Ashpeak revision v3 (GS Book 5: Anvil of Fire)


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Grand Lodge

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I'm actually starting this book tomorrow, and very much plan on using almost all of what you've done here. Really appreciate it.

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Silas Ruin wrote:

I'm actually starting this book tomorrow, and very much plan on using almost all of what you've done here. Really appreciate it.

Awesome! I've got a group just about ready to enter Skirkatla's tomb, which means readying Book 5 on roll 20 with these statted creatures instead!

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Silas Ruin wrote:

I'm actually starting this book tomorrow, and very much plan on using almost all of what you've done here. Really appreciate it.

As always, I'm tremendously late (I check the forums effectively each quarter), but I hope it is going well!

In my own game, the players seem to have a lot of fun, but their feedback has been that some of the encounters are very challenging. As before, I always advise caution and tailoring the game to your group. I wrote most of this with moderate to high optimization in mind - and some of the encounters spike heavily in terms of difficulty.

I'll also say that with Ashpeak in Hell, the biggest issue I've run into is the party getting sidetracked and distracted. How much you want to railroad is up to you.

My current playtest ‐ spoilers!:
I'm running the adventure PbP, so progress has been very slow as expected. After two groups started outside Ashpeak and kinda screwed around until they lost interest (as is the way of PbP), I started my current, longest running group outside Ashpeak in Hell. Traveling through Hell is one of my favorite parts of the rewrite but I really did want to run the Ashpeak part of the adventure.

The encounter with Old Bone Gnaw was incredible, because the kintecist (who I later had to kick for cheating via reading the document) went ahead to scout solo, completely confident that the defenders of Ashpeak would be defenseless to this tactic. He was wrong, and got swallowed, nearly dying before cutting himself free from the creature - who fled.

The party decided to regroup and heal in plain sight of the hidden arrow slits, which I decided was not interrupted because the gatehouse giants instead buffed and prepared. The Penitent (stone giant inquisitor) killed the wizard before he could act due to a surprise round and two confirmed crits (a scroll of BoL later and he got better). The Warpriest and Kineticist got into the upper gatehouse while the megafauna riding goliath druid got hit by the gate trap before attacking from below and after a pitched battle wiped out the giants but not before they sent the alarm via Iron Tortoise. I was really happy with getting to use the poisonous magma oozes but a clutch freedom of moment rendered them irrelevant.

After gathering, healing, looting and banging on the Iron Tortoise in hopes to confuse the defenders, they pushed up to fungus farms (A2) where the party ambushed and annihilated the defenders there in surprise round and a round, more or less before anyone could act. They knocked out Jagra and took her prisoner, but the Worry Daemon possessed the Warpriest's Shadow. It was at this point the problem player (kintecist) quoted the document directly to me - I'd suspected him of reading it for quite some time, sadly. I kicked him but added 2 new players, an Archer Bard and a Monk. They also picked up the NPC Orc chieftain, Skogra who has been of limited use.

After a tense then joyous reunion they headed to the fallow farm (A3), where they met the Necromancer Brandyr, talked, but avoided the combat in the room entirely. Had they fought, they'd almost certainly have crushed the encounter with ease.

Instead they made it to the makeshift Shrine, unfortunately at this point Jagra rushed out to warn her sister, Karah, and the PCs killed the ogre. This gave the Roundbelly tribe and Steelspeakers time to buff and assemble, especially as the PCs were extremely cautious and slow to advance - lack of visibility from light proved a huge disadvantage, but the combat that ensued with ferocious, complex and extremely memorable. Karah managed to "kill" the druid, whose regeneration saved her, but followed up by killing her mount/companion. The party got heavily separated across the battlefield but shut down the hags before they could coven cast, who then put up obscuring mists to cover themselves. All the time, the Anisydaemon threw everything it had at the Warpriest, along with the Witch's hexes, but nothing ever stuck. Eventually, the Daemon waited for the right moment, left the shadow and teleported away, with plans to torment the Warpriest with nightmares. Ironically, by pure fate (a 19 was needed to hit, and it was rolled) the Annis Hags grabbed and raked the Warpriest, and would have killed him Dave for his DR. A combo of archery and magic killed Karah while the monk beat down the Steamhog, while the ogres and fleas were debuffed (waves of exhaustion) and then killed with relative ease (trample, heartspit, corrosive eruption, etc.). Realizing their imminent defeat, the hags disguised as prisoners in the fog, hoping to be left unnoticed. They left the Warpriest alive but took a little of his healing.

Now the party is planning their next moves, most likely to secure a rest. Whether that's in the mountain, greater teleporting to Dis or planeshifting to the material is yet undecided, as is what to do with the dead companion's body (they want to raise him).

