1 - Despair on Danger Island (GM Reference)


Fists of the Ruby Phoenix

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Paizo Employee Developer

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This is a spoiler-filled resource thread for the first volume of the Fists of the Ruby Phoenix Adventure Path, Despair on Danger Island by Luis Loza.

The GM Reference thread for the second volume, Ready? Fight!, is here.

The GM Reference thread for the third and final volume, King of the Mountain, is here.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'm just rocking back and forth waiting for my pdfs. This is gonna be amazing!


Chapter Two looks like it will be veeeery interesting to run. A sandbox that spans two levels (so it doesn't always anticipate the party's exact level, either). I personally like how it gives a bunch of material for a GM to work with. The party can encounter so many things and in pretty much any order. I wonder if this is the first time a 2e AP has done this.

Vigilant Seal

How Sandboxy is it? (still waiting for my order to be shipped)
Like Age of Ashees - Cult of Cinders jungle? or more like kingmaker?


Duragin Ardentblood wrote:

How Sandboxy is it? (still waiting for my order to be shipped)

Like Age of Ashees - Cult of Cinders jungle? or more like kingmaker?

I would say more like Kingmaker. And I'd say it's more sandboxy than Kingmaker: while on the one hand you've got your set goal (gather 10 silver feathers), you've got multiple ways to accomplish it and can choose what you focus on. And you've got your moving parts of the roving competing teams. There are designated places where teams who challenge each other must fight if they choose to fight, and the organizers of the tournament can set up challenges that pit teams against the environment as well. While three "days" are laid out with events occurring during them, there is a lot of freedom for the GM to determine what happens when and in response to the party's actions.

There aren't really any set-piece locations with several rooms like in Kingmaker; but it's really more like dozens of individual encounters and not all of them are stationary, and it's up to the players and the GM to determine what they encounter and when (with reference to a map, of course). The players can even fight the staff of the tournament!


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By the way, after seeing Volume Three, it's really clear that a GM should put some effort into making the competing teams memorable and develop the players' relationships with them, since much of the drama of Volume 3 involves how invested they feel about the other teams.

The sandbox section seems to be a great time to develop this.


The Rot Grub wrote:

By the way, after seeing Volume Three, it's really clear that a GM should put some effort into making the competing teams memorable and develop the players' relationships with them, since much of the drama of Volume 3 involves how invested they feel about the other teams.

The sandbox section seems to be a great time to develop this.

Got a favorite team?


Also, odd question, but the pdf files for these are a lot larger than other APs have been recently, upwards of 150mb. Is there a reason or just a new format for the files?

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I did a fairly exhaustive search through Book 1 for all the teams listed, and figured others would like a cohesive list of the canon teams. There are 18 teams listed, plus the PCs, which means there's 13 teams open for GM fiat.

Winter's Roar (Lands of the Linnorm Kings outcasts)
Biting Roses (Arcadian occultists)
Speakers to the Winds (Magaambyan magic warriors)
Arms of Balance (Vudran ki elementalists)
Steps of the Sun (Minatan battle dancers)
Tino's Toughest (Quain underdogs)
Lightkeepers (well-trained Tian Xia native combatants)
Trembling Meteors (Avistani cheaters)
Lightning Callers (Osiriani archers)
Nightmares (Arcadian horseriders)
Golarion's Finest (globetrotting gladiators)
Under the Pale Sun (Casmaroni fighters)
The Ahmoza Twins (Houses of Perfection martial artists)
Glowing Embers (Avistani wizards)
Cloud Jesters (adventuring party of unknown origin)
Hana's Hundreds (Minkaian legion)
The Last Breath (Shackles light fighters)
Fallen Moon (sore losers of unknown origin)

There's also two teams that get eaten by the berberoka, but given that there's no timeline of events in this advenure, those teams could be part of the 13 undetailed teams, or two of the above that meet a terrible end.

Dark Archive

Do note that some of those are "teams that are expected to show up in next adventure but don't directly interact with pcs in this one"


I’d love to hear more about the Arcadian and Casmari teams, if there’s more to hear? Desperate for content beyond the Inner Sea.

Dark Archive

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keftiu wrote:
I’d love to hear more about the Arcadian and Casmari teams, if there’s more to hear? Desperate for content beyond the Inner Sea.

Biting Roses are from Nalmeras, Under the Pale Sun are from Zelshabber and Nightmares are from Xopatl. (One of Golarion's Finest is Razatlani since all eight members are from different part of golarion iirc)

I will say this much: teams which make it to second book are obviously more detailed than teams that don't. One of the three teams you asked about DOES make it to second book.


What level are most of the teams? For example, if I wanted to add an extra team to book 1 and make their stats myself, how strong should they be?

Dark Archive

Captain collateral damage wrote:
What level are most of the teams? For example, if I wanted to add an extra team to book 1 and make their stats myself, how strong should they be?

It varies. Mostly by amount of members in team. Like there is anything from two to 8 person teams and Hana's hundred is a troop of lot of super weak fighters doing zerg rush :p

Paizo Employee Developer

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Captain collateral damage wrote:
What level are most of the teams? For example, if I wanted to add an extra team to book 1 and make their stats myself, how strong should they be?

