4 - Secrets of the Temple-City (GM Reference)


Strength of Thousands

Developer

This is a spoiler-filled resource thread for the fourth volume of the Strength of Thousands AP, Secrets of the Temple-City by Luis Loza.

The GM Reference thread for the other volumes are as follows:

Kindled Magic
Spoken on the Song Wind
Hurricane's Howl
Doorway to the Red Star
Shadows of the Ancients

Dark Archive

It was so exciting to find the download links for both volumes in my inbox tonight! Wish I could cast Simulacrum and send one to bed and then to teach tomorrow so the original could stay up digging deeper.

I am absolutely loving what I have read of the first two volumes! Thanks for the obvious love that has been poured into this Adventure Path.


I'm really keen to hear from folks about this one.


This might be obvious, but I’m struggling a little with the core mechanic of Chapter One.

Quote:
First, social encounters in Mzali don’t use typical rounds. Diplomatic endeavors here take much longer than a standard social gathering. Instead, the heroes can engage in one round of social encounters per week. This round represents several days’ worth of Influencing or Discovering information about a specific individual. The delegation is assumed to work together, so all influence rounds include every hero, as well as the other lore-speakers.

Emphasis my own - does this mean that the party as a whole can only make one Contact, Influence or Discover roll each week, and that they can’t split up? I’m wondering if it’s possible to have the party’s Champion tries to Contact Themba while their Druid tries to Influence Wekesa, but it seems like that’s not the intent.

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Just like the normal influence rules, each PC can use one only one of the influence activities (Influence, Discover, Contact) per round, but they still do so independently. The note that all influence rounds includes all heroes might be adding to the confusion here. The idea is that all of the delegation (PCs, lore-speakers) are around when a given activity is being done, but not necessarily actively engaged in said activity.

For your example, you can have the champion Contact Themba while the druid and wizard are along for the ride, but not making any rolls. Later, the druid and the wizard would make their checks to Influence Wekesa while the champion is along, but allowing the the other two to handle the matter.

Hope that clears it up!


Luis Loza wrote:

Just like the normal influence rules, each PC can use one only one of the influence activities (Influence, Discover, Contact) per round, but they still do so independently. The note that all influence rounds includes all heroes might be adding to the confusion here. The idea is that all of the delegation (PCs, lore-speakers) are around when a given activity is being done, but not necessarily actively engaged in said activity.

For your example, you can have the champion Contact Themba while the druid and wizard are along for the ride, but not making any rolls. Later, the druid and the wizard would make their checks to Influence Wekesa while the champion is along, but allowing the the other two to handle the matter.

Hope that clears it up!

That does clear it up, thank you!


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I'm struggling a bit with tone and theme on this one.....

The opening of the book tells us under the "Dealing with Evil" section:
"This isn’t an adventure where the heroes cast down these leaders and return righteousness and justice to Mzali. This is the adventure where trusted diplomats and hard-working heroes make Mzali a bit more open, a bit more trusting, and a bit more susceptible to bigger changes in its future."

We spend the first half of "Secrets of the Temple City" with the PCs as diplomats to Mzali, climaxing in actually meeting the God-King and negotiating better treatment for non Mwangi people in a triumph of diplomacy over violence.

No need to fight the God-King. Negotiation and cool heads will prevail. So far so good.

.. and then we go to the Golden City where we find out it really is as great as we thought and now we *do* have to fight the God King or his armies will kill all these nice people we have made friends with. No point in negotiating, his army is here and his Avatar will show up at the climax of the big brawl for the PCs to stick spears into. Start killing the solders we were negotiating with a few sessions ago.

This seems like a really cool combat encounter and all.. but I feel like PCs who feel really good about what they accomplished in the first half of the adventure are going to feel jerked around that they end up having to fight the guy they weren't supposed to fight earlier and PCs who spent the whole time in Mzali thinking they should just kill all these evil people will feel vindicated by the throwdown and might decide that all that negotiation was a waste of time.

I'm feeling like my players are going to feel really betrayed by the swerve.


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Jhamin wrote:

I'm struggling a bit with tone and theme on this one.....

The opening of the book tells us under the "Dealing with Evil" section:
"This isn’t an adventure where the heroes cast down these leaders and return righteousness and justice to Mzali. This is the adventure where trusted diplomats and hard-working heroes make Mzali a bit more open, a bit more trusting, and a bit more susceptible to bigger changes in its future."

