Rewriting Book 6 - A grand sendoff of First Edition (GM Only)

Tyrant's Grasp

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After reading many complaints about this Ap ending, I thought It would be interesting to put our creative minds together in order to develop a different last act for the Tyrant Grasp's Ap. What follows here should be intended as a proposal for what I perceive could be a more focused Book 6, but wishes also to be a trend were to post useful statblocks and other DM tools.

Before embarking in this project, it's important to remark how this proposal is not done to denigrate the work behind the actual, published adventure. Tyrant Grasp, as a final 1 Edition adventure with a survival horror dynamic, is a great project, and the authors intent should not be questioned, nor disregarded. What I'll try to articulate in the following posts is merely a different interpretation of the same events, using the same settings and resources.

As such, one thing shall be made clear: the AP's finale shall remain the same. At the end of this adventure, it shall be required to the player characters to sacrifice their lives, and possibly their souls, to stop Tar Baphon's threat. What I'll try to propose is a different journey towards the same destiny.

My proposal shall developed in 3 chapters:
1) a rewriting of the first 2 parts of book 6 ("The nascent wilds" and "the fortress of the dead"); this shall be done in a few parts, since it explores 4 areas.
2) a reimagining of part 3 , with the inclusions of different encounters and npcs; this shall also be in a few parts, this time to proper present both the encounters and the atmosphere of each fight.
3) a specific section on the Whispering Tyrant, detailing not only the fight with Tar Baphon himself, but also a poetic suggestion in order to, in my opinion, better connect this specific fight with the Pc's personal story in the narrative.

These sections shall be intermixed by other suggestions, like a few extra "scenes" which could be developed into the narrative of book 6.

Writing down this will require a few weeks (english is not my native language), during which I'll be open to suggestions and considerations to interview them into the narrative.

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

One thing to consider is how you might use the shard of the shield which is in the possession of the Pathfinder Society as a result of #10-10: The Shattered Shield.

Thank you for that note, Pjrogers. I'll see to implement this in part 2.

Part 1 - Section A - Hammer Rock's ruins and Keirodera wilds.

An Overview.
Looking at this first part of the book, I find a few complains.

Basically, the Pc are given two quite similar "fetch quests", which involve find the bodies of a few heroes recently killed. It seems a bit redundant to me, also because the first team is given more description that the latter. On another level, the outcome of such quest grants what I perceive to be trivial results: by retrieving the bodies of the first team, the Pcs gain a bit of loot and limited knowledge over a certain trap, while returning the bones of Hammer Rock's defender to the surface grants rest to a friendly ghost, and nothing more. It's a cool moment, but could have been build with more consequences.

On another level, the exploration of Keirodera forest seems ... unnecessary, especially in a ticking clock situation. For a group of level 16 characters, which are probably moderately magical, crossing a 3 mile wide forest to reach a location inside it should be a trivial matter, since of all the enemies presented in Keirodera, only the wild hunt horse can fly. Moreover, since Baphon recent passing, there should be a visibile, army wide passage which cuts through the forest, so infused by negative energy that I doubt anything would grow along that road.

In a few words, Reaching Hammer Rock should not have been a quest. I understand, however, that the forest's trip is given as a way to grant a different theme of enemies and challenges on the physical level, and also explore the life granting effect of the radiant fire. therefore, the forest should not be completely removed, but involved in the plot in a different way.

But lets start with the beginning.

Find a way for a climatic showdown in front of the Starstone Cathedral?

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

A potential problem here is that the things that don't work differ between readers... but effort deserves attention, so I'll be looking in.

Shadow Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I shall watch with great interest.

Perhaps part 5 needs the same. I was underwhelmed, although I appear to be in the minority here.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Cat-thulhu wrote:

I shall watch with great interest.

Perhaps part 5 needs the same. I was underwhelmed, although I appear to be in the minority here.

I'm with you there, honestly. I adored the Arcadian setting and want to see so much more of it, but as a brief visit in the midst of an apocalyptic crisis in the Inner Sea, it felt disconnected and unsatisfying to me in sum. Sort of the issues people had with the Cinderlands excursion in Curse of the Crimson Throne writ large, especially as I had previously been ignorant of Arazni's connection to Arcadia, or even that the Inner Sea and Arcadia had any significant contact beyond one Ulfen colony, let alone stretching back so far as predating the Shining Crusade. And especially the presentation of the reveal of how the obols could be used to engineer Tar-Baphon's defeat felt... lacking to me. I'm sure some of that is the difference between text and play, but despite her characterization as a magical expert who had made a study of the tree the shares were made from, something about the expository NPC felt off in being the one to outline things, especially given the enormous sacrifice involved. Maybe something to do with how newly she's introduced and the general potential sense of disconnect from Whispering Tyrant activity, the idea that someone the PCs have just met and doesn't really know who Tar-Baphon is, is telling them they need to annihilate themselves completely to stop him. Or maybe it's how hypothetical the whole plan feels, given how much of a sacrifice it requires.

I've realized that, to proper present Hammer Rock, we need also to address "Part 0" of the Adventure, namely the Pc arriving in Vellumis.

The first location of this adventure takes place in the city of Vellumis, which has been recently attacked by the undead and is under evacuation. It's a grim image, which I like, and could grant many good roleplay moment, even allowing a meeting with other npcs from book 3 and 4.

However, we get a very vague overview of "what's going on". Nor we get an idea of which forces are harassing Lastwall survivors, nor we get the any chances for the Pcs fight against something which may grant immediate benefit to Vellumis.

Looking at the very short timeframe of this adventure (it's indicated how Baphon blew up Hammer Rock just 3 days before the Pc's return), it is supposed that the Pcs are - somehow - well informed to where everything is, and able to quickly reach this community. This surely would require a proper set up in Book 5, by either allowing the Pcs to communicate with a few Npc while remaining in Avistan.

As a note, Vellumis is site of a Pathfinder Society Lodge, so it's possible to also craft in this location meaningful interactions with pathfinder agents, which are ready to storm Gallowgarden and may need the Pc's counsel over potential treats.

This is a perfect moment to have a PFS agent contact the pcs after their presence is made known in the city. This agent could either be informed not only about the situation of Gallowgarden, but also of the dire danger that Aroden's shield shard's represent, and quickly spread the information through the channel of Pathfinder society. With a simple conversation, the Pcs may have saved the whole society! Otherwise, he might simply thank the Pcs for informations already divulged and grant the pcs a few ioun stones.

Back on the plot, Varvatos speech should be left untouched. She's great and busy, and should get a few lesser restorations.

However, the Pcs may inquire over the Second Sword deductions, since they have directly witnessed how Tar Baphon is able to teleport entire armies without needing to be in a certain location. Her logic seem contradictory to me: even without the pc insight, any survivor from the knight of Ozem may have witnessed the WT disappear with a good chunk of his army before the Radiant Fire detonation.

- By rules, Baphon could have used his contingency trick to teleport his army in any location in a 2000 mile wide radius, including the plaza outside Starstone Cathedral -

So, instead on the "how" Baphon did suddenly appear with an army on the island of Kortos, the mystery should shift on the "how did Baphon managed to gather in 1 day an army of 5000+ undead knights (all with heavy armor, no less!)", "Where do they come from?". Undead do not appear from nothing, especially an army so well armed.

Varvados will explain the pcs how, after nuking Renchurch, Baphon has spread his minions to attack many little villages of Lastwall and Ustalav, with the clear intent to regaining another army through widespread slaughter and reanimation. Entire cemeteries have been desecrated or excavated, and Varvatos thinks he might have reconstitute his lost forces in about a week or so. However, by doing so the BB is now fighting a war on many sides, and thought his forces are vast and dreadful, his enemies know well how to fight undead and, thought blood and sacrifice, are keeping the line, denying him the opportunity to pull his forces together.

Also, we should have got some kind of "ultimatum" by Baphon the Pcs are made aware of. Like a message spread to all the monarchs of Avistan, declaring "Stay down or you'll be broken like Lastwall, burn away by my fury".

And we should get to know how the whole world answered by replying: "We broke you before, Baphy. We'll broke you again."

Regardless the fight against fear, the fact that, even in this kind of situation, Baphon was able to appear on the island of Kortos with what could be considerate - judging by mere appearances - his best troops, lets the Second Sword that such an army was gained somewhere, and since the strike at Hammer Rock fortress would otherwise seem a waste of resources from the Lich's side (to her, the main objective was to kill a very old bronze dragon), she fears that such fortress may have been guarding something dire. A menace that the Second Sword divinations easily confirmed: something is stirring under Hammer Rock.

To explore further implications regarding the ability of Tar Baphon to teleport his army, Varvatos may present the Pcs to Knight Arcanist Stalgard. He could be presented as an expert over the topics of Witchgates, and explain how Baphon did his "trick".

Basically, what I suggest is that Stalgard present the Pcs with this theory: Tar Baphon could not have created his mass teleport contingency plan without further aid by the "Witchgate network", and that in making such a great teleportation in short time, he depleted much of the energies of this network, and therefore should not be able
to repeat his trick, or he would have already conquered Caliphas.

After this introduction, I would like to focus on the character of Stalgard since I believe he could be used as an interesting junction point between the first 2 levels of Stalgard, and since he's also to be the only not undead friendly npc the Pcs are to meet until part 3. I shall do this in the following post.

The character of Stalgard and "fighting despair"

To me, Stalgard should be used as a pivotal character for this act, since he's not only the Pc's taxi to Hammer Rock, but also the only living friendly character they met for a while. He's however relegated to a scout role, and by the book should be implemented as a Dm npc only to facilitate the Pc's adventure using travel and scout spells ... Let's change that a bit.

1) First and foremost, Stalgard should have some connection with Hammer Rock. He could have been from there, or have served there for a few years over his long life.

This element grants this npc more connection with what is found on the second level of Hammer Rock (which is facilitated by having a dwarf around), and - more interesting to me - also allows to build him with come kind of "survivor complex" which is stoic yet pessimistic nature seems already near to. This also can have him resonate more with the pcs: he's too a survivor, but while the Pcs where spared from their first death by some kind of miracle, he simply escaped by mere chance, being away from Hammer Rock.

2) Secondly, he should have been acquaintance as some level with the scout team. At the very least, he should have guided them to the fortress, either by leading them to a starting point, or by having given them some informations, only to see them fail. For example, He could have used his magic to make sure that "the coast was clear", and safe to teleport only to have them fall prey, hours later, to the hidden perils of the fortress and his surroundings, while he was busy helping somewhere else.

This development aggravates his "survivor complex" and puts those deaths on a more personal level.

Those changes allows for the following threads to develop:

a) Stalgard can become a grumpy source of infodump, by giving more insight on the structure of Hammer Rock, its story and present, foreshadowing a few npcs, especially the possibility of the bronze dragon being present at the fortress.

b) Stalgard knew were the traps were, and can indicate them to the pcs so that they can used them against the fortress enemies, or deactivate them to allow the safe passage of allied forces at a later point.

c) Stalgard's got a secondary mission, which will have him busy but may grant the Pcs further insight, if they help him. This can be to recover the scout team bodies to either bury them or try to resurrect them, or to answer unsolved questions regarding if and when the WT went to Hammer Rock, how many followed him, and such.

d) Stalgard stoic nature it's hiding a great sorrow and depression from the losses Lastwall has suffered in the last month against an apparently invincible foe. He might be in need of inspiration from the Pcs resilience and offer in return a concrete feedback over their heroism and spirit of sacrifice which is otherwise lacking until part three, and even then not on a personal level. The valor of Tyrant Grasp's heroes may well inspired a scarred dwarf to hope for the future and go on with the fight.

Moving on a more meta level, Stalgard interests and level of detail varies in relations of the Pc's interests, and to assist DM needs:
a) he could be able to warm the pcs over many hazards of the first part of the adventure or be completely in the dark of those.
b) he could offer to investigate over certain aspects of the plot the Pcs are either not interested or directed towards, like Keirodera's forest nature or - if the pcs choose to rush down the fortress - the scout team's fate. (on those topics, more later)
c) he could serve as a grumpy mail man, scrying and sending over other npcs to allow the party to keep contacts with the rest of the fight without expending resources to do so.

I would suggest to have him foreshadow at least the wyrmwraith's presence, having followed the scout team's exploration inside Hammer Rock using scrying until the the sensor was suddenly destroyed by the spectral dragon manifestation, or by similar means.

