2 - Sixty Feet Under (GM Reference)


Agents of Edgewatch

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These are fantastic, jsled! I've got a few more suggestions for you, places described the Pathfinder Chronicles Guide to Absalom book:

I spent way too much time on this...:
  • The Black Mask: To casual observation, the Black Mask is a high-end costume shop in the Ascendant Court, offering ornate masks, double-sided cloaks, and unusual attire from common disguises to ornate parade costumes of bamboo and silk that allow a dozen men to play the part of a sea-serpent. However, it is an open secret that the shop is truly a temple to Norgorber, and that when it closes business at the end of each day, the black-and-gray-clad faithful of the Reaper of Reputation come to worship the second Ascended God.
  • The Saucy Wench: There are very few permanent buildings within the Bazaar, which is one of the reasons the sturdy and massive Saucy Wench remains popular. Located near the center of the vast trade grounds, the Saucy Wench is a capacious four-story mead hall, dealing in nothing but meat hot from the spit, hearty bread, and copious quantities of mead. It’s famous for its all-female, interracial serving staff (and their identical wench serving outfits), who are indeed among the sauciest women in all the Coins.
  • Hackamore House: Operated in the Coins by its owner Aetris Thunderhoof (a centaur), and her paramour Glenair of House Jefreet (a shapeshifting druid born in Diobel), this is the premier steed and carriage shop in Absalom.
  • The Blue Tower: The tallest building in Eastgate, and among the tallest in the whole city, the Blue Tower is made of pieces of light blue coral fitted together to form a spiraling horn topped with a more conventional stone lighthouse. The tower is home to the Winged Sandals, an order of dedicated messengers who worship Iomedae.
  • Backhill’s: From the street, Backhill’s seems to be nothing more than a large thatch roof sitting a foot or so off the ground in Eastgate. In fact it is a popular meadhouse owned by Dege Blackhill (famous for his Underbrew, a special spiced mead particularly favored by those of Numerian blood) that is essentially a covered basement with earthen walls. The main hall features huge smoking pits that run nonstop day and night.
  • The Crimson Coin: A typical tavern in most respects—a large, open mead-room, a balcony running around a second floor with rooms for rent by the hour, and a large fire pit and long serving bar—the Crimson Coin stands out for only two reasons. First, it has a deep earthen pit in the center of the mead hall, roped off to protect drunkards from falling in too often, where anyone willing to put up a gold coin can try to last 60 seconds against the house champion in a barefisted brawl. Second, it is the only place off the nearby Irorium grounds where wagers can be (legally) placed on the outcome of major gladiatorial games.
  • Blackblade’s: One of many fighting schools in Absalom, Blackblade’s is newer and more successful than most. It is run in the Foreign Quarter by Benkhal Blackblade, a renowned swordsman, mercenary, and one-time member of the Pathfinder Society.
  • The Ivy Playhouse: Headquarters of the Street Performers
    and Actors’ Guild, the playhouse serves as both the Ivy District Nomarch Alain Always’s home and a theater famous for some of the finest stage performances in Absalom—as well as some of the most scandalously risqué.
  • White Grotto: The premier bardic school in Absalom, and one of the most revered of the Inner Sea, the White Grotto operates from a large manor in the Ivy District, with an associated adjacent amphitheater. Students are required to wear simple tunics to denote
    their station within the school. Apprentices wear green (and are often called “greens” by natives of Absalom), journeymen blue, and masters black. Tradition dictates that all other clothing be white, at least during performances.
  • The Clockwork Cathedral of the Merchant's Quarter is the newest and most specialized of Absalom’s Great Schools. It is the premier center of learning focusing on mechanics and constructs. An imposing building of heavy iron plates, interlocking gears, gothic arches, and sliding joints, the single-building academy has oft been compared to a mechanical centipede with a clock tower on its back.
  • Javelin Gallery: The Javelin Gallery is an old manor, dating back to the second millennium of Absalom, which has been converted to serve as both a weapons emporium and military compound. In both functions it is the domain of the Guild of Spears, who serve as the paid district guard of the Merchants’ Quarter and operate the largest weaponforges and arms imports in Absalom.
  • The Grand Dance Hall of Kortos: An ornate, round building in the Merchant's Quarter with dozens of entrances at ground level and a few on the roof, this is officially simply a theater-in-the-round for Vudrani-style dancing troupes to take the central stage of the vast, unbroken interior space. There they showcase everything from belly-gyrating silk dances to mounted camel ballet to saber-tossing gymnastics. Unofficially, the prestigious and restricted upper floor balcony levels are where the most significant trading agreements of the Inner Sea are brokered, leading to its being nicknamed among merchants as "The Hall at the Center of the World."
  • The Second Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of Absalom is a mythical subterranean complex that supposedly Aroden had to brave to defeat a creature that once owned the Isle of Kortos. The Second Labyrinth is a high-end tavern, gambling house, and brothel in the Merchant's Quarter; most famous for its unique betting card game, Maze, and its least expensive courtesan, the Sculptress, a great beauty who always wears a full head-veil. Beneath it, her hair can be seen to writhe and heard to hiss.
  • The Fierce Stripe: A small wooden shop in Westgate with a sign shaped and painted like a badger’s head, the Fierce Stripe is a badger-wrangling shop run by House Yuirel. The main businesses at the Fierce Stripe are building setts (badger burrows) for warehouses and businesses seeking to adopt a badger clan, and training bull (adult male) badgers as guard-animals. Badger cubs and trained adults can be bought at the small shop, and specialty gear for badger familiars and companions is also available (including badger barding, tiny strap-on metal claws, and belt pouches).
  • The Silk Castle: Located in the Wise Quarter, this is the only kite shop within 1,000 miles of Absalom, as its proprietor, Vittar Corusec, is proud to tell anyone who asks. Though the aisles of the shop are stuffed with glorious kites ready for sale—paper dragons, gossamer fireballs, and even shield-shaped kites with moving illusions of ships, knights, or dancing girls cast upon their faces—these are mostly for tourists and newcomers. The true bulk of Corusec’s business comes from enthusiasts and competitors who buy his very expensive raw materials, and in the process receive free advice on their custom kites.