We spend the first half of "Secrets of the Temple City" with the PCs as diplomats to Mzali, climaxing in actually meeting the God-King and negotiating better treatment for non Mwangi people in a triumph of diplomacy over violence.

No need to fight the God-King. Negotiation and cool heads will prevail. So far so good.

.. and then we go to the Golden City where we find out it really is as great as we thought and now we *do* have to fight the God King or his armies will kill all these nice people we have made friends with. No point in negotiating, his army is here and his Avatar will show up at the climax of the big brawl for the PCs to stick spears into. Start killing the solders we were negotiating with a few sessions ago.

This seems like a really cool combat encounter and all.. but I feel like PCs who feel really good about what they accomplished in the first half of the adventure are going to feel jerked around that they end up having to fight the guy they weren't supposed to fight earlier and PCs who spent the whole time in Mzali thinking they should just kill all these evil people will feel vindicated by the throwdown and might decide that all that negotiation was a waste of time.

I'm feeling like my players are going to feel really betrayed by the swerve.

I mean, Mzali's leadership is evil. You are dealing with people at every turn who are complicit in a state that is fond of public executions essentially on a whim, with myriad instances of oppression and violence. Those people being willing to play nice when the Magaambya when it suits their own purposes being capable of making war on a target they think they can take for personal gain? It's consistent.

Any player who is this far into this AP and is defaulting to "we should kill all these people" has really failed to internalize the themes it and the Magaambya espouse. Any bloodthirsty impulse is hopefully sated by getting to slay a decidedly evil general (perhaps with the help of your decidedly evil new assassin friend!), while anyone who feels betrayed by a turn to violence can take immense satisfaction in hopefully causing substantial reform to the most repressive nation in the Mwangi Expanse. It's clear that the actions of this volume materially benefit the innocent folk of Mzali and empower the Bright Lion cause against the regime.

Just my two cents, but I'm really smitten with this volume, and see my group enjoying it.


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keftiu wrote:


I mean, Mzali's leadership is evil. You are dealing with people at every turn who are complicit in a state that is fond of public executions essentially on a whim, with myriad instances of oppression and violence. Those people being willing to play nice when the Magaambya when it suits...

Right. And the stated goal of the first half of the adventure is that no matter how evil the leadership is, diplomacy can engage with it and moderate it. Which is good, and very in-theme for this adventure path.

Then they try to kill all your friends in the Golden City and you end up having to massacre the armies of the city you just negotiated with out of a sense of constructive engagement.

The problem isn't that the leadership of Mzali is evil (It's not great, but it isn't the main problem) the problem is that they are *expansionist*, at least in this AP if not generally. They are actively trying to conquer and/or destroy another city. Long term gradual diplomacy doesn't work when they are actively plundering and murdering.

As a PC I think you are right to ask "what was the point of all those weeks of politics if we just had to kill their army anyway?" I think as written a few of my players are going to start making Neville Chamberlain allusions.

I'm a big believer in encouraging PCs to not use violence as a first resort and everything about this chapter of the AP is all about that... until the finale fight where you kill the army and avatar of all the NPCs you were being nonviolent about for the first half of the book. The AP give you no choice but to wage war against the people you just negotiated with or stand by while they murder the Golden City.

I just don't think you can have it both ways without giving the impression that negotiation just delays violence it doesn't prevent it. That *really* seems to miss the point of the Adventure Path

keftiu wrote:
Just my two cents, but I'm really smitten with this volume, and see my group enjoying it.

I'm enjoying it as well, but as this is supposed to be a GM advice thread rather than a debate about general story structure... my thought would be to NOT have the invading army at the end of the book be from Mzali. It creates too much conflict in a place where the PCs just spend a ton of time reducing conflict. The Expanse has a long history of invaders and plenty of other groups could find the location of the Golden city and try to invade it. Perhaps the "map" the PCs found is seen by the wrong diplomat from another power in Mzali, or let a porter or researcher back at the school find out about the expedition and carry that knowledge to the wrong ears.


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I think "diplomacy is a valuable tool for exerting soft power and reform" and "expansionist violence sometimes demands to be met with violence" are ideologies the Magaambya is very capable of holding in tandem. There's a reason the Tempest-Sun Mages are both diplomats and warriors; both are valuable, and both have situations where they can't work. I don't think laying siege to Mzali would make Walkena and his cohort be kinder to his popular, nor could you talk them out of sacking Osibu.