If they don't immediately leave, I strongly expect they'll end up fighting another patrol,
as two different daemons have escaped and the alarm was rung, but we'll see. I'm thinking about using the Oni duo if it happens - potentially not making it a combat encounter at all.

I have yet to introduce the doppelganger Thoon, but I'm planning on adding them in at some point as I doubt the PCs will backtrack to the Slave Pens.

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Erpa wrote:
Silas Ruin wrote:

I'm actually starting this book tomorrow, and very much plan on using almost all of what you've done here. Really appreciate it.

Awesome! I've got a group just about ready to enter Skirkatla's tomb, which means readying Book 5 on roll 20 with these statted creatures instead!

Skirkatla's tomb is one of my favorite dungeons, hands down. Really, one of the best parts of the AP.

Pretty much my advice above applies. I'm not a professional writer, and some of the encounters are over-tuned. I genuinely hope my mad scribblings make book 5 more fun for your group, but nothing is sacred. Use it as a resource, it's definitely not a polished guide. Some of the encounters just sound really fun to me, if I was a player, so that's why I wrote it.

Best of luck!

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I can't believe this, but I never actually rebuilt Thoon! To save your digging through the abomination of a Google Doc, dear non-existent reader, instead see below:

Thoon 2.0:
Doppelganger UC rogue 12 (CR 12)
N Medium monstrous humanoid (shapechanger)
FCB skills +16
Init +8;

Senses darkvision 60 ft., trapspotter;
Perception +21

AC 19, touch 15, flat-footed 14 (+4 Dex, +1 dodge, +4 natural) +4 danger sense
hp 147 (16 HD; 4d10+12d8+68)
(currently 45)
Fort +10, Ref +16, Will +12 (+4 danger sense)
Defensive Abilities danger sense +4, evasion, improved uncanny dodge, resiliency 1/day (24 temp); Immune charm, sleep
Weakness shackled

Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +18 (1d4+5); or leg shackle +14/+9/+4 (1d10+7/19-20)
Special Attacks bleeding attack 6, debilitating injury (double debilitation, -4), sneak attack +6d6

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 18th; concentration +21)
At will—detect thoughts (DC 15)

Str 20, Dex 18, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 16
Base Atk +13; CMB +18; CMD 32

Feats Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Mobility, Power Attack, Spring Attack, Toughness, Weapon Finesse

Skills Acrobatics +19, Climb +20, Bluff +22 (+26 while using change shape ability), Diplomacy +14, Disable Device +19 (+27 traps), Disguise +22 (+42 while using change shape ability), Heal +9, Knowledge (dungeoneering, local) +10, Linguistics +10, Perception +21 (+27 traps), Sense Motive +21, Sleight of Hand +19, Stealth +23;

Racial Modifiers +4 Bluff (+8 while using change shape ability), +4 Disguise (+24 while
using change shape ability)

Languages Common, Dwarven, Giant, Orc

Gear concealable thieves's tools, leg shackle (improvised heavy flail),

SQ change shape (alter self), finesse training (dagger, shortsword), mimicry, perfect copy, rogue's edge (perception, stealth), rogue talents (bleeding attack, combat trick, double debilitation, fast stealth, resiliency, trapspotter), no gear (-1 CR), trapfinding +6

Special Abilities
Mimicry (Ex) A doppelganger is proficient in all weapons, armor, and shields. In addition, a doppelganger can use any spell trigger or spell completion item as if the spells were on its spell list. Its caster level is equal to its racial Hit Dice.

Perfect Copy (Su) When a doppelganger uses change shape, it can assume the appearance of specific individuals.

Shackled (Ex) Although Thoon’s Strength
score is high enough that he can drag the weight shackled to his leg with relative ease, it prevents him from running or charging. Once the leg shackle is removed, this weakness is lost, but Thoon may still be able to wield it as a weapon if it isn't destroyed, gaining the broken condition at GM discretion.

Thread Necromancers' Guild wrote:
Artofregicide wrote:
OctopusMacbeth wrote:

Wow. This is FANTASTIC. Thanks for doing this.

Would love to see your breakdown of the “declaration of war” section of the AP... would that mean another of these for book 4? ;)

Really though, thanks for this.

Super, incredibly late - I'm not on the Paizo forums much anymore.

But thanks, you're very kind!

I actually only rewrote book 5, but if I ran the whole AP I'd write a schedule for what the Giant War looked like, and what the actions of the PCs would do in slowing it. I have thoughts on how I'd run the entire AP, but I've only written out Book 5 (which needs the most) and a little of Book 6 (which doesn't need a lot).

Necro much?

As much as I can.

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