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    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
    Rainingmight wrote:
    GayBirdGM wrote:
    Moximus wrote:

    Oh yeah, Chapter 4 is all dungeon crawl and combat! After the party has been focusing on skill use and de-escalating combats, this chapter is brutal in comparison!

    The Fiendflesh Siege happened a few years ago, an was played out as a Gencon, multi-table Society Scenario.

    https://paizo.com/products/btpy9tld?Pathfinder-Society-Scenario-900-Assault -on-Absalom

    Link!

    Thank's Moximus! I was going to ask the same thing.

    I absolutely love the random Dark Tapestry creature in the catacombs. Eldritch horror? I'm into that. More please.

    Speaking of the Dark Tapestry creature, its stat block says it has 320 HP?! Is that correct? Most other level 10 creatures have below 200 HP. It seems really high.

    This monster looks seriously like it's much larger than what is listed (LARGE) , it seems like atleast huge by the look at that picture I have changed it's size to match the picture to HUGE


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    Junker wrote:
    This monster looks seriously like it's much larger than what is listed (LARGE) , it seems like atleast huge by the look at that picture I have changed it's size to match the picture to HUGE

    It does look a little too big for Large, yeah. If it's worth anything, I decided to leave it at the original size and none of my players made any comment. So it might not be as egregious as it looks to a GM's overanalysing mind.

    By the way I have a question: In the catacombs, there's 2 ceustodaemons guarding the main entrance of the Skinner's murder cultist lair. They have see invisibility. One of my players cast clairvoyance to spy that location. I described the daemons as realising the eye is there after a few seconds and one of them squashing it between his thumb and index finger.

    Would these daemons bother to report this incident? If so, to whom? The guy who summoned them is dead, there's also a bunch of murder cultists in the next room playing with a harrow but I doubt the daemons would report to them. Skinner is a long way away and too out of it to care about something so subtle I think. So... do they just shrug it off?


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    Ceustodaemons are neither particularly bright nor particularly loyal...I don't think they'd care.


    Update! My players found the Skinsaw cult in the Catacombs of the Fellowship of Prospectus several days before the bank robbery was scheduled to take place. They completely cleared out the Skinner and her cult with 1/2 a day to spare, so...I guess we're skipping the actual robbery?

    I could have the Copper Hand try to pull off the robbery anyway, but I feel like its more narratively appropriate and rewarding to the players to have the CH just go into hiding for awhile once they realize the guards are onto them and the Skinsaw cult isn't going to bother them for awhile.

    So I guess we're on to book 3 without ever doing the robbery! I feel like I had the Agents work hard to get the info and location of the Skinsaw cult, so I'm happy with that aspect.


    That sounds great. Make sure to find a way to communicate the cancellation of the robbery to the players somehow. They should know they indirectly prevented it. Don't ask me how, though, I have no idea.

    Did they have any level issues with Skinner by the way? They're supposed to be level 8 or 9 in that fight but presumably they were lower in your game? Or maybe not.

    My players are currently fighting Skinner after walking into their front door with some NPC backup but no real plan, triggering the alarm and basically having to fight the whole base wave after wave. I'm a bit worried about them.


    @Naurgul: We'll see tonight, they'll have to race to get in contact with the Copper Hand to call off the robbery.

    No real issues with the Skinner. She was a real tough fight, but appropriately so for the 2nd boss of the adventure. They're only level 7, but there's 5 of them and they played their tactics very well.


    Wow. Did they fight her alone or what? By my calculations, Skinner with 3 excorions is beyond an extreme-threat encounter for 5 level 7 PCs.


    The excorions were tougher than The Skinner when we fought her. She didn't have any caster support. It made her pretty easy.


    @Naurgul: Skinner got a crit fail against Phantasmal Killer and was running/frightened for awhile. When she got back to the fight she still laid into the PC's, but with some good tactics they were able to take her down.


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    Nice. In my game she got a crit fail against slow and that basically doomed her. Despite her wild protestations and managing to get practically the whole cult to join the fight in waves, she got killed.


    What is the most common way to strike a monster with a « good » attack? When should I add the 10 hit points from a good weakness to the damage roll?

    Tx!


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    Weunty wrote:

    What is the most common way to strike a monster with a « good » attack? When should I add the 10 hit points from a good weakness to the damage roll?

    Tx!

    Holy weapon.

    Alignment based spell cast by class with good deity like Divine Lance.

    Some special ability like a paladin's smite evil which does good damage when activated.


    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    Or plenty of vials of holy water with simple weapon proficiency. 11 damage on a miss is pretty solid when it comes up.


    OK, so one of my player characters speaks Aklo, and it seems likely they'll be able to negotiate the Ether Spiders out of the vault non-violently. That means I'll be dealing with the Xill...but I can't figure out how that's supposed to work.

