Monday, 27 July 2009

Divine Domains for Golarion Gods

With Divine Power having just come out this month, I had been considering that the domain options would be a good bit of conversion work to help tailor the 4E rules to the Golarion setting. However, with only one player having anything from the divine power source, and that player leaning more towards the warlock half of the hybrid, DP didn't seem like such an essential purchase just at present. Scott at Tales from the Rusty Dragon has put in some excellent work on this very subject in his post over here; I heartily recommend checking it out if you are running 4E in the Pathfinder campaign setting.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

A2. Chapel

The chapel is an excellent set up for 4E combat: a large area on two levels with a number of interesting features. There are features that I found slightly confusing, namely the positioning of the rafters in the upper works. As there are no climb skill details for access to the beams, it seems to indicate that they are the same level as the broken remains of the balcony, but it seems slightly unusual that the beams are shown over the balcony on the map. As there is some mention of the balcony having been used as seating during services, it also seems a little odd in that the beams would seem to have potentially obscured views of the pulpit.

After a little consideration, I decided to go with the beams running just under the balcony remains and remove the seating from the balcony area, but you should feel free to make adjustments as you see fit. One thing to remember if you chose to set the rafters higher than the balcony: you will be increasing the distance of any potential falls from being 2d10 to 3d10 or more.

One thing that did amuse me in the description: the skull cluster hanging from the roof is described as "boulder sized"... just what size is a boulder?

The combat is presented as two encounters: depending on how your players are faring, you may chose to blend these two encounters, or permit them a short rest to break off and gather their strength before taking on King Mokknokk and his retinue.

Going to the Chapel
Encounter Level 2 (700 XP)

1 Pugwampi Jinx
3 Pugwampi Snivellers
4 Pugwampi Whelps

A number of pugwampi spend much of their time lazing around in the chapel. Unless the party have been taking care to be stealthy (versus the pugwampi passive perception check of 13) they will be aware of the PCs approaching.

Perception Check
DC 13:
The party notice movement in the "nest" as though tiny feet were making their way across the fabric.

A few of the pugwampi may elect to stay hidden for as long as possible and utilise their unluck ability, but most will consider themselves receiving enough protection from positions on the balcony and rafters to let loose with their bows, particularly the pugwampi whelps, who have no unluck ability to use.

The pugwampi will be quick to release the boulder if any PCs enter the range of the trap provided that none of the party have climbed to the balcony. If any PCs do climb to the balcony, particularly melee focused characters, the pugwampi will scamper out on to the rafters and attempt to taunt the PC in to sliding out after them.

Features of the Area
Illumination: Plenty of light shines through the broken windows and crumbling roof during the day time.
Roof and balcony: The roof of the chapel is 30 feet high around the perimeter, rising to close to 40 feet at the center. The rafters and remainders of the balcony are all 20 feet high.
Walls: The walls of the chapel are man-made and, despite the ill-state of repair, still smooth. It requires a DC 25 Athletics check to climb the chapel walls.
Ladder: A ladder on the western side of the chapel allows access to the balcony. It does not require any check to climb the ladder, but any PC doing so notices a number of pins and nails, knots of string, and small holes adorning the two runners of the ladder. These are adjustments made by the pugwampi to allow the tiny creatures to utilise the ladder more easily.
Benches: Benches line both sides of the chapel and where whole do not impede movement parallel to their length. Attempting to move perpendicular (i.e. climbing over the rows) costs one extra square of movement. The benches can be overturned as a standard action with a DC 15 Strength check, while one can be hoisted into position (providing a ramp to access the balcony, for example) with a DC 21 Strength check and two standard actions.
Broken benches: The broken benches on the western half of the hall count as difficult terrain.
Skull boulder: A large cluster of skulls, roughly 10 feet in diameter, hangs from a rope attached at A3a. The rope has AC 10, Reflex 8, Fort 8; 5 hp or can be untied as a standard action. If the rope is cut or untied, the boulder falls, attacking as per it's stat block here.
Skull Boulder; Level 1 Lurker
Trap; XP 100
The boulder of skulls and bones crashes into the ground, sending fist sized chucks and bone shard splinters flying in all directions.
Trap: The boulder lands and attacks a burst 2 area beneath it.
No check is necessary to notice the skull boulder.
The trap attacks when the supporting rope is untied or cut.
Immediate Reaction; Close burst 2
Creatures in the burst.
Attack: +5 vs. Reflex
Hit: 3d6 damage
Miss: Half damage
Treasure: The uncut garnet in the skull cluster is now worth 170 GP (treasure parcel 8 from level 2).

Tools of the "Trade": Asmor's Monster Maker

Recent news of Wizards of the Coast monster design tool being in development made me realise that I never properly credited Asmor for the Monster Maker application which I used for the creation of the stat blocks in the bestiary entries of this blog. With the anouncement of the D&DI application, Asmor has decided to discontinue updates to the software; we can only hope that WotC manage to craft a tool that is halfway as intuitive, well-designed, and well-implemented as this piece of software. Despite no updates being likely in future, I highly recommend the tool as it currently stands for DMs eager to create their own creatures.

