4 - The Hollow Cabal (GM Reference)


The Threefold Conspiracy

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

This is intended to be a spoiler-filled resource thread (as in other AP subforums) for GMs running book 4 of The Threefold Conspiracy Adventure Path, "The Hollow Cabal."

All GM threads in this series:

1 - The Chimera Mystery
2 - Flight of the Sleepers
3 - Deceivers' Moon
4 - The Hollow Cabal
5 - The Cradle Infestation
6 - Puppets Without Strings


How did GMs handle the existence of an NPC (the Scully android) who has Glimpse of Truth as an ability but is mysteriously unable to find or believe in the existence of shapeshifters her partner has told her about and that she could easily see if she just used this ability?


Xenocrat wrote:
How did GMs handle the existence of an NPC (the Scully android) who has Glimpse of Truth as an ability but is mysteriously unable to find or believe in the existence of shapeshifters her partner has told her about and that she could easily see if she just used this ability?

There are a couple ways to do this...

1. Reptoid shapeshifting isn't considered detectable by Glimpse the Truth.

2. Glimpse the Truth costs a Resolve Point. Even an NPC like Ephecta only has a few Resolve Points, typcially, and would only use it if prompted to. It also only lasts 1 round...


SpiderOrc wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
How did GMs handle the existence of an NPC (the Scully android) who has Glimpse of Truth as an ability but is mysteriously unable to find or believe in the existence of shapeshifters her partner has told her about and that she could easily see if she just used this ability?

There are a couple ways to do this...

1. Reptoid shapeshifting isn't considered detectable by Glimpse the Truth.

2. Glimpse the Truth costs a Resolve Point. Even an NPC like Ephecta only has a few Resolve Points, typcially, and would only use it if prompted to. It also only lasts 1 round...

You only need one round to scan an entire briefing room, and her partner is prompting the hell out of her.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Xenocrat wrote:
SpiderOrc wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
How did GMs handle the existence of an NPC (the Scully android) who has Glimpse of Truth as an ability but is mysteriously unable to find or believe in the existence of shapeshifters her partner has told her about and that she could easily see if she just used this ability?

There are a couple ways to do this...

1. Reptoid shapeshifting isn't considered detectable by Glimpse the Truth.

2. Glimpse the Truth costs a Resolve Point. Even an NPC like Ephecta only has a few Resolve Points, typcially, and would only use it if prompted to. It also only lasts 1 round...

You only need one round to scan an entire briefing room, and her partner is prompting the hell out of her.

I'm a ways off from running this book, but unless SpiderOrc's first thought is correct and reptoid shapeshifting isn't something true seeing (and therefore Glimpse the Truth) can see through - and I think true seeing lets you see through transmutation effects - I’d swap it out for a different exploit. The PCs will never know.


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Tusk the Half-Orc wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
SpiderOrc wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
How did GMs handle the existence of an NPC (the Scully android) who has Glimpse of Truth as an ability but is mysteriously unable to find or believe in the existence of shapeshifters her partner has told her about and that she could easily see if she just used this ability?

There are a couple ways to do this...

1. Reptoid shapeshifting isn't considered detectable by Glimpse the Truth.

2. Glimpse the Truth costs a Resolve Point. Even an NPC like Ephecta only has a few Resolve Points, typcially, and would only use it if prompted to. It also only lasts 1 round...

You only need one round to scan an entire briefing room, and her partner is prompting the hell out of her.
I'm a ways off from running this book, but unless SpiderOrc's first thought is correct and reptoid shapeshifting isn't something true seeing (and therefore Glimpse the Truth) can see through - and I think true seeing lets you see through transmutation effects - I’d swap it out for a different exploit. The PCs will never know.

Please don't interrupt my complaint that Paizo's staff doesn't understand the implications of their ruleset on their setting with practical solutions for actually playing the game.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Xenocrat wrote:
Tusk the Half-Orc wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
SpiderOrc wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
How did GMs handle the existence of an NPC (the Scully android) who has Glimpse of Truth as an ability but is mysteriously unable to find or believe in the existence of shapeshifters her partner has told her about and that she could easily see if she just used this ability?

There are a couple ways to do this...

1. Reptoid shapeshifting isn't considered detectable by Glimpse the Truth.

2. Glimpse the Truth costs a Resolve Point. Even an NPC like Ephecta only has a few Resolve Points, typcially, and would only use it if prompted to. It also only lasts 1 round...

You only need one round to scan an entire briefing room, and her partner is prompting the hell out of her.
I'm a ways off from running this book, but unless SpiderOrc's first thought is correct and reptoid shapeshifting isn't something true seeing (and therefore Glimpse the Truth) can see through - and I think true seeing lets you see through transmutation effects - I’d swap it out for a different exploit. The PCs will never know.
Please don't interrupt my complaint that Paizo's staff doesn't understand the implications of their ruleset on their setting with practical solutions for actually playing the game.