    Xill have no way, as written, to travel between planes but their innate, limited Plane Shift spell, but there's no indication that it takes them less time than the 10 minutes it usually takes to cast, and it also doesn't indicate that it functions differently regarding arrival location than the spell as written. By my reading, the enraged Xill would cast Plane Shift and end up *somewhere* on Golarion 10 minutes later, which is unlikely to be anywhere near Absalom, and by which time my players will probably already have wandered off to the next candidate bank-job target so the Xill wouldn't find them where they left them anyway, even if I handwave the location thing. Should I handwave the location and casting time? By how much?

    Anyone have any advice on this? Mr. Sayre, any clarifications on intent?


    Perhaps you can have the Xill start casting as soon as the players start talking amicably to the spiders. Then depending on how long the PCs take to resolve the situation and leave you get a bunch of possible outcomes: if they finish too early the Xill loses them but maybe attacks the banker. If they take too long then the Xill appears and hides, perhaps forcing a free-for-all fight or a tense negotiation + fight at the same time.

    Or you can hand-wave BOTH the location and the casting time.

    Alternatively, you can completely remove the Xill from the situation. It's not like it's critical to the plot or anything. It's a throwaway more or less random encounter.

    Sovereign Court

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber
    GreatGraySkwid wrote:

    OK, so one of my player characters speaks Aklo, and it seems likely they'll be able to negotiate the Ether Spiders out of the vault non-violently. That means I'll be dealing with the Xill...but I can't figure out how that's supposed to work.

    Xill have no way, as written, to travel between planes but their innate, limited Plane Shift spell, but there's no indication that it takes them less time than the 10 minutes it usually takes to cast, and it also doesn't indicate that it functions differently regarding arrival location than the spell as written. By my reading, the enraged Xill would cast Plane Shift and end up *somewhere* on Golarion 10 minutes later, which is unlikely to be anywhere near Absalom, and by which time my players will probably already have wandered off to the next candidate bank-job target so the Xill wouldn't find them where they left them anyway, even if I handwave the location thing. Should I handwave the location and casting time? By how much?

    Anyone have any advice on this? Mr. Sayre, any clarifications on intent?

    I wouldn't worry about it. PF2 is full of monster abilities that don't work exactly the way they do for the players. If he is hunting the spiders who is to say he isn't equipped with a consumable that he uses to chase them?


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    One of my biggest problems is how cramped the maps are. We have a power player who picked barbarian who has 15 ft reach thanks to giant posture and he cheeses every encounters with AOO (he took fighter dedication) trip and grapple. At this point as a GM I feel I have 3 choices in this matter...

    1- Change the enemies in a way that counters it (like giving spell casters hideous laughter, give rouges the non provoking feat and give a lot of grease)

    2- Reintroduce the 1st ED rule where he can't attack 5 and 10 feet with a reach weapon. Which will either force him to a standard melee weapon or reposition himself.

    3- Ask him to preroll as he is cheesing the map designs..

    As a GM I'm conflicted because I want him to have fun in the game but I personally not enjoying any encounter due to him cheesing. Also he complains that I'm crippling his cheese build if I introduce anything that specifically counters him. What should I do here?


    Are you aware that you can't trip or grapple as part of an attack of opportunity?

    And that you only have one attack of opportunity per round of combat ?

    So if he gets an attack(not a trip or grapple) on one of the ennemies rushing him, cool, the others will still reach him and hit him, most likely gritting him cause of low AC.

    Plus he's easier to flank. That build is really not cheesy it's just adequate.


    AlastarOG wrote:

    Are you aware that you can't trip or grapple as part of an attack of opportunity?

    And that you only have one attack of opportunity per round of combat ?

    So if he gets an attack(not a trip or grapple) on one of the ennemies rushing him, cool, the others will still reach him and hit him, most likely gritting him cause of low AC.

    Plus he's easier to flank. That build is really not cheesy it's just adequate.

    Barbarians can't have flat footed also he blocks the entire map due to how small they are. A lot of enemies are lower level. He also uses trip which he succeds a lot and with slow as a GM it comes to a grindfest of doing nothing. I get that I give potions of quicken to my enemies and manipulate them a bit.


    They can, just not by lower level ennemies.

    Look if his build works well for the map more power to him.

    I had a badger riding champion with reach controling choke points, it was infuriating for the ennemies, but the players had a blast.

    No need to tweek.

    (Also if he's doing maneuvers he's not doing damage so it's a tradeoff)

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    GreatGraySkwid wrote:

    If you don't mind converting from 1E, there's a wealth of adventures set in Absalom ripe for the looting, already categorized and filed by the fine folks at Pathfinder Wiki. There's even 3 scenarios and 1 module set in the Precipice Quarter!

    I appreciate everyone's thoughts on filling the missing experience in this volume and I liked the idea of using a PFS adventure to bridge that gap. I have one player who has done every PFS scenario in 2e, but none of them played Pathfinder Society in 1e. I decided to adapt Mists of Mwangi - making the location the Mwangi Pavilion at the Radiant Festival (a collaboration between the Magaambya academy and the Pathfinder Lodge in Nantambu). The map of the Blakros Museum in that scenario looks nothing like the museum as it's presented today - the perfect size for a pavilion.

    Some of the treasure awarded in the sidequest will be items of an appropriate level from Strength of Thousands adventure path and Threshold of Knowledge. For supporting the Pathfinder Society to solve a problem in the Precipice District I’m also thinking of opening up some feat and alchemical formulae options from the society as a reward.


    alfred1844 wrote:
    AlastarOG wrote:

    Are you aware that you can't trip or grapple as part of an attack of opportunity?