Asmor's own blog, Encounter-a-Day, is also a valuable resource of ideas and mechanics, while the site has many other programs, scripts, and utilities that can help out with the task of DMing.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

A1. Ruined Nave

One of the statues in this area has an inscription with a date on it: this is likely to prompt groups that otherwise wouldn't have given any consideration to the calendar at all to ask the question "What year is it now?" If you'd rather not overly concern yourself with such matters you may want to remove the inscription, or at least the date portion, from the statue in area A1b. Otherwise, you decide upon a date--or at the least, a year--at which the campaign starts. Suggestions over on the Paizo forums suggest setting this around 4709, but if you have run other campaigns in the setting, you may wish to adjust this accordingly to where you wish to fit the adventure path in your time-line.

As far as skill checks for this area go: -

A DC 10 History, Nature, or Streetwise identifies Pale Mountain in the bas-relief.
A DC 15 Religion identifies the manner of depiction is similar to the depiction of saints.
A DC 22 Religion identifies Vardishal.

A DC 16 Perception check locates the secret door to A11. Opening the door without clearing the foliage from behind it requires a DC 14 Strength check.

Part Two: The Old Monastery

Almah is eager to find a new base of operations from which to launch the liberation of Kelmarane and the old monastery seems perfectly situated. Naturally it falls to the party to check it for wildlife or other menaces before moving the caravan in.

Unlike many encounter maps in Pathfinder adventure paths, the scale of the map as presented is not too inappropriate to 4th Edition. The chapel area in particular is well suited in scale for 4E combat, and while it is advisable to merge A15, A16, and A18 into one encounter and letting them spill out into A13 is probably enough without having to use the frequent "trick" of doubling up the squares.

One thing that has been changed is the number of pugwampis present in the monastery: in addition to King Mokknock, there are 3 pugwampi jinx, 8 pugwampi snivellers, and 6 pugwampi whelps in total within the monestary.

The chapel does provide a nice "capstone" encounter for clearing out the main floor of the monastery and quite possibly the point at which the party will hit 2nd level. While not necessarily required, you may consider drawing the party's attention towards areas A15-A18 with sounds of the pugwampis in the kitchen which may well prompt the group to sweep anti-clockwise around the building, ending with the chapel.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Apologies, Play Reports, and... Disneyfication?!

First off, apologies to all following the work on this blog: partly due to work, partly due to no less than three friends getting married this month, and partly due to having started running my campaign for my group sooner than originally thought, time has been a little tight. The upside of my free time mostly going in to preparing the campaign to be run means that I have quite a lot of notes on the conversion of the adventure ready to be typed up into something more substantial for the blog; my group have reclaimed the monastery and have now moved on to their first "guerilla" run on Kelmarane, so I hope to have part two and some of part three up on the site before too long. Meanwhile, my group have opted for a theme for their party that is somewhat... unusual.

Legacy of Fire is one of Paizo's more mature adventure paths with it's darker themes (although almost all of their Pathfinder adventures have tended to be rather "grown up" in this respect) and my group decided that all their characters were going to be from Disney cartoons. Originally, they were all going to be from Aladdin due to the vague Arabian flavour to Katapesh, but the idea grew a little bit in scope, so we now have: -

  • Aladdin - Human Rogue
  • Jasmin - Human Shaman with Rajah as the spirit companion.
  • Jaffar - half mummy Warlock-Invoker hybrid class (actually a refluffed Shadar-Kai race and lots of reflavoured powers into things like beetle swarms). The character is a little sinister in tone, which I would usually be wary of including, but I believe the player behind the character should be able to avoid the characters nature becoming an obstruction to the rest of the group.
  • Mowgli - a Warden who in game is perfectly human, but mechanically uses the gnoll race after being raised amongst a tribe of the creatures, which could provide some interesting contrasts with Dashki later in the adventure.
  • Rafiki - a mandrill Monk (more reflavouring, this time using the rules for the halfling race for the simian character). Thankfully, the player decided that the character can speak Common perfectly, although he doesn't always present this fact up front.
In our first session, there was a bit of settling down, questions about the characters and little bits of tweaking to account for my house rules (half level stacks with odd stat bonuses and the background traits listed in an earlier post being the only pertinent ones so far). When we got down to the actual play, the group managed to make it through the opening group of skill challenges before we had to call it a night. As two of my players had never had any experience of 4th Edition prior to this but had heard some rumours of it being "nothing but combat", I felt that this was a nice introduction showing the adaptability of the rules and also a gentle way of introducing some of the rules without the comparatively larger amount of rules involved in the combat aspect.

After the players had introduced themselves (as far as their characters were willing: Jafar, for one, had been a little reticent to fill the group in on his full background) they came to Almah's camp with the fire having fully taken hold. They needed little prompting to actually start getting involved with helping out, although Jafar kept his distance from the fire and any manual work and involved himself with bossing about the guards to form a more organised bucket chain. Aladin busied himself carrying several buckets at time, Mowgli briefly assisted with trying to push the second cart but then moved to assist Jasmin in the rounding up of animals, and Rafiki started helping out Father Zastoran with the injured mercenaries, but opted to forgo speaking any common just at present to avoid startling the rather shaken priest.