It depends on when you want the players to face this team. The players face off against other teams during the second chapter of the adventure and are expected to be either 12th or 13th level during that time. So, opposing teams should be a challenge to a party at that level using the normal encounter creation guidelines in the Core Rulebook.

If it helps as a benchmark, the adventure includes a lot of generic stat blocks meant to represent a variety of fighters that make up the other teams. These stat blocks are all 13th-level creatures.


CorvusMask wrote:
keftiu wrote:
I’d love to hear more about the Arcadian and Casmari teams, if there’s more to hear? Desperate for content beyond the Inner Sea.

Biting Roses are from Nalmeras, Under the Pale Sun are from Zelshabber and Nightmares are from Xopatl. (One of Golarion's Finest is Razatlani since all eight members are from different part of golarion iirc)

I will say this much: teams which make it to second book are obviously more detailed than teams that don't. One of the three teams you asked about DOES make it to second book.

If you can spare it, what’s the Razatlani character’s deal? I’m so curious, we know almost nothing.

Dark Archive

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keftiu wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
keftiu wrote:
I’d love to hear more about the Arcadian and Casmari teams, if there’s more to hear? Desperate for content beyond the Inner Sea.

Biting Roses are from Nalmeras, Under the Pale Sun are from Zelshabber and Nightmares are from Xopatl. (One of Golarion's Finest is Razatlani since all eight members are from different part of golarion iirc)

I will say this much: teams which make it to second book are obviously more detailed than teams that don't. One of the three teams you asked about DOES make it to second book.

If you can spare it, what’s the Razatlani character’s deal? I’m so curious, we know almost nothing.

He was a knight who retired to raise his son, but now that his son is adult they returned back to do combat, but wanted to avoid joining armies and war. His special move(all 8 of them have unique move to them) is Flip Kick


CorvusMask wrote:
keftiu wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
keftiu wrote:
I’d love to hear more about the Arcadian and Casmari teams, if there’s more to hear? Desperate for content beyond the Inner Sea.

Biting Roses are from Nalmeras, Under the Pale Sun are from Zelshabber and Nightmares are from Xopatl. (One of Golarion's Finest is Razatlani since all eight members are from different part of golarion iirc)

I will say this much: teams which make it to second book are obviously more detailed than teams that don't. One of the three teams you asked about DOES make it to second book.

If you can spare it, what’s the Razatlani character’s deal? I’m so curious, we know almost nothing.
He was a knight who retired to raise his son, but now that his son is adult they returned back to do combat, but wanted to avoid joining armies and war. His special move(all 8 of them have unique move to them) is Flip Kick

Do the Arcadian teams have full rosters? I’m smitten.

(Thank you for sharing this!)

Dark Archive

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Almost every team has name for every member, biggest exception is Hana's hundreds that has about forty members xD

Just to temper expectations, the teams you meet in first book are mostly one shot appearances (as you are competing with them and likely defeating them) and don't go too deep into every individual member's story. The ones that do get to main competition do get deeper look through on the team and members of the team(and they get more screen time as while they don't appear in book 1 for most part, they appear in both book 2 and 3)

Nightmares are team composed of three horse riders Junerio, Rovidar and Tairino. They are cousins who grew up together and became thieves. They realized that instead of sneaking around and pickpocketing, they could be more effective by scaring their targets into submission :p

Biting Roses has Yarrika Mulandez, spiritualist who believes her phantom to be her grandfather's soul, Artus Rodrivan (half-elf soul archer) and Lantondo, a wyrwood harrower.


CorvusMask wrote:

Almost every team has name for every member, biggest exception is Hana's hundreds that has about forty members xD

Just to temper expectations, the teams you meet in first book are mostly one shot appearances (as you are competing with them and likely defeating them) and don't go too deep into every individual member's story. The ones that do get to main competition do get deeper look through on the team and members of the team(and they get more screen time as while they don't appear in book 1 for most part, they appear in both book 2 and 3)

Nightmares are team composed of three horse riders Junerio, Rovidar and Tairino. They are cousins who grew up together and became thieves. They realized that instead of sneaking around and pickpocketing, they could be more effective by scaring their targets into submission :p

Biting Roses has Yarrika Mulandez, spiritualist who believes her phantom to be her grandfather's soul, Artus Rodrivan (half-elf soul archer) and Lantondo, a wyrwood harrower.

The Biting Roses might be the coolest NPCs in 2e so far - wyrwoods make me SO happy, and I’m stoked to see a spiritualist return!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

On my (admittedly very quick) run through of the books I didn’t see anything regarding more than four players. I was wondering if you foresee any issues running with five players versus the normal four. I don’t want to under-level the players but I also don’t want them to stop everything. Thanks.


keftiu wrote:
The Rot Grub wrote:

By the way, after seeing Volume Three, it's really clear that a GM should put some effort into making the competing teams memorable and develop the players' relationships with them, since much of the drama of Volume 3 involves how invested they feel about the other teams.