    And that you only have one attack of opportunity per round of combat ?

    So if he gets an attack(not a trip or grapple) on one of the ennemies rushing him, cool, the others will still reach him and hit him, most likely gritting him cause of low AC.

    Plus he's easier to flank. That build is really not cheesy it's just adequate.

    Barbarians can't have flat footed also he blocks the entire map due to how small they are. A lot of enemies are lower level. He also uses trip which he succeds a lot and with slow as a GM it comes to a grindfest of doing nothing. I get that I give potions of quicken to my enemies and manipulate them a bit.

    And you are using the Multiple Attack Penalty on the trips? Trips count as attacks for the Multiple Attack Penalty. So each additional trip attempt is at -5 and then -10. Only one AoO per round. Fighter Multiclass won't get the extra AoO feat until level 20 since you only count as half your fighter level for fighter feats.


    Deriven Firelion wrote:
    alfred1844 wrote:
    AlastarOG wrote:

    Are you aware that you can't trip or grapple as part of an attack of opportunity?

    And that you only have one attack of opportunity per round of combat ?

    So if he gets an attack(not a trip or grapple) on one of the ennemies rushing him, cool, the others will still reach him and hit him, most likely gritting him cause of low AC.

    Plus he's easier to flank. That build is really not cheesy it's just adequate.

    Barbarians can't have flat footed also he blocks the entire map due to how small they are. A lot of enemies are lower level. He also uses trip which he succeds a lot and with slow as a GM it comes to a grindfest of doing nothing. I get that I give potions of quicken to my enemies and manipulate them a bit.

    And you are using the Multiple Attack Penalty on the trips? Trips count as attacks for the Multiple Attack Penalty. So each additional trip attempt is at -5 and then -10. Only one AoO per round. Fighter Multiclass won't get the extra AoO feat until level 20 since you only count as half your fighter level for fighter feats.

    Thanks for the answers but we separated our paths with the player. He wasn't a good person to play with in the first place with constant complaining. Now I had a relook I could actually turn him into my pet by making enemies challenging him constantly in the opposite side of the room. That would be hilarious :D


    alfred1844 wrote:
    Deriven Firelion wrote:
    alfred1844 wrote:
    AlastarOG wrote:

    Are you aware that you can't trip or grapple as part of an attack of opportunity?

    And that you only have one attack of opportunity per round of combat ?

    So if he gets an attack(not a trip or grapple) on one of the ennemies rushing him, cool, the others will still reach him and hit him, most likely gritting him cause of low AC.

    Plus he's easier to flank. That build is really not cheesy it's just adequate.

    Barbarians can't have flat footed also he blocks the entire map due to how small they are. A lot of enemies are lower level. He also uses trip which he succeds a lot and with slow as a GM it comes to a grindfest of doing nothing. I get that I give potions of quicken to my enemies and manipulate them a bit.

    And you are using the Multiple Attack Penalty on the trips? Trips count as attacks for the Multiple Attack Penalty. So each additional trip attempt is at -5 and then -10. Only one AoO per round. Fighter Multiclass won't get the extra AoO feat until level 20 since you only count as half your fighter level for fighter feats.

    Thanks for the answers but we separated our paths with the player. He wasn't a good person to play with in the first place with constant complaining. Now I had a relook I could actually turn him into my pet by making enemies challenging him constantly in the opposite side of the room. That would be hilarious :D

    Good for you then !

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    Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

    I really like the idea (from way earlier in this thread) about making the Chapter 1 investigation more rewarding and open ended. Lifting from Naurgul’s ideas, here’s how I’m planning to adapt this for my game.

    THE PARADE ROUTE: The PCs have already decided they want to walk the parade route to scout out potential bank targets. I’ve located the staging area for the parade around the Starstone Cathedral, with the route starting south down the Avenue of the Hopeful, turning east across the Coins district to the Gallery of Innovation, then heading south through the Docks to the Precipice Quarter and the Festival Grounds.

    TARGETS AND KEY LOCATIONS: In their scouting mission, they will find the three banks listed in the adventure on the parade route. I’m placing Chadraxa’s Cheap Loans in the Mudhaven neighborhood of the Coins, and I’ve placed Gilel’s Tannery in the Docks district on the parade route not far from the Precipice District.

    INVESTIGATING/GATHERING INFO ON THE BANKS: After scouting out potential targets, the PCs can either visit each bank and/or gather information in the Coins about them. A success will give them general info about the bank (i.e. the largest of the banks, the manager’s name etc.) while a critical success will give them all of the information they would have otherwise found in the file.

    INFO FROM THE TOKEN GUARD: The PCs can also access this information by paying the Token Guards at the Bail House a ‘consultant fee’ to look at the files they have on each bank – and later on Chadraxa (I’m thinking 10gp per file)

    GATHERING INFO ON THE PARADE/FLOATS/ETC.: The PCs can also gather information on rumours about the parade itself to learn about the vandalism of Gilel’s float, or topics related to law and order in the Coins district to learn of the Token Guard’s dubious reputation, and of Chadraxa having her finger on the pulse of banking/crime in the Coins. I’m sure the players will come up with some out of the box ideas, and these nuggets are also options to reward them for creative play.

    ADDITIONAL INFO THE PCs KNOW: If they don’t uncover all of this information through investigation, Orvington will mention when the parade comes up that one of his customers (Gilel) had his float vandalized – could that be related? And Rohka Stonesworn will ask if they’ve spoken with Chadraxa… that she often has more information on bank-related issues than the Token Guard.

