Karzoug's Tactics *spoilers for the final battle*

Rise of the Runelords

DM here, we're coming up on the final battle. I'm reading Karzoug's tactics and it says that he
"Casts meteor swarm and quickened time stop." and then that other monsters take their listed actions, but I was under the impression time stop gave him a few free turns to act on his own, but he cannot damage enemies during this time. So what does he do on these rounds? Is he supposed to cast his buffs in this time? Because I though they were pre-cast (after all, he does know the group is at his doorstep.)

Any help would be appreciated, I want to pre-plan out as many rounds as possible so the fight goes smoothly.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The anniversary edition give a breakdown of it I thought but am not at home so can't reference atm. Will check back later.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Rise of the Runelords anniversary edition p.363-364 wrote:
During the 1d4+1 rounds he gains, he casts spells like prismatic wall, wall of force, and cloudkill among the PCs to disrupt their tactics, and casts defensive spells on himself like spell turning, true seeing, and globe of invulnerability. He’ll also use his wand of stoneskin on himself during this time. He’ll repeat this tactic on the second round (pairing a quickened time stop with horrid wilting this time) to finish casting any spells he didn’t get a chance to cast the first time.

I lied I had the pdf of my phone.

Grand Lodge

Regarding his buffs: I assume he would only have 1 hour/level or 10 minute/level spells up before the party enters. If the party looked like they were going to enter, he buffed, and then they decided not to enter just yet for whatever reason, he would lose spell turning, globe of invulnerability, true seeing from his prepared spells, which seems like a rather significant loss.

I think his time stop buffing and control cycles are pretty smart - the thing I think doesn't work as well about his opening turns are his offensive spells (as they don't buy him time). I really recommend clashing rocks instead of either meteor swarm or horrid wilting.

Shadow Lodge

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The book does say to modify his tactics. Say, if GM & players agree more books than Core are on the table, you can give Karzoug Firey Body. 9th-level Transmutation that renders him immune to a lot of things, as well as healed by fire. Karzoug's Burning Glaive has 3 healing spells, but unlimited Fireballs. I'd also recommend a Wall of Suppression. He can goad non-flying PCs through it.
He'd also be able to plan for what the PCs would do if he'd seen them fight while spying on them.

As for the Meteor Swarm, my idea was he'd prepare spells like Cone of Cold and Polar Ray for the Karzoug Holograms to use on the PCs. Hopefully, they'd protect themselves against cold, only to get blindsided by a pocket plane made of molten gold. Then, Round One: Meteor Storm

Grand Lodge

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Oh, Mongoose, that's an interesting fake-out. Given Xin-Shalast's whole... coldness... I feel like people really might buy that he favors cold spells, especially given how, in imagery of her, Alaznist seems to so favor fire.

For reference, here's a breakdown of my Karzoug's tactics for the opening rounds.

Round 1:
Before battle begins, Karzoug has greater false life, mind blank and countless eyes active. If he suspects the party is approaching, he casts one of his heightened awareness spells so he can get a +4 on his initiative.

When initiative is rolled, Karzoug uses Forewarned (Chronomancer archetype) to boost his initiative by +1d6.

On his first turn, Karzoug casts clashing rocks while the party is still grouped up to inflict some quick damage and keep the party from moving too quickly, hoping to get his giants close. Then he uses his metamagic rod to cast quickened time stop.

During this time, Karzoug moves 60' closer in the air while staying at least 130' away from the nearest party member, avoiding greater arcane sight and true seeing range.

With a minimum of 2 extra rounds at his disposal, Karzoug casts greater arcane and quickened shield. On the following turn he casts spell turning (if he only rolled 2 turns) or fiery body if he did not. If he rolls plenty of extra turns, he casts wall of suppression as his last spell.

Round 2:
Karzoug will begin his round by casting borrowed time, moving near his melee allies, and casting a quickened haste along with a quickened time stop.

During this time stop, Karzoug will use his greater arcane sight to get a perfect understanding of the party's current defensive abilities (such as life bubble, mirror image, displacement, or anything more esoteric) and begin to respond accordingly.

He'll place a tar pool to catch any PCs grouped up who can't fly. He'll place a prismatic wall behind whichever PC is closest to his rune giant (if still alive) or a storm giant (if not) in order to set up an Awesome Blow through the wall. If the party has a lot of cold magic handy, he'll use protection from energy before they get an opportunity to go nuclear on him.

On his last turn of time stop, Karzoug will quickened dimension door someplace inaccessible to the PCs - either back at his throne or down in the lava as needed.

Round 3:
If Karzoug remains uninjured or nearly-uninjured at this point, he'll cast temporal regression before flying from his more inaccessible location towards the PCs, wasting a mass reduce person and quickened slow on as many targets as possible in order to tear through their dominant defenses. If the slow entirely fails, he'll use Rewind to make quickened slow re-prepared.

Round 4:
Karzoug will most likely need to recover at this point with a wish, but if he does not, he'll cast another quickened slow followed by ANOTHER quickened slow, followed by a maze spell.

Other potential options at this point include a quickened wail of the banshee followed by a targeted greater dispel magic against flying melee PCs (dropping them in lava), meteor swarm followed by quickened magic missile if he thinks he can drop a specific PC.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Great stuff! Although it seems... very hard to survive I’m finishing up Rise with an oversized group of seven (moving virtual because 2020 added back two players who moved away and wanted to see the end of the campaign) and they’re under level because of the XP split. It hasn’t mattered - APL goes up when you get too big a party and they have so many player actions - but now I’m wondering if their lower saves in particular will will make these good tactics an inevitable TPK without high saves.

Grand Lodge

Reply to Dirtfox:
Ah yes, I suppose pushing Karzoug's effectiveness even harder, personally, because I'm running a campaign for 5 rolled-stat characters (average value 23 point buy) who all took the Leadership or Monstrous Companion trait. In addition, every PC (and 1 NPC) got dominant weapons, and I don't slow down XP gain to account for the increase in numbers. I just make things harder.

That said, having PCs lower than 17th level take on Karzoug can be a big issue. For a start, if they're not all kitted out with cloaks of resistance +5 and as high level as possible, outright death to spells like wail of the banshee is virtually unavoidable. Furthermore, the spells that let you catch up on Karzoug (mage's disjunction, time stop, and mass heal for instance) are largely 9th level spells, which your party won't have access to.

If you're trying to adapt this combat to a large group of WEAKER characters (so you have an anticipated APL), I'd remove clashing rocks and temporal regression from my tactics mentioned above, instead opening with meteor swarm and only healing with wish as the AP describes.

Sidenote: If you're running the AP mostly unchanged but with a larger group, your party will likely be so behind on gear and XP that an unmodified Karzoug battle would be a wipe. Having proper defenses is the key to surviving Karzoug's minions in this battle, and having 9th level spells and a great offense is the key to keeping Karzoug on the defensive. Of course, based on the specifics of your party, this may be managed with weaker characters (a 15th level paladin can kill Karzoug plenty fast, for instance!).

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