This AP wants players to be deliberate about violence, but I don't think it's asking them to shun it entirely. Sometimes the fash have gotta be bashed, y'know?

Plus, removing Walkena's top general from the board along with what feels like a notable part of Mzali's army and arsenal feels like a net good for the Mwangi Expanse - and the Bright Lions, who this entire volume feels like it's setting up.

Whereas the alternative is introducing an entire new threat in the final chapter of a book that's been all about Walkena and Mzali, immediately before the pivot to the focus of the final third of the AP. I think adding something else here complicates things for very little gain.


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keftiu wrote:
This AP wants players to be deliberate about violence, but I don't think it's asking them to shun it entirely. Sometimes the fash have gotta be bashed, y'know?

I don't know that I agree. Your only choices in the final battle are to fight or to let the worst happen. All the early warning systems and outer defenses are bypassed before you even know the army is there and it is fight or die.

I agree that we don't want someone new dropping in for a fight at the end.
Any new invader added at the end should be setup ahead of time. Perhaps as a rival group of diplomats in Mzali or as uncouth interlopers in the School. I just really hate negotiations that are treated as a victory but don't prevent the war. It makes PCs feel like they should have just gone to violence in the firstplace if they are going to get railroaded into it anyway.

But this is the internet and I don't think either of us is going to convince the other. The finale of this volume of the AP just doesn't work for me. I feel it undermines everything else you have done to get there.

You clearly disagree.


Jhamin wrote:
keftiu wrote:
This AP wants players to be deliberate about violence, but I don't think it's asking them to shun it entirely. Sometimes the fash have gotta be bashed, y'know?

I don't know that I agree. Your only choices in the final battle are to fight or to let the worst happen. All the early warning systems and outer defenses are bypassed before you even know the army is there and it is fight or die.

I agree that we don't want someone new dropping in for a fight at the end.
Any new invader added at the end should be setup ahead of time. Perhaps as a rival group of diplomats in Mzali or as uncouth interlopers in the School. I just really hate negotiations that are treated as a victory but don't prevent the war. It makes PCs feel like they should have just gone to violence in the firstplace if they are going to get railroaded into it anyway.

The negotiations have nothing to do with the war, is the thing; the entire point is prompting reforms that make life easier for the folk of Mzali, and to open it up to the wider Expanse. The mission for the bulk of this volume is not about preventing a fight, and the two (the diplomatic efforts in Mzali and the battle over Osibu) don't have much of anything to do with one another, so I don't see the latter as any kind of failure or betrayal of the former.

I apologize if this feels like an argument! I'm genuinely enjoying this conversation.


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keftiu wrote:

the two (the diplomatic efforts in Mzali and the battle over Osibu) don't have much of anything to do with one another, so I don't see the latter as any kind of failure or betrayal of the former.

The idea that as written they don't have anything to do with each other is my problem.

What is the point then? (I get the long term idealistic "change takes time at patience" thing, but tell that to the families of the dead in Osibu if anyone asks what the PCs did before they came).

I think we are talking past each other. As I understand it, You are fine with the idea that everything in the first half of the adventure is disconnected with the final battle.

I am *not*.

In my mind the PCs spend weeks getting a meeting with Sauron and acomplish the impossible and actually get him to treat the Elven merchants with a bit of respect.. then they go back to watch him assault the white city and then they personally pitch in to kill some Ring Wraiths. I just don't think anything about that feels good and I strongly feel the two halves of the narrative are at odds.


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Jhamin wrote:
keftiu wrote:

the two (the diplomatic efforts in Mzali and the battle over Osibu) don't have much of anything to do with one another, so I don't see the latter as any kind of failure or betrayal of the former.

The idea that as written they don't have anything to do with each other is my problem.

What is the point then? (I get the long term idealistic "change takes time at patience" thing, but tell that to the families of the dead in Osibu if anyone asks what the PCs did before they came).

I think we are talking past each other. As I understand it, You are fine with the idea that everything in the first half of the adventure is disconnected with the final battle.

I am *not*.