    I’m hoping this plan will allow the PCs to pursue the trail of clues to advance the story while being more satisfying/engaging than being handed a case file.


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    Very nice, I like the idea of preparing how to give additional information to players if they fail to make the connection themselves or are lost.

    For the Token Guard, don't forget to include retrievable information on that goblin burglar Quidley. In my game when the PCs visited the token guard they were told no goblin of that name had ever been arrested but they managed to take a peek at the papers and saw that the name was actually in the files but crossed out.

    I'm going to make a full thread soon to share everything extra I prepared for the investigation in this book.

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    Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
    Naurgul wrote:
    For the Token Guard, don't forget to include retrievable information on that goblin burglar Quidley. In my game when the PCs visited the token guard they were told no goblin of that name had ever been arrested but they managed to take a peek at the papers and saw that the name was actually in the files but crossed out.

    That's a good call out. I've been cribbing your stuff since I started this campaign and it's definitely making the AP way more interesting to me as a GM and believable/credible to my players. Your advice to me on the Precipice Quarter/Radiant Festival map and Book 1/Chapter 1 encounters took me off the fence about GMing this AP. Definitely looing forward to your expanded notes!


    I'm glad to hear that :D


    As promised, I wrote a big expansion for the bank robbery investigation, which you can read here.


    OK, so I have questions about the Copper Hand Hideout. As written, the captured bank robbers give the PCs the location of the Hideout, but it's not detailed what information they give outside of that. This led to an awkward moment where Melipdra says "I’d recommend a tactical, stealthy approach, especially since we have reason to believe the thieves might be holding a hostage," and I had to go, "wait, what?"

    I knew about Gribse, of course, but there's zero hints that the PCs would have learned about him prior to this line. I had to improvise a bit on the spot, and now they want to know what all they know about this person. Were they reported missing (obviously Absalom has a Missing Persons reporting system, as they were working a portion of that list a week or two ago), and if so from where and by whom, and if not why not? And I don't really have very much in the way of answers for them. One can assume Gribse is either an Absalomian native or a childhood immigrant as he was bitten by a Sleepless Suns animal 8 years ago, so now I have to make up sufficient backstory for this character that made enough of themselves to become an engineering student but not so much that there's an especially active investigation into their multi-week disappearance from their life!

    Any tips on how you handled this, or the level of information your party got from the captured Hands?


    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    Could be that the Sleepless Suns were able to piece it together as part of their own investigation into the Copper Hand, and offered the tip to the agents when they showed up asking to raid their hideout. Maybe there were reports of a man matching his description around the location or the kidnapping a few weeks ago left some clues suggesting the Copper Hand were responsible.

    Paizo Employee Designer

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    thewastedwalrus wrote:
    Could be that the Sleepless Suns were able to piece it together as part of their own investigation into the Copper Hand, and offered the tip to the agents when they showed up asking to raid their hideout. [...]

    I have limited insight into the intent of this particular character because who they are and what their role is changed a lot between the turnover and final release, but this is exactly how I'd handle it. Remind the PCs that they're just one unit from one jurisdiction and that there's a bunch of other NPCs out there doing the same job with varying degrees of competence and success. Makes it feel more like something where you have those interdepartmental rivalries while also allowing you to inject information into the story as necessary.


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    Thanks for the guidance, Michael, much appreciated!

    Here's what I wound up giving my players:

    Quote:
    Each district keeps its own missing persons lists, reporting unsolved cases up to the Starwatch (Absalom's FBI equivalent) bi-weekly, who then distribute briefs on still unresolved cases down to the other districts after another week. The robbers weren't sure how long Gribse had been kept prisoner, but it's been at least a couple of weeks. The latest one of those lists at Edgewatch HQ is about a week old, and doesn't have anyone by that name. The Sleepless Suns list, though, does have a case opened by a student at the Clockwork Cathedral in the Coins who had been turned away by the Token Guard for not being able to pay an inquiry fee, but had remembered that his tutor, one Gribse Burlish, lived in the Foreign Quarter, and had reported the case to the Utterhome after the second missed paid weekly session. The Sleepless Suns hadn't been able to confirm his place of residence, but were able to confirm with the Clockwork Cathedral that he was enrolled there as an advanced research student. He had missed a couple of weeks of classes, but the absence rate has been unusually high at Universities across the city due to the festival, and no one but the student who had been paying him had realized anything was truly amiss.

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    Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

    I'm glad someone flagged the point about Melipdra mentioning a possible hostage as my group should reach that point in a couple weeks. I'm inclined to remove the reference to the hostage entirely as it just doesn't make much sense if Melipdra has almost no information on the Copper Hand, but enough to suspect a hostage (and then to have taken no action to learn more about it).

    It doesn't seem essential to the plot for the party to know about the hostage in advance - and there are visible clues that can be provided for the PCs to pick up on his hostage status when they encounter him.


    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    Well it does help establish the tone that the entire city is overwhelmed by the Radiant Festival and that they may just not have the personnel to follow up on every lead as soon as they get them.

    A potential kidnapping is definitely a high-priority issue, but the involvement of a gang means that much greater resources would be required for the big bust and that even verifying the rumor requires some subtle investigation.