The sandbox section seems to be a great time to develop this.

Got a favorite team?

I read them and no one in particular stands out. They all have useful information for the GM, however. We'll see what happens when they encounter the players, which of course is unpredictable :)

I do plan to introduce some of them during Book One.

The background for my party is that they broke out of a high-level-security prison together. Just when the authorities are about to catch up to them, they finagle their way into the Ruby Phoenix Tournament to grant themselves immunity. :)

I plan to set up a rival gang from their prison as the "Big Bad" early on (working name is The Quarrymen [yes that's a reference]). I want to make the true villains craftier and people the party trusts early on, only to have them backstab the party later, since I think it'll be more interesting that way. (So I'll transpose some of the stereotypical "bad guy" interactions with the Lightbringers to the Quarrymen.) I think I'll have them seem like the bad guys partway into Book Two even. (I'd design base them off of one of the presented 7 teams.)


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Okay, I've read through Book One. I know this post will make it look like I don't like the AP, but I actually think it will be a whole lot of fun. I love the JRPG inspiration and the big emphasis on dramatic and showy combat. But I just have some questions and concerns running this, and I want to share them and see if people have thoughts:

1. In the lore, how to explain the different team sizes?
Some teams have four characters (presumably the PCs). One team has two (the archers on page 45), while another, Hana's Hundreds, has close to 40 (the team on page 51). It makes me wonder whether what are the limits on teams in this tournament? What claim do the eventual winners of this tournament have to being "the best fighters in the world," when that partly might be a function of their party size?

I understand that Hao Jin was involved in personally selecting the teams. But what rules is she operating under? Are contestants limited to humanoids and their animal companions/familiars? Is there a maximum party size? Or "total power level"? But if there is a cap on total power level, doesn't that assume there are more powerful groupings that exist in the world, making the title "best fighting team in the world" false?

(Partly why I raise this, is because my party will have 5 players.)

I understand that the difficulty of explaining this in the lore is the inevitable result of having a game with levels. But if we were to explain this, what is the best explanation we can come up with?

2. On a related note, how are we to explain higher-level people in the world?

As we get into Book Two, we will encounter NPCs and monsters who, taken as individuals, surpass any of the "best fighters in the world" who are in the tournament.

Perhaps there are reasons why one would not want to fight in the Ruby Phoenix Tournament?

3. How should we handle downtime on Bonmu?

Early in Book One, a friendly NPC might give the party ghost touch runes due to there probably being ghost-like creatures on the island. And some of my players are counting on finding greater striking runes (Level 12 items) during Book One.

But the book expects the players to experience many things and handle many combats in a matter of 2 days, gaining 2 or 3 levels in the process. The hexploration system divvies out the day into 32 half-hour units. Using 16 hours of that to transfer a single rune feels like a huge loss of time.

I am considering letting the characters use a Stone Market to trade-in an item to have it worked on while getting an identical item in exchange while waiting to pick up their improved item. They would pay an appropriate fee (referring to Earn Income of the appropriate level and proficiency), and be able to pick it up at any market the next morning.

4. Are the monster lairs truly a waste of time?

Nearly everything the party can do on Bonmu that involves combat offers some kind of reward, including all the watchtowers as detailed on page 35. However, the 10 creature dens that start on page 30 all have fabulously-dangerous and memorable monsters and Zippo for treasure. I see parties attracted by the idea that they will have fantastical treasure hoards and being woefully disappointed. At the same time, there are 10 locations in Bonmu where large caches of treasure are unguarded. From a lore perspective as well as balance perspective, this doesn't make sense to me.

Was it the designers' intention to reward not engaging with the creatures and their lairs, and to reward hexploration?

I am inclined to pair the treasure hoards with the creature dens on the map. The creature dens are pretty much all very tough fights, however, and so I'll keep an eye on the party's treasure to make sure they're not falling behind on treasure because of this decision.

5. I'm finding it hard to understand "what happened" leading to the Abandoned Prison being as the PCs find it.

Here is the setup as it is written in the book:
(1) A rival team wants to make counterfeit silver feathers. They hole up in an abandoned prison.
(2) The prison has a single entrance. To get to the back rooms where the NPCs currently are, you must get past 2 iron golems. Each iron golem due to being Large blocks one of the 2 hallways leading to the back of the prison. They "immediately move to intercept and attack anyone who tries to pass them, giving chase throughout the temple, but never outside."
(3) There are several cells. Some are locked; others are not. The Some of the locked cells each have a valuable magic item in them.
(4) The head guard's office is unlocked and has 4 magic items in it.
(5) Meanwhile, the NPC team is in two rooms, neither of which has treasure. Two NPCs are in the "Work Floor" working on making counterfeit feathers.

First off, I assume the work floor has necessary equipment for crafting silver feathers, or they want a private place so as not to be caught by their escort or by other teams... because otherwise why hole up in the prison? As for crafting the silver feathers, I thought the Craft activity normally takes 4 days? Is there a rule I'm unaware of? It seems like the iron golems block any non-stealthy path to the back rooms; so how did the NPCs get there? (None of them have any appropriate magical or stealth abilities to sneak past them.) And why did the NPCs not gather any of the magic items for themselves? And why are there magic items in prison cells? It is described as an "abandoned prison" and that none of the subsequent people on the island wanted anything to do with having a prison, so they never entered. So apparently it has been untouched since it was used as a prison.