I'll further elaborate this point while talking on how, in my version, the scout team ended up broken.

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The whole transition from Book 5 to Book 6 is very strange to me. The PCs are teleported from Renchuch, Virlych to Arcadia at the end of Book 4/start of Book 5. I don't see where they get any information or intelligence on the state affairs in Lastwall during the approximately three weeks the spend in Arcadia, but nonetheless they quickly arrive at Vellumis in Lastwall at the beginning of Book 6. How did they know to go there? Why wouldn't they have gone elsewhere in Virlych or Lastwall? How did they avoid the TB's armies which have essentially overrun almost all of Lastwall by the time they return?

Another apparently odd thing is the timing of the radiant fire event at Hammer Rock. Varvatos does say that it occurred three days ago. However, we're later told on page 6 that the fey forest created by the radiant fire came into existence a "few weeks ago." These two statements seem to be at odds with one another.

That is completely right, pjrogers! I didn't notice it ...

Since the two facts can't be both true, I've decided that in my version the timeline presented by Varvatos is the right one. Keirodera forest was born 3 days before the pc's arrival.

Regarding how the Pcs can know how Lastwall is faring, I believe the best solution is to have a character from book 3 or 4 to scry on them and tell them, or make ms Olviris in book 5 incline to send messages in Avistan on the Pc's behalf. Probably, the adventure assumes that high level pcs have the resources to make such needs a trivial endeavor.

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Part 1 - Hammer Rock's surface level and its surroundings.

Let us take a quick overview on the first floor of the fortress of Hammer Rock's, its inhabitants and surroundings. As I've proposed, Keirodera forest it's a location which takes time away from the main mission of this part of the adventure, and such shall be presented in a separate section as "extra content", with the intent to reward players who, seeing a magical fairy forest next to their objective, will have their character dedicate time and effort to discover its origins and, potentially, its purpose.

So, Hammer Rock's upper level is almost devoid of enemies, which is good, since there is a 50 ft. wyrmwraith that's basically death incarnate who should murder anything - alive or undead - not able to resurrect itself.

My problem is that there is also a "death chariot" which, somehow, formed itself due to "many horses dying", which has been left untouched by Ptemiazrol just because "it was there". Now, since a death coach is a funny visual enemy, I'll keep it but it shall not be in the stables, nor being born from the slaughter of the horses ...

Another problem is that, if Ptemiazrol see himself as a protector of Hammer Rock so much that he need to punish and devour any other defender, the presence of the tomb giants on the lower level becomes absurd, since the ruins of Glerhadring are basically just the floor below Hammer Rock and the Wyrmwraith can lifesense eveything in 60 ft at any time. He should have crushed ad devoured any of those giants (who, by my understanding, are unable to command him and utterly helpless against it: Ptemiazrol need to roll a natural 1 to be controlled by them).

So, let us make some explanations why he's not done so. And I've got an easy one: Baphon's is a "BB" - a Blasphemous Bastard. Arriving at Hammer Rock, the Lich Tyrant felt the presence of the draconic spirit and, while it was still forming itself, simply wish/whispered to him the right things to make sure he didn't retain any true self but was simply a killing machine (he's got a +30 bluff, after all). Due to this, Ptemiazrol cannot be reasoned nor redeemed ... he's under Tar' control without even realizing it! He's tasked to kill everything on the upper level of Hammer Rock, and remain within 1 mile from the fortress, never going down, had he cannot understand that the whispers in his mind are not is own thoughts!

And then, since Baphon's a BB, he invited the tomb giants to Hammer Rock with the purpose of having them first regroup the bodies on the sub level, only to be killed by the wyrmwraith and resurrected as greater wraiths the moment they walked out of Glerhadring. Baphon's did this only to laugh at their demise, since the fate of Klaur had put him into a worse mood than normal, and since another lieutenant (maybe dear Moloum) asked the WT for new flesh for experiments and necrocrafts.
And so the "buyers" were betrayed and sold by someone that cannot bother to even care for the consequences, since he's going to become a divine BB next week!

As such, right know the giants are technically trapped, and should have lost at least 2 of them to the Wraith's claws. Those corpses should be found in the middle of Hammer Rock plaza, maybe with a chart full of bodies. The Wyrmwraith therefore has got 3 dread wraiths: 2 large size and 1 small size. This makes him a battle against him and his entourage a CR 18/19, which should be climatic enough against a level 16 party with is expecting it, and dreadful against an unprepared party.

Tsomar role remains the same in this adventure. After his escape from the undead's control, he resurfaced, only to be destroyed by the wyrmwraith, and since then has found himself stuck in the room he first die. He's cool, and I'll elaborate further on this npc while talking about his quest in a later post. Thought, I must note we get a friendly ghost just the last adventure with a similar role.

I also must point out how the temple of Iomedeae should receive a greater significant since it somehow remained relatively untouched (and unlooted) even with the BB Baphon himself passing literally at 30 ft from it!
It should be pointed out how much "strange" this is. The structure could work as a natural place were to rest, and should be under an effect of forbiddance, or similar effect, maybe keyed against the undead.
That seems also a good point to gave the heroic pcs a vision of how things are going in Absalom, possibly while wielding that fancy sword on the altar.
Lastly, that fancy +3 holy silver longsword should totally gain the Oathammer treatment, becoming a unique kind of holy avenger after killing enough betrayers (just ignore the holy avenger from level 3, at this point)

Now, regarding the surrounding of Hammer Rock

a) the Weird haunt is quite interesting and should be left.

b) Those traps in the fortress also could be useful, and i thing could be made funnier if were made not as an obstacle, but as a potential resource against the Wyrmwraith: the pcs got to fight 2 dragons inside dungeons were they could not even hover! This time, the Wyrmwraith can fly over the nocturnal sky as he pleases, and should be allowed to do such. If the Pcs are in the open, he can attack them from hundreds of feet, so the Pcs should get the possibility to use Hammer rock's traps against it if they play smart.

To make those traps and haunt relevant, i'll have Stalgard teleport the Pcs at 1 mile and an half away from the fortress, into a structure which was engulfed by Keirodera forest, like a stone watchtower on top of an hill. The pcs will need to walk a bit, and could potentially start to look inside the forest for the missing team.

I'll elaborate in the next part my thought on them, and my usage of the dreaded death coach.

Part 1 - The tragic tale of the first scout group.

I'll propose now my version of the scout group, and how I believe they should be involved in the Tsomar Trant quest.

In the Book these guys receive quite a build up, and are even offered as potential Pc replacements. Yet, their impact on the story is minimal even with the supposed informations they could have. Also, in part 2 we get a long "fetch quest" to retrieve other dead bodies, this time from the inside of Fallowdeep. Since i find this plot element repetitive, I'll just try mix the two things.

This requires to talk about Tosmar Trant a bit. While the idea of being "the last to leave the fortress" is poetic, I found it a bit inconsistent since most of his companions have been turned literally into dust. To say that, somehow, a few bodies remained almost whole and there, arbitrarily, taken downstair by Baphon's entourage seems strange, considering how the tomb giants should have been called with the purpose of gathering the corpses. I'd like to propose a different approach: Tsomar Trant is honor bound to remain in his condition until "all hammer's rock defenders are put to rest". This means, primary, that he would like to have all the body parts contained in the tomb giants charts to be taken away, and buried on the surface.

However, I'd like to put another nail into the oracle's soul and have him witness the arrival of the scout team in Hammer Rock and their demise, unable to assist them since he was still reforming from the wyrmwraith barrage. As such, he feels unworthy to leave Hammer Rock until those heroes, whose bodies and spirits have been taken down to the earth, are put to rest. What will happen at this end of this shall be disclosed in a later moment.

Now, regarding the group, I think a 5 man band should band should do the trick. I’ll add, therefore, mr Torumard the iron Mattock to Ianthras team because i like it, and his ultimate fate allows an interesting situation for the party. I’d make him a fighter/monk.

I also think that least 1/2 of the scout group which visited Hammer Rock should have been acquaintance with the fortress, either by having served there or by having visited it in the last few months. In this way, it makes sense they were selected among many others for this mission, and also strengthen their connection with Tsomar. While Torumand could have been a free lancer for the fortress, i think another of these should have been the half orc cleric-scout Birte, whose origins may actually be somewhat related to Capitan Trant himself, who otherwise is depicted as a ghost without a concrete past.

Now, to explore the locations of the bodies of these heroes, I’ll propose a chronicle of their travels. I immagine them arriving - during the day - in the outskirts of Keirodera’s forest with Stalgard, to then proceed towards the fortress while the wizard dwarf started exploring area. The abilities of both Birte and Garumel should have allowed them to detect the weird haunt and to overcome the traps at the doors. They started to explore the fortress and report how there were tracks of an army passing but no traces of survivors. There informations could have been related to Stalgard through the use a telepathic bond or such.

The group demise came while they were inside the first level of the fortress by an ambush from the Wyrmwraith, possibly in the area B9. After a few rounds of combat, the creature was able to remove the magical defense of the group and then started to harass them from long range, first dividing them, and a later point assaulting them with such force that a desperate and drained Ianthras was forced to teleport how much people he could away. And so, he teleported Birte and Garumel away, leaving both Torumand and Gavix to the wyrms clutches. However, since each of those heroes is a worthy character, the due actually managed to elude Ptemiazrol and take refuge into the lower level of Hammer Rock.

At this point, the group is divided, with Ianthras, Birte and Garumel “safe” in the forest and Gavin and Torumand behind enemy lines.

For the first and larger group, i thought of this development: enraged for being “saved", the paladin almost storm off with the intent to try to rescue the others, but is stopped. This leads to an heated argument that distracts the group from a surprise attack from none other than the forest blight, who had senses Ianthras unfortunate teleportation inside his domain, and that cost the drained elf sorcerer his life. The two remaining adventures fight together the blight, which is actually destroyed and forced to rejuvenate in his lair, but not before having one of his viper vines engulf Ianthras body underground. Unable to contact help, drained from the fight, Birte and Garumel decide to spent the night outside the forest, recuperate and retrive in the morning Ianthras body, in order to resurrect him and then try to recover together the other’s heroes bodies. Why the blight did this shall be discussed in another section. All of this may have been told to Stalgard, who could either have been called away for another emergency or still be in the area, maybe assisting with the search of Ianthras body, only to be called away after facing another attack.

The fate of Birte and Garumel is sealed in the night, when from the lower levels of the fortress a dreadful, ghostly chariot emerges and ambushes them while sleeping. Being hit by fear and dread, Birte’s body and soul is taken by the coach (leaving nothing behind), and the paladin again powerless when the coach simply retreats. This makes Garumel blindly charge towards first the coach, and later the fortress, ready for anything. Along this way he meets with an enemy npc which spells its doom. Who this npc might or should be shall be discussed at a later point, but the paladin’s body and possession are taken inside Fallowdeep, probably inside area F3.

Meanwhile, bot Torumand and Gavix were able to sneak and infiltrate into the Glerhadring section without alerting the 8 tomb giants, who are not - by the book - patrolling or keeping an eye out for intruders, unless you visit their rooms. In a few hours they were able to recuperate and explore a bit undetected, finding the hole leading to Fallowdeep. It’s at this point that Torumand decided to further explore the complex, reaching the are D1 of Fallowdeep, having Gavix fall short behind. There, Torumand knew his demise by a surprise attack from an invisible Veyhas, His body, cut down by a finger of death followed by a flyby attack, was later taken to Lyanthari (i’ll propose different stats for her), which was able to reanimate and cursed him as an advanced Relictner morthic and the interrogate him. Before that, she called the ecorche Jabul, offering the dwarf skin to him as a gift for his faith and good work. When Lyanthari learned of part of the group escaping, she had her own transportation, an unique death chariot with special proprieties, to retrieve them. I’ll discuss further of Lyanthari’s entourage at a later point.

Left alone, Gavix was taken by true fear and opted to escape Hammer Rock. She reached level 1 and was too almost able to see the exit, but the sun was setting and in the long shadows of the fortress she found her death from the wyrmwraith’s claws, raising form the floor to take here.

As a last note, I’d like to propose a name for this “scout party”, cause its seems quite generic. I'm open for suggestion since I don't find one right now.

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I’ll elaborate now further on the role of Tsomar Trant on the adventure.