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    OK – the more I prep for the PC investigation of the Copper Hands, the more the backstory isn’t adding up for me. I’m wondering how others have dealt with this. My group is working this like procedural investigators, so I want to avoid breaking verisimilitude as much as possible,

    They are two days from the parade. They’ve figured out after helping out the Mudruckers and talking to Chadraxa that the group behind this is the Copper Hands. So here are the things that aren’t making sense to me…

    Evidently Fayati has been leading the guild for more than a year, transforming it into an up-and-coming guild – and that it had been operating before she took over

    Given that, I’m having a hard time rationalizing that the PCs won’t be able to figure out with some investigation where the guild is operating from. I am also super-challenged given the amount of time the guild has been operating that Melipdra and the Sleepless Sons don’t recognize the name 'Copper Hands'. It makes him and his detectives look incompetent. Especially when Chadraxa – who operates in a different district – is not only aware of them, but also knows they are working with The Skinner and her cult.

    Could Fayati have recently rebranded her guild? Perhaps Chadraxa has connections that have leaked her info about the Copper Hand (e.g. Vancaskerkin) to lead breadcrumbs towards The Skinner? Is there something I’m missing?

    I suppose I could have them find the cult in Vudratown early, have them assault their hideout at 5th level and most likely be unsuccessful, with Favati and others escaping and the bank robbery still going ahead, possibly with Favati now involved, or then tracking her to her new hideout from the captured rogues from the heist. Curious on any thoughts here!


    rokeca wrote:
    Given that, I’m having a hard time rationalizing that the PCs won’t be able to figure out with some investigation where the guild is operating from.

    I allowed them to investigate and find the Coppher Hand HQ earlier. They had the choice to raid it before the robbery but after consulting with other guards they decided not to in case they couldn't find any incriminating evidence in the building and tipping them off that the guard is after them (which would result in them changing up the details of the robbery, making it harder to stop).

    rokeca wrote:
    I am also super-challenged given the amount of time the guild has been operating that Melipdra and the Sleepless Sons don’t recognize the name 'Copper Hands'.

    In my game, the Copper Hand was careful enough to avoid notice for the most part and the bank robbery is not their usual style since they're forced to do it by Skinner.

    You can find about these and all the other additions/adjustments I did to expand this part and make it more -as you said- like "procedural investigators" in this thread:

    Expanded Bank Robbery Investigation

    where I wrote down all my notes on the topic.

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    Naurgul wrote:
    rokeca wrote:
    Given that, I’m having a hard time rationalizing that the PCs won’t be able to figure out with some investigation where the guild is operating from.

    You can find about these and all the other additions/adjustments I did to expand this part and make it more -as you said- like "procedural investigators" in this thread:

    Expanded Bank Robbery Investigation

    where I wrote down all my notes on the topic.

    This is good stuff, and spot on for the tone of our game. Thanks Naurgul!


    My Fayati/CH enhancements in brief: Fayati took over what was a small pick-pocketing racket and started reorganizing into a more diversified criminal organization. She's obviously more bookishly minded than a typical thief, and got the idea from her readings to split her organization into cells specialized in certain types of work, with compartmentalized reporting structures such that lower-level members never went above the second floor of the HQ and didn't even know her name, and with her bookkeeping she carefully distributed the crew's work in any particular area so they didn't attract too much heat from a neighborhood or the Sleepless Suns. The Bank Robbery crew were a repurposed 2nd-story burglary cell who hadn't been with the CH for long enough to meet Fayati directly.

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    GreatGraySkwid wrote:
    My Fayati/CH enhancements in brief: Fayati took over what was a small pick-pocketing racket and started reorganizing into a more diversified criminal organization. She's obviously more bookishly minded than a typical thief, and got the idea from her readings to split her organization into cells specialized in certain types of work, with compartmentalized reporting structures such that lower-level members never went above the second floor of the HQ and didn't even know her name, and with her bookkeeping she carefully distributed the crew's work in any particular area so they didn't attract too much heat from a neighborhood or the Sleepless Suns. The Bank Robbery crew were a repurposed 2nd-story burglary cell who hadn't been with the CH for long enough to meet Fayati directly.

    I'm going to steal much of this idea too.

    I'm leaning towards Melipdra and the Sleepless Suns having a file they're gathering on Fayati and the Copper Hand - they have evidence of low level crimes from the lower-tier associates, but they suspect the guild is up to something and they want evidence to go after the bigger fish - in this case Fayati, or whoever she might lead them to. A bit like the early phases of a modern-day police operation on a gang.

    I'm going to cut out Melipdra's reference to a hostage. However, I'm considering changing Gribse's backstory to make him an engineer that was hired by the group responsible for the Vudra Pavilion at the Radiant Festival (Fayati is part of a business association involved in consultations for the pavilion where she became aware of Gribse). He was kidnapped towards the end of Pratchett's time. I'm going to add him to the list of the missing from Dreaming Palace, and now that the Edgewatch forensic Investigators have completed their work, they have concluded that he is the only (or one of the only) individuals not accounted for.

    I wish I'd thought of this earlier - it would have tweaked further interest into the investigation at the tannery, and I could have used it to foreshadow some of the events here.

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    The parade ran last night and we broke off mid-heist. I wanted to share what I ended up with as floats preceding the burglers. I generously stole and curated from previous suggestions in this thread, but added some of my own. Less detailed than what Naurgul created - more to give a sense of flavor around the culture of the parade.

    I used to be a Scout leader, so I've been in a few parades, and I drew on that to think of the kind of floats or groups marching in the parade. Here's the master list I used to draw from...