In my mind the PCs spend weeks getting a meeting with Sauron and acomplish the impossible and actually get him to treat the Elven merchants with a bit of respect.. then they go back to watch him assault the white city and then they personally pitch in to kill some Ring Wraiths. I just don't think anything about that feels good and I strongly feel the two halves of the narrative are at odds.

I've only done a quick look through the adventure, but think I agree.

One possible solution: the successful diplomatic mission weakens Walkena , he loses divine favor, and there is a successful coup that puts #2 villian in charge and divinely empowered. Make sure to give #2 screen time during negotiations as working against the diplomacy. #2 foolishly attacks Obisu which leads to #2s death and a very weakened army. Mzali looses #1 and #2 evil guys and there is a full fledged revolt that the PCs can help leading to a much less evil city council or something.

So at least the successful diplomacy set into motion the events that set Mzali free.


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The trouble with that is that I would bet money the “overthrow Walkena” plotline is one we’ll see the Bright Lions do sometime down the line, likely in their own AP - and empowered by what the Magaambya does here.

This was never going to be the book that liberated Mzali.


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keftiu wrote:
The trouble with that is that I would bet money the “overthrow Walkena” plotline is one we’ll see the Bright Lions do sometime down the line, likely in their own AP - and empowered by what the Magaambya does here.

My concern is that specifically what is accomplished is that non-Mwangi visitors are no longer being summarily executed and maybe the allowed visitor list is expanded. I actually hope this *isn't* what brings down Walkena down the road. (I REALLY don't want a foerign group of heroes to slip in & kill the guy the citizens of the Mwangi Expanse didn't or couldn't)

Empowering his rival God is much better, but that happens before the heroes leave Mzali and doesn't really have to impact the final battle. (She can still help them out as a "thank you" regardless of the opposition)

keftiu wrote:
This was never going to be the book that liberated Mzali.

I agree. "Overthrow Walkena" is a pretty great plot and I'm sure we will see that down the road.

I'm not upset that he is still on the throne at the end of the AP, I'm upset about the mix of diplomacy, attacks on the innocent, and violence and their apparent disconnect. I think in my ideal scenario the PCs take the win after meeting Walkena and then go to the Golden City with the info they have unearthed.

IMHO The threat in the 3rd act should be disconnected from Walkena entirely. The part where the PCs discovery of the Map leads others to the Golden City should probably be kept. Responsibility of action and the repercussions of knowledge seems like a great subplot


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In the profiles of the teachers at the end of the book, Nhyira section says that one of her (the book uses female pronouns, so I'll echo that) common associates is someone named Thema, with whom she discusses landscaping. If this was a cut NPC, can anyone tell us anything about who they were? I'm hungry for more people to add to the Magaambya. Otherwise, anyone else strike us as likely to enjoy discussing landscaping?


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Adraius wrote:
In the profiles of the teachers at the end of the book, Nhyira section says that one of her (the book uses female pronouns, so I'll echo that) common associates is someone named Thema, with whom she discusses landscaping. If this was a cut NPC, can anyone tell us anything about who they were? I'm hungry for more people to add to the Magaambya. Otherwise, anyone else strike us as likely to enjoy discussing landscaping?

She is the groundskeeper and gets a quick mention in the first book (Kindled Magic) during the teacher's assignment by Koride Ulawa. Also, she is dicussed in this Paizo Blog article on Magaambya staff.


Laerco wrote:
She is the groundskeeper and gets a quick mention in the first book (Kindled Magic) during the teacher's assignment by Koride Ulawa. Also, she is dicussed in this Paizo Blog article on Magaambya staff.

Nice, thanks!


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Jhamin wrote:

IMHO The threat in the 3rd act should be disconnected from Walkena entirely. The part where the PCs discovery of the Map leads others to the Golden City should probably be kept. Responsibility of action and the repercussions of knowledge seems like a great subplot

I've read through Red Star now, although not a fine detail read of each of them, and I like the AP but think there are some let downs in execution. Book 3 is weak in terms of connecting with the broader AP IMO. I agree with your take on Walkena attacking even more so now.

I'll reserve full judgement until after Book 6, but as you suggest I'll probably pick a different enemy for the assault on the Golden City so that the diplomacy is a real victory (at least in this AP).