From a meta prospective, he’s basically a “free heal point” inside the dungeon which serves also as the last “social quest” of the campaign, aside diplomacy with enemy npcs and the taunting of the Whispering Tyrant himself. To allow Tsomar ghost to depart,
you need to put to rest the bodies of all Hammer Rock defenders, which is poetic and a plausible reason for one that has been a ghost for around 3-4 days. However, doing such curtesy doesn’t grant the party any boon or resource, while it “forces” them to explore all the dungeon of Fallowdeep, negating another potential “choice” of action, namely to collapse the entire fortress through the use of high level spells/powers.

As a character, I find also his role a bit lacking, since he provides informations to the Pcs, but refuses to follow them even in the first level. To me, he should have made a bit more occupied and mobile, to follow the pcs at least in the dwarves ruins after they have sufficiently clean up them. I’d have him go around, speaking with other, lesser spiritual presences and dispelling a few minor haunts.

What to me could be Tsomar’s main role is to show the Pcs the true dread of their adversaries through visions. Basically, I’have him use his oracular ghost powers to “mass possess” the party, in order to give them a first person point of view of what Captain Trant witnessed. In such manner, we can allow some kind of “interaction” between the Pcs and their main antagonists, with the focus on Tar Baphon himself. Tsomar may be able to do this once a day, or once every time the Pcs present him a success in his quest, which grants him hope that allows him to relive those dreadful moments without falling into despair.

I’d like to propose at least 4 visions:
1) The moment of the radiant fire detonation, to - finally - directly show the pcs what happen when you are caught in the blast, and show them the annihilation of Hammer Rock and its survivors. This scenario would have been the memories of the still living Trant.
2) The arrival of the grim army of the Whispering Tyrant. This scenario would be what a barely aware Tsomar saw through the ethereal place. It’l like to presente, with this scenario, further changes to the WT entourage, and the introduction of a few npc which shall shine in part 3.
3) The captivity of Tsomar, it's coming to realize his nature as a ghost and his speech with Gildais. This section is to show how Tsomar was dominated, and possibly used by the WT entourage. To make this momento worthy, I’ve have a mayor npc be the one who took him under control (possibly Ceto), and also give the Pcs a “taste” of what entails for an undead to be controlled through energy domination. This is due to allow them to not only sympathize with Tsomar, but also with Gildais, which should came through his speech to Tsomar regarding the urges of his new form, and how to express them without “losing yourself in them”
4) The armies of the dead, and the Tyrant’s departure. Tsomar may have witnessed the moment in which the WT stormed off Klrau’s halls, harassing his underlings and minions for their “Utter incompetence”, and have him do an “evil overlord speech”, praising a few minions while menacing all the others, giving them an ultimatum. After that, Tsomar may have witnessed the departure through the teleportation circle of the “First Dread Legion”, giving the players a taste of what they are gonna fight in part 3.

I invite you all to elaborate on this possible visions.

Moving on, regarding Tsomar’s quest, I’d like to allow to players to gain some kind of blessing to help the pcs in their battles with the WT’s generals, and possibly with the lich himself. I’d propose, at minimum, that the pcs gain a revelation from the oracle mystery of battle. More judicious Gms may simply grant them the ability to “count as mythic” when they’ll be subjected to the WT aura of absolute dread, and give them general bonuses against fear having “accepted death”.

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Part 1 - Glerhadring's ruins, environment and the tomb giants
(Section a)

Regarding Glerhadring's ruins, I find it an interesting insert. While I'm not a fan of the "secret ruin" of Fallow Deep buried under the other ruin inside the castle, Glerhadring si thematically relevant since it shows the Pcs how much older the world really his, and how a group of people can dedicate their existence to a seemingly impossible aim, which is a good lesson.

I also really like the "Hall of oats" area, but i find it a bit strange how this area and the relic inside has gone somehow ignored by the modern's day Hammer Rock's defenders, since a few of those are dwarf. Having "unquiet dwarf spirits" in your underground floor seems really not a great idea, especially when you live in a nation founded to guard and contain another specific undead ... The image of the rusty gate is iconic, but I would have the place walled, only to have been recently opened by the giants how took notice the old passage way.

I also like the idea of a composite fight with the tomb giants, namely a fight that sees other enemies arrive in the following rounds from help. It's a rare thing inside a dungeon, when should be in fact the norm. The giants CR seem to reflect this, since even if they fought together with all their forces (8 tomb giants + Eastapiron + rhal + chaltchot the rawhead), they could be still taken by a group of buffed level 16 pcs.

What i find lacking is that, inside these sections, we find no mention of the survivor's bodies or the refugees that had flock to Hammer Rock fortress. While it's possible these bodies have been moved downstair in request of the npcs of Fallowdeep, it depends much around how long it was since the WT detonated the radiant fire. It has been 3 days, as its said by Varvados, or 23 days, as written in the "fey mythology section?". Since we got with the first assumption, they must have been ungodly quick to clean all of this.

Also, none of the forces of this level directly block the Pc's advance towards Fallowdeep, nor they carry any useful insight of informations. They could not even notice the pcs if they employed any high level scout option (invisibility, ethereal forms, arcane eyes or simply high stealth rolls). The adventure takes notice of it, and explains how Eastapiron can be tricked into letting them pass. My consideration is that, since the Pcs should have met Tsomar right before the go downstairs, there is no need for further chatting, since the most direct line from the floor to Fallowdeep should be known by the ghost, and it's not blocked.

From a meta prospective, the giants are an entirely optional encounter, and are plot relevant only because their leader has got a few soldier bones inside his amazing fossil golem armor (a construct that, by its rules, can only be build using fossilized bones). They are, basically, there for loot and xp. The giants seem also to be on "low alert". They do not move around the complex except if they hear battlecries. We don't get their daily schedule of activities, even thought they should be somewhat busy having just arrived, to either regroup and corpses which survived the radiant fire or to rebuild the keep to their needs.

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Part 1 - Glerhadring's ruins, environment and the tomb giants
(Section a)

Regarding Glerhadring's ruins, I find it an interesting insert. While I'm not a fan of the "secret ruin" of Fallow Deep buried under the other ruin inside the castle, Glerhadring si thematically relevant since it shows the Pcs how much older the world really his, and how a group of people can dedicate their existence to a seemingly impossible aim, which is a good lesson.

I also really like the "Hall of oats" area, but i find it a bit strange how this area and the relic inside has gone somehow ignored by the modern's day Hammer Rock's defenders, since a few of those are dwarf. Having "unquiet dwarf spirits" in your underground floor seems really not a great idea, especially when you live in a nation founded to guard and contain another specific undead ... The image of the rusty gate is iconic, but I would have the place walled, only to have been recently opened by the giants how took notice the old passage way.

I also like the idea of a composite fight with the tomb giants, namely a fight that sees other enemies "join up" in the following rounds from help. It's a rare thing inside a dungeon, when should be in fact the norm. The giants CR seem to reflect this, since even if they fought together with all their forces (8 tomb giants + Eastapiron + rhal + chaltchot the rawhead), they could be still taken by a group of buffed level 16 pcs.

What i find lacking is that, inside these sections, we find no mention of the survivor's bodies or the refugees that had flock to Hammer Rock fortress. While it's possible these bodies have been moved downstair in request of the npcs of Fallowdeep, it depends much around how long it was since the WT detonated the radiant fire. It has been 3 days, as its said by Varvados, or 23 days, as written in the "fey mythology section?". Since we got with the first assumption, they must have been ungodly quick to clean all of this.

Also, none of the forces of this level directly block the Pc's advance towards Fallowdeep, nor they carry any useful insight of informations regarding the situation downstairs. They could not even notice the pcs if they employed any high level scout option (invisibility, ethereal forms, arcane eyes or simply high stealth rolls). The adventure takes notice of it, and explains how Eastapiron can be tricked into letting them pass. My consideration is that, since the Pcs should have met Tsomar right before they go downstairs, there is no need for further chatting, since the most direct line from the floor to Fallowdeep should be known by the ghost, and it's not blocked.

From a meta prospective, the giants are an entirely optional encounter, and are plot relevant only because their leader has got a few soldier bones inside his amazing fossil golem armor (a construct that, by its rules, can only be build using fossilized bones ... so, was this a last moment decision?).

They are, basically, there for loot and xp.

The giants seem also to be on "low alert". They do not move around the complex except if they hear battlecries. We don't get their daily schedule of activities, even thought they should be somewhat busy having just arrived, to either regroup and corpses which survived the radiant fire or to rebuild the keep to their needs. I mean, the roof is just 2 feet higher than them! They must be careful into swinging those long scythes.

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Part 1 - Glerhadring's ruins, environment and the tomb giants
(Section b)

Since we have to get the pcs a few more fights before the descend into Fallowdeep, I think we need a way to make this cabal of giants plot relevant, either by making them a true obstacle, or by using them to further foreshadow the dangers of the levels below.

I'll offer two possible solutions:

A) The pallid knights

Eastapiron's cabal is not a random group of giants called by the WT, but a sect of Urgathoa's worshippers called by Lyanthari after she discovered how this entire complex filled with undead had not build a proper temple to her goddess. The shame! In this interaction, they are lazing off after just finished clearing up Glerhadring and are waiting their mistress's orders before properly consacrate this temple, which shall become "the beacon of the pallid princess faith" in the newly named "gravelands". In this interaction, the group is only minimally endangered by the Wyrmwraith, since they are in no need to go outside and shall be escorted/teleported out by their mistress should the need arise. They become plot relevant for 2 reasons:

1) There should be, somewhere in the complex, dozens of corpses somehow still intact, which are being moved or are being prepared to construct an urgathoan altar. These bones should be the first objective of the pcs in order to appease Trant's ghost. Removing these bones, which are being regrown into full corpses, should put the pcs in direct conflict with the giants.

2) They can become a powerful resource for Lyanthari. The daughter of Urgathoa has now got the chance to fall back from the pc's attack, move upstair and regroup with her followers. This option is still valid even if the pcs simply kill the giants. Image the pcs forcing the priestess to retreat, only to have her reappear after a few hours, followed by juju zombies Eastapiron, Rhal, ecc ...

B) The betrayed gamblers

Eastapiron's cabal is trapped downstair by the Wyrmwraith, and are waiting from answers for an emissary they send to fallowdeep. Such being, which could have been the true leader of the cabal, has angered one of the undead npc faithful to the tyrant (possibly Ceto) which his claims of betrayal from the WT's part, and has been properly killed and made and undead (I suggest a advanced devourer, since they are the right size, and lacking in this adventure). Unable to get a clear answer and not wanting to risk any more of his people lives, Eastapiron has decided to "hole up" since they can at least wait a few weeks with the food they got, while Rhal plans a strategy how to safely evacuate the most of them.

In this scenario, the giants are not actually hostile on sight and having them go free would damage any future alliances between the tomb giants cabals and the WT forces. However, they fully intend to "cut of their losses" even if informed that the Wyrmwraith has been defeated, either by gaining control of the whole Hammer Rock for their purposes, or to simply escape with all the bodies they found, some of which they may still have with them.

This would require diplomacy from the pc's part to either intimidate the giants to move away and don't return/attack them at a later point, or to convince them the area shall soon me either occupied by WT loyalists of retaken by Lastwall's forces. I'd suggest a DC 33 for each, with a +5 bonus if they can prove the Wyrmwraith's demise or bribe the giants, with a -5 penaly however for each request they make to the giants other then "leave".

On this account, we could have the Chimera match proposed by Clatchol as a way to defuse the situation, by allowing the pcs to "bet" parts of their equipment in exchange for the giant's leaving their loot (in the form of either the bodies or the belonging of Hammer Rock's defenders and refugees). Some Dm may have Eastapiron being a sore loose and start to bet off more and more things, to allows pcs to get even more loot from them.

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Part 2 - Fallowdeep

Let us now explore the dungeon of Fallowdeep. From a meta prospective, the dungeon is easily divided in 3 main areas, each heavily characterized by their respective controllers, while the other tunnels are described as a 1 mile while maze of corridors and storage rooms filled with undead. There is also a central area, which is immediately accessible by the Pc and that contains their "main objective" (and, as such, is guarded by the (supposedly) strongest enemy).

I'll now be giving an overview of the Dungeon itself.

While the three main areas are well thought, the dungeon lacks to me of dynamic elements.