    * Faiths of Absalom
    * Businesses of Absalom
    * Youth Organizations and Clubs
    * Clubs/organizations (i.e. Pathfinder Society, Aspis Consortium)
    *Political leaders from various quarters
    * Social service organizations (policing, fire brigades, etc.)
    * Foreign Quarter neighborhoods
    * Radiant Festival exhibitors/nations

    And here's the list I came up with (thanks again to all of whom I stole from...)

    LUCKY NIMBUS CASINO
    Performers dressed as genies doing loops around the base of the float and tossing souvenir tokens

    THE SALIVATING ARMY
    A Shoony Marching Band

    MEET THE CHAMPIONS OF THE BLOOD CITY GAMES
    A float featuring ‘statues’ of famous gladiators
    There are three ‘rings’, each with a champion…
    Foreign Quarter’s native son… Alistar with Arms
    The Taldan Terminatator – Vez!
    Returning champion… Oggvurm the Merciless

    THE NEW THASSILON TOURIST BOARD – INDULGE YOUR SINS HERE!
    Float featuring replicas of classic Thassilonian monuments – the Lady’s Light, the Irespan

    THE TIPSY TENGU
    Bar patrons on a float drinking and saluting the crowd

    THE CHURCH OF IOMEDAE
    A statue of Iomedae raising her shield

    THE GOBLIN ALCHEMICAL SOCIETY (GAS)
    Not a float… a walking exhibit. Goblins duel each other with alchemist fire – when one starts to burn, another provides an Elixir of Life – people give the goblins LOTS of room

    GEB ANTI-TOURIST BOARD FLOAT – DYING TO VISIT? DON’T

    COINS FIRE BRIGADE UNIT 5
    Large ladders and the fire company showing off – wearing coal-like face paint

    PATHFINDER SOCIETY – EXPLORE, REPORT, COOPERATE
    A 3-stage float portraying the 3 ‘schools’ of the Pathfinder Society: Swords, Scrolls and Spells

    THE FLYING HALFLINGS GYMNASTICS CORPS
    Halfling acrobats on a float launching themselves well into the air

    COME SEE THE OSIRION PAVILION AT THE RADIANT FESTIVAL!
    Giant pyramid

    ZON-KUTHON FLOAT – COME FOR THE PAIN – STAY FOR THE GUILT!
    We see worshippers on a float being punished with a whip

    QUECK’S COBBLERS
    A bicycle in the shape of a boot

    4TH PUDDLES SHARK CUBS
    A youth aquatic camping organization

    THE BLAKROS MUSEUM – NEVER A DULL VISIT!
    Recreations of museum artifacts and some curated artifacts from the collection

    THE MARVELOUS MIZZEN-MAST
    The swaying masts of a pirate ship lurch down the road
    Masts are just a bit taller than the fence – a large clown in the crow’s nest


    This is some amazing stuff. I laughed at

    Quote:
    GEB ANTI-TOURIST BOARD FLOAT – DYING TO VISIT? DON’T

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    OK, my party is now into the catacombs. I'm noticing a possible continuity error (or at least something I'm having trouble reconciling).

    The Skinsaw Cultists enter and exit their lair via D15. Dannicus in D20 is on lookout duty and waiting for one of his colleagues, so presumably he isn't perpetually stationed there but on shift, entering and exiting through D15 as recent as 2 to 12 hours ago. However, D15 is where the Graycloaks have barricaded themselves, and it seems they've likely been there for a few days at least.

    I'm considering moving the surviving Graycloaks to D13, with them holed up in the balustraded corridor above the room. That's where the Graycloaks fled to, up the stairs, when Corporal Quordein made her heroic stand. Tyrroicese is wily enough to realize that it would have a hard time navigating the narrow (to it) corridor, and in doing so the cornered foes could escape. So it's been biding it's time until the Graycloaks have consumed all their rations and are forced to leave the relative safety of the corridor.

    This could make for an interesting roleplaying situation - with the Graycloaks moving to the balustrade to see what's happening when combat between Tyrroicese and the PCs begins. They could alert them to the fact that the monstrosity seems to be feeding off their subsumed corporal. Perhaps even provide some information about resistances if the party is clever enough to ask.

    I'm also trying to anticipate any downsides of this switch (I.e. giving the party a somewhat safer place to target Tyrroicese from should they flee up the stairs themselves)


    rokeca wrote:

    OK, my party is now into the catacombs. I'm noticing a possible continuity error (or at least something I'm having trouble reconciling).

    The Skinsaw Cultists enter and exit their lair via D15. Dannicus in D20 is on lookout duty and waiting for one of his colleagues, so presumably he isn't perpetually stationed there but on shift, entering and exiting through D15 as recent as 2 to 12 hours ago. However, D15 is where the Graycloaks have barricaded themselves, and it seems they've likely been there for a few days at least.

    I'm considering moving the surviving Graycloaks to D13, with them holed up in the balustraded corridor above the room. That's where the Graycloaks fled to, up the stairs, when Corporal Quordein made her heroic stand. Tyrroicese is wily enough to realize that it would have a hard time navigating the narrow (to it) corridor, and in doing so the cornered foes could escape. So it's been biding it's time until the Graycloaks have consumed all their rations and are forced to leave the relative safety of the corridor.

    This could make for an interesting roleplaying situation - with the Graycloaks moving to the balustrade to see what's happening when combat between Tyrroicese and the PCs begins. They could alert them to the fact that the monstrosity seems to be feeding off their subsumed corporal. Perhaps even provide some information about resistances if the party is clever enough to ask.