There are a lot of great ideas from just a quick read of the Mwangi Expanse book. I thinking about going with:

Book 1 - there is a Charau-ka student and senior Lore-Speaker/teacher at school. The student is getting shunned because there have been more raids by Charau-ka war bands lately. PCs learn history of Usaro and Gorilla King.

Book 2 - Usaro ambassador comes to Nantambu and asks for something. Player’s have a community task related to this, to at minimum keep Usaro/Charau-ka on their minds. [Also their activity unknowingly allows an Avatar of Anhazhan to materialize and stay in Golorian, see below?]

Book 3 - Charau-ka raids intensify, especially in the Sodden Lands, where traditionally they are not known. Knights are worshipers of Angazhan and have found a totem that lets them reincarnate people into Charau-ka. The more knowledgeable/scholarly the person, the more powerful version of Charau-ka you get. Kiutu was built around an ancient library and known for its scholarly monastery, hence why it is a prime target. Janatimo or another teacher is from Kiutu and is back in the area and gets kidnapped along with others. PCs find out that Charau-ka “Reincarnation” is not really traditional reincarnation, but the person’s soul and personality is trapped in the Charau-ka and in constant torture. Hints that this is not the only totem that has been activated and in use.

Book 4 - When PCs go back to Magaambya to consult with other teachers about the map, the Charau-ka teacher is a spy and reports to Uraso (or Uraso scouts trail PCs or visit the temple after them, etc.). In the background, the Avatar of Anhazban has been building an army of Charau-ka and others to assault the Magaambya which would produce incredibly powerful Charau-ka. However, the Golden City is where the Matanji and Kallijae took the stolen Altar of Anhazhan for safe keeping and the Anhazban army change targets. PCs find out the alter is there when visiting. Charau-ka army attacks Golden City to retrieve the Altar led by an Avatar of Anhazhan (replace Avatar of Walkena), and the Avatar’s power is able to activate the Alter – transforming its Orc guardian into a Gorilla King (replaces Worknesh/King of Spears). The ritual Dimari-Diji wants to complete will restore all the Charau-ka souls to their original, essentially nullifying the threat and creating a huge amount of “scholarly” Charau-ka.

Plenty of other ideas, but this was the first that popped into my head. I also like that it alters the landscape of the Mwangi. I know that the PCs will eventually bring Jatambe back and defeat the King of Ants, but I like a long AP to have more world consequences than TOT seems to right now. Seems like a more suitable world impact for 14th/15th level PCs. You are left with an entirely new “people” that will likely try to take Usaro in a different direction, etc.


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hsnsy56, I don't love the idea of "the student from the Ancestry that everyone stereotypes as evil demon worshippers is secretly a spy for the evil demon worshippers" - it feels like it clashes a little with the more nuanced, hopeful tone the AP strikes. It also shifts this from being a story about becoming heroes of the Magaambya who eventually stop the King of Biting Ants to being a story about becoming heroes of the Magaambya who need to handle the threat of Usaro, which feels pretty drastic and distinct? If your table would be happier with it, go ahead, but that's a pretty significant amount of alteration you're gonna be dealing with.


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The tone of this chapter is really irky with me and I am also thinking about changing most key points.

Point 1:
I personally have a problem how all diplomatic relations that the players are building up through this book are kinda meaningless if Mzali just goes and invades another city and the players have to fight against the same people they persuaded just 1 chapter before in the same book.

Point 2:
The fight at the end gets resolved by wiping the memory of the Mzali people. Nevermind that they just try to conquer someone else. Just deus ex machina the conflict away. In the end the same people (expect one key person) is in charge. Nothing changed.

Point 3:
Mzali is portrayed in the books as heavily racist towards non Mwangi people and killing them on a whim. So I will let my players negotiate with literal supremacists that after conclusion of the book stay in power with just a single change that non mwangi people will not be killed on sight inside the city?

Book 3 and 4 also don't seem really connected to the global story arc so I will have to tweak it a little i guess.


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keftiu wrote:
hsnsy56, I don't love the idea of "the student from the Ancestry that everyone stereotypes as evil demon worshippers is secretly a spy for the evil demon worshippers" - it feels like it clashes a little with the more nuanced, hopeful tone the AP strikes. It also shifts this from being a story about becoming heroes of the Magaambya who eventually stop the King of Biting Ants to being a story about becoming heroes of the Magaambya who need to handle the threat of Usaro, which feels pretty drastic and distinct? If your table would be happier with it, go ahead, but that's a pretty significant amount of alteration you're gonna be dealing with.