First and foremost, it lacks any form of "dread" that a location which as housed thousands of undead, and that was recently be visited by hundreds more, should have. I'm thinking about some kind of environmental effect, which may penalize the characters. Probably, the implication is that there is such effect, but since the Pc have their obols, they are somewhat immune to that.

I'd make so that, inside Fallowdeep, any undead gains fast healing 5, which grows to 30 for the profane troops. Living beings should instead get permanently sickened or get 1d6 negative energy damage each minute, and have themselves become undead if they were to be killed in this area. That's something trivial for the Pcs, which thanks to the obols ignore the damage, but that narratively "forces" them to go alone.

Secondly, as pointed out by the adventure, clever pcs may be able to literally have the dungeon sections collapse, making so that the undead present in each all cannot even arrive at the teleportation circle. While each of the undead leader may be able, through time ad effort, to remove any obstacles, like the debris of a fallen corridor, its a process that cannot be overcome by mere minutes, and in a round based action economy that's like to have "solved" a problem.

To avoid this, it's proper to discuss about Fallowdeep defenses.
While it's not stated at any point, i believe we should work with the assumption that the entire place was, and still is, under some form of "divine locking", which has allowed his existence to go undetected for 900 years by a force of paladins which as, in time, literally build a keep 50 meters upstairs!

This should have been some kind of blessing from Baalzebul which had made the entire area, and everybody in it, not subjected to divinations, and that has also contained in it the negative energies, which would have otherwise polluted the hole area like it happened at Vyrlich. The structure of Fallowdeep itself should be so infused of negative energy to be extra hard to damage (fall of force level of durability at least), otherwise a simple earthquake spell does end this entire section of the book.

This blessing should have also impeded dimensional travel, cause otherwise:
a) many devils inside the temple would have been able to go back and forth the complex b) Tar Baphon could have simply scryed inside and then teleported in, gather is army and then strike Absalom without needing to "waste" a shard.

The only exception should be the teleportation circles. Apparently, they were there from the start and where somehow made able to operate even inside that environment. Since to reach the "goal" of this part of the adventure, the pcs just need to sabotage the teleportation cycles and then kill anyone that could alert the WT of this actions (namely up to 5 npcs), it's clear to me how the Pcs can get an easy win condition by just dispelling the three circles and quickly retreat upstairs. They may not know it, but no one in Fallowdeep can - at this point - replicate the same magic, and since it's assumed the Pcs can get magical resources needed to return from Arcadia to Avistan, It's safe to assume they don't need to use those exact circles to reach Absalom.

To me, the three circles should at least be "buffed up", and protected by some kind of effect that stops their easy destruction. Tar Baphon or Klaur may have placed a dozen of symbols that react if certain words are not used, for example.

I've also noticed how one of the teleportation circles is directed to Gallowgarden. This may well mean that Baphon did send some profane paladins there, and devolve the plot a bit if the pcs are given indications of such, yet i find no notes or mentions of this possible development. I imagine it's something for the dms to build up.

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Part 2 - Fallowdeep

To further explore Fallowdeep, i find interesting to build up it's reputation through his history. If we take a step back, Fallowdeep is an horror hidden inside the earth in the heart of the very nation that was formed to stop the WT. Yet, not notion of such menace even existing was ever known by the defenders of Lastwall ... we to weave an answer.

Fallowdeep was built during the shining crusade, possibly in the latter part when the forces of Taldor had already reached Ustalav. Tar Baphon gave this task to mr Klrau, recently self made lich and cleric of Baalzebul, who spent a few decades to bucker the place, and his described to have "called in" as many WT followers he could when the shining crusade was on a winning side. They holed up, and then waited for a signal from their master that never came.

This explanation does not satisfy me, cause it lacks certain elements:
1) how were they able to gather so much dead bodies during the Shining Crusade, when all the WT forces would have been spent fighting Taldor's armies? Tar Baphon did really had a few thousand undead to spare and dozens of necrocrafts while he had Arnisant's knignts literally knocking at his door?
2) why did Klaur not receive any information, if not from Tar Baphon, from any of his other vassals, like dear old General Malyas or mr Geir? I get the Great Seal did stop even sending spells to the WT, but the WW has been very active in those centuries, yet he was able to get no info?
3) why di Klaur choose to wait, if no one ordered him such? With the ability to mobilize at least 5k undead and teleport them ANYWHERE in the entire solar system, in 900 years he could have well conquered Akiton, as miss Iuphasti wished, and then have gated himself in Ustalav with hundred of thousands of zombie aliens ...

So, we must ask ourself: why he didnt do any of this? Refusing the meta answer that is "Klaur's place never existed before 2018", my answer is: the choose not to.

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Allow me to propose a version of the events:

1) Of all the high ranking followers of Tar Baphon, mr Klrau seems the only one to be LE (originally the WT was also LE, but later version had he become NE). Due to his "honor" and his ability to "control" and "keep in check" other, way more chaotic forces, he was chosen to a difficult task: built in complete secret a 1 mile wide fortress of the dead, possibly bigger in size than Gallowspire itself.
2) To do such a thing, Baphon offered Klrau a worthy prize: to have his cult of Baalzebul spread in his dominion, and have it become a mayor religion in all the inner sea region: greater than Zyphus, Groetus, Charon, Norgorber ... and even Urgathoa. Klrau then took an oath, to serve and wait until called, and Baphon was also, as some level, obliged.
3) Klrau was however put in a difficult situation, since during the war, while he was still finishing the fortress, he had to give Baphon almost all of his forces due to the relentless success of the crusade. He found himself with barely an hundred of minions when then Shining Crusade reached Gallowspire walls, and it was a that point that Klaur started to "call in" all the nearby undead and allied forces. He did this not only to keep them near, but to slaughter any one that was not useful but that could have given around the information of Fallowdeep's existence.
4) At the time of Gallowspire sealing, Klrau saw himself forced to a similar situation. To defend the very existence of Fallowdeep, which he view as the "last hope" for his faith to become spread in the world, he took part in a ritual known as "The Great Lie": doing this, he called his vow and sealed himself and all his minions inside Fallowdeep halls, never to leave until called by his master. By doing so, he was able to literally "remove" Fallowdeep's existence and presence from the world's knowledge until he himself held the Lie. Doing so, he actually trapped many creatures that had not intention of spending centuries inside the facility, and that were tinned down in the following years and decades. This was done in honor to Baphon last orders, who had reached him like they arrived to the vampire general Malyas: "Gather strenght, wait my command"
5) "The Great Lie" offered, however, a loophole: somebody designated from the liar could leave, 1 time at month, for 1 hour, the place without breaking the lie, if he was able to never say the name "Fallowdeep" while away. Using muse servants, Klrau used this window of time to send around minions with (silenced) scrolls of recall, targeting each month a different cemetery in the Inner Sea Region, and had them steal at least 1 body belonging to a knight. Doing this, in the first 7 centuries, he was able to assemble (putting aside incidents and other, necessary travels) well more than 10 thousands of knights whose bodies were "taken by the Lie", never discovered.
6) Visiting often Lastwall, as a spite of the paladin's nation, Klrau stole hundreds of bodies of knights and paladins, which were reanimated as the profane paladins troops: he used the bodies of the defenders of Lastwall to create a formidable army able to use that same force against them.
7) Klrau's dream was however ... one that would have never reached its conclusion: weakened by the routine of Fallowdeep "daily" routine, forced to invest his much of his daily powers to sustain Fallowdeep magic, he started to slip away, taken by plans and ideas that were never being able to be planned out, kept "in the now" only by the bickering of his subordinates and the conversations with his 2 "guardian angels". 150 years before the time of the adventure, something happened that made him fall into a torpor he (almost) never woke up.
8) What happened could have been many things. Many Iuphasti crafted a decade long game which let the undead lord to simply forget himself in a continuous dream. Many the crafty alchemist Moloum gifted his liege with a counterfeit "incense of meditation" which, over the decades, weakened the lich's essence until his soul escaped. Whatever it was, Klrau fell into torpor and for 149 years he remained sitting on his throne, defended by Iuphasti and the bearbed devils, who through the use of major image had him appear quite active, so that his minions never had a real chance to realize his disappearance. While he was there, the Great Lie was still in place.
During this time, it was Iuphasti that moved around, looking no more for bodies but for informations and targets for her further plains. Maybe it was Iuphasti that found Ceto and gave her the "last push" necessary to have her become a servant of hell.
9) However, with the detonation of the Radiant fire, the entire complex was shocked and barely withstood its power. Klrau awoken, almost gone, as a normal demilich, and started to wretch his belongings. Any lie was soon after discovered when Tar Baphon himself, unable to either scry or contact Klrau mind, descended in person inside Fallowdeep, to find the place almost in order but unable to quickly deploy his resources as hoped. He also found Klrau totally broken, and his rage was great. He eradicated the demilich with mythic magic, and in from of he remains, he simply said: "Get yourself together, Klrau. I wish you at my side again. Be quick".

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It has been 3 days: Klrau has got himself "together", and now he's an awaken demilich: he's rapidly regaining his spellcasting: he was at least a level 16 cleric, and now has recovered at least 11 levels of spellcasting, and with each pray he mutters, a bit of himself is called back due to Baphon's mythic magic.

This puts a few people really worried. In order:
- Iuphasti, who might have betrayed him and sees the opportunity of invading Akiton slipping away.
- Moloum, who seems himself as the top minion of the WT and wished to remain lord inventor of Fallowdeep, and that may also have planned for Klrau downfall
- Lyanthari, who got news of Baphon's promise to Klrau and wishes not the lich's return to prominence.
- Ceto, who literally just arrived only to discover she might be supplanted by an older undead.
Possibly a few of these people could plot against Klrau's awakening, but none possess the abilities needed to permanently destroy the demilich.
Surely, none at this moment would lift a finger in his aid.

The pcs now got a potential other quest: destroy Klrau to deprive Baphon of a collaborator he wants, and that if destroyed again, will not be able to be "called back" even by Baphon's wishes.

This is my overview on ho to explore an otherwise dumb boss monster (a classic awakened demilich is a wizard, while he was clearly a cleric) and give the Pc a way to directly go against Baphon's wishes on a personal level.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Awesome write ups so far Pnakotus Detsujin. I will be using many these when I get around to Tyrant's Grasp. Regarding part 3, I feel that it doesn't address any tactics available to spellcasters for infiltrating cities or the use of undead that can create spawn. Additionally part 3 it makes it feel like only Osirion and the Five Kings Mountains are able to respond. No words on what the other world powers are doing in response to a global threat such as Tar-Baphon, personally I might add in smaller groups from the world powers that arrived via teleportation or similar methods of transportation, perhaps even framing it that the Whispering Tyrant's armies are holding back the navies that might able to transport reinforcements.

tet325 wrote:
Awesome write ups so far Pnakotus Detsujin. I will be using many these when I get around to Tyrant's Grasp. Regarding part 3, I feel that it doesn't address any tactics available to spellcasters for infiltrating cities or the use of undead that can create spawn. Additionally part 3 it makes it feel like only Osirion and the Five Kings Mountains are able to respond. No words on what the other world powers are doing in response to a global threat such as Tar-Baphon, personally I might add in smaller groups from the world powers that arrived via teleportation or similar methods of transportation, perhaps even framing it that the Whispering Tyrant's armies are holding back the navies that might able to transport reinforcements.

Thank you, tet325. Regarding the lack of involvement of Absalom in the campaign, i think the same and I'll see what can i propose when i get to part 3. I also think we should have got more a "show off" from other countries in the fight against the tyrant, yet it's also true that this is a "surprise attack", so it's improbably that many nations can just send an army towards Absalom while they are already fighting somewhere else. I'l try to weave in a bit of flavor when i get there.

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Part 2 - Fallowdeep

Section B - An overview of Fallowdeep's Npcs.

After proposing a "past" to the fortress of Fallowdeep, let us explore the figures that reside in it.

Wanting to say something on the "mooks" of this level very quick, the "profane paladins" troops should be presented to me as proper mockery of the crusaders of the shining crusade: they should appear as heavily armored knights wearing rotten, defiled and corrupted version of the holy symbols and insignias of the faiths of Aroden, Arazni and the empire of Taldor. They should be dreadful to see ...
To spice up each encounter, they should also get some kind of "sub-boss" to guide them. I would suggest to throw around a CR 12 to 14 undead, like a classic graveknight or those vampire shield bearers that defend Lyanthari. A very cruel DM may have them be lead by one of the Scout's team npcs or by a gallowdead "left behind" by the Tyrant.