My bad - carry on!


The section about investigating the Steward agents mentions that dispel magic does not work because their shapeshifting is supernatural, not magical. By extension, I'd say true seeing and thus glimpse of truth doesn't work for the same reason.

Given that the spell also doesn't reveal mundane disguises, it makes a lot of sense to me.

Finally, Ephecta's resistance to accept Vorsen's suspicions may actually be very much because of her (misplaced) trust in her ability.


Nullpunkt wrote:

The section about investigating the Steward agents mentions that dispel magic does not work because their shapeshifting is supernatural, not magical. By extension, I'd say true seeing and thus glimpse of truth doesn't work for the same reason.

Dispel magic doesn't work on supernatural abilities because that's an inherent feature of what supernatural means in this system. They (1) don't provoke and (2) can't be dispelled. All shapeshifting is seen by true seeing and similar effects regardless of its type.


"Regardless of its type" is not in the spell's description, but your interpretation. I think you could easily argue both ways and when in doubt, I personally go with the ruling that enables the story I want to tell. If all it took to blow up a reptoid cell was a level 6 spell, I'd have a hard time telling this kind of story. So in my game, true seeing does not counter their supernatural shapeshifting.


I am having trouble with convincing the players that they don't have enough evidence to prove that there is a reptoid conspiracy on Roselight when they have a med bay full of reptoid bodies, (and a live one from event 3) who all have been posing as Stewards, lol.

I feel like what I should have done from the start was say that the reptoids should shift back to reptoid form when compromised, so that the amount of evidence could be reduced.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Styrofoam wrote:

I am having trouble with convincing the players that they don't have enough evidence to prove that there is a reptoid conspiracy on Roselight when they have a med bay full of reptoid bodies, (and a live one from event 3) who all have been posing as Stewards, lol.

I feel like what I should have done from the start was say that the reptoids should shift back to reptoid form when compromised, so that the amount of evidence could be reduced.

? I think I misread something since isn't reptoids turning back into their true form upon death how they actually work? I mean that is how pact worlds discovered them existing in first place


Not sure I've seen a description of whether they revert when they die per rules. Maybe I didn't read the reptoid article thoroughly.

There isnt anything that I have seen in the reptoid alien description, or the "change shape" universal alien rule that indicates they would revert. I see the line in Change Shape that says "Unless otherwise stated, it can remain in an alternate form indefinitely." , and think house-ruling that they revert on death is fine.

But in my campaign, the players were so suspicious, they wanted to do blood tests on all the NPC when they first boarded the Steward ship on Omicron station. So in my head canon, even blood tests and genetics get the disguise bonuses for change shape. Otherwise they would have easily found out before they should have been revealed. Which worked for me, as even though a suspicious Vorsen had suspected for years, if he would have been able to do a simple genetic test on skin or hair samples, he would have confirmed the conspiracy years ago.

It worked until it didn't.
"I know you have physical, medical, digital, photographic, etc. evidence that dozens of stewards have been compromised by reptoids, but no, it is not enough to exonerate you. You can't take it to the Stewards on Absalom station, you have to find more evidence on a different planet."

So mostly this is a notice to future GMs to limit the amount of actual evidence early in the Reptoid discovery portion of the AP and do a better job then me of playing up the leads to Roselight to find true evidence.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think first mention of it is in part of core rulebook that describes Unseen maybe?

I could swear there are examples of it happening in this ap in the text as well though hmm. Hard to tell if I'm just remembering wrong


You're remembering correctly. It's in the article on reproofs and in the adventure text.

Don't have my book at hand so can't give page numbers, but it's in there.

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
Styrofoam wrote:

I am having trouble with convincing the players that they don't have enough evidence to prove that there is a reptoid conspiracy on Roselight when they have a med bay full of reptoid bodies, (and a live one from event 3) who all have been posing as Stewards, lol.

I feel like what I should have done from the start was say that the reptoids should shift back to reptoid form when compromised, so that the amount of evidence could be reduced.

? I think I misread something since isn't reptoids turning back into their true form upon death how they actually work? I mean that is how pact worlds discovered them existing in first place

yes, they revert back to their true form. it is stated in the reptilians write-up in Deceiver's Moon.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

It's sort of a general assumption in the 3E > Pathfinder 1E > Starfinder evolutionary tree that creatures revert to their true form in death.

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

We are rapidly closing in on the end of Book 3.

Any good suggestions on maps to use for Part 2 of this book? There's none in the volume.

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

oh, and the Docksmythes are under HP'd. They are listed as having 17 HP; they should have 35 each.

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

We start Book 4 next session! I am super excited.

Any good ideas other GMs have had for this book? Changes that they've made?

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Yakman wrote:

We are rapidly closing in on the end of Book 3.

Any good suggestions on maps to use for Part 2 of this book? There's none in the volume.

i found a free-to-use map of a dragon skeleton crossing a lava river. set the dragon encounter up there.

that's a fun one. he drank all the party's extra surge drinks [from Book 2], and took most of their fire opals.