When I run it, I think the iron golems will be stationed visibly outside near the entrance. I am hoping this attracts the PCs to enter the prison (iron golems must be guarding some treasure). Also, it leaves wiggle room for the NPCs to have successfully gone around them. Also, I will have the items in the head guard's office be in the possession of the NPCs.

6. An NPC successfully disintegrating the Ruby Phoenix.

There are no stats for Hao Jin, who I will assume is at least Level 20. The party is then expected to handily defeat the NPCs who just disintegrated the Ruby Phoenix then. These NPCs are... two Level 14 characters. It's hard to believe they would be able to succeed at using disintegrate to turn the Ruby Phoenix into ash, and in my opinion it trivializes a legendary NPC. (I suppose it is supposed to showcase how she can resurrect herself, but in my opinion it makes her seem less legendary, not more.)

I am thinking of having a high-level contingency on her that teleports her away after the spell's effect, and it will take her some time to get back to the action.

Dark Archive

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On 6. I mean you could presume that Hao Jin rolled nat 1 on save and NPC rolled max damage on disintegrate :D (though to be fair, ten levels worth of difference would mean she would likely still succeed) You could instead have it be something like "okay, those two people manages to summon high level being that disintegrates her and gets dealt off by someone else(or her)"

Also, you do realize she does casually resurrect herself from being turned to dust? That is pretty insane from in world standards.

On 1. I think Hana's Hundreds being invited to tournament means one of two things: there either isn't maximum team size or Hao Jin just founded it amusing so allowed it anyway

2. is mostly the same answer on "So ulfen guard are level 16 characters? Are all Hermean town guards around 16-19?" and answer is "probably not, that just the ones that are relevant when players run into them. Like as non simulationist system, you kinda have to accept the level scaling for enemies for still to be threat. Also do note that Hao Jin is apparently one who allowed which teams to join, so clearly Hao Jin herlsef picked teams of about same level range

5. Regarding the prison, that is pretty clearly to me one of "Okay I wanted to have bit different encounter, but didn't have time to explain it fully" and maybe assuming that player's won't think too hard about it. Lot of the items in cells could be "well maybe it was hidden inside bed or behind a brick" but explorer's yurt is so unusual one I believe it has to belong to trembling meteors. It kinda makes me think items might actually belong to the team and they are just messy and leave their stuff lying around. Either explanation works, this team isn't particularly smart, so they don't HAVE to explain rest of the prison complex just because it would have been smart to do so :p They probably just walked around the place and were like "yup this place is abandoned"

But yeah, team is clearly aware of golems, but that one is partially explainable. One of them knowns dimension door and has spells up to level 7, so honestly they probably just cast heightened dimension door. So writer probably forgot that in 2e dimension door was nerfed so that it doesn't work on multiple characters anymore. Aka just add them item or something that allows rest of team to get out of the place as well.

3. I could be wrong about this, but doesn't transferring single rune take 8 hours? "Day" in pathfinder 2e time wise is considered to be "8 hours".

4. Well this is part of why I prefer exp, so players always have reward for fighting/talking with monsters ;D Kidding aside, I haven't went through entire adventure so not much for me to comment here besides this: Some parties are like "So literally every location has treasure? Well that is convenient and unrealistic :P" and some are like "So every location DOESN'T have treasure? Man that sucks". It does make sense for island to have locations that are time wasters for competitors so whatever you prefer as gm is what I'd go for there.


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For spicing up the monster lairs, you can put the dead corpses of one of the many other teams there so PCs can pick up Silver Feather tokens and some gear.


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CorvusMask wrote:
On 1. I think Hana's Hundreds being invited to tournament means one of two things: there either isn't maximum team size or Hao Jin just founded it amusing so allowed it anyway

I like your comment on Hana's Hundreds! I'm thinking that this is the Golarion equivalent of American Idol. AI (and The Voice? I'm an old fogey) doesn't necessarily have the best singers in the world, but that isn't the point: the point is what makes for best TV. Hao Jin is assembling the teams she thinks will showcase the world's talents and provide sufficient drama. A tournament is no fun if there is a clear frontrunner from the beginning. (There need to be some zero-to-hero stories.) There might also be some behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing of course: a university seeking to be showcased, a country wanting to make itself recognized on the world stage. Real-world politics, let's say, like how the Olympics might operate.

(I might also have the escorts have a journalistic role, so the people of Goka get frequent updates and obsessively follow the events on the island, and Goka is a big gambling city too. This also means that all eight teams are huge celebrities before they even get there, with the public having monikers for fighters and have their "heroes" and "villains" just as people in the real world follow professional wrestling. And yes, I am partly inspired by the Starfinder Society adventure Live Exploration Extreme! But I'll probably dial back the campiness - Bonmu is also to provide a serious challenge to select contestants who can do well in the Exhibition Matches in the tournament. The Exhibition Matches are much more varied than the ones held 10 years ago, and are part of Hao Jin's new format that included reducing the tournament in Goka to eight teams... all of these changes make for better spectacle and drama.)