It's the teacher that's the spy. The student is there so that there is a natural way to get the Usaro back story out there. The student is actually a good/neutral non-demon worshiping Charau-ku. But yes, I would change the teacher to a non-Charau-ku secret worshiper of Anhazhan as to not have that stereotype/cliche, or just figure out some other way for Anhazhan to know about the Golden City. It's not really an important plot point -- just that Anhazhan knows about the Golden City in a semi believable way.

As for the shift of story, I think it can be both.

One of the problems I have with the AP is that the threat of the King Of Biting Ants is not really known until Book 5. The PCs stopping the King of Biting Ants and returning Jatembe is epic, but is in book 5/6. Also, unless Book 6 has some actual consequences to the King of Biting Ants returning, then we are just talking about returning things to status quo.

The PCs don't have as much impact on the world as I would like for a full 1-20 campaign. I don't get to play multiple full APs/Campaigns so I like more punch. There are a lot of cool things in the AP to build on though.

Particularly Book 3 and 4 (without seeing 6 yet) seem particularly weak in the Level vs. world impact spectrum.

Book 3 -- 8-12th level. Explore a ruin but without any big revelations. Defend a small village and take down a generic cult, freeing a small town. I would have rather this had been lower level stuff.

Book 4 -- 12-15th level. This book is better but still... Negotiate more openness to foreigners for Mzali. This is good stuff, although the stakes here are not that well laid out. Return an old Sun God. Good. Discover the lost city of gold, defend it, then everyone gets mind wiped returning to status quo. Not so great. Maybe the loss of the Mzali General and his troops along with the return of the Sun God is the "big impact", setting up the fall of Mzali later, but that is all offscreen.

So in this reconfiguration you at least have:

Book 3-4: resolution of revival of Anhazhan threat to the Mwangi (regional level threat that is somewhat known from book 1); set up of the fall of Mzali through diplomacy and revival of Sun God

Book 5-6: resolution of world level threat (King of Biting Ants)


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Em0crash wrote:


Mzali is portrayed in the books as heavily racist towards non Mwangi people and killing them on a whim. So I will let my players negotiate with literal supremacists that after conclusion of the book stay in power with just a single change that non mwangi people will not be killed on sight inside the city?

Yeah, another reason to change who attacks the golden city. If things play out like in the AP, you have a party of 15th level PCs that are probably itching to take the fight to Mzali at this point. And there is an entire semester delay until the Red Door opens for the PCs to do this.

Maybe have Mzali be a little less overtly genecidal, with more like a secret police spiriting people away vibe. And I think there needs to be more immediate stakes for the diplomacy as well. Perhaps Mzali is planning on declaring it's sphere of influence, and it's racist policies would now apply to any settlement within 50 miles or something.

Also like the idea that even amoung the Mwangi people there is a sub-heiarchy, like only Zenj can hold important city positions. Other Mwangi are relegated to "unclean" jobs, etc.

So you have this impending issue of Mzali extending this caste system to a bunch of new settlements. The PCs can prevent this as well as open things up to some foreign trade with good diplomacy.

Honestly, the whole diplomacy setup needs to be worked on a bit too to make it interesting. The Mazali influential should have some competing goals and the PCs should only have to gain favor with say 3/4 of them, with their choices making enemies with others and changing the flavor / power dynamic of the city a bit. See the old Dark Sun module -- Road to Urik. Also the PCs should have some Nantambu "chip" to cash in as well. Perhaps they have authority to authorize trade or discounts on X commodity from Nantanbu as a bargaining chip as well.

I really like the bones of this AP but think it can be elevated a lot with some tweaks.


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hsnsy56 wrote:

I really like the bones of this AP but think it can be elevated a lot with some tweaks.

I feel the same way. I really like this AP but some tweaking is nessesary.

I somehow have to make book 3 and book 4 more relevant to the overarching main plot and I really think it shouldn’t be Mzali that attacks the golden city.
I doubt any one of my players would like to let little god-king McRacist in power after pulling s@~~ like that.


I just finished running through the first chapter, I had adjusted the skill checks to take less time (basically changing them from 8 influence to 4 influence and gaining 1 benefit for every NPC except Nkiruka) but my players and I are overly disappointed from the first chapter. I wonder why go with a grindy skill check system instead of active encounter or roleplay based design.