For the rest, Fallowdeep presents an interesting array of npc to play with. Looking at them, I find much potential for story purposes ...
Yet, i find this section of the adventure somewhat "lacks" of a "Punch" from a few of those enemy. Namely, much of the CR in each encounter are barely the same ECL of the group. Even assuming the pcs are at level 16 when they meet most of those, the party had clear chances to gain quite the intel to each of those people through already established means, and since the focus given to fighting undead, each party should be able to handle undead enemies of higher CR with ease.

For example, the potential fight against Moloun seems quite easy to me since both enemies go almost down to two heal spells, and their damage output is quite laughable for a CR 17 fight (a maximum to 15d4+15 damage for Moloun and 6d8+30 for the necrocraft). Aeonte's fight, both in G1 and G3, offer a way more difficult battle, and that in G3 sees a colossal enemy with grab, an undispellable flying enemy with poison and petrification and the ability to call of other minions, and yet it's CR 16.

I'll offer in the following posts a few ideas how use these npcs, their further motives, and how to "up" their stats a bit.

Klrau Adleon - The True Master of Fallowdeep

I've said enough of Mr Adleon, and he offers a great challenge by himself with his immunities and devastating offensive. Pairing him with an iron golem shield guardian that shoots around hellwasps it's just mean. He's gonna be a very nasty CR 17 to face, since unless you got a ranged oriented party, you'll see your melee characters eat up each round a DC 26 save or die fortitude save for avoid their souls being eaten, or 200 damage, while being plummeted by an iron golem and strung by hellwasps (which, i do believe, should give cover to the demilich from ranged attacks). It's a "not the bees" situation, and i love it.

Yet, if you wanna be even more cruel to your players, give a bit of mr Adleon soul back to him, having he become an awakened demilich. We can use the "classic" awakened demilich, but change his spells with clerical ones. In this case, Klrau's holy simbol flies around him like a ioun stone. This give you an even more protected Klrau, able to buff his AC to the mid thirties and, most importantly, heal himself of 110 hp with an harm. That would make this fight longer, harder and more memorable.

Also, the effect of Klrau's permanente demise should somehow "broke" the fortress of Fallowdeep. The book propose to have more profane paladins wander around, but it could be so much more crazy, like having the same undead go crazy and potentially attack the other's lieutenants troops, or lessen the quantity of negative energy from inside the fortress. Possibly, Klrau's complete demise should break any illusion or enchantment effect over the fortress, potentially allowing allied npc to reclaim the fortress levels at a later point.

Lyanthari, the Princess Apostle

The Daughter of Urgathoa Lyanthari is presented as one of the chief npc of the adventure, and represents the true, most direct obstacle for the Pcs in Fallowdeep. She's in control of the area that the party needs access, either to use it or destroy its functions, and it's the only npc that will actively hunt the Pcs when they have done their parts in her plains. Of all the undead in Fallowdeep, she's also the only one truly independent from Tar Baphon machinations - she's not a minion or a vassal, but a disgruntled ally which, following the will of her goddes, wishes to "teach" her old "acquaintance" a bit of humility.

This is rich characterization, but It's almost wasted if taken into consideration her role in the adventure and what she's actually doing.

First and foremost, while she's kind enough to offer the Pc a banquet, she's literally their main obstacle in front of the Pcs final objective of this level: the control/destruction of then teleportation circles. Those resources are "there", in the same room as her, and she does not have any control over them outside physically barring the passage of an opponent with her minions. While in the area are said to be dozens of lesser undead, they do not costituite a troop, nor could fend off one: it's basically her and 2 vampires (plus an invisible "friend) that are trying to impede 4 people to physically reach a destination. Since her existence should be know by the pcs at this point, thanks to Tsomar's intel, I suppose they should know of the teleportation circles. So, nothing should stop a 17 level Pc to say "hello" and literally ignore here, throwing a disintegrate or similar effects directly at the circle when he's got line of site of them.

Moreover, while it's interesting how Lyanthari will switch from ally to enemy if the pcs do attack at least 5 groups of undead in the facility, she should easily realize how these heroes are to be accounted for the destruction of many dozens of undead at this point, including many servants of Urgathoa and possibly a few daughters from Geb. She should start a conversation with them calling them BY NAME, and saying outloud the names of those they killed that where from "her herd", and that if she simply does not charge them it's because there are higher priorities.

My biggest perplexity is that she's actively stopping other people to mobilitate their armies by blocking the teleportation circles. While I get how her interference could have played with Aeonte's and Monoul's paranoia and made them "wait and see", we got a boastful lady in the form of Ceto who's just waiting for an occasion to scream to the world (in this case, the Whispering Tyrant) who "Someone's daring to oppose my glorious destiny".

I mean, if Lyanthari were to have Ceto arrive in front of the circle with 10 to 20 profane paladin troops (as she's actually and actively trying to do), what could Lyanthari do or say that would not resolve in a quick sending to Tar Baphon (as a divine spellcaster, Ceto can memorize that spell) and a sudden return of an infuriated lich inside Fallowdeep?

In my opinion, we have to "build up" bot Lyanthari's stalling tactics that her motivations, which I'll try to do in the next post. I'll try also to propose different versions of Lyanthari's stats to proper justify the power of this 4.000 years old daughter of the dead, which should potentially be the strongest and more revered servant of Urgathoa of all the Inner Sea Region, able to speak and be receive by Tar Baphon as an "old acquaintance". Even thought she's a melee powerhouse with her tactics, I found strange her CR his lower that other enemies in the fortress, even thought she's technically the "main boss" of the area. From many prospective, her Qolok friend (who should get a name) is a more problematic foe than herself.

Lyanthari - The Pallid Princess's Apostle - Part II

A - Lyanthari's "maison" and entourage

So, first and foremost we need to give Lyanthari a chance to constitute a "floodgate" for a level 17 party without burning her chances for a diplomatic approach.

The quickest solution i can think of is to have the teleportation circles not working, or better yet to need some kind of specific object to be activated: namely, each circle should have it's key. This stops the pcs to simply rush through the fortress, and it's a detail that Tsomar should not have gotten. These "keys" should be 3 objects, originally in possession of each of the leaders of Fallowdeep: d'I go with the assumption that each portal can be activated by one of them, and can operate independently. The objects could be holy symbol of Klrau, the ring of command of Aeonte and a chalice belonged to Moloun (I'd say it's the same chalice he drank from which turned him into a ghoul). I can see Tar Baphon, disgusted, leaving behind Klrau's key in the dirt, then receiving Moloun's key and using it to calibrate the circle, before leaving it to the care of Lyanthari. The key is now sitting on that table full of rancid food, unassuming yet necessary to activate the portal.

Her first offer to the pcs is an explanation on the workings of the circles, suggesting to the group to find a key since she does not possess one, and guiding them towards "the old master" and "the upstart", the two undead she actually wants destroyed, since they are aggressive and from a different faith.

Now, to further dissuade a first confrontation with the Daughter of Urgathoa, I think we need to work on her entourage. As I've stated before, she needs more people, and also a backstory regarding the how she's got here.

I like the idea that the death coach in the first level of Hammer Rock belongs to her, and therefore it should be somewhere inside Fallowdeep, be used to move around or to hunt the pcs. A modified death coach is also the instrument she could have used to reach fallowdeep.

The vampire shield beares are nice too, and work as a potential connection between the ageless priestess of Urgathoa and the Vampire General Malyas, who - in my interpretation of this campaign - has recently visited this facility, and may have left them there as an honor guard for the honored guest.

A very evil Gm might decide to grant Lyanthari of a specific vampire cohort, namely a recently vampirized wild hunt scout, so somewhat foreshadow what happened in the forest - (I'll treat this topic in a later post).

The Qolok sahkil his a dreadful opponent that negates any sneaking inside and grants Lyanthari a multi attack ally which can heavily debuff and nerf problematic characters, allowing the daughter of the dead even more leverage.

As anticipated, Lyanthari should also have one of the scout group down with her, potentially reanimated as a mortic (in my case, it would be the dwarf Torumand), having him serving beverages and such.

To make this fight even more dire, and potentially de-incentivate a first strike, i'd have also 1 or 2 profane troops in the hall in the form of a group of ghoul handmaidens, which at first seem indifferent, even scared by the pcs, but than can, in the blink of an eye, be ready to cannibalize them! I'd modify the profane paladin, by removing a bit or armor and giving them a paralysis effect to their troop attack.

The reason I'm buffing very much this first potential fight it's that we have to de-incentivate the easiest solution for the pcs, which is to bull rush Lyanthari, get control of the teleportation circles and bunker up. I can easily see Lyanthari try to ambush the pcs at a later moment, removing her presence from her area and giving clever pcs the opportunity to just run pass her and strike down her entourage before they have to fight her again.

Lyanthari - The Pallid Princess's Apostle - Part II

B - Lyanthari's goals and relationship with the Whispering Way.

Regarding Lyanthari's motives, the adventure paints her as a servant of Urgathoa ready to (in)directly oppose the Whispering Tyrant just to teach him a lesson of humility. That's a dangerous game, which puts the two characters on the same level, and sees the Daughter of the dead risk much. Moreover, she seems ready to just have the Pc go through the complex, killing a few servants of Tar Baphon and potentially rallying other forces against him. This seems to more more than a plan to "teach" the Tyrant some form of respect.

In this sense, I believe we should weave inside the story at least 2 elements:
a) How Tar Baphon was responsabile of what can be called the "genocide" of al least 2 undead "populations", the first one in gallowspire, the latter composed by the forces of his army that were obliterated by the radiant fire.
b) How Baphon is actively trying to become a divine power himself, whose influence would diminish Urgathoa's domain from both a factual and a philosophical point.

Before addressing these point, we should ask ourself how much Lyanthari has been involved with the WW in the last centuries. By the book, she seems quite independent from them, and potentially it may have been so for many centuries after Baphon banished her from his presence. Yet, to some regard, her presence in the region should have been foreshadowed a bit, potentially through other followers of Urgathoa. I'd say that Lyanthari is the, de facto, high priestess of Urgathoa in the area we could call the "Eye of Dread" and potentially her greatest minion in Avistan, followed by the Wight Mother of Isger. To further cement this, she should receive a stat make up I'll propose in a later post.

Moving to point A - Since Lyanthari's ready to hunt down the Pcs if they kill at least 5 groups of undead, I believe her relationship with the Whispering Tyrant should have been presented as an highly conflictual one: after all, Tar Baphon did nuke 4/5 of his army stationed at Renchurch, and among those there had to be hundreds, if not thousands, of sentient undead what were, at many levels, Urgathoa's worshippers. From a pallid princess's servant, the destruction of at least 20 thousands of undead, and also the sanctuary of Renchurch, just to momentarily rebuke a powerful enemy cannot be seen as an "acceptable loss". Lyanthari's should have been furious and confronted the Tyrant about it, only to be rebuked with at first indifference, and then maniacal glee.

To visualize this, I image Lyanthari's entourage meeting with the WT's honor guard in the outskirts of Hammer Rock before the fortress's fall. After a somewhat cordial reunion, the Daughter of Urgathoa would have openly rebuked the Tyrant for his last follies (the slaughter of the flesh eating undead in Gallowspire and the recent nuking of his own army), menacing him to withdraw Urgathoa's favor in the next conquests. To such words, the WT may have answered by promising the resurgence of the Pallid Princess's faith in the newly named Gravelands, offering Lyanthari to build a cathedral anywhere she desire, and then proposing Hammer Rock fortress itself as a potential site. A moment later, as a show of power, Tar Baphon may have detonated the Radiant Fire in front of Lyanthari, the light spreading from the fortress and almost reaching their position in a display of tremendous force that scared the ancient priestess and that was simply meant as a "I don't need you, nor your goddess favor". While Baphon may have also given her an angry monologue, I believe that between 2 beings more than 4 thousand years old, much is exchanged between inferred communication.