CorvusMask wrote:


3. I could be wrong about this, but doesn't transferring single rune take 8 hours? "Day" in pathfinder 2e time wise is considered to be "8 hours".

Yes, and the entire Bonmu part of the tournament takes place over 3 days. The island is not very large, and the hexploration system divides the day into half-hour units, and nearly everything you do (travel to a hex, explore a hex, challenge to a match, etc.) takes up half an hour or one hour.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm also very concerned about the short timeframe of this adventure for many of the reasons above. I suppose the simplest solution is to lean in on this - have tournament officials mention that it's a grueling three-day competition, and that teams had best come prepared. I'd let them know that there will be ways to sell things this time around - the tournament has decided to find a legitimate way to handle equipment issues to avoid making it totally illegal, since previous experience has shown that making it against the rules only forces the treasure trade under the table. As proud Abadarans, they decided to make it legal and get a share of the profit!

Dark Archive

Ah in that case, I guess there are two ways to handle runes: the boring way which is "welp have to do them after this book", allow them to install rune while resting or have character who gives it to pcs somehow install it instantly.(which is bit handwavy but works mechanically)


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Misroi wrote:
I'm also very concerned about the short timeframe of this adventure for many of the reasons above. I suppose the simplest solution is to lean in on this - have tournament officials mention that it's a grueling three-day competition, and that teams had best come prepared. I'd let them know that there will be ways to sell things this time around - the tournament has decided to find a legitimate way to handle equipment issues to avoid making it totally illegal, since previous experience has shown that making it against the rules only forces the treasure trade under the table. As proud Abadarans, they decided to make it legal and get a share of the profit!

Was there any playtesting of Book One, or is there any experience people have as to how well a party can handle this many encounters in three days?

I know of a couple Adventure Paths that had one level's worth of encounters in one day for Level 1 characters. In practice I found that excessive. Here, we have the equivalent of about 3 levels of encounters being handled in 3 days.

Of course, Level 11+ characters are far more durable than Level 1 characters. In theory, Continuous Recovery can bring the party to full health, but what about high-level spell slots? I'm considering making spellcasters on competing teams have fewer than all their spell slots when they're encountered.

Also, is anyone considering having competing teams affect locations on the island before the PCs get there? As in, find a treasure cache? Or clear a watchtower?

Dark Archive

Hmm I wouldn't know since this is 2e, in 1e and starfinder players completing entire high level ap book without resting is possible though. And in this one they have at least 2 rests so... It does seem very plausible to me, especially since some encounters are skippable (and do note: it doesn't seem like players are expected to do every encounter due to timelimit and all)

(Devastation Ark's second book is notable for assuming 0 8 hour rest during course of entire book and I've run it so yeah it works xD)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
Ah in that case, I guess there are two ways to handle runes: the boring way which is "welp have to do them after this book", allow them to install rune while resting or have character who gives it to pcs somehow install it instantly.(which is bit handwavy but works mechanically)

For the runes, I was thinking of allowing players to trade in weapons & runestones at the Stone Markets for a weapon with the rune already attached? If the weapon is meaningful and they don't want to permanently lose it, they can retrieve it and the runestone from the enforcers at the end of the qualifying round (and then attach the rune themselves in their own time before the tournament officially begins)


artjuice wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
Ah in that case, I guess there are two ways to handle runes: the boring way which is "welp have to do them after this book", allow them to install rune while resting or have character who gives it to pcs somehow install it instantly.(which is bit handwavy but works mechanically)
For the runes, I was thinking of allowing players to trade in weapons & runestones at the Stone Markets for a weapon with the rune already attached? If the weapon is meaningful and they don't want to permanently lose it, they can retrieve it and the runestone from the enforcers at the end of the qualifying round (and then attach the rune themselves in their own time before the tournament officially begins)

Ah, that makes sense. Though I will add the charge of transferring the rune plus a (small) premium because they have the added benefit of an immediate upgrade.

So for the greater striking rune (a very likely upgrade in Book One), I would make it:
10% the cost of the rune being transferred (106.5 gold)
the price of a Level 12 Earn Income check at master level (10 gold), and a 50% surcharge on all that for an immediate upgrade (a reasonable amount to charge a tournament team imo, what with how supply-and-demand works)


artjuice wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
Ah in that case, I guess there are two ways to handle runes: the boring way which is "welp have to do them after this book", allow them to install rune while resting or have character who gives it to pcs somehow install it instantly.(which is bit handwavy but works mechanically)
For the runes, I was thinking of allowing players to trade in weapons & runestones at the Stone Markets for a weapon with the rune already attached? If the weapon is meaningful and they don't want to permanently lose it, they can retrieve it and the runestone from the enforcers at the end of the qualifying round (and then attach the rune themselves in their own time before the tournament officially begins)

Ah, that makes sense. Though I will add the charge of transferring the rune plus a (small) premium because they have the added benefit of an immediate upgrade.