A few things became apparent as I was running these challenges, the first of which was that I could really have done with a single sheet overviewing all the skill check DCs for each challenge, as I ended up shuffling backwards and forwards through my sheaf of notes frequently moving from one player to the next. Thankfully I was very familiar with the design, which helped in this regard, but if such a thing would have been useful for me, it would obviously be very useful to anyone running the adventure who didn't have the benefit of having designed the encounters. This is obviously something that will need including when it comes time to compile all the notes in to a reference document.

The other thing was that it was very useful to have the social skill challenges for befriending members of the camp available for certain members of the party to segue into after they had dealt with the physical challenges most appropriate to their areas of expertise. With the higher complexity of the Healing the Wounded Firefighters challenge, this particular section of the encounter outlasted the extinguishing of the fire and rounding up of the animals, but only two of the party had skill training in Healing, while one had enough of a stat bonus to be able to make fairly consistant Aid Other checks. This still left two characters (Jafar and Aladin) with little to do after success in the other challenges, but thankfully they started to ask questions of the camp inhabitants, which allowed for a few early checks on the social challenges. This was little more than a happy accident in design on my part, but a valuable lesson for going forward.

With both the mercenaries in stable condition, the other members of the party started getting involved in the social and investigative side of things and the group mostly split up to interview the NPCs most appropriate to their characters: Jafar continued to try to take charge with the guards; Mowgli spoke to Dashki to assess his knowledge of things gnollish; Jasmin conferred with Hadrod and Hadrah regarding the livestock; Rafiki meanwhile shocked Zastoran by enunciating the common tongue perfectly and once the old man recovered, struck up a quick friendship.

The party was quick to point the finger at Dashki as the source of the fire, but were rather eager to bury him up to his neck without investigating his claims of little pixie like creatures. Thankfully, mention of the missing goat set Mowgli out looking for goat tracks, which he easily found along with many tracks of tiny bipedal creatures, which swayed much of the group towards believing Daski's story, although not enough that they didn't insist on him being kept under the close watch of the Pactmaster guards while they struck out into the night on a pugwampi hunt rather than have the man accompany them. And so, as party headed out into the moonlit desert, a few torches in hand, our first session came to a close.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Skill Challenge: Negotiating Payment with Almah

This skill challenge could theoretically take place later (perhaps after clearing the monastery with the party asking for a little extra coin after receiving their reward) but after returning with the pugwampi(s) is the first time that Almah will entertain the negotiations.

Skill Challenge: Negotiating Payment

2 (6 successes before 3 failures)
Level 2 (250 XP)

The party convince Almah to raise their initial payment of 350GP (treasure parcels 5 and 10 from level 2) by a further 180GP (treasure parcel 6 from level 1). They may also receive up to half of this in advance, should the party request it.

The party fail to impress Almah with their negotiation skills: the reward for clearing the monastery shall be 350GP and Almah refuses to part with any of the money until the party have completed this task.

Main Skills
Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate

Other Skills
Arcana, Religion, Insight

Special - Befriending Almah
If the party have acheived a victory in the Befriending Almah skill challenge, they gain one success automatically in this challenge. If the party is at the defeat condition in that skill challenge at the time of attempting the negotiaion, the automatical accrue one failure in this challenge.

Special - Befriending Garavel
If the party have achieved a victory in the Befriending Garavel skill challenge, they gain one success automatically in this challenge due to Garavel having spoken well of the party to Almah.

Special - Using Information
Using certain topics or information in their negotiations may assist the party. For the first time any of the following subjects are raised, award one automatic success. If the same point is continually brought up, Almah wearies of it being mentioned and it accrues one automatic failure from that point on. However, if the party raise any of the subjects in a particularly disrespectful manner, you may rule against granting the automatic success.
  • Being reminded that this may be Almah's last, best chance to reverse her families legacy.
  • Raising the fact that Almah knows more of Kelmarane's history than she has previously revealed (if the first time mentioned).
  • Respectfully pointing out that they are willing to continue despite this fact after the matter has already been broached.
Diplomacy DC 12 (1 success, maximum of 3 successes)
The party engage in the general "cut and thrust" of negotiations with Almah.

Bluff DC 12 (1 success, maximum of 2 successes)
Almah may be quite susceptable to outside counsel, but in a business negotiation she is more keenly aware of bluffs and deceits.

Intimidation DC 14 (1 success, maximum of 2 successes)
The party employ more "strong arm" tactics in their negotiations, such as pointing out the time and difficulty in finding someone else to help free Kelmarane.

Arcana or Religion DC 16 (1 success, maximum of 1 success between the two skills)
The party take advantage of Almah's interest in astrology and divination, lending strength to their negotiations. The first success at either of these skills also grants a +2 bonus to all further checks in this challenge.

Insight DC 5 (0 successes; 0 failures)
A character takes the time to study Almah for clues to her motives and thoughts during the discussion. Success at this skill grants a +2 bonus to the next skill check that the character makes during this challenge. This bonus may be conferred to another character only if they have some method of comunication that Almah is not party to. Almah speaks Common, Kelish, and Varisian.