    I'm also trying to anticipate any downsides of this switch (I.e. giving the party a somewhat safer place to target Tyrroicese from should they flee up the stairs themselves)

    Was thinking about this as well but there are two demons with the fly spell near the entrance of the cultist hideout. Is it super convenient to raise alarm ? Not really but it is good enough to justify him being there.

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    Snakeox wrote:


    Was thinking about this as well but there are two demons with the fly spell near the entrance of the cultist hideout. Is it super convenient to raise alarm ? Not really but it is good enough to justify him being there.

    Those D27 daemons have already fried a curious familiar in my game :)

    I'm more curious about the Graycloaks in D15 - the Sanctuary that acts as kind of the main entry way to and from the cultists' hideout. Based on the information in the adventure, I'm thinking that the Graycloaks wouldn't be able to safely stay in that room for long. They'd be discovered within 12 hours by the cultists - and I don't think the Skinner would take too kindly to a group of Graycloaks camping out at their front door. That's why I'm considering moving them to the upper corridor of D13.


    You're right, if you want to say that the Graycloaks have been there for a while, it makes no sense that they are right where the Skinsaw cultists come and go.

    But to be honest, D13 doesn't make a lot more sense to me as a long-term safe spot either, they would be right next to Tyrroicese. They would be able to hear his slimy appendages and their commander's voice from within its mass. And it's hard for me to imagine that a slightly tight corridor would be an insurmountable obstacle for a slime in a suit of armour.

    Perhaps if you changed D13 so the corridors had doors or something else to seal them off? Or maybe move Tyrroicese's initial location away from D13. Or maybe the Graycloaks go back to the lower level and hole up in D23 (after clearing it up as much as possible) or D24.

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    Naurgul wrote:

    You're right, if you want to say that the Graycloaks have been there for a while, it makes no sense that they are right where the Skinsaw cultists come and go.

    But to be honest, D13 doesn't make a lot more sense to me as a long-term safe spot either, they would be right next to Tyrroicese. They would be able to hear his slimy appendages and their commander's voice from within its mass. And it's hard for me to imagine that a slightly tight corridor would be an insurmountable obstacle for a slime in a suit of armour.

    Perhaps if you changed D13 so the corridors had doors or something else to seal them off? Or maybe move Tyrroicese's initial location away from D13. Or maybe the Graycloaks go back to the lower level and hole up in D23 (after clearing it up as much as possible) or D24.

    Yeah - my thinking is that the Graycloaks are pinned in by Tyrroicese. They fled up there and now they can't get out. They know (or perhaps they've tried)... to attempt an escape means certain death for one or more of them. They are down to half rations and hoping Runewulf sends a rescue team that they can then assist in some way.

    In terms of Tyrroicese' movement, the creature knows the creatures are faster than it is. If it starts to go up the stairs they could potentially escape. So it's playing the long game. Not going after them and starving them out.


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    Hmm.. it's actually more sensible than I initially though. As sensible as you need to make it for an "unknowable extra-terrestrial intelligence whose designs we cannot hope to comprehend". Also more sensible than them camping right next to the Skinsaw sanctum entrance and somehow escaping notice.

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    Naurgul wrote:
    Hmm.. it's actually more sensible than I initially though. As sensible as you need to make it for an "unknowable extra-terrestrial intelligence whose designs we cannot hope to comprehend". Also more sensible than them camping right next to the Skinsaw sanctum entrance and somehow escaping notice.

    Appreciate your 2 cents here. I think you have a greater depth of understanding of this AP than anyone.

    I also considered relocating the Graycloaks to D24 or D21, but felt that if they retreated in that direction, they would have likely exited the Catacombs entirely to advise Runewulf and regroup. Plus both these locations are on the cultists route.

    One downside of relocating the Graycloaks to D13 is that it becomes possible for Edgewatch agents to enter the Skinsaw Sanctum before meeting any of the Graycloaks. A possible solution is to keep the Graycloaks in their original location but change the backstory so that they’ve only been there for an hour or two – regrouping after a desperate escape (forced by running out of food/water) from D13 – possibly losing another Graycloak in the process.

    Having said that, I’m inclined to keep my remaining Graycloaks relocated in D13. I’m hoping it will make the encounter with Tyrroicese more personal and story oriented. After the first round of combat, the Graycloaks would see this as their chance to make a break for it. They encourage the PCs to retreat as well (“Run – before that beast swallows you whole!”) before taking cover behind the door of D14.

    Should the PCs retreat with them, the Graycloaks can share what they know, like “That thing’s got the Corporal inside it – and we think she may still be alive” or providing some advice: “Don’t bother with swords or arrows – they won’t scratch it.”

    One remaining question I have about the Graycloaks’ backstory: how many agents did Runewulf send into the Catacombs? Is this ever conclusively stated? I’m counting 5 confirmed. Corporal Quordein, the 3 survivors, plus the unnamed agent who perished against the otyughs in D17.

    The text suggests there may have been 6 or more agents, but I’m leaning towards saying their were 5. Despite the description of Quordein as being foolish, I get a kind of “no Graycloak left behind” vibe about her that makes me think she wouldn’t have willingly left a fallen member of her team to the mercy of the ofalth. Instead, they all beat a chaotic retreat from the beast when they knew it was a fight they couldn’t win – most of them bolting around the corner in D24, then up the stairs to D14/D13 (where they got trapped). In the confusion, one Graycloaks got separated – tried to backtrack to the catacombs exit, but missed the turn to exit the lower catacombs in D16 and accidentally wandered into the otyugh lounge.

    I know I’m way overthinking this. But I love figuring out this kind of backstory stuff.

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