You have very little to go with from the aspect of running NPC's from a city that's so extremely xenophobic to outsiders. I had extreme trouble with running this and the players enjoyed it for a short while but the monotonoy of the skill checks led them to become fed up with it. It probably should've had half as much NPC's or extremely redesigned way of play. What works better is encounter based skill check systems or something that is in a similar vein to Agents of Edgewatch

AoE:
When you head over in Book 5 to work undercover for Miogimo you went out to assassinate/follow up with a couple of different angles with both quick and interesting skill checks and combat encounters.

In a similar vein it could have been transalted so that you mayhaps:
- Help out Wekesa as he is being attacked by some thugs, helping subdue them, or something of a similar matter
- Themba Sufu send the PC's to investigate a matter regarding Bright Lions or another faction to gain his trust and benefits.

And this is just a couple of ideas I had post session. Overall loving the AP so far, but there is always room for improvement. :)


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Ran into a bit of an issue in room A9 at the Shrine of the Eclipse... How are the iron golems supposed to fit into the hallways north of the room? My fiancé just ran through the hallway and I ruled it that they were too big to fit, but that definitely felt cheesy, and the module says they pursue heroes to other rooms on the floor. The rules for squeezing don't seem to accommodate that though.


willfromamerica wrote:
Ran into a bit of an issue in room A9 at the Shrine of the Eclipse... How are the iron golems supposed to fit into the hallways north of the room? My fiancé just ran through the hallway and I ruled it that they were too big to fit, but that definitely felt cheesy, and the module says they pursue heroes to other rooms on the floor. The rules for squeezing don't seem to accommodate that though.

Large creatures treat those small hallways as difficult terrain.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thank you!


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After reading book 4, I was wondering if it wouldn't be better to do this in a different order. Start the adventure with chapter 2. The adventures discover a lead to the Temple in their studies (or one of the students in book 3 does) and similar to book 3 they mount a research expedition. That's a better hook than the one in the adventure where Walkena sends them to a temple the book itself says he doesn't care about. There they discover the lead that sends them to the hidden city. There they are attacked. In the battle, the ritual doesn't erase all memory of the city, just makes it fuzzy for the attackers. After that they lead a diplomatic expedition to Mzali to settle a peace with outsiders. After that, as a reward Dimara-Diji comes to tell stories.

Wouldn't that order make more sense? You'd have to replace Worknesh in one of the parts or use a plot point to keep her alive, and adjust the difficulties some.

Also, what is the point of the group of conversants in chapter 1? They play absolutely no role in the narrative, so why are they even mentioned?


just spotted that Dimari-Diji has an ability called Memories of Ages with a DC of 32 which, for reference, is the dc by lvl for lvl 14... the dc by lvl for their lvl is 50! - should i just change it? doesn't appear to have been lifted from another creature, which might explain the lower DC - maybe it's a type and supposed to be 52? just reading the start of the book atm, so nowhere near upto where he features yet - just got curious on seeing him in foundry! i'm guessing he's def not ever meant to be fought by the PCs! maybe the DC is geared towards the PCs maybe having the ability used on them - the lvl 14 DC would fit that!

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I would just go with DC 49, since that's his spell DC and would be appropriate for his level. Though, like you mentioned, he's not really intended to be fought by PCs so it probably won't even come up.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm a little confused about the river below the shrine in chapter 2.

The side-on map clearly shows that the lower level is still well above ground level away from the hill, yet as far as I can tell the river cuts in through the side of the hill (60 feet above the floor of the lower level) and flows out the other side of the complex. Am I reading this right?

Also, it appears from various room descriptions that the place where the river cuts into the hill is visible and accessible from the outside, allowing direct access to room 22, even pointing out that this is extremely dangerous should the PCs try. Does this mean that the whole river outside suddenly enters a cavern on the side of the hill, or am I misimagining this?


hsnsy56 wrote:
...Charau-Ka and Usaro ideas...

I love your ideas about involving the Charau-Ka and Usaro! I was wondering why they didn't show up in this AP. Having a student from this region since the start would be a good idea, luckily I can still implement this in my campaign.


Izem Mezitani is in hot water with Walkena. Im about to run my players through this and I KNOW at some stage it going to come up and they are going to ask me!
What is this "Hot Water"? Does it say anywhere what it is?