So for the greater striking rune (a very likely upgrade in Book One), I would make it:
*10% the cost of the rune being transferred (106.5 gold)
*the price of a Level 14 master Craftsman's Earn Income check at master level (20 gold) [Level 14 because they'd use Assurance (Crafting) on a DC 30 check]
*and a 50% surcharge on all that for an immediate upgrade (a reasonable amount to charge a tournament team imo, what with how supply-and-demand works)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
The Rot Grub wrote:

Okay, I've read through Book One. I know this post will make it look like I don't like the AP, but I actually think it will be a whole lot of fun. I love the JRPG inspiration and the big emphasis on dramatic and showy combat. But I just have some questions and concerns running this, and I want to share them and see if people have thoughts:

1. In the lore, how to explain the different team sizes?
Some teams have four characters (presumably the PCs). One team has two (the archers on page 45), while another, Hana's Hundreds, has close to 40 (the team on page 51). It makes me wonder whether what are the limits on teams in this tournament? What claim do the eventual winners of this tournament have to being "the best fighters in the world," when that partly might be a function of their party size?

I understand that Hao Jin was involved in personally selecting the teams. But what rules is she operating under? Are contestants limited to humanoids and their animal companions/familiars? Is there a maximum party size? Or "total power level"? But if there is a cap on total power level, doesn't that assume there are more powerful groupings that exist in the world, making the title "best fighting team in the world" false?

(Partly why I raise this, is because my party will have 5 players.)

I understand that the difficulty of explaining this in the lore is the inevitable result of having a game with levels. But if we were to explain this, what is the best explanation we can come up with?

I'm going to check my pdf but I'm pretty sure its explained in the book that teams of any size can sign up, however the reward is split between everyone who signed up if they win, so Hana's Hundred would be splitting their reward 40 ways and that would probably be seen as unsatisfying for the victors on an individual level. It seems like teams with an average of about 4 members, maybe a few more, are the most common based on book 1 and 2 and that makes sense considering they would only have to split their reward 4 ways


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

"This group of Minkaians call themselves Hana’s Hundreds, though in actuality they number just shy of 40. Most teams opt for as few fighters as possible, since the winners must split their prize evenly, but Hana’s Hundreds favored quantity over quality when it came to their own team, reasoning that only a few of them will likely make it to the final bouts uninjured. Regardless of their actual numbers, Hana’s Hundreds have found a technique that works pretty well for them: they swarm and overwhelm opponents using their large numbers."

This on page 51, Event 6


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The artwork for the contestants in the other "main" 7 teams are... spread out among the three books. I decided to organize them in this list for my own purposes. I figured this would help others as well so I share it here:

ARMS OF BALANCE
Pravan Majinapti (Book 2, p. 34)
Usvani (Book 3, p. 31)

BITING ROSES
Yarrika (Book 3, p. 17)

LIGHTKEEPERS
Blue Viper (Book 1, p. 62)
Ran-To (Book 1, p. 64)
Shino Hakusa (Book 2, p. 37)
Syu Tak-Nwa (Book 1 front cover)

SPEAKERS TO THE WINDS
Mafika Ayuwari (Book 1, p. 68)
Akila Stormheel (Book 2, p. 39)
Boundless Hummingbird (Book 3, p. 8)

STEPS OF THE SUN
Halspin the Stung (Book 2, p. 40)

TINO'S TOUGHEST
Ji-Yook (Book 1, p. 70)
Tino (Book 1, p. 10)
Takatorra (Book 1, p. 11)
Yabin the Just (Book 2, p. 28)

WINTER'S ROAR
Huldrin Skolsdottir (Book 2, p. 42)
Urnak Lostwind (Book 1, p. 71)

Paizo Employee Developer

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You'll be able to find the remaining art pieces in the pawn set. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Luis Loza wrote:
You'll be able to find the remaining art pieces in the pawn set. :)

Not sure if you know if the art in the PDF version will be higher resolution than the art in some of the previous Pawn Boxes? I want to be able to show my players the awesome looking art!

Dark Archive

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So something I realized: Doesn't the friendly sparring match where you get the ghost touch rune happen one day before competition officially starts?

(that said, book also recommends you to bend rules for teaching archetypes, so assuming same applies to transferring runes sounds okay to me)


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CorvusMask wrote:

So something I realized: Doesn't the friendly sparring match where you get the ghost touch rune happen one day before competition officially starts?

(that said, book also recommends you to bend rules for teaching archetypes, so assuming same applies to transferring runes sounds okay to me)

We had our first session today and it went well!

As written, the first day is the day after the PCs arrive on the island and meet Tino's Toughest, who gives them the runes.

They will need the next several hours, however, to clear the Temple of Irori, so they won't have time to take a downtime day, really (unless you start very early in the day I suppose). And some of the creatures the ghost touch runes are useful against are in the Temple itself.

To apply the runes, I let them make a quick stop at the Stone Market for an immediate trade.

