CE apocalypse cultists in Shattered Star.

But yeah, there is no intrinsic difference why that couldn't have happened in 1e, its just as you said, this is first time it happened for Belmazog's type of villain and it coincides nicely with new philosophy of putting less focus on evil races being as evil as possible.

Like I can think of similarly dumb bad guys with grand ambitions from 1e who were pretty pitiful, but weren't considered redeemable. It is exaggeration to say it never could have happened in 1e, but do not take it as criticism of 1e, its more of my enjoyment in it happening in first place.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Fumarole wrote:
Is it correct that Dragon Pillars have just one action per round (excepting their initial reaction)?

It is. They zap one person each round. Letting them zap multiple people in a round results in them dishing out far more damage each round than a trap of their level should dish out.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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CorvusMask wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:

So the three spoiler tags I removed from my review before posting it :D Bit too lazy to remove spoiler tags, but yeah, I really love these three moments from the adventure

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

I'm glad you enjoy the spoilers... but saying the 2nd spoiler would have NEVER HAPPENED in 1st edition is not true. There's nothing intrinsic to 2nd edition that made this possible for us to do for the first time... it's merely the first time we decided to tell a story like this. It would have worked pretty much exactly the same in 1st edition had we decided to do Age of Ashes for that game.

I was bit exaggerating there I admit. :D I know CN boggard in Garuum from Kingmaker and I'm sure there is redeemable evil dragon or half dragon somewhere, and I think there was redeemable CE apocalypse cultists in Shattered Star.

But yeah, there is no intrinsic difference why that couldn't have happened in 1e, its just as you said, this is first time it happened for Belmazog's type of villain and it coincides nicely with new philosophy of putting less focus on evil races being as evil as possible.

Like I can think of similarly dumb bad guys with grand ambitions from 1e who were pretty pitiful, but weren't considered redeemable. It is exaggeration to say it never could have happened in 1e, but do not take it as criticism of 1e, its more of my enjoyment in it happening in first place.

Fair enough, but the internet doesn't parse exaggeration, and I'm pretty tired of the old complaint that "Paizo only ever lets beautiful women get redeemed," so when I see folks imply something like "in a 1st edition Pathfinder game, we'd NEVER get something like this with an ugly character," (Not exactly your words, but those would be the words folks who have axes to grind with us/me would use) I feel the need to step in and provide context.

Dark Archive

Yeaaah, I was going more for "She is boggard, half dragon and Dahak cult leader at same time? That is like quadruple evil" :D Appearance didn't even cross my mind.

...Besides, I genuinely believe snakes are most beautiful animals <_< Reptiles and dragons have never registered as ugly to my aesthetic sense.


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Is the Dragon's Eye Charm really supposed to be Light bulk? That seems excessive to me, especially since it can be worn as a necklace. Necklaces, pendants and amulets in the CRB have negligible bulk.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:

We use different cartographers for different Adventure Paths, and they all have their own artistic style. This does mean that now and then, a cartographer's style won't be one someone likes. All feedback is welcome, in any event; just keep it civil.

A really good thing: the map on p. 32 middle left column has brown doors and gray windows, so that you can immediately see which is which. Also, every map that is supposed to have doors appears to have them. (A small thing, but so annoying in play if it's missed!)

A not so good thing: There is no key to the map on the inside front cover (the elven city) which leaves it feeling pretty useless. I can't tell what the little boxes are supposed to mean, and anyway they are so tiny I can barely see them. In past modules the city maps have had marked locations, which I would much prefer. Also, the three main trees could be three separate maps--still on one page, but at a much bigger scale. The space between the trees doesn't convey much information and I would lose it in favor of a larger scale on the key areas.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Mary Yamato wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

We use different cartographers for different Adventure Paths, and they all have their own artistic style. This does mean that now and then, a cartographer's style won't be one someone likes. All feedback is welcome, in any event; just keep it civil.

A really good thing: the map on p. 32 middle left column has brown doors and gray windows, so that you can immediately see which is which. Also, every map that is supposed to have doors appears to have them. (A small thing, but so annoying in play if it's missed!)

A not so good thing: There is no key to the map on the inside front cover (the elven city) which leaves it feeling pretty useless. I can't tell what the little boxes are supposed to mean, and anyway they are so tiny I can barely see them. In past modules the city maps have had marked locations, which I would much prefer. Also, the three main trees could be three separate maps--still on one page, but at a much bigger scale. The space between the trees doesn't convey much information and I would lose it in favor of a larger scale on the key areas.

Getting maps right is a constant job. The map of the city on the inside front cover was something of a last minute addition to the adventure; there's not a lot of really important exploration tracking in the city since the bulk of that section is handled in downtime, so the hope was that the map would simply serve to help players get into the mood rather than to help them track exact character locations.


How exactly does delegating Organize Labor to hired help work?

I cannot see why the PCs could not tell, for example, Amera Lang or Rorsk Axebane something like, "You go organize your own workers. I am contracting you, and it is your company with all the workers."

I cannot find any guidelines on doing such a thing.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Colette Brunel wrote:

How exactly does delegating Organize Labor to hired help work?

I cannot see why the PCs could not tell, for example, Amera Lang or Rorsk Axebane something like, "You go organize your own workers. I am contracting you, and it is your company with all the workers."