By doing so, Baphon has also proven yet again something else to the priestess: he doesn't "need" others, in the sense he's a being completely self sufficient: his undead form, lichdoom, is a reality with deprives from desires, such hunger, or passion, or all the cravings that Urgathoa's represents and that live through any corporeal undead which requires nourishment to sustain its form. If Baphon becomes a god, he'll be a tyrant of the thought, and his faith will strip of will and desires from any being, alive or undead, unable to able to ascend himself as the Tyrant did. His influence over Golarion would soon deprive Urgathoa's of worship and even forces the Pallid Princess to some kind of "unholy liaison" of faith with the Tyrant's to keep her prominence.

Moreover, she might be able to see further than in the now, and realize a few potentials side effects from the Radiant Fire (which I'll try to elaborate on when I'll explore the side trek through Keirodera's forest). I'd like to think that an old and wise priestess like Lyanthari would realize that detonating su much positive energy in the world may have long term consequence which Baphon may know, but that he's deliberately ignoring to press further with his plans.

Therefore, she needs to STOP Baphon's conquest of Absalom, forcing the lich to relocate in his home region and make the most with his victories in the gravelands, using the Radiant Fire as a deterrent from further conflict instead that as a blunt weapon as he's doing. To do so, she needs him in a position of weakness and the best way to get him there is to deprive him of his reinforces in the time of need, forcing him to relay on the Pallid's princess's faith and resources when he'll be forced back.

To do so, Lyanthari has taken control of the teleportation circles, yet she cannot put herself in a situation to directly bar the passing of any reinforcements. By using calculated false informations, she's been able to keep the leaders of Fallowdeep in the dark of her intentions, while pretending to be working in the construction of a new, great sanctuary to Urgathoa.

If we got with my idea that each circle need a specific key to work, I think she might have spread the lie that the WT took one of the keys with himself, while keeping Moloun's chalice (another idea of mine) out of everybody reach. She could have said to Ceto that, to make her portal work, she's assumed to either take the key from Klaur’s place (or, in my case, mobilitate her troops while waiting for the demilich complete awakening). Meanwhile both Aeonte and Moloun cannot access the portals, since the first does not have her ring anymore and cannot force herself to ask it back (hundred years of grudges are difficult to shallow up), while the latter cannot simply go out and admit his thievery without potentially losing a lot of respect recently gained.

Lyanthari's ruse is destined, however, to be revealed sooner or later, and therefore she needs a proper scapegoat to avoid the Tyrant's ire. Having the pcs casually kill a few of Fallowdeep leaders through precise strike and also, casually, destroy the key needed to allow reinforces to come, would be quite "fortuitous" for her.

Lyanthari - The Pallid Princess's Apostle - Part III

Lyanthari's statblock and potential further uses for the character

To conclude my long overview of this character, I've rewritten her statblock in order to make her more focused, by granting her a few unique abilities. This should make her a CR 19 and a deadly foe even to a party optimized against the undead, granting her long range effects mixed with even stronger melee option combos (18d6+20 damage is a very good melee damage, but + 10d4 or the option of a touch attack makes it truly memorable).

Tougher Lyanthari:

Unique Daughter of Urgathoa inquisitor of Urgathoa 13
NE Large undead

Init +12; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +32
Aura desecrate (40 ft., double effect)

AC 35, touch 16, flat-footed 32 (+10 armor, +4 deflection, +3 Dex, +9 natural, –1 size)
hp 343 (24d8+229)

Fort +24, Ref +16, Will +26

Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4, stalwart; RI 30 Immune undead traits

Speed fly 40 ft. (perfect)

Melee great claw +28 (3d6+12/19–20/×4 plus disease and 2d6 vs. good), claw +28 (1d8+12 plus 2d6 vs. good)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.

Special Attacks greater bane (13 rounds/day), judgment 5/day (2 simultaneous)

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 11th; concentration +18)

Constant—desecrate (centered on self)

Inquisitor Spell-Like Abilities (CL 13th; concentration +19)

At will—detect alignment, discern lies (19 rounds/day)

Inquisitor Spells Known (CL 19th; concentration +18) 

6th (5/day) - blasphemy (DC 21), harm, heroes feast (used once) overwhelming presence (DC 21) 

5th (6/day) - dimensional blade, mass ghostbane dirge (DC 20), profane nimbus, resounding blowAPG (DC 20), spell resistance

4th (6/day) - blessing of fervor (cleric spell), divine power, forceful strike, greater invisibility, sanctify armor

3rd (6/day) - dispel magic, keen edge, locate object, magic circle against good, speak with dead (DC 18)

2nd (6/day) - detect thoughts (DC 17), invisibility, silence, resist energy, see invisibility 

1st (7/day) - ear-piercing screamUM (DC 16), inflict light wounds (DC 16), interrogationUM (DC 16), know the enemyUM, shield of faith, true strike

0 (at will) - acid splash, brandAPG (DC 15), create water, detect poison, light, read magic
Inquisition PersistenceUM

Before Combat Lyanthari casts keen edge, profane nimbus, sanctify armor, shield of faith and spell resistance. 

During Combat Lyanthari activates her protection and destruction judgments before engaging in melee combat, using her greater bane ability and Greater Vital Strike to scythe through foes. 

Morale Lyanthari tries to escape if reduced to 50 or fewer hit points, returning to stalk her foes after she has recovered.

Str 32, Dex 16, Con —, Int 20, Wis 20, Cha 24

Base Atk +17; CMB +30; CMD 44

Feats Ability Focus (disease), Combat Casting, Combat Reflexes, Critical Focus, Escape RouteUC, Greater Vital Strike, Improved Critical (claw), Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Attack (great claw), Improved Vital Strike, LookoutAPG, OutflankAPG, Power Attack, Shake It OffUC, Staggering Critical, Step Up, Vital Strike 
Skills Acrobatics +12, Bluff +34, Diplomacy +22, Fly +23, Intimidate +40, Knowledge (arcana, dungeoneering, planes) +20, Knowledge (religion) +32, Perception +32, Sense Motive +38, Spellcraft +20, Stealth +23, Survival +20 

Languages Abyssal, Common, Hallit, Necril, Orc

SQ Apostle of Urgathoa, beacon of the Pallid Faith, exceptional stats, inner strength, monster lore +5, relentless footing, solo tactics, stern gaze +6, track +6

Gear +2 breastplate, cloak of resistance +4, unholy amulet of mighty fists (works as a silver holy symbol of Urgathoa)

Apostle of Urgathoa (Su) As the most ancient priestess of Urgathoa in central Avistan, Lyanthari serves as a beacon of Urgathoa’s faith and grants her a different set of powers. The Daughter of Urgathoa adds her racial clerical caster level as inquisitorial caster levels, and may learn clerical spells as they were inquisitor spells up to level 6. Every time Lyanthari prays to recover her spells, she can switch off 1 spell known for each level of spell known with another spell from the cleric or the inquisitor list. 
Beacon of the Pallid Faith (Su) Lyanthari’s authority over the undead strengthen her form and makes other corporeal undead treat her with awe and respect. Her desecrate aura is 40 ft. wide and the profane bonuses are all doubled. Furthermore, any corporeal undead which enter the desecrate aura and that is able to feel hunger experiments a strong sense of kinship towards Lyanthari, and must make a DC 29 will save before considering taking harmful action towards her. 

Disease (Su) Bubonic Plague: Great claw—injury; save Fortitude DC 24; onset immediate; frequency 1/day; effect 1d4 Con damage and fatigued; cure 2 consecutive saves. 

Exceptional stats (Ex) During his 4 millennia long service in Avistan, Lyanthari has received over the centuries many blessings form the Pallid Princess. She receives an inherit +4 to strenght, wisdom and charisma. However, she cannot receive further enchantment bonuses to those characteristics without incurring in Urgathoa’s displeasure.

Great Claw (Ex) One of Lyanthari’s hands is a tremendous scythe-shaped claw. This attack deals ×4 damage on a critical hit and is treated as an evil weapon for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

I'll conclude this overview with a consideration: Lyanthari represent the peak of Urgathoa's faith: an hedonistic, self-centered doctrine of excess and hunger for life. Of all the characters in this AP, she's the one in the best position to "tempt" the Pcs, who by now are set to a path of sacrifice and voluntary self destruction.

While she should not know of the Obol plan, i'd say she should feel the uniqueness of the Pcs condition and offer them to either "heal them" from their ailment, if they do her work, or simply suggest them to "don't waste their lives", leaving Absalon forces to rebuke the lich themselves and prepare to fight Baphon on the long run, possibly by taking themselves the path of undeath. This is not to make them a favor, but purely create another problem to Baphon that will force the Lich attention back to his kingdom.

Gildais - the unwilling servant

Regarding this Npc, I don't think we need to further explore it's backstory and motivations, as they are well explained by the Book. He's also quite foreshadowed in book 3 and the Pcs should have a book written by him that basically explains the WT's plan. He's the most well known character of the AP, and potentially the Pcs should immediately recognize him by a description.

Nevertheless, I've found what can be seen as areas of improvement.
A) Why is Gildais, of all the places, in Fallowdeep?
B) What is Gildais objective inside Fallowdeep outside of stalking the Pcs?

I propose the following interpretation: Gildais is in Fallowdeep because he was "called" there. What, however, called him there, was not the will of the Tyrant, who at this point is so absorbed by this plans that have forgotten his slave, but something else: the presence of the pieces of the Shield of Aroden.

I'd say that, after looking for the pieces of the Shield of Aroden, he has somehow gained an ability to "feel" their presence. Why this is, he doesn't know, but as an undead born from the negative energy plane itself, maybe the actived shards are to him an opposite he can feel even over long distances, everytime one of these is used.
After realizing that the WT was using those pieces as weapons, he tried to intercept the shard that was hidden by TB among the refugees.

He was, however, too late and arrived at Hammer Rock only after its detonation. Sensing, however, that other pieces were nearby, he reached Fallowdeep, with the intent to hide and wait, hoping to possibly even steal those shards from the WT himself. He was, however, unable to reach the Tyrant before he moved through the teleportation circle, and now he's pondering what is better to do: if it's more useful to lay waste to the leaders of Fallowdeep to pospone the Tyrant attack or if to simply flee, and find another way to weaken the Tyrant's hold.

The Pc's arrival makes Giltais upset, because he can feel the obols presence, and since he knew that shards of the Shield of Aroden can be used/scried by the Tyrant to tremendous effects, he fears they are his unwilling pawn as he was ... He must understand if they are a danger to themselves, and to do so, he waits and see how much they are wiling to damage the leadership of Fallowdeep.

Another note: this guy is basically the Night King's younger brother. Channel this, and remember temperature around his is at least 40 degrees minus and every liquid should quickly froze. That potion of protection from energy he carries has to be made of pure antifreeze. Showing him his book could be an interesting roleplay moment, especially if he puts on a creepy faced, or try the "mute stalker approach".

As a last thing, i would suggest to change the meeting between Tsomar and Giltais, by having Tsomar being used by the necromancer he was under control, maybe in exploring the upper levels of Hammer Rock, to have Giltais appear from nowhere, sneak attack that guy with a close range polar ray (20d6 damage by touch attack is funny!), just to leave the ghost dumbfounded, at first without a word, only to later say his written words.

Ceto Malderra - A shadow from the Past

Ceto's role as a sub-boss it's interesting, yet unfulfilling to me. She's one of the few familiar faces of this AP the Pcs have met and spoke with to return, yet her impact in the story is lessened by the presence of a greater boss fight just in the room next to hers. She also got no influence in the environment the pcs are, probably due to the fact she may not be able to exist at this point of the campaign if the Pcs have destroyed her body, or simply stripped her of her armor - which is necessary to become a Graveknight.

To fix these issues, and potentially "justify" Ceto's quick fall and rise of power into a Graveknight (not to mention her new equip), I'd have the cornugon Iuphasti be actively involved in her fall and transformation.
Where she have been killed by the Pcs, it's easy to stay that Iuphasti was guided towards her body by the will of hell, taking her body and resurrecting her inside Fallowdeep. If Ceto was spared, Iuphasti may have well visited her after she renounced her goddess, inspiring her into action and granting her boons. Her transformation into a Graveknight may have been, in this case, the reward for a particular evil act against the knights of Mendev, potentially against one of the pcs allies from Vigil. An act she should boast about in front of the Pcs, of course!