I was worried my players might not want to accept Tino's offer because it would drain their resources. So I made clear that they would agree to heal each other afterward, and they also had a friendly wager: I had the party wager a 10th level item while Tino bet their wand of death ward (an 11th level item, but I suppose they were planning to sell it so they see it as an even bet).

On the ship from Varisia (where the PCs came from), they met Winter's Roar who were immediately unfriendly, and Winter's Roar's hobgoblin brawler was in the same prison the PCs escaped out of.

Dark Archive

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On sidenote, I decided to do math on the "does the Hao Jin disintegrate actually make sense rule wise"(I'm completely fine with it plot wise)

So elite mage of many styles has DC of 34(and attack bonus of 28, but that doesn't matter in this scenario because critical hits only lowers save result by one instead of doubling damage). Let's assume they used highest level spellslot of 7 to shoot disintegrate at heightened level, rolled 20 and Hao Jin rolled nat 1.

Assuming Hao Jin is indeed level 24 creature(as she would have been in 1e iirc), the "terrible" save bonus for level 24 creature is 32... So Hao Jin could indeed crit fail on nat 1(and only fails on nat 1) Assuming mage rolled max damage for 14d10 damage, that would mean 280 damage... So far actually pretty plausible, though average 24 creature's lowest hp is about 367 so unless Hao Jin had already damage(or had been nerfed to level 20 creature), she would have survived anyway :D

(If you think your players will cry foul of rules, just have mage instead use powerful scroll to summon level 20 creature capable of level 10 disintegrate or something similarly epic. That would have max damage of 400 on crit fail :D )


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

With regards to Hao Jin I assume she's toying with the people that attacked her to see how the PCs react. I figure she was actually blindsided and hit by the disintegrate ray but was totally fine and decided to go with it.


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Some questions that came up as I explained the prequalifying round rules to my players. As you can tell they're a bit on the unscrupulous side lol. Here are their questions and my answers. I'm leaving these here for people to comment and also to codify them for myself:

1. There are no lethal actions outside of a challenge match? What if we do lethal damage that does not kill? Or does this only matter for the blow taking one down to 0 hp?
No actions that directly do damage to another team, outside of a challenge.

2. When the enforcers challenge us, can they do lethal damage to us?
All damage in such a fight must be nonlethal if possible. (i.e., a fireball spell is okay, since that can't be made nonlethal.)

3. Can we steal another team's magic items while they sleep?
No looting from other teams unless they're all killed, as per the rules. Stealing = looting.

4. Can we poison another team outside of a challenge?
This is a fighting tournament. Anything that is not in the spirit of the tournament will be grounds for qualification. People want to see a fighting tournament. What if during a season of American Idol, one contestant killed another with poison the night before a competition? ("I'd want to watch that," said one of my players.) Your attendant is with you at all times to make sure the letter and spirit of the rules are enforce.

5. If someone yells a challenge at another team from a 1000 yards away, do they have to accept it?
What matters is whether an enforcer is there to hear the challenge. Your team's attendant will make that determination.

6. Let's trail another team, have them exhaust themselves in a fight against another team, and then challenge them right on the spot!
(Foreseeing how unfair this can be, and that this can happen against the party, too.) Naw, some time must pass after a challenge to allow reasonable time for a team to heal to full hit points. (Assuming access to repeatable 10-minute healing activities.)

7. Once a challenge is made, how much time is it before the actual fight starts? And can we harm the other team before then?
No hostile direct action against the other team until the enforcers declare the start of the fight, which is different from issuing the challenge. And it will take half an hour or so to travel to the site or before the fight begins.

8. Can we prebuff before a fight?
There will usually be a half hour before a fight to make preparations. But when the enforcers declare the fight is about to start, one minute must pass where the contestants do nothing. (This preempts the vast majority of single-combat (1 minute) spells.)

9. Can we do lethal damage against Tino's Toughest, since we're doing a friendly sparring?
Tino's Toughest and the party agreed to do lethal damage to each other, with the proviso that measures must be taken to make sure no one dies. (e.g. a time-out is okay)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Oh, here is a super specific question. There is a whole lot of Bonmu Lore checks in Book 1. I didn't see that as a starting option for any of the backgrounds so should I just suggest my players take Bonmu Lore? Not sure how they would ever think to have that otherwise.


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The Rot Grub wrote:

Some questions that came up as I explained the prequalifying round rules to my players. As you can tell they're a bit on the unscrupulous side lol.

Not a single scruple to be had in there!

Jokes aside, those are good things for me to think about. We're still a couple weeks off from starting (and I might do a bit of a team-building session or two to get used to playing at level 11)

Dark Archive

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I'd honestly probably just go with Agents of Edgewatch logic of "all damage is non lethal because reasons" x'D

Anyway, daymn your party sounds shady :p Bit murderhobo-y x'D Like it kinda sounds like they are trying to find loop hole for murder/looting

Calpal wrote:
The Rot Grub wrote:

Some questions that came up as I explained the prequalifying round rules to my players. As you can tell they're a bit on the unscrupulous side lol.

Not a single scruple to be had in there!