Liberty's Edge

Is there an established distance or expected travel time between Mzali and the Shrine of the Eclipse?


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Luke Styer wrote:
Is there an established distance or expected travel time between Mzali and the Shrine of the Eclipse?

It doesnt really say. However, it does suggest the party leaves by the north gate, and that the ruined settlement of Mzali-Jimbuani (where the shrine is) is located on (or VERY close to) the Pasuango River.

The Pasuango River is found north of Mwzali and is about 4 miles away. The book says that the party will travel the majority of the journey, on a road.

So, assuming the party is travelling while performing exploration activities then it will take them a little over 3 hours to reach the ruins.

If my deductions are correct, there isnt alot to go on.

Liberty's Edge

willot wrote:

So, assuming the party is travelling while performing exploration activities then it will take them a little over 3 hours to reach the ruins.

If my deductions are correct, there isnt alot to go on.

Thanks! Short of a definite answer that I just overlooked, that’s a really good answer.

The various “for the next year . . . “ boons that the PCs get in Chapter 1 make me want to pay a little more attention to timekeeping in this portion of the campaign than I usually bother with, plus the time of day matters in ground floor section of the Shrine.

“Three hours” not only tells me I don’t have to mark off a day, it’ll give me a starting point for when the doors change.


In the Influence section, each round takes a week, So how many weeks/Rounds are the PCs allowed to keep plugging away at each notable figure? 3 weeks? 5 weeks? 14 years.

Does it say anywhere?

If it doesnt I may set an overall time limit. Their certificate only good for 30 weeks. They will need to decide how much time they want to spend with each Notable person and whether they need to "spilt the party" to cover more influencing grounds.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
willot wrote:

In the Influence section, each round takes a week, So how many weeks/Rounds are the PCs allowed to keep plugging away at each notable figure? 3 weeks? 5 weeks? 14 years.

Does it say anywhere?

If it doesnt I may set an overall time limit. Their certificate only good for 30 weeks. They will need to decide how much time they want to spend with each Notable person and whether they need to "spilt the party" to cover more influencing grounds.

It doesn't say. It's one of those, long as it takes till it is done. Oyamba warns the PCS ahead of time that this "may require several weeks or even several months of work" on page 6.


xNellynelx wrote:
willot wrote:

In the Influence section, each round takes a week, So how many weeks/Rounds are the PCs allowed to keep plugging away at each notable figure? 3 weeks? 5 weeks? 14 years.

Does it say anywhere?

If it doesnt I may set an overall time limit. Their certificate only good for 30 weeks. They will need to decide how much time they want to spend with each Notable person and whether they need to "spilt the party" to cover more influencing grounds.

It doesn't say. It's one of those, long as it takes till it is done. Oyamba warns the PCS ahead of time that this "may require several weeks or even several months of work" on page 6.

Yeah, I think it's an oversight. Even the GMG says a Time Limit needs to be set; otherwise, what's the point? You may as well skip the whole chapter and go straight into the End Bit (spoilers). Thing is if the player runs out of time there needs to still be a way forward; I'll think of something.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Are the discovery DCs for Sihar missing from page 19? Anyone know where I can find them?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Paul Worthen wrote:
Are the discovery DCs for Sihar missing from page 19? Anyone know where I can find them?

My guess is that she would be particularly hard to find info about, as the leader of the Bright Lions, so I could see her not having been included.

More broadly, regarding some of the discussion above about tonal dissonance between chapters 1 and 3, I am going with having the Aspis Consortium (who my players already fought in a side-quest during Book 2) also send a delegation, and have them work with Worknesh to go behind Walkena's back to sack Osibu. I'm not sure yet how I'll end up actually changing encounters, but I think it should help that ending be a little less whip-lashy.


Hello all. My players are about to go through the Temple of the Eclipse and after reading over it I realized that there isn't much reason, beyond not knowing where the tablets are, to explore the Temple. Like if/when they learn that the fire tablets are in room 23 and they get them they won't really have a reason to explore any further, which would potentially cause them to have a much harder fight against Walkenas Avatar later.

Any ideas on how to encourage more exploration and for them to have to meet Dajerumbe? My first thought is move the tablets and the map to Osibu into room 16 with Dajerumbe.

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