In either Way, Ceto was supposed to be Iuphasti's plan B to capitalize on the WT's campaign in Mendev, by creating a small army of undead knights able to take Hammer Rock and spread the word of hell in the new nation. Baphon self nuking his army and coming to Fallowdeep put a stop to this, also allowing Ceto to swear fealty to the WT's army, which in turn allowed Ceto and Baphon to meet.

Now, Ceto's motivations are quite clear, but her position inside the complex ... not so much. I think she should not be found inside her designated area, but should constitute a "wandering boss fight", moving around the areas with a profane paladin troop at her side, always. This makes here something very dangerous without having to buff up her stats, since she can appear just after the Pcs are leaving a certain area, and are low of resources.

Outside combat effectiveness, her objective should be, following my idea that the teleportation circles need some kind of "key object", to gain one of those, and having an army ready all in one big room, so she might quickly deploy them. I imagine her trying to get Klrau's holy symbol, only to have triggered with her attitude both the golem and the demilich, forcing her to retreat. Following Iuphasti's suggestions, she might have occupied herself by looking for something inside one of the hundreds of rooms not mapped in Fallowdeep.

As a last note, Ceto should get a splendid death scene in which, after being broken, her disembodied screams in the wind, cursing the pcs before, maybe in doubt, asking what did she do to deserve such injustices. She's, after all, what could have happened to the Pcs if, at any moment of their story, had given up to the world and choose their survival over everything else.

Iuphasti - the devilish schemer

Iuphasti is a breath of flesh air in this campaign! An evil force outside the whole Tar Baphon conga, which gives the Pcs the realization that "their story" its just a part of a larger world. However, what Iuphasti offers is ... a bit too straightforward, and very much convenient.

For example, if she where to simply "lay low", she could probably gain all the troops of Fallowdeep when the Pc have finished "murderhobing" the halls: after all, by the book, she just needs Lyanthari and Klrau gone, so she may take the unholy symbol.

The pc involvement is necessary, but probably she might understand if they are gonna kill Lyanthari or not. Also, she's a servant of the "Prince of Lies": she could and should have lied a bit, maybe playing the part of the "unwilling, trapped servant" which wishes her freedom. A story like "Find his unholy symbol and i'll be free, and i'll reward you" could have been more than enough at the first contact.

Since she need her armies, she might have well said "I'll go now. I'll take a few undead with me. they were made by the bodies of the servants of my prince, and their power shall be taken back to hell with me". Basically, i think she should try to lie here, until the pcs put her plains in front of her.

Now, in the book, the pcs have the convenience she's got her plans written down and visible in the very room the met her, so they main infer her intentions for the conquest of a foreign planet. This is a bit too convenient. I would have put those charts away, possibly in one of the host rooms, or in the same area where the pcs may find Klrau's unholy symbol.

Another thing that i believe should be done, other than have the barded devils be Iuphasti's servant in any battle she may face, is to gave Iuphasti's proposal an higher coefficient of risk. At this point, the Pcs are have worked for the tragic divine queen of a kingdom of the undead, and may have been even forced to slay a few knights of Ozem to save thousands. The risk of a planetary invasion is something, quite frankly, outside the Pc's ability to even understand it, while permanently take away Baphon's abilities to use the undead stored in Fallowdeep should be at the forefront of their aims.

To change this, i would propose a simply modification: to have, in the place where the pcs have to fight Ceto, the body of the paladin of Ragathiel from the scout group: he's being prepared to become a graveknight himself, with Iuphasti actively keeping his soul trapped inside his body, bound over a throne of lies. He's the one that will make Iuphasti's armor march out when she's ready, and basically the "truth" behind the Cornugon's white lies: total domination of body and soul, a fate she wishes for an entire planet. If questioned, Iuphasti could say that "the newcomer's" idea, while in truth a simple examination of the body reveals a kind of wound only a trident can inflict. Basically, she has to screw up a bit in her scheme, since it has been 900 years she has worked only with battleplans ...

Moloum - The crazy, crafty corpse crafter

Moloum is fun. He's the funniest character of this Ap, and the most active of the leaders of Fallowdeep: he builds stuff, starting with the army of necrocrafts. He's also, technically, responsible for the creation of 2 mythic creatures: the clawing hand plague swarm and, potentially, the flesh colossus the Pcs face in Part 3. He broke the game! Even is eventual reward to the pcs is a game breaking permanent +2 inherit bonus he can make, and that cannot be replicated ... He should have beem mythic!

But ... he's a level 14 alchemist: the weakest npc in terms of raw power, and also the most mechanically difficult one, with many attack options of poison, paralysis, sickness, smoke, ecc ... He's not gonna last more then 2 rounds against a party, with only his necrocraft that offer him a chance to block the Pcs.

Now, is personal weakness makes somewhat sense as he was the lesser lord of this complex, put in his place by Klrau and generally given less resources. However, when the WT arrives in Fallowdeep, he's the only minion who receives praise for the Tyrant and that grants him the most useful troops (the siege necrocrafts and other staff). He's, technically, the most "efficient" leader of Fallowdeep, and therefore the first objective of the Pcs when well informed of Fallowdeep's politics.

To mitigate this, I would suggest to allow the Pcs to meet Moloum at least 1 time before they can face him in area E5. This encounter could be in area E7 or E2, removing the gholes into another room. This Moloum is, however, a flesh puppet build by the alchemist and possessed through his Magic Jar spell.

This puppet (we can give him a simulacrum) should do the diplomacy, and eventually detonate against the Pcs if they get aggressive ...
My idea is to switch a bit Moloum's discoveries, or simply give him the free ability to have around at least 5 simulacri of himself, able to be activated one at a time, each one with a bomb inside, so that this guy can run around, coordinating the defenses of his halls, ad possibly frustrating the Pcs with his many options, which he can use at "full power" even in those borrowed corpses.

I suggest this because, simply adding levels to him, would just make him mechanically more complex to operate Another option, is to have him wear the "fossil golem armor", but this time is a proper mech armor (just give the necrocraft the abilities of the golem armor) and the pcs needs to break that before they can get to the relatively squish alchemist inside.

If you what to be evil, just give him 6 mythic tiers (+3 CR) from the trickster path: he's gonna be the greatest mad scientist your pcs will ever face!

Aeonte - the outsider from the land of monsters

Aeonte his an interest character, both due to her undead form and her origins. She arrived from far away, following the faith of a demon lord, to take part in the Tyrant's destruction of central Avistan.

Yet, she's the also the one that strikes as the less militant and willing to "wait" inside Fallowdeep. Of all the beings there, she's the one who could have, most easily, simply left at any time, taking all her minions with her, by using her abilities plus the ring of elemental command. Her long period of inactivity for a fervent demon worshipper seems quite strange and not plausible, unless we consider her too blocked inside the fortress by an unspecific power the base adventure does not bother to illustrate.

She's also the more "diplomatic" of the undead in Fallowdeep, in the sense she's easily accessible in the first area of her dungeon, can easiliy escape from an attack and can potentially negotiate Moloum's ruin from a safe place.
Also, she's got control over a beast like the deathsnatches, a CR 18 death machine who, by all logic, could and should be the boss of this area, litterally unkillable, able to dominate undeads and even create them! That creature should represent Aeonte's greatest defender and possibly some kind of guardian from Xoveron.

So, while she can perfectly work as she's right now (her area is surely the most iconic, with walls of living statues), i believe her story could have made more complex, deepening her relation with either Xoveron or, more interestingly, the city of Absalom.

In the first case, she might be unwilling, after being forced to stay for so long inside Fallowdeep, to blindly follow the Tyrant, preferring to give the lich a little part of her collection before going out, exploring the gravelands and build a sanctuary for her faith. She could be "tempted" by clever Pcs to simply "leave Fallowdeep to greener fields", which she might do after closing up her section of the fortress by ripetute usage of fall of stone, taking an happy army of orcs and monsters to be let loose in broken Lastwall, but for the next days away from any enemy and in need to overcome Keirodera forest first.

In the second case, she might want to attack Absalom in person due to her own history. The city at the center of the world has been sieged many times by heroes and monster for Iblydos, and maybe she remained at her place because it was somewhat foreshadowed to her that, at the Tyrant's freedom, Absalon would have been struck. Being among the one that throws Absalom in ruins may well be her deepest desire, which makes her potentially a greater foe for part 3 of the book.

If we where to choose for this option, and the Pcs were not able to destroy her cause she flees, if they also don't wreck her body in Moloum's study, an option to make her return could be that to make her become/return to be a complete and alive Euryale when reunited with her body, giving the Pcs to have a fight, among the Cairnlands, with a CR 20 living enemy and an army of statues from the defenders of Absalom.

Regardless what approach we choose, before she act, she wants her whole body back. Now, by her stats and Moloum's pitiful security, she should have got it already back. Therefore, i suggest to make up some reasons she can't simply earth glide into Moloum's study, put a stone wall between him and her body, then take it back into her domain. Maybe having her body hidden inside a box would be the best.

As a side note, Aeonte's collection could be expanded with everything possible and needed. I would remove the gnome barbarian and put there, instead, one of the scout team, in this case the half orc priestess.

With these last notes, I've conclude the rewriting of Fallodeep. If something could be add, is that maybe we could grant che Shinigami in Klrau's domain a bigger role, having him be some kind of wandering soul corrector, which can attack the pcs but also be reasoned with. Inside the narrative, he's potentially the sole reason why such powerful undead (Ceto, Lyanthari, ecc.) are not simply wished back offscreen by the many forces allied with the Tyrant and able to do such a feat.

I await to know your thoughts over these ideas before a move forward (and backwards), first by talking about a plotline which may make the inclusion of Keirodera's forest more sense plot wise, in order to finally move in the third part of this Book, with the battles in the Cairnlands

Part 2 EXTRA - The mystery of Keirodera's forest

Before we move to my integrations to Part 3 of this book, I want to propose an integration of the elements presented in Part 1, and that were purposefully overlooked un until now. As I've stated, the inclusion of Keirodera's forest and it's obstacles clearly lack of purpose in the narrative of this story, and can be reasonably skipped since nothing it's stopping the party to simply fly over the forest in a situation were time is on the essence and their objective should be quite visible at the center of a crater.

However, I would be foolish to me to just throw away such content.
What I propose is an inclusion of the Keirodera's stuff with can strengthen the whole narrative, but can also be "cut off" without losing too much content.
Now: Keirodera's forest is relevant in the plot cause the bodies of the "scout team" are inside it. In the version I've proposed, only 1 scout team body is actually present in the forest, the corpse of the Elf sorcerer. I've also proposed that the pc's Taxi, the dwarf Stalgard, is currently camping inside a fortification near the forest which was overtaken by plant-life.

So, I my version of the events the forest of Keirodera is hiding a mystery, which is the forest blight. This creature is not something that "just pop up" in the forest, but something much worse: an experiment of the Whispering Tyrant. In my interpretation, after being able to witness in first person the effect of a radiant fire detonation, Tar Baphon realized something terrifying for the world at large: the energy of the radiant fire could be used to create life.

To him, after his plot to become a lich, the concept of give life to things, which he could do when he was alive, had become a foreign and unnatural proposition, yet the very energy he was able to channel through his shard of the shield of Aroden was able to do such things. I image the lich ... pausing, in his relentless advance toward Hammer Rock and sit, in contemplation, watching amusingly as the friendly new born animals that were just created in the forest come to greet his minions, just to be immediately slaughtered by them, or slowly poisoned by their mere presence.

If was at this point that the WT and his entourage (which I believe should have been composed by an honor guard of Gallowdeads, a few ncps and creature, and Lyanthari's own entourage , was attacked by an even larger contingent of the wild hunt. This feys, send from the fey court of the Fangwood forest, were send to use hit and run tactics against the Tyrant's forces, but finding the Whispering Tyrant himself, relatively unprotected, they tried to ambush him with a rain of crystals and disintegrations. But it didn't work. Baphon survived the ambush and, almost by himself, slaughtered dozens of feys before his troops had even a chance to strike back. The remaining force was soon captured or forced to escape. A few of those were quickly infected by some undead related disease and soon were added to the WT's army as either vampire spawn or worse.

However, Baphon had no intention to leve this kind of attack against his person, and through a gruesome ritual which so the liquids of many of his assailants be collected inside a cauldron, he channeled over it the energies of a lesser radiant fire blast, hurting himself but making to that the blood and earth mixed in such marred created something. Something of his will and desire: a living malediction.
"Take root. Grow, and then time's right ... go back, find these wretched feys, and make their homes ... yours" he ordered to the newborn blight, which quickly invaded the forest, consuming as much he could.