Jokes aside, those are good things for me to think about. We're still a couple weeks off from starting (and I might do a bit of a team-building session or two to get used to playing at level 11)

Well do note that bardic lore characters can always roll any lore. Basically, if you want them to hear stuff in bonmu lore, then yeah sure do tell them it might be useful in first book.

Paizo Employee Developer

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The phoenix necklace (page 75) that each team receives has the nonlethal damage thing figured out for you. It specifically has an activated ability to encourage nonlethal attacks.

Phoenix Necklace wrote:
Activate [three-actions] command, envision; Effect You select any number of willing creatures you can see within 30 feet, including yourself. The selected creatures can make nonlethal attacks without taking a penalty to their attack rolls. This effect remains in place until you remove the necklace or use this activation again.


Luis Loza wrote:
The Rot Grub wrote:

Some questions that came up as I explained the prequalifying round rules to my players. As you can tell they're a bit on the unscrupulous side lol.

Not a single scruple to be had in there!

Jokes aside, those are good things for me to think about. We're still a couple weeks off from starting (and I might do a bit of a team-building session or two to get used to playing at level 11)

Average age is 19, so figure, lol. When I lay down these extra rulings, they fell in line and are having fun with it.

Calpal wrote:
The phoenix necklace (page 75) that each team receives has the nonlethal damage thing figured out for you. It specifically has an activated ability to encourage nonlethal attacks.

Good to know! I imagine the vast majority of contestants will activate this ability. But once a side chooses to go lethal (ahem my players), then it's no holds barred.

And am I right that the phoenix necklace doesn't affect certain effects like fireball?

Dark Archive

The Rot Grub wrote:
Luis Loza wrote:
The Rot Grub wrote:

Some questions that came up as I explained the prequalifying round rules to my players. As you can tell they're a bit on the unscrupulous side lol.

Not a single scruple to be had in there!

Jokes aside, those are good things for me to think about. We're still a couple weeks off from starting (and I might do a bit of a team-building session or two to get used to playing at level 11)

Average age is 19, so figure, lol. When I lay down these extra rulings, they fell in line and are having fun with it.

Calpal wrote:
The phoenix necklace (page 75) that each team receives has the nonlethal damage thing figured out for you. It specifically has an activated ability to encourage nonlethal attacks.

Good to know! I imagine the vast majority of contestants will activate this ability. But once a side chooses to go lethal (ahem my players), then it's no holds barred.

And am I right that the phoenix necklace doesn't affect certain effects like fireball?

I'm pretty sure necklace does affect them since 1) its non lethal tournament 2) its artifact 3) some teams purely use spells as way of combat. I could be wrong, but it would be weird over sight.

Also now that I'm aware of that, pretty sure any group of players that on purpose leave necklace's special ability off after gaining it(to be fair, the friendly sparring match was before any of team would have gained their own necklace), should be disqualified by the rules considering there is no reason to not do that besides trying to kill someone :p I don't really see how it would make sense otherwise x'D

(on sidenote, your players will have hard time in the ap if they actively anger every other team on purpose x'D But I'm genuinely curious if its possible to beat ap while doing that since ap seems to give you really hard encounters later on and make them beatable by power of friendship)


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CorvusMask wrote:
The Rot Grub wrote:
Luis Loza wrote:
The Rot Grub wrote:

Some questions that came up as I explained the prequalifying round rules to my players. As you can tell they're a bit on the unscrupulous side lol.

Not a single scruple to be had in there!

Jokes aside, those are good things for me to think about. We're still a couple weeks off from starting (and I might do a bit of a team-building session or two to get used to playing at level 11)

Average age is 19, so figure, lol. When I lay down these extra rulings, they fell in line and are having fun with it.

Calpal wrote:
The phoenix necklace (page 75) that each team receives has the nonlethal damage thing figured out for you. It specifically has an activated ability to encourage nonlethal attacks.

Good to know! I imagine the vast majority of contestants will activate this ability. But once a side chooses to go lethal (ahem my players), then it's no holds barred.

And am I right that the phoenix necklace doesn't affect certain effects like fireball?

I'm pretty sure necklace does affect them since 1) its non lethal tournament 2) its artifact 3) some teams purely use spells as way of combat. I could be wrong, but it would be weird over sight.

Also now that I'm aware of that, pretty sure any group of players that on purpose leave necklace's special ability off after gaining it(to be fair, the friendly sparring match was before any of team would have gained their own necklace), should be disqualified by the rules considering there is no reason to not do that besides trying to kill someone :p I don't really see how it would make sense otherwise x'D

(on sidenote, your players will have hard time in the ap if they actively anger every other team on purpose x'D But I'm genuinely curious if its possible to beat ap while doing that since ap seems to give you really hard encounters later on and make them beatable by power of friendship)

I don't think my players would be inclined to kill, were it not for the specific rule of the tournament allowing you to loot your enemies only if you kill them. It's... a strange rule that doesn't have much in-world justification. They want to give people an item to encourage nonlethal bouts, and then they give an incentive to kill (and be killed)? I'm thinking of changing it.

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