My group are just finishing up book three and have no intention of going to roselight. Their plan is to get off world and go home ASAP (on Absalom Station) to regroup and plan their next move.

Anyone else have that problem? Any thoughts on how to gently nudge them to keep investigating without a break?

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:

My group are just finishing up book three and have no intention of going to roselight. Their plan is to get off world and go home ASAP (on Absalom Station) to regroup and plan their next move.

Anyone else have that problem? Any thoughts on how to gently nudge them to keep investigating without a break?

tell them the truth: the Stewards are going to arrest them if they find them. They have to go to Roselight to find evidence that can keep them from being arrested / attacked by the Stewards.


That’s my plan. However, I worry they’re going to decide it’s easier to hide out with friends back home than in a new, unfamiliar city.

They’re pretty focussed on escaping and fleeing for safety. (I mean I’m glad they’re paranoid and scared for this AP, but I may have overdone it. Ideally I’d like their hero instincts to trump their common sense at this point…).

I might play up the fact they are in a stolen steward ship. That hanging around where it’s supposed to be operating is far less conspicuous than turning up unannounced at Absalom Statuon.


[I worry they’re going to decide it’s easier to hide out with friends back home than in a new, unfamiliar city.]

"Friends"? If they try to communicate with any of these friends in advance, they will quickly realize they likely do not exist, or assume they have been "gotten to" or something like that.


Yeah, but if they just head home? There isn’t any clue yet that their friends aren’t there.

And if they do discover that their contacts are uncontactable, there becomes a mystery “back home” to unravel - I worry they’re just as likely to assume their family has been kidnapped and need rescuing.


To be clear - I’m not arguing that they should do such and such. I’m asking for advice on what to do if the PCs set their hearts on returning to the perceived safety of their life back home. And I’m curious if other DMs have had that problem.

I didn’t anticipate it, but that’s all my players are talking about as they break out of the Steward base. I have limited opportunity in game to deter them from that course of action.

Acquisitives

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

give them the hint: the reptoids know that they are clones. After all, they are clones of at least one reptoid agent. They find this out at Terrapin Station, but you can hint at it during the interrogations if you haven't gotten their yet.

the other thing you can do is say that the ship they pick up is damaged... after all, it used starship weapons right above Tyrkalis station. It can't make it to Absalom in the Drift... but it can get to the relatively close Liavara.

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

i'm adding a twist to the docksmythes, since the players scared them off when they tried to bully them.

so... it's going to be a motorcycle fight!

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

so... going through the book... there's the bit w/ the 2 technomancers... they want to ambush the party, but have no plan? Any ideas on how to spice this up? I'm thinking some kind of, you know, actual ambush?


I ran it pretty much as written from memory. They contacted the party, asked to meet “away from prying eyes” regarding reptoid infiltrators they’d discovered.

At the meeting, I really played up the beatific smiling and “come join us, you’ll be so much happier” vibe. It really creeped the players out - they wondered if it was a new reptoid trick - especially when the fight finally broke out and they were stunned that the dead didn’t resume a reptoid form.

It was t a challenge, but it was a good story beat to drive home that there was something else going on besides lizards…

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:

I ran it pretty much as written from memory. They contacted the party, asked to meet “away from prying eyes” regarding reptoid infiltrators they’d discovered.

At the meeting, I really played up the beatific smiling and “come join us, you’ll be so much happier” vibe. It really creeped the players out - they wondered if it was a new reptoid trick - especially when the fight finally broke out and they were stunned that the dead didn’t resume a reptoid form.

It was t a challenge, but it was a good story beat to drive home that there was something else going on besides lizards…

Knowing my party, they will almost certainly rig some meeting place with charges and blow it up before the meeting ever happens.

When the stewards showed up at Dr. Flo's the engineer pulled out the welding torch and started welding the doors together... so I added a squad of SWAT [azlanti battle troopers] to the encounter.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

some one explain to me please how the cybernetic golem can ....actviate its hate circit and full attack because as far as i knew you can not full attack if you used a swift action .....and haste the spell is not giving you extra swifts....just movement.... or is there a rule some place im missing

other wise the whole during combat thing it just falls apart its opener

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Demon Knight1434 wrote:

some one explain to me please how the cybernetic golem can ....actviate its hate circit and full attack because as far as i knew you can not full attack if you used a swift action .....and haste the spell is not giving you extra swifts....just movement.... or is there a rule some place im missing

other wise the whole during combat thing it just falls apart its opener

yeah, it doesn't work mechanically.

golem uses swift, is hasted. but since it swifted, it can't take advantage of the spell by full attacking, but it can move quicker but still single attack.

i have this fight to start out my session next week, and honestly, i'm intending to bend the rules. it's a space monster and should be able to do stuff the pcs can't.

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