I cannot find any guidelines on doing such a thing.

It says that when the PCs delegate work to an NPC, the NPC succeeds, but never critically succeeds, so tally the costs in money and time and be done with it, I presume.


The option for delegating work to an NPC is mentioned for Administrate, the repair tasks, and the upgrade tasks, but it is never once mentioned for Organize Labor.

Are we to assume that Organize Labor can, in fact, be delegated under the same rules?

For that matter, if NPCs always succeed but never critically succeed, does this mean that NPCs always ignore the penalty from, "If you perform downtime activities involving Citadel Altaerein when it’s not successfully Administered, you take a –4 circumstance penalty to your checks"?


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Colette Brunel wrote:

The option for delegating work to an NPC is mentioned for Administrate, the repair tasks, and the upgrade tasks, but it is never once mentioned for Organize Labor.

Are we to assume that Organize Labor can, in fact, be delegated under the same rules?

For that matter, if NPCs always succeed but never critically succeed, does this mean that NPCs always ignore the penalty from, "If you perform downtime activities involving Citadel Altaerein when it’s not successfully Administered, you take a –4 circumstance penalty to your checks"?

I mean, sure. When you hire a contractor to complete a job, the point of hiring a contractor is that they supply the materials and personnel otherwise they're just your employee and PCs don't need to get into the masonry business too.

And NPCs don't actually roll. They just succeed. Delegating is the PCs paying for peace of mind. Rolling is basically tossing dice for the chance to pay half for the upgrades with a chance to critically fail.

I suppose you could say that if the castle isn't administered properly either via a successful check or a NPC administrator then work can't get done because no one can find the building permit and the castle failed its drainage inspection.


Well, it is just that I cannot see any mechanics here actually allowing an NPC to handle Organize Labor. Is that supposed to be possible?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Colette Brunel wrote:
Well, it is just that I cannot see any mechanics here actually allowing an NPC to handle Organize Labor. Is that supposed to be possible?

In theroy yes, an NPC could Organize Labor. It's not as fun for the actual players to not roll dice, of course, and an NPC organizer would NEVER get a Critical Success, so at a certain point it wouldn't make sense if a PC has a great chance to hit a 28 on their check and thus get that level of success...

...but yes, as mentioned elsewhere, an NPC can do any of these downtime activities if you want them to. Rather than having the PCs spend their own time and rolls, they'll need to pay NPCs money and/or roleplay them into cooperation instead.


Does rounding up NPCs for the most basic repair task, the one for simple cleaning, require Organize Labor?

Do NPCs circumvent the -4 penalty for a non-administrated Citadel Altaerein when they gain their automatic regular success?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Colette Brunel wrote:

Does rounding up NPCs for the most basic repair task, the one for simple cleaning, require Organize Labor?

Do NPCs circumvent the -4 penalty for a non-administrated Citadel Altaerein when they gain their automatic regular success?

Since cleaning doesn't require any check for success or any expenditure of gold, no, it doesn't require Organize Labor. Assuming the cleaning is done by a PC. If you want to get NPCs to do it for you it would.

The –4 penalty only applies when a roll is made. NPCs don't roll; you're basically spending money to get a guarenteed success, so the penalty there doesn't apply.

ALL THAT SAID... if your group is just hiring NPCs to do all of these tasks, and not doing them themselves, then it's not really downtime; it's background story stuff that, really, you can get away with not having rules at all. It reduces the fixing up of a castle to something akin to a shopping trip.


Do you have a personal recommendation over which rooms of the citadel should house which upgrades?


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I do not understand the travel speed in Cult of Cinders at all.

Quote:

Most of the travel through the jungle takes place in exploration mode—see pages 479–480 of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook for more information. Each hex on the map is 10 miles across, but the dense jungle is difficult terrain, halving the characters’ travel speed.

If the party does nothing but travel, or use exploration activities that place no limit on their travel Speed, they can move through 2 hexes in a day, but they will not come across any encounters in the hexes they pass through unless the encounter specifically indicates in its description that it cannot be missed.

If the party chooses to utilize an exploration tactic that limits their Speed (like Avoid Notice, Defend, or Investigate), they can move through 1 hex in a day. As long as at least one PC uses Investigate, Scout, or Search, the party automatically discovers a specific encounter in the hex.

Now, according to the core rulebook, with speed 25 feet (that is assuming all characters with heavy armor take off their armor) and no exploration activities to slow them down, characters move 20 miles per day, or merely 10 miles per day in difficult terrain. So if the characters do nothing but move, they can cross 1 hex per day. Meanwhile, if the characters halve their speed with the likes of Investigate or Search (it still irks me that they are separate), they can search only 1 hex per 2 days.

So how is it possible that the adventure prescribes moving through 2 hexes in one day, or 1 hex per day with Investigate or Search? This seems to be an error; either the listed times should be doubled, or the terrain is not actually difficult at all.

Also, how does the wanderer's guide spell play into this at all? It is supposed to halve movement penalties from difficult terrain, so a party in difficult terrain is effectively moving at ~75% speed.


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I would rule that if my party cast Wanderer's Guide every day and did nothing but travel, they could travel two hexes in one day and three the next, and then repeat this cycle. It's basically the same as diagonal movement in combat.

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