This blight, which should call something like "the Tyrant's will" or "The Gallow-blight", should be either an advanced forest blight, or get the "negative energy charged" template. This creature is not a random boss, it's a time bomb that, as soon as it's ready, is going to spread through the Fangwood as a cancer, targeting the fey powers and potentially make the entire forest something akin to gallowgarded. This being his driven by a single goal: to grow and assimilate, which was the instinct that had him attack first the elf, and later the other team members, which taught him of his first defeat. Yet, by being an expression of the WT's will, he's more and more aware of his true purpose: he's the firstborn child of a being that will use the Radiant Fire not only to destroy, but to completely "RE-MAKE" nature and life to fit his will.

Given his intelligence, and possibly due to the Obols presence,the Gallowblight should have cognition of the Pc (potentially due to a network of eyes inside the forest, or similar ways) and quickly realize the risk in letting the pc move in the fortress, but since he was already defeated once, he's gonna wait, hoping they'll come to look for the body of the elf, which as been for this very reason left untouched. However, if the Pcs show no interest into looking for the missing scout member, he'll target Stalgard, taking him a lignified prisoned in a moment of distraction - even dwarfs need to sleep.

If the Pc's do not come to look for their allies, both of them are doomed after 1 day, and the blight decides to move away, strengthened by the assimilation of the dwarf wizard, to pursue other targets. If the pc try to find the elf's body, or Stalgard, they are gonna find the Gallowblight in a area which presents also the cauldron from which the blight was born. The presence of this object, after the creature demise, should trigger some kind of vision for the pc's obols, which reveals how the blight was created and what was is purpose.

This change not only makes this boss more plot relevant, making also the pcs heroes for stopping something that could have got so much worse, bus also grants the Pc's a greater insight of the WT's aims: his weapon can do so much more, and he's aware of it. This could give the players some suspicions about Baphon's motivations to attack Absalom so hastly ... I'll elaborate this further while talking about Baphon's character, but my question: why become a god, if you can do "way more" as a "mortal"?

Reimagining Part 3 - An heroic charge towards destiny

I'll start now the rewrite of Part 3. I'll try to cover what I perceive to be it's most glaring issues, and then propose my adjustments. The latter part will be a bit episodic, with the proposal of a few, different challenges for our heroes, trying also to "tie up" a bit the content of the earlier books. To clarify, the last fight in the Ap, against the WT, shall be examined in the last part of this rewrite, which shall be entirely dedicated to the main antagonist of this story, his "character arc" and its relationship with the Pcs.

First and foremost, the greatest problem of this section of the adventure is the pagecount. It's just 6 pages, way too low! In this 6 pages, the characters are taken to another nation, but are "forced" to remain inside next to the battle in the "Cairnlands".

We are not given a map of this area, nor the actual position of the WT's troops. We don't know the "ratio" between the Wt's forces and the one of Absalon, but it should be somewhat in favor of the city, considering how Baphon did arrive with a somewhat small starting force.

This is not a battle on which the adventure want's to focus on, it's just the background in with the Pc's have to die. We don't even visit Absalom, not to gain supply, nor to prevent any major incursion.

There is also no story given reason why the Pcs cannot simply directly strike at the WT at any point of the battle. While it may amount to suicide, it's hardly a different outcome from what the Pcs are trying to accomplish by trying to provoke him to use the Radiant Fire. If killing his minions does frustrate him, what about somebody casting "conjure deadfall" over him? (please, don't give conjuration spell resistance). Now, there is also the fact that, while the WT is, somehow, always "outside" the Pc's sphere of intervention, yet somehow able to see them when they mock him. That's more than convenient: it's unexplained.

While the frustration mechanic it's funny, I fear the WT lack of involvement is hardly comprehensible after frustration point 6 is reached: if he can take the time to strike with a cast mythic empowered reach disintegrate, then he can surely follow up that attack with a few more long range spell until either the Pcs back off, come closer or are utterly crushed.

Also, we don't get the ... point of the WT's arrival in the Cairnlands.
If he can teleport wherever he wishes, why don't simply appear, in the middle of the night, in front of Starstone Cathedral? Before anyone would have the time to reach, the WT would have probably got at least 100 strong undead on the plaza. If he started with quick spawning one, like bodaks, he would have taken the city in one night - if we have to believe that most of Pathfinder society is currently working at Gallowgarden. So, this should be also taken into account.

I'll therefore try to offer a few solution to these issues, while also trying to weave a few reasons why Baphon either needs of was forced to teleport into the Cairnlands, and also to explore why he needs to win this battle and cannot simply nuke the city for afar, barely grazing the cathedral but surely obliterating locations like the Azlanti keep.

Part 3 - First Scene: the Pc's arrival and the logistics of the meeting with Absalom's generals

Starting with the rewriting, I believe we should address the Pc's arrival to Absalom and their meeting with the army leaders.

To me, the few lines given from the adventure are a bit lackluster, since we are not given reasons why or how the Pcs are immediately trusted. Also, there is the inferred decision that the Pcs "have to" follow the WT's army through the teleportation circle, when the adventure starts with the assumption that the Pcs are (in a relatively easy way) able to greater teleport between continents.

It's safe to assume that, when the Pc's inform Varvatos in Vellumis of what they have discovered, she's able to give them credential to present to Absalom leaders to prove they are trustworthy. She might even organize herself the Pc's transportation to Absalom and meeting with the generals.

However, where the Pcs to choose to follow the Tyrant through the portal, they should immediately meet a battle. What I propose is that the portal will lead the to the same area written in the book, but they should literally find themselves in the middle of a ghoul horde (100 around), which is currently overwhelming a group of the First Guard (lets say 30). This is, however, just a battle for the narrative: these undead are purposely under leveled, to allow your players a moment to show off their powers in front of a group of Absalom defenders, which will immediately grant them their trust and motivate a meeting between the generals ad such powerful heroes.

This battle should, however, immediately give a few elements to the pcs:
1) the sky over the Cairnlands is completely black, like a thick fog is covering ever corner of the entire region. The level of light is that or just after dusk.
2) these ghouls were not from the profane paladin army: they appear to be dressed as the very guards they were attacking.

Now, the meeting with the generals should give the Pcs the following answers:
1) What is happening
2) Where is Tar Baphon
3) How can we stop him.

Outside these questions, which i'll discuss in the secondo scene, the leaders have to probably be in the know regarding the Tyrant's tactics, and this should therefore be shown in how they are fighting the horde.

First and foremost, this meeting and all the following, should happen inside a mage's magnificent maison, or a similar effect, to avoid have their higher operative be on the treat of bombardment. Secondly, the armies should probably have been divided in smaller section, constantly moving to avoid being overwhelmed, in an effort to provoke smaller skirmish, instead to try to "gain" territory over the area occupied by Baphon.

While I'll keep their insistence to have the Pcs ready to contrast a Radiant Fire detonation, these are military leaders and should be working to "win" this battle with the pc's presence as a deterrent, not a "secret weapon".

However the pcs should be able to provide more than just their presence. While it's not for all the groups, it's possible that a few characters may want to either lead a contingent of troops in any of their actions, or to give proper indications, or even entirely new battle options. Such is the impact of 4+ level 18 characters on a battlefield.

This should be somewhat allowed, first by requiring the Pcs a social challenge with the generals to have them follow their plans, then tailoring a few of the challenges presented in this section of the book. It's also clear how certain acts could easily sway certain npc's towards in favor of the Pc's plans, like the presence of the Oathammer to Erga Sweirhall.

Now, I'll try to answer those aforementioned questions, be the words of the Generals themselves.

Part 3 - Second Scene: what the Pcs have missed.
I propose now a few lines from each of the generals, which are to work as an infodump to the Pcs and explai what they missed, and how they can contribute to this battle.

1) What is happening?
R - We are at war with the forces of death itself.
Y - The lich's forces are currently spread in the norther parts of the Cairnlands, a few of them taking cover inside the Immerwood. Groups of a few hundred have spread in the souther regions, trying to harass our camps.
The main forces, the one we can see, it's around 10.000 strong.
E - But they are growing. We engaged their flanks two times, and cut down hundreds upon hundreds, and yet ... they raise up again. We cut of their heads and legs, but if left unchecked ... they somehow stitch themselves back. Luckily, burning them works fine.
R - We have enough forces that they cannot simply charge at us. But ... we cannot do that either. He would burn us all with the Radiant Fire. From what we get, nothing is stopping him to turn our troops into ashes, so we have to fight divided: if he wants to destroy us so much, he'll be forced to waste everything he has with us ...
Y - I believe the Lich is not doing that because ... he's waiting for us to fight him, so that he can raise our dead brothers against us. He cannot do that, if we are made into dust.
E - But he doesn't need to wait to to make is army grow. The Cairnlands, as the name suggests, are full of graveyards and tumuls in which the forces that sieged Absalom over the millennia were entombed. We are also working to as much of them we can, but many have already been opened, and those buried there called back in an unholy form.
R - Yet, the Lich seems unable to directly target our city. At this moment, we received note of a few actions, but it's something we could hardly call an "attack" ...

2) Where is Tar Baphon?
Y - We don't know. Our divinators cannot find him. Yet, the sky seems to point out he's somewhere in the Cairnlands. I also believe is there: is presence must be needed to keep the sky obscured and the land so ... polluted with death
E - I too believe as such. Probably, he's constantly moving around, finding places after places were to personally raise a few great threats. Our ancestors have tales that recalls how he's, apparently, able to raise the body of anyone he wishes with is mere touch ... making them even a greater threat they were in life ...
R - Is first, and only sight at this point, was however in Absalom. I received the following account from one of the guards next to the the bridges of the Cathedral. That person was left half crazy, and he's currently almost unable to speak. He said what he, Tar Baphon, just ... appeared, soon followed by dozens of skeletons with thorns and ... that "whispered". He said that took the Bridge, and that the bridge ... was falling under his feet. But, when others arrived on the scene, what they found was an few dozens armored corpses with the insignia of the northern realm, all burned almost to a crisp, and an handful of dead guards, and two left almost crazed. The bridge, however, was still intact. I don't know what happened, but i believe that the gods are with us ... though, our priest say that further help from the heavens shall not come.
E - But we shall not need it. We shall fight and win with what we have.

3) How can we stop him?
R - We have to break his army. Without it, even he cannot hold the city.
Y - But to do that, we need to impede him to have it grown even further, and cut down as many of his leader we can. This army is not one that fights for faith: each of those beings is a violent monster, hungry for death and pain. No discipline guides them, except for the will of their makers. Break one of them, and dozens, of not hundreds, will start fight not like soldiers but like beasts. They'll not be able to control them, and this will make them easy prey of our tactics ... thought, a few of them will still be troublesome.
E - Yes. Cause the Lich Tyrant is a king between monsters, but many of his court can face entire troops without being touched. He has also called with him monsters: dragons, the shadows of the night, and other horrors, a few not even from this world. Each of those enemies requires specific tactics, but cannot be put down by our forces without grievous losses, which would only bolster the Lich's ranks.
R - As such, we need to strike as many of those targets as possible before we can engage those troops in furthers skirmishes. Any information you might have regarding those troops you know the Tyrant has taken from Lastwall shall be useful.
Y - Yet, we also need to ... have the lich lord show himself. I'm quite sure he's able to, at least, envision many of the skirmishes we are conducting against his troops. Openly taunting him after having destroyed a key servant may do the trick, if the right words are used, or if the right creatures are targeted.
E - If we formed him out, this should at least put a halt to his influence over this land, stopping the spontaneus rising of our dead.
R - If we can do that, if we can hold the many tumuls and cut enough of his leadership, they the Tyrant will be forced into a siege battle with Absalom. And Absalom has never been taken in a siege battle. He may have got his Radiant fire, but ... if is objective is the Cathedral, that's also probably why he didn't try to detonate one of his shard into the city ... I don't know, but i must believe we can win this. However, if we cannot win this, you all must stay ... in the middle of the battle. From what we are told, this Radiant fire's got a detonation range of 5 miles. You have, therefore, to stay at least 5 at five miles from the center of our army at any point we engage this horryd forces, or his actions ... and our deads will go unpunished.

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